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

From Chessbase.com:
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. [Chessbase.com]

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 (Chessclub.com) 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.