A Perfect Trip, A Queen Within & Philly on Chess November 10, 2013Posted by Administrator in : art,chess,feminism,poker,travel,video , add a comment
Last time I updated you here, I was on my way to Vegas for a panel at G2E, the largest gaming conference in the World, and Rosarito, Mexico for WCOOP, the World Championship of Online Poker.
It was one of my favorite trips in a while, as I got to play online, catch up with close friends and enjoy all the perks of a legit vacation, from clubbing at Hakkasan in Vegas to a wine tour in Mexico.
I wrote more about Mexico in my piece, “Vegas to Rosarito: Goodbye Kitty”, where I concluded, “I could get used to this quiet resort town, now a bit louder with the big personalities of so many young poker players. I was so relaxed that I could see things more clearly and felt more sympathetic and less judgmental.”
Next I went to my second home Saint Louis, the capital of chess in the US.
The spectacular “A Queen Within” show opened last month at the World Chess Hall of Fame.
The fantastical installation above featuring designs by Hideki Seo represents the “Explorer”, one of nine archetypes of the queen explored (!) in the show. Photos don’t do it justice so see it in person.
I was auctioned off at the Queen’s Gala (lessons with me that is!), and I promoted the idea of “Queen Power” in chess through girls simuls and lectures.
I was also in a panel discussion on fashion, art and chess, along with “A Queen Within” curator, Sofia K. Hedman and several other brainy fashionistas.
I stayed on to give lectures at the club, all archived on YouTube. I did a series on previous Carlsen-Anand games in honor of the World Championship as well as my favorite, a lecture on problems and beauty in chess.
Now I’m back in Philadelphia and excited to play my first live poker since August at the Borgata. I’m also pumped for the Carlsen-Anand World Chess Championship. We just filmed this video of Philly predicting the outcome.
I’m working on some technical problems with blog post comments, so until then, hit me up on twitter!
Fantasyland: Three Nights in Vegas, Four Days in Mexico September 22, 2013Posted by Administrator in : art,feminism,poker,travel,video , add a comment
Our latest PokerFairyTale video stars Katie Stone, founder of the Grindettes and Melissa Burr, high stakes mixed game and Open Face player.
When you get to fantasyland in Open Face Poker (find the rules to OFC here), you get to see all your cards (or see into the future), so we posted two versions, one in which the visuals are backwards and the other in which the sound is backwards.
The first thing I tried to work out in Open Face is the math behind risking fouls for fantasyland. In simplified terms, if two lucky things have to happen for you to go to Fantasyland, it’s often worth it. Three lucky things is too much. Daniel and I made these videos partly because we feel the role of luck in determining your success is understated, especially in fields outside poker. And often you can make a series of well-calculated risks without reward. The rich get richer and in Open Face, those running well tend to play better (especially in Fantasyland, ofc) than those who are buried. Malcolm Gladwell popularized this idea of “The Matthew Effect” in Outliers.
The video contrasts the perceived glamour of live poker, which can be more of a grind (represented here by the founding Grindette who relocated to Mexico to play online), than sitting in any living room or hotel to play a beloved game. Two and a half years after Black Friday, I still feel a gaping hole that PokerStars used to fill. Bovada is profitable but not the same.
After this summer, I unabashedly call Las Vegas one of my favorite places. I return for the biggest gaming conference in the World, G2E. I’m on a panel with One Drop champion Antonio Esfandiari, November-niner Jay Farber, Parx ambassador Matt Glantz and moderator Marco Valerio. We’ll talk about online and live poker from a players’ perspective.
In a beautiful twist of timing, I’ll head to Mexico for the final weekend of the World Championship of Online Poker (Hello again PokerStars!). Three nights in Vegas, four days in Mexico, very much on purpose.
Highs and Lows in Seminole & Sinquefield Cup September 18, 2013Posted by Administrator in : chess,poker,travel , add a comment
In August, I played the 10M guaranteed at the Seminole Hard Rock in Fort Lauderdale and placed 63rd out of 2300 players for a 29,088 cash. The success came at a funny time. Going into the tournament, I was questioning the entire trip. I felt bad that I didn’t know much about open face pineapple, when my intention was to play a lot of OFC in Florida. I made a few major errors in butter soft satellites to the Main and came up empty.
