Latest Entries »

Phillelphia vs. New Yawk

Thanks to USCL and ICC for my prize!  This week, we have another battle of unique regional accents:  brash “New Yawkas” vs. “Phillelphia’s” “wooder ice” eaters.  I am not sure how Sylvester Stallone factors into this equation.  He’s from New York in real life, but on screen, he professed to be from South Philly, and attempted a Philly accent, coming up with a NYC-Philly hybrid…seven times.

How polite New Yorkers are, compared to Bostonians!  What a pleasure it was to read New York’s pre-match predictions! … .

The New York Knights’ blog already outlined Philadelphia’s potential advantages.  Thanks, NYK blog!  I tend to agree with everything they have written.  It’s anyone’s match.  In contrast to what most people believe about New Yorkers, I find them generally polite.  (Maybe this is because I, myself, am a former one!  Although I am in a much, much more congenial locale now, my heart still beats to the pulse of bleating taxicab horns…)  In any case, the Knights’ blog definitely gave each of the members of this week’s Inventors lineup his due.  Personally, I predict an overall draw, although at least on paper, the Knights’ ratings are mostly higher.

Smith, playing Board 1 this week, has not displayed his stingingly strong potential so far this season.  He can at least strive for a win against Kacheishvili, although Kacheishvili has white, and the game will be a challenge for Smith.

Bartell (Board 2) has delighted Philadelphia fans this season, and with white, will definitely will be a force for Fedorowicz to contend with.  Then again, I wouldn’t dismiss someone from the Bronx.  My family hails from the Bronx, and no matter how much Philadelphians tend to hate them, the Yankees are in the Bronx, and they are an amazing team.  So, don’t discount the man from the Bronx.

Dehmelt is another potentially dangerous player for New York on Board 3.  Although facing a rating gap against Krush, Dehmelt has proven himself a very competent player this season, and is likely to surprise League fans with an upset.

Costigan has shown himself time and again to be an invaluable part of the Inventors’ machine, as he has provided the crucial element in a win or draw on many occasions, usually on Board 3.  With his rating advantage over the unseasoned Williams on Board 4 this week, a win is likely, but it also will be interesting to see if the newbie Williams can pull off an upset.

Whatever the results, check back here for postmortem analysis of this week’s exciting match.


Whether we win or lose, there is absolutely no way we could produce a blog as obnoxious as Boston’s.  This year, the otherwise indecipherable prediction blog produced by Boston actually has the nerve to predict a 4-0 win.  Sure, Boston…in your dreams!    Last year, right after their win over Philly, they wrote:  “Ahhh! What a night. The weather was calm and cool… there was a hint of pizza in the air… and our team revealed themselves as the true geniuses that we all knew they were. Yes, Boston was back as they opened a ‘Can of Whupass’ and spread it all over the Philadelpia Inventors. (Oh come on, after our last match, we deserve to brag.) Sure, inventors are smart, but they’re no match for real genius. Each game a work of art… it was a truly spiritual experience…”  No one should presume a win over the strong Boston Blitz, but there is definitely a chance for Philly, if not a likely win.  Boston will go DOWN and Philadelphia will do everything in its power to make sure its team sends them there.

Board 1: The game between former U.S. Champion GM Larry Christiansen and GM Magesh Panchanathan will be Philadelphia’s toughest, and Christiansen has White to boot.  Panchanathan has felled many other GMs before though, and may well start his season with Philadelphia off by drawing Christiansen’s blood.

Board 2: IM Smith’s matchup against GM Perelshteyn revisits an old rivalry between two friends well acquainted with each other’s playing style, as the two attended UMBC together and were even roommates for a while.  Although their games are often competitive (their record in the league is 1-1), let’s see if Smith can keep up with the latest developments and preparations by Perelshteyn and prevail.  This game is impossible to predict in advance, and surely it won’t be easy for the Inventors here, but one thing is for sure:  a result will emerge only after a good fight.

