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Why Utah’s new Teacher of the Year wants his students of color to play chess – Salt Lake Tribune

Posted: October 6, 2020 at 9:54 pm

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When John Arthur brings his students to the states annual chess competition, he can guess how theyll react. They dont ooh and aah over the fancy chess boards with glass pieces. And theyre not focused on how big or cool the convention space is.

Instead, they look around at the other students and one of them will say something like: Were the only brown kids here. And theyre often right, Arthur said.

Its part of why Arthur, who is Korean, takes his class to the tournament each year. Most of his sixth graders at Meadowlark Elementary in downtown Salt Lake City are kids of color. And he wants them to learn that they belong and can claim those spaces as their own, he said, especially where they have not traditionally been represented.

Its a proud moment for me," Arthur said, when I see them take charge at the competition anyway.

Arthur is in his eighth year of teaching at Meadowlark. Many educators leave the west-side school after completing their first three provisional years on the job, he noted, and transfer to the east side. But Arthur said he loves the opportunity to teach students who look like him and to give them opportunities, like chess and debate, that they might not traditionally have.

And on Thursday largely because of that dedication his students got to watch as this time he won his own competition and was crowned Utahs Teacher of the Year.

Wow. Are you kidding me? Arthur asked as the state superintendent sneaked up behind him while he was teaching his class on Zoom. She carried a big check for $10,000 and a bouquet of balloons.

The kids' faces lit up on the screen, with several clapping. Congrats, they shouted. Good job, Captain, added one boy, calling the teacher by the nickname the kids have for him. Arthur choked back tears as he paced back and forth between the superintendent and the students on the screen, not sure if he should keep teaching the reading lesson hed started.

To accept the honor, though, he was asked to say a few words in a separate video call with members of the Utah Board of Education. So his students took a quick recess, and Arthur threw on the tuxedo jacket he wore at his wedding. He said his mom, Suka, bought it for him with the hopes that hed wear it again when I won an Oscar or did something like that, he said with a laugh. This is as close as Im going to get.

As one of five finalists, Arthur had packed the jacket with him to his classroom Thursday on the off chance he won which he didnt think would happen, so on bottom, he still wore a pair of gym shorts. Still surprised at the honor, he told the board members, Im COVID chic.

In seriousness, though, he said: Children are the best people, and teaching is the best job. Theres just no better way to spend the day.

His focus, he said, has been on helping students of color succeed because he believes theyre often left behind. Hes served for years as the Asian American representative on the state boards access committee, which advises on education equity policies. With his role as Teacher of the Year, he intends to advocate for more minorities in the states teaching force, as well as more culturally responsive practices in the classroom.

When kids come back post-COVID, I want them to see teachers who look more like them, he added. And weve just got to make sure that were constantly shining a light on kids who might otherwise be forgotten.

Growing up, he said, he was a shy Korean boy who didnt often speak up in class. It wasnt until middle school that Arthur had a teacher who focused on him and tried to get him involved in academics. At that point, his ninth grade teacher, Mrs. Anderson, pushed him to join the Model United Nations club. It changed his trajectory, Arthur said. And thats what he hopes to do for his students with chess which he teaches on the first day of class each year.

I feel this award is so well deserved, Utah Board of Education member Janet Cannon commented on the videoconference.

With the title, Arthur also gets a trip to Washington, D.C., to meet President Donald Trump and the chance to compete for the title of national Teacher of the Year. He succeeds last years Utah Teacher of the Year, Lauren Merkley, and will stand next to Rae Boren from Copper Hills High and Emma Moss from Eastmont Middle School, who were named runners-up.

Thanks for all you do, all of you, added member Cindy Davis.

We sacrifice our bodies and minds and souls, Arthur added. We give everything in service to our kids and to the education of our students.

He teaches in Salt Lake City School District, the only one in the state to have started classes entirely online this fall. He jokes that hes a lot more like Tom Cruise in Minority Report now, with all the technology hes hooked up to while hes instructing. But hes glad the district prioritized safety, and he tries to incorporate a lot of the same things he would if his class was in person.

