Monday, October 23, 2017

Nice Words from Dr Alan for Us

I was browsing and just stumbled upon this news where Ahyan defeated Oliver Wu last year. So nice to read it -

Oliver Wu (1851) 5-1 Tied for Second  - Oliver is always our top player    and most skilled player at Weibel.  For some strange reason he always seems to lose to a lower rated player in an early round. This weekend it was in the first round.  He lost  to a 1207 player named Ahyan Zaman.  Ahyan, to be candid, is underrated by a lot.  His rating has been a lot higher.  He is one of those young players that goes up and down in his rating and is now on a steady uphill path.  His father is a solid chess player, and just an all around nice guy, who volunteers his time to help the State and National chess communities.  NOTE: I like his Mom as well.  In any case, as in other tournaments, Oliver came back strong. NOTE 2: Oliver was disappointed his trophy wasn’t available as he was told it had broken in transit.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Ahyan Became National Champion for G/30 Under 1600 Section

US National Championship G/30 and G/60 tournaments where organized by Bay Area Chess last September 23-24th respectively. It was held in the Santa Clara Convention center that attracted 11 Grand Masters in the pool for hundreds of players. Ahyan became the champion in Under 1600 section in G/30 format scoring 4.5 out of 5 games! In the process he also earned $663 prize money. This is his second national title. In 2014 he was National Junior champion for Age group 8 and under - a little more than 3 years ago.

After 4 rounds Ahyan was 3.5 and had to defeat the leader Jacob who had full score of 4. So Ahyan was in a must win situation and he made it! USCF published an article on this tournament where Ahyan's name was mentioned generously.

"Ahyan Zaman, a rising talent whose father also competed in the Open section, took clear first in the u1600 section."

In TNM Newsletter IM John Donaldson also reported Ayan's win -

"Two young Mechanics’ regulars had outstanding results in the G/30. 10-year-old Adrian Kondakov defeated his first Grandmaster, Carlos Matamoros of Ecuador, and Ahyan Zaman won the C group with 4½ from 5."

My own performance was ok, got 2 small prize checks in both G/30 and G/60 sections.  But the memorable one for me was defeating the very gentleman IM Anthony Saidy in G/60 in a King's Gambit. After the game Anthony told me that it was his first King's Gambit game in his long chess career.

Here is Ahyan's final round win for the championship title.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Became One of the Seven Champions of Central California Open Under 2050 Section at Fresno

By winning the longest game of the tournament at last round I had a 7-way tie for champion scoring 4 out of 5 in under 2050 section of Central California Open at Fresno. Got $271 prize. Ahyan scored 3.5 out of 5 in under 1650 section and won $33 prize. The event was held in DoubleTree bu Hilton at Fresno from 11th August to 13th August. I took a room there for 2 nights as we made it family chess trip. Sos Hakobyan and his wife were planning to join us but cancelled at the last moment.

Round 1:

Round 2:

Round 3:

Round 4:

Round 5:

Drew Agaginst IM Oscar Cartagena in Carlsen Swiss @Norcal House of Chess

I and Ahyan played a short 3 round Carlsen Swiss chess tournament at NorCal of Chess where I drew in last round against IM Oscar Cartagena. Here are the games I played.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

I Became Champion in Bernardo Smith Memorial Chess Tournament @Mechanics Chess Club, SFO

I became undefeated champion in Bernardo Smith Memorial Chess Under 2200 Tournament  at Mechanics Chess Club, San Francisco this weekend scoring 5.5 out of 6. After last week's joint championship in Fresno in Under 2050 section - this consecutive win came with pleasure of excellent performance from my son Ahyan Zaman too.

Ahyan got his biggest scalp by winning the 1st round against the top seed National Master Michael Lei Wang rated 2186. In the G1 (1 hour each side for first 4 rounds and then 2 hours each side for round 5 and 6) game, we arrived 20 minutes late - so his opponent not only had a rating 644 higher than him but also had a time advantage. His first reaction after winning was that now he can negotiate a full week of screen time back from his Mom!

