Chess Culture

Learning All The Way – Tysons Corner Action Tournament

Apparently, I have stamina problems. The blitz tournament went far better than expected, but then one tough draw in rapid time control, and all my energy was zapped. I was able to rally by Game 4, but this was certainly not my best effort. 

I spent drizzly Super Bowl Sunday indoors, playing at the Tysons Corner Action and Blitz tournaments hosted by DMV Chess. I’ve been to this regular tournament often, with middling but always rewarding results. However, this was my first time also attending their earlier blitz tournament, my second ever. 

I didn’t expect to win the blitz tournament, and I didn’t, but I came within a half point hair. Instead, I ended in a 3-way tie for 2nd place, and 3rd place overall after tiebreaks. Facing opponents far more skilled than myself, including my friendly rival Don MacLean, I managed to pull out an excellent 7.0/10 points. 

The blitz tournament was double-pairing, meaning I played two games against each opponent. It started out slow, trading wins against my first two opponents, before sweeping the next two. While the games were interesting, I couldn’t tell you how I won (or lost) them, except in one notable game. Still, I greatly enjoyed the pace and casual nature of the ordeal. Faster chess favors intuition over calculation, and as such favors me. My last opponent was the eventual winner, but I still won our first game. The confidence from that win went a long way in our second game. However, just as the defensive tango started getting spicy, I hung a back-rank mate. I lost out on the $100 and settled, quite happily mind you, for third. I credit hosting the weekly Bishops and Beers open chess night for my blitz success. 

During the intermission between tournaments, Don and I went for a walk to get a late lunch. Two other players from the blitz tournament drove by and offered us a ride to a nearby restaurant. This was their first tournament ever, and it was exciting to chat with new faces. We talked about and played a game over a quick meal, before hurrying back for the rapid tournament. After talking with me and Don, the pair also decided to try out the rapid tournament! 

The first 41 moves of Round 1 (before time pressure set in)

Game one was a tense affair. I felt safe throughout the opening as white’s minor pieces tripped over his pawns, but he still didn’t give me a way in. That changed after we traded queens and I got the opportunity for a pawn to break through. We picked up the pace as my opponent’s clocked ticked lower and lower. It soon reached a scant 2 seconds on the clock to my 3 minutes. His endgame was stronger than his middlegame, even while living on the 5 second delay. We at last reached a dreaded queen vs. rook endgame, in my favor. While I had studied this very endgame before, I couldn’t figure out the method over the board. The game ended with a stalemate trap, with a crowd of onlookers watching me flail. 

The worst part about long games is that you have no time before the next round. Which probably led to game two being such a rollercoaster. It started strong, as I locked his pieces behind his pawns. To save a bishop, I threatened to sacrifice the other for a repetition. My opponent, rated 300 points higher than me, did not allow the draw. Instead, his counterattack threw me into a tight position. To exploit his advantage, he sacrificed a rook for a mating attack. However, he again allowed a chance for a repetition. Now a rook up, and holding, I felt like I could do better than a draw. I was wrong, and I lost.

Game three was a sorry affair that I am not proud of. All I could think of was how I was outplayed in last game, and distracted by a mechanical humming sound in constant one second bursts. Even with ear plugs in, or perhaps because of it, I couldn’t keep my mind off that humming and oh there goes my knight. I resigned far earlier than I would normally, because I had to admit I wasn’t giving nor could give my best. At least now I had time to rest between rounds. 

With 0.5/3, I was paired with another kid who had so far gone 0.0/3. Neither of us were having a good tournament. I got myself tangled in the opening (that mechanical humming was a Chinese water torture on my brain), but my gracious opponent allowed me to awkwardly unfold my position. By the time I was ready to attack, I noticed his isolated king’s pawn and seized on the weakness. I traded pieces, confident that I would be favored in the endgame. I was saved from defending that confidence when my opponent gave away his queen en prise and resigned. 

Not my best tournament, but learning all the way.

