Archive for the ‘Tournaments’ Category

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 just completed Round 3 of the Suffern Snow Cone Swiss. Some people think chess is easy, but the photos from tonight’s matches say otherwise. We are always looking for new members. If you want to test your mettle, come on out to the Leo Lydon house and join the action.



To see more photos, go to our events page.

2014-sochi-winter-olympic-medalWe recently completed another year of activity in Suffern.

Hard to believe, but the end of 2013 marked our 7th full year since we moved to Suffern.

For those who like to keep a record of such things, our first event since moving from Montvale was held in December of 2006.

Another fun exercise we enjoy, is reviewing the past year’s results and giving a shout out to those with notable accomplishments. We don’t have the funds to give out Olympic Medals, so hopefully a couple of lines in the blog will be sufficient!

  • Club Champion:  George Grasser – we held a total of 10 events in 2013. George won or tied for first in 7 of the 10 events.
  • Other Champions: George Mendez, Roger Pedersen, Ken Reyes, Louis Winokur each of the “other” champions won (or tied) one event each.
  • Most Active: Roger Pedersen only played in a few events at our club, but played in over 60 tournaments over the course of 2013. In the end, he played 189 matches in 2013 and had a .622 winning percentage.
  • Best Winning Percentage: This one wasn’t even close. George Grasser had a great year, playing a total of 95 matches and had an impressive .732 winning percentage.
  • Largest Rating Increase: A few club members showed great improvement in 2013 with large ratings jumps from January to December. Louis Winokur started the year rated 1699, but had a strong second half, improving to 1854 – an increase of 155 points. Former regular, Lazar Vilotijevic continued his rise towards master level, by improving from 1947 to 2101 – a jump of 147 points. Finally, Saul Cohen also rose through the ranks, improving from 1580 to 1723 – a rise of 143 points.

Thanks to everybody who came to play in 2013. Special thanks to Gerry Freel for continuing to be our main Tournament Director and doing the pairings week in and week out.

If you’re reading this for the first time, come on down to the Leo Lydon house and have some fun. We’re always looking for new players to participate.

Marshall Door 0020Back in May, I had just gotten back from a family vacation in Cancun and had a few days before I was to start at a new job. As I pondered the situation, I realized it was too late in the season to go skiing and too early to take a trip to the beach.

What could I do with my spare time?

Naturally, my thoughts turned to the idea of taking a trip into the city to visit the Marshall Chess Club. It’s fun to plan a trip to the city and get a chance to play some new people in a tournament setting. It was also a chance to play in a Thursday night tournament as opposed to a weekend event. What follows is a short chronicle of my day …

3:00 p.m. Get my game face on, check directions.


Too late to do any more studying. Time to think about my strategy in a short time-control event. Four rounds of “Game 30” chess in one evening. I can’t change my style from positional to attacking chess, but I need to get out of the opening quickly to allow time to think about the middle game.

5:00 p.m. Drive to the city. Pray for light traffic. Look for parking. 

No way to know what rush hour may bring, but I’m hoping it won’t be a big deal to park in the city on a Thursday afternoon in the village. Luckily traffic is light, but my GPS device doesn’t work well in the Village. Narrow streets tend to confuse the device, luckily I’ve been to the Marshall before. Then a new challenge appears, few spaces and lots of Muni Meters!

6:00 p.m. Register for the Event. Take some tourist photos. 

Freedom Tower 0010Find a spot by the meter. Throw some quarters in to buy some time so I can register for the event. After arriving at the familiar front door, ring the bell, enter the club and feel the history. If you’re a chess fan, there’s no greater feeling than walking into the Marshall. It’s a piece of living history. The walls are covered with pictures from the past. At the top of the stairs there’s a plaque showing all of the past champions, dating back to the 1920’s. Next to that is a list of the current members, check out all of the Grandmasters on the list.

After registering, I went for a walk to grab a slice and throw a few more quarters in the meter. While crossing the street, I could see the impressive silhouette of the new Freedom Tower. I wait until the time is right and stop for a moment in the middle of the street to take a cell phone picture. Nice shot. Makes a great screen saver on my phone.

