Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Blog Index

Pictured l. to r. Tom & Evelyn Bruso, Hunter Magee, Scott Post and Ray Niro. Photo taken in Taunton, Mass. in May


Ted Belanoff wins 2012 Idaho Open April 24, 2012
More controversy brewing in the chess world May 3, 2012
2nd Meridian Invitational set for June 23 May 13, 2012
Susan Polgar Girls Invitational to be held in St. Louis this year
May 15, 2012
Grandmaster Christiansen visits Cornell June 1
SPGI Results July 31, 2012
First Side Event Completed at 2012 U.S. Open August 6, 2012
Hoyos still in front; 14 others within a point of the lead August 12, 2012
Hoyos earns title, Bryant tentatively earns seed into next US Closed August 14, 2012
Time Life Classic Pics Released September 7, 2012
Wood River Progressive Results October 11, 2012
McKay Tartan Book Series Update November 8, 2012


Photos from the 2012 Bob Hersey Memorial, Fitchburg, Mass January 31, 2012


High School Playlist 1960s January 5, 2012
Hallelujah June 7, 2012


Cornell Team Sparkles at UAB Case Competition February 17, 2012
A favorite Oregon City spot is closing May 10,2012

Blog Index for 2011 and prior years is located here

Thursday, November 8, 2012

McKay Tartan Book Series Update

The Monopoly Book by Maxine Brady (McKay Tartan Series #42, published in 1976). Maxine Brady is the wife of St. John's University professor Dr. Frank Brady, author of another book in the series, Profile of a Prodigy, #29. I met Frank and Maxine when Dr. Brady was on the Executive Board of the U.S.C.F. in 2002.

My quest to identify and acquire all of the titles in the McKay Tartan Books series continues. Following is an updated list, as best as I can determine at this point.

1 Fine, Reuben - Ideas Behind the Chess Openings
2 Fine, Reuben - The Middle Game in Chess
3 Fine, Reuben - Basic Chess Endings
4 Reshevsky, Sammy & Fred Reinfeld - Learn Chess Fast
5 Nimzovich, Aron; Fred Reinfeld, ed. - My System
6 Lasker, Emanuel - Common Sense in Chess
7 Chernev, Irving - Winning Chess Traps
8 Reinfeld, Fred & Irving Chernev - Chess Strategy & Tactics
9 Lasker, Edward - Modern Chess Strategy

11 Wiswell, Tom - Learn Checkers Fast
12 Kmoch, Hans - Pawn Power in Chess

17 Adams, Leon D. - The Commonsense Book of Wine
18 Alekhine, Alexander - My Best Games of Chess 1908-1923
19 Alekhine, Alexander - My Best Games of Chess 1924-1937
20 Carmer, Carl - Dark Trees to the Wind
21 Carmer, Carl - Listen for a Lonesome Drum

23 Sommervell, D.C. - English Thought in the Nineteenth Century
24 Trevelyan, George M. - English Social History
25 du Mont, J. - 200 Miniature Games of Chess
26 Fine, Reuben - A Passion for Chess
27 Capablanca, J.R. - Chess Fundamentals
28 Spielmann, Rudolf - The Art of Sacrifice in Chess
29 Brady, Frank - Profile of a Prodigy

31 Horowitz, I.A. & Geoffrey Mott-Smith - Point Count Chess
32 Napier, William E. - Paul Morphy and the Golden Age of Chess
33 Coles, R.N. - Epic Battles of the Chessboard
34 Alexander, C.H.O'D. - Alekhine's Best Games of Chess 1938-1945
35 Armanino, Dominic C. - Dominoes
36 Horowitz, I.A. - How to Win in the Chess Endings

37 Fine, Reuben - Practical Chess Openings

Col. Ed B. Edmonson, Executive Director of the U.S.C.F., made this notation in the copy of this book in the U.S.C.F. library. Apparently, he wasn't impressed...

38 Euwe, Max - Strategy and Tactics in Chess

41 Euwe, Max & Walter Meiden - Chess Master vs. Chess Amateur
42 Brady, Maxine - The Monopoly Book

44 Tarrasch, Siegbert - The Game of Chess

46 Morrison, Martin E. (ed.) - Official Rules of Chess (2nd edition)
47 Euwe, Max - The Development of Chess Style
48 Golombek, H. - Capablanca's 100 Best Games of Chess
49 Lombardy, William - Modern Chess Opening Traps

51 Soltis, Andrew - Pawn Structure Chess
52 Larsen, Bent - The World Chess Championship 1978
53 Holland, Tim - Backgammon for People Who Hate to Lose
54 Holland, Tim - Better Backgammon
55 Pachman, Ludek - Attack and Defense in Modern Chess Tactics
56 Euwe, Max - Judgment and Planning in Chess
57 Pachman, Ludek - Modern Chess Tactics

59 Bronstein, David - The Chess Struggle in Practice

61 Collins, John W. - Maxims of Chess
62 Soltis, Andrew - Catalog of Chess Mistakes

66 Mednis, Edmar - Practical Endgame Lessons

68 Korn, Walter - America's Chess Heritage
69 Korn, Walter - Modern Chess Openings (12th ed)
70 Mednis, Edmar - King Power in Chess

73 Redman, Tim (ed.) - U.S. Chess Federation's Official Rules of Chess


So, for those who might be curious about the origins of the board game Monopoly, here is the official authorized version (as provided by Maxine Brady):

The Setting

The stock market crash of 1929 caused mass unemployment for millions of Americans. For Charles Darrow, the financial problems grew increasingly difficult. Once a salesman of heating and engineering equipment, he spent the early 1930s looking for a job. He'd been feeding hemself, his wife, and their son by taking any odd job he could find. He repaired electric irons, did occasional fix-it jobs, even walked dogs - when he could find someone to pay him for his labors.

