CHESSanity: A Unique Class Tournament

*A quick update on my plans to cover the US Championships: My flight was canceled and I have no idea when I will make it to St. Louis. Chess^Summit still puts its support behind one of our writers, Jennifer Yu, for the tournament. However, we may be unable to report d8irectly from the US Champs in St. Louis*


Photos courtesy of Winston Wang

We have all grown up ascending through class sections in tournaments: U1000, U1200, U1400, U1600, U1800, U2000, U2200, and finally, Open. I recently discovered a newly imagined tournament section structure. The rating restrictions were 2100+ scholastic, 2200+ adults, 2050 girls- basically anyone who would typically play an U2000-Open section. Obviously, this tournament proved to be relatively exclusive with the strong rating necessary in order to play.

CHESSanity, a non-profit founded by National Masters Warren and Wesley Wang, hosted this tournament, its first Weekend Open on April 1st and 2nd. Held in Edison, NJ, it was accessible to many strong Tri-State Area and Northeastern players. The premise behind the creation was that there were not many “strong”, “quality” tournaments in the area and 2000+ rated players often find themselves playing lower rateds in their section, which can be problematic toward development and strong games to learn from. I found this concept to be intriguing and most likely never popularly done before.

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NM Warren Wang

To organize and afford the tournament, NM Wesley Wang had to give up playing in the World Youth and the Pan American Youth tournaments. These are two of the most important tournaments for many young American players and his sacrifice, therefore, was not lost on the chess community. IM John Burke, for example, pledged his support by agreeing to play all the tournaments and six players committed to the first 5 tournaments- Wesley Wang, Christopher Yu-Shuo Shen, Eddy Tian, Alan Zhang, Winston Ni, and Evelyn Zhu. 28 players played in the tournament (including 1 GM and 3 IMs). I consider this to be a resounding success- sometimes I don’t even see that many players at the Marshall Chess Club’s weekend tournaments!

What makes the tournament even more notable is that it will soon be FIDE rated. FIDE tournaments are often hard to find in the United States, so many players are forced to travel abroad in order to rack up those FIDE points. Because this tournament can boast such a standing, I have no doubt that strong players will be attracted to the future tournaments.

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There will be more tournaments coming up, namely the second installment on June 3rd and 4th. The hope is that there will be enough enrollment to start organizing every month from September 2017 forward. You can find out more about CHESSanity and their Weekend Opens at www.chessanity.org.

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Behind the Scenes of a Final Four Team

With no great surprise, Webster University placed first at this year’s President’s Cup aka the “Final Four” Collegiate Chess Championship for the fifth year in a row. Facing stiff competition from longtime rivals Texas Tech and University of Texas at Dallas and the newly formed Saint Louis University, Webster managed a clear victory.

The final results:
1. Webster University: 8
2. Texas Tech University: 6½
3. Saint Louis University: 5
4. University of Texas at Dallas: 4½

Games, details, and more can be found on Chess24.

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Webster Team in the final round | Photo by Vanessa Sun

Congrats to Webster’s Final Four chess team- GMs Le Quang Liem, Ray Robson, Alex Shimanov, Vasif Durarbayli, Illia Nzyhnyk, and Priyadharshan Kannappan!

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SLU Team vs. Webster | Photo by Vanessa Sun

Despite some ties to the Webster team, it was another team that received my affections this past weekend. Throughout the tournament, I was personally rooting for the SLU Chess Team, the newcomers and first year qualifiers- this school year was the team’s first year of formation, first year at PanAms and the Final Four. With GM Alejandro Ramirez as the coach, there were many high hopes for the team composed this past year of 3 grandmasters, 1 international master, and an alternate.

