David Rupel at the 2017 World Senior

David G. Rupel, from the Great Northwest, is currently participating in the World Senior Chess Championships in Acqui Terme, Italia, according to the ChessBomb. He is one of eight intrepid Americans battling in the 65+ division. The best known American would be GM James Tarjan, who decided to make a Chess comeback after retiring from his job as a librarian.

During one US Open some decades ago one of the players in contention for the class A prize was David Rupel, so I followed his games. He played more strongly than did I and deservedly won the top prize. It was no surprise when he later earned his NM title. After the tournament I walked up to David and introduced myself while congratulating him on an outstanding tournament (he had a few upsetting upsets against higher rated opponents along the way) and winning the top prize. He was obviously taken aback before taking my outstretched hand and thanking me. No introduction was necessary because all the players in contention know with whom they are contending.

While living in Hendersonville, NC, a wonderful little city, last decade I had a chance to renew acquaintances with David when he participated in one of the US Masters held in that city due to the driving force of “Original Life Master” (I’ve no idea what that is, exactly, as I just checked Neal’s USCF page to learn the “original” has been added) and former President of the NCCA, Neal Harris, and Klaus Pohl, also an “Original” Life Master, and TD, now President of the NCCA, Kevin Hyde. Mr. Rupel broke into a wide grin upon seeing me for the first time in decades.

In the first round of the World Senior David was paired with GM Yuri Balashov, who was rated 2437, considerably higher than David’s FIDE rating of only 1985. Although he is a NM David’s current USCF rating is still a respectable 2076. It would seem to be much simpler to have only one rating system in use for the world since players travel from country to country crossing Knights and swords, would it not?

The game began normally enough with 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2. Then David played 3…Qc7!? Those who have followed the AW and those who have known me during the course of my Chess career, such as it was, know I have long had a predilection for an early move with the Queen, such as 1 e4 e6 2 Qe2!, with which I fell in love after playing over the the second game of the match between Chigorin and Tarrasch played in 1893, called by Akavall on chessgames.com, “My favorite match of all times. The contrast of styles is amazing.” (http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chesscollection?cid=1006510) It is naturally pleasing when someone agrees with one’s feelings.

Nevertheless, I dunno about playing Qc7 after playing d5. Way back in the 1970’s I opened with 1 e4 c6 2 d4 Qc7 in a fifteen minute game, advocated by GM David Bronstein, and still about as fast a time control with which I am comfortable, as it gives a player at least a little time for cogitation. My opponent, Longshot Larry, paused before moving and bluntly said, “What the HELL is THAT?!” Almost every opening move now has a name, but I have been unable to locate a name for 2…Qc7, so let us call it “The Bacon” opening. My idea was to play d6, then e5 with an Old Indian type set-up. Maybe the Lady looked safer surrounded by pawns after moving the d-pawn only one square…

GM Balashov then played 4 Bd3, to which David responded 4…g6?! At the SWIFT Rapid tournament in 1992 (Rapid was played last century?) GM Jonathan Speelman played dxe4 against GM Michael Adams and there followed: 5. Nxe4 Bf5 6. Nf3 Nd7 7. O-O e6 8. c4 Bg6 9. d5 Bxe4 10. Bxe4 Ndf6 11. Re1 Nxe4 12. Rxe4 Nf6 13. Re1 O-O-O 14. Qa4 exd5 15. cxd5 Nxd5 16. Qxa7 Bb4 17. Bd2 Bxd2 18. Nxd2 Rhe8 19. Ne4 Qb8 20. Qa3 Re6 21. Ng5 Rxe1+ 22. Rxe1 Qf4 23. Nf3 f6 24. Qd3 g6 25. Qe2 Qd6 26. g3 Nc7 27. Qc4 Qd3 28. Qxd3 Rxd3 29. Kg2 Kd7 30. h4 Ne6 31. Re4 b5 32. Re2 Kd6 33. Nd2 f5 34. Nf3 Rd5 35. Ng5 1/2-1/2