It wasn't enough, though. Now his wife was expecting their second child. He had to find a way to make more money.

To fill his idle hours, and help him forget his worries temporarily, Darrow invented things. Some of them were fun; others were probably devised in hopes that they would become profitable. He made jigsaw puzzles; he created a combination bat-and-ball, which was supposed to be used as a beach toy; he designed an improved pad for recording and scoring bridge games. They were interesting diversions, but nobody was willing to pay for them.

Darrow's problem, of course, was not unique. Many of his friends and family were out of jobs, and were having trouble affording even such necessities as food and shelter. For them, as for most people, the movies, the theater, and any form of entertainment which cost any money at all was too expensive.

So they got together in the evenings and on weekends, when the offices of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration were closed, and they talked. And after the gloomy recital of that day's particular troubles, the conversation would usually become nostalgic: remember the good old days?

Darrow did. For him and his wife, thinking back to the more prosperous life they had led only a few years before, some of the pleasantest memories were of the vacations they had spent at one of their favorite holiday places, a seaside resort in New Jersey called Atlantic City.

The Game

One evening in 1930, Darrow sat down at his kitchen table in Germantown, Pennsylvania, and sketched out some of the street names of Atlantic City on the round piece of oilcloth that covered the table. The streets he chose were all from the same side of the city: between the Inlet and Park Place, along the Boardwalk. When he finished, Darrow was short one name, so he choose Marven Gardens, a section from nearby Margate. Probably unintentionally, he altered the spelling, and it was penciled onto his board as Marvin Gardens.

He included the three railroads that carried the wealthy vacationers to the resort, and the utility companies that serviced them, as well as the parcels of real estate of varying prices. He wanted a fourth railroad to make his board symmetrical, so he added the Short Line: actually it was a freight-carrying bus company that had a depot in Atlantic City. A local paint store gave him free samples of several colors, and he used them to color his game board. A new game began to take form in his mind.

Darrow cut houses and hotels for his little city, using scraps of wooden molding that a lumber yard had discarded. He rounded up stray pieces of cardboard, and typed out title cards for the different properites. The rest of the equipment was fairly easy to acquire: colored buttons for the tokens, a pair of dice, and a lot of play money.

From then on, in the evenings, the Darrows would sit around the kitchen table buying, renting, developing, and selling real estate. They had little enough real cash on hand, yet The Game, as they all referred to it, permitted them to manipulate large sums of money as they engaged in complex negotiations to acquire valuable blocks of property. The simple, almost crude set exerted a continuing fascination and challenge. As friends dropped in to visit, they were invited to join the game. Soon the "Monopoly evenings" became a standard feature at the Darrow home.

Then the friends wanted to take the game home with them. Each night's winner, a bit heady with his success in the nether reaches of high finance, asked for a set of his own, so that he could show off his financial wizardry. The runner-up, convinced that he could win the next time if he could only hone his skill with a little practice, generally wanted a set too. Darrow had an overabundance of free time, so he began making copies of his board, property cards, and buildings. His delighted friends supplied their own dice and tokens, and often their own package of play money.

But the demand increased, and Darrow increased his output to two handmade sets a day. Selling them for $4 apiece, each set brought him new customers. People kept talking about the new game and playing it with their friends. Through word-of-mouth advertising alone, Darrow sold about one hundred sets, and had orders for many more. But his one-at-a-time production technique simply couldn't keep up with the demand.

Encouraged by his friends, Darrow decided to test the game outside his personal sphere of acquaintances and friends of friends. He made up a few sets and offered them to department stores in Philadelphia, the nearest city. They sold.

With the knowledge that his game was marketable, he attempted to increase his rate of production. A friend helped out by printing the Monopoly boards and the title cards. Darrow continued to paint in the colors and assemble the sets by hand. This partial automation enabled him to produce six games a day. It wasn't enough.

Parker Brothers

By 1934, now fully aware that his interesting diversion had turned into a potentially profitable business, Darrow arranged to have the same friend print and package the complete sets. It looked like they had the problem solved, for a little while. Production was finally keeping pace with sales. But they hadn't reckoned with the Philadelphia sales. Soon, a department store began ordering sets wholesale, in quantities far greater than anything they could accommodate. It became obvious to Darrow that he had only two choices. He could borrow money and plunge wholeheartedly into the game business, or he could sell Monopoly to an established game company. Darrow wrote to Parker Brothers, then as now one of the world's major game manufactureers and distributors, to see if the company would be interested in producing and marketing the game on a national basis.

Parker brothers had by then been in business for half a century, and had become accustomed to enthusiastic inventors sending in new game creations. Some of the ideas had even proven marketable, but, by and large, the company's managers tended to trust the creativity of their own staff far more than they did an unproven novice.

