Bobby Fischer World Champion 1972 Commemoration

Bobby Fischer (1943-2008) became the 11th World Chess Champion on September 1, 1972 when Boris Spassky phoned his resignation of the adjourned 21st and final game of their title match.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Fischer’s triumph, the world-famous Marshall Chess Club hosted a Bobby Fischer World Champion 1972 Commemoration. This event, fittingly, began on September 1 and consisted of two ten-player round robins: GM A and IM B.

GM A players could earn a grandmaster norm by scoring 7 points out of 9 or an international master norm by tallying 5½ points out of 9.

The IM B section required 7 points out of 9 for an IM norm.

I served as Chief Arbiter. The event was organized by IM Aleksandr Ostrovskiy and America’s newest International Organizer, IO Keith Espinosa. Congratulations, Keith!

 

GM A

Hungarian GM Gergely Kantor (Hungary) finished in clear 1st Place with 7 points. GM Mark Paragua (Philippines) followed with 6 points, while GM Djurabek Khamrakulov (Uzbekistan) and FM Sandeep Sethuraman (USA) tied for 3rd-4th place with 5½ points.

GM A round 7
FM Chen — GM Kantor and IM Korley — Zeltsan in Round 7 of the GM A event.

Sethuraman earned his 2nd IM norm in the process, as well as 35 FIDE rating points, taking his live rating to 2371. If he plays in our November event, perhaps he can earn his final norm and cross the 2400 barrier required for the IM title? Anyway, congratulations Sandeep!

 

IM B

FM Gus Huston (USA) won this section with 6½ points out of 9, just missing out on his 2nd IM norm. The 30 Elo points he gained, however, will take his FIDE rating back over 2300.

Round 1 of the Bobby Fischer Commemoration
Round 1 of the tournament on the 50th anniversary of Bobby Fischer becoming World Champion!

GM Michael Rohde (USA) and Zachary Tanenbaum (USA) tied for 2nd-3rd place with 5 points. The latter had an impressive debut at the NYC Invitationals, and will hopefully return.

 

More Info

You can find more information on the event website. Results, standings, and all 90 games from the event can be found on Chess Results.

 

Coming Up Next

From November 9-13, the New York Fall Invitationals will take place in Long Island City, NY. There will be five sections this time: GM A, GM B, IM C, IM D, and NM E. The NM section will be a six-player round robin over three days with no norms on offer.

2022 New York Summer Invitationals: Results

Hilton Garden Inn Midtown Park Avenue
The playing venue, in a great location! Photo: TripAdvisor

The 2022 New York Summer Invitationals concluded on July 11, once again organized by the dynamic duo of Keith Espinosa and IM Aleksandr Ostrovskiy.

The event featured four sections: GM A, GM B, IM C, and IM D. GM and IM norms were available in the A and B sections, while only IM norms were on offer in C and D.

Overall, two IM norms were achieved.

Let’s see the results, shall we?

 

GM A: Grandmaster Class

Polish GM Kamil Dragun finished in clear 1st Place in this section with 6.5 points. GM Djurabek Khamrakulov (Uzbekistan) followed with 6 points, and GM Ante Saric (Croatia) tallied 5½. This trio dominated the event.

No norms were earned this time; 5 points would have scored an IM norm for FMs Liran Zhou and Maximilian Lu, though the latter will presumably have his IM title approved at the next FIDE Congress in August.

A GM norm required 6½ points, but no one ever looked very likely to earn one during the course of the event.

 

GM B: Don’t Lose

Joseph Zeltsan (USA) won this section with 5½ points out of 9, winning two games and drawing the rest. In addition, he earned his second IM norm. Congratulations!

IM Bryce Tiglon (USA)GM Leonid Yudasin (Israel), and FM Aaron Jacobson (USA) tied for 2nd place with 5 points. Jacobson could have earned his final IM norm with a win over tail-ender Qibiao Wang (China) in the final round, but only managed to draw.

The GM norm in this section was a full 7 points out of 9. Maybe next time?

 

IM C: Just Win

FM Tanitoluwa Adewumi (USA) scored 7 points out of 9, winning the section and scoring his second IM norm. He’s now 2-for-2 in the New York Invitational series. Congratulations!

FM Akira Nakada (USA) once again came just a half-point short, finishing 2nd with 6½. Rating favorite IM Mykola Bortnyk (Ukraine) came in 3rd place with 6 points.

 

IM D: Fight Club

GM Michael Rohde (USA) emerged victorious, tallying 7 points out of 9. The veteran GM showed great form throughout, and was motivated to post the highest score among the four groups, which he did (along with Tani)!

