Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sixteen (!) Questions with San Fransisco Mechanic GM Patrick Wolff

1. Tell us about your return to chess? During your hiatus, how much did you keep up with the chess world: theory, games, etc? How did it happen that you were recruited for the SF USCL team? How has it felt to play after such a long break? Are you planning to play OTB tournaments again?

I kept in touch with John Donaldson and he asked me to play. I have just enough time in my life to squeeze it in so I thought I should do it because it would be lots of fun. Alex Yermolinsky said that I was "brave" to return after so many years of inactivity, which I thought was very nice but also kind of funny, because this is relaxing for me! Of course I want to win but I care infinitely more about my career and I don't feel like my ego is on the line in any way in these games. (Although it was definitely annoying to get outplayed by Larry after getting a decent opening position...) I think my answers to the questions above give some idea of how little I have practiced in any way. The one thing I do to keep in touch with chess is I co-write the Boston Globe chess column with Harold Dondis, which consists of annotating one game per week. That's interesting, but the annotations are definitely superficial and I have no illusions that it takes the place of any sort of real practice.

2. You have had some sensational USCL games. Any thoughts on the win over Burnett or the loss to Christiansen?

The Burnett game was fun. I think 10...Qa5 is inaccurate (10...a6 looks better) and he probably missed a chance for advantage with 11.Qd2, although 11.Bd2! may be even stronger than 11.Qd2. The combination of 11.h4 and 12.Qd2 wastes a tempo. After 12...b5 Black should have a good position. In time trouble I missed an obvious win with 30...Rb1+, but the basic game looks sound. The Christiansen game was interesting. I definitely overestimated my position after 14...d5. Believe it or not, there is a very nice game in this position from 1966 between Sammy Reshevsky and Tony Saidy! Saidy beat (a very strong) Reshevsky by playing 14...b5 15.Qf2 Rb8 16.g4 Ne5! 17.g5!? (Maybe White should look at other moves here?) 17...hxg5 18.h6 (18.Bxg5 Nfg4!) 18...Nh7!? 19.hxg7 Kxg7 and Black simply hung onto the extra pawn to win. It was a heck of a game and looked very modern. Maybe I should have done that? After 14...d5 15.Kb1 dxe4 (15...Bb4!?) 16.Rxd8+ Bxd8 17.fxe4 I thought I was better, but after only a few moves I just got completely outplayed. The fact that I can't find a clear way to play suggests my evaluation of this position was wrong. I think Black should not be worse, and maybe he does have an edge, but there needs to be some very clear plan which I did not find. The combination of 17...b5 and 18...Qe5 was just awful. I completely missed 20.g3! and after that I'm losing control of the dark squares in the center while I am still behind in development, so Larry just gets a perfect Larry-like position to play. Of course my king run can't work but I thought I might at least confuse him. I missed 27.Nd5!! but I am not surprised it was there -- and I'm not surprised Larry found it. After that my position was just a wreck. Nicely done by Larry.

3. Was it an accident that you had black all three games? If not, why? Are you anxious to play some games with white in the final week and/ or the play-offs?

I was wondering why I had Black in all three games myself! I have heard that playing the first move can be useful. I dimly remember that I used to move my king's pawn on the first move. I may try that when I get the chance.

4. How do you rate SF’s chances in the play-offs? What do you think SF’s strongest line up is? Who are your main play-off rivals? What are their strengths and weaknesses? How much do you personally care how SF does?

I have no idea what our chances are. I certainly would like to see SF go all the way, because it is always fun for your team to win. Sadly, I see that they are playing a washed-up GM on Board One so that will certainly hinder them. But they have a heck of a lot of young talent on the other boards, so maybe there is a chance.

5. Which Mechanic would you nominate for an MVP award and why?

I don't know, but Vinay Bhat appears to be winning all the time so I would think he should get consideration.

