“Widespread concerns about the potential for cheating”

During the opening of the final round game between Nafisa Muminova and Alexandra Kosteniuk in the Tashkent Women’s Grand Prix being held in Uzbekistan it has been reported that Muminova lost when her cellphone went off. Mark Crowther reported via something called a “Tweet” that, “Muminova’s phone went off for an immediate loss.” http://www.theweekinchess.com/live
Here is the complete game:
Muminova, Nafisa – Kosteniuk, Alexandra
FIDE WGP Tashkent Tashkent UZB (11.2), 2013.09.30
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bg5 e6 7.Qd2 a6 8.O-O-O h6 9.Bh4 Nxe4 10.Qf4 0-1
A short while ago my friend the Discman, after reading one of my posts concerning cheating, sent me an email asking if FIDE still allowed electronic devices in the playing hall. I was uncertain then, but it is evident from the incident today that FIDE does still allow gizmo’s in the tournament hall. Susan Polgar felt the urge to tweet, adding this on TWIC:
@SusanPolgar @albionado2 “It’s pretty hard to understand someone forgetting to turn off their phone in this day and age. Very careless.”
My mother used to have a saying, “It would not have happened if he had not been there.” I first heard it after the guys I usually drove around on the weekend as what would be called today the “designated driver,” since I did not drink, drove off an embankment and wound up in a hospital. Since I had a date that evening and could not drive them around, I was naturally blamed. If you think about it, in a way it is FIDE’s fault for not banning all gizmo’s.
One of my opponent’s in the Georgia State Championship, a fellow Senior, had his cellphone ring. Rather than answer it he just sat there looking stupid while it continued to ring and ring until he finally took it out of his pocket and turned it off. It was very loud and disrupted everyone in the vast playing hall. For this infraction of the rules he was penalized, losing only two minutes of time on his clock.
Geurt Gijssen discusses the issue in his column An Arbiter’s Notebook, on the Chess Café website of September 18, 2013, titled, “Widespread concerns about the potential for cheating.” Geurt writes in answer to a question concerning a cellphone going off:
“What are appropriate penalties? With the current Laws of Chess, there are few possibilities. See Article 12.3b:
Without the permission of the arbiter a player is forbidden to have a mobile phone or other electronic means of communication in the playing venue, unless they are completely switched off. If any such device produces a sound, the player shall lose the game. The opponent shall win. However, if the opponent cannot win the game by any series of legal moves, his score shall be a draw.”
There is much more to read and you can find it here: http://www.chesscafe.com/geurt/geurt183.htm

Chess.com Accused of Racism

The title of a recent post on the Vanilla Sky blog is, “Chess.com is racist.” (http://facedestiny.blogspot.com/2013/09/chesscom-is-racist.html) Those are strong words. I noticed this was the first post on the blog since November 13, 2011. From reading the post it is apparent the man was livid while writing. He was accused of cheating and banned from the website. He writes, “I did some online research and found and it was not only me who was complaining but their were several others who voiced the same concern vowing never to come back to that site. So i decided to experiment myself. I registered with two new user ids. The first one showed the country as India and the next one was a american name based out of US. For the indian id, i started playing chess and again moved up in the ratings. For the US id, i started using a chess engine. So far i have played more than 100 games using a chess engine and till now i have not been banned. BUT, when i had played around 80 odds games using the Indian ID, i got banned. I got a message like this – Dear ……, you have reached a rating of 2000+ and you are one of strongest player in the site. Please note we monitor cheating using a high end cheat detection software and kick out cheaters from the site…blah and blah”. After 3 days i was banned. The other id was never banned although i used a chess engine.”
He goes on to ask, “Do you think that Indians are dumb and just because we are non whites? Please remember than chess was invented in India. Every gali nukkad (lanes and corners) you will find talented chess players who can beat the shit out of your so called Grand Masters registered (free premium registration for life) in your website.”
There is much more and I strongly urge you go to the Vanilla Sky blog and read all of it. These are strong allegations that should not be ignored by the world chess community.
One of the main concerns is the use of computer programs to detect cheating. When it comes to computers, there is a saying of, “Garbage in, garbage out.” Computers can be programmed to give whatever result is desired. For example, the allegations of computer fraud in elections of this century are far too numerous to mention. Many books have been written concerning how certain elections, including presidential, have been rigged using computer programs. A search of the internet will produce many thousands of articles on the subject. When people put their faith in a computer, in actuality they are putting their faith in the human that programmed the gizmo. One candidate for US Senator owned a company that provided computer voting machines for elections and he, surprise, won an upset victory. Read this article, “If You Want To Win An Election, Just Control The Voting Machines.” (http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0131-01.htm)
I would like to add a disclaimer. I posted on Chess.com years ago, until I was accused of plagiarism. I then received an apology. Then I was again accused of “using copyrighted material” and posting “controversial subjects.” After that I not only stopped posting on the site, I stopped visiting it altogether. You can read all about it on my old BaconLOG: (http://baconlog.blogspot.com/2011/04/chesscom-censorship.html), or at Chess.com: (http://www.chess.com/blog/nocab/chesscom-censorship).

