Posts Tagged ‘Bay Area chess’

Chess Chat: Q&A with Aamir Ali Azhar, Data Engineer

April 7, 2019

Recently I had an opportunity to catch up with my friend and former student, Aamir Azhar. I first met an elementary school aged Aamir at my Saturday chess class in Milpitas during the Summer of 2003. Since then I have had the pleasure of watching Aamir mature into a strong chess player and an impressive young man. A recent Duke graduate, Aamir is now a data engineer at Capital One. As you will see from our conversation below, Aamir sports a wisdom beyond his years and will no doubt have many more successes in the near future.

How old were you when you first learned how to play chess? Who taught you?

I was 6 when I learned to play chess (which is considered late in the competitive scholastic chess world). My cousin taught me one evening during a family dinner party. I picked up the rules fairly quickly and started playing more. In addition, my dad used to play quite a bit of chess in his teens, so we started playing together too (after his 20 year hiatus).

How has chess effected your decision making process off the board?

Chess has taught me how to become a meticulous critical thinker, always looking into the future and observing how things unfold several steps ahead. It’s a gift and a curse.

How did your earlier career choices lead you to where you are now?

I took an interest in computer science fairly early in my childhood because both my parents were computer science majors. I pursued it further career-wise, though I was always interested in the arts and humanities since I was a kid. I’ve been writing since I was young, and I continue to write on the side during my engineering day job, hoping to turn it into something bigger down the line.

The Azhar family.

How would you define your chess style?

When I was a kid, playing competitively, I was the overly analytical type. I would examine every possible viable move several moves in advance and spend lots of time trying to find the ideal move. I relied on my intuition heavily to tell me if a move looked good or probable, but I would also deeply analyze and quadruple check the move to make sure it was the best one.

I’m still largely like that, though I’ve grown less patient over time. Now I only double or triple check, and I tend to take a leap of faith with my intuition more frequently when moving.

Does your chess style transfer over into your business decisions as well?

I would say so. Again, I think through each decision several steps into the future, though at the end of the day my intuition makes the final decision.

What has been your worst chess mistake which has given you the biggest lesson?

I think my worst mistake happened when I was competing for the 3rd grade California chess championship. I had an upset against someone 300 rating points above me which led me to the championship match, where I faced the only other person with a perfect score in the last round. During that game, I was winning, and had a clear path to victory, but crippled by a combination of greed and fear, I offered a draw. That draw led me to tie for 1st place in the championship. We played a tiebreaker game and he got to take home the 1st place trophy.

I had a similar experience in 6th grade when I was competing for the California grades 4-6 championship. I was the only one with a perfect score, and going into the last round, I was facing someone with half a point less than me. I played the whole game looking for a draw (as a draw would give me first place). However, this led to me playing too passively that game — My opponent didn’t accept my constant draw requests, played for the win, and I and lost the championship in an upset.

The lesson here is fairly obvious. Play the game, and play to win. All the glitz and glamour are nothing but distractions.

What has been your worst career mistake that has given you the biggest lesson?

I’m still fairly young, so I can’t say I have many horrible career mistakes. However, I do remember after my SWE internship at Google, I was so sure I was to return to Google that I didn’t look into other internship opportunities. I wanted something different, but was too lazy to interview for other companies, so I listed 3-4 teams at Google I wanted to get on for the next summer. I got positive internship feedback, but unfortunately, none of those teams reached out to me.

Since I didn’t want to do the same SWE work I did the last summer at Google, I had to find an internship last minute. I was both picky and didn’t plan correctly. Luckily, I found a good internship, but it taught me a valuable lesson to not get cocky or entitled, and to always plan for different possibilities.

Do you think chess has helped you to become more resilient in life?

Yes, definitely. Being in that competitive of an environment that early on in my life taught me a lot of lessons, and made me into a tougher, more determined person overall. Though it did come with its fair share of insecurities and stress.

What do you hope to achieve professionally during the next couple of years?

