Saturday, June 2, 2007

Has Anything Changed?

I finished reading Jennifer Shahade's book Chess Bitch today. It was a great read - I was disappointed to get to the end of the book! I especially appreciated the section where she talked about women who played chess in the "early days" in the United States ("Playing for America.") As I was reading, I was very much struck with this story from the career of U.S. player Mary Bain, and I take the liberty of quoting from Ms. Shahade's book: (p. 229) It was not until 1951 that Bain managed to capture a single title from the Gresser and Karff duo [U.S. Women's Chess Champion title holders]. This enabled her to take another stab at the world crown. She was thrilled to travel to Moscow, along with second-place Karff, to participate in the 1952 World Championship Candidates. . . . (p. 230) She was livid that the American Chess Federation offered her neither financial nor psychological support. "My sendoff was cruel. I was told that I was not going to represent the USA and USCF but Zone Number Four. No use complaining..." She also had no second to help her analyze adjourned games, which ususally resumed the following day: "When I have an adjourned game I stay up all night and then make the worst move." Ideally, Mary would be sleeping soundly, while her trainer would work through the night, and then supply her with a thorough analysis in the morning. British Master Golombek sympathized with Bain, pointing out, "It is very sad that a great country like the USA should have such a weak chess federation." Perhaps the worse insult was that the Soviet Federation had been willing to pay all expenses for her second, but Bain had not been told this until it was too late to arrange. Does this sound familiar? We have the same kind of treatement of our women chessplayers going on over fifty years later. Two recent examples are the way the USCF treated the Women's 2004 and 2006 Chess Olympiad Teams - the same way they treated U.S. Women's Chess Champion Mary Bain - like dirt! It is well known and publicized that the USCF tried its best not to fulfill its contractual obligations to the 2004 Women's Olympiad Team, including waiting several months to pay them the bonus money the team members earned by bringing home the first ever Women's Team Olympiad Medal (Gold) and promptly cancelling the Women's Olympiad Training Program that Susan Polgar had been asked to spearhead just a few years before! I have written in this blog about the inability of the USCF to keep the 2006 Olympiad team together - they finished in fourth place and had earned a spot to play in the recently-concluded First Women's World Team Chess Championships. But we couldn't even field a team of players. Botswana sent a team of four players to the Championship, which didn't win a single match. Wouldn't our "B" team have done better? Of course, the USCF probably didn't have a contingency plan for a "B Team" - or the money to send the team to Russia to compete even if we did have a "B Team." Geez! The richest country in the world - so we claim. But we can't afford to send four women to Russia to compete in a chess tournament. Pathetic, absolutely pathetic.
The Weave revisited: The WEAVE Discussion group archive: "Is chess the game of the goddess?" The Weave began on December 6th, 1998 as a Wild Card discussion in Art Bell's old C2C message board system. Evolving into a cooperative survey, The Weave contains articles wrapped in the cloth of chess and chess history. During the course of discussion, it became apparent that an archive of messages should be gathered and preserved with a view towards future reference, study and speculation. We continue to build on the past with ongoing interactions at Delphi, as well as via private content submissions delivered to this site. The WEAVE continued at Delphi Forum...there are many many posts that are fasinating, and filled with history, archaeological, and submissions from chess historians.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Why Do I Play Chess?

