WIM Ruth Haring, 1955-2018 – Chess.com

After a life in chess, the former US Chess Federation president WIM Ruth Inez Haring died Thursday, November 29. She was 63.

Haring was also the current FIDE zonal president for the United States.

Haring lived in Chico, California and her death was confirmed by her son, Theodore Biyiasas. She is also survived by her other children, Lauren Biyiasas and Tina Biyiasas.

If that last name is familiar to readers, that’s because Haring was once married to now-retired GM Peter Biyiasas. According to Theodore, they met at a chess tournament in the 1970s. The two divorced in 2005.

US Chess Federation executive director Carol Meyer said, “US Chess has lost one of its most treasured members. Ruth was a thoughtful, principled leader who relentlessly promoted the mission of US Chess. She was a mentor to me in the short time I knew her, and I valued her guidance in navigating this community. Ruth’s passing is a terrible loss for US Chess and the world chess community. Her legacy is our enduring gift.”

Ruth Haring

WIM Ruth Haring at the 2018 Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia. Photo courtesy: Panu Laine.

Haring was born on January 23, 1955 on an Air Force base in Maine. She began playing tournament chess in 1969. Haring spent some time in Alaska, then moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas, where she said that any tournament within 700 miles was fair game. Haring traveled to Kansas City, Tulsa, Memphis, Dallas, and other cities for events.

She graduated from the University of Arkansas and married her first husband, Bill Orton, who was also a chess player. They once even had to play each other on top board for their respective colleges at the Pan-Am Intercollegiate Championship (a draw).

Haring quickly rose to represent the national team at five consecutive Olympiads from 1974-1982. She played in several U.S. women’s championships. In her first iteration, in 1974, she went undefeated and finished second to the legendary seven-time winner Mona May Karff. Haring won $150 for that finish but pocketed $50 extra for this “best game” prize:

In 1976, the same year that the U.S. won Olympiad gold as a team in the open section, Haring took an individual bronze medal on the first reserve board.

Also that year, she played in her only interzonal. A good example of her fighting spirit came there:

Haring will remain better known for her role in chess politics and governance. She was elected to the US Chess (then USCF) executive board in 2009, beginning as vice president. Two years later she rose to president, where she remained until 2015. She then ended her term on the board one year after that. Prior to those public postings, she was even president of her high school and college chess clubs.

“I love chess and I want to see it grow,” Haring once said. “I want to see more people play, more events, greater recognition of our sport amongst the general public, and better media coverage.” Indeed, in her seven years on the board, membership in US Chess increased by more than 13 percent.

One of those tournament players she recruited was her son, Theodore. 

“My dad had trouble teaching my sisters as they called the knights ‘horsies’ and were very young, so my mom did most of that,” Theodore said. “When I was a kid I’d play my dad and he’d go easy on me to keep me interested. Ruth didn’t believe in that. She crushed me every time we played until I became a tournament player.”

Ruth Haring

Theodore Biyiasas and Ruth Haring in 2016. Photo courtesy of her family.

Interestingly, Theodore didn’t take up competitions as a child, as is the case with most chess families. His first tournament didn’t come until his late teens.

“There was pressure and encouragement on all of us to pursue chess which kind of turned us off to it,” he said. “When she started playing again and got involved in the politics in 2008 she invited me to play a tournament, the U.S. Open in Texas, and it became a huge part of my life. We traveled to tournaments together all the time after that.”

Theodore has played in more than 100 tournaments in the last decade and would go on to become an expert. In 2016 he was only 20 points away from national master. He remains active to this day.

Current US Chess president W. Allen Priest said, “I have always looked up to Ruth as a mentor and treasured her as a friend. I was honored to serve with her on the board and was inspired by her efforts to change the culture of US Chess.”

Ruth Haring

Haring at a tournament in Berkeley, California in 2016. Photo courtesy of her family.

In remembrance, one common theme kept reappearing: that Haring rose above the fray, managing to keep up relationships of sometimes disparate groups. She also represented her state association (CalChess) on its board of directors. According to one colleague, she served in politics without being political.

“For me, Ruth loved chess, and always tried to avoid politics,” coach Jay Stallings said. “She eagerly listened to everyone so she could help out in any way that her position would allow.”