After 4…g6 GM Balashov played 5 Ngf3. One could not be faulted for thinking this a novel position, but such is not the case. 5. Ne2 was played in a game between Kristoff Marchon (1823) and Olivier Letreguilly (2295) at the Sainte Marie open in 2005. There followed, 5…Bg7 6. O-O Nh6 7. c3 O-O 8. Ng3 Nd7 9. f4 dxe4 10. Ndxe4 c5 11. f5 cxd4 12. fxg6 hxg6 13. Bxh6 Bxh6 14. cxd4 Qb6 15. Qc2 Qxd4+ 16. Nf2 Ne5 17. Be4 Ng4 18. Kh1 Ne3 19. Qb3 Nxf1 20. Rxf1 Be6 21. Qxb7 Bc4 22. Ng4 Bg7 23. Re1 Qd2 24. Rg1 f5 25. Bxf5 Bd5 0-1

After GM Balashov played 5 Ngf3 the game continued 5…Bg7 6. O-O Bg4 7. c3 dxe4 8. Nxe4 Nd7 9. h3 Bf5 10. Re1 Ngf6 11. Nxf6+ Bxf6 12. Bxf5 gxf5 13. Qc2 O-O-O 14. Qxf5 Rhg8 15. Bf4 Qb6 16. b4 Rg7 17. a4 Rdg8 18. g3 e6 19. Qd3 Qd8 20. b5 c5 21. a5 Nf8 22. Qe4 Ng6 23. Bh6 1-0

Lower rated players will often play questionable opening moves against much higher rated opponents, much to their detriment. Mr. Rupel was never in the game after 4…g6, I am sad to report.

While looking over the game I wondered if the move 5 e5 might be possible. Lo & Behold, while researching the opening I found another game at 365Chess.com (https://www.365chess.com/players/David_G_Rupel) by Rupel played with that very move played by his opponent! Unfortunately for David the result was the same…

Roiz Baztan, David (2316) – Rupel, David G (2132)
B12 Oviedo open 2007

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Qc7 4. e5 Bf5 5. Ndf3 e6 6. Bd3 Bxd3 7. Qxd3 Nd7 8. Ne2 Be7 9. O-O c5 10. c3 Rc8 11. Bf4 h5 12. Rfc1 c4 13. Qd2 Nh6 14. Bg5 Nf8 15. b3 Bxg5 16. Qxg5 Nf5 17. bxc4 Qxc4 18. Nf4 h4 19. Nh5 Nh7 20. Qg4 g6 21. Nf6+ Nxf6 22. exf6 Qd3 23. c4 Rxc4 24. Ne5 Qxd4 25. Qxd4 Nxd4 26. Nxc4 Ne2+ 27. Kf1 Nxc1 28. Nb2 Nxa2 29. Rxa2 a6 30. Nd3 h3 31. g4 O-O 32. Rc2 b5 33. Rc7 a5 34. Ne5 a4 35. Ra7 d4 36. Ke2 Rc8 37. Nxf7 a3 38. Ng5 b4 39. Rg7+ Kf8 40. Nxe6+ 1-0

Most often when a lower rated player goes his own way against a GM he can call it another lonely day.

The 2014 Georgia Senior & Women’s Open

The Georgia Senior Chess Championship and something called the “Women’s Open” were held last weekend at the Wyndham Atlanta Galleria Hotel. According to the statistics provided by the USCF there were a total of only thirty-one players in both events combined. There were fifteen in the Senior and sixteen in the tournament held exclusively for females.

This is not true. There were only SIX players in the Georgia Open, along with EIGHT players in an ancillary tournament, the “U1800/UN,” held in conjunction with the Georgia Senior. One of the assistant TD’s, J PARNELL WATKINS JR., played an extra rated game, bringing the total of the two separate tournaments to sixteen. (http://www.uschess.org/msa/XtblMain.php?201409215302)
There were only four players in the Women’s Open, with an additional six females in the “U1400” tournament, and another six in the “U800” tournament.

The most striking thing about the stats given on the USCF website (http://www.uschess.org/datapage/events-rated.php) is the percentage of local participation in the Senior was only 60%. It was only a little higher, 62.5%, in the combined tournament for women only.

Considering the expense involved, and the paltry turnout, this weekend must be considered a unmitigated disaster. Once again, the GCA pooh-bahs have egg all over their collective faces.

I have intentionally waited all week in hopes something, anything, would be published about the “festival” on the moribund GCA website (http://www.georgiachess.org/), or the new Georgia Chess News website (http://georgiachessnews.com/). We can only speculate why no mention has been made of the “festival.”

