October 10, 2020
By Abel Talamantez
Table of Contents
- Coaching Chess
- Ray Conway Tuesday Night Marathon Online
- Mechanics' FIDE Academy
- TD Corner
- Twitch Arena
- Dr. Alexey Root
- Weekly Classes
- Scholastic Online Offerings
- Online Events Schedule
- FM Paul Whitehead's Column
- GM Nick de Firmian's Column
- Submit your piece or feedback
There are no shortage of people teaching chess, many offering their services to introduce new players to this great game or teaching experienced players to play better, to see things on the chessboard they do not yet see. There are many strong players selling their skill as a player as a license to teach others. Oftentimes I see parents looking for a coach for their kids ask what a prospective instructor's rating is, a perfectly valid question in looking for a coach.
When I started my own after school chess program in 2012, I took on some private students. I am a former 2000 level player who was teaching beginners, so I felt more than qualified to teach chess to these students. My very first student was someone who knew the moves, but did not know how to improve. I focused first on making sure my student understood mate and mate patterns. I reinforced the basics such as center control and had him review tactics.
On my fourth week of lessons (I would teach 1:15 class once per week), my student had not finished all the assigned homework problems. I asked why it had not been done, and he simply shrugged and said he did not know. As the lesson progressed, he seemed to lose focus, which was frustrating for me. I had come to his house after teaching in a full class in a school, and having a half-hearted student that did not finish an assigned task was not something that made me feel good. After a couple more weeks with no change in behavior, I had a talk with his parents, and I told them that he was not focused or engaged during the lesson and was not doing the work assigned. They said they would talk to him and let me know of the scheduling for the next lesson.
I never heard back, and I was perfectly fine with that. I didn’t want my time wasted, and I didn’t want parents wasting their money.
I remember thinking after that maybe I had done something wrong. I didn’t feel good about how I was approaching the relationship, and this was the key. I made the lesson more about what I needed to feel comfortable, about what I wanted and needed to feel comfortable. This was not coaching.
I realized there was a difference between simply teaching chess and coaching. When you coach, you enter a relationship with the student that is more about supporting the student to realize their full potential, and this involves much more than what is on the chessboard. I would let parents and students know my expectations, and I would let them know what they can expect from me. So many behavioral factors are crucial to the success of any student, such as the building of self confidence, dealing with losses, how to properly learn form losses, dealing with the anxiety of competition and how to focus under pressure. These are all things a coach has to identify and bring out the best in a student, but the way to do this will differ between students because everyone is different. This is what I believe makes a good coach, someone who is fully invested in the success of a student, entering into a relationship of responsibility towards the student in which the student feels supported, even in times of great challenge for the student. A good coach accepts the challenges of growth with the student, rather than shirk away from trying times.
I believe this is missing in many "coaches," particularly in chess. I have seen some great coaches, but I have seen much more teachers of chess, former players showing students what they don't know. We need to have a proper training for coaches of chess.
As you will read in this newsletter, the Mechanics' Institute has been approved by FIDE as the 4th FIDE Academy in the U.S. One of the things I appreciate is that the people leading the FIDE Trainers Commission have acknowledged that it is equally important to develop coaches to teach new students as it is to train coaches to teach masters, because without one you cannot have the other. I think this is the right approach, and the emphasis in providing coaches with programs that develop their skills in coaching and bring an emphasis to the proper role and responsibility of a coach will help bring better coaching to our chess community. The Mechanics' Institute will be committed to this approach in our academy.
I learned the hard way, and failed a student. As we teach our students, however, we must learn from our mistakes, and try not to let our mistakes define us. The best growth comes through mistakes, and it is equally important for both students and coaches.
The Ray Conway Memorial Tuesday Night Marathon kicked off this week, with an 8-round open section tournament, named after former MI Chess Director Ray Conway, who led the club for nine years from 1971-1980. He was the Chess Director during the Fischer-Spassky world championship match in 1972 and was a former guard at Alcatraz, a background that John Donaldson had said was well-suited to keep order in the club during his time there.
There are 53 players in the marathon, with the top seeds being IM Prasanna Rao, FM Kyron Griffith, and IM Elliott Winslow. But competiton will be tough, as there are 17 other players in the 1800-2200 rating range. The top players made it through the first round, but in the second round, Patrick Liu gave IM Prasanna Rao all he could handle in a time scramble, and capitalized on some errors made by Rao to secure a draw. In another hotly-contested game, David Flores Gomez played well and took advantage of Ethan Boldi's time trouble to produce an upset win. David typically plays fast and is a talented A player, so it was not a surprising result.
Eric Hon joined the tournament after the first round, so he will be a force to reckoned with as the tournament proceeds.