“Ruth was a class act, kind and gentle to anyone who she came in contact with,” GM Maurice Ashley said. “Her incredible contributions to US Chess will be felt for years to come. She will surely be missed.”

“Ruth was one of the most dedicated chess promoters and supporters on every level,” former U.S. women’s champion WGM Sabina Foisor said. “She has supported me in my transition to US Chess, but also taking to first step to becoming a U.S. citizen.”

Haring wasn’t done with service in the chess world. Just this year she ran as general secretary on GM Nigel Short’s FIDE president ticket. Short didn’t win, but Haring went on be elected to the FIDE ethics commission. While in Batumi, she also attended the meeting for the FIDE commission for women’s chess.

Nigel Short Ruth Haring

Ruth Haring and Nigel Short at the Batumi Olympiad. Photo courtesy: Nigel Short.

“I grew to appreciate her immensely,” Short said. “She was very positive and someone I could depend on. She was really looking forward to changing things within FIDE. She was a wonderful woman.

“[She] could not stand chess politicians who only cared for their own advancement.”

Her son also seemed keen to the fracas happening in domestic chess around the time she entered chess governance.

“It was important to her that USCF promote chess and help the players,” he said, “which was the opposite of what was happening when she returned to the chess world in the midst of the infamous Polgar lawsuits.”

Ruth Haring

In September, 2018, Haring stood to watch a blitz game with former women’s world champion GM Nona Gaprindashvili. Photo courtesy of her family.

That diplomacy may have been learned in her more than two decades of experience in corporations she worked for like IBM, Lockheed, TRW, and eBay. Indeed, in a past issue of Chess Life she conflated the success of her chess and business careers:

“These experiences helped to form who I was, provided valuable life lessons about teamwork and leadership, and were part of the essence of the computer professional I later became—and it was all due to chess. I can’t imagine a better way to be educated and learn about people and the world.”

Ruth Haring

The U.S. delegation in 2017 in Antalya, Turkey: (Left to right) Walter Brown, Grant Oen, Ruth Haring, and Michael Khodarkovsky. Photo courtesy of her family.

According to Theodore, there is no official cause of death, although he said she had entered the hospital recently and had been recovering from the flu and pneumonia. Her home in California was right next to the devastating forest fires that nearly wiped out the nearby town of Paradise, California. Theodore said she struggled with the poor air quality so he forced her to evacuate for a few nights.

He said she loved large national events. Her twice-yearly visits to tournaments in Reno, Nevada were her favorites.

“One of her favorite memories was bearing witness to one of Emory Tate’s legendary post-mortems, or listening to Viktors Pupols eccentric rants about the Latvian Gambit,” Theodore said. “She took great interest in the games of strong young American players at tournaments, particularly Aleksander Lenderman and Timur Gareev [The last two U.S. Open champions —M.K.].”

Here’s how Theodore would like his mother to be remembered:

She wasn’t anywhere near as strong as she was in the 80s when her peak was around 2200, but she just loved to play. She didn’t care she was on her floor, thought occasionally she’d find her form and casually crush masters or experts. She wasn’t afraid of anyone either. She approached all her games the same way: playing to win, regardless of if she was playing a GM, a club player, or an aspiring youth. I hope she is remembered for her love of chess. And as a player even though her political contributions overshadow her playing career, she got involved because she loved to play.

Stalemate To Checkmate: After 12 Draws, World Chess Championship Will Speed Up – NPR

Reigning chess world champion Magnus Carlsen (right), from Norway, plays Italian-American challenger Fabiano Caruana in the first few minutes of round 12 of their World Chess Championship match on Monday in London.

Matt Dunham/AP

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Matt Dunham/AP

Reigning chess world champion Magnus Carlsen (right), from Norway, plays Italian-American challenger Fabiano Caruana in the first few minutes of round 12 of their World Chess Championship match on Monday in London.

Matt Dunham/AP

The World Chess Championship is heading toward a dramatic conclusion on Wednesday, which could give the U.S. its first champion since Bobby Fischer took the crown in 1972.

The players will embark on a series of fast-moving tiebreaks at the event in London, which will get faster and faster if they continue to draw.

