Posted on September 23, 2016 by Wesley Surber.
katwe

Daily Caller Fires Shots at Queen of Katwe

The Disney adaptation of Tim Crothers’ book, The Queen of Katwe is due out next week and buzz is high on social media. Phiona has held countless interviews and reveled in the international spotlight on the eve of the film’s release. Yet, as is often the case with newfound international fame, some are not taking her rise to mainstream stardom too well. The Daily Caller recently published this hit piece in which phantom grandmasters are quoted and heavy attention is paid to tearing down any hint of success and triumph that makes her story worthy of such attention.

Her actual performance in the chess world shows these to be puff pieces with very little attention paid to empirical fact. Mutesi has no doubt achieved something as a young Ugandan girl living in poverty, to capture the attention of the world, but that something she accomplished is not being good at chess.

Given the deplorable conditions in which she was raised and the odds of becoming good at anything in her life, is it not fair to say that Phiona Mutesi overcome immense odds to become much better at chess than people who live in similar conditions? ELO is not always an indicator of chess greatness. A 1600 ELO player can inspire millions with her story and encourage others to sit down at a chess board far more than a 2000+ ELO player with no personality, no spirit, and no understanding of what really makes the game great.

The Queen of Katwe will be released in most major theater markets on September 30, 2016.

Posted on September 16, 2016 by Wesley Surber.
baku-olympiad

United States Victorious in Baku!

It was long before I was born the last time that the United States won a gold medal victory at a Chess Olympiad. That kind of drought is long enough for many American chess enthusiasts to start each Olympiad off with little to no hope for a competitive finish. Countries like Russia and China have dominated the scene for years, but all of that changed in the final round of the 2016 Chess Olympiad in Baku when the United States defeated Canada to earn its first gold medal since 1976! This got me to thinking…what was the world like the last time that the United States won a gold medal in a Chess Olympiad?

  • Height of the Fischer Chess Boom after the 1972 match against Boris Spassky.
  • First flight of the Concorde airplane.
  • Apple Computer Company was formed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.
  • The Canada CN tower was completed.
  • Howard Hughes dies at age 70.
  • Viking I Lander arrives on Mars.
  • Fidel Castro becomes President of Cuba.

My, how far we have come… The Fischer boom is long gone and most people under 25 probably do not remember the Concorde. But it is 2016 and chess in America is undergoing a renaissance. The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis has hosted some of the strongest tournaments in American history and the United States Chess Federation continues to transform itself into a powerhouse of chess promotion and advocacy. That strong advocacy led to the acquisition of Wesley So and Fabiano Caruana, who won the United States Chess Championship earlier this year. With a renewed vigor and youthful dynamic, the United States team steam rolled into the Baku Chess Olympiad to capture a series of early victories and never letting up on their competition.

Power Out of the Gates It was readily apparent at the outset of the tournament that the United States team was a force to be reckoned with. They earned four victories early before falling behind a point to Scotland in Round 2.

From that point on, the United States team held a solid momentum to compete for placement in the tournament’s top three positions. The drama lasted, however, until the very end.

It was readily apparent that the United States team outplayed their Canadian counterparts, but was not able to pull off a complete win in that final round. Once the American games were completed, attention focused to the Ukrainian team who was competing to break a virtual tie. Despite a strong performance by the Ukraine team, it was not enough to overcome their deficit and defeat the Americans. With the tiebreaker over, the United States left Baku with chess gold!

The United States Chess Team was:

  • Captain: IM John Donaldson
  • GM Fabiano Caruana
  • GM Hikaru Nakamura
  • GM Wesley So
  • GM Samuel Shankland
  • GM Ray Robson

National Pride I am incredibly proud and feel blessed everyday to be able to play chess and to know that my country is starting to embrace the game on a grander scale. Now we can turn our attention to New York as the United States prepares to host the greatest event in chess: the World Chess Championship!

Posted on September 03, 2016 by Wesley Surber.
baku-olympiad

Baku Chess Olympiad is Underway!

It seems like such a short time ago when chess headlines were adorned with stories of the Tromsø Chess Olympiad in 2014 where visa challenges, bathrooms, and high food prices were among the hottest topics leading up to China’s triumphant victory in the event. But here we are looking down the barrels of the 2016 Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan, the home country of former World Champion Garry Kasparov.

After a breathtaking opening ceremony on Thursday, main tournament play began Friday with my beloved United States team winning all 4 of their first matches against players from Andorra. Hikaru Nakamura, Wesley So, Sam Shankland, and Ray Robson each scored well-earned victory against their opponents to launch the team off to a powerful start in the Olympiad.

US Champion Fabiano Caruana is leading the US Olympiad Team

In the second round, Sam Shankland was the only member of the United States team to not earn a win in the round against Scotland. Caruana, Nakamura, and Robson all earned wins and although it is still early in the event, I would say that the United States team is going to be a team to watch throughout the tournament!

