Saturday, January 31, 2009

want to see more pictures of my kids?

I know that's your favorite part of my blog.

Emmanual Ogunremi: very sad that his opponent has not played ...d5
Joel Ogunremi: fianchettoing the c1 bishop runs in their family (also striped sweaters)Shawn: about to checkmate that white king you see on f4. There's a black rook on g1 and black can win immediately with g5+
Hector and Gio: rapidly improving
Orlando. big genius.

David H.
my former student Darrian (almost 2000!), who is doing some community service by going over games for me
Darrian working with Matthew, a new sixth grader
Leon and Christian, former students who regularly look at games with me on Saturday as a part time job.
Today I got into a fight with a parent from another school. The short version is that the CIS tournament was at 318 today, and I was left in charge because my assistant principal took the top kids to the city championships. So I told this woman she couldn't do something that she was doing in the school building and she started calling me racist and followed me to my classroom and refused to leave. So I called security, and they came and escorted her downstairs, but weirdly, they escorted her to the tournament director.
and you know what my first thought was? It was wow, there is so much chess culture in my school building that even the school safety officers (real police!) feel that the TD is the ultimate authority.
(later I had other thoughts about their motivations, but I like my first one best.)
update from Cities: Rochelle drew Andrew Ng (2197); Ezequiel (Gio's older brother) beat Joshua Colas (1936) and drew Alexander Ostrovskiy (2108)! We're tied for first with a super strong Hunter (Ostrovskiy, Getz (2250), Landesmann(2034) and a 1200) going into the last round.

Friday, January 30, 2009

I can't wait for the Bobby Fischer Symposium!

It's being held at the Marshall Chess Club March 6 and 7. Nice to see the good Dr. Frank Brady bringing some culture to chess. A symposium! how civilized!

I'm going to go dressed as Bobby Fischer.

Here's the sentence from the flyer that grabbed me:

Two philosophers, a Grandmaster, a biographer, and a player who once beat Fischer, will be among many of those who will present papers, or share reminiscences of Fischer, possibly the greatest chess player who ever lived.

And what I like even more is that the sentence is hilarious whether or not you realize who the person in question is (anyone from New York will recognize that particular claim immediately). Because it's pretty obvious what the guy who once beat Fischer is going to reminisce about, right?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

thoughts about writing

two kinds:

1. My job tonight is to compile the 318 Secret Openings Book for 2008-2009. Every year I leave this task inexplicably late. The 318 Secret Openings Book is a collection of all my opening handouts (or at least the ones currently in circulation). Because I know my students can realistically learn about 2-3 pages of information, I condense each opening (that they are allowed to play) into what I consider the fundamental important stuff to know. Depending on the opening, that might be variations, lists of ideas, model games, or rules to follow. (really, the format depends mostly on my mood at the time I wrote it.) Then the copy lady (who hates me and for some reason thinks I steal tape) makes them into spiral bound books. They are about 100 pages long and she makes about 70 books.

It's half an enjoyable, self-congratulatory, memory lane stroll through the teaching materials I've produced in the last year, half insanely boring, cutting, pasting and reformatting drudgery.

But it's very important and so I'm doing it.
I'm just writing to you as a break.

2. honestly, I wasn't a big fan of the first part of my recent US chess school article on chess life online. I thought I made one decent point that Yury was good at making comparisons to classic games, but the rest of the article was superficial, flat and mostly worthless.

The second part I haven't reread online at all. I'm really nervous to do so-- I feel like I started on this resolutely human interest angle with the grade nationals/bird story (which I thought honestly was quite good) and then it grew into some weird obsession with people's inner thoughts. I started asking questions like 'how has chess changed you?' 'compare playing basketball/cello/judo to playing chess?!' and I'm scared I will feel creeped out that the article seems so centered around showcasing the inner thoughts of 13 year olds.