For one, he carries a camera around the classroom so students get a sense of what it looks like. The biggest thing he wants them to see are the posters hes hung up. There are pictures of towering mountain peaks, some covered in snow, others with a line of climbers making the way to the top.

Its because Arthurs mantra for the class is: We climb, we rise, we help.

His goal for his students is to teach them to work hard to get to the mountaintop, both in class and life. But they all have to assist one another and reach it together. No lesson is done until everyone in the room understands. If one student finishes the math assignment early, the expectation is that she finds another kid who would like her help. If a student is struggling, Arthur reminds him that he only gets to the peak step by step.

He is not a normal teacher, Felicia Raybourne, the mother of one of Arthurs former students, wrote in his nomination for Teacher of the Year. He is there to help kids through life. He makes sure his students understand everything they are learning no matter how much extra time it takes.

When the class completes a lesson together, Arthur declares: Champs, we made it to the top of the mountain. His student call him The Captain because of that. And he calls them his crew.

He lets them pick out their own nicknames, too. Part of that is to have fun. Part of it is to let them embrace who they want to be, he said. One girl goes by Gucci Banana. Theres also a kid that likes to be called Bacon, one named Beef and another called Shadow.

When you have a Big Boi 27 in your class, its hard not to smile, Arthur said. But it gives you a little bit of confidence. When I step in the building, for instance, Im The Captain. Its like an alter ego or a superhero. I want to empower these kids to feel the same.

He also shows them clips about hard work from Cool Hand Luke and runs a YouTube channel where his class annually makes a music video. And its also got clips of them discovering bugs, smashing eggs in a science project and dancing in the classroom.

He loves the district, he said, and wants to see it improve. And he wants all students to get the education they deserve.

Winning Teacher of the Year, he said with a laugh, is kind of like the next move in the chess game to accomplishing those goals.

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Why Utah's new Teacher of the Year wants his students of color to play chess - Salt Lake Tribune

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CCPS hosting in-person chess tournament, limited to students in Grades 4-12 – The Southern Maryland Chronicle

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Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) is hosting its annual fall chess tournament in person at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24 at Thomas Stone High School. This years fall tournament is limited to chess players in Grades 4-12, as parents and family members will not be permitted to remain on-site during the event. This is a precautionary measure to limit the number of people inside the playing area. Parents will be invited to watch the tournament virtually through Zoom with a limited panoramic view. Individual matches will not be highlighted.

Players must register in advance to participate. The registration form is posted on the CCPS website at The deadline to register is Oct. 21. The registration window closes after Oct. 21. Walk-in registrations are not accepted.

The tournament features a four-round Swiss-style format. Sign-in for players begins at 8:15 a.m. with the first round of play starting at 9 a.m. Students must check in by 8:45 a.m. in order to be matched for play in the first round.

An awards ceremony will follow the matches. Players will receive a trophy, medal and/or certificate for participation. Participation is free and open to all Charles County students in Grades 4-12.

The following COVID-19 safety precautions will be in place.

Questions can be directed to Alicia Briscoe at or 301-934-7369 or Ann Taylor at or 301-934-7378.

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CCPS hosting in-person chess tournament, limited to students in Grades 4-12 - The Southern Maryland Chronicle

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Its more natural for men to pick chess as an interest or women to pick arranging flowers – Mint

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There are two likely reasons for the lack of female representation in the game, she reckons. One, unless you are among the top few players, its very difficult to earn money playing chess professionally. This is felt more acutely by women. Two, unlike men, many women still lack the qualities needed to reach the top in the game: an ego, a fighting spirit, the desire to crush the opponent. It might not be what you like to hear but I am being honest," she says. It could change, however. Edited excerpts:

Why is the representation of women so low in chess?

First of all, there are some natural things for men and women. Like, little girls like to naturally play with dolls and little boys with cars. Little girls might also play with cars but the majority of them (dont). Thats a big percentage drop. When you have less people participating, at the top you will find fewer of them.

