Schenectady Chess Club Annual Meeting

The Schenectady Chess Club will hold its annual meeting on Thursday September 21st at 8:00 PM. Dues are likely to remain at $36 annually. Please be kind to our Treasurer and bring exact change.

I intend to propose a scholastic club tourney, with G/25 d/4, to run concurrent with the traditional club championship. Schenectady has traditionally offered significantly reduced annual membership for scholastic participants. Note that the time control will only impact quick rating. This is negotiable. A time control of G/30 d/5 would impact regular rating, if preferred. A start time of 7:30 each Thursday would have an expected end time of 8:30. I propose that the tourney be a round robin, all play all. A smaller turnout could have a double round robin, all play all, each player having both white and black. If there is any interest, please email me with inquiries or entry request to Walter AT enyca.org.

The club meets at the Niskayuna Community Center.

Saratoga Staunton Chess Club annual meeting and club championship tournament

The Saratoga Staunton Club’s annual meeting will be held Sunday September 24, 2017 at 7:30 PM. The championship tournament usually starts one week later, which would be October 1. Combined membership/entry fee is $16; there has been discussion of raising it. The club meets at the Saratoga Springs United Methodist Church, 175 Fifth Av. Saratoga Springs, NY. New members are welcome and encouraged.

Notes on the tournament: Most likely it will be a double round robin, depending on entries. The past few years it has been a relatively small tournament. Also, it is run semi-informally, allowing for players to reschedule games as needed to accommodate the players. Most players have rescheduled games in the past. The length of the tournament will be determined by the entries and how many games have to be rescheduled. It is a great way to play one rated game a week.

There is no need to attend the annual meeting to play in the tournament, in the past entries have even been accepted after the tournament has started.

The club is planning to also host some Quick Chess events; tentatively, on Oct 8 and Dec 10 but no one has checked for conflicts yet. That and any other events will be discussed at the meeting. I will announce it here when it is decided.

Frenzy of Local Clubs’ Annual Meetings

Details for the locations of the clubs can be found on the Clubs tab.

Schenectady Chess Club: Thursday, September 21st, 2017 8:00 P.M.

Saratoga Staunton Knights: Sunday, September 24th, 2017 8:00 P.M.

Albany Chess Club: Wednesday, September 27th, 2017 7:30 P.M.

I might edit these times if someone screams loud enough, so please pencil these in, and check back over the next two days.

Albany v Schenectady match tomorrow, August 24th

Tomorrow night the annual match between the Albany chess club and the Schenectady chess club will be held at the Niskayuna Community Center. Details for location and contact information for the club presidents can be found on the Clubs tab above.If you are thinking about joining the clubs this is an excellent opportunity to meet the membership. For a nominal fee, players may participate, playing a rated game [game in 100 minutes with 5 second delay.] If you just wish to show up and quietly watch the games in progress, all are welcome. Registration is at 7, play begins at 7:30. USCF membership is required for rated play, so bring your card if you can.

Make The Right Move 2016-17 School Year: Year-End Report

Make The Right Move, in association with the Eastern New York Chess Association (ENYCA), has been offering opportunities for kids of all ages and levels of ability to enjoy chess, learning, and competition. Make the Right Move promotes the serious and continuous growth of youth using Chess as an educational tool through a series of free monthly competitions, for various skill levels, at multiple sites throughout the Greater Capital District. Chess mastery is achieved using the best methods of study and participation and the engagement of parents and educators. Groups and individuals are recognized for their achievement on a monthly and yearly basis. This article gives a summary of the 2016-17 school year activities along with next year’s schedule.

The 2016-17 School Year has been a great success with more than 1500 total participants (500+ individual players) and 40+ schools participating, with 10+ tournaments organized in the Capital District area. The Right Move assisted with the Bennington Spring Open in Vermont, the MLK Tournament in Kingston, the Harris Memorial Tournament in Newburgh, the PAL Tournament in Albany, and the Miller Tournament in Lake Katrine.

Chess Tables at Madison Avenue Fair with Brother John McManus and Sandeep Alampalli

Before the start of the tournaments this year, the Right Move had an opportunity again to showcase chess at the Madison Avenue Fair in Albany. The Right Move had several chess tables and scores of people stopped by to play chess and get more information. Some of the kids who came there also became regulars at the tournaments this school year.

