Friday, November 28

Gobble Gobble from Milpitas!

Fully stuffed with turkey on Thursday afternoon, I consider myself adequately fed to play all weekend in the Bay Area Chess Thanksgiving festival in Milpitas. Unfortunately, the entries are really disappointing with only four players rated above 2000, but perhaps someone else will sign up for the 2-day schedule on Saturday morning. On the bright side, I hope to play each master or expert, including top seed IM Ricardo DeGuzman. In fact, I am currently 2-0 after defeating former master and fellow blogger Dana Mackenzie (2120) this evening as white in an unusual (and perhaps unsound) Trompowsky.

I expect to add more photos to my Flickr album on Saturday.

Thursday, November 27

Happy Thanksgiving!

I wish all of my readers a Happy Thanksgiving season. Think of all the simple joys in life--such as playing chess. Also be thankful for the family and friends that you have. And in this time of economic hardship, be thankful for the roof over your head.

A few of you may have noticed that I took a brief break from posting on the blog. Don't worry, I'll be more active again very soon. Stay tuned for daily coverage of the Bay Area Chess Thanksgiving festival beginning on Friday. Be there!

Monday, November 24

Bay Area Chess Gives Thanks

Organizer Salman Azhar and Bay Area Chess are hosting the Thanksgiving Festival in Milpitas on Friday through Sunday. The main event will be a 3-day adult tournament featuring slow time controls (30/90, G/60) with an accelerated 2-day schedule. Side events include a 1-day scholastic swiss on Friday and kids quads on Saturday. The advance entries for the adult tournament have been rather slow so far due to limited publicity, but there is still time to register online before the late fee kicks in after Wednesday. (Update: the late fee is waived on Thanksgiving Day.)

Please note that the location of this event is in Milpitas, not in Santa Clara.
  • Event: Bay Area Chess Thanksgiving Festival
  • Dates: November 28-30
  • Location: 372 Turquoise, Ste 2, Milpitas (near Calaveras between I-880 and I-680)
  • Format: 6 round swiss in 3 sections (Master/Expert, Class A/B and Class C/D)
  • 3-day schedule: Reg: Friday 10:00-10:30. Rounds: 11:00 and 4:00 daily.
  • 2-day schedule: Reg: Saturday 8:15-8:45. Rounds: Saturday 9:00, 11:10, 1:45, 4:00; Sunday 11:00 and 4:00.
  • Time control: 30/90, G/60 (rounds 1-3 of 2-day at G/60)
  • Entry fee: $59 online by Wednesday, $75 on site
  • Prize fund: $3000 based on 100 paid entries (or else proportional)
  • Side events: 1-day scholastic swiss on Friday; kids quads on Saturday
  • PDF flyer and entry form
  • Advance entry list
This tournament is highly recommended to my students, particularly those rated below 2000. I plan to play in the 3-day schedule and will be available between rounds to share some laughs and review tournament games.

Monday, November 17

Grandmaster Josh Friedel!

After patiently waiting six months, Josh Friedel was formally awarded the Grandmaster title today. The news from Dresden, Germany was confirmed by Bill Kelleher, FIDE Vice President and representative for the USCF. Born and raised in New Hampshire, Friedel moved to the East Bay about three years ago and has won the Northern California Labor Day State Championship twice. He scored his third and final norm last May when he tied for fourth place in the 2008 US Championship; then he attained the necessary 2500 rating a week later at the Chicago Open. Josh Friedel became the third American to officially earn the Grandmaster title just within the past month and half, joining Bay Area resident Vinay Bhat and World Senior Champion Larry Kaufman.

What else can I say? Congratulations Josh!!! This is a well deserved and long overdue recognition. Good luck and may 2600 come your way soon!

Saturday, November 15

Danya Wins ICC Blitz Round-Robin

(Danya met 14th World Champion Vladimir Kramnik over the summer.)

Congratulations to FM Danya Naroditsky for winning tonight's small ICC blitz invitational. I intend to direct more of these fun tournaments for high rated Northern California juniors--both my own students and selected others. If I find the time, the next one will be during the winter holidays and may have a second section for 1700-1999 players.




Rd 1

Rd 2

Rd 3

Rd 4

Rd 5



Danya Naroditsky









Michael Aigner









Steven Zierk









Yian Liou









Michael Zhong









Evan Sandberg








Friday, November 14

Vote to Support Earth vs Space

(Earth vs Space game after 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d5 3.Bf4 c5 4.e3 Nc6 5.Bb5 Qa5+ 6.Nc3 Ne4 7.Bxc6+ bxc6 8.O-O Nxc3 9.Qd2 Ne2+ 10. Qxe2 Ba6 11. Qe1 Qb6 12. dxc5 Qxc5 13. c4 Bxc4 14. Qc3. Black to move.)