Book Review – “The Match of All Time” – An Important Contribution to Chess History

No American made a greater impact on chess than Bobby Fischer, and his phenomenal ability would be reduced to an interesting series of chess tales had he not captured the World Chess Championship in the most-watched chess match ever. The Cold War implications of the 1972 match brought attention to chess from the whole world, including millions of people who had never played the game.  

Gudmundur Thorarinsson’s book, The Match of All Time, featured as New in Chess’s eBook of the Week for this week, describes in brilliant detail the intrigue, luck, and phenomenal effort that allowed this match to be played. No one was in a better position to record the drama: Mr. Thorarinsson was the President of the Iceland Chess Federation at the time the small island nation produced the winning bid for the match, and it was Mr. Thorarinsson who negotiated with all the parties involved with the match that changed the chess world forever.

The Match of All Time sets forth the context of the match, provides excellent short biographies of Fischer’s predecessors as World Chess Champion, and describes coherently and concisely the personalities of the parties who made the match a reality. Thorarinsson’s perspectives are fascinating, as he was the organizer of the event and ultimately responsible for all its details. While he was never privy to the discussions taking place in America or the Soviet Union, he was the force that brought the two sides together despite the many obstacles thrown up by the American player and the leadership and bureaucracy of the Soviet Union. 

The Soviet World Champion, Boris Spassky, described by everyone who knows him as a perfect gentleman and sportsman, wanted to play the match. His score against Fischer up to the point of the match (three wins, two draws, no losses) gave him confidence. Soviet leaders, however, were more concerned with keeping the championship title a Soviet possession, which it had been since 1948. Those who ran the Soviet Union needed to be convinced, both by its own citizens and by the match organizers, to allow Mr. Spassky to play against Fischer, who flouted the norms and rules of the sanctioning body of chess, FIDE.

Of course, dealing with Fischer was not easy. He refused to commit to play and made demands of the organizers, which became more strident as negotiations lurched forward. Even by the time of the opening ceremony, it was not clear that Fischer would board the airplane in New York to come to Iceland to play. With the intervention of National Security Advisor (and later, Secretary of State) Henry Kissinger, Fischer finally showed up. Thorarinsson describes his involvement in getting leaders of the greatest antagonists of the Cold War to agree to have a chess match played.

Bobby Fischer (left) in 1972 with then-FIDE President, Max Euwe. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Thorarinsson criticizes the United States for the way it treated Fischer late in his life, complaining that our country wanted to incarcerate the chess hero it had celebrated in 1972. It is true that Fischer was indicted by a District of Columbia grand jury for alleged crimes committed by playing chess in former Yugoslavia. It is also true that he was not indicted during the George H.W. Bush administration, when the match was played, and was not indicted during the eight years of the Clinton presidency. 

It was not until years later, after Fischer commended the 9/11 attacks on the United States, that the George W. Bush administration decided to prosecute Fischer. (Boris Spassky, who performed the same acts as Bobby Fischer, and as a French resident was subject to the same UN sanctions as pertained to Fischer, was never charged with a crime.) However, as a chapter of Julius Kaplan’s legal memoir,
Secrets and Suspense, suggested, the prosecutors had no great interest in putting him in jail but wanted to confiscate much of Fischer’s money.

Nobody but Thorarinsson could have written this book, and its value for the posterity of chess history cannot be matched. It is wonderful for the game that he wrote the book, and it will be a valuable resource for chess historians to come.

Photos From Robert Katende’s Visit to Lanham

If there are any better tools than chess to teach life skills to young people, we don’t know what they are.

Robert Katende has spent the last two decades helping impoverished Ugandans escape some of the hardest slums in the world using sports, especially chess. Every year, he comes to the Washington, DC, area to host a free chess tournament, most recently this past Saturday in Lanham.

Several volunteers, including Scott Low and Andy Tichenor, helped make the event fun for children and adults. (Scott played in events at the U.S. Chess Center as a child and teenager. That was 15 years ago, and we are proud that we contributed to his development as a chess player and terrific human being.)