Eureka Moment with Magnus Carlsen

In a post, “Carlsen Analyses His Games,” on the Chess For All Ages blog of August 19, 2013, by Mark Weeks, he writes, “Note also how, after analyzing an unplayed variation, he plays the moves in reverse order to return to the game. This is a technique that I’ve never been able to master. Maybe it is worth practicing.”
Reading this brought on a eureka moment. I do this myself, and have done it since getting into chess, but only when alone because while analyzing with others it has caused laughter and ridicule. Imagine how I felt when reading the number one player in the world does the same thing! Many players with whom I have analyzed possess a memory capable of recreating the position no matter how many moves into the variation. Other players prefer to go all the way back to the original position and play over the moves again, albeit quickly. I only do that as penance if I cannot arrive at the earlier position in reverse.
Now most players analyze on a computer. There are myriad pictures of a player, a trainer, and two computers, with a board and pieces not included. There is no need to play the position arrived at in reverse because with one poke the machine automatically reverts to the previous position. Magnus has stated on many occasions that he still uses books and actually moves the pieces around on the board like Bobby Fischer, for example, “back in the day.”
Chess For All Ages is one of my favorite chess blogs. You can find the post from which the quote was taken here: http://chessforallages.blogspot.com/2013/08/carlsen-analyzes-his-games.html

World’s Smallest Chess Gizmo

An article, “Tiny Chess Playing Computer,” by James Hobson, appeared recently on the Hack A Day website. (http://hackaday.com/2013/09/15/tiny-chess-playing-computer/)
“PIC Blitz has a full fledged chess library: it knows all the moves, all the basic openings and even changes its evaluation function weights as the game progresses to keep the game interesting. The creator [Mark Owen] quips about some of the additional techniques he utilized to make up for the limited processing power; including “pondering time”, a difficult and slow user interface, and of course, a barely-comprehensible LCD.”
There is a picture of the innards of the tiny gizmo and much more information, including a section, Related Hacks, which includes a link to a “Voice controlled chess robot.” It was built “…as a final project for their Georgia Tech ECE 4180 Embedded Systems Design class.” I wonder if the gizmo is called “Hal?”

FM Ron Simpson R.I.P.

It is with sadness I bring news of the death of FM Ron Simpson. This notice appeared on the North Carolina website a few hours ago:
Fellow Chess Players:

It is with great sadness that I write to inform you that I just received a call from Beverly Simpson, wife of our wonderful chess friend, Ron Simpson, notifying me of his passing. Most of you may not have been aware that Ron was gravely ill with cancer and that it took an extreme turn for the worse in July. That is why he was not at the US Masters/NCO Open tournament, which he dearly would have loved to play had he been able. At a later date I will try to write something more about Ron, but I am too upset at this moment to put my thoughts together.

There will be a viewing on Sunday, Sept. 22nd at the Mitchell Funeral Home (7209 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh, NC)
from 2 – 4 p.m. His body will be taken to New York where his mother lives for a formal funeral service and burial later next week. I hope as many of you as possible will take the time to give Sunday afternoon to Ron as he always had time for each of us.

Walter High

Others have posted tributes on the NCCA forum, and there will undoubtedly be more. They can be found here: (http://www.ncchess.org/Discussion/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=730&sid=3721db96485c6424a1c7007eb76587e5)
According to the USCF webpage Ron was the second highest rated player in North Carolina, and tied for 314 in the US. He was also a gentleman and will be missed.
An autobiography can be found here: http://www.ncchess.org/gambit/Gambit209/RonSimpsonBio.htm

