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Onischuk on the Move

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Defending champ Alexander Onischuk beat 2005 champ Hikaru Nakamura to move into a tie for first place with Alexander Shabalov with two rounds to play at the Frank K. Berry US Championship taking place in Stillwater, Oklahoma. They both have 5.5/7 and are trailed by Kudrin at 5 and a big pack of hungry GMs with 4.5. The loss left top-seeded Nakamura with 4 and he'll have to win both his final games to have even a chance at making the top five and moving getting into the World Cup, the first stage of the 2008 FIDE world championship cycle. He has black against Dmitry Gurevich today. Somewhere at a table out near the foosball tables, blogger and Dirt regular Michael Aigner scored his first win and is now only tied for last! His exciting double pawn sac to win the exchange almost backfired, but things worked out in the end. There are finally some on-site reports and photos coming out at uschess.org.

I'm equal parts amused and stricken that my little joke of posting those hotel reviews has become such a hot spot. I wonder if anyone has actually read what I wrote, or it's just going around that "Mig is attacking the hotel and the event," which is ridiculous. (It also seems to have gotten into a few heads that I've been critical of MonRoi in some way, which I can't figure out at all. I have barely mentioned them and I think their little devices are neato. Do they not sell Le Chill Pill in Montreal?) The hotel thing was a little scary, but mostly funny, as my comment about sending them balls for the foosball tables should have made clear. And I was happy to print subsequent reports from the site that the hotel is much better than those reviews make it sound. People are naturally defensive about an event they put a lot of time and money into, and deservedly so. I'm the same way. But it helps if you keep an even keel about who your friends are.

The Nakamura-Onischuk game really lived up to the hype. Things got wild and crazy early after another do-or-die opening by Nakamura. (See his game against Yermolinsky for another example. The Vienna Gambit!) Onischuk sacrificed a pawn with 18..c4, getting tremendous compensation with the powerful bishops and mobile passers in the center. Eventually that was enough to net the exchange and Onischuk handled his bidness in the endgame to win this critical encounter.

Another game that looked sure to end in a decisive result was Shabalov-Ehlvest on board one. They played the now-famous triple pawn sac Najdorf line revived by Radjabov against Karjakin last year, analyzed by Kasparov in NIC, and since played by Anand (who won on both sides in at Corus this year) and Shirov with white. Only one game has finished drawn, and it was the one Shabalov and Ehlvest followed until move 24, Shirov-Ftacnik from the Bundesliga six weeks ago. Shabalov decided that risking his second straight loss and endangering his qualification chances was a bit too much and he took an immediate repetition. Black could have avoided it with the risky 25..Qb6!? but his queen is off-sides after 26.c5 (the point of c4, I assume) 26..Qb4 27.Bh5 and White's attack is still raging.

Smith missed a chance to beat Langer with a pretty shot: 29..Rd3! 30.Be3 Nd5! wins material with captures on e3 and a1 coming. Other notable games include Gulko's pretty exchange sac to beat Krush and Perelshteyn's spectacular demolition of Akobian out of a Grunfeld. You don't see a move like 18..Rxe3 every day, that's for sure. It's a beautifully symmetrical threat after 19.fxe3 Ne4, with mate on h4 or a bishop falling with check on c3. Maybe Eugene heard about our prizes?

Speaking of, things are in motion now. I had a good long talk with one of the organizers in Stillwater, US chess evergreen Jerry Hanken. One of our judges, IM John Watson, is also there as a commentator. Daily Dirt readers have generated an amazing $1800 dollars that will be split into three Daily Dirt Reader Brilliancy Prizes of $1100, $500, and $200. (You can still donate! Any new money will go to the 1st Prize.) Nominations can begin HERE in this item. A short list will be submitted to IM John Watson, IM John Donaldson, and GM Larry Christiansen. They will make their picks and we'll do a quick round of email to hash out the winners. A few comments from the judges will be added to the winning games and everything will be published here.

