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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, October 13, 2011

Speed kills — bad (but fun) chess in Schenectady

By Peter Henner

Every September, the Schenectady Chess Club conducts a chess club blitz championship and a handicap blitz championship.  Blitz chess is five minutes per game per player; in a handicap event, the total of 10 minutes is allocated on the basis of ratings, with the weaker player receiving an extra minute for every 200 points of rating differential.

This means that, in the case of a 600-point rating differential, the lower rated player has eight minutes, and the higher rated player has two minutes, barely enough time to physically make the moves on the chess board, let alone take any time to think.  Obviously, blitz chess does not lead to high quality chess games.

Ashok Aaron won the 11 players blitz championship on Sept. 15, with a score of 9½  out of 10, giving up one draw in the last round to Zachary Calderon, who, last year, had lost the playoff to his father in an under-1600 section in the blitz championship.

Second place was won by Ashok's son, Deepak, who, last year, had tied with his father for first place.  Deepak scored 9-1.

Another high school player, Patrick Chi, was third with 8-2.  Other scores: Z. Calderon, 5½ - 4½ (fourth and top under 1800); Bobby Rotter, 4½-5½; Herman Calderon and Dilip Aaron, 4-6; myself, 3½-6½; Phil Sells and Bill Little, 3-7; and Mike Lacetti, 1-9.

In the handicap event, held on Sept. 29, Patrick Chi was able to take advantage of Ashok Aaron's upset loss to Bill Little and draw with Class C player Matt Clough to win the tournament with 9½-1½.  Ashok was second with 9-2.  Deepak was home studying for the SATs.

Zack Calderon and Albany Club Treasurer John Leisner tied for 3rd- 4th with 7-4.  Other scores: myself, 6-5; Bill Little and Corey Northrup, 5-6; Herman Calderon, 4½ -6½; John Phillips and Robert Ellsworth, 4-7; Matt Clough, 3½-7½  (despite a win and a draw against the two frontrunners); and Mike Lacetti, 1½-9½.

John Barnes did his usual excellent job of directing both events. 

Club championships

The Schenectady Club Championship began on Oct. 6, with 14 players in two sections of seven players each.  The top three players in each section will play in a six-man round-robin final section.

Former Champion Phil Sells is the only expert; strong high school players defending champion Patrick Chi and Deepak Aaron are not playing this year.

The tournament features two Class A players, John Phillips and Alan LeCours; three Class B players, Carlos Varella, Dilip Aaron, and Schenectady President Richard Chu; five Class C players, Corey Northrup, Zachary Calderon, Matt Clough, Herman Calderon, and David Connors, as well as Jeff Capitummino, Michael Stanley and Akhil Kamma. 

The Saratoga Championship also began play in October, with six players in a double round-robin, headed by expert John Feinberg; Class A players, Gary Farrell and Alan LeCours; and Class B players, Jeff Hrebenach, Joshua Kuperman, and David Connors.

Albany-Schenectady match

On October 13, 2011, the Albany and Schenectady clubs renew their traditional rivalry, which we hope will be on at least 10 boards (involving 20 players).  I will have the full report next week.

Kings v. Queens

Fast time controls do not only affect local players; international players also do not do well when playing very fast. The Kings v. Queens tournament, comprised of five strong women playing a series of matches against five strong men, at a time limit of game in 25 minutes demonstrates this.

The match had all of the theater of the 1970s tennis bout between Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs.  A generous prize fund attracted the players, but could not guarantee good chess as blunders and obvious mistakes were made in the majority of games.

All five members of the team played all five members of the opposing team twice; one game was played as "Fischer Random" or Chess 960.  Fischer Random was invented by Bobby Fischer, with the pieces on the first rank arranged in a random format, so that players cannot rely on standard openings.

The Kings team won the match, 31½-18½, and a $4,000 team prize for each member.  The individual prize of $5,500 was won by the American Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura, who, with a rating of 2753, was rated more than 200 points higher than any other competitor with a score of 9½ out of a possible 10.

The top Queen, Alexandra Kosteniuk, scored 51⁄2 for fifth place overall. 

This week’s problem

David Bronstein was perhaps the best chess player in the world in the 1950s.  In 1951, he played a match for the world championship, with the incumbent, Michael Botvinnik, retaining the championship after a 12-12 tie.  However, Bronstein's father had been jailed during the Stalin purges, and, as Bronstein said in a 1992 interview, "I was afraid that, if I won the match, my dad could get in trouble."

Bronstein was known for creative and fighting chess, rather than emphasizing the refinement of technique, which he considered boring.  In the game below, from the 1965 Soviet Championship, Bronstein finds a move that brings a sudden end to the game.  Can you find it?

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