End of first day and 4 rounds, I was leading the standings with all wins while Ahyan was alone in 2nd position with 3.5 and his first round nemesis Michael Wang and Gary Warmerdan are trailing in 3rd position with 3 points. And the rest of the field is way behind with 2.5 or less points. Ahyan drew the second round against 1767, won the 3rd round against 1650 and won the 4th round against 1892 - all of whom were higher rated than him. Arbiter IM John Donaldson was in trouble to avoid paring between father and son - and paired Michael against me for me instead of Ahyan for 5th round. As I drew the 5th round as per my plan, Ahyan lost to Gary. So I had to play Ahyan in the last round and despite Ahyan's attack and sacrifice, I won. 

The final standings can be found here -

Here is what IM John Donaldson wrote in the following week's Tuesday Night Marathon Newsletter -

MI tournament regular Ashik Uzzaman has been doing well of late. He tied for first in the under-2050 section of the Central California Open in Fresno held August 11–13 and the following week took first in the 12th Bernardo Smith Amateur (for players under 2200) at the Mechanics’ Institute with a 5½ from 6 score, a half-point ahead of Gary Warmerdam. Ashik’s son Ahyan Zaman has also been doing very well, with his USCF rating rising over 400 points in 2017.

Round 1:

Round 2:

Round 3:

Round 4:

Round 5:

Round 6:

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Both I and Ahyan won prize money in Summer 2017 Tuesday Night Marathon at Mechanics

Last night was the last round of Summer 2017 Tuesday Night Marathon. I was playing in second board against the top seed Tenzing Shaw (2310) while each of first 4 boards were deciding the final standings of the tournament. Derek O'Connor won against Romulo in first board being sole champion with 7 points while I luckily drew a 2 pawn down rook end game against Tenzing. Elliott won a competitive game against Condra Diaz being sole runner up. With this draw I became jointly 3rd with 4 others with 6 points out of 8, also grabbing best Under 2200 performance and $120 prize money. My son Ahyan Zaman won a very long and drawish end game against my ex-colleague and friend Bruce Ricard with best Under 1400 performance and $115 prize money! Also in that group with Ahyan the other best Under 1400 performance with the same 4.5 score was my another ex-colleague and friend Ganesh Mathroobutham. A tense night ended with dreaming results for us.

This week's TNM newsletter mentioned the results here.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Attended the seminar by Garry Kasparov on Future of Artificial Intelligence

Last Thursday (8th June) I attended Garry Kasparov's seminar promoting his latest book Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins. The event was organized by The Commonwealth Club at Marines' Memorial Theatre, San Francisco. This one hour event started at noon and was moderated by Holly Kernan, VP of news editing of San Francisco Chronicle, followed by a book signing session in stage by Kasparov. The event was sold out and I am fortunate that I purchased the ticket earlier. In this semiar he discussed about Putin's terrible regime in Russia and gave an optimistic view of artificial intelligence assisting human creativity in future.

I ordered the book from Amazon ahead of time and hence was able to get an autograph of Kasparov on this book along with getting the above picture taken by the photographer. It was a great moment for me as I regard him as the strongest chess player of all time. I have studied his games, his biography, his famous series of chess books - My Great Predecessors, his mammoth clashes over the board with another legend Anatoly Karpov. A lot of my love for chess may be sourced from the enthusiasm from this great chess player.

Book signing photos: The book signing Facebook album is here

Video: Watch the Facebook live stream of the event here

Saturday, April 22, 2017

XCell Chess Club Runner Up in USAT National 2017 Playoffs

We, XCell Chess Club, became runner up in the United States Amateur Team (USAT) 2017 Championship. We won the semi-final against North by 3-1. I lost in third board with White against Michael Auger rated 2268 (almost 300 more than mine) but all our other boards won. In the other semi-final game, East defeated South by 2.5-1.5 margin. South's first board couldn't play due to a personal emergency and hence they had to play up with 3 boards.