The broadcast was lively, and Paul and I were joined during round 2 by WIM Alexey Root and NM Michael Walder.
Here are some games from Tuesday, annotations by GM Nick de Firmian.
(5) Rachael Tiong (rachael1120) (1664) - IM Prasanna Rao (Praschess) (2497) [C55]
Ray Conway TNM Chess.com (1.1), 06.10.2020
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d3 [4.Ng5 is about as popular among the kids.] 4...h6 This is right behind the two bishop moves (to e7 or c5) in popularity, with all three scoring over 45% in the big databases. Black has the idea to fianchetto, but first deals with 5.Ng5 (the bishop moves allow Black to just castle). 5.0-0 d6 6.c3 g6 [Mamedyarov and others have toyed with 6...g5!? , both here and after 6.Re1. Black shouldn't be able to get away with this, but often enough he has so far!] 7.Re1 [7.d4!? tries to pressure the center right away. Far and away the main move is 7...Qe7 (7...exd4 8.cxd4 Bg7 is another way to handle the center (8...Nxe4?? 9.Re1+- catches Black's king in the center) but 9.Nc3 is a fairly solid center.) 8.Nbd2 Bg7 9.Re1 lines up on Black's queen, limiting active counterplay.] 7...Bg7 8.h3 [8.Bb3 0-0 9.Nbd2 Re8 10.a4 is a more patient approach, preserving the bishop and expanding on the queenside.] 8...0-0 9.d4 The computers are pushing a- and b-pawns here...
(6) Ethan Guo (LightningDragon8) (1592) - IM Elliott Winslow (ecwinslow) (1991) [B88]
Ray Conway TNM Chess.com (1.3), 06.10.2020
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 An older and less-seen move recently. Robert J. Fischer mostly played this when his favorite Najdorf Sicilian was played against him. 6...e6 Black tries to shut down White's bishop. In this game successfully. 7.Bb3 [7.0-0 Be7 8.Bb3 Nc6 0-1 (22) Herb,P (2540)-Janosi,E (2415) ICCF corr 1998] 7...Nc6 And this leads into the Classical Sicilian, Sozin Variation, an even older line. [The two particularly Najdorf moves are the even more radical 7...b5; and the relatively sedate 7...Nbd7] 8.Be3 Be7 9.0-0 [9.f4 followed by Qf3 (or Qe2) leads to lots of complications, in case Black thought this was going to be quiet.; And 9.Qe2 followed by 0-0-0 is the Velimirovich Attack, one of the most complicated openings of all.] 9...0-0 10.f4 Nxd4 11.Bxd4 b5
(7) IM Prasanna Rao (Praschess) (2206) - Patrick Liu (katechen77) (1665) [B72]
Ray Conway TNM Chess.com (2.1), 06.10.2020
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Bc4 IM Rao plays a quieter, central-oriented line against the Dragon Sicilian, which usually comes about via the Accelerated Fianchetto. No wild Yugoslav Attack! 6...Bg7 7.h3 [7.0-0 0-0 8.Re1 Nc6 9.h3 Bd7 10.Be3 Rc8 0-1 (77) Emms,J (2462) -Jones,G (2641) England 2015] 7...Nc6 8.Be3 0-0 9.Bb3 Bd7 10.0-0 Rc8 Black takes advantage of the particular move order. [Actually 10...Qa5 would be from the Accelerated Fianchetto, as given above.] 11.Re1 Modern style. [11.f4 is similar to the older lines (against the line with ...Qa5).] 11...a6 [11...Na5 12.Nf3 0-1 (77) Emms,J (2462)-Jones,G (2641) England 2015] 12.Nf3
[37.Re8! Qf6 38.Rg8+ (38.Qe7 also draws) 38...Kh7 39.Rb8 (39.Qe8 f4 40.Rf8 Kg6 41.Rg8+ Kh5 and there goes that king again! 42.a4 but it's just a draw) ] 37...Bf1!!-+ 38.Kxf1 [38.Qe7 threatens mate in one! but 38...Rh1+ 39.Kf2 Qh4+ 40.Ke3 Qe1+ 41.Ne2 Qxe2+ 42.Kd4 Qd2# gets there first.] 38...Rh1+ 39.Kf2 Rh2+ 40.Ke1 Rxe2+ 41.Kxe2 White 7:33, Black 0:17.8 41...Qh2+ [41...Qc8 takes out c3;; 41...g4!? makes another queen (!).] 42.Kd3 Qxa2 43.Rb6 At this point Black, in admittedly a won position but so short on time, saw a perpetual and like a life boat jumped on it. 43...Qb1+ 44.Kc4 Qf1+ 45.Kb3 Qb1+ 46.Kc4 Qf1+ 47.Kb3 Qb1+ 48.Kc4 Game drawn by repetition. Another fantastic TNM battle! Both players missed chances, but 37...Bf1!! made up for that. Patrick Peijun Liu, second highest rated 8-year-old in the country; another one to keep an eye on. 1/2-1/2
(1) NM Michael Walder (FlightsOfFancy) (1890) - Max Hao (Joseph_Truelsons_Fan) (1806) [B99]
Ray Conway TNM Chess.com (2.5), 06.10.2020
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Be7 8.Qf3 Qc7 9.0-0-0 Nbd7 My compliments to both players for choosing this classic fighting opening from the glory days of the Fischer era. 10.f5!? White playes a less common line instead of the usual 10. g4 or 10. Bd3. These sidelines can be confusing to an opponent. 10...Ne5 [an alternative is 10...e5 11.Nb3 b5 12.a3 Bb7] 11.Qh3 h6?! This doesn't threaten the bishop right now due to the pin on the h-file. In the Najdorf one needs to make use of each precious tempo. [I suggest 11...0-0 since 12.fxe6 Nfg4! 13.Bxe7 Qxe7 gives Black active play for the pawn] 12.fxe6 Nfg4? Now this doesn't work. Black needed to play [12...fxe6 though White has the advantage after 13. Be2 or 13. Bd2] 13.exf7+ Nxf7 14.Bxe7! Nf2?!