Although Parker Brothers thought the basic framework of the game seemed possibly interesting, they handled the game routinely. Various members of the company sat down at their offices in Salem, Massachusetts, to try it out, as they do all prospective games. They played it several times and found that they all enjoyed it. But the company had evolved a set of inviolable ground rules for "family games," which they held to be mandatory for any game that could be successfully marketed. According to the Parker precept, a family game should last approximately forty-five minutes. Monopoly could go on for hours. Parker also felt that a game should have a specific end, a goal to be achieved. (In their other board games, the players' tokens progressed around a track until they reached the end - which might be symbolized by a pot of gold, a home port, a jackpot, or even Heaven - and the first player to reach this goal was the winner.) In Monopoly, the players just kept going round and round the board. The only goal was to bankrupt the other players and emerge still solvent yourself. Furthermore, Monopoly's rules seemed far too complex to the Parker staff; they thought the general game-playing public would be hopelessly confused trying to learn how to handle mortgages, rents, and interest.

After testing the game for several weeks, Parker Brothers made the unanimous decision to reject it. The company wrote and informed Darrow of this decision, explaining that his game contained "fifty-two fundamental errors." It would never be accepted by the public.

Darrow, of course, was considerably annoyed. He knew very well how people responded to his game. Despite Parker Brothers' analysis, Monopoly was decidedly marketable. Unfortunately, however, it was far more marketable than Darrow himself; he was still unemployed. Monopoly, it seemed, was virtually his only asset.

Therefore, he went back to his printer friend, ordered the production of five thousand sets, and continued to sell the game locally. But locally included Philadelphia, and the department stores there were soon aware that Darrow was increasing his output. They began placing massive orders for the Christmas season. Darrow now found himself working fourteen hours a day just trying to keep up with the shipping.

With the game now being ordered in wholesale lots, Parker's sales representatives soon became acutely aware that the Philadelphia stores were expecting huge sales of Monopoly the following Christmas, the traditional game-buying season. Word was quickly passed back to corporate headquarters in Salem, where the issue was deemed worthy of reconsideration. Then, to top things off, a major New York toy and game store, the prestigious F. A. O. Schwarz, bought two hundred sets out of the original five thousand printing.

Shortly afterwards, a friend telephoned Saly Barton (daughter of Parker Brothers' founder, George Parker) to rave about a wonderful new game she had purchased at F. A. O. Schwarz. It was called Monopoly, and it was hard to come by and in short supply. The friend suggested that Mrs. Barton tell Parker Brothers about it. Sally did. She told her husband, Robert B. M. Barton, who happened to be the president of the company. Curious about a competitor's product, he purchased a copy of the game at F. A. O. Schwarz, took it home and wound up playing it until 1 A.M. The next day, Barton wrote to Darrow, and three days later they met at Parker Brothers' New York sales office in the Flatiron Building.

Parker Brothers offered to buy the game outright and give Darrow royalties on all sets sold. The company insisted, though, on making some revisions which would refine the game and clarify the rules. Some of the staff were still concerned about the indefinite playing time, so they agreed to market the original version as long as Darrow permitted them to develop a variation of the game which could be played in less time. This shorter version was to be printed along with the general rules, to give the public an option.

Darrow agreed and the contract was signed. Later, in explaining why he had decided to sell his brainchild, Darrow related his decision to the monetary commitment he would have otherwise had to make in order to keep producing the game himself. "Taking the precepts of Monopoly to heart," he said, "I did not care to speculate." Years afterward, commenting on the final offer from Parker Brothers, he wrote: "I gladly accepted and have never regretted that decision."

The royalties from sales of Monopoly soon made Darrow a millionaire. He retired at the age of forty-six, to become a gentleman farmer in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, a world traveler with a particular interest in ancient cities, a motion picture photographer, and a collector of exotic orchid species. In 1970, a few years after Darrow's death, Atlantic City erected a commemorative plaque in his honor. It stands on the Boardwalk, near the juncture of Park Place.

Note: This list was updated in January, 2014.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Wood River Progressive Results

Guess Who?

I drove to Sun Valley, ID, last weekend to pick up 90-year-old chess friend Dan Mayers and bring him to the Wood River Progressive tournament in Hailey, ID. I first met Dan in Miami about ten years ago when he was only an octogenarian.

Adam Porth's very well compiled report, with photos, can be found here.

A good time was had by all.

My favorite game for the event was a round 3 win vs. Shane Taylor. The Exchange Ruy Lopez is viewed by many as dull and drawish with a long boring endgame in store while White tries to nurse his pawn majority on the kingside. The following game gives evidence to the fact that this opening can lead to a quick tactical finish if either player gets careless!

Frank Niro vs. Shane Taylor [C68]
Hailey ID, Round 3
October 6, 2012

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.Nc3 Bd6 6.d4 exd4 7.Qxd4 f6 8.Be3 Bg4 9.0-0-0 Qe7 10.Rd2 c5 11.Qd3

11...b5 12.Qd5 Rb8 13.Qc6+ Bd7 14.Qxa6 c6 15.Qa7 c4 16.Rhd1 1-0

Friday, September 7, 2012

Time Life Classic Pics Released

Not originally published in LIFE. Bobby Fischer in New York, 1962. Photo credit: Carl Mydans—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

See this piece in its original context by clicking here.

Bobby Fischer was only 29 when, in the midst of the Cold War, he defeated the Russian defending champion Boris Spassky in the World Chess Championship on September 1, 1972, ending 24 years of Soviet dominance in the intense, rarefied realm of big-league chess. The match, held in Reykjavik, Iceland, was a massively hyped event — “The Match of the Century” — with a build-up worthy of a Super Bowl or the Olympics and the sort of pre-battle media conjecture usually reserved for heavyweight title bouts. Which, in a sense, the match was.