In order for the prizes to be awarded at the closing ceremony tomorrow, we need nominations asap. We'd like to have the candidates to the judges for the first eight rounds and then keep a close eye on the ninth for late entries. Basically we want to have the potential winners selected by tomorrow morning. Note that the final round begins two hours earlier than the other rounds -- 12pm local and 1pm EST. There is a rapid playoff for the title if there's a tie for first. So please start going over the games, and not just the ones from the top players and frontrunners! Put yourself in a brilliant state of mind. After all, it's your money!


Maybe we will not see as many draws on the top boards in the final rounds as the players will be fighting for spots into the World Cup.

It should be interesting to see which players will make the top 5 and advance to the World Cup.

We might also see more draws among those for whom this result will guarantee World Cup qualification.

It looks like Onischuk and Shabalov are pretty much guaranteed to qualify already unless they lose two in a row.

regardless of the merits of the case, I think the post by joeblo at 16:10 is way out of line.

I love it when people end such screeds with: "Peace."

well call spade a spade. nothing gets attention like blunt talk

I think it is better to let the judges make the decision.

I would at least hope that Monroi could get the time (shown in the little clocks at the top) in LA correct - for the past couple of days they've been an hour behind, and today they're two hours ahead. What??

Onischuk-Shabalov: very beautiful idea.

In medicine we have this great thing called the autopsy, tell me bill how many norms would of been lost by my participation. How many are being gotten at this poiunt. And was it worth complete alienation, intimidation and distortion of facts. Let me say if the uscf gets susan in charge I will work with the organizer of their choice to raise a prize fund and annuity that would be sustaining. Lets get the gms some respect, real conditions and move chess forward. It must be done minus Bill goichberg and a board that has zero regard for the professional player. As for the event , monroi and michael should be commended for their actions. Berry never even contacted me. Then again wheres? oklahoma. Lets bring it bact to new york, vegas or florida where it will get some attention and put a sustained site in place.

I have gone through most of the games and I nominate the following games:

Akobian-Perelshteyn from round 7 - 18... Rxe3 is cool.

Sevillano-Stripunsky from round 2.

Shulman-Krush from round 2.

Friedel-Nakamura from round 1.

Nakamura-Shabalov from round 4. I think anyone who can draw with black in Alekhine defense on GM level deserves a brilliancy price and Shabalov actually managed to win there. That was probably his best game of the tournament.

As for lower boards, a couple of games from round 3 caught my attention: Hess-Robson has a nice 33.f5 and white's piece sack in Becerra-Sarkar.

I find it amazing how Sarajevo, with Moro, Short, etc, is getting zero coverage on here and Chessbase. Short just beat Sokolov in an Evans Gambit, in case anyone's watching....

The comments of Joeblo show that he has no background in high technology companies. The company first needs to invest money in research & development and based on its claim to Revenue Canada / Province receives some of its investment back, could be 30 % to 75 %. It is a commendable initiative by the government to support research (which mostly ends up in labs). In MonRoi’s case, the company succeeded to create a break-through in technology. Most companies never even meet government “bureaucrats” from R&D tax credits departments. Joeblo made malicious statements against the Canadian government (calling them ludicrous) implying that they make decisions, which are not in the best interest of tax payers and based on “brown nosing”. He has no clue of the process.

His statements about MonRoi are malicious too. This company invested in chess to bring benefits to chess players and organizers. It is run by professionals, who succeeded what previously many tried and failed. Instead of being envious people like Joebloe may try to channel their energy to accomplish something meaningful themselves. Some of the US Championship games are absolutely brilliant. Frank Berry and the organizing committee has done a very fine job in managing the event. Today at noon is the last round!!!


Monroi invested in chess to bring benefits to chess players and organizers? I'd guess they invested in chess to bring benefits to the owners of the company or the stockholders.

Probably neither the foul language of Joeblo nor the PR campaign of Yvon describes the true situation. As always the truth is in the middle, but where exactly?