How bad was it? In the last round of the Georgia Senior there was only one game contested. Mark Hoshor defeated Van Vandivier, thereby winning all four games to finish first. Mark really earned this championship because he was the only player to actually contest four games. GCA board member, Adrian T Payne, lost to Hoshor in the first round. He then took a half-point bye in the 5:30 round Saturday evening. The next morning he did not show for his game with the aforementioned Vandivier. The player who finished second, Chris Ferrante, only contested two games, winning one, but finishing with a score of 3-1.

I quoted LM Klaus Pohl over a decade ago when he said, “A Senior tournament should be an Open tournament because at our age anyone can beat anyone.” I have also written that if enough players enter a case can be made for a cut-off at 1600 for the Open because class “B” players are capable of beating the top players. If such had been the case in this tournament it would have allowed four additional players to play in the Open. With only fifteen players it is more than a little obvious the 2014 Senior Open should have been just that, an Open tournament.

I found a top 100 list on the GCA website. These are the players on the list of the Senior players I know to be eligible on that list who did not play:

15 DAVID M VEST 2203
27 DONNY GRAY 2073
34 ALAN G PIPER 2018

When first looking for the crosstable I went to the USCF website and typed in the name of one of the most prolific Senior players, Alan Piper, the man who won the 2012 Georgia Senior. Although he chose not to defend his title last year, playing at the same site in a different tournament, a terrible indictment of the GCA, I thought he may have played this year since the GCA decided to discontinue the “stipend” prize, which hardly any Georgia Senior thought a good idea. Since I was unable to find the crosstable I assumed the tournament had yet to be rated. The Legendary Georgia Ironman disabused me of such thinking when he told me how to retrieve the crosstable. It was then I learned former Senior Champion Piper had failed to play. If it were not so serious it would be Fun E.

Speaking of the President of the GCA, Fun Fong, he has the power and continued pounding that square peg into a round hole this year by having the “stipend” prize in the Women’s Open. It was a bad idea several years ago which did not work and it is STILL a bad idea that has not worked. Nevertheless, the POTGCA found another round hole and continues to pound that square peg, whacking away with a “whap”, “whap,” “whap.” Fun is obviously in love with his ridiculous idea and refuses to give it up, regardless of the evidence against his ill-fated idea.

The tournament had fallen so far off of my radar that I was unaware of it when Tim mentioned it to me last Saturday, the first day of the tournament. I am obviously not alone. As it turned out I would not have been able to play because of my eye. If I had been aware of the tournament and my eye had not been punctured by Copper, the dog, I would still have had grave reservations about playing because of the disasters the last two years. A decision to play would have meant having to take a half-point bye in the second round because of the late start time, something difficult to do in a four round tournament. The Sunday round times were ten and three-thirty. Why could the round times on Saturday have not been the same?

Former Senior champion David Vest would have played, but he was committed to the Championship Chess 7th Annual Fall Kickoff, as was the Ironman, and Scott Gandy. The GCA knew this when choosing the date for the Georgia Senior. The aforementioned gentlemen wonder if that is the very reason the GCA chose last weekend to hold the tournament.

As for the Women’s Open, the top female players in the state, WIM Carolina Blanco, Bella Belegradek, and Elena Gratskaya, did not play. One of the women on the women’s chess committee, Caroline Lantelme, did not play. None of the three women on the GCA board, 2nd Vice President Katie Hartley; Treasurer Pam Little; or 1st Member-at-large Laura Doman, participated in the Women’s Open. The editor of the Georgia Chess News website, Tricia Hill, did not play. 1st Vice President of the GCA Ben Johnson did not play in the Senior Open. I do not know the age of Fun E Fong, but if eligible, he too, did not play. It is obvious the GCA pooh-bahs did not support their own tournament.

Things will not change in Georgia until those who have the power relinquish it to others who have a clue.

Snap – I ve Got The power

Booming Interest in Amateur Chess?