(2) Mark Drury (BirdOrBust) (1668) - FM Kyron Griffith (KyronGriffith) (2172) [A03]
Ray Conway TNM Chess.com (2.2), 06.10.2020
1.f4 BirdorBust clearly lives by his name. 1...g6 2.Nf3 d5 3.e3 Bg7 4.d4 Nh6!? This is often a good square to place the knight in these structures. The knight looks to go to f5 and this leaves the black f-pawn able to move up to f6 to chase away a white knight jumping on to the e5 square. 5.Bd3 0-0 6.0-0 c5 7.c3 [White doesn't want to lose central control with 7.dxc5?! Nd7] 7...Bf5 8.Qe2 Qb6 9.Nbd2 Nc6 10.Ne5? Black had gotten a nice opening position and now White allows a tactic. 10...Rad8? Kyron misses it though he keeps a good position. He had [10...cxd4 11.cxd4 (11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.cxd4 Bxd4) 11...Nxd4! 12.exd4 Bxe5 13.fxe5 Qxd4+ 14.Rf2 Qxd3] 11.Ndf3 Rfe8 12.Nxc6 bxc6 13.Ne5?! This knight just gets chased away. 13...f6
Here are the standings after the first 2 rounds.
SwissSys Standings. Conway Memorial TNM Online: Open
|#||Name||ID||Rating||St||Fed||Rd 1||Rd 2||Total|
|1||FM Kyron Griffith||12860484||2470||CA||KyronGriffith||W29||W24||2.0|
|2||IM Elliott Winslow||10363365||2278||CA||ecwinslow||W31||W25||2.0|
|6||NM Michael Walder||10345120||2075||CA||FlightsOfFancy||W46||W17||2.0|
|8||Nicholas Ruo Weng||15499404||1958||CA||ninjaforce||W48||W19||2.0|
|10||Davi Flores Gomez||14799653||1812||CA||PlayerCreate1||W53||W15||2.0|
|11||IM Prasanna Ragh Rao||16083805||2508||CA||Praschess||W28||D13||1.5|
|12||Kevin M Fong||17254586||1783||CA||chessappeals||D42||W41||1.5|
|13||Patrick Peiju Liu||16667410||1851||CA||katechen77||W50||D11||1.5|
|19||Ya Dancig Perlman||16280288||1235||CA||noydan100||W23||L8||1.0|
|22||Thomas F Maser||10490936||1900||CA||talenuf||H---||H---||1.0|
|23||Javier Silva III||16089208||1869||CA||J3Chess24||L19||W48||1.0|
|24||Mark L Drury||12459313||1843||CA||BirdOrBust||W51||L1||1.0|
|38||Jacob S Wang||17083655||1287||CA||jacobchess857||W44||L4||1.0|
|43||Cailen J Melville||14006141||1940||CA||Mangonel||L37||L34||0.0|
|44||Nicholas Ar Boldi||15088356||1883||CA||nicarmt||L38||L35||0.0|
|52||Yuvraj Si Sawhney||17095004||1060||CA||SaintReturns||L25||L31||0.0|
We are very proud to announce that FIDE has just approved the Mechanics' Institute as a FIDE Academy, which means we will begin organzing seminars and workshops for coaches and players that can lead to earning FIDE titles for trainers. GM Melik Khachiyan and IM John Donaldson will be among the trainers for the seminars, are we look forward to organizing educational programs for the professional development of coaches and for the benefit of our chess community. The FIDE Trainers Commission (TRG) has stated the importance of training coaches to teach new and developing players, as well as the nation's top players, and we are committed to that goal as well. Other coaches in-house with FIDE Trainer titles are GM Nick de Firmian, Chess Director Abel Talamantez, and women's class coach Sophie Adams. More information coming soon.
