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“Women’s” Issues

I find it very disturbing when I hear men talk about women’s issues. Most men think the fact they are good to the females in their life is enough. “I would never hit her” is the beginning and the end of their involvement.

This is the gender equivalent of N. I. M. B. Y. (Not In My Back Yard) thinking. If it does not directly affect me it is not my problem. It is a fallacy. None of us lives in a vacuum or on an island. We live in an interconnected world and the most seemingly unrelated occurrence can have the most profound effect on our lives.

Whenever I hear a fellow male scoff at or ignore something like a Take Back The Night walk or Breast Cancer Awareness Month I ask a simple question: “Do you have a mother?”

That’s right. Though we may not worry about breast cancer, even though it affects 1 in 1000 men, we all have mothers, sisters, wives, girlfriends, and daughters. Anything that would happen to one of our loved ones should be of concern to us.

Next time you see an article on domestic violence, stop and read it before proceeding to the sports or business section. Play in a golf tournament or do something positive to support these causes that you may not think is your worry. It might be that little girl in your living room playing with Barbies whose life and well-being you are protecting.

A Bobby Fischer Biopic Film!!!

Went to see Divergent last night with my wife. She loved the books, I have not read them. More of an excuse for a date than anything else. It was a pretty good film, nothing great but I didn’t want to demand my money back!

So today I was driving with my daughter and just started thinking about the story. Pieces fell into place. Revelations were revealed.

Divergent is the biggest neo-con fantasy since Red Dawn!

In Red Dawn the Cubans invade and what’s the first thing they do? Track down and confiscate everyone’s guns!

Think about Divergent. In the post-atomic horror the liberal intelligentsia (Erudite) plot to destroy society and take over everything for themselves. The first thing they do is subvert conservative gun owners (Dauntless) and use them as a tool for their own evil plans. The only thing that stops them are a couple of gun-toting individualists (Wolverines?).

As it always is in the conservative world, guns=good and thinking=bad.

So, the smart group and the kind group are both portrayed as evil by someone. The gun-toters are the good guys. The only bad things they do are only because they were brainwashed. In the next movie will there be a sixth faction, the “desert people” who will bring down the Sears Tower?

Berkeley Chess School Feburary G/45

Smaller. Faster. Tougher competition. This is certainly not your typical tournament. I was the lowest-rated player in a field of 18 players but this didn’t stop me from placing in the money for my third straight event! Games 1 and 4 were deserved losses, the first because I was outplayed by a much higher-rated player, the fourth because I had the worst game I have played in many years.

Game two was a dogged victory that saw my opponent jump ahead but make a mistake. The win was triple-sweet because in addition to the point I recognized his blunder, as well as grinding out a technical endgame. I feel twice as good winning an endgame (such an insufficient aspect of my game for many years) as I would checkmating an opponent in ten moves.

Game three, while a loss, gave me some real moments of hope for my continued improvement. I managed to go up a full piece on a higher-rated opponent in a combination that Fritz gave a “!!” (14…Ng3!!). Even though I lost the game, the fact that I got to such a good position against such an opponent tells me I am going in the right direction.

And on top of everything, I won $18!!!

[Event "Feburary G/45"]
[Site "Berkeley"]
[Date "2014.02.23"]
[Round "1"]
[White "D'Alfonsi, Michael J"]
[Black "Sowell, Nelson M"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B05"]
[WhiteElo "1178"]
[BlackElo "1733"]
[PlyCount "58"]
[EventDate "2014.02.23"]
[EventType "swiss"]
[EventRounds "4"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[SourceDate "2009.02.01"]

1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. d4 d6 4. c4 Nb6 5. Nf3 Bg4 6. Be3 dxe5 7. Nbd2 exd4 8.
Bxd4 e6 9. Bxb6 axb6 10. Be2 Bd6 11. O-O O-O 12. Ne4 Be7 13. Qb3 Qc8 14. h3 Bf5
15. Ng3 Bg6 16. Ne5 Nc6 17. Nxg6 hxg6 18. Rfd1 Rd8 19. Rxd8+ Qxd8 20. Rd1 Nd4
21. Qd3 c5 22. Bf3 Qc7 23. Ne2 Bf6 24. Nxd4 Bxd4 25. Qb3 Qf4 26. Qxb6 Rxa2 27.
Qxb7 Rxb2 28. Qc8+ Kh7 29. Rf1 Be5 0-1