The National Gymnastics Arena – the Baku Olympiad venue.

This year’s Olympiad is being held in the National Gymnastics Arena in Baku, Azerbaijan. The country has increasingly positioned itself throughout the past few years as a place of intense international sport and competition. Known to the chess community as the birth home of Garry Kasparov, the 42d Chess Olympiad’s host nation continues to impress both players and fans alike.

Watch the Baku Chess Olympiad live on Chessbomb, Chess.com, and Chess24.

Posted on August 29, 2016 by Wesley Surber.
campfire-drug

Repairing the Downloads Page

The downloads page has always been an important part of Campfire Chess, but it recently fell into an unfortunate state of disrepair. I knew that it needed some work but was unprepared for the level at which I had allowed it to deteriorate over time. It was not until I received a message from a reader on Chess.com asking me to fix one of the links for a PGN book collection that I realized how bad things had gotten. Fortunately, action has been taken…

Every element of the downloads page has been re-coded to ensure that the links are accurate and that the information is presented clearly on desktop and mobile devices. I have also finally released a photo project I have been working on for awhile called Drug of Choice which is presented as a wallpaper option for a multitude of devices. The image also appears in the featured image header for this entry.

I have plans to add new material to the downloads page very soon and will post updates on the Campfire Chess Twitter and Facebook feeds when that happens. Enjoy!

Posted on August 28, 2016 by Wesley Surber.
campfire59

Austin Wins Annual Shootout

Each year the cities of Austin and San Antonio send their best and brightest chess players to compete in an annual shootout to determine which city is the best of South Texas. As with everything else in Texas, this shootout is quite a big deal. Preparations begin early each year and culminate with the penultimate event in August. This year, San Antonio lost to Austin 26-24 points, which means that San Antonio only lost by a one-game outcome!

After the first round, San Antonio faced an incredible 7.5-17.5 point standing with three draws and two losses on the top five boards. However, the lopsided round results were not enough to keep the San Antonio team from bowing out early. The Alamo City came roaring back in the second round to bring itself within 2 points of its northern neighbor, but it was not enough to overcome the earlier deficit and bring the victory home.

Maybe next year…

Some noteworthy moments:

  • Jose Silva (SA) went 2-0 through the match.
  • The highest rated player was IM Miguel Paz (2465).
Posted on August 19, 2016 by Wesley Surber.
001

Lonely these days, but not abandoned…

Lately, it may seem as though I have abandoned the site considering that there have only been three (not including this one) posts during the month of August. I have not abandon the site, nor have I abandoned chess. Instead, life happens and things have been relentlessly busy for me and my family. There is a bright light at the end of the tunnel around the first part of September, so I hope to be back to regular writing at that time. In the meantime, I will continue to be sparse around here and around the chess community.

Keep checking back here regularly because although I am not writing regular posts at the moment, I am working on some of the behind-the-scenes technologies that run the site. Specifically, I am working to completely redesign the downloads page with new wallpapers, game collections, and other goodies. That stuff should go live this weekend or next.

Play on!

Posted on August 17, 2016 by Wesley Surber.
sinquefield

2016 Sinquefield Cup: So Wins It All 

The Sinquefield Cup is always an amazing event and has come to solidify its place as one of the most prestigious chess tournaments in the world. Every year, the best chess players from around the world converge on the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis to compete in the round robin tournament. The Sinquefield Cup is also memorable for Fabiano Caruana’s incredible run in 2014, which I built a commemorative wall piece to celebrate the tournament. After some scheduling changes due to the upcoming Baku Olympian, this year’s event included Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Veselin Topalov, Levon Aronian, Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, Anish Giri, Vishy Anand, Peter Svidler, and wildcard Ding Liren.

World Champion Magnus Carlsen opted out of this year’s event so that he could focus on the upcoming World Chess Championship in New York.

After some thrilling games between the world’s elite players it was Wesley So, the former Webster University prodigy, who took a commanding lead early in the tournament and cruised to a solid victory with 5.5/9 pts. The Sinquefield Cup is part of the second Grand Chess Tour, which aims to promote professional chess around the world. The Grandmasters featured in the Sinquefield Cup are regular participants in the tour. For details and photos from the Sinquefield Cup, check out the detailed analysis on Chessbase.

