To open links in new tabs, click with the middle button (or press Ctrl)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Pan-American Youth Championship

Mexico places just fly off the tongue: Oaxtepec, Tlayacapan, Cuernavaca, Teotihuacan!

On July 10 - 17, 2014, both Ethan and Naomi played for the US team at the Pan-American Youth Championship in Oaxtepec, Mexico:

Many hundreds of young chess players from all the numerous countries of South and North America competed in 9 Swiss rounds, in 12 categories: Open and Girls -- Under 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18.

Ethan placed 12 out of 78 in the Open Under 16 category:

Naomi placed 13 out of 44 in the Girls Under 12 category:

The chess side of this event is best covered by Ted Castro at the USCF report:

The US team won the most medals: 5 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze.  Great job!

To be continued...  Come back soon for our travel adventures and photo albums:







Mexico City





And stay put for the 2014 World Youth Chess Championship in Durban, South Africa, in September:

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Newport June Open, 2009 and 2014

Every fifth year in June, we go to Newport, Oregon, to play chess and enjoy the Pacific Coast

The Newport June Open chess tournament is a staple of the Pacific Northwest summer chess experience.  Oregon's Pacific Coast lives up to the expectations, as does every natural location of this beautiful state.

2009 Newport June Open

June 19, 2009

This was our first interstate car trip in the USA.  Those 300 miles forth and then back were more than what we've ever driven before (e.g. to Vancouver, BC or Spokane, WA).  The longer car trips came only later: Yellowstone, San Francisco (twice), Las Vegas (twice) and San Diego (twice).  This trip to Newport was a significant step in our plunge into the vastness of America.

After what back then felt like a long drive south on I-5, we bore right in Portland, took OR-99 and OR-18 west to the Pacific Ocean and travelled the rest of our way along the Pacific Coast on the super-scenic US-101.  The constant presence of the ocean makes this drive a very special experience.  

At the entrance to Newport we ate at Izzy's Buffet and then collapsed at the Waves Motel.

June 20, 2009

Ethan (who was 11) and Naomi (who was 6) started playing chess in the Central Lincoln PUD.  Naomi finished her game fast, and we three drove south to the Yaquina Bay State Park, where we toured the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, with its preserved living quarters and the unforgettable Hair Display (click to see)!

After Ethan's game ended, we took him to the Nye Beach, where we ran into a grand wedding party with the Pacific Ocean as the backdrop.

June 21, 2009

While Ethan played a long game in Round 3, Naomi finished it fast, and we three drove north to see the massive Yaquina Head Lighthouse, with its huge Fresnel lens.  After his game finished, we took Ethan there too and visited the Interpretive Center.

We travelled back on the scenic US-101, and through the harrowing bridge in Astoria, OR.  At the entrance to Raymond, WA a cop stopped me: "You drove 40 mph in a 30 mph zone!"  I remained silent, and he let me off the hook: "Slow down, will ya?"  It was Father's Day.  Everybody seemed amused, except me.  Ethan laughed: "That cop had a really big gun!"

2014 Newport June Open

June 13, 2014

Fast forward five years.  This time only Naomi (11) plays in the Newport June Open chess tournament, while Ethan (16) stays at home amid his completion of grade 10 and his early entrance to the university (yay!)

The tournament time control is: game in 90 minutes, with 30 seconds increment each move.  This is a good preparation for the upcoming Pan-American Youth Chess Championships in Mexico City, in July 2014.  There Ethan and Naomi will play for the US team in the sections Boys Under 16 and Girls Under 12, respectively.

It also should help Naomi prepare for the World Youth Chess Championship in Durban, South Africa, in September 2014, where she will play for the US team in the Girls Under 12 section.

On Friday, June 13, we were delayed by an important business, and started driving late, at 7pm.  For speed, we took I-5 all the way south, then OR-34 / US-20 west to Newport, in darkness.  We arrived very late at night, around 1am, to Knights Inn Newport, half-dead.

June 14, 2014

In the morning, all three of us went to see the magnificent Pacific Ocean at the Nye Beach.  The first round started 12:30pm.  After some eloquent speechifying by the organizers, the game began, we left Naomi to play chess and went to the touristy Newport Bayfront.

