Greengard's ChessNinja.com

2006 US Ch r1

| Permalink | 45 comments

We haven't even had round two yet and I'm already exhausted. It's 8:21am here and I've been up all night working on the official site. The coveted, and incredibly annoying to make, player profiles are now up. That took around 13 hours. No, really. Finding and formatting 64 photos, oh joy. (Some aren't so great, will make a list of people to hunt down for portraits today. Wanted to have them all from this week.) The day before the event started I was handed a folder full of hand-written player questionnaires. Not that I'm above menial data entry, but I rather imagined the staff could have handled typing them up. So instead of setting up the blog and going out to grab players to blog, I was typing in these things because I know how everyone has been wanting them. But I'm not bitter, just tired.

I didn't even know what had gone into the questionnaire. A dozen players didn't fill it out. There was nothing asked about chess achievements, so you'll learn about musical tastes but not about US championships won, etc. I'll try to add some of that material myself and/or ask the players what they'd like to list. Would also be nice to have how they qualified. Perhaps I'll cut some of the material. I don't know if it's worth reading "seven, my dad" 60 times just to find the one who learned from her mother. Same goes for 60 people who aren't superstitious to get to Joel and the Fed's lucky pens. Not exactly Proust material.

64 is a lot of players, man. After putting these together I'm beginning to come around to the people here who want it to go back to a 12-player round-robin... They're probably full of typos and c/p errors, will look at them again after a nap. Do post below if you see anything, guys. They are all individually tagged so I can link to them from anywhere on the site. If you'd like to do so, the anchor tag is the first initial the the first three letters of the last name. So Elizabeth Vicary is http://www.uschesschampionship.com/2006/news/meetplayers4.htm#evic You still have to know which of the four pages to go to, but I'm confident of your alphabet abilities.

Oh yeah, there was some chess too, I hear. But wait, I was also busy putting out server fires today, typical first-round trauma. Our satellite internet provider was using a caching system that kept telling our machines that certain files were 404, leading to a few broadcast glitches. (And an error log the size of a phonebook, thanks much.) After I spent 30 minutes figuring out it wasn't local and that it probably wasn't my server, our net dude volunteered that it might be their cache. Seems so.

Chess, yes, I managed to glimpse a few of the games, but had almost nil contact with the players after the round started. I had to kick them into the commentary room. Nobody could find a place to analyze or find a set for post-mortems. I took a few game notes, but not much worth blogging. I'm going to try to sleep for a few hours and get there in time to grab some players to blog. They can send entries in by email this year, but most need to be grabbed.

So how about those games? Actually, the opening reception was a good show. The area around the venue is very pretty, with a nice central fountain. Food was good. Kamsky made quite an entrance, limping around with his right foot in a cast. I was one of several who made the joke about how brutal it must have been at Corus if this is how he came out. But he broke it back in Brooklyn. I suggested that the next time someone asks what happened he should say, "I broke it kicking Anand's butt in Wijk aan Zee."

Okay, okay, round one. Nakamura played an amazingly speculative sacrifice against Friedel, really wild stuff. Hikaru missed a win and soon fell under attack and lost. Tate played a brutally efficient attack against Akobian in the other big upset of the round. Zatonskih was distressed by allowing a three-time rep against Gulko. I haven't had time to really look at them all, but there were many good games today. Great to have John Watson and John Donaldson back for commentary and analysis.

I'm going to be putting up photo galleries regularly, if not every day. The mayor of San Diego was here to open the first round, said something about all the participants being smarter than he is. Play went smoothly from what I could tell. Gulko accidentally broke the "no draw offers before move 30" rule, on move 16.


The player profiles look good, Mig. It's well worth the toil -- just remember, while you're typing away, that all that data is fuel for inspiration of 6, 7, and 8 year-old kids. Heck, despite the banality of the questions, even I got inspired. I didn't realize, for instance, that so many players were interested in writing, reading, and baseball, or that a few were pursuing degrees in physics or electrical engineering (stuff I have in common). All those pictures are great, too. My favorite quote was from the venerable Joel Benjamin: "I would rather drop 30 rating points than go on a reality show." [How about 31, Joel? Would you do it for 31? That's the first question that came to MY mind. I think we need a followup!]

I can't wait for the first blogging to begin. That's where the players' real personalities come through.

Naka-Friedel was great fun to watch last night (after my daughter was tucked in and the tea made). So was Tate's win. I think this is the best event all year in American chess. We've got blogs, now profiles, all 32 games live (if I get bored with one there are 31 more), great personalities, and the most fun thing is that this is a true pro-am event: Today I can ogle my computer screen; tomorrow I can go to Foxwoods and sit down right next to these guys and gals.

Howard Goldowsky

I looked at all the profiles. Mig, they should not have made you do the typing.

