The 4 C’s of the Holiday Season: Chess, Competition, Comaradery, Charity

By Guest blogger C. Davis Buenger

Can blitz improve your chess? Maybe yes, maybe no.  Can playing blitz could change the world?  Team Berlin thinks so!

Last month, Team Berlin, an adult chess team in Ohio took up a challenge I suggested to play a three-week holiday competition:  whoever improved their blitz rating the most between December 12 and January 4 would win.  To make things more meaningful, each player picked a charity to play for, with the donation pool staked by the participants going to the winner’s choice of charity. Seven team members–Davis Buenger, Scott Harkema, Zach Kountz, Aaron Berlin, Josh Keegan, Mike Green, and Eric Gittrich–took up the challenge, and together they pledged $375 to the pool.

We played hard, and the competition raged back and forth with five different players holding the lead at various times.

On the final day, Davis (red line on the chart) made up a 30 point deficit to take the lead by two points with just two hours to go. With 15 min left, Aaron (bright green line in the chart) queued into a game to play for the win. At first, things looked bleak for Aaron as his opponent mounted an attack on Aaron’s king.  Aaron hung in the game and in a crucial moment his opponent slipped. Aaron never looked back and cruised to victory.

Upon seeing that Aaron would win, Davis jumped into the queue and found a match up against a Candidate Master. The game started with a Keres attack but soon became chaotic with both kings under fire.   It quickly devolved into a time scramble. When the smoke cleared, the candidate master had flagged and Davis leapfrogged Aaron to win the event.  He donated the 1st-place prize money to the Coalition Against Childhood Cancer, and Aaron donated his 2nd-place prize to the Northeast Coalition for the Homeless.

Final score:  Coalitions Win!

It’s easy to see how this spirited competition is good for the chosen charities, but if you have read this far you may be a chess buff yourself.  If you are interested in the dramatic final games, you can read more below.

And if you are chess buff and about to look at these final game summaries.  I’d like to encourage you to try something like this in your club or group.  Do it bigger.  Do it better.  Do it differently.  But do it!  This could help grow chess. If you show up to a local charity with a check, I guarantee somebody at that charity plays chess or knows somebody who does.  And now they will know about your club or group.  So as we kick off the new year, I will leave you with this thought:  if chess has been good to you, be good to chess!

If you don’t play chess, you might customize a friendly holiday competition with your friends into something that benefits others.  It will fill you with the joy of the season.

1. f4 e6 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. e4 b6 4. c3 Bb7 5. d4 d5 6. e5 Nge7 7. Bd3 Qd7 8. Nbd2 O-O-O 9. Nb3 f6 10. a4 fxe5 11. fxe5 g6 12. a5 bxa5 13. Nxa5 Nxa5 14. Rxa5 Nc6 15. Bb5 a6 16. Ba4
Qf7 17. Bxc6 Bxc6 18. Rxa6 Kd7 19. Bg5 Be7 20. Bxe7 Qxe7 21. h4 Rdf8 22. Qc1 Rf5 23. Qg5

Rxg5 24. hxg5 h6 25. gxh6 Qf8 26. b4 Rxh6 27. Rxh6 Qxh6 28. Kf2 g5 29. Ra1 g4 30. Ng1 Qd2+ 31. Ne2 g3+ 32. Kf1 Qd3 33. Re1 Bb5 34. Kg1 Qc2 35. Nf4 Qxc3 36. Nxe6 Qxe1# 0-1

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. g4 Nc6 7. g5 Nd7 8. h4 Nde5 9. Be3 Qa5

10.f4 Nxd4 11. Bxd4 Nc6 12. Be3 Be7 13. Bg2 Bd7 14. Qd2 Rd8 15. O-O-O Rc8 16. Rhf1 O-O

17. f5 Rfd8 18. f6 Bf8 19. h5 Ne5 20. Qf2 Rxc3

21. bxc3 Qxc3 22. Bd4 Qa3+ 23. Bb2 Qxa2 24. fxg7 Bxg7 25. g6 fxg6 26. hxg6 Nd3+ 27. Rxd3 Qxb2+ 28. Kd2 Rf8 29. gxh7+ Kh8 30. Qe2 Rxf1 31. Qxf1 Bb5 32. Qf7 Qb4+ 33. Ke2 Kxh7 34. Qh5+ Kg8 35. Bh3 Bxd3+ 36. cxd3 {timeout} 1-0

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