Thursday, December 17, 2009

Women's World Champion coming to Tucson

GM Alexandra Kosteniuk is coming to Tucson this Sunday (Dec. 20) as part of her Christmas Goodwill offer. She will be attending the 9 Queens Chess Academy. Because of the addition of GM Kosteniuk, some details of the Chess Academy have been changed.
  • The 9 Queens Academy will be now be held at the Parasol Project Arts Space (located at 299 Park Avenue) from 2-4 pm on Sunday Dec 20, 2009.
  • Immediately following the Queens Academy, from 4-7 pm at MAST (a new boutique located directly next door to Parasol Projects), 9 Queens will host a reception and simultaneous chess exhibit featuring Ms. Kosteniuk.
All activities will be open to all chess enthusiasts (men and women) of all ages and abilities. For more information, visit the 9 Queens website or contact Jean Hoffman.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

International School of Tucson - Jessica Martin Chess Scholarship

The International School of Tucson is offering the Jessica Martin Chess Scholarship. Follow the link to learn more:

Friday, November 27, 2009

League Match #3 details

Hello Everyone!

I hope you're all having a wonderful Thanksgiving. We're sorry for the late notice, but League Match 3 details have been finalized. A flyer is available with all the tournament information.

The tournament will be at Old Vail Middle School.

13299 E. Colossal Cave Rd., Vail, AZ. 85641-9090 Take I-10 South to the exit past Houghton which is Vail/Wentworth Rd. Turn left and go across I-10 travel 2 miles. School is on the left across the railroad tracks and across from the water tower.

USCF or SACA Rated. Individual Format with 3 rounds. USCF membership is required if playing in the USCF rated sections. There may also be sections for the “Top 16” Junior High and Elementary players in the USCF rated sections if there are enough players.
♦ Junior High (K-8) A – USCF rated
♦ Elementary (K-6) A – USCF rated
♦ Primary (K-3) A – USCF rated
♦ Junior High (K-8) B – SACA rated
♦ Elementary (K-6) B – SACA rated
♦ Primary (K-3) B – SACA rated
Schedule: (note the different round times!)
Check-in is not required. Please declare player drops by 9:30 am. Pairings will be posted at 9:45 am. Announcements start at 9:55 am and play begins at 10:00 am! Coaches should seat players as soon as the pairings are posted. Round times are 10:00, 11:45, 1:30.


Phone: 520-975-3946
SACA website:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Senior Open this weekend

This is just a reminder that the Arizona Senior Open is this weekend (Nov. 7-8) at the Holiday Inn on Palo Verde. The Arizona Senior Open is open to all USCF members born on or before November 7, 1959. The highest finishing AZ Resident will win the title of Arizona Senior Champion.
The tournament will be 5 rounds. Rounds 1 and 2 will be GAME/90. Rounds 3, 4, and 5 will be 30/90, SD/1. Round times will be Sat: 10-1:30-5, Sun: 9-3. Half-point byes are available for each round, but must be requested prior to the start of Round 2. The entry fee is $40 if received by Nov. 4, $50 after Nov. 4.
A flyer and online registration is available on the SACA Webpage.

Please contact us if you have any questions.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

IM Anna Zatonskih wins US Women's Championship

IM Anna Zatonskih has defended her title with an impressive 8.5 points out of 9 game performance at this year's US Women's Chess Champion, hosted by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.
Defending U.S. Champion Anna Zatonskih, of Long Island, N.Y., finished off the tournament in style with a positional crush of Yun Fan, of Greencastle, Ind. She won the record $15,000 first place prize fund. Zatonskih ended with eight wins and one draw in nine games, and her 8.5 points were tied for the best result in the championship in more than 20 years. She said the championship was the best performance of her career.
Camilla Baginskaite finished in 2nd place with 6.5/9.0 to earn $12,000. Both players earn automatic qualifiers for the next Women's World Championship to be held in Istanbul, Turkey.

USCF News Release (and video recap)
CCSCSL Press Release
Final Standings
All games (via

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Energy drinks and chess

I'm not saying energy drinks make you better at chess, but some energy drinks are actually pretty good. Enjoy!

Friday, October 9, 2009

National Chess Day

Many of you may not know it, but today is "National Chess Day".

On October 9, 1976 President Gerald Ford declared a National Chess Day. As we approach that anniversary date, we encourage state and local clubs to commemorate the day in some way, perhaps with a tournament or an educational program about chess in their communities.

National Chess Day began in South Carolina. It was created by the late Bill Dodgen, who was president of the South Carolina Chess Association for a number of years. It was originally a state chess day in South Carolina, but Bill quickly expanded it to a nationwide effort and was appointed National Chess Day chairman.

I would like to thank all on our chess community for your participation in the game that we love. And I encourage (challenge) you to go out this weekend and play some chess! Teach someone how to play or play with someone who hasn't played in a long time. But remember, you don't have to just play chess on National Chess Day!

If you haven't been following along, the US Women's Championship is currently taking place in St. Louis, MO. Ten of the best females in the country are competing for a $64,000 ($15,000 for first) prize fund. Currently, current US Woman's Champion, Anna Zatonskih, leads with 4.5 points out of 5.

Chess in our community:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

SACA Scholastic Schedule

There are still a few sites that need to be determined, but the dates for the 2009-2010 season are pretty set. Flyers will be available on the SACA website soon.
Oct 17 - League Match #1 @ St. Cyril's
Nov 14 - League Match #2 @ Sam Hughes

Dec 5 - League Match #3 @ TBD
Jan 22-24 - Tucson Open @ Holiday Inn - Palo Verde
Feb 6 - League Match #4 @ TBD
Feb 20 - League Championships @ Lineweaver
Mar 13 - Regional Championships (RQ1) @ Sierra MS
Mar 27 - Tucson Scholastic Championships (RQ2) @ Harelson
Apr 23-25 - State Scholastic Championships @ Holiday Inn - Palo Verde
If your school is interested in and able to host either League Match #3 or #4, please contact us.

Don't forget that this weekend is the Scholastic Warm-up! There is still plenty of time to register!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Arizona State Championship this weekend

The Arizona State Championship is this weekend, September 5-7, in Scottsdale, AZ. Twelve of the state's top players are competing in the 6-round event being hosted at the Unity Chess Club.

The players invited include the current state champion (IM Levon Altounian), the winner of the Valley Chess Club Championship, and top rated players in the state. UPDATE: Joel Johnson is ill this week and has withdrawn from the tournament. Robert Tanner will take his place.

IM Levon Altounian (2536)
FM Daniel Rensch (2432)
FM Pedram Atoufi (2322)
Vaishnav Aradhyula (2232)
Spencer Lower (2218)
Leonardo Martinez (2215)
FM Robert Rowley (2200)
Ben Marmont (2126)
Jim Geary (2121)
David Adelberg (2095)
Robert Tanner (2071)
Dipro Chakraborty (2036)

The championship is being organized by Joel Johnson and the Valley Chess Club. The Chief TD is Rick Smouse.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Blindfold Chess wins Best Chess Book of 2009

The USCF, Chess Journalists of America, and US Chess Trust have awarded Blindfold Chess, by Eliot Hearst and John Knott as the Best Chess Book 2009.

"We are pleased that the award committee thought our book qualified despite its rather unusual subject matter." Hearst said.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Arizona Scorpions are moving!

The banner on their former blog says is all, "Our blog has moved."