Why do I play chess? I have no idea why that question occurred to me today while I was sitting here at the office desperately trying to find some commentary on Judit Polgar's win against Bareev at the Candidates' Matches. The question gave me pause because - no answer came to mind! Gee - am I dead??? So then I thought "oh for goddess' sake, Jan, you have to come up with some answer. Preferably something profound and thought-provoking, something that will give any readers who stumble upon this blog a sit-up-and-take-notice moment - aha - I feel exactly like that myself. I shall become famous, I might even win a Pulitizer prize...the first for a blog..." I am still waiting for inspiration to strike my fingers, which are patiently poised over the keyboard; it seems the Chess Goddess' mojo went out to lunch after seeing to it that Judit won her "must win" game today. Will She see to it that Judit win's her second "must win" game tomorrow? (Note to self: email Isis and see what the current line is, maybe it's worth a $5 bet). And will She get Judit safely through the tie-break so that she moves into Candidates' Matches, Part Deux? Does the Goddess' mojo have mojo, or will she need to boost some extra caffeine tomorrow??? Thank Goddess that I'll be able to watch the game online - oh and Chess Goddess - can you also make sure there are no technical or transmission difficulties tomorrow while I'm watching the game? Back to my question - why do I play chess? I'm thinking about it but I'm coming up blank. I don't play well, I have no deep (well, to be honest, none at all) understanding of positional play or tactics, I'm lucky if I can think three moves ahead on a good day and usually I'm busted by my imagined second move anyway because the other guy NEVER does what I thought he might do, I don't know a Ruy Lopez from a Queen's Indian, I'm not interested in improving my game by doing any kind of studying (yech) and I hate to lose. Doesn't sound very promising, does it. I could say it's because I love the game, but it sure doesn't sound like I love the game very much, does it! So I guess I'll just have to settle for "I play because I'm an eternal optimist." That line of reasoning goes perhaps some day I'll wake up and I'll be a chess genius, and I'll blow away anyone who plays chess with me, showing no mercy and without regard to race, color, creed, age or gender. I shall zoom up to the top of the ratings charts faster than I can lose 20 pounds, enter all the big name Opens and win them all, make a kajillion dollars from endorsements (wow, that middle-aged woman sure can play chess. And do you know why - it's because she uses [insert name of product]), and win the world championship - not only being the first woman to do so, but the oldest player ever even when I knock 10 years off my age. Then I'll move to Seattle, become a recluse, ask Robert J. Fischer to marry me and we'll clone a chess genius together who lives happily ever after spending all the money we made while we were great chessplayers. Ah, to sleep perchance to dream - well, I know it's something like that, that line from Romeo and Juliet? Well, from one of (as Candi Kane calls him) Spearshaker's plays. Okay - time to get a large glass of wine and settle down with Chess Bitch out on the deck.

Polgar at the Candidates' Matches

Judit pulled out the stops and won with white today, yippee! Susan Polgar published an interesting photo of a smiling Judit snuggling a baby lion on her shoulder in front of a bookcase filled with chess sets. Hmmm.... She also provided analysis of the game and practically a blow by blow description. So, the score is now Bareev 3, Judit 2. Judit still has to win behind the black pieces tomorrow in order to force a play-off. Can she do it? My goddess, the woman is causing me to go prematurely grey...

Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Different Perspective

What would $31 a month mean to you? To six young Vietnamese chessplayers, it could be the world-changing break of a lifetime: National Focus (31-05-2007) Young chess talents receive grants The Financing and Promoting Technology (FPT) body yesterday awarded monthly scholarships of VND500,000 (US$31) to six chess talents from north Viet Nam, in addition to computers on which to practice. Furthermore, the two best chess players will receive financial assistance to compete at international tournaments, as proposed by the Chess Federation of Viet Nam. The three-year sponsorship deal is intended to support under-privileged under-ten-year-olds to play competitive chess. A further six young players from central and south Viet Nam will receive their scholarships on Saturday in HCM City. More coverage here.

We Televise Spelling Bees! Why Not Chess?