I generally am looking for an impactful, interesting way to apply my CS background to answer big questions about society. I hope to further explore tech and data, learn as much as I can, and build up a writing career on the side as well. My dream is to either become a writer or an engineer-journalist (like a writer/reporter who uses in-depth data analytics for their stories). If none of that works, I’ll go back to grad school in the social sciences (like economics). I’m sure I can utilize my CS/data background there as well.

Amir with his father Salman Azhar.

What is the biggest challenge to achieving that goal?

The biggest challenge is really just figuring out where to start, and how to make a plan moving forward. My interests are still a bit abstract, and the path I’m looking to go down isn’t particularly clear or easy. It’s also a matter of meeting the right people and finding the right opportunities.

How would you relate these goals and challenges to the chessboard?

It’s more often that chess teaches me lessons about life, but occasionally life teaches me about chess. For example, right now, I’m giving myself some time and space to explore my interests and experiment with my career. That kind of mentality applies to chess too. Let yourself experiment, let yourself have fun. Don’t rush in trying to figure out all the big questions. My chess style nowadays reflects that. I play a lot more loosely, and I’m more willing to take risks. Not everything has to have a 20-step plan behind it.

Could you please leave us with a favorite piece of chess wisdom to conclude this interview?

My favorite quote, which rings true to me (and is apparent in my previous answers), is by Capablanca.

“You may learn much more from a game you lose than from a game you win. You will have to lose hundreds of games before becoming a good player.” – José Raúl Capablanca

The vast majority of my memories and lessons in playing competitive chess are heartbreaking losses. Very few are wins. I’ll say, and this applies to chess as well as life, embrace the losses. Play your best, try hard, plan appropriately, but accept that at the end of the day, we don’t know what will happen.

Don’t try to plan every single thing out and then get disappointed when they don’t unwind the way you want them to. Embrace the unknown, and when we experience loss, embrace it, learn from it, and even be grateful for it. At the end of the day, experiences will teach us more than thinking and planning ever will. So experience!

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Saturday Chess Class in Fremont

April 4, 2019

FremontChess.com‘s Saturday Chess Classes with Rated Tournament and Analysis

Brought to you by the US Chess Mates under the auspices of the Torres Chess and Music Academy.

We invite all young chess players to a uniquely exciting experience in the world of rated chess competition!

Each week students will take part in an engaging chess class, play USCF rated chess games and receive personal attention needed to rapidly increase their understanding of chess.

Join us as I seek to provide the highest quality rated chess club in Fremont at the spacious and conveniently located Learning Bee Learning Center.

Class Details

Day and time:

Saturdays 11:00 am – 1:00 pm

Held At: Learning Bee

Start Date: Apr 6, 2019

End Date: Jun 15, 2019

Class Dates:

Apr: 6, 13, 20 **NO 27

May: 4, 11, 18, 25

Jun: 1, 8, 15

Fee:

10 weeks for $180.00

*We accept cash, checks and credit

Financial scholarships are available. Please call 209.323.0197

Classroom Format

This course is designed to provide experienced tournament players with instruction that will quickly increase their ability and understanding of chess. We will also teach newer students the skills necessary to excel in competitive chess.

Participants will begin their class by participating in an hour long chess lesson. Students will then play 1 USCF rated chess game as part of the ongoing tournament and receive analysis of their play.

All participants must be members of the USCF.

If your child is not a member, they can join or renew their USCF membership at the first meeting.

Or go to: new.uschess.org/join- uschess to join online.

A USCF ID number is required in order to participate in the tournament.

Please make all checks payable to US Chess Mates and bring to the first day of class

Learning Bee Learning Center

39977 Mission Blvd., Fremont

To Register Online Please Visit

www.FremontChess.com

About the Teacher:

Chris Torres has been teaching chess in Fremont since 1998. For over 20 years his meticulous approach has paved the way for the success of his students regardless of their entry skill level. A true leader in Fremont chess, Chris Torres creates unique a curriculum perfectly suited for each and every class he teaches.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Learning Bee Learning Center, 39977 Mission Blvd., Fremont, CA 94539

The chess program will be offered every Saturday except when notified otherwise.