The new season of the United States Chess League (USCL) begins next week. The Scorpions, in their second season, are sporting a new look. Not only in their new blog, but also in roster. Currently the top story is an interview with manager/player Leo Martinez about who's on this year's team.

The first match is Wednesday, September 2 against the Chicago Blaze. Come out and support Arizona's team taking on the some of the country's top players!

The Arizona Scorpions are a SACA special project for the promotion of high-level, adult chess in our community. Tax-deductible donations to SACA in support of the Scorpions are accepted on the Scorpions website.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Arizona Senior Open

The Arizona Senior Open will be November 7 and 8 at the Holiday Inn - Palo Verde. The Arizona Senior Open is open to all USCF members born on or before November 7, 1959. The highest finishing AZ Residient will win the title of Arizona Senior Champion.

The tournament will be 5 rounds. Rounds 1 and 2 will be GAME/90. Rounds 3, 4, and 5 will be 30/90, SD/1. Round times will be Sat: 10-1:30-5, Sun: 9-3. Half-point byes are available for each round, but must be requested prior to the start of Round 2. The entry fee is $40 if received by Nov. 4, $50 after Nov. 4.

A flyer and online registration is available on the SACA Webpage.

Please contact us if you have any questions.

Tucson Scholastic Warm-up

The 2009 Scholastic Warm-up will be September 19 at St. Joseph's Catholic School. This is the unofficial kick-off to the SACA Scholastic League. Time to kick off the dust from the summer and get back into chess-playing form!

Players can choose to either play in the USCF section or in the non-USCF section. Within a section, players will be separated into smaller (12-16 player) groups based on rating. The tournament will be 4 rounds and, because of the smaller groups, players can expect good competition from the start. Trophies are awarded to the Top 4 players in each group.

A flyer and online registration is available on the SACA website.

Additionally, there will be a coaches' meeting from 10:00am - 1:00pm to discuss the upcoming league season. This meeting is especially helpful to new programs that may have questions about participation in the league or are looking for a coach to help them out.

Please contact us if you have any questions.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

2009 - 2010 SACA Board Elections

At the Ye Olde Pueblo this weekend, SACA elected their board members for the 2009-10 term. Your current SACA board members are:

Karen Pennock
Vice President:

Enrique Huerta

Fritz Laos Sr.

Cristy Ferrari

Robby Adamson, Satheesh Aradhyula, Jon Shacter, and John Wright

Anyone who wishes to get involved with chess in Southern Arizona we encouraged to contact us. If you have any questions or comments about chess in our community we look forward to hearing from you.

Ye Olde Pueblo wrap-up

The 2009 Ye Olde Pueblo has completed. Congratulations to IM Dionisio Aldama and GM Alejandro Ramirez on their victory. IM Aldama defeated Kevin Zhang in the final round to score 4.5 / 5.0 points. GM Ramirez had the only perfect score going into Round 5 and drew GM Alex Yermolinsky to secure a share of 1st Place.

In the Reserve section, Matthew Noble took sole 1st place, also with a score of 4.5 / 5.0. He was followed by the pack of players: Richard Birberick, Carlos Boteo, Hector Martinez and Hunter Brogna.

Donald Belche, a Phoenix regular to SACA tournament, was the top finisher in the Booster section (4.5 / 5.0). Michael Wang and Brenton Begay followed with scores of 4.0 / 5.0. In the scholastic sections, Henry Learner finished the weekend with a perfect 4.0 / 4.0 both Saturday and Sunday to take 1st place in both events!

Complete standings will be available on the SACA website soon, but until then you can see the Open, Reserve, Booster, Saturday and Sunday final standings here, along with the final prize list.

The tournament has been rated by USCF. Check out your new ratings!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ye Olde Pueblo update

The 2009 Ye Olde Pueblo is under way at the Holiday Inn - Palo Verde. This year's attendance is 158 players in the various sections. Currently there are 5 perfect scores* (2 GMs, 2 IMs and 1 FM) in the Open section.

Round 4 top pairings are:
1. GM Alejandro Ramirez (2585) vs. IM Levon Altounian (2538)1 - 0
2. IM Dionisio Aldama (2507) vs. GM Alex Yermolinsky (2584)1/2 - 1/2

* FM Danny Rensch has taken two half-point byes in the final rounds.

UPDATE for Round 5
Top Pairings
1. GM Alex Yermolinsky (2584) vs. GM Alejandro Ramirez (2585)
1/2 - 1/2
2. Kevin Zhang (2135) vs. IM Dionisio Aldama (2507)
0 - 1
3. IM Levon Altounian (2538) vs.Alexander Balkum (2111)
1 - 0

2009 Landon Brownell Memorial Scholarship winners

Yesterday evening before the start of round 3 at the Ye Olde Pueblo, SACA announced this year's scholarship winners. SACA had recently renamed their merit scholarship in memory of Landon Brownell.

Scholarship Winners
Ethan Li (3rd Grade)
Bryan Hu (6th Grade)
Honorable Mention*
Kingsleigh Wong (6th Grade)
Andy Lin (9th Grade)
Kevin Zhang (10th Grade)
Ashu Thakur (11th Grade)

* The scholarship rules specify that a player may only be awarded the scholarship once every 2 years. These players would have otherwise received the scholarship this year as well.

Rules and previous years' winners are available on the SACA website.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Norman Gray Memorial & July Blitz G/5

The Prizes and Standings are posted on the 'Events' page for the Norman Gray Memorial and the July Blitz G/5.

Ye Olde Pueblo


The Ye Olde Pueblo tournament is this weekend!

A pre-registration list (Friday, July 17 @ 7:00 am) is available online to see who's already in the tournament. It's not too late to still register. If you have already registered, please look at the list to confirm that your entry was processed correctly. If there are any questions or problems, please contact us as soon as possible.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

US Amateur West has been rated

The US Amateur West and Blitz tournaments from this weekend have been rated. A complete wrap-up with prize lists, photos, and games will be available soon.

UPDATE: Added links to the SACA Webpage.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

US Amateur West this weekend

Today is the last day to register for this weekend's US Amatuer West Championship without an additional late fee. Starting tomorrow the entry fee raises an additional $10 ($5 in Scholastic). So be sure to get your entry in!

A pre-registration list is available online (as of 9:30 pm Tuesday night). If you've already registered, please double-check your entry to make sure we have all the information correct and contact us if there needs to be any changes. Thank you.

Don't forget about the Blitz tournament on Friday night. No pre-registration or late fees for that one. Just show up and have some fun! The Blitz tournament is open to all players, not just those in the tournament.
U.S. Amateur West Blitz (Open to players of all ratings)
Date: Friday 5/22/09; Location: Holiday Inn Palo Verde; Format: USCF Rated, G/5, 5 Rounds, Double SS; Entry Fee: $10 ($15 to non-tournament players); Reg.: 6:00–6:45pm at site; Rounds: begin at 7:00pm Prizes: ($$b/20) $75-$45, Top U1600 $30, Medallion to top K-12, K-8, K-6.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Rybka 3 wins World Computer Chess Championship

In the final round of the event, staged by the International Computer Games Association in Pamplona, Spain, the US-Czech program Rybka beat its closest rival, Junior from Israel, to take the title with a point and a half to spare. Junior, Shredder and Deep Sjeng shared 2-4th. Actually Rybka won three titles.

A total of three events were staged by the ICGA:
1. The 17th World Computer Chess Championship – all computers restricted to eight cores at the most
2. The 14th Computer Olympiad, Chess – no hardware limit
3. The 17th World Computer Chess Championship (Blitz)

All three titles were won by Rybka, the first on an eight-core system (obviously), the second on a 52-core cluster and the Blitz again on the eight-core system.