Fabiano Caruana, the 26-year-old Italian-American prodigy who grew up in Brooklyn, is definitely the underdog. For 12 games so far, he has taken on the current world chess champion, Magnus Carlsen. And each game has ended in a draw.

“I’ve had mediocre years, I’ve had good years,” Caruana said in a recent interview with The New York Times. “This year has been the best by far.”

According to the organizer World Chess, it’s the first championship match where nobody has won a game through the first 12 games of regular play.

Carlsen, who is 27 and from Norway, has been on top of the game for much of his adult life. He’s held the world champion title since 2013.

But some observers think he may be losing his edge. “He’s a shadow of himself, of his best times,” chess grandmaster Judit Polgár tells NPR’s Here & Now.

Carlsen raised eyebrows at a crucial moment in Game 12, when he appeared to be in a stronger position, yet suddenly offered to leave the game as a draw.

“For whatever reason, he chose not to invest the energy and, instead, proposed a draw after 31 moves, which Caruana accepted,” according to a write-up from World Chess.

That decision was baffling to legendary chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov.

“In light of this shocking draw offer from Magnus in a superior position with more time, I reconsider my evaluation of him being the favorite in rapids,” Kasparov wrote on Twitter. “Tiebreaks require tremendous nerves and he seems to be losing his.”

At the same time, World Chess pointed out that even though computer calculations say Carlsen was more likely to win when he offered the draw, “the position was complicated and it was clear that it would take a lot of maneuvering, and many hours, if Carlsen hoped to break through.”

“I wasn’t in a mood to find the punch,” Carlsen said after the game, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Polgár said Carlsen has previously been known for avoiding draws. She says the two players are very evenly matched. “I think he lost the appetite of winning, or it is not so much important for him to win again, somehow he cannot motivate himself so much as he could before,” she said.

These past 12 games have been played according to time regulations that mean each game can take hours. The players have 100 minutes each for the first 40 moves, with even more time added after that.

But on Wednesday, the pace of the game is going to speed up – a lot. The challenge of the tie-breaks is that play happens in smaller and smaller amounts of time.

The faster play is expected to work in Carlsen’s favor. He’s higher-ranked in styles of chess with tighter time regulations.

The first four tie-breaker games start with 25 minutes each on the clock, and 10 additional seconds after each move.

After those four games, if the scores are still tied, it moves to even faster rounds called “blitz games.”

First, the players play two games with five minutes each plus three seconds after each move. If they’re still tied, they’ll play another two games, and this could continue up to 10 games total.

And if it’s still even after the end of the blitz games, they’ll go to a round referred to as “Armageddon.”

The player who has white pieces gets five minutes on his clock, one more minute than the player who has black. But, should the game end in a draw, the player with black pieces is automatically the winner.

And unless the referee decides otherwise, according to the rules, the players will have just 10 minutes between each of these tie-break games.

Besides the coveted title of world champion, there’s a lot of money on the line. The players are duking it out for a prize fund of 1 million euros ($1.1 million). If it had been decided in regular games the winner would get 60 percent and the loser 40 percent — now, because it has gone to tie-break games, the winner will get 55 percent and the loser 45 percent.

It’s worth noting that it’s highly unlikely that the matches will actually get to the epic conclusion of a sudden death round.

In fact, according to calculations by FiveThirtyEight, there’s a 0.02 percent chance this World Chess Championship will end in Armageddon.

We’ll just have to watch to find out. Games kick off Wednesday at 10 a.m. ET.

Place in chess competition – The Steubenville Herald-Star

— Contributed

Members from the Fellowship of the Pawns youth chess club competed Nov. 18 in the 2018 Pennsylvania State Game/15 Championship. Teammates Phillip Rawson, right, and Caleb Bier, left, competed in the scholastic section and took first and second place, respectively, with Phillip going undefeated and Caleb losing his only game to his teammate, Rawson. Coach Gary Rawson, back, also competed in the championship section of the tournament. The club meets from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Tuesday at First Westminster Presbyterian Church, 235 N. Fourth St., Steubenville. Youth interested in learning or playing chess are welcome to come anytime. For information check out the club’s website at fellowshipofthepawns.wordpress.

