Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Congratulations to Bryan Smith!!

who made his first (sorry, second!) GM norm by winning a tournament in Romania by 1.5 points. nice to see the local (Alaskan / Philadelphian) boy make good!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

a pawn endgame from Markus Pond

Markus played 1. Ke6, which only draws. Where is the win?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011

post-fusionist, libertarian-leaning fiscal conservative

a great essay on Gary Johnson:

Leaning libertarian

Gary Johnson's hobbling virtues

May 24th 2011, 18:03 by W.W.

..ILYA SOMIN, a law professor at George Mason, takes up one of the urgent questions of our age: which libertarian-leaning Republican bucking for the GOP presidential nomination, Ron Paul or Gary Johnson, ought libertarian-leaning Republicans and Republican-leaning libertarians prefer? Mr Somin makes a strong case for Mr Johnson, an ex-governor of New Mexico, citing Mr Paul's "very nonlibertarian positions on free trade, school choice, and especially immigration", in addition to his penchant for unusual interpretations of the constitution, and his past association with racists.

Writing earlier this month in The Daily, Shika Dalmia nicely captures the contrast:

Like Paul, [Johnson] is anti-war, anti-big government and pro-civil liberties. But unlike Paul, he is pro-choice (except for late-term abortions), pro-immigration, pro-trade and untainted by bizarre conspiracy theories that NAFTA is a prelude to the dissolution of North American borders. Nor does he have Paul’s racist newsletter baggage. His signature issue is not abolishing the Fed or returning to the gold standard. Rather, it is avoiding the impending financial collapse by cutting government spending on everything by 43 percent—Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and defense—a plan bolder than any that either party has proffered.

Moreover, unlike Mr Paul, Mr Johnson has racked up executive experience and a sterling record as governor of the Land of Enchantment. As Ms Dalmia relates:

Johnson cut in half the 10 percent annual growth his state budget had been experiencing. He vetoed 750 bills, a third of them Republican, privatized government services and trimmed public-sector employee rosters. He lowered taxes and still exited with a tidy budget surplus.

original article

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

318 junior middle school chess total victory triumphal returns!!!!

Wenhao Feng (Danny)

 From the Chinese newspaper World Journal! (translated by Google Translate!)

The Bululun Williamsburg's 318 junior middle schools on the national junior middle school Western world chess tournament which holds in the Ohio Gelunbu win total victories in April 15th to 17th, altogether picks four team titles and five individual championship title. 318 junior middle school chess team in the past several years from Bululun to national each sports event, this team obtained the innumerable award items. On this national Western world chess tournament, 318 junior middle school chess team becomes in the history the first same year to pick K-8 and the K-9 two rank championship title troop.

In the chess team Chinese young 13 year-old Feng Wenhao (Danny Feng) and 11 year-old Tang Jiayu (Jiayu Tang) displays outstandingly, lets coach is the praise greatly. 318 junior middle school assistant Principal Galvin (John Galvin) said: “Feng Wenhao is in the team one of most outstanding chess players, he has the talent.”

I especially enjoyed the prominence of my blog in the article:

Feng Wenhao in competition fight energetic and self-confident also praiseworthy. In a competition, he draws the situation under the inferiority to turn defeat into victory patiently slowly, lets Coach Vicary who observes a war (Elizabeth Vicary) drop the tear for this reason. Vicary wrote in the chess team's network diary that “he demonstrated to us the praiseworthy fight spirit, he to his self-confidence, certainly also had me exhausted as well as lays down the heart after the competition to come finally, I flowed off the tear in the presence of everyone, the children had felt that was surprised”.

 —full hilariously translated article here

Monday, May 23, 2011

mystery photo, James!, a North Korean murder mystery, good teaching

This photo is from the NY Times-- any guesses as to what it is?

James Black is 2199! I'm on the edge of my seat.

I'm enjoying a murder mystery set in North Korea (preparation for honeymoon to Burma and Laos!) called A Corpse in the Koryo by James Church, the pseudonym of a former East Asian CIA operative. From an Economist review: "Daily life, rather than a particular crime, is the mystery here. Much of the story involves the inspector trying, never entirely successfully, to join the dots between one inexplicable event and the next, and connect them all to the murder of a foreigner that may or may not have taken place in the Koryo Hotel."

