Home Page arrow Chess Life Online arrow 2008 arrow August arrow USCS Comes to New Jersey: Part II
USCS Comes to New Jersey: Part II Print E-mail
By Elizabeth Vicary   
August 21, 2008
Teddy Coleman
In the second part of U.S. Chess School Comes to New Jersey, read about eight of the most talented juniors in America and an interview with GM Joel Benjamin. Click here for the first part of this article, which focuses on the chess instruction at the camp and challenged readers to an endgame quiz. (Scroll down for answers and winners.)

Teddy Coleman (2320), a Harvard sophomore, was the oldest and most experienced player in the group. Articulate and sharp, he stood out for his calm, logical analysis and deep positional understanding. I was especially impressed by Teddy’s ease in comparing different positions in analysis. On more than one occasion, he made comments I found really useful like “If X seems to be a good move, can’t we also play it in student Y’s line?” or “I like this position better than the one we had before, because moves G and H are included.” He was also widely appreciated by other students: I asked several participants which other student they had learned the most from; a substantial majority named Teddy.

Teddy characterizes himself as a positional player who especially enjoys endgames. School prevents him from studying or playing much, but he does try to keep up, study his openings, and play as often as possible. “I just try to get a little bit better each time,” he explained to me modestly. Teddy has one IM norm so far, but hopes by the end of college to have two more.
His thoughts on chess: “I love the fact that it is a never-ending puzzle. There is always something more to learn. Even in this camp, people have found things that caused my jaw to drop. We are not even close to solving chess’s mysteries, despite computers. I also love that chess is a pure meritocracy. It’s pretty cool that in this day and age a seventeen year old is fifth in the world. There are few areas where a seventeen year old can beat a forty year old.”
Coleman-Ftacnik is Teddy’s favorite of his own games.

I asked him to describe it: “Going in—I was white in a Grunfeld and Ftacnik has written books on this opening— going in, I had some preparation, but I didn’t know precisely which line he played. I am happy with the game because I felt my play was very positional accurate. At some point he made a mistake and allowed me an interesting exchange sac, although I think by that time I was already somewhat better. So I had an endgame with two bishops and a rook against two rooks and a bishop, but I also had a secure passed pawn on a6 and was able to win. It’s probably the only game I ever played where I felt like I really outplayed a GM.”
Evan Ju
Evan Ju (2314) is ranked fourth in the country for 17 year olds. He feels his strengths are tactics and setting problems for his opponents: “not letting them just sit back and do what they want.” To illustrate this latter point, Evan described his best game, a win against GM Gennadi Zaichik: “It was in the New Jersey Futurity last year, and was my first win against a Grandmaster. I built up a good attack. My opponent wasn’t necessarily worse, but the position was very unclear and he couldn’t figure out how to solve all of the problems I set for him. The game finished with a nice tactical blow.” At this same tournament, which Ju called a “break-through event”, he also beat IM Dean Ippolito and FM Mackenzie Molner, and drew GM Sergey Erenburg. “Before this, I had not had good results against IMs,” he explained, “but these wins marked a new level for my chess.”

My impression of Evan’s responses during class was that he was a patient person, often suggesting solid, highly accurate moves, with a special talent for finding strong but unforced lines.
Evan’s short term goal is to make IM, “hopefully mid-way through college.” He doesn’t have any norms yet, but has been close many times. “Grandmaster would be nice,” Evan mused, “but I don’t see chess as a profession. I do think, however, that I will always play.” To improve, Evan is working to fix some holes in his opening repertoire and to improve his endgames and positional play.

Evan described loving chess because “it’s a beautiful game, with so many possibilities. I love the thrill of playing—not necessarily winning, but the thrill of competition. I also play a lot of sports, but the feeling of competition is different there, perhaps because chess is a mental game.” Evan is the captain of his school’s tennis team, and he drew parallels between the sport and chess: “Tennis is a very strategic game. Sometimes you play one way and it isn’t working, so you have to adapt: change your strategy, find your opponent’s weakness. Also, like chess, you have to work very hard to improve at tennis.” Evan also enjoys soccer, skiing, and reading science fiction, mentioning Ender’s Game by Orson Card as among his favorites: “I like the philosophical questions science fiction raises, and the different ways of viewing the world it can suggest.”

Michael Lee
Michael Lee, at 2332, is the highest rated player in the country under 14 and won the National Junior High Championship (K-9) for last year.

