Archive for the ‘Jorge Sammour-Hasbun’ Category

The Fabulous 00’s: The Headache of Dos Hermanas Online Blitz

April 6, 2008

ICC is hosting every year a relatively big money (2,000 Euros [$3,400] first) online blitz (3 0 time control) event named Dos Hermanas. For the second year running, an untitled player won in what must be considered a gigantic upset against numerous GMs.

Here is Chess.FM’s John Henderson reporting in an official ICC email marketing/promotion blurb:

“Jorge Sammour-Hasbun: The ICC’s Cinderella Man
Who says lightening doesn’t strike twice? Last year’s Cinderella-story winner of the Internet Chess Club’s annual Dos Hermanas blitz tournament, Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (ICC NECF-InSchools), proved that lightening does indeed strike twice as he retained his title.
Sammour-Hasbun, 28, who lives in Massachusetts, was the only untitled player among the seven-strong grandmasters in the eight-player final, yet he defied the odds again to win the title and $3,4000 (approx. €2,000) first prize.
En route to the title, he beat IM Anton Kovalyov, GMs Timur Gareev, Jobava Baadur and Dmitry Kononenko, before defeating his good friend, GM Ronen Har-Zvi, by a score of 4-1, to take the top prize and online blitz bragging rights for another year.
Ronen Har-Zvi was the first to congratulate Sammour-Hasbun in yet another stylish performance, and was even magnanimous enough to interview the 2008 Dos Hermanas champion for Chess.FM. Recorded LIVE, just minutes after the match, you can listen (free to non-members) to the two finalists’ thoughts on Dos Hermanas (including some amazing analysis of their games) in this exclusive, 36 minute video from Chess.FM. To view the video, click here.
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Given the nature and magnitude of the repeat upset, many people were upset.

But as I understand it, the matches are not proctored. Last year (2007) proctors were present for the finals in selected cases (as a hubbub over the impending upset grew – GM Ian Nepomniatchi was screaming foul), but not in 2008. Wouldn’t it be better to either proctor the match or use webcams? This to me in any event marketed so heavily should be absolutely required. Otherwise there will always be a cloud over the ‘winners’. There are so many easy ways to cheat in this event.

For example, in previous DH events, people on the prize list in the final rounds have been summarily disqualified, including some big names in chess. Among the infractions there have been: a) having a team logon as the player from IP addresses separated by thousands of kilometers, b) obvious engine usage (every move matching and Blitzin ICC client also reporting an engine), and so on. The cheaters have been women’s world championship contenders, top Chinese GMs, and so on. Naturally ICC is loath to keep records – they are fearful probably of a lawsuit, because online cheating is easy to suspect strongly and hard to prove. But ICC really needs to get a handle on this and get audit controls in place. In the past, there have been blunders. ICC has accused Alex Lenderman (“Manest” on ICC) and it took quite some time for Lenderman to successfully clear his name. He is now a successful vendor and lecturer on ICC. In addition, Sammour-Hasbun was awarded a (C) as well (meaning he was computer-assisted) in the past when he used a different handle. He quit ICC in a huff and was absent for a long time. ICC’s client software, “Blitzin”, has process monitoring that has evolved over the years. Naturally these techniques are proprietary – but clearly not enough. We need stronger controls in the finals.

For a person motivated to win the event, can’t they simply have a friend over to assist? (if there is no proctor or webcam).

The event seems to be a mockery in its current state. Ronen Har-Zvi’s rather sycophantic interview of the tournament winner did little to allay my fears. Instead of Har-Zvi speculating on how strong this player is or that player is, it would be better to get proctors in place to make sure all the players are playing by themselves, alone. Then we can judge how strong everyone really is.

When this discussion was brought up in Channel 2, one of ICC’s communication areas, an admin Albi(*) expressed doubts that an honest proctor could be located for a remote location. This may well be the case, but a little pain is a lot of gain in terms of Dos Hermanas peace of mind, fairness, level playing field, and all those good things. Even a cheap webcam would be better than nothing – and the audience might have good fun scrutinizing players’ facial expressions as their precious seconds tick down!

I look forward to ICC’s revisions to the current format.


Fabulous 90s: More Photos

October 5, 2007

Let’s start off with young Jorge Zamora (now Sammour-Hasbun). I believe this was Needham, MA 1992 – I am in the foreground playing Jorge a skittles game – photograph by Chris Bernstein.


Moving right along, here are two Ivanovs. Alexander Ivanov and the dearly departed Igor Ivanov – I would guess it’s the World Open in some year in the 1990s. Of course it might be the 1980s. 🙂


And now we have GM Jaan Ehlvest with a sharp plaid jacket! Photo by Bill Hook. The site and year are unknown as of this writing.


And now we have a photo with an official caption (bestowed by the photographer, Chris Bernstein): “The Mystical Hertan.” Photo year: 1992.


I believe this photo was probably taken at the Needham, MA tournament. Yes, it’s FM Charlie Hertan! He recently wrote an article in Chess Life magazine about the mysteriously disappeared and presumed dead junior talent Peter Winston. I might “retaliate” someday with a memorial to the known deceased Billy Adam (a junior talent from Syracuse, NY). Billy’s incredibly short, meteoric life was from 1963 to only 1982. He spent his last years in Stony Brook, NY. As a sidenote, I must confess for many years I thought Charlie was an IM. I was *shocked* to see his title as FM in Chess Life.

Boxing News

News update: John Fedorowicz boxed Billy Adam on W 74th Street without training helmets in 1981. John Fedorowicz boxed me a few years later on W 170th Street (with red training helmets).

News postscript: apparently in 1981, Billy Adam’s practice boxing with John Fedorowicz almost turned into a fistfight because I forgot to say “ding” (the end of the round). According to John on Oct 5, 2007, “it became a fistfight when Bill punched me in the month.” He continues, “I ended the fight with a brutal uppercut… you (this author) were laughing.” Good times. 🙂 He adds, “One of your girlfriends uppercut me as well.” I asked who, and he said “Sue”. Ah yes, my Princeton buddy! Sue Kazmaier!!! John adds, “she snapped my head back into a brick wall.” I remember our apartment on W 74 Street and we did have a brick wall, so it’s all coming back!

More Photos

OK moving on. we have the dearly departed IM Victor Frias, photographed March 1994 eating breakfast. Photographer and site unknown as of this writing.


Victor Frias was the referee in the aforementioned Fed-MG boxing match, Washington Heights, Mid 1980s. I will dig up a photo of that classic event.

For something completely different now I present an award I got in 1991 (during my graduation from NYU with an MBA in Stat/Operation Research) from Dr. W. Edwards Deming – considered a Very Important Person in quality control and, as I understand it, revered by the Japanese.  To wit: “The Deming prize was instituted by the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers and is awarded each year in Japan to a statistician for contributions to statistical theory.  The Deming prize for application is awarded to a company for improved use of statistical theory in organization, consumer research, design of product and production. “

Dr. Deming was 90 years old when I got the award in May of 1991!   The typo in my handwritten last name did not bother me. 

Dr. Deming passed away a few years after (20 December 1993) I received this accolate. 


An award from Dr. W. Edwards Deming, NYU, 1991.