Another factor is physical endurance. Chess games can go on for many hours. It might seem like physical strength doesnt play a role sitting at the chess board but it does. At the beginning, opponents are pretty equal. At the end, the tiredness accumulates and (it comes down to) the amount of energy you naturally haveof which, of course, men have more.

Yet another factor is, (growing up), girls need to be treated more gently. Sometimes they are told in chess class, You play like a girl." It might play a role in whether younger girls continue or not.

You said girls play with dolls and boys play with cars. I dont know how that analogy applies here, though. Chess seems to be a fairly unisex game.

In chess, there are factors such as fighting spirit. You want to crush the other person, show you are better. (These) instincts, I believe, are stronger in men. Women are more prone to nurturing, giving more love and attention. Many people want to say men and women are the same, we are equal. Of course we are equal but we also have differences that should be respected.... Some people might not like that its more natural for men to pick chess as an interest or women to maybe pick music or arranging flowers. Its not about women not being smart enough, but we should embrace our differences.

Some of the things you have observed fit into the idea of conventional gender roles. Like men having more fighting spirit", women being more nurturing". Some might even call it a bit sexist.

I dont think intellectual ability is worse. All I am saying is, there are some natural activities. Even at home. Do you see many times women watching football matches on TV? Why to make it artificially that we have to... that you do this we also have right to do that. This doesnt make much sense to me personally. But I know maybe people push for different views.

One of the counterpoints to this argument would be Judit Polgr and her father. They say its about the hard work. If you train your children well as they are growing, they can excel at the highest levels.

Yes, but her parents decided for her. If people decide for themselves, then obviously women naturally might pick other activities. Otherwise many more would be playing chess. Judit was exceptional. Its hard to base on her unique experience and say other women are this way too.

What her parents proved is women can be just as good, if they have interest, if they have the right environment.

Do you find any sexism in professional chess?

I dont think theres a lot of sexism. On the contrary, I think men want more and more women to participate (in chess). In FIDE, we have big support. But its not as easy to achieve. Within our commission, I found out that because there arent so many women in chess, even activities (tournaments) women get, they are usually decided by men. Our commissions goal is to change that.

What are the challenges women chess players face and how do these differ in different parts of the world?

It depends on where you come (from). In countries like Georgia and Russia, its in their culture. Its easy to get money. In others, they are struggling... The problem with chess is also (that) the professional chess players dont always have an easy time and earn money. Its a factor for womenfor women professionals, it is not an easy life. If you want to have children, if you travel around the world the whole time, to start a family is a challenge. It might play a role in women dropping out.

Theres some research that women at age 10-12 are equally interested (in chess as men). After a point, they start dropping out. We have a long way to go for real equity between men and women. Even countries where they are equal, in practice it doesnt work this way.

Do you think there can be a woman as an overall champion?

I think there can. There are some examples, like Judit Polgr, who showed women can be at the top.

What would it take?

If more women play chess in the future, theres a better chance that women can. But maybe turn of events, good luck, some extremely talented women will appear and win.

From what you told me, statistically and psychologically it seems unlikely.

Yes. Also, its proven by history. But that it hasnt happened yet doesnt mean that it wont happen now.

Also read: 'Why women lose at chess'.

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Gone too soon: Brimfield teen remembered as jokester and expert chess player – Pekin Daily Times

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BRIMFIELD Benjamin Bedell was a fun-loving guy who always made his classmates laugh, a former teacher said.

"He had a real dry sense of humor. He was fun to call on for answers to things. He would say something silly, and then he would come up with the answer," said Scott Carlson, the social studies teacher and basketball coach at Brimfield High School. "He was just a kid that all the other classmates enjoyed having in class because they knew he would crack up the class once or twice during the time he was there. I think he enjoyed being at school because he had his friends around him and he knew he could get a laugh or two."

Bedell, 18, a 2020 graduate of Brimfield High School, was pronounced dead about 4 p.m. Tuesday at the scene of the wreck at Illinois Route 89 and County Road 2100 North, a few miles south of Washburn.