Katende’s best-known student is Women’s Candidate Master Phiona Mutesi, who was illiterate and hungry when she entered his chess classes in Katwe, Uganda, looking for food. Now a college graduate and an analyst for Deloitte, she credits learning chess for developing the skills she uses as an adult.

Hundreds of students come through Sports Outreach, Katende’s organization to help impoverished Ugandans and we appreciate that the Washington Education Zone in Lanham provided beautiful space in which to host a screening of Disney’s movie Queen of Katwe, the free tournament, and a simultaneous exhibition of chess. We will see them back here next year.

Spend National Chess Weekend (Oct 13-14) in Lanham, MD and meet Robert Katende

On Friday, October 13, you have a chance to meet Robert Katende and support Sports Outreach. On Saturday, October 14, the Washington Education Zone (Miles Hall at 8401 Good Luck Road in Lanham) will host its annual free chess tournament and a simultaneous exhibition by Mr. Katende.

Phiona Mutesi (seated left in the photo below) is one of the most inspiring stories to come from the chess world. As an under-nourished child in a slum of Uganda, Phiona discovered chess and became a champion of the African continent. Her story was written in The Queen of Katwe, then turned into a successful Disney movie.

We never would have heard of Phiona, however, had Robert Katende not created a chess program that welcomed her. Katende’s story, while not as well known, is equally inspiring. He also was brought up in difficult circumstances by his grandmother in Uganda. Through hard work and perseverance, he went to college, played soccer at a high level, and created a charity to help impoverished young people in his home country.

On National Chess Day this year, you have a chance to meet him and hear him speak.

Across the Battlefield: A Pawn’s Journey, a review of a children’s book

A book that describes not just the rules of chess but also abstract concepts and basic strategy, while at the same time introducing a plot with about 10 named personalities in 48 pages, is asking a lot of a pre-adolescent reader.  In my opinion, it’s too much.

Jonathan Ferry’s Across the Battlefield, beautifully illustrated by Caroline Zina, is such a book. He takes an interesting game, gives pawns and pieces individual names and personalities, and creates a story about the development of Prunella the Pawn. That would be enough, but the book uses the story as a vehicle to describe the rules and strategy of chess. For many readers, especially early readers, the effort to remember characters and their traits will take precedence over the chess vocabulary and chess strategy the book describes.

A child could well be captivated by the pictures on each page. If read to second graders who had not been exposed to the game, the book could generate interest in learning to play. However, children are likely to be overwhelmed by the firehose of information about the rules, vocabulary, and strategy of the game.

In short, the excess ambition of Across the Battlefield works against its effectiveness in introducing chess concepts to its target audience of 6- to 10-year olds.

Across the Battlefield: A Pawn’s Journey, written by Jonathan Ferry and illustrated by Caroline Zina, is published by Chess Tales, LLC, of St. Louis, MO.

Postcards From The Bobby Fischer Center In Iceland

Fifty-one years ago this month, the chess match that changed the game forever began in Iceland, and since then that tiny island in the North Atlantic has been excited about the game. Iceland has had the most grandmasters per capita in the world since the 1970s and is unique in being the only country with more International Grandmasters (14) than International Masters (12).

In 2005, Iceland conferred citizenship on Bobby Fischer and sent a plane to retrieve him from Japan, where he was being held in custody at the demand of the United States. Fischer remained on the small island nation for the rest of his life.

After he passed away, a group of chess enthusiasts created the Bobby Fischer Center near his final resting place in Selfoss. The Center celebrates Fischer’s life and chess career with particular emphasis on his connection to Iceland.

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit. Its director, Aldís Sigfúsdóttir, is very knowledgeable and gave my wife and me a comprehensive tour. The museum emphasizes Fischer’s life in Iceland and has an excellent display of photos from the 1972 match. We also saw the Letters of Citizenship prepared by Iceland’s Parliament granting Fischer a method of exit from the Japanese jail where he had been held.