Michael feels his best tournament ever was at this year’s World Open, where he scored 2.5/5 against International Masters (including a win over Salvijus Bercy, included below), and had an overall score of 4.5/9, facing 8 titled opponents. He struck me as the most thoughtful and mature student in the group. While he didn’t speak often, when he did everyone stopped and listened intently. Exclamations like “Michael Lee is a beast!” (Sam Shankland), “Michael Lee comes up with MONSTER moves!” (Teddy Coleman) and “Michael Lee just served us!” (Gregory Young) were frequent.

Middlegames, especially unbalanced positions, are Michael’s favorite; he feels calculation is the strongest part of his game. “I wouldn’t say I’m aggressive,” he explained, “but I like positions where I have at least some counterplay. I prefer when I have a clear plan, but can set my opponent some difficult choices.” He cited opening preparation and time trouble as issues he wants to work on, and at the same time wants to get more experience playing positionally. Michael says he loves chess because it’s a “very deep game, full of intricacies,” that he “gets a lot of satisfaction from playing to the best of my ability” and that he enjoys the competitive aspect of the game.
Michael’s short terms goals are to become an International Master and to generally improve his play. The grandmaster title isn’t an immediate ambition, since Michael wants to balance chess with his schoolwork. He explained, “I definitely play for fun—it’s like a hobby—but before tournaments I try to study at least an hour a day. I do think I will play chess all my life, but I’m not sure I’ll study all my life. I won’t try to be a chess professional.”

Michael also plays the piano very seriously. I asked him to compare the experience of music to chess, specifically whether he finds one more enjoyable or relaxing than the other. His response: “Chess-- I wouldn’t say it is relaxing: you have to stay focused all the time. But with music you can sometimes just let go and play the way you think the music should sound.” Two of Michael's games from his biggest successes this year include a win over IM Salvijus Bercys at the World Open and one of seven wins at the Junior High School Champions, against Steven Zierk. 

Abby Marshall
Abby Marshall (2128) is ranked 18th for 17 years olds in the US. She feels her strength lies in tactics, but she wants to work on positional understanding, openings, and “being less lazy.” Abby enjoys chess because of its intensity: “If you are playing a really big game in the last round, the feeling of adrenalin and focusing to achieve a result is very cool. It can be also very relaxing sometimes if you are stressed out. It’s like a release of emotion, it helps you chill.”  She’s trying to make master before finishing high school, a modest goal, as she has two years and only 90 points to go. Ultimately, Abby aims both to become an International Master, and, more generally, to get more girls involved in chess: “I’d like to be a role model.”

While she studies about three hours a week already, she is trying to work longer and with more consistency. Recently, she’s been trying to change her opening repertoire, which had remained untouched for ten years. Doing this all at once requires a lot of work, but Abby has already had some success: I asked if she’d played any of her new openings in tournaments and she mentioned one game: a Chigorin against an FM in the Virgina FIDE Open last May (where she tied for first). She won the game, although modestly attributed the win to her opponent’s mistakes.

Abby is also an excellent blitz player: she beat Greg Shahade during the camp, and also recently won ICC games against GM Nick deFirmian and IM Dave Vigorito. A few months ago she visited me in New York, and I took her to play in Washington Square and Union Square parks. After she crushed the strongest player there (“Paul the Russian”) in three spectacular games, no one else would play her.

I asked Abby if she ever notices or is bothered by sexism in chess, and she had this to say: “Yeah, of course. What I really hate is that so many people immediately assume girls suck. Even when I’m on top board, people always think I’m the lower-rated player. I remember one experience visiting a chess club in San Diego, and everyone immediately presumed I was a beginner. My first opponent barely even looked at the board when he played me; he talked to other people, read the newspaper.” Greg Shahade, who was listening to our interview, chimed in here: “Did you beat the guy?” When Abby nodded, he laughed and teased, “But only because he wasn’t paying attention though, right? If he had been, he would have crushed you easily.”

Abby’s other hobbies include cross-country running and listening to music. She enjoys running because it’s “kind of like the opposite of chess: mindless,” but considers herself “lazy” for only running an hour a day. Abby listens to alternative and rap music; her favorite bands include Interpol, Timberland, and the Neptunes. She’d love to have a career as a DJ or music producer.

