Tuesday, February 16, 2010

USAT North

I had the privilege of directing the US Amateur Team Championships North this weekend in Milwaukee, and had a fantastic time doing it.

If you have never had the opportunity to play in a team event, it is so different and so much fun, as you are really actively cheering for your teammates. Personally, I don't believe these tournaments should be rated though. This is because since the team result is key, a player may be forced to make different decisions then they would in an individual event. For example, a player in a position that is considerably better may offer a draw to if it helps the team clinch a match. Or just the opposite, a player who needs a win to prevent a team loss may play riskier than usual just to create opportunities for the team.

Teams from IL, IA, WI, and IN were all represented as well as individual players from as far away as CA and NJ (where the big USAT was played). The biggest stories were the players from IL though. Top board honors were taken on board 1 by Blaze member Trevor Magness, who you could have gotten some tall odds for considering the other teams had players like GMs Yermolinsky and Gurevich, IM Young, and NMs Tennant and Karagianis. Blaze manager Daniel Parmet took board 3 honors. The team competition came down to Angelo Youngs Pinoy team against the Chicago Industrial Chess League team. The two lone perfect teams played to a tough draw in round 4, and Pinoy caught a break in the pairings playing an 1856 rated team while CICL faced the Yermo, Betaneli, Santarius sleeping giant of a team that had been nicked for a couple of draws. CICL drew their game while Pinoy cruised to the title.

The Crowne Plaza site was really nice, and hopefully we will return there next year. Shouts out to Alex Betaneli and Ashish Vaja for doing a first class job organizing. Also big thanks to Ashish for recommending the outstanding Duck Curry at Bangkok House for dinner!


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Blaze and Warren Fundraiser

So today I was scheduled to TD at the Blaze and Warren Jr. Program fundraiser tournament and IL Blitz Championship. I have to admit that when I woke up this morning this wasn't what I wanted to do today. My voice still best resembled a duck call (that had been run over by a truck), and a day that I knew I wouldn't be home for about 15 or so hours just didn't sound good to me. However, these are really great programs in chess, and I volunteered my time because I feel they are important and worth helping.

This was the first event being hosted at NorthEastern IL University on the north side. The site was really amazing, very spacious, with plenty of skittles area, and a coffee shop that could give me my Chai fix. David Rubin, the faculty adviser for the chess club, as well as a master, really came through in getting us such a wonderful location. Our turnout was a bit lower than expected, about 30 for the rated event, and 20 for the blitz, but I really think that if we have the chance to run another event at that site we would double the numbers.

I have been directing so many game 30 events lately that in comparison the game 60 time control seemed leisurely and gave me more time that usual to socialize with players and parents which I really enjoyed. Now I know that every once in a while I will poke a little fun at chess parents, but wow while it is easy to marvel at some little wunderkind who comes up to your belly button but has a huge rating, talking to some of the parents today I could see where that talent comes from.

The blitz tournament was a little top heavy with the midpoint rating being right at 1900, and there was a lot of exciting games to watch. In the end it was a tie between Aleks Stamnov and Gopal Menon for the state blitz title. Gopal is perhaps the most talented blitz player in the state rated under 2400 or so with a fierce combination of cutting edge theory, raw speed, and tactical prowess.

Whenever I watch blitz played, it amazes me that the amount of gamesmanship and dirty pool are played. Players in a time scramble knock over pieces without picking them up, block each other from hitting the clock, and use all sorts of tactics aimed at distracting their opponents. Thankfully there were few situations that I had to be involved with.

After I finally finished I stopped off at Honey 1 BBQ on my way home to reward myself for not collapsing during the day. Honey 1 for those that don't know is probably the heaviest hitter in the world of BBQ on the north side. Normally, when I go out for Que, it is on the south side at Uncle John's, so tonight was the battle of the aquarium style smokers. H1 was on top of its game, and excellent, but I give the slight edge to Uncle Johns. I will give the post mortem on that battle tomorrow when I wake up.

Looking forward to next week when the new IL HS champions are crowned, and also I am up at the US Amateur Team North, in Milwaukee,


Monday, February 1, 2010

My Silence

I have been sick for the last week or so, and without a voice, which has been interesting (and rather entertaining for my 4 year old). In spite of that I have directed tournaments the last two weekends, and am in a stretch where I direct the next 3 weekends (Blaze fundraiser, US Amateur Team, and Kumbaya).

Hopefully this weekend I will have a new laptop to direct on, replacing my vintage 2001 Toshiba! Anyways, I am hoping to see everyone soon, and if you are looking for a fun little event to play in please check out the fundraiser this weekend. Details are at www.il-chess.org

Let me tell you briefly why this event is important. First, two terrific and underfunded programs wind up with all the profits from this event. The Chicago Blaze is our local team in the US Chess league, and this is the way to support it. Plus you get a cool Blaze hat for playing! The Warren Junior program is dedicated to helping IL produce some of the most promising junior players in the country, Andi Rosen has done a great job lining up opportunities for kids, and this will help. And later that evening is the IL Blitz Championships. You could wind up going home with a state title. The site is at NE Illinois University on the NW side of the city, which is the first time that I have seen a tournament hosted there. Please come out and show your support.