Words cannot express how little I care about what reality TV show someone want to be on.

However, the name, picture and place of birth/residence were very interesting to me.

Great work--thank you so much! I enjoyed the answers. Thanks for everything you do--it is very much appreciated.

warm regards,

I glanced at IM B. Finegold's profile, and it listed him as a GM. As of today, the FIDE website still has him listed officially as an IM.

I'll also take a moment to register my shock upon learning that Walter Browne did not own an MP3 player ....

Great stuff... Where else could you find out such jewels as IM Kriventsov liking Kelly Clarkson?

I enjoyed the profiles but even "favorite food?" would have been a better question to ask instead of the one about reality TV shows. Since when do high level chess players have time for television?? Don't they closet themselves in tiny hovel's (like Bobby did) glued to their data bases 12-14 hours per day? Oh well, I suppose the point is to attract the interest of "normal" people who aren't obsessed with the game yet and that's a good thing. Go Tate!

Thanks you, Mig, for all the work you have done and will do on the Championship website. It is behind the scenes people like yourself that make for a successful chess event.

Go Tate!

I'll just chime in here with a big Attaboy, Mig.

(John Donaldson is cool too. I had the honor of getting beat by him once in a simul, and then he sold me a little Russian book of chess problems that I still carry around in my jacket and work on when I get stuck in line at the DMV, six bucks well spent.)

San Diego has a MAYOR? Last time I was out there the Mayor and his deputy had legal troubles and had to resign from office. They were forced to do some sort of rotating council member thing. OH WELL, It is a beautyful location.

Check out the local club! The local club is very active, has it's own building and the member are wonderfully friendly. One took me around for dinner, each invited me to play and the president spent quite a bit of time making sure I enjoyed my visit. I travel extensivly on business and it is one of the best clubs I've seen.

Are the games available live, or is it just a quirk of the browser I use (Firefox, the latest version) that no link shows up on the "Live Games" page of the website? It is now 5 pm Winnipeg time, i.e., 3 pm San Diego time, Friday, so after 2 hours of play there should still be some Round 2 games going. Grin.

I cant imagine there are 64 people that aren't participants that really give a hoot about our National Championship anymore.

I read all the players' profiles and they were interesting, good work! And not in vain! ;-)

Eopithecus makes a good point. However, there may not be 64 people who care about the US championship even including the players.

It is impossible for me to follow all the games and players. way to complex.

I am begining to like the idea of a smaller field with a round robin. so you can add me to your voter list.

My heart is crying out for Nakamura. I want to see Nakamura and Kamsky in the final match at the end. Competition in all sports can be so much fun when we win. but it can be so painful when we lose. I feel the pain. I can only imagine the pain for Nakamura.

I just want to say that I really know and believe that Nakamura is a great chess player and a few loses along the way are part of the game. I accept them and know that Nakamura will bounce right back.

Half a point after two rounds for the 'Light' of American chess...

Hey Mig, Great job with the web-site! Thanks for doing this for all the chess fans out here. --Vijay.

I really enjoy this format. 32 games leaves a lot to choose from to follow. Sitting in the comfort of my home (although I'd love to be a spectator in person) I can skip around and pick 5 or 6 games to follow fairly closely. Guaranteed action...as opposed to tournaments with smaller fields where there can be dull rounds.

Nakamura's round 1 loss goes to show you that he is human and will make mistakes. It also shows you that he is not the wonderkid that people thought him to be.

All hype is what he is. Maybe he if spent less time screwing around on ICC and hanging out at McDonalds and more time with a SuperGM level coach and doing some physical excercise, then he's be a better player and healthier. Sound body, sound mind... when grease on your mind and in your body, the games will slip away.

Haha - can't believe people had the nerve to compare him to Fischer! What an insult to Fischer that was.

Favorite player profile: Dean Ippolito. He obviously just had fun with it, whether he thought the questions were relevant or not. Good sense of humor!

Least favorite: Ben Finegold. Even if the question is "dumb" be creative and give an answer that makes fun of the question.

Mig, I love this part of the website and I really like how you set it up. I think "dumb" questions are what makes these sort of things more interesting because it lets us see how the players think. Do they take themselves so seriously they won't answer it, or can they have fun with it...

I really like seeing the faces of the players.
That said, how did Ben Finegold (see photo and age)
land his wife (see photo and age). Forget chess he should write a book "How To Out Perform your Class in the Dating Game".

Round 3 Nakamura gets an upfloat to play a woman!

2006 aside, what are the qualification rules for 2007 ??

"Check out the local club! The local club is very active, has it's own building and the member are wonderfully friendly. One took me around for dinner, each invited me to play and the president spent quite a bit of time making sure I enjoyed my visit. I travel extensivly on business and it is one of the best clubs I've seen." - Matt

Did they take you around to any gay bars? This is California and they sound VERY friendly.