Agree with rdh - it's great to see some romantic openings in Sarajevo. Borki Predojevic has played the two knights as well.

Moro up to his usual tricks - 4 games, 4 black wins- he's only on 50%.

With a US centric blog, of course they are going to put most emphasis on their national championships- and so they should. I expect Mig will get a thread up on Sarajevo after the last round.

The absence from Chessbase is more of a surprise, though they are more keen on fluff these days.

There is nothing special about the monroi device, it is a simple piece of software to write, and an elementary piece of hardware to design. Overpriced and unnecessary, I'll never use a monroi, I like my pencil and scoresheet thank you very much.

As to Eric Moskow, who the hell is he? The Berry's have been organizing chess events for years. They put up the whole prize money themselves (just to let you know Eric, more people than you have money). A tournament is not prestigious by whether or not it's located in NYC. The arrogance of such a statement is astounding.

I agree with Bill Brock.

Onischuck v. Shabalov (Round 6) was incredible.

My second and third favorites:

Shabalov v. Ibrigamov (Round 3)

Akobian v. Perelshteyn (Round 7)

"tell me bill how many norms would of been lost by my participation. "

Joe Bradford can get an IM norm with a win and Mike Langer can also get one with just a draw. It's either zero, one, or two.

I wonder how the players themselves feel about this situation. I haven't heard word from any of them.

It is apparent that parsnips never created a new wireless real-time technology product. I guess he does not have an iPod and would rather use 8tracks. It appears that the Monroi technology is patented and apparently used all over the world. To Joebloe probably worldwide patent authorities are misfit and have no integrity or skills to determine what a new technology is. Chess players and tournaments in North America got a lot more promotion than in the past due to those “pieces of hardware and software”. Extended battery life and wireless reach, with anti-tamper modes in a small package is something very complex to design. Sure paper and pen is always acceptable when other options are not available. Some people still use typewriters instead of laptops with Word processors. Enough of Mig's dirt I have better things to do.

Naka's win against Gurevich was something. (Though I'm not nominating it for a Ninja Prize!)

Naka showed great resourcefulness and a Steinitz-may-care attitude toward his own egregiously uncastled king.

I believe that Gurevich could have still won in the ending? with Bg1 instead of Ng5+.

It was a fun game to watch. I feel bad for Gurevich, but admire Naka.

Yvon, I'm a software engineer. I've worked on real innovative systems, like train control systems for example.

I've been to monroi's site, they cannot even manage to do a simple ajax implementation of a chess board without having 800 bugs and poor performance.

The monroi is nothing special. It can be done and redone on a cellular telephone, a PDA, a laptop, a website, or any other device which has connectivity to a server.

It's obvious to me you're a marketing droid for Monroi, with your 'apt' comparisons of using a typewriter to a laptop or a 'wordprocessor' and comparing that with a monroi and writing down a move. If it was so superior, why did monroi petition to change a 30 year old uscf rule about writing down chess moves, perhaps because the monroi is a slow, error prone device?

(Oh and by the way here's a little hint for your viral marketing campaign: In your marketing materials it might not be good to use 'wordprocessor', since those havent been used since the 80's.)

In Hanken's USCF interview with the Monroi President a few weeks ago (I'm too lazy to fetch the URL right now, but it's probably still on the USCF site), she speaks about the difficulties of designing a wireless device with a long battery life. As an electrical engineer, I don't understand why this is difficult. Traditional wireless devices such as cell phones need to be 'on' and drawing power, most, if not all, of the time. Hence, most wireless communications need high data rates; however, transmiting chess moves should not require a high data rate -- in fact, the total data to transmit per move should only be a few hundred bytes. Why does this take so much power? At a minimum, the device could go into a 'sleep' mode while it's not transmitting, to save battery life. My cell phone transmits thousands of bytes per second, and lasts about six hours on one charge. A device that transmits an average of one or two bytes per second should last much longer. What am I missing? Perhaps implementing such a scheme is more complex than it appears on paper?

