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Thursday, May 31, 2007

More Josh Waitzkin Photos

The first picture below shows Josh Waitzkin in the final seconds of the match that brought him the Moving Steps Push Hands World Championship in 2004, against the opponent known as "the Buffalo." Josh is demonstrating a tactical combination only advisable for International Masters.

The second picture shows Josh with his father, celebrating his victory at the tournament. Both photos are courtesy of Josh Waitzkin.


Josh Waitzkin Photos

In his book The Art of Learning, Josh Waitzkin mentions a trip to the Amazon that he took with his father and his friend Dan Caulfield. Here are some pictures of that trip to Brazil. In the first picture, Josh is at the left, his father is in the middle, and Dan is at the right. Photos are courtesy of Josh Waitzkin.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Games Database Sorted by Opening

Chessville has a very convenient download page where games databases can be downloaded, by choice of opening.

For example, the Caro-Kann database contains 176 complete games, the French database has 180 games, and you'll find 204 games in the Sicilian database. I didn't check all of their games databases, but in each of these three, all games are from 2001.

For those of you who don't already have access to a multi-million game database, this is a nice resource.


A Fischer Sighting in Chicago

Fellow chess blogger and friend Brad Rosen alerted me to the fact that young Brian Luo was tied for the lead of the Under 2100 section of the 2007 Chicago Open. When I checked the website, I quickly scanned the crosstable for any other familiar names. I did come across one.

I noticed that Robert J. Fischer was a point back of the leaders heading into the final round. He appears to be quite a good player, but with a rating of 2039, I'll assume that this Robert J. Fischer is NOT the rabid anti-American, anti-Semitic former world champion.

Here is the crosstable.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Problem # 48 - from 2007 U.S. Championship

It is White to move, in this position from the 2007 U.S. Championship.

For the solution, click here.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

A Conversation With Josh Waitzkin

GM Gregory Kaidanov, left, and IM Josh Waitzkin


I had the pleasure of speaking at length with Josh Waitzkin today, and I found him to be as articulate and animated in person as he is in his writing. I'll plan on elaborating more on our discussion in my upcoming ChessCafe Scholastic Chess column, but here are a few tidbits of what he had to say:

  • Regarding a possible return to competitive chess: "If I feel the love, the desire, I'll do it. I feel I'll be much stronger if I do come back."
  • Concerning his current plans: After winning eight chess championships and thirteen Push Hands martial arts championships, he is working on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, with his sights set on the 2010 or 2011 World Championship.
  • Will there be another movie about him, this time regarding his martial arts exploits? Josh says that he's already been approached by two different filmmakers and says, "I'll listen. I'm open to talking about it."

As you may know, Josh has been intimately involved with the Chessmaster programs for about ten years now. If you have Chessmaster 10, take a look at the Josh Waitzkin Academy and click on the "Psychology of Competition" button. You'll find an entire series covering many of the same topics he discusses in his new book The Art of Learning. Included among them is an intense game against his teacher GM Gregory Kaidanov, one of the foremost chess teachers in the U.S.

If you haven't yet seen his book The Art of Learning, pick up a copy. He's a very entertaining writer - I found the descriptions of his Push Hands matches (even practice sessions) absolutely riveting. My palms were sweating while reading about his world championship matches at the end of the book. More importantly, he pours out his heart in getting across his philosophy of learning, which might be summed up by this quote attributed to basketball legend Bobby Knight: "Most people have the will to win, few have the will to prepare to win."

To see all of our Josh Waitzkin posts, click here.


Problem # 47 - from 2007 U.S. Championship

In this game from the 2007 U.S. Championship, it is White to move and win.

You can find the solution here.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Problem # 46 - from 2007 U.S. Championship

It is White to move and win in this game from the 2007 U.S. Championship.

For the solution, click here.

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2007 U.S. Championship Goes To GM Alex Shabalov

Yes, it's rather outdated news now, but here's a wrap-up of the 2007 U.S. Championship.

GM Alex Shabalov finished in clear first, with 7 points from the 9-round event. GM Alex Onischuk came in half a point behind, with GMs Gregory Kaidanov, Yury Shulman and Julio Becerra in a three-way tie for 3rd-5th place with 6 points.

The complete final results are available in the crosstable from MonRoi. All of the games are available for download here, and extensive photos are posted here.

