Greengard's ChessNinja.com

Pics 07 - Olympiad 2012

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If you don't know the name Brian Luo, remember it. The eight-year-old champ from Wisconsin came to San Diego to see the US Championship last March. During the closing ceremony, several competitors took turns playing blitz with him, including Gregory Kaidanov and blitz demon Ben Finegold, pictured below. Put it this way, Brian didn't lose all the games. Luo recently scored 5.5/7 in the US national high school championship, giving up seven or eight years to many of his opponents. Yikes.

Larger version here.

Last weekend Brian and just about every top junior in America came together in New York City for a master class with Garry Kasparov, sponsored by his foundation. The players show Kasparov a pair of their games, a win and a loss. Kasparov is optimistic about the promise shown by several of this week's attendees. Luo is clearly a standout and is coached by GM Dmitry Gurevich, who has an epic list of scholastic champ students. Other names to watch out for, several of whom have already performed for the US internationally: Danny Naroditsky (mom from Baku!), Ray Robson, Parker Zhao, Eric Liao, and Andrew Ng. None have reached their teens yet. The elder set was represented by Mackenzie Molner, Alex Lenderman, and Lev Milman.

The US often hears jokes about how their team looks like a Soviet squad. In six years it might sound more like the Chinese team! Jokes aside, I believe they were all born in the US. (Insert here thoughtful discussion about the educational earnestness of Chinese immigrant families.) Speaking of the Olympiad, Dresden 2008 will be just 11 rounds with five players on both the open and women's teams, four games and one reserve. Equality is nice in theory, but it's more of a bad thing here. Only a handful of teams have a decent fourth or fifth female player. A big advantage for the big powers and more bad chess. Cutting the second reserve from the open event is sad but goes along with fewer rounds.


"(Insert here thoughtful discussion about the educational earnestness of Chinese immigrant families.)"

This is probably a complex topic involving many factors. Some of them might be:

1) Many immigrants give up a lot to come to the U.S. These immigrants will be stuck with crap jobs and will be disrespected and marginalized by society. But their solace is that their children through education can get good jobs, be learned, achieve happiness, even if they will never be respected. So the first generation of children from immigrants will always be pushed hard to do well in school. As that generation grows up and have their own children, they'll be a lot wealthier than their parents, and as a result they won't push their children as much. So subsequent generations don't achieve as well.

2) People who are stereotyped as something might be pressured to follow the stereotype in order to meet society's expectations. If you are black and you are not good at sports you might feel embarassed because blacks are supposed to be good at sports. If you are Chinese and are not smart then you might feel embarassed too. So the black person might work on sports and the Chinese person might work on academics.

Anyways that picture looks cute
Posted by: superfreaky at June 14, 2006 20:11

I remember playing Brian, and I believe the pic above is of the game I lost....although I got revenge! :)

His parents were quite sure I let him win, but that was not true....he simply played better that game (with no clock, I think I am 1200 strength at times).

Brian played my best scholastic student, Atulya Shetty, in the Chicago Open last month, and the game was drawn, although Brian was clearly winning throughout.

The USA always seems to have an abundance of talent aged 8-15....but a lot of our best talents stop playing at College age (or at least slow down to a snails pace).

Posted by: Ben Finegold at June 14, 2006 20:23

I haven't met Ray Robson or seen any of his games, but I've never heard so many people rave about a player....
Posted by: Bill Brock - Chicago at June 14, 2006 20:53

chessdad64 has a good feel for these things

Posted by: Bill Brock - Chicago at June 14, 2006 21:15

I played Daniel Naroditsky at a recent tournament. He's only ten years old and has a nice positional style of play. His mother places a make shift seat on his chair so he can see over the board. He definitely has possibilities. Nice family.
Posted by: chesstraveler at June 14, 2006 22:47

my grand daughter goes to school with a girl of chinese parents. she suffers greatly. she is pushed far too hard. she has the best grades of everyone in the class but still she is pushed and pushed and pushed.

too much pushing is a form of abuse. it is not good for the children and it should stop.

our society seems to view pushing in a euphemistic form. we think it is good to push the kids. but abuse is abuse in whatever form it comes.
Posted by: tommy at June 14, 2006 22:48

I forgot to add what makes him so interesting sitting in a lift seat to see over the board, is that he (I believe) just made an expert rating. Kids today?
Posted by: chesstraveler at June 14, 2006 22:53

Hasn't it been possible to gain a full title by fulfilling the norm requirement over 12 rounds during an Olympiad until now? Will need some creative accounting to pull that off in 2008.
Posted by: KB at June 14, 2006 23:49

