Posted on August 19, 2017 by Wesley Surber.

SATX Summer Scrimmage Tournament Reflections

Last weekend around 60 players from across the San Antonio area gathered at the Wonderland of the Americas Mall to take part in the San Antonio Summer Scrimmage sponsored by the River City Chess Club and the San Antonio Chess Club (SACC). Yours truly decided to jump into the pool and register for the tournament when it was first advertised back in June/July. Although my game results were much less than desirable, the SACC TD, Edgar Munoz along with support from members of both clubs put on an exceptionally well-run tournament.

The Tournament

Approximately 60 players packed into the Wonderland Events Center near the mall’s food court to try their luck at a cash prize and the glory of chess tournament victory. The tournament started an hour late due to the overwhelming response from players! Normally I would be bothered by such a late start, but it was nice to see the TD and team giving so many people an opportunity register and pay at the last minute. Notably, the start delay was the only real hiccup that the event seemed to experience. The tournament went very smooth for most players once play began.

Perhaps one of the most notable events occurred during the end of Round 01. The end of the round came down to the wire with one game remaining between a young girl and one of SACC’s regulars. The ensuing drama found our SACC regular eventually pinned down by some brilliant last-minute exchanges.

All eyes on the last game of Round 1! #SanAntonioChess

A post shared by Campfire Chess (@campfirechess) on

It was a thrilling experience and the only time in the tournament where the room erupted in applause. The above Instagram photo captures that game as it entered into its final 10 minutes. More photos of that game and the tournament itself are available at the bottom of the page just past my game analysis.

My Games

I think that I am in the running for setting a new chess record of having the lowest ELO rating out there. Fortunately, the US Chess database reminds me that I am not the lowest, but I am damned close. Part of that comes from playing in a city where most of the regular players are 1500+ ELO. It is good for the learning experience, but not so good for the W-L record. The three games I played in this tournament (got 1 bye in Round 3) were painful, but educational and somewhat surprising. I learned quite a bit throughout the tournament about where I need to shift my study habits in addition to conquering some anxieties I had about playing in OTB tournaments with so many good players.

Round 1: Game #1

Game #1 was against a 1300 ELO player who was very friendly and played a nice game. We laughed a few times because of some arguments happening next to us between two kids playing their game, but overall the game was enjoyable. This game was not as good or educational as the other two, but it did remind me to stick to my opening preparation instead of trying to play so much off-the-cuff in games.

Round 2: Game #2

As you will see in the game commentary, this game made me very nervous. It was against a 1900 ELO player which was enough to challenge my psychological ability to sit at the board. In the end, this game turned out to be one of the best games I have played in a long time, even with a loss. I think that I also got Stockfish to give me my first ever (!) annotation on a move I agreed with.

Round 4: Game #3

Game 3 came in Round 4 after quite a break through Round 3. My opponent was rated around 1100 ELO and slammed pieces down harder than anyone I believe I have ever met. Another loss, but it was very educational and fun to play. In the end, my impatience got the best of me an earned me my first-ever loss by checkmate.

Here are some more photos of the event and the venue:

Final Thoughts

The San Antonio Chess Club is in the midst of a revival. Its President, Mitch Vergara, is one hell of a chess player and his passion for the game is reflected in the ways he has networked with River City Chess, Rackspace, and others to promote the game throughout the Alamo City. The 2017 Summer Scrimmage was a fun event for all ages that really brought the best minds of San Antonio together to play the Royal Game. It is my hope that this is just a taste of things to come from River City and San Antonio Chess.

Until next time! -ws

Posted on April 6, 2017 by Wesley Surber.

Registration Open for Rackspace Chess 2017!

Updated 0740 CST: Fixed incorrect tournament date in blog entry. Correct date is 29-Apr-2017.

What better place to host fanatics of chess than the home of fanatical support itself, Rackspace! Each year, Rackspace hosts a massive chess tournament at its Headquarters (known as The Castle) just off Interstate 35 (Google Map) in Windcrest. 

As a leader in the technology industry, Rackspace wants to build a culture around chess as a scholastic mind sport, so that our young adults enter the workforce with the technical thinking skills that matter to us. –Rackspace

The Rackspace Chess Tournament will take place on April 29th at The Castle, with registration details available on the official Rackspace Chess website. The tournament is heavily focused on children, so if your child is a scholastic chess player or someone who simply loves the game and wants to come be part of the growing chess movement in America, then visit the Rackspace Chess website and register them for the tournament! There are two sections to this tournament spanning a wide range of ages and playing ability:

Rated

  • K-12 Championship
  • K-8 Championship
  • K-5 Championship
  • K-3 Championship
  • K-12 U1000/UNR
  • K-8 U800/UNR
  • K-5 U600/UNR
  • K-3 U400/UNR
  • K-1 U400/UNR

Unrated

  • 4-12 Not Rated
  • 4-8 Not Rated
  • 4-5 Not Rated

The time control for all games is G/30 d5 (5-second delay). 

It is my hope that Campfire Chess will find the time that day to spend some time at Rackspace and provide coverage and some photos from the event. As with anything else, that depends on work and family.

Also, be sure to check out San Antonio legend NM Jesse James Lozano’s SAScholastic.com website for the most up-to-date information on scholastic chess tournaments being held in the city.

Posted on March 13, 2017 by Wesley Surber.

Singapore GM Shadow-Banned from Asian Zonals

I cannot lie and say that I was familiar with GM Zhang Zhong of Singapore and his wife, WIM Li Roufan, until the two of them became embroiled in a controversy with the Singapore Chess Federation. Apparently, both of them were excluded from playing in the Asian Zonals, which the Singapore Federation stated was due to the fact that they were simply not selected to play in the tournament. GM Zhang Zhong recently responded via ChessBase stating that Singapore’s actions amounted to a ban from the tournament and that the Federation itself was playing a semantics game.

This betrays from the start a willful ignorance of the meaning of the word “ban.” According to all standard dictionaries, the definition of the word “ban” is to “prohibit, especially by legal means”. The organisers of the Zonals Championship published an open invitation to all federations. It stated that all players were welcome to join. The only requirement was that the respective chess federations were responsible for registration. – GM Zhang Zhong (via ChessBase)

GM Zhang Zhong breaks down correspondence between himself and the Singapore Chess Federation in much the same way I would break it down. It is definitely worth the read if you get a chance to check it out. In essence, Singapore needed to register the two players for them to participate in the Asian Zonals, but did not. By refusing to register two of their best players, the Federation essentially banned them from playing in the tournament. 

GM Zhang Zhong and WIM Li Roufan (credit: Singapore Chess Federation)

The politics of chess are not much different from the everyday politics of government. There are shadowy agencies like Agon and FIDE that use incredible resources to undermine chess, and then there are amateuresque creeps like Singapore’s Chess Federation that prefer to put their personal agendas above the cause of furthering chess for its players and fans.

Read the full report: ChessBase News