[Event "Feburary G/45"]
[Site "Berkeley"]
[Date "2014.02.23"]
[Round "2"]
[White "Xu, William Young"]
[Black "D'Alfonsi, Michael J"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B40"]
[WhiteElo "1311"]
[BlackElo "1178"]
[PlyCount "148"]
[EventDate "2014.02.23"]
[EventType "swiss"]
[EventRounds "4"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[SourceDate "2009.02.01"]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 c5 3. c3 b6 4. Nf3 Bb7 5. d5 exd5 6. exd5 d6 7. c4 Nf6 8. Nc3
Be7 9. Bd3 O-O 10. O-O Nbd7 11. Re1 Ng4 12. Ne4 h6 13. Bf4 Nge5 14. Nxe5 dxe5
15. Be3 Nf6 16. Nxf6+ Bxf6 17. Qh5 Bg5 18. Bxg5 Qxg5 19. Qxg5 hxg5 20. Rxe5 f6
21. Re3 Kf7 22. Bf5 Rfe8 23. Be6+ Kf8 24. Rae1 Bc8 25. f3 Bxe6 26. Rxe6 Rxe6
27. dxe6 Ke7 28. g3 Rd8 29. f4 gxf4 30. gxf4 f5 31. Re2 Rd1+ 32. Kg2 Rd4 33.
Kg3 Rxc4 34. b3 Rd4 35. h3 Rd6 36. Kh4 Rxe6 37. Rh2 Rh6+ 38. Kg5 Ke6 39. Re2+
Kd5 40. h4 b5 41. Re7 c4 42. bxc4+ bxc4 43. Kxf5 c3 44. Rxg7 c2 45. Rg1 Rxh4
46. Rc1 Rh2 47. Kg6 Rg2+ 48. Kf6 Kc4 49. f5 Kc3 50. Ke7 Rf2 51. f6 Kb2 52.
Rxc2+ Kxc2 53. f7 a5 54. f8=Q Rxf8 55. Kxf8 Kb2 56. Ke7 Kxa2 57. Kd6 Kb3 58.
Kd5 a4 59. Kd4 a3 60. Kd3 a2 61. Kd4 a1=Q+ 62. Ke4 Qc3 63. Kd5 Qb4 64. Ke5 Qc4
65. Kf6 Qd5 66. Kg7 Qe6 67. Kh8 Kc4 68. Kg7 Kd4 69. Kh8 Ke5 70. Kg7 Kf5 71. Kh8
Kg5 72. Kg7 Qe7+ 73. Kh8 Kh6 74. Kg8 Qg7# 0-1

[Event "Feburary G/45"]
[Site "Berkeley"]
[Date "2014.02.23"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Zihao Ai, Evan"]
[Black "D'Alfonsi, Michael J"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "E90"]
[WhiteElo "1550"]
[BlackElo "1178"]
[PlyCount "69"]
[EventDate "2014.02.23"]
[EventType "swiss"]
[EventRounds "4"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[SourceDate "2009.02.01"]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 c5 3. d5 exd5 4. exd5 d6 5. Nf3 Nf6 6. c4 g6 7. Nc3 Bg7 8. Be2
O-O 9. h3 Nbd7 10. O-O Re8 11. Bf4 Nb6 12. Nb5 Ne4 13. Qc2 Bf5 14. g4 Ng3 15.
Bd3 Bxd3 16. Qxd3 Ne2+ 17. Kh2 Nxf4 18. Qb3 Be5 19. Nxe5 Rxe5 20. a4 Qh4 21. a5
Nxc4 22. Qf3 Nd2 23. Qxf4 Nxf1+ 24. Rxf1 Rae8 25. Nxd6 R8e7 26. Nxf7 Rf5 27.
Nh6+ Kh8 28. Nxf5 gxf5 29. Qxf5 Kg7 30. d6 Rf7 31. Qe5+ Kg8 32. Qxc5 Rf3 33.
Qd5+ Rf7 34. d7 Qd8 35. Rd1 1-0

[Event "Feburary G/45"]
[Site "Berkeley"]
[Date "2014.02.23"]
[Round "4"]
[White "D'Alfonsi, Michael J"]
[Black "Bodnar, William"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B22"]
[WhiteElo "1178"]
[BlackElo "1446"]
[PlyCount "20"]
[EventDate "2014.02.23"]
[EventType "swiss"]
[EventRounds "4"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[SourceDate "2009.02.01"]

1. e4 c5 2. c3 Nf6 3. e5 Nd5 4. d4 e6 5. Bc4 Nc7 6. Nf3 d5 7. exd6 Qxd6 8. Ne5
cxd4 9. cxd4 Nc6 10. Bb5 Nxb5 0-1


First of all, I kind of think this is a ridiculous feeling. At the time of this writing I

actually have two jobs. They compliment each other in terms of schedule and flexibility,

I like the people I work with. Money is ok.

