Sunday, December 30, 2012

Chess Metronomes

A video that I made from various chess tournaments.  I probably should have paid closer attention to my game rather than peoples feet!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012 Family & Friends Tournament

Chess the Halls with forks and pins!
Tis' the season for christmas music, candy canes, and chess tournaments! Upcoming articles include the Western Idaho Open, Christmas Blitzkrieg, and Integrating Chess and Critical Thinking Tournaments.
Kitt Connor and Danny Mills return (Best Ever Team)!

Today, I hosted a Family & Friends Chess Tournament that attracted eighteen players.  Including two special WRHS alumni, Danny Mills and Kitt Connor!  The tournament format consisted of two player teams in a 5SS G/15.  We played Bing Crosby Christmas songs during the first two rounds and forgot to tell Pandora we were "still listening" during subsequent rounds.  Deck the Halls!
Remembering past games, I ended up in a draw -  Danny's still got the moves!

With players ranging in age from 7 to 45 years old, the atmosphere was relaxed and "chill" as the teens put it.  Danny and Kitt were out to re-coup old glories and proved to be the most competitive team (Best Ever), earning 9.5 out of 10 points.   Both Danny and Kitt were former officers of the WRHS Chess Club and also WRHS Champions.  Desmond Porth and Jake Whitlock (Team PWN) won second place with 6.5 points, and Tyler Avila and I won third place with 6.0 points (The Purple People Eaters).  There was a three-way tie for  4th place, each team having 5.0 points.
Quentin Van Law (Leaping Lizards) plays Melissa Young (Pirate Booty)

Heidi Mungall (Life of the Party) plays Deborah Van Law (Rockin' Rollers)

Deb Van Law didn't go home with a trophy, but scored a board signed by GM Maurice Ashley in our mid-tournament drawing.  GM Maurice Ashley won the title in 1999 and was the first African-American International Master.  He says [about chess], "Your passion is the window to the world."
Jake Whitlock (Team PWN) plays Lynnet Porth (The Healies)

Despite the G/15 time controls, players played as if it were a G/5 tournament with only a couple of games lasting the full time.  It is important to play and monitor time so that the best possible moves can be found and time is used in the most efficient way possible.  To accomplish this:  1.  don't waste time on moves that are obvious or given, 2.  Memorize some common 1. e4 and 1. d4 openings so that time is not wasted in the beginning when the board is not very complicated, 3.  Use time to consider options when a move is not obvious or the board is complicated, 4.  when in time trouble and down material, try to be conservative, avoid exchanges, and keep the board complicated.  Why lose a game in 3 minutes when there are 12 more on the clock?

Tip:  En prise is bad!  Don't give pieces away for free - get some compensation, equally valued material is best.  Don't give up material for attacks, checks, or for lack of attention when you are playing experienced players. 

Cross Table

Team Name
Best Ever
People Eaters
Life of the Party
Pirate Booty
Leaping Lizards
Rockin' Rollers


Darwin practices his TD skills
This was the last tournament of the year.  The next tournament is Chess 960 (Fischer Random Chess) on January 17.  Tomorrow my family is heading to Barnes & Noble to play in a Winter Solstice Tournament hosted by the Magi Valley Chess Club.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

NM Josh Sinanan Simul

Last Friday night, December 14, NM Josh Sinanan performed a simul against 19 competitors.  Most were also slated for the Western Idaho Open scheduled for the next day.  I arrived with Desmond, Dylan, and Riley Clark just 5 minutes before the opening words from TD Jeff Roland.  After introductions and an interesting decision by Josh to allow folks to choose either black or white, Josh shook hands with the first competitor and continued to move counter clockwise around the tables.  He even varied his openings depending on the age of his opponents!

For example, against Desmond he played the Queen's Indian Defense (1. d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6) and against Dylan, he played Alekhine's Defence, the Maroczy Variation (1. e4 Nf6 2. d3 d5).  As white he played the Ruy Lopez (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3.  Bb5) against Riley Clark and Queen's Gambit declined against me.  Naturally, I played the Marshall Defense out of ignorance of the outcome.  But, now I know.  If he was playing by the book against all 19 of us, then his head must be a file cabinet of information.  Or, maybe he was playing naturally?

Both girls look pretty even (except for pawn structures)
The exhibition was held in the Student Union Building of Boise State University and it was clear that the environment was going to be festive.  A fraternity and sorority was holding a Christmas party and Deck the Halls, Silent Night, Christmas Rock, and other holiday favorites could be faintly heard through the walls.  Occasionally, a lost elf or elfette with pointed hats and plaid vests, would peek in to see if the party was in our room.