Board 3: Who is Denys Shmelov?  Philadelphians are not very familiar with the man or his chess play.  He may not play in many tournaments in the Mid-Atlantic area right now.  However, his rating is around fifty points higher than Bartell’s.  He also will play White, giving him a further advantage.  Still, based on Bartell’s performance last week, it’s safe to say he has a good chance for a draw or even a win against Shmelov this week.

Board 4 looks like a fairly even opposition between two young players, so it will be interesting to see which of these two youths, Sivakumar or Xu, will win.

The Inventors are in good form and raring to go.  A draw or a win for Philadelphia is within the realm of possibility, but I wouldn’t predict the point spread precisely.  Just to spite Boston though, I am predicting an overall win for Philadelphia.

IM Bryan Smith has brainstormed a new professional direction, which he will use as a financial cushion, in case he does not win both the World Open and U.S. Championship this year (the only way one could comfortably rely on income from chess playing in this country.)  He has noted that many people hate to clean their own refrigerators.  He has some revolutionary business practices in mind.  First, he will become the world’s first and only Professional Refrigerator Organizer, establish the Association of Professional Refrigerator Organizers, and issue APRO licenses to franchisees.  He also has some advertising slogans that he plans to utilize:

1. “Eeww, your fridge is nasty, you better clean it.” (TM)

2. “That cheese would be better over there.” (TM)

3. “Let me help you with that beer.” (TM)

If you are interested in engaging IM Smith’s services as a Professional Refrigerator Organizer, you may contact him directly at:

Today, as I was walking up Chestnut Street, I saw the following sign, advertising a one-hour Landy cognac bottle signing (!) by Snoop Dogg at the state liquor store! Only in Philadelphia…

There were about a hundred people waiting when I walked up Chestnut at 3:00, and about a dozen faithful fans left when I walked back over an hour later…he was late and perhaps did not even show up.  I love Snoop Dogg because he made a True Blood rap (about Sookie…maybe I’ll post it later)!  How could you disappoint Philly??

All the liquor stores are owned and operated by the state, (aka, the “Commonwealth,” a charmingly archaic moniker which probably derives from the state’s Quaker roots.) This regulates prices at a reasonable level but is also quite shocking to people from other states, who are accustomed to being able to find liquor anywhere, even in drugstores like CVS, as I have seen in the South. Having come of age in New York City, during partying jaunts, my friends and I would simply pop into the corner store and pick up some beer or wine to lubricate the evening. These days, as a parent and homeowner, I am less inclined to purchase alcohol at all, but when I do, it must be a highly calibrated event. State stores’ hours are minimal (they are often closed Sundays), and the pickings are usually slim. For the most part, if you desire to purchase an unusual type of liquor, it must be special ordered, although it is usually available. Wines are another matter. Pennsylvanians must take whatever fine wine they can get, when it is available. For those blessed enough to reside in well-to-do neighborhoods or towns (such as the Society Hill area of Philadelphia, or the suburban Main Line), there are special state stores which offer “Chairman’s Select” wines. As the largest single buyer of wines in the world, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has a good deal of bargaining clout. Fortunately for some, Pennsylvania sends its representatives throughout Europe and California, scouting and bargaining for fine wines at discounted prices. So, you may occasionally find a bargain wine, such as a delicious and refreshing fine Gavi from Northern Italy, at a ridiculously low price like $7.

Pennsylvania knows that one of the best sources of revenue is liquor markup, and so it rarely discounts its liquors more than a dollar or two. Because the number of state stores are limited, some are large, center city superstores, like the one on Chestnut Street between 12th and 13th Streets.

Beer is not sold through state liquor stores, but is sold exclusively through private beer distributors who only sell it by the CASE or KEG. This practice seems to encourage low-intensity, beer belly alcoholism. Penn State is a well known party school, and perhaps this is a contributing factor. Who knows why this practice is the case, but perhaps it is due to the large number of private breweries in Pennsylvania who wish to sell their own products to the public.  If you are so inclined, you may go into a bar and get a six-pack or less of “take-out beer,” although of course, this is usually overpriced, since it is sold by an establishment, and doubly marked up.

This has little or nothing to do with chess, except for the fact that many chess players are eager tipplers, or at least enjoy the occasional drink after a hard fought match.  The Inventors will surely be celebrating after the Playoffs!