The tuition for this program is $180 for ten weeks. Drop-In classes are $25 and do not require prior registration. No refund will be given for unscheduled student absences. Sign Up online at FremontChess.com

Please call 209.323.0197 or emailChris@uschessmates.com if you have questions.

ALL PARTICIPANTS MUST BE MEMBERS OF THE USCF TO PARTICIPATE IN THE TOURNAMENT.

Fremont Scholastic Chess Championship 2019

February 16, 2019

The Learning Bee, US Chess Mates & the Torres Chess and Music Academy, Inc. Present:

The Fremont Scholastic Chess Championship!

March 16 & 17, 2019

Where: Learning Bee Learning Center, 39977 Mission Blvd., Fremont, CA 94539

What: Scholastic (K-12) 5 Round Swiss, Kindergarten (G/30) 1-4 (G/30) & 5-12 Section (G/60)

Cost: Thanks to a generous donation from Joe Lonsdale Sr., the early bird entry fee for this event is only $20!

Trophies are awarded to the top 10 in each section, top school team per section, and the top boy & girl in each grade. All other players will receive medals for participating.

Registration: Each time control (G/30 & G/60) will be limited to only the first 100 applicants. Please do not delay in registering as there is no guarantee that there will be room to register the day of the tournament.

 

USCF Rated SWISS Format: All players must be USCF members. All players must understand USCF tournament rules. USCF Membership fee is $17, per year. SWISS Format – a non-eliminating tournament format which features a set number of rounds of competition, each competitor does not play every other. Competitors play opponents with a similar running score, but not the same opponent more than once. The winner is the competitor with the highest aggregate points earned in all rounds. All competitors play in each round unless there is an odd number of players. Sets and boards provided. Clocks will be provided, but players are encouraged to bring their own.

*Round Times*

K & 1-4 G/30: 3/16 * R 1 @ 9:00am * R 2 @ 10:30am * 3/17 * R 3 @ 9:00am * R 4 @ 10:30am * R 5 @ 12:00pm

5-12 G/60: 3/16 * R 1 @ 1:00pm * R 2 @ 4:00pm *R 3 @ 7:00pm * 3/17 * R 4 @ 3:00pm * R 5 @ 6:00pm

Trophies: K & 1-4 awarded @ 2:00pm on 3/17, 5-12 Trophies awarded @ 8:30pm on 3/17

Register Online at:

http://www.fremontchess.com

TCAMA Summer Chess Skills Development Programs for Summer 2018

June 8, 2018

Don’t let your child spend another month stuck at their current rating level! Help them to grow in chess and prepare for success.

 

In one week of training with Chris Torres your child will gain:

  • The Valuable tools and skills needed to excel as a chess player.
  • An extraordinary chess camp experience with a top-tier chess instructor.
  • The confidence and motivation necessary to surpass their chess goals and fast track improvement.

 

Chris Torres has been teaching chess in the Bay Area since 1998. For 20 years his meticulous approach has paved the way for the success of his students regardless of their entry skill level. A true leader in California chess, Chris Torres creates unique a curriculum perfectly suited for each and every class he teaches. View his resume here: https://chessmusings.wordpress.com/2018/01/24/chris-torres-chess-resume/

 

The Torres Chess and Music Academy’s week-long chess skills development program helps equip elementary and middle school aged chess players with the ideal balance of foundational skills and advanced knowledge necessary to achieve sustainable improvement in chess. Sign up for these chess camps and get connected with the leading chess coach who is passionate about creating winners in every student he teaches. Classes are limited to just 10 students so every child receives personal attention. Each week long program is only $150!

