Sunday, May 23, 2010

Karpov and Kasparov Unite to Conquer FIDE Presidency

Nobody could doubt Kirsan Ilyumzhinov’s devotion to chess. As president of the impoverished Russian republic of Kalmykia, he spent £60m building a Chess City where visitors could play in comfort. He made the game compulsory in schools and had a giant chess board with outsized pieces placed in the main square of his capital.
His flamboyant style as head of the world chess federation since 1995 has attracted frequent criticism, however; and the impression of eccentricity was compounded recently when he told Russian state television that aliens in yellow spacesuits had given him a tour of their craft.
Now two of the world’s greatest chess champions, Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov, once rivals across the board, are making common cause in an effort to get rid of Ilyumzhinov.
In his opening attack Karpov is said to have secured the backing of several national chess federations. But in a counter move the incumbent has secured the Kremlin’s support to stay on.
“We’ve had enough of Ilyumzhinov. He’s no longer fit to head the federation. He must go,” said Karpov, whose campaign to head the game’s governing body is also supported by Vladimir Kramnik, another former world champion.
“So much could have been done in the last 15 years. Instead, Ilyumzhinov has simply placed his people in power, made a lot of unfulfilled promises and all but ended chances of attracting major sponsors because of his reputation.”
Kasparov has accused Ilyumzhinov of running the world chess federation in the same authoritarian way that he rules his tiny country. “He not only believes he can disregard rules, he makes up his own,” said Kasparov.
Ilyumzhinov denies any wrongdoing and says he has led the federation successfully.
The clash is being closely watched by chess enthusiasts across the world. Last week Karpov and Kasparov held a fundraiser in New York attended by more than 100 Wall Street bankers who bid at an auction for the chance to play against Kasparov.
Ilyumzhinov is unlikely to need such fundraisers. One of the former Soviet Union’s first multi-millionaires, he once boasted a fleet of Rolls-Royces.
In 1993, aged 31, he became president of Kalmykia after promising to turn Europe’s only Buddhist nation into a “second Kuwait” where “every shepherd would have a cellphone”. This has yet to become a reality.
He claims that as a young boy he played chess at night with a “black masked ghost” and despite protests from his impoverished people built Chess City on the outskirts of the capital, Elista, because “God intended Kalmykia to be known for chess”.
His tales of extraterrestrial encounters, first recounted years ago, proved the last straw for the chess champions. He said he was falling asleep in his Moscow apartment when he heard someone calling him from the balcony and saw a “semi-transparent half-tube” that he entered to meet the human-like creatures.
"I felt very comfortable with them,” said Ilyumzhinov. “I am often asked which language I used to talk to them. Perhaps it was on a level of the exchange of ideas. I asked them why they had not gone on television to reveal themselves to us humans. They replied that they are not yet ready.”