I was given a gift of a coffee mug with the logo of the Economist magazine. It was filled with java at a Borders bookstore as I awaited a student when a young fellow walked over after seeing the mug. He began talking to me as if I were an arch conservative. I mostly nodded and grinned, preferring at that time to not engage the fellow in a political discussion. Every time I saw the man after that he would smile and say hello. I always feared the offer of some kind of secret handshake to which I would not know how to respond. Fortunately, it was not forthcoming. My conservative friends find some of my views too liberal; my liberal friends think me too conservative.
Because of the upcoming World Championship there is an article about chess in the latest edition of the Economist magazine. The title is, “Professional chess has a chequered history. Fans hope to revive it.” http://www.economist.com/news/international/21587245-professional-chess-has-chequered-history-fans-hope-revive-it-sporting-chance The article comes sans byline, at least in the online edition. It is written that, “Match organizers see a chance to turn a struggling sport into a global brand.” Good luck with that…
The article continues, “Time was when the world stopped for professional chess. Millions watched Bobby Fischer, an American, beat the Soviet Union’s Boris Spassky in 1972. In the 1990s a pair of matches between Garry Kasparov and Deep Blue, a computer, recaptured some of that suspense. Yet despite booming interest in the amateur game, top-level chess has become obscure again, hobbled by squabbles and eccentric leadership.”
Come on, get real! The so-called “matches” Kasparov played versus the computer program captured none of the suspense of the Fischer-Spassky match! This is what happens when someone who was probably not alive in 1972 writes about chess. I started playing tournament chess in 1970 and am here to tell you the excitement was palpable. I have experienced nothing remotely similar since that time. Chess was in the news and on the minds of almost everyone in the world. All of a sudden it was “cool” to play chess, and I was no longer considered “weird” for playing the Royal game. Chess sets were everywhere and hardly a party I attended did not see people playing a game. The only “suspense” in the series of games between Deep Blue and Kasparov was how much bigger a fool the later would make of himself as the games continued. With the last game debacle Kasparov went out with a whimper. The “bang” was created when he made an ass of himself. Chess has never recovered from the damage done to the game by the human player known as Kasparov. When someone learns I play and teach chess they ask, “Why? I thought chess ended when that machine beat the Russian. What was his name?” Mostly they recall Kasparov’s histrionics and “sour grapes” attitude, along with the fact that he was the human that lost to a machine. People still write that Kasparov was “the greatest of all-time,” but the simple fact is that he will always and forever be known for losing to a machine. It overshadows everything he accomplished in the world of chess. There was a time when people talked in hushed tones about the possibility Kasparov took a dive in the series of games with Deep Blue. Now people speak of it overtly.
The article can be considered as gauge of public opinion concerning the state of chess today. Perception is reality and the perception is best illustrated by the following, “Critics gripe about mercurial decision-making within FIDE. The sport’s governing body gets by on some $2m a year (FIFA, football’s federation, spent more than $1 billion in 2012) and has had only two presidents in 31 years. Its boss since 1995 has been Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who also ran Kalmykia, one of Russia’s poorest regions, until 2010. That year Mr Ilyumzhinov said he was once contacted by aliens; in 2011 he played chess with Muammar Qaddafi.”
The perception meets reality when it comes to the official chess body of the world, FIDE, being led by a nut-job.
Then there is this, “A deeper challenge is that watching chess is less fun than playing it. A single game can last six hours; its most riveting moment may be a strategic nuance known as the Yugoslav variation on the Sicilian. “Good chess leads to draws,” says Maurice Ashley, an American grandmaster. Mr Ashley believes that new game and tournament formats could attract a wider audience. Competitors in blitz chess must finish their games in half an hour. Matches lasting minutes make popular footage online. Yet many players resist fast games, arguing that they reward low-quality chess. FIDE’s enthusiasm for shorter championships in the 1990s and 2000s prolonged the professional game’s split.”
I wrote recently about Jude Acers pontificating at length a quarter of a century ago about how quick games would revolutionize chess, putting money in every master’s pocket. The only thing that has put money in the pockets of master’s, and far too many who know too little about the game, is teaching chess to children, who then give up the game around puberty.
I was eating at one of my favorite spots, the Mediterranean Grill, while wearing a Chicago Open Tee-shirt from 2002. The owner, Sam Moussa, walked over and began a conversation about chess, telling me he had lived in Chicago for a couple of decades before moving to the South. “Chess is getting younger,” Sam said, before walking away. The people know. Back in the early seventies there were the same number of members of the USCF as now, except the vast majority of them were adults. Now the vast majority are children. The proliferation of children has driven most adults away from the game. There is a pronounced disparity in the ages of the competitors one can see at any large tournament. The players are either very young or very old. So-called “adult” tournaments consist of mostly children. Seniors comprise the second largest group, and they are leaving the chess world every day, because death happens. When Bobby beat Boris in 1972 the percentage of children playing in “adult” tournaments was miniscule, with only the very best children challenging the elders. Chess is now perceived, rightly, as a game for children.
The thing about being fortunate enough to grow older is one can see, upon reflection, the changes that have taken place in our world. It is common for anyone to think the way things are now is the way they have always been. Such is not the case, and especially in the world of chess. Most, if not all, of those coming into the chess world today have no clue as to how much the world of chess has changed. If all of those children who have come into the chess world had stayed I would be writing of what a huge success the move toward the United States Scholastic Chess Federation has been. Unfortunately, it has not. Statistics prove beyond any doubt that not enough children stay with chess to justify what has transpired in the world of chess. Yet, like the Republicans who still continue to advocate trickle-down economics when it has been proven in practice to work only for the very few at the top of the economic ladder, the chess F.I.P.s (Fools In Power) continue their “In for a penny, in for a pound,” moves on the chess board, even when faced with statistics proving it has not previously worked. They continue to advocate speeding up the time controls when the evidence shows it has only served to drive adult players, and members, out of the game. Even sadder is the fact that the F.I.P.s has done little for the second largest segment of members, Seniors. Granted, the latter group pales in comparison to the hefty numbers of spuds, but still Seniors do constitute the second largest group in number. What goes for Senior chess in this country is basically an insult to Seniors. Or, as one fellow Senior put it, “Senior chess in the USCF is a joke!”

