Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Did you know that rocker Sting played chess?

Among the best concerts I attended in my misspent youth was an awesome jam session with the three-man band, The Police. Front man Sting (real name: Gordon Sumner) has gone on to a successful solo career. He's also achieved some interesting acting credits including a small but memorable part in one of my favorite movies, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

But who knew he was also a chess player?

Thanks to our friends at Chess Network, here's the proof, a really insightful analysis of a game where Sting tried to hang in there against the legendary Garry Kasparov.

Comments are appreciated -- and anyone is welcome to submit their own links to other interesting material or their own analysis. Again, I repeat the offer: anyone who analyzes a game played in a DeKalb Chess Club event is welcome to submit it for a discounted admission to their next tournament!

So next time you hear the intonations "Every Breath You Take, I'll Be Watching You" you can imagine it deals with chess board vigilance even if it actually had a more ominous inspiration. And when your king is feeling threatened by surrounding pressures, don't be afraid to start humming, "Don't Stand So Close To Me".

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Club Member Andrew Wang Wins Elgin Tournament!

Our congratulations go out to NIU Mathematics Graduate Student, Andrew Wang (pictured below in action at an earlier DeKalb tournament). Andrew demolished the top-rated "Alpha" quad with a perfect 3.0 score. I caught his third round win, and it included one of the prettiest knight-for-pawn sacrifices you'll ever see. The decisive combination was a thing of beauty!

Andrew's knight takes pawn, and his young opponent captured back with his own knight, thinking he'd been given a gift. Andrew exchanges on, capturing that knight with a rook which is readily captured back by his opponent's rook. Did Andrew really just sack a knight and a rook for a measly pawn and a knight? Never fear, our intrepid math whiz maneuvers his queen to a back rank check leading to the rook recapture and a sweet fork where either a bishop or knight would have been next to fall. When his opponent went on the attack instead, Andrew finished him off with a stylish mating net. That, folks, is how chess is played!

(Allow a momentary digression: We then retreated to the skittles room to watch the Fighting Illini turn the purple and white various shades of black and blue at Wrigley Field. Obvious background: Andrew attended Northwestern while I matriculated downstate to the U of I. How can a mere mortal gain 300 yards rushing in a single football game? And it was all running in one direction!).

Elsewhere in the Elgin tournament, club member Cliff Adams managed a tie for fourth in his Delta section of 7 players. Frequent DeKalb-tournament attendee Gary Sargent grabbed a piece of second place prize money in that same section.

Bob Cairone of the McHenry Area Chess Club runs a terrific tournament, and I've learned a lot about TD'ing from him. Elgin tournaments are held the third Saturday of every month on the top floor of the Holiday Inn just off Route 31, north of I-90.  The next tournament there, December 18th, will feature Swiss pairings. Let's all come out and support this wonderful event so that it remains viable on a monthly basis!

Thanks, Bob, for all you do for chess in Northern Illinois, and congratulations again to Andrew!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Chess Author Larry Evans Passes

Growing up there was no shortage of chess books in my house. Among the titles which helped guide my chess education were several by Larry Evans. Sadly, the five-time US Champion has passed away due to surgical complications.

Chicago Tribune Obituary for Larry Evans (written by an LA Times reporter)

Evan's editing of "Modern Chess Openings" was a staple in my library and I had recently ordered a collection of his writings, "This Crazy World of Chess" as a potential prize for a future tournament. Now, I think I'll keep it for myself.

I'd probably made each of his "10 Most Common Chess Mistakes" multiple times. His "What's the Best Move" and "Chess Endgame Quiz" are humbling reminders of how much I have yet to learn.

In an age when Texas Hold 'Em poker books have cannibalized most bookstores' "Games and Humor" sections, shelf space previously allocated to chess books, Evan's books had real staying power.

That's why our Borders' casual play games are so important: to remind folks of the importance of chess. You don't see many No-Limit poker games at our local Borders, do you? Take that, Howard Lederer! (a chess whiz turned poker superstar).

As someone who tries to impart chess wisdom from time to time, I'm appreciative of Mr. Evans' efforts at chess scholarship. His contributions to chess literature -- and the chess world -- were significant.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Freestrom Prevails At November Tournament

DeKalb Chess Club phenom James Freestrom, of Sycamore, defended home turf November 14 by winning the "Cornfield Challenge" with a perfect score of 4. James is the first club member to win one of our open tournaments outright!

Newcomer Scott Kolb, of Somonauk, took a clear second with a 3.0 score.

Three players, including DeKalb Club members Bill Feldman and Mark Peterson along with newcomer Adam Ford, tied for third with 2.5 scores.

An incredible 5-way tie for sixth place was testimony to the ferocity of the competition. But all five players received physical prizes, assuring that the pledge of "prizes galore" was fulfilled! Even honorary club member Alex was awarded a copy Murray Chandler's excellent book "How to Beat Your Dad at Chess" after dropping his fourth round game to his pops, Barry. (Study that tome and you'll get 'em next time, Alex!).

Thanks to the support of Borders and the creative efforts of yours truly, more than 225% of the entry fees were returned in prizes and gift certificates. (Thanks, Dan and Julie for those incredibly awesome gift bags!).

We even managed to get a little Daily Chronicle coverage (11/15, page 3) profiling club member Don Reyes and young Alex, but it will probably archive shortly so I'm not including a link. (By the way, I told the reporter that the USCF sanctions 500,000 individual GAMES a year, but the article stated EVENTS. Not my fault!).

Fourteen competitors battled this one out and we hope to see our little experiment in the cornfields keep growing at our next tournament, December 12. The 4-round Swiss will have similar parameters to this past tournament, details elsewhere on this site.