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Chess Power Struggle

MOSCOW — It pitches a former world champion against the leader of the world's western-most Buddhist region who claims to have met aliens in his apartment.
For good measure, it also features the chief economic adviser of the Kremlin and another former world champion who has turned into an implacable critic of the Russian authorities.
This is the cast of a zany row that has broken out over Russia's candidate to head the World Chess Federation (FIDE), a struggle which has become a bitter test of guile and stamina reminiscent of famous battles on the board.
The president of FIDE is Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, a fanatical chess player who has been leader of the largely Buddhist southern Russian region of Kalmykia since 1993.
As well as his obsession with chess -- which has extended to building a self-styled Chess City in the regional Kalmyk capital of Elista -- Ilyumzhinov is known for eccentric behaviour that is not even confined to planet earth.
He famously claimed to have been given a tour of a UFO by aliens in the late 1990s and last month solemnly revealed on a TV chat show that he had met extra-terrestrials in his Moscow apartment.
The role of FIDE is to set the rules of chess and organise championships. To stand for its presidency, candidates must gain the backing of their national federation.
The current mandate of Ilyumzhinov, who has been president of FIDE since 1995, expires in September and there are many in chess who would like the controversial figure to end his stint there.
Ex-world champion Anatoly Karpov, known for grinding opponents into submission during his Soviet-era heyday, has challenged Ilyumzhinov, declaring that 15 years of his "disreputable administration is more than enough".
Karpov has already been nominated as a candidate for the presidency in the September elections by several national chess federations including France. But winning the backing of Russia has proved more problematic.
Karpov -- who has a US presidential-style campaign site -- may have thought he had sewn up the backing of the Russian Chess Federation when a meeting on May 14 nominated him as Russia's candidate.
But enter Arkady Dvorkovich -- best known as the chief economic advisor of President Dmitry Medvedev -- who also occupies the post of head of the Russian Chess Federation's supervisory board.
Dvorkovich declared that the nomination was invalid as it had failed to meet the minimum quorum of participants and said his own letter of recommendation sufficed for Ilyumzhinov to be the candidate of the Russian chess federation.
"I respect Anatoly Karpov as a great chess player but unlike Kirsan Ilyumzhinov he is an ineffective manager," spat Dvorkovich, who is normally quoted reeling out economic statistics.
"I also think Anatoly Yevgenyevich's election campaign has been indecent and unethical."
Karpov in turn accused Dvorkovich of staging a rival federation meeting on May 14 so he could then argue the minimum quorum was not met.
"Our high-ranking official is unable to accept the defeat of his point of view in a democratic vote," Karpov wrote on his blog for Echo of Moscow radio station.
With the latest battle looking like a long-drawn-out clash in which stalemate is not possible, Russia's current number one Vladimir Kramnik has called on both sides to use "only civilised methods of fighting".
The chairman of the Russian chess federation, Alexander Bakh, meanwhile accused Dvorkovich of sending in private security guards to seal off offices at the federation in revenge for his support of Karpov.
Karpov's campaign has also found a perhaps unlikely ally in the shape of his former great rival Garry Kasparov, the ex-world champion who now leads one of Russia's few anti-Kremlin political movements.
Kasparov -- whose 1984 world championship clash with Karpov was so gruelling it was abandoned over fears for the health of both players -- has openly backed his ex-rival and attended a glitzy campaign gala in New York.
The Soviet Union dominated world chess in the heyday of Kasparov and Karpov, benefiting from a system that encouraged children to take up the sport at the youngest age. But funding dwindled after the Soviet collapse.

Friday, May 21, 2010

US Chess Championship Final Four


For more information, contact:

Mike Wilmering
Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis
Cream of the Crop for Quad Final
By FM Mike Klein

Saint Louis, May 20, 2010 –

Four players have survived and advanced to
the quad finals of the 2010 U.S. Championship, but the results of
round seven do not tell the full story. Though a casual glance will
show that the top three boards ended in draws, the uncompromising play
brought the tournament to within a whisker of a large tiebreaker for
the four-player round robin.

Board one was the first to finish, but the relatively peaceful draw
between GM Yury Shulman and GM Alex Onischuk that qualified both for
the quad did little to portend the action on the next two boards. “I
had a little advantage, typical for a Queen’s Gambit Declined,”
Shulman said.

GM Gata Kamsky, needing only a draw as White against GM Alex Shabalov
to earn his spot, began shaking his head in disbelief when he
overlooked the cunning defense 22…Bg6 at the end of a long variation.
He had only considered 22…Kg8, which wins for White after 23. Qd5+.
Though short on time, Kamsky gathered himself and found a way to
capture several pawns whilst simultaneously weakening Shabalov’s king.
“It was a pretty unpleasant scenario,” Kamsky said. “I was looking to
minimize the damage.”

Kamsky then found what he called an “extremely strong defensive
maneuver” – bringing his rook to the fourth rank to defend his king on
the g-file. Black then ran low on time and after Shabalov whispered
“draw,” Kamsky ran his clock down to 1:20 and agreed.

In the post-mortem, Kamsky rattled off a multitude of variations. In
case of 16…b5, Kamsky prepared 17. Nfxe5 Nxe5 18. Nxe5 Qxe5 19. h4!
with the dual threats of 20. Bxh5 and 20. Bf3. Shabalov nodded in
quiet appreciation of the cute move.

The last qualifier for the finals would come down to board two. GM
Larry Christiansen, a veteran of decades of championships, needed to
win as he began the round one half point behind defending champion GM
Hikaru Nakamura. Known for his attacking style, Christiansen built up
a strong center and spatial advantage. “I was guardedly optimistic,”
Christiansen said.

