The Last Post (for now)

Posted: March 6, 2016 in chess

Hi everybody –

Per our early posts this year, the Suffern Chess Club recently went through a period of upheaval as we had difficulties in securing an economical place to play each week.

That situation was solved when we merged with Bergen Chess Mates. At the time we weren’t sure if that would be a temporary or permanent solution to our problems. We’re happy to report that the merger has gone swimmingly and everybody has enjoyed playing on Monday nights at our new home base.

That said, the Suffern Chess Club will not renew its charter when our Club Membership is up for renewal later this month. Our website will also revert to it’s official wordpress domain in a couple of weeks (

I’ve enjoyed writing the posts for the site over the past 9 years. It’s given me a chance to dabble in creative writing exercises and have some fun along the way. There are 144 posts on the site, and we’ve received almost 48,000 views and had 10,500 visitors over that time.

I won’t say goodbye as much as farewell. If the mood strikes me, I may start creating posts again. But for now, we’ll leave things as they are.

Have fun and best of luck. Remember this:

  • Keep studying.
  • Keep playing.
  • Keep fighting.
  • Watch out for tactics.
  • And you will win your fair share of matches!



kings_1063 (crop) med res


A personal favorite of mine from XKCD …

Think Logically

Chess Enlightenment (from XKCD)

Posted: April 15, 2015 in chess

Another chess cartoon from our friends as XKCD …

Chess Enlightenment

The Phoenix Rises (We’re Moving)

Posted: March 27, 2015 in chess

Phoenix cover

As many of you know, the Suffern Chess Club has gone through a number of changes over the years. The club has changed locations from time to time in order to secure a suitable and affordable location to play rated tournament games.

We’ve had a great run of over seven years at our Suffern location. However, rising fees for our playing space have forced us to re-invent ourselves once again.

So, starting on Monday, March 30, 2015 we will officially merge with the Bergen Chess Mates and will meet at the United Methodist Church on 100 Dayton Street in Ridgewood, NJ. You can find a street map on the Directions page of this website, or can visit the official Bergen Chess Mates website instead by clicking this link.

The Suffern Chess Club website will remain active, so stay tuned for additional posts on the wacky world of chess.

On another note, while researching Phoenix imagery for this post, we came across the above book by David Rudel which examines the Phoenix Attack variation of the Colle system. To learn more about this approach, click the attached link to the book listing on


Posted: March 15, 2015 in chess

A woman’s point of view on the royal game. It could easily be used as an introduction to a novel!

Epiphany in the Cacophony


I remember the time my father taught me chess. On a Sunday afternoon, I sat cross legged at the center table in the drawing room, silently watching him put the pieces in place. “This is the queen, and this is the king”, he said, holding up the pieces. My eyes widened. I reached for them, running my fingers gently along the piece, examining it closely as he set up the board.

He went on to explain the rules to me. “The aim is to protect the king at all costs” he said, showing me how the different pieces moved across the chessboard. It was the most beautiful game I’d seen. I stopped listening. All I saw was a story. A story of two kingdoms, equal in strength, competing for supremacy.

I saw a battle begin before my eyes. The pieces charged towards each other, falling by the dozen as…

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xkcd logo

Here’s a shout out to one of my favorite websites that you have never heard of: XKCD. You might ask:

  • What is XKCD? It’s a satirical website written by science nerd Randall Munroe. The main feature of the site are whimsical cartoons about human nature, interspersed with tech jokes, pop culture, and generally nerdy humor.
  • Why would somebody create such a weird name for their site? It is strange. The author wanted to create a name that couldn’t be pronounced as a word. He has succeeded.
  • What does it have to do with chess? Nerdiness and chess go hand in hand. While chess isn’t a regular feature of the site, it does come up from time to time. In fact, our “chess on a rollercoaster” post from 3/15/2012 was lifted from this website.

Anyway, a quick Google search for chess and xkcd uncovered some great content that we will reveal in the coming months. The first one is a river chart of dominant players in the NBA and Chess. The Chess chart is a great way for fans of the royal game to see who the best players were and how their playing strength held up over time.

xkcd - dominant players

To see a larger image, click the following link: Dominant Players

Tournament Fee Update

Posted: February 22, 2015 in chess

Please note that we have recently updated our tournament fee structure in order to cover our costs for the tournament space. Going forward, the tournament entry fee will be $15 per player for the 5 round tournament. Alternatively, participants can pay $4 per individual round.

Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions about the updated fees.

Mastering the Marshall

Posted: February 6, 2015 in chess

Almost all chess players set goals for themselves. In fact, it is fair to say that the number one goal among all players is to increase their rating to a level that is 200 points above where they are today.

This site has outlined a number of ways to venture down the road of self-improvement. Learning via computers or reference books are great ways to start. Buried in there somewhere is a simpler goal that can bring great rewards, namely the ability to stay calm under pressure and play the best move – the move that the position demands. Another way to improve is to play a wide variety of opponents.