The first tournament of the school year (TRM 109) was during National Chess Day on October 8, 2016, at the Bethlehem Central Middle School. We had a strong turnout with more than 100 players. Bethlehem Central Middle School and Albany High School each hosted two tournaments this year with Giffen Elementary School, MLK Magnet Elementary School, Wood Road Elementary School, Central Park Middle School, and LaSalle School hosting one tournament each. The last tournament of the year was at Albany High School on June 17, 2017, and had more than 160 players, the highest turnout of the year.

TRM 115 at Central Park Middle School
TRM 116 in Progress at the LaSalle School

Last tournament of the year (TRM 117) at Albany High SchoolFollowing tradition, the school year ended with a grand picnic on Wednesday, June 21, 2016, at the Christian Brothers Academy. At this picnic, the host schools, volunteers, tournament directors, top schools, top players, and individuals were recognized. The Coach of the Year award was presented to Mr. Patrick Bergin and the Hall of Fame award to Sandeep Alampalli. One of the highlights of the picnic was the presentation of the Sportsmanship of the Year award to Mary Livingston. Below are details related to top schools and individuals honored for their achievements during this school year.

TOP SCHOOLS

During the 2016-2017 School year, more than 40 schools participated in the Right Move Tournaments. Below are the top 10 schools/clubs with the highest total points.

Consistent team attendance at all tournaments with at least four scholastic players is a key to be on the above list. Congratulations to all the players, parents, and their coaches. All team scores are posted here.

Bethlehem Central Middle School students receiving the Top School award at the year-end picnic

SCHOLASTIC PLAYER OF THE YEAR

The Right Move congratulates Allen Crucetta, 2016-2017 Scholastic Player of the Year. Scholastic Player of the Year Award and Top Scholastic Players are based on combined scores in the numbered tournaments (TRM 109 through TRM 117) hosted by the Right Move in the Capital District area with both rated and unrated sections. All the top scholastic players also received their choice of a book from ENYCA. All individual scores are posted here.

COACH OF THE YEAR

This award is presented to an individual who has been a role model to younger players through coaching or participation in chess activities. Right Move presented the 2016-2017 Coach of the Year Award to Mr. Patrick Bergin. Mr. Bergin is a teacher and chess coach at the Central Park Middle School. He has been promoting chess as a teacher and chess coach at MLK Magnet Elementary School until moving to the Central Park MS last year. His team has consistently done well in the tournaments they participated in. He has also been instrumental in hosting Right Move tournaments at both schools. Congratulations Mr. Bergin!

Mr. Bergin playing with his students
Mr. Bergin with his students at a TRM award ceremony

HALL OF FAME AWARD

The Hall of Fame Award is presented to an individual who provided exceptional service to accomplish the mission of the Right Move in the Capital District Area. The 2016-17 award was given to Sandeep Alampalli, a sophomore from the Albany Academy, in recognition of the leadership role he played in advancing the Right Move mission of promoting chess. He was a motivation to all scholastic players at the Right Move with his volunteering and fund raising efforts as the President for the last three years. He was the Player of the Year in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012, the only player to win back-to-back titles so far. Sandeep is a USCF certified Senior Tournament Director and helped with the organization of several tournaments. He is representing New York State as a 2017 delegate to the US Chess Federation.

Sandeep with Brother John and then at an award ceremony

2016-17 School Year Tournament Sponsors

We thank all the schools and their teachers for hosting these tournaments. It’s not possible to organize these tournaments without schools taking the lead. We also thank all the sponsors of the 2016-17 school year tournaments. Their generous contributions make these scholastic tournaments possible. We also thank the ENYCA for generously donating books and chess sets to deserving players at various tournaments. If interested in sponsoring one of the upcoming tournaments, please contact us at rightmovechessATgmail.com.

Officers and Tournament Directors

Numerous volunteers make the Right Move chess tournaments possible. All their efforts are greatly appreciated. Nothing is possible without the direction and hard work of Brother John McManus and Dr. Sreenivas Alampalli. We thank both for their dedicated service. We also thank all the officers and tournament directors, who worked hard to successfully plan and organize these events.