6. Who are your favorite and least favorite USCL opponents and why? (You may answer individuals and/or teams)

I enjoy all my opponents, and I am just happy to be playing chess again. Larry is clearly the strongest player I have played so far, and the result of the game showed it.

7. If you had to play for a different USCL team, which would it be and why?

The only other USCL team I would want to play for is Boston, since that is where I lived for much of my life.

8. Describe your preparations for USCL games, including, but not limited to: opening preparation, pre-game superstitions, and interactions with teammates.

Most of my preparation consists of remembering basic opening theory. If I can get to move 10 with a decent position then I am happy. So far, so good.

9. How obsessed are you with chess? In an average week, how much do you study, play and think about chess? If you could choose to be more or less obsessed, would you choose either and to what extent?

I study not at all, although now that I am playing I need to remind myself how the pieces move. (See question #8.) However, I will randomly play through chess positions in my head every day and I will probably never have more than 1-2 days in a row for the rest of my life where I do not think about chess at least once during the day. I love chess quite a lot, and I hope at some point to be able to take some more time to play through games or otherwise interact with the game for more pleasure. I am happy with my current relationship to the game and so long as I will be able to take the aforemention time later in my life to spend some more time with the game I would not change anything. Well, except that I would like not to be distracted by random chess positions so much -- but I suppose it is better than having random music playing in your head.

10. How’s your life outside of chess? Married? Kids? Happy single life? You work for a hedge fund in SF. Fun? Tiring? Stressful? To what extent / in what ways do you think finance and chess use the same skill set?

I love my life, which as you point out is mostly outside of chess now. I am very happily married to a wonderful woman whom I met in San Francisco back in 1999. We have one son, almost 2 years old, and he is so much fun it is incredible. I enjoy working at the hedge fund a lot and I love the job of investing money; I think I have found my "niche" and now I just want to do it as well and as successfully as I can. I think the question of how investing and chess use the same skill set is very complicated and I can't do it justice in this answer. But I will point out one thing. Chess demands objectivity to win. Investing in the markets allows a person to "hide" from the reality of his decisions for some time because there is a lot of random noise in the markets -- of course in the end only skill allows you to outperform, but the feedback loop in chess is much more rapid and pure than it is in the markets. I am very grateful to have had many years of experience developing myself to the highest possible level in such a rigorous environment as chess. The habits of mind that I learned from chess enable me to push myself much harder and much more objectively than the markets "force" you to do, and I believe that this habit of rationality and objectivity is enormously valuable. I think this is probably true for any endeavor, but it is particularly so in the world of finance where there is such a high reward for consistently being rational and objective in an environment where the amount or random noise allows one to rationalize good or bad outcomes.

11. In recent years, a number of prose books about the chess world have been published. Have you read any of the following and, if so, what did you think: The Day Kasparov Quit (Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam), Chess Bitch (Jennifer Shahade), The Chess Artist (J. C. Hallman), Kings of New York (Michael Weinreb), The Art of Learning (Josh Waitzkin), King’s Gambit (Paul Hoffman), Engaging Pieces (Howard Goldowsky), How Life Imitates Chess (Gary Kasparov)?

I have read none of these books. I have read only two chess books in the last 5 years or so: Bobby Fischer Goes to War and Kasparov's 4-book series on the World Champions. I have to hand it to Garry, although the title is obnoxious ("My Great Predecessors"? Come on!) he did a really spectacular job. He's a brilliant guy, there's no question.

12. Any thoughts on Kasparov’s recent appearances on Colbert or Maher?
I think Kasparov is trying to get as much western media exposure as possible to protect himself from any possibility of being assassinated by Putin. Kasparov is a complex and difficult person, but I think he is on the side of the angels in Russia's current politics and I wish him well.

13. Which are your top five chess-related websites and why?

I like TWIC and The Chess Cafe. But really, I follow chess very little online except to get information on recent chess tournaments and annotate one game per week for The Boston Globe (and those annotations are quite shallow from a true chess perspective). I do not allow myself to go to any online chess playing web site as I would become consumed by it.

