Wednesday, December 15, 2010

a clean sweep, National Champion Azeez, city funds

IS 318 won the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade sections of Grade Nationals by 2, 2.5, and 2 points, respectively. In the last three years, we have won 8 of the 9 sections for which we are eligible. (We lost 8th grade last year by half a point.) Justus Williams came 2nd in 7th grade and Isaac Barayev came third.

We couldn't have done it without the help of Matan Prilleltensky, who volunteered his time and worked tirelessly all weekend, getting up early to help prepare kids and analyzing games until 10 at night. He's an amazing teacher: patient, supportive, and strong. In the words of 7th grader Kenneth Martin: "I like Matan because he makes me feel good about my ideas even when I'm wrong."

A second big thank you to Mitch Fitzko, our excellent CIS instructor, who teaches one day a week at 318 and analyzes games with us on Saturdays, and to the amazing GM Miron Sher, who gives a weekly masterclass for our highest rated students.

Finally, a third thank you to everyone who has donated money or books to our program. People's generosity towards kids they've never met is really moving to me. In particular, big thanks to Stuart Chagrin, who has funded numerous Marshall trips and paid for kids who couldn't afford their nationals contribution. 

Former IS 318 student Azeez Alade is Ninth Grade Co-Champion! Azeez started 318 in 7th grade with a rating of 960. Two years and three months later he is 1965! Azeez is a wonderful person-- always smiling, super polite, patient, funny and thoughtful. He's also a fantastic teacher -- he's tutored several of the younger kids at 318 and I recommend him highly. For the bargain price of $20/hour, you can hire him to come to your home and tutor your son or daughter in chess. You won't find better value for your money anywhere. Contact me if you're interested (

Remember last year when I was blacklisted? This year it was Galvin's turn. He's walking down the hall Sunday morning and Sophia Rohde, who runs some private schools in Manhattan (Columbia Grammar, etc), is walking the other direction. So Galvin nods to her and says good morning; she hisses back "city funds." Later in the day, Galvin is walking with Matan and passes her again. She says it again, "city funds." Matan was considering putting it in his Chess Life Online article, and so he asked her what she meant. She explained that she's a taxpayer and is angry that the school pays for part of the kids' expenses.

It's amazing to me not only that anyone could resent inner city kids for the "unfair benefits" the public school system bestows on them, but also that an adult would behave with such a lack of dignity. For what it's worth, our trip was funded by a walkathon the school held last spring, a private donor, and the kids selling boxes and boxes of fundraiser candy bars.

I lost the battery for my camera and didn't get another in time, so these pictures were taken on Jonathan's little point and shoot. (hence blurry)

Teraab Feaster and Markus Pond (1584, up from 1274 in October), who scored 4 and 5 points in the 6th grade section, doing tactics in the airport on the way to Florida.

Anthony Asseviro, the 3rd member of the 6th grade team.
Kenneth Martin and Yuxin Zhao
Rashawn Baldwin

Rashawn, Kevin and Otto

Danny Feng and David Kim at the awards ceremony

Positions from Grade Nationals

1. In round 4, Joel Ogunremi (1858) was black against Sarah Chiang (2074). Having played her some blitz, I thought she would go straight down the mainline Slav. Joel and I prepared this position after 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. a4 Bf5 6. e3 e6 7. Bxc4 Bb4 8. O-O Nbd7 9. Qe2 O-O 10. e4 Bg6 11. Bd3 Bh5 12. e5 Nd5 13. Nxd5 cxd5 14. Qe3 Be7 15. Ng5 Bxg5 16. Qxg5 Qxg5 17. Bxg5
I told him a few ideas: trading the light squared bishops is good for black, and it's ok to recapture fxg6; the manuever Nd7-b8-c6 is often good to attack the weak d4 pawn, but probably after developing with Rac8; sometimes ...f6 makes sense. Then I said "I would start with Rac8, definitely."

Unfortunately, 17...Rac8 loses to 18. Bb5 (if the knight moves, Be7). Joel was really nice about the fact that I lost the game for him. It was a totally different kid who accused me of (on 3 separate occasions) intentionally preparing him with a bad line because I hate him and I'm trying to make him lose. In the same vein, one parent thanked me for being nurturing, supportive and exactly the kind of teacher she wished for her child; another complained to Galvin that the children were "terrified" of me. win some, lose some.

