Sunday, April 13, 2014

2014 National High School Championships


The excitement begins the morning before the main event.

"Good Luck"
Grandmaster Maurice Ashley congratulates our team.
The BCSD Chess Rage has been very active this past month with tournaments and other chess functions every weekend.  This past weekend reached a climax with six high school students competing in the National High School Chess Championship.  This is only the second time that a team from the Wood River Valley has attended such a function with the last time in 2011 where the team placed 24th with over 330 teams in attendance.  We fared better this time - 20th in classic and 20th in Blitz.
Introducing the 20th place team.

943 kids, their parents, friends, and coaches.

The tournament was held in San Diego at the Town & Country Resort and 943 attendees played G/120 d5 games, meaning each opponent has two hours to complete all their moves with a 5 second delay per move.  The tournament was broken into five sections:  U800, U1200, U1600, Championship, and Unr.  The Chess Rage had one U1600, one unrated player, and a team of four U1200 players.  The ratings refer to the United States Chess Federation (USCF) rating system where the higher the rating, the better the player.
8 am training session
The chess team played in the Bughouse and Blitz side events requiring 8-hours of play on Thursday before the main event began on Friday.  Desmond Porth won a 3rd place class prize in Blitz, and Adam Porth, BCSD Chess Rage coach, tied for 3rd place in the coaches tournament held on Saturday.  In the three-day, 7 round main event, players engaged nearly 36 hours of play and 12 hours of practice and analysis.  Chess began at 8 am and typically ended near midnight.
Desmond receives analysis by Texas Tech Chess Team member.

As one master level coach from New York boasted, "Chess competitions are more mentally exhausting than anything students do in school."  He continued, "Chess requires more study and practice than any subject students take."  Many school districts around the United States are now funding chess programs in their schools and are even financially supporting students traveling to competitions, such as this one.  Colleges are offering scholarships to chess players rated over 1400 - 1500 at Texas Tech and Webster University in St. Louis.
Levi is always happy to play.

Levi Catangcatang is the newest player to the team and scored 3.0 points in the unrated section.  He soaked up all the learning and resources that the tournament offered, such as training from members of the Texas Tech and Webster University teams.  He also found numerous friends to play with and obtained analysis from other coaches.  Andre Murphy commented on "how great it is to be around this much chess!"  with games being played at the pool, in corridors, and virtually any place that offered a quiet spot.
Tyler Avila gets very serious during his analysis in the skittles room.

Tyler Avila was successful in applying lessons learned from each game during analysis.  He dropped two games in the endgame that should have resulted in victories in previous rounds, but demonstrated that study (and patience) pays off in the seventh round where he applied all of the strategies learned from earlier games and highhandedly won.   He ended the tournament with 2.5 points.
Round 7

Dylan enjoys playing black.

Andre was one of our longest game players.

Quick games in the main event ended in disaster and successful players used all their time.  Dylan Porth even ran into time trouble in three of her games resulting in draws, though she was ahead in material in those games.  She earned 2.5 points by the end of the tournament.  In the last round, Desmond Porth was the very last game to finish in the U1600 against a player from California.  He and Andre Murphy took a hard road and drew most of their rounds, only losing 2 of the 7 rounds.  Draws only earn a 1/2 point.  Desmond lead the team with 3.5 points.  Andre Murphy and Wesley Brimstein each earned 3.0 points in the U1200 section.
Wesley wrestles with his thoughts while his parents look on in the background.

With Desmond and Dylan the only members of the team used to the pressure of National play, I was quite happy with the results of the first-timers, and I look forward to taking the players to Columbus, Ohio next year where I am sure they will be in the top ten after a year of hard work and development.

The long weekend ended with a trip to the San Diego zoo in order to relax and unwind before returning to the mountain of homework the players had accumulated.
There is a panda lurking in the shadows.
As Tyler said it, "This was one of my best weeks ever!"


