Archive for the ‘Club Info’ Category

2014 Recap

Posted: January 17, 2015 in chess, Club Info

binocularsHi everyone –

The beginning of a new year is a fun time to stop and review the year that has gone by and think about the year to come. Here at the Suffern Chess Club blog, we like to look back at highlights from our tournaments and achievements from our members.

We completed a total of 9 events in 2014 and are one week away from putting another tournament in the books (which will count as the first tournament of 2015). We started with a Winter Blast and ended the year with Bad Bishops.

This year’s club champion was George Grasser who won five events over the course of the year. Chris Zelenka and the recently newly active Danillo Cuellar each won two events. George Mendez was the other tournament winner.

George and Chris tied for the largest positive ratings swing (+124 points). Chris’ rating rose from 1771 at the beginning of the year to 1895 at the end of the year. George improved his rating from 1800 to 1924 by the end of the year.

Many of our players participate in multiple clubs and USCF events over the course of the year. George Grasser was our most active member, playing 129 matches in 2014. Neil Marcus was also very active, playing 78 matches in various tournaments.

We’re looking forward to an exciting 2015. All are welcome to come out to the Leo Lydon house in January to help us kick off the new year!

elephant_chessBangkok Chess Club

Continuing with our theme of animals and chess, this month’s topic is Elephant Chess. Where can one find both chess enthusiasts and Elephants? Why Thailand, of course! After we stumbled across this picture, we did some research and learned that the Bangkok Chess Club has been around for a number of years. They recently held the 14th annual Bangkok open which attracted 149 participants and 13 Grandmasters from around the world. This year’s champion was Francisco Vallejo Pons, a semi-retired Grandmaster who achieved a score of 7.5VallejoPons points in the nine-round tournament. Pons “retired” from competitive chess back in 2012, but has participated in a number of events since then. In fact, the most recent FIDE ratings list has him ranked at #51 in the world (15 spots ahead of Judit Polgar who is ranked #66). There is a nice write-up on the tournament and the champion at (article link). The Bangkok Chess Club website has not been updated since April of this year, but provides information on how to participate in club events. Surprisingly, the club doesn’t seem to have their own playing location. The website indicates that they play on Tuesday evenings at the Roadhouse Barbecue and on Friday evenings at the Queen Victoria Pub. The club has over 200 active players and does not charge a membership fee, although you can get some bonus points by buying pints at the pub!

Elephant Gambit

While we are on the subject of Elephants, we were surprised to learn that there is actually an Elephant Gambit in chess theory.

ElephantGambitThe position at right is initiated by Black after the moves:

  1. e4  e5
  2. Nf3 d5

The objective is to immediately strike back in the center, develop quickly, and gain the initiative. A look at the 2012 Big Database of 5 million games from ChessBase reveals close to 2,000 games featuring this gambit, many of them as recently as 2011.

What become readily apparent is that this opening leads to very sharp lines. But, if white navigates through the tricky tactics, he can come out on top. A quick look at 73 recent games shows an advantage for white of 33 wins, 23 losses, and 17 draws.

Some interesting continuations were …

3. de  Bd6 (soon followed by an aggressive f5 by black) OR

3. de   e4   4. Qe2  f5 OR

3. Ne5  Bd6  4. d4  de  5. Nc3  Be5 (where black forces an exchange of queens and takes away white’s right to castle).

This isn’t a recommended gambit, but it is tricky and something that can throw off an unsuspecting opponent. So, beware of the Elephant on the chess table, or you might get squashed!


We’ve posted many articles about the wonderful wacky world of chess over the years. Articles have covered a range of topics from celebrity chess players, chess t-shirts, strategy & tactics, trivia, and upcoming tournaments.

Ironically, the one aspect we haven’t covered is how to make an impression at your local chess club. Many new players have come to visit the club over the years and within a few minutes it becomes readily apparent if the new player will become a “regular” or just another person who is more in love with the idea of becoming a chess player instead of the reality of participating on a regular basis.