For further information, check these sources:


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Review of Teach Yourself Visually Chess

My review of Jon Edwards' fine book, Teach Yourself Visually Chess, is currently available online, at ChessCafe. Here is a brief snippet of my review:

"The author, Jon Edwards, a former U.S. correspondence chess champion with over thirty years’ experience teaching chess, explains his aims:

Some players come to understand the game better than others. The reason, I believe, has much to [do] with the different styles of learning. A few of my students are comfortable memorizing long sequences but, by and large, most prefer to learn the game visually, through pattern recognition and by learning to identify the various visual clues on the board.

As Edwards notes, nearly all other chess books use diagrams and symbols to represent the pieces. In contrast, this book utilizes professional-quality photographs of actual boards and pieces as they would appear to a player during a game. Not a single chess diagram is present."


The Art of Learning - A Must Read

I'm in the process of reviewing Josh Waitzkin's new book The Art of Learning for ChessCafe. I'll let you know when my review is completed and available online, but I'll tell you this much: if you're interested in improving whatever it is you'd like to improve, you should pick up this book. If you're interested in learning a bit about intense competition at some of the highest levels, from the inside, pick up this book. And if you're interested in understanding the importance of psychological warfare at the chessboard and elsewhere, pick up this book.

More information is available from, and a preview of the contents of the book is available from Waitzkin's ten-minute video below:

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

GM Susan Polgar Remains Strong

Politics rears its ugly head again and again. We are getting very close to the USCF Executive Board elections and top candidate GM Susan Polgar has apparently been deluged with harrassing e-mails and letters, as well as libelous posts in various chess forums.

Read about what's going on in her recent Chessville interview.


Which is Healthier - Running Regularly or Playing Chess Regularly?

Find out the (maybe) surprising answer in GM Raymond Keene's article at Chessville. You'll also learn why Keene suggests feeding those in prison a steady diet of cream cakes.


Monday, May 21, 2007

Onischuk, Shabalov Share Top Spot After 7 Rounds

GM Alex Onischuk; Photo: MonRoi

GM Alex Shabalov; Photo: MonRoi

Seven of the nine rounds of the 2007 U.S. Championship have been completed. GM Alex Shabalov held a commanding 1.5 point lead after five rounds, with his perfect 5-0 start. However, in round 6 Shabalov lost to defending U.S. champion GM Alex Onischuk and in round 7 drew with GM Jaan Ehlvest. Meanwhile in round 7, Onischuk topped previous U.S. champion GM Hikaru Nakamura.

As a result, after seven rounds, Onischuk and Shabalov are tied with 5.5 points. GM Sergey Kudrin is in third place, a half point back. For additional information and to download games, visit the MonRoi website.

Here are the complete standings at this time:

