Sunday, August 30, 2009

Day and Knight in Amsterdam

Yesterday I finally headed into Amsterdam for the long anticipated chess bloggers' international gathering. Okay so it was two Dutch and one American. It was still international in flavor. I also finally made it to watch some of the NH Tournament. Originally I was going to go Friday, but I got side tracked, and went to watch field hockey instead. Netherlands versus England in the semi-finals of the European championships. England won in 2nd sudden death, 2-1.


I took the train from Haarlem (No that's not a typo. That how they spell it here.) to Amsterdam Central Station. Amsterdam was full of peole, but not necessarily for chess. There is a large arts festival (Uit Markt) all over Amsterdam with lots of free concerts, exhibits, and shows. I did actually stop and listen to a couple of performances on my way to the chess tournament.

Platform in Haarlem train station.
Central Station - Amsterdam

Canal through Amsterdam. One of many!!
Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky Venue of NH Tournament

It was easy to find the hotel. It wasn't quite as easy to find the tournament once I got inside. The first person I asked didn't know where the tournament was. He asked one of his colleagues who pointed me to the stairs up to the second floor where the tournament was being held. The first room I found was the commentary room where Hans Böhm was doing the commentary. It was all in Dutch so I didn't get a whole lot out of it. I could follow the moves on the board, but didn't understand what people were asking.

Hans Böhm

Commentary room.
Playing room.

Next I found the playing room. It was a pretty impressive set up with flat screen monitors with all the games showing. Since I did not get there early enough I couldn't take pictures inside the room. The picture above I took from the doorway. Monday I intend to get there early enough to take pictures of the players, and a closer view of the playing area. I did get a picture of Hou Yifan of China after her game was done. She's the lone female in the tournament.She's 15 years old and is a grandmaster. She's been referred to as Judit Polgar's successor as the woman who will be successful in high level grandmaster competition. She drew in that round.

Hou Yifan
I wandered back and forth between the playing room and commentary room. At want point I'm standing outside the playing room and Hikaru Nakamura is coming back into the room. He did a bit of a double take, and asked "What are you doing here?" I explained that I was visiting friends in the area, and knew that he was playing in the tournament. I've known Hikaru since he was five years old, and tagged along with his older brother who was the chess player in the family. I could actually beat him at blitz when he was first playing chess and only had a rating of 750. I haven't played blitz when him since. Sometimes it's best to quit when one is ahead. I am 0-2 in simuls against him.

Later on during one of my trips between rooms, CMoB came up to me and introduced himself. We talked for a bit and went in and listened to the commentary. He said that Böhm is really good at commentary and explained some of what was being said. We left the room to see if we could find Tempo who was supposed to meet us there at 16:00. We didn't find him right away.

In the mean time I poked my head into the press room, and found a familiar face. Macauley Peterson of ICC was there. He said "You're awfully far from New York." He's another person I've known since he was a kid. He has my dream job. Getting paid to travel to tournaments, write about the tournament, take photos and videos, and do analysis. However he's much higher rated, and can do the analysis bit much better then I can.

Press room after one of the games was done.
Macauley is sitting in the middle in the white shirt.

Finally CMoB found Tempo, and then they found me. We hung out at the tournament for awhile and then decided it would be better to go some place where we could play chess. We went to Cafe Batavia 1929 which is very close to Central Station. It's not a chess cafe in the purest sense, but they do have sets and boards. People do come there to play, and they do host tournaments sometimes. We were the only ones playing chess. First I played Tempo. I was black and got to face his infamous "Polar Bear". It was an interesting game. I'm sorry I didn't keep score. He gave up a pawn, but got loads of counter play and eventually destroyed my king side and mated me. I put up a decent fight, but given that he out rates me by a good 300 points, the result was expected.

O-O-O versus Temposchlucker

O-O-O versus Chessmaster or Bust

Next I played CMoB. I think I had expended so much energy against Tempo that I didn't have much energy left. I tossed a pawn in the first 10 moves and then walked into a stupid knight fork on my queen and rook. The position went totally to hell and I resigned fairly quickly. That game was not one that would have been interesting to post, even if I had written down the moves. I was hoping my quick resignation would give me a chance to observe the unofficial Dutch blogger's championship. However CMoB had another engagement and had to leave.