IM Arjun Vishnuvardhan (India) followed Rohde with 6½ points, and IM Nikolai Andrianov (Russia) scored 6. Because the IM norm was 7 points, the norm seekers went after the top three, but their attempts backfired.

While no norms were earned, this section was a bloodbath; it was common for Group D to go well after the other sections were done or nearly so! Only 17 of 45 games ended in draws.

 

More Info

You can find more information on the event website. Results, standings, and downloadable games can be found on Chess Results.

 

Coming Up Next

From September 1-5, the Marshall Chess Club will host the next edition of the series, the Bobby Fischer World Chess Champion 1972 Commemoration, in two sections — GM A and IM B.

Bobby Fischer became World Chess Champion on September 1, 1972; 50 years ago. I was born 11 years later on the same date.

I Got a TD Promotion …

Flashback

In a May 2020 post, I briefly talked about USCF tournament direction: how to become a TD, what a neophyte could expect in their first events, and the different levels of TD.

To review, the levels are, in ascending order:

    • Club Tournament Director
    • Local Tournament Director
    • Senior Tournament Director (SrTD)
    • Associate National Tournament Director (ANTD)
    • National Tournament Director (NTD)

The tiers are appropriately named, in my view: “Club” and “National” describe exactly the level of events these TDs are qualified to lead!

Club TD does not require an exam; to promote to the higher levels, you need tournament “experience credits” that qualify you to take an exam, each requiring a passing score of at least 80%.

Early Career

In February 2002, as an 18-year-old, I began my directing career as an assistant at The Right Move scholastic tournaments in New York City. I wasn’t officially a TD at the time, and my biggest responsibilities were moving the tables before and after the event, setting up and packing up sets, crowd control, and going out to get the staff lunch. A well-earned $50.

That summer I became a Club TD; in June 2003 I became Assistant Manager at the Marshall Chess Club and began directing constantly. Sometime later that year I took and passed the test for Local TD.

By 2005 I had enough experience credits to test for Senior TD, and passed my exam to earn that rank in April 2005.

One (or Two) Tournaments Short

I continued directing scholastic and adult tournaments heavily through mid-2010 before taking a salaried job that allowed me to cut back.

By 2009 I had fulfilled all the requirements to test for ANTD except for a a Category R tournament – a round robin event with 6 players with an average rating of 1400 (this was lowered at some point from 8 players with an average rating of 1800).

Not only that, I fulfilled all the requirements for NTD as well, except for the Category R tournament and a Category N tournament – an event that awards a National title (with some further stipulations).

I could have organized a round robin…or been more proactive about getting on the staff of National events. I guess I have a habit of leaving unfinished business

So I remained a Senior TD. One told by several NTDs that he had the chops to be an NTD himself.

FIDE to the rescue

I hoped that by becoming a FIDE Arbiter I would have opportunities to run my own round robins and clear the Category R requirement for ANTD.

It happened even before my title became official in September 2021!

Alex Ostrovskiy contacted me in August about running a norm event around Veterans Day — this became the recently concluded New York Invitational.

Almost immediately after all the tournament paperwork was submitted, I requested the ANTD exam from the TD certification group (there’s a quite detailed form where you list your experience credits). Chris Bird sent me a form of the test (is there anything he doesn’t do at USCF!?).

It was a doozy.

The Test

USCF 7th edition rulebook
You’ll need this for your next TD exam!

I read through the test and let it marinate in my brain for about a week before tackling it. Besides, I wanted to mentally prepare for my upcoming stint at the National Chess Congress following Thanksgiving.

I was on staff with NTDs David Hater (Chief), Bob Messenger, Boyd Reed, and Harold Stenzel but I didn’t tell any of them what I had just undertaken or ask them any questions. Additionally, I teach for NTD Sophia Rohde, but didn’t tell her I was doing the test until I already sent it in!

It was my mission, and my mission alone.

When I got home from Philadelphia, I started. How do you eat an elephant?

Obviously, I won’t discuss test questions here. But I will say that it’s a mix of the practical and the technical, and the bulk of the test relates to how you would resolve realistic disputes that could arise during an event.

I spent many, many hours on the test over the course of a week; when I finished writing my answers the length was more than nine pages!

Challenging as it was, I found the exam itself to be well-written.

However, I find USCF rules to be much more ambiguous than the FIDE Laws of Chess which left me quite unsure of some of my answers. You have two months to submit the test, but at some point I decided there wasn’t too much more I could do, and I sent it in December 6.

Chris confirmed receipt of my exam and informed me that he had sent it to a grader. Gulp!

The Local and Senior tests are multiple choice; ANTD or NTD promotion requires essay exams that are sent to an NTD grader – you aren’t told who, and I believe the grader doesn’t know the identity of the applicant.