1 GM ALEX ONISCHUK 2712 W28 D7 W6 D4 D5 W2 W12 5.5 27.5
2 GM ALEX SHABALOV 2671 W29 W14 W11 W12 W4 L1 D5 5.5 26.5
3 GM SERGEY KUDRIN 2612 W23 D12 L4 D16 W32 W21 W11 5 23
4 GM GREG KAIDANOV 2686 D16 W25 W3 D1 L2 D9 W17 4.5 27.5
5 GM JAAN EHLVEST 2683 W24 D17 W7 D11 D1 D12 D2 4.5 27
6 GM ALEX IVANOV 2623 D26 W20 L1 D13 W19 W15 D8 4.5 25
7 GM EUGENE PERELSHTEYN 2611 W15 D1 L5 D19 D16 W30 W18 4.5 24.5
8 GM YURY SHULMAN 2667 D25 W16 D13 D18 W22 D11 D6 4.5 23
9 GM JULIO BECERRA 2608 W34 L11 W29 D10 W18 D4 D14 4.5 23
10 GM BORIS GULKO 2660 D20 D26 W24 D9 D13 D17 W16 4.5 22
11 GM ILDAR IBRAGIMOV 2680 W19 W9 L2 D5 W14 D8 L3 4 28
12 GM HIKARU NAKAMURA 2738 W27 D3 W21 L2 W17 D5 L1 4 27.5
13 GM MELIK KHACHIYAN 2550 W36 D18 D8 D6 D10 D22 D21 4 24
14 GM DMITRY GUREVICH 2583 W32 L2 D30 W31 L11 W20 D9 4 22.5
15 FM MICHAEL LANGER 2334 L7 L28 W34 W29 W24 L6 W30 4 19.5
16 IM IRINA KRUSH 2488 D4 L8 W20 D3 D7 W27 L10 3.5 21.5
17 GM ALEX YERMOLINSKY 2588 W33 D5 D18 W21 L12 D10 L4 3.5 20
18 GM VARUZHAN AKOBIAN 2651 W31 D13 D17 D8 L9 W28 L7 3.5 19
19 FM ROBERT HESS 2472 L11 D34 W23 D7 L6 W25 D22 3.5 18.5
20 IM MICHAEL MULYAR 2420 D10 L6 L16 W34 W23 L14 W28 3.5 18
21 GM ALEX STRIPUNSKY 2664 W30 W22 L12 L17 W28 L3 D13 3.5 17.5
22 IM ENRICO SEVILLANO 2566 W35 L21 D31 W26 L8 D13 D19 3.5 16.5
23 FM RAY ROBSON 2378 L3 D27 L19 W35 L20 W32 W29 3.5 14.5
24 IM DAVID PRUESS 2473 L5 W33 L10 D25 L15 D26 W32 3 18.5
25 FM JOE BRADFORD 2457 D8 L4 D27 D24 D31 L19 W36 3 18
26 IM JAY BONIN 2383 D6 D10 D28 L22 L30 D24 W35 3 17.5
27 IM JOSHUA FRIEDEL 2542 L12 D23 D25 L32 W36 L16 W31 3 16
28 GM WALTER BROWNE 2520 L1 W15 D26 W30 L21 L18 L20 2.5 20
29 IM JUSTIN SARKAR 2470 L2 W32 L9 L15 W33 D31 L23 2.5 18.5
30 IM BRYAN SMITH 2441 L21 W35 D14 L28 W26 L7 L15 2.5 18.5
31 IM RON BURNETT 2396 L18 W36 D22 L14 D25 D29 L27 2.5 17
32 WFM IRYNA ZENYUK 2229 L14 L29 W33 W27 L3 L23 L24 2 18
33 FM MOVSES MOVSISYAN 2274 L17 L24 L32 W36 L29 W35 L34 2 12
34 MICHAEL AIGNER 2300 L9 D19 L15 L20 L35 L36 W33 1.5 16
35 WFM CHOUCH AIRAPETIAN 2188 L22 L30 D36 L23 W34 L33 L26 1.5 14
36 TOM BRAUNLICH 2136 L13 L31 D35 L33 L27 W34 L25 1.5 13.5


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Three Tied for First After Two Rounds of U.S. Championship

FM Ray Robson, photo from MonRoi

IM-elect Robert Hess, photo from MonRoi

Grandmasters Alexander Shabalov, Alexander Stripunsky and Ildar Ibragimov stand atop the field of 36 players at the 2007 U.S. Championship in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Ray Robson (age 12) and Robert Hess (age 15), pictured above, are the two youngest players in this year's championship.

For updated information, downloadable games, photos and more, see the MonRoi site. You can also read Jennifer Shahade's round two report at Chess Life Online. Mig Greengard also weighs in with his thoughts at the Daily Dirt Chess Blog.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Novice Nook Quiz

National Master Dan Heisman is out with his latest Novice Nook column at ChessCafe. In it, he includes a 45-question multiple-choice quiz which tests the reader's grasp of the general principles that Dan has been teaching in this very helpful column.

Here is one of Dan's questions:

Your opponent has blundered a pawn in the opening for no compensation; everything else being equal, where should you castle?

a. On the kingside.

b. On the queenside.

c. On the same side as your opponent.

d. On the opposite side of your opponent.

His suggested answer? (c) - on the same side as your opponent. If I may attempt to explain his rationale, it would be that castling on the opposite side will have a tendency to get into positions with greater complexity (and risk). You're already in a superior situation - don't help your opponent achieve complications that might cause you to lose your advantage.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Josh Waitzkin Radio Interview

You can find a lengthy radio interview of Josh Waitzkin on NPR radio. Click the "Listen" button underneath the headline which reads, "Chess Champion Offers Success Strategies for Life."

Waitzkin, of course, was the child prodigy profiled in the book and movie Searching for Bobby Fischer, and is the author of the book The Art of Learning.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Internet Chess Club Gobbles Up Competitors

I first saw the notice at GM Susan Polgar's blog. The Internet Chess Club (ICC) is acquiring both the World Chess Network and Chess Live. A press release from ICC states that "The two services will be merged together to form a new service, separate from ICC, to be called World Chess Live."


