Monday, November 26, 2012

Interesting Ad (for only certain people)

Sarcasm:  Only the wealthy and intelligent can play chess . . .*sigh* . . .only in Sun Valley!  
(Note:  the pieces couldn't get any more cheaper looking)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tyler Avila Simul

For the Integrating Chess and Critical Thinking Class, I require a grandmaster project.  This is the third quarter that Tyler Avila has taken the class and it would be the third grandmaster project for Tyler.  But, Tyler asked me if he could prepare for a simul with the class as an alternative.  Being a responsive teacher and desiring students that take control of their education, I couldn't refuse.  A simul is a tournament where one player simultaneously plays a number of players at the same time.  Grandmasters typically play these exhibitions to demonstrate their chess prowess and skills.

In fact, I wish more students did this type of reflection on their education.  Megan Jones avoids my workbook problems like the plague, but she finally shared with me that she completes the problems of the day, almost every day.  Since the class started she completed 81 problems!  She is a senior and now hooked on chess and I found out that she plays OTB and on the computer nearly every day, now.  Her game has greatly improved since she started with this class, so I offered to use these problems in lieu of the workbook credit.  Isn't this what education is all about?  Helping students discover something new and then allowing them the opportunity level up in a variety of ways?

Tyler studied some books, watched videos, and played an enormous amount of blitz chess in preparation for Tuesdays simul.  He arrived in my room with a serious but nervous look.  His chess confidence greatly improved this year, but as twelve students began to assume their positions, I detected a bit of regret at his project choice.  I almost told him to take his coat off to relax a bit, but he was anxious to begin.
The Colle-Zuckertort Opening strives to create a strong defense before  attacking.  The attack options include getting the f-knight to e5 or advancing a pawn down the c-file.
As I prepped the students, Tyler stood quietly in the front of the room and then began moving counter-clockwise (interesting observation as all other simuls I have seen the contestants moving clockwise? Is Tyler a "lefty?"), shaking hands and then playing 1. d4.    I was immediately surprised as I expected him to play the Scotch opening based on prior conversations and also the chapter he studied on the Scotch Gambit.  I knew he was going to attempt the Colle-Zuckertort System when I saw his first move on each of the boards.

The Scotch Gambit

The Colle-Zuckertort

Tyler's favorite chess video:

Can you find a royal fork?
As the games progressed, I could see the wrinkle between his brows furl.  I am sure he thought, "what have I gotten myself into?"  He found some wonderful forks in some games, however, I also saw him sacrifice in desperation in others.  In two games he lost to the dreaded long bishop, sheltered and camouflaged by pawns, aiming at h2 while his opponent secretly slipped their queen onto a square to attack the h2 square from another location.

Black offered a queen exchange, 1.  ..Qh6.  Tyler declined and moved  Qe2-Qc2??  Black earned  a win with Qxh2.  
Afterwards he commented that "it became so confusing to remember plans for each of the games."  He ended the simul with 6 wins and 6 losses.  A very respectable result.  I am going to have him annotate a game this next week to complete the work. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tie-breaks Explained

     Tie-break systems are used in many tournaments to determine the order of finish among players in the same score group. There is no perfect tie-break system. Each system carries a different bias and is subject to criticism. In events where time is not pressing, playoffs provide an alternative to the use of tie-break systems. Where playoffs are used, time controls are usually much faster than those used for regular tournament rounds.
     Scholastic events are often squeezed for time at the end of the day and tie-breaks are necessary to determine trophies or other non-cash awards. Tie-breaks systems are not used for cash prizes; cash prizes are divided evenly among tied players.
     Depending on the size of the event, more than one tie-break system may be needed to determine the order of finish. The sequence of tie-break systems to be used at a tournament should be posted before the first round. Unless a different method has been posted or announced before the first round, USCF rules indicate that players will expect the following sequence of tie-break systems to be employed as the first four individual tie-breakers:
1. Modified Median
2. Solkoff
3. Cumulative
4. Cumulative of Opposition
     Many of the primary tie-break systems are based in varying ways on the strength of your opponents' play. Generally speaking, the stronger the scores of your opponents, the better your tie-breaks.
     The following tie-break definitions are derived from the U.S. Chess Federation's Official Rules of Chess, Fourth Edition.

Individual Swiss tournament tie-break systems
The sum of all opponents' final scores.
Modified Median
·        The sum of opponents' scores (like Solkoff) but discarding some high or low scores:
  • ·        for players with "plus" scores (more wins than losses) -- the lowest scoring opponent is discarded.
  • ·        for players with "even" scores -- the highest and the lowest scoring opponents are discarded.
  • ·        for players with "minus" scores -- the highest scoring opponent is discarded.
  • ·        For tournaments of nine or more rounds, the top two and bottom two scores are discarded for even score ties, the bottom two scores for plus score ties, and the top two scores for minus score ties.

