Thursday, May 28

Results at Online Cup for Disabilities

The participants joined an international Zoom meeting. (credit: FIDE)

The 1st FIDE Online Cup for Players with Disabilities on May 21st saw 36 competitors representing 27 countries on five continents battle for five intense rounds of rapid chess at the PlayChess.com platform. The diverse field included amateurs and professionals, ranging from one Grandmaster and six International Masters to a handful of unrateds. A quarter of the participants were women. Click for an article at the ChessBase website.

The World Chess Federation (FIDE) organized the tournament as part of a global effort to promote chess and Checkmate Coronavirus. During the brief opening ceremony on Zoom, FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich of Russia welcomed the players and encouraged everyone to "stay safe and play chess." International Arbiter Marco Biagioli of Italy directed a smooth event.

When the bits finally settled, GM Marcin Tazbir of Poland took first place on tiebreaks over FM Sander Severino of the Philippines. Tazbir currently ranks as the strongest blind chess player in the world while Severino suffers from ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) and is confined to a wheelchair. Two Russians shared third place with the Hungarian representative.

Final Standings (see Chess-Results

  1. GM Marcin Tazbir (2510 from Poland) 4.5 out of 5
  2. FM Sander Severino (2364 from Philippines) 4.5
  3. IM Yuri Meshkov (2351 from Russia) 4.0
  4. Denis Palin (2110 from Russia) 4.0
  5. Gabor Acs (2047 from Hungary) 4.0
  6. FM Mihail-Dacian Pribeanu (2207 from Romania) 3.5
  7. IM Dmitrij Scerbin (2260 from Russia) 3.0
  8. FM Vit Valenta (2127 from Czech Republic) 3.0
  9. IM Andrei Gurbanov (2301 from Israel) 3.0
  10. FM Ilia Lipilin (2189 from Russia) 3.0
  11. WIM Natasha Morales Santos (1949 from Puerto Rico) 3.0
  12. FM Sargis Sargissyan (2269 from Armenia) 3.0
  13. Handenur Sahin (1997 from Turkey) 3.0
  14. WCM Annegret Mucha (1998 from Germany) 3.0
  15. Ezekiel Masiko (1830 from Uganda) 3.0 

Competing in my maiden international invitational as the lone American, I aspired to perform sufficiently well to earn a signature win. The results were mixed. My score of 2.0 out of 5 seemed respectable considering the challenging pairings - two IMs and two FMs. Unfortunately, detailed analysis of the games showed that I missed too many tactical combinations, even considering the time control of G/10 + inc/5. In the first round, I achieved a dominant position within a dozen moves as black against an Israeli IM, yet inexplicably left my rook en prise on move 19. At least I could blame the 6:00 AM start time for that blunder. Three rounds later, I gleefully forced a draw by repetition after an inferior opening, but failed to even consider a crushing zwischenzug.

IM Andrei Obodchuk
(credit: ChessFest2019)
FM Ilia Lipilin
(credit: Dora Martinez)




















While I did defeat an underrated young man from Uganda, my signature result was a draw versus Russian IM Andrei Obodchuk, the 8-time (former) world champion of the Physically Disabled Chess Association (IPCA). Nobody would confuse this game with a brilliancy, but my students know how much I cherish saving difficult endgames.


In the final round, I faced FM Ilia Lipilin from Russia, the 2-time defending World Junior Champion for Players with Disabilities. The opening went well, but my opponent turned the tables after a missed opportunity on move 27. Well played young master!


Regardless of my personal result, the Online Cup for Players with Disabilities was well organized and a truly enjoyable opportunity for the players. I deeply appreciated the invitation from FIDE and US Chess to participate.

Stay home. Be safe. Play chess. #checkmatecoronavirus

Tuesday, May 19

Fpawn Interview on Chess.com Blog

Kirk Ghazarian (credit: David Llada
at 2019 Bay Area International)
How well do you really know fpawn? Chess blogger and longtime mentee NM Kirk Ghazarian was determined to find out. Kirk asked the right questions and I gave him my honest replies. Check out the following sample of the topics:

  • How did you improve as a player to reach the NM title?
  • How do you inspire your students to achieve their goals?
  • Do you have advice for a player who stagnated in improvement.

Kirk included several photos and three games to illustrate the power of the King's Bishop Pawn - a trio of Black wins in my favorite Dutch Defense opening.


Thank you Kirk for inviting me for this interesting interview. Keep up your good work!

Sunday, May 17

FIDE Online Cup for Players with Disabilities

Participants at 2019 World Junior Chess Championship
for Players with Disabilities in New Jersey.

The cancellation of chess tournaments around the globe due to COVID-19 also forced the postponement of the first Chess Paralympiad scheduled for late July in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. In its place, the World Chess Federation (FIDE) introduced a new Online Cup for Players with Disabilities.

Unfortunately, a small Online Cup can in no way replace the larger Paralympiad. Instead of teams of four players plus an alternate from each invited nation, only 38 individuals will battle for five rounds of rapid chess at PlayChess.com on Thursday morning, May 21st. The first round begins at 6:00 AM Pacific time.

I felt honored to be able to accept the invitation to represent the United States!

The registration list shows that I start near the middle of the pack. The field of 38 includes one GM, six IMs and a total of twelve players rated above 2200 FIDE. Nine women were invited. Most participants hail from Europe or Asia, with just three from Africa and four from the Americas.