I.S. 318 Does It Again!

Fresh off multiple team championships at the recent National Junior High Championships, I.S. 318 from Brooklyn, New York captured the K-6 team championship at the 2007 Elementary School Championships in Nashville.

The I.S. 318 squad tied with Horace Mann School, both having 19.5 total points in the seven-round event. However, I.S. 318 squeaked by on tiebreak points to win the first-place team trophy.

Regarding the individual competition, the K-6 championship, K-5 championship, K-3 championship and K-1 championship sections each had a single clear-cut winner:

  • K-6 Championship: Ryan Moon
  • K-5 Championship: Robert Perez
  • K-3 Championship: Benjamin Moon
  • K-1 Championship: Kadhir Pillai
Congratulations to each of the more than 2100 participants! You can find additional information at the USCF tournament website.

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

2007 National Elementary School Championship Update

Now after five rounds, there remains only one player in the K-6 Championship section with a perfect 5-0 score: William Lugar III from Georgia. Five players are tied with 4.5 points, and another 14 are close behind with 4 points. The K-5 Championship section also has one player in clear first at the moment, also with a 5-0 score: Robert Perez of Florida.

In the K-6 team competition, I.S. 318 has moved into a first-place tie with Horace Mann, both schools having 14.5 points. Hunter College Campus School and Columbia Grammar are next with 13.5 points. All four schools hail from New York City.


Two Interesting Puzzle Sites

At one of the forums at Chess4Chicago, links to two interesting puzzle sites are provided. This site currently contains 134 problems. Clicking on the "Analysis - Movability Pieces" link brings up a board that allows you to move pieces around to help you analyze the position before submitting your proposed solution. An interesting problem is #66, as recommended by "SashaD" at the Chess4Chicago forum mentioned above. When I submitted my answer which was correct for White to move and mate in two, I received a message indicating that I had NOT correctly solved the problem. My initial reaction was "THEY are wrong!" but then I looked again a bit more carefully...

The other site noted at the forum is the (probably) better known Chess Tactics Server. It may take a short while to get the hang of this site, but you can register for free as a guest, and nearly 24,000 problems are available, according to the website.

Kudos to the Ray Chess Blog for pointing out the Chess4Chicago forum.


ChessDad64 Loses His Father

I'm sad to report that Brad Rosen, also known as ChessDad64 and creator of the 64 Square Jungle blog, lost his father on Friday. Any condolences can be sent to him at


Saturday, May 12, 2007

2007 National Elementary School Championship is Underway!

Over 2100 players are competing at the 2007 National Elementary School Chess Championships in Nashville, Tennessee. The K-6 Blitz tournament was won by Sam Silberman, a full point and a half ahead of his nearest competitors. In the K-3 Blitz championship, there was a two-way tie between Jackson Chen and Benjamin Moon. The top spot went to Jackson on tiebreak points.

In the K-6 Championship section of the main tournament, after four rounds there are five players with perfect 4-0 records: Ryan Moon, Nathan Vogt, Sam Silberman, William Lugar III, and David Kogan.

In the team competition, there is a tight race going on. The top three teams thus far, all from New York, are within one point of each other. Horace Mann School leads with 12 points, followed by Hunter College Campus School (11.5 points) and I.S. 318 (11 points).

You can find more details at the USCF web site for the tournament.


ChessBase Light 2007 Part 2

ChessBase has published part 2 of its series on the new ChessBase Light 2007 program. Learn about the search mask features available, by clicking here.


Friday, May 11, 2007

ChessBase Light 2007 Now Available

For those of you who have been using the ChessBase Light freeware from some time ago, an updated version is now available. Steven Lopez offers some preliminary explanations of the new ChessBase Light 2007 program at the ChessBase website.

ChessBase Light 2007 can be downloaded from this page.


2007 National Elementary School Championship About to Begin!

USCF Scholastic Director Jerry Nash previews the 2007 Elementary School nationals, about to take place in Nashville. You can read his interesting piece at Chess Life Online.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Problem # 45

It is Black to move.

For the solution, click here.


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Read All About It!