7:00 p.m. Round 1 (vs. the Young-Gun)

Since my rating is 1740, I know I’ll be playing up. At the Marshall, you never know who you’ll get. I draw Justus Williams, who has a rating of 2333. Don’t get intimidated, just play your game and see what happens. To my surprise, my plans go well and I made it through the opening without any problems.

BrooklynCastleI keep my head down and try to make the best move without worrying about my opponent’s rating. By move 13 I have a five-minute edge on the clock. Suddenly, after move 18, I have 17 minutes on my clock, and he has only 6 minutes left. Maybe I could find a way to draw or perhaps I might even win if his clock continues to run …

Marshall Wall 0028

Not a chance. I blunder a few moves later and he cuts me into little pieces!

(A couple of months later, I watch the movie Brooklyn Castle and realize that Justus is one of the young, talented chess players highlighted in the movie!)

8:15 p.m. Round 2 (Even it Up)

In the second round, I face an unrated player. Should be an easy match … maybe not. As the game progresses I realize that you can’t take anybody for granted. I try to keep making the best move and hope that the rating system means something. Sooner or later he’s bound to slip up. Eventually, he makes a mistake and I have the advantage, but then it’s my turn to make an error and we’re even again. In the end, my experience and an edge on the clock allow me to pull out a victory as the clocks tick down.

Marshall Pieces 0027 trim

9:30 p.m. Round 3 (Another Master!)

The reward for having an even score is another tough opponent. Oliver Chernin is rated 2200 and is a regular at quick rated events. No time to worry, just play the best moves. Easier said than done. After a slow start, I manage to drop a pawn, but then something funny happens. I decide to stop worrying about who my opponent is and try to find something positive in my position.

Suddenly, I’ve ganged up on the king with three pieces (see below) and forced him to move the monarch to f8. At this point I had about 15 minutes left and my opponent had 10 minutes on his clock. Suddenly, I saw the surprise tactic Qe4?! After the recapture Qe4, the sneaky Knight delivers check on d7 and evens things up by capturing the queen!

Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t able to keep it going. Eventually, I made another blunder in the endgame and everything fell apart.


10:45 p.m. Round 4 (a Chance for Redemption)

Final round. Time to focus. Shake off the last defeat. Try to be mentally tough. After four hours, mental and physical fatigue start to set in.

Joseph Lux is rated 2015. Another strong player for sure, but at least he’s not a master!

I decide to play out of character and adopt a different plan to his initial Nf3 than I normally would. The game follows a familiar pattern. Twists and turns and an even middle game. A quick mental lapse causes the loss of a wing pawn. Things fall apart and I have to resign.

12:00 a.m. Find the Car. The Long Ride Home.

It’s been a long day. During the drive home, I replay each of the games in my mind. Though it’s not pleasant to lose, I know that I played well in the opening and fought hard in the middle game. A few more good moves and who knows … I might have toppled a master (at least it’s nice to think so). Even so, it was a fun day and I can look forward to entering the games into Fritz and doing a thorough post-mortem.

In the end, it’s always about trying to improve. Looking at the games after the fact, I can take away the emotion from the heat of the battle and understand how each of the participants could have played better. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll find the right plan the next time around.

At the beginning of each year, it is interesting to take a look back at the results from our tournaments to see who had the best performances at our Wednesday night events. There are some surprises to report this year. For the first time in a long while, the winner of the most events was not Arthur Feuerstein or Roger Pedersen.

Most Tournament Wins

In 2011, we held a total of eleven events – ten tournaments and one impromptu match-play night. To be fair, a “tournament winners” is defined as the person with the most points after playing five rounds (wins derived from extra matches by playing two boards were not counted). Based on this criteria, our new club champion is George Grasser, who won four of the ten events. Roger Pedersen was a close second, winning three events over the course of the year. Below is a tally of first and second place finishes for those who won at least one tournament (note there are more than 10 winners as there were a few ties for the most points):

  • George Grasser       4 wins, 2 seconds
  • Roger Pedersen      3 wins
  • George Mendez      2 wins
  • Lazar Vilotijevic     1 win, 3 seconds
  • Arthur Feuerstein  1 win, 1 second
  • Chris Zelenka          1 win, 1 second
  • Dan Zonenberg       1 win