In the final we faced the current champion East. I won my game with Black against Warren Wang rated 2198 (again more than 200 points above mine). Arul and Ashrita lost in fourth and second board respectively. In first board Hayk had better position against Ethan Li but drew in time pressure as the game prolonged. Well, we were very close but couldn't make it. We will have to be happy with the runnner up. But this was a great experience and good team work. Kudos to team manager Tigran and XCell Chess Club owner Eshwaran for arranging everything for us. There is always a next time!

This playoff along with the original west zone team championship is the most significant team competition I have ever played!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017 - A New Chess Web Site In Town

I got notified by a web developer John McNeil from my blog about a new chess web site he developed. It's . Being a developer and a chess player myself, I was very appreciative of it. What a clean idea! You can see any FIDE rated player's chess rating history in graph for all 3 formats - classical, rapid and blitz - since 1967 till date! You can select single or multiple players and would be able to visually compare their progress year over year. I quickly checked my graph and see that I am stuck just above 1900 for several years now.

I thank John for undertaking such a visually stunning and useful project for chess players.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Simon Williams on Dragodorf - The New Sicilian Dragon

Along with GM Simon William's Dutch Defence, I have also picked up his Sicilian Dragodorf opening after watching a series of videos by him in Before this I was using the Accelerated Dragon variation by GM Roman Dzinzhichashvilli from the book Chess Openings for Black, Explained. In fact almost all my opening repertoire are from this book and its companion book Chess Openings for White, Explained.

The New Sicilian Dragon was published by Simon at 2009 from Everyman Chess and hence is a bit outdated compared to the fascinating developments made by him in recent years that you can learn from his Killer Dragon DVD pairs. Although I have went through the DVDs twice, I have started reading the book to better internalize the rational and the development of the Dragodorf from its root (relatively speaking). Also I have found Simon explains chess very well, if not as good as Roman, mixing humor all along the way. So its fun reading him or watching his videos. I have also picked his Hillybilly attack against Caro-Kann, King's Gambit with 3. Nc3 variation, Sicilian Grand Prix attack to name a few. His playing style is attacking and hence his openings often have a touch of a pawn sacrifice to gain tempo in development and attack. This I assume will help me master open games.

Simon explained different variations and the theories with the help of 62 full games. Here are those games.

Game # 1

Game # 2

Game # 3

Game # 4

Game # 5

Game # 6

Game # 7

Game # 8

Game # 9

Game # 10

Game # 11

Game # 12

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Fund Raising Quad Held By S.H.A.F and NorCal House of Chess for San Jose Flood Victims

The S.H.A.F Inc., in collaboration with NorCal House of Chess held another successful kids chess quad tournament in NHC premise at Fremont on Saturday, March 26 featuring 36 participants. It is the fourth S.H.A.F chess event and the biggest turnout thus far. Several first-place trophies and medals were handed out as kids battled out in long, tough matches for the first place spot in their respective quads. 

The main goal of this fundraising event was to gather resources and donations for the victims of the recent San Jose flooding and underprivileged children in Bangladesh. Gratefully, they received donations of canned foods, warm clothes, and some toys which will be donated to the San Jose flood victims. Overall, it was a wonderful showing of skill and determination of the players, all for a great cause.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Alfredo De La Cruz vs Ladia Jirasek

A few weeks back Coach Ted Castro of NorCal House of Chess hosted a meet a grit with GM Susan Polgar who was visiting bay area on her chess promotion trip. A few of us followed that with dinner where I got introduced to Fide Master Alfredo. At one point he mentioned about a nice game of his which I was interested to see as I have played with his young opponent in the past - Ladia Jirasek. He sent me the game along with his own detail comments and analysis. I enjoyed this firing game full of attacks and counter attacks and I hope you will enjoy the same. I am giving the  rest of the commentry of the game in Alfredo's own notes below.