2016-17 School Year officers

President: Sandeep Alampalli
Vice-president: Dr. Laurie Miroff
Secretary: Santhosh Abraham
Treasurer: Mahadevan Balasubramaniam

Elected Officers for the 2017-2018 School Year

President: Sandeep Alampalli
Vice-president: Santhosh Abraham
Secretary: Dr. Christine Zhao
Treasurer: Mahadevan Balasubramaniam

Tournament Directors

Brother John McManus
Dr. Sreenivas Alampalli
Santhosh Abraham
Sandeep Alampalli

2017-18 School Year Schedule

Below is the tentative schedule for the 2017-18 School Year. Get the up-to-date information and registration details at www.chestrm.org. If you have any questions, send an email tomoc.l1506138760iamg@1506138760ssehc1506138760evomt1506138760hgir 1506138760

2017-18 School Year Tentative Schedule

By: Sandeep Alampalli, President, Right Move
edited M Walter Mockler, President, ENYCA

Play Like a Patzer; Think Like an Expert

The 2016-2017 Albany Chess Club Championship came to a close on Wednesday, February 1. The runaway victor was, once again, Jeremy Berman. Congratulations Jeremy!

This year a trophy was offered to Second Place as well, providing the rest of us something to vie for beyond “mere” rating points.

I’ve been playing rated, competitive chess for over twenty years, starting when I was in high-school. My first rated games were in a scholastic trophy tournament, run by the ubiquitous CCA Tournament Director, Steve Immitt. That started a 500+ games journey through the D-A rating classes.

In my youth I played every tournament I could possibly get to: a 12-round US Open in Virginia; consecutive World Opens in Philadelphia; multiple team championships in Parsippany; too many NYS Championships in Saratoga; random CCA tournaments all over New England; all-night tournaments at the Marshall Chess Club in Manhattan; and countless games cutting my teeth at the Vassar-Chadwick Chess Club, in Poughkeepsie, NY, my hometown. I had some decent wins, but mostly mediocre results. As an under-employed student, I got caught up in trying to win money over rating points, stunted my chess growth, and saw a high-school rating peak of 1770 foolishly brought down to the 1600’s. So I walked away from the game to focus on life.

And I did. But I missed the game. Even more so, I missed the carefree days of youth, when the young conscience is free of those pesky adulthood burdens – careers, bills, marriage. It’s not easy justifying playing chess as an adult. “How can you take time away from what’s important in life to play a game?” – is how the responsible-adult rationale goes. So now, I’m down to less than ten rated games a year. But I know this all-work-no-play attitude ultimately can’t compete with Caissa, my first love. If you’re reading this blog, then you too have been seduced by her. She’s my lifelong affair; no matter how determined I’ve been to leave her – and I’ve tried – she enchants me back. 

I decided to commit to playing in the Albany Chess Club Championship. But I quickly regretted that decision. I lost my first game. A close, contentious battle with Jeremy Berman, being ultimately decided on one move: if I make the right move, I gain a solid positional advantage; if I play incorrectly, then I’m saddled with a losing disadvantage. I missed the strongest move, and didn’t recover. I say there’s no luck in chess – just weak moves. He who makes the final weak move loses the win.

My first round opponent (Berman) and last round opponent (Dean Howard) were the only players rated higher than me entering the tournament. So sandwiched between those two games, I’d be playing rating-roulette: anything can happen in these late-evening midweek battles. My starting rating: 1998. Two points away from achieving the Grandmaster-equivalent-for-club players, the elusive rank of National Expert. So after that loss, I began the tournament instantly down 12 points. But I slogged my way through the next ten games (dropping a game to Gordon Magat, who simply outplayed me), and entered the last round 9-2, to Dean Howard’s 9.5-1.5. I’m now up eight rating points: sitting unofficially at 2006. The battle is on not just for Second Place, but also to secure my rating. I need a win to earn Second Place, but would also be happy with a rating-saving draw. A loss would be horrific. Twelve games, around 36 hours of intense chess, all for naught rating-wise. A loss would mean zero rating points gained, and a fitful night of chess-loser-regret tossing-and-turning. The reward from five months of laborious chess-work is earned or lost with this one game.

In prepared openings, it takes two to stay on course, and only one to go off trail. I always joked I’d make it to Expert without knowing any opening theory. Every game is a new adventure – I ignorantly blaze my own path, and quite often enter thorny thickets. One can say this is the hallmark of a chess swindler – frequently fighting back from losing positions.

My game with Dean predictably soon had me in the briar patch, and we arrived at the following position.

Playing for equality, I decided to trade down. I should have exchanged queens first. Instead, after a good think, I play 16. Nc5. Which immediately turned into 16. Nc5??

WHAT DID I JUST DO!!!??

Only now, AFTER I played the move, did it become clear: he can simply take my knight, and my planned recapture of 17. Rxc5 utterly fails to black simply moving his queen to c7 or e7. If I play 17. QxQ first, after 17… RxQ, I’m basically forced to play 18. RxR, and then black recaptures with the knight, solidly protecting the hanging bishop. There is no recourse. I’M LOST! JUST. LIKE. THAT. Of course, Dean takes the knight. 16…Bxc5.