And, please don't get me wrong, I'm actually never really scared that I'm a creepy person, it's just that I get so bored writing chess articles, the genre is so unbearably narrow, the range of things you can say is so miniscule. it's very frustrating. add to that the fact that people seem to praise what I write no matter what, and I actually don't get paid for the USCS articles, so I feel no obligation. but maybe I'm getting a little too creative with genre-invention.

also, can I say that I feel like a lot of people do a very bad job of tournament reporting? It's one thing if you are asked to write a blog, but it's annoying when people are supposed to write about a tournament and the winner of the tournament and they write about themselves instead. it's not even annoying because I don't care about the person, it's annoying that the person is so lazy.

really I'm just sick of writing about chess, especially scholastics. When I write scholastic articles, I just feel such temptation to go off about some ridiculous theory. (I do this in april's article about grade nationals.) I think it's because I think adults are all 100% bored by scholastic chess and so I overcompensate. but no more. I'm just saying no next time.

sorry if this post seems absolutely self obsessed. I feel like it's my blog, sometimes I can do that.

ps I wouldn't normally pick such an easy target, but I have to draw your attention to the news item Disgraced pastor Haggard admits second relationship with man, just because I find the beginning of the second sentence utterly hilarious.

Evangelical pastor Ted Haggard described Thursday as "fundamentally true" an assertion that he engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a 20-year-old male volunteer in 2006.

The incident occurred when the two men were in bed together, Grant Haas said in a videotaped interview played on CNN's "Larry King Live."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Is this a trick?

Stimulus Plan Would Provide Flood of Aid to Education

WASHINGTON — The economic stimulus plan that Congress has scheduled for a vote on Wednesday would shower the nation’s school districts, child care centers and university campuses with $150 billion in new federal spending, a vast two-year investment that would more than double the Department of Education’s current budget.

The proposed emergency expenditures on nearly every realm of education, including school renovation, special education, Head Start and grants to needy college students, would amount to the largest increase in federal aid since Washington began to spend significantly on education after World War II.

Critics and supporters alike said that by its sheer scope, the measure could profoundly change the federal government’s role in education, which has traditionally been the responsibility of state and local government.

pinch me.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

69 Love Songs

Do you know this beautiful, brilliant album, or should I say 3 volume concept album, by the magnetic fields? from wikipedia:

The album was originally conceived as a grandiose musical revue. Stephin Merritt was sitting in a gay piano bar in Manhattan, listening to the pianist's interpretations of Stephen Sondheim songs, when he decided he ought to get into theatre music because he felt he had an aptitude for it. "I decided I'd write one hundred love songs as a way of introducing myself to the world. Then I realized how long that would be. So I settled on sixty-nine. I'd have a theatrical revue with four drag queens. And whoever the audience liked best at the end of the night would get paid."

I was going to work this morning and "trying on" this song-- do you know what I mean, you listen to the song and see if you can pretend to be one of the characters? I do the overwhelming majority of my "trying on" during my morning walk to work. So today I was trying on the magnetic fields song 'absolutely cuckoo':

Don't fall in love with me yet
We only recently met
True I'm in love with you but
you might decide I'm a nut
Give me a week or two to
go absolutely cuckoo
then, when you see your error,
then, you can flee in terror
like everybody else does
I only tell you this cause
I'm easy to get rid of
But not if you fall in love
Know now that I'm on the make
and if you make a mistake
my heart will certainly break
I'll have to jump in a lake
and all my friends will blame you
There's no telling what they'll do
It's only fair to tell you
I'm absolutely cuckoo

and I was thinking, pretty much. I felt happy this morning, which surprised me, because I've been pretty down for the last couple weeks, really for the last year or so. enough at least so that I thought "huh. I feel happy and relaxed. that's weird." And then I thought "people look at me and think I'm dynamic and interesting, but really I'm just animated by near-constant anxiety."