Nakamura wins US Championship

GM Hikaru Nakamura won the US Championship this weekend in St. Louis, MO. Nakamura was tied with GM-elect Robert Hess going into the final round, but secured the title and $40,000 with a victory over GM Friedel and a draw between Hess and GM Akobian.

Hikaru Nakamura, 21, won the the 2009 US Chess Championship, after winning in the ninth and final round of the event. Second-seeded Nakamura, who also won the title in 2004, when he was just 16, took the venerable 164-year-old title and the first prize of $40,000 ($35,000, plus a $5,000 outright winner's bonus) after beating Josh Friedel of New Hampshire. Nakamura finished with seven points over nine games, and never lost a game. []

The tournament was May 9 - 17. 25 players from across the country competed for over $200,000 in prizes. The players played 1 game a day.

Final Standings:
NameStateRatingPointsPrize won
GM Nakamura, Hikaru (2) NY 2757 7 $40,000.00
IM Hess, Robert (17)NY25456.5$12,500.00
GM Onischuk, Alexander (3)VA27366.5$12,500.00
GM Kamsky, Gata (1)NY27986$7,500.00
GM Akobian, Varuzhan (7)CA26646$7,500.00
GM Shulman, Yury (4)IL26975$4,650.00
GM Friedel, Joshua (15)NH25685$4,650.00
GM Ibragimov, Ildar (13)CT26285$4,650.00
GM Christiansen, Larry (5)MA26815$4,650.00
GM Ehlvest, Jaan (10)NY26494.5$2,833.33
IM Robson, Ray (18)FL25424.5$2,833.33
GM Kaidanov, Gregory (8)KY26624.5$2,833.33
GM Benjamin, Joel (9)NJ26504.5$2,833.33
GM Shabalov, Alexander (14)PA26204.5$2,833.33
GM Gulko, Boris (12)NJ26314.5$2,833.33
IM Brooks, Michael (22)MO24194$2,375.00
Hughes, Tyler (24)CO22934$2,375.00
IM Sevillano, Enrico (16)CA25494$2,375.00
GM Becerra, Julio (6)FL26724$2,375.00
IM Krush, Irina (20)NY24963.5$2,000.00
IM Shankland, Samuel (21)CA24643$2,000.00
GM Khachiyan, Melikset (11)CA26323$2,000.00
FM Eckert, Doug D (25)IL22782$2,000.00
Lawton, Charles (23)MO23501$2,000.00
IM Zatonskih, Anna (19)NY25030.5$2,000.00

The US Championship was hosted by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis which will also host the US Women's Championship on October 2-12.

All games are viewable on here.

Friday, May 15, 2009

US Amateur West

The US Amateur West is 1 week away! The "Amateur" is May 23-25 at the Holiday Inn-Palo Verde. Only players below Master-level (under 2200) may play. It will be a 6-round event with time controls of 40/2, 25/1 (note the lack of "sudden death") separated in 4 sections: Championship, Reserve (U1600), Booster (U12oo) and Scholastic (K-8/U1000). The Scholastic section is actually 3 separate, 1-day events of 4 rounds each. You can play one, two, or all three days!

GM Alejandro Ramirez will be the chess celebrity this year. He'll be available all weekend to offer free chess analysis of your games between rounds. Additionally, he'll give a simul (seats are limited) on Sunday at 2:00 pm and a free lecture on Monday.

Prizes for the tournament include:
  • Free entry to the National Open for the winners of the Championship and Reserve sections.
  • Door prizes donated by GM Susan Polgar and the Susan Polgar Foundation.
  • Digital clocks added to all rating plaque prizes.
  • Family prizes for the Top 2 families.
  • Upset prizes each round (Championship, Reserve and Booster sections only).
The weekend starts off with a Blitz tourament Friday night.
U.S. Amateur West Blitz (Open to players of all ratings)
Date: Friday 5/22/09; Location: Holiday Inn Palo Verde; Format: USCF Rated, G/5, 5 Rounds, Double SS; Entry Fee: $10 ($15 to non-tournament players); Reg.: 6:00–6:45pm at site; Rounds: begin at 7:00pm Prizes: ($$b/20) $75-$45, Top U1600 $30, Medallion to top K-12, K-8, K-6.
Registration is available online or by postal mail (see flyer). Registration will also be available at the site the morning of Saturday, May 23 from 8:30 - 9:30. Get your registration in early and avoid a $10 late fee that starts on May 21. Those that have already registered should look at the pre-registration list to make sure all information is correct. Contact the Chief TD of there are any errors.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Friday, May 8, 2009

US Championship begins today

For the next week, 24 of the top players in the United States will compete for nearly $200,000 in prizes and the title US Champion. The tournament is 9 rounds and will last May 8 - 17. The event is being hosted by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.

Round 1, Friday, May 8, 12:00 pm (Tucson time)
01. GM Ibragimov, Ildar (2628) - GM Kamsky, Gata (2798)
02. GM Nakamura, Hikaru (2757) - GM Shabalov, Alexander (2620)
03. GM Friedel, Joshua (2568) - GM Onischuk, Alexander (2736)
04. GM Shulman, Yury (2697) - IM Sevillano, Enrico (2549)
05. IM Hess, Robert (2545) - GM Christiansen, Larry (2681)
06. GM Becerra, Julio (2672) - IM Robson, Ray (2542)
07. IM Zatonskih, Anna (2503) - GM Akobian, Varuzhan (2664)
08. GM Kaidanov, Gregory (2662) - IM Krush, Irina (2496)
09. IM Shankland, Samuel (2464) - GM Benjamin, Joel (2650)
10. GM Ehlvest, Jaan (2649) - IM Brooks, Michael (2419)
11. Lawton, Charles (2350) - GM Khachiyan, Melikset (2632)
12. GM Gulko, Boris (2631) - Hughes, Tyler (2293)
The games are available though an online stream. Results will also be available here.

Discussion, news, and photos are available across the web.
Official Website
USCF Chess Life Online
ICC Chess.FM Blog
Susan Polgar Blog

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Landon Brownell: As I remember him

Landon Brownell: As I remember him.
by: IM Levon Altounian

I am deeply saddened by the tragic accident and the untimely departure of Landon. I met him on the very first tournament after I moved to Tucson in 2002. He was then a vibrant kid who always wore a dark suit at the tournaments. That always reminded me of an IM Ziatdinov, who was always true to his motto “chess is a profession, you need to look professional.” You could see Landon frequently outside playing “hacky-sack” with friends. I gradually got to know the Brownell family and I was deeply struck by how unique their view of life was and how talented they all were. I gathered the sense of “whatever is too normal is average and life is too short to be average” and saw everyone in the family strive for excellence and achievement. Quick wit is unique to the family and especially applied to Landon, his chess, and excellence in everything else he did. The Brownell family became an example of how to accomplish everything creatively and I always used Landon as a model for all my new chess students, players and their parents. He was very well rounded and had many other hobbies and interests. I bet many never knew that few years back he also won a Go championship that no other “Caucasian” has ever even come close to winning.