My May Scholastic Chess ChessCafe column is now online. The following events are reviewed:

  • 2007 College Final Four
  • 2007 Kasparov National All-Girls Championship
  • 2007 National Junior High School Championship
  • 2007 National High School Championship


Monday, May 07, 2007

New Inside Chess Column at ChessCafe

GM Larry Christensen serves as a guest annotator for GM Yasser Seirawan's Inside Chess column this month at ChessCafe. Christensen shares a great back-and-forth game he had with GM Ilya Gurevich at the 1989 World Open.

Christensen comments on this position from the game: "Is it a chessboard or a pin cushion? This position might set a record for number of pins."


Saturday, May 05, 2007

2007 U.S. Championship Field Set

According to an article at Chess Life Online, the field has been set for the 2007 U.S. Championship, scheduled for May 15-23. The article does not state if any of the players "bought" their spot in the field (see my earlier post on this topic). Additional information is also available at the MonRoi site for the U.S. Championship. The final list is as follows:

GM Hikaru Nakamura 2755
GM Alex Onischuk 2712
GM Gregory Kaidanov 2686
GM Jaan Ehlvest 2669
GM Ildar Ibragimov 2664
GM Yury Shulman 2662
GM Boris Gulko 2660
GM Alex Shabalov 2660
GM Varuzhan Akobian 2651
GM Alex Stripunsky 2647
GM Alex Ivanov 2626
GM Sergey Kudrin 2612
GM Eugene Perelshteyn 2612
GM Julio Becerra 2608
GM Dmitry Gurevich 2591
GM Alex Yermolinsky 2571
IM Enrico Sevillano 2566
GM Melikset Khachiyan 2550
IM Josh Friedel 2544
GM Walter Browne 2520
IM Irina Krush 2480
FM Joseph Bradford 2475
IM David Pruess 2461
FM Robert Hess 2448
IM Justin Sarkar 2442
IM Bryan Smith 2441
IM Michael Mulyar 2440
IM Ron Burnett 2396
IM Jay Bonin 2381
FM Ray Robson 2359
FM Michael Langer 2334
FM Movses Movsisyan 2292
Michael Aigner 2282
WFM Chouchanik Airapetian 2188
WFM Irina Zenyuk 2186
Tom Braunlich 2148

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Super Sam Schmakel has named 10-year-old Sam Schmakel its May 2007 Chess Youth of the Month.

Webmaster Lamarr Wilson introduces his choice:

"I first met 10 year old Sam Schmakel 4 years ago on the Internet. If you're doing the math in your head (and calling the police at the same time), yes, Sam was 6 at the time, so why on earth was I interacting with a 6 year old on the Internet?

At the time, I was coordinating the qualifying matches for the 2003 CPS MVP Tournament on US Chess Live. I set up an online tournament, and 18 participants joined in. Into the chat room came Sam S. The games started, and at the end, this Sam S., a 'first grader', tied for 2nd place with a 9th grader from Jones Prep. I naturally questioned Sam as to his age, school, etc. He didn't respond, which caused me to be a bit suspicious. Is this really a first grader winning games on the Internet, or is someone doing it for him? I continue questioning, but no responses came back. I find out later what happened from Sam's mom, Eileen ..."


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

I.S. 318 Photos

What is I.S. 318? It is Intermediate School 318 in the South Williamsburg area of Brooklyn and it is a public school that has been extremely successful at producing young talented chess players, thanks to chess teacher WFM Elizabeth Vicary, chess coordinator and assistant principal John Galvin, instructor IM Irina Krush, instructor GM Miron Sher, and others. Elizabeth was kind enough to supply the following photos of some of her students:

You can find Elizabeth Vicary's report about the 2007 National Junior High School Championship at Chess Life Online, where you'll learn more about this interesting team from I.S. 318.


U.S. Chess School Update

IM Greg Shahade's U.S. Chess School has already conducted three successful sessions, with GM Gregory Kaidanov as the primary instructor. I was glad to read the following press release:

"Jim Roberts in conjunction with the AF4C have made a generous donation to the US Chess School, which will allow the school to plan for at least three training sessions per year. With this sponsorship we are planning the following things:

1. Holding 3 sessions per calender year. The next 3 sessions are expected to be July 07, Jan 08 and April 08.
2. We plan to have a 2nd World Class trainer for future sessions, to give the students exposure to different training methods and ideas.

Thanks once again to Jim Roberts and the AF4C, as the USCS is extremely grateful for such generous contributions to American chess."

Click here to access a wealth of material related to the U.S. Chess School.


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