I recounted on twitter a few funny Floridian encounters, two amusing and one truly scary.
Guy at pool: "I don't mean to brag but I'm really good at poker…but only for the first thirty minutes."
— Jennifer Shahade (@JenShahade) August 26, 2013
Guy in cash game tells Tbl: "pregnant woman are so beautiful and sexy" then asks me, "does that make me sound sensitive?" #4b
— Jennifer Shahade (@JenShahade) August 28, 2013
Regging @SHRHollywood Main & guy in line says: "You're pretty hot for a cardplayer" then "Have you been sexually assaulted lately?"
— Jennifer Shahade (@JenShahade) August 24, 2013
After the last one, I rushed back to my room and reported the incident to the hotel. I regretted not saying something immediately to a security officer, just so that the guy (who was not a poker player) would be publicly shamed and potentially kicked out. Never use that line guys!
My starting table was far softer than any WSOP Main Event table I’ve ever played at. Since it was the second highest buy-in I’d played in (5K), this made me happy about my choice to sell for and play it. Though the field naturally toughened as levels progressed, I was even happier after winning a few bucks for myself and my investors.
I came home excited about poker, but immediately focused on the next gig, commentary for the Sinquefield Cup. In this TV interview for “Show Me Saint Louis”, I explain why the tournament was so ground-breaking.
As a member of the organizing team, it was thrilling when World #1 Magnus Carlsen agreed to play, his first major event in the United States. And now it was real.
A particularly memorable moment, from our Friday the 13th show.
Unlike previous shows, my wardrobe shifted from business attire to a more stylish, fun look, which was fitting since my next trip to Saint Louis will be for a celebration of chess and fashion, “the Queen Within.”
In the final round of the Sinquefield Cup, the champion Magnus Carlsen fought on despite a draw offer which would clinch him first place and the $70,000 first prize. He ended up winning the game, and inspiring tens of thousands of fans, including me.
— Jennifer Shahade (@JenShahade) September 15, 2013
In addition to anticipating Magnus’s World Championship match vs. Anand in November, I also look forward to the 2014 Sinquefield Cup, which founder Rex Sinquefield alluded to in his final interview with GM Maurice Ashley.
Summer End Times: Wisconsin, Florida, Missouri July 31, 2013Posted by Administrator in : chess,poker,travel , add a comment
Hello from Madison, site of this year’s US Open! The photo is from the awards ceremony of the 1st NGIT, where all the class winners won a copy of Play Like a Girl. In other book news, Chess Bitch is now available on the Kindle.
I’m finally starting to recuperate from the intensity of Vegas and the inevitable reflection. I wrote one of my most personal pieces last year, on time & poker immediately after returning from the WSOP.
This year, I combined my latest passion, Open Face Chinese Poker (OFCP) with a slightly more relaxed tournament schedule. If I busted a tournament on the early side, it was nice to be able to get right back into mental gymnastics with Open Face cash. Conversely, the intense focus that Open Face required motivated me to try to approximate that in the big tournaments I was playing, rather than succumb to bad habits, like constantly checking twitter when not involved in a hand…or my Open Face app games.
My next poker stop will be the $5300 buyin 10 Million Guaranteed at the Seminole Hard Rock. I’ve heard such great things about Florida poker and this will be my first chance to experience it first hand. I only intend to fire a single bullet, though I will come earlier to catch some cash action. I’ve sold about 40% of this tournament and would like to sell an additional
">20% 0% in increments of 2.5% (320 for 5%, 160 for 2.5%) Please contact me if you’re interested!
In September, I’m headed to the 1st Sinquefield Cup in Saint Louis. This is Magnus Carlsen’s first event in the US and likely his final event before he faces Vishy Anand for the World Championship. The ground-breaking tournament already has its own Wikipedia page. As a member of the organizing committee, I’m thrilled about the way it’s come together.