Posted on August 06, 2016 by Wesley Surber.
campfire78

Russia Makes Play for Control of WCC Cycle

There are some people out there who believe that the Russian Bear has been awakened and that the country is swiftly moving back to its Soviet history or at least, a future influenced by the political and ideological positions of its Soviet ancestor. While the world is distracted by the Olympics in Rio, Zika, and Russia’s (non)participation in the games, the Russian Chess Federation has made a play for control of the World Chess Championship cycle by submitting a proposal to FIDE that would effectively allow sponsors to buy positions in the championship and undermine any chance that chess has for expanding its audience and recognition as a competitive sport. Here is the letter in its entirety:

To: Chairman of FIDE Commission for World Championships & Olympiads (WCO)
Mr. GEORGIOS MAKROPOULOS

Dear Mr. Makropoulos,

Russian Chess Federation asks the Commission to consider and (if needed) improve and approve the below mentioned amendments to the current system of determining the World Chess Champion at the 87th FIDE Congress (04–14.09.2016 Baku, Azerbaijan). RCF suggests adding an article to the rules governing World Chess Championship matches stating that the World Chess Champion can accept the challenge of any player who can contribute to the prize fund and the costs of holding of the match.

Herewith a number of basic conditions should be fulfilled:

• The FIDE President would have the power to veto any proposed match. Any proposed World Championship match would be carried out under the auspices of FIDE and according FIDE rules.

• 50% of the prize fund will go to FIDE.

• The match must be held before the end of the current FIDE qualifying round, that is, before a challenger has been determined by the Candidates Tournament.

FIDE Vice President
President of the Russian Chess Federation Andrey Filatov

Needless to say that many in the world outside of neo-Soviet insanity are unhappy and have launched a petition against the proposed changes. The Association of Chess Professionals issued a response to the Russian request and has launched a campaign to encourage FIDE to reject the proposal. Of course, knowing that Kirsan and Putin are best buddies leaves little hope that the next World Chess Champion could be nothing ore than the man whose country is willing to pay the price for a seat at the board.

Here is ACP’s response to the proposal:

The Russian Chess Federation submitted an official proposal to the FIDE Congress for an addition to the current World Championship Cycle rules: anyone guaranteeing a required prize-fund can challenge the reigning World Champion.

We as ACP believe that this idea is completely detrimental to chess for a number of reasons, among which:

– The World Champion Title must be achieved only through a proper sport cycle, especially at a time when chess is increasingly recognized as a sport. The RCF proposal goes against the chess tradition and against the very spirit of modern chess. Although purchasing the right for the match was common practice 100 years ago, it was more of a sad necessity than a good system.

– Staging a “commercial” match would seriously undermine the appeal of the regular cycle match. As things stand, the Title Match is a unique event which is held every two years and which acts as a catalyst for all the chess world. Even so, it is very difficult to raise proper funds for the World Championship Match – we do remember several examples from the recent past and we are witnessing the same problems right now. Who would be interested in paying for the ‘regular match’ if it is no longer a unique event? Who would organize the Candidates under these circumstances? Who would regard chess as a proper sport a company can invest in?

– The World Champion Title would be devalued and, more importantly, the image of chess would suffer greatly at all levels and worldwide. It would also put the players on grossly unequal terms: some would have to battle their chances out against the best players of the world in the regular cycle, others would buy their shot at the title by securing the money. This is outright unacceptable. It could also bring a disrepute to our noble game, opening the door to problems we can’t even foresee now.

– The RCF proposal would inevitably mess up the World Championship Cycle. It would also limit the World Champion’s participation in other events, as he would need to spend most of his time preparing/recovering after the matches. Again, this is certainly not desirable.

The ACP strongly opposes changes to the World Championship Cycle that undermine the very sporting sense and the unique value of the World Chess Champion Title. Our opinion is supported by the results of the ACP Poll – 2016, where over 80% of the chess professionals clearly disapproved the idea of purchasing the rights for the Title Match. If you share our vision, please help fighting this proposal and join the ACP stand by signing and endorsing this statement. The RCF proposal could be approved already in September, and we feel the chess world has to take a clear stand on the matter before then.

ACP Board

Posted on August 04, 2016 by Wesley Surber.
simul-feature

Jesse James is 3-time San Antonio Champion 

Chess players from around the San Antonio area converged on Methodist Hospital this past weekend to see who would earn the distinction of San Antonio City Chess Champion. Approximately 82 players registered for the 5-round event which saw participation from players in the 900 ELO to 2263 ELO range! NM Jesse James Lozano quickly emerged as the man to beat as he sought to defend his championship title and earn the distinction of being the 3-time city champion.

Entering into the 4th round of the event on Sunday Lozano led the tournament with a score of 3-0, although Alexander Wlezien, who commanded a 2206 ELO prior to the event remained neck-in-neck with him. The final standings had both Lozano and Wlezien earning no losses across all five rounds. In the end, Jesse James claimed his third title and walked away with an impressive 2267 ELO. Congratulations to Jesse on his win!

