A chess master reflects on strategies, human potential – SFGate



Published


David Bennett, 31, earned the rank of national master in chess in 2016. He coaches students of all ages and competes nationally and internationally. He lives in Washington,D.C., with his fiancee.

Q: So what does it mean to be a national master?

A: It’s kind of like a black belt without stripes. Then you have the international titles, your stripes, and then norm-based titles like international master and grandmaster. That would definitely be a lifetime achievement.


Q: When did you first get involved in chess?

A: Well, my dad first taught me when I was about 5, but I really got into it around eighth or ninth grade. I remember playing with a friend, and he kept on doing the four-move checkmate on me. He got me a few times in a row. I’m like, Ahhh, how do I stop this? I think it was just that competitive instinct, combined with my dad and my brother playing and giving me a hard time, and I was trying to beat them. So I started reading books on my own and stuff. And I went to a coffee shop where the chess scene was pretty thriving. That’s where I met my first coach. He started training me and taking me to tournaments. I took a gap year after high school just to go as far as I could.


Q: Chess is often seen as rather rarefied. Do you think everybody has the capacity to play?

A: I think anyone can become good. You just have to give people access. And it’s phenomenal for kids, because it’s fun and they’re absorbing all these concepts of logic and strategic planning: thinking ahead, having patience. And psychological things, too – everybody can benefit from that.

Q: Is there a moment it all came together for you?

A: It was at the historic Marshall Chess Club championship in Greenwich Village. I lost three games in a row at the very beginning and was pretty mad at myself. Then I had this moment of clarity. And I wrote down every single thing I had done wrong. Maybe things I had done well, too. Just this relentless self-critique, probably four pages long. But that worked, because then I won five out of my six next games. And looking at that note before every game is actually one of the things that led me to finally break through and become a master, to find that flow where I began to play more consistently.

Q: So if someone’s going in for the chess match of their life, what advice do you give them?


A: Don’t worry about your opponent. Just play the board. And to my younger students, in particular: Take your time. Your opponent is trying to exert their will, trying to make you play their game. But you’ve got to do your thing. That’s one of the key things that distinguishes masters, I think, just this inexorable implementation of [their] ideas. Because ultimately, that’s what it comes down to: a struggle of ideas.



The Trojan Horse Trick In Chess – Chess.com


Everyone knows the story about the Trojan Horse that helped the Greek army win the Trojan War. Since chess is a model of a war on 64 squares, can’t we use this 3,000-year-old trick on the chessboard?

Just think of it: Your opponent hides his king behind the rock-solid walls of his castle, when a beautiful steed appears right in front of the gates. Can he possibly resist the temptation to open the door?

A Trojan Horse in Turkey.

A Trojan Horse in Turkey. 

Let’s see how this concept works in the so-called “Fishing Pole Trap,” which is quite popular in amateur tournaments.

fishing pole trap

Don’t get caught in this trap. 

Yes, instead of playing 4…Nxe4, which leads to a very popular and simultaneously hated Berlin variation, Black moves his knight towards White’s castle. White naturally kicks the knight by playing 5.h3, but the knight is not moving. Instead Black sets a trap by playing 5…h5!

Now if White accepts the gift, he will share the fate of the city of Troy!

While this is a very primitive trap, it still helped Black to neutralize a 500-rating-point deficit in the following game:

One of the most vicious opening traps starts with the same knight jump. Can you find the winning move in the following position?

We already analyzed the Siberian Trap and similar tricks in this article five years ago.

The chess Trojan Horse is so tricky that it sometimes confuses even pretty decent chess players. I couldn’t believe my eyes when my opponent (USCF 2050) blundered a checkmate as early as move 12! 

It was a tournament game with a regular time control. Now imagine how difficult it is to defend against the chess Trojan Horse in rapid or blitz! Even the last world championship challenger was helpless against this beast. Do not miss the final cute combination that decided the game.

Surprise your opponent with the chess Trojan Horse trick and share your beautiful wins in the comments!



When August injuries cut into number of available Spiders, 'Chess pieces have to be moved' – News- Graphic


John Yarbrough started the University of Richmond’s last 18 games at center, and in July was named preseason All-CAA. He played tackle Sunday morning in the Spiders’ second and final scrimmage, primarily because of injuries that kept a couple of offensive linemen out of pads.

“Chess pieces have to be moved,” said Yarbrough, a 6-foot-5, 301-pound senior from Hoover, Ala.

Offensive line wasn’t the only position group at less than full strength Sunday because of injuries. According to coach Russ Huesman, 16 players were on the athletic training staff’s list of those who could not participate.