Franklin Vanquishes All Opponents

Bartell,T (2429) – Gulko,B (2587) [E53]
USCL Philadelphia vs New Jersey, 23.08.2010

” 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 Classical Nimzo Indian 4…0-0 5.Bd3 d5 6.a3 , an unusual move order; usually white just completes development: Nf3, 0-o, and then worries about what to do with the bishop [6.Nf3 c5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.a3] 6…Bxc3+ 7.bxc3 dxc4 to keep a nice pawn structure, the bishop will have a good home after b6 [7…c5 8.cxd5 exd5 9.Ne2] 8.Bxc4 c5 9.Nf3 Qa5 black hopes that the bishop will be misplaced on d2, I was doing a little prep before the game and noticed this game Gulko-Adams with Qa5 liked the idea [9…Qc7 also fine or just b6] 10.Bd2 Qc7 11.Bd3 b6 12.e4 probably better is [12.Qe2 Bb7 13.e4 Qc6 14.Ne5 Qa4 Tactical antics ensue but white is fine. Milov-Lugovoi, 2002] 12…Ba6 after the bishops come off, white’s attacking chances become reduced; after e5 he will be left with a backward d-pawn and a hole on d5 13.Bxa6 Nxa6 14.e5 Ne4 intended to stop Ng5 where it could cause problems or land on d6 at some point 15.0-0 Rf-d8 for the same reason above [15…Qb7 good also] 16.Bg5 white insists on getting a knight to d6; black has to take it, or he could find himself in big trouble, as the knight on e4 doesn’t have a home 16…Nxg5 17.Nxg5 h6 18.Ne4 cxd4 19.cxd4 Qd7! black gets out of the way and prepares to dislodge the knight with his own 20.Nd6 Nc7 21.Qg4? giving up the d6 knight without a fight. Gulko probably got a little frustrated with the position and decided to burn some bridges [21.Nb7! anonying 21…Rdb8 22.Nd6 Nb5 23.Qa4 a6 24.Rab1] 21…Nb5 22.Nxb5 Qxb5 23.h4 Qb2 wins a pawn 24.Rad1 Qxa3 25.Rfe1 Qf8 making sure I don’t get mated, now just have to get the queenside rolling 26.f4 still coming ahead, although weakening probably lifting some rooks would of been better 26…Rd5 with the d pawn blockaded black pretty safe 27.f5 exf5 28.Qxf5 Rad8 29.Qg4 Qe7 30.e6 fxe6 31.Rxe6 Qd7 now black wins the d pawn too but white had to try something 32.Kh1 Rd6 [32…Rxd4?? 33.Rxd4 Qxd4 34.Re8+] 33.Rde1 Rxd4 34.R1e4 Rxe4-+ the next couple of moves are just spent trying to simplify and not get mated 35.Qxe4 Rf8 36.Re7 Qd6 37.Kg1 Qf4 38.Qe6+ Kh7 39.Rxa7 Qd4+ 40.Kh2 Qxh4+ 41.Kg1 Qf2+ 42.Kh2 Rf4 43.Ra3 Rh4+ 44.Rh3 Qf4+ 45.Kh1 Rxh3+ 46.Qxh3 Qc1+ 47.Kh2 Qb1 48.g4 b5 49.Qe3 Qc2+ 50.Kh1 b4 51.g5 b3 52.Qb6 hxg5 53.Qe6 Qd3 54.Qg4 Qf1+ 55.Kh2 Qf4+ 0-1 ”

Thanks, Tom.  Once again, I’ll say that Philadelphia’s having won the match is not shocking to me at all.  It should have been expected, or at least, suspected that Philadelphia would have won on Boards 3 and 4.  Two points from the lower boards count just as well as two points from Boards 1 and 2 towards the match, and so a draw or better could easily have been predicted for Philadelphia.  It also was rather unlikely that neither Smith nor Bartell could have managed to obtain a draw from his opponent.  Of course, Gulko came off an 8-0 winning streak, but it has been a long time since last season, and perhaps he hasn’t played any tournament games in the meantime.