Sunday, March 2, 2014

February Chess Event Report

Levi Catangcatang lead the Silver Creek High School to a 2nd Place.
While most attention was on Olympic battles this past month, there were quieter and much more local competitions that featured as much excitement and as much glory as the Olympics.  Though, it was the best mind that won. The Idaho Closed Chess Championship is the premiere chess competition sponsored by the Idaho Chess Association and has named a state champion since 1947.  This year 24 competitors with nearly 50 years between the youngest and oldest played for three days in games that averaged about 3 hours each, and sometimes up to 6 hours at the Shilo Inn in Twin Falls.
2014 State Champion


Five players from the BCSD Chess Rage Club attended and played excellent games against the top players in Idaho.  Adam Porth, Desmond Porth, Dylan Porth, Andre Murphy and Keegan Crowson had their sight set on the class prizes.  In chess, players are ranked according to their abilities and separated into classes though the tournament is of open format and it is all-against-all.  For example, Larry Parsons from Boise is 18 time state champion and is a class A player with a rating of 2000.  He, of course, was in attendance and spent most of the tournament on board 1.  The lowest ranked player was rated 521, is new to chess this past year, and is class F.


In the end, Caleb Kircher of Boise became one of the youngest chess champions in Idaho, winning 4 games and drawing 2 games in the 6 round event.  The wood river representatives fared well with Desmond Porth earning Top Junior, Andre Murphy winning 1st place Class E, and Adam Porth winning 2nd place Class D.



Andre Murphy
Desmond Porth
With most of the school district news focused on adults and finances, it is important to recognize the achievements of the children that attend the Blaine County School District.  The Scholastic Triple Crown was also held this last week and the BCSD Chess Rage was there.  The Triple Crown included the Novice Championship, Girl’s State Championship, and the Elementary Championship with Idaho representatives for National Events chosen from those pools of players.


Girl's State Championship
In the Girl’s State Championship, Dylan Porth vetted her mind against 6 other girls in a round robin event.  Dylan has chased a placement in this tournament for six years and successfully scored 5.0 points of 6 possible and earned 2nd place and a possible birth into Grand Master Susan Polgar’s National Girl Invitational Chess Camp this summer.  Her only loss was to 2-time Girl’s State Champion, Carmen Pemsler of Meridian.
Otto Olson


In the elementary novice section, Otto Olson (4th grade) won 1st place 4th/5th grade with a perfect tournament score of 5.0!  The high school novice section was very exciting with Silver Creek High School pitted against Renaissance Technical Charter School.  Beginning chess players, Levi Catangcatang, Kaden Rinehart, Jordan Pulliam, Journey Iverson, Cooper Dean, and Zac Spor worked together to win the team trophy, but ended up with 2nd place by only 0.5 points.  Levi, Cooper, and Kaden won medals for 2nd through 4th place but their 3.5 points each were unable to de-throne one Renaissance student that had a perfect tournament.  This is the first Silver Creek High School team to compete in an event, but look for them in other events.



The Novice High School Section
The next tournament is a local K-12 Spring Warm Up on March 8 in the Community Campus.  This prepares players for the Scholastic State competition on March 15 in Boise.  This next month, 6 Wood River High School and Silver Creek High School students will combine efforts in the High School Nationals in San Diego.  Contact Adam Porth, aporth@blaineschools.org  if you would like to sponsor a student traveling to one of these events, or would like more information about chess.

Monday, February 24, 2014

OMG Lot's O' News coming

Please stay tuned to near future posts:  2014 Theme Tournament, Jared Arp Simul, Idaho Closed, and the ICA Triple Crown, Spring Warm Up, Barnes & Noble, and State Scholastics.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Saturday, February 15, 2014

2014 Idaho Closed

Today, the 2014 Idaho Chess Association Idaho Closed State Championship got underway. I will try to keep you posted in between rounds.

I am on the cover of Northwest Chess!