·        These scores are adjusted for unplayed games (byes, forfeits, unplayed games), which count a half point each.
Median (Harkness System)
The sum of opponents' final scores, discarding the highest and lowest of these scores.
The sum of the cumulative (running) score for each round. One point is subtracted from the sum for each unplayed win or one-point bye.
For example, if a player's results over a five-round event were win, loss, win, draw, loss, the wallchart would show a cumulative score round by round as 1, 1, 2, 2 1/2, 2 1/2. Adding across, the cumulative tie-break total is 9.
Cumulative Scores of Opposition
The cumulative tie-break points for each opponent are calculated and then added together.
A player receives 4 tie-break points for a win, 2 for a draw, 1 for a loss, and 0 for an unplayed game. This system awards aggressive play by giving more credit for wins.
Result between Tied Players
Self-explanatory if two tie, but useful only when they are paired and did not draw. If more than two tie, all results among tied players should be considered, with rank according to plus or minus, not percentage (3-1 beats 1-0).
Most Blacks
Opposition's Performance
This method averages the performance ratings of the players' opposition. Performance ratings are calculated by crediting the player with the opponent's rating plus 400 points for a win, the opponent's rating minus 400 points for a loss, and the opponent's rating for a draw. Results of each opponent against the tied player should not be included, since this would give the higher-rated tied player an unfair advantage. This system may be difficult to use when unrated players are in the tournament.
Average Opposition
This system averages the ratings of the players' opponents, the better tie-break score going to the person who played the highest-rated average field.
Sonneborn-Berger (Partial Score Method)
Add the final scores of all the opponents the players defeated and half the final scores of all the opponents with whom the player drew. Nothing is added for the games the player lost or for unplayed games. This is the most common method used for round-robin events.

Modified Individual/Team tie-break systems
Many scholastic events used a modified individual/team tournament format. In this type of event, pairings are performed as in a normal individual Swiss tournament but often teammates (e.g., players from the same school) will not be paired against each other. At the end of the event, team points are accumulated (usually the top 4 players' scores are used for the team calculation) and team awards presented in addition to individual awards. For this type of tournament, the Team Cumulative tie-break may be employed in the overall tie-break sequence.

The sum of the cumulative (running) scores for each team member at the end of the tournament.
Team Cumulative
·        The sum of the cumulative (running) scores for each team member as the team is defined for each round.
·        This is different from the normal Cumulative tie-break only if there are more than 4 players on a team and the top 4 scores involve different sets of players for at least one round.

Most of the individual tie-break systems for individual Swiss tournaments described above are also suitable for modified individual/team events.

Team tie-break systems
In team tournaments, the team competes as a unit against other teams. The usual example is the 4-board team tournament in which 4 team members compete in each round against the 4 members of another team. Most of the individual tie-break systems for individual Swiss tournaments described above are also suitable for team events. USCF rules describe two other tie-break systems for team events.

Game (or Match) Points
The total game points earned by the team involved.
U.S. Amateur Team System
For each round, the final score of the opposing team is multiplied by the number of points scored against that team. For example, if Team A scored 2 1/2 - 1 1/2 against Team B, which finished the tournament with 3 match points, Team A's tie-break for that round is 2 1/2 X 3 = 7 1/2.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

2012 Fall "Turkey Shoot" Results

2012 Fall "Turkey Shoot" Tournament
            The Fall "Turkey Shoot" chess tournament was a lesson in tie-breaks and heartbreaks.  Twenty students competed on Saturday, November 17 in hour-long games in a five round tournament.  The elementary sections played eight rounds due to the fast pace of their games.

A great day for a tournament with a view down Croy Canyon.

Jacob plays Anna in the first round.

Des gets ahead in points and pawns, but neglects the back rank and Jacob pulls out  a surprise attack!
"I took the pawn and blundered the game away!" says Des.

Riley has a fierce opening game as she begins the middle game a piece up.
           In the high school section, 3rd grader, Jacob Nathan from Idaho Falls played up, and looked like he was going to sweep the tournament as the last round approached and he had four points.  WRHS Chess Club President, Riley Clark faced off with Jacob in the last round and succeeded in breaking Jacob's winning streak and took home the first place trophy - her first!  It is remarkable that Jacob did so well with the high schoolers, but chess is based on experience and Jacob actually has over 100 tournament games at the national and state level.  He plays more regularly in ICA events than even my own children.  Most of the participants in this tournament had only a handful of games from tournaments.

