Friday, January 11, 2008

Corus 2008

The mega-event that has started off the year in chess for as long as I've been online - CORUS - is back at Wijk aan Zee (The Netherlands), with games beginning today. I usually can't monitor the games at work and I won't be able to monitor any of the chess femmes' games tomorrow as I'll be at an investment club meeting with the ladies. We're meeting in Racine at one of the members' homes. It's imperative, of course, that we're all back in our own homes well before the Packers 3:15 p.m. tomorrow kick-off against the Seattle Seahawks, led by that ARCH TRAITOR Mike Holmgren - BOO HISS BOO. For those of you who may not remember, the ARCH TRAITOR Mike Holmgren is a former head coach of the Green Bay Packers and led them to two Super Bowls, in the 1996 and 1997 seasons, led by SUPERSTAR QUARTERBACK BRETT FAVRE, who should have won MVP for a FIFTH TIME this year - but was robbed! Well, SUPERSTAR QUARTERBACK BRETT FAVRE has had a great season - after many pundits (and I'm sure the ARCH TRAITOR, too) had written him off as an old has-been who should have retired at the end of 2006. HA! At the beginning of this season, the Packers, coming off a dismal 2006 season, were on nobody's radar screen, except for their faithful fans, for whom the flame burns ever-eternal. And here they are, NFC North Champions, well-rested and healthy (a key ingredient) after their first round bye, meeting Seattle tomorrow afternoon at legendary Lambeau Field. Oooooohhhh, I can hardly wait! Back to Corus. Six chess femmes are battling for position this year. In the "A" event is GM Judit Polgar (HUN 2707), one of the highest rated chess players in the world, and the highest rated woman chess player EVER (so far), Polgar is quite at home mixing it up with the other players in the "A" group (all at plus 2700 ELO). She is a chess legend, part of the trio of the equally legendary Polgar sisters, Susan and Sofia. Polgar is currently the 22nd ranked player in the world; her stated aim is to get back into the top 10 players, but she'll has her work cut out for her to do that! There are lots of up and coming youngsters out there now, all gunning for those top 10 spots. Some folks seem to think that perhaps Polgar's best chessplaying days are behind her. After all (I believe the reasoning goes) she is a married woman now, with two small children; she is now in her 30's, and has other interests that compete for her time. She has paid her dues, and let's face it, in one's 30's, one's energy is not the equal of what it was when one was 18, or 20, or 25... Are they right? I have no clue! A player's personal motivations cannot necessarily be measured by external means, and surely not by such means as mere age and number of years participating in the international tournament circuit. It is heart and willpower along with a relentless drive that powers the greatest champions - and those intangibles are not capable of being reduced to measurable quantities. In the "B" event are GM Koneru Humpy (IND 2612) and WGM Hou Yifan (CHN 2527). Humpy (I believe she turns 21 this year) is the second highest female chess player in the world, behind only Judit Polgar, and broke the 2600 ELO level for the first time this year. Yifan, who turns 14 this year, is a future potential star - and has already developed quite an international following. It's good to see that the Chinese authorities are carefully grooming Yifan, allowing her to take her lumps by playing against higher rated players in international events - not consigning her to playing only against women who are rated much lower than she is. The best learning experiences (and motivation, for those who have The Eye Of The Tiger), according to the experts, come from players mixing it up with those higher-rated than they are in the cauldron of intense competition. In the "C" event are WGM Anna Ushenina (UKR 2484), IM Irina Krush, who is the current U.S. Women's Chess Champion (USA 2473), and GM Peng Zhaoqin (NED 2461). Good luck to all the chess femmes. I'll be reporting on their results as time allows. I'm rooting for all of them to have an excellent showing.

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