Just Sayin'!
(now my mom knows I got a tattoo, and she's still the mom!)
This was taken at one of the Barnes & Noble in Twin Falls tournies that Barry and I run when I bring my students to play.  I think we could have taken a better picture, personally.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Dragon Day Tournament


Believe it or not, January 16 was National Dragon Day.  Coincidence?  I am now a Silver Dragon (Silver Creek High School) and I just taught my chess class the Sicilian Dragon, so why not a Sicilian Dragon tournament on the national day to honor dragons?  When chess clubbers showed up for our usual meeting, they were treated to a 4 round tournament using the fierce defense.
Otto Olson plays Quentin Van Law



Theme tournaments are good teaching tools and it moves some players that have "their opening" out of their comfort zone and into other realms.  Our chess club hosted this tournament at our usual chess club time and featured faster time controls (G/15) but allowed enough time for some forethought during the game.  The opening we played was:
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6

Games were as fierce as Smaug, but the players that signed up were as cordial and polite as hobbits.  In one game, one of our experienced players taught a little boy while competing for the grand prize, a chess variant game called Dragon Chess.  He showed him better moves and the game turned out pretty good.  There were 16 players ranging from 6 to 44 years.  After 4 rounds, Tyler Avila doused Wesley Brimstein with a crushing attack and Tyler Avila won the Dragon Chess set.



Billy Olsen and Sarah Biggers


Jordan Pulliam



Journey Iverson and Layton Moore



Wesley Brimstein and Andre Murphy

A sharp game that ended with a fallen flag.

Wesley plays Tyler in the final game while Andre eagerly watches.



Otto Olsen and Noah Sorensen with Noah's dad observing.

In a great example of sportsmanship, Noah cordially tells his opponent, "You played a really good game."  His opponent Otto shook hands and respectfully retreated to his dad, Billy.  As this was the last game and all the high schoolers were watching, we knew Noah would love it if we all clapped and he beamed, "That was the best game, Mr. Porth."


***Sorry, no crosstable for you but the file appears to be missing.***

When we looked at the data however, it was 51% white and 49% black wins.  So it was roughly equal.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Fred Bartell Simul


When asked, "Which openings do you play?" by a curious student.  Fred replied, "I just play what looks natural."  Fred was true to his nature on Tuesday, January 14 at the Magic Valley Chess Club meeting at Barnes & Noble in Twin Falls.  Mr. Bartell played seven students ranging in abilities from the Blaine County School District Chess Rage Club simultaneously and played a different opening against each student challenging him.  One student was from the Twin Falls area for a total of eight players.  This type of tournament is commonly referred to as a Simul.
Playing a different opening against each challenger is a great strategy for a simultaneous exhibition where a chess guru plays multiple players at the same time to display his chess dominance and prowess.  The challenging players can't look at the adjacent boards to see how other challengers are coping with an opening when the simul-giver does changes his opening.  During the tournament, the exhibitor moves from board to board, making one move at a time down a line of challengers.  The challengers must refrain from moving until the simul-giver returns to their board - the challenger moves and simul-giver immediately replies. 
Fred Bartell is known locally as a brilliant rapid chess player and a fierce competitor in long games and is quite entertaining to his opponents.  Fred grimaces, smiles, chuckles and even talks some great smack when he becomes comfortable.  Fred attacks immediately and has enjoyed a long history of playing in California and in Idaho to perfect his flexible style.  Fred began tournament play in Idaho in 2006 and was a near expert from the get-go.
Usually a simul takes time and the giver continues to stand over his opponents as they move from board to board.  After fifteen minutes, the first player succumbed to a queen and a bishop working diligently for checkmate.  It only took another hour and a half before Fred finished the final competitor.  He won all the games.  Afterwards, Fred obtained a quick drink and then sat down with students to continue teaching them through rapid games.

Fred is critical member of the Magic Valley Chess Club which meets at Barnes & Noble in Twin Falls every second and fourth Tuesday of the month and is open for casual play to players of all abilities.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Tata Steel Chess 2014

It's that time of the year again when the most active and prestigious chess players gather in the Netherlands in a port town, Wijk aan Zee, to attend the former Corus Chess Tournament, now called Tata Steel Chess Tournament.  Browse the participant list and choose your favorite Grandmaster to follow.  My favorites include:  Levon Aronian (Armenia, 2812), Hikaru Nakamura (United States, 2789), and Anish Giri (Netherlands, 2734) in the Master Section.  In the Challengers section, Anna Muzychuk (Slovenia, 2566) and Ivan Saric (Croatia, 2637) are my picks.