Here's another great song:

There are two kinds of people:
a) my love and I
b) other

Two kinds of people:
1) the gray and
2) me and my love

All people fall into two camps
that ever twain shall be:
those lost in darkness without lamps,
and then,
my love and me...

maybe it's better when you hear it, but i like it at least.
And then I got to work and looked at kids' games all day. Overall, I thought the beginners had come a long way.




carlos, jie-jing (notice that she hasn't moved in any way since the first photo), azeez

d'andrea, shawn, myles

Then I heard this news about some of the family stuff one of my kids is dealing with, and I thought, wow, I need to stop feeling sorry for myself right away. I do not have any problems at all.

Although I will mention that I'm now single, just in time for valentines day, and so if you've been waiting for just the right time to send me boxes of chocolates or anonymously ask me out, wait no longer.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

autism + granny's lawn ballet

my late grandmother with my half brother Adam. (he is now 14).
more hilarious photos of granny in 1934 lawn ballet are at bottom!!

Is anybody else interested in autism? I have a half brother who is quite severely autistic, so I have some personal interest. Plus I suspect there is some connection between autism and chess: the lack of interest in people, the fondness for repetition, the dislike of over-stimulation.

I was struck by this recent NY Times article:

Their idea is, in broad outline, straightforward. Dr. Crespi and Dr. Badcock propose that an evolutionary tug of war between genes from the father’s sperm and the mother’s egg can, in effect, tip brain development in one of two ways. A strong bias toward the father pushes a developing brain along the autistic spectrum, toward a fascination with objects, patterns, mechanical systems, at the expense of social development. A bias toward the mother moves the growing brain along what the researchers call the psychotic spectrum, toward hypersensitivity to mood, their own and others’. This, according to the theory, increases a child’s risk of developing schizophrenia later on, as well as mood problems like bipolar disorder and depression.
In short: autism and schizophrenia represent opposite ends of a spectrum that includes most, if not all, psychiatric and developmental brain disorders. The theory has no use for psychiatry’s many separate categories for disorders, and it would give genetic findings an entirely new dimension.

Hilarious 1934 Lawn Ballet Featuring My Grandmother

sorry, I don't know which one she is.

Look what Blogger did to my photo the first time I tried to upload it. weird, right?

Oh, I forgot to mention, here is a picture of my hand.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Was anybody else shocked that Rick Warren recited the Lord's Prayer at the inauguration? Can he do that?? What happened to separation of church and state??

As a pleasant contrast, here's Sunday's opening invocation from the Right Reverend Gene V. Robinson, who "is best-known for being the first openly gay, non-celibate priest to be ordained a bishop in a major Christian denomination believing in the historic episcopate." (Wikipedia)

can anybody else figure out what is going on in the backdrop of this photo?

Welcome to Washington! The fun is about to begin, but first, please join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God's blessing upon our nation and our next president.

O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…

Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people existon less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands arebeaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian,bisexual and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic "answers" we've preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to riseto the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be "fixed" anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.

Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion's God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Amazing update (thanks to Jonathan Rowson for pointing this out): Robinson is on the Daily Show and they make a chess joke!!!

Stewart: Washington was so crowded today; you as a bishop are sort of doubly-handicapped in that situation -- only being able to move diagonally. How is that with negotiating the crowds?

Robinson: Jon, you have to understand, there is a queen on the board as well.

Monday, January 19, 2009

my Palestinian solution and the Incredible Rochelle Ballantyne

Alright, so I apologize in advance for the way this post is going to turn out. I know that people who think they have the simple solution to complex historical/social/political/religious problems are-- pretty much by definition-- stupid assholes. But here's my take anyway:

1. Invading Gaza is not much more useful than the US invasion of Afghanistan after/ because of 9/11. As satisfying as it is to get revenge, attacking places you think the enemy once hung out is not the same as attacking the enemy. And attacking people who will be your neighbors forever is just not sensible. They will hate you and their children's children will hate you. And their children's children's children.