14. If Bill Gates gave you $100,000 to organize a chess tournament
a) where would you hold it,
b) what format would you choose,
c) who would you invite, and
d) what, if any, special rules would you impose?

If I were limited to $100,000 then I would simply try to hold a decent event for players and make the conditions as reasonable as possible. But the bigger question is how to create something that would take root and grow. If it were an annual sponsorship ($100,000 growing 5% each year from our hypothetical rich donor, for example) then I would make it an event that would make the individual sponsor as happy as possible and I would make it clear to all of the players that the #1 priority is to keep the sponsor happy -- and anyone who acted childishly or irresponsibly would be disinvited the next year. I would prefer to try to create an event that would attract corporate sponsorship, i.e. sponsorship from an entity that derives some business benefit and not just pleasure from the event. But that is hard, and probably $100,000 would not be enough to provide any benefit.

15. If you could hand pick any seven people to serve on the USCF executive board, who would they be?

This is an interesting question. My answer is that I would choose various businesspeople with whom I have worked over the past 10 years who enjoy chess. You do not know any of these people because they are not involved in the USCF. In fact, that is the point. I think at this point the politics are so entrenched that a complete "re-set" would be very beneficial. This does not at all imply that the current people on the USCF board lack good will or organization skills; it simply means that at this point starting completely fresh would probably be a good thing for everyone. But of course, it will not happen, so those who are still involved must do the best they can to work for the higher good, not just their own interests.

16. If you were trapped on a desert island for eternity with no possibility of rescue and could choose to have with you:
a. 5 books
b. 5 albums
c. 1 chess player
d. 1 luxury item, What would you choose?
(The island already contains a chessboard and clock)

I would pick any books and albums that would allow me to get off the island. (Yes, I know you disallowed this but I am a practical person and I would not be happy if I were trapped on a desert island.) The two people I would most want with me are my wife and my son, but I would not wish them to be on a desert island, so I would instead choose the two people who would best be able to get me off the damn island.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Questions With New Jersey Knockout (and he is a knockout!) IM Dean Ippolito

1. You are at an all time rating high after a fantastic performance at the New England Masters. To what do you attribute your recent success? Do you feel you have made a big jump in your understanding of chess / solved some kind of practical problem you were having? How have you done this?

That result was somewhat surprising to me. I can contribute it to several things though. First, I was in good form for this event and felt very focused. I had been studying with IM Vigorito a few days before the event and got zoned in very quickly. I had played 3 tournaments before that over the summer, all of which were disappointing, but had gotten some rust off. Besides narrowly missing a tie for 1st at the US Open by not winning the last round game, I played pretty badly.

I also get very emotional and when things are going badly, and in the past I had tended to have difficulty recovering but when things were going well I would play well above my strength. So when things were going well this tournament, I could feel myself playing better and better each round.

Likely the biggest reason that I played well though was that I wasn’t afraid of losing or making a mistake. That had always been a big problem but got less and less so as I got older and more mature. Then something happened this year that eliminated it altogether. We almost lost my son a week after he was born and had to revive him once at home and the doctors and nurses once at the hospital. After you see nurses and doctors given CPR to your 10 day old, things like being afraid to lose a game seem ridiculous. He’s very healthy now so I feel extremely lucky. Things that used to seem worth worrying about don’t anymore. Earlier in the summer I was playing unafraid but my form was off and the games seemed too reckless. Once my form was on though as in the NE Masters, it made it easier to have a breakout result because I wasn’t concerned with ‘blowing it’. I still might take some draws but it is more for practical reasons now than due to fear of losing.

2. I understand you have been studying recently with IM Dave Vigorito. How are those sessions going? What do you look at? Aside from Dave, what kinds of things do you do when you study chess?

We have mainly been studying openings. We play many of the same openings and he is a very good person to analyze with because he comes up with many original ideas and knows how to explain things. Besides this, I have done very little studying since my daughter was born 2 years ago.