10th Annual Georgia Senior Open

The Georgia Senior is scheduled to be played the weekend of Sept. 28-29. The tournament announcement on the GCA website states registration is limited to 50 players, a pipe dream if ever there was one. Checking today the website shows 46 places left. I am not surprised. I refused to play last year and will not participate again this year. What’s more, I do not know anyone else planning on playing. The poor choice of venue was discussed in my last post, so the format of the tournament will be discussed in this post.
The President of the GCA, Fun Fong, insisted on a format for the 2012 Georgia Senior against the wishes of many, if not most, of those eligible to participate. He decided to have only one prize, a $500 stipend to the winner to be used only toward playing in the US Senior. Only NINE players participated, the lowest number of all other Georgia Senior tournaments to date. It was, obviously, a miserable failure. The winner of the tournament decided not to make the trip to upstate New York, at the strong urging of his wife. The winner, NM Alan Piper, has received nothing for winning the tournament. Alan has no idea what happened to the $500, which should have gone to him. I have been unable to learn what happened to the money. This is an open plea for any member of the GCA board to leave a comment on this blog informing the chess community of the disposition of the $500.
During an interview with the Legendary Georgia Ironman, NM Tim Brookshear, it was stated the President of the GCA reached out, asking Tim for his input on how the 2013 Ga Senior should be changed. Tim said a relative newcomer to chess, Parnell Watkins, was also consulted by the President. Tim suggested a committee of stewards be brought on board as consultants, with such Senior luminaries as former Georgia Champion and Georgia Senior Champion David Vest; former Ga Senior Champion and former President of the GCA board, Scott ‘The Sheriff’ Parker; Dr. Orlando Cano; and Kelly Hollins, along with others, being mentioned. Tim wanted to plan a good tournament that would attract Senior players from other states, such as Wayne Christiansen and Klaus Pohl from the Great State of South Carolina, Tim ‘The Dude’ Bond, along with Rex Blalock and his wife, from the Great State of Alabama. That was the last Tim heard from Fun Fong concerning the Georgia Senior. The suggestions of the Legendary Georgia Ironman, who has been involved with chess in Georgia continually for four decades, fell on deaf ears. Tim was as shocked as everyone else to learn the tournament had been planned for this fall. Word is Fun Fong wanted to hold the tournament in conjunction with the other tournaments scheduled that weekend. Could this have been his response to the recent Carolinas Chess Festival?
Fun Fong obviously liked his idea of awarding a $500 stipend because it is back again this year. The entry fee has been raised to accommodate other prizes, which were not there last year. I do not recall specifically, but it seems the entry fee is almost double this year compared to last. Fun Fong obviously thinks a large increase in the entry fee will bring in more players. The $500 stipend idea proved a disaster last year, yet Fun Fong, and make no mistake, this is Fun Fong’s tournament, insists on keeping it for this tournament. Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is, “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
The Ga Senior has been divided into three sections, the Open, Under 1800, and unrated. This makes absolutely no sense because there will barely be enough players for one section. The time control is G/100 with a 30 second increment. I have yet to find a Senior player who likes this time control. We Seniors played for decades with a time control of 40/2, or even 40/90, with additional time added. FIDE has announced the first time control should end at move 40. Over the years organizers have tried various first time controls, such as 30, or 35, but best by test is move 40. Most games are decided at, or after, move 40. Seniors realize the chess world has moved forward with increasingly faster time controls at a time when we are slowing down. Our pleas to hold the line have fallen on deaf ears, with the younger people forcing Seniors to follow their dictates, or else not play. Most have chosen to opt out. LM David Vest said, “My game used to be predicated on putting the pressure on around move 32.” Seniors played for DECADES with the crisis coming around or near move 40. Our motto is, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Everything changes, but change just for the sake of change is not good. Sometimes “progress ain’t,” and this is one of those times. Seniors resent the changes being forced upon them. Some still play for the love of the game, but do not like it. Most have given up the game.
The fact is that the body of a Senior player is not the same as a young person. In the movie, “The Bucket List”, the character played by legendary actor Jack Nicholson enumerates three rules for an older man. One of them is to “Never pass up a men’s room.” The reason for that Seniors know only too well. Every male Senior will have to deal with the fact his prostate gland will enlarge and press on his bladder. This means Seniors must go to the men’s room far more often than when younger. With any open ended time control it may not be possible to go to the men’s room. Forcing such a situation on a Senior is uncivilized. A Senior playing on any increment may be forced to lose on time if he goes to answer the call, or piss his pants. This happened to me once because I chose to sit there in pain in lieu of going to the men’s room. Playing with a delay, although a pawn up, I lost the game and upon getting out of my chair, could not make it to the men’s room in time. I vowed then and there to never again put myself in such a situation! What Seniors desire is a time limit whereby additional time will be added, as it was “back in the day,” in order for us to be able to answer the call when nature knocks. Why is it organizers cannot understand this simply fact? It is not only their sanity I question when it comes to the matter of bodily functions. These open ended time controls seem like something the man from the “dark side,” Darth Cheney, would have dreamed up. Waterboarding sounds like fun compared to these ridiculous time controls! IM Boris Kogan told me it was important to get up after making time control in order to “clear one’s head.” That is not possible with these open ended time controls. Some have mentioned the possibility of “shooting out several really quick moves in order to build up time,” so as to be able to “run to the men’s room.” First, shooting off even one quick move in chess can lead to an immediate loss. Second, Seniors no longer have the capacity to run without possibly inducing a heart attack, or a stroke.
The first round is at noon, Saturday the 28th. I assume this is to accommodate all the players from out of town who will not be coming. This means the second round will begin at 5:30. In an email several years ago from the CCA promoter, Bill Goichberg, I was told he would not play a round beginning after four (or was it five?) PM. Not to mention the fact that the second round could be delayed by a long Queen & Pawn, or other such, ending, and possibly begin even later. From what I learned about the venue of the tournament, I would not want to be heading to the parking lot after dark. The fact is, I would not want to go to that place during broad daylight! A woman was murdered in the area during the day. See the previous post for details.
There is a picture of Fun Fong on the website of the NCCA in an article on the North Carolina Gambit titled, “Random Thoughts and Observations on the Carolinas Chess Festival,” posted September 17, 2013, by the webmaster, Gary Newsome.(http://www.ncchess.org/wordpress/) Gary writes, “On Friday afternoon, Fun Fong (President of the Georgia Chess Association) and his entourage came in to start working on the NC Open.” I mentioned this during my interview with the Legendary Georgia Ironman and his comment was, “Fun travels to tournaments such as the US Open and World Open, so he knows what a good tournament is, yet he brings us nothing but crap tournaments, and you can quote me on that.” I will leave you with a quote by former Vice President of the US, Dan Qualye: “People that are really very weird can get into sensitive positions and have a tremendous impact on history.”