An education article that caught my eye:

A New Measure for Classroom Quality

     OF all the goals of the education reform movement, none is more elusive than developing an objective method to assess teachers. Studies show that over time, test scores do not provide a consistent means of separating good from bad instructors.
     Test scores are an inadequate proxy for quality because too many factors outside of the teachers’ control can influence student performance from year to year — or even from classroom to classroom during the same year. Often, more than half of those teachers identified as the poorest performers one year will be judged average or above average the next, and the results are almost as bad for teachers with multiple classes during the same year.
     Fortunately, there’s a far more direct approach: measuring the amount of time a teacher spends delivering relevant instruction — in other words, how much teaching a teacher actually gets done in a school day.
      This is hardly a new insight. Thirty years ago two studies measured the amount of time teachers spent presenting instruction that matched the prescribed curriculum, at a level students could understand based on previous instruction. The studies found that some teachers were able to deliver as much as 14 more weeks a year of relevant instruction than their less efficient peers.
     There was no secret to their success: the efficient teachers hewed closely to the curriculum, maintained strict discipline and minimized non-instructional activities, like conducting unessential classroom business when they should have been focused on the curriculum.
full article

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Photos and Puzzles from Mayor's Cup; the Brooklyn Castle website!

IS 318 won the Under 1250 and Under 1600 sections of the 2011 Mayor's Cup, and came second (to Hunter) in the K-12 Open. Kevin Marin won clear first in the Under 1600 section and Jack Wen tied for first in the Under 1250.
James, in the process of  "converting" his second round endgame from lost to winning.

Matan goes over a game with Jack Wen (1040), who tied for first in the Under 1250 section. 

Aleks Ostrovskiy went 4-0 and shared first with Hunter teammate Alec Getz.
 Raphael Clifton and Kevin Marin
Jake Miller (who was accepted to Harvard next fall!) goes over his game with 318's Kenneth Martin.

 on the subway going home

1. Mariah McGreen is white against Anthony Lawrence. What's her best move?

2. David Kim is white against Ashanti Murray; what's the trickiest (and best) move for white to play here?

3. David is white here against Jonathan Williams. He played the clever 1. Be6 Bxe6 2. g4 but missed the saving 2...Bc4. How does white win brilliantly in the diagrammed position?

The website for Brooklyn Castle has launched!! I love the bios of Greg (Chess Heroes) and the main characters in the film (About).

1. 1. Qg5 threatens 2. QxBf5 and  2. Qxd8 Nxd8 3. Re8#

2. A great c3 Sicilian trap: 6. d5! Ne5 7. Nxe5 Bxd1 8. Bb5+ Qd7 9. Bxd7+ Kd8 10. Nxf7+ Kxd7 11. Kxd1 wins a piece and a rook. Black should play 6...Nb8, but that's very pleasant for white.

3. White has the amazing 1. g4 hxg4 2. hxg4 Qd7 3. Nf6+! Bxf6 4. Qxg6+ and 5. Qh7#!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I find a nice idea

I played in the Bankers League against a 2100, Shevelenko, and reached the position above (from a ....g6 Panov). I found what I thought was a nice idea, although houdini doesn't love it as much as I do.

answer tomorrow unless it's in the comments tonight!

Sean Christian Reader Memorial

Metropolitan Chess, Inc. will host an International Master norm round robin tournament on May 11 to 15 of 2011. The tournament is sponsored by California Market Center, Fashion Business, Inc, Chess.com, MonRoi, LawyerFy, and Betty Bottom Showroom.
This tournament is dedicated to Sean Christian Reader, titled the Sean Christian Reader Memorial, and will be held in Suite C998 of the California Market Center on 110 East 9th Street, Los Angeles 90079. The tournament is organized by Ankit Gupta, the chief arbiter is Randy Hough, and the deputy arbiter is Michael Belcher. The participants include: IM Zhanibek Amanov (KAZ), IM Timothy Taylor (USA), IM David Pruess (USA), FM Joel Banawa (USA), FM Pedram Atoufi (IRI), FM Michael Casella (USA), NM Konstantin Kavutskiy (USA), SM Roman Yankovsky (RUS), NM Kayden Troff (USA), and Janyl Tilenbaeva (KGZ).

Renaissance Kings Trailer

Renaissance Kings Trailer from Fifth Pocket Productions on Vimeo.

I'm happy to see the wonderful Kevin Fite getting some recognition for his tremendous work. I see him at every nationals and am so impressed with his program, and everything he manages to do year after year for so many kids and so few outside resources.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

new chess t-shirts from Endgame Clothing!

Our friends at Endgame Clothing have two new chess t-shirts out!

The Turk was one of the greatest hoaxes of all time. Built in 1770, the Chess Playing Automaton, nicknamed The Turk, was said to be a machine that could best any man at chess. While in fact, The Turk was an elaborate mechanical illusion that swindled people on both sides of the Atlantic for nearly 100 years before being destroyed in a warehouse fire in 1854. The Turk's victims included both Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin. Edgar Allen Poe even tried to debunk the machine, but was wrong with several of his assertions. 

