Monday, March 25, 2013

30 Find Liberty in the Cornfields


Time is our most fleeting resource. And despite a 2011 Justin Timberlake sci-fi movie which suggests to the contrary, it cannot be replenished.

Frequent cornfield participant Sam Henderson found himself in a winning position in the final round of this weekend's Give Me Liberty! Challenge. He had the upper hand against an expert rated 341 points higher. It was in the bag... until the chess gods decided to intervene. And with a digital tic-tocking that could be heard across the tournament room, poor Sam's failure to punch his clock at a critical juncture ate away a chunk of his 45-minute allocation, leading to a loss by flag, and altering the outcome of the five-round event.

Christopher McKinney and Jim Oberweis tied for first in the 8-player Open (Smyslov) section with 4.0/5 scores. Sam still managed to claim the Under 1800 prize with a 3.0/5 score.

Aurora's Mike Flynn and Rockford's Jonathan Gaenzle along with junior Ricky Wang split the 12-player Reserve (Korchnoi) section with 3.5/5 scores. Ricky pulled the Under 1400 prize fund into the pool. Mike and Jonathan drew in the fifth round, while Ricky drew against pesky Jake Zarris of Elgin.

In the 10-competitor Booster (Seirawan) section, Indian Creek High School's Colton Ewing claimed clear first in only his second rated tournament, with a 4.0/5 score. James Zhang and rated tournament-newcomer Stephen Leung split second place, with Siddharth Sridhar claiming the Under 1000 prize.

Upset prize winners included David Black, Bill Smythe, Cliff Adams, and Paul Schmitt.

The sections were named after historic chess players with birthdays over the weekend. Former World-Champion Vasily Smyslov would have been 92 on March 24. Currently the oldest active grandmaster, Viktor Korchnoi turned 82 on March 23. Four-time US Champion and prolific author Yasser Seirawan turned 53 on Sunday.
The DeKalb Chess Club hopes to continue the tradition of chess tournaments with the May 18 amidst the cornfields with the It's a Wonderful Life Classic, honoring Director Frank Capra's birthday.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Give Me Liberty Registrations Solid

Through early Friday evening, registrations in all three prospective sections are running solid for tomorrow's five-round Give Me Liberty event.

Can still use a few more Open players but the other sections are nearing their natural maximums. Capacity for the overall tournament is 36. (TD reserves the possibility of shifting to a fourth section or any other configuration to assure good competition for the broadest array).

Where possible we attempt to honor several types of requests:
  • First Round Byes -- 1/2 point will be awarded
  • Requests to play up sections -- offered in order of the player's pre-event rating
  • Avoidance of pairing against siblings or parents -- always honored
  • Avoidance of pairing against club members -- honored in early rounds but this rule is turned off in later rounds if necessary for deciding prizes
DeKalb Chess Club is proud to host such events and we're fortunate to have found a post-Borders home at the First Congregational Church. During our first year of hosting events, we averaged 15 entrants. By the second year, we were up to 20 registrants and now, in our third year, we've had 28 and 30 players for our most recent events. Let's keep it up, folks!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Give Me Liberty! 5-Rounder Saturday

In an attempt to provide broader diversity of competition, DeKalb Chess Club is sponsoring the Give Me Liberty! Challenge Saturday, March 23.

The event will feature five rounds of Game/45 play straight up, with no delay. This means if you have an analog clock, you're welcome to put it to good use! All games are USCF-rated, meaning USCF membership is required. Such membership is available for purchase at the tournament.

On March 23, 1775, before some of us were even born, Patrick Henry exclaimed "Give me liberty or give me death!"  Some reports indicate he was attempting to organize militia in every county of Virginia, others suggest he may have been referring to his queen which was seemingly trapped in the back rank with no escape squares as he contemplated resignation.

Elsewhere in his famous speech, Henry exclaimed: "I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience." Surely this reflects a chess-rich history as does his quip: "It is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope..." (I repeat this mantra every time I sit down with a higher-rated player).

As I remind my students, Henry exhorted: "The battle... is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave..." If that idea doesn't motivate the patriotic chess warrior to develop one's pieces to better squares, I don't know what will.

We'll wrap up registration at 8:50am for this special event... and attempt to get the first round underway by 9am, accommodating the five-round schedule.

Delicious pizza will be available for the bargain price of $4 -- for two slices and a can of pop. (Please specify your topping preferences at registration).

There will also be refrigerator and a microwave available on site for those who wish to bring their own food for lunch. We'll also have some local restaurant delivery menus for those who seek a particular type of cuisine.

Requests to avoid pairings against team/club members will be honored through the third round, and 1/2 point byes will be awarded for the first round upon request (Second round will get underway at 10:40am).

Operators are standing by to take your name and USCF ID# at This will save you five bucks if you do so by 9pm on Friday, March 22.