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SLU Team’s Coach, GM Alejandro Ramirez | Photo by Vanessa Sun

The SLU team:

1. GM Darius Swiercz

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GM Darius Swiercz | Photo by Vanessa Sun

2. GM Yaro Zherebukh (who is soon playing in the US Championship so look out for that!)

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GM Yaro Zherebukh | Photo by Vanessa Sun

3. GM Francesco Rambaldi

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GM Francesco Rambaldi | Photo by Vanessa Sun

4. IM Cemil Can Ali Marandi

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IM Cemil Can Ali Marandi | Photo by Vanessa Sun

5. Nozima Aripova

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SLU Team Alternate: Nozima Aripova | Photo by Vanessa Sun

Alas, it was not meant to be as the first and second boards maintained their performances but the third and fourth boards were unable to gain momentum and fell prey to mistakes. It was an unusually tough weekend for the SLU team, but there is no doubt that they will continue to train harder, learn more, and grow as a team.

The team dynamics were to me, the most interesting aspects to observe outside of the chess. Ordinarily, no one outside of a chess team knows what goes on inside of the team’s preparations and lifestyle during a tournament such as the Final Four, but getting to experience that as both chess journalist and friend (to many of the players) gave me a taste of the struggles and inner workings of the team.

Homework.

This is so relatable to any young chess player, to be honest. Everyone had to do it. Having to balance school and chess is such an integral part to being both a student and a chess player, and homework definitely adds an extra stressor to the tournament. I saw math problems being solved, heard midterm grades discussed, and as I was covering the event, even had to do homework myself! I guess the action is not so limited to the team players, but also to young journalists watching the event.

 

Each team member has such a different personality.

I think it took a little getting used to each member of the team’s attitudes, habits, and characteristics. One person might have the loudest voice, but his roommate could be relatively quiet much of the time. One person could wear sweatpants to a game, but another could wear more professional looking blue pants. It’s clear that underlying everything, chess brings all different types of people together, and these seem to actually come out more when a team is composed.

 

Inside jokes.

I can’t reveal the inside jokes of the team, but it was interesting getting to know just how close chess team members can get by having so many inside jokes together. It shows that chess teams are just like those of other sports, and that each chess team is unique and has experiences that no one else will understand. I wondered all weekend if other teams had as many inside jokes and if that was even true of all teams.

 

Eating and Eating together.

The SLU team members ate together as a team. Maybe this helped increase the bond between the players- is there something strengthening in the act of eating together? Either way, no one ever seemed to eat alone as a general rule. There was always plenty to eat and plenty to discuss over the food. Many of the team members tried new foods as well- namely Poke and some Georgian food (which was new to me).

 

The Respect/Friendliness Toward Other Teams

I enjoyed chatting with the Texas Tech alternates, WCM Claudia Munoz and WIM Iryna Andrenko, and Nozima seemed very friendly with the two as well. Greetings were said as familiar faces were recognized. In general, amidst the competitive spirit, there was clear sportsmanship and no strong animosity toward other teams. Each team at the very least respected members of other teams and that reflects a lot about chess, which can yield vicious battles OTB but also create lasting friendships.

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Iryna playing against Nozima | Photo by Vanessa Sun

All-Girls Tournaments: The Solution to Gender Issues in Chess?

I have never taken part in an all-girls chess tournament, but I have always wanted to go to one. I only discovered the All-Girls Nationals my last year of being a scholastic player, but I could not make it. I knew in my heart I’d never get the opportunity to play in an all-girls tournament, but I realized I could live vicariously through all the girls I met at those tournaments.

This weekend, I got that opportunity by going to the First New York State Girls Team and Individual Chess Championships, which was held at The Hewitt School on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. 200 or so girls had the chance to experience what I never did, and I was proud of that. It meant that these girls were making friendships and growing as chess players. There was a friendliness that seemed to override the feeling of competition. At many chess tournaments, there is the tension of impending battles over the board, but what I observed in the atmosphere this weekend was more of a camaraderie.