As most players know, the Fool's Mate represents the fastest possible checkmate in the game of chess.

You can get 15% off by using the coupon code CARNIVAL during the month of May!

First Republican Debate and High School Nationals

I watched the Republican debate and was really impressed! Ron Paul seems intelligent, consistent, reasonable -- I don't happen to agree with him on the evils of government, but it's so nice to see a Republican who isn't anti-intellectual and who doesn't pander to religious extremists, that I'm a fan. Gary Johnson also seems like a sane, thoughtful, competent person. Rick Santorum seems like an asshole; Hermann Cain seems like a lightweight, and Tim Pawlenty was right in the middle until it was revealed that he borrowed millions of dollars from school districts and then refused to pay it back. That makes him an asshole.

Did everyone read Melinda Matthew's article about high school nationals? In which she describes how, when she was working for the USCF as a volunteer tournament director, that she catches Sunil Weeramantry cheating in the last round, that he goes crazy and curses her out, she tells the entire TD staff, and they do nothing at all, don't even ask him to leave the floor. How unbelievable is this?

A Rant

My plague allusions (if that’s the proper literary term) reached an interesting conclusion when I incurred the wrath of...well, a figure who probably comes closest to being deified in the scholastic chess world: a chess coach.

Round 7 began innocuously with a phone call from Tom Nelson asking if I could score-keep in the Championship section. I donned my blue apron and raced to assist.

As the round progressed, a man came to my table repeatedly to lean over my shoulder and, without asking, to examine the score sheets. Because I thought he was not directly affiliated with a school, I allowed him to look. But I finally gave into my suspicions and asked if he was a coach, which he affirmed as he reached to take the score sheets from me.

I had been instructed: No coaches at the scoring table. So I took back the score sheets, placed my hands on top of them, and told him I couldn’t allow him any more access unless all the other coaches were allowed access as well.

That’s when the fireworks began.

This coach instantly exploded, heaping his vituperative rage on me personally and insultingly. Fortunately for me, the tournament’s professional staff took note of our ongoing confrontation, questioned everyone involved and rallied to my side, vehement in their unified censure of the coach’s actions and behavior.

And here I am going to hop on my soapbox. This coach, with his prima donna attitude and inconsiderate treatment, is sending a powerful, negatively-charged message to his team. Coaches, above all, should hold themselves to the highest standard, one that includes good sportsmanship and consideration to others, both on and off the boards. No one – not a coach, not anyone – has the given right to demand special dispensation or, especially, to belittle and demean others when they don’t get their way. By feeling entitled to publicly berate a volunteer, this coach set a very poor example to his team and to the other players who witnessed the noisy proceedings – and his disturbing behavior.

Even if this coach could help Nicky achieve 200 rating points in one week, I would never, ever let Nicky anywhere near such a person, because ultimately, how people live their lives and how they treat others far supersedes mercurial ratings or tournament results. Hyper-competitiveness will never trump simple human decency in my rulebook.

The coach began his tirade by asking huffily if I knew who he was. My answer: No, and I really don’t care, because now I know exactly what he is.

End of rant.

In case it's unclear, the reason coaches can't have access to the last round results of other players isthey also have the right to advise players who ask in the last round whether or not a draw helps the team. If some coaches can see all the results and the rest cannot, you're giving one team a huge edge. Notice that Hunter was half a point behind Bronx Science going into the last round; 3 Hunter players took somewhat surprising draws against lower rated opponents, and Hunter won by half a point.

What to me is the most amazing is not that they let him cheat, but that they let him verbally assault a female volunteer and mother, and she complains about it, and they agree, yet nobody says or does anything. Two hours later, he's up on stage, representing the USCF, giving out the Scholar-Chessplayer Awards. sick.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

positions from nationals

some long-awaited quiz positions from nationals:

Rashawn Williams is white. How can he turbocharge his attack?

Rashawn is black here, and has a forced win. Try to see the whole variation.

Former IS 318 student Rochelle Ballantyne (black) won this game against current 8th grader David Kim, but she missed black's best move here. 

From the game that made me cry: Danny (white) finds the only winning move in this rook ending.

Danny got lucky here. Daniel Rasmuson (white) failed to find this crushing move.

answers soon

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

games from high school nationals

Jason Clinton (1753) - James Black (2160)
High School Nationals, RD 3

Kageen Kemp (1736)  - Justus Williams (2250)

Randy Rivera (1800) - Kendrick Freeland (1484)

Jonathan Pagan (1753) -Danny Feng (1993)

thanks ChessFlash!