The 1972 match pitted the Soviet Empire, which had dominated high-level chess since the second world war, against a young American who eschewed assistance. Fischer knew the world champion, Boris Spassky, but had never beaten him over the board. He had lost three times while securing two draws in their previous matches. However, Fischer had gone on a record-setting run of victories leading up to the World Championship match, including winning 20 games in a row against players competing for the right to challenge for the world championship. Fischer’s international rating was 125 points higher than Spassky’s, a formidable difference.

The match attracted more attention than any previous chess match because of the international politics involved. Fischer made demands on the match organizers up until the games began, and for a while refused to travel to Iceland for the match. It took a series of efforts, including a call from the U.S. National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger to implore Fischer to play the match and win for his country, to convince him to compete. By then, the match had been postponed for two days and the Soviet Union had to be persuaded to allow Spassky to compete after the insult of waiting for Fischer to arrive.

At last the match began, and the daily analysis of the games became the most-watched television in America. I had a personal stake in this, as it was in the run-up to the match that people asked me to teach them the game. It proved to be an avocation I would never relinquish.

The museum provides quite a bit of space to Boris Spassky, mainly about the 1972 match. It also covers their second match twenty years after the first, this time in the former Yugoslavia, which led to the indictment of Fischer for violating the U.S. embargo.

Despite their rivalry, the two World Champions became friends. The moving note of condolence that Spassky sent to be read at Fischer’s funeral in 2008 called Fischer his brother.

The Bobby Fischer Center also is used as a place to teach junior players. A substantial library of chess books is available for students to use, and there is space for about a dozen students at a time to play or receive lessons from volunteer grandmasters.

The Bobby Fischer Center is one of only three museums dedicated to World Chess Champions. (Emmanuel Lasker and Max Euwe are the other World Champions to have museums devoted to their memories.) Iceland is a fascinating and beautiful country, and chess players who travel there should make a point of visiting Selfoss, about 45 minutes outside Reykjavik on the Ring Road, and plan to spend an hour or two there.

Lessons and Memories From the 51st World Open

The 51st Annual World Open of Chess just concluded in Philadelphia. It was my first tournament in several months, and I looked forward to taking one of the top places in my section. It was, in a word: humbling. As chess players, we expect to study and see improvements in the form of wins and higher game accuracy. As an instructor, I felt I was in a good position to crush opponents at the rating that I’ve held flat for 2 years. Instead, I found that Caïssa comes for all of us. Of my 14 classical games, only 2 entered what could be called an endgame. Four ended because of significant blunders: 2 were mine, 2 were my opponents’—4 more than I had hoped, but I’ll take the wins with the losses.

I finished 2.5/5 in the women’s tournament (winning the U1400 prize), and 5/9 in the World Open. A supremely average result, in my opinion. I performed poorly in the blitz side tournament but did well in the rapid one. Both were extremely fun aspects of tournaments that I had never experienced before, but that I will seek out every chance I can. I learned some things about chess, and about myself. But what will stay with me forever is not Rxe6 in Game 9 (well maybe that too) but the time I spent with friends.

At the previous tournament that I competed in, the Eastern Open last December, I met a friend who has become my primary training partner. We’re evenly matched, but play very differently, which proves useful. Every Friday we’d meet to play a long time control game and analyze afterwards. At the tournament, we shared a hotel room and excitedly called each other after our games. When we got back to the room together after the round, we’d go through each other’s games and explain our reasoning to each other like sinners in a confessional. I met other new friends as well and exchanged numbers.

 

Chess can’t be learned in isolation, as so many are inclined to do these days. Meeting other people, with wildly different backgrounds and philosophies, adds diversity to our understanding of the royal game. Some of them have bad ideas, some ingenious, and some ideas have questionable merit but are fun to explore. What I do know is, I’ll be back.