Follow me on twitter for all the latest.
Missing Vegas Already, in Photos July 17, 2013Posted by Administrator in : art,poker,travel,Uncategorized , add a comment
I fell in love with Vegas harder this year and felt emotional leaving after weeks in town, when I was supposed to be tired of it. I’ll miss the soft desert light and the random conversations with brilliant strangers and friends. My first piece on the WSOP, about Open Face action & strategy is up on the PokerStars blog. And now for some visuals:
The no-frills Riviera Hotel was the site of the 2013 National Open, where we interviewed Amanda Mateer, among others, for USChess.
Daniel and I also shot a video for Poker Fairy Tale featuring Katie Stone, founder of the Grindettes and highstakes mixed game pro Melissa Burr. Some stills from the day:
Melissa inspired me to become more serious about Open Face Poker, so it was a trip highlight to leave the Aria Open Face tournament with her triumphantly. We chopped the marathon overnight affair along with a few others.
Unfortunately, the WSOP Open Face tournament did not go as well.
Lucky enough to play the main event, not lucky enough to call busting it the worst day of my year!
— Jennifer Shahade (@JenShahade) July 11, 2013
A few more happy photos from Vegas:
No Longer Afraid of Turbulence May 24, 2013Posted by Administrator in : Uncategorized , add a comment
I expected this mother’s day to be hard, but I calmly deleted dozens of FTD emails that came to my email box and smiled when I saw my beautiful mother’s face popping up on a facebook reminder to “buy her a gift.”
Considering how close I was with my mom, I was shocked by how little pain I felt after her death this January, and by how easily I was able to return to normal life, work and fun.
She would have wanted it that way. More than anyone I ever met, my mother detested funerals and other formal events like graduations. Though she was not rich, she would rather cut a check for the expenses of a funeral for a friend in need than to formally confront a subject that she felt made life less fun: dying.
My mom was so good at life, she didn’t have a whole lot of time to think about death. I’m a bit more morbid. Here are some of the surprising things I learned about myself, life, love and death through her sudden and premature departure.
1. Death gave me a chance to feel Love is Not Linear: Time is linear, but love is not. When my mother died, I cried myself to sleep that night and couldn’t get out of bed the next morning. I thought it may be like that for weeks. The next day I leaped out of bed, rather to attack the mountain of work that comes with the death of a loved one. In the weeks that came, I tried to figure out why a daughter so close to her mom could start smiling, eating, giving chess lectures, playing poker, drinking with friends so quickly. I realized that as cheesy as it sounds, I hadn’t really lost a mother. I still had a great mom, I just couldn’t call her anymore.
2. Atheism Didn’t Hurt Me: I thought the optimistic line of thought described above was reserved for the religious, who may believe that they’ll actually get a chance to see the departed again. I identify as Jewish but don’t really believe in god and do not think I will ever be able to hug or see my mom again, except in dreams. And yet I still felt immediate solace that she lingers on in her work- she was one of the first female chemistry professors at Drexel University, and founded a program to bring cutting edge science equipment to under-funded Philadelphia schools. Mom was always so devoted to gender and racial equality and I love this drawing, which a student drew after one of her grand displays of chemistry experiments to schoolchildren.
Her friends and family will always remember her “open door policy”, her seemingly boundless generosity and her passion for sports and cooking.
I felt like a different person right after her death and I think I instantly became more like her. At least the guests at her wake said my rendition of her coconut custard pie tasted more like something Sally would make than my own notorious cooking.
3. I’m no Longer Afraid of Dying, Especially on Planes: My mom hated flying and always wanted me to call her after landing. A couple months after her death, I was on a particularly turbulent flight and realized that I was far less afraid of dying than before, both on that plane and in general. One of my biggest nightmares before mom’s death was perishing in some freak accident and then imagining my mother finding out about it. No longer a problem! This may sound twisted & morbid (sorry dad!), but this lighter feeling is not all bad.