The following is a list of ways to make an impression at the local club:

How to make a bad impression

  • Slam pieces: Usually the transgression of younger players. Smashing your piece on a square doesn’t make the move any better. In fact, it usually indicate a level of insecurity. (It also annoys the heck out of other players in the club.)
  • Talk on your cell phone: In most tournaments, a ringing cell phone is cause for an immediate loss of half of the remaining time on your clock. A repeated offense can lead to disqualification. At the local club, the tournament director will probably let you off with a warning. To avoid any chance of a sanction, turn off your cell phone before the match.
  • Glare at your opponent: Most people come to the club to have a good time. If they are seasoned players, glaring at them will have no effect, except it might cause ill will and make it hard to have a friendly post-mortem after the match.
  • Talk during matches or while other matches are going on: We all have been guilty of this one at one time or another. Remember that others are playing matches and any side conversations should be held in another room. Talking directly to your opponent (unless you are offering a draw or saying “J’adoube“) to the point of distraction is not acceptable.
  • Repeatedly offer a draw in a losing position: It’s fine to offer a draw during a match. However, if you are in a lost position, it is incorrect to offer a draw after every move. There’s no shame in playing out a lost position to see if your opponent makes an error, or to try to figure out a stalemate opportunity. Repeated draw offers are another form of annoying your opponent. If done repeatedly, your opponent has the right to protest to the tournament director.
  • Tell people why you should have won the match: Hey, it may be true, but generally talk is cheap. Nobody wants to hear why they are an inferior player – especially after they just won the match! Better to hit the books and figure out how to win the next time around.
  • Snicker at moves being played in other matches: It’s fine to clown around when you are playing skittles, but laughing at other people’s moves is not very nice. Remember, everybody was a beginner once.

How to make a good impression

  • Wish your opponent good luck: Once of the nicest traditions in chess is the opening and closing handshake. It’s always nice to spread some positive energy by being polite.
  • Know the rules: It’s not a requirement to memorize the rulebook, but a basic understanding of tournament play will save a lot of headaches in the future. If you don’t know the meaning of “J’adoube (I adjust)”, en passant, or how to offer a draw – borrow a copy of the rulebook, or search the web to learn the basics.
  • Learn how to take notation: This can be intimidating for the beginning player, but knowing how to take notation is a requirement for tournament play. In addition, it provides you with a chance to claim a draw based on repetition or to challenge an illegal move. Most importantly, reviewing the moves at home after a match is one of the best ways to understand your mistakes and to find opportunities that you might have overlooked.
  • Be gracious in victory and humble in defeat: A general rule to live by and one of the best ways to make friends at the club.
  • Have fun: Hopefully that’s why you’ve come to the club in the first place. In a certain sense, it’s fun to crush your opponent with an amazing attack. But since most of us aren’t grandmasters, it’s important to learn to take the good with the bad. One of our favorite old expressions is “It’s better to have a bad day at the chess club than a great day at work” …

Hello again.  We’ve added a touch of class to the site by providing an RSS feed to the New York Times chess blog.  “Gambit” has various articles on goings on in the chess Gambit-crop

world.  The top 5 articles will be listed for your convenience.  Click on the links to see the full posts.

In other Suffern Chess Club News, the Succotash Swiss tournament has been rated and the crosstable link is also posted on the right margin.  My experiment with submitting the tourney online was successful (but time-consuming).  Thanks to the friendly people at the USCF for helping me figure out how to get this accomplished!

Weeee’re Back

Posted: July 19, 2009 in Blogs, chess, Club Info

marble-2knights-best-trim_2191 After a bit of a hiatus, we’ve been able to get the website up and running again.

To celebrate the “relaunch” we’ve added a new look to the site as well.  In the coming weeks we will begin to update the content as well.

As a start to this process, I’ve added a new link for grandmaster Peter Leko and also put in a section in the right column where you can reference the crosstables to our last 3 rated events.

Meanwhile, attendance at the club has been growing steadily over the past few months.  New members have been coming on a regular basis and we have seen a crowd of about 20 members in any given week.

Members have also been stepping up to help run our tournament events.  Bessalel Yarjovski and Louis Winokur (yours truly) are both certified club directors and will be running the next few events to give Gerry a break and to give us more flexibility in case a director is ill or has the nerve to go on vacation!


Posted: January 28, 2008 in chess, Club Info
Tags: ,

leo lydon houseleo-lydon-sign_1070-low-res.jpg

Club Location:  Leo Lydon House, 20 Sylvan Way, Suffern, NY  10901

The club is directly behind Good Samaritan Hospital.  A detailed map of surrounding streets and directions from route 59 are available in the following link.

Leo Lydon Map