For some, this tournament was not only the first all-girls tournament, but their first ever tournament. There were prizes specially for unrated players. The general sections were:

K-12 Championship
K-12 Under 1200
K-6 Championship
K-6 Under 900
K-3 Championship
K-3 Under 600
K-1 Championship

Amy Sun, the top seed for the K-6 Elementary Championships, used this in preparation of future tournaments. This was her “first all-girls tournament but she wanted some extra preparation for the All-Girls Nationals,” said her parents. They claimed she had no preference between the ordinary tournaments and an all girls one, however. In fact, Erica Li, tenth place in the K-12 Championship, and Juliette Shang, ninth place in the K-12 Championship, told me that they also saw no difference between the mixed and the all-girls ones. WFM Carissa Yip commented to me personally (she was not at the tournament but had some good thoughts to provide me) that although all-girls tournaments definitely do encourage more girls to play chess, she also didn’t see much difference.

 

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WFM Carissa Yip at the US Amateur Team East 2017 | Photo credits: Vanessa Sun.

I feel that there may not be much of a difference to the more experienced kids, but the girls just starting out in scholastic chess may benefit from all-girls tournaments the most. After talking to excited kids and parents alike, I decided that at the very least, girls could go to these sorts of tournaments and think that there are other girls just like them who play chess and also think it’s a cool game. It is really obvious in every Goichberg tournament that there is a huge gender disparity, and girls can feel less alone as they understand that there is a community for them.

The one big side event the tournament boasted was GM Irina Krush’s lecture. As a former US Women’s Champion, Irina was a perfect choice to inspire the girls. Of the tournament, she said that she liked this one in particular because “it just gets 200 girls together and makes it easier for them to make friends.“

 

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GM Irina Krush | Photo credits: Vanessa Sun
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Irina signing items for the host school | Photo credits: Vanessa Sun
It was clear that underlying the competition was the USCF pushing their initiative to support these female future champions. Right when you walked in, there were flyers for the All-Girls National tournament. There was the US Chess banner for the USCF Women’s Committee, which I had seen at several other tournaments. Surveys were conducted by Kimberly McVay, a member of the USCF Women’s Committee, asking various questions about female involvement in chess. The USCF is currently collecting data in order to understand what exactly they should target in terms of improving conditions for females in chess. Ideally, the USCF’s big goal would be for females to make up 50% of the player population. Currently, they are miles away from their mark, which is evident in every tournament we all compete in.

An interesting new change to the USCF website, though, was the addition of more top 100 lists. This was received rather positively by a woman on the Top 100 list for Women Over 50, Maret Thorpe- so much so that she wrote an article on this very topicI was also personally thrilled to see myself on these lists and found it encouraging to want to move up in my personal rankings.

A possible idea proposed by the K-12 Champion of the tournament, Sophie Morris-Suzuki, was that there could be more camps or programs for just girls. Citing Chess Girls DC and Chess Girls NY as examples, Sophie feels that although there are a few camps/programs that are all-girls, they are often for beginners or younger kids. One such example is the United States Chess School , which holds invitational chess camps for the most promising young players in the United States and has held all-girls camps before. She, and I feel that many older players may feel the same, desires more camps for older players. It would certainly help encourage continual involvement in chess beyond the middle school years. She also suggests that there be an increase in women’s tournaments because too much of the gender equality efforts are focused on young girls.


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 Sophie Morris-Suzuki

K-12 Champion

Photo credits: Vanessa Sun


It is clear that there is no one solution, but it cannot be denied that the chess community has been failing to actively support female chess players adequately for a long time. Girls and women still face many obstacles in achieving more recognition and success in chess. With these tournaments and new changes, we seem to be improving every day and every year. I myself had the opportunity to connect with both parents and some scholastic players because of this past weekend. Girls tournaments such as the First NYS All-Girls Championship provide a weekend of fun for the female chess players and is no doubt quite the place to feel empowered, supported, encouraged, and to make friendships.


