Chess – Stephen Dann
“Carissa Yip is Officially Famous,” reads the email this writer received from a Wachusett Chess Club member after The Associated Press circulated the story about her record-breaking achievement under the erroneous suggested headline of “Mass. Girl, 9, becomes youngest chess master.”
The distinction was becoming the youngest Expert class rated player. This newspaper last Sunday was one of at least a half dozen papers and websites to use the incorrect headline.
The USCF (and the international Elo system at www.fide.com) rating system for chess players has become one of the most accurate systems of tracking sports performance at any age, and, you guessed it, there is a Massachusetts connection. Dr. Mark Glickman, professor at Boston University and Harvard University, has served 28 years on the USCF rating committee, 21 years as chairman. His 20 annual reports are available at www.glicko.net, as well as an autobiography of what he teaches, his consulting work and lifetime love in the field of sports statistical research.
Carissa Yip, 9, however, doesn’t owe her accomplishments to newspaper reporters or to Dr. Glickman’s USCF committee, but to the perserverance of her ongoing study to become more proficient at chess. But in the process of achieving a milestone title, she has become famous, at least until another youth achieves this at an earlier age in the U.S. The master title is well within Carissa’s sights, but it will probably be a year or two down the road, and she contends that she doesn’t feel pressure about achieving this, since playing chess is fun, and every player stronger on the rating ladder is her teacher.
John Curdo of Auburn blitzed through the third Irv Wolfson Memorial in July, drawing just one game and gaining one USCF classical rating point. Meanwhile, as a quick chess event, he lost two points on his quick rating (one of four types of ratings maintained by www.uschess.org). He drew with Alonzo Ross, who finished second in the three-week, two-games-per-night event of 15 players at the Greater Worcester Chess Club (www.chesspals.com), where the new Thursday event for August is posted.
Denys Shmelov of Pepperell and Mika Brattain of Lexington tied at 4-1 open section of the 93-player Independence Open in Natick. The August event begins Tuesday at the Natick Senior Center, and all the crosstables, some games and photos are at www.metrowestchess.org.
The Lubomir Kavalek tribute open continues on Wednesday nights at Fitchburg State University, with 32 players after just one round. Details at www.wachusettchess.org.
Anyone concerned with reading about chess, sports and the history of brain research should obtain ahandful of the July 29 issue of Sports Illustrated, with 11 pages and five articles on “The Sports Gene,”one with how this ties into chess/brain studies going back to 1940 in Europe.