Most Improved Players

Three players showed dramatic improvement in their ratings in 2001, improving by a full rating class over the course of the year. Lazar Vilotijevic had a rating of 1704 prior to our first event of the year. At the end of our last event, his rating improved to 1905, a 201 point improvement moving from a mid Class B player to the middle of the Class A range. Alexander Poste had a similar success story, moving from a rating of 1643 to a rating of 1829 at the end of our last event. Last but not least, Avrahom Lewinson started the year at 1587 and jumped 185 points to a rating of 1772 by the end of the Welcome Winter Swiss.

Best Attendence (2010 to 2011)

Two of our club members have consistently attended at least one round for the vast majority of our events over the past two calendar years. According to the Suffern Chess Club stats on the USCF site, Roger Pedersen and Louis Winokur have both participated in 21 events over this time period. Three players have attended 20 events – Fred Sauberman, Saul Cohen and Gerry Freel.

Most Active

Some of our players love to burn the candle at both ends and play in numerous tournaments each year. I was surprised to see that two of our members played a combined 390 games in 2011. Lazar Vilotijevic played an astounding 243 matches in the last 12 months! I’m not sure when he found time to eat or sleep, but there’s no doubt that he is battle-tested and ready to compete. Roger Pedersen was also very active, playing in 147 matches over the past 12 months.

Our first matches of the new year will take place this Wednesday, January 4th. It will be interesting to look back at the end of the next year to see how the above list changes by December 2012.

Chess Road Trips

Posted: September 17, 2011 in chess, Tournaments
Tags: , ,

Hey dudes. If you’re looking for some more groovy locations to play chess, we have the skinny on where to take a road trip. So load up your VW Bus with your boards, pieces and clocks and follow the positive vibrations to the following locations:

Eastern Team Championship, Sheraton Hotel, Stamford, CT (11/4-11/6 or 11/5-11/6):

There’s $8,000 in the prize fund for this new team event.  Open to teams of 4 , match point scoring. Player ratings for the team must average under 2,000. The alternate must have the lowest rating on the team.

Here are the other details – 5 round Swiss, Game 40/2, SD/1. For the two day option, Rounds 1-2 will be Game 75. Entry fee is $300 per team if mailed by 10/27 or online by 11/1. Cost is $340 on site. For further details, go to our friends at the Continental Chess Association

International Chess Academy

Our friend Diana Tulman at the ICA recently sent us a list of dates for upcoming Open Tournaments. All tournaments are held on Sundays at the Bergen Academy located at 200 Hackensack Avenue, Hackensack, NJ. Tournaments are usually 4 Rounds with a Game 60 time limit. Contact Diana for specific details on entry fees and start times. She can be reached at the following email address:

Upcoming dates are –

  • 10/16/2011
  • 12/11/2011
  • 1/29/2012

Garry Kasparov the former world champion is close to agreeing to terms to play a simul in Suffern. The negotiations were a long and arduous process which occurred over many months.

How did this come to pass? Sometimes truth is indeed stranger than fiction. (Or fiction is a lot like truth).

One of the Suffern chess club’s long-time members has links to Russia. In fact, before his grandfather came over on the boat in 1909, he was part of his parent’s long time wine and cheese business. The Vinokur Vintners were partners with the Kasllerikov Brothers and had a monopoly on the market. During that time, young Michael would help deliver milk to Garry Kasparov’s parents in the old country.

Garry Kasparov

Image via Wikipedia

Fast forward 70 years. In 1979, Michael ran into Garry Kasparov’s parents in midtown Manhattan. They were in town accompanying Garry as he was publicizing his upcoming world championship match. They had such a good time reminiscing that they agreed to come up to his house in Westchester and meet the family.

At the time our club member was only 13 years old, but he thoroughly impressed Kasparov and they have stayed in touch ever since. After meeting up with Kasparov, young Louis agreed that Garry’s manager Sidd Finch said it best:

“He’s a player, part yogi and part recluse. Impressively liberated from our opulent life-style, deciding about yoga — and furthering it boldly.”