Six weeks have passed since the opening move of the correspondence chess match between International Space Station resident Greg Chamitoff and his challengers on Earth. The team of earthlings led by elementary school champions from Bellevue, Washington has captured White's c4 pawn and must now withstand counterplay on the c-file, targeting the backwards c6 pawn. Of course, White threatens b2-b3 next move. Humanity needs to protect the queen, finish developing and castle before White's attack materializes. Do we have enough time?

Please vote on move 14 by 1pm on Saturday. You do not have to be a USCF member to participate. The team leaders from Stevenson Elementary School selected three candidate moves: Qb6, Qb5 and e7-e6. I won't reveal which one I chose; try to calculate two moves ahead and see which option makes the most sense.

Wednesday, November 12

Fpawn Rating List - Largest Gains in 2008

(Rebekah poses with GM Susan Polgar at the Polgar Invitational in Texas last summer. This photo was taken from Polgar's excellent chess blog.)

Now that the December ratings have been released, it is time to look back at the improvements over the past 12 months (December 2007 to December 2008). A total of 20 students took advantage of my private lessons throughout the entire year 2008. All but one increased his or her USCF rating, with the average gain coming to 122 points. Five students (25%) impressively gained over 200 points!

The statistics become more significant when you consider that most of my students are already highly ranked, Six current students are rated over 2000 and three of those have an international rating. Another eight are A players; yet another eight are B players. All of these players know from experience how much harder it is to gain points at higher ratings, both due to the stiffer competition and because of the ratings formula (lower K factor).

Congratulations to CalChess Polgar representative Rebekah for demonstrating once again that, contrary to stereotypes, girls can beat all of the guys at chess! She gained nearly 300 points, jumping all the way to class A from a midrange class C rating last year. Her numbers actually pale in comparison to her little brother DanielL (see photo at right), who unbelievably gained almost 1000 points (from 734P to 1712)--he only began lessons with me in the middle of the year. "Math deity" Brian nearly matched Rebekah's success, earning 275 points to lead Saratoga High School's freshmen. Brian's teammates Kevin and EvanY also had a successful year and all three are now solid B players. Last yet certainly not least, CalChess Denker representative Steven cooled off a bit, but I dare say that improving by 177 points in the rare air of expert and master sections is no less impressive than the 554 points that he gained in 2007.
  1. Rebekah +298
  2. Brian +275
  3. MichaeL +250
  4. Tyler +240
  5. Kevin +210
  6. Steven +177
  7. Yian +169
  8. EvanY +163
  9. Nicholas +132
  10. James +113

Fpawn Rating List - December 2008

I updated the USCF rating for all of my chess students using the December rating supplement which is now available on the MSA site. The December ratings are considered the "annual" list for US Chess. Note that these calculations include only tournaments through the first Friday of November.

Click on the link to view the full Fpawn Rating List. Kudos to the following students for moving up into the next rating class: Michael Lin broke 2000 (plus he beat me over the weekend!); Rebekah Liu and James Kwok both officially became A players! Photos of Michael, Rebekah and James taken at this year's CalChess Labor Day festival may be found at the top of this story.

Top 5 Students Overall

  1. NM Steven 2258
  2. NM Gregory 2249
  3. Yian 2056
  4. Alan 2052
  5. EvanS 2030
(Honorary: FM Danya 2379, NM DanielS 2321 and David 2095)

Top 5 Grades K-6
  1. Yian 2056 -- CalChess Elementary (K-6) Champion
  2. Kyle 1943 -- CalChess Elementary (K-5) co-Champion
  3. James 1818
  4. DanielL 1712
  5. Eric 1611
Top 5 Grades 7-8
  1. NM Gregory 2249 -- US Junior (U21) co-Champion
  2. Sam 1900
  3. Kevin 1747
  4. Andrew 1695
  5. Roland 1623
Top 5 Grades 9-12
  1. NM Steven 2258 -- CalChess High School co-Champion and Denker representative
  2. Alan 2052
  3. EvanS 2030
  4. MichaelL 2001
  5. Jeff 1996 -- CalChess High School co-Champion

Monday, November 10

Shankland in Contra Costa Times

Last weekend's Contra Costa Times (link corrected 1:45pm) published an article featuring World U18 co-Champion IM Sam Shankland. Trying to compare chess to other sports, the reporter surmised that Sam "may not be able to outswim Olympic medalist Michael Phelps, but he could outmaneuver him — or almost anyone — in a game of chess." Having been outmaneuvered more than once, I would tend to agree with this assessment. Check out the story for interesting quotes by Sam, his father, Dr. Vladimir Naroditsky and even one comment from me.