The State of Georgia Chess

The state of chess in Georgia is not good, unless, that is, one considers scholastic chess. The reality is that there is a complete division between scholastic chess and what for over a century was simply called chess. It is human nature to think of the way things are now as the way they were previously. New people to chess are surprised to learn that at one time scholastic chess was actually only a part of chess and not the driving force it has become today. With the hiring of Jean Hoffman as the new Executive Director, USCF has gone “all-in” as a scholastic chess organization. If the reader disputes the statement, I suggest he read the article on her hiring on the USCF website here: http://www.uschess.org/content/view/12347/141/ Whether or not this was a good move will only be answered by future events. Because the membership of USCF is predominately children it was probably the only move USCF could make. In Informant talk, it was a “box” move. I have decided to not write about scholastic chess here in my native state, choosing to focus on what is now called “adult” chess, and something near and dear to my old heart, Senior chess. There are far more people in the scholastic arena who can do a better job of writing about it than I can do, so I leave it to them.
I receive many emails from readers and one of the questions I am frequently asked is like the one from Dr. Orlando Cano. He asked, “… where are the chess tournaments that we used to have here in Ga.” I replied, asking the good Doctor to elaborate and he responded, “Through your website find out why we do not have good tournaments anymore.” I believe Dr. Cano, and others, should address this question to the members of the board of the GCA. Any one, or all, of them are free to leave a comment here if they would like to answer Dr. Cano, and others who are asking the same question. The fact is that the good tournaments here in the Atlanta area are now for the children. Scholastic chess has the numbers, and money. The only tournaments with a nice hotel as a venue are scholastic tournaments. The only organizer, other than the GCA is Thad Rogers. I have previously written about the location of his tournaments, which have had myriad problems. I have received emails asking me to bring out the fact that Mr. Rogers holds tournaments in other states, but not his home state. For example, Thad writes in a forum post on the website of the NCCA, titled, 40Th Annual Lipkin Pfefferkorn Open, “It will be held at the
Holiday Inn, 5790 University Parkway, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27105. That is
a stone throw from where Highway 52 intersects with University. After the first of the
year, it becomes a Doubletree Hotel. It is a very nice hotel!” (http://www.ncchess.org/Discussion/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=701)
When I ask players to recall the last time an “adult” (I REALLY hate using that term, especially since children vastly out number adults at an “adult” tournament) chess tournament was held in a “very nice hotel,” they scratch their heads while considering the question for some time. There does not seem to be the will to bring a decent tournament in a nice venue to Atlanta, the capital of the South. When questioned on why he refuses to hold his tournaments in a hotel, Mr. Rogers has previously responded, “They’re too expensive!” He has chosen to locate his tournaments in an old, run down Mall with little or no air conditioning. People are so hungry to play they have endured appalling conditions to play the game they love.
If you go to the website of the Georgia Chess Association, http://www.georgiachess.org/, you will learn the GCA is holding four tournaments in conjunction, the Georgia Women’s Open 2013; 10th Annual Georgia Senior Open; 2013 Georgia State Series III; and Georgia Collegiate Open 2013, at the Gwinnett Place Mall later this month. The first advertisement on the website showed this: Georgia Collegiate Open 2013
September 28, 2013 10:00 AM • Gwinnett Place Mall, Empty Store Space in Block “H,” 2100 Pleasant Hill Road Duluth, GA 30096
The “Empty Store Space in Block “H” has now been changed to, “Upper level next to Macy’s.”

