GM Irina Krush, Diagnosed with COVID-19

Before heading into dreamland last night, which did not come easy, I decided to concentrate on writing a few posts concerning Chess, as I have two book reviews to complete, one of which was begun, then stopped because it has been difficult focusing on Chess these daze…Checking my inbox this morning found this from the Mulfish, a very religious man whom I know will be mentioning Irina in his prayers. If you believe in that sort of thing, now is the time for prayer:

Michael Mulford <mmulfish@yahoo.com>
To:Michael Bacon
Sun, Mar 22 at 11:57 PM
Were you aware Irina Krush is positive?
An internet check found this at The Chess Mind, a blog by Dennis Monokroussos:

American GM Irina Krush

https://i.pinimg.com/236x/cc/dc/c3/ccdcc314455575aa73f8be6ee257ad6b--hall.jpg

isn’t particularly old – she turned 36 last December – but she not only contracted the novel coronavirus but started experiencing serious, atypical symptoms. From her Facebook page:

“Last Wed night, March 11th, I started to feel a little bit under the weather. On Thursday I had an unpleasant temperature, 37.6, spent some extra time sleeping, but it got better after that. My temperature never went up again as high, it actually fluctuated between 36.7 and 37. I should also mention, by Friday night, but definitely by Saturday I lost my sense of smell completely. I could not smell the cup of coffee right in front of my nose. I could not taste what I was eating. That was a depressing symptom…happy to say that my sense of smell/taste is coming back to me now! On Sunday I felt well enough to take an hour walk on the boardwalk. But on Monday evening, I felt a shortness of breath, a symptom I’ve never experienced before. I just had to take deeper breaths to get the air in. It was definitely worrying, especially given I had absolutely no other symptoms like fever or coughing. On Tuesday morning, I had an internet lesson just like I’d had on Monday morning. That was when I knew it wasn’t “anxiety” or me dreaming something up: I just couldn’t talk without taking extra pauses to breathe. I went to CityMD right after my lesson. When they saw I had no temperature, that my chest X ray was clear and there were no signs of pneumonia, the doctor visibly relaxed (since it didn’t look like I had coronavirus). She had no explanation for the shortness of breath, though, and suggested a CT scan at the ER to check for blood clots. So I went to the ER (not the most pleasant experience, there were people around with a cough so severe I was really concerned I could catch the virus there). Anyway, the CT scan showed “early coronavirus” and pneumonia in both lungs. I was also given the actual test, which only came back today (positive). I spent a couple days in the hospital, I guess mostly under observation as there wasn’t much that needed to be done for me…they did test my blood for oxygenation and found it was fine. So now I am home…taking the hydroxychloroquine tablets. I still have no other symptoms other than the shortness of breath, which I guess I can describe as “moderate”. Going up the stairs you do feel totally out of breath, but even sitting in place you can feel it. I am very happy I can breathe on my own. Anyway, I thought I’d share this as I know the trajectory of my illness was not completely typical, and it can help some of you get tested/treated/go into quarantine earlier. And it absolutely made me see the importance of staying home and doing your part to slow the spread of this. Wish you all to stay healthy!”

Thank God she is doing better, and it’s very good news that positive, if still anecdotal, results for hydroxycloroquine keep coming in. Let’s hope that if there have to be more stories about the virus in the chess world, they will be no worse than this.

http://www.thechessmind.net/blog/2020/3/21/irina-krush-diagnosed-with-covid-19.html

Can Jennifer Yu Handle Pressure?

WIM Alexy Root has written an apologia for Chessbase for the pitiful performance of Jenifer Yu at the US Junior.