Most Inspirational Elementary Player, Collin
            Tie-breaks were necessary in each of the sections and are determined using mathematical algorithms that calculate a number based on the difficulty of the opponents faced by each player. In the Kindergarten through 3rd grade section, Darwin Porth won first place with 6.0 points and Quentin Van Law won second place with 6.0 points.  Tie-breaker points determined the outcome.  Luke Baker (4.5 pts.) won third place.  In the 4th and 5th grade section, Alex Baker and Walter Kriesien tied for first with 6.5 points, but Alex Baker won first on tie-breaker points.  Zane Barckholtz won third place with 6.0 points.  Medals were awarded to all other players in the elementary section.

Tournament newcomers:  Wyatt Caccia, WRHS and Terry Zheng, Community School

Rileys only loss was against Desmond.
            The high school section had a three-way tie for first between Riley Clark, Jacob Nathan, and Terry Zheng, who is originally from China and now attends the Community School.  Tie-breaker points placed Riley in first, Jacob in second, and Terry in third.

Twenty Players and three sections
            Tie-breaker points are calculated in a number of different ways and the totals of each are compared and cascade until a result is obtained.  There are over 18 different ways of calculating tie-breaker points and I thank the lord for WinTD and pairing software for calculating all this.  Here are the common tie-breakers used in tournaments around the U.S. and the ones that I select for local tournaments:

1st Tie Break - Head-to-Head
Determine if one of the players beat the other from cross table.  As my friend Barry Eacker and I agree that this is one of the best means of calculating tie breaks.

2nd Tie Break - Modified Median
The sum of all opponent's scores with the highest and lowest scoring opponent discarded.  Additionally, players > 50% have only their lowest scoring player discarded, players < 50% have only their highest player discarded, with = 50% handled as the Median System.

3rd Tie Break - Solkoff
The sum of all opponent's scores with no scores discarded.

4th Tie Break - Cumulative
To calculate this, sum the running score for each round. For example, if a player has (in order) a win, loss, win, draw, and a loss; his round-by-round score will be 1, 1, 2, 2½, 2½. The sum of these numbers is 9. This system places more weight on games won in the early rounds and the least weight on games won in the final rounds. The rationale for this system is that a player who scored well early in the tournament has most likely faced tougher opponents in later rounds and should therefore be favored over a player who scored poorly in the start before subsequently scoring points against weaker opponents.

5th Tie Break - Cumulative of Opposition
This is the total of the opponent's cumulative score.

Dylan and Anna play while Matt, Wyatt, and Terry watch

How do Byes figure into all this tie-breaking business?
           Let me explain by sharing an example from this past weekend.  If a player scores four points by beating four opponents, and another one scored four points but one of the points was from a bye, then who should win the higher placement?  The person that won four games, or the one that beat only three opponent's.

Ipads and Tablets entertain players in between rounds.
          Many students love to get a "bye" for some reason and my experienced players in the club now recognize that byes do not help in tie-breaks and they do not like them.  After all, players enter tournaments to play and not "please wait."

           As indicated, tie-breakers can be tear-jerkers and heart-breakers.  Especially, when the prize is a trophy because tie-breakers are used to determine the placements.  If it is a cash prize, the money is combined and divvied up equally.  Calculating the results and trying to explain to the parents and the pint-size players why their top score is second to the other same score is stressful.  But, with tournament experience, the tie-breaking system will eventually make sense to those that stick with tournaments and they are less of a surprise.


Tyler Avila totes his turkey

           This tournament was a "Turkey Shoot" and all players had a "shot" at winning the turkey.  The turkey was donated by the WRHS Chess Club for the tournament.  And, Tyler Avila, 11th grade, placed 6th place in the tournament but his prize was the turkey.

Brother and sister face off.
            The next tournament is the Christmas Blitzkrieg on Thursday, December 13 with a Family Tournament during Winter Break.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thursday, November 15, 2012

2012 Barnes & Noble Round Robin

2012 Barnes & Noble Round Robin

The WRHS Chess Club/Integrating Chess Class visited Barnes & Noble in Twin Falls Tuesday night to learn and play games with the Magic Valley Chess Club.  President and CEO Barry Eacker invited our team for their monthly meeting and we decided to conduct a round-robin G/5 tournament!

WinTD Problem:  Maybe someone could help us out.  The wintd program would not pair past the 12th round and provided the message "value too large."  And it would not continue to pair.  Does anyone know what happened or why we might get this message?

Students were practically fighting to come to this event, but since I only had a mini-bus, I could only take 14 kids.  One student even crossed another's name off the list!  That was a forfeit for his chances of going.  We had a mixed-mash of abilities and a diversity of students attending this "field trip."  New players, beginners, and a couple of seasoned chess clubbers.