2. Randy Rivera won a hilarious endgame in the last round:
Leavitt, Samuel 1433 - Rivera, Randy 1760

1. e4 e6
2. d4 d5
3. Nc3 dxe4
4. Nxe4 Bd7
5. Nf3 Bc6
6. Bd3 Nd7
7. O-O Ngf6
8.Bg5 This move doesn't make much sense, since black's main idea in this position is to find a way to exchange minor pieces.
9. Nxf6+ Bxf6
10. Bxf6 Qxf6

White is already in some trouble here. If he moves the knight, d4 hangs, but otherwise the pawn structure is ruined.

11. Re1 Bxf3
12. Qxf3 Qxf3
13. gxf3 O-O
14. Be4 c6
15. c4 Nf6
16. Bc2 Rad8
17. Rad1 Rd7
18. Re2 Rfd8
19. Red2
Here I asked Randy if he thought 19... e5 was better than 19... c5. He said "Yeah, I was thinking that too, because later white made a passed pawn on the c file and invaded with his king."
20. Ba4 Rxd4
21. Rxd4 cxd4
22. Kf1 Kf8
23. Ke2 Ke7
24. c5 e5
25. Kd3 Nh5
26. Kc4 Nf4
27. Bc2 g6
28. b4 Kf6
29. Be4 Rd7 Matan and I were looking at this game together, and we watched with a growing sense of panic: isn't black allowing way too much counterplay here? Randy was totally unconcerned, and it turns out he's correct: black can just give up his rook for the c pawn and -- even though it looks like it takes a million years-- take everything with his king.
30. b5 Kg5
31. c6 bxc6
32. bxc6 Rd8
33. Kb5 f5
34. c7 Rc8 
35. Kc6 fxe4
36. Kd7 Rxc7+
37. Kxc7 exf3
38. a4 Nh3
39. a5 Nxf2
40. Rf1 e4
41. Kb7 e3
42. Kxa7 e2
43. Rg1+ Ng4
44. h4+ Kxh4
45. Rh1+ Kg5
46. Re1 f2
47. Rxe2 f1=Q
48. Rb2 Ne5 49. a6 Nc6+ 50. Kb7 Qf3 51. Ka8 d3 52. Rb5+ Kh6 53. Kb7 d2 54. Rb2 d1=Q 55. Rh2+ Kg7 56. Kc7 Qf4+ 57. Kc8 Qd8+ 58. Kb7 Qfc7# 0-1

3. Jermaine Cooper had this position against Nick Marius in round two.
What's the best move? (answer at the end)

4. Markus Pond was black in the above position against Gabriel Katz. The game ended in a draw, but here he has a quick win. Where?

5. David Kim reached this position after 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 dxc4 4. e4 b5 5. a4 b4 6. Nce2 e6 7. Ng3 Ba6 8. Nf3 Nf6 9. Ne5 c5 10. Be3 cxd4 11. Bxd4 Qa5 12. Nxc4 Bxc4 13. Bxc4 a6 14. b3 Be7
15. Bxf6 Bxf6 16. Rc1 Bc3+ 17. Ke2 Nc6 18. Qd6 Nd4+ 19. Ke3

He continued brilliantly:
20. Qf4 Nf5+
21. Kf3 Bd2
22. Qg4 Nd4# 0-1

6. Lukasz Fron was black here. Which move is better, 21... Bd6 or 21... Be7?

7. Black just played 14... f6. Randy did not move his bishop back, but instead intensified the pressure with 15. 0-0-0. After 15... Qb4, where is the checkmate?

8. Justus Williams placed clear second. Here is his favorite game:
Matthew R. Lee (1667) - Justus Williams (2217)
1. e4 c5
2. Nf3 e6
3. c3 Nf6
4. Qc2 d5
5. e5 Nfd7
6. d4 Nc6
7. Be3 a6
8. Nbd2 b5
9. Be2 Bb7
10. O-O Rc8
11. Qd1 Be7
12. Rc1 O-O
13. Re1

13... cxd4
14. cxd4 Qb6
15. a3 Na5
16. b4 Nc4
17. Nxc4 bxc4
White should try getting some kingside counterplay with Ng5.
18. Qc2 Bc6