I am familiar with the area because of the sports memorabilia shows in which I participated two decades ago, which were held at one of the ancillary buildings on Satellite Blvd. At that time it was considered to be a “good” area. I was, therefore, surprised when the Mall was mentioned during dinner conversation with the Legendary Georgia Ironman and his lady friend when she asked, “Isn’t that a bad area?” After asking several others about the area I have learned the common perception is the Gwinnett Place Mall is, indeed, considered to be a “bad area.” Perception is reality. Unlike other cities, Atlanta has always been in a constant state of flux during the course of my life. Many areas are, to be kind, not what they used to be. For that reason I decided to research the area in order to learn more about the venue chosen by the members of the board of the GCA. This is what I learned from the internet:

Gwinnett cops seek public’s help in Hertz worker’s killing
By David Ibata
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Gwinnett County police on Monday appealed to the public for help solving the slaying of a Hertz Rent-a-Car employee who was found fatally wounded behind the rental car office next to the Gwinnett Transit Center.
Monique Marlowe, 24, of Duluth was cleaning a car between 5 and 5:30 p.m. Friday when a young man wearing a light blue shirt approached her, police said. For unknown reasons, the man shot the victim once and fled the area.
Marlowe was founded wounded by her co-workers and taken to Gwinnett County Medical Center, where she died as a result of her wounds Friday evening.
Maria Marlowe, the victim’s mother, told Channel 2 Action News that her daughter loved swimming and had graduated in 2009 from the University of Georgia at Athens with a degree in international business.
“I don’t know of any enemy that she had, nobody that didn’t like her,” the mother said.
The Hertz office is near the intersection of Satellite Boulevard and Merchants Way, next to the Transit Center’s pick-up and drop-off hub for bus passengers. The location is across from the Gwinnett Place Mall shopping center.
Gwinnett Place: The Long, Slow Death of a Suburban Mall
Wednesday, March 20, 2013, by Josh Green
Although the headlines tell it all, I decided to read a few reviews placed online by people who were at the Mall.
• Yoomee H.
Lawrenceville, GA
This place gives me the creeps. I don’t know why but it just does! It has that ‘eerie’ feeling as if someone’s going to run up to you and snatch your purse kind of feeling. I’ve been here with my mom and siblings and while we were walking into the mall, I felt as though the mall itself was a ‘scary place’.. aren’t malls suppose to make you feel safe? Nope not this mall. There are those people who look like they could hurt you, I’m usually a smiley type of person who likes to smile a lot (even to strangers) but here.. when I smiled at this woman, she gave me a mean look and said, “whatchu lookin’ at?!” Usually when I walk around the Mall of Georgia, people smile back at me.
• Angela H.
Atlanta, GA
To be honest, there are so many vacant store spaces in this mall that I have had no desire to ever browse the entire mall. Sure, I’ve strolled through most of the mall, but it *felt* like there were more vacancies than occupied stores.
• Brian A.
Orlando, FL
I remember when this mall was the mall to go to in the 90’s. When I was a kid, it was always a treat to go to Gwinnett Place. It was clean, had great stores, and this was before the Mall of Ga opened.

But now, it’s the exact opposite. Now a days, everyone avoids this mall, they really let it go down the shitter. It’s dirty, the stores suck and they never have good options, half of the stores that were there closed down and re-opened stores that no one’s ever heard of before, basically the clothing equivalent to the dollar general. There used to be great restaurants on the outskirts of the mall but most of them closed down and the whole area has turned into ghetto Mexico town. Avoid this shithole at all costs.
• Amanda H.
Dawsonville, GA