The time control is:  100 min./40 moves, 50 min./20 moves, 15 min./30 sec. inc. for each move.

The tournament began on Saturday, January 11 (the day of the Mountain Home Open) and will continue until January 26.  Though 3 rounds have already been played, there is plenty of time to follow the games and the progress of the tournament.  The games begin at 1 pm (Holland Time) meaning that locals (Mountain Time) need to rise at 5 am to view the live games.

Master's Results:
Levon Aronian (2.0/3)
Hikaru Nakamura (2.0/3)
Anish Giri (2.0/3)

Challenger Results:
Anna Muzychuk (2.0/3)
Ivan Sarik (2.0/3)
* Current Leader:  Benjamin Bok (2.5/3)


My three picks from the Master's Section each scored at least one win.








Masters Schedule:
Round 1 - Saturday the 11th
Dominguez, L. - Giri, A.½-½
Van Wely, L. - Karjakin, S.0-1
Harikrishna, P. - Aronian, L.½-½
Caruana, F. - Gelfand, B.1-0
Rapport, R. - So, W.0-1
Nakamura, H. - Naiditsch, A.1-0
Round 2 - Sunday the 12th
Giri, A. - Naiditsch, A.1-0
So, W. - Nakamura, H.½-½
Gelfand, B. - Rapport, R.0-1
Aronian, L. - Caruana, F.1-0
Karjakin, S. - Harikrishna, P.½-½
Dominguez, L. - Van Wely, L.½-½
Round 3 - Monday the 13th
Van Wely, L. - Giri, A.½-½
Harikrishna, P. - Dominguez, L.1-0
Caruana, F. - Karjakin, S.1-0
Rapport, R. - Aronian, L.½-½
Nakamura, H. - Gelfand, B.½-½
Naiditsch, A. - So, W.½-½
Round 4 - Wednesday the 15th
Giri, A. - So, W.
Gelfand, B. - Naiditsch, A.
Aronian, L. - Nakamura, H.
Karjakin, S. - Rapport, R.
Dominguez, L. - Caruana, F.
Van Wely, L. - Harikrishna, P.
Round 5 - Friday the 17th
Harikrishna, P. - Giri, A.
Caruana, F. - Van Wely, L.
Rapport, R. - Dominguez, L.
Nakamura, H. - Karjakin, S.
Naiditsch, A. - Aronian, L.
So, W. - Gelfand, B.
Round 6 - Saturday the 18th
Giri, A. - Gelfand, B.
Aronian, L. - So, W.
Karjakin, S. - Naiditsch, A.
Dominguez, L. - Nakamura, H.
Van Wely, L. - Rapport, R.
Harikrishna, P. - Caruana, F.
Round 7 - Sunday the 19th
Caruana, F. - Giri, A.
Rapport, R. - Harikrishna, P.
Nakamura, H. - Van Wely, L.
Naiditsch, A. - Dominguez, L.
So, W. - Karjakin, S.
Gelfand, B. - Aronian, L.
Round 8 - Tuesday the 21st
Giri, A. - Aronian, L.
Karjakin, S. - Gelfand, B.
Dominguez, L. - So, W.
Van Wely, L. - Naiditsch, A.
Harikrishna, P. - Nakamura, H.
Caruana, F. - Rapport, R.
Round 9 - Thursday the 23rd
Rapport, R. - Giri, A.
Nakamura, H. - Caruana, F.
Naiditsch, A. - Harikrishna, P.
So, W. - Van Wely, L.
Gelfand, B. - Dominguez, L.
Aronian, L. - Karjakin, S.
Round 10 - Saturday the 25th
Giri, A. - Karjakin, S.
Dominguez, L. - Aronian, L.
Van Wely, L. - Gelfand, B.
Harikrishna, P. - So, W.
Caruana, F. - Naiditsch, A.
Rapport, R. - Nakamura, H.
Round 11 - Sunday the 26th
Nakamura, H. - Giri, A.
Naiditsch, A. - Rapport, R.
So, W. - Caruana, F.
Gelfand, B. - Harikrishna, P.
Aronian, L. - Van Wely, L.
Karjakin, S. - Dominguez, L.