Nakamura was not content playing passively and struck with the strange-
looking thrust 8…g5. World Champion GM Viswanathan Anand, calling in
from Spain live during the on-air commentary, questioned the move.
“I’m not sure if Nakamura knows how to (play solidly),” Anand said.
“But he doesn’t lack confidence, that’s for sure.”

As the game petered out into a pawn-up endgame for Christiansen, the
crowd at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis gathered
around the monitors. Players who generally left the club after their
games stayed to see the result. GM Maurice Ashley, commentating on the
game, saw Christiansen move his rook around to press for the win.
“You’re going to sit here and you’re going to suffer young man,”
Ashley said of Christiansen’s mindset. Eventually, too many pawns were
traded and Nakamura held on to qualify.

“Basically I just forgot my preparation, but even so the result was
pretty good,” Nakamura said. “I made some inexactitudes, as they say,”
said Christiansen. “It’s kind of a letdown. The real tournament is
over. It’s hard to get psyched up now.”

The four players advancing to the finals are also the top four seeds.
They also all enter the event with five points. “Everyone is in even
conditions,” Shulman said. “Whoever will have some luck on his side
will win the tournament. I’m still considered the underdog.” Nakamura
agreed and cited himself, Kamsky and Onischuk as having all the

The players now enter a rest day before the quad begins on Saturday.
Shulman said he plans to attend a St. Louis Cardinals game, while
Kamsky looked forward to the human chess match planned for the street
outside the club. After rebuffing WGM Jennifer Shahade’s preference to
see Kamsky as an f-pawn, the grandmaster said, “I prefer to be a
knight because knights get to hop all over the place.”

Nakamura also planned to rest on Friday, at least from chess. “I think
I’m probably going to go out and buy some furniture for my apartment,”
he said. Nakamura moved to downtown St. Louis less than two weeks ago.

Six players entered the round with 3.5/6 and were mathematically
alive, but their chances were dashed when Shabalov could not convert
against Kamsky. The most disappointed was surely GM Alex Stripunsky,
who would have qualified for the playoff as he beat GM Jesse Kraai. GM
Alex Yermolinsky held a draw against GM Ben Finegold on board five.

GM Robert Hess rebounded from several losses to take out struggling GM
Varuzhan Akobian, who remains the highest-rated player in the country
never to win the U.S. Championship, though he remains younger than
most of the field.

In the tournament’s subplot of making grandmaster norms, IM Irina
Krush is now within sight of her second norm. She took out GM
Aleksandr Lenderman in round seven to get back to plus one. The two
players share the same coach, but that did not prepare her for the
opening. Krush said she was shocked to see Lenderman play the Grunfeld Defense.
She is assured of a norm with one point in the final two

After tomorrow’s rest day, the top four players begin their three-
round event on Saturday, while the rest of the field will play two
more games starting on the same day.

“We deserve a little break,” Kamsky said, the relief evident

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

New PC Chess Software: Battle vs Chess

Fritz ChessChampionship Chess (Supercharged Chess with Stunning 3D Graphics!)Topware has released new screenshots from their upcoming game Battle vs Chess, developed by Zuxxez Entertainment.

Battle vs Chess is a new PC chess game combining classic Chess with 3D animated boards and pieces, online play, and all the modern features we've come to expect from PC games.
If you were gaming on PCs during the Dark Ages, you may remember a very similar game called Battle Chess, released in various iterations by Interplay in the late 1980's and early 90's for Amiga and Apple computers.

Topware plans to take the basic concept—Chess with animated pieces and various 'kill animations'—and bring it into the 21st century with a powerful Chess engine called 'Fritz'. The game will also feature unlockable content, online multiplayer play, and special game modes. (You'll get whole new, modern, and attractive ways of getting your butt kicked at Chess by the computer or some clown on the Internet who can type LOLZ NOOB at you.)

Battle vs Chess will be released for PC, Mac, and "next-gen consoles and handhelds". The game is set to release August 2010 (delayed from its previously announced May 2010).

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Us Chess Championship: Log-jam at the Top of the Leader Board

For more information, contact:
Mike Wilmering
Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

Log-jam at the Top of Leader Board

By FM Mike Klein

Saint Louis, May 17, 2010 –

With the top four players battling to
draws on the top two boards, a trio of other players used the fourth
round of the 2010 U.S Championship to draw even.