 

Standings from the First NYS All-Girls Team and Individual Championships:

Individual:

K-1 Championship                Stephanie Weinberg won Clear First

K-3 Under 600                     Lia Skarabot and Chloe Stark each won all 5 games; Lia won the speed playoff for First over Chloe


K-3 Championship               Lilian Wang won on (secondary)  tiebreaks over Maya Figelman

K-6 Under 900                     Ella Mettke won Clear First

K-6 Championship               Julia Miyasaka won Clear First (6-0)   

 K-12 Under 1200                 Larisa Bresken Won Clear First

K-12 Championship              Sophie Morris-Suzuki won Clear First

 

Teams:

K-1 Championship: Lower Lab School PS 77

K-3 Under 600: Chelsea Prep PS 33

K-3 Championship: Chelsea Prep PS 33

K-6 Under 900:

K-6 Championship: The Dalton School

K-12 Under 1200: East Side Community High School

K-12 Championship: IS 318

You can see the full results at:

www.chessgirls.win

IS 318 won top team in the K-12 Championship section | Photo credits: Alex Ostrovsky

This tournament was made possible because of contributors, The Hewitt School, the New York State Chess association,  Little House of Chess, and The Chess Center of New York.

5 Things I Missed Out on as a Non-Scholastic Chess Player

I had never been to a huge scholastic tournament before this past weekend when I went to the Greater New York Scholastic Chess Championships, or the “City Championships”, as my friend called it. I only played chess competitively in a few small scholastic tournaments and Goichberg tournaments. I never had a school chess team, never competed with a team of friends or with other children, even though I longed for it- and still somewhat do. I’ve recently been living vicariously through watching kids and covering tournaments instead of actually playing in them.

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Now that I have at least poked around a scholastic tournament a bit, there are a few things I feel that I have missed out on because I didn’t grow up playing in tournaments every weekend or have close chess friends. They are things that sometimes make the scholastic chess experience so fun and life-changing.

 

FIVE THINGS I MISSED OUT ON (in no particular order):

1) Having time

This one’s obvious: having the time to improve or just play when school (or work if you’re older) isn’t eating away your energy and effort. This one doesn’t require much explanation.

 

2) Close chess friends (although that has been somewhat remedied in the past year)

dsc00449What I mean, though, is friends I sparred with over the board every week or every few tournaments, friends that I confided in about more than chess. Or at least chess friends that actually lived nearby. What I don’t mean is the people you say hi to and see at every few tournaments, have dinner or catch up with, and don’t talk to much until you see each other again. While those friends are nice and I have plenty of those, I mean the ones you see often, the ones that go to the same after school programs or clubs. In the same way that kids make friends exclusively through baseball or ballet, I wish I had made those kinds of connections through chess.

I think chess friends in any respect are an essential part to the chess experience, as they are the ones who support you, help you grow as a person and as a chess player. I often feel that I have missed out on growing up with chess friends, although I’m glad for the many I have now.

 

3) Parents being so excited when I won a game

This one requires a story:

Today I watched a kid come out of the playing room. His mom said “You won?!” He said yes and his mom swept him up into a hug and kissed him. It was clear she was so happy for him, probably because he most likely won some sort of prize, but it was obvious that she was so proud of him.

I don’t mean to say that parents aren’t supportive. Alice wrote a great article on how important it is to have supportive chess parents that you can refer to about parental support. I mean this thing on my list in the way that parents brag to their friends about their children’s achievements over tea. I mean this in that I never got into chess at an age where I was young enough to be fussed over, shown such outward support and pride. I mean this in the way that parents don’t obsess over their eighteen or thirty year old child’s victory in the way they did when they were six. I never got that, which may arguably be a good thing, but it’s all a matter of perception, and I feel that it might be something I missed out on.

My friend pointed out that this parent’s actions may not have been best for the child because it breeds the thought that winning is so important, but the way I’ve spun it is so that the kid knows how proud his parents were of him not only for his success, but also in general for showing up that day and fighting it out over the board.