As a Chinese-American chess fan, I worry that as these talented Chinese-American players get older, they'll get more pressure from family to pursue something more practical (at least financially speaking) as a career rather than try to stick with chess. Given the dearth of financial opportunities as a professional chess player, I really can't blame anyone for not wanting to be a chess professional but it would be nice to see many more homegrown GMs in the future for the US.
Posted by: g at June 15, 2006 00:55

wow first Bu and then Wang Hao, and then the 12-year old girl prodigy. The chinese are really bringing up some great chess players now. china has a bright future in chess.
Posted by: cotdt at June 15, 2006 02:31

little pushing by immigrant parents is not bad..
sometimes it is necessary. frankly speaking I wouldn't have become engineer if my parents stopped pushing me to study hard.
Posted by: pk at June 15, 2006 13:24

I am probably very silly, but I think the linked caption under the picture of the big man ("Larger version here") is amusing.
Posted by: Stefano Tescaro at June 15, 2006 15:05

Hey, Ben's lost quite a bit of weight. He's much smaller than me now :)
Posted by: John Fernandez at June 15, 2006 15:10

By the way, Mig, you might get some people excited if you have pics of the Hikaru-Dlugy match. That was one of the more fun things to watch in recent memory.
Posted by: John Fernandez at June 15, 2006 15:11

How do I unsubscribe to this god-awful newsletter?
Posted by: Laurence Barea at June 15, 2006 15:46

And what newsletter would that be? If you mean the blog update notification, and I assume you do because your address is there and not on the Black Belt or White Belt lists, you just have to ask. Or you can complain about it here seven months after signing up. Anyway, I've taken you off the notification list.
Posted by: Mig at June 15, 2006 16:03

If I had the black pieces in that picture the horse would be bothering me a lot. I would want my horses to be pointing towards my opponent unless they moved to f6 intending to retreat back towards the 7th or 8th rank. Otherwise I look at the horse and it's telling me "why did you put me on this square?" I think it may even be a form of cheating to not put your horse so that its muzzle is facing parallel to ranks as you can point its muzzle in certain directions to help you remember things. All the other pieces don't have this problem. But this point is moot because this was a friendly blitz game.
Posted by: superfreaky at June 15, 2006 17:20

Have we seen a picture of Mig lately? I am curious about this man whose blog I have become addicted to. Where is your biography?
Posted by: Evan Shelton at June 15, 2006 17:24

I keep my pictures well hidden after the one and only time I was recognized in public in a non-chess environment came earlier this year. I was on a (first) date and at a restaurant in Brooklyn and as two guys leaving walked past us, one asked, "are you Mig Greengard?" Admittedly I'd been talking about Deep Blue with my date, part of my typically riveting romantic banter that, I'm sure, had nothing to do with not going out with her again.

I don't think I have much of a bio around, other than bits around here. Both of these are dated around 2002:


Some oldish interviews that contain random bio bits:


As I tried to communicate in at least one of those interviews, I see no reason why anyone in this sphere could, would, or should be interested in me beyond my chess contributions. My other incarnations in web design, etc. are pretty routine. My editing and writing work with Garry Kasparov (who is pacing back and forth on his cell phone next to me as I type this) isn't for public consumption and wouldn't be very interesting anyway, beyond a voyeurism I'm not interesting in feeding (beyond oblique comments like the cell phone one, of course).

As my girlfriend has pointed out, you can find all sorts of goofy pictures of me on the web by doing a Google image search of my name. Scary.
Posted by: Mig at June 15, 2006 18:18

Are they really upping the woman's Olympiad to four boards?/ My word, that's stupid. Women's chess is bad enough at the best of times, but four per country?? Sheesh.
Posted by: rdh at June 15, 2006 19:36


You really are!
Posted by: chesstraveler at June 15, 2006 19:48

His achievement is way overstated. He did not play anyone at the Naitonal HS Championship over 1800. He simply got lucky in the pairing charts. People tend to get overhyped about juniors (Josh Waitkin for example).
Posted by: EvilSamurai at June 15, 2006 23:40


You are correct. The National HS Championship in Milwaukee wasn't the greatest tourney for Brian as he lost in an early round which led to him playing lower rated competition for the remainder of the event. He actually dropped 5 points.

I'm sure Brian was looking to play higher rated competition and didn't feel particularly lucky in playing lower rated ones. As to the trophy, I have a feeling he has plenty of those already.

This a problem with Scholastic open events and I think a reason why many of the top rated players tend to stop playing in these tourneys fairly early on.

As to overhype --- Take a look -

100 events and a 1972 rating--- I think some hype here is appropriate.

Posted by: chessdad64 at June 16, 2006 09:21

Chessdad is right. For that matter, the hype about Waitzkin was justified, too. While Waitzkin "only" got as far as IM, he demonstrated sufficient talent and success at a very early age to justify expectations that he would achieve more than he actually did in the ensuing years. His "failure", if you can call it that, was probably more due to external, social factors and personal priorities, than to any lack of potential.