Problem is that I think I should be farther along in life than I am.

Apparently experience and skills don’t seem to matter. I recently

interviewed for and did not get two jobs in the HR department of one of the companies I

work for. Most of the people in this company below the executive level a about half my

age. This in itself is not really a problem, as I still have enough little boy in me to fit in.

After finding out I did not get the second job my paranoia kicked in. It

didn’t occur to me that I just might not be a good fit for those two positions. It had to be

age discrimination or that they valued a specific degree over having actually spent years

doing a similar job. After I calmed down from the humiliation, paranoia, anger, and

sadness a funny thing happened.

I took stock of the fact I have a pretty darned good life!

I married well. My daughter is sweet, a genius, and loves her daddy. I

live in a beautiful home. I have two jobs I mostly enjoy. I am starting to make friends

again and reconnecting with some I have lost. There are things I enjoy doing just for the

fun of it.

So, if I measure things by my own standards Nd by what were

reasonable expectations for my life 20 years ago, I am the most successful man to

ever live. If I judge myself by normality and by the benchmarks of others, I am an utter


Some choice, huh?

I guess I have finally reached a point where I can silence that annoying

inner voice that tells me nothing I do is right. At least most of the time. The “Inner

Bitch” will never go away, but I am strong enough to never surrender, to never believe,

and to thrive above all. I have the wherewithal to let things bother me, but not dominate

and destroy.

I finally feel like a survivor.

5th Golden State Open

I am sitting here in a stuffy room in the bowels of the hotel. I have finished my last game. I am waiting. I hate waiting. What makes this different is that I am waiting for my prize check!

Yes, I finished in the money for the second straight time. I don’t know how it happened but I managed to put it together over the course of four days and avoid serious blunders, execute my plans and generally play good chess. Not world class, mind you, but great for my level.

Round Two found me paired with a young man making the trip from Utah. He was very polite, made conversation, and shook hands like he meant it. We played a long, back and forth game. We took turns playing well and making mistakes. Our game definitely demonstrated the adage: “The winning player is the one who makes the next-to-last mistake.” Unfortunately for me I made the final mistake. Still, it was a good game for me because I kept fighting and showed some good endgame skill, right up until the time I blew it! (g) We checked on each other for the remainder of the tournament and, in fact, ended up tied for 4th-5th place.

Round Two was critical for me. Before I left home my daughter made me a good-luck bracelet out of black-and-white rubber bands. As it turns out she may have the touch! In 2010 when the Giants needed a critical win in the playoffs she made a chain of colored paperclips and put it on my Giants hat. We all know how that turned out for the boys by the bay! My bracelet worked, as I would not lose another game for the remainder of the tournament.

I had made a deal with myself that if I won both of my Day Two games, I would not take a bye in round five to watch the NFC Championship game. Since I made a draw I did take the bye and watch that heartbreaking contest. This was another game that was long and went back and forth. My endgame technique is not all it should be and I had to settle for a draw.

Round Three. A rematch from my previous tournament with the only player to beat me in that contest and one of the other three players I shared 1st-4th place with. Only thing to relate about this one is an anecdote. After I made my 23rd move I forgot to punch the clock. It took me twenty minutes to notice. My opponent and I shared a chuckle when I finally noticed. He jokingly said his last hope was to win on time.

Round Four. Nothing really to say about this one. A good reminder to my chess students to be very careful about moving your “Foolish Freddie” (f-pawn)!

Round Five. During this round I was having my heart broken and my soul trampled watching football. It was still a great game and a great year for my Niners. Also, better to lose with dignity than win with no class. Enough said.

Round Six. I had a nice attack but I forgot my own advice, that one more piece is always good when attacking. My rampage faltered, but my opponent traded his rook and a pawn for my bishop and knight. I got some nice endgame practice and he made me checkmate him, which is fine.

Round Seven. Just like last time, I did not really think I had much chance for money. I just played. I am proud of this game because it is very tactical, with lots of forks and pins. When it was over and I recorded my result, a little simple math told me I was tied with my first-round opponent for 4th-5th place! Also, since he was the top Under-1150 finisher he got that prize and I got the full Fourth-Place purse, so we both got a little bit more than normal. Way to go Jake!

Biggest thing I learned from this weekend was that I need to find an effective way to study endgames. Suggestions anyone? I think my tactics and fighting spirit are coming along nicely and I have a nice, simple, workable opening repertoire.

