Becerra v. Chess.com + a Short Story
Anyone who participated in the match between GM Julio Becerra and chess.com might be interested to see the following article published at the uscf site:
It includes analysis of the game by ouachita and dsarkar. I also briefly interviewed GM Becerra about the game:
DP: Julio, first of all, thank you so much for participating in this match-- there were a lot of chess fans who were very excited to have this chance to play with you. How did you enjoy the game?
JB: Playing the vote-chess game was a great privilege for me!
I truly enjoyed playing this game. The opening was a Sveshnikov variation of the Sicilian, an opening that is very much in vogue nowadays. Everyday I waited for their move with anticipation hoping that they would find the best continuation; this happened very often during the game.
DP: I know you have been using correspondence chess to help with your training. Had you ever played correspondence chess before you joined chess.com? How did the votechess game compare to the other games you play there?
JB: Chess.com has been an important tool in my daily chess training. I had never played correspondence chess before in my entire life. After playing correspondence chess for several months I now believe that correspondence chess is a great and fun method to use to sharpen your openings.
DP: How did the chess.com team play? Was it a difficult game? Did you expect it would be hard?
JB: First of all, I would like to say that Playing 6,000 players at the same time made the vote-chess game a truly unique game. This was a very difficult game and a game that required a great deal of work on my part. A new move arrived on a daily basis and that made the game much harder than other games I play in which I have three days or more to make a move.
I was impressed with the quality of their game. They defended their pawn down rook endgame extremely well. I never expected the competition to be that hard.
DP: Thank you so much, Julio! You are a really great representative for professional chess players.
A Short Chess Story
In other, entirely unrelated news, I spent the last week in New Mexico, visiting my dear chess teacher. While there, we went one day to a public library to give a 3 person tandem simul, along with another student of his. In a tandem simul, the simulgivers take turns walking around the boards, so that in every game I played moves 3, 6, 9, 12... This makes things more chaotic, because the simulgivers will often have different plans. I've never participated in one of these things without one simulgiver coming around at some point and undoing the very move played by their partner on the previous go-around. It's quite fun!
The people we played against were mostly kids, plus (if I remember right) two parents. We told them that if their game ended before the halfway mark, they could set them back up and play again. Some people had enough after one stomping, but one young man with a particularly strong chin managed to get in 5 or 6 games. During that time he progressed from : 1.f4 e5 2.g4 Qh4++ (the first time I've ever played that game!) to a game which began: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bc4 Nxe4 5.Nxe4 d5 6.Bxd5 Qxd5 7.O-O (better was d3) Qxe4. The big deal is that he managed to get castled! He clearly had learned the importance of doing so after 3 or 4 games that he started with 1.f4. Also, he got a chance to learn the famous "center fork trick," though I can't guarantee he will remember it.
The notable story is that someone from local news had heard about the event, and actually contacted the library, asking about the event!! The librarian (who did a great job of organizing the event) invited him to come out to the event, and when we arrived 40 minutes early, surprise, surprise, a nice man with a video camera was there. He interviewed me on the spot, then I taught him how to play while we waited, and he filmed the first few minutes of the simul, before jetting off to his next assignment (good thing we showed up early).
He told us it would be shown on CBS at 5:30 and 10 pm, and on fox at 9 pm. We were quite excited. Returned home in time for the 9 oclock showing, we watched an alien read a script which either had no meaning, or whose meaning was impenetrable to him, because it was in a foreign language. At each commercial break they said "coming up ... " and offered up tantalizing teasers for their other news stories. Early on, they announced that "a local grandmother skydives for the first time," and we all had a terrible sinking feeling. Typically, they'd have room for one human interest story in a news program (and 3 weather segments). We'd been bumped by an old woman jumping off a plane. Despite the disappointment we watched on in the vain hope that we would still be shown as well-- though it was really no surprise, but rather a return to normalcy for chess not to make the news. And then suddenly, there I was, umming and hmming away on the screen! Also shown were some good shots of moves getting played.
That crowned what was really a very fun event. The kids were so enthusiastic, especially one happy kid, who giggled uncontrollably every time he captured a piece.
Yay! Go chess!