  • Europe (22): Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Czech Republic, Georgia, Germany (2), Hungary, Israel (2), Moldova, Poland (2), Romania, Russia (6), Turkey, Ukraine 
  • Asia (9): China (2), India (2), Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Philippines, Vietnam
  • Africa (3): Kenya, Uganda, Zambia
  • Americas (4): Canada, Puerto Rico, United States, Venezuela

Wish me luck, as I will certainly need it against this competitive field. Since there are only five rounds, even the pairings may boil down to luck.

Tuesday, May 12

All Fpawn Masters - Peak USCF Rating

Future Grandmasters Daniel Naroditsky and Steven Zierk
at 2008 CalChess Scholastic Championships

  1. GM Daniel Naroditsky 2738 - became NM in 2007
  2. GM Steven Zierk 2608 - became NM in 2008
  3. IM Yian Liou 2502 - became NM in 2009
  4. FM Gregory Young 2477 - becamw NM in 2007
  5. IM Gabriel Bick 2475 - became NM in 2015
  6. NM Daniel Schwarz 2370 - became NM in 2006
  7. NM Richard Yi 2290 - became NM in 2017
  8. NM Matt Zavortink 2279 - became NM in 2017
  9. NM Nicholas Karas 2273 - became NM in 2012
  10. NM Neel Apte 2244 - became NM in 2015
  11. NM Evan Sandberg 2242 - became NM in 2010
  12. NM Daniel Liu 2214 - became NM in 2012
  13. NM Michael Lin 2213 - became NM in 2013
  14. NM Joshua Cao 2202 - became NM in 2017

  • Peak USCF Rating Updated May 2020.
  • Students took private lessons for at least 6 months.
  • Includes results achieved after we stopped lessons.
  • A teacher merely lays the foundation and cultivates love for chess. Ultimate success depends on personal effort and motivation. Elite students often study with several coaches, all who deserve credit.

Zkid, Students Dominate Birthday Blitz


Steven Zierk at age 12.
Grandmaster Steven Zierk won the first eight rounds en route to victory in the Fpawn Birthday Blitz Bash on Chess.com. For the second straight Sunday, Zkid dominated Northern California's best at blitz, scoring a combined 19.5 out of 22. After overcoming difficult positions in rounds 3 and 4, the GM asserted himself with the white pieces in the English opening. This game would determine the top medals, as IM Yian Liou became the lone competitor to finish within shouting distance of the region's 800 lb gorilla.


Saratoga HS and Redwood MS
teams in 2007.
This evening of socially distanced blitz doubled as the birthday party for Coach Fpawn. Nearly half of the 36 participants were either current (5) or former (12) private students. Here's a big shout out to four members of the Saratoga High School team that captured six consecutive state titles from 2005 to 2010: Brian, Charles, David and Evan! Kudos to school captain David Chock for a strong performance a dozen years after his last USCF rated chess tournament. Other past students who joined the virtual party were AlexAndrew, Dan, Eric, Gabe, Josh, Steven and Yian.

Perhaps it comes as small surprise that the top six places were occupied by five former students and one current mentee. The domination was complete; only one unaffiliated player scored more than 5 out of 10! Thanks guys for making your coach proud even after so many years.

Final Standings of the Fpawn Birthday Blitz Bash (full results here)
  1. GM Zkid (Steven Zierk) 9.0 out of 10
  2. IM RolyPolySword (Yian Liou) 8.5
  3. NM 2Bf41-0 (anonymous) 7.5
  4. IM cheese111 (Gabriel Bick) 7.0
  5. NM DSchwarz (Dan Schwarz) 7.0
  6. chockbored (David Chock) 6.0
  7. chessforme17 (anonymous) 6.0
  8. Ten tied at 5.0: mzhong21, fpawn, ericlgame, agrossman, mykehawke, championps, EM-TheChessShark, vish1080, knvsback and Mangonel
Mechanics' Institute
in San Francisco
Unfortunately, yours truly failed to play up to his usual standards. The frustration ran deep, e.g. flagging up a pawn with two extra minutes on the clock or moving a knight into capture in an easily winning position. Then came the inexcusable 21 move loss against the hippo. Next time!

Thanks to everyone who joined! It felt great watching some of you push pawns after so many years. Also thanks to Judit Sztaray of the Mechanics' Institute Chess Club for promoting the evening and hosting the virtual Meet & Greet on Zoom before the first round.

Monday, May 4

GM Zierk Wins Mechanics' Memorial Blitz


Due to the COVID pandemic, the Mechanics' Institute organized its annual Memorial Blitz online at Chess.com. This special event honors the memory of three masters who have departed after leaving their mark on the Bay Area chess community: NM Ray Schutt, SM Steve Brandwein and IM Jay Whitehead. In previous years, the large crowd of participants would socialize and munch on snacks between rounds of serious chess.

GM Steven Zierk
(credit: Alberta Chess)
Fortunately, the mandatory move online did little to dampen attendance - 104 players joined, including two Grandmsters, two International Masters, three FIDE Masters and at least seven National Masters. The competition was fierce starting in the first round, when three titled players lost or drew and a fourth overslept. No doubt, Ray, Steve and Jay would have enjoyed watching all of the fighting chess, even while socially distanced.

Veteran IM Elliott Winslow stormed out of the gate for the early lead, winning six straight games. The top seed, super-GM Rauf Mamedov of Azerbaijan, finally reeled him in. After round 7, four players shared the lead with 6-1: GM Mamedov and IM Winslow were joined by GM Steven Zierk and talented 13-year old IM Christopher Yoo.