Mountain Home Open Results


Round 5.  Shane Taylor vs. Barry Eacker, Board 1 (left)  and Christopher Pentico (Left)
Morning came early for our trip to Mountain Home for the tournament.  We were slated to leave at 7:30 am and I found myself sitting on the bus in front of the school still waiting for players at 7:45.  Our valley is not known for punctuality, especially the teens which will also show up to classes just as late.  The roads were typical of mountain country this morning with fog, ice, blowing snow, and very little traffic.  I was feeling pressed to get to Mountain Home (nearly 1 1/2 hours on good roads) because I was running the loosely put together tournament.

While at a coffee shop in Hailey playing chess with a former student during winter break, I heard a neighboring table critiquing my experimental Sicilian opening and looked up to see Christopher Pentico.  After some "nicety" exchanges, I suggested that Mountain Home should hold another tournament like last summer.  Chris agreed.  Many Mountain Home players don't travel to tournaments and the air-base oriented community is half-way between Boise and Twin Falls where most of Idaho's tournament players reside.  We whipped out a date only a few weeks away and hammered out a flyer for the local schools and sent out e-mails to the usual suspects. Barry Eacker and Jeff Roland, Idaho Chess Union organizers allowed for a joint sponsorship:  The BCSD Chess Rage and the ICU present . . . the Mountain Home Open.

We arrived a bit late, but Idahoans are quite relaxed toward life and chess players are patient, so nobody was getting too upset.  The event was going to be a full day endeavor, anyway with 4 rounds of G/60 d0.  Meaning, each game could approach two hours and many did.
Round 5.  Wesley Brimstein vs. Chris Pentico.  I can't wait to see the scoresheet for this endgame.  Wesley came back from the brink and promoted just before Chris did.  The game ended in a draw and provided Wesley with 1st place for the scholastic section.

Round 3.  Jeff Roland (right) vs. Shane Taylor (left) plays to full time and draws a large crowd as the time ticks away.  Shane Taylor scored a perfect tournament score and won this game.

Darwin starts to wane as the endgame battle ensues between Jeff Roland and Shane Taylor.  You have to stay alert in the endgame!
The Wood River contingent included my two boys, Desmond and Darwin, and my standard chess clubbers, Andre Murphy, Wesley Brimstein, and Keegan Crowson.  Jose Blanco is a student in the chess class and decided at the last minute to play in his first chess tournament with classical time controls.  Barry Eacker and Fred Bartell traveled from Twin Falls and Jeff Roland, Shane Taylor, and Jamie Lang traveled from Boise.  Mountain Home locals included Thomas Westcott, Nathanael Winchell, and Christopher Pentico.  Dena Marchant came from Glenns Ferry to her first tournament, too.
Dena Marchant plays Darwin Porth in Round 2.

The Mountain Home Library and the Stage Coach Cafe hosted us and it was nice to dive into coffee or lattes whenever I needed a fix.  Jose drank nearly four Frappucinos and two or three Italian Sodas!  The hostess, Jennifer Preuss also made sure food was readily available and after my game with Jeff, sauer kraut on a sausage really hit the spot.  Darwin finished his games early and participated in the library program that had a book reading and a movie with many other kids, "Despicable Me II."  Library patrons were highly interested in "what's going on?" and I was surprised to see how busy the library was compared to ours.  With the Cafe embedded in the library, people came just to hang out, use the computers, participate in the programs, or get lost in the stacks.

Scholastically plugged in!


The games were really enjoyable and I found some really interesting positions that had me on the edge of my seat.  In one such game against Jeff Roland,  we were both running out of time (about 2 minutes to 4 minutes) and it very much looked like Jeff was going to win.   After 27. ..Kxf2, my offer was accepted.

Porth vs. Roland (2014).  Move 25.  Black to move.  It is not looking good for white, however the Qd8+  and Qe7 threat kept Jeff on edge too.  I didn't really see 1. Qd8+ Kg7 2. Qf8# until after the game when Jeff and I were wiping the sweat off our brows.