3. How’s your general relationship to chess going? Any plans for upcoming tournaments?

I’m not sure if I will play any major events for at least another 6 months. We just opened our first chess center in NJ and it is taking up most of my time.
4. Goals for the next year or so?
Just to get that form back from the NE Masters. I don’t expect to really make a run at making GM until the chess center can run without my needing to be there most of the time.

5. How obsessed are you with chess? In an average week, how much do you study, play and think about chess? If you could choose to be more or less obsessed, would you choose either and to what extent?

I am very obsessed with chess. I do not get to study much now with two young children and a business, so during the school year I am lucky if I study 2-3 hours on an average per week. Until the NE Masters, I would have chosen to be less obsessed with chess because I was not having any great results and knew that I would not get much time to study to try to improve them for a while. That was too painful to realize but since that event I feel like I would like to be more obsessed.

6. How’s your chess teaching business?

It’s going really well, thanks. We currently teach in about 40 schools and now have a building to run more classes and special events. It doesn’t take the 100 hour week that it took to get off the ground now, but between teaching and the business aspect of it, it does require about 70 hours of my time and my wife Dawn puts in about the same.

7. Do you actually enjoy teaching, and if so which parts?

I love teaching chess. I love to work with the kids and spread enthusiasm for chess. It’s fun for me to even teach total beginners but it’s a real pleasure to help someone with talent win nationals and improve to a level where he can compete on a world stage. I have a few students like that now. I wish I were as good at playing as I were at teaching but I think I’m fortunate in that there is more money in teaching than playing!

8. How’s your book doing and do you have plans to write another one?

The book has been very well received. We are finalizing a contract to distribute the book in all Barnes and Noble stores. I do have plans to write another one for students who are stronger, but it’s just a matter of getting the time to do that.

9. Describe your preparations for USCL games, including, but not limited to: opening preparation, pre-game superstitions, and interactions with teammates.

I try to find a little bit of time to do opening preparation. I think next year it will be easier since our team will know what to expect and how to better prepared.

10. How do you rate NJ’s chances against Baltimore this week? Are there any lineups you hope to see?

There is no specific lineup that I’d really want to see. NJ is such a solid team and never scores less than 1.5 so I’d expect the final result to be either 2-2 or 2.5-1.5 NJ.

11. If you qualify for the play-offs, how do you rate NJ’s chances? In your mind, which teams are the favorites?

I would expect that NJ could make it at least to the conference finals. There are many good players who have teams that don’t finish at the top and have minus scores. With so many strong players in the league, a lot of it comes down to who is sharper on a particular night, especially since games often come down to blitz matches.

12. Which was your favorite USCL game so far? (yours or someone else’s?)
I haven’t played very well this year so far. I’ve seen some of the games but need to take a closer look before I can suggest a favorite.

13. Which NJ Knockout would you nominate for an MVP award and why?

It would have to be Joel Benjamin,. He’s consistently scored well on board 1, though Mackenzie Molner has been very good on board 3 having only been able to play a few times. We have a lot of strong underrated younger players that are doing well.

14. Any thoughts on Kasparov’s recent appearances on Colbert or Maher?

This is going to be great for chess. All of this exposure that Kasparov is bringing by running for President of Russia can only help the game. I have been mentioning this in my classes and newsletters and kids are really excited about it.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Ten Questions With Tennesee Tempo Manager and Board Two, FM Todd Andrews

1. Thanks for doing the interview Toddie!
Before I answer any of your questions Elizabeth…there are a couple of things I would like to address. First off, comparing my League results to Andrei’s is completely ludicrous. Has Andrei played board two this season? I am pretty sure he is a board three player – which means that he is not really even in the same league as me. The fact that I have scored better than him on a higher board should shut him up for a while. Also, an important lesson can be learned from my League game against Koo-JA from the Destiny-Tempo match this week. The ole’ retained image concept got the best of me. I remember reading about this mental breakdown in Krogius’ book on chess psychology. I simply thought my Queen was still on e4 making my “??” rook sack possible. Mistakes like this are far more common in USCL time scrambles. Koo-JA fought well though…comparing my results to his makes a lot more sense. So until Drei-day gets out of the Busch league, there really is no need for this type of discussion.