One last thing before the games, to be filed in the “Cosmic Justice” file. A player who drove everyone nuts got his comeuppance. In Las Vegas last month he asked a tournament director to stop his clock until he felt better! During the sixth round he was playing a little kid on the board next to mine. When I was cleaning up after my game I noticed the man had been gone for about twenty minutes. I looked at the board and the man was two moves away from promoting a pawn and winning the game. I jokingly asked the boy’s mother if the opponent had gone to lunch! I heard later that the crazy man didn’t like the kid so he did go to lunch. His intention was to make the boy wait, then he would come back and finish. Well, when he did return the boy and his mother were leaving. The crazy man told them they had to go back and that the game was not finished. The boy very politely informed him that the game was over. It turns out crazy man, in addition to being annoying, can’t tell time. He miscalculated his time remaining and lost when the flag fell!

Bolen,Jake (1094) – D’Alfonsi,Michael J (1178) [A46]
5th Golden State Open Concord, CA (1), 17.01.2014

1.d4 e6 2.Nf3 c5 3.c3 Nf6 4.Bf4 Nc6 5.e3 Be7 6.Bd3 0–0 7.0–0 b6 8.Nbd2 Bb7 9.Nc4 d5 10.Nce5 c4 11.Nxc6 Bxc6 12.Ne5 Bb7 13.Bc2 Nd7 14.Qh5 Nf6 15.Qh3 Ne4 16.f3 Nf6 17.Bg5 g6 18.Qh6 Nh5 19.Bxe7 Qxe7 20.g4 Ng7 21.f4 f5 22.g5 b5 23.Rf3 Nh5 24.Rh3 Qg7 25.Qxg7+ Kxg7 26.Nd7 Rfd8 27.Nc5 Bc8 28.a4 Rb8 29.axb5 Rxb5 30.Rxa7+ Kh8 31.b4 cxb3 32.Bxb3 Bd7 33.Nxd7 Rxb3 34.Nf6 Nxf6 35.gxf6 h5 36.Rg7 Rg8 37.Re7 Rbb8 38.f7 Rgf8 39.Rxe6 Kg7 40.Rg3 Kxf7 41.Rgxg6 Rg8 42.Ref6+ Ke7 43.Kf2 Rxg6 44.Rxg6 Rb2+ 45.Kg3 Re2 46.Kf3 Rxh2 47.Rg2 Rxg2 48.Kxg2 Kf6 49.Kg3 Kg6 50.Kh4 Kh6 51.Kg3 Kg6 52.Kh3 Kh6 53.Kh4 Kg6 54.Kh3 Kh6 55.Kg2 h4 56.Kh2 Kg6 57.Kg2 Kh6 58.Kh1 Kh5 59.Kh2 Kg4 60.Kg2 h3+ 61.Kf2 h2 62.Kg2 h1Q+ 63.Kxh1 Kf3 64.Kg1 Kxe3 65.Kg2 Kd3 66.Kf3 Kd2 67.c4 dxc4 68.d5 c3 69.d6 c2 70.d7 c1Q 71.d8Q+ Ke1 72.Qe7+ Kd2 73.Qe3+ Kd1 74.Qxc1+ Kxc1 75.Ke3 Kc2 76.Kd4 Kd2 77.Ke5 Ke3 78.Kxf5 Kd4 79.Kg6


Weimer,Dennis (1281) – D’Alfonsi,Michael J (1178) [D35]
5th Golden State Open Concord, CA (2), 18.01.2014

1.d4 e6 2.c4 c5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 d5 5.Bd3 Nc6 6.Nge2 Be7 7.b3 cxd4 8.exd4 Bb4 9.0–0 Bxc3 10.Nxc3 Nxd4 11.Bxh7 Qc7 12.Qxd4 Rxh7 13.g3 e5 14.Re1 Ng4 15.Nxd5 Qd6 16.h4 f6 17.Qd3 Rh8 18.f3 Qc5+ 19.Be3 Nxe3 20.Qxe3 Qd6 21.Rad1 Kf7 22.Nc3 Qe6 23.Nb5 Qh3 24.Qf2 Bd7 25.Nd6+ Ke7 26.Qg2 Qxg2+ 27.Kxg2 b6 28.f4 Rh5 29.fxe5 fxe5 30.Kf2 Rf8+ 31.Kg2 Bc6+ 32.Ne4 Rf6 33.Rd2 Rfh6 34.Kh2 Bxe4 35.Rxe4 Ke6 36.Kh3 Kf5 37.Rde2 Ke6 38.Rf2 g5 39.a3 gxh4 40.gxh4 Rf5 41.Rxf5 Kxf5 42.Rg4 e4 43.Kg3 e3 44.Rf4+ Ke5 45.Kf3 e2 46.Re4+ Kf5 47.Rxe2 Rxh4 48.Rd2 Rh3+ 49.Ke2 Rh2+ 50.Kd3 Rh7 51.Kc3 Rc7 52.Rd3 Ke6 53.Kb4 Rc5 54.a4 a5+ 55.Kc3 Ke7 56.Rd5 Ke6 57.b4 Rxd5 58.cxd5+ Kxd5 59.Kd3 axb4 60.Kc2 Kc4 61.Kb2 b3 62.Ka3 b2 63.Ka2 Kb4 64.Kxb2 Kxa4 65.Ka2 b5 66.Kb2 b4