The accident happened about 3 p.m. Tuesday when Bedell was driving east on the county road and pulled into the Route 89 intersection. He was struck by a northbound semitrailer truck hauling grain. The truck driver, Glenn Edwards, 70, of Henderson, Tenn., was taken by LifeFlight to OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria.

In addition to having a great sense of humor, Bedell was also a fine chess player, said Robert Bernales, the Brimfield High School math teacher and chess coach.

"He was an awesome chess player, probably the heart and soul of the team," said Bernales. "He was well-respected."

Bedell joined the chess team as a novice player, but he soon became an expert.

"He was a quick learner. He picked up the game and strategies very fast," said Bernales. "He actually beat me in a few games he pulled some surprises on me in a few games."

Bernales recalled a match against Metamora that appeared all but lost.

"He was losing pretty badly, and his opponent wasnt being very careful, and Ben found the one winning move it was perfect," said Bernales. "I remember the player from Metamora got mad and stormed out, but they became friends later. It was a pretty awesome game."

Wednesday was a rough day for teachers and students at Brimfield High School. With a student body of only about 240, everyone pretty much knows everybody. Bernales was among the many who took a day off to deal with their grief.

"We had quite a few not here, actually, and it was pretty somber," said Carlson. "It wasnt that long ago that we lost another student, Aaron Miller. A lot of their friends are the same people. Brimfield has been hit really hard for everybody to take. Especially their families and friends are definitely hurting."

Miller, 16, had just finished the first day of his junior year at Brimfield High School on Aug. 19 when he died in a single-vehicle wreck on U.S. Route 150 in Peoria County.

"Everybody around here is shocked and very sad," said Carlson. "Its going to take awhile to get past it, Im sure. We are praying for their families and friends."

Leslie Renken can be reached at 270-8503 or Follow her on, and subscribe to her on


Gone too soon: Brimfield teen remembered as jokester and expert chess player - Pekin Daily Times

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Meet these mini-grandmasters of chess – two brothers from Cork –

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TWO brothers who are pupils at St Anthonys National School at Ballinlough are mini-grandmasters of local chess.

Before lockdown, in February, Cillian, aged 11, and nine-year-old Eddie Ross won in their respective age groups at the Cork South Junior Chess Championships held at Blackrock GAA Club.

Cillian beat 62 competitors while Eddie succeeded against 24 players.

What were the chances of that? asks chess coach, Richard Pardi, a retired primary school teacher from Togher Boys NS, who has been teaching chess there for a number of years.

Were certainly looking at a lot of talent from these brothers.

The boys only started playing chess with Richard in September, 2019. They had started playing the game with their father, Steve, a New Zealander.

The family, which includes three other children and their mother, Aoife, lived in New Zealand for a number of years before returning to Cork in 2018.

The brothers are remarkably quick, says Mr Pardi. During lockdown, we held an online chess tournament which lasted for eight days. Either Eddie or Cillian won it each day apart from one day.

The advantage of chess at present is that you can play it at home and online.

Richard, who has been coaching young chess players in Cork for more than 30 years, says he doesnt really know what skills are required to be good at it.

I would think its very visually-related. It might even be linked to the visual side of mathematics as in geometry. Ive taught kids chess who were inattentive when it came to the blackboard or the whiteboard. But when I put up the chess demonstration board, they responded to it immediately.

I think chess is very good for concentration. The chess coaching sessions that I do after school are a kind of social thing too. The pupils have had a long day and dont want to be listening to a teacher. I have to limit the amount of time I spend at the demonstration board. I mainly let them play.

When theyre playing, they chat and concentrate as well.

Theres a long established ethos of having respect for ones opponent in chess. Civility is important though ultimately, the decisive moves in chess are as tough and demanding as putting for a major championship in golf or kicking those decisive test penalties in rugby.

The European Parliament has recommended playing chess in schools.

Spain and Italy introduced chess to the school curriculum. Its great for social skills.