We devoured some serious seafood at "Ocean Bleu Seafoods at Ginos", then strolled down the promenade.  After Naomi finished, we all walked around the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, with its views, rocks, and gulls.  We even saw whales in the ocean!  Round 2 started at 6pm, and there was still enough daylight for the two of us to go down to the Yaquina Bay Natural Area and see a variety of tidewater sealife.

June 15, 2014

Round 3 started at 9am.  The organizer H.G.Pitre spoke empathically about the Newport June Open contribution to the local tourist industry and how great this location is for all to come and enjoy.  We certainly couldn't agree more!  

A leaflet at the hotel alerted us to the Gem & Mineral Show, which turned out to be full of real delights.

The Gem & Mineral Show was next to Bayfront, where we gladly spent some more time until Naomi finished her game, and then we all went to the inside tour of the Yaquina Lighthouse.  I always get excited to see its Fresnel lens, made in Paris in 1868!  

Round 4 started 2:30pm, by which time we two were hungry for the seafood lunch at the classic Mo's Restaurant on the Bayfront.  Another stroll along its piers, and we were done.  After Naomi finished, we drove back and arrived home around 10pm, still feeling rested.

Coming Up

Stay put for the next posts from these two world-stage tournaments, where our kids will represent the USA:

  1. Pan American Youth Chess Championship in Oaxtepec, Mexico - July 10-17, 2014.
    Ethan in the Boys Under 16 section and Naomi in the Girls Under 12 section.  All four of us go.
  2. World Youth Chess Championship in Durban, South Africa (!) - September 19-30 2014.
    Naomi in the Girls Under 12 section.  Three of us go, Ethan stays home and starts university.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Anti-Pyrrhic Loss

National Master Peter Lessler (2230) has dedicated the first 5 pages (cover story) of the June 2014 Northwest Chess magazine issue to his game with Naomi (1742) in the first round of the Grand Pacific Open chess tournament, where he eventually won first place!

Peter has chosen his game with Naomi to share with the wide magazine audience for its beauty and depth.  Here is his full article, scanned from the Northwest Chess magazine:

It says in the beginning:

"Despite her 500-point rating deficit, Naomi put up a valiant fight, and aside from a few missed opportunities, the position was drawn until the final moves."

And, 5 pages of mind-boggling chess analysis later, it ends with:

"A stressful game, an interesting game, and a reminder not to take ratings too seriously."

Peter's article instilled such great confidence in Naomi that she won all 3 games in Seattle Chess Club quads on Saturday, June 7 - for the first time!


Saturday, May 3, 2014

WA - BC Intermat in Vancouver

Meeting once a year for 6 years...  for a game of chess!

On Saturday, May 3, 2014 the annual Washington State vs British Columbia International Scholastic Chess Match (Intermat) took place in Vancouver, BC, Canada.  Each year top 2 rated players from each grade in WA compete against the top two BC players from same grades.  The event is sponsored by Chess4Life and BC Youth Chess.

Thus, once a year, Naomi (WA) plays a game of chess with Luke (BC), for 6 consecutive years already!  Sometimes they also meet at other local tournaments, and at the World Youth Championship in Brazil they played ping-pong, as Naomi played chess in the girls section.  

Chess makes you persistent and dedicated to meeting other players!

BC won big this time, good for them!  And for us it was a nice opportunity to stroll again down Vancouver's picturesque waterfront and visit again the famous Granville Island Market.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Grand Pacific Open in Victoria, BC

Victoria Strolls

The Grand Pacific Open chess tournament ran from Friday to Monday, April 18-21, 2014 in Hotel Grand Pacific in Victoria, BC.  Ethan couldn't come due to a school test, so just we two and Naomi went there.

The detailed chess event report is here: 2014 Grand Pacific Open Event Report.  


We drove 3 hours to Port Angeles, left the car there and took the Coho (Black Ball ferry) to Victoria.  Hotel Grand Pacific is next to the ferry terminal, and Victoria Inner Harbor is the nicest walkable area we know:  

Naomi was initially leading in her Round 1 game with a 2216 rated player, who eventually won the tournament!  But then had time trouble in the endgame and lost Round 1.