I will never go back to this mall.
• Sarah E.
Lawrenceville, GA
Yuck. This mall used to be okay, but has gone WAY downhill.
There is no reason that you need to go here. Don’t bother.
• Grace K.
Washington, DC
This mall used to be THE place when I was younger, but now it’s like a bad Law & Order SVU episode. Definitely creepy and almost phantomlike if you’re there near night time. Last time I went, a short creep followed me from the pet store to the end of the mall. I would definitely carry around Lysol if I had to come here (it’s more potent than pepper spray).
• Wendy T.
Snellville, GA
Three words: What A Dump!!!
These reviews were taken, and can still be found, here: http://www.yelp.com/biz/gwinnett-place-mall-duluth
Before doing this research I had considered going to the GPM myself to check it out. I reflected on something William Coe told me during our interview at the Castle Chess tournament at Emory University. He had taken time to go by the North Dekalb Mall, saying, ”I had no desire to spend my weekend in that room.” His comments can be found on my post of June 24, 2013, “Panchanathan Storms the Castle!” (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/gm-panchanathan-storms-the-castle/) After reading the above, and much more, including the crime statistics in the area, I decided there was no need to make the trip.
After reading the above, the question I pose is why would anyone in their right mind choose such a place to hold a tournament for anyone, much less women and Seniors? If I can learn this by investing a little time, why can the members of the GCA board not do the same thing? Or did they? Do they know these things, yet chose this place in any event? The question you should ask yourself is would you want your daughter, wife, mother, or grandmother to spend many hours over a period of two days in this place? Maybe you would even want to ask yourself if the people who signed off on this place should even be in a position to make such a decision.

The Whole World Is Reading

I have not been well for the past week, but am happy to report feeling better. This is post #64, so I will celebrate it as a milestone. Why is it we human’s celebrate only round numbers such as 100, or even 150, as is the case with the current craze focusing on the 150th anniversary of the War of Northern Aggression? In November there will be much made of the fact that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated 50 years ago. Books and movies that could have appeared last year have been held back in order to capitalize on a zero. Go figure…Since this is a blog about chess, I feel it only appropriate I celebrate the number 64.
One of the things I have noticed about the stats of my blog is that after posting, if I do not make another post soon, the number of readers will gradually head downward. This has, surprisingly, not been the case after my last post. The number of readers has actually increased since writing about the US Masters. I cannot help but wonder why. Could it be readers are hungry for more information about the tournament than has been made available? There was a tepid piece on the USCF website, in conjunction with other Labor Day tournaments. What does it say about the state of chess when USCF does not even cover one of the major tournaments of the year? There was a rather good article by Sabrina Chevannes on Chessbase (http://www.chessbase.com/Home/TabId/211/PostId/4011061/norm-galore-at-the-us-masters-080913.aspx), yet hardly anything on the website of the North Carolina Chess Association. Even now, weeks later, one can find little about the tournament, or the festival, as it was called, on the NCCA website. I cannot help but wonder if those responsible realize we have moved into the 21st century with the internet. If organizers do not get the word out now, the interest of the chess fan will move on to something current. By the time organizers do get the word out the chess fan thinks, “That is so yesterday.” For example, by the time something appears on US Chess Online it has already, in most cases, gone around the world and back. The internet has taken the place of the newspaper. I have often read that yesterday’s newspaper is only good for something in which to wrap fish. One cannot even do that with yesterday’s internet chess news.
I have often been surprised when checking the Armchair Warrior stats. For example, earlier this week the AW was “discovered” by Saudi Arabia. The US is usually first in number of readers and views, and by a large margin over Canada, which is to be expected, I suppose. The other day Saudi Arabia topped the list by a wide margin, for some reason. Hello, and thank you! Although I have not checked recently, some time ago the number of countries in which readers had clicked on to the AW was found to be over 60. I am not only pleased, but also surprised, and a little humbled.
I would like to thank all who have left comments, and sent emails. I have made it a practice to publish every comment posted since I began the now defunct BaconLOG (http://baconlog.blogspot.com/). I regret having to nix one Humbert Hamilton in reply to my post “The Award Winning Georgia Chess Magazine.” It is a pity because I enjoyed it immensely, but I simply cannot print some of what the man wrote, and if I cannot print all of it, I will print none of it. If you go back and read some of the comments left on the BaconLOG, you will find I allowed anyone to express their feeling toward me, no matter how harsh. I would have allowed Humbert the same courtesy if he had not made unfounded allegations concerning my private life.
I am writing this while the Sinquefield Cup is underway at the St. Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center. Today is the second big matchup between GM Hikaru Nakamura, who has the white pieces, and World Championship contender, GM Magnus Carlsen. Like many others, I had been looking forward to this game. It is unfortunate, because the whole world is watching, but the sad fact is the broadcast from St. Louis has had myriad “technical difficulties.” Yesterday was the straw that broke Bacon’s back. There had been an off day before yesterday’s disaster, and I do not only mean disaster because both American players lost. Certainly any “technical difficulties” should have been taken care of during that off day. Unfortunately, the problems grew worse and it became amateur hour at the STLCC&SC. I will not elaborate on the many crashes, but suffice it to say that when a loop of Jennifer saying, “Thank you for staying with us with all the technical difficulties,” or some such, was heard for the third, or was it fourth, time, I could take it no longer. I clicked off and tuned out the broadcast, vowing never to go back to the coverage from the STLCC&SC. It is a pity because I have really enjoyed the commentators, especially GM Yasser Seirawan, who, unlike GM Maurice Ashley, does not use a computer program. It has been a joy to listen to Yasser’s analysis of the games. From what he “sees” it is obvious why he was one of the strongest chess players on the planet at one time. His book, “Chess Duels: My Games with the World Champions,” is the best chess book I have read this century. Not to mention the lovely Jennifer Shahade, the “color” commentator. I say “color” because in a baseball broadcast it used to be that one person in the booth was known as the “announcer,” while the other was the “color” man. If nothing else, Jennifer is colorful! Fortunately there are other places where the games can be found. I see Gata has again played the Dutch defense, which is near and dear to my heart. It makes me think of the comment made by Magnus Carlsen about playing the Dutch against Levon Aronian because he had found a weakness in how Levon has previously played against the Dutch. Gata must have heard the same thing. Oh how I would like to hear what is being said by the gang, but, “Fool me once…twice, three, four or more times, and a man who knows enough is enough will always have enough, and I have had enough!”