No Howard, your analysis is pretty spot on. A fellow engineer from Iowa designed a program that does the same thing on his PDA. And that is with a full tcp/ip stack to communicate. Clearly monroi's wouldnt need such a thing. The requirements are low as you state, we just get a lot of marketing and promotional hype for something that can be done with many many many other devices already on the market, for less money as well.

Langer just finished his IM norm.

Does anyone have moves in Nakamura-Becerra? It is now 1715 EDT and the page for that game has been dead for a while, after black's 19. ...Rf6

Does that imply that even when 2 players use the MonRoi device, it can go wrong? If I and a buddy use it at our local chess club, it goes wrong with the device, we can't reconstruct the game and the game of my life is lost for ever?

Surely it would be possible to make a modern device that is superior to paper and pen. But MonRoi didn't.

Does anyone know if MonRoi is pronounced as in Sigfried and Roy or as in Rwanda?

Well. I am also pretty disgusted with the monroi transmission service. While trying to following the US-ch on their site, it often enough lagged, even stopped at all. Annoying. Of course I also miss the colorful coverage (incl. players blog) mig once did when the US-ch were still in San Diego. But this is then.

USCF has a lot to explain about the lack of a good working website at the site of the 2007 US Championship.
How was the ICC coverage? I understand they only covered about 5 games. Did they have trouble getting the moves? I thought about joining ICC to get their coverage but never got around to doing so. Maybe I will for the next event.

From their website: "MonRoi Inc. is a privately held company, based in Montreal, Canada"

It just occurred to me: isn't it strange (and sad) the the *U.S.* Championship can only find sponsorship from a Canadian technology company (and many here would probably call it a "technology" company, based on comments)? Chess in the U.S. has fallen a long way since IBM and Intel were sponsoring events.

Oh, but Jon Jacobs says that the Chess economy in the U.S. has never been better, that all this negativity about lack of money in chess is an illusion, so of course he is right. After all, according to JJ, if you devote your life to chess and give up everything else to try to become one the handful of elite who can actually live off of chess alone, and don't make it, well you can always fall back on teaching chess as a profession and count that as being a real chess professional.

Which is like telling a kid it is fine to practice free-throws and 3 point shooting in basketball to try to make it to the NBA. Because if you fail, you can always find complete professional satisfaction teaching high-school basketball as a P.E. instructor (and sweep out the gym at night). Right.

I think people should ease off on Monroi as chess in the U.S. has enough of a history of pissing off its own sponsors and chasing them away. Will chess players ever learn not to bite the hand that feeds them?

Perhaps the ICC was intimidated by the MonRoi EULA, which prohibits retransmission. It's hopeless, but spending money on lawyers is annoying, especially international ones.

Yes, I've been going easy on them because it's an underfunded event, but every day has been the same problems. Here it is 5.5 hours after the games started and all the boards are frozen with only a few of the earliest results reported. We have brilliancy prizes to hand out in minutes and we can't even see the round 9 games! The results page is blank right now.

Mig: Is it absolutely necessary to announce your winners at the real-time conclusion of events? I think Chess Ninja members would like time to really judge these last round games for these prizes, and frankly I think an announcement on Chess Ninja would reach more of the world of chess than the official site would. That is just a fact.

Since the pool is privately funded, and a generous add-on none of the participants were expecting, I don't think a 24 hour lag between the end of the championship and the CN prize announcement would bother anyone. It might actually be perceived as much more fair by the participants. And as you point out, there are now real reasons for a delay.


Stern: I don't think that they tournament is recieving any money from the Monroi people...are they? I realize that the site is actually in a wing of the Monroi site, but I would expect that the USCF would actually pay Monroi for at least the webspace. Or perhaps I didn't hear about this? I know that the Barrys are the principal sponsors, and a bit of extra cash rolled in late (which is what bumped up the prizes for the tailenders).

The gist of your post, though, is understood. The difference between now and the early 1970s (or even the mid-90s) is pretty depressing.