Speed Chess Championship: The Final Four's Footrace! – Chess.com

If the Speed Chess Championship’s “Finals Weekend” was a high-schooler, this would be Spring Break. You’ve waited all year to see who will survive the 12+ total hours of non-stop chess action.

The first semifinals match will take place on Friday, November 30 at 2pm Eastern, then when the calendar turns over, the next will be Saturday, December 1 at 2pm Eastern. The finals will be on Sunday, December 2 at 2pm Eastern.

The first semifinal on Friday will be second-seeded Wesley So against upset-specialist Jan-Krzysztof Duda. The second semifinal on Saturday is two-time finalist Hikaru Nakamura against 12th-seeded (even though he’s #11 in the world!) Levon Aronian


Chess.com wanted to know everything about these semifinalists, from who’s fastest on foot to what’s the most distracting thing about playing in the SCC. Here’s what the four men had to say (on some occasions answers have been edited for clarity or length):

1) Who would win a one-kilometer foot race between the four of you? Who would win an arm-wrestling contest? 

Duda: I was pretty much a regular runner, and in my golden times, I was capable of running like 15km without breaks. Honestly I doubt anyone else could repeat this. So I would choose myself as a definite favorite, even though a couple of months ago, I got another ankle sprain, so logically I got out of form.

Aronian: I have a feeling I will win both, but I would love to have that tested!

So: Hikaru—because he can run a half-marathon. For the arm-wrestling contest, Levon—he is ARMenian.

Nakamura: I’d like to think I’d win the one-kilometer race amongst the four of us as I’ve run many 5ks and plenty of half marathons. However, I suspect that since the distance is so short and Jan-Krzysztof is pretty wiry that he’d be the fastest over that distance. In terms of arm wrestling, I have absolutely no clue, I think it would be completely random.

2) Please finish this sentence: In order to be faster than Hikaru in bullet, I would handicap him by __________. 

Duda: By making him to have a chat with some nice lady, seated in front of him. That should be enough.

Aronian: Giving him my mouse. 

So: Making him use only a laptop mouse.

Nakamura: In order to handicap myself, I would make myself have to type moves. No mouse allowed!

3) Jan-Krzysztof was 1 in 235 to win the entire SCC according to SmarterChess’s predictions before the season began. Obviously hindsight is 20-20 but do you feel those odds were about right before the season began? What would you put his odds at now that we are down to four players? 

Duda: I wasn’t into statistics before my competition in SCC, because at the time I really didn’t know where I stood. My opponents were definitely greater than me on paper, but on the other hand I didn’t necessarily feel that they were much better in a fast “clicking.” I mostly felt it when I played against Sergey Karjakin, and was given like 18 percent chance. Was I really able of winning just every fifth match? Now it’s gonna be more difficult for me, because I probably no longer will be considered as an easy-to-beat guy. But come on, after all it’s just online chess! It’s fun!

Jan-Krszysztof Duda Speed Chess

Aronian: People tend to overestimate and underestimate some players. Karjakin and [Alexander] Grischuk are enormous players OTB, but online can be tricky. I am sure that the odds will be corrected for the next season. Duda could be a favorite in his match, since he got the crowd’s support! 

So: The match odds were clearly unfair for Duda as 1 in 235 means he had less than 0.5 percent chance to win the tournament. That was unrealistic. Given his rating and playing strength has improved in the last few months and now he has 1 in a 4 chance to win. 

Nakamura: Having played Jan-Krzysztof quite a few times on Chess.com, it was pretty obvious that he was much better than 235-1. I’d say based on his victories against Sergey and the best comeback I’ve ever seen against Grischuk, that his (current) odds are probably 20 percent. 

4) I don’t think I’m giving away any secrets by saying that Levon has recently become an 1. e4 player, or perhaps has returned to being an 1. e4 player. What’s the most radical thing each of you has ever done to improve your chess results?

Duda: Well I think the most radical thing for me was changing my old “bad” habits. I started to do some sport activities and I’m trying to eat in a more healthy way. This change is still in progress!

Aronian: Studying the “not-best” games of the great players helped me to regain some confidence at some point.

Levon Aronian Speed Chess

So: Moving to Minnesota, and living with my family! They’ve been very supportive and helpful to me in my life. Also switching federations to the United States.

