Best of CLO 2009: Meet the Judges and Honorable Mentions
January 14, 2010
The hectic pace of online journalism means it's easy to miss CLO's most in-depth pieces. So every January, we roll out the top 10 articles of the previous year, one day a time. Read more about the Best of CLO 2007 and Best of CLO 2008 contests here. Will GM Jesse Kraai win three years in a row? You'll find out soon. For now, let's meet this year's five illustrious judges and announce this year's honorable mentions.

Meet the Judges

Robert N. Bernard is the manager of the New Jersey Knockouts of the United States Chess League, where he started three years ago as the Knockouts' blogger.  For the USCL, he also compiles an unofficial rating list and weekly power rankings. Frequently, he can be found on the Internet Chess Club, where he has some weird tendency to win a lot of their trivia contests.  He is also a member of the USCF's Ratings Committee and coaches his child's chess team.  He has a very nice plaque from the 1982 US Amateur Team Championship, where he captained the team that won the Under 1400 prize.

Grandmaster Ben Finegold is the new GM-residence at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, where he recently started a Thursday night lecture series and unveiled a new blog, "Ben's Blog: Musings of a Grandmaster."   A cover story on Ben in the upcoming February 2010 Chess Life, "The 40-year-old Grandmaster", tells the story of how after twenty years of being a strong IM on the verge of GM, Finegold made the critical leap.

Rachel and Myron Lieberman have been involved with chess organization and promotion for a combined total of 97 years. They helped prepare the USCF Executive Board and Delegates' Meeting minutes and other documentation through the 2000s. Both have served as judges for the Chess Journalists of America.
Myron is a chess organizer, NTD and International Arbiter.   His primary chess interest currently is to help others get involved with chess, chess instruction, chess clubs, and chess events and to promote chess as much as he can. He is the Chair of the USCF's Outreach Committee. He is currently an officer of the US Chess Trust and a USCF Delegate at Large. Rachel served on the USCF executive Board as USCF Secretary from 1993 through 1999 and is a very active advocate of chess for prevention. For example, she presented a paper titled, “Chess – A Positive Alternative and a Powerful Tool for Prevention” to an annual meeting of the National Organization for Parenting, Pregnancy, and Prevention (NOAPP).  

Jessica200.jpgJessica Martin
has been a chess teacher for over 11 years in Tucson, Arizona, New York City, and Charlotte.  Jessica utilizes chess as a tool to promote education and respect.   For the past four years, in addition to her daily chess clubs and k-3 chess/math classes, Jessica has been working specifically with girls and women to encourage them to feel both self-confident and competitive. Jessica developed and organized Girls Academy at The International School and with 9Queens in Tucson, and she continues in Charlotte with her own business: Over The Chessboard. She is also the editor of the Plume Zine and a writer herself.  Jessica Martin is currently ranked 82nd woman in the United States.

ArneMoll.jpgArne Moll (36, living in Amsterdam, The Netherlands) is a Slavonic linguist turned computer-programmer and a co-editor for ChessVibes (, one of the leading online resources of daily chess news. Arne mainly writes book reviews (drawing from his experience as a seller of new and used chess books) and columns (linking chess to wide-ranging subjects such as the fabric of the universe, Darwin's theory of sexual selection and the latest novel by Vladimir Nabokov). Arne has some experience as a tournament player in the United States, albeit with very mixed success, winning one of the USCF Grand Prix rapid tournaments together with GM Gregory Serper and finishing clear last in one of the Marshall Chess Club tourneys.

Many articles narrowly missed ranking in the top ten this year. We share them with some brief comments from our judges: 

Best of CLO Honorable Mentions:

GM Rogers on London: Nakamura's Greatest Test, by GM Ian Rogers
This article has a ton of content, excellent games, and notes- GM Ben Finegold

I confess, I have a weakness for Monty Python and especially Fawlty Towers, so I was giggling and smirking throughout the whole article. The chess content, too, was satisfying without being overwhelming- Rob Bernard

The background information given on each player was a treat.  And awesome to get Naka and Carlsen’s commentary on the game!- Jessica Martin

Pascal on His Big Win in Bermuda by GM Pascal Charbonneau
Pascal writes a wonderful piece about a tournament that usually gets too little coverage- GM Ben Finegold
A clever and cheeky travelouge of Pascal's tournament.- Rob Bernard

Fantastically funny!  (I have got to hear the melody to “keep left, keep left, keep left.”)- Jessica Martin
Editor's Note: This year, Pascal will again contribute an article from the 2010 Bermuda Open, February 5-7.

Onischuk on Scorching Moscow by GM Alexander Onischuk 

I rarely read articles by Super GMs, but I was pleasantly surprised at reading about Alexander's great triumph, and nice pics too!- GM Ben Finegold

Nice clear annotations on his games, although the article was a bit on the short side.- Rob Bernard

Lucid, serious and lengthy analysis of crucial games by a super grandmaster.  Hard to find anything not worthwhile here, but nothing very original either. – Arne Moll

GM Joel: Sleepless in Saint Louis
by GM Joel Benjamin

Joel gives an excellent report, as usual, with nice pics, great game analysis, and, as usual, gives one the feeling that they are actually at the event.- GM Ben Finegold

While I really am a fan of Joel's dry wit, I wish he had given a little more about his between-round experiences.  Nevertheless, he always gives insightful and instructive commentary that any level player can understand.- Rob Bernard

Shankland Searches Europe for Third Norm by IM Sam Shankland 

An enjoyable read with some good games- Rob Bernard

Describes (a) player's search for a norm (with an) interesting and good personal touch- Myron and Rachel Lieberman

A Parent's Perspective, This Time Supersized by Mark Schein, (Part II)

Top scores on the humour scale.  Perspective is what we all look for in essays, whether the winner’s, the GM’s, or the parent’s.  I didn’t know y’all weren’t eating during Nationals unless it was your kids’ sandwich crusts.  Sheesh!  This essay had huge appeal for players and non-players alike.- Jessica Martin

Tandem Analysis: Robson and Lenderman
by Alex Lenderman and Ray Robson 

This was a great idea—useful, insightful, and still readable.  A unique idea that I hope is repeated.- Jessica Martin

This is an interesting format. It has the feel of witnessing a post mortem of a game except instead of hovering over a board as the players move pieces it is written. We'd like to see more of this format. (But) there was so much good competition- Myron and Rachel Lieberman

See the best of CLO 2007 and Best of CLO 2008 contests here.
Look for Best of CLO 2009 #10 soon, after which one article will be unveiled each day.