Ratable time controls (US Chess Rules 5C) & Rating systems
Which of my rating will get affected by the tournament you offer?
by Senior TD, FA Judit Sztaray
There are three rating systems that US Chess uses: Regular (slow), Quick (fast), and Blitz.
Depending on the time control under which a rated game was played, or the time control of the tournament in which you are playing, different ratings will be affected.
Time control is always calculated by the G/minutes and inc/seconds or d/seconds: the two need to be added together to calculate the total playing time.
For example: G/30;d5 is a 35 minutes game; G/60;d5 is a 65 minutes game; G/120;d5 is a 125 minutes game and the popular online versions are G/5+5 is a 10 minutes game, G/35+2 is a 37 minutes game, G/60+10 is a 70 minutes game.
In any of the three rating categories, players now not only have the standard over-the-board (OTB) ratings, but also separate online ratings. OTB games only affect the standard, OTB rating, and online games only affect the ONL rating. They can never ever cross.
If you play a game over-the-board, the following rules apply:
- If the total playing time for each player is greater than 65 minutes, the regular rating will be affected. (mm+ss>65)
- If the total playing time for each play is from 30 to 65, the games are so called dual rated, meaning the games are both regular and quick rated. (30≤mm+ss≤65)
- If the total playing time for each player is more than 10 minutes, but less than 30 minutes, the games are affecting the quick rating only. (10<mm+ss<30)
- Finally, if the total playing time for each player is between 5 and 10 minutes, the games are blitz rated. Here we also have a restriction that the primary time control must be minimum 3 minutes. There shall be no game rated under 5 minutes. (5≤mm+ss≤10)
If you play an online game, the rules are very similar with one major exceptions: there are no games that are dual rated:
- Online Regular: total playing time for each player is 30 or more minutes. (mm+ss>30)
- Online Quick: total playing time for each player is more than 10 minutes and less than 30 minutes (10<mm+ss<30).
- Online Blitz: total playing time for each player is from 5 to 10 minutes, inclusive. (5≤mm+ss≤10)
How do you check your rating after a tournament?
After each tournament has been submitted for rating, the rating change can be viewed on any player’s last tab (Tnmt. Hst, aka Tournament History) on the player’s profile. There are three columns: Regular, Quick and Blitz. If the numbers in the column have ONL before them, those games & tournaments affecting the online rating in that particular rating system. If you don’t see an ONL before it, be sure to know that represents an actual, live, face-to-face, Over-The-Board (OTB) tournament, which most of us are all missing since March, 2020.
I encourage everyone to visit your Tournament History tab by clicking this link after updating the XXXXXXX with your USCF ID:
Any questions? My inbox is always open!
The chess room staff at the Mechanics' Institute are taking on all comers now weekly, as each of us will live stream an Arena tournament where we will commentate our own games! You might be playing 3-time US Champion GM Nick de Firmian, or perhaps our commentator and instructor extraorinaire FM Paul Whitehead. Try to take down Organizer sensation Dr. Judit Sztaray or Chess Director Abel Talamantez. We will all be live on Twitch playing, reviewing about our games, and talking about anything that comes up in the chat. Come hang out with us at the Mechanics' online club, perhaps we may even give out an occasional free prize!
Arenas are an hour long, and the chess staff will be paired against the first available player to play at the conclusion of their games. All other players will be paired with the next available opponent. This will continue for the whole hour. While there is no guarantee you will be paired against a chess staff member, you will have a very good chance at it, depending on the number of players playing. All games will be streamed live on our Twitch channel: https://www.twitch.tv/mechanicschess
Check out the times here:
GM Nick de Firmian Arena: Mondays 4pm-5pm, 10/12: https://www.chess.com/live#r=517799
FM Paul Whitehead Arena: Tuesdays 5pm-6pm, 10/13: https://www.chess.com/live#r=517800
MI Chess Director Abel Talamantez, Dr. Judit Sztaray Arena: Fridays 5pm-6:30pm, 10/16:
See you in the arena!
Dr. Alexey Root has just released the next installment of her look into the relationship between chess and golf, assisted by Senior Tournament Director Reka Sztaray, daughter of Dr. Judit Sztaray. To read the article, published on ChessBase, follow this link: https://en.chessbase.com/post/growing-with-golf-and-chess.