Saturday, April 11, 2009

Super Simuls and Other Stuff

There were lots of different activities and displays through out the weekend. It was hard to take in everything. I completely missed the Opening Ceremonies at the Grand Ole Opry House where Garry Kasparov and NASA astronaut Greg Chamitoff both spoke. I did manage to see Kasparov make the first move in the High School Championship.

In between rounds of the Parents & Friends tournament I managed to drop in on Woman's World Champion, Alexandra Kosteniuk's lecture on how to improve your chess. It was a major hike to get from the basement up where she was speaking on the third floor. I never did figure out if there was an elevator that went up from the basement to that part of the convention center. I was very impressed with her interaction with both the children and parents who attended her lecture. She was very animated, so it was hard for me to capture a picture where she was not blurred. I finally was able to get this shot where she is listening to the answer of one of the questions she asked of her audience.

Alexandra Kosteniuk on "How to improve your chess"

There were numerous simuls through out the weekend. I missed seeing a few of them. It's hard to be in two places at once. I did catch the last half of the simuls that the current US Champions gave on Saturday afternoon. They were playing in the room next to where the Parents & Friends tournament was so it was easy for me to catch the action. Hurray! No climbing thousands of steps to get to these events! Both Shulman and Zatonskih were wonderful with the participants in the simuls. They took the time to sign boards and score sheets, pose for pictures and give a little feedback about the game to their opponents. At the time they had not given up any points to their opponents.

There were two sets of twins playing in the simuls on Saturday. Playing against GM Shulman were the Kalghatgi brothers from Illinois. They are second graders that played in the K-3 Championship. They both achieved plus scores in that section. I'm not sure if I captioned the picture correctly. I should have made a note as to which one was wearing the red shirt or the gray shirt.

The other set of twins were the Mitra sisters from Texas. They are first graders and I was very surprised when their mother told me they were playing in the High School Championship! That was a rough section to be playing in. I'm not sure I would have gotten a plus score if I had played in that section. I guess if one is not afraid of playing much older kids then go for it.

One of the NYC coaches and I got into a discussion about could we win one of these sections. He used to think that he could win the K-12 section. Now he's not sure he could even win the K-9 section. I don't think I could even win the K-3 section. There were a number of kids higher rated then me in that section. Maybe I could win the K-1.

US Champion, GM Yury Shulman

US Woman's Champion IM Anna Zatonskih

Apsura and Aishwara Mitra of Texas taking on IM Zatonskih

Akhil and Nikhil Kalghatgi of Chicago, IL taking on GM Shulman

In addition to all the simuls and lectures there were lots of booths displaying different chess products, schools, camps and events. The different chess variants on display did not interest me much. I'm an old school chess player who thinks chess is just fine the way it is, so don't mess with it. However numerous people have come up with variations that they hope will appeal to kids.

One booth that I did spend a good amount of time at was one run by the Renaissance Knights Chess Foundation of Chicago. They are looking to bring the 2016 Chess Olympiad to Chicago. I've always wanted to see the Olympiad be contested in the United States. However it's a very expensive undertaking since the host nation has to provide housing, and meals for all the players and their delegations. Don Schultz who is part of US representation in FIDE estimated that it would cost between 4 to 6 million dollars to host. When asked why it would cost this much he provided the following explanation; "I didn't do a full calculation and there have been some slight changes BUT my figure is accurate due to the 4 to 6 range. Just to give you an idea of the enormity of the costs, there are about 1800 or a bit more players and delegates who come for which bidding regulations require that hotel and meals must be covered by the organizers at about 14 days each that is about 2 and a half million just for that one ingredient. Consider TD fees, space, translators , advance management etc. and etc., I think you will agree that the figure is accurate. It is the number bidders consider in their gross estimate."

That's a lot of money. The Chicago group hopes to piggy back on a successful bid by the city to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. It would a very exciting chess event and the opportunity to see players from all over the world competing. Don Schultz brought up in response to people discussing watching a chess event as opposed to playing in it. "I'd like to make one point here about those who are commenting on going to an olympaid to JUST watch it compared to playing. Its definitely an apples to oranges comparison. If you go to an Olympiad you are not just watching - you become part of it. There are 150 or so countries participating. You, in fact, are representing the USA to those people of those countries. You meet chess players from places you never heard of, and talk to them about differences their clubs, tournaments etc and ours. They are interested in what chess is like in the USA. There is a common thread. Everyone shares in the enormity of a great event. I'm not good with words but just watching doesn't apply, it just doesn't. You unavoidably, get caught up in the spirit of what is happening. If you love chess - you will always remember the experience of being at an Olympiad."

My thoughts exactly! Well put Don. I would get involved somehow if it ever comes to the United States. I don't think I'll make the trip to Siberia to see it there in 2010.

David and Sheila Heiser and Beatriz Marinello

Chess quilt by Heidi Oquendo

The US Chess Hall of Fame had a booth set up. Woman's World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk was there to sign copies of her book, "How I Became a Grandmaster at Age 14". Yes I bought the book. Like I need another chess book in my library, but I can't help myself. I did get her to sign the book, and pose for this picture with her. It was easier to go to her book signing then the Kasparov book signing that was more crowded.

Yours truly with Woman's World Champion, Alexandra Kosteniuk


Banatt said...

Haha. I signed up for the simul for Shavalov and overslept by accident. A friend of mine played vs. Shavalov last year and was greeted with "Lets see how much you've improved"

The chess variants were kind of awkward aside from "Beyond chess". That was actually kind of cool but it sounded like there was a little too much potential for draws.

Polly said...

Having gotten smashed by Shabalov in the 2007 US Open in Cherry Hill, I had no desire to try my luck in a simul against him. Hopefully you didn't oversleep for any of the 9:00 am rounds.

Saul said...

A man whom I play at my local chess club created and patented a chess variant called "Magi Chess." It's really fun! Also, is bughouse considered a chess variant or is it just standard chess played with partners? lol

Polly said...

Saul: When I refer to variants I'm speaking of one that need a different set and/or board. Bug house doesn't qualify in that respect.

chesstiger said...

I am still wondering what Kosteniuk had to say about how to improve in chess. Any chance you could do a post about that lecture?

Polly said...

Tiger: Unfortunately I didn't spend a whole lot of time in the lecture. I only had a few minutes before I needed to be somewhere else. When I came in she was discussing threats and recognizing them. She was using the 4 move check mate as an example. 2. Qh5 isn't threatening Qxf7+, but is threatening Qxe5+.