Richard points out that we are constantly hearing about kids having short attention spans.

But when theyre playing chess, they dont notice 40 minutes going by. It may help them to concentrate on school subjects. It doesnt hurt anyway!

The chess scene in Cork is lively, or it was pre-Covid, he adds.

A new committee of young teachers has come on board and has established an organisation called Ficheall (the Irish word for chess.) Around 40 or 50 schools competed last year in competitions.

The city is divided into sections for chess. Cork South is the area Im involved in, stretching from Beaumont to the west and including Greenmount, St Josephs, St Anthonys and Crab Lane.

The ethos of Ficheall is participation as much as competition, adds Richard.

Kids usually start chess in second or third class when theyre seven or eight. If youre going to start kids younger, theyd need to play more than one day a week.

Richard says that there wouldnt be any inter schools chess in Cork, at either primary or secondary school level, if it wasnt for the dedication of chess coach, Joe Moroney.

Anybody can play chess, adds Richard.

Even the kids who would be going to learning support all know how to play a game of chess after a few months. It depends on the level. It is seen as a nerds pursuit or an intellectual pursuit, or at least thats how it is seen in this part of the world.

In Eastern Europe and Russia, even down to Serbia, nearly all kids can play chess. At the higher level of the game are the international masters.

Theres a serious amount of study involved in being a full-time professional chess player. Players are past their best by their late twenties or early thirties. The best players in the world have got younger and younger.

Richard compares chess to outdoor games.

Anybody who has the use of their limbs can play soccer at some level. It might be very poor. But then youve got the Real Madrids or the Barcelonas and its at a completely different level. Its the same with chess.

The board game is very good for kids who are not athletic, says Richard.

On the other hand, when I was teaching in Togher where there was a culture of chess, I had so many kids who were in football, hurling and soccer teams. Ive lost count of the amount of good senior hurlers and footballers who play chess.

Meanwhile, Cillian Ross says he likes chess because its a fun game. Sometimes, you get to play with your friends. I sometimes play with Eddie. During lockdown, we played at home a lot.

Chess requires players to be good at strategy, adds Cillian. He says it also helps to be clever.

Would he like to be a professional chess player?

I dont know what Im going to work at. I dont want to spend my life playing chess. I want to do other things.

Eddie, like Cillian, is very active. The brothers play cricket, soccer, tennis and basketball. Eddie would settle for being a professional chess player but only if I cant be a professional cricket player or soccer player.

Theres ambition!

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Carlsen and So tie in Chess 9LX tournament – Stabroek News

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Wesley So (left) and world champion Magnus Carlsen (right) (Photo by Lennart Ootes)

Start position:

The St Louis Chess Club in the US held its annual Chess 9LX 2020 Tournament as an online competition owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In terms of grandmaster quality, the 9LX tournament was one of the foremost for 2020. Current world champion Magnus Carlsen was a participant, as was a previous world champion, the inimitable Garry Kasparov. The challenger for the last world championship title match Fabiano Caruana was there. So were six leading grandmasters: Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Hikaru Nakamura, Wesley So (last years Random chess champion), Levon Aronian, Leinier Dominguez, and Peter Svidler.

Alireza Firouzja, the worlds best junior, completed the ten participants of the round robin competition. It was played on the popular site Lichess and was contested according to the rules of Chess 960 at rapid time controls (20+10).

In Chess 960 or Random Chess, the pieces on the chess board are placed differently to the usual set-up. This new organization gives the game a different flavour. Take a look at the position of the pieces in the diagram, which is referred to as Start Position 476. It means that any chess game adopting the position of the pieces on the chess board would be known as Chess 960/476.

Before the start of each game in a Chess 960 tournament, the pieces are rearranged and carry different numbers. Random Chess or Chess 960 is the creation of world champion Bobby Fischer, as far as I am aware. He invented this method to take grandmasters out of book or out of theory and compel them to be more creative. During his lifetime, Fischers random chess never caught on. It is therefore encouraging that the St Louis Chess Clubis promoting the American chess geniuss idea. Fischers principal argument was it would lessen grandmasters dependence on known theory and make draws more infrequent.