A live composition for Memorial Day. Not everyday you have the chance to play a game that outstands itself. From the several recipes for such notable games, not strangely, in this case it required the cooperation from a talented 14-years old player, who simply refused to be positionally crushed by the more experienced master (i.e. me). The following game took place in the last round the recent Best of West tournament, during Memorial Day in the US, in San Jose, CA. Having lost against one of the participating IMs in the 3rd round, due to an incorrect sacrifice from my side, I needed a win in this game to finish in one of the first positions. Despite the formal USCF rating difference, I had seen my young opponent display resourceful games during the tournament, so I expected the game to be interesting. But the best was about to come, yet...

Thursday, March 2, 2017

21 Days To Supercharge Your Chess by Yury Markushin

I recently bought the training program 21 Days To Supercharge Your Chess by Yury Markushin.

Both me and my son are spending approximately 1 hour each day to go through the book and their web site for theoretical and practical sessions. The recommended allocation of time is -
  • Reading the theory = 10 minutes
  • Studying masters’ games/ Working on the attacking chess = 20 minutes
  • Solving tactics = 20 minutes
  • Endgame clinic = 10 minutes
In Day 3, I learnt how to analyze a position. I knew each of those separately but its nice to get it in a bullet point together.
  1. Material on the board
  2. Presence of Threats
  3. Position of the Kings
  4. Presence of open files and diagonals
  5. Pawn structure, weak and strong squares
  6. Center and space
  7. Development and Pieces Activity
In Day 9, I learnt how to analyze a chess game.

Opening: Develop Your Pieces
  • Was it a home preparation line or you had to diverge from it?
  • What other variations of that opening line you have previously played?
  • Did the opening lead to the type of position you want to achieve?
  • Did you obtain any positional/material advantage out of that opening?
  • Overall, whose position was better after the opening?
  • Write down the problems you might have faced in the opening (Development of pieces, Space, King safety, Pawn structure etc)

Middlegame: Realize A Plan
  • Formulate a plan (Minority attack on the queenside, Taking control of the center, Preparing attack on opponent’s castled king etc)
  • What are the tactical and positional possibilities in the position?

Endgame: Count Every Advantage
  • Prepare an endgame plan (winning or drawing) to make every little advantage count
Day 13 teaches to always evaluate the most forcing continuations first in complex situations when a lot of calculations need to be done.The order should be checks, then captures and then threats and this will help reducing the number of variations to caculate.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

We - XcellCHESS Club - Became USA Amateur Team West Champion 2017

Somehow this happened. We became champion in US Amateur Team West Championship held at Santa Clara Convention Center during February 18th to 20th! Out of 6 rounds, we won first 5 rounds straight and drew the last round. Hayk, Ashrita, Arul and Akshithi - all played wonderfully and delivered at critical moments. I am surprised with my own performance as well. My personal score was 4 win and 1 loss. With this my rating jumped up from 2000 to 2097. So now we will play the winners of other 3 zones - East, North and South  in April 22nd for the title of National Amateur Team Champion!

Below is top 4 standings out of 65 teams. Click here for the full list and here for individual performances. Also here is the event summary from us chess site. I noticed a common pattern that the teams who were well balanced, did better than the top heavy teams (as by nature their 4th board has to be weak). 

GM Christian Chirila wrote a news coverage for US chess on this event titled - Grandmaster Amateurs: XcellChess Prevails in Competitive Team West.
1XCELLCXcellCHESS Club (2104.5) - Cnt: 5 W41 W17 W20 W10 W9 D35.517.561.25
NM Hayk Manvelyan (2295) 4.5
Aksithi Eswaran (1664) 1.0
WIM Ashritha Eswaran (2252) 3.5
Ashik Uzzaman (1974) 4.0
Arul Viswanathan (1897) 4.5
2BCC-BISHThe Berkeley Bishops (2172.0) - Cnt: 4 W36 W12 W8 D3 W49 W95.51653.75
IM David $m Pruess (2408) 4.0
NM Bryon Doyle (2203) 4.0
Michael Lei Wang (2177) 4.5
Michael Anderson (1900) 3.5
3BCWEEKThe Berkeley Chess Weekenders (2184.5) - Cnt: 4 W28 W13 W15 D2 W11 D15.01770
NM Jack Qiji Zhu (2399) 2.5
FM Ladia Jirasek (2343) 5.5
NM Gabriel Jame Bick (2280) 5.5
Kevin Yanofsky (1716) 3.5
4BAC-WARBAC Warriors (2164.3) - Cnt: 4 W32 W18 D6 D7 W13 W105.01660.5
FM Konstan Kavutskiy (2445) 4.0
Vinesh Ravuri (2133) 4.5
Theodor Biyiasas (2121) 3.5
Manas Manu (1958) 4.0