Sam Shankland
Sam Shankland (2398) of San Fransisco is the second highest rated 16-year-old in the US. Energetic, sharp, charismatic, and funny, Sam keeps up an almost constant stream of variations, jokes, and stories. The back-and-forth banter between him and Teddy Coleman comprised most of the student analysis at camp. Sam describes himself as an aggressive, tactical player who loves really sharp positions and feels most comfortable in the middlegame. He’s working on improving his openings, his grasp of technical endgames, and his positional sense. Sam cited the World Open this year as his best tournament yet: he beat both Shabalov and Erenburg there. He contrasted the two victories: “In my game against Shabalov, I checkmated a very strong player (whom I have a lot of respect for); the Erenburg game was completely opposite: a positional crunch.” During the latter game, an important realization hit Shankland: “It came to me when playing that the conventional plan of f4-f5, g4-g5-g6 in the King’s Indian Attack is very different when black has fianchettoed his king bishop. I understood then that I should play h4-h5, which both saves time and keeps the g4 square open for the white queen.”

Asked why he loved about chess, Sam laughed and joked, “Because of all the girls, obviously! No, seriously … I like to attack people and rip their kings apart.” He revealed one pet strategy to me: “Often in positional games,” Sam explained, “I’ll maneuver around for a while, and then, about move 35, when I have six minutes and my opponent has three, I’ll open the position up and hope for the best. I think it’s important to stay about three minutes ahead on the clock.” Shankland plays in about fifteen tournaments each year, but claims not to study on a regular basis. However, at the beginning of this summer, Sam “spent a lot of time working on chess with my partners in crime, Josh Friedel, David Pruess, and Vinay Bhat.” He credits his recent success to this work.

Sam’s goals are modest: “I want to conquer the WORLD! No, seriously, I want to improve myself both as a player and a person.” Pressed for details, Sam explained he was trying to be less competitive. But almost immediately he modified his answer: “Perhaps just I want to be less outwardly competitive, since being competitive is an important part of who I am as a person. But I’ve definitely been working on this lately.” Sam doesn’t aspire to be a chess professional: “The world has so many problems: global warming, the oil crisis, pollution, poverty. These are so much bigger than chess and I want to do my part to help.” But Sam’s mind clearly works on overdrive, and almost immediately a new idea occured to him: “Actually, I’d like to be a spy! I’d have the perfect cover—I could travel around playing in chess tournaments. I’d be one of the top players; who would suspect me?” He laughs, but in the next moment he changes his mind again, “Except, I guess, if the people I was spying on knew how to use Google. Then they’d read this interview and figure it out.”

Soccer and frisbee are Sam’s other hobbies: he plays soccer for his school team and in a recreational league and enjoys frisbee with friends. At camp he played frisbee enthusiastically every day during the mid afternoon break, until an unfortunate dive fractured his elbow and forced him to wear an arm cast.

Victor Shen
Victor Shen (2268) is ranked 4th in the country for 15 year olds; he also tied for first in the Eight Grade National Championship a little over a year ago. Victor describes his greatest strength in chess as resilience: “Even when I get worse or losing positions, I never give up. I’ve won an amazing number of lost positions because I set a lot of obstacles for my opponents.” He wants to work on his endgames (“Partially I’m too lazy to study them, but I also do think that kids get fewer endgames than other people”) on time management, and tactics. (“People seem to assume that kids are good at tactics, but I don’t think that’s always the case. There are many different types of tactics: kids are good at calculating forced lines, long variations that end in mate, but they are less good when the positions are unclear or the variations are unforced. Also, they aren’t so great at endgame tactics. So I’m working on these areas.”) Victor’s comments in class revealed him to be a creative problem-solver who thinks in both variations and ideas.

What Victor loves most about chess is the feeling of winning: “When you win, everything else in the world seems unimportant for about ten minutes.” I asked if he hates losing with the same intensity, and he said no: “I don’t really think I hate losing that much. I’ve had a couple bad losses, but I get over it. Losing is not a disaster for me.” His favorite win was against Evan Ju at this year’s Liberty Bell Open. He described the game for me: “It was a sharp opening, very tense, and then I sacked a pawn for an attack. I felt like I had really great pressure throughout. I won nicely in the end, but he only made one mistake the entire game.”

Victor’s short term goal is to raise his FIDE and USCF rating above 2300 in the next year. Beyond that? “I’d like to make International Master, although I don’t know if that’s possible before college.”

To everyone’s surprise (as Victor starting out as a low seed and lost his first game to Sam Shankland), Victor dominated the final day’s blitz tournament with a score of 6/7. Tied for second were Michael Lee and Teddy Coleman with 4.5/7. Victor “didn’t expect to win,” but does consider himself an “ok” blitz player who gets lots of practice on ICC. He mentioned his game against Sam as the hardest (“he killed me”) and his game against Teddy as his most interesting. (“It was an up-and-down game, plus it was high stakes: with a win, either of us would have taken a big lead in the tournament.”)