Also, if you listen to WNYC/NPR in the morning,

A voice like honey, no one else could fill his shoes
The time and the weather, the headlines and the local news
He lays it down with perfection and grace
Done by noon, he goes home to his place
Where he sleeps and he waits for the night

Just before midnight he gets up, gets out of bed
A can of Red Bull, a tab of X to clear his head
He shoots his cuffs, now hes headed downtown
Picks up one life, puts another one down
And his body hums and the musics playing

Dance, Soterios Johnson, dance
Its a cold world, nobody understands
The feeling you cant keep inside
Go, Soterios Johnson, go
All the club kids are watching your glowstick glow
With the light of a truth you cant hide
That the news is the news, but the dance goes on forever

He shimmies his shoulders, undulates his slender hips
Arms akimbo, Jaggeresque, he pouts his lips
A circle forms, everybody comes 'round
Just to hear the incredible sound
Of a genius smashing expectations

Dance, Soterios Johnson, dance
Its a cold world, nobody understands
The feeling you cant keep inside
Go, Soterios Johnson, go
All the club kids are watching your glowstick glow
With the light of a truth you cant hide
That the news is the news, but the dance goes on forever

Hes dancing, hes a machine
Like no one, that theyve ever seen
Hes flying, hes living a dream

The magic fades as the sun comes up, its time he goes
A hand on his shoulder, he turns around: its Teri Gross
He takes her hand, spins her body just so
He holds her close, he will never let go
As the room explodes, they dance like angels

Dance, Soterios Johnson, dance
Its a cold world, nobody understands
The feeling you cant keep inside
Go, Soterios Johnson, go
All the club kids are watching your glowstick glow
With the light of a truth you cant hide
That the news is the news, but the dance goes on
That the news is the news, but the dance goes on
That the news is the news, but the dance goes on forever

 an article about 318's chess team in the Brooklyn Eagle.

a game that made me cry

This is Danny Feng's last round game against Tip Wolfe from Junior High Nationals. Danny hangs a pawn in the opening, but then plays so well and slowly slowly fight his way back, goes into a rook ending with a small plus, trades one advantage for another, and finally wins a theoretical position! I start crying while he's showing us, some combination of admiration for his game, his fighting spirit, his obvious confidence in himself, and my own exhaustion and relief at the end of the tournament and year. The other kids are a bit amazed by this (I normally try not to cry in front of them), and one says to Matan later in the elevator "Was Ms. Vicary really crying over Danny's game?" and he awesomely replies, "Of course. It was a very beautiful game."

Monday, May 2, 2011

Intermediate School 318 comes 2nd!

Last night, most people seemed unsure if I would be happy at the result or upset at losing by half a point. People were consoling me. I wasn't what to say when they did that, but agreed we would try again next year.

I thought their performance was unbelievably fantastic, mostly because it is, also because the games were amazing and epic, and also because I was expecting a last-round disaster. We were 1 point behind Hunter and 1.5 points behind Bronx Science going into the round, and I thought their pairings looked easier than ours. We got 2.5/4 -- Justus beat a 2200, Isaac beat an 1800, and Danny drew against Bronx Science's Nitai Leve (2245)  so I figured we might come 3rd or 4th, maybe 5th. But the other guys all choked in varying degrees (except Hunter's Ostrovskiy)-- some funny stories with early plane flights, draw offers, and angry coaches --  and drew or lost, so Bronx Science got only 1/4, Hunter 2.5/4, (corrected, thanks)  leaving the results you see below

1 NYHUNT Hunter College Campus School, N (10) 20.5 87.0 124.0 171.5 85.0 
             GETZ, Alec (6.0,2385)              
             OSTROVSKIY, Aleksandr A (5.5,2332) 
             WILLIAMS, Jonathan David (4.5,2030) 
             LANDESMAN, Aaron (4.5,2110)        
  2 NYI318 I.S. 318, Brooklyn,NY (7)        20.0    82.0 116.5 155.0 79.5 
             WILLIAMS, Justus D (5.5,2255)      
             BLACK, James A, Jr (5.0,2156)      
             FENG, Danny (5.0,1993)             
             BARAYEV, Isaac (4.5,2025)          
  3 NYBSCI Bronx High School of Science, (8) 19.5    79.5 112.5 144.5 79.0 
             TUHRIM, Richard J (5.0,2226)       
             STURT, Raven M (5.0,2431)          
             LEVE, Nitai D (5.0,2245)           
             HESS, Peter (4.5,1923)             

I will post some games tomorrow.