2. A large part of the problem is the severe economic hardship in Palestine. This gets translated into violent political action for two separate reasons:
a. Poverty makes people angry and desparate.
b. Hamas does a huge amount of social outreach and charity work; it basically is Social Services in Palestine, and this work is where a large part of their popular support comes from (In a country which has been historically relatively secular, as far as the Middle East goes). If you feed starving people, they're going to like you, join you, vote for you, and possibly wire themselves with explosives.

3. The easiest, nicest, and cheapest way to end the attacks on Israel is to invest heavily in the economy of Palestine. Raise the standard of living, and people will be too happy and busy at work to fire missiles at Israelis. Plus they won't desparately need Hamas, so its social and political support will erode.

Also, I know it seems like a little money won't heal a 1000 year old conflict, but think about the major violent cultural feuds in history that have blown over... Europe. They used to fight all the time, look at them now. All economically integrated and lovey dovey.

Okay, that's my 2 cents. Feel free to comment.

How awesome are you if you've won your last seventeen rated games of chess? Five in club, plus she's won the last 3 Chess in the Schools tournaments. and these are not easy tournaments. She was 1717 at the beginning of December; her rating after today should be over 1900.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

awesome chess clothes

GM Var Akobian wearing Endgame
Jeremy Popoff, guitar player from the platinum selling rock band, Lit ( ), wearing Endgame.

Blog reader John O'Brien has some fantastic chess designs for sale here.
He also has a corresponding blog that centers around chess and its current place in pop culture. I don't know him personally, but he donated money for my kid who couldn't pay for Nationals, so I figure he's a good guy who deserves your business. Plus his shirts are hot.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Checkmates and USCF Politics

A good-girl chess player falls for a bad-boy checkers player from the streets.
Thanks to Joel Salman and Greg Shahade for the link.

Also, coming up soon.... interviews with Brian Mottershead. Feel free to leave question-suggestions in the comments!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

pesky geese

A US Airways plane just crashed into the Hudson because it hit a flock of geese? More here. Everyone was safe (!), but I imagine it's a brutally cold day to be in the river ....

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Name My Team Contest!!

I'm playing on an Amateur Team (east) with Tim Mirabile, Jason Luchan, and Joel Salman. We need your help thinking of a name. So far we have:

Funkmasters of the New Idolatry
Gillian Welch
The Torpedoes
Like Love Like Music
Alabama Getaway
Believe Me You
The Topical Gels
Umpteen Times
The Dark Knights
Forgetting Frank Marshall
The Curious Case of Benjamin, Joel
Hedgehog Millionaire

You can vote, or you can suggest a new name.
As far as prizes.... ? ... I'll buy the winner a drink? (Yes, Matt, I owe you a drink already, I haven't forgotten)

Interview with USCF Executive Board Candidate Mike Atkins

As I mentioned previously, my real belief about USCF politics is that all power and decisions should be handed over immediately to Greg Shahade. However, since that movement hasn't really taken off, I've asked Mike Atkins, who is running for the USCF Executive Board, to answer a few questions. I don't claim to know very much about how to run a non-profit organziation or what what type of person is best suited for the EB, but I will be voting for Mike because he's:
1. involved in chess,
2. doesn't have an obvious ax to grind, and
3. seems
. a. intelligent,
. b. sane, and
. c. friendly.

EV: So let’s start with the high drama question: give us your take on the lawsuits and the Polgar/ Truong vs. Rest of the Board conflict.

MA: The evidence that I have read about in the lawsuits seem to say that Truong was the fake Sam Sloan. It also seems pretty clear from the evidence suggested that Polgar, through her webmaster Alexander, accessed and posted confidential e-mails from the attorney representing people she had sued. Many laws and ethics have allegedly been violated and at the minimum, Polgar and Truong should be removed from the EB. Anyone who sues its own organization with the intent to destroy it should be forever removed from leadership. She has benefited greatly from the support of the USCF and her lawsuit has the effects of chopping off a hand that feeds her and this just doesn’t make sense to me. It seems like a cancer on US Chess that should be irradiated and removed.

EV: What 2 or 3 initiatives would you try to implement if you were elected?