Some thoughts on the recent tragedy during the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis

If a chess player is caught cheating, every notable accomplishment that follows is viewed with suspicion. The recent controversy during Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis serves as a reminder to our students that nothing good comes from dishonesty. If Hans Niemann had never been caught cheating before, his win over Magnus Carlsen would have been seen as a magnificent performance, perhaps a once-in-a lifetime accomplishment. That he has admitted cheating repeatedly in his young life, however, has caused this result to be viewed more skeptically.

Many prominent figures in the chess world have weighed in on the likelihood or lack thereof that Niemann broke any rules during the game in question.  This much is certain: in the third round of the annual elite Sinquefield Cup round-robin event, Niemann, the lowest-rated player in the tournament, defeated Carlsen, the long-time World Champion and highest-rated player.  The day after the loss, Carlsen withdrew from the tournament, the first time in his career he has pulled out in the middle of an elite event.  Carlsen’s only public explanation for the withdrawal was an enigmatic Twitter post that was viewed by many as a possible allegation that Niemann had received some form of outside assistance in the game the day before.

At the present moment, any evidence of foul play during that game is subjective and inconclusive.  What has truly amplified the contention is Niemann’s self-confessed history of cheating in online games, some as recently as three years ago.

Our experience shows that most people enjoy playing with strong players but nobody likes playing without confidence that the game will be played fairly. If players don’t follow the same rules, the game is no fun. Trash-talking diminishes the competition, as distracting or annoying an opponent is not supposed to be part of chess. Trying to get away with a touch-move violation, taking a move back, moving an opponent’s piece, or using a computer during a game, all are things that might tempt a player, but players of character resist those thoughts.

There is no game, and there is no tournament, so important that it is worth damaging your reputation or honor. Once either is lost it can take a long and miserable time to get it back.

The Lessons and Legacy from Bobby Fischer’s 1972 World Championship Win

Fifty years ago today, Boris Spassky resigned the 21st and final game of his match with Bobby Fischer, making Fischer the World Chess Champion.  Fischer’s rise to the top had long been a story that transcended the world of chess, and the Cold War undertones ensured that the 1972 championship match in Reykjavik would be the most followed chess competition in history.  His PBS coverage of the match made Shelby Lyman a household name in America, and the PBS coverage of the match had higher ratings than the commercial broadcasts competing against it.

 

The image of the self-taught Fischer, working alone against the Soviet Union’s combined force of world-class coaches and players who helped Spassky prepare, fueled the narrative of the triumph of individual brilliance over collectivism.  No player outside the USSR had even qualified for a championship match since the end of World War II, so his title win was an improbable underdog story as much as it was the tale of a generational talent realizing his potential. Although Fischer’s run to the World Championship included a string of twenty wins in a row against world-class players (even today the closest any player has come to that record is eight straight wins), Fischer had failed to win any of the five games he had previously played against Spassky so there were plenty of doubts about his ability to defeat him in a match.

Bobby Fischer in 1972. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

 

It also caused a surge of popularity for chess in the Western world, and in the United States in particular.  Sales of chess sets reportedly climbed more than 20 percent in the wake of the 1972 match, and tournament participation ticked up as more Americans were drawn to learn the game to better identify with Fischer’s genius. It was that year that David Mehler, the founder of the U.S. Chess Center, first taught chess to people who wanted to know what all the fuss was about.

Spassky took an early lead in the 1972 match, after an infamous blunder by Fischer in the first game and an even more infamous forfeit in the second game.  Fischer then won the third game, his first-ever win against Spassky, and after a draw in game 4 the two players reached the position on the left in game 5.  It was Fischer’s (Black’s) turn to move here.  What is the best move?

The answer is at the bottom of the page!