Why did Victor and Teddy care who won the tournament? Because first place earned the right to a four game blitz match against Joel Benjamin. After Victor played this match, which he lost 4-0, I asked him how it felt: “I went in trying to win each game. I was up a pawn for nothing in one game, but in the others I didn’t have much of a chance. Before the match, I would have thought I’d do better, but now I would expect to score only about 95% against Joel. Although, I’d think I’d do better in 3 0, and probably I’d do better on ICC also because I could pre-move.”

Victor Shen faces GM Joel Benjamin

Victor also enjoys working out, running, basketball, and playing piano. He is a member of the New Jersey Knockouts—and won the following game in last year's season against Chris Williams of the Boston Blitz.

Daniel Yeager
Daniel Yeager (2356) is the current National High School Champion and ranked 3rd in the country for seventeen-year-olds. While primarily a positional player, he also enjoys unbalanced positions. Daniel is ambitious about chess: he regularly studies several hours each day, learning openings and keeping up with the latest games. He is also working to improve his calculation. He hopes to become an IM before going to college (he has one more year), and ultimately to become a grandmaster. Daniel would love to be a chess professional someday, but notes that his chances depend a great deal on how much he can improve over the next few years.

Daniel’s other major interest is sports. He plays tennis competitively on his school’s team. He also follows many college and professional sports, but his favorite is football; he roots for the Philadephia Eagles. He also enjoys reading biographies of sports players. Here is Daniel's crucial seventh-round win against Michael Thaler in the High School Championship:

Gregory Young
Gregory Young (2227) tied for first at this year’s US Junior Championship and is ranked third in the country for 13-year-olds (behind only Ray Robson and Parker Zhao). Despite being the second lowest rated in the group, Gregory impressed me the most, combining an intense love of the game with an impressive ability to calculate, original ideas, and a noticeable lack of ego. At the end of each nine hour day, when other players were reduced to joking around and discussing South Park, he would still be enthusiastically rattling off variations. And unlike other players, who would sometimes analyze competitively, taking one side and trying to prove their ideas against the analysis of other students, Gregory was always looking for the truth, finding ideas for both sides, listening to other students and occasionally explaining and extending their ideas. He comes off as modest, friendly, and self-reflective, as I think will be evident to readers from his thoughts below.

Gregory described his greatest strength as positional play, and named calculation, time management and learning to spend more time in critical positions as the main areas that he is working to improve. Calm positions that require lots of planning and less calculation are his favorite: he’s “not a big fan of really unbalanced positions.” While he doesn’t dislike tactics (and as I mention above, his ability to calculate was incredible), Greg explained his reservations: “In tactical games you can get overwhelmed. They’re just riskier: one mistake in a tactical game and you’re dead.”

Greg studies chess several hours a day by solving exercises on the software program CT-ART and by looking at recent grandmaster games: “I know tactics are very helpful. I’ve found if I do tactics before tournaments I do really well.” Greg’s short-term goals include making FM and earning IM norms, but he has not set a time limit for this. In the long term? “I don’t see myself as a chess professional, but I think I will play chess for most of my life. School is also very important to me. I’d like to be like Vinay Bhat: he didn’t focus on chess much while he was in school, but now he has a good job and is also a GM.”

Tying for first at the US Junior this year was a major breakthrough for Greg in many ways. As he put it, “I wasn’t expecting to do so well. I didn’t think I could compete with players like Daniel Yeager, who was rated 2350, and Tyler Hughes, who I’d heard was very underrated. But when I tied for first, I realized for the first time how well I could actually play. I started off 3-0, beating Yeager. This inspired me and allowed me to be myself when I was playing the remaining games: not doing anything crazy or playing scared like I’ve done before when playing up.”

He considers the above game against Yeager was his best ever: “Daniel was rated a hundred points higher than me, and the game was complicated: I had to make a lot of decisions. In one key position, I had won a pawn and both queens were attacked. Yeager then used his queen to take my bishop, so then I had a pawn for a bishop. I had two options.  One, I could take a piece and equalize material, but he would have all the play. My other choice was to accept a rook and pawn for two pieces. It was extremely complicated: I looked at a couple lines and they seemed OK, but I couldn’t figure the whole thing out. Still, I felt I had to go for it. Daniel ended up making a critical error; I managed to whip up a decisive attack and ended up winning nicely.”