Senior Chess Don’t Get No Respect

The British Championships are currently underway, having started July 28, and will end August 10. There are many different tournaments being held in conjunction with the Championship of Great Britain. Eight of those are tournaments for children. The British Senior Championship has begun and the first round is history. The tournament is divided into three sections. There are 65 vying for honors in the Championships, with 19 in the U150, and another 23 in the U130, for a total of 107. One of the nice features of the tournament is the 32 games being sent into the cloud! That means there are lower rated players, along with the titled players, having their games displayed for their friends and family to see. Check it out at: http://englishchess.org.uk/BCC/
The US Senior Championship was held along with the US Junior in Tarrytown, NY, May 29 thru June 6, 2013. There were 57 players. A few days later a nice report on the Junior appeared on the USCF website. There was nothing about the Senior on the USCF website. I tried to find the crosstable on the USCF website with no luck. Some days later the idea occurred to check the US Junior where I found the Senior crosstable. Still there was no article concerning the US Senior on US Chess Online. It was like it had never happened. I emailed USCF Executive Board President Ruth Haring, a fellow Senior. Her reply was that she would, “Look into it.” Finally, on July 21, 2013, an excellent article appeared by Beatriz Marinello and Nathan Resika. Included are pictures of players like GM Alexander Ivanov, GM Sergey Kudrin, IM James Rizzitano, and FM Nathan Resika, who tied for first place, and the most prolific player of my time, IM Jay Bonin. The article contains four games, two of them well annotated. You can find it here: http://www.uschess.org/content/view/12289/698/
It is difficult to understand why Senior chess in the US is like Rodney Dangerfield, who was known for not gettting any respect. Take a look at the graph provided by Ruth Haring in the May 2013 issue of Chess Life magazine, which can be found on the Chess For All Ages, by Mark Weeks, in his post 2013 USCF Executine Board Elections. (http://chessforallages.blogspot.com/2013/06/2013-uscf-executive-board-election.html)
You will find this included with the graph, “Membership numbers start to decline at move 11.” That is putting is nicely. Seeing the graph made me wonder why the word “precipitously” was not included after “decline.” By age 18 the number of members has dropped to below 1000 to what looks like maybe 750. The next group to reach that number is those over 50, the first year of eligibility for the US Senior. The numbers are slightly below 1000 for each year until a decline after 65, which is understandable. Death takes a toll. I do not have exact numbers, but it would seem by quick calculation to be over 10,000 members, most of whom pay considerably more than the subsidized children. Seniors do not get a break until the numbers begin to drop at 65. I cannot help but wonder how many more Senior members there would be if the USCF decided to subsidize them? Considering the economic downturn since being Bushwhacked by the Banksters near the end of the last decade, this would be an appropriate time to consider cutting Seniors some slack.
The fact is that there are two “bubbles” in the graph brought to us by Ruth Haring. The largest consists of preteens, most of whom are concentrated in only six or seven years. Contrast that with the Senior bubble, which contains fifteen, or more, birth years. It is time for the USCF to put some resources into Senior chess while there are still enough older players alive to enjoy Senior tournaments, because there are so few players in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s, there may not be enough members to hold a US Senior in the future.