Here are the games I played.
  • Round 1 - I didn't play so that our fifth player Akshithi could play.
  • Round 2 - I won against National Master Richard Koepcke (2200)
  • Round 3 - I won against Jamieson Pryor (2015)
  • Round 4 - I won against National Master Annie Wang (2276)
  • Round 5 - I won against Derek O'Connor (2167)
  • Round 6  - I lost to National Master Gabriel Jame Bick (2280)

Update: US Chess Life May 2017 issue covered our news here at page 30.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Killer Dutch by Simon Williams

I started studying The Killer Dutch by Simon Williams recently after I purchased it from . I had weakness against 2.d4 as black all along my life and I hope to get over it with the Dutch defense. I already went through Simon's series on this twice.

The book starts with some games played GM Williams to give a feel of the opening. Then it delves deep inside the opening theories. He deviated from the regular move of Dutch Defence 1. d4 f5 to 1.d4 e6 2. c4 f5 to avoid sidelines and gambits against Dutch defence. But that also means White can get into The French Defence in move two by playing 1. d4 e6 2. e4. But usually people who dont start with the move 1.e4 are usually not eager to transpose to French Defence as White after playing d4 or c4 or Nf3 in the first move.

Be aware of GM Roman's recommendation against Dutch Defence here -

Game #1

Game #2

Game #3

Game #4

Game #5

Game #6

Game #7

Game #8

Game #9

Game #10

Game #11

Game #12

Game #17

Ashik vs Ethan, 7th Round, Golden State Open

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Kasparov vs Karpov, 24th Game of 1985 World Championship Match

This is the twelvth game featured in Raymond Keene's book Duels Of The Mind : The Twelve Best Games of Chess.

Bobby Fischer (White) vs Boris Spassky (Black), 6th Game, Reykjavik 1972 World Championship Match

This is the eleventh game featured in Raymond Keene's book Duels Of The Mind : The Twelve Best Games of Chess.

Boris Spassky vs Bent Larsen, Belgrade 1970

This is the tenth game featured in Raymond Keene's book Duels Of The Mind : The Twelve Best Games of Chess.

Botvinnink vs Capablanca, Avro (Rotterdam) 1938

This is the ninth game featured in Raymond Keene's book Duels Of The Mind : The Twelve Best Games of Chess.

Immortal Zugzuwang Game - Aron Nimzowitsch vs Fritz Samisch, Copenhagen 1923

This is the eighth game featured in Raymond Keene's book Duels Of The Mind : The Twelve Best Games of Chess.

Alexander Alekhine vs Efim Bogoljubov, Hastings 1922

This is the seventh game featured in Raymond Keene's book Duels Of The Mind : The Twelve Best Games of Chess.

Pillsbury vs Lasker, St Petresburg 1896

This is the fifth game featured in Raymond Keene's book Duels Of The Mind : The Twelve Best Games of Chess.

William Steinitz vs Mikhail Chigorin, 4th Game, World Chess Chamoionship Havana 1892

This is fourth game featured in Raymond Keene's book Duels Of The Mind : The Twelve Best Games of Chess.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Became Runner Up in Bob Burger Open at MIC

It was a 5 round g/45 one day tournament. And after many months or even years, I have put up a good show by winning 4 out of 5 games. In the process I became runner and will some money I guess. Here are the games, round by round. As a result my USCF rating jumped from 1974 to 2018. Here are the standings -