Posted May 31, 2021 in Famous Players, News, Tournaments

Carlsen Wins the FTX Crypto Cup

After struggling a bit in the early rounds, Magnus Carlsen has emerged victorious in the FTX Crypto Cup online tournament. Overall, it was an exciting tournament to follow with many twists and turns. The initial round was filled with close scores and a large number of ties among the players. This eventually whittled down to four players who faced each other over the last two days for a share of the tournament prize. Wesley So battled it out against Magnus in a series of rapid events which ended in a tie between the players. This prompted a blitz playoff that was filled with some interesting and nail biting moments.

Throughout the past couple of days it was apparent that Magnus was struggling with a lack of motivation or from an illness that kept his performance below what we’ve come to expect from the world champion. He even went as far as to mention that he felt like shit during a postgame interview with Chess24 yesterday, which contributed to some of his mistakes on the board. In any case, Carlsen took the crown for this event and took home a $60,000 chunk of the prize fund and 0.6 bitcoin (about $22,000 as of this posting).

For an exceptional analysis of the games in the final matchups, check out this video from Gotham Chess:

Carlsen and many of the familiar GMs on this circuit will reunite on June 26th for the 2021 Grand Prix.

Posted May 28, 2021 in News, Tournaments

FTX Crypto Cup Semis Start Today

In trying to get back into chess regularly, I’ve spent my days at work with the Chess.com streaming broadcast of the FTX Crypto Cup. The games in this tournament so far have ranged from inspiring to head scratching. The roster itself is a who’s who of the best in chess from around the world. Carlsen, Nakamura, So, Giri, and Caruana are just some of the big names rounding out this Champions Chess Tour event. Each player is competing for a chance to participate in the tour’s finale starting on September 25th.

The preliminary round of the FTX Crypto Cup was quite an experience. Magnus Carlsen struggled through much of the round while Fabiano Caruana, who made it a point to tell everyone that he hadn’t played a game of online chess all year, absolutely dominated with a score of 10/15! Carlsen eventually managed to squeak by with a score of 8.5.

The projected Semifinals pairings are Carlsen-Radjabov and Nepomniachtchi-So. I was originally cheering for Nakamura or Caruana but since they’ve been eliminated from the tournament, my money’s on Carlsen.

The Quarter Finals began on May 26th and lasted for two days. Carlsen and Nakamura traded blows back and forth but it was ultimately Magnus that will advance to the Semifinals, which begin later today.

You can watch the games with commentary on ChessTV or the official broadcast on Chess24.

Posted May 25, 2021 in Community, News

The Chess in Slums – Africa Program

Chess is the land of the underdog. It is a world of balance and equity in which a nine year old kid can win against a sixty-five year old adult. Chess knows no age, no religion, no race, no socioeconomic background, or any of the social or political barriers that tend to divide people. When at the chess board, the outcome of the game relies solely on your drive, determination, and your skill. This is why the chess world is filled with stories, books, and movies about people from traditionally underprivileged areas of the world overcoming incredible obstacles and rising to chess greatness. In my opinion, the fact that many of these stories are true and are happening in real time in today’s world is one of the greatest parts of the game as a cultural institution.

A recently established nonprofit called Chess in Slums – Africa, is one such story that is playing out right under our noses and deserves as much attention and support as we can possibly give. Babatunde Onakoya founded Chess in Slums in 2018 as a way of helping impoverished kids improve their education and their lives through hard work and chess. It was chess that helped Babatunde escape the unimaginably grim conditions of the slums in Lagos, Nigeria.

As recently as 2020, Chess.com announced a partnership with Chess in Slums – Africa to help Babatunde promote chess among the slums of Lagos. It is his hope that by learning the game, the children being raised in the squalor of floating homes and debris will gain self confidence and critical thinking skills that can help to further their education and affect overall change in the impoverished areas of the Lagos community.

Are you interesting in contributing to the growing chess community in Lagos? Check out the Chess in Slums – Africa project on its social media accounts or via the email information below.

Image Credit: Daily Sabah, FIDE, Reuters

Posted May 24, 2021 in News, US Chess

US Chess Updates Membership Structure

Reposted from USChess.org

During the Special Delegates Meeting in August 2020, US Chess Delegates adopted a simplified membership structure to reflect changing member preferences and for ease of administration. Before adopting these changes, which take effect on June 1, 2021, US Chess offered more than 25 distinct membership types. After the changes are implemented, the number of membership types will be reduced to 15, which includes options for one- and two-year memberships.

The US Chess Delegates approved a structure that recognizes the following age-level memberships:

  • Adult (25 – 64 years)
  • Young Adult (19 – 24 years)
  • Youth (≤ 18 years)
  • Senior (65 years and older)

US Chess Executive Board Secretary Ryan Velez sees the changes in a positive light. He notes, “The simplification of our membership structure is important to attracting first time members.”

In addition, printed copies of Chess Life or Chess Life Kids will be an add-on to any Adult, Young Adult or Youth membership. Your membership entitles you to purchase one or both at the member rate, set at no more than 105% of printing and mailing costs. For the fiscal year beginning June 1, 2021, the annual subscription cost for Chess Life is $9.35/year (12 issues) and for Chess Life Kids, $4.75/year (6 issues). Current premium members will continue to receive their print magazines; only when you renew your membership will you need to select the add-on option to continue receiving your print magazine.