I became Landon’s chess coach I in 2005. It was a pure pleasure being his teacher because nothing impresses me more than a student who grasps your concepts, interprets them and applies them in his own way to accomplish the best possible results. Very quickly he was able to surpass most of his peers. His ICC ( rating was usually hovering at around 2400-2500, which is not an easy rating to accomplish. What was very interesting to me is that at the State level, Landon and Vaishnav Aradhyula as well as John Cox and Chris De Sa were of about even level, each winning those titles a couple of times, but at the National level Landon was probably the only Arizona high school person capable of beating much higher rated people and therefore usually getting higher scores. I attribute it to his aggressive and fearless style, tactical ingenious and overall creativity. Robby Adamson and I still recall his quick win over now GM Lenderman by memorizing a very complicated line in one of the openings and twice being instrumental in Foothills High School team National victory. I’ll miss one of the most talented students I have ever had who also had one of the most complex and unique minds I have ever encountered. My deepest condolences go to the Brownell family.

SACA Logo Contest

SACA is holding a contest to find a new logo. Along with being immortalized for all time (or until we need a new logo again) the winner of the contest will also earn $150. We are looking for a logo that will "be the face of SACA". Something that can be usable on our website, fliers, trophies, t-shirts, chess boards, etc. (Rumor* has it that Robby is thinking of getting a tattoo.)

What we're looking for:
  • A maximum of 3 colors.
  • No shading/fading effects.
  • The bigger the better (pixel size, please don't paint the side of a building).
  • The higher the resolution the better.
  • The logo does not have to have "SACA" in it. Feel free to invent the next "Swoosh".
Other contest rules:
  • Deadline for submission is June 13, 2009.
  • All entries submitted to SACA will become the property of SACA with all rights for use granted.
  • The preferred file format is png (The winner may be requested to provide additional formats.).
  • Hand-drawn entries are accepted, but ultimately they'll have to be "digitized".
Send all questions and entries here. If you have a hand-drawn entry, contact SACA and we'll figure our a way to get your entry to us.

* There is no truth to this rumor at all. Robby is not thinking about getting a tattoo... it's actually Jon Shacter who's thinking about it. :-)

Jenelle Wallace wins National Merit Scholarship

Congratulations to Jenelle Wallace! Jenelle, a senior member for the CFHS chess team, was one of 5 local high school students to be awarded a $2,500 National Merit Scholarship.
The winners were culled from 15,000 finalists by a committee of educators that looked at a host of factors, from academic records to standardized-test scores, teacher recommendations and community activities.

This is the second of four rounds of scholarships to be announced.
Jenelle will be attending Stanford next fall. Best of luck to Jenelle and all seniors wherever you're headed in life.

Source: Arizona Daily Star

Monday, May 4, 2009

Monday morning humor

A little something to start off your week.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Traveling with Catalina Foothills - Part 4

Paul Gold traveled with the Catalina Foothills High School chess team to the recent SuperNationals IV. After an exciting three days (1, 2, 3...) of chess, Paul wraps up the last day at the tournament.

Day Four – 5 April

Today Kevin and I had a discussion about whether it is harder to play kids or adults and the resounding answer was kids! I found myself thinking more and more that opponent ratings are a good thing to ignore altogether, but especially when playing young people. For instance, I don't think that Eli's loss to a 1300 player in round two would have happened if that player was an adult, and the same goes for Andy and Kevin’s troubles paired down. Darn kids! This morning for the third straight day I got going with a large cup of strong coffee and cream, provided by the Egyptian ladies set up near Chess Control. God bless them. The round six pairings had a promising look to them on paper, most everyone pairing down, and the varsity team scored well. Sometimes pokey Sam quickly scored the first point, followed by wins by Eli, Andy and Jenelle, with Kevin making a draw. This was another one of Kevin’s missed opportunities that made Robby howl with frustration, but it was indeed late in the event and fatigue was markedly evident in the faces of the players. It was not as happy for the rest of the team – Jacqui had another long game on the wrong side of things, as did Michael. In the JV sections, Hugh and Jacob lost but Sangeetha came through with a win, leaving her with trophy chances intact for the last round.

Scores after six rounds:
Andy: 4
Eli: 3
Hugh: 1
Jacob: 2
Jacquelyn: 2
Jenelle: 3
Kevin: 4
Michael: 1.5
Sam: 4
Sangeetha: 4
Apparently Gilbert had had a disastrous sixth round, falling from 8th to 13th place in the current team standings, so that was something to note in the race for top AZ team. Foothills' good scoring in round six moved them from 11th to 7th place, making some kind of an end run the topic for Robby’s buoyant words to the kids delivered before the round. There was more credence to the "rating means nothing" theory as Jacqui would be paired in the final round against a player rated 600. I’d not spent too much time looking at it because Andy was the only Cat Foot player to sit up there on the stage, but top-ranked IM Robert Hess seemed to be doing his thing, sporting a 6-0 score going into the last round; must be cool to be able to stay on board one throughout the event. Hess would go on to be champion – I am told that a perfect score is rather rare in the top section.

Erwin and I had helped again with the pairing posting before the round, but we had also unwittingly agreed to hand out participation medals (a nice touch by the organizers) and collect tournament sets and boards as the players completed their games. I later found myself thinking "doh!" – it is always fine with me to help, but we got to see nothing of the games in progress, having to rely on translating the favorability of Robby's body language and facial expressions. But our work was appreciated by the USCF. Thank you still goes a long way in my book. [Ed. note - Thank you, thank you, thank you!]

The first player to finish was a shock – Andy, paired down as White, had somehow lost, and in one of his favorite openings…how could this be? Robby later explained that Andy's opponent had pulled off some kind of tactic, although Andy later said that it was not that great and that he had just missed it. This was a heavy blow, as Robby was counting on that point in particular. Still, the show goes on. And at least Andy was not as despondent as he seemed in earlier round losses. Sam made a draw paired up, finishing up a pretty nice event, a run that was continuing from his last USCF adult event, where he gained nearly 100 points. Eli finished with a win, completing a mini-comeback on the last day. After that, a long time passed before I finally saw another Cat Foot player. Behold! I finally set eyes on Jacob, who won his game. Hugh’s game was in progress nearby, and we were impressed at how long the game went; he would eventually lose, but seemed to enjoy being in Nashville with the team. Hugh is often very quiet, at least around me, but I also know that he really just learned to play chess this year. Sangeetha came in with a big winner’s smile, finishing with 5/7, which would indeed qualify her for some hardware. After that there was another long gap; eventually Michael finished with a draw. Jacqui fought to the bitter end – she lost but her competitive spirit was intact, seething through her teeth that "that game was the stupidest game I ever played!" This would leave just Jenelle out there. Since Leland Sanson could not make the trip due to illness, Jenelle was the lone senior, playing her final competitive high school chess game. I gave her a lot of credit. Her deliberate nature often made her the last Foothills player to finish. She would lose this game but a lot of effort was expended, as I saw it – she never gave up. Perhaps a bigger battle looms in her first year at Stanford in the fall.

Cat Foot would indeed best Gilbert – they placed 7th in the final standings, a half point and two places above Michael Reading’s team from the Phoenix area. Robby calculated that one more point would have vaulted Foothills into 4th place, pretty amazing when you consider the number of freshman on the team; perhaps motivation for next year. Before going down to attend the awards ceremony, Robby and Erwin gave some words to the kids about teamwork and that they should hold their heads high, maintaining the Catalina Foothills class act. I was heartened to see that the players listened respectfully and attentively. There is no doubt that they learned something about themselves in the past several days. After the awards, we all trouped over to the mall for a dinner – everyone seemed lighthearted and enjoying themselves. I got to sit next to IM Lev Altounian, finally meeting him. He is a very perceptive person, noting many subtle and interesting things about players, coaches and the Tucson chess scene.

