Monday, December 27, 2010

more US Chess School photos

 Camp Organizer IM Greg Shahade

 Justus Williams

 Will Fisher and Kayden Troff
 Will Fisher
 Yian Liao

Michael Brown
for more photos click here or here

Photos from the US Chess School Day 1

instructor GM Melik Khachiyan

Will Fisher, Kostya Kavutskiy, Michael Bodek

Varun plays Greg
Aviv Friedman
Kayden Troff
Michael Brown

Samuel Sevian

more photos here

Friday, December 24, 2010

Patch, our new website, LA

There's a nice story about our chess team on Patch, a super-local AOL type new media website.

Thanks to Braden Bournival for helping us get a new website for the IS 318 team up and running. It's still being built -- we want to have individual pages for top players-- they design them themselves, choose the colors and the design, include their best game, best tactic, a recent win, favorite photo, maybe the page plays a theme song, then also a history of the team page, a program describing our alumni tutoring business, more content and photos, etc. -- but you can check it out here. Any suggestions for what else to add? Any links for easy ways to add playable boards?

I just put up a post about the most improved kids. I realized a few things when writing it. One is that the 8th graders don't improve much; there are a bunch of good reasons for that, but I still need to think about what I can do to help them more. later note: I went back to the post later, because it seemed like why shouldn't I use this as a teaching moment and so I use it to suggest (hopefully my kids read this) five concrete things a kid can do if she/he wants to improve.

I'm off to LA tomorrow with Justus (and Will Fisher, who is traveling with us) for a US Chess School with GM Melikset Khachiyan. I'm excited to look at chess-- I haven't seriously studied in a long time, and I'm hoping this coming week will reload my brain.

Jonathan left just now for a week in the Bahamas. It's strange to be alone in the house with nothing I have to do. Sunday is normally my only day off, but I always end up seeing my family or Jonathan's, or cleaning the house or preparing for the week, or something. The idea of 24 totally me hours is exciting and strange. I should probably clean the house.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Brooklyn Castle!

The Official Name of Chess Movie!!!
....out this spring

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Positions from the IS 318 Tournament

 1. Matan was playing in Atlantic City, so I looked at a couple of his kids' games. In this interesting endgame, Tawab missed a win. Where should white move?

 2. Austin (black) is seriously underdeveloped, and I was just explaining to him that this was why he lost the game, when he explained to me that he won.  However, his opponent could have forced a win here: how?

 3. Moshe (black) has a great idea here to activate his bishop and rook-- he didn't see it immediately, but won with it a few moves later. Where should black move?

Friday, December 17, 2010

318 Chess in the NY Times!

New York City Public School Repeats and Repeats as National Chess Champion

Winning chess championships has become a habit at Intermediate School 318 in Brooklyn. 

Last Sunday, for the second time in three years, I.S. 318, in Bedford-Stuyvesant, won the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade sections of the National Scholastic K-12 Championship in Florida. In 2008, the school, accomplished the same feat. Last year, I.S. 318 won the sixth- and seventh-grade championships, but finished second in the eighth-grade section to Canyon Vista Middle School in Austin, Tex. 

read the full article

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."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Grade Nationals; James Black climbs towards 2200

James Black in an Endgame Clothing t shirt. 

I leave on Thursday for Grade Nationals in Orlando, FL, where IS 318 will attempt to defend our 6th and 7th grade titles, and improve on last year's 2nd place finish in 8th grade. Last year's Sixth Grade Champion James Black will attempt to defend his title also, although that section is super strong with 5 players over 2000: Justus Williams (2218), Josh Colas (2137), Michael Ainsworth (2034) and Isaac Barayev (2018). James, who is currently at 2173, is close to his goal of making 2200 and breaking the record (again) for youngest African American master. The title is presently held by IS 318's top board, Justus Williams, who recently broke the record by 3 years (15 yrs to 12 yrs).

Here is the IS 318 Grade Nationals contingent

6th grade
Markus Pond (1327 but currently 1550)
Tera Ab Feaster (1234)
Anthony Asseviro (1243) 

7th grade:
Justus Williams             2218
James Black                 2173
Isaac Barayev              2034
Vaughn Soso                1578
Kenneth Martin            1551
Alex Bradford             1484
Maya McGreen            1483
Matthew Kluska          1480
Mariah McGreen          1466
Rashawn Baldwin         1381
Kevin Dominguez         1363
Otto Schatz                 1320
Kamil Chmilewski         1273
Anita Maksimiuk          1269
Yuxin Zhuo                   1122

8th grade
Danny Feng                  1924
Joel Ogunremi             1864
David Kim                   1771
Rashawn Williams         1762
Randy Rivera                1735
Jermaine Cooper          1694
John Garcia                  1677
D'andrea Dey                1667 
Aleem Awan                1635
Rhoda Lynch                1618
Lukasz Fron                   1494

Follow our tournament progress this weekend here