The two Grandmasters clashed in round 9. Zierk, playing the black pieces, emerged victorious in a theoretical line of the Tarrasch variation of the French, gaining the advantage of two minor pieces against a rook and extra pawn.


Both Zierk and Mamedov held serve in rounds 10 and 11, allowing the local GM to clinch the tournament despite blundering into last round draw by repetition against this reporter. Congratulations Steven!

Final Standings of the Memorial Blitz (full results here)
  1. GM Zkid (Steven Zierk) 10.5 out of 12
  2. GM Muisback26 (Rauf Mamedov) 10.0
  3. FM KyronGriffith 9.0
  4. qing29 (Abhinav Penagalapati) 9.0
  5. IM ChristopherYoo 8.5
  6. NM 2007checkmate (Vyom Vidyarthi) 8.0
  7. FM Marty435 (Jason Liang) 8.0
  8. IM ecwinslow (Elliott Winslow) 8.0
  9. NM jij2018 (Ruiyang Yan) 8.0
  10. NM fpawn (Michael Aigner) 8.0
  11. Atrozen (Anthony Rozenvasser) 8.0 
The blitz tournament was broadcast on Twitch with live commentary from the multi-talented Mechanics' Institute staff, including GM Nick de Firmian and FM Paul Whitehead. Replay the entire show at your leisure on YouTube! The game Mamedov vs Winslow begins at 1:25:00 while Mamedov vs Zierk starts at 1:48:40. Readers of this blog might enjoy the tense final round match between Zierk and Aigner at 2:20:25.

Friday, May 1

Weekly Online Tournaments for Sacramento


Let the Sacramento Pawns club help fulfill your craving for competitive chess in this era of social distancing. Join one of our two weekly online tournaments on Saturday afternoon. Kids and amateurs rated under 1400 in Chess.com rapid rating play at 1:30 while everyone else should log in shortly before 3:00. Be there, and don't forget to bring your buddies!

Sac Kids & Amateur #2

When: Saturday, May 2 from 1:30 to 3:00 PM
Who: Open to club members under 1400 Chess.com rapid rating
Format: FOUR (4) ROUND Swiss in one section
Link: https://www.chess.com/live#t=1210983

Sac Pawn Storm #5

When: Saturday, May 2 from 3:00 to 5:00 PM
Who: Open to all club members regardless of rating
Format: FIVE (5) ROUND Swiss in one section
Link: https://www.chess.com/live#t=1210981

Additional information for both tournaments:

Where: Chess.com Live Server (look under the Tournaments tab)
Time control: G/10 + 3 second increment
USCF Rated: No
Entry: Free
Prizes: Winners to be recognized in a Sacramento Pawns club news story.

If this is your first time playing, 1. sign up for the Sacramento Pawns club and 2. read the instructions to join the tournament. Questions or comments? Please message me on Chess.com or send an email to michael AT fpawn DOT com.

Special note: Anyone rated under 2000 USCF who beats or draws against a master in the Pawn Storm will have their game published in the club news story.

Past results: https://www.chess.com/club/live-tournaments/sacramento-pawns

May all your pawns promote!

Friday, March 8

CalChess State Scholastics History





Bay Area Chess hosts the annual CalChess State Scholastic Championships this weekend in Santa Clara. This year is the 44th edition of a tradition that started at a school, but has grown to fill several halls of a major convention center. Roughly 1200 children compete in 16 sections divided by age and chess skill. On Sunday evening, state champions will be crowned for the five Championship divisions: K-3, K-5, K-6, K-8 and K-12.


Check out the following trivia from more than three decades. Unfortunately, the records from 1976 through 1985 are not readily available.

  • First exceeded 500 players = 1997
  • First exceeded 1000 players = 2001
  • Largest turnout = 1319 in 2006
  • New sections added = Elementary K-5 section was only introduced in 2007 while Kindergarten began in 1997
  • Most High School individual titles = Vinay Bhat won 4 from 1998-2002. Three masters won 3 times: Andy McManus (1987-1990), Dmitry Zilberstein (1994-1997) and Cameron Wheeler (2013-2015).
  • Most High School team titles = 6 shared by Lowell High (1986-1994) and Saratoga High (2005-2010)
  • Youngest High School winner = 5th grader Daniel Naroditsky
  • Three 5-time champions = Vinay Bhat (K-3, K-12, K-12, K-12, K-12), Neel Apte (K-3, K-5, K-6, K-8, K-8), and Cameron Wheeler (K-5, K-6, K-12, K-12, K-12)
  • Four 4-time champions = Micah Fischer-Kirshner (K-3, K-6, K-6, K-12), Adam Lischinsky (K-3, K-3, K-8, K-12), Daniel Naroditsky (K-3, K-6, K-12, K-12), and James Kwok (K-3, K-6, K-8, K-8) 
  • Eleven 3-time champions = Andy McManus, Alan Stein, Dmitry Zilberstein, Keith Yost, Daniel Schwarz, Steven Zierk, Yian Liou, Kyle Shin, Tanuj Vasudeva, Siddharth Banik, Kevin Pan
  • Grand Slam champions = None! Must win all four of K-3, either K-5 or K-6, K-8, and K-12. Eight juniors have won 3 out of 4. 
  • Champions to become GM = Vinay Bhat, Steven Zierk, Daniel Naroditsky
  • Champions to become IM = Alan Stein, Dmitry Zilberstein, Philip Wang, Yian Liou, Vignesh Panchanatham, Cameron Wheeler, Kesav Viswanadha
  • Current US Champion Sam Shankland never won at the CalChess Scholastics. However, he became adult State Champ at age 16 (a record that was recently broken).
  • The Schism of 2005 saw the CalChess Scholastics in Oakland compete against the CalNorth Regional in San Jose on same weekend. The Regional drew over twice as many kids (906 to 397).
  • More than 20 false 9-1-1 calls from public telephones marred the 1998 edition at the Santa Clara Convention Center.
  • Kudos to the main organizers = Ray Orwig, Dr. Alan Kirshner, Richard Peterson, Dr. Salman Azhar, and Dr. Judit Sztaray