D’Alfonsi,Michael J (1178) – Benaid,Henry (1297) [C50]
5th Golden State Open Concord, CA (3), 18.01.2014

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Be7 5.0–0 d6 6.c3 Bg4 7.cxd4 Qd7 8.Qb3 Na5 9.Bxf7+ Kf8 10.Qd5 Bxf3 11.Be6 Bxe4 12.Qxe4 Nf6 13.Qf5 Qa4 14.Nc3 Qb4 15.d5 Nc4 16.Bg5 Ne5 17.Ne4 Ke8 18.Bxf6 gxf6 19.Rac1 Kd8 20.Nxf6 Rf8 21.Qxh7 Rxf6 22.Rxc7 Ng6 23.Rfc1 Rxe6 24.dxe6 d5 25.Rd7+


D’Alfonsi,Michael J (1178) – Dailey,Alan (781) [C44]
5th Golden State Open Concord, CA (4), 19.01.2014

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 f6 4.dxe5 fxe5 5.Bc4 Nf6 6.Bg5 d6 7.Nc3 Be7 8.Bxf6 gxf6 9.Qd5 Rf8 10.Nh4 Nb4 11.Qb5+ Nc6 12.Nf5 Bxf5 13.exf5


Rajasekar,Shriram (1067) – D’Alfonsi,Michael J (1178) [C10]
5th Golden State Open Concord, CA (6), 20.01.2014

1.d4 e6 2.e4 c5 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 d5 5.e5 Ne4 6.Bd3 Nxc3 7.bxc3 c4 8.Be2 Qa5 9.Bd2 Ba3 10.Rb1 Nc6 11.0–0 b5 12.Re1 b4 13.cxb4 Bxb4 14.Bxb4 Nxb4 15.Qd2 Nc6 16.Qxa5 Nxa5 17.c3 Bd7 18.Bd1 0–0 19.Bc2 h6 20.Rb2 Rab8 21.Reb1 Rxb2 22.Rxb2 Bc6 23.Kf1 Rd8 24.Rb4 Nb7 25.Ba4 a5 26.Bxc6 axb4 27.Bxb7 bxc3 28.Ke2 Rb8 29.Ba6 Rb1 30.Ne1 Rb2+ 31.Kd1 Rd2+ 32.Kc1 Rxf2 33.a4 Rf1 34.Kd1 c2+ 35.Kxc2 Rxe1 36.Kc3 Re3+ 37.Kd2 Rd3+ 38.Kc2 Rxd4 39.Bb5 Rd3 40.a5 Rb3 41.Bc6 Ra3 42.Kb2 Rxa5 43.Kc2 c3 44.Bd7 d4 45.Kd3 Rc5 46.Kc2 d3+ 47.Kxd3 c2 48.Ke4 c1Q 49.Kf3 Qd1+ 50.Ke4 Rc4+ 51.Ke3 Qb3+ 52.Kf2 Rc2+ 53.Ke1 Qb1#


D’Alfonsi,Michael J (1178) – Cheng,Ian (1151) [C41]
5th Golden State Open Concord, CA (7), 20.01.2014

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Nf3 exd4 5.Nxd4 Be7 6.Bc4 0–0 7.0–0 Be6 8.Bxe6 fxe6 9.Nxe6 Qe8 10.Nxf8 Qxf8 11.Nd5 Nbd7 12.Nxc7 Rc8 13.Nd5 Nxe4 14.Nxe7+ Qxe7 15.Re1 Ndf6 16.Bg5 Qf7 17.Bxf6 Nxf6 18.Qxd6 Rxc2 19.Qd8+ Qf8 20.Qd4 Qc8 21.Rad1 h6 22.Re7 Rc1 23.Qd2 Rxd1+ 24.Qxd1 Qc6 25.g3 Qc5 26.Qd8+ Kh7 27.Qf8 Qc1+ 28.Kg2 Qc6+ 29.Kh3 Nh5 30.Qf5+ Qg6 31.Qxg6+ Kxg6 32.Rxb7 Kf6 33.Rxa7


My favorite Candlestick memory: going to the 1984 All-Star game. Sitting next to a guy about my age from New Jersey. Navy personel holding the giant flag being swept off their feet by the win. National League wins, as it should be. I never hated the ‘Stick, it’s where I grew up. Willy Mays hit a home run in the first game I saw there, John Brodie was the QB in my first 49er game. Thanks for the memories.