Tempo and I went out for dinner, and decided that we really didn't have time to go find De Laurierboom which is another chess cafe in Amsterdam. We still needed to take the Metro to where he parked his car. Just like London the Metro stops at midnight. The Metro was it's own adventure. They had switched to a card system two days earlier, and they were still having problems with the vending machines. They had people helping out, so they let me in and told me to go to the other end of the platform and try those machines. No cards there, so those people said go to the next station.

One might think that since I was already on the platform I could just take a free ride. However you have to have a card to get out of the station too. We finally got a card for me, but it was unclear whether it was going to get me out since he had used his card to come back to the platform. Sure enough when we got to our stop, my card wouldn't let me out. I had to stay close to him and follow him through the gate.

Tempo had forgotten his GPS so it was bit of an adventure getting back to my friend's house. Fortunately I knew enough to tell him to head towards Haarlem, and then we would see signs for Bloemendaal. The real fun began once we got into Bloemendaal. When riding around with my friends I don't pay a whole lot of attention to which way we're going. I had small Google map of the town, so we fumbled around looking at street signs. I eventually saw a street I was familiar with and then finally found my friend's house.

All in all it was enjoyable meeting with fellow chess players and bloggers. If you are traveling and have the chance to meet up with other bloggers I highly recommend it. It's interesting to meet the person behind the writing.

My next post will cover my return to Amsterdam to watch the final round of the NH Tournament.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Knight Life In London

I was determined to find some chess action when I was in London. What I remembered from my last visit in 1997 was that they don't play chess in the parks like we do in New York. They also don't have a club like the Marshall that is open seven days a week. They do have a lot of clubs, and with the Internet it's fairly easy to find out information. The Streatham & Brixton Chess Club blog has lots of links for clubs in London. I started my search there. However all the clubs meet on week nights, which didn't help me since I arrived on Friday night and left Monday evening. (Though if I knew my flight would be delayed for almost four hours I could have squeezed in some play last night.)

I emailed the site administrator to ask him if he knew of any place where people play on the weekends. He didn't. but he put a post up on the blog and I got a number of responses. I decided I would go check out the action at the Forum Cafe on Saturday night. Armed with a London Underground map I set off to find Forum Cafe on Gloucester Rd. Being a veteran of the New York subway system, the London Underground is a piece of cake. That is if I could find the entrance. In New York you see a sign for a subway entrance, the entrance is right there. In London that is not necessarily the case.

Here is the sign for the station close to my hotel. I'm looking for the entrance. It's not near the sign. It's several blocks away. I'm feeling really stupid at this point. Here's the sign telling me there is an underground station, but where the heck is it? Finally I make like a dumb tourist and ask someone. That was better then going back to my hotel room and asking my husband how do I find the underground? I'd rather look stupid to a random person on the street then to my London savvy husband. I guess I'm not the first person to have this problem.

Having finally found the station, I decided I would buy my ticket from a person instead of the machine. I wanted to confirm which line I was taking and where I was changing. I'm glad I asked because they were doing weekend track work on the one line so I had to take another one. I felt like I was at home. That's where the similarities end. New York's subway system is huge but it's pretty straight forward. Trains go uptown or downtown. They're Bronx bound, Brooklyn bound, or Queens bound. In London trains go north, south, east, west and anything in between. Some trains go in the same direction on the same line, but stop at completely different stations. There can be four different platforms for the same line that is going in two directions. Thank God the signs are in English. If Seoul's subway system was like that I'd probably still be wondering around Korea trying to get off the subway.

I finally made my way to Forum Cafe where 2 people were playing backgammon out front, and two other were playing blitz chess inside. I came in and started to watch. Noel, the gentleman pictured below asked me if I played. They're not accustomed to having women watching or playing. I said yes, and when they finished their game he played me. I lost the first couple of game I played with him and another player whose name I did not catch.

Noel is originally from India. In fact of the four players who came in and out during my time there, none of them were English born. Noel explained that the group of them were very international with players from Africa, Iran, Italy and who knows where else. Noel was curious as to how I found about the group. I told him about finding them via comments on the Streatham-Brixton blog.

Polly opening with e4!

One player who arrived later was an older gentleman from Italy. Noel had asked where he been. He had been playing in the park. I found out that people play in Holland Park after 3:00 pm. Holland Park is one of these tiny little parks that you find scattered about London. He told me it was near Kensington, and I did find it on the London street map. It's a tiny little green square on the map. I didn't get a chance to check it out. When you're traveling with a non-chess playing spouse you can only push the chess searches so far. I will have to save that for another trip.