I saved my worst move of the tournament for my last game. Quite possibly the worst blunder I’ve made in three hundred rating points. Completely unforced. No tricks. No tactics. No traps. No zaps. A wholly unnecessary move with zero advantage gained, and no saving grace. I’m down material and position, with no counter-play. This is resignable. Just put your hand out; abscond; soothe your sorrows with Wendy’s; go home and kick the dog.

Now I’m staring at the board, suffering through the five stages of grief. Is this REALLY over? I’m searching and analyzing the position. There’s nothing. My clock is ticking down. Ahh, ok. Forget it. I’m done. I’m going to resign. I’m not going to sit here and play hope-chess, where one hopes their opponent sinks to their level. I’ll spare myself the humiliation.

But Dean isn’t at the board. He’s walking around. Predicament: how do you resign with no opponent? So I sit there and keep studying the position, accept it’s hopeless, and have a full-on internal dialogue, that goes something like this:

What just happened? I made a horrible move. Why? Because I’m an idiot. Ok, but you ARE rated around 2000, which means you’re a good chess player. True, relatively speaking, I am a good player. I just made a bad move. So if I’m a good player, and I’m capable of making a bad move, then logic says my opponent, who is also a good player, is also capable of making a bad move. Good point. Wait. This is just like the Superbowl from a few days ago. The Patriots are a good football team – had the best record in the league, but they played a horrible first half. Then the second half, they played great, and the Falcons played weak. So just because the Patriots played a weak half first, doesn’t mean they are the weaker team. The Patriots were down 28-3. Down 25 points. In the third quarter. That’s a loss. But somehow, they came back. They didn’t give up. They didn’t quit. They waited for their opponent to make weak moves.

But I’m not the Patriots and this isn’t football. But okay, I’ll let myself make ONE move, then I’ll resign. What move gives my opponent the best opportunity to make a weak move? I exchange queens. 17. QxQ. Dean comes back to the board.

He makes his move. 17…Bxf2+. WHAT THE??? UNBELIEVABLE! I’M BACK IN IT! JUST. LIKE. THAT. I felt like the Patriots.

Forget the pawn. I KNEW I’d get it back. Suddenly it’s a game. And just like the Superbowl after regulation, it was a tie score, stopped one move before bare kings. Draw.

But really a win-win.

Dean earned Second Place in the ACCC, and I finally, on game 543 of my chess life, became a National Expert.

LESSONS FOR THE NOVICE

1) No one has ever won or drawn by resigning. If it’s a draw, then the game will play to a draw. The endgame experience gained playing until the very end is worth the effort. If you make a blunder, don’t give up. Weak moves can be contagious.

2) Stay at the board. Think on your opponent’s time. We’re not grandmasters, calculating while we wander the aisles. The more you look, the more the board reveals. In post-game analysis, I’m always amazed to see what I missed. “How did I not see that??” Also, you never know when your opponent will prematurely resign.

3) Study tactics. I use chesstempo.com. Solving tactics puzzles is the most efficient way to study. You can make Expert without knowing deep opening theory. Patzers love openings. Makes them sound like a chess player. They’ll show you all the sidelines. Then they’ll drop a piece to a tactic.

Near-upsets at the AACC Championship

On November 30, two games from the Albany club championship could have ended in big upsets, but did not.

Gordon Magat was a Rook down against Kun Park in a Q+R vs. Q+RR position. It wasn’t simple, especially with less than a minute on both clocks. Kun lost his Queen for a Rook trying to avoid perpetual check, and Gordon won the ending that followed.

My game with Paul Moore was almost a routine win for me. I won the exchange in the early middlegame. His attacking position was insufficient, but he had more CP (Cheapo Potential) than I realized, and it could have ended badly for me.

Enter the Dragon

The Sicilian Dragon is one of Black’s most aggressive options to play for a win. The “Dragon” is characterized by Black castling kingside and fianchettoing their dark square bishop (“The Dragon Bishop”) to g7, where it eyes the h8–a1 diagonal, aiming at the center and queenside. White frequently seeks to meet Black’s setup with Be3, Qd2 and Bh6, exchanging off the dragon bishop, followed by launching a kingside pawn storm with h4–h5 and g4.

