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Best of CLO 08: Meet the Judges and Runners-up Print E-mail
January 6, 2009
Last year, uschess.org ran the Best of Chess Life Online 2007 contest to recognize timeless articles that readers may have missed. This year we did it again, and the competition was even stiffer. Seven prestigious judges, involved in various aspects of the game, from playing to organizing to editing, (like Peter Doggers of ChessVibes.com to the left) ranked their top ten articles of the year. Without further ado... let's

...Meet the Judges

Michael Aigner is an active chess master.  He played in the 2007 US Championship and has won several U2300/2400 prizes. He enjoys sharing tricks of the royal game to many of Northern California's top juniors and aspires to take lessons from his former students after they earn the IM/GM title. He is also an Internet Chess Club admin under the handle "fpawn," which refers to his bizarre devotion to the Bird's opening, Dutch defense and other systems that require an early f4 or f5. Check out http://fpawn.blogspot.com , the premiere site for chess news in the Bay Area.  Aigner's judging was the most mathematical of the panel, incorporating six weighted categories.

NTD Michael Atkins
is a native Baltimorean (the other spelling is Baltimoron, which can fit too sometimes) living in Virginia, wondering why they still call it “The War of Northern Aggression” down here. It’s over, you lost, move on!

Peter Doggers
(33, Amsterdam) is founder and editor-in-chief of ChessVibes, one of the leading online resources of daily chess news. Famous for its videos that feature many super GMs, ChessVibes offers on-the-spot coverage of the world's most important chess events, as well as book reviews and columns. During the Corus Chess Tournament, ChessVibes will bring back the famous daily press-conferences-with-demo-boards by the players.

Irina's April 07 Chess Life cover. Photo Cathy Rogers
International Master Irina Krush is a two-time U.S. Women's Champion and two-time Olympic Medalist (Dresden 2008 and Calvia, 2004.) In yet another twofer, Irina appeared on two 2007 Chess Life covers, April and October.  Krush has contributed many pieces to Chess Life Magazine and Chess Life Online, including a story on the Girls Nationals in May 2008 and an in-depth blog on Gibraltar in February 2007, which placed seventh in last year's "Best of CLO" competition. She is the only judge to use rap lyrics in commenting the articles.

International Master Alex Lenderman is one of the top junior players in America. He won the World Youth Under 16 in 2005,  the 2008 New York State Championship with Justin Sarkar. He also placed first in the 2008 Grand Prix.   He made the an All-Star U.S. Chess League team, for his board 3 performance on the Queens' Pioneers. You can read Lenderman's own annotations on CLO, in an article on his  victory over IM Ginsburg for the Pioneers.  Alex judging criteria in order of importance is: 1. Instructional value especially to the average player, 2. Flashy and interesting, 3. Details and 4. Response Generated.

Mark N. Taylor is an associate professor of English at Berry College in Rome, Georgia, and editor of Georgia Chess magazine (for the last two year awarded "Best State Magazine" in the CJA/Cramer competition). His son, Paul is a two-time national scholastic champion.

Arlen Walker
is a former USCF Publications committee chair. Apart from his chess experience as a player, organizer, and coach he is a professional web developer, and an amateur chess historian. His chess website is thechessmill.com.

Runners-Up and Honorable Mentions:

This year, there were two entries that stood out from the rest of the crowd, both just 1-2 points away from breaking into the top 10.

11. Todd on Music and Chess at Bonnaroo by FM Todd Andrews

How Todd got the idea for this article, I have no clue-- but it is extremely fresh and original. Both the vignettes of Bonnaroo, with its cast of colorful characters, and the featured chess game were compelling. I imagine that a lot of people, with varying degrees of chess savvy, would be quite interested to read this one- IM Irina Krush

The most amusing and “out there” of the articles. Chess is FUN! in the world at large- Mark Taylor

The game itself was bit surreal, but, child of the sixties that I am, the festival background brought back some fond memories. I think I've met some of those people before- Arlen Walker

12. GM Joel on Knocking Out the Competition by GM Joel Benjamin 

I love US Chess League action, even from the wrong coast.  GM Benjamin's writing style and strong technical annotations made this a great story- Michael Aigner

Who wouldn't commiserate with Joel's attempts at humor? Just kidding! This article saw me break into a smile numerous times. If you care about the New Jersey Knockouts, this article is for you- IM Irina Krush