19. Rb1 Qb5
20. Ra1 Nb6
21. Bd2 Na4
22. Bd1 Qb7
23. Qc1 Bb5
24. Bxa4 Bxa4
25. Bg5 c3
26. Bxe7 Qxe7
27. Re3 c2
28.Ne1 Rc4
29. Qd2 Rfc8
30. Rc1 Qa7
31. Nf3 Qc7
32. Ne1
33. Nf3 a5
34. bxa5 Qb2
35. h3 Ra8
36. Ree1 Qb5
37. Re3 Qb2
38. Ree1

39. Ra1 Qb5
40. Rac1 Rxa5
41. Re2 Ra8
42. Qd3 Qb2
43. Ree1 Rac8
44. Nd2 Qxd4
45. Qxd4 Rxd4
46. Nf3 Rd1
47. Kh2 Kh7
48. Kg3 d4
49. Rcxd1 cxd1=Q
50. Rxd1 Bxd1 0-1


 3. Nick Marius - Jermaine Cooper 37... Rxd4+! 38. Rxd4 e5+ 39. Ke3 exd4 and the other rook is trapped.

4. Gabriel Katz - Markus Pond , Gabriel    1... h4 2. gxh4 gxh4 3. Kf3 Rd2 and neither the bishop nor the king can stop the h pawn. 4. c4 h3

6. Jeremiah McPadden - Lukasz Fron
21...Be7 is much better. Black has two bishops, so he doesn't want to trade one of them, plus after 21...Bd6 22. Bxd6 Kxd6 23. Rc1, black can't immediately challenge for the c file. Also, if 21...Be7 22. Rg1 h5 23. h3 Bxf3 24. Kxf3, black can safely play 24...g5, safeguarding the pawn and harassing white's bishop.

7. Randy Rivera - Grant Kozeny
16. Bg6+ Kf8 17. Rd8 + Bxd8 18. Qe8#


Anonymous said...

Where can we donate? Is it deductable?

paperpest said...

I have a friend who calls Sophia Rohde, Sophia Rude.

Bill Brock said...

Perhaps Ms. Rohde meant to say "Lucky Duckies"?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...


Sophia didn't accuse your team of using taxpayer dollars, she accused Gavin's team.
She is someone with respectable character unlike you-know-who, and I doubt she would make such a claim without knowing some facts to back it up.
So why don't you stick your nose in your own beeswax, missy.

[Anonymous Author (me) would like to state these are my own opinions not afiliated with any parties mentioned in the above blog post]

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous,

Those are the same team. And accusing someone of supporting the team with a school's funds is somehow a reason for disrespect? Even if the "claim' was true what's the point? Shouldn't we all be advocating for schools to support chess?

Anonymous said...

That's amazing especially the 6th grade team that was relatively weak and had only 3 members.

Anonymous said...

Modern politics is centered around stealing money from one group to give to another. But let's look at the big picture - your money is also taken from you to kill civilians in the Middle East (I think they call that collateral damage). Surely funding a public school (and their chess program) is way down on the list of injustices.

Anonymous said...

Supporting school chess is a good thing. I don't mind if my tax dollars go towards it, just as I don't mind tax dollars go to funding education for school kids even though I don't have any kids in school.

Trying to see the positive side of these "adult" actions at a junior chess event - by emulating the low level of conduct seen at junior tennis and other popular junior sports events, chess has now risen (or sunk) to their level :)

Anonymous said...


oh snap... he won 2 games at marshall tonight and withdrew with a post-tournament official rating 2203

ship it

Elizabeth Vicary said...

Congratulations to Josh!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Josh Colas!!
A wonderful accomplishment!!

Elizabeth Vicary said...

We are working on a website for the 318 team that will have easy ways to donate through paypal Until it is up and running, you can donate by sending a check to IS 318 Chess Team
101 Walton St
Brooklyn Ny 11206.
We will send you a thank you on school letter head that you can use for tax purposes.


Anonymous said...

Tremendous accomplishment. Congratulations. I was wondering if you have seen higher math test scores by these chess players.

Lisa Johnston said...

As a member of the IS318 PTA Executive Board and the SLT, I would like to say that the school did not pay any money out of the school's account. The PTA had a Walk a Thon last spring and decided to give some of the money from it towards the chess program. We are a Title 1 school and have many students that are from lower income families and felt it was a wonderful use of the funds our students raised.
I also want to congratulate Azeez! He is a wonderful young man with a great future ahead of him. He's been tutoring my son and I would definitely recommend him.

Leon Akpalu said...

Sadly, little league has nothing on scholastic chess for making grown-ups behave with the emotional maturity of three-year-olds.