Hola everyone! Oh its hot and muggy here and it rained, but not enough to make a difference to my parched lawn. The same weather is supposed to be here for the next 4 days, long enough to totally ruin the weekend. Sigh. I kid you not, right now (7:00 p.m. CST - or is that CDT? I can never keep it straight) I've got the ABC station affiliate on and there are 15 finalists in LIVE COVERAGE competing for the "National Spelling Bee Championship." Oh my goddess! A spelling bee with kids on national television for the next two hours - and chess can't PAY to get itself broadcast! There is definitely something wrong with this picture... Yes I know, I know, I've read the arguments about how chess is "boring" - excuse me? Anyone who says that doesn't know a THING about the incredible hit movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer." The way the tension was built-up between the good kid and the "bad" kid (who was smirkingly excellent in the role, by the way) that led to that penultimate game when Josh brought out his queen "too early" - goddess, I get goosebumps just writing about it here. There are obviously ways to bring excitement and audience involvement to a game like chess. Hell, if people can sit glued to the television set for hours watching men swing clubs at balls on a golf course, surely we can make chess interesting - sexy, even. And I'm not talking about speed chess. An event like the Candidates' Matches going on right now in some place called Elista can be made very exciting for an audience, even if they aren't familiar with chess. First of all, you do a brief "get to know" the players - like they do for the Olympics - video clips and sound bites, a little family background and history of how he/she got from there to here for each two players in a match. You personalize the players for the audience, let the audience get to see some of the personalities involved in this great game. Then you give a clear overview of the rules of competition - six games in the first round and how the points are scored, and only three from the first round of six games will go on to the second half. That's enough drama for anyone to understand. And it doesn't hurt that large sums of money are involved and, for the winners of the Candidates' Matches, the chance to go for the BIG ONE - the World Championship. Do a chart like the football commentators do during the play-offs to show the possibilities. Guys love charts! Then you show highlights of each match, crucial points in the games where a player either made a good move or made a not so good move. You have lively commentary/review of the games by a couple different teams - preferably one man and one woman on each team - experienced players who know what they're talking about - and they switch off commenting on the matches. I know it's sexist, but one woman should be attractive and one man should be a hot hunk. Let's face it - eye candy appeals to a certain audience type (like me). The other man and woman commentators could be more the "elderly statesman/woman" type. Think "Dick Button and Peggy Fleming" doing figure-skating commentary on ABC - Fleming is as beautiful, gracious and likeable as ever and Button is to figure skating what John Madden is to NFL football. Older man/younger woman; older woman/younger man. These ideas aren't anything that hasn't been done before - think about golf again - it's routine for the initial shots at each hole to be shown and the action jumps around from player to player, and then the action concentrates on the green and the putting - or if someone lands in a "dramatic situation" such as the rough or a sand-trap or in front of a tree! The commentators and the camera work build up the drama - close-ups of the players' faces, whispered commentary into the mike explaining what's at stake and just what the odds are of making a 25 foot putt going uphill with the green cut slanting the other way, etc. etc. Hell, I don't know a think about golf and I've watched it for years and enjoy it. I'd love watching a summary of an important game/match/tournament on t.v. But, darlings, not on cable television, please. I don't subscribe.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Mon Dieu, MonRoi!

If you followed the recently concluded U.S. Chess Championship ("Men's") on the internet, you may be aware that MonRoi, which produces and markets a device for recording moves while a game is in progress (in place of a manual scoresheet), sponsored the official website for the event on behalf of the USCF and provided live coverage of the games. MonRoi is a Canadian company located in Montreal. I tried to follow a few games online, but I don't have the patience to sit that long and stare at my computer screen, so I can't comment on whether what seemed like a long time to me in-between moves was actually reflecting real time/events in the game or caused by technical problems. I thought the website was a little slow to get the results and news published and, for an official website, I thought the coverage was rather thin. I would like to have seen more interviews with the players, a lot more photographs and human interest stories, but that is my personal preference. There were reports of problems with game transmission and there were some negative comments made about MonRoi (and its product) at the Daily Dirt blog while the U.S. Championships were taking place. I thought a few of the comments were a bit over the top, I didn't agree with the tack that some of the posters took, and that was that. This is America - we're used to saying what we like (for the most part) when we like and our right to do so is guaranteed under our Constitution. People can say and write things that others may find obnoxious and insulting; under American law, truth is an absolute defense to charges of libel and slander and expressing one's opinion is generally protected, particularly when one is speaking of or writing of a figure in the public eye or a public entity such as MonRoi. Regardless, what I read in those posts didn't influence any opinion I held about MonRoi (generally favorable because of its support for the Women's Grand Prix) or its product (no opinion whatsoever as, not being a tournament player, I can conceive of no reason I would purchase and use the device). I am a fan of Mig's Daily Dirt, as much for the news and insight he provides as for the comments from the eclectic crowd of posters who hang out there. I visited the blog today, as usual, and was shocked to read that Mig had been contacted by MonRoi because it (or someone high up at MonRoi) took offense at some of the comments posted at the blog! Quoting Mig: "That situation is that the people at MonRoi are claiming that posts here in the Daily Dirt, of mine and of yours, are legally actionable as libel/defamation. They have requested that said posts be deleted and that information identifying the posters be given to MonRoi." Mig wrote that he had taken steps to attempt to remedy the situation and to comply with some (but not all) of MonRoi's requests, including deleting some posts. I'm not going to get into all the minutae, you can read about it here if you would like more details. Canadian law on libel and slander is different that ours in the USA, but to do the legal equivalent of running home to mommy crying because someone called you a bad name, well, that's just ridiculous! Don't they know the old saying up north - "sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me"? And evidently no one at MonRoi ever saw any of the classic Steve Martin hosting "Saturday Night Live" episodes (say it all together now) - "WELL! Exxxccuuuuuussseee mmmeeeeeee!" Reaction was swift and, if only the officers at MonRoi would have thought about this for a moment or two before coming down heavy on Mig, utterly predictable. Now MonRoi has a public relations disaster on its hands, for this is sure to get reported all over the internet by posters and bloggers (such as yours truly) and picked up by more and more as the days go by. Oh mon Dieu! What were they thinking? One of the cleverest and funniest Pythonesque comments today was this one (it had me laughing my head off). Stern is - well, you'll get the idea who Stern is if you read some of his posts on the subject. This is an obvious lampoon (at least I hope it's obvious, maybe they don't know about Monty Python in Montreal, either): MONROI: If you will not show us the Grail we shall storm your castle. (Murmurs of assent.) STERN: You don't frighten us, English pig-dog! Go and boil your bottoms, son of a silly person. I blow my nose on you, so-called Arthur-king, you and your silly English K...kaniggets. MONROI: Now look here, my good man! STERN: I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty-headed animal, food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries. MONROI: Is there someone else up there we could talk to? STERN: No. Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time. Posted by: cadlag at May 30, 2007 at 06:47 LOL! Brilliant! cadlag, remind me to hire you to write something witty and clever for my tombstone. Postscript added May 31, 2007: I edited this post somewhat to reflect the fact that, at least in the initial rounds of contact between Mig and MonRoi, no specific threat of legal action against him and/or Daily Dirt was made. I thought I'd best make it clear, also, that cadlag's post was a lampoon - a send-up - a JOKE!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