Program Dates Times Location Address
P1 June 25-29 3:30 to 6:30 Fremont Hub 160 Fremont Hub Courtyard, Fremont
P2 July 9-13 12:30 to 3:30 Newark 34904 Newark Blvd., Newark
P3 July 9-13 4:00 to 7:00 Fremont Hub 160 Fremont Hub Courtyard, Fremont
P4 July 16-20 12:30 to 3:30 Newark 34904 Newark Blvd., Newark
P5 July 16-20 4:00 to 7:00 Warm Springs 46517 Mission Blvd., Fremont
P6 July 23-27 1:00 to 4:00 Pleasanton 4460 Black Ave., Suite A, Pleasanton
P7 July 30-Aug 3 12:30 to 3:30 Newark 34904 Newark Blvd., Newark
P8 July 30-Aug 3 4:00 to 7:00 Fremont Hub 160 Fremont Hub Courtyard, Fremont
P9 August 6-10 12:30 to 3:30 Newark 34904 Newark Blvd., Newark
P10 August 6-10 4:00 to 7:00 Warm Springs 46517 Mission Blvd., Fremont
P11 August 13-17 12:30 to 3:30 Warm Springs 46517 Mission Blvd., Fremont
P12 August 13-17 4:00 to 7:00 Fremont Hub 160 Fremont Hub Courtyard, Fremont

Please contact Chris Torres at chesslessons@aol.com if you have any questions. Checks should be made payable to the TCAMA 16691 Colonial Trail, Lathrop, CA, 95330, OR visit http://www.chessandmusic.com to register online.

For more information on Nurture Kids (510) 364-9322 http://www.wenurturekids.com

Chris Torres’ Chess Résumé

January 24, 2018

Chris Torres teaching chess (summer 2017)

 

Chris Torres

(209) 323-0197

chesslessons@aol.com · chessmusings.wordpress.com

Chris Torres is a nationally renowned scholastic chess coach working in the San Francisco Bay Area. His classes have attracted players of strengths ranging from rank beginners to world champions. A chess professional since 1998, Chris is widely recognized as one of the main driving forces behind the explosion in popularity and sudden rise in quality of scholastic chess in California.

Experience

1998 – 2000

Chess Coach, Weibel Elementary School

During his first year as a chess coach, Chris Torres helped Weibel to win the state championship and also coached his first state champion student.

2000 – 2005

Director of Instruction/Vice President, Success Chess Schools

At Success Chess, Chris Torres designed curriculum for all levels of chess players, trained over 50 instructors, established programs at 60 Bay Area schools. Chris established a strong coaching reputation by training several individual state champions each year.

2005 – Present

President, Torres Chess and Music Academy

Through the Torres Chess and Music Academy, Chris Torres has brought world class instruction to California’s most talented young chess minds. Some of his accomplishments included running a “Chess Study” with the Kern County Superintendent of the Schools and U.C. Berkeley from 2006-2008. In addition to the study, Chris was able to educate the children in Kern County’s migrant farm worker community in chess and even coach them to prestigious Southern California regional chess titles. In the Bay Area, Chris was able to instruct several individual National Chess Champions as well as coach for the Mission San Jose Elementary School chess team, which in 2009, 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2018 took first place at the USCF National Elementary Chess Championship. Before 2009, no school from California had ever won the Elementary Championship section at the USCF Nationals.  In 2015 and 2016, the Torres Chess and Music Academy organized the Susan Polgar Foundation’s National Open for Girls and Boys which awarded over $100,000 in scholarships and prizes to the top youth chess players in the United States. In 2016, the Torres Chess and Music Academy accomplishments were officially recognized by FIDE (the world chess organization) and the TCAMA was awarded the title of FIDE Academy.

Chess Titles

2015

Correspondence Chess Master, United States Chess Federation

2015

Arena International Master, FIDE

Skills

·         Event Planning

·         Individualized Curriculum Development

·         Program Management

·         Tournament Game Analysis

·         Tournament Selection and Preparation

·         Using Chess as a Confidence Building Tool

2nd Annual Susan Polgar Foundation’s North American All Girls Championship

November 5, 2017


This weekend I had the pleasure of attending the 2nd Annual Susan Polgar Foundation’s North American All Girls Championship held by Bay Area Chess at the beautiful Biltmore Hotel in Santa Clara, California. As always, Grandmaster Susan Polgar was very personable with all the girls in attendance. The huge efforts by Chief TD Martha Underwood and organizer Judit Sztaray made this tournament a delight to attend. Hopefully this tradition will continue in the Bay Area. It is wonderful to see so many girls (including my own) playing in a such a unique chess tournament.