That Fischer was a genius, with one of the most innovative and thrilling minds ever to address a chess board, is largely undisputed. He played in eight U.S. chess championships — and won all eight, decisively. In 1956, when he was just 13, he defeated the celebrated American chess master, Donald Byrne, in what Chess Review pegged as “The Game of the Century.” He routinely won international matches by record margins, and in the early 1970s was the number-one rated player in the world for more than four years.

Not originally published in LIFE. Bobby Fischer with his half-sister, Joan, and her daughter, Elisabeth, 1962. Carl Mydans—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

But as renowned and imaginative a Chess Master as Fischer was, in later years his bizarre behavior and his increasingly strident political views (virulently anti-American and anti-Semitic, for the most part, although his mother was Jewish) overshadowed his brilliance and his accomplishments. When he died in 2008, he was living in Iceland — the scene of his greatest professional triumph — where he had been granted full citizenship in 2005.
The American Chess Federation had permanently revoked his membership years before, after he publicly applauded and defended the September 11, 2001, terror attacks as utterly justified and predictable payback in light of America’s policies in the Middle East and elsewhere around the globe. (“The U.S. and Israel have been slaughtering the Palestinians for years,” he said shortly after 9/11.)

Long before he beat Spassky, however, and five decades before he finally went to ground in Iceland to live out his last days, LIFE’s Carl Mydans photographed Fischer as a prodigiously talented (and, already, clearly a bit odd) young man living in Brooklyn, New York.
Photo credit:Carl Mydans—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images.

In a February 1964 profile of Fischer, “One-Track Mastermind,” that LIFE published more than a year after Mydans made his photographs, the magazine noted:

Once in a while Bobby Fischer strolls into one of the Times Square amusement arcades and stokes coins into a pinball machine. If you noticed him at all as he stands there, staring at the lighted scoreboard, you’d probably write him off as just another lost young man, and maybe not a very bright one.

Photo credit: Carl Mydans—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images. Not originally published in LIFE. Bobby Fischer plays chess with Marshall Chess Club president Saul Rubin, New York, 1962. In the background is Bill Slater. Thanks to Frank Brady, Tony Saidy and Elliott Hearst for help identifying these players.

You would be mistaken. Bobby hasn’t the slightest flicker of doubt about who he is or what he wants to do. In an age that idolizes well-roundedness he has a single aim: “All I want to do, ever,” he says,” is play chess.”

But even in this genuinely glowing portrait of a quirky, brilliant loner, there are nevertheless hints of a monomaniacal self-absorption and a dismissive attitude toward anyone not Bobby Fischer that, encountered years later, feel very much like the early rumblings of profound trouble to come.

His sister, LIFE notes, taught him chess “when he tired of Parcheesi and other children’s games,” but Fischer’s attitude toward women in general comes across — even for the early 1960s — as sneeringly adversarial.

“Women are lousy at chess. They’re meant to say at home. I bet I could take any man of average intelligence, a rank beginner, give him, oh, around two months of lessons, and have him at the end of that time beat the women’s world champion. Any man.”

Near the end of the piece, the narrow — but unfathomably deep — focus of Fischer’s life comes into pitiless focus:

Always in his mind are the 64 squares of the chessboard, with its pieces arranged in one of millions of possible combinations. Always he is thinking of his next match.

“It’s not exactly easy, keeping up the [U.S.] championship,” he says. “It’ll keep me busy all the rest of my life.”

Here, on the 40th anniversary of Fischer’s legendary 1972 win over Spassky in Reykjavik, presents a selection of photos — most of which
never ran in LIFE — that capture the phenomenally gifted (and commensurately confident) Fischer as he leaves his “child prodigy” years behind and enters, a tad awkwardly, the fraught world of adulthood. This is a portrait of the chess artist as a young man: images capturing a relatively calm stage in a life that, for all of its triumphs, would grow increasingly dark and relentlessly unbalanced as the years passed.

Read more and see more photos, some previously unpublished.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hoyos earns title, Bryant tentatively earns seed into next US Closed

Note: This is a partial republication of my blog post for Northwest Chess concerning the 2012 U.S. Open Chess Championship. The original can be found here.

GM Yasser Seirawan (white pieces) faces off against GM Manuel Leon Hoyos in Round 9 of the 2012 U.S. Open in Vancouver, Washington, August 12, 2012.
Photo credit:

GM Manuel Leon Hoyos won an Armageddon playoff with the white pieces to earn the title of 2012 United States Open Chess Champion. Hoyos finished with an 8-1 record, the same as GM Dmitry Gurevich and FM John Bryant of California. The top two players on tiebreak (Hoyos and Bryant) were seeded into the playoff for an extra $200 in prize money and the championship trophy. An Armageddon style playoff is a one game blitz match of 5 minutes vs. 3 minutes (in this case with 5 second delay), black having draw odds. Hoyos is the reigning Mexican Champion currently attending Webster University in St. Louis. Bryant, as the first American finisher on tiebreaks, will be seeded into the next U.S. Closed Championship, assuming that the current qualifying rules remain unchanged for 2013.

The final crosstable is located here.

