Monday, September 28, 2009

Cychess September 27th, 2009

  I went to play in the Cychess tournament yesterday. Cychess is a 3 round game in 45 minute tournament held 3 or 4 times a year by Ames chess legend, Roger Gotschall. The entry fee is $5 (or $3 if you are a member of the Cyclone Chess Club) and is a great one day chess tournament where I can leave my house at 11:45, be home at 7:00 and get 3 games in. I travelled with a member of the Marshalltown Chess Club, Jaleb Jay. Unfortunately, we were paired against each other in the first round!! Since there was an odd number of players, I offered to sit out the game and let Jaleb play the odd man out. I play a training game against Jaleb almost every Thursday and saw no reason to travel 40 miles to play one.
My first game was against Nathan Pang, an Ames grade schooler. Nathan is very low rated. I was well prepared to follow my usual strategy of playing solid, protecting my pieces, and waiting for my opponents mistake.
  My second game was against Yuzhou Zhang, the father of Jiahua Zhang, one of Iowa's top scholastic players. When I served as scholastic director of the Iowa State Chess Assocation, I ran unrated parents tournaments with thew scholastic tournaments so the parents could have something to do while the kids were playing. Yuzhou played in the parent sections and liked them so much, he signed up for a USCF membership and is a tournament player in his own right. He tied for first in the Iowa Open Under 1600 section this past Labor Day weekend. I was ready for a tough battle, and I made it much tougher when after the handshake, I picked up a pawn to make my first move only to discover I was not holding my d pawn,but had my c pawn in hand and I had to move it. So I had to play an opening I never played in a tournament before.

  All in all, a nice tournament me. I played solidly and with no mistakes except for my finger flub. A down side was that my chess clock got lost/misplaced/stolen. I lent it to someone to use and picked up the wrong one after the game. When that was claimed by the owner, my clock was gone. Amazing that this could happen in the midwest. Live and learn, I suppose.

Jason Juett, Kushan Tyagi, and Jiahua Zhang all went 3-0 and shared first place.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Just as the Yankees have survived an odd late September road trip by beating the Angels 2 of 3 while the Red Sox have been losing 2 to the Royals, I have survived 3 weeks of Marshalltown Thursday Night Blitz Chess. Out of the regulars, only my son Matt out ranks me, so that means as far as the precious rating points go, I have nothing to gain and everything to lose. So far I have not been upset, but it is great to have a tournament to look forward to every week.
Watching the Sunday and Monday night football games should reinforce the obvious. Peyton Manning is a winner and Tony Romo is a loser. Of course 5 years into his NFL career, Manning was also a loser who couldn't win the big game, just like Elway was 17 years into his career. All Romo needs to be called a champion is a Super Bowl ring. I remember in 1985, Phil Simms made a costly fumble in the fourth quarter on Monday Night against Dallas at home to cost the Giants a game to go to 1-1 in the young season. Of course, the Giants ended up winning 16 of the next 17 games and were Super Bowl champs. Let's see if Romo can duplicate the ending of the story. So far it is a perfect copy.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Will the Red Sox ever lose?

  I've spent most of this month waiting for the Yankees magic number to go to zero so the division will be clinched. I read a lot of talk about how the Yankees are the best team in baseball, but all I see is that while the Yankees are losing series to the Orioles and splitting with the Blue Jays, the Red Sox are sweeping these teams and are now only 5 games behind with the Yankees playing at the Angels and then home against Boston for 3 games. If the Yankees blow the division, they will have to go through both the Angels and the Sox to get to the Series, but if they win the division, those 2 will beat each other up while Yanks play the Tigers. Of course, all 3 of these teams have beaten the Yankees in the playoffs in the last 5 years.
  I don't see the Yankees getting to the Series. Sabathia is a good #1 pitcher, but Burnett and Pettite can't be counted on. With Beckett, Lester, and Buchholz, the Red Sox are built for October, whie the Yankees are built for July.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Book Review - The Chess Assassin's Business Manual by Bob Long

  I got a copy of this book from the author himself at the Iowa Open last week. Bob is the owner of Thinkers Press, the chess publisher of many fine books including my favorites, the Cecil Purdy Collection. There is not a lot of chess games and positions in the book, so it was easy to finish the book in a week. The book talks mostly about Bob's careers in the typesetting business, chess publishing business, and the chess sales business. Bob's talks a lot about all the bright ideas he's had and the problems he has had dealing with cheating competitors, etc. I find the main thread of Bob's successes is not his great ideas or his business savvy, but simply that he cares about his work and outworks his competition. He mentions as an afterthought how he changed fonts on the chapter headings that is on the top of every right-facing page, but the font or even chapter headings would be an afterthought to most. These small tidbits explain why the Thinker's Press books are the best chess books on the market, in my opinion.