Another year of fantasy football is over. Another year that I didn’t win a championship and another year my wife finished higher than me. Not to take anything away from her or any of my opponents, but I should have won two championships this year.

Flashback two weeks. I have the most points scored in either league. I have the best record in one league, close second in the other. I’ve had record-setting performances, ridiculous average margins of victories, and I am heavily favored in the first round of the playoffs. It looks like I have assembled not one, but two juggernauts destined for greatness. I was having a hard time keeping my ego and excitement in check, trying to sound humble. Even my opponents seemed to have conceded trophies to me.

Then the law of averages kicked in, or rather, kicked my ass. Twice.

Were I managing flesh-and-blood teams, what happened to me would have been called choking. It was like Tony Romo in December choking. I did not win a single playoff game. Not one. Not sure I even held a lead.

I don’t consider myself, or represent myself, as any kind of fantasy football expert. If you look at my record, it is safe to say I am above average. I like the pre-season research, I have a plan going into the draft. I love it when I make a pick and people think I am crazy, especially when, more times than not, I am proven right. So this double-choke can’t be because of my abilities, knowledge, or actions, right?

RIGHT! No matter what the so-called experts say, there is an element of luck to fantasy sports. Great players have bad games, and sometimes several have them at the same time. The last two weeks Matt Stafford and Calvin “Megatron” Johnson scored a combined total of 43 points. Either one is capable of scoring that in one week! Who would have thought Zac Stacy and Marcedes Lewis would score more points than Matt Forte in consecutive weeks?

Can’t say I didn’t have a great season. Set the all-time single week record in one league. Enjoyed great trash talk, compliments, and insults with a great group of friends. Another excuse to spend time with the wife on Sundays. So when I rage about lost opportunities and victories that should have been, it is just me screaming at the universe.

The long, loud echo tells me just how much the cosmos cares…

I have been playing chess since I was 6 (1972 – go figure) and have played “seriously” since 1991. The final game of 2nd East Bay Open is by far my most satisfying game. I won’t say it’s the best game I ever played or even an objectively well-played game, just my favorite.

Let me set the stage. Going into the fifth and final round, I had a score of 2.5 out of four. Two others in my section had the same score and one lead us with 3.5. It never occurred to me that I was in the running for anything. Usually at least four of five would take a section, if not more.

I was paired with the leader and my co-2.5’s did not play each other. My opponent arrived almost ten minutes late. We got our game going and he started to offer me a draw on move six. I had no thoughts of money, just that I have often taken an easy draw because of fatigue or frustration. I knew that a draw was all he needed to win outright. I was not thinking globally, merely that I wanted to engage in a little “character development” of my own.

After awhile the repeated draw offers became annoying. I dug my heels in even deeper. I was particularly proud of the tactic on move seven, initiating a royal fork to gain a pawn. By about the thirtieth move and sixth draw offer, I did not care how bad I might go down, I was playing it out.

It got to an endgame. I am terrified of endgames. I did it anyway. I got the feeling my opponent was getting disgusted with me. So what!

All of a sudden, there is a small crowd gathered watching my game. I still have no idea of the stakes involved. I grind through simplifying and promotion and trading down until finally my opponent knocks over his King.

I had won. I fought, I hung in, I maintained good play and focus. I was proud of this in and of itself.

Then the tournament director sat down next to me and asked if I realized I forced a four-way tie for first. My jaw dropped! Adding to what I felt were positive strides in my fighting spirit, I banked a little coin!

Here are all five of my games from the event. Number five is of course the best!