 

4) Trophies!

dsc00793Okay, this is meant to be a bit of a funny one, but obviously I don’t get trophies anymore (I have a few from when I was K-12 nonetheless). They only give out money at non-scholastic tournaments (sometimes plaques and other prizes). Of course, I’m not complaining about getting money, but I saw many kids running around in glee with their trophies and I rarely got that experience!

 

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I’ve never been part of a school team before. It is sort of related to the chess friends idea, but I never got to participate in team activities, to play as a team and win as a team. I wish my school or more schools where I grew up had these opportunities to play together with classmates, but I guess I got unlucky. The cheering as kids received a big trophy represented growth and success together. The achievement could be celebrated with others and that is a feeling that cannot be replicated when chess is often so individualized

BONUS: World Youth (and any other cool invitational, scholastic tournament like Denker,
Barber, Susan Polgar’s Girls Invitational, etc.)- This sort of relates to #5 on the list because in a way, the delegation is a “team” of sorts.

This one kind of isn’t the typical scholastic experience, as World Youth is special.

I only found out about World Youth last year when I was seventeen. Too old for a beginner to rise up. I knew it was something I’d never get to experience and many of my chess friends have.

dsc00860And let’s be real, the jackets stand out at every tournament. Who doesn’t want one of those jackets? Every time you go to a Goichberg tournament, there’s a kid with one of them! I want a jacket. I know never getting a World Youth jacket. Every kid secretly wants one. You know you want one. But anyway, every time someone who really knows anything about getting to top level chess in this country sees the jacket, he/she knows the exclusivity and symbolism of the jackets alone. They say I represented my country. They say I’ve reached a level that most people don’t reach.

Everyone who has one has the right to flaunt it. Every kid has earned it!


If you had the chance to experience these things I never got to, reminisce on those memories a bit. For scholastic players reading this, enjoy it. Cherish these things, record them in your mind (and maybe on your phone too). You are likely to never forget it, whether you are able to go to World Youth or are just able to participate in a national championship.

If you did not grow up in such a vibrant chess scene, I hope this article I’ve written expresses how you feel, just a bit. But clearly, you are not alone in missing these things. If chess has proven anything in the past, it is that it’s never too late to start playing, to make your own chess friends. The game is for people of all ages. Remember that whenever you realize what you missed out on. There’s always more opportunities, new things to appreciate.

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Sometimes maybe you’re not meant to have those experiences. I for one, cannot believe how much my life has changed in the past year through my chess adventures. I met so many chess players and made new chess friends. I went to my first World Championship. I took up a little bit of chess journalism and chess photography and yesterday, someone told me he enjoyed my articles. Today I got to shake Garry Kasparov’s hand and tell him my name. I didn’t have the traditional chess experience I will always long for, but I always have something to look forward to in the future. I am not going to stop making chess memories because I did not get something in the past. I want to write articles about the Grand Chess Tour, World Youth at some point, the 2018 Olympiad in Batumi, and more. No matter what happened or didn’t happen in the past, there are always going to be things to look forward to in the chess world- new friends, new experiences, and new adventures.

 

Revolutionizing Early Childhood Learning: Chess at Three

Note: Research on the company was done with only information from the company’s website.

What is the best age to learn how to play chess?

Recently, the standard has been changing to younger and younger, especially in the United States. News articles in the United States have shown chess players achieving breaking extraordinary age barriers at younger and younger ages, such as Carissa Yip’s record of achieving youngest female master at 11 years old. It seems that every few months/years, the kids are breaking records. It seemed only a short while ago that I heard Maximillian Lu was the youngest master in US History at 9 years old, 28 days before his 10th birthday. This record was recently broken by Christopher Yoo. Awonder Liang’s amazing 8 year old chess expert was recently succeeded by Abhimanyu Mishra’s 7.

However, we’ve always had our child prodigies in the chess world, from Bobby Fischer, who became a grandmaster at 15 to Sergey Karjakin, who achieved it at age 12. One of the most recently broken international records was the one for youngest IM in history, Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu, who achieved the title at 10 years old.