Foothills with the 7th place hardware

Final individual scores:
Andy: 4
Eli: 4
Hugh: 2
Jacob: 3
Jacquelyn: 2
Jenelle: 3
Kevin: 4.5
Michael: 2
Sam: 4.5
I truly enjoyed the entire SuperNationals experience – it actually made me feel like playing tournament chess again – very good for the soul. And the kids? They will all be going places. I'm sure of that.

Your author impersonates a famous swimmer

Thank you Paul for the articles. We hope to read more about your adventures either on vacation or at the board!

Landon featured in Arizona Daily Star

An article about Landon's life is in today's Arizona Daily Star.
This feature chronicles the lives of recently deceased Tucsonans. Some were well-known across the community. Others had an impact on a smaller sphere of friends, family and acquaintances. Many of these people led interesting — and sometimes extraordinary — lives with little or no fanfare. Now you'll hear their stories.
Life stories : Catalina Foothills graduate was a master — at chess and life

Traveling with Catalina Foothills - Part 3

Paul Gold traveled with the Catalina Foothills High School chess team to the recent SuperNationals IV. The tournament is in full swing and nearly half-way done. Be sure to review Parts 1 and 2 to catch up on the action.

Day Three – 4 April

Erwin wrote out all of the pairings and to me it looked like an opportunity for the team to do some bouncing back. Robby was fidgeting about…he so wants performance! And that is how he gets it. To me the kids looked like they were ready to play a little now – we shall see if this translated into points. I needed to remember today to get Joel Benjamin to sign my copy of his book American Grandmaster, which I lugged from Tucson.

This was the big day with three rounds to play, so with a 9:00 AM start, no time for breakfast out. Erwin to the rescue – we had all sorts of fruit and chips and pretzels and soda – woo-hoo! Kevin was paired way down and was the first to win, followed by an important first win for Eli. Jacqui sacrificed a piece out of the opening but could not make the attack work and went down in flames, but hey, she had been paired up in every round. Andy’s game worried me because although he was reported to be doing well, his body language from afar was not so Andy-esque; normally he’s up and wandering but in this game he stayed seated and his opponent looked rather unconcerned. Later on I would pass him in the stairwell and he would say “terrible!”, but we later learned that he won a rook early in the game and then gave it back; he would eventually notch the point but was upset at having been sloppy and having to work so hard. Sam drew in a worse position paired down – his dad, Tom, said he is competitive enough to hate giving anything away so even avoiding what might have been a loss was not optimal. Sangeetha drew in the U1200 section, looking good with 2.5/3. Michael also made a draw but in a crazy way. Paired up against a 1900 he quickly got a bad game but then fought back and got two rooks for his queen; Robby and I thought he might be winning at some point but the half point was good, all things considered. Jacob got his first win but I could not be sure because I had not yet actually seen him. Hugh also picked up a point, but in a very weird way – he made eight moves and then his opponent left the board and did not return…oh well, nice and short! Last to finish was Jenelle, opining just that; to make matters worse she lost and looked pretty drained, but it was not long before she had her mega-watt smile turned on again as we headed to lunch.

I got my wish at the book signing and Joel Benjamin inscribed my copy of his book brought from home plus two more I purchased on the spot. He brightened when I asked him to sign one for Tal Shaked. I also get one signed for Ross Colby, who so kindly let me peck away at my computer in the Philadelphia School’s team room that morning. After dropping off the books, I joined the team for yet another pedestrian repast at Paisano’s, where I got a crummy little packaged salad and a slice of pizza for $9. The large national events always have a feedback session and I had a feeling that food was going to be one of the major topics of scrutiny. During lunch, Andy announced that he was going to take a shower so that he would feel his best up on the stage playing one of the big gun masters next round. It turned out that he would be paired against phenom Alec Getz and Robby feverishly got to work preparing an opening for him. Andy and Robby went on in the room this way several minutes past the start of the round, sacrificing a bit of playing time for an edge in knowledge. We shall see how this all panned out.

Scores after three rounds:
Andy: 3
Eli: 1
Hugh: 1
Jacob: 1
Jacquelyn: 1
Jenelle: 1
Kevin: 2
Michael: 1.5
Sam: 1
Sangeetha: 2.5
Round four had more ups and downs. Kevin continued to play back into form with another win, albeit paired down. Andy had his big moment on the stage with a demo board and all the trimmings. Robby’s prep worked like a charm as Getz played right into the line of the Scandinavian in question for more than a dozen moves. Indeed, the middle game looked promising for Andy and Robby remarked that he thought Andy “should not lose this one”. Beside the online lookup of opponent opening repertoires, Robby had other knowledge in hand, remembering how Getz had given up a draw to a much lower player in a key scholastic event in the last year, something he mentioned to Andy to bolster his confidence. In the end it was not to be. Andy played so well only to make a rather inexplicable miscalculation that handed over the game easily, although Robby did comment that by that time the position did seem better for Black. I passed Andy in the stairwell with a black storm cloud over his head – he took one look at me and muttered “terrible”; and then “I made a move that looked great – he cannot take because it is mate but then I forgot that he has his rook on that square and then I am lost.” Eli’s not-so-lucky streak continued and he would remain with just one win through four rounds. Sam and Jenelle put up points and Sangeetha lost, but she still seemed to be having a good time.

Scores after four rounds:
Andy: 3
Eli: 1
Hugh: 2
Jacob: 1
Jacquelyn: 1
Jenelle: 1
Kevin: 3
Michael: 1.5
Sam: 2
Sangeetha: 2.5
Prior to round five, Erwin and I did a bit of volunteer work, helping post the pairings and standings on the large boards in the skittles area and in front of the playing areas. This was fun and was a big help to the tournament staff in its small way. The work required a fight through the throng into the hall to post the last pairing list for one of the championship sections, and you needed another person with you just for crowd control to have any hope of getting the information up for those trying to crush the messenger. After that Erwin and I had dinner at the pub, a much appreciated hour of respite from the thrash of the tournament.

The final round of day two got underway. The first game I spied was Andy’s (paired down against an 1800 player) and it looked bad early on – he had traded his queen for a rook, bishop and pawn, but there was his opponent’s passed pawn. After Andy lost I again ran into him in the hallway as he headed upstairs to the room. He was so down it made me feel terrible. “I got bored in that game and blitzed off a bunch of moves”, he said. “I think I might not be able to play tomorrow because I will just lose every game I play”. Ugh. Kevin’s game would be one of the last to finish and he would make a not-so-satisfying draw, but nevertheless a half point forward for the team. Eli bounced back with a win, and I hoped he might be starting a little streak. Sangeetha played to a draw, keeping her hopes for a high score in the JV section alive. Sam won his game to quietly move to 3/5. Jenelle lost paired up – when we looked at her game she seemed tired to me; tough to keep stoked for the duration. Jacqui is still learning her openings, and found herself in a bad way early on in her game, but fought back to a drawish position late in the game; then came The Miracle, courtesy of her opponent, who played the only move that handed over the gladly accepted goods.

Scores after five rounds:
Andy: 3
Eli: 2
Hugh: 2
Jacob: 2
Jacquelyn: 2
Jenelle: 2
Kevin: 3.5
Michael: 1.5
Sam: 3
Sangeetha: 3
I close the recounting of the second day of play reflecting on Robby’s team meeting in which he said to the players “Yeah, we are not where we would like to be. But we still need to push and do as well as we possibly can. And if we don’t do better, then we are going to lose to Gilbert, and we better not!” None of this was said with any malice – just a little in-state rivalry at work. I have to say that I loved this tack; reminded me of the scene from The Lord of the Rings, where the king accepts that his much smaller force cannot defeat the bad guys, and he says “True, we cannot defeat Sauron’s army (pregnant pause), but we will meet them in battle nonetheless!” At this point in our story, Gilbert was in 8th place with a one point team aggregate lead over Catalina Foothills, in 11th place.