People who played in Seattle 1966 and Vancovuer 2012:

Rusty Miller
Mike Murray
Joe Brandenburg
Anthony Saidy
Ronald Gross
Sam Sloan
Viktors Pupols
David Rupel

Historic photo reenacted (Pupols & Seirawan) click here. From the Idaho Chess Association web site.

Webster University makes a clean sweep. (From Susan Polgar Chess Daily News & Information)

Top Northwest & BC finishers (6 or more points out of 9):

GM Seirawan, Yasser WA 2674 7.5
Breckenridge, Steven OR 2349 7.0
FM Raptis, Nick OR 2330 7.0
Sohal, Tanraj S BC 2199 7.0
FM Roper, David WA 2288 6.5
Lee, Nathan Y WA 2123 6.5
May, Andy P WA 2121 6.5
Erichsen, Dan BC 2104 6.5
Lee, Megan WA 2101 6.5
Esler, Brian John OR 2060 6.5
Zavortink, Matt WA 2051 6.5
Tobin, Sean OR 2025 6.5
Saputra, Yogi OR 1990 6.5
Sinanan, Joshua WA 2259 6.0
Gay, Daniel OR 2212 6.0
Pupols, Viktors WA 2200 6.0
Greninger, Harley G WA 2197 6.0
Lessler, Peter WA 2177 6.0
Patterson, Roger BC 2165 6.0
Edwards, Derek WA 2163 6.0
Yu, Corbin OR 2150 6.0
Wang, Michael WA 2148 6.0
Sellers, Matthew B OR 2128 6.0
Rupel, David WA 2109 6.0
Dixon, Dakota WA 2108 6.0
Kleist, Frederick K WA 2098 6.0
FM Bartron, Paul R WA 2096 6.0
Herrera, Robert OR 2044 6.0
He, Daniel Ming WA 2030 6.0
Arganian, David G WA 2002 6.0
Rowles, David WA 1939 6.0
Robinson, Marcus OR 1898 6.0
Warrier, Krishnan V WA 1885 6.0
Kiiru, Joseph K WA 1833 6.0

For USCF online coverage by Al Lawrence, click here.

Viktors Pupols and Yasser Seirawan, reenacting a photo shot by Larry Parr in 1974. This will likely be the cover photo for the September 2012 Northwest Chess magazine. Photo credit: Jeffrey Roland

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Hoyos still in front; 14 others within a point of the lead

Kathy & Rusty Miller were among those honored at the 2012 US Open Awards luncheon on Saturday, August 11.
Photo credit: Jeffrey Roland

See related story here.

Standings after Round 8 of 9 in the 2012 U.S. Open Chess Championship:

1 GM Hoyos, Manuel Leon MEX 2679 7.5
2 GM Seirawan, Yasser WA 2674 7.0
3 Norowitz, Yaacov NJ 2569 7.0
4 GM Gurevich, Dmitry IL 2539 7.0
5 IM Sarkar, Justin NY 2483 7.0
6 IM Bercys, Salvijus NY 2479 7.0
7 IM Mulyar, Michael A CO 2456 7.0
8 FM Bryant, John Daniel CA 2455 7.0
9 GM Ramirez, Alejandro TX 2643 6.5
10 GM Shabalov, Alexander PA 2619 6.5
11 GM Diamant, Andre BRA 2573 6.5
12 Shetty, Atulya Arya MI 2400 6.5
13 Aaron, Deepak NY 2353 6.5(1)
14 Shvartsman, Andrew Nathaniel NJ 2343 6.5
15 Zavortink, Matt WA 2051 6.5
(1) includes half point bye in round 9

Complete cross table can be found here (517 players)

Blitz results are here (129 players) - won by GM Andre Diamont (12.2) of GM Anatoly Bykhovsky (11.5-2.5)

Blitz report on Susan Polgar Daily News and Information.

Note: This was a partial republication of my blog today for Northwest Chess.
Links to the earlier posts on the 2012 U.S. Open Chess Championship:
Schedules Merge at 2012 U.S. Open (8/11/12)
Four players tied at 5.5-0.5 (8/10/12)
Breckenridge draws with GM D. Gurevich; Results through Rd. 5 (8/9/12)
Denker, Barber complete. Six day schedule begins in the main event. (8/8/12)
11 perfect scores after 3 rounds in the US Open Traditional Schedule (8/7/12)
Round 2 Traditional Schedule Results for leading Northwest Players (8/6/12)
Northwest well represented in the Denker and Barber tournaments (8/6/12)
First Side Event Completed at 2012 U.S. Open (8/6/12)

Monday, August 6, 2012

First Side Event Completed at 2012 U.S. Open

Josh Sinanan of Washington, pictured above, finished tied for 5th place with 3.5/5 after losing to co-winner Nick Raptis in the final round. Photo credit: Russell Miller

The U.S. Open Weekend Swiss, the first side event of this year’s tournament held August 4-5, was won by Nick Raptis of Oregon and Francisco Guadalupe II of Texas who tied for first with 4.5 points in five rounds. Yogi Saputra and Takuma Sato-Duncan, both of Oregon, tied for 3rd-4th with 4-1. Josh Sinanan of Washington, Carl Haessler of Oregon and Michael Goffe of Oregon were the Northwest players in the group tied for 5th through 9th with 3.5 points.

41 Players entered the event including 16 players from Oregon and 13 from Washington. The complete crosstable can be viewed here.

View continuous updates on the NW Chess blog.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


K.D. Lang sings Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah at the 2010 Winter Olympic opening ceremony in Vancouver, BC (Canada).