1st World Women's Team Chess Championship-7

It was clear for the last two rounds that no team would catch them, and the Chinese proved they are the best Women's Team by taking another 2 points today to finish with 17 points. Russia finished in second place with 15 and Ukraine in third pace with 14 points. Here are the final results from Round 9 and an individual results table (by team) including Round 9: UKR (3.5) v. VIE (0.5) Lahno, Kateryna 1-0 Le Kieu Thien Kim Ushenina, Anna 1-0 Le Thanh Tu Gaponenko, Inna 1-0 Hoang Thi Bao Tram Vasilevich, Tatiana ½-½ Nguyen Thi Thanh An ARM (2.0) v. GEO (2.0) Mkrtchian, Lilit ½-½ Chiburdanidze, Maya Aghinian, Nelly ½-½ Khurtsidze, Nino Andriasian, Siranush ½-½ Khukhashvili, Sopiko Aghabekian, Liana ½-½ Gvetadze, Sofio CZE (0.5) v. POL (3.5) Jackova, Jana 0-1 Socko, Monika Sikorova, Olga 0-1 Zawadzka, Jolanta Blazkova, Petra ½-½ Szczepkowska, Karina Nemcova, Katerina 0-1 Przezdziecka, Marta BOT (0.0) v. RUS (4.0) Sabure Tuduetso 0-1 Kosintseva, Tatiana Lopang Tshepiso 0-1 Kosintseva, Nadezhda Modongo Boikhutso 0-1 Korbut, Ekaterina Pilane Masego Sylvia 0-1 Kovalevskaya, Ekaterina GER (1.5) v. CHN (2.5) Paehtz, Elisabeth ½-½ Zhao Xue Kachiani-Gersinska, Ketino ½-½ Hou Yifan Ohme, Melanie ½-½ Shen Yang Schoene, Maria Randi 0-1 Huang Qian Here are the point totals for each player (by team) after Round 9: CHN 1. Zhao Xue 6.5/8 2. Hou Yifan 7.5/9 3. Ruan Lufei 6.0/7 4. Shen Yang 6.5/8 5. Huang Qian 4.0/4 RUS 1. Kosintseva, Tatiana 6.0/9 2. Kosintseva, Nadezhda 4.5/9 3. Korbut, Ekaterina 3.5/6 4. Kovalevskaya, Ekat. 6.5/7 5. Tairova, Elena 3.5/5 POL 1. Socko, Monika 5.5/9 2. Rajlich, Iweta 1.0/7 3. Zawadzka, Jolanta 5.5/9 4. Szcezepkowska, Karina 2.5/4 5. Przezdziecka, Marta 5.0/7 GEO 1. Chiburdanidze, Maya 4.5/8 2. Javakhishvili, Lela 6.0/8 3. Khurtsidze, Nino 4.5/8 4. Khukhashvili, Sopiko 2.5/6 5. Gvetadze, Sofio 2.5/6 UKR 1. Lahno, Kateryna 3.0/8 2. Ushenina, Anna 6.5/9 3. Gaponenko, Inna 7.0/8 4. Vasilevich, Tatina 5.5/8 5. Vosivic, Oksana 1.5/3 ARM 1. Danielyan, Elina 5.0/8 2. Mkrtchyan, Lilit 4.0/8 3. Aghinyan, Nelly 3.0/7 4. Andriasyan, Siranush 2.0/6 5. Aghabekyan, Liana 3.0/7 CZE 1. Jakova, Jana 2.5/9 2. Sikorova, Olga 1.5/9 3. Blazkova, Petra 3.0/9 4. Nemcova, Katerina 4.0/9 BOT 1. Sabure, Tuduetso 0.0/9 2. Lpang, Tshepiso 0.0/8 3. Modongo, Boikhutso 0.0/6 4. Saburre, Ontiretse 0.0/9 5. Pilane Masego, Sylvia 0.0/5 GER 1. Paehtz, Elisabeth 5.0/8 2. Kachiani-Gersinska, Ket. 5.5/9 3. Nill, Jessica 2.5/7 4. Ohme, Melanie 3.0/7 5. Schoene, Maria Randi 2.0/5 VIE 1. Le Kieu Thien Kim 2.5/9 2. Le Than Tu 4.5/8 3. Hoang Thi Bao Tram 2.5/7 4. Nguyen, Thi Than An 3.5/7 5. Pham Le Thao Nguyen 3.5/5