D’Alfonsi,Michael J (1272) – Benaid,Henry [B22]
2nd East Bay Open Concord, CA (1), 06.12.2013

1.e4 c5 2.c3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.cxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Nf3 e6 7.Bc4 b5 8.Bd3 Bb7 9.Bg5 Be7 10.0–0 0–0 11.Re1 Nbd7 12.Bxf6 Nxf6 13.e5 dxe5 14.Nxe5 Rc8 15.Rc1 h6 16.Be4 Nxe4 17.Nxe4 Qd5 18.Rxc8 Rxc8 19.Qh5 Rf8 20.Qg4 f5 21.Qg6 fxe4 22.b3 Bg5 23.Ng4 e3 24.f3 e2 25.Qd3 Rf4 26.Ne3 Qxd4 27.Qxe2 Rf5 28.Kh1 Bxe3 29.Qxe3 Qxe3 30.Rxe3 Kf7 31.h3 Rc5 32.Kh2 Kf6 33.b4 Rc2 34.a3 Bd5 35.Kg3


Tabisaura,Fred (822) – D’Alfonsi,Michael J (1172) [C00]
2nd East Bay Open Concord, CA (2), 07.12.2013

1.e4 e6 2.Nc3 d5 3.e5 c5 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.d3 Nge7 6.d4 Nf5 7.Bb5 Bd7 8.g4 Nfxd4 9.Nxd4 cxd4 10.Bxc6 dxc3 11.Bxd7+ Qxd7 12.bxc3 Qc7 13.Qd4 Bc5 14.Qa4+ Kf8 15.f4 Qe7 16.g5 h6 17.h4 hxg5 18.fxg5 f6 19.Qf4 f5 20.g6 Ba3 21.h5 Bxc1 22.Rxc1 Qa3 23.Qb4+ Qxb4 24.cxb4 Rh6 25.c4 Rc8 26.c5 b5 27.c6 Rc7 28.Rc5


Chandnani,Priya – D’Alfonsi,Michael J (1172) [C00]
2nd East Bay Open Concord, CA (3), 07.12.2013

1.e4 e6 2.Nf3 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Ne5 Nf6 5.Bc4 Qd4 6.0–0 Qxe5 7.b3 Bd6 8.d4 Qxh2#


D’Alfonsi,Michael J (1172) – Sodersten,Cairo M (687) [B08]
2nd East Bay Open Concord, CA (4), 08.12.2013

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Bc4 0–0 6.0–0 b6 7.Bf4 c5 8.Re1 Na6 9.e5 Nh5 10.exd6 exd6 11.Bg5 Bf6 12.Bh6 Re8 13.Qd2 Nc7 14.Ng5 d5 15.Bxd5 Bxg5 16.Bxg5 Rxe1+ 17.Rxe1 Qf8 18.Bxa8 Nxa8 19.Nd5 Ng7 20.Be7 Qe8 21.Nf6+


(Minasyan,Karen (1116) – D’Alfonsi,Michael J (1172) [A16]
2nd East Bay Open Concord, CA (5), 08.12.2013

1.c4 e6 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Nc3 Be7 6.e4 Nb4 7.d4 Qxd4 8.Qxd4 Nc2+ 9.Kd1 Nxd4 10.Be3 Nbc6 11.Rc1 e5 12.Bxd4 Nxd4 13.Nce2 Nc6 14.a3 Be6 15.Ke1 0–0–0 16.Bh3 Bxh3 17.Nxh3 Nd4 18.Nxd4 Rxd4 19.f3 Rhd8 20.Rf1 Rd2 21.Rf2 R2d3 22.Ng1 Bg5 23.Rb1 Be3 24.Rf1 Bxg1 25.Rxg1 Rxf3 26.Ke2 Rdd3 27.Rg2 Rde3+ 28.Kd2 Rxe4 29.Re1 Rd4+ 30.Kc2 e4 31.Ree2 f5 32.Rgf2 Rxf2 33.Rxf2 g6 34.g4 e3 35.Re2 Rd2+ 36.Rxd2 exd2 37.Kxd2 f4 38.Kd3 Kd7 39.Ke4 Kd6 40.Kxf4 h6 41.h4 Kd5 42.h5 gxh5 43.gxh5 Ke6 44.Ke4 c5 45.Kf4 b5 46.Ke4 a6 47.Kd3 Kd5 48.Ke3 Kc4 49.Kf4 Kb3 50.Kf5 Kxb2 51.Kg6 c4 52.Kxh6 c3 53.Kg7 c2 54.h6 c1Q 55.h7 Qh1 56.h8Q Qxh8+ 57.Kxh8 Kxa3 58.Kg7 Kb3 59.Kf6


Ah, it’s finally happened. You look down at your little youngling and see them push their first pawn. Before long it’s a pawn sac, followed by a royal fork. You are happy beyond belief and so full of pride you think that surely you will explode from it.

If only the fairy tale stayed there!

