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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, July 22, 2010

Chess ratings
Youth excel at top levels

By Peter Henner

The Albany A team decisively defeated Saratoga A to take second place in the 2010 Capital District Chess League team tournament, with a final record of 6-1. First board saw a battle between the venerable Matthew Katrein, who was the dominant Capital District chess player for more than 20 years and his rival from the 1980s, Steve Taylor. Taylor’s win was the only bright spot for Saratoga, which lost on the remaining three boards to lose the match 3-1.

Final league standings:

— 1. Schenectady A, 6 ½ - ½;

— 2. Albany 6-1;

— 3. Saratoga A 5 ½ - ½ ;

— 4. Schenectady Geezers 3 ½ - 3 ½;

— 5. Guilderland 3-4;

— 6. RPI   2-5;

— 7. Uncle Sam (Troy) 2-5;

— 8. Saratoga B 0-7.   

The league’s Most Valuable Player was Phil Sells of the Schenectady A team, who achieved a score of 6-1. For several years, Sells has run a program on Friday nights at the Guilderland Public Library.

Second place MVP was Albany Club President Tim Wright, 5 ½ - ½  (Albany A); third place was high-school student Patrick Chi, 5-1 (Schenectady A); and fourth place was Schenectady Club President Richard Chu (Geezers).

I previously wrote about Schenectady’s first board, Deepak Aaron, a high-school student who, after defeating Katrein and drawing Taylor in league competition, is generally recognized as the strongest local player.

The pattern of rising young Turks dethroning old lions is not just a local phenomenon; the highest rated player in the world is now the 19-year-old Norwegian Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen, with a FIDE (Federation Internationale d’Echecs – the World Chess Federation) rating of 2826, ahead of Viswanathan Anand (Number 3), who recently defended his world championship title against Vasily Topalov, (Number 2).

The highest rated American is 23-year-old Hikaru Nakamura, who is ranked 19th at 2729. Local players remember Nakamura as a brash high-school and junior-high player who played in our tournaments. (I lost a long, hard-fought game to him about 10 years ago, when he was a strong and rising expert.) Nakamura recently won the 2010 United States championship. 

FIDE ratings, like United States Chess Federation ratings, are based on a statistical measure designed by the American statistician Arpad Elo. In theory, the average chess player is rated 1500, and a rating difference of 200 points (one classification level) is roughly equivalent to a 75 percent probability that the stronger player will win.

Although FIDE and USCF ratings are theoretically equivalent, in practice, USCF ratings are usually a little higher. (FIDE ratings are tougher.) A USCF rating of 2000 to 2200 is an expert, 2200 to 2400 is a national master, and over 2400 is a senior master.

FIDE titles are awarded on the basis of tournament performance – a certain score must be achieved, based upon the strength of one’s opponents. Generally, FIDE Masters (FMs) are about 2300, International Masters are about 2400, and Grandmasters (GMs) are over 2550. When former world champion Bobby Fischer’s rating exceeded 2700, it was considered remarkable; today, three players are over 2800.

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