Jennifer Yu’s US Junior Championship: Can research explain her result?
by Alexey Root

“The 2019 U.S. Women’s Chess Champion Jennifer Yu was the wildcard invite for the U.S. Junior Championship which concluded on Saturday, July 20th. She finished last in the 10-player round robin with ½ out of 9. In her post-tournament interview, Jennifer Yu mentioned, “Maybe there is a little more pressure or something.” In this article, WIM ALEXEY ROOT looks at two research-based reasons for the pressure Yu perceived and its possible effects on her result.” (https://en.chessbase.com/post/jennifer-yu-s-us-junior-championship-can-research-explain-her-result)

Pressure from “Chess Fans”

“In the words of one ChessBase reader, Yu is “a role model for young women with [her] current title” and her U.S. Junior Championship result “will find its way in future articles/books/essays regarding the relative strength of female vs male players and be fodder for that debate.” Even before the event, some questioned why Yu got the wildcard invite rather than higher-rated boys. One “Chess fan” wrote, “What a terrible pick for wildcard. I want to see the best junior players in the US Junior, male or female. It’s a shame the wildcard wasn’t used to reward another 2500+ Junior.”
Despite her chess qualifications, then, Yu perhaps felt pressure on her from some chess fans.”

The paragraph that caused me to write this post:

“According to “Checkmate? The role of gender stereotypes in the ultimate intellectual sport,” women perform 50% worse than expected when they know they are playing against men and are reminded of the stereotype that men are considered better and more gifted at chess. In the experiment on which the article is based, similarly-rated men and women played two-game matches online, at first without knowing the other player’s gender. In the match where gender was unknown, the women scored 1 out of 2 (the expected score). However, when the men and women were told the gender of their opponent (i.e. the men knew that they were playing women and the women knew that they were playing men), and the women were reminded of the stereotype that men are better at chess than women, the women scored ½ of 2.”

A reader make left this comment:

Ajeeb007

Inadequate sample size, pure speculation and utter nonsense. No need to make it more complex than it is in an effort to assuage the female ego. Yu finished last because she was weaker than most of the other participants and she didn’t catch a break..”
https://en.chessbase.com/post/jennifer-yu-s-us-junior-championship-can-research-explain-her-result#discuss

Ajeeb007 hits the nail on the head. I could not have put it better myself. Chessbase should be ashamed for printing something based upon such a limited sample size.

The best comment was posted “by UncleBent

“Jennifer Yu’s poor result is due to her playing opponents who were much stronger and more experienced vs top competition. If you look at Jennifer’s “career,” she has had little success against the few opponents she has played rated 2450 ELO or higher. Her designation as “wild-card” made her a target, but only because she was one of the lower-rated and, in a RR event, the others knew they had to get a full point from her if they were to have a good tournament result. What is true, is that most, if not all, of her “boy” opponents have spent considerably more time to playing and studying chess. Jennifer mentioned that she has not had a coach for a while, in spite of her weaknesses in opening repertoire and endgame technique. That was evident in her play. This is no longer the era of Capablanca — you can’t succeed against players who are more experienced, higher rated and who have done more preparation. Why Jennifer Yu decided not to hire a coach (with some of her US Women’s Ch prize money) is not my concern. At 17, she has so many wonderful avenues available to her, that I’m not going to criticize he for not studying chess.

Dr. Root’s article is an embarrassing, knee-jerk response. 20 years ago, Irina Krush placed 2nd in the US Junior. The number one reason for her success is that she was also the 2nd highest-rated participant. Playing against “the boys” did not seem to hurt her performance. (In fact one her Irina’s losses was to Jen Shahade.) While there may be merit to under-performance (when females play males), I just don’t think it is at the same level among higher-rated players, who have real achievements and thus more confidence.”
https://en.chessbase.com/post/jennifer-yu-s-us-junior-championship-can-research-explain-her-result#discuss

Congratulations to ALL the Winners!