I'm sure a delay wouldn't bother anyone there, but the idea was to make it part of the event as well as an online thing. We have some experienced (and strong) judges and people here haven't exactly jumped on the bandwagon with nominations and comments. I just posted an item on it, so we'll see what people say.

5 qualifiers are:


The Internet connection in Stillwater was flaky and sometimes information could not be uploaded quickly. This was not caused by the MonRoi system. The system was working well as in many tournaments. The games are backed up on Monroi devices, in the central computer, and the remote server. No game is lost. If the Internet connection goes down, there is no way to send data to Internet. You should not attack Monroi for issues caused by the Internet providers. I do not know Mig, but the guys from MonRoi already have the Round 9 brilliancy votes in- Nakamura, Hikaru vs Becerra, Julio 0-1. They also have a statement of the champion at the home page. This year we saw the fastest posting of results, standings, PGN files and brilliancy prizes for each game.

Nice try, Frank. The fact is that the transmission of a couple of text files is hardly enough to eat up anyone's connection. Indeed, a cellular phone or blackberry can transmit games over the net in real-time with no help whatsoever from a third-party connection. And you want us to believe that the Stillwater connection was flaky several days in a row? Ha ha ha. What a preposterous little fellow you are, Frank. A 2400 baud modem could handle the load.

In any case, I suspect "Frank" is really someone from MonRoi -- Mig can check the IP address and compare it with email he received from their people -- trying to reverse the tide of bad publicity their own shoddy product has generated.

The internet connection in Stillwater has nothing to do with the user experience people are having unless MonRoi has moved all its servers into the playing hall. We aren't idiots. The lag and delay of page presence is caused by server load and perhaps in some cases bandwidth limitations between the MonRoi server and the client (the public).

As for their claims of fastest anything, how would you know? You keep claiming not to know me or anything else, as if denigrating the public makes our statements less true. Plus, it's not fast if people can't access it. Two hours after many of the games had finished, the pages were not accessible to the public because of the load issues.

Unsurprisingly, "Frank" posts from Montreal, just like "Yvon." The MonRoi inability to take even the slightest criticism or to admit to even the smallest problems or mistakes is worse than the problems and mistakes themselves in most cases. Childish. I don't understand why some people are so eager to make enemies and treat everyone like fools and enemies instead of just dealing with the occasional problem and criticism.

We aren't "attacking" anyone. We are pointing out obvious and serious problems experienced by the viewing public. Lashing out at the people who point such things out is infantile.

Weren't the results available immediately last year since the games were live on ICC?

Stern, Stern, why do you persist in humiliating yourself so? Did you never learn that ignorance is not a virtue to be boasted of, but something to be worked at overcoming?

Since "Daniel" invoked "the early 70s" in his nod of approval to Stern's lament about how little money is in chess right now, I will focus on that period. After all, the Champion of the World was American at that time, and he hadn't disappeared yet. So chess was still at its height in terms of popularity and visibility, in the US if not the world. That would create fertile soil for sponsorship, no?

I have open in front of me the November and December 1973 issues of Chess Life, with extensive coverage of that year's US Championship. Kavalek and Grefe tied for first, followed by Tarjan, Benko and Evans.

Apart from the game scores and crosstable, the coverage comprised about 2/3 of a page of very tightly spaced type in the first issue and an equal amount of ink in the second issue...plus a couple of annotated games in the issue after that (January 1974).

I pored through all that type looking for just one character: a dollar sign ($). There was none to be found. While I can't be certain, I take that to mean that no cash was awarded.

If any of you are thinking, "appearance fees," you can think it, but you'd be wise not to say it...unless you want yourself to be forever linked with the buffoon Stern, in the minds of all who had any involvement in chess at that time.

Perhaps the 13 participants had all their expenses paid. But even that is far from clear.

The April issue that year reported the results of a 3-way playoff to resolve the tie at the top of the preceding year's US Championship, which had been a FIDE Zonal qualifier.