MA: 1. Getting more involved at the leadership level with FIDE. Why aren’t there any Americans at the highest level?
2. Getting a major international in the US. Don’t know if this is possible, but wouldn’t one of the major 2700+ events in the US be cool?

EV: If you could change one USCF rule, policy, or procedure, what would it be?

MA: I would find some way to change the USCF rule on touch move. If anyone contests a claim, it almost ALWAYS results in a honesty dispute. Some of the nastier situations I’ve seen have involved touch move. Without an objective witness, the dispute has to go back to the original position even when you are 110% sure that you know who is moving. The only way to eliminate this is to have more directors, MANY more directors, or have every game under video. This is possible in a small international, but could you imagine what it would cost in the World Open?

One other thing I would change would be to shorten the EB campaign “season.” The US shortened its period of time from election to inauguration from March 4 in the Constitution to January 20 when it became clear that it no longer took a month to travel distances in the developing country. It should probably change it again because it seems like Obama has lost some of his momentum in having to wait 2 ½ months from election to inauguration. The USCF doesn’t need from the first week in January to June to allow candidates to attack each other. The longer it goes the more people attack. Have the filing deadline in March or April and only a couple months to campaign, plenty of time for the forum posts and one presentation in Chess Life and Boom – election.

EV: Do you feel like the governing structure of the USCF works? If so, why? If not, is it changeable and what should it be changed to?

I have been a long-time member of the ANA, American Numismatic Association. They have the same structure, ED and a Board of Governors which function like the USCF EB. While they don’t have Delegates, the Board is suing the previous Executive Director after years of disputes, sound familiar?! It would be interesting to look at 20-30 different national organizations and see how they are organized. Since the Delegates are the supreme authority and they instruct the EB and ED, I can’t see them ever allowing themselves to be taken out of the picture. I’ve been involved in USCF at the national level since 1996 which was the advent of the internet for EB elections. Everyone I have seen has been bitterly contested with outrageous accusations flying back and forth. It would be nice to see what they were prior to the internet. I suspect similar, although on a smaller stage and with less dirty laundry exposed to the public.

I think it is designed to work but has been struggling for a dozen years. It’s admirable that Bill Hall survived the 2007 influx of 4 new members, I don’t remember that having happened since 1996. Every new board seemed to attack the old ED and have a new one pretty soon after taking office. I think the EB should instruct the ED on what the quarterly and annual goals are and track the progress of those goals. Individual EB members ought to contribute based on their areas of expertise, but they should not micromanage. They should give the ED the power to get the job done and step back and let him/her do it. The ED should not have to be constantly looking over his/her shoulder. I wonder if we’ll ever get back to the ten and twenty year

EV: Which other person do you tend to agree with most frequently in USCF politics?

MA: Let me answer in the negative. For the past decade or so I have been listed on Sam Sloan’s website as “The website of my arch-enemy Michael Atkins” That is really a major claim to fame and is he someone I am pretty much diametrically in opposition to in about 99% of life. You really need a sense of humor to deal with him.

EV: A lot of USCF EBs have seemed to me to be strangely afraid of offending FIDE. Do you agree with this perception, and if so, why do you think it is? Either way, what issues do you see as the most important between the USCF and FIDE?

MA: Last summer I was among a group of directors who exchanged a long series of e-mails with Stewart Reuben, an English IA who is either on the FIDE Rules Committee or the head of the committee, as well as being head of the Organizer’s committee. It seemed like the discussion boiled down to “Our rules are better than your rules.” Stewart made the observation several times that he and FIDE were often unaware of certain USCF differences as no one from the USCF was there to participate in the rules meetings. That is something that has to change, we must participate and if we don’t then we should not complain afterwards. I might be wrong, but from reading FIDE reports in the past from USCF FIDE reps, it has seemed like the reps sometimes do not represent what the EB or delegates tell them to represent. That needs to change too.