I would like to extend my congratulations to the three men who tied for first in the US Chess Championship, and to the three women who tied for first in the chess championship for the weaker sex. As far as I am concerned they can all justifiably claim to be Co-Champions. The souped-up heebe-jeeb games used to “settle” the tie meant absolutely nothing. The fast games allowing no time to think were silly and shameful. There is a picture on Chessbase (http://en.chessbase.com/) of the “champions” Gata Kamsky and Irina Krush standing back to back, both with a supercilious grin on their face, looking as if they are about to break into a rendition of the song “We Are The Champions” by Queen.
“We are the champions, my friends,
And we’ll keep on fighting ’til the end.
We are the champions.
We are the champions.
No time for losers
‘Cause we are the champions…”
In one of the biggest upsets in the history of the US Chess Championships, IM Stuart Rachels, from the Great State of Alabama, tied for first in the 1989 US Championship. Check out his Wikipedia page (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuart_Rachels) and you will find: United States Chess Champion
1989 (with Roman Dzindzichashvili and Yasser Seirawan)
What a pity it would be if insanity prevailed back then and the players were forced to play speed chess to decide the “winner.”
I would like to congratulate the worthy 2014 US Chess Champions GM Varuzhan Akobian and GM Aleksandr Lenderman, and the US Women Champions WGM Tatev Abrahamyan and IM Anna Zatonskih. As far as I am concerned they each have the right to be called a US Champion.
Before you inundate the AW with comments I would like you to consider these quotes:
“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”-Marcus Aurelius
“Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.”-Mahatma Gandhi
“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”-Arthur Schopenhauer

GM Panchanathan Storms the Castle!