The digital versions of both magazines remain available to all members, at no additional cost. With changing preferences for how members access published content, the Executive Board and Delegates affirmed those preferences with the new membership structure. Only Life Memberships continue to come with a printed magazine, unless the member has elected otherwise.

Further, the US Chess Newsletter, mailed to Regular Members who opted in to receive it, and the US Chess Scholastic Newsletter, mailed to Regular Scholastic Members who opted in to receive it, will no longer be produced as the “Regular” category will no longer exist.

According to Mike Hoffpauir, US Chess President, “Having run many tournaments over the years, a more-simple membership structure helps with the administration of selling memberships at tournament sites. The “pay-as-you-go” approach for the magazine will give us good data to see who “really” wants the magazine.” Memberships processed before June 1, 2021 will remain with the terms under which they were sold until their date of expiration. That is, all premium memberships sold will continue to receive the printed magazine until that membership expires.

New membership rates are as follows:

  • Adult: $45/one year; $87/two years
  • Senior: $40/one year; $77/two years
  • Young Adult: $27/one year; $51/two years
  • Youth: $20/one year; $37/two years
  • Family Plan 1 (parents and children under age 19, may include college age students up to age 24): $85/one year
  • Family Plan 2 (all children, under age 19 living in a household at same address): $55/one year
Posted December 9, 2019 in Community, Famous Players, News

Boris Avrukh Launches Openings Website

Looking for a way to boost your opening repertoire?

Maybe you’re a 1. e4 player looking to spice things up with a 1. d4 changeup. Well, Grandmaster Boris Avrukh has just launched a new resource that can help to satiate that craving. Boris has been coaching chess for 15 years and has written numerous books on chess openings. Yours truly had the privilege of getting demolished against him in a simul a few years ago.

Ask Avrukh.com

His new website Ask Avrukh focuses primarily on his unique opening system with downloadable files suited to individual user abilities. These are universal examples of his opening lessons sorted by experience level, but he also offers opportunities for users to purchase customized files for the more advanced player.

In addition to the website, which is filled with valuable opening resources, Boris has also established a new YouTube Channel and regularly updates his Facebook page. I highly recommend that you “check out” Ask Avrukh! It is worth your time!

Posted March 14, 2019 in Community, FIDE, News

Nigel Short Hosts Simul in Atlanta

It’s refreshing to see FIDE officials playing chess. After many years of gutless politicians holding the organization hostage in a reign of terror, recently elected FIDE Vice President visited the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Atlanta to host a simul pitting GM Nigel Short against 25 players. The center is run by GM Ben Finegold, who spent many years as the GM-in-residence at the Saint Louis Chess Club (formerly the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis).

Atlanta Chess Players (Credit: Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Atlanta)

Nigel’s willingness to visit so many different chess federations around the world and engage in simuls with players is a welcome change to past FIDE leaders. For more details, check out the Atlanta Chess Club’s Facebook page.

Posted March 27, 2018 in Famous Players, News, Tournaments

US vs. Norway in Chess Championship!

GM Fabiano Caruana, who is currently ranked #3 in the world, won the 2018 Candidates Tournament in Berlin against GM Alexander Grischuk in the 14th round. Caruana held the lead for most of the tournament but found himself fighting back against victories by GMs Sergey Karjakin and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Fortunately, the young American held off and emerged victorious in the final round. Caruana will go on to face GM Magnus Carlsen in November in London for the World Chess Championship title.

2018 Candidates Tournament Games

For your reference, this is the first time that an American has played in the World Chess Championship since Bobby Fischer beat Petrosian in 1971.

Posted October 27, 2017 in Famous Players, News

Anna Rudolf Publishes Her New Chess Course

Anna Rudolf, my longtime chess crush, announced today that her new chess course is available from iChess.net!

Known as The Anna Rudolf Method, this course challenges players to let go of old ways of thinking about chess improvement and look to five things that typically hold people back from advancing to 1600 ELO and beyond. Over 15 hours, Anna covers blunders, missed opportunities, missing the strongest plan, underestimating your opponent’s strategy, and fear/complacency.

Many chess fans will recognize the lovely Anna Rudolf as Miss Strategy on chess24, and she brings much of her talent for teaching others to this powerful new set. Yours truly just picked up a copy and will most likely provide a full review once I am well into it.

Purchase and download the new course here.

Posted October 16, 2017 in Community, Famous Players, News

Rest in Peace, GM (Father) William Lombardy

Grandmaster William “Bill” Lombardy passed away from an apparent heart attack on Friday at a friend’s home in California. He made waves in the professional chess world for his 11-0 ravaging of his opponents in the 1957 World Junior Championship, but he is best-known for being Bobby Fischer’s second during the 1972 match in Reykjavik against Boris Spassky. Prior to that match, Lombardy spent part of his career as a Catholic Priest. Eventually, he became disillusioned with the Catholic Church because of its views of celebacy and decided to leave the priesthood. He spent most of his life in New York City where he was evicted from his home and spent time in rehabilitation from an assault.

He was portrayed in the movie Pawn Sacrifice by Peter Sarsgaard. A thorough reflection on his life and achievements is available on ChessBase. Some of his tournament games are also available on ChessBase or ChessGames.com.