Nakamura: I’ve never done anything super radical, but I think that taking long breaks from chess and living life resulted in an improved outlook and better chess (specifically going to college in 2006 and living in Vancouver in 2008).

5) What’s the best game you know of for your semi-finals round opponent?

Duda: I have watched basically every match, missing only a couple of the first round matches. And of course my games are the best. But aside of me I really like some of Levon’s displays against Anish in those London-style openings. Perhaps the 18th game was the coolest.

Aronian: I think the 2010 game from Bursa World Team Championship against [Boris] Gelfand was spectacular. There must be many, but I saw this one live.

So: Wojtaszek-Duda Polish Championship 2018. Duda won this game with Black against the Polish number one. I think it was a sweet, spectacular moment for his career as it pretty much secured the tournament victory and assured him the Olympiad first board.

Nakamura: Lev has played too many great games of chess in both regular chess and bughouse to name one!

Nakamura Speed Chess

[Ed: Just to make sure we have one offering from each player, here’s a funny ending idea Aronian once used. — MK]

6) Would you like to see a online-only event of some sort added to the Grand Chess Tour?

Duda: GCT is so far inaccessible for me. But online events are fun to watch, and top-guns start to blunder a lot. So yes, definitely!

Aronian: Why not? I find watching and playing the online matches to be very exciting.

So: Yes. Playing online has the added benefit to players as we can play anywhere in the world, at any time. It gives us more time to study and prepare for the event and we don’t have to undergo the tortuous activity of long travel and 30 hours on planes and in airports. Remove the jet lag, and the fatigue. I’m open to seeing different formats introduced to chess. I’m interested in the idea of having a Chess960 tournament as well for example.

Wesley So Speed Chess

Nakamura: I think having an online aspect to the GCT would be very interesting. Having streamed a lot on Twitch lately, it has become clear to me that online viewership is critical to chess. As long as there can be 100 percent transparency and no devices can be used while playing online, it’s the future for sure.

7) Of these choices, what would be the most distracting in playing your Speed Chess Championship match: Having your opponent play without his shirt on, having your entire family behind you watching you play, having to play with pink dark squares, or having to play “upside down” with the pieces you control being at the top of the screen instead of the bottom?

Duda: Having my entire family watching me playing from behind would likely be too much to handle.

Aronian: Pink would definitely be the worst.

So: I guess I would not enjoy having to look at my opponent’s naked chest for several hours.

Nakamura: Without a doubt, the most distracting thing would be playing the match with my whole family behind me watching. It adds a whole different layer of pressure since you feel that you cannot let them down.

8) The most incredible thing to happen in the chess world in the last 10 years was ________________.

Duda: Magnus Carlsen’s rise was something extraordinary.

Aronian: Me overtaking [Iuri] Shkuro on the FIDE blitz rating list. 

So: For me it’s the establishment of the Saint Louis Chess Club and the Grand Chess Tour. Before that they were holding the U.S. Championship in a basement and chess in the United States didn’t have an official home. Now we have the Chess Hall of Fame and the world’s tallest chess piece in St. Louis, plus all the tournaments they sponsor.

Nakamura: The most incredible things to happen in the last 10 years in chess have all involved the legendary Uzbek GM, Timur Gareev!

9) How closely will you be following the world chess championship?

Duda: I will watch every game being played in the same day, and probably I will do it at high speed, without much understanding what is really going on!

Aronian: As always, very closely.

So: Very closely! I’m very anxious to see if Fabiano [Caruana] can finally dethrone Magnus, or if not, what the final score will be.

Nakamura: All of us except Jan-Krzysztof will be competing in India during the world championship, so I suspect we’ll all be focused on the event and simply reviewing the games later. I personally don’t plan on watching any of the games in real time, but I will be doing some commentary on Chess.com with Danny [Rensch] and Robert [Hess].

10) What’s the hardest part about the format of the Speed Chess Championship?

Duda: To survive this 5+1 format. Also the fact that you are recorded all day long, and you have to behave properly!

Aronian: The long wait between the stages!

So: The bullet section. I don’t enjoy this because it is boring, like a video game for teenagers. I’m not even sure it’s chess.

Nakamura: The hardest part about the Speed Chess Championship is finding a rhythm because the five-minute portion is super slow, but the three-minute portion is really fast.