Chess Room Newsletter #376 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #376

Gens Una Sumus!

Newsletter #376, 12/17/2007
"I believe chess can bring me closer to the spiritual part of the world in a way that simple material stuff can�t."
~Irina Krush (King�s Gambit by Paul Hoffman, page 191)
1) Mechanics' Institute Chess Club News
2) Gata!
3) Bay Area International next December by David Pruess
4) Bay Area Chess Players
1) Mechanics' Institute Chess Club News
2007 was a very good year for Mechanics' players. Here are some of the highlights in no particular order: Daniel Naroditsky won the World Under 12 Championsip in Turkey.

Vinay Bhat made his final GM in Spain this summer.

Dana Mackenzie started a great blog.

Tuesday Night Marathon regular Dan Litowsky turned 90.

David Pruess made his first two GMs, both in France.

Richard Shorman was honored by the USCF for his more than 40 years of volunteer work.

The Berkeley Chess Club was resurrected and its Sunday Marathon is going strong.

Greg Young tied for first in the National Junior High in Sacramento.

GM Suat Atalik won the 2nd Imre Konig Memorial Scheveningen in July. Atalik's performance for the event, sponsored by Tibor Weinberger, was well over 2600 FIDE.

Alex Yermolinsky, David Pruess, Josh Friedel and Michael Aigner flew the Bay Area flag in the US Championship.

Camille Baginskaite and Batchimeg Tuvshintugs represented the MI in the US Womens Championship.
2) Gata!
Gata has done it! By defeating Alexey Shirov 2.5-1.5 Gata has earned the right to play a match against Veselin Topalov - the winner facing the victor of Anand-Kramnik. Gata's performance in Khanty-Mansiysk, where he spent almost a month, was outstanding. Rated 2714 going in, he won 6 games and drew 10 against opposition averaging 2676 - a performance rating of 2816.
3) Bay Area International next December by David Pruess
There will be a tournament held in December 2008 in Berkeley. All information can be found on its page,
4) Bay Area Chess Players
Mike Nolan has done some great work for the USCF. One can mention the ability to track players playing histories back to 1991 as one highlight. Another is the statistical data he has extrapolated from the USCF membership.

Want to know how many women are USCF members? Here is the answer broken down by age.

12/below, 5491 of 29,791 or 18.4%.
13-15, 1121 of 9031 or 12.4%.
16-19, 629 of 6771 or 9.3%.
20-24, 129 of 2208 or 5.8%
25-64, 1085 of 28,932 or 3.8%.
65+, 23 of 2172 or 1.1%

Overall: 8592 of 84,572 or 10.2%.

The most active area (percentage wise) for junior players. Mike Nolan writes:

Here is the latest set of ranked metropolitan areas for juniormembership categories (young adult, scholastic, youth, family), usingthe 2005 Census Bureau estimates of population. Brownsville TX remainsfar in front.

MSA Area2005 PopMembersPer 10k

Brownsville-Harlingen, TX387717180246.5
How is the Bay Area doing? Michael Aigner writes ( I have done some editing for space):

John Donaldson and I have been wondering a bit about the decline of adult players in USCF rated tournaments around the Bay Area. Many people say that adult players have simply quit chess completely. However, it is my belief that these players have not disappeared, but rather simply choose not to play in tournaments because they are no longer attractive to them.

Are there really 1200+ adult members in the Bay Area and another 250 in the Sacramento-Stockton area? That would certainly be news to those of us who attend local tournaments. These days it seems that 40 adults is a crowd, except for Labor Day and the People's Tournament which draw more. In fact, the vast majority of "adult" tournaments in the Bay Area draw at least as many kids as adults.

Mike Nolan of the USCF kindly did a search for various USCF membership types in different radii around the center of the Bay Area, which we approximated as Oakland International Airport. A 50 mile radius covers most of the greater Bay Area, from Santa Rosa down to San Jose. The parameters of this search were to identify USCF members as of November 30, 2007 who had played in at least one tournament since December 1, 2005.

Here are some quick observations from these statistics.

1. There are approximately 1300 adult members and 1900 scholastic members in the Bay Area. Of these, about 500 adults (39%) and 1700 kids (89%) have played in a recent tournament. In some cases, these tournaments were out of our area, such as in Reno, Las Vegas or Los Angeles.

2. Only half (49%) of adult members who pay a yearly membership fee (adult, senior or sustaining categories) have played in a recent tournament. Over 400 adults pay an annual fee but do not play actively.

3. The statistics are worse for life members, only 17% of who have played in a recent tournament.
That's another 350 adults who are official members but do not play actively.

4. On the other hand, scholastic members play in tournaments almost exclusively (over 90%). No wonder that local organizers love to cater to children and their parents. I would assume that many kids actually joined at a tournament while signing up.

Perhaps it would be in the interest of CalChess to find out what, if anything, might bring these hundreds of players back into the chess scene? Low cost tournaments? Slow time controls? Restricting kids, especially the youngest ones, from some adult tournaments? These are just a few ideas that I've heard over the years; there may be others.

However, there is no uncertainty that nearly 4% of USCF members live in the Bay Area and that a whopping 1300 of those members are adults.

Michael Aigner
CalChess Clearinghouse

Mike Nolan writes that for many years it has been common for half of all USCF life members to be inactive.

Another factor to consider is the large growth in chess online. For some this has eliminated the need to play face to face. Still, with the right tournament in the right location it would seem possible to get 250 to a Bay Area event.

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