Chess Room Newsletter #391 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #391

Gens Una Sumus!

Newsletter #391, 3/30/2008
"Sometimes it seems that Leko doesn't really like playing chess so much as striving to analyse opening positions. Probably his ideal would be to take his analyses if not to bare kings, then at least to positions from the Nalimov database. When Peter manages to use a novelty as Black that instantly kills all life on the board, he becomes happy like a child and calls this kind of game 'magnificent'."

~Ilya Levitov and Evgeny Bareev in From London to Elista, p. 180.
1) Mechanics' Institute Chess Club News
2) Bobby Fischer Read Here (a small excerpt) by Sara Blask
3) USCL Ratings by the Bionic Lime
4) Schein-Friedman scholarships for youth by Aviv Friedman
5) The Burning Boards in San Diego by Glenn Kaino
6) New England Masters update by Chris Bird
7) Here and There

Readers are receiving two Newsletters this week due to spring vacation. The regular once a week service will resume on April 9th.
1) Mechanics' Institute Chess Club News
Former US Champion IM John Grefe will be a special guest lecturer next Tuesday night from 5:15 to 6:15 at the Mechanics' Institute Chess Club. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.

Michael Aigner writes that Bay Area player Erik Kislik, who is currently based in Spain, is improving by leaps and bounds. This FIDE lists he up 62 points to 2278.

This Saturday, during the Max Wilkerson G/45, Rebeccah Liu and Samyukta Bhat will play a match for the right to play in the next Susan Polgar High School Championship for Girls. Richard Koepcke will direct this event for Cal Chess.

The Mechanics Institute will be holding two chess camps this summer. Anthony Corrales will teach the beginner/ intermediate session from July 14-18 with IM (2 GM norms) Josh Friedel in charge of the advanced camp from July 21-25. Visit the main page for more information.

Book and equipment donations to the Mechanics' are always welcome. All donations to the Mechanics' are tax deductible due to the M.I.'s 501(c) (3) nonprofit status. If you have any chess books or equipment that have been lying around unused for some time consider donating to the Mechanics'. You will not only get a tax write off but also the satisfaction of seeing things put to good use.
2) Bobby Fischer Read Here (a small excerpt) by Sara Blask
For the complete article go to to Ed Labate for pointing this out.

Bobby Fischer Read Here
At the Reykjavik bookstore where the chess great spent his final, hermit-like days.
By Sara Blask

At his essence, Bobby Fischer was the outlaw biker of the chess world, a lonely, extraordinarily eccentric, extremely volatile genius � half-man, half-beast, pure will � whose moves on a chessboard and in his everyday life were as stubborn and unpredictable as the weather just outside the Reykjavik apartment where he spent his final three years.

He was a legendary recluse, an enigma who both captivated, shocked, and offended the world. Yet for all his innumerable eccentricities, iron-fisted bull-headedness, and vitriolic assaults against Jews and his own American government, during his last years, Bobby Fischer, managed to find some well-deserved solace in a place one might not expect: sitting in a wooden chair tucked in the back corner of a quiet bookstore in downtown Reykjavik.

B�kin, or The Book, is essentially a 1950s version of New York�s Strand Bookstore. Besides the books stacked head-high, under card tables, and on plywood shelves, the first thing you notice about B�kin is its smell, decayed and airless. Walking inside the 35-year-old establishment is like entering a Parisian flea market without the noise: overwhelming, a paralysis of the senses. But it was here, between narrow aisles lined with thousands of fraying biographies and history books, sitting in an ordinary chair whose varnish had worn thin, where Bobby Fischer could be alone in his thoughts. It was here where he could contemplate his place in history by poring through books on outlaws and rebels from Russia, Britain, Libya, and the Soviet Union with whom he could relate. And it was here, beneath the quiet hum of the fluorescent lights above, where Bobby Fischer could, for at least a few hours a day, seem to live a normal life.

�Bobby said he liked this kind of bookshop because it reminded him of his younger New York years. The mess everywhere, the stacks of books, the smell,� says owner Bragi Kristj�nsson. �He was often sitting here so long, reading from these shelves, that he fell asleep.�
3) USCL Ratings by the Bionic Lime
The following article was posted at

Ihave independently created a United States ChessLeague rating system that takes into several elements that other ratingsystems do not. Most importantly, the USCL ratings take into account thatplayers are part of a team, and their strategy about how to conclude theirindividual games depend on the games situations of their teammates.

Hereis an overview of the USCL rating system.

1. Modified Glicko

Rating calculationsare based on the Glicko system, with some minor modifications. Thesemodifications are as follows:
(a) Maximum RD is 100 (not 350);
(b) Ratingsare updated after every game;
(c) At the end of each season, each RD ismodified by increasing it 1/2 its distance to 100. For example, if a player's RDis 40, then the new RD is 40+((100-40)/2) or 40+(30) or 70. This eliminates step1b in the Glicko process.