Time “flew by” for Gregory at the camp. He really enjoyed working with the other players, getting to know them, and having fun. The game analysis, he felt was the most useful activity.   He explained: “When you solve puzzles, you only focus on two skills: calculation and planning. But games show you many more general ideas. For example, in one of Daniel Yeager’s games that we analyzed, he had a serious space disadvantage and consequently his pieces were not so good. I kept trying to find ways for him to play actively, but couldn’t make anything work. Benjamin showed us that sometimes you have to accept a structural disadvantage in exchange for activity. I really learned a lot from that. In addition, Benjamin focuses a lot on openings, and it’s allowed me to see how complex opening ideas can be.”
Basketball is Gregory’s second passion: he plays on his school team and practices frequently. He compared chess to basketball: “You practice in similar ways, training specific skills, but in basketball the skills are even more specific than in chess. When you practice tactics, you’re never doing it with the expectation that you will get exactly that position, but shooting free throws – it’s pretty much the same each time.” Asked if he was competitive in similar ways in the two sports, he replied: “I don’t think for me in either sport it’s about being competitive as much as it is about loving the game. When I love something I want to do it well.”

JoelUSCS250.jpgJoel Benjamin Interview

Elizabeth Vicary (EV): 
When you were planning for the week, what were your teaching goals?

GM Joel Benjamin (JB):
The main thing I try to do is to teach them how to think: to teach practical problem-solving and to give practical tips for playing games. I tried to encourage students to be open-minded enough to find unusual continuations.

EV: Did you have any concerns beforehand? Did the camp go as expected?

JB:This was the longest, most intensive camp I’ve ever taught. I had no way of gauging how much material would fill the time. In fact, I thought I might not have enough material, but the game analyses were so much richer than I anticipated. That’s largely a credit to the kids: they found so many interesting possibilities. And I found I’m often able to learn new things about games and positions I’ve seen a few times already.
But I knew everyone in the camp to a certain degree: I knew their accomplishments and expected them to be strong players with interesting ideas.

What did you think was most successful in the camp, and was there anything you would change if you were doing it again?

: I think things worked well in general. We did a lot of endgames, and I made this choice for a couple reasons. First, endgames are important to learn and young players often don’t have as much experience in this area. Secondly, they are the easiest positions to work out to some degree, so each endgame is itself a little bit of a problem.
The rest of the material was positions from my own games—not necessarily tactics puzzles, but complicated, rich positions to practice analysis. The great thing about the camp is that it was possible to get a lot of the material from the kids themselves, their games. Their mistakes are not obvious at all: I found I might look at a game and think I can see the mistake, but I might not be correct.

EV: How would you compare the students at this camp to yourself at their age, in terms of skill, knowledge, and experience?

Kids today have a definite advantage in terms of experience and knowledge because of the information explosion: databases, the internet, and ICC. Although there is also a certain trap here: you occasionally see children who get used to being spoon-fed and are not as good as they should be at thinking for themselves. But that’s not really a problem for kids at this level. They are very intellectually curious and want to discover things for themselves. That’s a big part of what this camp is about—over five days the students discover a lot of new things, rather than just having information presented to them.

EV: How important, relatively, do you think training sessions like these are in the development of a young player? Central? Supplementary? Nice but not necessary?

JB: Tremendously important. This is something that has been lacking in this country for a long time—since the demise of the American Chess Foundation. There hasn’t been a focus on talent. In American Grandmaster, I lamented this situation, but noted that the USCS was making a new initiative in this area, so maybe things are turning around.

EV: What kinds of things do you see as central to the continuing development of these students (or ones of a similar rating and age)?

JB: I’m not very scientific in my approach to chess, so I don’t have a formula for improvement. But I do believe that any chess study you do pays off in some way. It’s most important for kids to be intellectually hungry.

EV: I noticed some students here work with a very strong coach, some seem to have a coach who is only somewhat higher than they are, and at least one prefers to work alone. Any thoughts on the importance of having a trainer?

JB: It’s very important to have me as a coach! (Joel laughs). No, but having a strong coach is useful, but the most important thing is that you work on your own even if you do have one. I think the success of any coach-student relationship mostly depends on the student.

EV: Finally, would you encourage a young player these days to become a chess professional? Do you think it’s do-able in the US these days in an enjoyable way?