4. I’m lucky have Greg: It’s great if you have the same thoughts on death, money, property and other related issues as your siblings. Since that’s nearly impossible, it’s good to get along so that when disagreements arise, you can deal without resentment and with love. I was never more grateful for my friendship with my brother than after the death of my mother. My dad was also great- we were all so proud to see over a hundred girls participate in the Dr. Sally Solomon Memorial chess tournament held at Drexel this April.
5. I’ll Say Something Next Time: I was so happy about the outpouring of support from friends, co-workers and family, many of whom had never met my mother. Before my mom died, I sometimes debated whether I knew someone well enough to offer condolences, and occasionally decided that approaching the subject may make the person feel uncomfortable. Now I’ll always err on the side of saying something, even if it’s just a stock “my thoughts are with you.” Most people call in the first days or send notes in the first days or weeks, so if you forget, you can be a friend to talk to when there are not as many around.
6. Small Things Didn’t Nag Me: On January 16, I was at a friend’s house just two blocks away from my mom’s place, eating sushi and catching up with my best friends’ lives. We wrapped up around 10. I thought about walking over and saying hi to Mom—she was a nightowl and always liked it when I dropped in unannounced especially when armed with leftover California rolls. I thought again. I was starting to feel a bit sick and I knew Mom had just gotten over a flu, and didn’t want to give her another bug. I went straight home.
My mom died the next day.
One of the things my mom’s death taught me was that it’s not important for everyone to “say goodbye”. I thought the sushi story would bother me for a while, but again, logic prevailed and rather than haunted, I was consoled that I lived in Philadelphia for her final years, and was able to see her so frequently.
As spring finally bloomed, the same friends I met that bitter winter night posited, this time over beers, that my life in games helped me approach the worst event of my life with optimism. There’s no sense in dwelling over a poor chess move or an untimely bluff, especially when you are in the midst of the struggle.
I think mom would have smiled to see how fully I share her belief that life is too short for formalities you don’t believe in, or to play along with grief that you don’t actually feel. I smiled rather than cried thinking of Mom this Mother’s Day and I thank her for passing on to me whatever combination of strength and serotonin made that possible.
Celebrating Five Years in Saint Louis May 21, 2013Posted by Administrator in : art,chess,travel,video , add a comment
I just got back from a whirlwind trip to Saint Louis for the fifth straight US Chess Championship in Saint Louis, all of which I’ve hosted and chaired. This year’s commentary was the most successful ever, with two dynamic sets. I got a chance to work with two of the best GMs in the business, Maurice Ashley and Yasser Seirawan. You can replay live videos from our broadcasts on uschesschamps.com/video– also look for Fox Sports Midwest coverage of the event.
Another highlight was visiting the Innovative Concept Academy (ICA) for a special event co-hosted by Hip Hop Chess Federation and the World Chess Hall of Fame merging music, martial arts and chess instruction. The ICA is a last chance school for kids who appeared in founder Judge Jimmie Edwards courtroom, in lieu of juvenile detention center. Read more about the ICA visit & STL activities on my US Chess blog and also see a report with lots of photos by Daaim Shabazz the chessdrum.
As a board member of the World Chess Hall of Fame, I’m very excited to return to Saint Louis for the “Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes, Fashion & Chess.” the biggest show yet since the institution moved from Miami to Saint Louis in 2011. The first event is a preview at Christie’s on June 4, and I plan to wear another shiny chess dress.
After a quick jaunt to New York, I’m off to Vegas for the National Open and the WSOP. Follow me on twitter to stay up to date on my busy summer!
On the Speaking Grind: MIT to STL February 18, 2013Posted by Jennifer in : art,books,chess,poker,travel,video , add a comment
Last fall, I was on a game theory panel with poker champion and financial analyst Bill Chen and Eric Maskin, Nobel Laureate in economics at the “Adventures of the Mind” conference for talented high school students. My alma mater NYU hosted this edition. Also in late 2012, I spoke at the Philadelphia Art Museum’s Art After Five series on Duchamp and chess, which I wrote about on Chess Life Online.