Often times White will follow this plan by castling queenside and enter what is called the “Yugoslav Attack”, which is White’s sharpest line to the dragon. All together, the opposite side castling will lead to positions where the victory is decided by who can checkmate their opponent first — Black attacking on the queenside and White attacking on the kingside. In these lines, all positional considerations are thrown away and tactics reign supreme.

Today’s game is from Round 3 of the AACC Championship, where Mr. Park and Mr. Narayan fearlessly enter the Yugoslav variation of the Dragon and make their way through the heavy complications. Needless to say, the Dragon is not for the faint of heart. But it is fun to watch!

A fun and swashbuckling game! Black had several chances to win, as did White who ended up winning. When you enter the dragon, from either color, you must be prepared to swing from winning to losing positions or vice-versa. The analysis and objective measure of “truth” will come after the game ends. But until then, it is just you and your opponent going for each other’s throats, and the game isn’t decided until one of you is mated. If you are looking for an opening to spice up your boring chess positions, then consider preparing or entering the dragon!

Until next time,

Jeremy

Schenectady Club Championship, Upset Alert

This year’s Schenectady Club Championship is a top-heavy event. Fourteen contestants, five former club champions. Today’s game features a major upset of one of the favorites by a rising player. The 368 point rating difference between the two players is likely to be the largest disparity of this year’s event.

A cool little effort in defense of the King’s field by young Northrup. We have grown accustomed to Mr. Sells ability to surf the rogue waves of time trouble over the years, but even for the best, occasionally, the wipeout. Cue the Surfaris.

Albany Club Championship Begins!

On Wednesday October 26, 2016 the first round of the Albany Area Chess Club (AACC) Championship 2016-17 occurred at the Hamilton Union Presbyterian Church in Guilderland, NY.

This year’s AACC Championship format involves a single round robin of 14 participants; a typical number of participants in recent years. The participants include (decreasing rating order): Jeremy Berman (2048), Dean Howard (2000), Dave Finnerman (1998), Gordon Magat (1929), Tim Wright (1943), Krishna Nallamothu (1832), Arthur Alowitz (1724), Kun Park (1687), Cory Northrup (1686), Tom Clark (1608), Paul Axel-Lute (1534), Premjith Narayan (1521), Paul Moore (1382), and Adam Steinberger (unrated).

There are many familiar faces to the Capital District chess scene, with 5 players (Berman, Finnerman, Magat, Wright, and Howard) above 1900. However there are also the new faces of Krishna (1832), Premjith (1521), and Adam (unrated). And Kun Park (1687), who played in the club championship two years ago. These guys promise to inject fresh energy and surprises to the usual club championship, and the round robin format will give them the chance to show their stuff against the usual suspects. Welcome to all!

The results of the first round are given below:

Jeremy Berman 1 – 0 Dave Finnerman
Gordon Magat 1 – 0 Tim Wright
Cory Northrup 1 – 0 Paul Moore
Premjith Narayan 1 – 0 Arthur Alowitz
Krishna Nallamothu 1 – 0 Paul Axel-Lute
Adam Steinberger 0 – 1 Kun Park
Tom Clark 0 – 1 Dean Howard

The first round featured all decisive games, with the higher rated player winning each game, except for the one upset of Premjith (1521) winning over Arthur (1724). More on this game below.

The top two boards featured exciting games between four of the top five rated players. Berman-Finnerman featured a Symmetrical English with positional play dominating the game play, finishing in the final minutes for each player with Mr. Berman winning the ending. Magat-Wright featured a Slav defense with Mr. Wright grabbing the c-pawn and trying to hold it. Eventually Mr. Magat found enough initiative to bring about a very tactical game in which he got the better of the position and won.

Today’s game of the week features Premjith’s win over Arthur. Premjith joined the AACC last year, after the Championship. He and his son have frequented the club this past year, with lots of chess practice. Arthur of course is a grizzled veteran of the Capital Region chess scene, and has been a solid and super fast player. As we will see below, Premjith uses his opening preparation to throw Arthur off balance and to take the early lead. But a game is not always won so easily at club level, and Arthur looks for chances to hold. Enjoy!

When Black resigned, due to the overwhelming White advantage and the eminent fall of the black b-pawn. A well played game by White, using his opening knowledge to score an early advantage. But some critical miscues allowed Black a few opportunities to equalize the game. As the saying goes, you sometimes have to win a won game several times over…and in this case White did just that. But as a lesson for the weaker side, there often are chances to come back…but you have to look for tactics!!

Jeremy