2. OK! Congratulations on your clutch victory against Marcel. Can you tell us a little about the game? About your long-standing rivalry with Miami?

I guess I have to echo Marcel from last year. There is no rivalry until he beats me. It's one-sided.

3. The other key victory in your draw against Miami came from Louisianan John Bick. Was there any special reason he was visiting?

Unless you count playing for the Tempo as a special reason…John stayed with me for two weeks and we traveled to two weekend swiss events (one in Memphis and one in Huntsville) in between the Tempo matches.

4. You are facing Carolina next week. Any predictions ?

Week 10 will be an alternate jamboree in the Carolina-Tempo “For-the-Love” match.

5. Any big plans for the Tempo next year? Have you thought about trying to recruit Goldin or Kaidanov to play?

We can’t afford Kaidanov right now, but I did speak to him about it. Really we just need a sacrificial lamb on board one to be good. That would move everyone else down one and we would be a far more competitive team than we already are.

6. If you could choose the next USCL expansion team, which city would you choose, which players would you draft, and why?

Atlanta should have a team. The South is not fully represented. There are plenty of strong masters there too.

7. How’s life treating you these days? Does running the Nashville Chess Center take all your time? Are you playing a lot of tournaments? Giving many private lessons outside of the center? Cooking a lot?

After culinary school, I cooked for a couple of years and grew to dislike the drama that comes with working in a busy kitchen. I am happy that I got this education though, now I can cook for my family and friends (and myself, of course) and it is very rewarding. Then the opportunity arose for me to take over the adult operations at the NCC. So I quit cooking and focused on the club and my lessons. I now have a pretty full schedule with multiple lessons and four different after school programs during the weekdays. The club has been a big success as well. Membership is way up and our events are bigger than ever in Music City.

I have been fairly active this year playing in the US Masters in NC, Foxwoods and the World Open. Of course, I participate in numerous southern weekend Swiss events every chance I get. My busy tournament schedule this year is probably the reason for my USCL success. It has sharpened me up and hopefully it will carry over into this IM-norm Invitational I am competing in up in Chicago next week.

Besides all the chess, living in Nashville is extremely entertaining and comfortable. Despite our amphitheatre closing, concerts are still plentiful in town. As I write this, I am still sore from all the dancin’ and drinkin’ we did at the recent Widespread Panic shows. I have a lot of good friends and people I can trust here. I do not plan on leaving anytime soon.

8. I asked several questions in the category "chess politics." Todd gave a general answer:

Why would anyone want to waste their time on chess politics? You either play or teach…if you can’t handle either of those…then I guess its time for politics.

9. Which are your top five chess-related websites and why?

Chesslab.com and chesslive.de are good for online databases. Then I like to read US Chess Online, because of the great articles by American chess journalism heroes such as the Shahades and Elizabeth Vicary. I like to read my own articles there too. I like The Week in Chess and Chessbase.com to keep up with International chess news…

10. If Bill Gates gave you $100,000 to organize a chess tournament
a) where would you hold it,
b) what format would you choose,
c) who would you invite, and
d) what, if any, special rules would you impose?