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Susan Polgar Girls Invitational to be held in St. Louis this year

The 9th Annual Susan Polgar Foundation Girl's Invitational (SPGI) will be held at Webster University in St. Louis July 22-27, 2012. Once again, I have been offered the privilege of serving as the tournament director. This year there will be over $100,000 worth of chess scholarships, prizes, notebook computers, free lodging and free food for the participants.

The opening ceremony will be at 1:00 PM on July 22. The format this year is similar to 2011.

• There will be a two-day intense world class training session with Susan Polgar and her team, followed by a 6 round (g/90+30) championship tournament.
• The traditional Blitz, Puzzle Solving, Bughouse events will stay the same as in previous years.
• There will be many chess prizes awarded, including scholarship(s) to Webster University.

Once again this year, there will also be a free entry Swiss system USCF rated side tournament for coaches, SPGI family members and tournament officials -- with prizes!!

Each state is allowed one representative to be nominated by June 1, 2012. Official representative alternates may be substituted no later than June 15. (Susan Polgar and/or the Polgar Committee may allow the host state to enter an additional qualified player.) Susan Polgar and/or the Polgar Committee may allow exceptions to the June 1 entry/alternate deadline. Should the state affiliate fail to respond to the notice for this tournament, Susan Polgar and/or the Polgar Committee may determine the candidate from that state.

Players must have been enrolled in a school (up to 12th grade) located in the state they represent, also of the year in which the tournament is held. Home-schooled students who are under the age of 19 on July 27th of the year in which the event is held or students who have never attended college on a full time basis prior to June 1 of the year in which the tournament is held, are eligible to represent the state in which they reside.

Exception: If a player graduates from high school early and is already attending college, she may still represent her state if nominated. This is the decision of each state affiliate.

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: The participants of the Susan Polgar Girl’s Invitational DO NOT have to be high school students. Any qualifier under the age of 19 (by July 27th of the year in which the tournament is held) is eligible!

Special invitation for this year only: All past participants of the SPNI and SPGI (Susan Polgar National Invitational/Susan Polgar Foundation Girls’ Invitational 2004-2011) are invited to participate in the 2012 SPGI. The idea is to have the past participants learn my method of training so they can go back home and share their knowledge with the younger players. However, registration MUST be made ASAP since space is limited. There will be mutual training sessions for all, however separate section & prizes for alumni participants over the age of 19.

Players are required to furnish the organizer an emergency phone number and the e-mail address of a parent/guardian.

There is no entry fee to participate in the 2012 SPGI; however, players are responsible for their own travel. For all state representatives, and qualifiers from the SPNO or SPWO, Webster University will provide complimentary room and meal accommodation on campus.

For alumni participants, wild card/special invites, coaches, parents, or other family members, inexpensive accommodations are available for housing and dining on Webster’s campus. Please note that all reservations and registrations MUST be made (and accommodation expenses prepaid) no later than June 25, 2012.

Prizes: Trophies / plaques will be awarded to the winners of the Susan Polgar Foundation Girl’s Invitational Puzzle Solving, Blitz, and the SPGI Championship. Co-champions are recognized in the case of a tie, with each champion receiving a Champion’s Plaque or Trophy. The Champion (or Co-Champions) will automatically be invited to defend her/their title (must meet age requirement).

Champion: Webster University scholarship (approximately $13,000 per year x 4 years) + netbook computer + Champion's Plaque / Trophy
2nd place: Webster University scholarship (approximately $13,000 per year x 4 years)
Top under 13: netbook computer
Top under 10: netbook computer

The scholarship must be exercised no later than the Fall of 2015.

The New Polgar Committee’s goal is to have all 50 states (including two representatives for California, two for Texas, and two for Missouri) and the District of Columbia represented. We strongly encourage each state and the District of Columbia affiliate to hold a scholastic championship tournament to determine each state’s champion and representative. Failing this, rating criteria may be acceptable. A scholastic girls’ champion or the highest rated girls’ scholastic player in a state who has no state affiliate of the USCF should contact the Polgar Committee as soon as possible.

Susan Polgar and/or the Polgar Committee and its members may elect to award wild cards each year for the Susan Polgar Girl’s Invitational.

Special qualifying events: The Polgar Committee will award automatic qualifying spots to the reigning winners in each section of the annual Susan Polgar Nationwide Open for Girls (New Orleans) and the Susan Polgar World Open for Girls (Chicago).

The new SPGI Chairperson is Martha Underwood (AZ).

NOTICE TO ALL STATE OFFICIALS: Please send the nomination from your state to the Polgar Committee (

For information and rates to stay and/or dine and other logistics on Webster’s campus, please send an email to

Contact info: Polgar Committee (

Michelle at Webster University 314-968-7468

The Susan Polgar Foundation can be contacted at 806-281-7424 or through

Webster University is located at 470 E. Lockwood Avenue Webster Groves, MO 63119

BIG THANKS to President Dr. Beth Stroble and Webster University for hosting and sponsoring this very prestigious event for girls!

-- Susan Polgar

Here's the link
to the original announcement

Former Women's World Chess Champion Susan Polgar and SPGI TD Frank Niro go over a game while waiting for a non-chess event in Seattle, Washington, February, 2010.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

2nd Meridian Invitational set for June 23

Frank Niro (right) playing the tournament winner, Corey Longhurst, in this photo from last year's Meridian Invitational as other participants look on.