Taylor Walton
Barry enthusiastically greeted our group when we arrived and everyone sat right down and began to play and warm up.  I introduced the MVCC members:  Barry Eacker, Fred Bartell, Gary Dugger, and Alexandr Vereschagin.  Alexandr opted out of the blitz games but played students that finished their games.  Former WRHS Chess Club President and Champion also visited to play, and a Canyon Ridge High School student, Jarod Arp also came to play.

WinTD Problem:  Taylor arrived after round 2 and I tried to add him to the tournament.  The software would pair him for round 3 but kept pairing one player twice.  Does anyone know how to add a player after a round robin tournament has started.  He ended up playing Alexandr for most of the night.

Wyatt and Megan play in their first tournament
The Barnes & Noble staff in the cafe were very accommodating and provided the tournament participants with a 10% discount for beverages.  Lattes and Mochachinos were flowing all night!  In fact, the tournament began around 6:30 pm and we played until nearly 9:30 pm.  It certainly was a late school night for our students as we also had an hour long trip to get home.  Youth is resilient, but I noticed that several students missed school the next day and the rest were pretty lethargic in classes.

Don't make a bad move against Fred, he'll make you pay dearly!

This was a great experience as the MVCC members passed along better moves and strategy to the students.  Barry was encouraging, "You really play well and followed all the right opening strategies . . . good development . . . king safely castled . . . center control . . . rooks linked up," I heard him say several times.  Gary Dugger was good at helping his opponents understand some of the middle game tactics like pins and skewers.   I even found myself allowing take-backs by remarking, "do you really want to make that move?"  Fred Bartell was a hoot!  He talked smack as well as any New York street player and the students appreciated his sense of humor and comments when he scooped up a piece en prise or snagged an unprotected king.

Fred offers an entertaining game and commentary to Wesley

Most Improved Player Award (from Barry)

Some of the games that proved exciting and drew a crowd of spectators were the games that eventually ran out of time.  Spirits were very positive and Dylan exclaimed, "Darn it, I ran out of time again!"  Megan missed a checkmate against Fred, but felt good about how she played.  Victor learned much - don't move that fast there is time to think before moving.  Better to lose with seconds on the clock than to have 3 minutes left.  Brandon told me, "I think I play better in slower games."

Fred plays Des while Victor observes
Blitz chess is sometimes an equalizer among players of differing abilities.  Sometimes being down a piece is not too bad, because the player down material can complicate the board enough to run their opponent out of time.  So don't go exchanging pieces or even pawns when you go down in a blitz game. Blitz can make a solid player give away pieces and lose in exchanges.  That happened to me a couple of times.

Dylan plays Brandon

Barry plays Anna

Barry and I faced off in round 3 and I successfully ran him out of time after going down material near the end.  And against Gary Dugger, round 9, we ended in a draw without knowing whose clock ran out first - my chronos blinking "00" on both sides of the clock.  I reiterate the value of contracting and being very conservative when down material in blitz matches.

A great field trip

I played my son, Desmond in round 7 and he usually beats me in blitz.  I was feeling pretty confident this night, however I gave up a bishop in a queen exchange and was in very bad position.  As the time ticked and Des began his smiles and chuckles as he destroyed my pawns and pieces that were left, I went into the final seconds of the game with my king against a queen, four pawns and a rook.  I successfully meandered to the corner and he moved his pawn forward thinking he was going to promote.  "NOOOOO," he lamented after he hit the clock and realized I had achieved a stalemate.
Adam  vs. Des, round  7

Thank you to all the participants, Barnes & Noble, and Barry Eacker.

WinTD wouldn't pair after Round 12, but everyone is tired anyway and the store is closing soon.


Bartell, Fred (16)
Porth, Adam (11)
Eacker, Barry (7)
Dugger, Gary (1)
Porth, Desmond (3)
Avila, Tyler (14)
Moffett, Kalen (10)
Arp, Jarod (19)
Brimstein, Wesley (17)
Clark, Riley (12)
Saldivia, Victor (13)
Caccia, Wyatt (4)
Murphy, Anna (6)
Yagla, Brandon (18)
Hartegon, Nash (2)
Porth, Dylan (15)
Jones, Megan (9)
Murphy, Andre (5)
Vajello,Victor (8)

WinTD Problem:  After discussions with Barry, we determined placements looking at head-to-head tie-breakers, however, I was interested to see why wintd placed me behind Barry on the crosstable.  I learned that the crosstable is not in placement order.  In order to obtain placement using the assigned tie-breakers, the TD must go to the Reports tab and click on "Show Prize Lists..." and then choose "Use Tie Breaks?" choice.  Doing this produced Fred Bartell as the winner, Adam Porth second, and Barry Eacker third.  Even more confusing is the crosstable function on the main menu - it provides a different player order on the crosstable in the reports tab.  ???? Go figure ????

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