Stay tuned for posts in upcoming weeks with player interviews and analysis.

NOTE:  I am working on figuring out how to embed .pgn files in WordPress without purchasing extra services.  If I can’t do so, this blog may move to blogspot.  Suggestions are appreciated.

Tom Bartell shocks GM Gulko, leads Philly to win over NJ

GM Boris Gulko was an amazing 8-0 before this game, and last year he defeated Bartell with relative ease. This made it all the more surprising that Bartell turned the tables, defeated Gulko with the black pieces, and led the Inventors to an opening week win.”

Well… to those who know Tom, this is not a “shock.”  Although Gulko is an extremely strong player who, I believe, has a plus score against Kasparov, Tom has beaten many grandmasters before.  When asked whom, he said, “I don’t know…so many, I can’t name them all…” One memorable win was certainly over GM Shulman in the 2007 World Open.   (Perhaps some IM norm tournament invites will be in the works for FM Bartell?)

Former US Champion Joel Benjamin played an excellent game against Bryan Smith, who says he was not happy with the position he got after the opening since, he said, as early as 5. Nf3, the position was common, yet Smith felt the best moves were forced for white afterwards until Benjamin’s move 9. …0-0-0.  From that point, Smith said he would have rather played black in this known position.  Dehmelt’s win over Shen and Costigan’s win over Finn clinched the win for Philadelphia, 3-1.  My even board spread theory (see previous post) proved correct….the strength of our four masters on all four boards proved to be the advantage in this sweet win.

Bartell has promised to provide analysis of his win over Gulko here, so check posts in the upcoming days…

Go Inventors!

Welcome back to a new year of the U.S. Chess League and the Philadelphia Inventors.

In the past few years, the team’s progress has been suspenseful, to say the least, and heartbreaking, to be blunt.  The team has taken fans’s hopes to the point where they could see the door to the playoffs opening…and then slamming unceremoniously in their faces.  Most players have performed either inconsistently well, or performed consistently poorly!  GM Kudrin’s performance last season, where he lost most games, compared with the previous season, where he at least drew most games, was the most pronounced contrast, but we have seen inconsistent play from all top players, especially IM Bryan Smith and FM Tom Bartell.  While last season, Smith carried the team’s respectable performance, the previous season his play was unreliable while Bartell and IM Costigan were the team’s top performers.

This season brings changes to the Inventors.  Kudrin and Lenderman are off the roster, and GM Panchanathan is on.  Another new addition is the FM Karl Dehmelt.  Panchanathan is a grandmaster, but his rating is so close to Smith’s that his place on Board 1 with Smith on Board 2 still allows for strong boards three and four.   Most likely, Bartell, Costigan, and Wilson will continue to be strong staples of the team, with Bartell often taking over Board 2 in Panchanathan or Smith’s absence.  Bartell and Costigan have had some wonderfully strong results at various points over the last few seasons, with Bartell in particular performing well against higher rated GMs.  Let’s hope we also see WGM Jennifer Shahade also playing regularly for the team this year!  That would bring some great publicity and new fans.  Although since her father, Mike is no longer team manager and Richard Costigan has taken over that role, the likelihood of this may be reduced, but we can hope for this happening.

The Philadelphia Inventors do not have some of the advantages that other teams have.  From what I have heard, we do not have a lot of sponsorship.  So, the players are playing mostly out of a labor of love.  The Franklin Mercantile could use a bit of renovation, especially with regard to its computers.  Most players will be using older desktops, and there are no move relayers.  Players have sometimes complained that they have problems seeing the pieces on the monitors.  The club’s internet connection is slow, which could also reduce the quality of play under time pressure.  This could be an impediment in crucial matches.

I will post pictures and info from the game as soon as possible.  For now, I will present an Inventor-in-Training.  23 month old Philadelphian, Lucas Bartell, already knows the names of his chess pieces, and one of his favorite activities is operating alternating sides of a chess timer, blitz style!  Born during the 2008 season, he has been watching Daddy, Tom, play chess since he was born.  Go Daddy!