Monday, May 28, 2007

1st World Women's Team Chess Championship-6

Hola darlings! Here are the results from Round 8. Only one more round to go. Currently CHN is in first with 15 points; RUS in second with 13 and UKR in third with 12.0. I could not figure out how the points scoring system works, but based on what I saw, no team can catch CHN, the battle is now for the silver and bronze medals. VIE (2.0) v. GER (2.0) Le Thanh Tu 0-1 Paehtz, Elisabeth Hoang Thi Bao Tram ½-½ Kachiani-Gersinska, Ketino Nguyen Thi Thanh An 1-0 Nill, Jessica Pham Le Thao Nguyen ½-½ Ohme, Melanie CHN (4.0) v. BOT (0.0) Hou Yifan 1-0 Sabure Tuduetso Ruan Lufei 1-0 Modongo Boikhutso Shen Yang 1-0 Sabure, Ontiretse Huang Qian 1-0 Pilane Masego Sylvia RUS (3.5) v. CZE (0.5) Kosintseva, Tatiana 1-0 Jackova, Jana Kosintseva, Nadezhda ½-½ Sikorova, Olga Korbut, Ekaterina 1-0 Blazkova, Petra Kovalevskaya, Ekaterina 1-0 Nemcova, Katerina POL (3.0) v. ARM (1.0) Socko, Monika 1-0 Danielian, Elina Rajlich, Iweta 0-1 Mkrtchian, Lilit Zawadzka, Jolanta 1-0 Aghinian, Nelly Przezdziecka, Marta 1-0 Aghabekian, Liana GEO (1.0) v. UKR (3.0) Chiburdanidze, Maya ½-½ Lahno, Kateryna Javakhishvili, Lela ½-½ Ushenina, Anna Khurtsidze, Nino 0-1 Gaponenko, Inna Khukhashvili, Sopiko 0-1 Vasilevich, Tatiana Here are the individual results (by Team), through Round 8. Performance wise, this may put it into better perspective as to why CHN has run away with the title: CHN 1. Zho Xue 6.0/7 2. Hou Yifan 7.0/8 3. Ruan Lufei 6.0/7 4. Shen Yang 6.0/7 5. Huang Qian 3.0/3 RUS 1. Kosintseva, Tatiana 5.0/8 2. Kosintseva, Nadezhda 3.5/8 3. Korbut, Ekaterina 2.5/5 4. Kovalevskaya, Ekaterina 5.5/6 5. Tairova, Elena 3.5/5 POL 1. Socko, Monika 4.5/8 2. Rajlich, Iweta 1.0/7 3. Zawadzka, Jolanta 4.5/8 4. Szcezepkowska, Karina 2.0/3 5. Przezdziecka, Marta 4.0/6 GEO 1. Chiburdanidze, Maya 4.0/7 2. Javakhishvili, Lela 6.0/8 3. Khurtsidze, Nino 4.0/7 4. Khukhashvili, Sopiko 2.0/5 5. Gvetadze, Sofio 2.0/5 UKR 1. Lahno, Kateryna 2.0/7 2. Ushenina, Anna 5.5/8 3. Gaponenko, Inna 6.0/7 4. Vasilevich, Tatina 5.0/7 5. Vosivic, Oksana 1.5/3 ARM 1. Danielyan, Elina 5.0/8 2. Mkrtchyan, Lilit 3.5/7 3. Aghinyan, Nelly 2.5/6 4. Andriasyan, Siranush 1.5/5 5. Aghabekyan, Liana 2.5/6 CZE 1. Jakova, Jana 2.5/8 2. Sikorova, Olga 1.5/8 3. Blazkova, Petra 2.5/8 4. Nemcova, Katerina 4.0/8 BOT 1. Sabure, Tuduetso 0.0/8 2. Lpang, Tshepiso 0.0/7 3. Modongo, Boikhutso 0.0/5 4. Saburre, Ontiretse 0.0/8 5. Pilane Masego, Sylvia 0.0/4 GER 1. Paehtz, Elisabeth 4.5/7 2. Kachiani-Gersinska, Ketsina 5.0/8 3. Nill, Jessica 2.5/7 4. Ohme, Melanie 2.5/6 5. Schoene, Maria Randi 2.0/4 VIE 1. Le Kieu Thien Kim 2.5/8 2. Le Than Tu 4.5/7 3. Hoang Thi Bao Tram 2.5/6 4. Nguyen, Thi Than An 3.0/6 5. Pham Le Thao Nguyen 3.5/5