Robby's Saturday team meeting

Join us for the exciting conclusion of Paul's trip to Nashville with the Catalina Foothills High School chess team.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Traveling with Catalina Foothills - Part 2

Paul Gold traveled with the Catalina Foothills High School chess team to the recent SuperNationals IV. Paul continues his journey from Day 1 with this second installment of his recap from Nashville, TN.

Day Two – 3 April
As I wrote this on the morning prior to the opening ceremonies at the Grand Old Opry House, followed by the SuperNationals tournament proper, I thought I should say a few words about the site itself. The Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Resort was one of the largest hotels I had ever seen, with some 2800+ hotel rooms and seemingly endless conference space – perfect for this kind of event. The structure was a series of floors of sleeping rooms that face inward toward lush atriums, gardens and even an indoor waterway, capped by a glassed ceiling hundreds of feet above. This created a dramatic feeling when one first entered. The grounds were truly labyrinthine, although there were good maps everywhere…still, it was very easy to get turned around and lost – good thing we coordinated cell phones to stay connected. There were a number of eateries in the place but you could go to the Opryland Mall as well for a bite.

There is even an indoor boat ride.

On the way back from another breakfast/lunch at the mall, we stopped in at the Grand Old Opry building to catch the opening ceremony speeches, punctuated by some fine words from astronaut Greg Chamitoff. The main attraction was former World Champion Garry Kasparov, who remarked that he remembered being a scholastic player in large events and that the thing he hated the most was opening ceremonies (with respect to the organizers – big laughs). But truly he understood that the players come to play chess, as much and as soon as possible!

Before the opening round I dropped into the enormous bookseller and chess booth area, where I was delighted to locate Chess Life editor Dan Lucas by pure chance. Dan and I (and Robby) had carried on a lengthy running conversation for months as The Wavemaster article was generated and edited. I always imagine people as looking a certain way that is consistently incorrect, sometimes comically, though for some reason I had not developed a mental picture of Dan – perhaps this was because we never actually spoke, all of our contact being online. It turned out that Dan is a tennis player – he lives in Atlanta and was here with his son. Dan was articulate and a good listener and I found him to be immediately warm and accessible.

Today would be the start of the tournament, with rounds at 1:00 PM and 7:00 PM. It was expected that maybe 350 players (~50 teams) would compete in the K-12 Championship section and that the Foothills team would be challenged right off the bat – while Eli’s 1894 rating ranked him 95th, the accelerated pairings would likely pair him up in the first round – this is known as being “on the split”, in Swiss system terminology. This turned out to be true, Eli pairing up to play a 2200 player. At the end of the round, Jacquelyn led the charge with an upset over a 1600-rated player, while the rest of the player pairings held form, the exception being a tough loss for Kevin paired down. Robby worried this result a lot, tempered by the fact that Kevin did not make any really obvious mistakes and that his opponent played strongly. So the team got off to a not-so-roaring start, but not so bad either.

Between rounds I wandered over to visit GM Tal Shaked, a famous chess acquaintance from his playing days in Tucson – Tal is now a software engineer for Google, 31 years old and engaged to be married. He gave up his chess playing career at the age of 21; how many people can you think of that would eschew something they do at world class level at such an early age? I figured Tal must often be in some kind of a twilight zone, indelibly known for his GM status, however, inactive as a player. Tal was voluble, articulate and just downright friendly – I enjoyed talking with him very much. We had lunch together and shared a bit of catching up along with some editorializing commentary on the folks we know in common, critical but kindhearted.

We stopped by the team room in which Ross Colby was holding forth – Tal is here to help analyze games with Ross’ players. Ross is another old home Tucson favorite, now living in Philadelphia, teaching philosophy at the university level. Ross was busy with his kids but we had a few minutes to share and he quickly asked about his omission from the Wavemaster article – I hate having to miss important people – I knew we could not include everyone. But Ross was very kind and funny and knew all of that – still he got in a little dig about being a chess teacher long before Robby and to note that influence. Ross is a wonderful teacher with a razor sharp wit and intellect to boot.

Round two results were pretty grim for the Cat Foot team – not too many points to tally at the end; Robby would note that after this round the team was in 9th place. Kevin recovered nicely from his first round trouble with a hard fought win. The diagram below shows a critical position.

Kevin just played Re4. See how this wins?

Andy remained in the best form this round, winning quickly. Poor Eli suffered a loss paired way down – he is such a smart person that I could only attribute fatigue to his poor play. Sam lost paired down, holding a worse position for a long time – I believe this tenacity will pay dividends in his chess and life (he held a 2000 player to a draw in round 1). Jacquelyn’s upset streak would halt in this round, but she still stood well with 1 out of 2 paired up. Jenelle would hold out to the last paired up but also eventually lost. Michael won in round one but had an oversight or two that led to a loss in round two.

Scores after two rounds:
Andy: 2
Eli: 0
Hugh: 0
Jacob: 0
Jacquelyn: 1
Jenelle: 1
Kevin: 1
Michael: 1
Sam: ½
Sangeetha: 2
The first day at nationals was closed out with a sighting of Ed Friesen, an old friend of Ken Larsen’s and someone I knew when he lived in Tucson, 20 years ago. I just did not recognize him – we are all getting old! Ed and his wife are ministers in the Nashville area.

Join us again soon as Paul continues his adventure at SuperNationals IV with the Catalina Foothill High School chess team.

Chess Fest is Saturday May 2

The 2nd Annual 9 Queens Chess Fest is this Saturday, downtown at the Hotel Congress. The Chess Fest is a nontraditional chess tournament that offers everyone, regardless of age or experience level, an opportunity to experience the benefits of chess. Activities will start at noon and will last until about 8:30 pm.

Activities include:
  • Blitz (G/5) tournament
  • Human Chess Match played out on a life-size board,
  • Blindfold chess exhibition provided by members of the Arizona Chess Team,
  • Free chess workshops and lessons taught by two-time national chess champions from Catalina Foothills High School,
  • Blitz chess tournament free for all children under age of 18
  • Chess and Hola Hooping Expo
  • "Honor the Queen" chess art exhibit featuring pieces renditions of the chess queen donated by local artists, chess players, and 9 Queens students
Registration for the blitz tournament is free to all if done by 8:00 pm on Friday. After that, kids are still free but adults will be charged a fee.

All proceeds from the Chess Fest will benefit 9 Queens, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering under-served and under-represented populations through chess.

Arizona Daily Star article on Chess Fest

Tucson Citizen article on Chess Fest

Danny Rensch featured on Chess Life Online

FM Daniel Rensch writes about earning his second IM norm, and his plans to earn the Grandmaster title. He also gives us insight into an unexpected detour at the height of his confidence. Daniel is the president of American Chess Events, which is hosting the Cooper State International (Mesa, Arizona, May 29-June 3).

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Honoring Landon

The SACA Merit Scholarships were started in 2004. Their purpose "is to provide support to Southern Arizona scholastic chess players who have demonstrated excellence in chess and a desire to further their chess development." SACA wants to support the young chess players in our community so that they may develop not only as chess players, but also as young adults who'll help promote chess to the community.