Carlsen and So tied for first in the Chess 9LX Tournament. They shared the first prize. American grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura was third.

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Sacred squares and foolish horses – Chessbase News

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10/4/2020 Two days ago, October 2, it was Jon Speelmans 64th birthday. Given that 64 is a canonical number for chess players, our columnist used this chance to remind us that every single square of the chessboard may be important. In order to illustrate his point, he goes on to show a game in which, as Black, he placed his knights on both h1 and a8 during a single game. Happy birthday, Jon! And many thanks for your ever-ingenious columns! | Pictured: Speelman usin PressTel Chessbox to play long distance chess | Source: British Chess News

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Im writing this on Friday, October 2nd which, a fond hope, is International Day of Non-Violence after Gandhis birth on October 2nd 1869, and coincidentally (there are lots of worse people to share a birthday with) my own. Mercifully it isnt a round one, at least for a pentadactyl, though if our lords and silicon masters eventually attain real consciousness, they will presumably consider 0x40to be fairly round and their more simple-minded colleagues will deem 1000000 to be very much so...

Im not enormously delighted to be 64, but at least it is a canonical number for a chess player and does provide a fairly plausible segue to the idea that every single square of the chess board may be important (or to misquote Monty Python: Every square is sacred).

Theres a game I sometimes show people in which as Black I put knights on both h1 and later a8,and it appears at the end. (I think it may have appeared here before but not for a good while?). This set me thinking about how unusual it is for knights to appear on multiple corners of the board in the same game, and I did a fairly simple-minded search for white knights on a1 and h1, starting by making a database of games in Megabase in which a white knight at some stage appeared on a1 there were a little over 17,000 of these and thensearching that database for ones in which a knight also appeared on h1.

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These are pretty rareand, of the nearly 6.5 million games in my Megabase,I found 39.They included three in which people (kids?) had agreed a draw and then moved their horses around the board for a longer or shorter time: one of these masterpiecesended in the initial position (admittedly after rooks had also moved, so in no-castling chess) after Blacks 54th move. There were also a few instances of Chess960, but still over 30 real games.

After a quick look at these, I reached a tentative conclusion that knights on the rim really are dim or at least that the people who had created this very aesthetic picture were making a minus score. To my surprise I also found that of these 30 or so games, eight (!) featured white knights on a1 and h1 at the same time.

Given a chance to create such an aesthetic picture, Id certainly do so myself if the second knight move to the corner was decent, but I dont think that aesthetics played any part in most of these, and you can judge for yourselves.

I realize that foolish horses in the corner may not be to everybodys taste so please dokeep on sending in your Agonizing and Ecstatic games and /or ideas for future columns, more rooted in the nitty-gritty of battle.Readers whose games or ideas are used will win a 3-month premium membership.

Select an entry from the list to switch between games

Understanding Middlegame Strategies Vol.1 and 2

These DVDs are about Understanding Middlegame Strategies. In the first DVD dynamic decisions involving pawns are discussed. The second DVD deals with decision making process concerning practical play.

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More than 100 players start at the Fagernes Open – Chessbase News

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10/6/2020 Despite the ongoing corona pandemic, the organisers of the Fagernes Open in Norway decided to go ahead with their tournament, which is played live and under strict hygiene regulations. Evgeny Postny, Simen Agdestein and Frode Urkedal are the top seeds in the A-Open, which also functions as Norwegian National Championship. | Photos: Tom Eriksen, Malgorzata Kopaczek-Styczen (Tournament page)

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Due to the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic the organisers of the Fagernes Open, (4 to 11 October) had to cut back, and the field is not as strong as it would have been without the virus. A number of Grandmasters, who would have liked to come, had to cancel their trip due to travel restrictions. Nevertheless, a respectable field of more than 100 players, who start in two groups, came to Norway to play over-the-board chess again. In the A-Open, 13 Grandmasters from eight federations are taking part. The tournament also functions as Norwegian National Championship, which allows Norwegian players to get norms even if they do not play against the usually required number of foreign opponents.