Most recently, I went to MIT to give a one and a half hour lecture on poker and chess for Will Ma’s second annual intensive for credit poker class. You can watch Part I below and find Part II on YouTube.
Currently, I’m in Saint Louis where I’m doing a series of lectures at the STL Chess Club for various levels. Many of the classes are uploaded to YouTube, and the topics range from Double Attack for beginners to analysis of the beautiful Aronian-Anand game for more advanced players.
More to come! I’ll keep you posted here, and more promptly, on twitter.
Hotels From Brooklyn Castle to the PCA December 27, 2012Posted by Administrator in : books,chess,feminism,poker,travel , add a comment
Many of my memories of being a female gameplayer are set in hotels. I remember sleeping on rock hard beds in Yerevan, Armenia while staying up late solving chess and life with Irina Krush (now reigning US women’s chess champion) to trekking through Rajasthan with another US Women’s champion, Anna Hahn; to more recently, discussing tournament strategy with Katie Dozier while ordering in room service brunch before this year’s WSOP. But it’s not easy- there are so few women in chess and poker that pairing up and sharing expenses can be challenging, especially since so many women in these worlds have boyfriends or husbands that also play and don’t need roomates.
This may seem minor, but can make traveling expensive, lonely and in some places, even dangerous. Having a single room can be wonderful, allowing for privacy and maximum zzzzz’s. And that’s a luxury I often enjoy now, but it’s not always possible.
I hosted a Q+A for the critically acclaimed documentary Brooklyn Castle last month at the Ritz in Philadelphia and was struck by a storyline featuring Rochelle Ballantyne, who aspires to be the first African-American master in the history of chess (she’s about 120 points away). When I lived in Brooklyn, I worked with Rochelle at IS 318, the junior high school championship team that the movie focuses on. After graduating from IS 318, Rochelle wanted to go to the State Championships, but didn’t have any girls to room with, because so few compete in tournaments- she ended up rooming with the vivacious and supportive Latisha Williams, mother of chess champion Justus Williams (one of the stars of Extreme “X Chess” Championships.)
In this frame, Latisha explains to Rochelle that if she wants to become a master, she’ll have to fully commit herself to the goal. While closing in on the title, Rochelle plans to attend Stanford University next fall (on scholarship!), and I’m so happy for her.
Women in fields like chess and poker may get more attention and opportunities but things like hotels are why it’s so much more complicated than “It’s better (or worse) to be a woman in chess (or poker.)” It’s harder in some ways and easier in others.
I’ve mostly had a great time traveling around the world and sleeping in a wide variety of lodgments from a bizarre hostel in the suburbs of Prague, to a palatial suite in
Udaipur to the historic Chase Hotel, which hosts the US Chess Championship players in Saint Louis. I like overtly feminine design that counteract the default masculine vibe I associate with most hotels. The Chelsea in AC is one of my favorites- we shot part of Cin II there.
In less than two weeks, I’m headed to the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. I inquired back in November to a few friends about chopping a room, but no one, including the Grindettes, were planning to attend. A few weeks ago, I found a great deal on CheapCaribbean and Jamie Kerstetter changed her mind, so we are headed to the Bahamas, together. What luck!
My Lesson with Phiona Mutesi, “Queen of Katwe” December 13, 2012Posted by Administrator in : books,chess,feminism , add a comment
Ugandan chessplayer Phiona Mutesi came to Philadelphia as part of a media tour for “Queen of Katwe”, a new book by Tim Crothers which details Phiona’s path from Ugandan slums to chess championships. Watch a gorgeous ESPN video clip on Phiona.
Phiona was the guest of honor at the first 9 Queens Academy of the season on December 1st. After the inspiring session, I gave Phiona a chess lesson and showed her, her coach Robert Katende, and Rodney and Jan of Sports Outreach a little of Philadelphia. Phiona and Robert were particularly impressed upon seeing an elaborate wedding party in Rittenhouse Square.
Catch a glimpse of the lesson below and read more on Chess Life Online.