Living on the Internet: Streaming, PRO Chess League, and more!

What a week it’s been! With classes now in full swing, it’s almost like break never happened! Here’s what I’ve been up to since my return from the Eastern Open:

On Air!

As I mentioned a few months back, I’ve joined the chess.com stream team to help promote chess. With some small technical difficulties (sorry for the lag!), my first episode of The Steincamp Show aired on Twitch this past weekend. If you missed the stream, I covered some topics like rook endgames, the Bird Bind, and some memorable games in my Europe trip. Have a look!

I’m hoping to stream regularly with chess.com, so make sure to subscribe to my twitch channel so you can notifications for when I go live!

#nervesofsteel

In addition to my work here at Chess^Summit, I also happen to be the General Manager of the Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers in the PRO Chess League. Last year the Pawngrabbers finished strong despite an 0-4 start, winning the last three regular season games against Lagos, Portland, and Minnesota.

While the offseason meant learning basic Photoshop skills to promote the team, it also meant scouting stronger local players and signing top players. We got some pretty big news last week:

GM Awonder Liang is set on second board behind GM Alexander Shabalov. This year the Pawngrabbers have added depth on boards 3 and 4 with IMs Atulya Shetty and Safal Bora, FMs Mark Heimann, Gabriel Petesch, and Edward Song, as well as Mika Brattain, David Itkin, and Grant Xu.

The Pawngrabbers’ start the 2018 season with their second-ever international match-up against Buenos Aires tomorrow, at 6:40 PM EST. It should be close, so don’t miss out on the official team stream:

I’ll be streaming the Pawngrabbers’ matches on my twitch channel (with technical issues fixed), alongside LM David Hua for much of the season, so don’t miss out!

Looking Ahead

Just two weeks down the road, I’ll be competing in the Cardinal Open in Columbus, in what will prove to be my first attempt of 2018 to escape the snowpocalypse that is Pittsburgh right now. I’m not exactly sure how many opportunities I will have to compete beyond this tournament given my school schedule, so my main focus is to just play sharp and avoid regrettable blunders.

In the meantime, I’ve been keeping track of the Tata Steel tournament in the Netherlands. How about Kramnik’s win over Svidler yesterday?

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Kramnik–Svidler, position after 17…Ne8

At a glimpse, White seems a little over-extended. Kramnik has two sets of doubled pawns, and e5 seems particularly weak. But how would you react if I said Kramnik went on to win in just 7 moves?

In reality, White’s rooks are actually really active – both of White’s rooks are optimally placed, and Black’s a8 rook and e8 knight are several moves away from getting into the game. White might be statically worse, but he has a dynamic edge on his side: 18. Rd7!

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Kramnik–Svidler, position after 18. Rd7!

Not a hard move to find, as Kramnik hits three pawns at once (a7, b7, and e7). Svidler needed to bail out with 18…Bxe5 19. Rxe7 Bxc3 20. bxc3, but the endgame isn’t easy to hold. Black’s queenside pawns are weak, meaning that White will have an advantage to push on the queenside. Not to mention, it’s also more helpful to have the bishop than the knight in this endgame too.

So Svidler tried to opt out by trading away a pair of rooks with 18…Rc7  but was caught off guard by 19. Rxa7!

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Kramnik–Svidler, position after 19. Rxa7!

Now the position is starting to crumble. If Black tries 19…Rxa7? 20. Rd8! and White has a long-term advantage if 20…Kf8 21. Bxa7. White is extremely active, and Black will not easily break the pin on the e8 knight. So Svidler had to make a concession with 19…Rb8, and that was all Kramnik needed to win the game.

After 20. Rd5 b6 21. Nb5, White already has a commanding edge. Black’s rooks will never be fully (or actively) coordinated. Meanwhile, White’s knight on b5 is an immovable force, and the Black knight on e8 is unable to get into the game, thanks to the e5 pawn.

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Kramnik–Svidler, position after 21. Nb5

After 21…Rxa7 22. Nxa7 Kf8 23. Rd7, tactics are on White’s side again because if 23…Bxe5 24. Nc6! is decisive. After 23… Ra8 24. Bd4, Svidler resigned. White is so active that winning the b6 pawn is considered a distraction. While Black struggles to find activity, White has a plethora of plans to choose from.

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Kramnik–Svidler, position after 24. Bd4

White’s dynamic advantage from seven moves ago is now a static advantage, even with the doubled pawns. The knight on a7 not only blocks out the a-file for the rook, it takes away the c8 square. The Black knight on e8 can’t get out, and bishop on g7 is pointed at a pawn. Unless Black plays for a quick …f7-f6, White can march his king all the way to c6 and win the b6 pawn there. With all of his pieces active, then it becomes possible for Kramnik to push his b-pawns.

Black could try 24…f6, in fact, that’s probably the only real candidate move in the position. But even there, 25. Bxb6 fxe5 26. Bc5 exerts permanent pressure on e7 while preparing to advance the b3 pawn.

I like this game because it illustrates how important the overall balance is between statics and dynamics. At first, Kramnik had a dynamic edge, and he realized the position’s potential. In keeping with Dorfman’s strategy, he continued to play dynamically until his initiative became a long-lasting edge. As spectators, we were rewarded with a 24 move win against a super-GM!

With Kramnik at +2, he’s definitely in contention for first, but I’ve got this weird feeling Anish Giri is going to keep the edge… time to start watching to the Challenger section!

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Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers T-Shirt Sale!

Screen Shot 2017-08-04 at 09.14.30Yinz got game? We’re pretty big Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers fans here at Chess^Summit and we’re thrilled to see the Black and Gold be one of the 24 returning teams for next season!