Porth vs. Roland (2014).  Move 26.  Black to move.  When Jeff took f2, I was really nervous and then I thought to move a5.  I figured I'd lose a bishop and a pawn but gain one of the rooks.  I really expected Jeff to take on a5 or Rxf6+ on this next move.

Porth vs. Roland (2014).  With Jeff's 26. ..Qa7, I think he expected me to take his rook with my queen, but his bishop would have pinned it (absolutely), so I took with my king and offered a draw and at this point it was accepted.





Dog Pile!


In this game against Fred Bartell, I struggled with his opening but fought back and threatened 3 move repetition in a couple of different places during the endgame.  Can you find them?  Fred was very alert and avoided this like a computer engine!  This game displays the hazards of an exposed king . . .my king!


Jeff Roland shows off one of my lithographs, Stonehenge.
Barry Eacker brought three excellent artist prints to donate as prizes and I submitted three of my own, as well.  Winners were able to choose what they wanted.  Dan Looney, artist and chess player, occasionally donates unsold prints to the ICU to use as prizes.
Dan Looney is an artist from McCall and donates prints to chess players at tournaments.

Tie-breakers
Place
Name/Team
Rate
Score
Solk
CumOp
MMed
Cum
Prize
1
Taylor, Shane (6)
1374
4
8
21.5
8
10
Looney Prt.
2
Bartell, Fred (1)
1772
3
10.5
26.5
8.5
7
Porth Prt.
3
Eacker, Barry (3)
1634
2.5
11.5
29.5
9.5
8
Porth Prt.
4
Roland, Jeff (2)
1690
2.5
10
25
9
6.5

5
Pentico, Christopher (5)
1455
2.5
8
20.5
7
5.5

6
Brimstein, Wesley (12)
1000
2.5
7
17
6
5.5
Looney Prt.
7
Porth, Adam (7)
1262
2.5
7
15.5
6.5
6.5

8
Lang, Jamie (4)
1494
2.5
4.5
14
4.5
8

9
Porth, Desmond (8)
1058
2
9.5
22
4.5
6
Looney Prt.
10
Marchant, Dena (14)
1000
2
6
17
3
4

11
Murphy, Andre (15)
1000
2
5
11.5
2.5
3
Porth Prt.
12
Westcott, Thomas (10)
1013
1
8.5
20.5
5.5
4

13
Crowson, Keegan (13)
1000
1
8
20
5
2

14
Winchell, Nathanael (9)
1015
1
6.5
16
4
3

15
Banco, Jose (11)
1000
1
5.5
12.5
3
0

16
Porth, Darwin (16)
1000
0
9
19
5
0

Thomas Westcott works against Jamie Lang in Round 2.  

Cross Table
No.
Name
Rate
Pts
Rnd1
Rnd2
Rnd3
Rnd4
1
Taylor, Shane
1374
4
W16
W2
W3
W4
2
Bartell, Fred
1772
3
W10
L1
W7
W9
3
Roland, Jeff
1690
2.5
W8
D7
L1
W12
4
Eacker, Barry
1634
2.5
W6
W9
D5
L1
5
Lang, Jamie
1494
2.5
W15
W13
D4
-N-
6
Pentico, Christopher
1455
2.5
L4
W11
W13
D8
7
Porth, Adam
1262
2.5
W14
D3
L2
W15
8
Brimstein, Wesley
1000
2.5
L3
W15
W12
D6
9
Porth, Desmond
1058
2
W11
L4
W10
L2
10
Marchant, Dena
1000
2
L2
W16
L9
W13
11
Murphy, Andre
1000
2
L9
L6
W14
W16
12
Winchell, Nathanael
1015
1
L13
W14
L8
L3
13
Westcott, Thomas
1013
1
W12
L5
L6
L10
14
Banco, Jose
1000
1
L7
L12
L11
-B-
15
Crowson, Keegan
1000
1
L5
L8
W16
L7
16
Porth, Darwin
1000
0
L1
L10
L15
L11

Andre and Wesley

Desmond, Jose, and Keegan.  Keegan is a pool shark!