If you score 80% you pass; if you score 70-79% you can request a re-grade by two other NTDs at which point I think you pass if two of the three graders gives you 80%.

I scored exactly 80% and passed. Even after receiving feedback about the answers I lost points on, I must admit I still have lots of questions. I wish I could talk to my grader to clear up my misunderstandings. Oh well …

Next Step

Do a National Tournament and go for NTD. When? I don’t know. But it won’t take me 16 years, that’s for sure!

The Levon Aronian Transfer: My Thoughts

Levon Aronian from ARM to STL!?

Levon Aronian
Levon Aronian. Photo: europechess.org

When I first saw the chess24 tweet with news that Levon Aronian will switch federations from Armenia to USA, I seriously thought it was an April Fool’s Day joke!

Then I realized it’s only February 26…

Holy Crap. Of all top players, I never expected to see Aronian transfer from Armenia. He is THE living treasure of a chess-obsessed nation.

Then I read his comments in the press release of the Saint Louis Chess Club, and understood his decision. A new governement apparently didn’t support his endeavors the way he felt they should. It reminds me of Sergey Karjakin’s transfer from Ukraine to Russia several years ago.

 

More Support is Good for Chess as a Whole

I’ve already seen comments online criticizing the USA and particularly Rex Sinquefield, but I’m all for top players receiving more support, no matter which country they play for.

Personally, I’m grateful for Mr. Sinquefield supporting chess the way he has over the past 10+ years. He is the single most important person in American chess since Bobby Fischer.

Aronian playing for the USA in Olympiads and World Team Championships will be…strange… but otherwise, not much will change.

Levon Aronian will always be seen as Armenian by fans worldwide. Let’s discuss the rest of Team USA:

  • Wesley So is still viewed as Filipino because he changed federations when he was already a 2700 player.
  • The case of Leinier Dominguez is very similar to that of Aronian.
  • Hikaru Nakamura developed as a chess player entirely in the States — and won the top section of my first rated tournament.
  • Fabiano Caruana took his early steps in chess in America. I would know, he played in countless Marshall Chess Club events I directed. The first time he played in one of my tournaments, he was already a FIDE Master. This was long before he went to Europe.
  • Ray Robson, Sam Shankland, and Jeffery Xiong developed in the United States.

Chess doesn’t have the money of other sports, and players should find opportunities wherever they can. Those complaining on the sidelines aren’t going to pay these players’ bills.

Good luck, Levon!

Andrew Soltis: Great Chess Authors, Part 9

After Mihail Marin last week, let’s examine another author who is fortunately still with us.

Andrew Soltis

Andrew Soltis
Andrew Soltis. Photo: World Chess Hall of Fame

Andrew Soltis (1947 – ) was born in Hazelton, Pennsylvania but grew up in New York City. By contemporary standards “Andy” started in chess late, not playing tournaments until his teens.

In an exceedingly difficult age for American chess players to make a living from the game, Soltis nevertheless became an International Master in 1974 and a Grandmaster in 1980.

Soltis twice won the U.S. Open (1977, 1982) and Reggio Emilia 1971/1972.

It is fitting Andy Soltis is Part 9 of this series, as he won the Marshall Chess Club Championship a record nine times!

Like Mednis, Znosko-Borovsky, Reinfeld, and Marin — Soltis is another author in our series for whom writing was a full-time career. He worked at the New York Post as his day job for over 40 years, writing more than 100 chess books during that time. He has also written the Chess to Enjoy column in Chess Life magazine, a great representation of his pithy writing style.

A Tour of the Andrew Soltis Library

This won’t be an exhaustive list, but I’ll cover some highlights in different categories.

Autobiographical

Confessions of a Chess Grandmaster (1990)

Soltis discusses his chess career and lightly annotates many of his games. Progress didn’t come easily, but he persevered on the path to Grandmaster when few of his peers crossed that hurdle. In some ways this is an inspiring book, as few of us are stars and have to grind away for years to reach our chess dreams. I couldn’t put it down. A very underrated book!

Historical/Biographical

Frank Marshall: United States Chess Champion, by Andrew SoltisSoltis has written several books in this genre, but it’s just not my cup of tea.

Titles include: Frank Marshall: United States Chess Champion (1994), Soviet Chess, 1917-1991 (1999), The United States Chess Championship, 1845-2011 (3rd revised edition, 2013), and Mikhail Botvinnik: The Life and Games of a World Chess Champion (2014).

These books contain games, are beautifully produced, and would look great on a bookshelf!

Middlegame

Pawn Structure Chess (1976, new edition 2013)

This is maybe the most highly-regarded Soltis book. The idea was perhaps revolutionary at the time, but I was never a fan. I have not read the new version, however. A big plus for Pawn Structure Chess is the “supplemental games” at the end of each section — they are well chosen and annotated with typical instructive and to-the-point Soltis comments.

