Sunday, February 24

Nicholas Nip on Verge of Breaking 2200!

Nine year old Nicholas Nip now stands on the verge of breaking one of the most hallowed records in the USCF: the youngest player to reach a 2200 rating to become a master. After action over the past two weekends, his rating has jumped to 2193. Not yet ten years old, Nicholas has plenty of time to gain those last seven points to shatter a record once claimed by Bobby Fischer (13 years) and now held by Hikaru Nakamura (10 years and 79 days). In fact, Nicholas has a shot to become the first nine year old National Master in the history of American chess!

Nicholas gained 56 precious rating points (2137 to 2193) in a pair of six game matches at a G/60 time control. His opponents were expert Romulo Fuentes (2113) and NM Emmanuel Perez (2282). Nicholas crushed Fuentes by a whopping 5.5-0.5 and overpowered Perez to the tune of 4.0-2.0 (three wins, two draws and one loss). Perhaps Nicholas, who has been taught mostly by Liina Vark and her husband Eric Hicks of Academic Chess, is already training for the World Championship match of his dreams, whether it comes against Viswanathan Anand, Vladimir Kramnik, Magnus Carlsen or even a player that we have not heard of yet. Ahh dream on... still a long ways to go.
Good luck to Nicholas as he makes the Bay Area proud! If he is successful at breaking Nakamura's record, he becomes the third local youngster to hold this esteemed record. Back in 1995, young rivals Jordy Mont-Reynaud (10 years and 209 days) and Vinay Bhat (10 years and 176 days) both became the youngest USCF master in short succession. Jordy earned the FIDE Master title but never managed to maintain a rating much above 2300. Vinay now holds the Grandmaster title and is still active as a player.
Update on February 27: The latest Tuesday Night Marathon got rated and Nicholas dropped to 2186. He now needs 14 rating points for the master title.


Anonymous said...

I see that he gains about 80 points from 3 matches in the past 2-3 months. No doubt he is a good player. But gaining points by (selective) matches is gaming the system. At this rate, he will be rated higher that the current world champ Naroditsky in no time! How about a match against Naroditsky then? I can predict that he will lose many of the points that he gained so easily recently.

Michael Aigner said...

The issue of whether playing matches constitutes gaming the system is debatable. Unfortunately, it happens to be difficult to play strong opponents in northern California--I just won a major tournament by playing one person rated over 2100. Matches offer an answer to that problem.

Another argument says that playing G/30 tournaments several times each week (as you can in some cities) is likewise gaming the system. Many kids over the years have gained hundreds of points from these action events.

We all wish that everyone could play classical time controls at major swiss tournaments, but that's simply not realistic. For starters, the cost of travelling to these events is prohibitive.

By the way, the USCF rules for rating matches set limits on how many points you can gain. Nicholas has now gained 80 points in three matches against two masters and one 2100, meaning he is fast approaching the limit.

"Both players in a match must have established and published ratings, and those ratings must be no more than 400 points apart as of the most recent published ratings for those players when the match is held. A player may gain or lose no more than 50 rating points in a match. Also, a player may only gain or lose up to 100 rating points through match play during any 180 day period, and may only gain or lose up to 200 rating points through match play during any three year period."

Anonymous said...

I think USCF understands that there are problems/abuses with rated matches. That is probably the following rules exist:

"Match results do not count towards qualification for invitational events."

"Finally, any player whose rating is at that player's floor and plays in a match will be considered to have submitted a request to have that floor lowered by 100 points. The USCF ratings department will review the player's tournament history to decide if the floor should be lowered."

I think many chess players are taking rating points too seriously.

Anonymous said...

While I do agree that everyone has right to achieve his/her goal using "tactics" within the scope of rules, I respectfully disagree with the analogy used to compare matches and G30 tournaments in terms of gaming the system, because:

These G/30 tournaments fpawn refers to are open to anyone and one's opponents are unknown until being selected with swiss pairing, while matches are just the opposite.

While Nip may have difficulties to find strong players (a.k.a., higher rated players he can beat), it is equally hard for a lot of players to locate opponents at their desired strength and rating.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree that it is hard for him to find strong competition in the bay area. He played in 5events in the last 4 month 3 he gained some points 2 he lost some points so he got plenty of competition.

what were the time controls on these matches?

Michael Aigner said...

I have removed one anonymous comment which implied that the players in these matches acted unethically in some way. I will not tolerate such hostile remarks by anonymous posters. Create a Blogger account and sign your name if you are going to criticize people on this blog, or else get out of my town.

Anonymous said...

I have played Nip and he is a good player but his strength is nowhere near 2200 level. :]

I wonder how he, his coaches, and TD's involved can explain how he loses rating points in real tournaments and then comes back to SF and gains 30 points a day under the same TD. Then comes home then comes to the same venue with the same TDs and gains 30 points in each "2-player match."