Since I have become one of the most active TDs in Tennessee in 2007, the scenario greatly interests me. It would definitely be in downtown Nashville…maybe at LP Field where the Titans play. I would make it a 14-Round classical, multi-time control 2200+ section.
One special format that goes along with the lines of involving physical bouts with chess games would be interesting to me as far as special rules go. Although I don’t like the format of the chess boxing that I have read. I believe that each match should be a two-point match. The first point is determined by the game of chess. Whoever wins the game of chess, then gets to take the advantage of taking the first blow in the physical bout to follow. The loser has to just sit there and take it.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Ten Questions With FM Andrei Zaremba of the Dallas Destiny

1. I understand from the League Commissioner that many girls come around during your matches and distract you. I can’t say I’m surprised, but how do you deal with that? Is it only you, or is this a problem for the entire Dallas team?

this is a huge problem, nobody can focus. People just come and want to hang out like a social event. I get particularly distracted, but I found a genius solution: bring headphones and listen to music, I credit this technique to my last round win.

2. While you scored 3/4 last year, I notice you are 0/2 this year. Does it make you sad to have a worse record than Todd Andrews? Any words for him? (editor's note: this interview was done before Zaremba's sensational defeat of NM Jerry Wheeler)

It makes me very sad that one Todd Andrews has a higher winning percentage than me, we were competing as young kids, and to this day the competitive fire has not died out. I predict a strong comeback by me however in thesecond part of the season and playoffs.

3. Describe your preparations for USCL games, including, but not limited to: opening preparation, pre-game superstitions, and interactions with teammates.

no preparation takes place

4. Who are your favorite and least favorite USCL opponents and why? (You may answer individuals and/or teams)

Favorite opponents: Tennessee, least favorite Seattle because I always lose

5. If you could choose the next USCL expansion team, which city would you choose, which players would you draft, and why?

Detroit or Chicago need a team!! Midwest is not represented

6. How obsessed are you with chess? In an average week, how much do you study, play and think about chess? If you could choose to be more or less obsessed, would you choose either and to what extent?

not very obsessed. I spend many 2-3 hours on a average week. I would bemore involved with chess: playing, studying, etc. if I had more time.

7. If someone were to post on internet newsgroups as “The Fake You,” what kinds of things would they write to discredit you?

Andrei doesn't know openings past move 4

8. How long have you been in Dallas and, cmon, why so long?

7 years, and damn I gotta get out of here, the sooner the better. I guess the chess team is the only thing that keeps me around. Still gotta move somewhere fun. Any ideas?

9. How did you spend your last summer vacation?

I went to Europe to play in a few chess tournaments, it was pretty fun, but a little too long, I got a homesick pretty quickly.

10. What do you think of your chances against USCL Commissioner Greg Shahade in your fantasy basketball league?

First let me say that it's a true honor to play with such a fine gentleman such as Greg. Not only is he a fine fellow, but he's also one of the greatest fantasy basketball minds I've ever met. I've learned the hard way never to make a trade with him, it's as if he knows exactly how every player will do in ever game. It's really quite incredible! He will win for sure.

(Note that it's "possible" that this question was asked and answered by USCL Commissioner Greg Shahade himself because Andrei was only able to muster the energy to answer 9 questions instead of the required 10! However Mr. Shahade is quite certain that these words reflect Andrei's true thoughts. Beware, if you try to skimp and answer only 8 or 9 questions, this may happen to you too!)

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Recent Comments Attacking Me Are....

... hilarious!
You should read them all in the "I could beat their reporter" post and the interview with Irina.
"Peter Cunningham" recently demanded to know why I wasn't responding. I'm truly sorry about this. I just didn't know what it was possible to say to:

"She may very well be a nigger hater. Who knows?"
Good point.


"Just remember that Mussolini liked to bully other kids in school when he was a kid and some historians say that that was the beginnings of Fascism in Italy."

I may also be an Italian dictator. Who knows?

But my posting friend gets weirder and weirder:
"Did you hear?!?? Lizzie Vicary has a hole in her leg!!! That's why she dresses so conservatively at chess tournaments!! "

ummm... ?! I have a hole in my leg?? What drugs are you on?
I honestly thought the whole thing was a marginally successful attempt at absurdist humor until I was challenged to "fight back face to face like a man verbally blow by blow in your face like men do" and called a "yellow bellied coward" for not doing so.