  There is a fair amount of self-promotion in the book. On page 212, Bob spends an entire page telling you how he can show you how to make 25 to 50K in the first year. I enjoyed Bob's stories about selling books and playing at chess tournaments. More of his personal stories would have been nice, but I guess 'assassins' shouldn't talk about their personal lives very much. I found this book very entertaining because I know about Bob from the books his company publishes. It is not a pure chess book, business book, or memior, but after reading it, you will know a more about chess, business, and Bob after reading it.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

2009 Iowa Open

  Iowa Chess champion Pete Karagianis won the 2009 Iowa Open with a score of 4.5/5. He beat master and 6 time Iowa champ Mitch Weiss in round 4 and had a short draw in the last round with his training partner and fellow master Tim Mc Entee, who had previously surrendered a draw to TD and tournament organizer Jim Hodina. Weiss and Mc Entee tied for 2nd-3rd with 4.0. Hodina and Matt Anzis tied for 4th and 5th with 3.5. Pete hasn't lost in an Iowa tournament since Dan Brashaw beat him in the Cedar Rapids LeatherJackets in January of 2009 and has gained 70 rating points since then.

  The reserve (U1500) section had a 3 way tie for first between Dan Medrano, Yuzhou Zhang, and John Flores with 3.5/4, Medrano taking the handsome trophy on tie break.

  The open and reserve had a combined 49 players, which is well within historical norms. I hung out in the cafeteria with the fathers of scholastic stars Kushan Tyagi and Venkat Iyer watching the US Open tennis tournament while our sons battled it out. Bob Long of Thinkers Press was selling books on Saturday. I bought a copy of his autobiography/business treatsie, 'The Chess Assassin's Handbook', which I hope to review within a week.

  Word has it that Hodina was quite upset at the short final round draw. Tim and Pete always play a short draw when they meet in Iowa tournaments, no matter which of them is battling for first place, so it could have hardly been unexpected.
  As a TD and player, I can understand their point. They are training partners and feel their trust will be broken if they compete. I was paired against my training partner Pete Protyvniak in a quad in 1982 and while I won, our relations were strained for quite some time.
  As a tournament organizer that this has happened to, I feel like it is not worth my time to attempt to hold a tournament when the top players draw in a couple of minutes in the final round and leave. I'll direct a tournament where this may happen (like the 2009 Iowa Closed Championship), but I won't organize one.
  As a father, it bothers me that my son Matt has also taken up this habit.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Round 9 US Open

  The last round finally came after 9 days of chess. I would either finish with an even score, my current minus 1 or even a disastrous -2 score. My opponent was 3rd grader Adream Liang, who was so short he had to get his knees on the chair in order to reach the pieces when he made his moves. His dad and younger brother were also playing.

  I was pretty happy with this game. My opponent played poorly, but I punished him severely. And best of all, I had an even score for the tournament. A soft even score to be sure (losing 27 of the precious rating points), but I had accomplished my goal.
  Final score +2 -2 =5 4.5/9
  I was generally pleased with the way I played. I only made 3 game changing blunders, but I was unhappy with my lost opportunities that could have turned draws to wins in 3 of my draws. My next tournament is CyChess on 27-Sep-2009 which is a 3 round game in 45 minutes afternoon tournament.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Round 8 US Open

After my disheartening loss, I was paired against Keith Sommers from Texas. Keith was rated 1004, BUT he had beaten a 1600 and a 1880 rated player. He was an all-american looking junior high school player that hadn't played in a year, so obviously he was underrated. He was playing this round right next to his father who was rated slightly above me.

A lucky escape. I felt real good to have gotten a draw after being in such a bad position. Keith ended up winning $230 for 4th place rated under 1200. So with 1 round to go, I would have one last chance to get to an even score

+1 -2 =5 3.5/8

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Round 7 US Open

  With 3 rounds left in the tournament, there were only a handful of players in my class with an even score. If I could somehow get 2 or 2 and a half points, I'd have a great chance at some money. My opponent was 87 year old Dan Mayers.

Dan Myers - Pictures courtesy of 2009 US Open CD

  Dan had a giant magnifying glass to see the clock and the pieces and was very hard of hearing so you couldn't talk with him in the tournament room. I found out later that Dan had worked on the Manhattan Project in the 1940's and had a rating of 2121 in 1994. Not knowing all this, I was ready for battle...

  When I got to the room and played over the game, I was disgusted that I missed the simple Kh1 and sacrificed the exchange for my second loss of the tournament. There was no reason to lose this game except I lost my head when it mattered most. Now I was likely out of the money and back in negative territory to boot, There was nothing to do but forget this game and move on...

After 7 rounds +1 -2 =4 3.0/7.0

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Round 6 US Open

  Having finally gotten to an even score, I played Bernard Parham, a slightly built balding man in his 30's. Bernard moved very fast and was constantly attacking. It took me a long time to make a safe position. I counterattacked, won the exchange, but...

  Draw on Parham's offer. After losing the exchange, the draw offer came and I had less than 20 minutes left for the remaining 17 moves to get an extra hour at move 40. Most of the my very painful losses have come from this exact position, most recently in the 2008 US G/60 championships when I walked into a mate in one ahead the exchange,so I took the draw. My son Matt was incensed. He thought I should have tried to sit on the position till move 40 when I'd have had an hour to win. I couldn't blame him, but these are personal decisions. After not outplaying anyone over 5 days, this game gave me a lot of confidence going into the home stretch.

After 6 rounds +1 -1 =4 3.0 out of 6