Think about it: If Nakamura winds up leaving chess for another, more lucrative profession as he has occasionally threatened to do, then 10 years from now people (some Dirt alumni, at least), will surely say that he was "overhyped", too. Think how silly that sounds from today's perspective, when Nakamura's prodigious talent and potential are on current display and can't be so easily swept under the rug.
Posted by: flyonthewall at June 16, 2006 11:04

To take flyonthewall's logic a step even FURTHER, don't many claim that RJF didn't fulfill HIS potential by not defending his title against Karpov? It seems that fans (regardless of sport) place their OWN expectations on their "heroes", rather than allowing the "player" to determine what his or her goals are/should be. There are a lot of great athletes that never won the "world championship" in their sport, but are still regarded as great.
Posted by: Evan Shelton at June 16, 2006 15:00

Well, I was addressing a separate issue, that of early potential (and the "expectations" that get reasonably attached to it) versus ultimate achievements.

My point was that some young players ultimately fail to live up to expectations that might have been realistic at the time they were formulated, only because the player ended up leaving chess "prematurely," or proved unable or unwilling to work hard enough at the game to realize his full potential (which could turn out to be Nakamura's problem).

Since such "failures" essentially result from extra-chess factors, they don't mean the early "hype" was overdone.

To take an extreme case, imagine someone becoming an IM at 12, approaching GM strength at 16...then shot to death in a bar at 17. (Something like this happened to Klaus Junge.) Or if not killed, then, say, involved in a car crack-up and suffering severe irreversible brain damage. Would we then say anyone who had touted the guy as a future World Champion had been guilty of "hype" because it didn't happen?

(N.B. For another historical example, see John Hilbert's bio of Pillsbury in the June Chess Life.)

In other words, hindsight is always 20-20.

That said, I do agree that the chess achievements of individual junior players sometimes get blown out of proportion. I just thought that Waitzkin wasn't a good example of that, because I think his early track record provided ample reason to expect he would achieve more than he actually did.
Posted by: flyonthewall at June 16, 2006 16:34

Waitzkin wasnt ever anything close to world-class, having been USCF 2200 around ages 14-16. Compare to international juniors for whom 2200-FIDE- by-age-15 = zero potential
Posted by: Der Strudel at June 17, 2006 06:20

Hmm, you're at least partially right about Waitzkin.

USCF ratings histories on-line only start with June 1992 and Waitzkin was rated 2415 in that initial list. Since he was born in 1976 (according to FIDE database), in June 1992 he would have been either 15 or 16, depending on his birth month.

Poking through old Chess Life issues in an attempt to trace him earlier, I found he played in the "U.S. Cadet" in June of 1990, when he would have been 13 or 14. His rating at that time was 2168. (He finished in the middle of the pack.)

I had thought that Waitzkin at one time was on the verge of challenging the record then held by Bobby Fischer, of the youngest American ever to break 2200. Maybe I was confusing him with someone else.
Posted by: flyonthewall at June 17, 2006 12:07

Fischer's record for youngest master was broken in turn by Benjamin (13.3 in '77), Litvinchuk (about 12.9 in '79), Jarecki and Rachels (about 12 and about 11, circa '81), Mont-Reynaud (10.something, I think, in '90-something), Bhat (a little younger, later) and Nakamura (a bit younger still, later still). Waitzkin may have beaten Fischer's mark but he never really threatened the record.
Posted by: Lon Chaney at June 18, 2006 03:29

Wasn't it also broken by Fabiano ?
Posted by: peach at June 18, 2006 21:34

Ben has lost some weight. He looked healthy and happy in Las Vegas. Send me your diet Ben. I could stand to lose about 50 lbs.
Posted by: Glenn at June 22, 2006 22:47

In fact, it would help if he posted his diet and exercise regimen here on the blogsite. It would help us all.
Posted by: peach at June 22, 2006 23:03

Hey, go to www.benfinegold.com and ask him REAL nice. :-) (He could use the traffic).
Posted by: FluffyBunnyFeet at June 23, 2006 14:58

I lost about 100 pounds in a 16 month period by eating only fruits and vegetables. I had some health issues with my gall bladder (removed 2 weeks ago) and gall stones, and have since been back to my "normal" vegetarian diet, as I have been a vegetarian since 1986. I gained about 30 pounds back since. I would like to lose 100 more in the next 2 years.

Posted by: Ben Finegold at July 6, 2006 03:41

What about Exercise, Ben ?
Posted by: peach at July 6, 2006 21:33

1 Comment

Hi all i see my name up in print. I feel so proud :)

well not all of us were born in the US. Parker was born in Australia

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on June 14, 2006 7:46 AM.

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