Please contact Michael Aigner with errors, omissions, or additional trivia. Many thanks to Dr. Alan Kirshner for maintaining the records from 1986 to 2011. 

Sunday, January 6

San Francisco Mechanics - PRO Chess League


















Photos: GM Shankland (left, credit St. Louis CC) and GM Naroditsky (right, credit Llada).  

The Professional Rapid Online (PRO) Chess League returns to action this week on the Chess.com live server. The Bay Area is fortunate to have two strong teams in this worldwide competition. They battle in the Pacific Division against squads from San Diego, Seattle, Minnesota, Dallas, Australia and Chengdu (China). Each week, usually on Tuesday evenings, four team members rated under 2500 average each play four online games with the opposition at G/15 time control. After ten weeks, the top four teams in each Division advance to the league playoffs!

The San Francisco Mechanics are co-hosted by the Mechanics' Institute and the Berkeley Chess School. After failing to qualify for the inaugural season, the Mechanics took top honors in the league qualifier last November. The franchise actually has an extensive online history as one of the eight founding clubs of the now-defunct US Chess League. The Mechanics even brought home the USCL championship in 2006, led by a fearless young master who earned first team All Star honors on board 4!

That young master became the 2017 US Champion and is currently ranked #27 in the World. Sam Shankland will lead his hometown club after returning from Holland, where he faces Magnus Carlsen at the Tata Steel Masters beginning on Saturday. Fear not, San Francisco features five other Grandmasters, including child prodigy Parimarjan Negi of India and local superstar Daniel Naroditsky, who both studied at Stanford University. GM Vinay Bhat and GM Steven Zierk also sharpened their skills as juniors in the Bay Area and eagerly represent the Mechanics. The final Grandmaster is free agent Yannick Gozzoli of France, one of the 2018 co-national champions (check out this interview).

The roster includes two International Masters and a quintet of nationally ranked juniors who frequent tournaments at either the San Francisco or Berkeley clubs. IM Yian Liou and IM John Donaldson participated on the USCL teams of the past decade. These two veterans are reinforced by teenagers IM-elect Andrew Hong, IM-elect Ladia Jirasek and three other masters. Expect the Mechanics to spread weekly assignments around to give all the opportunity to shine.

San Francisco kicks off the season against their regional rivals, the San Jose Hackers. Hoping for a strong start, they unveil a triple GM lineup for Week 1: GM Naroditsky, GM Gozzoli, GM Bhat and FM Ezra Chambers. Check out the action on Tuesday evening starting at 5:25PM!

While this writer enthusiastically supports both Bay Area squads in the league, his true allegiance remains with three former students (GM Naroditsky, GM Zierk and IM Liou) plus several longtime friends who play for the Mechanics. Let's go San Francisco! Fix all those cars!

San Jose Hackers - PRO Chess League



Photos: GM Mamedyarov (left) and IM-elect Yoo (right, credit Llada).  

The Professional Rapid Online (PRO) Chess League returns to action this week on the Chess.com live server. The Bay Area is fortunate to have two strong teams in this worldwide competition. They battle in the Pacific Division against squads from San Diego, Seattle, Minnesota, Dallas, Australia and Chengdu (China). Each week, usually on Tuesday evenings, four team members rated under 2500 average each play four online games with the opposition at G/15 time control. After ten weeks, the top four teams in each Division advance to the league playoffs!

The San Jose Hackers are organized by Bay Area Chess and most team members either coach or participate in local chess classes, camps and tournaments. The star of the Hackers is World #3 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan. Two countrymen join "Shak" as free agents for San Jose: World #39 Rauf Mamedov and World #63 Eltaj Safarli. The three Azeris will need to split duties on the top board, since league rules permit only one free agent to play each week.

The other Hackers all reside in the Bay Area. Grandmaster coaches Zviad Izoria and Enrico Sevillano expect to platoon on second board. Coach and journalist IM Kostya Kavutskiy, 12 year old newly minted IM-elect Christopher Yoo and rapid specialist NM Faik Aleskerov will play significant roles throughout the season. Four teen masters, all current or former students of Bay Area Chess, share duties on board 4.

San Jose narrowly missed out on the playoffs last season and will seek to improve this year. Perhaps to make a statement, the Hackers rolled out their strongest lineup for the Week 1 showdown against their rivals, the San Francisco Mechanics: GM Mamedyarov, GM Izoria, IM-elect Yoo and FM Ivan Ke. Check out the action on Tuesday evening starting at 5:25PM!