I have been playing in chess tournaments on and off for over 20 years. My own daughter has now taken up the grand game and I know that there is something about having a child who plays chess that does something to the parental lobes. Just as our bodies change from the pubescent rush of hormones, the sight of our progeny sitting in front of the 64-square battlefield changes our brains and emotions. If only all of these changes were positive!

Anyone who has spent more than five minutes in a tournament hall has been shocked, dismayed, and maybe even disgusted by the behavior of chess parents. We all know the reputation of sports parents, from the vicarious living through their child to downright tyranny, I put it to you that chess parents are far worse. Why? Because the stakes are higher!

To begin with, I will break down the species parenticus caissa it its six subspecies:

Drill sergeant. Any child needs a routine but a drill sergeant chess parent fills every free moment of their child’s life with some sort of drill or practice. No matter what they are “only doing it for their own good.”

Cheerleader. The cheerleader’s child could torture kittens, burn down the neighborhood and threaten their opponent, but it’s all right by them. Their little Johnny (or Janey) can do no wrong.

Manager. This parent scouts out the pairing and the board, sets up the pieces, adjusts the clock, makes sure water and snacks are available, tries out twenty chairs to make sure junior’s is the best.

S. N. A. P. Stands for “Sensitive New Age Parent”. Similar to the drill sergeant but with absolutely no guidance for their child whatsoever. Nothing matters except their offspring getting the experience.

Genius-By-Proxy. Hey, my kid’s a chess prodigy! That makes me a genius too!

Monster. Nothing is ever good enough. May actually enjoy destroying their child just because they can. Life is one big dodge ball game of humiliation, degradation, and exclusion.

A quick look at the list above will tell you what they have in common: extremism. There seem to be very few chess parents in the middle. They are either lassez-faire and let their kids get away with murder, or they are ultra-controlling.

Another negative aspect of many chess parents is how much their lives depend on their child’s performance in chess. A talented player in the family changes and maybe even determines what the social dynamic of the family unit is. Johnny has a tournament? Guess no golf for daddy or spa for mommy. This even extends to their relationship with other chess parents. Parents of higher-ranked children are at the top of the pecking order. If Janey drops a class, suddenly Sydney’s mom is Queen Bee.

The worst aspect of this change in the family is what I call “The Drag-alongs”. One child is good at and likes chess. Rather than taking the bother or expense of making other arrangements for their other child, younger brother or sister is “dragged along” and made to play too. You can almost smell these kids in the crowd. They are easy to spot by their bored look, wild moves and intent to finish a game as quickly as possible.

To conclude this section I will tell you about the absolute worst chess parent I have ever seen, and I have been playing in tournaments on and off since 1991. Since I am not a very high-rated player I am usually paired against children and have to deal with their parents as well.

The mother I speak of had a son who was extremely talented and also had a younger daughter who had no interest in the game. At any tournament she acted as if she ran the show, issuing order to organizers and directors and basically demanding everything be done her way. Her column in the state chess newsletter was basically a bully pulpit for her to tell everyone what a struggle it was for her, how great her son was, and how no other scholastic player deserved to be in the same room.

Funny thing is, if you ever saw her and her son, you would think he was the worst human being ever to draw breath. She thought nothing of demeaning him at the top of her lungs in front of a room full of people if he ever lost. He was not allowed to socialize with other children. Unless a reporter was listening she never had a kind word about her son.

It didn’t surprise me in the least to hear that the boy gave up serious chess at about age 16 before reaching the higher levels of the sport. With the pressure put on him it would not have surprised me had he turned out to be another Bobby Fischer or mental hospital resident.

The theme that unites these admittedly stereotypical portraits of chess parents is extremism. Most chess kids are either over-parented or un-parented. You will see the children running around like madmen or spending every second studying chess.

Pretty bleak picture, huh? Well, all is not lost. As with every other aspect of raising a child, a little moderation, a lot of calm and, most important, the correct priorities can save the day. So, to help you guide your child through competitive chess without unleashing a monster I have prepared:

Ten Commandments of Chess Parenting

1. Thou shalt not be thy child’s valet.
2. Thou shalt not live thy life through thy child.
3. Thou shalt not berate thy child in public.
4. Thou shalt teach thy child manners and sportsmanship.
5. Thou shalt teach thy child to shake hands firmly.
6. Thou shalt not take chess more seriously than thy progeny.
7. Thou shalt always find positive in thy child’s performance.
8. Thou shalt not forget about thy other children.
9. Thou shalt nudge, but never push and shove.
10. Thou shalt be their parent first, foremost, and forever.


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