JB: There are two ways of looking at this question: do you mean becoming a professional chess player or a chess professional? The market for teaching chess is there, but making a living from playing is not a viable option in this country, except in very exceptional cases like Nakamura or Robson. Just playing chess is not a good option for most other young players: they can accomplish more in their lives. Things have changed a lot since I was a teenager. There are far more GMs now and so the market is just too competitive in terms of both financial opportunities and invitations to play in strong events. This is why, at this point in my life, I’m a chess professional, not a professional player.

I asked all the participants a few standard questions, and present their answers separately for reasons of clarity.

1. If you could have any other chessplayer’s mind—you would keep your life and your non-chess mind—but you would play exactly like Capablanca, or Fischer, or Shirov and have all their knowledge and strength, who would you choose and why?

Michael Lee—Bobby Fischer, because he was so tactically skilled but was also a great all-around player.
Daniel Yeager—Hikaru Nakamura, because of his fearlessness.
Gregory Young: Bobby Fischer. He was a great endgame player, and a great tactician, and a great positional player. I admire him because he could play positional and tactical chess with equal comfortability.
Sam Shankland: Gary Kasparov: his style is sharp but he also has a great positional sense. People talk sometimes about winning with white and drawing with black, but that concept  doesn’t exist for him. I had the privilege of analyzing with him at a training session in New York and I saw how strong he really is. I decided then that I wanted to be just like him.
Abby Marshall—Shabalov: I like the way he takes risks: it’s a fun way to play.
Evan Ju—Well, Kasparov, overall, definitely, but in terms of style, Mikhail Tal. He’s maybe not the strongest player ever, but he played like me: he gave his opponents lots of problems to solve. His moves weren’t always the best, but they were very difficult to face, practically.
Victor Shen—Kasparov. He’s just an all-around genius, arguably the greatest player ever. I’ve had the opportunity to see for myself the quickness, depth, and accuracy of his thought—it’s amazing.
Teddy Coleman—Carlsen, he’s the man. I like him because he’s a kid, and he’s kicking everyone’s a**. He’s also the only player in the top fifty that I’ve ever played (at the World Youth in 2003); I’m even mentioned in his book, Wonderboy. 

2. Favorite Chess Book?

Michael Lee— When I was 1800, My System really helped me.
Daniel Yeager—no favorite book
Gregory Young: My System
Sam Shankland: Dvoretsky’s books
Abby Marshall: The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal
Evan Ju: no favorite book
Victor Shen: Kasparov’s series, My Great Predecessors , and Joel’s book, American Grandmaster
Teddy Coleman—no favorite book

Answers to Part II Quiz- in Part I, we challenged CLO readers to an endgame quiz that Joel posed at the USCS: if you have a pawn advantage of 4 vs 3 in the endgame, what are your winning chances in each of the following scenarios: queen, rook, knight, Same-colored bishop, opposite-colored bishop, knight vs. bishop, bishop vs.knight and just kings? The pawns are all on the same side of the board (e, f, g, h, vs. f, g, h) in an unfixed structure. Kings are on the back rank and equivalently placed. Rate your pawn-up winning chances from 0 to 10, with ten being completely winning and 0 being a dead draw. There was actually a tie for the most correct answer between manest23 (IM Alex Lenderman) and jsnews, so both will receive a copy of American Grandmaster! Please e-mail CLO editor Jennifer Shahade at [email protected] for more information on redeeming your prize.

How Winning Is Each Piece?

Student answers (these sometimes include Greg Shahade’s answers. In cases were there are less than 8, I missed a response- Note that the players answers were openly discussed which explains the closeness of the students' answers.)

Piece                                        Joel's answers   Student's Answers

Queen                                      5                      6, 5, 4, 6, 3, 2, 3, 5, 5

Rook                                        3                      3, 2, 3, 2, 0, 2, 1, 3, 3.5
Joel pointed out that while this is a theoretical draw, Kasparov himself had once lost it.

Knight                                       8                      6, 8, 7, 7, 9, 9, 8, 8

Same-colored bishop                2                      4, 5, 5, 4, 3, 5, 4, 4, 4

Opposite-colored bishop          0                      0, 1, -1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0

Knight vs. bishop                      7.5                   7, 5, 8, 7, 5, 8, 9, 8, 6, 7

Bishop vs. knight                      3                      3, 3, 3, 4, 5, 3, 3, 3, 3

Just kings                                  9.5                   students did not give answers



August - Chess Life Online 2008

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