Past USCF EB’s have challenged FIDE when needed, and Bill Goichberg’s challenges to FIDE in the future Kamsky-Topalov match stand out. I think we would do better in FIDE with more representatives in the committees and in the leadership. It is hard having much influence from the sidelines. We need to challenge and do it even louder when it is warranted, but get more involved. That is easier said than done because FIDE meetings always require international travel. How about an Olympiad and Congress here in the US? How about a USCF President of FIDE one day? Does it really take being a Dictator to be President?

EV: Do you think the USCF is going to go bankrupt? Or would they have without the generous bequests? What’s your assessment of the current financial situation?

MA: If the Polgar/Truong lawsuit is victorious, probably yes. I don’t think that will happen so the answer is a qualified no. I qualify that because it is certainly possible to go bankrupt, just like a person can go bankrupt if they spend more than they take in. A lot of money has been lost over the past decade, partly because I think the Board and Executive Director has been in such constant change that long term plans have been impossible. In the days when there were strong Executive Director’s who ran it like a business for a decade or more, we did better than than an ED who is looking over his shoulder fearful of getting fired any minute – how can you run an organization like that.

The recent bequests were wonderful gifts that can help the USCF greatly. It was interesting that only days after being announced, numerous threads in the forums popped up about how to spend it and arguments ensued and that is such a microcosm of the USCF. The money ought to be frozen until the Delegates meeting in August, nothing wrong with a little interest. The delegates should decide what to do with it. One option is to pay off the mortgage to the USCF building which will then increase monthly operating funds by about $50,000 from what I have read. In any case, it is the delegates who should decide in a vote in August what exactly to do with the money.

EV: If you were going to make cuts in the USCF budget, where would they come from?

MA: Before doing that I'd have to study and learn the budget better, talk to current EB members, talk to USCF staff. It isn't a job for one person and a group can often prevent one person with a grudge from running amok. I'll know this area better as time goes on.

EV: Do you think it's a conflict of interest for Bill Goichburg to be President of the CCA and of the Excutive Board? If so, do you think that's a problem. If not, why?

MA: I don't see a problem with Bill being President of both CCA and USCF. He is prevented from organizing USCF nationals while on the board. When the tournaments in the US do well, both USCF and CCA do well. I'd rather see the connection up front that worry about what is going on behind the scenes with people who have less transparent motivations.

EV: I was very disturbed last spring to hear that the USCF pays an agency, Meetinglink, to find hotels for the US Open and National Scholastic tournaments. What was really shocking about this is that they pay this (1 person) agency $20 per room per night. That seems like an astoundingly large amount of money. What do you know about this and what are your thoughts on it?

MA: Companies like these know the hotel business better then most and can find good deals simply because they tend to know more hotels, are motivated to get contracts because they get 10% of the room night revenue as thei income. They can find hotels that would otherwise go unfound and they do the contracts with the hotels. If I ran a lot of personal events I'd probably use that service because dealing with hotels can be such a pain. Finding them and getting room rates under $100 and doing all the contract details takes quite a bit even for one of my events, if there were dozens and dozens like the USCF of CCA, it would save so much time that the 10% would be worth it. When they do really large tournaments, especially on a repeat basis which involves less work, they often give some of that 10% back to be fair. I don't see this as much of a controversy, just a service to make your life easier.

EV: How much work do EB members do in a typical week and what does it consist of?

MA: I guess I will find out. It isn't a job that pays anything so it is labor of love, an avocation. I've been involved in chess since 1973, getting more and more involved since 1996. A lot of the work of the EB consists of communication with each other when issues come up, talking with members of the USCF to get different perspectives. People with areas of expertise that differ from what is on the board would especially valuable.

If any other EB candidates would like to do an interview, send me an email!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

slipped up on your new years resolutions?? feel better....