The A-Open is a 9 round Swiss, the venue is the Scandic Valdres Hotel in Fagernes.

The tournament is, of course, held in close consultation with the local health authorities and under special hygiene regulations. Among other things, sufficient distance between the players had to be ensured.

Number one seed is Evgeny Postny while GM Simen Agdestein and GM Frode Urkedal are the nominally strongest Norwegian players. Urkedal and Agdestein both started with two wins, whereas Postny already had to concede a draw.

Amateur vs Master

In the first round of open tournaments strong players are often paired against weaker amateurs, and this often leads to instructive games.

Black first tried his luck on the kingside but now is looking for chances on the queenside.16...Na6 17.Nxd4 Nb4 18.Qe3 Bxe4 19.Nxe4 cxd4 20.Qxd4 Nc2 21.Qxd7+ Kf8 After 22.Rb1 Qxe5 Black could still hope, but...

22.Bg5!and Black resigned. After 22...Bxg5 23.Nxg5 Qe8 24.Rac1 Nb4 25.Qd2 a5 26.Qf4 White is two pawns up and has the much better position.


48 players start in the A-Open

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Russias Post-Covid Economic Policies Will Be a Game of Chess – ETF Trends

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Chess and creating economic policies both involve strategy. As Russia continues to rebound from the Covid-19 pandemic, it will be interesting to see what moves the countrys leaders have in store and whether this can benefit Russia-focused exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Experienced chess players can calculate positions on the board seven, ten, and even more moves ahead. It certainly takes time and practice to develop such a skill, a National Interest article surmised. Yet even the most talented player still faces a problem: you do not know how the opponent would respond. Assessing various probabilities of the opponents moves and then picking the best options for answers is a daunting task.

The article also noted that while foreign policy isnt a game, the chess analogy works here well: despite the uncertainty of unknown factors and sudden changes, most foreign governments tend to act rather predictably based on a certain policy climatethat is, most accepted views embraced by decisionmakers and their advisers. Can we predict Russias behavior judging the current policy climate in Moscow?

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Per a recent Bloomberg report, Russia only recently became only the fourth country to report more than 1 million cases of Covid-19, its economy is coming through the pandemic better than most other big emerging markets. Analysts say the outlook could yet improve.

When the pandemic broke out, Russia was in pretty good shape: low inflation, low unemployment, stable banking sector, and huge reserves, Renaissance Capital Chief Economist Sofya Donets said by phone from Moscow. If there are no additional shocks, there will be a wave of forecast upgrades for Russias economy this year.

Renaissance is among the most upbeat on the outlook, forecasting a contraction of 3.3% this year and a 3.8% rebound next, the article added. Even the current Bloomberg survey, which shows a 4.8% shrinkage this year, is less than half what the government feared when the virus first hit.

For investors sensing an opportunity on Russia improving its economic standing in a post-Covid-19 environment, here are a pair of other funds to consider to get Russia exposure:

For more market trends, visit ETF Trends.

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Russias Post-Covid Economic Policies Will Be a Game of Chess - ETF Trends

Written by admin

September 23rd, 2020 at 7:56 am

Posted in Chess

The Only Problem In Fischer Random Chess –

Posted: at 7:56 am

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Even people who are not interested in baseball remember Yogi Berra as the author of so called "Yogi-isms." Indeed, his catchy phrases which mix humor and wisdom will make you smile and think. Pretty frequently they contradict to themselves. Who can forget his famous, "If the world were perfect, it wouldn't be," or "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded." You cannot help but think of Yogi Berra when you read the following quote by GM Grischuk:

I don't see any drawbacks in Fischer Random chess. The only slight shortcoming is the start position, otherwise there are just advantages.

Considering that the initial position IS the only difference between Fischer Random (also known as Chess960) and classical chess, here we obviously see a chess version of a Yogi-ism.