After winning his first four games versus NM Toby Boas, NM Chris Mabe, GM Julio Becerra, and IM Irina Krush, GM Magesh Panchanathan offered an early draw to his last round opponent, GM Varuzhan Akobian, which was accepted. That gave clear first to Magesh, with Varuzhan a half-point back in clear second. When interviewed after the tournament, Var, as he was called by the staff, said he decided to accept because he had the black pieces, saying, “You know how big an advantage having white is. Besides, I was very tired from the camp and Magesh deserved to win the tournament.” Akobian beat NM Nicholas Rosenthal in the first round, drew with GM John Fedorowicz in round two, beat GM Alonso Zapata in the third round, and GM Julio Becerra in the fourth round, which caused the most successful player in the history of the Castle to withdraw. Four players tied for third with three and a half points, GM Zapata; IM Krush; NM Mabe; and the story of the tournament, Expert William Coe. The latter two garnered the Under 2400 prize money.
I interviewed many of the players after their games had ended. Because of the short draw I was able to conduct much longer interviews with the board one players. Everyone asked consented to an interview and all were gracious. I can tell you I enjoyed the experience immensely. I have been around chess many decades and will tell you this was one of the best chess days I have ever had, and it is all because of these wonderful people sharing some of their time and thoughts with me. I would like to thank each one of them.
This was the second year the winner, GM Panchanathan, was an instructor at the Castle Chess Camp, but this was the first year he played in the tournament. Most of the teachers who played looked tired, but not Magesh. Winning may have had something to do with that fact. He looked like he could go another round! He is originally from India, but now lives in New Jersey. He attended U.T. Dallas on a chess scholarship where he earned a Masters in computer science. He has worked at many camps and said this was the best! “It was fun, and very well organized. The campers come back, and the coaches, too.” When pressed on what makes the Castle Chess Camp the best, he said, “There is concentrated teaching, and the campers do other things, like play soccer. There were maybe seven coaches against maybe fifty students kicking the ball around, having the best time.” He has been in the US for a decade now and is a permanent resident. When asked if he would be back next year, he said he would come if invited. “I thought there was a rule that the tournament winner received an automatic invitation,” I said. He noticed my smile, and he, too, smiled, saying, “I wish that were so.”
This is the fourth year for the runner-up finisher, GM Varuzhan Akobian. He won the tournament outright in 2010. Although he does several camps each summer, he said this was his favorite. When asked why, he responded, “It is the atmosphere. It is very well organized. All of the people behind the scenes deserve all the credit because they make it easy for us to concentrate on teaching. This camp is different because it is not crowded. There are small groups of no more than twelve students.”
I enjoyed interviewing with IM Irina Krush because I have followed her career and know she has elevated her game to a much higher level recently. I would have liked to ask her some questions about those things, but she had just ended a long talk with someone else, and looked tired. She was, though, extremely gracious, smiling when seeing the name of my blog. She said the name, “Armchair Warrior,” as if she got a kick out of it, while smiling. I considered telling her how I came upon the name, but thought better of it. This is her third time here and she mentioned the last may have been 2004, so I said, “Maybe when you played LM David Vest?” I intentionally did not use the word, “lost.” She looked me in the eye and said, “Maybe so…” She told me the reason for taking the half point bye was because she was tired, as she had come here directly from another camp and “I will be sooooo glad to catch my flight home tonight.” She did say that if she had it to do over again, “I would force myself to play the Saturday night round and take the bye in the fourth round Sunday morning.” When asked about the camp Irina said it was, “Awesome.” She went on to say, “The staff is GREAT, and so are the instructors. It was an intense week.”
I talked with several other instructors and they all, each and every one, echoed the above, with some mentioning some of the staff by name. I covered some of the staff in my previous report, so I would like to acknowledge Debbie Torrance, the treasurer, participating in her sixth camp. Although she said, “I am not a chess person,” it is obvious she has made a place for her non-chess persona at the Castle. She is a charming woman. Susan Justice, whom I was not able to talk with, unfortunately, is in her first year. It is difficult to talk with someone who is always on the move.
I managed to talk with Reese Thompson, who has become a force to be reckoned with in Georgia chess. He said the instructors were, “Perfect.” You cannot get any better than that! He said, “I played up (a section) because I wanted to challenge expert level opponents, but many others also played up, so it was like I was playing in a class ‘A’ section.” When I asked him if he had profited from the week he looked puzzled, thinking I meant profit as in money, saying,“I am not sure how much I will win.” When I told him I meant profit as in benefiting from the camp, he said, “Oh yeah!” Debbie delivered his check as our interview ended and I said, “It looks like you also profited in another way.” He and his mother grinned as the talk turned to how the money would be spent.