This is great news for Chess^Summit, as we will be streaming the Pawngrabbers’ matches live each week, and featuring some of Pittsburgh’s best players here on the site.

Yesterday, the Pawngrabbers announced a T-shirt sale to help gear up for the 2018 PRO Chess League Season, and if you’re a hardcore Pittsburgh fan like us, you’ll make sure to grab this limited edition shirt before the sale ends! The Pawngrabbers are in the market for a strong free agent, and are hoping to use the proceeds from this sale to sign a top flight Grandmaster to play alongside World Chess Hall of Famer Alexander Shabalov!

Shabalov Name Card
Who is going to play alongside Shabalov next season?

This is your chance! If you want to be a part of the Pittsburgh team, get a shirt! I’ve already snagged mine and I’m pretty excited to wear it next season!

PRO Chess League Recap: Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers vs Webster Windmills

Last night the Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers faced the Webster Windmills, a top tier PRO Chess League team. While the Windmills would carry the night 11-5 in this week 4 clash, Pittsburgh kept the match close and has a lot of reasons to be optimistic going into the last two weeks of the season.

I put together a video recap of the match for Chess^Summit, and you can enjoy it here!

Chess^Summit Challenge: Beilin takes on Alice

We finally ran our first live stream today! The team and I have been discussing getting this started since our relaunch last summer, and I think for a first try this turned out great. Let us know in the comments if you have any feedback for us, setting up these shows is still a work in progress and any tips you give help go a long ways!

Being a commentator wasn’t easy, but watching Beilin face Alice in our first Blitz Match gave me enough fun to work with 🙂 We’re hoping to run more streams in the future, so subscribe to our Youtube channel to get notifications!

If you haven’t already, make sure to check out the Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers! We’ll be covering stories from the team throughout the season.

Hope you enojoy!

Looking to 2017: Quality over Quantity

It wasn’t the smoothest ride ever, but I ended 2016 at a respectable 2136 USCF rating, 100 points closer to master. Of course, it’s perhaps the most popular goal in the chess world, so it won’t surprise anyone that I’m aiming for master in 2017 (conceptually, I think it’s roughly as difficult as going from 1900 to 2100, but that’s a discussion for another day). And after reflecting on the wild ups and downs of 2016, it’s clear that I’ll be focusing on making the most out of each tournament I play.

I didn’t realize how much I’d been playing until I actually went through my USCF history. I was known as a chess fanatic in elementary school, and I played more in 2016 alone than I’d played before entering college. For that reason alone, I can probably expect to be less active in 2017!

First, I’m rather keen on avoiding another wave of the aforementioned “ups and downs” largely due to my dabbling in quick time controls. My best performances came in October and December against experts in four shady quick games (in the way of chess, not ethics) that honestly should have gone in other directions. If you’re on the final push for master, that kind of uncertainty is not your friend.

Additionally, 2016 has shown me the importance of staying alert during all stages of a game. While the mental aspect of my play has steadily improved over the last few years, I faced quite a few disappointing results in the last few months of 2016 due to lapsing in critical stages of games. It’s entirely possible that I was a little burned out from playing too much, in which case it will help to be more deliberate about my tournament choices.

The final reason has more to do with logistics than chess itself; 2017 is poised for a number of changes in dates and formats to tournaments I’ve gone to in the last two years.

  • US Amateur Team East: Certainly a fun event, albeit one that requires missing a day of class. I’ve been lucky to avoid conflicts so far, but with CMU planning to spend an extra night in Parsippany to avoid late-night hassles, this could change.
  • Pittsburgh Open: For the first time in a few years, the Open will take place a week before CMU’s spring break. A weekend at a remote Pittsburgh Airport area inn may not be out of the question, but is far from certain!
  • Pennsylvania State Championship: Suffice to say that it moved from October to March, and to Lancaster in Eastern Pennsylvania. It’s during spring break, but travel possibilities are questionable.
  • Pittsburgh Chess Club events: The PCC’s move toward faster time controls, along with my newfound stint as one of the tournament directors, may well lead to me directing more and playing less.
  • Summer: I’ll be working in Seattle this summer, and will certainly be a busier than last year. How much chess I can fit in remains to be seen!

It’s still possible that everything falls into place despite the new changes. However, academic and professional commitments are heavier in the later years of college, so prioritizing will be different than in the past. That’s why it will be important for me to make the most of my playing opportunities this year!


That said, I have a few exciting events lined up for 2017, starting with the Liberty Bell Open in Philadelphia over Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend (January 13-15), where Isaac, Grant, and I will be playing in the FIDE Open section. Shortly after that, the Pittsburgh Chess League resumes, with the top four teams (by rating and score) battling out a round robin. CMU, just a half point behind Pitt, is still in it to win.

However, for Pittsburgh, the big news of the new year is our new PRO Chess League team, the Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers, featuring Isaac and myself as managers. With GM Alexander Shabalov (no introduction needed), GM Eugene Perelshteyn (as a free agent), Grant (approaching 2400 USCF), and the return of masters Gabriel PeteschTom Riccardi, and Alex Heimann (all over 2300 USCF) to Pittsburgh, we’re looking to have a great season in the league. Finally, as a sponsor of the Pawngrabbers, Chess^Summit will be piloting a blitz livestream featuring myself and Alice, so feel free to drop by (more details to come very soon).

Stay tuned for games from the Liberty Bell Open, along with more news from the Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers. Thanks to Isaac for getting our team off the ground, and of course, all of our players. If you’re in Pittsburgh (or not!), we’d love to have your support as well!