Chess Notes

Weekly chess column

As summer ends the US Chess League begins. It is growing in importance among chess fans. This year, the games will not only be live on the Internet Chess Club, but also on Chess.com, which will alternate coverage. The league’s matches start on Sept. 4. Last year, New England had two teams, the New England Nor’easters, located at the Boylston Chess Club in Somerville, and the Boston Blitz, now located in Providence (but formerly of Cambridge).

Now a third team is to be added: the Connecticut Dreadnaughts. They will be located at the Chess Club of Fairfield County (Norwalk, Conn.) managed by National Master Ian Harris. Robert Hess of New York will be its first board.


Unfortunately, the Chicago Blaze has withdrawn from the league for reasons not stated, but reputedly due to problems team owner Sevan Muradian had with unspecified rulings of Greg Shahade, the league’s founder and president. The Blaze will pursue its own schedule elsewhere. The Blaze dominated the western section last year with mighty players including Yury Shulman, Josh Friedel, and Dmitry Gurevich, but lost in the playoffs to the New York Knights.

The 42d Continental Open is held annually at Cedar Lake in Sturbridge and has become a popular fixture in New England tournaments. Held each year in August, The Open’s attraction is that it takes place at a scenic spot near Sturbridge Village, next to a New England history museum. At the same time, a large antique auto show is held annually nearby.

This year, the tournament offered $30,000 in prizes in seven sections. The top seeds that attracted maximum attention were Alexander Stripunsky of New York; Sergei Azarov, a Bulgarian Grandmaster; Irina Krush, the US women’s champion; and Alexander Ivanov, who normally dominates New England chess. This year, Ivanov, noted especially for his perennial time trouble, encountered difficulties. After two victories, he drew with Marc Esserman, author of “Mayhem in the Morra,” when both faced time problems. In the fifth round, he lost a tactical skirmish with Stripunsky and withdrew.


Stripunsky stole the show. He had four wins and gave draws to Krush and Azarov, for a 5-1 victory. The draw with Azarov in the last round was practically zero moves. Azarov was second with 4.5 points, having dropped a game in the first round against expert Joel Anthony Pena, a youngster from New Jersey.

On the Scholastic level, the 2012 Denker Tournament of High School Champions, held recently in Vancouver, British Columbia, was won by Atulya Shetty of Michigan on tiebreak over Darwin Yang of Texas. In the 2012 Barber Tournament of K-8 Champions, Tommy He of Texas was the champ. Praveen Balakrishnan of New Jersey shared second place with Mika Brattain of Lexington, now a National Master.

Brevity: S. Wolf vs. H. Wolf (1894) 1.e4 e5; 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.f4 d5 4.fxe5 Nxe4 5.Qf3 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Qh4+ 7.g3 Qe4+ 8.Qxe4 dxe4 9.Bg2 Nc6 10.Bxe4 Nxe5 11.d4 Nc4 12.Rb1 Rb8 13.Bc6+ Kd8 14.Nf3 f6 15.Kf2 Bd6 16.Re1 Na5 17.Ng5 Rf8 18.Nf7; 1-0 (18… RxN 19. Re8#)

Winners: Boylston Legends of Chess — 1st–2d, Chris Chase and Eric Godin, 3.5-.5; First Providence Invitational — 1st, Christopher Gu, 3.5-.5, 2d-3d, Steven Winer and William Kelleher, 3-1.

Coming Events: Sept. 14-16 or 15-16, 3d annual Hartford Open & New England Senior, Continental Chess, Sheraton Hotel, 1 Bradley Airport, Windsor Locks, Conn. Director@Chess.US.