But that doesn't sound like much fun to me, and since
a) it's not my job to be nice to total strangers at chess tournaments
b) I'm not really all that sensitive about my body
c) I didn't invent the FIDE rules for women's titles
d) I'm not a man
I don't think ... I need to?!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The greatest thing ever, tomorrow!!

Kasparov is going to be on Colbert!
A super-smart politically right-wing guy without a sense of humor meets a super-smart satirical genius who is pretending to be conservative for purely comic purposes.

My mind just grinds to a halt trying to imagine it. Kinda like when Chessbase 9 freezes because you turn Fritz on and your computer really sucks, processorwise.

In case you're looking for a preview-- Colbert moonlighting as Maureen Dowd: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/14/opinion/14dowd.html?ex=1350014400&en=d01aa9466034843f&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss

Also great-- USCL commissoner Greg Shahade's chess videos:
I like how he manages to sound authoritative and insightful but also, simultaneously, like he has really no idea what's going on.

Interview With New York Knights Manager Irina Krush

1. If you were trapped on a desert island for eternity with no possibility of rescue and could choose to have with you:

a. 5 books?
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, Gone with the Wind, The Fountainhead (coincidentally, all of these are really long so they’ll stretch out my entertainment in eternity); and for nonfiction I’ll go with Maximum City by Suketu Mehta and Kasparov’s How Life Imitates Chess.

b. 5 albums? I don’t buy albums, but I’d take a few songs from Rihanna, Timbaland, and Kanye West, and some Mozart.

c. 1 chess player? Pascal, cause I love analyzing with him.

d. 1 member of the USCF executive board? (no answer)

e. 1 luxury item? a computer with internet

(The island already contains a chessboard and clock)

2. Who are your favorite and least favorite USCL opponents and why?

Favorite- in terms of playing them- San Francisco, because we lost to them last year, and Boston, because they’re the best team this year, apart from us.

3. If you had to play for a different USCL team, which would it be and why?

I only see myself playing for New York. Go Knights!!!

4. Why did the Knights get off to such a bad start?

We’re following last year’s established tradition. Seriously, I have no idea. Why does the sun shine? (the idea is that you don’t give me a real answer to this). All I can say is that the league is very balanced, and it doesn’t take much to lose matches.

5. How has Hikaru affected the team dynamic? Are you disappointed with his performance? Do you think he should use more time?

I think Hikaru has fit into the team really well and I’m happy with the level of commitment he’s shown to the team. I wouldn’t say that I’m disappointed with his performance- of course, he could have more points, but then again, what matters most is how the team is doing, and we’re on a good run right now.

About the time he uses- it’s a tough question, because sometimes using no time at all, he’ll get a superior position and his opponent will be facing extreme time pressure (nice situation for us) but then he’ll let them out, presumably having needed to spend more time (bad for us). The problem is, a person is a package. You can’t just keep the good and send away the bad. Overall, he’s a big asset to the team. I like having him around. He wants to win.

6. Who would you nominate as team MVP so far?

Well, I genuinely believe that all of our players are important to the team and at various times this season, they’ve all contributed. I especially value Jay’s team spirit. In that regard, he’s the player most similar to me on the team. When choosing the Knights roster, apart from looking for strong/underrated players, I wanted people who’d have the same passion for and commitment to the Knights that I have. Jay is a great team player.

But if I had to name one person for MVP, it would be our board four, Iryna Zenyuk. When Iryna came back from her trip to the Ukraine at the end of September, the Knights were not doing well, and we were especially having problems on board four. We’ve played her every match since then, and she has scored 3 out of 4 with two draws despite being out rated in each match! She has definitely risen to the high expectations I had for her when I invited her to join the team. Plus, she has a great name.

7. Describe your preparations for USCL games, including, but not limited to: opening preparation, pregame superstitions, and interactions with teammates.

