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When GothamChess, Botez, and I Hung Out

Updated: Apr 9, 2023

It’s the 27th issue of the Mindful Masters Newsletter, the best (and only?) monthly chess newsletter you receive. I cover chess culture and relevant wisdom I've collected along the way. Please let’s welcome the newest MMChess.org students: Madeleine, Jamie, Sam, Conor, Diarmuid, Aki, Logan, Rogan, Jack, Boston, Audrey, Sudeep, Rivers, Zeke, Vajee, Everett, Reyansh, Igor, Ethan, Pranoy, Annabelle, Benjamin, Ori, Harper, Rijul, Eli, Rio, and Shwetsie!


Student Success🏆

Every month we’re highlighting some of the successes of our students. Proud of something chess-related? Send me the photo!

  • Congrats to Rey A. for getting 3rd place in a big tournament and gaining 100 rating points!


  • Congrats to Kenneth K. for playing in the older section and beating up on 4th graders—because his rating’s too high for the 2nd graders he’s playing!

  • Congrats to Aarav’s team!


My story🖼️

In high school, I became a good enough chess player to play all over the US. My typical schedule was: school, teaching chess to kids, and in the evening getting on Skype with friends to study chess positions. At least once a month, I would fly to tournaments around the US with my chess lesson earnings. It was a 16-year-old’s dream - traveling to tournaments around the US without his parents!


I am from the same generation as Alexandra Botez and Levy Rozman (GothamChess). In fact, we ran in the same circles and hung out after tournament rounds. This was before streaming, so they weren’t famous yet (they have Wiki pages now!)! I remember when Botez won the Women’s Championship and a full scholarship to UT Dallas — and I told her to wait it out because she’d have many options. She ended up at Stanford! Here’s a photo of me (far back), Levy Rozman in the middle, and International Master Alex Ostrovky (front) fooling around in New York.


Monthly Tournament♟️

📅 This month’s tournament will take place on Wednesday, February 15th, at 7pm EST (6pm CT, 5pm MT, 4pm PT). Most of the players will be rated from 500-1800. In the last tournament, there were 49 students, both kids & adults!


To Play: Reply to this email or press the big green button here. If you haven’t already, you also have to join the MM team The Zoom for the tournament is here, and the password is Smile.

Congrats to Flavio (Gold), Yoan (Silver), and KLF15 (?) (Bronze)!


Chess News 📰

🤘 The monthly MM Coaches tournament was convincingly won by National Master John Ray Batucan. Though I started out in 1st place after the first 4 rounds, I got destroyed by the other masters!


💪🏽Too many people on Chess.com and Lichess.org? It seems that in 2023, people have gotten a huge interest in chess! More than in the lockdown and in Queen’s Gambit peak! Why should it be? It looks like the Hans Niemann demand against Magnus Carlsen and all the drama behind maybe could have gone viral on many platforms. What do you think? Let us know in this poll!


👑 Anish Giri wins against Richard Rapport in the 85th edition of the “Wimbledon of Chess”: the Tata Steel Tournament! The Tata Steel Tournament is an annual chess tournament that was held in Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands from Jan 13th to Jan 29th. It’s considered one of the most prestigious chess tournaments in the world, where top grandmasters and regular club players compete in the tournament. The Masters’ group pits fourteen of the world's best against each other in a round-robin tournament. We just need the popcorn to see this!


😶 Some polemic comments during the Fischer Random Chess Championship about Shohreh Bayat, an Iranian refugee International Chess Arbiter who won the 2022 Best European Female Arbiter by FIDE. I just wanna quote Daisaku Ikeda’s thought: “Nothing is more barbarous than war. Nothing is crueler...Nothing is more pitiful than a nation being swept along by fools”.


Do you wonder how much grandmasters can make in one year? These are the biggest prize money winners in 2022!


Fun Facts💡

😵 Magnus opening with g5?! This happen in the Fischer Random Chess Championship and was crazy! Hikaru didn’t take and the game ended in a draw. After the round chess masters were discussing this opening (photo below!).

If you want to learn more about this opening, here’s a short video that explains it.


🤓 Chess is being used to measure brain waves. According to this study by Harvard University, chess performance can be affected by outside sources; for example, it declined with age and air pollution. This study involves 200 players of the chess federation! Basically, chess performance may be related to analytical thinking, working memory, and overall intelligence so we can measure how well people are in those areas by looking at their performance in chess.


🤔 What are the probabilities for Carlsen to accomplish his 2900 rating? In Tata Steel, Magnus Carlsen would have had to win 13/13 to achieve his 2900 rating goal!


🌬 Chess is known for helping people enter the ‘flow’ state of mind. Researchers who study brain activity noted that theta waves are heightened in electroencephalograms (EEGs) taken when people are in a state of flow. Studies have shown the same high levels of theta waves in brain scans of experienced chess players during increasingly difficult chess matches!


Want to know more about the ‘Flow’? I highly recommend this book by Hungarian-American psychologist Noah Csikszentmihalyi (He graduated from The University of Chicago).


🧩We cannot forget puzzles! White to move and win!


😳 Just for fun: you know that is good when they used google translate! This made me laugh so much. Be aware of what you buy guys!


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