Youth Served At US Masters

Damir Studen and Daniel Gurevich, two young players from Atlanta, Georgia, USA, both scored 5.5 points out of 9 rounds at the recent US Masters in Greensboro, North Carolina. That put both of them in the fourth score group, in a tie for 12-21 out of 79 players. They were the lowest rated, by far, players in the score group. For both of these young men (Damir was born in 1989 and Daniel in 1997) this can be considered a breakout event. Damir has previously won the state championship of Georgia, while Daniel won the top section of the 2009 Super Nationals in Nashville, so both have known success. Both would agree the US Masters is on another level entirely.
Damir won 3, drew 5, and lost one. Daniel won 5, drew one, and lost 3. Damir had a performance rating of 2560, while Daniel’s PR was 2544. Damir faced four GM’s, with two wins and two draws. Daniel played five GM’s, winning two, while losing three. Damir played his usual solid, steady game and was consistent throughout the event, with draws interspersed with wins until winning back to back in rounds seven and eight. Daniel lost two of his first three, won four of the next five, with the other game being drawn. He won three in a row in rounds 6-8. Damir earned 48 rating points to move to 2384. Daniel garnered 51 rating points, with his rating increasing to 2344. The two had three common opponents. They both drew with IM John Cox of England. Damir drew with GM Alex Fishbein while Daniel won. Damir also drew with GM Georg Meier, while Daniel lost his game with Meier in the last round.
What I want to do is contrast the performance of these two young turks with that of some of the older players, the wily ol’ veterans. I have read analytical books on baseball by writers such as Bill James and his Baseball Abstracts over the last thirty plus years. The study of baseball statistics is called “sabermetrics.” One of the things I have learned is the smaller the sample size, the less trustworthy the results. With that caveat I can tell you this sample size would be considered small in any study, but it is all I have with which to work. To make it even smaller, I will throw out one of the games. I do that because organizers continue the nonsensical practice of having an odd number of rounds, which puts one half of the field at a disadvantage by having to play the Black pieces an extra time. Both Damir and Daniel each played White four times while having the Black pieces five times, which makes their individual results even more spectacular!
I wanted to know if their success can be attributed to youthful exuberance, and if so, to what extent. For this study I decided to contrast the performance rating of the first four rounds with that of the last four rounds. To do so I would have to eliminate the 5th round entirely, which would leave each player with an equal number of times playing the White and Black pieces. I also needed to use only those who played all nine games, for obvious reasons. GM Larry Kaufman had a good result considering he is older than me by a few years. It boggles my mind how he can play at such a level. But Larry did take two half-point byes, which would skew the results to a point of being meaningless.
I decided to find matching pairs, like Damir and Daniel in order to increase the sample size. The two players I found to contrast with D & D were GM Alonso Zapata, now living in Atlanta, and GM Michael Rohde, who used to visit and play when his parents lived in Atlanta. Alonso was born in 1958 and Michael 1959, making both of them eligible to play in the US Senior. Because they are several decades older I believe it makes for a fine contrast of youth versus age.
This is the PR for all nine rounds for each of them, with all numbers rounded off:
Zapata 2619
Studen 2560
Gurevich 2544
Rohde 2467
Added together and averaged we have a PR for Zapata & Rohde of 2543, and for D&D it is 2552, which is close.
Now let us look at the PR for each for only the first four rounds:
Zapata 2789
Studen 2683
Gurevich 2395
Rhode 2320
And for the last four rounds:
Gurevich 2712
Studen 2576
Rohde 2543
Zapata 2444
Combine each of the two sets and average them for the first four rounds and we get:
D & D 2539
Z & R 2555
This means they played about the same chess during the first four rounds. Now we look at the last four rounds:
D&D 2644
Z & R 2494
The two young men obviously played much stronger chess in the later stages of the long tournament.
I considered using GM John Federowicz as he was also born in 1958, like GM Zapata, but rejected him because he had taken a half point bye in the fifth round. Since he did play the first, and last, four rounds, I would like to mention his tournament. John, one of the most gracious players I have encountered through the years, won his first two games, but those were the only games he won. He drew his next two, took a half point bye, lost in round 6 to GM Meier, drew in round seven, lost again in the penultimate round, and finally drew in the last round. This adds up to an even tournament. The Fed’s PR for the tournament was 2451. For the first four rounds was 2663; for the last four, 2239. If John were combined with either Alonso or Michael it would have been an even more dramatic decline. Combined, The Fed and The Zap would have had a PR of 2726 for the first four rounds. It would have dropped precipitously to only 2342 for the last four rounds. Rohde and the Fed would be 2491 for the first four rounds, and 2391 for the last four.
I stand in awe while applauding these two young men from my home city, Damir Studen, who earned an IM norm, and Daniel Gurevich, on such an excellent tournament.