Monday, November 5

World Cadet Underway in Spain

The playing venue is at the Ciudad de la Cultura. (website)

The 2018 World Cadet Chess Championships kicked off on Sunday at the Christian pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela located in northwestern Spain. Nearly 850 young chess players from around the world compete in six sections: Open and Girls for age U8, U10 and U12. The Open U10 and Open U12 divisions both have over 200 participants. After eleven rounds, gold, silver and bronze medals will be awarded on November 15.

Team USA includes 74 players, at least that many parents, 6 official team coaches and several private trainers. The American medal chances seem greatest in Open U12, where 21 kids rock the red, white and blue, including 4 of the top 10 seeds. Top contenders include Rachael Li (1st seed in Girls U8), FM Christopher Yoo (2nd seed in Open U12), IM Arthur Guo (4th seed in Open U12), NM Kirk Ghazarian (8th seed in Open U12), Dimitar Mardov (8th seed in Open U10), CM Jason Wang (10th seed in Open U12) and Crystal Gu (10th seed in Girls U8). Note that seeds are ranked by FIDE ratings, and the order may differ from USCF ratings.

Team USA hails from 17 states, including 16 youngsters from New York, 12 from California, 10 from New Jersey and 6 each from Illinois and Texas. The other states represented are: AZ, CT, FL, GA, MA, MI, OH, OR, PA, VA, WA and WI.

The official website is http://www.wccc2018.com/. The daily rounds begin at 7:30am PST except on November 10 (free day) and November 15 (final round starts 2.5 hours sooner). Watch the top boards at FollowChess or at Chess24 (with a 30 minute delay to deter cheating).

FINAL STANDINGS
Top American scores plus California kids
Rating from November USCF supplement
Age given as of December 31, 2018

OPEN U12 results link (21 players)

  • FM Chasin, Nico (12 NY 2320) = 8.5 - BRONZE MEDAL (tied for 2nd)
  • IM Guo, Arthur (12 GA 2387) = 8.5 - 4th place (tied for 2nd)
  • FM Yoo, Christopher (12 CA-N 2455) = 8.0 - 7th place (tied for 6th)
  • CM Wang, Jason (12 OH 2317) = 8.0 - 8th place (tied for 6th)
  • Tian, Eddy (12 NJ 2270) = 7.5
  • CM Zhou, Liran (10 NY 2291) = 7.5
  • NM Ghazarian, Kirk (12 CA-S 2230) = 7.0 
  • CM Xu, Arthur (11 IL 2158 = 7.0
  • Nathan, Krishna (12 CA-N 2115) = 6.5
  • Clasby, Derek (12 NJ 2231) = 6.5
  • Park, Evan (11 PA 2177) = 6.5
  • Yu, Jason (12 WA 2208) = 6.5
  • Sethuraman, Sandeep (11 AZ 2149) = 6.5
  • Oberoi, Shelev (12 TX 2045) = 6.5
  • Gu, Andy (12 CA-S 1693) = 4.5

GIRLS U12 results link (11 players)

  • WCM Pang, Ashley (11 CA-N 1737) = 8.0 - 6th place (tied for 3rd)
  • WFM Wang, Ellen (11 NY 2015) = 7.5 - 12th place (tied for 8th)
  • WCM Ke, Rianne (12 CA-S 2102) = 7.0
  • WCM Velea, Stephanie (11 WA 1668) = 6.5

OPEN U10 results link (12 players)

  • Zhao, Erick (10 FL 2067) = 9.0 - SILVER MEDAL (tied for 1st)
  • Mardov, Dimitar (10 IL 2178) = 8.0 - 8th place (tied for 7th)
  • Ngo, Bach (10 FL 2075) = 7.5
  • Lee, Jayden (10 AZ 2022) = 7.5
  • Shivakumar, Shawnak (10 CA-N 1991) = 7.0
  • Sloan, Jed (10 NY 1912) = 6.5
  • Tay, Brian (10 VA 1822) = 6.5
  • Sivakumar, Shaaketh (10 CA-N 1861) = 5.5
  • Huang, Brian (10 CA-S 1924) = 5.5

GIRLS U10 results link (15 players)

  • WCM Velea, Sophie (10 WA 1782) = 8.0 - 7th place (tied for 5th)
  • Liu, Kelsey (10 MA 1944) = 7.0
  • Evans, Serena (10 CT 1475) 7.0
  • WCM Wen, Kally (10 CA-N 1681) = 6.5
  • Elangovan, Ramya (10 TX 1593) = 6.5
  • Peng, Sophia (10 AZ 1697) = 6.5
  • Zhu, Florina (10 NJ 1623) = 6.5
  • Field, Lila (9 NJ 1310) 6.5

OPEN U8 results link (8 players)

  • Chennareddy, Yuvraj (8 IL 1901) = 10.5 - GOLD MEDAL
  • Wang, Alexander (8 NJ 1960) = 8.0 - 10th place (tied for 6th)
  • Jiang, Andrew (8 GA 1864) = 7.0
  • Woodward, Andy (8 TX 1812) = 7.0

GIRLS U8 results link (7 players)

  • WCM Qiao, Evelyn (8 GA 1641) = 8.5 - BRONZE MEDAL
  • Prakash, Nandini (8 IL 1554) = 7.5 - 9th place (tied for 8th)
  • Gu, Crystal (8 CA-S 1578) = 7.0
  • Li, Rachael (8 TX 1994) = 6.5

Sunday, November 4

Online Mate In One Test


Test your ability to solve mates in one using this fun web application. You get 10 seconds to find the correct move. If you're right, then you immediately get another position. The program stops when your move is not checkmate, or when your time expires.