This year's Meridian Invitational USCF rated chess tournament will be held on June 23 at our home in Meridian, Idaho. Let me know if you would like an invitation. Limit is 12 players. There is no entry fee again this year. As always, refreshments will be served.

Click here
to view the tournament flyer with the details.

Click here for last year's tournament report on the ICA web site:

A game from last year's event:

Niro,F (1703) - Kircher,C (1753) [B01]
Meridian, ID (4), 20.08.2011

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 3.d4 Nxd5 4.Nf3 Bg4 5.Be2 e6 6.0-0 Nc6 7.c4 Nb6 8.b3 Be7 9.Be3 Bf6 10.Na3 Qd7 11.Ne5 Bxe5 12.dxe5 Bxe2 13.Qxe2 Qe7 14.Bxb6 axb6 15.Nb5 0-0 16.f4 Qc5+ 17.Qf2 Qxf2+ 18.Rxf2² Rfc8 19.Rd1 Na7 20.Nxa7 Rxa7 21.a4 Kf8 22.Rfd2 Ke8 23.Rd7 Raa8 24.Kf2 Rd8 25.Rxd8+ Rxd8 26.Rxd8+ Kxd8 27.g4 Kd7 28.Ke3 Kc6 29.b4 Kd7 30.Ke4 c5 31.b5 Ke7 32.f5 f6 33.exf6+ Kxf6 34.fxe6 Kxe6 35.g5 h5?! 36.gxh6± gxh6 37.h3 h5 38.Kf4+- Kf6 39.h4 Kg6 40.Ke5 Kh7 41.Kf5 Kh6 42.Kf6 Kh7 43.Kg5 Kg7 44.Kxh5 Kh7 45.Kg5 Kg7 46.Kf5 Kh6 47.Ke6 Kh5 48.Kd6 Kxh4 49.Kc7 Kg4 50.Kxb7 Kf4 51.Kxb6 1-0

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A favorite Oregon City spot is closing

Sadly, we just recieved this note from our friends
Sarrah and Carlos Torres:

WINESTOCK is closing

We have to share with you that as of May 31st Winestock will no longer exist in OC! We have been asked to leave our space by the landlord who has signed a lease with someone else. This has been really hard news for us to take! But, we are extremely thankful for the 6 years we had here with all of you. Thank you, thank you and thank you!

Here's what the month of May looks like @ Winestock:
THIS WEEK: NATIVE Cabernet Franc release party! Wed-Sat
NEXT WEEK: BLIND TASTING, Test your palate 1 last time @ Winestock! Wed-Sat, 3-10pm
May 19th: EPIC TRUCKLOAD SALE with BACCHUS! Sat, one-day only, 11-4pm. Regular shop/bar hours afterwards, til 10pm

May 28th-29th: Fixture Sale
May 31st: Hand keys over to landlord

STOREWIDE SALE 15% OFF, 20% off 2 CASES (or more)***
INCLUDES ALL INVENTORY, except artwork and NATIVE Cabernet Franc. Further discounts may apply and those items will be marked.

THIS WEEK: NATIVE Cabernet Franc RELEASE! This week is monumental for us as we have been waiting for the release of this very special wine since the fall of 2010 and the time is now.
$22/bottle $118.80/6-pack $237.60 case $49/Magnum
One Varietal, One Barrel, One Vineyard
All Natural, Native, Hand-made, Nano-batch, unfiltered
23 case production and 6 magnums.

The 2010 growing season in the Columbia Valley was cooler than what's considered typical. Which for those of us who appreciate the subtle things in life and wine, was a gift from the wine gods. While the Summer season saw cooler days, the weeks approaching harvest were warm, sunny and dry. We were excited to make wine in 2010, especially given these conditions. A beautiful opportunity to make a beautiful wine! The early morning of October 15th we drove down the Columbia River Gorge thru the woods of Goldendale and entered the agrarian valley, destination: Benton City! We reached the heart of the Red Mountain appellation, to pick up a ton of hand-harvested, LIVE-certified, Cabernet Franc grapes from the Black Rock Vineyard, planted about 10 years earlier. The same day, we hand sorted and destemmed each cluster, thru the night along with the help of good friends! Over the next few weeks, fermentation went smoothly and as calculated, each day we saw the juice absorbing more color and phenolics from the berries. The native yeast did it's job, magically, completing fermentation on its own (and THEY say it can't be done!) The wine rested in barrel from November to November, (2-year and 3-year filled, French oak barrels bought from Beaux Freres). We racked into a 3-year barrel just before bottling on the full moon of 11-22-11. Bottled unfined, unfiltered. This is a beautiful Cabernet Franc, one that is reminiscent of the varietal and is showing real personality!

Upon opening the bottle, the aromatics are sweet and candied, showing floral notes of violets and roses, fresh raspberries and ripe cherries, with an undercurrent of spices. This is after just opening the bottle! Aromas deepen with more exposure to air. The color is a brilliant jewel tone, radiant and clear. On the palate the wine is silky smooth with a nice velvety backbone. The most impressive singular quality of the Native Cabernet Franc is it's "crazy, expansive length!" As for cellar time, good things happen to those who wait. Each time you open a bottle of Native you will be rewarded with a wine that is in a new place of its evolution, maturing slowly and surely over time. Expect this journey to continue thru the decade, now till 2020!