I played a number of games with Alex of Italy. He plays crazy and attacking chess. He kept hurling pawns at me, and half the games neither of us would castle. I had some very interesting games against him where I would be up material, have his king on the run, but he'd slip away and come back and smash me. Noel made the observation that I get good positions out of the opening and then seem to let my advantage slip away. Often it was from giving up tempos unnecessarily, or overlooking some simple tactic. I told him that was very typical in my slow games too.

Noel and Alex

I took a bit of a break to have a cup of tea and a big disgustingly good chocolate chip cookie that you can see on the table near Noel pictured above. I always feel it's important to patronize the cafe that allows people to play at their establishment. Years ago I played with a group of players at a Borders in White Plains. Most of the players were too cheap to buy anything and would take up tables so that patrons who did buy something had nowhere to drink their coffee. Eventually they asked to play at tables in the store itself so that the paying customers could sit. (End of the cheap chess players rant.)

I ended out staying until around 1:30 am. Unfortunately the underground stops running at midnight so I ended out taking a very expensive cab ride back to my hotel. This is not a formal chess club. Some of the players do go to other clubs, but here's a spot where one can play lots of blitz any evening of the week. If you're in London and want to play blitz make your way to Cafe Forum at 146 Gloucester Rd. It's a block away from the Gloucester Rd. stop on the Piccadilly line of the underground. They play from 9:30 until closing time, around 2:00 am.

I could have played in a rapid play tournament on Sunday. The Mind Sport Olympiad was taking place in London and the chess was on Sunday. However it started at 9:30 am and I didn't wake up until 10:30. I've been having more problems then usual with jet lag. Besides as you can see from the photo below it was a beautiful sunny day. Who wants to spend a sunny day in London inside? Sunny days are a rare treat.

St. Paul's Cathedral

Crosswalk instructions for dyslexic tourists.

Monday I took my husband to the train station for his trip up north of London. I had time to kill before heading to Gatwick to catch my flight to Amsterdam. I went to the London Chess Centre to do a little browsing and shopping. They have a large selection of books and chess equipment. I did not buy any sets or books. I have enough sets, and I need to read some of the books I already own before buying any more. I ended out buying a tee-shirt and few little odds and ends. It's nice shop, and I'm glad I stopped in before leaving London. I had last been to the shop in 1997 on my last trip to London.

Chess sets of all types and sizes!!

Endgame comes to London!

After shopping I went back to the hotel to get my luggage and make my way to Gatwick Airport. No taxi ride for that trip. I took the underground to Victoria Station and then took the Gatwick Express out to the airport. It's very nice 30 min train ride out there. The hardest part was getting down the steps to the Victoria Line in the underground.

To make a very long story short, I had a three and half hour delay for a 45 minute flight. Plane was late getting from Italy to UK. Then plane had mechanical issues. They got another plane that was coming from somewhere else, and so on and so forth. Thanks go to the kind Brit who loaned me his Palm to text my husband to tell him to call my friends in the Netherlands. It's hard traveling without a cell phone that works abroad.

By the time I got to Amsterdam I was tired and stood on the wrong line at immigration. I got on the EU line. When I got there the guy asked me if I was from the European section of the United States. Just one of those days!

Next on my chess tour of Europe will be visiting the NH Tournament in Amsterdam on Friday.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

I'm all packed, and ready to skip town. However I couldn't leave without playing some chess this week. Normally I'd be on my way down to New York City for my Thursday cracktion fix, but 4:30 AM Friday comes too quickly, so I'm staying home tonight. Besides I got plenty of chess in this week. I played Monday up in White Plains. Tuesday a few of us went up to Norwalk, CT to check out their event. A number of Connecticut people have been coming down for my Monday tournaments. I figured it was time to return the favor. Wednesday I played the 4th round of the Westchester Chess Club Summer Round Robin.

How were the games? The title says it all.

The Good (Wednesday)

After losing Michael Knatz in my not so grand (prix) return, I bounced back with a win against Andre Morowski. Last night I played Peter Wojnar who was my last round opponent in the club championship. He was the one who I played very cautiously against and traded down to get the draw to win the tournament. Last night there was no need to play it safe. He also played a different line against my English then the last game. I was concerned whether all the pawn pushes I made would come back to haunt me like they did on Tuesday. On Tuesday my pawns became inviting targets in my round one game. Wednesday's game the pawns were a non-factor.