Oceania Seniors Championships

While researching Senior chess in other part of the world I discovered the Oceania Seniors Championships in Canterbury on the webpage of the New Zealand Chess (http://www.newzealandchess.co.nz/). After reading aobut the tournament I sent an email to the webmistress, Helen Milligan, inquiring about the state of Senior chess in here area. She was kind enough to get back to me, writing:
Give me a few days, and I’ll write you a report with some background and
details, and you can pick what you want from that for your Blog. You don’t
seem to be using photos much – but if you want you can use the photos from
my website, so long as you credit me (most of the photos are mine and there
will be a note somewhere if they are not). This is not just vanity; I claim
back various things against tax and the more proof I have that I am a ‘chess
reporter’, the better!

True to her word, several days later another email appeared in my inbox. It is everything one wants to know about Senior chess cown under, and more. Thank you, Helen!
OK, here’s a collection of info about NZ Seniors and the recent event…

We use the FIDE criteria. A man is eligible to play in Senior events from
January 1st in the year of his 60th birthday. A woman is eligible from
January 1st of the year of her 50th birthday. Unlike FIDE, we do allow women
under 60 to win the NZ Seniors (FIDE does not allow these women to play in
the Open World Seniors; they are only eligible for the Women’s World
Seniors. Women who satisfy the same criterion as men can play in the Open if
they choose, of course).

Note: these criteria will be changing in 2014 and we will follow the
changes. The age for men and women will be brought into line at 50 (ie, you
can play in Senior events from January 1st in the year in which you reach
your 50th birthday). There will be another age point at 65, described as

NZ Seniors Championship;
This is held annually; the dates and venue change from year to year
depending on which NZ Chess Club agrees to hold it. However, the format is
always the same; a 7-round swiss-system event with a time control of 90
minutes for the whole game with an increment of 30 seconds per move from
move 1. There are two rounds a day; one on the final day (or sometimes the
first day!). We have never found it necessary to award a Women’s prize;
women regularly pick up various placings and grade prizes. Only New Zealand
citizens and permanent residents are eligible to play.

Oceania Seniors:
Oceania is a sub-zone which holds its own Zonals, etc. It comprises
Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Palau, and
Guam. Only players registered to play for these countries can take part.
Recently, there has been an annual Oceania Seniors event, with prizes
including a free place in the Open World Seniors (for an eligible winner –
see my note about women’s ages above!) and a free place in the Women’s World
Seniors for the top woman.

Christchurch 2013:
This was in fact an Oceania Seniors Championship, incorporating the New
Zealand Seniors. Australian David Lovejoy and New Zealander Arie Nijman (who
is in his 80s) were first equal; on tiebreak Lovejoy took the Oceania title.
Nijman was the highest-scoring New Zealander so he took the New Zealand
Seniors Championship and the massive trophy (for a year). I was third and
took the Oceania Women’s Senior title; I will be travelling to Croatia in
November to take part in the Women’s World Seniors. Not yet clear if Lovejoy
can take up his place in the Open. Arie is too old to want to travel that
far. I am not next in line for the Open because I am too young; only
eligible for the Women’s. So, possibly Paul Glissan (Australia, 4th) will
go. We will see.

Obviously it will be all change for 2014 but we don’t know the regulations
yet. There will be an Oceania Seniors Championship in Sydney (Australia) in
early July, but it is not clear who qualifies, or for what. Will there be
Open/Women’s and also Veteran/Veteran Women’s? With the alignment of ages,
will there still be separate titles for Women? I really don’t know and I
haven’t had a response from the Oceania president with regard to this yet!

Other Senior issues:
We have an annual Grand Prix in New Zealand. Sponsors come and go but there
are always prizes (even if funded just by the income from the tournaments
that comprise the GP). There is a Senior prize. Next year, we will probably
have a Senior prize and a Veterans prize – since many of our stronger
players will suddenly become Seniors overnight on 31st December, and will be
swamping the Seniors section next year!

I hope this is useful!


