Of all the many wonderful people out there in the chess world that are blogging, writing, working and involved in chess, you might be wondering why MonRoi asked me to do a blog on their website, especially under a section called “Experts.” I also asked the same question! Hopefully the rest of this page will shed some light on the subject.
My Chess Background
I was a fairly late starter, not joining a chess club in my home town of Hull, England, until I was about 15. Of course, I had played chess at school but nothing as serious as going to a club. I remember my first ever competitive game for Hull YPI, a team that played in the Hull & District Chess Association (HDCA) league. We drove about 20 miles to get to Market Weighton, the team we were playing against, and I was extremely nervous. Unfortunately I managed to lose in 11 moves with the black pieces against a Colle Opening where I fell into a mate on h7 after being tricked into moving my knight from f6 when I couldn’t resist the lure of an unprotected piece!
After that audacious start, the next few years saw me raise my game to a rating of around 170 BCF (British Chess Federation as it was known back then, now the English Chess Federation) or approximately 1950 elo. I also got involved with the HDCA, first as a board member, then as League Secretary and finally as General Secretary. I developed a monthly newsletter and also created their first ever website back in 1995, which I updated until I left my home town and moved to Las Vegas, USA, at the end of 1998.
When I arrived in Las Vegas, I was welcomed into the United States Chess Federation (USCF) world by learning they have their own set of rules, containing various slight, but important, differences from the FIDE rules, the world of digital clocks, complete with time-delay, and having to take my own chess equipment (board, set and clock) to the club and to tournaments.
After a few years I was soon back into the organizational scene, becoming a board member, including one year as President, of Nevada Chess, Inc., the USCF state affiliate for Nevada. I also became a Tournament Director (TD, the FIDE equivalent of an Arbiter), helping out at various local events, produced the quarterly Nevada Chess Bulletin, maintained the Nevada Chess website and produced a set of bulletins, along with a CD, at the annual National Open, held every year at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas.
I also established the Clark County Chess Club (CCCC) when the old Southern Nevada Chess Club disbanded back in 2004. The club was extremely successful, at least by Las Vegas standards, having over 100 paid members in the first year. While running the club, I also continued my TD career by working at various national scholastic events and produced bulletins for the now infamous HB Global in 2005 and at the 2006 US Open in Chicago.
In June 2006, I organized the Las Vegas Masters, a 9 round FIDE Swiss with norm opportunities. This event proved to be the starting point of what have so far been two exciting years of working with MonRoi, as well as a surprising level of requests for my services at various events.
Since then I have moved across the country to Boston and have worked at various national scholastic events and at some of the big Swiss events on the American calendar such as Foxwoods and the North American Open. I was also very privileged to have been given the opportunity to create and maintain a website and be an assistant TD at the 2007 US Women’s Championship. This led to me writing the cover story on the same tournament that was published in the October 2007 issue of Chess Life.
In August 2007, I organized my second Masters event, this time a New England Masters near my new location. My tournament report was once again lucky enough to be published in Chess Life, while this event also saw me secure my last FIDE Arbiter (FA) norm and I am currently in the process of officially obtaining the FA title.
Working With MonRoi
As I stated earlier, my first dealings with MonRoi came by virtue of the Las Vegas Masters in 2006. I really wanted to have live web coverage of all of the games and had written to MonRoi earlier in the year to ask about their new technology. I received a pleasant email from Brana Giancristofaro detailing a deal where I could buy 10 units and receive the hub and software for free. For a small budget tournament such as mine, unfortunately that was going to be not very cost effective.
I contacted the America’s Foundation for Chess (AF4C) who was kind enough to let me borrow 6 DGT boards. I tried putting them together but unfortunately could not get them working. Apparently I was missing a specific cable that provided power to the boards. USCF helped out by sending me what they thought was the correct cable and I was provided with help via telephone from the DGT offices. Unfortunately this was all to no avail and after countless hours of frustration I had to give up on the idea of having the games broadcast live.
A short while before the tournament was due to begin, I received an email from Carol Jarecki who was to be the International Arbiter (IA) for my event. She said she had met these ladies from MonRoi at the Olympiad and they were willing to come and cover events that Carol worked at. I asked “how much?” knowing full well the earlier email I had received from Brana Giancristofaro and nearly fell off my chair when Carol wrote back saying they were willing to come for free because she would be the IA. I think my “heck yes!” reply was received on Carol’s computer before I even typed it!
MonRoi came in the guise of Zeljka who swiftly went about setting up the system and she had brought enough units for every single player in the event (36 in total) to use one. This meant that we had all 18 boards broadcast live to the world for all to see and, according to my web statistics, people were indeed following the games.
Of course the players in the event were a little skeptical at having to use the PCM to record the moves instead of paper scoresheets. Obviously anything new takes a little time getting used to so at first I provided paper scoresheets so that they could do both. However, by the end of round 2, every player was no longer using paper and they were happily using the PCMs. After the games they would line up at Zeljka’s computer for a printout of the scoresheet, which was provided instantaneously. In fact, most of the players from the Masters went on to the National Open following the event and were requesting to use the MonRoi PCM instead of the paper scoresheets!
Since that tournament I have had the pleasure of working with MonRoi, or using their system, at numerous tournaments around the US and our working relationship, although not official, is one that is seeking to achieve a common goal of improving chess as a whole. I have a very good understanding of the MonRoi system, which really helps when we spend countless hours discussing problems I have encountered or improvements that I and others have suggested.
Chris Bird’s Blog
So now you know who I am and how I know MonRoi, what the heck is this blog going to be about?
To be honest, right now I’ve no idea! However, given that I am an active chess organizer, FIDE Arbiter, USCF Senior Tournament Director, MonRoi operator, bulletin and CD creator, budding journalist and photographer and a 2085 (USCF) rated chess player, I’m sure that there will be something that hopefully players will find useful to read.
I will blog about my tournaments that I attend and organize (I am in the process of organizing the New England Masters 2008, August 11-15), rule nuances between FIDE and USCF and relating to PCMs and just anything I feel may be of interest to chess players. I’m not sure how often it will be but I’ll try to come up with something weekly, or at least around that schedule.
If there is anything you would like to ask me, please feel free to login to the MonRoi user system and message “ctservices” and I will do my best to either respond in person, or to answer your question on my blog.