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
 Pair | Player Name                     |Total|Round|Round|Round|Round|Round| 
 Num  | USCF ID / Rtg (Pre->Post)       | Pts |  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  | 
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    1 | JESSE JAMES LOZANO              |4.5  |X  34|W  47|W  51|W   7|D   3|
   TX |          / R: 2263   ->2267     |     |B    |W    |B    |W    |B    |
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2 | ALEXANDER WLEZIEN               |4.5  |W  49|W  13|D   9|W   6|W  15|
   TX |          / R: 2206   ->2209     |     |W    |B    |W    |B    |W    |
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    3 | GREGG STANLEY                   |4.0  |W  26|W   8|W  52|D  15|D   1|
   TX |          / R: 2189   ->2190     |     |B    |W    |B    |W    |W    |
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    4 | ERNESTO L MALAZARTE             |4.0  |W  50|L   7|W  20|W  35|W  21|
   TX |          / R: 2166   ->2161     |     |W    |B    |W    |B    |W    |
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    5 | DUY MINH NGUYEN                 |4.0  |H    |W  48|W  56|W  10|D   9|
   TX |          / R: 2095   ->2102     |     |     |B    |W    |B    |W    |
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    6 | DANG MINH NGUYEN                |4.0  |W  62|W  24|W  38|L   2|W  25|
   TX |          / R: 1970   ->1984     |     |B    |W    |B    |W    |B    |
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    7 | ROHIT CHOUDARY BANDI            |4.0  |W  27|W   4|W  28|L   1|W  32|
   TX |          / R: 1916   ->1954     |     |B    |W    |W    |B    |W    |
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    8 | DONALD W FLOURNOY               |4.0  |W  35|L   3|W  39|W  52|W  24|
   TX |          / R: 1919   ->1936     |     |W    |B    |W    |B    |W    |
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    9 | SREENEVASH RAMESH               |4.0  |W  44|W  33|D   2|W  16|D   5|
   TX |          / R: 1652   ->1768     |     |B    |W    |B    |W    |B    |
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
   10 | JAMES DOUGLAS HUDDLESTON        |3.5  |W  25|D  16|W  23|L   5|W  28|
   TX |          / R: 2112   ->2104     |     |B    |W    |B    |W    |B    |
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Table data courtesy of US Chess.

A small sample…

The annual city championship is a small sample of the larger San Antonio chess community that thrives throughout the year. The San Antonio Chess Club meets every Thursday night at the Lions Field Center on Broadway St for blitz and a subset of the club meets each Wednesday at Methodist Hospital for a monthly rapid tournament (G 90|5). Many of these events include highly skilled club players in the 1600+ ELO range, but Jesse Lozano offers opportunities for kids and lower rated players in scholastic play throughout the region on his website, www.sascholastic.com.

Posted on July 29, 2016 by Wesley Surber.
campfire55

San Antonio Chess Championship this weekend!

This Saturday and Sunday, chess players from across South Texas will converge on Methodist Hospital’s John Hornbeak Building to compete in the San Antonio Chess Championship! Over 50 players are currently registered for the event, which will feature the city’s best taking on…the city’s best! Yours truly originally had plans to attend the event to cover it here on Campfire Chess, but the same commitments that have emaciated posts on this site for July will likely keep me from attending. I am going to make an attempt to stop by to grab some photos and check on the standings, but unfortunately will not be able to cover in-depth like I wanted. In any case, if you are in the San Antonio area this weekend, hold a valid US Chess membership ID and want to compete for a chance at a variety of prizes, stop by!

Here is a complete list of details courtesy of the San Antonio Chess Club:

Location: Methodist Hospital John Hornbeak Building
          3rd Floor
          4450 Medical Dr.
          San Antonio, TX 78259

Time controls: Rds. 1 and 2 G/90|5, Rds. 3-5 G/120|5

Prizes: $1525 for full entry and 1/2 option prizes
        $500 1st, $300 2nd, U2100 $125, U2000 $125,
        U1800 $125, U1600 $125, U1400 $125, U1200/Unr. $100.
        Trophy to top Bexar County Resident.

Entry Fees: $60 at site

$5 discount to Club members paying full entry

Registration: 8:30-9:30 am

Rounds: Saturday 10am, 2 pm, and 6pm; Sunday 9am - 2pm

Half point bye any 1 round. Notice must be made before Round 2 is paired.

Entries: San Antonio Chess Club
         PO BOX 690576
         San Antonio, TX 78269-0576

Contact info: sanantoniochess.com
              elvisclassic@sbcglobal.net

Pay online using PayPal. Click on "Send", then enter our club's email address
(sanantoniochessclub@gmail.com) and your appropriate entry fee in "Amount".
Then click Continue followed by choosing "Friends or Family" (to bypass PayPal fees).
Please include a note with participant's name and USCF ID, rating, and mailing
address should we have to mail you a prize.