It is clear that along with the fact that these kids inherently possess immense chess talent, there is an added factor that children are learning at early ages. Of course, there is no designated age to learn- anyone can learn to play chess at any age and excel.

I have recently discovered a chess company based in New York City called Chess at Three that believes that three years old is a great time to start learning to play chess! After reading about the company, I have come to believe that this company is truly revolutionizing the learning and teaching process of chess.

You see, this company teaches in an entirely unique way.

It is no doubt extremely difficult to teach any game to a three year old. There’s a problem with getting the child to concentrate long enough, stay still enough to learn. There’s a problem with simply getting the child to listen. There’s a problem with getting the child to understand. Chess at Three teaches with a curriculum that uses storytelling to teach chess.

But why? Why this method?

Well, kids love to ask the question WHY?!  The company started with that curiosity, as the CEO, Tyler Schwartz, had taught chess and found that upon learning how each chess piece moved, kids often asked why they moved the way they do. There was no clear reason to say, so Tyler made up a reason why the king only moved one square: he eats a lot of food, rendering him unable to move more than one square at a time. The reaction was uncontrollable laughter and there was a new idea for teaching. Combined with his friend, Jon Sieber, now co-founder and president of Chess at Three, the stories told to the children who take lessons with Chess at Three begun to take form as a part of the closely guarded trade secret to success: the Chess at 3 Core Curriculum.

This curriculum fosters the affinity for enjoyment and excitement about learning chess that every child needs. I have already seen young kids excited about learning chess in some classroom settings myself, but never have I come to think of such a receptive learning process. The idea behind using storytelling to teach chess in itself is just so clearly genius. How could a child ever feel the pressure to learn chess when lessons are just focused on fun?

And that’s largely what chess should be. Chess is, at the end of a day, just a game. It is meant to evoke excitement, meant to be fun for players. Otherwise, there is no point to playing at all, if it stops being fun.

Chess at Three is also special in the way that it introduces people from all walks of life to chess- and not just children at that. A stereotype of chess players and chess teachers can be that they are “nerdy-looking,” antisocial, “boring,” and perhaps aggressively competitive. However, the company gives artists, actors, storytellers, and writers the chance to join the chess community in an amazing way. It promotes a new kind of chess culture, suggests that you don’t have to be the most accomplished chess player to teach children to play chess. To begin, you need the discipline and maturity to teach, passion, and a belief in the power of storytelling.

The values that Chess at Three also teaches amidst the chess are also worth mentioning. Chess teaches sportsmanship, for sure. The very nature of a handshake before and after a game shows the kindness afforded to opponents. It teaches acceptance and diversity in a way, as chess is a game for all people, regardless of race, nationality, gender, ethnicity, economic background, sexuality, etc. According to the Chess at Three website, though, Chess at Three also teaches “Literacy, Chess History, and Math,” and “lessons include interactive moments, physical movements (chessercizes), and guidelines for game play at each level of development.” These lessons set the company’s curriculum apart from others, guaranteeing development in many unprecedented ways.

I think it is important to distinguish that no, this article is not a promotion of Chess at Three simply because I hope to work there after a bit of paperwork and logistics. Instead, this article is meant to praise the new way a company wants to teach chess to children that promotes a fun environment and method of learning. I speak as a journalist, as a chess player, and someone passionate about chess and expanding the chess community. I speak as a writer, a reader, and an artist. I believe in the mission so strongly, that chess can be told through stories.

And if you’re not convinced enough that this company has some seriously cool credit, check out this testimonial:

“Tyler’s stories and lessons have our two children loving chess! We’re proud to have it in our home, and think every child should be learning Chess at Three.”

– Hugh Jackman (Actor)

THEY TAUGHT HUGH JACKMAN’S CHILDREN? Sign your kid up right away!

A Giveaway, My Top 3 Chess Events of 2016, and Looking Forward to 2017

In the spirit of New Year’s coming up, we are all reflecting back on the year as well as looking forward to the next year!