 

The events of 1972 secured Fischer an iconic legacy in the history of chess.  The events after 1972 ensured that that legacy would be a complicated one.  It is saddening to recount how Fischer tarnished his personal reputation with his abhorrent public statements. And the chess element of Fischer’s life story following his win in Iceland is also disheartening to retell, because the 50th anniversary of Fischer winning the title is also the 50th anniversary of his departure from competitive play.  After that 1972 match victory, Fischer became a recluse for 20 years.  He declined to compete in any tournaments, turning down what would have added up to millions of dollars in endorsements and appearance fees, and he refused terms for any future world championship matches and forfeited the title three years after winning it.  

 

For Fischer, giving up chess meant not only vanishing from the public’s eye, but also disappearing from the lives of nearly everyone he had met during his years as a chessplayer.  He resurfaced only briefly in 1992 for another, unofficial, match against Spassky, who at that point was no longer a contender for the world championship.  By playing that match in war-torn Yugoslavia in possible violation of international sanctions, Fischer became the subject of a U.S.-issued arrest warrant. Fischer never returned to the United States, nor did he ever play a public game of chess again after winning the second match against Spassky. He eventually received political asylum in Iceland, where he died in 2008.

 

As much as we may take inspiration from Bobby Fischer’s immense talent and try to follow the examples Fischer set with the strategies and tactics he used to win his games, we implore young people to not have the same approach to the game that Fischer had.  We want our students, whether or not they become top-class players, to be interested in playing chess and to sustain that interest for their entire lives, because that is more satisfying than becoming world champion and leaving the game before turning thirty. Don’t set out on a chessplaying journey with the sole goal of achieving a specific rating or attaining a specific title – even if it is the world championship title.  Instead, play to improve your skills, play to make new friends, and play for the fun of playing.

Solution to the above puzzle: Fischer won with 27…Bxa5.  If 28. Qxa4 Qxe4 quickly forces mate, due to the dual threats of Qxe1# and Qxg2#.  If White moves the queen to b1, c1 or d2, Fischer would have continued 28…Bxd1 29. Qxd1 Qxe4 30. Qd2 Nxg2 and he is three pawns ahead, so Spassky resigned.  After drawing level by winning game 5, Fischer then immediately won game 6 to take the lead of the match, a lead he would never relinquish.

Chess Helps Bridge Generational Gaps

A piece from the Parenting section of last week’s Washington Post highlights the value of chess not just as a tool for sharpening children’s intellect, but also for improving their social skills.  In particular, Paul Rogers notes the ease with which chess can help children connect with people from older generations.  Whether bonding with parents and grandparents or playing with adults outside of the family, chess instills in kids the belief in kids that win or lose, they are part of something that everyone enjoys.  And for children who struggle in ordinary social situations, the game can provide a special value.

Rogers’ observations are in line with what we at the Chess Center have seen throughout our history of organizing events for young people. Few other pursuits can match the universal accessibility of chess to players of all ages, genders, backgrounds, and physical capabilities.  And unlike with an electronic game franchise that has new editions or sequels coming out every year, parents who take up the hobby of chess alongside their children don’t have to worry about the game being replaced.  Chess is an activity that has stood the test of time.  The rules have not changed in half a millennium, but the strategic complexity of the game keeps us all interested.

All of our instructors who were fortunate enough to learn chess in our childhoods now look back on those years with great fondness; we remember the first time we sat across from an adult at a chess board, playing or discussing a game, and were treated as equals.

International Chess Day: July 20th

July 20th is International Chess Day, the day the International Chess Federation (FIDE) was founded, in 1924. First proposed by UNESCO in 1966, International Chess Day has been celebrated annually ever since, and on December 12, 2019, the UN General Assembly unanimously approved a resolution also recognizing the day.

How are you celebrating International Chess Day?  Send us a picture of you and/or your student(s) playing chess; or share an anecdote about learning or playing chess; or how it has made an impact in your life; and we’ll feature your pictures/stories right here on our blog, Notate.  Email your photo or story to: admin@chessctr.org.

Support the U.S. Chess Center: In honor of International Chess Day, please donate to help us teach students to play chess in order to promote self-confidence, social skills, and academic success.