Join us for a tremendous sale as a local distributor, Bacchus Wines is going out of business and we are here to help them move the last of their inventory. These are great wines selling from 20-50% off their normal retail prices. Nothing wrong with these wines except that they are stuck in a lonely warehouse. Help release them and give them a new home. Most wines will be available for tasting. Get here early and bring your truck! 11-4pm. Regular shop hours following.


**Open at 3pm, MONDAY thru SATURDAY till MAY 26th** 

wine by the glass, bottle, case 

small plates . desserts 


Sarrah and Carlos Torres 


820 Main Street Suite B 

Downtown Oregon City 97045 

On 9th, between Railroad and Main 

503-656-WINE • WineStock

Sarrah & Carlos Torres (photo courtesy of Lewis & Clark Bank)

Dreamgift by Spencer Brewer, often makes me reminisce about special times at Winestock, even though the last time we heard live music there it was by a harpist.

Visit to learn more about his music.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

More controversy brewing in the chess world

Open Letter on Ilyumzhinov's Visit to Chicago

To: the FIDE Presidential Board
Re: Open Letter in objection to the recent Chicago visit

Dear FIDE Leadership Team,

The USCF Executive Board passed a motion this morning, with a vote of 7-0, directing me to convey our concerns related to FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov's recent activities in Chicago, Illinois. The text of the motion is below:

The USCF is deeply concerned about FIDE President Ilyumzhinov's recent visit to Chicago and the resulting press coverage on the FIDE website, due to the fact that President Ilyumzhinov discussed a US National Championship event with Chicago organizers without USCF participation. Put simply, this is a step in the wrong direction as it shows a complete disregard for the authority of all national federations and is against the interests of the great game of chess, both worldwide and in the United States.

We were surprised and disappointed that FIDE did not use this visit by President Ilyumzhinov as an opportunity to work with USCF as a partner. We wish to make it clear that we expect any future discussion relating to FIDE Involvement in a US-based project must include approval by and integral involvement of the USCF.

The only persons authorized to represent the USCF in negotiations with FIDE on matters involving chess are President Ruth Haring, Executive Director Bill Hall, FIDE Delegate Michael Khodarkovsky and Zonal President Francisco Guadalupe.

FIDE's motto is "Gens una sumus" or "We are one family." In that spirit, the USCF sent a large delegation to the 2011 FIDE Congress in Krakow, Poland, expending significant resources to strengthen the relationship between FIDE and the USCF. To this end, we expect FIDE to respect the rights of the national federations and remember its own motto. In the future, we fully expect FIDE to seek approval from the appropriate USCF officials of the United States national federation, as designated herein pertaining to any and all planned chess related activities in the United States.


Bill Hall
US Chess Federation Executive Director
May 2, 2012
Source: USCF web site

A song that has always made me relax: Cinderella by Spencer Brewer

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ted Belanoff wins 2012 Idaho Open

(photo courtesy of the Idaho Chess Association)

Expert Ted Belanoff of California won the 2012 Idaho Open in Pocatello with a perfect score of 5-0. Second place went to Gregory Nowack of Montana (3.5-1.5). Nowack lost to Belanoff in Round 4. Idaho players Caleb Kircher, George Lundy and Barry Eacker tied for 3rd through 5th. The Reserve section was won by Adam Porth of Idaho with 4.5 points.

Complete coverage can be found on the Idaho Chess Association web site.

This was the first official Northwest Chess Grand Prix event held in Idaho.

Check out the related video here.

Game score to follow...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Cornell Team Sparkles at UAB Case Competition

Tash and I were privileged to accompany the Cornell Health Administration students to Alabama for the annual case Competition held at University of Albabama at Birmingham on February 16-17, 2012.Pictured, left to right, are Rachna Badlani, Natasha Niro, Frank Niro, Katie Strausser and Rachel DeSantis (photo courtesy of Katie Strausser)

There were 32 teams representing the premier graduate programs from around the country. The format included a preliminary round of six groups consisting of five or six teams. One winner was picked in each group to advance to the finals where they competed for cash prizes.

The team watched all of the six finalists' presentations this afternoon and saw some areas where they were clearly strong and on target, and other places where they might have done better.

I spoke with one of the judges for our group who said the choice of which team advanced to the finals from our group was very close and difficult, not disclosing who was the second choice (but her body language gave me a hint that it was probably Cornell). Because of the nature of the competition, the second place finisher in one group could have scored higher than the winner of another group. That's an unfortunate but necessary downside of the process.

In any case, at the awards banquet this evening, the Cornell team was awarded with the First Honorable Mention prize. In other words, they were the best of the rest that didn't make the finals. I was very impressed with their presentation as well as their ability to handle some really tough questions under pressure. Their award was truly deserved, in my opinion, and all the more outstanding given that they were apparently the only team among the 32 schools consisting entirely of first year students.

The Cornell team finished ahead of Michigan, Minnesota, Johns Hopkins, George Washington and a host of other outstanding programs. Katie, Rachel, and Rachna truly represented Cornell well and I trust that you will join me in congratulating them. They will not be bringing home the money, but the experience and the networking contacts clearly makes them all winners, as Randa Hall stated more than once. One of the other judges gave them each his card stating that his hospital has a one year fellowship program and that he would be honored to have either of the members of our team as a "fellow" in his system.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

High School Play List 1960s

In case any of my kids or students are wondering what I was listening to when I was their age, here's my high school playlist (circa 1962-68):