I played a very even game up until move 31 where 31 ..Qe7??  Un retrospect, I believe 31. ..Ne8 would have been a much better move and might have salvaged a draw.  Here is a the theoretical position after all the exchanges.  Not so bad!  With more experience, practice and endgame study, I might actually be more than just an amateur.
What could or should  have been?
NM Josh Sinanan is President of the Washington Chess Federation and highly involved with Northwest Chess.  He was a bit busy so I decided not to interview him during the simul and the games began at 5:00 and lasted until 8:30 pm, so I figured he would be a bit too tired to compile information afterward.  But my kids were all able to sneak a board under his pen to add to their collection of Master's signatures after the tournament.
Riley waits for  Ruy Lopez
As the games progressed, the party ended and bongos could be heard from another corner of the Student Union Building as another party began.  Spectators quietly moved in and out of the room, silently pointing at positions and whispering analyses.  One little boy that was playing next to me ate a crunchy and very moist apple.  His cheeks were wet with apple juice and I swear I saw drops on the board in front of him.
Riley gets her board signed by NM Josh Sinanan
I am sure Josh did not even notice all the activity in the room as he concentrated and quietly moved a piece and then himself.  It was hard for me to not notice because it took up to 5 minutes for Josh to make it around the room back to my game, and I found myself looking at my kids games and soaking up the atmosphere.

Josh ended by winning 18 games and drawing against Caleb Kircher.

I love attending and playing in tournaments.  I love what I notice on the board and off.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Got Your Bat Leth handy?

"DaHjaj SuvwI'e' jiH.  tIgwIj Sa'angNIS.  Iw blQtIq jIjaH."  
-  Today I am a Warrior.  I must show you my heart.  I travel the river of blood.

Qab JIH Nagil!  The Western Idaho Open came and went this last weekend and it was one of the best attended and most prestigious tournaments the Idaho Chess Association has experienced in nearly a decade.  The tournament featured over $1800 in prizes, a simul, scholarships, and three master level players (ja' chug):  GM Alex Yermolinsky, FIDE Master Nick Raptis, and National Master Joshua Sinanan.  Idaho chess is usually relaxed and casual between opponents, but I wonder if the outsiders perceived Idaho chess players as Klingons, ferocious in battle, but lacking in table manners.  Each round included breaches of etiquette and grace as opponents squared off with high rated players. Thankfully, nobody was stuck with a painstick for their transgressions. Being a Klingon myself, these were great lessons for me and the WRHS chess club members in attendance, as well as the other participants.

Here is a list of etiquette that "we" should consider :

  • It is generally considered proper chess etiquette to resign clearly lost positions. The proper time to resign should vary with one’s chess ability. Most beginners should probably play on until they are checkmated. But more advanced players should resign clearly lost positions when they are certain that if they were on the other side of the position, they could beat even a master.
  • During the game players should never discuss their game with anyone. Players are allowed to get up and walk around (e.g. to use the restroom or go out or get a drink of water).
  • Then one should shake hands with one’s opponent, and congratulate him or her for a good game.
  • Spectators should also, as a general rule, not go in between the aisles of play. Remaining on the outer periphery of the tables is commonly accepted as proper etiquette.
  • When observing a game, keeping at least 1-2 feet back from the table so as to not disturb the players is greatly appreciated. Never, under any circumstances, should a spectator touch the board, or even the table, while a game is still in progress.
  • Absolutely, under NO circumstances should you engage in conversation with your opponent or any of the players (whether their games are still in progress or not) at any time. Kibitzing and “chatting” is a distraction to your opponent, the other players near you, and yourself!
  • If you touch a piece intending to move it, you must move it; if you touch your opponent’s piece intending to capture it, you must capture it; and if you move a piece from one square to another and remove your hand from it, you must leave it where it is — assuming, of course, it is your turn to move and the move made is legal. If you knock over a piece with the cuff of your sleeve, or the back of your hand, say “I adjust” (or “j’adoube”) and restore the piece to its proper position.
  • One is allowed to wear headphones in order to listen to music, but it should not disturb anyone near you. If anyone asks you to turn down the volume, you should turn it down, or turn it off. You are allowed to ask your opponent to turn down the volume on his or her music. 

Spatial and Temporal Anomalies!  Hegh Bat! Round 1 surprised FIDE Master Nick Raptis.   His opponent Cody Gorman (11th grade) would leave the board for 15 - 20 minutes at a time and would not submit to the master's reputation or rating.  Mr. Raptis  would also leave the board for extended times and watch other games and I noticed one time that he was sitting with his eyes closed along the wall for quite some time.  I am sure Cody did not know what to think of this.  In fact, unbeknownst to Cody, Mr. Raptis was becoming frustrated and offended that Cody continued a lost game by leaving the table and the room without resigning.  Only to return and move again.  After the third time, Mr. Raptis protested with TD Jeff Roland (Arbiter of Succession).  I was able to observe that Cody was a Queen down with Mr. Raptis moving two more pawns up the board for promotion.  Mr. Roland placated Mr. Raptis by cautioning Cody not to leave the room.  But, the psychological battle continued with Cody playing out the game to it's fullest and resulting in FIDE Master Nick Raptis abstaining from mating Cody until the clock just about ran out.  The game ended on move 79.   The extra hour of  psychological warfare proved great drama for all of the players waiting for Round 2 to begin.