Many of the positions are trivially winning, but the goal is to checkmate in one. Multiple solutions exist for some problems, and the program will accept any of them. After you have solved several hundred, you may notice that some positions repeat.

Parental warning: This game is addictive. I know several young masters who solved over 100 in a row. At least two have reached 500! At this time, yours truly only achieved a modest 41. If you wish to brag to your friends, then save a screenshot immediately after you messed up.

Finally, if 10 seconds is too fast, then simply edit the number at the end of the URL.

Monday, September 3

NorCal Top 20 - September 2018

US Champion Sam Shankland has fun teaching talented
kids at the US Chess School. (Credit: US Chess School)

NorCal Top 20 Adults
September 2018

Rank Name USCF FIDE
1 GM Shankland, Sam 2816 2722
2 GM Zviad Izoria 2718 2601
3 GM Naroditsky, Daniel 2691 2615
4 GM Holt, Conrad 2688 2561
5 GM Zierk, Steven 2565 2506
6 IM Harmon-Vellotti, Luke 2563 2455
7 GM Matamoros, Carlos (ECU) 2561 2494
8 IM Joshua Sheng 2550 2447
9 GM Sevillano, Enrico 2535 2423
10 IM Wheeler, Cameron 2503 2406
11 IM Liou, Yian 2499 2412
12 IM Kavutskiy, Kostya 2472 2424
13 SM Hong, Andrew Z 2467 2357
14 IM Viswanadha, Kesav 2457 2367
15 IM Zilberstein, Dmitry 2454 2378
16 IM Coleman, Teddy 2452 2378
17 IM Panchanatham, Vignesh 2451 2383
18 SM Zhu, Jack Q 2437 2373
19 SM Bick, Gabriel 2429 2381
20 SM Yoo, Christopher W 2414 2402

  • Derived from US Chess Rating Lists by State.
  • GM Negi moved to Massachusetts.
  • GM Holt and GM Sevillano listed under other states.
  • Newcomers GM Zierk (welcome back!) and IM Sheng.
  • SM Bick enters list after playing abroad for a year.
  • GM DeFirmian and IM Donaldson mostly inactive.

Friday, August 31

NorCal Top 20 JHS & High School (Age 12-17)

Local stars FM Josiah Stearman and FM Rayan Taghizadeh squared off at the
US Cadet (U16) Invitational in San Jose last month. (Credit: BayAreaChess)

NorCal Top 100 Lists and NorCal Top 20 Juniors
August 2018

Rank Age Name USCF Change FIDE
1 13 FM Hong, Andrew Z 2454 33 2377
2 14 FM Stearman, Josiah P 2416 111 2346
3 16 FM Taghizadeh, Rayan 2402 -41 2302
4 15 NM Ke, Ivan 2351 37 2238
5 13 FM Daggupati, Balaji 2329 57 2226
6 16 NM Wang, Michael 2323 -15 2133
7 17 WIM Eswaran, Ashritha 2256 52 2243
8 12 NM Wu, Rochelle 2252 141 2094
9 17 NM Ravuri, Vinesh 2239 68 2050
10 13 NM Kolay, Alex 2220 141 2115
11 15 NM Wu, Derek S 2220 161 2050
12 15 nm Murugappan, Ganesh 2193 69 2076
13 17 FM Vasudeva, Tanuj 2184 -2 2013
14 15 Wang, Henry 2182 117 1970
15 15 Feng, Justin 2173 43 1987
16 15 Pan, David 2162 67 1979
17 12 Nathan, Krishna 2152 188 1894
18 17 Wei, Jeffrey 2150 19 1965
19 12 Pan, Kevin 2148 92 2040
20 17 nm Pan, Christopher 2145 -61 2045

NorCal Top 20 Elementary (Age 11 & Under)

11 year old FM Christopher Yoo won a brilliancy against GM Conrad Holt to
complete his second IM norm this month in Berkeley. (Credit: Chessdryad)

NorCal Top 100 Lists and NorCal Top 20 Juniors
August 2018

Rank Age Name USCF Change FIDE
1 11 FM Yoo, Christopher W 2414 140 2378
2 10 NM Li, Eric Y 2207 158 2008
3 11 Yan, Rui Y 2133 167 1852
4 11 Vidyarthi, Vyom 2105 132 1912
5 10 Kondakov, Adrian 2057 133 1948
6 11 Boldi, Ethan K 2011 139 1879
7 10 CM Krishnakumar, Sriram 1978 22 1675
8 10 Shivakumar, Shawnak 1919 131 1713
9 11 CM Nachiappan, Aghilan 1911 94 1631
10 11 Sairam, Pranav 1866 57
11 11 Kamath, Atul R 1832 66 1478
12 9 CM Nath, Nitish 1811 187 1506
13 9 Sivakumar, Shaaketh 1792 109 1522
14 11 WCM Wong, Allyson 1746 107 1479
15 10 Le, Nikko D 1745 96
16 11 Zhou, Nolan Y 1742 128
17 10 Weng, Nicholas 1737 138
18 7 Rajaram, Rohan 1718 505 1321
19 9 WCM Rajaram, Anika 1706 181 1371
20 11 Kou, Daniel 1703 -71 1444

NorCal Top 20 Girls

Rui Yang Yan also played at the
Women's Western Regional in
Berkeley. (Credit: Chessdryad)
NM Rochelle Wu took first place
at the Women's Western Regional
in Berkeley. (Credit: Chessdryad)





















