A humble request

When I was 14, I did some volunteer work directing tournaments at my local chess club. It was quite taxing work, and directing tournaments with 30 players was quite difficult- I can only imagine the challenge facing those who direct large tournaments. That being said, I have a couple suggestions I would like to put forth to all organizers.


1. Start the rounds on time. This is really important- if the room is empty, it is the players' fault for not being there, and they can suffer the consequences for missing the mostly unimportant announcements and losing time off their clock. Zero tolerance seems harsh, but it may be the only solution if people just continue to show up late with no punishment or time advantage for their opponent. When one player shows up on time to the game and their opponent is late, still in his room preparing, but he does not lose any time off his clock because the round has not started, the tournament is punishing the well behaved professionals and rewarding those who don't have the common courtesy to show up on time with extra time to prepare.


2. If two well established Grandmasters incorrectly report their result in the penultimate round, intentionally or not, thus leading to a last minute pairing change on the top boards in the last round of a very big money tournament and ruining everyone's preparation, they should be kicked out of the tournament and banned for a long time.

"Changing Published Pairings

The pairings once published shall not be changed unless two players have to play the second time."


So maybe the pairings never should have been changed anyway...

On a lighter note, seeing that this is a chess blog, I would like to share a story from the recently concluded North American Open. Scrolling back two months, I made a friendly wager with IM Marc Esserman on the Herman-Naroditsky game in the US Chess League. I bet him that if black wins on move 33, he has to play into the Ruy Lopez in his next black game against me, and if white won on move 48 (if memory serves), I have to accept his Morra Gambit.




What are you, clairvoyant or some gizmo? Well no, just a lucky guess. And this guy turns out to be much, much more than some small town sheriff...


Returning to the wager, Marc Esserman is many things, one of them being a man of honor who keeps his word and pays off his bets. Yesterday I played white against him in round 8 of the North American Open, and he abandoned his usual Najdorf to keep his word. 




  • 3 years ago


    Marc Esserman..".. abandoned his usual Najdorf to keep his word."   Just curious, but does anyone play the Morra against Mr. Esserman?   Is he daring them to? 

  • 3 years ago


    As a Local TD for USCF who runs mostly club tournaments, I am adamant about starting times.  We don't have, or need, computers for prep, but every minute matters.  I've had a player scream and yell about being forfeit his first game because he, as ususal, showed up late.  I held up the tournament flier and pointed to the underlined, bolded, italicized, "Round 1 begins promptly at 10am!"  He was never late to my tournaments after that.  It's professional of the players and of the TDs to show up and start on time.  For tournaments over 100+ people, sure maybe a few minutes late because of late entries, but not for announcements.  

  • 3 years ago


    Even for us scrub class players, suggestion #1 is huge. I was in a chess club that met every Monday night, with games that were supposed to begin at 8p. We were invariably 20 minutes late. Very annoying. I quit over this. I have to get up in the morning!

  • 3 years ago

    NM Petrosianic

    agreed about starting the rounds on time.  

    maybe players who incorrectly report results should be awarded a time penalty on their next game...

  • 3 years ago

    NM Petrosianic

    thru move 14 in shankland -esserman i've had otb before xD.  i was pretty sure it was equal in analysis but did not look so in the posted game.  probably black's 17th and further were not good...

  • 3 years ago

    FM Boorchess

    Agreed London, in round 8 I had the joy of watching my opponent prepare for my for 30 minutes with his computer. CCA had to repair one section or another it seemed every single round. This along with the broken escalators made for a very taxing event.

  • 3 years ago

    FM TheNomNomFactor

    Also nice game against Darwin

  • 3 years ago

    FM TheNomNomFactor

    Completely agree with #1.  Round 8 was started at 4:39 P.M. with the scheduled round time being at 4 P.M.  My opponent arrived at like 4:30 and the game would have been more comfortable for me if I had a 30 minute time advantage in exchange for his better prep. (those 30 minutes, which my opponent used to prepare).

  • 3 years ago


    I agree with #1 absolutely.

    I do not know enough about big tournaments to comment on #2, except to say the situation sounds egregious if intentional.

    And finally, nice to have opponents who make good on bets regarding opening choices :-)

  • 3 years ago

    NM GargleBlaster

    I'm confused - you're saying two Grandmasters *intentionally* misreported their game in order to screw up everyone else's preparation?   How very diabolical.

    Nice game against the overly chivalrous Esserman. :)

  • 3 years ago


    Red John

  • 3 years ago


    Shankland vs. Esserman

    3.Bb5 I sometimes like this move as it intentionally persuades the opponent to draw the pawns out, making by default the option of castling on whichever side this occurs less appealing.

    5.O-O  Interesting.  Not 5. Nc3, defending e4, but instead the possibility of pawn sacrifice possibly opening up options for the light squared white bishop later and black wasting a tempo by taking e4.  Oftentimes sacrifices work to disrupt the attackers position after the attack has occurred and a sacrifice allows the sacrificer to better consolidate their position.

    7.Re1   Interesting.  Not an overt force on its own, however perhaps if Nc3 later offers assistance.  Then again the e4 could be a sacrifice with Re1 a subtle option for defense or not, of e4 later.

    7...Bc5  Isnt that a bit forcing and showing of intentions?  Why not leave it ambiguous so white is kept guessing of blacks intentions?

    8.c3.  I like this move.  Possibly defensive for whites light squared bishop and additionally offensive by defending white e4 and possibly attacking h7 in the future.

    10.h3  Another move that I use often to deflect horse advance or bishop.  Very effective but some have written time consuming which I dont agree with.

    12...Re8  This move assumes a lot.  It assumes that black will manage the timing correctly with the pawns in the center.  White may just ignore and go 13.Nh4 followed by a sacrifice to open black up, although 13.d5 was just as effective.

    15.a4  Not sure of the point of this move.  The rook on e1 doesnt seem threatened in the future so ?

    17...Qb6  Another overt move.  Why does black have to be so forcing and thus possibly inefficient?  Why not 17...Ng6

    20.Qa4  Looks like a coordinated far range attack using the pawns or knight on the f square.  The logic being that by attacking from the otherside the risks to the white queen are far less than if white used kingside pawns to attack black by advance and therefore weaking whites defensive pawn structure?

    21.Nb3?  Huh?  What about the plan with white's queen?  21.Nh4 isnt better?

    It seems the focus has shifted for some reason near the end of the game.  The moves dont seem inhibited, just as if the focus has changed.  

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