2. InitialRatings Based on Board

Initial ratings for each player are basedon which board they played the first time they played in a USCL match. Playerswho were Board 1 start with an initial rating of 2550; Board 2, 2450; Board 3,2350; Board 4, 2250. All are set with an RD (ratings deviation) of100.

3. Expected Score Depends onColor

Expected score from each game is modified by the color eachplayer has. An initial investigation showed that, in the USCL, the performancerating of a player with the White pieces is about 72 points higher than theperformance rating of a player with the Black pieces. Therefore, whencalculating expected score of a games between two players, we temporarily add 36points to White's rating, and subtract 36 points from Black'srating.

4. All Games Rated with EqualWeight

All games, including playoff games and blitz tiebreakgames, were given equal weight in the ratings.

5. Scores for Draws Depend on TeamResult

In team chess, where the goal of the team is to win thematch (with 2.5/4 points or more, or 2/4 in a match with draw odds), individualresults can be skewed by the circumstances of the match situation. For example,if it looks like your team is about to win two games and lose one game, winningthe match comes down to what happens on your board. Suppose that in your gameyou have a moderate advantage, but the position is dynamic and unstable. In sucha case, you might decide to trade all your pieces to reach a dead drawn endgame,so that you will draw the game and clinch the match for your team. This isfundamentally a good result for your team, as your will win thematch.

Therefore, the result of the team match is considered whenassigning scores for individual players' draws. If the final team match isdrawn, each player who drew gets 1/2 point. If a team wins, all the players onthe winning team who drew their games get 2/3 point each. Conversely, all theplayers on a losing team who drew their games get 1/3 point each. (Wins arestill 1 and losses are still 0, regardless of the team match score.) Note thatthese point assignments are only for rating calculations only.

Final 2007 United States Chess League RatingList

  • Every game in every season of the USCL was rated, not just 2007.
  • Only players who were played at least one game in 2007 (i.e., active) areincluded in the list.
  • Players must have played at least three games in the history of the USCLto be included in the list.
  • While every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, re-rating might occurto correct any mistakes.
12591 Sergey Kudrin
22589 Vinay Bhat
32586 Patrick Wolff
42581 Larry Christiansen
52580 Hikaru Nakamura
62579 Jorge Sammour-Hasbun
72576 Joel Benjamin
82571 Drasko Boskovic
92569 Gregory Serper
102566 Julio Becerra
112543 Davorin Kuljasevic
122523 Jacek Stopa
132522 Eli Vovsha
142519 John Donaldson
152505 Pawel Blehm
162495 Josh Friedel
172494 Alex Stripunsky
182491 Lev Milman
192487 Georgi Orlov
202487 Dean Ippolito
212484 Pascal Charbonneau
222481 Eugene Perelshteyn
232477 Irina Krush
242466 Jay Bonin
252463 Vince McCambridge
262460 Bryan Smith
272454 Tegshsuren Enkhbat
282453 Dmitry Schneider
292449 Denis Shmelov
302441 Eric Tangborn
312440 Ron Burnett
322433 Marcel Milat
332432 Slava Mikhailuk
342428 Sam Shankland
352423 Oleg Zaikov
362415 John Bartholomew
372415 Robert Hess
382411 Richard Costigan
392407 Dmitry Zilberstein
402406 Jonathan Schroer
412405 Keaton Kiewra
422402 Irina Zenyuk
432399 William Kelleher
442397 Blas Lugo
452389 David Pruess
462389 Francisco Guadalupe II
472388 John Readey
482387 Andrei Zaremba
492386 Aviv Friedman
502382 Mikhail Zlotnikov
512381 Marcel Martinez
522380 Todd Andrews
532366 Parker Zhao
542365 Elvin Wilson
552361 Bruci Lopez
562360 Chris Williams
572358 Katerina Rohonyan
582354 Larry Kaufman
592354 Vadim Martirosov
602353 Daniel Yeager
612343 John Rouleau
622334 Mackenzie Molner
632333 Eric Rodriguez
642327 Bayaraa Zorigt
652322 Victor Shen
662319 Miguel Espino
672314 James Critelli
682311 Marc Arnold
692309 Michael Thaler
702307 Peter Bierkens
712304 Luis Barredo
722303 Loren Schmidt
732301 Evan Ju
742301 Gregory Young
752300 Matthew Herman
762297 Alejandro Moreno Roman
772295 Craig Jones
782287 Michael Lee
792279 John Timmel
802276 Ralph Zimmer
812265 Daniel Naroditsky
822264 Udayan Bapat
832263 Ilya Krasik
842261 Tsagaan Battsetseg
852258 Josh Sinanan
862239 Matthew Bengtson
872228 Peter Bereolos
882211 Jerry Wheeler
892209 Gerald Larson
902183 James Wu

4) Schein-Friedman scholarships for youth by Aviv Friedman
Mark Schein and Aviv Friedman, in cooperation with the US Chess Trust, are happy to announce their new scholastic project.