NorCal Top 100 Lists and NorCal Top 20 Juniors
August 2018

Rank Age Name USCF Change FIDE
1 17 WIM Eswaran, Ashritha 2256 52 2243
2 12 NM Wu, Rochelle 2252 141 2094
3 11 Yan, Rui Y 2133 167 1852
4 15 WFM Liu, Kimberly 2012 33 1877
5 15 Nayberg, Simona 1954 114 1880
6 17 Chatterjee, Trina 1913 53 1748
7 12 WCM Eswaran, Aksithi 1876 86 1757
8 13 WFM Meiyappan, Annapoorni 1843 -25 1631
9 16 Show, Serafina 1836 23 1550
10 14 WCM Garai, Antara 1826 -40 1556
11 17 Hasteer, Divija 1775 -35 1544
12 11 WCM Wong, Allyson 1746 107 1479
13 12 Zhou, Chelsea 1733 343
14 15 Gomboluudev, Enkhjin C 1720 55 1676
15 9 WCM Rajaram, Anika 1706 181 1371
16 8 WCM Vidyarthi, Omya 1679 351 1145
17 10 WCM Pang, Ashley 1666 80 1604
18 14 Chen, Ashleann 1616 -66
19 13 Wang, Agnes Z 1592 85
20 11 Lee, Yesun 1591 214

Friday, August 17

Berkeley GM Norm RR

The front desk and chess library. (Credit: Chessdryad)

Berkeley Summer GM Norm Invitational
August 17 to 21
Hosted by the Berkeley Chess School
Watch the games live at the Follow Chess app!

Time control = G/90 + inc/30
Average rating =  2433
Required score = 6.5 for GM norm, 5.0 for IM norm
Participants:
  • GM Conrad Holt (2592)
  • GM Priyadarshan Kannappan (2554) from India THIRD PLACE
  • GM Mark Paragua (2506) from Philippines
  • IM Joshua Sheng (2415) FIRST PLACE - GM NORM!!
  • IM Bryce Tiglon (2392)
  • NM Gabriel Bick (2391)
  • IM Ahuja Rohan (2387) from India 
  • FM Christopher Yoo (2378) IM NORM!!
  • IM Kim Yap (2366) from Philippines SECOND PLACE - GM NORM!!
  • FM Josiah Stearman (2346)
Crosstable:

GM Conrad Holt  | X | = | 1 | 0 | = | 0 | 1 | 0 | 0 | = |   3.5
GM Kannappan    | = | X | = | 0 | 1 | 1 | 1 | = | = | 1 |   6.0
GM M. Paragua   | 0 | = | X | 0 | 1 | 1 | = | = | = | 1 |   5.0
IM Josh Sheng   | 1 | 1 | 1 | X | 1 | = | = | 1 | 0 | 1 |   7.0
IM B. Tiglon    | = | 0 | 0 | 0 | X | = | 1 | = | 0 | = |   3.0
NM Gabe Bick    | 1 | 0 | 0 | = | = | X | 0 | = | 0 | = |   3.0
IM Ahuja Rohan  | 0 | 0 | = | = | 0 | 1 | X | 1 | = | 0 |   3.5
FM Chris Yoo    | 1 | = | = | 0 | = | = | 0 | X | 1 | 1 |   5.0
IM Kim Yap      | 1 | = | = | 1 | 1 | 1 | = | 0 | X | 1 |   6.5
FM J. Stearman  | = | 0 | 0 | 0 | = | = | 1 | 0 | 0 | X |   2.5

Saturday, August 11

Berkeley IM Norm RR

The new Berkeley Chess School building opened in May. (Credit: Chessdryad)

Berkeley Summer IM Norm Invitational
August 11 to 15
Hosted by the Berkeley Chess School
Watch the games live at the Follow Chess app!

Time control = G/90 + inc/30
Average rating = 2298
Required score = 6.5 for IM norm, 6.0 for WGM norm
Participants:
  • IM Ahuja Rohan (2387) from India FIRST PLACE TIE
  • IM Kim Yap (2366) from Philippines FIRST PLACE TIE    
  • IM Vincent McCambridge (2359)
  • FM Josiah Stearman (2346)
  • FM Teemu Virtanen (2309) from Finland THIRD PLACE TIE
  • FM Rawle Allicock (2236) from England
  • WIM Annie Wang (2288) 
  • NM Ivan Ke (2238)   
  • FM Ezra Chambers (2233) from Burundi
  • FM Ladia Jirasek (2222) THIRD PLACE TIE
Crosstable:

IM Ahuja Rohan  | X | 0 | 1 | = | 1 | = | 1 | = | 1 | 1 |   6.5
IM Kim Yap      | 1 | X | 1 | 1 | = | 1 | 0 | 1 | 1 | 0 |   6.5
IM McCambridge  | 0 | 0 | X | 0 | 0 | = | 0 | 0 | 0 | 1 |   1.5
FM J. Stearman  | = | 0 | 1 | X | 1 | 0 | 1 | = | 0 | 0 |   4.0
FM T. Virtanen  | 0 | = | 1 | 0 | X | 1 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 0 |   5.5
FM R. Allicock  | = | 0 | = | 1 | 0 | X | 0 | 0 | 1 | 0 |   3.0
WIM Annie Wang  | 0 | 1 | 1 | 0 | 0 | 1 | X | 0 | 1 | = |   4.5
NM Ivan Ke      | = | 0 | 1 | = | 0 | 1 | 1 | X | 0 | 0 |   4.0
FM E. Chambers  | 0 | 0 | 1 | 1 | 0 | 0 | 0 | 1 | X | 1 |   4.0
FM L. Jirasek   | 0 | 1 | 0 | 1 | 1 | 1 | = | 1 | 0 | X |   5.5

Friday, July 27

Shankland Plays at Danzhou Super GM

Sam Shankland (credit China Chess)

The Bay Area's own GM Sam Shankland participates in his first Super GM invitational in southern China. Eight young players, all rated above 2700 FIDE, compete in a single round-robin hosted by the city of Danzhou on the island of Hainan. While Shankland has been successful against 2700s in the past, there are no easy opponents at this elite event.