Mixed feelings: Should I admit to the major bout of Schadenfreude when I saw Benjamin-Christiansen (Bf7 sacs are fun, no matter how cheap they are!) or just stick with the enjoyment I got from Lian-Sinanan and Ng-Wilson?- Arlen Walker

The following articles  were not as close to making the top ten, but also incited some high scores and interesting comments from the judges:

Honorable Mentions

Abby on her Best Trip Ever by Abby Marshall

Perhaps other judges will rank this article higher because Abby Marshall truly showed her heart while writing.  The stories and photos were great for a tourist guide to Beijing and this blog post would have easily made my top 10 with just a few light annotations of the games-Michael Aigner

Very long, interesting, thoughtful article, with many different perspectives about the trip to China. It brought a lot of comments from people too. One might ask why didn't I rank this one closer to the top? I didn't quite find it as instructive for the public as the next ones up in the list.... however, since it was so flashy and interesting, it had to make my top ten.- IM Alex Lenderman

Morelia-Linares: The Story So Far by Macauley Peterson

Well written, nice perspective on this event and produced THE quote so far “who is this Shahade, and why is he famous? I heard he had some poker jackpot."- Michael Atkins

Very solid tournament report with good quotes and historical background- Peter Doggers

Hilton on Not Winning Nationals by Jonathan Hilton

Excellent article by Jonathan, expressing being a good sport, and taking losses and unsuccessful tournaments the right way. It's very instructive for all the young rising players and even some adults who have trouble taking losses. I just wish there would be more articles out there which can be so thoughtful and at the same time instructive- IM Alex Lenderman

Start Solving Now: Part II  by Gary Kevin Ware

I enjoy reading about problem solving.  Unfortunately, the article (could not) compete with the exciting tall tales at the top of these rankings- Michael Aigner

Well-written with interesting insight into the art of composing problems- Mark Taylor

Making a Team in Miami: Pan-Am Preview by Chris Dobbs

As a member of the College Chess Committee, I was thrilled to see a well-written article describing the difficulties of recruiting and funding a team to attend the Pan Am championships each December- Michael Aigner

As a former Pan-Am Organizer myself, I have to admit to a little bias probably playing into my placement of this piece. It's a good tournament that hasn't received the attention or support it's deserved in the last 30 years or so- Arlen Walker

The tenth article in Best of CLO 2008 will be announced on Wednesday, January 7.


March - Chess Life Online 2009

Twitter TestWall Street Brings Chess to Main StreetWatch Entries From the SuperNationals Video Challenge Take a Tour of the OprylandHilton on Ohio States, SuperNationals and BeyondKosteniuk Simuls: From New York to Nashville The Final Four for the Last Spot in St.Louis Further Details on USCF Call for USCF Sales Vendor Bids Silhouette ContestThe Last Spot in Saint Louis Aronian Takes Amber; Kamsky Ties for First in RapidKamsky and Topalov Trade Thrills Call for Bids for USCF SalesReport to the USCF Membership Regarding Current LitigationThe Uncrowned: Fine, Benko and KaidanovCollege Chess in America: Luciana Morales on Final Four Secrets Kamsky Splits With Wang Yue; Faces Topalov Tomorrow The 2009 U.S. Championship Contenders Review of Chess: Lessons From a Grandmaster Abby Marshall on the Virginia ScholasticsACA Beasts Take U.S. Amateur Team Playoffs In Texas, Hess Wins First Place; Earns Second Norm Kamsky Back on Top in RapidsKamsky and Kramnik Make Two DrawsDetails on Kosteniuk NYC SimulHess on Fire in Texas Kamsky Climbs to Rapid Lead Kasparov on Fostering American TalentGM Joel on the Polar Bear Pairings up for U.S. Amateur Team Playoffs Pair of Draws in Kamsky-Ivanchuk White House Chess Challenge Spring Invitational Kicks off at Texas TechKamsky Holding Own in AmberSchedule Set for 2009 SuperNationalsNashville SuperNationals Video Challenge 13-Year-Old Naroditsky Wows in Concord2009 U.S. Women's Championship Set for October in Saint LouisSuper-Simuls at the Super-NationalsEsserman and Sadvakasov Thrill in SturbridgeIrina Krush on Gibraltar Highs and LowsNaroditsky Leads in Concord Big Opens Kick Off on Both Coasts Chess and Art in IcelandJennifer on Nashville, Duchamp and the Dragon GM Joel on Time Management Perelshteyn Wins Virginia Open GM Melik Annotates an Aeroflot Win