The Bad - Tuesday

Any one of my Tuesday games could have fallen into the bad category. It was just a bad night. They got 12 players and opted to do quads. I ended out being number 1 in a quad of 2 1600s and a 1550. I hate being at the top of a quad. I much prefer to be in the middle to the bottom. On the bright side; I got to play two people I've never played before. I also didn't end out in the same quad with Guy who I had brought up with me.

In the first game I ended out with over extended pawns which became inviting targets to my opponent. In the second round I played Alexandra Wiener. The last time we played she was not feeling very well due to the lack of functioning air conditioning. She had blundered a lot in that game, so I won pretty easily. This time there was plenty of air conditioning. In fact, I had to go out to my car and get a jacket because I was freezing during the first round.

I know when I'm Black against Alexandra it's going to be a painful defensive battle. She plays the Maroczy Bind against my Accelerated Dragon. I have to be patient, and wait for the tension to break. Getting the queen trade helped, but even still her rooks were a lot more active. I did eventually manage to trade down to a won King and Pawn ending. However I was having counting issues, and thought I was losing despite being up a pawn. The way I played the ending, I was lost. However she also misplayed it, so a suitable result based on our bad end game play was a draw.


The Ugly - (Monday)

I won my first round game against a kid rated around 1200. I won a couple of pawns and then simplified. Unlike many kids who play down to mate, he resigned when he saw that I had too many passed pawns on both sides of the board. I was happy with that game. In the second round I had to play the father of one the kids who was playing. Mike wasn't planning to play, but I asked him to because otherwise I would have an odd number. I try avoid having to give byes as much as possible. His son was the second lowest rated player, so he would have been in line for the bye in round two.

Mike started playing back in the sixties and used to take lessons with Sammy Reshevsky back then. He also had played Fischer in a simul. He's been over 2000, but lately has been hovering around his floor of 1800. He likes to play aggressively, and one has to be careful. He will attack with abandon if given the chance. Needless to say I gave him lots of chances to attack. I did not defend well, and got crushed. Of my four losses this week, this by far was the ugliest.

MMc Dermott081709.pgn

There you have it. A mixed bag of chess for the week. I have a long day ahead of me tomorrow. I'm going to take a tactics book with me on the plane. Maybe I'll actually do some of them while I'm away. Stay tuned for my European adventures.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

US Open Wrap Up

Sunday morning came way too soon, so I missed the first part of the delegates meeting. If you want the blow by blow details of Sunday's session check out John Hillary's live blogging. A typical Sunday session is just trying to get through the printed agenda. That usually means referring a lot of motions to committees. We did make a change to the 14H insufficient losing chances rule. The discussion was totally confusing and I'm not sure we really knew what we were voting for. Judging from the posts this week on the USCF Issues Forum, we probably got something we didn't intend. I'm not even going to begin to attempt to explain it.

We did manage to finish in time, and I was able to grab a bite to eat before round 9. It's been awhile since I last came into the last round with an even score. Not that I was particularly happy with how I have arrived at that even score. Somehow 2 wins against 1100s, 2 losses to an IM and a kid rated 1300, and 4 draws against 1300s and an unrated was not what I call a stellar performance. I would have been more satisfied with my result if I won the games when I was paired down, and lost the games when paired up. Finally in round 9 I would get paired up for only the second time this tournament.

It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words. The picture below conveys just how I felt at the moment it was taken. Zeljka Malobabic of Mon Roi took a picture of me almost every day. I'm smiling in the pictures from the earlier rounds. In this picture I'm looking rather grim. Judging from what I can see of the board this was taken shortly before I got my bishop trapped.

Here is the game. It was kind of typical of how many of my games as White have been going. Maybe it's time to learn some real openings and play 1. e4.


During the tournament I met Eric Strickland, aka ES_Trick. Finally on the last day I got somebody to take a picture of us together. It took numerous attempts to get a picture that was in focus. It seemed every person I asked to take a picture could not figure out how to use my camera. Finally I got Chris Merli who has the same camera to take the picture.

Castling Queenside and ES_Trick

Chris taking a picture of me taking a picture of Chris

Going into the last round there were two players at 7 points. Alex Lenderman and Sergey Kudrin had a hard fought draw. This created the opportunity for players at 6.5 to tie for first if they won. 6 players ended out in the tie. Sergey Kudrin and Dmitry Gurevich were the top two on tie breaks. They had a one game Armageddon match to determine the champion.

Who says chess isn't a spectator sport?

Gurevich had Black with draw odds. How frustrating must it be as White to have to force three fold repetition for a draw that loses the championship? Here is the crucial position.

White just played 29. Bf6+ the game continued 29... Nxf6 30. Qxf7+ Kh8 31. Qf8+ Kh7 32. Qf7+ Kh8 draw.

US Open Champion - Dmitry Gurevich

Just because the tournament games were over didn't mean the fun and games were done. Every night there would be an energetic group of teenagers playing blitz and bughouse until all hours of the morning. Since it was also the spot where I could get free internet I would often hang out, and catch some of the action.

Abby Marshall and Zeljka Malobabic
Zeljka catches me in blogging mode.
Friday's belated report.

Some of the night owls. They had a very interesting bet going on. The guy on the left in the striped sweatshirt bet them that he could drink a gallon of milk and all the extra cups sitting in front of him in an hour, and keep it all down for another hour. I'm not sure what the final outcome was. I would have had to stay up until 3:00 am to find out. As it was I had to catch a 5:30 am train back to Chicago. I wasn't about to pull an all nighter with the kids. When I did pass by there at 4:30 am there were still about 4 people playing blitz.

More of my games can be found at Checkmate State by State in this post or at

Got milk?

Sunrise as seen from Amtrak

I got back to Chicago on Monday morning. That evening I had dinner at Jerry Neugarten's house in Highland Park. I haven't seen him since he moved out the Chicago area. We were joined by ICA President Tom Sprandel and Glenn Panner and his wife. Even though my husband does not play chess, he managed to survive an evening of chess geek talk.

Jerry, me, Tom, Glenn

I finally got home on Wednesday and keep things consistent, I had another flight delay. Fortunately it was only Mother Nature messing with the New York airspace, not some nut job with a fake bomb. Unlike the poor folks who spent the night on a plane with no functioning toilet, we only sat on the tarmac for an hour.

I've gotten everything unpacked, and the laundry done. This is just a brief pause before I take flight again. So what does one do after accumulating tons of frequent flier miles, and hotel points? Take another trip using them. Next stop London, then on to the Netherlands to see my best friend who lives there. I don't know if I'll do any chess in London. I'm making a few inquiries but all the clubs seem to meet on days when I won't be there.

However I will be meeting up with Tempo and CMoB in Amsterdam to go to a chess cafe. There is also the NH Tournament: Rising Stars vs Experience. Hikaru Nakamura will be playing in it. I hope I'll get a chance to catch some of the action. My friend that I'm visiting over there is the one who taught me how to play chess 41 years ago.

Once I return from that trip my travels will come to a grinding halt. With the exception of a visit to my sister's and playing in the NY State Championship over Labor Day, I'll be laying low. Teaching and directing will be be next on my agenda.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Ultra Belated US Open Saturday Report

I'm back in New York, and I've already played in Thursday's cracktion at the Marshall without finishing up my US Open report. (In case you're wondering, after 2 straight weeks of 0-3 there, I finally broke through with a score of 1.5 - 2.5. Details to follow in another post.) Back to the US Open. Now I will attempt to catch up with the rest of my US Open stories, before moving onto other things.

Saturday was an incredibly busy day. It started at 8:00 AM with a very nice breakfast reception for the delegates. When I heard the hotel was having this reception for us I was expecting coffee, tea and some pastries. They did have that stuff, but they also had these fresh fruit kabobs, strawberry drinks, and freshly made egg sandwiches. It was actually a real breakfast. It was a nice change from my bowl of cereal that I had been eating in my room in the mornings.

Fresh fruit kabobs!

It was nice way to start what was going to be very long and draining day. I sat with a few people I know whose politics are a little more to the right of my own. I decided I would just listen. I hate arguing about that stuff. I figured the delegates meeting would be contentious enough. I knew things were going to be different when I received this pile of papers when I received my delegates credential and materials. Usually the stack of paper is about a tenth of that. That was the pile before all the handouts distributed during the afternoon executive session. The pile doubled before the first day's session was done.

How many trees died to make this pile?

John Hillary of Western Chess did live blogging of the morning session. If you readers of this blog are really interested in what I sat through in the morning, you can click here. I'm not going to reinvent the wheel by repeating everything John said. He does add some of his own commentary and opinion of the proceedings. He was very spot on in his commentary. I do think that some people just like to get up and hear themselves talk. As for myself, I got up once to ask a question and that was it. No passionate arguments either way on any of the issues. The hard part would come after lunch.

After the morning session was the annual awards luncheon. I generally don’t go to it. The last time I attended was in 1991 when Kasparov was the keynote speaker. This year I decided to attend since various friends were receiving awards, and being inducted into the USCF Hall of Fame. Steve Shutt was the master of ceremonies. I've known Steve for many years, but I never realized what a marvelous sense of humor he has. He did a wonderful job emceeing the proceedings. In the picture below he's having a little fun at his own expense as he presented an award that he was receiving on behalf of ASAP (After School Activities Partnership)

Steve Shutt, Master of Ceremonies

Tony Rich of The Chess Club and Scholastic Center St. Louis
Organizer of the Year

He also received the Koltanowski Gold Medal on behalf Rex Sinquefield who started the club in St. Louis. They hosted the US Championship in May. In October they will be hosting the US Woman's Championship. I have not yet been to the club, but hopefully I will get some time to go out to St, Louis and pay them a visit.

Franc Guadalupe
Tournament Director of the Year

I have never had the pleasure to work for him at any of the national tournaments that he's directed. However he's always been a big help to me when I've had questions or have needed something at the scholastic championships I've attended.

Tim Just
Outstanding Career Achievement

Tim edited the 5th Edition of the USCF Rulebook, and has continued to do a lot of revisions of the the rules. It's a tough job.

Grandmaster John Fedorowitcz
Frank J Marshall Award

Jennifer and Mike Skidmore
Meritorious Service Award

There were many more awards then what I mentioned above. I just could keep up with everyone. After the awards were given out then came the Hall of Fame inductions of GM John Fedorowicz and former Editor of Chess Life and Review, Burt Hochberg.

Grandmaster John Fedorowitcz
Hall of Fame Inductee

Carol Hochberg,
Widow of Burt Hochberg, Hall of Fame Inductee

Burt Hochberg was long time Editor of Chess Life and Review back when I first joined the USCF back in the 70s. I got to know the Hochbergs from hanging out at various US Opens back in the mid-70s. Carol gave a lovely speech thanking various people for Burt's induction. She emailed me the text, so here it is.

Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen

I am honored to have been invited to accept for Burt, the highest award the chess world has to offer, that of inductee into the Chess Hall of Fame. Burt would, I think, want me to thank not only those who recommended he be chosen, Dr. David Levy, and Rachel and Myron Lieberman, but all those involved in the voting procedure to make his induction a certainty. Burt would be proud and honored to stand in the Hall of Fame with those who were not only friends and cohorts, but many whom he considered giants of the chess world. For him to share this podium today, with John Fedorowicz, whom he admired and watched grow into the fine Grandmaster he is today, would have been an extra added reward. Burt loved chess, its history, its players, the chess journalists, and of course, Chess Life. Chess was Burt's world. I would very much like to thank, World Chess Champion Boris Spassky, IM John Donaldson, Editor of Chess Life Dan Lucas, Editor of Chess Life for Kids, Glenn Petersen, Grandmaster and chess columnist for the New York Post, Andy Soltis, and Former Editor of Chess Life, currently Professor at St. Johns University, Dr. Frank Brady. In closing, I would like to read an email I received from GM Boris Spassky in answer to my email telling him of the honor the USCF had bestowed upon Burt.

Dear Carol,
Thank you for your email of June 23. I would like to say a few words about Burt, especially because I have very good memories of him. I think Burt deserves to be inducted into the USCF's Chess Hall of Fame. As editor of Chess Life, he established many connections between the American and International chess communities. I remember how we discussed my article about the Karpov-Polugajevsky semifinal match in Moscow, 1974, during my quarterfinal against Robert Byrne in Puerto Rico. Soon after, Burt helped me purchase and send a Ford Mustang from the USA to the USSR - not an easy task. He had, as Russians say, a lucky hand. He was my car's good luck charm. There were never any problems. The last time I met Burt in America, it was by then as old friends. We shared good memories about the past and it warmed my heart. I am very happy you will be present at Burt's induction ceremony at the US Open in Indianapolis. I am glad that many people respect and remember him.

Your friend,

Boris Spassky

Carol Hochberg, Harold Winston, John Fedorowicz

After the luncheon was done it was back to the delegates meeting. This was the point where we went into a closed executive session to vote on whether or not to uphold the ruling of the Executive Board to revoke the memberships of Paul Truong and Susan Polgar. Both sides were given time to present their case and then a vote was taken. I'm not at liberty to discuss what was presented, or the discussion that followed. The delegates did vote to uphold the Executive Board's decision. I'm sad to see that it came down to this, but they felt they had run out of options. I'd like to say it's over, but for the time being it is not. I'm going to just leave it at that.

We finally adjourned around 5:30 which gave me an hour and half to try to pull myself back together and get ready to play chess at 7:00 PM. The 8th round of the US Open has not treated me kindly over the last 3 years. I'm 0-3 in round 8 from 2006 to 2008. Would 2009 be any different? It was most likely I would get paired down again since I was -1. I had not seen an up pairing since my round two disaster against Ron Burnett.

Sure enough I got paired down against an 1190 who also had 3 points. When somebody who is that much lower rated then you, but has the same score after 7 rounds, you can't go by rating at all. I decided I was not going to look at the wallchart and see who had beaten or drawn with to achieve that score. I did not want to clutter up my mind worrying about that kind of stuff.

He made an error in the opening which allowed me to win a pawn on f2. I played a bit tentatively after that. I wasn't convinced I would be able to convert the pawn advantage. He played very solidly, and was taking his time on each move. I was having a little trouble staying still, and got quite interested in the game of this kid playing several boards away. I had seen him during the tournament, but thought he was the little brother of one the other kids playing. He's six years old and came into the tournament with a rating of 1510. He played 8 rounds and scored 4 points. His rating jumped to 1600.

Awonder Liang
6 years old. Youngest player

He should have been familiar to me since I had taken a number of pictures of him at Super Nationals, including the one below. He tied for second in the K-1 section with 6.5 out of 7. His 3rd place trophy was as big as he was. At that time his rating was 1345. A kindergartner with a 1345 rating! I don't think I even knew how to play checkers in kindergarten. Since then he has gained 250 points.

Super Nationals 3rd Place K-1
Tied for 2nd, but 3rd on tie breaks

Meanwhile back to my game. My opponent made one move a little too fast, and I was able to win another pawn. That finally gave me something to work with. I was able to simplify to a minor piece ending and run my pawns down the board. Here's the game.


Finally I broke the 8th round curse and evened up my score.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

2009 US Open - Belated Friday Report

It's Sunday already and I haven't written anything since my Thursday post. The four day schedule jams too much chess into too short a time. I played three more games at the Game/60 time limit and then all the schedules merged for the 7th round. My first round was at 10:00 am. I got paired down against a kid rated 1390, and had a very aggravating game. I traded down giving him horrible pawns, and could have won a pawn. I decided not to play that line because I was concerned about him having the passed a pawn. I figured I could wi the a pawn instead and leave him with the double isolated pawns. I never won the a pawn, and eventually it became a queen.


The next round I was the highest rated 1 pointer, so I got paired against the low 1.5. He was rated 1101. I did win that game. While I was playing that game Hikaru Nakamura was giving a simul. He went 26-0. I did take a few pictures while he was playing.

Hikaru signing one of his opponent's score book.

Dan Mayer, oldest participant.

Margaret Hua age 11, maybe the youngest in the simul.

Mike Atkins, newly elected to Executive Board.

Merger Mania

Finally Friday night all three schedules merge into one. We're all play 40/2 G/60. I got paired down against another 1300. At least I finally get another adult opponent. I was tired, and had a pounding headache. At one point my opponent was thinking a long time so I went back to my room to take a couple of ibuprofen. I'm sharing a room with Carol Jarecki who is an International Arbiter and National Tournament Director. She was in the room watching TV. She was a little surprised to see me. I told her what I was doing. I said I would be the dumbest cheater alive if I pulled at my computer and started looking at Chessbase while my roommate is watching.

I went back down and continued playing. My opponent offered me a draw in this position.

Normally I would not take a draw with this much material left on the board. This would be the type of position that I get annoyed with one of my students offering a draw hoping to just get rating points. I broke my own rule and accepted the draw. I didn't feel like playing the position and I still had a headache. Saturday was going to be a very busy day with meetings and another game, so I decided I would take this early draw.