The project is a two-tier program, designed to help some of our younger champions improve and dedicate themselves more to chess, while offsetting the financial expenses that usually come with those. Hopefully the project will reward excelling youngsters, and help them become tomorrow's best players and Grandmasters. At the same time they would be serving as role models and inspiration to the entire scholastic community.

The program is generally designed for youngsters age 7-17. Occasionally, in cases of unusual excellence (considerably exceeding the program's criterions), applications by players up to age 20 would be considered.

There are 3 annual scholarships in place:

The top recipient will get $6000; the second recipient will get $4000; and the third $2500.

Additionally, the project will run a week long chess camp for 10 or so leading juniors, with a Grandmaster instructor.

Applicants must have been US citizens or permanent legal residents for a minimum of 18 months prior to the deadline date (February 1st for 2008). They must show dedication to chess, talent and accomplishment, a will to work hard and improve, as well as good sportsmanship and a positive attitude.

The minimum ratings qualification formula is as follows:

Ages 7-14: age * 100 + 1000 for boys, and age * 100 + 800 for girls.Ages 15-16: age * 100 + 900 for boys, and age * 100 + 700 for girls.Age 17: 2500 for boys, 2400 for girls.

Applicants must be active tournament players. Playing in open events or sections above the lowest allowed - a bonus.

All applications should be in the form of an essay, describing the applicant's chess accomplishments, and why he or she should receive a scholarship. They should be sent via e-mail to Aviv Friedman at
5) The Burning Boards in San Diego by Glenn Kaino
I'm writing to invite you to attend an art event that I am putting together in San Diego, hosted by The Orange County Museum of Art. On April 5th, the museum will be hosting a project of mine called The Burning Boards at an art space called haudenschildGarage in La Jolla. The Burning Boards is a 32 person chess tournament played with chess sets that I have made from candles and which will be lit during play. The rules are conventional chess rules with the addition of a constant negotiation with your opponent about status of the melting pieces. Pieces that burn out are considered captured, and the dynamics of the game change constantly based upon the style of both your and your opponent's play.

This is the second installment of the performance, which was originally presented at the Whitney Museum of American Art last year at their downtown location. I have attached pictures of the first event, which included artists such as Daniel J. Martinez, Slater Bradley, and Robert A. Pruitt, curators Lauri Firstenberg, Kate Green, Larry List, and Jeffrey Uslip, writers David Levi Strauss, Barry Yourgrau, Nelly Rosario, Paul Hoffman and Neil Feineman, collector Dennis Scholl, chess professionals such as Jennifer Shahade, Irina Krush, and Pascal Charbonneau among several other interesting people.

There will again be a wide array of people playing, visual artists, writers, curators, patrons, gallerists, musicians, and other professional chess players as well, including Jennifer and Pascal. There will not be much parity in the level of play, however, The Burning Boards is primarily about the exchange of ideas in a context where winning takes second place to playing.

Coverage of last years event can be found at
6) New England Masters update by Chris Bird
Dear Chess Player,

With the April FIDE rating list just around the corner, I thought this would be a good time to remind everyone about the New England Masters, a 9 round FIDE Swiss with norm opportunities, which will take place near Providence, Rhode Island (USA), from August 11-15, 2008.

We have now confirmed our list of sponsored Grandmasters, all of whom are non-USA players. They are (with their expected April rating) Leonid Kritz (Germany, 2609), Timur Gareev (Uzbekistan, 2570), Sergey Erenburg (Israel, 2568) and Keith Arkell (England, 2495). Local Grandmaster, Eugene Perelshteyn (USA, 2552), has also agreed to play to help on the norm front.

Two other highly rated non-USA players, Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (Palestine, 2462) and IM Jacek Stopa (Poland, 2430), have also committed to participating in the event. Obviously we are hoping to confirm more such entries as soon as possible.

Non-USA players should remember that if they are an IM they will receive a free entry plus a reduced rate on accommodation, while every non-USA player not at IM level (or above) will receive a $100 discount off their entry fee. Details are at the tournament website.

Everyone should also remember that the tournament will be limited to the first 50 players that enter. So far we have 11 entries and so just 39 more to go!

We have confirmed that the weekend event that will follow the Masters, the Blackstone Chess Open, August 16-17, will be 4 rounds, with a very decent prize fund (complete details to be announced soon). All GMs and IMs will receive a free entry into this tournament, while all other Masters participants will receive a significant discount of the regular entry fee. The hotel rate ($89/night) has also been confirmed to include the weekend if you feel inclined to extend your stay.

Once again, should you have any questions regarding the tournament, please feel free to email me at, although most questions can usually be answered by visiting the tournament website at
7) Here and There
Mich Bighamian ( writes:

Dear chess fans,

Thanks to IM Tim Taylor and his wife, 2007 LA Masters Yearbook is almost complete.100 of the best games of the strongest weekly tournament in the country annotated by IM Tim Taylor.You may pre-order yours and receive it firsthand (mailed to you or pick it up at the club) once published (Price $24.95).

Go to to read a follow up blog on Bobby Fischer by Dick Cavett and many responses by readers.

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