nTCEC: The Future of Chess?

The second season, stage one, of the nTCEC tournament has begun. I was amused when the Legendary Georgia Ironman told me he was following the first season of the computer tournament. The games are being displayed on the Chess Bomb website (http://chessbomb.com/), and Chessdom (http://www.chessdom.com/) has been covering the tournament with regular articles. The Bomb is one of the websites the Ironman is able to access on his gizmo. His browser will not allow some websites, but the Bomb is one of the websites that can be accessed on his gizmo. Tim said he liked the fact that there is always a game ongoing. Upon completion of one game, another immediately pops up. Dennis Monokroussos has also provided coverage on his blog, The Chess Mind (http://www.thechessmind.net/). I thought of the Ironman upon reading his post of August 29, 2013, TCEC SEASON 2 UNDERWAY (http://www.thechessmind.net/blog/2013/8/29/tcec-season-2-underway.html). Dennis writes: “There’s always a live game going there, and will be for about three months’ time for anyone truly desperate for a chess fix.”
It was Tim’s time for amusement when learning I am now hooked on the nTCEC tournament. Could I possibly be a neophiliac. The first thing I do in the morning after firing-up the ‘puter is surf over to the Bomb in order to ascertain the result of the game from the previous night, and check out the current game. Because I am such a neophyte fan of the tournament between programs I was unaware the openings are chosen for the programs. This is what happened with the game of checkers when some variations had been played out to the point every one lead to a draw with best play. This happened before Chinook, and other programs sucked the life out of the game of checkers. I do not like the fact that the openings are prearranged. I do not like the fact that the programs are allowed an opening book. Back when playing against the ‘engines’ I would turn off the opening book. It seemed only fair, unless I could do the same and utilize my opening book(s). I would like to see what openings the programs would play, left to their own devices.
Firefly is the lowest rated program, by far, of the 36 participating in the tournament, with a rating of only 2208. Nebula, rated 2421, is closest to Firefly. Houdini, rated 3156, is the top-seed, with Stockfish next at 3102. Firefly won last night when Bugchess2 “bugged-out.” Buggy was not able to respond to Firefly’s 10th move, and lost. There must have been a bug in the system…
I am not only “pulling” for Firefly because it is the lowest rated ‘engine’ but because some years ago my friend NM Neal Harris, upon learning I enjoyed watching Sci-Fi shows, but had no knowledge of the TV phenomenon Firefly (I was completely away from the tube that year), loaned me a box-set of all the episodes broadcast, plus several others that had not been broadcast. As with several of my all-time favorite shows, it only lasted one season. The IMDB website shows a rating of 9.1 out of 10, which is exceptional. Shows rated far lower last for years. Firefly was obviously too good for its own good.
My other ‘favorite’ is Toga II. Anyone who has ever watched the movie Animal House will understand! “TOGA, TOGA, TOGA, TOGA II!” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AohA367VVk)