 

The Giveaway:

To end the year, we will be holding our first giveaway!

Here’s what we are giving away:

A metal water bottle from the last Millionaire Chess Open

 

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A poster from the World Chess Championship

All you have to do is like our page on Facebook and comment on our post about this article, telling us your favorite chess event of the year- either one you watched or attended- and one you are most excited for in 2017! We will randomly pick a winner January 31, 2017 and message them, asking for an address to send the prizes to.

 

The top 3 chess events I attended this year:

1. US Amateur Team East in New Jersey- February 14-16, 2016

This was my fifth time in a row playing in this tournament! Held in Parsippany, New Jersey, the tournament is a bit isolated from tournaments I’m used to in the Northeast (Philly, NYC, Boston, etc.). However, it never fails to disappoint. It’s been a bit of a tradition for me to attend every year, and I’m glad I did since I met Irina Krush for the first time one year, as well as the legendary Garry Kasparov!

Oftentimes, I play tournaments in hopes of earning a bit of prize money, but this is one of the tournaments I play completely for fun. My goal this past USATE tournament was actually just that, to have fun, as I was convinced it would be my last USATE tournament for a while since I would go to college (which turned out to not be true, as I will likely be going in 2017).

My team ended up tying for first place under 1500 (average team rating), but we lost the tiebreak so we did not earn the plaque. It was the best my team ever performed at USATE, but I was also on a team with some friends and was able to see many players that I rarely see otherwise.

2. Millionaire Chess in Atlantic City- October 6-10, 2016

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Credit: Daaim from The Chess Drum

BEST WEEKEND OF MY LIFE! I think the article says it all.

3. World Chess Championship in New York City- November 11-30, 2016

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The WCC was my first time attending any sort of elite tournament in person and it just happened to be a world championship. It was at this event that I met the greatest variety of people, from chess journalists to chess enthusiasts to chess players. I was also able to see many friends that traveled to see the first world championship on US soil in many years.

Quite intriguing was the fact that I gained new journalistic opportunities. For Chess^Summit, I became a regular contributor and wrote a well received, well researched article about the WCC tiebreaks. For Chess Club Live, I was promoted to Director of Journalism and they also covered my costs to attend the event. For US Chess, I was able to write an article about the format of the match. Overall, I feel like I was blessed to attend the World Chess Championship in the city I live in.

 

Honorary events: The two US Chess School camps I went to in NYC! I wrote an article about my first experience earlier in the year. I love helping out with social media and taking pictures during the camps. The kids who attend the USCS are always extremely inspiring to me.

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These are the top 3 events I’m looking forward to going to next year:

1. U.S. Championship & U.S. Women’s Championship in St. Louis- March 29-April 14, 2017

This will be the first time I go to St. Louis! This past year, I followed the tournament every day and decided 2017 HAS to be the year I actually go! I always enjoy the St. Louis Commentary team and have been wanting to meet Yasser for a long time.

I am planning to go during my spring break (April 11-18), and will stay there after the tournament in order to spend time at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis and the World Chess Hall of Fame.

I will be cheering for several friends, and I think it will be quite an exciting tournament to attend. My picks for the US Champs of 2017? Fabiano Caruana and Nazí Paikidze-Barnes (the two winners of 2016).

2. Paris/Leuven legs of the Grand Chess Tour- June 19-July 3, 2017

I cheated by grouping these two events together. I’m not entirely sure I’m going to these tournaments as of right now, but I’m hopeful. Going to these tournaments would be quite an adventure, as I have never been to Europe before. I followed these events this past year as well, and rapid/blitz tends to always be exciting to watch.

3. Sinquefield Cup & St. Louis Rapid of the Grand Chess Tour- July 31-August 20, 2017

I cheated again! I grouped these tournaments together because they are both in St. Louis and one after another. I have never been to a Sinquefield Cup before, and they are one of the most intense and exciting tournaments of each year. This tournament always has a strong showing and gains a lot of attention.