“Thank goodness that everyone, behind their name it will say, ‘One week, seven-to-10 days.’ It will say that sort of thing, which is a lot better than ‘six-to-eight months,’” said Huesman, whose team opens Sept. 1 at Virginia. “That means we’re OK right now.”

Richmond works with a roster of 84. The CAA preseason poll is led by James Madison, with 114 players. Following the Dukes are New Hampshire, which has 102 players, and Delaware, which has 120.

Another team picked above Richmond, which was forecast as the seventh-place finisher, is Stony Brook, which has 112 players.

Every FCS program works with a scholarship limit of 63, but large state universities enroll more recruited walk-ons than small, private schools, such as UR. That’s because of attendance costs, Title IX considerations, and other factors. The 2008 FCS championship Spiders had 87 players.

“We’ve got a very limited roster, and when you start to have 16 or 17 sitting on the sideline for a scrimmage, the scrimmage really shrinks down,” said Huesman, who’s in his second year.

The NCAA’s new redshirt rule figures to be particularly helpful for programs such as Richmond. Starting this season, a player can participate in up to four games and retain his redshirt year. Previously, competing in any games equated to a year of eligibility, unless the NCAA granted a medical exception because of injury.

Yarbrough saw a bright side to recent injuries. He said they present “more of an opportunity for young guys to get better.”

Case in point: Ben Maffe (rhymes with taffy), a 6-3, 225-pound redshirt freshman receiver from Ashburn. On Sunday, he stole an interception from a UR defensive back for a long completion and also made a one-handed catch, extending his strong camp. Wide receiver is Richmond’s top position, with several veterans who were productive in past seasons, but Maffe has drawn Huesman’s attention.

“So far, I feel like I’ve learned a lot more than last year. I’ve got my speed up a little bit. I’ve dropped some weight and focused on my assignments,” said Maffe. “I definitely have the size to get that cover defender off of me and get that space. I have that frame where the quarterback can throw the ball.”

Huesman said the Spiders will conduct a “prep-rehearsal type of game” before beginning to focus on the opener at Virginia.



Man uses chess to help youth make the right moves in life – Alabama's News Leader


Orrin C. Hudson makes a move on the chessboard Saturday afternoon at Avondale Pride Fest.

For Orrin C. Hudson, life was different 40 years ago. As a young man living in inner-city Birmingham, Hudson’s life consisted of drugs, gang activity and petty crime.

He said that all changed when a schoolteacher taught him the game of chess.

“I went from making D’s and F’s to straight A’s,” Hudson said. “I was voted most likely to succeed and all kinds of miracles started to happen because of a game. Six of my siblings dropped out of a school, but I stayed in because of a game.”

Hudson later went on to become a city chess champion, serve in the United States Air Force and become an Alabama State Trooper as well as many other accolades. Hudson said in 2000, while working as a state trooper, seven people were shot during a robbery for $2,000. That was part of the motivation for him to start his non-profit “Be Someone.”

Saturday, at Avondale Pride Fest, Hudson came back to share the knowledge he has gathered in his life with young people in the community. He wants young people to know that they can do whatever they want to if they set their mind to it, as well as instilling messages such as: “brains before bullets,” “think it out, don’t shoot it out” and more.

Hudson said it is crucial to teach this at a young age, and said the game of chess is a perfect way to teach these lessons.

“You learn by example,” Hudson said.” “You learn instantly because every move you make has consequences. If you make a good move, you get a good result, and you have everything you need. But, it is not what you have, it is what you use. It is not what you know, it is what you apply. Chess teaches you to apply and use what you have where you are.”

Hudson says his goal is to teach one million students these lessons. So far, he has taught 61,000.

“Teaching the children makes my heart sing,” Hudson said. “I am living my dream because teaching the children makes my heart sing. We have got to give back, and we have to transfer what we know to the young people so they can out-think the competition and finish on top.”



The world champion chess prodigy who made hottest ever Japan IPO – SFGate



Published


Takahiro Hayashi won his first nationwide title in shogi — Japanese chess — while still in high school, and by the age of 22, he was the world amateur champion. His coaches were urging him to turn pro.

But Hayashi wanted to be an entrepreneur, not a chess player. And so, in 2009, he found himself in a room with some local venture capitalists, presenting a 120-page pitch about his social game firm. The financiers kind of tuned out.

“One of the investors told me that he didn’t really listen to the explanation of our business plan,” the 41-year-old Hayashi said in an interview at Heroz Inc.’s headquarters in Tokyo. “He said that ‘You’re a world champion, so you’ll work something out.”‘

Hayashi got the financing. “It blew my mind,” he said. But so far at least, the VC executive’s bet has proved profitable. Heroz, which went on to develop artificial intelligence technologies through the creation of online games such as shogi and then use AI for a range of other services, is now a public company, and its shares are thriving.