As I admitted in my article written two years ago, the only reason I watch Fischer Random tournaments is Kasparov's participation there, so I couldn't possibly miss the recent Champions Showdown. However, I made one major change in the way I looked at the games. In the above mentioned article I wrote: "I want to share a trick that I used in order to follow the event. If you just skip the first 15 moves, then the games start resembling the regular chess." This year I watched the games from the very beginning. I know, it needs some explanation. My favorite writer, Sergey Dovlatov wrote in one of his best novels "A Foreign Woman."

"New York was an event for Marusya, a concert, a spectacle. It became a city only after a month or two. Gradually the chaos revealed figures, colours, sounds. The noisy marketing intersection suddenly fell apart into its constituent units: a grocery store, a cafeteria, an insurance agency, and a delicatessen."

Just as for the protagonist, an ugly initial position of Fischer Random suddenly started showing some grocery stores and delicatessen. Let me show you what I am talking about. Here is an old, little-known game by GM Bent Larsen:

The game is nice on its own, but what I like the most is the trap on move four. Can you find the reason why Black shouldn't take the g2-pawn here?

Now, when you know this trick, it will be easier to find the strong tactical idea that Kasparov missed as early as move two! It wasn't winning the game, but nevertheless it was very cute:

Here is what happened in the actual game:

Nevertheless, I was very happy when in the most anticipated game of the tournament the initial position was as close to regular chess as possible. Just the king and queen's bishop swapped places. Not surprisingly, pretty soon the game looked like a regular Queen's Gambit Accepted where Kasparov played a well-known g2-g4 thrust. Carlsen in return offered a trade of bishops.

These strategic elements happened in the following well-known game:

Just like Spassky, after the bishops' trade, Carlsen grabbed the initiative and eventually got a winning position. But then something went wrong.

In order to understand the key ideas of the resulting endgame, let's look at the iconic game Botvinnik vs. Fischer. The final trick of this game where Botvinnik had to deal with Fischer's connected passed a-and b-pawns is well known. Instead of capturing the defenseless g6-pawn, Botvinnik played h4-h5! which was an idea found by GM Geller during the analysis of the adjourned position.

But the most instructive moment of the game happened earlier. Here is Botvinnik's comment after Fischer's move 40... Kg5:

An endgame expert like Capablanca or Smyslov would immediately move his king toward d6 to protect the Nc5. After that, the pawn advance on the queen's side would quickly decide the game. - Mikhail Botvinnik

Indeed, Black has a passed pawn on the queen's side, so the king should go there to support the promotion of the pawn. Now look at the game Kasparov vs. Carlsen. The World Champion could use Botvinnik's old advice and move his king towards the queen's side pawns by 42...Kd7! Instead he allowed Kasparov to save the game by the same "magic" Botvinnikovian move h4-h5! Also notice the very precise move 45.Re5! when Kasparov cut off the black king and didn't allow him back to the queen's side.

As I wrote in my old article: Garry is the real King Midas of chess since whatever chess subject he touches, he turns into gold. He managed to accomplish the impossible task: I really enjoyed a FRC game! Do I like Chess 960 now? Well, let me put it this way. Last summer an electric car manufacturer Tesla was in a difficult financial situation. The hashtag @TSLAQ was trending on Twitter implying an unavoidable bankruptcy. But one financial analyst made a stand and upgraded his rating on Tesla from "strong sell" to just "sell." Taking his cue, I have upgraded my personal opinion on Fischer Random from "strong dislike" to just "dislike."

It would be interesting to know your opinion on Fischer Random. The main and only idea of this chess variant is to avoid opening theory. While it makes sense in super-tournaments, where top players have analyzed many opening lines to a draw, that is hardly a concern for the more than 90% of other people who enjoy chess. So, please tell us in the comments if you like or dislike Fischer Random.


The Only Problem In Fischer Random Chess -

Written by admin

September 23rd, 2020 at 7:56 am

Posted in Chess

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