For this reason, I personally like to make at least one trip to the Marshall Chess Club in Manhattan each year as a kind of “final exam” to evaluate how well I have been playing in a particular year.

In the past, I’ve written more exhaustive articles about the Marshall experience. Instead of retreading over old ground, I’ve decided to tell the story in pictures with a few words of commentary in between.

Marshall - parking

The first step to any trip to the city is to find parking! On Sunday’s there is ample street parking around the Marshall, however in this case I was visiting on a Saturday morning. There are may websites that you can find for discounted garage parking such as If you are lucky enough to find a space as I did on this December day in 2014, be sure to check all of the signs to make sure that the space is legal.

Clock Tower

How do you know if you are near the Marshall? I always look for the Clock Tower. Once I see that, I know I’m right around the corner from 23 West 10th street.

Presb Church

After registering for the tournament, I had some time to kill and decided to take in the sights around the neighborhood. It’s nice to take a stroll and get into a relaxed state of mind to prepare for the long day ahead.

The First Presbyterian Church is an impressive structure on 12 West 12th Street. Built in 1845, it provides a glimpse into the NYC of over 150 years ago.

Washington Arch

Down the street from the Presbyterian Church is the famous Washington Square Arch (with the new Freedom Tower in the background). Another product of the 1800’s, the arch was completed in 1892 in order to commemorate the 100th anniversary of George Washington’s Inauguration as president of the United States in 1789.

W 10th Street

Time to get back to the club for Round 1. Walk back up to West 10th Street and see the beautiful array of Manhattan Brownstones built in the 1800’s. I’ve always wondered what these buildings were worth. I did a little digging and found properties on West 10th street selling for $9.2 million to $24.7 million!

It’s a lot cheaper to visit and pay $40 to play in a tournament.

Marshall DoorWhen you arrive at the address, look for the small sign on the upper left side of the door that says Marshall Chess Club. Press the buzzer for the club (don’t press the other buttons as there are people who actually live above the chess club).

Marshall GM List

At the top of the stairs, you will find a listing of all of the current club members. Thee are 42 Grandmasters on the list, and numerous IMs, CMs, and WGMs as well. What caught my eye in this picture is the name of Marc Tyler Arnold. I played (and lost) to him back in 2003 when he was a 10 year old prodigy with a rating of 2043. (see the 1/25/13 post “Checkmating with Einstein” for more information on my encounters with future GMs).

Marshall Tables

So, what about the actual matches? Well, when I saw the initial pairings, I was surprised to see that I was the highest rated player in the under 1800 section since my rating was 1766. That meant that I would need to have a positive score in the four round event to have any chance to gain rating points.

I was also surprised to realize that the Marshall has radiator heat and that it felt like it was 90 degrees inside the building! Luckily I was wearing a T-shirt underneath my flannel shirt, so I was able to strip down to make it more bearable.

In the end, I finished with a score of 2.5 out of 4, which was o.k. I managed to only lose a few points and played some interesting games along the way against a variety of opponents.

One last thought, watch out for the young players at the Marshall. Though their ratings might only be 1400 – 1500, they are usually on the way up. Since a rating only shows relative strength at a point in time, you need to look at past trends to find out if they are on the rise or are just a low-rated player. I was fortunate to beat an 8 year old via a touch-move error. As a case in point, this player won all of his other matches and increased his rating by over 100 points by the end of the day.

Marshall Shirts

Lastly, if you are “partial to the Marshall” you can purchase a commemorative T-shirt … 

We’ve been informed that village facilities will not be available due to winter storm Juno. Stay warm, study your endgames by the fire, and we’ll see you next week.

Winter Storm Juno

By the way, if you haven’t seen it, the movie Juno is very funny and highly recommended!

Juno - movie

We’ve updated our listing of the top FIDE players (see the bottom left margin of the blog) to reflect the rankings as of January 2015. There were some interesting changes in the top 5 rankings. First of all, there are actually 6 players in the list since there is a 2-way tie for 5th place.

Vladimir Kramnik fell out of the top 5, falling from #3 to #8. He still holds an impressive rating of 2783, but all of the members in the top 5 have ratings at or above 2797.

The new #3 player, Alexander Grischuk is a 32 year old Russian GM who is also a top rated blitz player. A recent article in the Guadrian mentioned that Grischuk supplements his income by playing professional poker. The YouTube video below shows a recent blitz match against Magnus Carlsen.

The remaining players on the list are all familiar names. Vishy Anand is back in the list at #5 after his strong showing in 2014. Even though he didn’t regain the world title, he did show that he is still able to play at a very high level.

Here is the official list:

FIDE #1 - Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen

FIDE #2 - Fabiano-Caruana

Fabiano Caruana

FIDE #3 alexander-grischuk-square-14814

Alexander Grischuk

FIDE #4 - Topalov

Veselin Topalov

FIDE #5 - Aronian

Levon Aronian

FIDE #5 - Vishy Anand

Viswanathan Anand