Upcoming 2013 North Carolina Senior Championship

Three days ago in my post on the 2013 Virginia Senior Open I wrote, “It is obvious the South is leading the nation when it comes to Senior chess. The glaring omission is the great State of North Carolina, surrounded as it is on all sides by other Southern States with Senior tournaments.”
Tonight while surfing the web I found a thread posted on May 30 by Gary Maltzman, 2013 North Carolina Senior Championship(!) All right North Carolina! I formerly resided in the mountains of western NC and there was talk of a possible Senior tournament during the South’s foremost tournament, the Land of the Sky, in 2011. I recall my friend Bruce Goodwin taking part in the discussion, along with Gary Newsome and some of us other “old fogeys,” as Sara Walsh referred to we Seniors in her follow up post. If aware of the upcoming NC Senior I obviously would not have written about the “glaring omission.” The “movement” is now in full swing!
The tournament will take place October 19-20, 2013. It will consist of four rounds with a time limit of G/120 with a five second delay. Inquiries: seniors@queencitychess.com
Here is the URL of the tournament announcement given in Gary’s post: http://www.seniors.queencitychess.com/NorthCarolinaSeniorOpen.pdf
There is also an article in the Gambit, the online magazine of the NCCA, Dobson North Carolina hosts first ever Seniors event, which can be found here: http://www.ncchess.org/wordpress/2013/04/dobson-north-carolina-hosts-first-ever-seniors-event/

2013 US Junior Closed

The US Junior chess tournament begins today (http://www.uschesschamps.com/). I know this because the CCSCSL (that’s Chess Club & Scholastic Center of St. Louis, for all my international readers), sent me a notification via email:

It’s another month, and yet another U.S. Championship is upon us! This time, the young guns get their turn in the spotlight to duel it out for the title of 2013 U.S. Junior Closed Champion. Ten of the top up-and-coming stars of the U.S. chess scene will battle head-to-head in a nine-round, round-robin event. The winner will earn a $3,000 grand prize and an invitation to the 2014 U.S. Championship. Click here to meet the field!

Round 1 begins today, June 14, at 1 p.m., and spectators are welcome to enjoy the action live at the Chess Club or online via http://www.uschesschamps.com.

We will not be canceling any of our regular programming for this event as the Junior Championship will be held in the Chess Club board room. Check out all of our exciting upcoming events in the column at left, and we hope to see you at the club soon!


Mike Wilmering
Communications Specialist
Since it did not mention anything about who would be doing the commentary, I clicked on over, learning GM’s Yasser Seirawan and Ben Finegold would be on my screen during the event. I will admit to knowing very little about the Junior world of chess, so I clicked on to read about the participants. The first thing I noticed was the question of the day, which is, “Who will be the 2013 U.S. Junior Closed Champion?” Listed first is Sarah Chiang. As of this writing she has yet to receive a vote. After reading the bio’s of the players I learned Sarah is not only the lowest rated player, but clearly 200 points lower rated than the other 9 players, which is a whole rating class below the rest of the field! The webpage informs that the first 7 players were invited because of rating, while the next 2 were wild cards. Sarah’s “Invitation Method” was by way of, “U.S. Open Invitation.” I have absolutely no idea what that means, so will make no comment. I will say, though, that I am reminded of a former Junior player, Robin Ault. From Chess.com:
“Robin Ault (1941-1994) was the first person to win the U.S. Junior Championship three times (1959-1961). In the 1959, the U.S. Chess Federation (USCF) had a rule that the American Junior Chess Champion was automatically qualified into the adult title competition. So Robin was invited to the 1959-60 U.S. Championship, then lost all 11 games (0-11). After this, the USCF no longer allowed the top junior player to be invited to the U.S. Championship.” (http://www.chess.com/chessopedia/view/ault-robin)
Then it hit me…I had just read, “The winner will receive an invitation to the 2014 U.S. Championship.” Wonder how long “…the USCF no longer allowed the top junior player to be invited to the U.S. Championship?” It is probably not as bad for the junior now as it was then because now the field has become a herd, while “back in the day” it was composed of only the best players.
I checked Sarah out on the USCF ratings page finding that although she is “27 out of 6461 female players”, she is only “112 out of 39156 junior players.” Maybe she is the top rated female junior and that is why she was invited. Yet it seems rather strange that a player not even in the top 100 would be invited to such a prestigious tournament with such a long history. A quick look at the top list on the USCF site shows there are many young men and boys more deserving, by rating, of participating in the tournament. The fact is this under qualified girl has taken the place of one of them. It is possible Sarah could be shutout in this event and it could have a deleterious effect on the poor girl in the future. Imagine, for example, the uproar caused if a Senior player, a former top level GM, had been invited to a closed US Championship even though he was now rated 200 points below the field and his playing strength was clearly not ready for prime time.
Speaking of Senior chess…The US Junior is up on the USCF webpage and there will be much coverage of the Junior in the coming days, while there has still been absolutely nothing posted on the website concerning the recent US Senior Open. This in spite of the fact I received an email from President Ruth Haring on Sat. June 8 in which she wrote:
Thanks for the report and suggestions. I will look into why there is no report online yet.