We veered to Beacon Hill Park to the south east of the Inner Harbor, then north to a shopping street, and finally west to the Fisherman's Wharf, with its unique floating artistic houses:

Naomi lost to a respectable 2068 in Round 2, and also in Round 3.


The north shore of the Inner Harbor has some striking viewpoints.  We discovered a great seafood joint named Blue Fish, with the unforgettable Pacific Rim Chowder.  The wall murals are striking, and the Chinatown is lively:

Naomi got the first victory!  Over a 1810 in Round 4.  And then lost in Round 5.  


In Round 6 Naomi drew with a 1757.  Here are the tournament results: 2014 Grand Pacific Open Results

In the afternoon we all went to the Beacon Hill Park Childrens Farm, which kept us all greatly entertained, then we took the 4pm ferry back to Port Angeles and drove 3 hours home:

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Tacoma Chess, Art and Cars

Cadillac Eldorado vs. Tucker 48; Chihuly vs. Escher; Naomi vs. big guys

Tacoma Chess Club March Open Sundays started on Sunday, March 9, 2014, and continued next Sunday, March 16, 2014. Two games per day with FIDE time control: 90 minutes, with 30 seconds increment. Naomi needs to train for this FIDE time control and Tacoma has many things to offer to accompanying parents.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Total 8 players showed up, many of them big bearded guys dwarfing Naomi (10).  She started the game fearlessly, while we went off to hunt for the city attractions.

First we dived into the huge LeMay America's Car Museum ( opposite Tacoma Dome.  It bested our expectations, by far.  Each of its many sections could be a fascinating full-blown museum by itself: Beetle Exhibit, Showcase Gallery, Custom Coachworks, Master Collection, Ferrari in America, Alternative, Nascar, British.


We are not merely looking at these cars, we are unconsciously imagining our relationships with them.  Just like when looking at a pinup girl or a movie starlet -- in a very benign way.  It's not really a betrayal of our nice, practical and reliable Hondas and Toyotas, it's just "How would I look driving this car?  What life could I have owning it back then?"  For that one minute of looking at this car you get to live that virtual life, supposedly full of adventure, excitement and style.


1953 Cadillac Eldorado

Naomi lost in Round 1 to a FIDE Master.  We fed her in Panda Express and she sat for Round 2 at 2pm.  As always in Tacoma, we went for a walk along the Thea Foss Waterway near the Museum of Glass.  Naomi won the second round and retained her chances for a nice prize.

On the Saturday before the next tournament Sunday, Naomi skied nonchalantly at the Snoqualmie Summit, like on many other Saturdays this winter.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

National Master Viktors Pupols is a legend.  In 1955 he beat young Bobby Fischer with a Latvian Gambit. This is one of only two games that Fischer ever lost on time.  During the first Tacoma Open Sunday on March 9, Viktors Pupols was playing at the Reykjavik Open in Iceland (March 4-12).  Right after returning from Iceland, he went to play in the second Tacoma Open Sunday on March 16.  

When we saw Viktors Pupols paired with Naomi in Round 3, both of us took a deep breath and saw that halo of glory above him.  Naomi said: "Yeah, I know him.  Most likely he will win."  But Ethan beat him once at Seattle Chess Club, maybe she can too?  We threw her into the lion's den and drove away to
Point Defiance Park for a beach walk with a nice view.

When we came back, Naomi was still battling Pupols.  It was a long, difficult game.  We went out to check on Tacoma Art Museum, and then got her phone call.  Naomi won.  Now both our kids beat the player who beat Bobby Fischer.  Life well lived!  

Ralph Anthony 036.JPG
Naomi "The Hair" (white) vs. Viktors "The Fischer Slayer" (black), courtesy Ralph Anthony

With Panda Express Kids Meal sustaining her brain and body, Naomi started the final Round 4 at 2pm, while we went to visit Tacoma Art Museum.  

This museum first entered our hearts with a great exhibition of Norman Rockwell works on May 1, 2011, during the Washington Scholastic Chess Championships.  This time the notable exhibitions were: A Punch of Color, Optic Nerve, Chihuly Gifts.

Naomi won Round 4 and got a $120 prize, obviously happy.


Tournament organizer H.G. Pitre awards Naomi $120 prize