Nakamura played a great attacking game against Friedel, but 35. Qe6! instead of Qe7+ was necessary I assume.

On a totally unrelated note, the Wall Street Journal (Saturday, 4 March) has a front page story on the Miami Dade College chess team.

where the heck is the Blog? it was the best section in US Champ 2004

The profiles are interesting. Some people I haven't seen in 10 years have REALLY aged and put on HUMONGOUS rolls of weight!

Mig, great job with the website. A massive and generally thankless job has been done quite well. I'm particularly pleased with the live games feature, where everything loads quite quickly.

I'm less pleased with the media profile of the event (which I know is not your fault!). The championship has kicked off in (to paraphrase Douglas Adams) a burst of exactly no publicity whatsoever. News searches on the web turn up some articles in the San Diego local media, but there seems to be no mention anywhere else--not even on ChessBase (don't you have some pull there, Mig?).

Perhaps the organizers don't want to bother the press with anything before the playoff final, but would it have been so hard for AF4C to issue a press release saying "US Chess Championship underway in San Diego"? Perhaps their website simply hasn't been updated, but it seems that the last contact AF4C had with the media was a 2/2 press release.

Sorry for the crankiness. I'm really having a good time. Emory Tate's round 1 beatdown of Akobian was inspiring.

I suggest removing the questions and answers.

It is a Java live games board, and I had Java turned off... Seattle, San Diego, java goes without saying. Grin.

Its not quite clear to me, how do players qualify for this? Im confused why are there 2 class B female players competing in the US championships?

For example it says 1600+ Cottrell qualifies in North American open, MSA for this player shows they had 2 points?? Is it because she is one of the few female players in the open section at said tournaments??

Congrats to Emory Tate for collecting yet another GM scalp.

What am I missing here??

Pardon my ignorance, but a 1600-sometthing player in the finals for the US championship just does not seem right... Strange qualification system!


We certainly haven't beaten this topic to death here have we?

The annotated games by Watson and Donaldson are excellent. It's really getting me into the event following the games like this in convenient PGN format.

The event is actually an overlay of two events: the overall US Championship (for which both men and women may qualify) and the gender-segregated US Women's Championship (for which only women may qualify). Players from both these groups are put into the same tournament and play, with the women's prizes awarded to the women who finish with the highest score among women.

So some of the invitations were reserved for women-only exactly as though there were two different events being held.

Ms Cotrell is a top 200 woman player (since only 5% of US tournament players are women, the rating range is obviously wider), about the same distance from the top of the pool for which she qualified as the 2400 rated men are from the top of that pool.

It does look a bit odd to see them all together, but that's why.

By the way, last year Chouchan Airapetian played the tournament of her life at the 2004 Chicago Open and became the first woman ever to qualify for a gender-neutral invitation.

I hope that clears up the question.


p.s. My own personal preference is for a single event with a single qualifying standard, but there you are.


There are few chess sites that actually cover chess events... period. Not many private websites can afford to do it. Most only give the results and provide after-the-fact commentary. I'm doing basic coverage at The Chess Drum, but I'll be out in San Diego later in the week. Hope to have some good content.

You do meen "few english chess sites", don't you? English's not as dominant in chess on the internet as you might imagine. Spanish, Russian, Swedish, there are so many sites covering chess tournoua's. There are not so many women playing in other national championships, as there are in the US 2006, and I salute USA for promotioning such equality among human beings.

I think the website is excellent and I follow the games live whenever I can. The personal info and pictures add character, but you're right, perhaps some better questions. I don't mind the 64 player format or the 12 player round robin.

I must add that I hope Boris Gulko wins this one. The elders have to have their say, too! Please convey to Boris the best wishes of his supporters in New Orleans.

Could John Fedorowicz and Brad Pitt be twins separated from birth? They look so much alike, it is amazing!!

US blog? An thei're getting payd? And we blog for free? US is too much about money and money. No money, no honey.

Though the question is truly inane, I found it interesting how many of the players came up with the names of actors and actresses who did most resemble them.

Of course we didn't get to see who would play Mig in the movies: Michael Chiklis, of course.

Re: Chiklis--Mig:
Is that with or without his Fan. 4 costume? :-)

Chiklis? No way. Peter Stormare would play Mig to sclerotic perfection. But he'd likely turn down the role and the producers would have to settle for three actors playing Mig from teenager to geriatric: Skunk Baxter, Brock Lesnar and Don Rickles.

Without. With the makeup and costume he turns into Garry Kasparov.

Twitter Updates

    Follow me on Twitter



    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on March 3, 2006 11:20 AM.

    USCh Under Construction was the previous entry in this blog.

    Linares 2006 r8-9 is the next entry in this blog.

    Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.