Now, in 2011, Garry has agreed to fly out to the US on the Russian version of the Concorde SST to spend a few hours in Suffern. Like all grandmasters, Kasparov has his quirks and to satisfy his requirements, the simul will be run under the following conditions:

  1. A maximum of 75 players will be allowed to compete in the simul.
  2. Entrants must have a minimum USCF rating of 1600 or be able to prove that they have had at least 20 hours of instruction from a chess teacher with a rating of 2200 or higher.
  3. All clocks must be placed on Garry’s left-hand side and tilted at a 4 degree angle towards the champion.
  4. Time controls will be Game 21, with a 12 second increment.
  5. To avoid any fouls, all players must agree to move their pieces and touch the clock with their left hand only.
  6. To reinforce the above rule, players will be required to sit on their right hand and will incur a 5 minute penalty if they violate this stipulation.
  7. Only 1 bathroom break will be allowed for each player. When leaving for their break, players will be accompanied to the bathroom by a tournament director.
  8. Entrants to the tournament must pay a $10 entry fee, and agree to purchase a copy of his book My Great Predecessors for $45 on or $25 for a Kindle friendly version
  9. All people present at the event must sign an affidavit that they will never become a member of the Communist Party or aid and abet in any fundraising for party candidates.
  10. The Towns of Suffern, Montebello, and Airmont must agree to rename their main streets “Garry Kasparov Way”

Most of the above conditions have already been met. The last sticking point is getting the towns to agree to add a real estate tax surcharge of $100 per resident to satisfy his appearance fee of $25,000. Though some fear a taxpayer revolt, it is our opinion that the documentary film will help offset the costs and will have great potential to win a prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

We will add a new post once the final negotiations are complete. Be sure to circle your calendars and save the date. With luck, Garry will visit Suffern to compete in the simul on 4/31/11.

No Chess Next Week – 4/6/11

Posted: March 31, 2011 in Tournaments

Thanks for coming out tonight for Round 3 of the Almost Summer Swiss. Per my announcement tonight, Gerry and I will not be available next week, so we’ll take a week off.

Round 4 will be played on 4/13/11.

(For those of you too young to remember life before 24 hour TV – channels used to sign off the air late at night and they would put up these annoying color bars until they started up again in the morning!)

No Matches Tonight 1/26/11

Posted: January 26, 2011 in chess, Tournaments

Due to the impending snow storm tonight, the chess club will be closed. A new tournament will start next week on February 2.

The last tournament – “Suffern Snowflake Swiss” has been rated and can be viewed on the USCF website.

For your convenience, we’ve added a link here – Suffern Snowflake Link

The last Suffern Tournament of 2010 is underway. As I was looking for a unique name for the tournament, I thought it would be interesting to look up famous birthdays for 11/17 and with apologies to Danny DeVito, I decided to honor Louis XVIII who was the last French monarch to die while reigning.

Since our last blog, my “email box” has been flooded with notices about various tournaments that will be held in the month of December. If you’re looking to play in a large event, you might want to pick from one of the following:

Atlantic City International

This event will have a $50,000 prize fund (based on 500 entries) and will be held in Atlantic City, NJ from 12/17 to 12/19. This is a 10 round tournament with an entry fee is $149. The big news for this tournament is that Gata Kamsky will be one of the players. He is also going to play a simul on the Thursday before the tournament starts. For more information visit

Empire City Open

If you’d prefer to stay a little closer to home, the Empire City Open will be held at The New Yorker Hotel from 12/26 to 12/28. This tournament has $10,000 in guaranteed prizes and a $98 entry fee for a 6 Round Swiss. To learn more, visit

Eastern Open

If you have plans to be in our nation’s capitol after the Christmas holiday, you can participate in the Eastern Open, which is being held from 12/27 to 12/30. This tournament will be an 8 Round Swiss with an entry fee of $100 to $125 depending on what section you play in. The prize fund will be $17,500 and GM Alex Lenderman will be giving a free lecture on 12/27 at 10:30 a.m. Additional information is available at

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