The U.S. Chess Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and charitable donations, which are tax-deductible to the maximum extent allowed by law, enable us to:

► Keep our fees exceptionally low;
► Provide scholarships/discounts to financially challenged families;
► Offer free or low-cost chess instruction to Title I public schools.

Thank you!

Some Fun Facts About Chess

► Mathematically there are more possible games of chess than there are atoms in the Observable Universe.
► 605 million adults play chess regularly.
► Chess comes from the 6th century Sanskrit game chaturaṅga, which translates to “four arms.” The arms refer to the elephants, horses, chariots, and foot soldiers of the Indian army, which evolved into the modern bishops, knights, rooks, and pawns.
► Although the rule allowing pawns to move two squares on their first move was first proposed in the late 13th century, it was not generally accepted until 1492 when a large group of chess players in Paris also adopted the en passant rule.

Celebrating #InternationalChessDay

Kendrick Smith:  I didn’t come to the game of chess until 2012, when I was thirty-six years old.  I picked up a book by John Nunn entitled, Learn Chess.  My first attempts to play were against friends, whom had been playing since their childhood.  It is inevitable to say that they annihilated me causing me to take an early hiatus. Fast forward to April 2020, the pandemic. To implement social distancing in our office, they broke our team up into a day and a night shift. To keep people engaged and morale up, someone had a bright idea to bring in a chess board, where the night shift would play a move against the day shift. I thought to myself, it would take forever to finish the game. So I brought in a board of my own, and set it up at my desk. When work was slow, my coworkers would stop by to play. I got beat often, but I began to learn. I had read that five was a good age to introduce a child to chess, which was the exact age that my son was. Each day that I came home from work, I showed him a piece and how it moved. I next showed him pawn promotion, En passant, and castling.  Then the following week I showed him how to set up the board. We immediately began playing games. The beautiful thing was that on the days I was teaching Manny about chess, my wife would be at the island in the kitchen, listening and watching. She quickly picked up the game just from our sessions. We would each then take turns playing one another. it was it at this point that I began to enjoy the game of chess. I began watching several movies about chess, i.e., Fresh, The Queen’s Gambit, Critical Thinking, Brooklyn Castle, The Knight’s of the South Bronx, End Game, and Searching for Bobby Fischer. We now play every chance we get. Win, lose, or draw, we love the royal game. As matter of fact, when we’re eating at restaurant’s outdoors, we’ll play games, while waiting on our food. Attached is a picture of my son Manny and I playing at our favorite Ethiopian restaurant, Cher Cher. We plan on having Manny join the chess center this fall.

Ashwin, a Chess Center student, playing chess:

Photos & Games from an International Exhibition Match with Lusaka Province Chess Association of Zambia, Saturday, June 12, 2021

The US Chess Center played a match with a team from the Lusaka Province Chess Association (LPCA) in Lusaka, Zambia, on Saturday afternoon (evening in Africa), June 12th.  Each team was supposed to field 12 students, but the Zambian team had a few technical difficulties and only nine were able to participate.  The games were hard-fought, with every player having plenty of opportunities.

Before and after the match, the students went to break-out rooms to meet and learn about each other.  In addition to having common interests in sports and music, the kids from both locations like to play video games and have parents who restrict how much time they may spend online.

The coaches discussed the challenges of attracting and keeping girls involved with chess.  In Zambia, much competition is played among teams and the leagues require that at least one player per six-person team be female.  The coaches have succeeded in educating parents about the long-term value, both cultural and educational, of chess so that their attrition rate is low.

An excellent relationship was established and more matches between the two groups are expected to occur starting this summer. 

Here are some of the games played (Click the board to view the game at Lichess):

USCC - LPCA
LPCA - USCC
USCC - LPCA
LPCA - USCC
USCC - LPCA
LPCA - USCC
USCC - LPCA
LPCA - USCC
USCC - LPCA