Look for Nip to be the first 2900 player ever at this rate!

Anonymous said...

One thing to keep in mind is that Nip is only 9 years old. I'm sure that he did not come up with this idea of gaining rating points to become the youngest master.

By the way, gaining 30 points at his level in events like World Open or North American Open is very rare. Only in rated matches that such gains are more common. Maybe USCF should change the K value used in computing rating change in 1-1 matches.

Michael Aigner said...

Thank you Anonymous 7:59 PM for some constructive thoughts rather than trying to blame a sweet and innocent little 9 year old kid.

Keep in mind that when Jordy, Vinay and Hikaru were chosing the master title, their parents also went to great lengths in attending tournaments and chess clubs, often times several a week. Not that there was anything particularly wrong with that. Nicholas and his parents are chasing history and are doing whatever it takes within the rules established by the USCF.

Anonymous said...

anon 7:59. As you know that is the way the rating system works. The higher you go the harder it is to get a lot of points without an extraordinary performance. Nakamura gained 50, 10 and 20 points in his trip to 2200 including a win against Strupinsky.

I also don't think there is anything wrong with attending as many tournaments as possible and being picky about which ones too attend but that is different from creating matches. I don't understand the purpose of a match except as a tiebreak for another tournament.

Anonymous said...

There is a clear difference between open tournaments and closed matches, otherwise USCF would not make rules to exclude matches from rating calculation for invitational events.

Michael Aigner said...

Matters have gotten a bit out of hand with the Anonymous posts. I really think it is pretty low for someone to insult another person behind the shield of anonymity. Constructive criticism or even disagreement is different from the insults that I have deleted.

For now, you will need to sign in with Google or Blogger to comment on this site. I continue to reserve the right to remove any offensive material, although I will be far more tolerant towards people who disagree but sign their name.

Anonymous said...

The article was great and I was impressed by it. My name is A. Munoz and I am the father and coach of FIDE WOMAN CANDIDATE MASTER CLAUDIA MUNOZ of the USA but due to business we live in Acuna, Mexico.

I have taught my daughters that in life we do two things: 1. We either celebrate people or 2. We tolerate people.

My daughter won her FIDE title not on the basis of rating, she won the Gold Medal for the USA in an international qualifying event. However prior to this she had won basically everything their was to win in Mexico.

In the situation behind about the young NIP, whether he used "trickery" or not through the rating system, or whether was pointed out on how to reach Master status...I rather celebrate him. Good for him. Good that Nip is doing well in life. Good that his rating is on the raise. Good for his parents. If Nip is not strong enough or not worthy enough then time will tell. It is not our job to critize a "CHILD" we are supposed to encourage him. We complain because other countries have kids doing awesome things, then when we have one what do we do? Critize him. Saying he is not that strong. If he is not as strong as stated, time will tell.

I would hate for someone to say horrible things about my daughter, and we have already experienced them. In Mexico we had to go through chess politics because she was American born, yet she won everything. In Texas we were not allowed to play in the state regionals or championship because we did not live in Texas although we have a texas address (our business is in Acuna an arms throw away from Texas). Yet in all of these politics when the SUSAN POLGAR NATIONAL OPEN 2008 was played in Texas...she won it in TEXAS. When Claudia was not allowed to play in 2007 in the Mexican scholastic system because she was being homeschooled through an american curriculum on Mexican soil she beat the entire Mexican team in the NORTH AMERICAN YOUTH CHESS CHAMPIONSHIP that had just represented them in the Pan American in Colombia.

The entire time we had naysayers yet time and time again we proved everyone wrong.

If Nip has used the rating system for his advantage in his first FIDE tournament outside the USA he will be found out by his results.

So, let's give Nip a break. YOU GO NIP. Hope you break 2200 and go for more. Then the naysayers will say what they always say when they are proven wrong, "I ALWAYS KNEW NIP WAS THE REAL THING".

I have been with my daughter in Nip's shoes. YOU GO NIP!!

My name is abed munoz and I place my full name to my statement. I'll even place my US and Mexican address 101 Hutchinson Del Rio Texas 78840 and 1260 Xicotencantl Colonia Benito Juarez, Coahuila 26200 Mexico. said...

I have played him in a casual blitz game about two years ago and he beat me! I was really impressed with his playing style. I hope he breaks the record!

jolly said...

No doubt Nicholas is very talented, but 'youngest' type records are less important (and less impressive) than what the individual goes on to do in the long run.

Why do promising American youngsters stop playing chess? Jordy Mount-Reynaud probably didn't reach his peak. For that matter, Josh Waitzkin probably didn't either, despite reaching 2500+ USCF. There are many other strong juniors who quit the game.

Nakamura persisted and is now a strong GM.

One hopes Naroditsky continues to be at the top of his age bracket.

How can America better nurture its young talent so that we have more successes like Nakamura and Naroditsky?