Sunday, March 30, 2008

Dateline: Skokie

Adam Strunk (left) of the Chicago Blaze with tournament organizer Sevan Muradian

The Holiday Inn in Skokie was the center of local chess action this weekend, combing tournaments for the Illinois Girls’ State Championship, the Susan Polgar girls qualifier, and the Arnold Denker meet to determine the top high school chess player in Illinois.

Your humble blogger was there, and so was that national chess power couple IM Irina Krush and GM Pascal Charbonneau. Pascal reviewed games with the Denker guys as Irina helped preside over the Polgar tournament while preparing to face Armenian women’s champion IM Lilit Mkrtchian this week.

Members of the Chicago Blaze were on hand, including Adam Strunk and Ilan Meerovich, who competed in the Denker tournament. IM Jan van de Mortel stopped in as well, and it was all copasetic, despite the fact that Irina and Pascal are part of the Blaze’s U.S. Chess League rivals, the New York Knights (she as the team’s manager; he as Board One).

It wasn’t all sweetness and light, however. I lost a game to Chessdad64 that I probably could have won, since I was up a piece at one point. Once again my weakness in middle-game tactics (and his tactical strength) got the better of me, and I blew my advantage. Worst of all, since I botched the recording of the game, I’ll never figure out where I went wrong. Hence don’t look for that game on Wacky Wednesday.

U.S. Women's Champion IM Irina Krush (center) presents trophies to Polgar competition winners Sonya Vohra and Victoria Bian. (Hat tip: Glenn)

GM Pascal Charbonneau (right) reviews a game with two Denker players. That's Kevin Velazquez in the foreground.

Local chess leaders Maret Thorpe and Chris Christmas explore the Exchange Variantion of the Ruy Lopez.

More from Glenn.

(Revised 03/31/08)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Blaze Logo Unveiled

In one of the first steps toward making the Chicago Blaze a full part of the U.S. Chess League, Commissioner Greg Shahade today unveiled the team’s new logo on the league’s Web site. I think it’s gorgeous. The logo was created by Michael LeGrand and Dan Halka under Greg’s direction and with a lot of input from Blaze people here in Chicago. Many thanks for a great job. As the USCL site explains, the emblem represents the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and the surviving Water Tower on North Michigan Ave., whose structure conveniently happens to suggest a bunch of chess rooks.

The Chicago Blaze will be a new expansion team in the USCL, a league of professional chess teams from around the country. Until now the league has had no Chicago team, but the area’s top players have rallied around the Blaze and should make it a contender from day one. Details here and here, and stay tuned for more Blaze developments in the weeks and months ahead.

By the way, in case you hadn’t heard, Mrs. O’Leary’s cow has been all but totally exonerated and cleared of any culpability in starting the fire. Alas, however: justice delayed is justice denied, and the poor bovine is no longer here to enjoy the sweet satisfaction of getting her good name back.