I talked with Carter Peatman who said he has, “Grown up at the Castle Chess Camp.” He said that he had “learned a lot,” and “profited from it.” He also said it had been “tiring, but worth it.” Everyone with whom I talked said things like this, so for me to continue would only be redundant. It is obvious to me the Castle Camp deserves all the accolades it receives. Those responsible have done something very special and unique for our city and state.
I mentioned earlier that the story of the tournament was William Coe. Although he was rated as an expert for this tournament, he is a former NM. This was his first tournament in a quarter of a century! I had to interview a fellow Senior, especially one who garnered a decent prize in his return to the board in twenty five years. The first question I asked was why he had decided to come back to the arena. His response was that he told himself he would come back when his daughter was grown, as she is now, and, “My wife was out of town.” While the wife is away the husband will play…CHESS! Don’t you love it? He said he was from San Antonio I told him about my trip there in 1972 for the Church’s tournaments and he said he, too, had played in those events while in high school. Since I was twenty two then, it was obvious I am a few years older than William. I mentioned two players who put me up in the house they shared, Michael Moore and NM John Dunning, whom William said he knew well. “That Dunning was quite a character.” He did tell me that he has played speed chess in ICC, “Sometimes beating IM’s and GM’s.” He lives in Marietta and knows Justin Morrison, and has “Played in his Tuesday thing.” He said that although he enjoyed playing on the computer he missed the “Human touch.” I was amazed that he has been in Atlanta for a quarter of a century without playing. He said, “I had a great time because the tournament was so well organized. He informed me that when he decided to come back to tournament chess he had gone by the North Dekalb Mall to check out the site, going so far as to take pictures. He determined he would not play there because, “I had no desire to spend my weekend in that room.” William seemed somewhat disappointed even though he had won a chunk of change. William decried receiving a full point bye. He also mentioned the short time between the penultimate round and the final round was simply not enough. “All I had time for was some crackers. It should be one hour,” he stated. William lamented not having played the strongest possible competition. NM Michael Corallo, happened to walk up at that moment and said, “I would take the money!” He had a chance to do just that as he had three points going into the last round before losing to Irina Krush. Michael has moved here from Florida and lives near Mr. Coe in Kid Chess land.
I would like to mention one other player new to Atlanta. Her name is Elena Gratskya and I believe she tied for first in the class ‘B’ section. I do not know for sure because as I punch & poke this report the crosstables are still not up on the USCF website. After printing out a copy of the Open section for me, Jim Mundy was asked to assist the chief TD, so he said, “The tournament will be up as soon as possible because that’s the way they want it.” I decided to leave at that time without waiting for results of the lower sections. I first noticed Elena at the now infamous Atlanta Chess Championship. No one with whom I spoke seemed to know who she was or where she came from, so I decided to ask her for an interview. The pretty young woman seemed flattered, asking me to walk outside with her to ask my questions because she had become chilled in the playing hall. “That will sometimes happen when the air conditioning is turned down and the crowd begins to thin out,” I said. “It is much better than the horrible heat of the previous tournament,” she said, meaning the ACC. I learned she is from St. Petersburg, Russia, and moved to Atlanta recently because she has friends here. She played chess when much younger in Russia, “Because it is mandatory in schools.” She did not play for eight years, but enjoys playing. This was only her third tournament here and she said it was, “Well organized!” She works for Kid Chess. If a chess league ever develops Justin Morrison will be able to field a strong team!
I regret having no further details at this time, ten o’clock on the morning of the Monday following the tournament. My apologies for the delay. It was ready. All I needed was the crosstables. I received this from Scott Parker this morning in reply to my query concerning the crosstables not being posted by one am this morning:
“Fun Fong will be the one sending the report in to USCF. Jim Mundy has another camp at Pace Academy that he and Carlos Perdomo are doing that begins today (Monday) at 9:00 am and lasts all week, so he doesn’t have the time to take care of this.”
Best Wishes,
Scott
In closing I would like to say that this is the tournament Atlanta deserves. It is simply not possible for me to say enough about the strong group of wonderful people responsible for putting this event together. Atlanta is considered the capital of the South, yet the tournament conditions here have been abysmal. I would say the conditions in most tournaments have been “third world” like, except I have seen much better conditions in third world countries online. It should be known that Atlanta has a huge base of potential players, and organizers around the country should take note of that fact. Chess tournaments are held in nice hotels all over the country but not Atlanta. It is time for that to change. Atlanta should take its rightful place with other cities of comparable size. It has been, and still is, a shame that the Southern Open is not held in the capital of the South! Atlanta is a magnet for drawing Southern people, and those from other areas as well. It is way past time my home city enter a new age and the new century.