Eric Moskow Takes Up the Challenge!

A few weeks ago, I read a post at Mig’s blog by Dr. Eric Moskow, where he was writing about his efforts to gain a patron’s spot in the recently-concluded U.S. Chess Championship ("Men’s"): "actually the truth is, I offered 10k now, 10k gurnatee (sic) next year, best efforts to secure a great site and large long term committment (sic) moving forward. In the event susan wins and works with me, I am committed to make that stick and play in person next year. I vow to have 1-2 im norms (earned) by then. …" Posted by: eric moskow at May 15, 2007 21:46 At Susan Polgar’s blog a few days ago she reported that Dr. Moskow reiterated to her and Paul Truong his desire to take a year off, basically, from his other activities, and just concentrate on achieving an IM title. SP has offered to assist Dr. Moskow in his training during the next year. I believe that Dr. Moskow has the will to succeed and the "fire" inside to do the grind necessary to achieve that next level in his chess playing. But it will take much hard work and total dedication. He is a husband, a father of four, a medical doctor, a businessman, a religious man devoted to his community and to the doing of good for others. He is a busy man! He will have to make many sacrifices during the next year to devote himself entirely to his intent and training. I don’t think his "age" has anything to do with achieving his goal – it’s all these other obligations (such as raising a family, making a living, etc.) that, typically, children don’t have to deal with, that may do him in, so to speak. When one is an adult and has so many responsibilities and obligations, it takes a lot of "selfishness" to concentrate on just doing those things (lots of purposeful studying and training and practice) that are necessary in order to take one's chess playing to the next level. Dr. Moskow does not strike me as a selfish person - obviously he is not, so this task he has set for himself may be more difficult that he can begin to imagine. It is much easier for children, who do not have the cares and responsibilities of adults, to achieve sometimes mind-boggling success in chess, because they have the luxury of being selfish and totally self-focused upon achieving their goals. Can Dr. Moskow focus on chess to the exclusion of these other areas of his life? Now that the "experiment" and stated goal has been publicized at Susan Polgar’s popular blog, people from all over the world will be following Dr. Moskow’s progress. Wow – talk about living life in a fishbowl for the next 12 months! See my prior post about David Shenk’s intriguing research, which I think is related to Dr. Moskow’s quest. Perhaps Dr. Moskow was intrigued by Shenk’s research as well, and perhaps he was inspired by the recently published book by former chess star IM Josh Waitzkin "The Art of Learning" which, based upon reviews I’ve read, is a very interesting book. Good luck, Dr. Moskow.

