Chessco International Chess Festival - Nov 4-6, 2004


I spent the first weekend in November in Iowa, attending Bob Long's famous Chess Festival. A little history - I first met Bob during the summer of 2004 while searching for a distributor for my book Chess Exam and Training Guide. Bob showed a lot of enthusiasm and offered some very good suggestions. Ever since, Bob has become a good partner selling my books to his customers (


When Bob invited me to his Festival and explained what it was about, I was intrigued. While in Russia and even in Europe, chess tournaments usually offer relaxed atmosphere and plenty of time for social interactions and sightseeing, in US, I got accustomed to grueling 3-4 days events with 12 hrs of play and the other 12 hours split between sleep, food and preparation. Well, Bob's festival is nothing like that. What Bob told me - he gets 4 titled players (celebrities) and a bunch of layback chess fans who want to be entertained, play a little chess and buy some good books, which Bob has a plenty.


Overall, the event far exceeded my expectations. Here are some brief comments:


Travel - A little challenging. One has to fly to Chicago and then make 30 minutes connection to Moline. I spend a couple of hours in Chicago waiting for my plane to be "fixed". Fortunately, there was a fellow attendee Allan Savage waiting for the same plane and we had a nice and long chat.


Hotel - Very nice - authentic lodge. With nice rooms, excellent modern bar, upscale, but surprisingly very inexpensive restaurant. 15 minutes shuttle from the airport (free).


Celebrities - a very nice and friendly bunch of people. IM Andrew Martin was hilarious at times, but serious and informative in his presentations. ICCF GM John Berry was extremely friendly and informative. GM Alex Yermolinsky (last minute replacement of GM Karsten Muller, who unfortunately is ill) was great as usual. I completed this foursome.


Guests - there were 35 - 40 people attending. Some came from nearby towns, but many were from all over US and even Canada. I've seen people from Kansas, Florida, Pennsylvania.... Interestingly, with not that many people, those who attended had an easy access to celebrities and most were not letting this opportunity to go by.


Lectures - all celebrities had something special prepared. GM Yermolinsky covered recently completed match between Kramnik and Leko. Alex provided very insightful and critical analysis of several games. IM Martin had a couple of lectures and a workshop. The most amazing thing I have seen was John Berry's blindfold simul. He played 12 people rated from 1000 to 2250. The simul started around 9AM and finished around 6pm! I know Bob is still trying to see if this may have been worthy of the Guinness record. The games were not easy by any means. I have extensively reviewed a game that one of the participants - Ken McDonald, it was a complicated battle that ended in a draw.


Other events - there was a nice pizza party, leapfrog simul and a blitz event. I managed to tie for 1st place with Yermolinsky and Martin, all with +3 = 2. There were several informal events - dinner with Bob, his family and other celebrities hosted by Ken MacDonald; numerous chats with attendees in the bar, restaurant etc...


Overall - this is a great event, Bob and his family run it exceptionally well. I would encourage everyone to get in touch with Bob and request information about his future plans.


Now - a few words about my lecture. I outlined some of my personal ideas on training, self-evaluations as well as showed some of the examples of exercises that I am using with my students. Very similar exercises were used in my book Chess Exam and Training Guide. This time around for my Quiz I picked 8 puzzles that were entertaining and challenging. Some even stumped celebrities. Guests submitted their answers and which resulted in the following distribution. Overall, I've got a very positive feedback from guests, many of whom requested me to autographs the copies of my book they purchased.


Quiz Questions: click here (pdf)


To ensure the credibility of the data and possibly include those in my next book, I need more answers. Take no more than 15 minutes on each then submit your selections. Click Submission (if doesn't work, just e-mail this file Submission-Chessco.txt as an attachment.)


Comments / Questions - click here


Igor Khmelnitsky

Copyright 2004