This year I haven’t been too heavy on opening preparation, which is a good thing as all of my opponents have surprised me in the opening (Kaufman with the Grunfeld, Smith with 3.g3 against the O’Kelly, McCambridge with 1.d4 e6 2.c4 b6 (what’s that called? The English Defence?) and Orlov with 1.e4).

The most important part of my preparation is dinner with Pascal at Piadina, an Italian place on West 10th street, the same street as the Marshall. Preferably concluded with a cafe latte. Then we need Jay to bring in the sword and shield into the playing room and say “Go Knights!”- and we’re ready.

8. Any secret playoff strategies you are willing to reveal? Thoughts about a head-to-head playoff match with Boston? San Fran?

We’re not in the playoffs yet. But we’re working on it.

9. Which are your top five chess-related websites and why?

www.uschessleague. com (really!)
chess center.com

10. In recent years, a number of prose books about the chess world have been published. Have you read any of the following and, if so, what did you think: The Day Kasparov Quit (Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam), Chess Bitch (Jennifer Shahade), The Chess Artist (J. C. Hallman), Kings of New York (Michael Weinreb), The Art of Learning (Josh Waitzkin), King’s Gambit (Paul Hoffman), Engaging Pieces (Howard Goldowsky), How Life Imitates Chess (Gary Kasparov)?

I’ve read Jen’s, Paul’s, Weinreb’s, and Kasparov’s book, and although I don’t have Dirk Jan’s book, I have read most of the interviews in it. Actually, I enjoyed reading them all, but Kasparov’s book stands out to me because of its self-improvement value. It’s a very inspiring read.

Photo: Pascal Charbonneau

Note: If any USCL players or managers would be willing to do an interview with me via email, please let me know at evicary@yahoo.com.

Monday, October 15, 2007


Some awesome motivational posters. Thanks to Alan Stein for the link.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

When You Are Very Very Very Incredibly Disgustingly Rich Like Me....

...only then will you truly love and appreciate chess as I do. I am just a simple (but incredibly rich) man who wants to do some good in the world. I have been sucked into this political mess because my filthy enormous swelling bank account affords me a modicum of relevance in the modern world. And so, with great reluctance, as befits my status as an unbelievably wealthy yet modest and retiring patron of the arts, I am quoted for no real reason by a NY Times reporter who mocks his subjects just slightly too obviously:


PS Did I mention that I'm loaded?

Monday, October 8, 2007

Arguing on the Internet

Did you hear this joke?
"Arguing on the internet is like competing in the Special Olympics.
You might win, but you're still retarded."

I heard this from my friend Dave, I think at some point when I was sobbing inconsolablely over a random anonymous internet crack on me. This was in my younger, more sensitive days.

The joke points to the fundamental truth that 99% of people posting on the internet have completely lost their minds and live in a meaningless hollow shadow world.

But despite my awareness of this, I will admit that two summers ago I got obscene amounts of enjoyment from a newsgroup I subscribed to briefly called fidechess. In it, Paul and Sam would post pages and pages of truly bizarre invective aimed at each other: accusations not only of heinous sins in the real world, but of trecherous internet behavior as well: stealing computers, posting under false names, raping and kidnapping women, grotesquely exaggerating trivial personal anecdotes, you name it. Let's just say they had a wide range of beefs with each other. (Sometimes, on long car rides, my boyfriend and I would read these letters to each other in silly voices. My favorite parts were two of PT's standard refrains:
"Stand up, unite, and defend our children!"
"You belong to jail, not to the executive board!")

Fond memories!

And now on to the New York Times:
After running, just last week, what is certainly the finest correction ever:

They outdo themselves today:

My favorite part:
"Mr. Truong denied the accusations. “The charges are absolutely outrageous, and it is based on information that was obtained 100 percent illegally from the U.S.C.F.,” he said in an interview Friday from his home in Lubbock, Tex."

Meaning...."it's all lies and it's not fair they told you"??