Participants

  • Yu Yangyi (CHN) 2762
  • Jan-Krzysztof Duda (POL) 2737
  • Wei Yi (CHN) 2729
  • Le Quang Liem (VIE) 2728
  • Sam Shankland (USA) 2727
  • Santosh Gujrathi Vidit (IND) 2718
  • Bu Xiangzhi (CHN) 2712
  • Vladimir Fedoseev (RUS) 2707

Duda won in the first round against Vidit while the other three games were drawn. Shankland survived a scare with black against the former prodigy Bu, once the youngest GM in the world at age 13. In this tournament, Bu is the oldest at 32, and Shankland the second oldest at 26.

Games begin at 11:30PM Pacific and are broadcast at Chess24. Follow @sinachess for the latest news and photos. Readers who understand Mandarin may be interested in the official website.

Thursday, May 10

National Elementary Championships


The annual US Chess National Elementary Championships bring more than 2200 eager youngsters together in Nashville on Mother's Day weekend. The Northern California delegation consists of 45 kids plus their parents and coaches. More than half represent two historically strong Fremont elementary schools, Mission San Jose and Weibel, both which won national championships in recent years. How many trophies will the local participants bring home this year?

Most of the attention goes to the K-6 Championship section, which features the most local players and the best opportunities for high place trophies. Indeed, 7 kids are rated in the top 40 of the section, which is approximately the 70th percentile and up. Both Mission San Jose and Weibel have teams in K-6, with MSJE seeking to duplicate their shared first place in K-5 last year. The other interesting section appears to be the K-1 Championship, with first graders Rohan Rajaram and Lucas Jiang seeded among the top three. MSJE also hopes to finish near the top in K-1 after taking second place last year.


LATEST RESULTS (RFINAL RESULTS)


Kevin Pan (credit @USChess)
K-6 Championship (16 local players)
  • Kevin Pan (MSJE) - 6.0 - CO-NATIONAL CHAMPION
  • Abhinav Penagalapati - 4.5
  • Aghilan Nachiappan (MSJE) - 5.0 - 17th place
  • Stephen He (MSJE) - 4.0
  • Nikko Le (Weibel) - 4.0
  • Nicholas Jiang (MSJE) - 4.0  
  • Allyson Wong (MSJE) - 4.5
  • Alex Shrauger - 4.5
  • Saatvik Krishnan - 3.5
  • Dharshan Vetrivelan (Weibel) - 3.5
  • Aidan Chen (MSJE) - 4.0
  • Umesh Gopi (Weibel) - 3.0
  • Krish Gangal (Weibel) - 3.0 - 2nd U1400
  • Nivedha Maniv (MSJE) - 3.0
  • Reyansh Gangal (Weibel) - 2.0
  • Savir Khanna (Weibel) - 2.0
  • MSJE K-6 team (7 players) - 19.5 - CO-NATIONAL CHAMPIONS
  • Weibel K-6 team (6 players) - 13.5 - 6th place

K-5 Championship (9 local players)
  • Shaaketh Sivakumar - 4.5
  • Anika Rajaram - 4.0
  • Nikhil Parvathaneni - 3.5
  • Kavya Meiyappan (MSJE) - 4.0
  • Jayden Xu - 4.0
  • Leo Jiang - 2.5
  • Jason Liu (MSJE) - 3.0
  • Ayaan Kassamali (MSJE) - 3.5- 1st U1100
  • Jolene Liu (MSJE) - 2.5 - 2nd U1100
  • MSJE K-5 team (4 players) - 13.0 - 9th place

K-3 Championship (4 local players)
  • Nitish Nath - 5.5 - 7th place
  • Ryan Wang - 5.0 - 16th place
  • Jaden Cheung - 3.0
  • Tanishi Varma - 2.5

Rohan Rajaram (credit @USChess)
K-1 Championship (12 local players)
  • Rohan Rajaram - 6.5 - NATIONAL CHAMPION
  • Lucas Jiang (MSJE) - 6.0 - 4th place
  • Arnam Pawar (MSJE) - 6.0 - 7th place
  • Artham Pawar (MSJE) - 6.0 - 3rd place
  • Louis Le - 4.0
  • Aditya Arutla (MSJE) - 5.0 - 23rd place
  • Bhaasvan Varma - 5.0 - 16th place
  • Yahor Hrynko - 5.0 - 27th place
  • Shreyank Krishnan - 5.0 - 17th place
  • Anvitha Penagalapati - 3.0
  • Swagatha Selvam (MSJE) - 3.5
  • Sarvesh Maniv (MSJE) - 1.5
  • MSJE K-1 team (6 players) - 13.5 - NATIONAL CHAMPIONS