The Inner Game of Chess: How to Calculate and Win (1994)

The Inner Game of ChessI have trouble with books that try to explain calculation processes. Of course, your mileage may vary.

Other candidates (surely no pun intended there…) to consider for your calculation studies include: Think Like a Grandmaster by Alexander Kotov, Improve Your Chess Now by Jonathan Tisdall, and Excelling at Chess Calculation or Grandmaster Preparation: Calculation, both by Jacob Aagaard.

The Art of Defense in Chess (1986), New Art of Defense in Chess (2014)

There aren’t too many books on chess defense. I haven’t read the Soltis books, so I can’t really comment. Paul Keres wrote an instructive chapter on “How to Defend Difficult Positions” in classic The Art of the Midddle GameAnother title is in this genre is The Art of Defence in Chess by Lev Polugaevsky and Iakov Damsky.

Endgames and Strategy

An interesting early Soltis book is Catalog of Chess Mistakes (1980), which introduces a variety of different errors a player can make playing chess or in their approach to the game. These include tactical, strategic, and especially attitude or psychological failings that can doom a player.

If you’re comfortable reading descriptive notation, I recommend giving it a look. You can find a used copy cheaply on Amazon.

The book I really want to emphasize in this section, however, is my favorite Soltis book of all: Turning Advantage into Victory in Chess (2004). This book will really help reframe how you think about chess technique — which is often regarded as elusive and mysterious.

I find a lot of players don’t appreciate static nuances the way they could, and this book will help with that.

Also give 100 Chess Master Trade Secrets and What it Takes to Become a Chess Master a look. The former is a great book to digest over time on-the-go, as it provides useful ideas and well-chosen examples in bite-sized pieces. The idea of “priyomes” is a very helpful way to build up your play.

Openings

Soltis has written a great deal in this category, but opening books were not his strength in general. However, I do recommend his old titles Winning with the English Opening.

Titles, plural? Yes. The funny thing is, I recommend both the 2nd edition (1987) and 3rd edition (1997) of this book, as I believe they are cheap and different enough to both warrant purchase!

Beating the Pirc Modern with the Fianchetto Variation by Andrew SoltisAn obscure Soltis opening book I recommend is Beating the Pirc/Modern with the Fianchetto Variation (1993).

As a 2000+ player, I found this book quite instructive as a middlegame text generally! I think this may be because the Fianchetto Pirc/Modern doesn’t have a ton of theory, so the author discusses more strategy than reams of variations. Many of the ideas can be applied against other fianchettoes.

I’ll stop here. There are so many more Soltis books that I have either not read or simply missed!

What are your favorite books by Andrew Soltis?

Watch Strong Players Play, in Person

Inspiration and Motivation

I recently wrote about my first chess tournaments. The beginning of a player’s career is critical in the development of their feelings and attitudes about the game and their own place in it.

The skittles area looks different, and yet the same. The site: Borough of Manhattan Community College. Photo: Tribeca Citizen

If you’re as clueless about chess as I was and feel you’re bashing your head against a wall — go watch strong players in person.

“Strong” depends on your level and respect for “chess authority.”

As a newbie, I was awed by the 1700s playing blitz and bughouse at the 1996 Greater NY Junior Championship organized by the Chess Center of New York.

They let me play some games, too…and crushed me in humiliating fashion.

I have never forgotten it. It kept me motivated to get stronger. Even when I sometimes wanted to quit.

A week later at the same location I watched GMs Joel Benjamin and Michael Rohde play a long series of blitz games…these guys wrote articles I read in Chess Life each month! I was starstruck.

It didn’t much matter that I finished 60th out of 65 players. Walking out of BMCC I was shaking my fist determined to improve.

Years later

During my time as Assistant Manager of the Marshall Chess Club (2003-2005) I loved watching “regulars” play. Examples: Marc Arnold, Julio Becerra, Salvijus Bercys, Jay Bonin, Fabiano Caruana, Asa Hoffmann, Giorgi Kacheishvili, Dmytro Kedyk, Kassa Korley, Irina Krush, Yury Lapshun, Alex Lenderman, Adam Maltese, Leif Pressman, Boris Privman, Raven Sturt and Leonid Yudasin. It was my favorite part of the job!

I always take the opportunity to watch high-rated players play as a player. spectator, or director. It isn’t about chess osmosis, though I do believe that exists. These experiences connect me with chess in a way solitary study and online play cannot.

The answer to chess improvement is desire…and maybe, just maybe, getting mad. You will manage a way. Watching strong players play in person, and sometimes getting your clock cleaned, can be a real help.