In April, the company listed on a startup market on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. It was a record-breaking debut. The shares opened 11 times higher than the IPO price, the best ever start of trading by a Japanese listed company. The stock has almost quadrupled since going public.


“I didn’t think it would be so successful,” said Hideto Fujino, one of Japan’s most famous stock pickers, who took a stake in the company as a personal investment before Heroz went public and is now one of the top 10 shareholders. Fujino, a keen shogi player himself, says he bought the stock initially to encourage the company, rather than because he expected to profit. “It was more a form of support,” he said.

Heroz released its game “Shogi Wars” in 2012. The following year, the company’s artificial intelligence engine became the first to defeat a professional player of Japanese chess. That was about 16 years after Deep Blue, a chess computer created by IBM Corp., beat then world champion Garry Kasparov. Shogi is more complex than chess because pieces return to the board after being captured, increasing the number of move permutations that must be considered.

After building the new Deep Blue, Heroz used the deep learning and machine learning skills it acquired to expand into other areas — everything from construction to financial services.


It couldn’t have come at a better time. The AI industry is expanding rapidly in Japan, where a shrinking workforce is causing the tightest labor market in decades, creating an opportunity for companies to use the technology to help fill vacancies and improve efficiency. The Japanese AI market may top $18 billion by fiscal 2030, a more than sevenfold increase from fiscal 2016, according to Fuji Chimera Research Institute Inc. estimates. “There’s huge potential,” Hayashi said.

Heroz has been working with Takenaka Corp., the construction company that developed Japan’s tallest skyscraper, to create an AI system to help design buildings. The system will crunch Takenaka’s existing structural design data and learn from its architects to provide various patterns for how buildings could be designed. Architects then compare the patterns and consult with clients to decide which one to use.

Takenaka expects to reduce the routine work associated with designing building structures by some 70 percent, giving its professionals more time to focus on being creative. It aims to develop a prototype of the AI system by the end of this year and put it to use by 2020.

“Structural design is a lot like shogi in that you’re choosing the best of various options,” said Hirokazu Yoshioka, the head of technology planning at Takenaka. “So Heroz is the perfect partner for the AI system we want to make.”

Heroz has also formed a partnership with Tokyo-based Digital Hearts Holdings Co. to use AI technology for software testing. If all goes to plan, the AI engines will learn by themselves the best way to test programs.

And in the world of finance, Heroz has tied up with online brokerage Monex Inc. to provide robo-advice for people who trade currencies. The system analyzes their past performance and provides suggestions for improvement.

With all the excitement about Heroz’s stock, valuations have gone through the roof. The shares trade at almost 40 times book value and more than 215 times earnings.

Short sellers have been descending. Short interest stood at 59 percent of the free float as of Aug. 13, according to IHS Markit data. That’s the highest level among the 253 companies in the Mothers Index of emerging stocks.

“It’s overvalued,” said Mitsushige Akino, an executive officer with Ichiyoshi Asset Management Co. in Tokyo. “It’s an excellent company, but people’s expectations are too high and the shares have gone up too far.”

Heroz now has a market value of 59.4 billion yen ($534 million). That means Hayashi and his co-founder Tomohiro Takahashi, who each have 37 percent stakes, are each worth almost $200 million from their shareholding alone. The market decides the share price, so it’s difficult to comment on it, Hayashi says.

But he does have one target in sight. The sixth-dan shogi player, generally the highest rank for amateurs, wants Heroz to become the next Japanese company with a market value of more than 100 billion yen.

“When we founded Heroz, we told investors that we wanted to create a 100 billion yen company,” Hayashi said. “It’s not worth doing if we don’t grow to that level.”



Announcing The Chess.com GIF Maker – Chess.com


Want a quick way to share your favorite chess games with friends online? Why not try a chess GIF?

Making GIFs of your favorite chess games is now easy with Chess.com’s GIF Maker!

Here’s how to use it:

1. Copy a PGN from your favorite chess website or software. On Chess.com, you can get the PGN via the “share” button null.

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2. Go to Chess.com/gifs!

3. Paste the PGN and click “Create GIF.”

Chess.com, Chess GIF

4. Once created, the GIF will open in a new tab!

5. To share, copy and paste the URL, or right-click and save image to share on many platforms.

Opera Game, Paul Morphy

The finished product: To learn more about the “Opera Game” see FM Elliot Liu’s video for diamond members.

Want a different chessboard or piece set? Open the “Advanced Options” to choose dozens of boards and pieces, plus more otions. There are currently 1,296 possible combinations (excluding size)!

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We aren’t sure the blue board and graffiti pieces is a perfect combination, but you do you. 

Enjoy! The only thing left is to continue arguing about how to pronounce GIF.

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