Photos by Paul Truong.

Fremont Back to School Chess Camp

August 9, 2017


The Torres Chess and Music Academy is pleased to announce a three day Back to School Chess Camp designed to produce rapid improvement in your child’s chess abilities.
 

On Day one of our Back to School Chess Camp, Chris Torres will show your children illustrative games which demonstrate ultra-sharp opening play.

 

On day two, your child will train hard to improve his/her tactical abilities by solving puzzles and taking part in group exercises that are guaranteed to produce noticeable results. 

 

On the final day of camp, all students will be shown time tested endgame positions that will quickly improve your child’s strategy and confidence in the endgame.

 

In addition to all the hands on learning, all camp participants will also take part in a USCF rated chess tournament that includes game analysis and prizes.

 

This class will meet ‪from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM‬,

‪Friday through Sunday‬,

‪August 18th to August 20th‬

At: 2090 Warm Springs Court, Fremont CA

Only $100 for all three days

Click Here to Register

This camp is limited to only 20 student on a first come first serve registration basis. The fees for this chess program are nonrefundable after the class has begun. No refunds will be given for unscheduled student absences.

Book a Chess Camp in Your Own Home!

July 24, 2017


This is an exclusive invitation to have your children spend a week or weekend with some of California’s most popular chess coaches in the comfort of your own home. Let the Torres Chess and Music Academy take away the worry of driving your children to chess camp by booking us to bring our world-class instruction to you. We will bring all the sets, clocks and other materials necessary for a first rate chess camp to your home or sponsored location. Our coaches each have decades of experience teaching children the most practical endgame strategies, incredible techniques to spotting game winning tactics and the most dominating opening lines from actual games. Please contact us with any ideas for your camp and we will work with you, always understanding time constraints and budgets.

Click here to see photos from our chess camps so far this summer

Please send inquiries to Chris Torres at chesslessons@aol.com

TCAMA Summer Chess Camps – The Best Value in the Bay Area

July 12, 2017

At the Torres Chess and Music Academy we pride ourselves in providing truly inspiring chess experiences for the lowest price possible. This year’s San Jose Summer Chess Camp will feature instruction from:

Chris Torres (Celebrating his 20th year teaching chess)


GM Daniel Naroditsky (Currently ranked in the Top Ten by rating in the United States!)

Francisco Anchondo (If your child hasn’t been taught gambit openings by Francisco, they are simply missing out!)

Frisco Del Rosario (Legendary Coach and author of the best selling “A First Book of Morphy”)


Jay Stallings (Creator of the wildly popular Coach Jay’s Chess Academy app.)


The first day of camp is July 17th and tuition is just $160/week. Space is very limited,

Sign up today at www.ChessAndMusic.com

Important Announcement Regarding the 2017 SPFNO 

April 2, 2017


Dear Chess Community,

As a chess coach, there are times when I have had to make the difficult choice to pass one of my favorite students to another instructor in order to better serve his/her best interests. It is never a decision that is taken lightly, not least because of the close bond a student and teacher create when working for years together. But as a coach, our first priority has to be the best interest and growth of the child even if that means stepping down as their coach. 

Recently, I used the same rationale in regards to the future of the Susan Polgar Foundation’s National Open for Girls and Boys. Over the past three years, I have worked closely with Susan to plot a good course for the SPFNO. Now facing many new distractions unrelated to this event, I do not think it would be in the best interests of the SPFNO for me to steer it to its next destination. For this reason, I am stepping down as chief organizer and handing the helm over to my good friend Judit Sztaray of Bay Area Chess. I look forward to seeing the mission of the SPFNO continue under Judit Sztaray’s direction.


Sincerely,

Chris Torres


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