Friday, February 29, 2008

Notes from the week

First let's start off with congratulations to Ben Rothschild and Michael Auger for their performances in the ICCA state HS individual championships held last weekend at Lincoln-Way HS. Ben won 1st place at the event, and since he has already qualified by rating for the Denker tournament, that honor goes to Michael Auger who finished 2nd.

I would have liked to stop by that tournament personally but with directing a scholastic event at St. Mary's in Mokena Friday evening, and the 150 player Kumbaya event on Sunday, that was enough chess for the weekend.

Another new blogger has joined the arena, Sevan Muradian's new blog is focusing on what goes into organizing a well run event. This will be not only useful for the aspiring organizer, but also to players who don't see all the work that goes into an event and why an organizer does something one way vs another.

Sevan's blog is a little similar to the essay I am working on for how to direct a well run scholastic event. This probably will be about an 8-10 page document when I am finished, and if anyone has a desire for a topic on this to be addressed, give me a shout.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Chess from this weekend

This weekend there few a few important events in the area. On Saturday we held our monthly Orland Park Scholastic tournament which drew 44 players. I know that seems small for a Chicago area scholastic, but considering our very first event last year drew 6 players, we have come a very long way. That has inspired us to add a rated section for the very first time for our final event of the school year in May. It will be the South Suburban Scholastic Championships on May 17th, and we are hoping to break 100 players which would be a tremendous milestone.

The US Amateur team North is taking place this weekend as well in Milwaukee. It is nice to see the event move around and I commend Alex Betaneli and others for bringing the event there. I am disappointed to see so few Illinois teams make the short travel up 94. With so few adult events going on, it is important to support them. 20 teams playing has to be a mild disappointment, as is the relative strength or lack thereof. Only one team has an average rating over 2000, and that teams talented junior 4th board would be the first board on probably more than half of those teams. I really look forward to hearing some stories and anecdotes from this tournament as it tends to be one of the most social ones out there, and TD Guy Hoffman is generally good for a few stories himself.

Also starting this weekend is the latest NACA norm bearing FIDE tournament, which can be followed either on Monroi or the NAChess site. I will go out on a limb and predict this will be the event that Blaze member and FM Mehmed Pasalic gets another IM norm.

I will try to stop by this tournament before it ends, and with a Friday night scholastic, and the Kumbaya next Sunday, I will try to blog a couple of times this week.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

IHSA Championships

This weekend the IHSA team championships were held in Peoria, IL, and were attended by 118 teams and over 1000 players. As a side note, the "record breaking" scholastics in NY which were featured on the front page of the USCF site only had 820 players.

From the accounts I have heard, several things were made clear. It was a wonderfully run event run by Mike Zacate, Chris Merli, Walter Brown, and Garrett Scott among others. Complete results can be found on the website.

Among the notable results, Stevenson HS of Lincolnshire was the surprise winner and the only undefeated team. The Stevenson program will likely be a strong team for the forseeable future due to the efforts of Dave Monatelli and Ken Wallach who are teaching at feeder schools to Stevenson.

Frankie Swindell became the first player in recent memory to win the top board prize in back to back years.

EDIT: Ironically the aforementioned Ken Wallach also won the top board prize playing for Stevenson in back to back years. We won't embarrass Ken by discussing which years that was.

Cary HS had a remarkable run beating 3 top 10 teams on a way to 5-2 result. In other reportings of the event much of the credit for Cary's success has gone to GM Yuri Shulman, who also has done great work with Barrington HS (another top 10 finisher). And while Yuri has helped the Cary program, to me the success of the program is due to Peter Spizzari, who has opened his home to studies and tirelessly brought this team to National eventsto prepare them.

People looking at the results may have noticed quite a few 10 point penalties that were assessed, these were by and large the result of cell phones going of by the players (or in some cases coaches).

There are also a couple of good threads on this event on the ICA forum

Apparently, there was a Monster truck rally going on at the same location making for one of the more bizarre combinations of site sharing I have seen with a chess tournament. Other strange events to be located at the same hotel or convention center with a tournament have been Body building championships (at one of the Atlanta Nationals), High Caliber Gun Show (K-12 in houston), Midwest Polka Festival (US Open '89), Star Trek Convention (quite a few players attending both events US Open '94).

I may comment on some of the points made in Vince Hart's posts on the ICA forum later.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Ask TD Glenn

Todayon the USCF site, the player that I am most often mistaken for is asked about insufficient losing chances claims. This type of rules question is perhaps the most difficult situation to answer for a TD. I would equate it to making a charging vs. blocking call in basketball, as the decision must be made quickly, one side will be unhappy with the answer, and it is a difficult call.

It is interesting that the best comment on this question (10 comments at the time I write this) was made by a suspended TD. Let's look at how this happened and the claim that was made. First the player in time pressure makes an insufficient losing chances claim. Remember that this is the claim that must be made as a player cannot just ask for a time delay clock. I am assuming from what was posed in the question that Igor declined the draw offer (which this claim automatically is) and elected to play on.

As stated by others the TD can 1. Rule the game a draw (obviously incorrect in this case), 2. Defer the decision (which Joel claims would be correct), 3. Deny the claim, with or without a time penalty, or 4. elect to add a time delay clock to the game.

This is the type of decision that must be made quickly. Otherwise, if a TD tries to analyze the position for a few minutes to determine that there are no losing chances that time can be used by the player to work out his next several moves giving him free time to think. For even a fairly strong player who is directing (which I probably qualify as), it is rather difficult to make a decision on a position in 30 seconds in which the players have played perhaps for hours. Deferring the decision is a dangerous call because it assumes that the TD will not be called to rule on a different game, be distracted by other duties, or will be able to react before a flag fall occurs.

The safest call is to let the players decide the game by adding the clock. If the claimant has no losing chances, with the delay he should easily be able to prove it. If the other player thinks they are actually losing, he or she should accept the draw. The game gets decided over the board by the players rather than by a director, which is how it should be.

If you were the TD would you have ruled differently, and why?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Upcoming Big Scholastics

This week I received invitations to direct at 2 of the spring National Scholastic events, the National Elementary in Pittsburgh in April and the National Junior HS in Dallas in May. Hopefully I will get to see many of you at those events. The National Elementary has the good fortune of Bill Snead being the chief TD which assures a well run event. I have worked with Bill at many National Opens, and what amazes me the most about him is the level of organization that he brings with him. After once seeing his collapsable files, I asked him what he needed that for at a tournament. He proceeded to pull out 34 fully printed pages detailing everything imaginable (and somethings that weren't) at the event. He is real good. The National HS will have Franc Guadalupe, who like Bill is a total pro that I try to learn from each time I work with.

I noticed a thread on the USCF forums about the National G/60 and G/30 events taking place in June. In this thread, there were a few people critical of the price of the entry fees. Having had to negotiate with hotels and schools lately for space, I can tell you that it is one of the least fun activities for any organizer. In organizing the All Grade, after getting a firm quote from the school in December, I received the bid in January, and went to sign contracts. When I saw the contract, the price had gone up over $2000 from the price I had received a month earlier. This moved the break even point for the event to need 100 additional players. It is brutal out there folks, and that is dealing with a school. If you had a hotel wouldn't you rather host a wedding in your space rather than a chess tournament? The hotel will make more money in hotel room nights, food sales, alcohol sales, in less time, and have less cleanup with the wedding. Hosting a chess tournament in a hotel is not an easy sale.

Noteworthy is a new entry to the chess blogosphere. Hikaru Nakamura is blogging at It is wonderful seeing such a talented and creative player explaining his games and ideas. Hopefully this will give him a chance to practice some social skills which a severely lacking in his personality.