Sent from my iPhone

2013 VA Senior Open

The website of the Virginia Chess Federation website (http://vachess.org) proclaims “FM Larry Gilden wins,” but the crosstable shows a three-way tie with Expert William Marcelino and Class ‘A’ player Harry S Cohen, all scoring 3 ½-1/2. Marcelino took the prize for Top Virginian, while FM Gilden was also the top scoring 70+! Five players tied for fourth including Expert Leif Kazuo Karell, who took the prize for the 60-69 age group. Thirty six players competed.
The name Larry Gilden may not seem familiar to most of you, but it brought back memories to me. It has been decades since I have heard his name. Seeing it sent me to the USCF website where I punched his name into the “players & ratings” and found “There are a total of 3 events for this player since late 1991.” After not playing for decades, Larry played in a quick tournament in September of 2012. He next took part in The Cherry Blossom Classic in April where he won his first three games, but lost his next three. One of the losses was to the eventual winner, Sean Vibbert, and another to IM Justin Sarkar. By now you must be asking yourself, “Who is Larry Gilden?” From: Dr. Mark Ginsburg presents A Personal Chess History (http://nezhmet.wordpress.com/category/chess-players/larry-gilden/)
Before the current day US Chess League, there was the pre-Internet phone matches conducted between various cities in the National Chess League. Here is a photo of the 1976 season winners, the Washington Plumbers (so named after Nixon’s squad of burglars who broke into the Watergate hotel and started the snowball of corruption that sank the Nixon presidency). The photo was taken at the “It’s Your Move” chess club in Georgetown, Washington DC – this club has long been defunct, the victim of rising rents in popular Northwest Washington. Next to John is senior master Larry Gilden with his hand in the plunger, a player with one of the highest ratings in the country in the early 1970s. As Charlie Hertan writes recalling 1972, “Senior masters were very rare in those days, and except for national tournaments like the U.S. Open or fledgling World Open, you wouldn’t expect to see more than one, sometimes two, at a weekend event. Larry Gilden was usually the top-ranked player, with a “monster” rating of about 2410.”
I urge you to click on the link and take a look at the picture, a real piece of chess history. There is much more on Larry Gilden at Dr. Ginsberg’s site, and also much more on the history of our game, a personal history that could become lost but for the efforts of people like Mark Ginsburg. I played for the Atlanta Kings team in the telephone league that year, and can still recall vividly the amusement cause by the name of the D.C. team. If there had been some kind of award for best team name, the Plumbers would have won it unanimously!
There were thirty players at the Tennessee Senior held in Crossville during May, with twenty two at the 5th Annual South Carolina Senior Open in April. Contrast that with the small turnout of fifty seven at the recently completed US Senior in Tarrytown, NY. It is over a week now since the US Senior ended and there has still been no mention of it at the website of the USCF, which goes to show that Senior chess is the Rodney Dangerfield of USCF chess, because, “It don’t get no respect.” I had trouble locating the crosstable because it is listed under “US Senior & US Junior Open.” At least “Senior” is listed first. It is glaringly obvious Senior chess is not first and foremost with the United States Scholastic Chess Federation!
It is obvious the South is leading the nation when it comes to Senior chess. The glaring omission is the great State of North Carolina, surrounded as it is on all sides by other Southern States with Senior tournaments. It is also disappointing to see a state with such a large chess community as Florida, known as a retirement state, without a Senior tournament. I played in a Texas Senior tournament over a decade ago. Now if the Great States of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana hold a Senior tournament we will have the makings of what Arlo Guthrie called a “movement.” (http://songmeanings.net/songs/view/71247/)
I include a couple of URL’s, each containing an annotated game by Senior players: