Saturday, September 17, 2011

2012 Goddesschess Canadian Women's Closed Championship

We are pleased to announce the 2012 Goddesschess Canadian Women's Closed Championship (Zonal), which will qualify the winner for a spot at the 2012 Women's World Chess Championship Tournament.

The Goddesschess Canadian Women's Closed will be held in conjunction with the Canadian Zonal in Montreal, Quebec, August 1 - 7, 2012. 

The zonals are co-organized by the Club d'échecs de Maisonneuve and by the Fédération québécoise des échecs. Les tournois zonaux sont co-organisés par le Club d'échecs de Maisonneuve et par la Fédération québécoise des échecs.

Format: 9 Round Swiss, FQE, CFC and FIDE rated

Eligibility: Women with a CFC rating over 1700 or with a FIDE/FQE rating over 1600. Provincial Women champion (see Handbook, section 11).
Schedule : Wednesday, 5:30 pm, opening ceremony
Rd 1: Wednesday, 6pm
Rd 2: Thursday, 6 pm
Rd 3: Friday, 6pm
Rd 4: Saturday, 10am Rd 5: Saturday, 4pm
Rd 6: Sunday, 10 am Rd 7: Sunday, 4pm
Rd 8: Monday, 6pm
Rd 9: Tuesday, 1 pm
Playoffs and closing ceremony: as soon as possible after round 9.

Guaranteed prize fund:1- Travel to the Women’s world championship in Khanty Mansiysk, Russia (1000$) and 200$

2- 150$
3- 100$
100$ added to the prize fund for each player over 12 (66% 2nd prize, 33% 3rd prize). Free accommodation for 2011 Women’s champion.

Time Control: 40/90, G/30 + 30 seconds from move one.
Entry Fees: 175$ per player (200$ on site).
Accommodation: Many bed and breakfast nearby and hotels such as Le St-André which is at about 15 minutes by metro of the tournament site with rooms starting at 84$/night.
Cheques are to be mailed at : Fédération québécoise des échecs
4545 avenue Pierre-De Coubertin,
C.P. 1000, succursale M,
Montréal (Québec) H1V 3R2

*Sets, boards and clock provided. Players must be full members of the CFC.

For further information, please contact Felix Dumont
Fédération québécoise des échecs - Quebec chess federation :
Canadian chess federation - Fédération canadienne des échecs :

Goddesschess :

2011 City of Montreal Open Chess Championships

More photos and post-tournament follow-ups! Thanks to all who took and submitted photographs (including Mr. Don). The photographs below are from, I believe, Claude Provencher, sent by Bernard Ouimet. Merci!

The Championnat sent me a link to WGM Alina L'Ami's article about her experiences in Canada and at the 2011 Montreal Championnat at the Spanish site for Chessbase - it's in Spanish but the photographs speak a thousand words in all languages! Three of Alina's games are featured at the end of the article:

Alina's world. Canada ? Chess !

Canada does not evoke chess at first. Rather, one thinks of ice hockey, maple syrup or large forest (at this time of the year the foliage is turning gold and red). During her trip to Montréal and Québec City, Alina l'Ami experienced chess so intensely that from now on the game will remain associated with the most septentrional country of the American continent. In just three days she played a five round open tournament in Montréal and gave two simuls. She learned many things about Canadians : they do not lock their doors, pedestrians have no respect for the red traffic lights, they eat French fries with cheese and brown sauce and put maple syrup in their coffee. And as chessplayers, they are much stronger than their Elo rating indicates.

This was Alina's first visit to Canada but we hope it will not be her last! Check Spelling WGM Alina L'Ami (left) and Myriam Roy (right) - Myriam played in the A Section (along with Alina), a brave chess femme! WGM L'Ami receives her memorial and certificate for winning the title "Women's Champion of the Montreal Open." This photo makes me smile - it seems all of the men in the photo were enamoured of the lovely WGM L'Ami :) Unfortunately, I am not able to super-size the photo (a step back from the tools I used to have here at Blogger) so that you can really see the expressions on the men's faces! Mixing it up. This photo speaks for itself. WGM L'Ami v. Emile Trottier. One of the winners of a Goddesschess class prize! Each winner receives a Certificate in addition to her cash prize.

One of the more popular new features at the Championnat this year was the free buffet (two photos below). Playing chess is hard work and one works up an appetite! The average chessplayer also does not have a lot of "spare" money to pay for meals on tournament days and they end up wasting money eating bad food out of vending machines! Much better to provide nourishing fresh fruits, vegetables, cheeses and sandwiches! A lot of work behind the scenes went into providing the buffet. Our sincere thanks to all of those volunteers - we love you! Setting the clocks. Action on the top boards. "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain..." Quote from the 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz." Here is our very own 2011 wizard in charge of putting up the top boards game action on the large screen so all can watch.

Goddesschess first got involved with the City of Montreal Open Chess Championships in 2009. Our initial goal was to branch out our sponsorship in Canada, which is the home of one of our principals and founders. To that end, we surveyed a list of upcoming events throughout Canada and found the Championnat. We contacted the organizers with an offer of a small sponsorship of cash prizes for the ladies. The rest, as the saying goes, is Herstory...

Friday, September 16, 2011

2011 Kings v. Queens Tournament

What can I say? The ladies (Queens) got whopped badly.  Can someone, please, wipe that jerk-butt smirk off Nakamura's mug?  Someone needs to slap a "kick me" sign on that young 'man's' back for a few weeks.  Geez!

Kings vs. Queens Tournament

No.TitleLast NameFirst NameTotal PointsIndividual PrizeTeam PrizeTotal PrizeIndividual Prizes
3GMArnoldMarc6$4,250$4,000$8,2503 $4,500

I don't know what all that folderol means about individual prizes, etc.  Obviously, the players on the losing home went home with some money, and I'm glad to see it. 

I'm so happy to see GM Alexandra Kosteniuk was able to pull herself out of her chessplaying funk to lead the Queens with 5.5 points.  Go, Alexandra, Go! 

Onward and upward, ladies.  Forget those male schmucks in St. Louis - and make your plans for revenge.....

2011 City of Montreal Open Chess Championships: Interview with WGM Alina L'Ami

A post-Championnat interview with WGM L'Ami.

2011 U.S. Class Championships

Cajun Chess presents!

SEPT. 30 - OCT. 2, 2011
5SS, G/120
3-Day or 2-Day Option Available
$10,750 b/200 full paid entries; 70% Guaranteed
TWO SIDE EVENTS on Saturday, Oct. 1:
(after Rd. 3 of main event)
for more details please see
The U.S. Class Chess Championships return to Houston the weekend of September 30th - October 2nd. Once again, the event will be at a very convenient location, the Hilton Houston Hobby Airport Hotel. Free parking; free shuttle service from the Hobby Airport; Special chess room rate of only $89 if reserved by Sept. 14th!
National Champion titles will be awarded in eight Classes, including previously Unrated players! In addition, winners will be listed in the Chess Life Yearbook. This year’s event promises to be the strongest yet! So far, the field includes:
GM Axel Bachmann (2614 )
GM Mauricio Flores (2604) - Defending Champion
GM Julio Sadorra (2561)
IM Salvijus Bercys (2573)
IM Milos Pavlovic (2528)
IM Puchen Wang (2518)
IM Max Cornejo (2480)
IM Alfonso Almeida (2442)
FM Conrad Holt (2536)
WGM Katerina Nemcova (2295)
WGM Nadya Ortiz (2233)
WIM Luciana Morales (2162)
Of course, this event is for players of all skills and ages. It has a division for previously Unrated players as well as a Scholastic side event and a Blitz side event. Details are listed below, and for additional information or to register, please visit the tournament webpage:
Full Details for the Main Event:
Sept. 30 - October 2, 2011 - Houston, TX
$10,750 b/200 full paid entries, 70% Guaranteed, 5SS, G/120
(2-Day Option, Round 1, G/60; Schedules merge on Round Two).
30 GP Pts. Master Section FIDE rated. A JGP event.
Location: Hilton Hobby Airport, 8181 Airport Blvd., Houston, TX 77061.
Chess Rate: $89 until Sept. 14, 2011, then regular rates may apply!
Reservations: 713-645-3000; Free Parking!!
8 sections: Prizes
· Master (2200/up) $1,200 – 550 – 300
(U2400: 400 – 200 – 100),
· Expert (2000-2199) $800 – 400 – 200
· Class A (1800-1999) $800 – 400 – 200
· Class B (1600-1799) $800 – 400 – 200
· Class C (1400-1599) $800 – 400 – 200
· Class D (1200-1399) $800 – 400 – 200
· Class E (U1200) $300 – 200 – 100
· Unrated $300 – 100
National Class Champion title and plaques for each Class winner. You may play up one class. Tiebreaks: MSCO. EF: $75 if postmarked by September 23, $85 after or at site.
· Special EF: $45 by September 23, $55 after or on site for all Class E, Unrated Section, and Juniors U18 in Class C or D (Counts as ½ entry). $5 extra for all phone registrations (13-530-7820).
All Sections are USCF Rated.
Round Times: 3-Day Schedule: Fri. 8pm; Sat. 1:00 & 6:30pm; Sun. 9:30am &
2-Day Schedule: Sat. 10am (G/60), 1pm (merge) & 6:30pm;
Sun. 9:30am & 2:30pm.
On-site registration: 3-Day Schedule, Fri. 5 – 7 pm;
2-Day Schedule, Sat. 8 – 9 am.
Side Events (Sat. Oct. 1): Scholastic Tournament; 5-Min Blitz.
Misc'l: Please bring clocks. Sets provided. ½ pt bye any round, if requested before end of Round 2.
· Info and on-line registration:
or send your entry to:
Francisco Guadalupe
305 Willow Pointe Dr.
League City, TX 77573
Questions? Contact
Franc Guadalupe

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Photos and Videos from 2011 City of Montreal Open Chess Championships

Posted at Photobucket

More videos, including this interview with the charming Allison Tsypin and her Dad.  Allison was going to have her 8th birthday the day after the interview - during the Championnat (I don't know the exact date -- the Championnat ran from September 9 - 11, 2011).  Near the middle of this video, Allison and her Dad are talking about the chess lessons she has been taken and some of the tools and resources she has used to improve her chess play.  She mentions several authors by name, including GM Susan Polgar, who have helped her.  I sincerely hope that Allison continues to play chess into that "gap" of ages she mentioned - between 25 and 65 - where there are so few players at local tournaments.  I would like to see her play on one of the Canadian Chess Olympiad Teams!  Go, Allison, Go!  Allison completed the Championnat in the D Section with 2 wins and 3 losses.

This photo gives an idea of the diversity of the players:

Here is a photo of WGM Alina L'Ami and Emile Trottier (Round 3 action - Alina defeated Emile):

2011 City of Montreal Open Chess Championships

The opening video.  I can just feel the energy flowing - and what a great mix of people, young and old, female and male, wily veterans and beginners, all playing this wonderful game of chess together in the gorgeous surroundings of College Jean de Brebeuf.  That is WGM Alina L'Ami in the opening frames, pretty in pink.  As you'll see, there is another lovely young lady in pink who wanders into view later on:

A very special interview of Danny Goldenberg, who talks about the organization of The Royal Game (Jeu Royale) and plans to establish a special invitational event where Canadian chessplayers will have the possibility to score IM norms -- and a few more surprises, too.

An interview (in French, no translation available) with Joliet Philogenes. My French is practically non-existent, but I believe that Mr. Philogenes is an immigrant from Haiti to Canada and has settled in Quebec. He has played in many international tournaments. The lady sitting next to him is his wife - I am not certain if the young people introduced at the end of the video are some or all of their children or children and a student or two! Mr. Philogenes' enthusiasm for the Royal Game comes through loud and clear, no matter the language barriers!  His comments include ruminations on the bonds that the game of chess creates among players, no matter what country they are from and what languages they speak.

2011 City of Montreal Chess Championships: The Ladies!

Another successful event this year, and the organizers are very happy!  So are we! 
Here are the chess femmes who participated in all sections, and the winners of the Goddesschess prizes (we did not offer a prize for the A Section but we did sponsor WGM Alina L'Ami) --  in bold blue, Goddesschess prizewinner #1 and in bold black, #2:

Section A : L’Ami, Alina ; Roy, Myriam ; Zhou Qiyu

Section B : Shi Ling Yun ; Yu Kexin ; Ma, Indy

Section C : Saulnier-Legault, Léa ; Utepova, Alika ; Nicole, Chantal ; Serban, Diana

Section D : Ouellet, Maili-Jade ; Lorraine Dubois ; Édouard, Marie ; Fleurisca, Robesca , François, Yodeline ; Gao, Catherine ; Lapointe, Louise ; Roussel, Lauriane ; Tinica, Sabina ; Tsypin, Allison

The women count was 21, the best we had over the past four years!

Some special videos:
Chantal Nicole, legally blind (she played in the C Section), and Bertrand Auger, discuss (in French, no translation), how Chantal came to play chess and the unique challenges involved in playing chess when visually impaired:

In Part 2, Chantal demonstrates a machine that allows her to record the moves of a game for later analysis:

An interview with 11 and 1/2 years old Diane Serban (played "up" a level, in the C Section):

Don McLean has many videos, including an extensive video interview with WGM Alina L'Ami.  I'll post it as soon as I have it!  I will separately post other video interviews from the Championnat.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Back Home Again! Wrap-Up on Trip to St. Louis

Whew!  I'm exhausted, darlings!  Glad I have the rest of today to unwind before heading back to the real world and the office tomorrow.

The flight home was smooth although it departed about 10-15 minutes later than scheduled time.  But we arrived back in Milwaukee nearly on time anyway, to a warm and rapidly warming day with humidity.  Yech!  The house was stuffy but it's better now with all the windows and doors thrown open!  The taxi ride, as always, is a scant 10-12 minutes away from the airport and sets me back $30 including tip. We do not have inexpensive taxis in Milwaukee, but I gladly pay the premium to be home by 10:30 a.m., which is about the time I arrived at my doorstep!
I had a 5 a.m. wake-up call at the hotel and checked out shortly after 6.  The hotel was still and quiet, and it was still dark outside!  I wheeled my stuffed suitcase (I swear my clothes reproduced themselves in the closet during my stay - the two books I purchased while in town could not possibly account for all the extra bulk I somehow had accumulated!) through the doors  from the lobby to the carport area and relaxed on a bench outside, taking in the setting Moon, the coolness of the night, and the sound of the chirping crickets.  It was a lovely, peaceful moment.
And then, zoom zoom - up drives the Go Best Express van to take me to the airport.  I checked my watch, it was just a few minutes after six a.m.!  A lovely and perky young woman took my bag and checked me "in" to the van.  There was another passenger onboard already, who gave me a curt good morning; European, I could tell, because even though he was not feeling particularly social at that time of the morning (or late night, depending upon your point of view), he gave a courtesy greeting to a "woman of a certain age..."  Me.  LOL!  I have to tell you, I would definitely use this shuttle service again. The people were polite and the service was on time.  I thought we would take off down the road then, but there were two other passengers also scheduled for that shuttle.  So, we waited.  I cannot complain, and I'm not -- they arrived right on time, at 6:15 a.m., the scheduled pick-up time.  And then - we were off down Kingshighway Boulevard!

This is not a photo I took in St. Louis from the van on the
way to the airport, but that's the Moon we saw in all Her glory!
According to this website, She reached "the crest of [Her] full
phase at 09:27 Universal Time this morning, on September 12.
That was 4:27 a.m. this morning for the central U.S.”
The Moon was starting its descent in a sky that was just starting to hint at sunrise and it was spectacular.  Big, glowing, mottled white.  Breathtakingly beautiful.  I could clearly see the larger 'Mares' and the "Man in the Moon" features with no problem at all.  The Goddess Moon was so large and hanging in the mid-sky, the illusion was that I could have reached out of the van and plucked Her out of the sky for myself to wear as a large glowing jewel around my neck.  A fitting goodbye to me from St. Louis!  Thank you, St. Louis!   Thank you, Goddess Moon, for such a fine send-off!  Smooches to you both.

I've tried to post regularly about my stay in St. Louis for the Chess Collectors International U.S. continental meeting, the grand opening of the new quarters for the Chess Hall of Fame and Chess Museum (U.S. and International), and the Kings v. Queens Invitational Chess Tournament taking place at the beautiful Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis.  You can find those earlier posts here at the blog, just by continuing to scroll back through the dates until my arrival in St. Louis, on Thursday, September 8, 2011.

Here are some final thoughts/impressions, as the water sprinkler ticks back and forth over my parched back-yard.  It was clear to see Milwaukee received no rain boon from the storms that passed over the Gulf last week/weekend.  Well, I work to pay my water bill, LOL!  I must have green grass!  I must have flowers.  My hibred Hydrangeas are once again singing to me, and all the wildlife has come flocking back to be fed (birdseed, peanuts, hazelnuts) and watered.  The earth is giving off that special "aaaaahhhhhh" scent that only happens when it receives water after a long dry time.  I'm going to take my shoes off and sit on the deck with my feet up and glass of wine at hand in just a few minutes.  I'm home again, everyone.  Home. 

Chess Collectors International

Although I have been a member of CCI for many years because of my interest in chess history and, in particular, ancient board games and their pieces, I had not had the opportunity to attend any of the CCI meetings, either here in the US or overseas.  There are at least a couple of meetings of CCI folk a year if one has the time to get away. I usually do not.

But, this year, the Goddess conspired to make it so, and thus I appeared, on time and with packed suitcase in hand, in St. Louis.

What a wonderful venue was chosen for this CCI meeting!  The hotel has a gracious, old-world quality about it and I found the staff to be courteous and attentive.

The meeting rooms made available for the presentation on Saturday, September 10, the dinner the evening of September 10, and the Chess Fair on Sunday morning, September 11, were just right!  For the most part, things went off without a hitch. 

I greatly enjoyed meeting various members of the CCI, including Floyd Sarisohn, with whom I've had email contact for several years dating to my joining the CCI.  During my attendance at the St. Louis CCI meeting, I was also introduced to USA Treasurer Bill Fordney and former CCI President Thomas ("Tommy") Thomsen of Germany.  I am pretty sure I met Mr. Thomsen years ago, in 2001 in Amsterdam when I attended the Koenigstein Group Initiative meeting of chess historians and scholars at the end of November, but I may be wrong about that.  He was a friend of our late mentor, Dr. and IM Ricardo Calvo (d. 2002). 
I found the CCI presentations informative and interesting.  I was amazed at how the time scheduled for the day's presentations flew by!

It is probably safe to say that the presentation by chessplayer/collector/computer jockey Jon Crumiller was the highlight of the meeting.  Jon has generously made available to CCI members an auction data base spreadsheet (for computer) that he assembled with a massive amount of work.  One has only to input descriptive elements of an item that one is looking for, and if one like it or similar has been auctioned during the past 40 or so years, information on it should pop up from the data base.  Amazing!  What is more, Jon intends to maintain and update the database on a regular basis by adding current and future auction information to it as that information (from auction catalogs, auction price sheets, and the like) becomes available. Some of this information is not usually available to the public, but Jon has great contacts! Jon has truly gifted us with a priceless labor of love.  A special added treat was the after-lunch presentation of some of the sets from his excellent collection, including many ancient gaming pieces that I find of particular interest.

Another of my favorite presentations was given by Duncan Pohl, who put together an absolutely splendid  and stunning catalog of chess sets made by American companies for those of us not quite so deep in the pocket looking to get into collecting interesting sets.  This was another true labor of love and contains excellent color photographs and original ads from old American chess magazines and other sources.  I had an opportunity to socialize with Mrs. Pohl later Saturday evening at the CCI dinner - a lovely and engaging lady.  I hope I see more of the Pohls in the future, they're my kind of people!

One presentation that became a favorite - and I have to admit I did not think it would - was given by Martin Frere Hillyer on "Thomas Frere and the Brotherhood of Chess."  It turned out to be an adventure in genealogy and the history of the Manhattan Chess Club, and if you've been following this blog you well know I've spent the past year plus tracing down my own family's herstorical roots as well as the roots of some friends.  I was absolutely fascinated - to paraphrase a famous line from the hit movie Jerry Maguire "You had me from genealogy..."  LOL!  How could I resist?  I couldn't.  I bought his book at the Chess Fair the following day :)  Thanks for the special dedication, Martin. 

Last minute additions to the program were also favorites -

Lynn Hamrick, a producer of "Family Ties" among other smash hit television shows, gave a presentation on her video "Chess Kids" (a video put together about the 1990 World Youth Chess Championships) and an update -- Lynn interviewed many of the young chess players featured in the original "Chess Kids" video many years later, including GM Judit Polgar -- now available in DVD.  I did some posts about how Georgia and I met Lynn in St. Louis while at Bissiger's!

Rick Knowlton, who sells and buys "exotic chess sets" was also fit into the program and gave a blitzkrieg presentation on who he is and what he does.  Like - WOW!

At the CCI dinner Saturday evening Mrs. Duncan Pohl arranged an introduction after dinner.  Rick and I talked for a good 30 minutes about the ancient origins of the game and early board games in general.  He's very knowledgeable but unassuming - he's not an academic (just as I'm not) -- he's self-taught like me. I could not fault him on his knowledge (except that chess was "invented" in India, the general old line!) and found him very well informed regarding chess variants from Burma and Thailand.  I could probably have yattered on for hours with him, but I was tired; it had been a long day.

At the Chess Fair on Sunday Rick had a lavish display of some of his sets and I found several I loved.  Alas - poor pocketbook.  Clothes or chess sets, chess sets or shoes, vacations or chess sets...  Well, you get the picture, I haven't chosen "chess sets" yet!  But that's me, darlings.  Please check out Rick's websites and see what he's got - you won't be disappointed:

Ancient Chess
Courier Chess

I have to give a final hats-off to the Sarisohns, who put so much effort into putting this U.S. meet together.  Thank you!  I loved it!

In the News: World Chess Hall of Fame

I first saw this article in print in a copy of the West End Word, a local community newspaper that was included in items presented to the participants of the Chess Collectors International meeting on Saturday, September 10, 2011.

Central West End Welcomes World Chess Hall Of Fame
by Eileen P. Duggan
September 07, 2011

This is an enlarged image of the building from the official website.
It's a lovely building, totally remodelled.  The exhibit space on the second floor
was very well done. 
The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis will get a big boost in its mission to educate St. Louisans about the game when the World Chess Hall of Fame opens across the street at 4652 Maryland Ave.

The World Chess Hall of Fame and Museum will open to the public at 10 a.m. Sept. 9. The event will include the opening of an art exhibit, "Out of the Box: Artists Play Chess" featuring installations by Yoko Ono, Tom Friedman, Liliya Lifánova and other artists.

Continuing the celebration into the weekend, the Boys Scouts of America will launch its new Chess Merit Badge with a street festival — including a human chess game — from noon to 3 p.m. Sept. 10 on Maryland Avenue at Euclid.

The three-story museum occupies a former medical office building, a 15,900-square-foot space that includes visiting exhibits; a display of unique chess sets from the collection of George and Vivian Dean; displays celebrating U.S. and world chess champions; and historical artifacts such as books, photographs and chess sets.

The exhibit "Out of the Box," running through Feb. 12, will extend its opening events to 6 p.m. on Sept. 13, when Guido van der Werve, pianist Matthew Bengtson and members of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra perform Werve's composition for his "chess piano." Reservations are advised as seating is very limited. The exhibit also includes an all-white chess set, including table and chairs, by Yoko Ono.

The U.S. Chess Federation chose St. Louis as the new location of its Hall of Fame based on the success of the Chess Club since it opened in 2008. The museum's permanent collection was moved to St. Louis from Miami in June 2010, said Shannon Bailey, vice president of exhibitions and curatorial affairs at the World Chess Hall of Fame.

The Chess Club and the Hall of Fame are separate entities but work in partnership to further their common missions.

The local firm Arcturis designed the building, incorporating design elements from the Chess Club's 6,000-square-foot, three-story space at 4657 Maryland Ave. Not surprisingly, the color scheme is black and white but includes accents common to both buildings such as green stripes on stairs.

The not-for-profit Hall of Fame's mission is to educate visitors, fans, players and scholars by collecting, preserving, exhibiting and interpreting the game of chess and its cultural significance. Its educational mission is much the same as that of its partner across the street.

The Chess Club, also a not-for-profit educational organization, strives to teach the game, increase the awareness of the educational value of chess, and promote its programs through educational outreach.

Although the Chess Club hosts a number of high-profile events such as the U.S. Chess Championship, the U.S. Women's Championship and the U.S. Junior Closed Championship — known as the Triple Crown of chess — the club's daily focus is on education.

The club holds more than 100 classes annually for kids and beginner/intermediate players. Resident Grandmaster Ben Feingold gives a free weekly lecture (described as part stand-up comedy) for members, a free children's class on Sundays and private lessons.

More than 50 K-12 schools participate in after-school chess programs taught by a bevy of Chess Club instructors schooled in chess. The participating districts include Illinois districts as well as St. Louis Public Schools, Riverview, Normandy, Pattonville, Parkway, Hazelwood, Kirkwood, Webster Groves and Mehlville plus charter and parochial schools.

The one-hour classes are held one or two times a week for six to 12 weeks. After the sessions, the Chess Club donates the boards and pieces to the schools, said Alex Vergilesov, scholastics coordinator at the club.

More than 500 students participated in the after-school program in 2010 and the club expects more than 800 this year, Vergilesov said.

"Chess has grown virally," Vergilesov said. Despite all the high-tech gizmos and games available to kids, the centuries-old, low-tech game of chess has only increased in popularity in the past 10 years, he said. Through Internet technology, information about chess has become easily accessible and people can even play chess online.

"The Internet exposes more people to the game," said Mike Wilmering, communications specialist for the Chess Club. "After people get interested online, they want to go to over-the-board playing."

Besides, "technology has provided a lot of great things for teaching chess, some great resources for teachers," Vergilesov said.

Several studies have found many educational benefits of chess, including: reinforcement of math concepts; cognitive development through activities that support critical thinking, concentration, memory, logic and analysis; positive reinforcement; and learning the concepts of commitment, consequences, cooperative behavior and sportsmanship.

"Chess is like sneaking vegetables into their ice cream," Wilmering said.

The club's educational program recently started a new class at the Miriam School in Webster Groves, which serves children with learning disabilities.

The Chess Club also offers classes for all ages in the classrooms on the second and third floors of the club. The club will teach anyone from age 5 and up and has even had students as young as 4, Vergilesov said.

But isn't chess just for brainy members of the well-to-do leisure class?

"That's the mindset we have to counter," Wilmering said. "Chess is not just for one type of person. Chess is a great equalizer. People can feel the competition of a sport without the physical exertion."

Memberships are affordable, he said. For $5 a month or $30 a year, full-time students under 21 can buy a membership that allows them to play chess, use the lending library, attend lectures and get discounted entry fees and merchandise. The over-21 crowd can join for $12 a month or $80 a year, and families can get an annual membership for $120.

A daily pass is $3 a day, $1 for under-21 visitors. The club's wireless Internet is popular with parents of students attending classes as well as college students who drop in to study.

The Chess Club of St. Louis was founded in 2007 with the help of donations by Rex Sinquefield, a retired executive who has many cultural and political interests. Sinquefield also purchased in September 2009 the building at 4652 Maryland Ave. and financed the renovation for the World Chess Hall of Fame.

In 2009, 2010 and 2011, Sinquefield received the U.S. Chess Federation's Gold Koltanowski Award, given to the person who does the most to further chess in the U.S. each year. Under the leadership of Executive Director Tony Rich, the club was named by the USCF as "Chess Club of the Year" in 2010, and St. Louis was awarded the title of "Chess City of the Year" in 2009 and 2011.

The Chess Club is open Tuesday through Sunday. For information call 361-CHESS (2437) or visit

The Hall of Fame is open after 10 a.m. Wednesday through Sunday, closing at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 5 p.m. the other days. Admission is free, but a donation of $3, $5 for families is suggested. For information call 367-9243 or visit

Monday, September 12, 2011

A "Date Palm" Bezel Ring Found in England???

My first reaction is - what?  My second reaction is - what?  My current reaction is - what? What the hell is such a ring doing in England?  What does medieval England know about date palms?  What is this kind of bezel doing in England?  Was it a common motif of the period?  A date palm with two 'horns of plenty?' 

Honestly, when I look at this admittedly poor image, all I see is an Egyptian scorpion!

September 13, 2011
Medieval ‘treasure’ found near Ripon           

Published on Thursday 8 September 2011 06:00

AN intricately-carved medieval ring discovered near Ripon is an important archaeological find which qualifies as “treasure”, a coroner has ruled.

The piece was found by metal detectorist Lindsey Holland close to Ripon on May 16, 2010 and sent to the British Museum.

In a report to North Yorkshire coroner Rob Turnbull, experts from the museum described the find as an oval silver-gilt seal matrix which would have formed the bezel, or top part, of a finger-ring dating from the 13th or 14th centuries.

Because the ring is more than 300 years old and contains precious metals the coroner ruled it counts as “treasure” which public museums must be given a chance to purchase.

The ring, which measures only 17mm long, is also set with a carnelian, a red semi-precious gem, carved with a picture of two cornucopaie or “horns of plenty” flanking a date palm. The silver around the gem is inscribed with three words translated as “live”, “be well” or “farewell” and “fear”.

A museum has already shown an interest in buying the ring, Mr Turnbull said at the hearing at Harrogate Magistrates Court on Tuesday, September 6.

FIDE Women's Grand Prix - Shenzhen

Results from Round 5.  Some of these results are a joke. I'm not going to waste my time reporting on what at this time appear to be foregone conclusions.  I'll post final results when this farce is over.

Round 5 on 2011/09/12 at 15:00
3GMHou Yifan2578½ - ½GMZhu Chen249012
4IMMuzychuk Anna2545½ - ½GMZhao Xue24972
5WGMTan Zhongyi24291 - 0WIMYildiz Betul Cemre23081
6GMCmilyte Viktorija25250 - 1IMMunguntuul Batkhuyag246511
7WGMRuan Lufei24771 - 0IMKovalevskaya Ekaterina242110
8WGMJu Wenjun25360 - 1GMDanielian Elina25179

St. Louis - Kings v. Queens Tournament

This is a fabulous photo of the five chess femmes comprising the "Queens" team in the St. Louis tournament:

From left to right: IM Irina Krush, GM Alexandra Kosteniuk, GM Kateryna Lahno, IM Martha Fierro, IM Anna Zatonskih.
Report from the second day of the tournament (September 11, 2011), when the ladies stormed back!

The basics, once again, from the CCSCSL:

  • GM Kateryna Lahno (2554) - Ukraine
  • IM Anna Zatonskih (2508) - U.S.
  • GM Alexandra Kosteniuk (2469) - Russia
  • IM Irina Krush (2472) - U.S.
  • IM Martha Fierro (2378) - Ecuador
  • GM Hikaru Nakamura (2753) - U.S.
  • IM Marc Arnold (2505) - U.S.
  • GM Ben Finegold (2489) - U.S.
  • IM Jacek Stopa (2482) - Poland
  • NM Kevin Cao (2152) - U.S.
The average team rating of both the Queens and Kings is 2476 FIDE. This will be a Scheveningen-paired tournament, in which each of the five team members will play each of the opposing team members twice: once in a Fischer Random (Chess 960) game with a time control of G/25 + 10-second increment and once in a rapid game with a time control of G/25 with a 5-second increment.
The Opening Ceremony for the tournament will take place on September 9, and the first round will begin at 3 p.m. CT on Saturday, September 10.

The winning team of the event will win $20,000, divided equally between each member of that team. In addition, individual prizes will be awarded based on final standings and are are as follows:
  • 1st: $5,500
  • 2nd: $5,000
  • 3rd: $4,500
  • 4th: $4,000
  • 5th: $3,500
  • 6th: $3,000
  • 7th: $2,500
  • 8th: $2,000
  • 9th: $1,500
  • 10th: $1,000
So, what happened today???  Unfortunately, the ladies fell flat on their beautiful faces:

Round 3: 3:00 pm, Monday, September 12
(Position:QBNRNKBR | SPID#:108 | Download PGN)
Round 3: 5:00 pm, Monday, September 12
IM Jacek Stopa1-0IM Anna ZatonskihIM Anna Zatonskih0-1IM Jacek Stopa
GM Alexandra Kosteniuk0-1GM Hikaru NakamuraGM Hikaru Nakamura1-0GM Alexandra Kosteniuk
GM Kateryna Lahno0-1GM Ben FinegoldGM Ben Finegold½-½GM Kateryna Lahno
IM Irina Krush½-½IM Marc ArnoldIM Marc Arnold1-0IM Irina Krush
Kevin Cao1-0IM Martha FierroIM Martha Fierro1-0Kevin Cao

What the hell happened today?  The Queens are digging such a large hole for themselves, it's a foregone conclusion who will win this tournament.  I'll visit things once it's all over and review the slaughter.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

More St. Louis Photos

See prior posts.

Continuing my tour along Kingshighway Boulevard.  I saw one Parthenon-like building, and a block away, another.


The building on the corner across the street, another pillared-porticoed building, is for lease, too.  I don't know about the Jewish school building next to it.

This imposing church, with an overgrown courtyard (not photographed, it was too sad), is also vacant and for sale.

I turned a corner and wandered down a side street.  I looked up an alleyway that showed me the bell tower of the imposing but now vacant church fronting on Kingshighway Boulevard.

A few steps further and I crossed the street and found myself on Westminster Place.

The facade on this house caught my eye.  I don't know if it's stone or concrete made to look like stone. I love the little fence around the front yard and the dignified staircase.

The young lady I talked to lived near the beginning of the street.  She was working in her front garden.  I noticed scaffolding at the front of the house so I stopped and called out a greeting, and asked if she was renovating the home, a red brick two story with mansard-style roof, newly shingled, and a deep front porch with a center entrance.  She stopped her work and said no, they were having new rain gutters installed...

We chatted for a good 10-15 minutes.  She and her young family have lived in the house 9 years.  They moved in when the neighborhood was still somewhat "iffy", but a nearby hospital and university that have spent a lot of money redeveloping the area had acted as a stablizing influence, and adventurous urbanites began to venture back into the neighborhood of huge imposing homes because of their dirt cheap prices. 

Some people, of course, never left.  The young woman said that some of her neighbors had been in the area for 40-50 years, from which I deduce that they probably inherited houses in the neighborhood that were built around the turn of the century.  To respect her privacy, I did not ask if I could take a photo of she or her lovely house.  Instead, I pushed further up (down?) the block toward a church she told me was a few blocks away, one she said was worth seeing.

Another interesting facade on Westminster Place.  I love the punctuation of the old-style streetlamp.

This house is just before the parking lot area of the church in the next several photos.  I don't know if you can see him, but a very large fat squirrel munching one of the many chestnuts from the trees in the area was sitting in the ornamental tree, just about centered over the red cap of the upper post at the top step.  He's a sort of dark blotch!  I tried but failed to get a photo of him in close up.  He saw me with my camera and decided he did not want his picture taken.

Through the trees, I saw an imposing roofline.  I crossed the street to get a better view.

I said goodbye to Westminster Place and headed in what I thought was the general direction of the hotel. It isn't hard to get my bearings, as it is the tallest building in the area and I never felt "lost."  On the way back toward Euclid Avenue, I passed this well-preserved brick alley.  This would have been a mews area a century ago, filled with horses and carriage houses!

I could have stayed on Euclid, but I see another gated street and I head down it, instead!

This street looked especially well cared-for, with liriope blooming in many curb strips.

This street was filled with one beautiful house after another.  The air was so still, though, and heavy.  I was tired.  I'd been out nearly 2 hours.  I knew I was not going to make it to the club to watch Rounds 3 and 4 today; I still wanted to stop at Straub's to pick up a few things.  I'd left Georgia at the hotel, still sick in bed.  I thought she must have food poisoning, but that doesn't last for more than 24 hours at the most.  She's been sick off and on since Friday afternoon.

So, I headed to Straubs.  I took a few more photos along the way, some that didn't turn out.  For instance, there are still plenty of robins down here whereas back home in Milwaukee, most have already left for the season, and there are only a few left, probably the ones who are going to stay to winter-over.  When I espied a robin redbreast, barely out of fledgling stage, I tried to capture him on film, but he was leery of me and my camera.

Do you see the robin?  I caught him in flight, he was headed away from big scary me!

A second later, he landed on the railing and I was able to get a second shot before he flew away.

Bricks and concrete are no match for determined tree roots.
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