Landon Brownell was a member of the 2004 inaugural class. An eighth-grader at the time, Landon's peak rating was 1821. By the next year, it was 2050. In 2006, he won the high school national title and achieved a master rating of 2265. Landon continued to excel and was awarded the scholarship every year through his senior year of high school.

Beyond playing chess very well, Landon was also an ambassador of the game. He was a leader to his teammates whom he helped encourage and improve. He was a sportsman to his opponents who could always expect a friendly, courteous game and even some of his time after the game to review it. But most importantly, Landon was a friend to all he came in contact with. When news of his passing came, heartfelt comments and cherished memories came from players, coaches and parents not only in Southern Arizona, but throughout the state and the country.

SACA would be hard-pressed to find another individual who is a better example of a scholastic player that we wish to support and encourage with the Merit Scholarships. It is for that reason, that SACA has decided to rename the SACA Merit Scholarships to the Landon Brownell Memorial Scholarships; in his memory and in the hope that others can still be encouraged by a light that was extinguished too soon.

Traveling with Catalina Foothills - Part 1

Paul Gold traveled with the Catalina Foothills High School chess team to the recent SuperNationals IV. Here is Part 1 of his recap of that event through the eyes of a non-player, non-coach, non-parent, man on "vacation!"

Chaotic. That is the word I am able to summon to describe how I felt about accompanying the Catalina Foothills high school chess team to the SuperNationals, the granddaddy of all scholastic chess events. Coach Robby Adamson and his team from Tucson were the subjects of an article I wrote for the March issue of Chess Life magazine. This is the sequel, Wavemaster II, The Movie, if you will, the generation of which required a trip to Nashville to experience the frenetic excitement of 5000 kids ready to push wood for national hardware.

It is not like I had never been to an event like this before – I was a floor TD for the Kansas City version of this event in 2001. And I have organized a great number of large scholastic events over the years. But this year’s tournament just felt like a monster; again, kind of unexplainable because for the very first time I was not the organizer, TD or coach, nor did I hold any kind of position of any responsibility. I was (gulp) on vacation! And I was strenuously trying to avoid being myself for the next five days, because if I attend this event as me, I might just not have that much fun. So my goal was to unclench my fussy little fist for the next four days and just let it all happen. I wanted to observe everything and control nothing.

Robby had indeed made the necessary airline bookings and hotel reservations. And we were in the capable company of chess parent Erwin De Sa, veteran of numerous scholastic chess wars. I cannot tell you how invaluable he was, knowing this particular site and exactly how to handle the logistical eccentricities surrounding young chess players. We arrived as planned in Nashville on Wednesday night and by the time we had checked into the Gaylord Opryland Resort, it was about 12:30 AM. Robby accommodated me nicely, putting Kevin Zhang and Eli Alster (two of the more quiet players) into our room. Another room contained our female contingent (Jenelle Wallace, Sangeetha Pugazhendi, and Jacquelyn De Sa) and the final room was inhabited by the redoubtable Erwin plus Michael Reed, Hugh Chen and the one and only Andy Lin. Two more players would join us the next night (Sam Cotter and Jacob Kreiger); traveling and rooming with their respective parents.

Day One – 2 April
The rooming arrangement went swimmingly and I was pleasantly surprised to get in maybe 5 hours of sleep before I rose on Thursday morning. There would be two chess events that day – the bughouse tournament at 11:00 AM and the blitz at 5:00 PM, otherwise a nice day to acclimate and case the joint. In the end only Kevin played on a bug team, paired up with his friend Randel Eng from the Phoenix area. They would finish 17th, which was telling in respect to the strength of the field – Randel is rated 1950 and Kevin around 2150. They seemed to really enjoy playing, which was heartening in a national event where the kids, coaches and even parents can get mighty serious.

A number of the kids trouped with Erwin and I across the street to the Opryland Mall for some food before the bug. It was late by that time so we all ate lunch for breakfast. Then things seemed to open up for the rest of the day, the kids exploring the enormous hotel grounds, while Erwin went out for snacks. Then, just less than an hour before the start of the blitz tournament, we heard an announcement telling us to go to the nearest secure area because of a tornado warning. We all filed out of our rooms and huddled in a marked area, waiting for the all clear notification. Jenelle had brought her laptop and we were able to see the red zone on the map near Nashville on the National Weather Service site. We did not have that when I was a kid!

Along the way I had already encountered some of the chess folks to make this kind of an "old home week" for me. The very first people I saw manning the check-in table for the bug event were none other than Tucson chess organizers Kiki Huerta and Karen Pennock. I sidled up to the table and asked if I could be paired into the bug event and that I would need a partner. Kiki directed me to "the eighth grader in the suit" and I got my handshake and chat with Jon Shacter, now working at Raytheon, where both Erwin and I are employed in Tucson. Jon is one of those rare kids who became a tournament official – he also maintains the SACA website. A little hard for me to take the slight graying at the temples, I must say – was it not yesterday that he was 12 years old?! I got a really warm hug from Kim Cramer, the High Priestess of Chess Control, and my "evil twin" also stopped in with a grin, NTD Robert Tanner. I think I surprised Harry Sabine with my "remember me?" but he eventually did, though I noticed he was without his signature neon high-top sneakers. I spotted head NTD Robert Singletary busy on his cell phone, so I would have to get my salutation in with him a little later.

Kevin Zhang prior to the start of the Blitz tournament

Most of the Cat Foot kids entered into the blitz tournament – in fact, the pre-reg list was HUGE for a side event at 900 players. Unfortunately, the tornado warning delayed the start by some 40 minutes, time that would be needed in the end. Kevin, Andy, Eli, Michael, Sangeetha, Jacquelyn and Jenelle started their clocks, with me, Hugh, Erwin and Robby in the cheering section. The plan was for a six-round tournament, where you play two games (one White, one Black) for a total of 12 points possible. The team tally adds up the best four scores. Things went along more or less as one might guess until the second to last round when it was announced that the tournament would comply with the USCF rule that no final round can start later than 9:30 PM, a decision made years back when this kind of event went long into the night, tiring the players before the main event. So if the tournament runs late, the TDs can truncate the last round - you only play five rounds instead of six. Those of us watching figured there was no way we could get in that last round since we never recovered the lost time due to the weather. Michael was sure of this enough to head back to the room after his fifth round match…and then came the announcement that there would be a sixth round. Around 9:20 PM, Michael was still in his hotel room – he actually made it back to the tournament hall just in time to confirm his forfeiture (ouch). In the end the team scored very well anyway, placing second behind Thomas Jefferson, who lapped the field by three full points! Andy, Kevin and Eli all scored 9/12, with the surprising Jacquelyn contributing 6.5 points for the final tally.

After a slice of pizza, the team dispersed, most for their rooms. Robby and I repaired to the Irish pub for a drink with Jon Shacter, where we philosophized on many subjects and of course, chess. We sat outside the pub and more familiar folks stopped by to say hello, most notably for me, Carol Jarecki, who had flown her own plane in, as she often does. I will also mention that during the blitz I did a small bit of work with Jon Shacter and Robert Singletary, setting up the Junior High ballroom for the start of the tournament the next day. During this time Robert told me what he is up to – still doing CPA work in Raleigh, NC, but he is also the CFO of the American Lung Association, where he lives in Ohio. Add to this his peripatetic chess work and his family life and you have a lot on the plate. Robert is truly a top-shelf act – not only ambitious and successful, but one of the really nice chess people. I always enjoy seeing him – I just wish he did not look so tired!