Castling Queenside

I just returned from Emory University, site of the 13th edition of the Castle Chess Grand Prix. 217 players are participating this year, the same number as last year. Since there were fewer chess campers this year that means there are more players who were not involved with the camp this year. Five of those players are Grandmasters, with an additional two International Masters. There are eight National Masters, led by Georgia’s own Damir Studen, the State Champ, along with five experts to round out the twenty player field. Form held down the line in the first round, which included games played Friday night and Saturday morning. The second round is underway as I write. The top players are already meeting in round two, as long time camper GM John Fedorowicz was paired with Varuzhan Akobian on board one. Meanwhile, the home town hope, NM Studen was playing his beloved Scandinavian, or as we called it “back in the day” the Center-Counter, versus the GM Scott Parker calls, “The most successful, by far…,” of the twelve previous Castle tournaments, Julio Becerra, on second board.
This is the first time there have been five GM’s playing in the tournament, and it could have been more. GM Jesse Kraai could not play for personal reasons. Mrs. Christianson, president of the Castle Chess Camp, informs Jesse has taken a year off from chess to write a novel based on chess and had to deal with the publication, which was delayed. He had hoped to have copies at the camp, but it was not to be. Another GM had a family emergency to attend, unfortunately. I had an opportunity to talk with Jennifer Christiansen, whom I recall from my days at the House of Pain. I mentioned how much I liked an article she penned for the Georgia Chess magazine, telling her it touched me, making me think of my mother. She wrote about how much she had learned from her sons. As far as I am concerned her short essay should win an award, hands-down! She told me it had been written upon the request of the editor, Mark Taylor, because he needed to fill space. I could relate to that because I have previously done the same thing, taking heat for the article I had thrown together from a particularly acerbic critic. During our discussion she mentioned something about “nearing the end,” and I assumed she meant that because her sons are now grown and will be going to college, and would be out of scholastic chess she would no longer be involved. Au contraire! She let me know she has told others that when her sons left for college she intended on becoming a player. She did admit to playing at home and on the internet now. She also told me a wonderful story about one time when she did try to play in a tournament at the ACC, as she called the Atlanta Chess & Game Center. “I was upstairs playing and happened to look out of the open window-it was summer and you know how hot the place could be, especially upstairs-and I saw my boys playing tag and running out into the street and I had to ask myself what I was doing up there.” The woman is a dedicated chess mom and obviously a wonderful mother. Check out the article about her son, Ryan, on page 33 of the June issue of Chess Life magazine. I must admit the picture of Ryan floored me, since it has been some years since I have seen the little fellow.
The tournament is taking place in Cox Hall, a spacious, well air-conditioned, room, with plenty of room for everyone. There are other chess moms to assist, and one can tell they are operating as a team. The tournament is being directed with military precision by the chief TD, Mr. David Hater, assisted by Jim Mundy, one of the nicest people you will ever meet in chess. It was a real treat to see, and talk, albeit briefly, with the man known as the Sheriff. Mayberry had Andy, while Atlanta had the irrepressible Mr. Scott Parker, who managed to take time away from his family obligations to visit the Castle. These people are the reason the Castle Chess Grand Prix exudes class.
The top two boards are displayed on the wall by an overhead projector, with the first board on the far left side of the room, and the second board on the other. I was not the only spectator as I talked with Jim Lawhon and Larry Bolton, who, like me, were not playing. Thank you Larry for the kind words about the blog, and I would also like to thank Gary Newsome, a visitor, who told his wife that I wrote a very popular blog read all over the world. “Everyone reads his blog,” Gary said, “I bet Anand even reads his blog!” I do not know about Anand, but I do know for a fact that several GM’s read the Armchair Warrior. I would like to thank them, and all of you in the fifty countries, and counting, that have surfed on over to read the blog.
One of the things about trying to write about a tournament is it is difficult to interview anyone while they are playing. For example, IM Irina Krush walked right by me, lost in thought. I had been watching her game with Anuprita Patil, the only other female in the top section. What are the odds of that happening? I can recall the time when it was extremely rare to see even one female in the whole tournament. I noticed several more playing on the lower boards. The times they are a-changing. I wanted to introduce myself and ask her a question or two, but I refrained because I have played in tournaments and know some consider it nothing but a distraction. I admit considering the odds Irina would smile and say, “OK,” as opposed to, “Buzz off, Buster!” Not that I have not heard the latter previously in various, non-chess situations…When one plays in a tournament there is little time for anything other than playing, or getting ready to play. When the tournament is over the players want to just get on down the road, as I know only too well. But I will be at the tournament tomorrow afternoon during the last round, trying my best to obtain a quote or two. I mentioned to Jim Mundy that I was looking forward to the last round tomorrow because it should be exciting. “I know,” he said. “It’s exciting right now!” he said with a smile, sending me off on a good note.