Saturday, November 8

Tournament Etiquette 101

Today's tournament at the Mechanics' Institute brought to light issues of sportsmanship and etiquette amongst chess players. Some players seem to lack proper schooling in the standards of behavior for adult tournaments. (Clarification: I do not wish to single out any player. I have at least four in mind just from this weekend. In the past, I have even seen some adults act like jerks.) To many, this is a black and white issue, like the squares of the chessboard. However, a few immature players ruin it for everyone else. Here are guidelines to make chess tournaments more enjoyable for participants of all ages.
  • Know the rules! If you don't, buy or borrow the USCF's Official Rules of Chess.
  • Follow the Golden Rule.
  • Be polite to your opponent before and after the game.
  • Always shake hands at both the beginning and end of a chess match.
  • Be quiet as a courtesy to others!
  • Turn off cell phones and other noise makers.
  • If you must talk in the playing hall, keep your voice down.
  • While talking with friends, never discuss your game in progress.
  • Avoid making faces or other forms of nonverbal communication.
  • Do not distract your opponent (and other players) in any way!
  • The only words you should say to your opponent are "I resign", "I offer draw" or "I adjust". Any other issues should be addressed to the TD.
  • Resign when your position is hopeless. Don't waste your opponent's time. Players over 1200 won't accidentally stalemate, except possibly in time pressure.
  • Refrain from repetitive draw offers. Etiquette says you should never offer draw twice unless the position changed substantially.
  • Do not offer or discuss a draw before a serious contest has begun (move 1).
  • Avoid eating at the board, except for a light snack (no noisy wrappers).
  • Dress appropriately for public. Avoid skimpy clothes or controversial messages.
  • Walk slowly in the playing hall. Do not run or chase others.
  • After your game ends, do not analyze in the playing hall.
  • To minimize cheating suspicions, don't leave the playing site without permission.
Sometimes the worst transgressions are not by the players but by parents who aren't serious chess players. Here's a list specially for chess moms and chess dads.
  • Emphasize sportsmanship at chess tournaments and in other arenas of life.
  • Do not make noise in the playing hall during the round.
  • Turn off cell phones and other noise makers.
  • Always be polite to your child's opponents and their parents.
  • Do not speak with your child during the round, unless he or she needs something.
  • To minimize cheating suspicions, don't stand near the board for a long time.
  • Be courteous to the TD. Note that he or she is often a volunteer or underpaid.
  • In case of a dispute, be mature--like an adult. Set a good example!
  • Encourage your child's competitiveness in a positive way.
  • Always support your child after a loss. Never scold him or her just because of the result. It is better to teach your lesson later when the child is ready to listen.
  • Remember that chess players only improve if they have fun as well!
Parents may also wish to read my May 13th post on the related topic: How should a parent behave at a chess tournament?

Capps Memorial in San Francisco

The 38th annual Carroll Capps Memorial takes place this weekend at the Mechanics' Institute in downtown San Francisco. Nearly 60 players showed up to compete for the $1600 prize fund, including International Masters Ricardo DeGuzman and Walter Shipman. After four rounds today, DeGuzman leads with a perfect score.

I am playing as well to support 8 of my students. Regretably, I am disappointed with my poor performance, although the 3.0/4 score doesn't seem that awful. I walked into a checkmate in the first round to 8 year old Vignesh Panchanatham (1623) and then struggled to beat 9 year old Allan Beilin (1533) in round 2. While the kids these days get good at a young age, the blame for today's results lies squarely on my shoulders.

I took these photos during round 4, after winning my only easy game of the day.

Wednesday, November 5

Saving Games to Library on ICC

(This screen shot of ICC's Dasher interface shows game board and library list.)

The Internet Chess Club gives each member a 100 game library. You can save your favorite online games or you can enter moves from real life tournaments. Once saved, you can show your best wins to your friends or your worst losses to your teacher. It is a good idea to enter your games soon after the tournament so that you remember what happened and can correct any mistakes in your notation. I also ask my students to upload their games so that we can review them more efficiently during class.

  1. To open a blank board, type /examine into any console.
  2. Use your mouse to play through all of the moves.
  3. Type /setwhitename Anand and /setblackname Kramnik for the player names.
  4. (Optional) Type /tag whiteelo 2785 and /tag blackelo 2763 for player ratings.
  5. Type /libkeep to save the game.
  6. To see stored games, go to Actions Menu --> Show my personal library.
  7. Right click on the game that you just entered and select Examine to play through it.
  8. To manage your library, right click and use Libdelete or Libappend.
  9. To save for Chessbase, Fritz or other program, right click and select Save PGN.
  10. Open games from PGN file at Game Menu --> Open PGN.
  1. To open a blank board, go to Action Menu --> Enter Examination Mode
  2. Use your mouse to play through all of the moves.
  3. Type /setwhitename Anand and /setblackname Kramnik for the player names.
  4. (Optional) Type /tag whiteelo 2785 and /tag blackelo 2763 for player ratings.
  5. To store the game, click on Save to Game Library icon at top right of board.
  6. To see stored games, go to View Menu --> My Profile --> Games and scroll down.
  7. Right click on the game that you just entered and select Examine to play through it.
  8. If you don't have Fritz, try the cool Toggle Computer Analysis Window.
  9. To manage library, right click and use Delete Game or Save to Library Slot.
  10. To save to Chessbase, Fritz or other program, click Save icon at top left of board.
  11. Open games from PGN file by clicking on the Upload Game icon.