That one did show some prize amounts: $2,000 for Robert Byrne, who won the playoff; $1,500 for Reshevsky who came second; and $1,000 for Kavalek for finishing third. Hardly better than we have today, even after adjusting for inflation (see below).

Well, the US Championship is just one tournament, you say. True enough.

The April 1973 Chess Life has on its first page an ad for the World Open. "$15,000 Guaranteed Cash Prizes!" screams a headline.

Let's see, from 1973 to 2007, the general prize level in the US inflated cumulatively by about 400% (my rough but educated guess).

So that makes about $75,000 in today's dollars, for the World Open. Not for first place; not for any one section -- for the entire prize fund, all sections (there were 2, at the time). First prize in the Open was $2,000 -- or about $10,000 in today's dollars.

Well, what has the World Open to do with sponsorship? Not much, admittedly.

So let's look at a couple of sponsored, elite, invitational events from that same year.

The first never happened, but is revealing nonetheless. The "First Annual Bobby Darin International Chess Classic," to be sponsored by the famous singer, was proudly unveiled. Jointly organized by the USCF and FIDE, it was to be a 16-man, all-GM tournament featuring the cream of the world elite. (The event ended up cancelled due to Darin's untimely death later that year.)

In those glory days of chess funding that Stern and a handful of other fantasy-dwellers like Daniel pine for -- a time when chess enjoyed more visibility and popularity in the US than ever before or since -- what were the megabucks that a truly deep-pocketed sponsor saw fit to lavish on such an elite super-GM event?

"The Darin classic will have the biggest purse - $25,000 - in the history of tournament chess," the announcement proclaimed. First prize was to be $5,000.

Well, multiplying those figures 5-fold to account for inflation, it comes out not too bad by today's standards. Head and shoulders above Montreal 2007 ... yet, still dwarfed by the big open events in North America and elsewhere, and by some Kirsan-sponsored events as well. Most important of all, the Darin event NEVER HAPPENED.

Now let's look at an elite tournament that did happen in the US, in 1973. The Third Annual Louis D. Statham Masters and Experts Tournament, better known as "Lone Pine", featured a $5,500 total prize fund and a $2,000 first prize.

I could go on, but you get the picture. Even at the peak of the boom, the showers of gold coins that Stern imagines, existed only there: in Stern's imagination.

Yes, for a brief moment there were moneyed people eager to throw money at Fischer. In fact Bobby Darin, quoted in the aforementioned announcement, credited his own "reawakened" interest in chess to the 1972 Fischer-Spassky match.

But when Fischer turned away all the offers of endorsement money, nearly every would-be sponsor simply went away, rather than finding some other chess-related cause or personality to lavish their largesse on.

No, Monroi did not give one cent to the tournament. They were just advertising their website and product for free. When they start charging people to watch the games, do you think the professional players are going to see a cent?
But they are able to sponsor an "international women's grand prix". The people in the US championship are worthless? Doesn't everyone need money to live, and shouldn't it be given fairly?

In re: estimating inflation. This is may be of interest for calculating the real (i.e., inflation-adjusted) value of money in chess. There are two widely-used measures of consumer inflation. These are:

The Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is generated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov).

The Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) deflator, which is generated by the Bureau of Economic Analysis at the Department of Commerce (www.doc.gov).

These measures are known to give somewhat different readings on the inflation rate. According to the CPI, using the annual averages for 1973 and 2006, the price level has increased by 450 percent. According to the PCE Deflator, again using the annual averages, the price level has increased by 381 percent. Monthly numbers are also available for both indexes.

There has been an extensive debate in the economics profession as to which measure is more reliable. The consensus is that the CPI has tended to slightly exaggerate the rate of inflation, although this was more serious in the past than it is today. The PCE deflator is used to convert nominal consumer expenditures into real values in the National Income Accounts. In this sense, it is consistent with the current estimates for Gross Domestic Product.

tru dat joe.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on May 22, 2007 12:43 PM.

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