That wraps-up Day 2 and Part 1 of our series. Look for Part 2 to appear soon with Paul's continuing adventures on vacation.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Landon Brownell (1989 - 2009)

It is with deep regret and sadness that we report the passing of Landon Brownell. We were informed yesterday by Landon's father, Roger Brownell, of his passing.
Landon Brownell passed away this morning in a single car accident as he was driving home from his brother Bryant's wedding. He will be remembered by all as a loving brother, son, grandson, and friend. Your prayers are welcome during this time. He is with the Lord.
Landon was a former scholastic player in our community. He participated on the Orange Grove middle school and Catalina Foothills high school teams during his time here in Tucson. He helped lead his teams to 4 National Championships in 5 years. Individually, Landon achieved a ranking of national master, he was the Arizona High School champion twice, and the National High School champion in 2006.
Beyond the individual honors however - and most importantly - Landon cared about others and was a dedicated member of the team. As his school coach at Catalina Foothills High School, I witnessed first-hand Landon embracing the team concept, often without prompting by anyone. To prepare for Nationals over the years, Landon and his father, Roger, would invite students from Foothills, regardless of their ability, over to their home on the weekends to play training games with each other. Landon would review the games with his teammates, always in a gentle and constructive manner, regardless of result. - Robby Adamson
Landon was more than just an accomplished chess player. He was an accomplished young man and a role model to people of all ages. Landon and his family have touched many lives in our community and he will always be remembered.

Donations, in memory of Landon, are being accepted by the Southern Arizona Chess Association (SACA), P.O. Box 42407, Tucson, AZ 85733.

Robby Adamson remembers on Landon Brownell
Michael Aigner remembers Landon Brownell

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

David Adelberg article in Arizona Republic

One of Arizona's best juniors of all time, and SACA tournament regular, had a great piece about him written up in this weekend's Arizona Republic.
A chess prodigy, he is ranked fifth in the nation for his age. Adelberg, who already has had success in tournaments on national and international chess stages, is on the verge of breaking an Arizona record.

In the next months, Adelberg is expected to earn the status of National Master by the United States Chess Federation, a title previously held by Daniel Rensch at age 14. A National Master is someone who has a chess federation rating of 2200 and has demonstrated enough skill that they can usually beat chess experts and almost always prevail against amateurs.
Source: Arizona Republic

Monday, April 6, 2009

Eastside Chess Club visits IHOP

The Eastside Chess Club will be visiting the International House of Pancakes, Grant & Rosemont, on April 8 and 15 during the holiday closure of the Jewish Community Center (JCC). There will be skittles and a free blitz event.

The Eastside Chess Club will resume at the JCC on April 22 to start off the Action G/30 event.

Also coming up May 13 is the anniversary party.

Please see the posted flyers for all upcoming events.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

2008-2009 SACA All-Star Awards

This weekend at the Tucson Scholastics (RQ2), SACA announced this year's recipients of the scholastic All-Star Awards. The awards are in recognition to the players who not only perform well at tournaments, but also those that compete at the highest levels against the toughest competition. Congratulations to the 2008-2009 All-Stars!
1. Ethan Li (Lineweaver)
2. Sreekar Bommireddy (Lineweaver)
3. Benjamin Hall (St. Joseph)
4. Zak Cancio (Khalsa Montessori)
5. Shaun Brennan (Harelson)
6. Daniel Shevelev (Manzanita)
7. Leamon Crooms (Castlehill CDS)

1. Thomas Mathine (Greenfields CDS)
2. Derek Chen (Harelson)
3. Rohan Mittal (Harelson)
4. Sumhith Aradhyula (Canyon View)
5. Grayson Barnes (Greenfields CDS)
6. Dylan South (Corbett)
7. Xiexin Wang (Lineweaver)

Junior High:
1. Justin Arnold (Orange Grove)
2. Kinsleigh Wong (Esperero)
3. Bowen Wang (BASIS)
4. Kohta Isoe (Doolen)
5. Steven Pennock (Orange Grove)
6. Yurika Isoe (Doolen)
7. Jimmy Zipperian (St. Gregory)

Honorable Mention: Josh Pennock (Orange Grove)
Complete rules and previous years' recipients are available on the SACA website.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Tucson Scholastics (RQ2) wrap-up

The Tucson Scholastics (RQ2) was this weekend at Harelson Elementary. Over 200 players participated in the final scholastic tournament of the SACA season.

Final standings are available for all seasons. The tournament has been rated, and players can see their new (unofficial) ratings.
K-1 Qualifier and K-1 Team
K-3 Qualifier and K-3 Team
K-6 Qualifier and K-6 Team
K-9 Qualifier and K-9 Team
K-6 Championship
K-12 Championship
It has been a great season, and we look forward to seeing everyone at the State Scholastic Championship. Thank you to all the players, parents, coaches, and tournament directors that made the season a great one.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Tucson Scholastics (RQ2) this weekend - UPDATED

Don't miss out on the last scholastic tournament of the season!

This Saturday at Harelson Elementary is the Tucson Scholastic (RQ2) tournament. This will be the final scholastic tournament in Tucson for the season. This is also the last chance in Southern Arizona to qualify for the State Scholastic Championship being held in Gilbert, AZ on April 25-26.

All-star awards will be presented prior to Round 4.

Registration for RQ2 is available online at the SACA Website. If you have any questions, contact Enrique.

UPDATE: (Final pre-reg list is up!!!)
Here are the pre-registration lists for RQ2 sorted by player's name and by team name. Please check to see if your registration was received and if all information is correct. If there are any problems, please contact Enrique.

State Champion of Champions tournament this weekend

Levon Altounian will represent Arizona this week on ICC for the State Champion of Champions tournament. Current state champions from around the country are separated into 4 "zones" (Ed: Don't ask me how South Carolina is in the same "zone" as Arizona.) with the winners of each zone facing off next weekend. Up for grabs is the final spot in the 2009 US Championship.
State champions from Alaska through California to Hawaii and from Maine through to New York and Florida will come together as one over the internet on Saturday, March 28th at for this unique online tournament, with the four qualifying conference winners going forward to the knockout finals on the weekend of April 4th-5th.

Apart from the attraction of one of the final spots up for grabs at what promises to be a memorable U.S. Chess Championship with a prize fund exceeding $130,000, the winner will also receive the title of State Champion of Champions, a round trip ticket to St. Louis and a glass trophy designed by The Stained Glass Store of Des Moines, Idaho.
You can watch the games online at the ICC.

Official website.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Aronian wins 2009 Amber tournament

GM Levon Aronian defended his title by winning the 2009 Amber Blindfold and Rapid tournament in Nice, France. Aronian finished with a combined score of 14 points to finish a half-point ahead of Anand and Kramnik.
The 18th Amber Blindfold and Rapid tournament, organized by the Association Max Euwe in Monaco, is taking place from March 14 (first round) to March 26 (last round) at the Palais de la Mediterranée, splendidly located on the famous Promenade des Anglais in Nice. The total prize fund is € 216,000. The rate of play is 25 minutes per game per player. With every move made in the blindfold games 20 seconds is added to the clock, with every move made in the rapid games 10 seconds is added. Every day four sessions are played: two blindfold and two rapid games. The first session starts at 14.30h. The fourth session finishes around 20.00h. (Note: the final round on March 26 starts at 12.30h. March 18 and 23 are rest days).
A complete wrap-up is available on

All rapid and blindfold games are available on