A 9Queens womens' chess class
Jean Hoffman teaches the pawn.
by donating a little something to a good cause: 9Queens. It's a non-profit run by my friends, Jean Hoffman and Jenn Shahade. Its mission is to "promote the benefits of chess education to under-served and under-represented populations, especially girls and at-risk youth." i.e. they teach chess well and cost-effectively, mostly in Tucson. I'm especially impressed with their girls' /women's chess classes (top picture), which draw 40 women of all ages every month.
Have you ever seen 40 women play chess before? Me neither.
Here's their annual appeal letter:
Dear You,
This year, for the first time in the school’s history, every single second grader at Roskruge Bilingual Elementary will learn how to play chess through the 9 Queens' In-School Program. Over the past year, 9 Queens has grown from a single, after-school chess club into a national, 501c3 organization serving over 500 at-risk children and women annually. Current 9 Queens’ programming includes:

· Our innovative In-School Chess Curriculum Project that teaches over 250 low-income, public school children how to play and enjoy chess every week.
· Our Community Library Chess Clubs that offer weekly, free chess instruction for 25 community members of all ages.
· Our monthly 9 Queens Academy series that provides over 100 women and girls of all ages an opportunity to enjoy the benefits of chess in a supportive, female chess community.
· Our Chess Fest Tournament series that attracts over 300 participants of all ages to celebrate and enjoy chess in a non-traditional community setting.

The success of 9 Queens speaks not only to the strength of our organization but also to the need for our programs. Chess is an innovative, inexpensive, and effective tool proven to increase academic achievement, improve self-confidence, and engage those individuals left behind by our educational system. Since launching our programs, principals, teachers, parents, chess coaches, and students throughout the country have contacted 9 Queens in need of our support.

Now, more than ever, 9 Queens needs your support in order to continue to empower under-served and under-represented populations through chess. Your generous tax-deductible contribution to 9 Queens will provide necessary resources that go directly to our programming. Make the most of your year-end giving and impact the lives of those individuals who would benefit most by your financial support of 9 Queens.

Jean Hoffman
Co-Founder and Executive Director

I'm going to donate $50 and I'm hoping some readers might feel moved to join me. No pressure of course-- I know times are hard for many people. Nevertheless, to donate, click here.
If you put Elizabeth's blog in when it says "in memory of" then you can be a part of our fun donationmeter!!
ps watch some youtube videos

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Great New Chess Book

A great new chess book/ graphic novel/ children's story for kids age 6-11. I love the illustrations and the story line. See the first chapter here. Isn't it just very visually appealing? Reviews and more downloads are available here.

If you are part of a school or chess teaching organization and want to buy the book in bulk, the publisher is offering a special below-wholesale price if you order in the next two weeks. The guy to contact is Leonid Rasin at

I have no personal or financial interest in the book, nor to I know Leonid except through email. I just think it's a great book and believe the publisher is offering this discount to help chess rather than to make money.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Photos from the NY Post!

Rochelle Ballantyne

front row: Shawn Swindell, Rochelle Ballantyne, JieJing Li, Pobo Efekoro
back row: Elizabeth Vicary, Alexis Paredes, Rashawn Williams, Carlos Alvarez, Miguel Garcia, Randy Rivera, Ezequiel Quinones, John Galvin, Jacob Martinez

sitting: Shawn Swindell, Rochelle Ballantyne, Pobo Efekoro
standing: Elizabeth Vicary, John Galvin

Rashawn Williams plays JieJing Li. Behind them, Miguel Garcia plays Rochelle Ballantyne

Many thanks to the Post photographer, Anthony Causi.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

I'm looking for an Amateur Team (East)

My January supplement is 2095. I am not underrated, but I will try hard.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Brooklyn Borough President Visits!

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz visits to congratulate the kids on winning grades 6, 7 and 8 at the Grade Championships in Florida

Monday, January 5, 2009

US Chess School Sunday

the eighth US Chess School participants
Yury Shulman
Darwin Yang

Andrew Ng

Conrad Holt
David Adelberg
Kassa Korley

Steven Zierk
Gregory Young
Kevin Zhang

Luke Harmon