Wisconsin Scholastic Chess

I normally don't follow scholastic chess although now that we're doing a weekly Random Round-up at Goddesschess, I do highlight female players from time to time. Today this article in my local newspaper caught my eye. I didn't follow the national scholastic event in question and I have no idea who won it, etc., so I found this article interesting. A local unrated scholastic team did quite well - one of the team finished individually in second place overall. My goddess! The photo shows 8 year old Jessica Whittow, a member of the Chess Club at Mill Valley Elementary School. Is she the face of our chess future?

The article does show the tremendous growth in scholastic chess over the last decade or so and I found the comparison (near the end of the article) to "where soccer was" 20 years ago an arresting analogy. The questions remain: if scholastic chess does become as popular as grade school and high school soccer, does it necessarily translate into more chess professionals in the United States and an upgrading in both home-grown talent AND prize funds? AND more female players who opt to stay in the game and participate at the professional level?

After starting a chess club at Mill Valley Elementary School in the Muskego-Norway School District this school year, parent Gregory Reese knew the players were catching on quickly.

Few students besides Reese's son, Greg, had played before, yet they started regularly bringing home trophies from local competitions.

But even Reese was surprised at how well the children finished the competition year. About two weeks ago, one of his squads of second- and third-graders won the national title in the kindergarten through third grade unrated division at the United States Chess Federation National Bert Lerner Elementary (K-6) Championship in Nashville, Tenn.

Thirty-one students from New Berlin and Muskego went to the competition, which hosted 51 students from Wisconsin, as well as more than 2,000 other young players.

Growth game

The success of the new chess club in Muskego underscores the growing popularity of the game locally as well as across the country.

Bob Patterson-Sumwalt, president and founder of the Wisconsin Scholastic Chess Federation, said that to better reflect membership, the organization changed its name last July. It used to be the Milwaukee-Area Scholastic Chess Federation.

"The numbers are going up each year exponentially," Patterson-Sumwalt said. "This past year we had 23 tournaments in the area, plus one in Sheboygan and Waukesha. This year we will have them from Green Bay to Kenosha."

Jerry Nash, the director of the United States Chess Federation, said the organization has grown from 10,000 members in 1990 to 45,000 registered players currently, which he attributes to increased support from teachers and administrators.

"They've come to understand the value of this to students," Nash said. "In what other game can you have a first-grader sit across from a 12th-grader and stand a realistic chance of winning?

"In terms of self-esteem, when you have children that come from Wisconsin or inner-city Chicago, or a Hispanic community in Brownsville, Texas, and they can do that, it's transforming in terms of self-perception," added Nash.

Centuries old, chess is a war game involving strategy and the ability to persevere with ever-diminishing resources. Reese, who helped with a chess club in New Berlin before moving his son to Mill Valley, said he likes to bring players up as a group instead of individuals.

The objective is to get better, he said, not just to beat other players.
Reese called the Mill Valley Chess Team, which has about 75 players, the best group he has coached. They've won 60 team and individual trophies this year, he added.

"I usually take the beginners or quitters and make them good, but I didn't have any quitters here," Reese said.

Chess talk

On a recent Friday morning before school at Mill Valley, about 15 children with matching chess team shirts were scattered around a classroom, playing each other on boards spread out across desktops.

Third-graders Evan Seghers, Chris Tillson and Reid Seghers along with second-grader Jorin McGuire won the national K-3 unrated team title, and individually they placed 2nd, 8th, 18th and 23rd, respectively. In the classroom, they stopped playing and shouted out thoughts on the game:
"I open with a king's pawn or a queen's pawn move," said McGuire.

"I like taking the opponent's queen," said Reid Seghers.

"Next time I'm gonna get first, not second," said Evan Seghers, referring to his individual placing.

As for next year's elementary chess championships in Pittsburgh, Reese said he plans to take more kids. He'll spend the year improving the current players' strategies and recruiting more students, especially girls, who are traditionally under-represented in chess clubs. "This is where soccer was 20 years ago," observed Patterson-Sumwalt. "People are just starting to figure out what chess does for kids."

Sunday, May 27, 2007

1st World Women's Team Chess Championship-5

Here are the results from Round 7: GEO (2.5) v. VIE (1.5) Chiburdanidze, Maya 1-0 Le Kieu Thien Kim Javakhishvili, Lela ½-½ Le Thanh Tu Khurtsidze, Nino ½-½ Hoang Thi Bao Tram Gvetadze, Sofio ½-½ Nguyen Thi Thanh An UKR (2.5) v. POL (1.5) Lahno, Kateryna 0-1 Socko, Monika Ushenina, Anna 1-0 Rajlich, Iweta Gaponenko, Inna 1-0 Szczepkowska, Karina Vasilevich, Tatiana ½-½ Przezdziecka, Marta ARM (1.5) v. RUS (2.5) Danielian, Elina ½-½ Kosintseva, Tatiana Mkrtchian, Lilit ½-½ Kosintseva, Nadezhda Andriasian, Siranush 0-1 Kovalevskaya, Ekaterina Aghabekian, Liana ½-½ Tairova, Elena CZE (0.5) v. CHN (3.5) Jackova, Jana 0-1 Zhao Xue Sikorova, Olga 0-1 Hou Yifan Blazkova, Petra 0-1 Ruan Lufei Nemcova, Katerina ½-½ Shen Yang BOT (0.0) v. GER (4.0) Sabure Tuduetso 0-1 Kachini-Gersinska, Ketino Lopang Tshepiso 0-1 Nill, Jessica Modongo Boikhutso 0-1 Ohme, Melanie Sabure, Ontiretse 0-1 Schoene, Maria Randi

1st World Women's Team Chess Championship-4

Hola! I apologize - I thought I had reported on the Round 5 results but I see I did not. Play resumed again today, after a day of rest (well deserved) for the players. I'll report on Round 6 results separately. Here are the Round 5 results: Here are the Round 5 results: POL (2.0) v. VIE (2.0) Socko, Monika 0-1 Le Kieu Thien Kim Rajlich, Iweta 0-1 Le Thanh Tu Zawadzka, Jolanta 1-0 Nguyen Thi Thanh An Przezdziecka, Marta 1-0 Pham Le Thao Nguyen GEO (1.0) v. RUS (3.0) Chiburdanidze, Maya ½-½ Kosintseva, Tatiana Javakhishvili, Lela ½-½ Kosintseva, Nadezhda Khurtsidze, Nino 0-1 Kovalevskaya, Ekaterina Khukhashvili, Sopiko 0-1 Tairova, Elena UKR (0.5) v. CHN (3.5) Lahno, Kateryna 0-1 Zhao Xue Ushenina, Anna 0-1 Hou Yifan Gaponenko, Inna ½-½ Ruan Lufei Vozovic, Oksana 0-1 Shen Yang ARM (1.5) v. GER (2.5) Danielian, Elina ½-½ Paehtz, Elisabeth Mkrtchian, Lilit ½-½ Kachiani-Gersinska, Ketino Aghinian, Nelly ½-½ Nill, Jessica Andriasian, Siranush 0-1 Ohme, Melanie CZE (4.0) v. BOT (0.0) Jackova, Jana 1-0 Sabure Tuduetso Sikorova, Olga 1-0 Lopang Tshepiso Blazkova, Petra 1-0 Modongo Boikhutso Nemcova, Katerina 1-0 Sabure, Ontiretse

2007 U.S. Chess Championship Brilliancy Prizes

Mig has reported on the winners of the fan-sponsored brilliancy prizes at his website. Third prize of $200 went to GM Gregory Kaidanov; second prize of $500 went to GM Alexander Shabalov (also the clear winner of the 2007 U.S. Chess Championship ("Men’s"); and the big first prize of $1,165 went to GM Julio Becerra. I confess, prior to this championship I hadn’t heard of Becerra but I’ll be paying attention from now on! You can read about the reasons determining the awards at Mig’s site. For those of you who weren’t following the story, Mig originally put up a challenge at his website – he staked up to $500 out of his own pocket and challenged chess fans to match the amount. Many fans rallied and contributed. A total of $1,855 was collected, including Mig’s $500. Mig said this in his May 26, 2007 post: Thanks to everyone who donated and participated. It went far beyond my expectations and might even make inroads into new sponsorship models (actually old ones, just online now) for chess in places like the US where it's not really considered a sport. Museums, concerts, and other cultural events across the US are supported by enthusiasts. Why not chess? In the old days there would be subscriptions taken up for everything from tournaments to medical bills for Grandmasters. More on this topic later. I am interested to see what "more on this topic later" means.
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