 

What was your favorite chess event of 2016? What are you looking forward to most in 2017? Remember to comment on our Facebook post and you could win our first giveaway ever!

 

 

 

A Criticism of the WCC Venue

Note: These views are not expressive of Chess^Summit’s opinions of the World Chess Championship, only the author’s

When I first heard the rumors that the World Chess Championship would feature Carlsen and Karjakin playing on some busy avenue in Manhattan, with glass windows so that average people could see them battling it out over the board, I was excited. I wanted people to see how amazing chess could be, how thrilling it was to watch one of the biggest chess events of the year. I should have realized that this idea AGON was considering was too good to be true.

The actual venue, the Fulton Market Building, came as an extremely huge surprise for me. I have been going to South Street Seaport my whole life and visited in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. It was restored beautifully, but I felt that it was not busy enough to hold an event that chess fans desperately hoped would encourage more popularity for the game. I even visited the area a week or so before the match was scheduled to be played.

I did not see anywhere that the match could be held as there was a lot of construction going on around the Fulton Market Building, but I found out where the entrance was when I arrived on November 10th.

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My first thoughts upon entering the building were that it was small but sleek and modern looking. The windows displayed the Brooklyn Bridge in all its glory, contrasting against the bright sky and the river.

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November 10th was the press day, and it was quite fun being one of the first people allowed into the venue.

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Of course, it was quite obvious from the beginning that the spectators’ area was goin
g to be a huge problem. I imagined that ticketholders would be aimg_5492ble to sit in a theater and watch the players behind glass, like I had seen in Pawn Sacrifice. At the very least, I expected chairs and a large room where spectators could go in and out freely. What we got was chess fans crowding around a glass wall, no seats nor order to who could be in the front, who could see. Eventually, each person was assigned a fifteen minute time slot of when they were allowed to into the viewing room, which was absolutely ridiculous. Fans paid expecting to actually have the privilege of seeing Carlsen and Karjakin play, not for fifteen minutes but for a full four hours, five hours. It seemed that chess fans paid $75 each game to sit outside of the glass wall room and watch the game on screens, which they could have done in the comfort of their own homes.

Other complaints included an insufficient amount of chairs and tables in the playing area next to the chess café were raised by every chess fan I was able to talk to. It was often hard to snag a seat and get a good game going. I saw kids with their own sets playing on the floors surrounding the area and realized that overall, there was enough room to include more tables and chairs that chess players desperately needed.

 

The biggest problems in the venue were img_5713most prominent on the second day of the match when hundreds of fans showed up. The line to enter the venue ran around the corner of the building across the street. I was excited to see this at first. So many people showed up simply for chess! Inside, I instantly recognized that the venue was simply too small to fit everyone. The line to enter the viewing room was too long and the atmosphere not only included excitement, but also annoyance. This should not happen at a World Chess Championship match.

 

Despite all these issues, it is probable that AGON had some serious issues securing a building to host the event. There have always been hardships getting sponsors and venues even for the most prestigious events. It was certainly better than some choices. For example, The Trump Tower, which had been under consideration as a possible venue, wouldn’t have worked, as the presidential election finished just around the time the match started. Protests raging around it would have most likely prevented the event in some way. I commend its efforts to popularize chess by choosing the historic spot, but I am unsure it was the best it could do.

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Iselin traveled from Norway to New York!

On the value of seeing the match live, for the high price, I would not have been able to attend the match every day. Some loyal fans traveled all the way from Norway to cheer on their hero and there was no shortage of fans from various states such as Ohio, New Jersey, and Virginia. However, many were left in the dark, unable to afford the steep VIP tickets that went for hundreds of dollars or just the general admission tickets. No matter what, though, many rounds were sold out. I caved in—the first World Chess Championship on American soil since I was born was an experience I could not miss. In the end, chess fans generally agreed and the match attracted over 10,000 fans who decided it was worth it to see the match live.