Should Black resign?  (Move 51 Black to move)
cha' Dich!  I am used to players looking at progressing games and wandering around the tournament room, but sometimes they get a bit too close for comfort.  It can be annoying and distracting especially if two players begin conversing about the game in whispers.  I found myself watching a game with a companion that began analyzing the game in an audible whisper to me.  I moved away from the game while a player glanced at us with a lowered brow with my companion following me and excitedly describing how white was going to win. Sto-Vo-Kor!

Who is going to win this one? (Move 28 Black to move)
Discommendation!  In a tremendous breach of etiquette, someone actually sat down at Table 101 with GM Alex Yermolinsky  playing FIDE Master Nick Raptis!   Both masters were visibly disturbed and eventually complained, but I am sure they recognized how excited all the Idaho players were to have professional chess players gracing the tournament.
Age of Ascension Ceremony!  Though players occasionally behaved like Klingons, it is important for organizers, professionals, and educators to encourage and teach expectations of behavior so that everyone can enjoy chess without frustration. After all, most breaches of etiquette are innocent, from naivity, or ignorance.  Painsticks are not necessary to correct these informalities!

Got Bat' Leth?  

Better hone up on your Klingon:  Klingon Imperial Rituals and Traditions

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Northwest Chess Grand Prix Event!!!
Click here for Pre-Registration List
*** Special side-event: FREE Simultaneous Exhibition by Washington Master Josh Sinanan starting at 5:00 p.m. going to 9:00 p.m. on Friday, December 7, 2012 also at BSU Student Union Building (Hatch Ballroom) in Boise. Email to sign up. ***

Parking Permit: If you want to have free parking at the tournament, please click this link and print the page that opens, which has a code you will need to enter into the Kiosk machine in the parking garage to the South of the Student Union Building (across street). This code will be good for both Saturday and Sunday.

Additional info.: Dan Swanson is the Sales Manager for several hotels in the Boise area. He recently booked a group of rooms for some individuals who will be attending the Western Idaho Open. He got them set up with some good room rates. If other competitors are in need of accommodations, you may contact Dan for assistance. Contact: Dan Swanson, Area Sales Manager, Interstate Hotels & Resorts, P: 208-914-2052, Fax: 208-344-7446, email

$1350 Guaranteed Prize Fund
FIDE Rated
USCF Grand Prix

Format: 5 Round Swiss System
Time Control: Game/120;d5
2 Sections: OPEN and U1400 Reserve
Site: Boise State University, Student Union Building, 1910 University Drive, Boise, Idaho 83706.
Entry Fee: $30 ($25 if Under 18 or 60+ years old, BSU Chess Club members entry $10) if registered by December 3, 2012. Special Family Rate of $60. $5 more for all if received after December 3, 2012. FM's IM's, GM's, and WGM's enter for free (no deduction from winnings). E-mail entry will lock in advance entry rate.
Current USCF Membership is required, available at site or online at
Both sections USCF Rated. Open Section is also FIDE rated!
Idaho Chess Association (ICA) membership required. OSA (Other States Accepted). ICA Membership is $10/year (Regular), or $25/year for Premium Membership which includes 12 months of Northwest Chess Magazine. Click here for a current list of ICA Memberships.
Make all checks payable to Idaho Chess Association.
Register & check in: 8:00 - 8:45 a.m. Saturday, December 8, 2012 Those not paid and checked in by 8:30 a.m. may not be paired in first round. Players arriving for round 2 (even if not known in advance) may take a retroactive first round bye as long as they arrive before the 2nd round starts (1:30 p.m.).
Round Times:
Round 1: 9:00 a.m., Saturday, December 8, 2012
Round 2: 1:30 p.m., Saturday, December 8, 2012
Round 3: 6:00 p.m., Saturday, December 8, 2012
Round 4: 9:00 a.m., Sunday, December 9, 2012
Round 5: 1:30 p.m., Sunday, December 9, 2012
1/2 point bye (Maximum 1), in any Round. Must notify TD before round 2 is paired. Players may arrive for round 2 and take a retroactive first round half point bye if arrive before 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Prizes: Open: $500, $250, $100. Open section will be separated into two halves for prize payout only (not for pairing purposes). First place in lower half receives $100 and 2nd place in lower half will receive $50. Reserve: $200, $100, $50.
Entries: Jeff Roland, 1514 S. Longmont Ave., Boise, ID 83706, E-mail:,
No Computers, No Smoking, Wheelchair access

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