On board one, GM Hikaru Nakamura and GM Alexander Onischuk had the quickest
game of the day. After a few brief fireworks out of the opening,
Onischuk continued his usual solid ways to earn the half point as
Black. He has now extended his record U.S. Championship unbeaten
streak to 45 games. His only loss was in the 2004/5 event, and
Onischuk came in to the tournament with the third highest lifetime win
percentage ever, behind Bobby Fischer and Reuben Fine.

Nakamura’s choice of the Vienna Gambit surprised Onischuk, even though
he previously played it at the 2007 U.S. Championship and at last
month’s Saint Louis Open. “I was kind of shocked,” Onischuk said. He
studied about 10 different openings prior to the game. Asked which one
he most expected, Onischuk quipped, “All of them!”

“We’re just trying not to lose against each other and beat everyone
else,” Namakura said. By “each other” he meant himself, Onischuk and
GM Gata Kamsky, the only players with ratings above 2700 USCF.

In the game, Nakamura curiously inverted his king and queen in the
first 10 moves. “I don’t think beginners should look at this game,” he
said. “It violates everything a grandmaster says.”

Grandmasters also say to put rooks on the seventh rank, but if
Nakamura had tried the winning attempt 21. axb6 axb6 22. Ra7, Onischuk
had intended the stunning sacrifice 22…Rf4!, which would have been his
second brilliant exchange sac in as many rounds. Nakamura however saw
the move and eschewed the variation, thinking 22. Rhf1 won. “I simply
miscalculated,” he said, “I thought I would be winning this endgame.”

On board two, GM Varuzhan Akobian played a solid opening but soon
found himself under duress from GM Gata Kamsky’s extra space and
eventual passed d-pawn. Watching the game, GM Jesse Kraai thought
Kamsky would squeeze out the point. “Kamsky does this kind of garbage
all the time,” Kraai joked. “You think he’s worse, then he gets you.”
But Akobian’s defense held up and the two agreed to terms after 53

On boards 3-5, players playing Black went 3-0. Joining the leaders on
three points out of four was GM Yury Shulman, who snatched a loose
pawn from GM Robert Hess and lived to tell the tale. “I didn’t think
it would be so easy for Black to keep the pawn, but it turns out I
don’t have anything,” a despondent Hess said at the post-game press
conference. “A pawn is a pawn,” Shulman said. Hess did not offer any
improvements and seemed dissatisfied with his game.

Shulman, seeded fifth, will now have to play up for the first time in
round five. “Quite often you play against your teammates,” he said of
his likely pairing with national squad comrades. “I don’t have any
(special) strategy.”

GM Alex Stripunsky also won as Black. Just after making the time
control, GM Jaan Ehlvest went in for a crowd-pleasing rook sacrifice.
The audience at the chess club initially thought it was forced
checkmate, but Stripunsky jettisoned a bishop and a rook to give his
king space and rebuff the attack.

The final member of the three-point score group is GM Larry Christiansen, who caught up to the leaders with a self-admitted
imperfect game. “Be3 was a lemon,” Christiansen said of his
opponent’s, GM Alex Shabalov’s, eighth move. “It is a novelty that
will not live in infamy. But with Shaba, you always wonder about a
miracle attack.” Though Shabalov had to retreat this bishop and his
queen to their home squares a few moves later, Christiansan said he
played “barely well enough to win.”

On board six GM Alex Yermolinsky beat GM Sergey Kudrin and on board
seven GM Jesse Kraai made it two in a row with a win over GM Joel
Benjamin. Yermolinsky and Kraai both have 2.5/4.

“The last three games have been really messy,” Kraai said. “I feel
this is the only game I played well.” Convinced that Benjamin had a
plan against his usual 1. c4, Kraai looked for inspiration elsewhere.
His providence, he explained, was part zoological and part
supernatural. Kraai said that Panda “infected me” and convinced him to
play 1. e4, then attack. “He has some sort of hormonal imbalance,”
Kraai said. “They sometimes let him out of the zoo and you’ll see him
around here. I like to channel him during my games.”

The elephant in the room, or in this case the Panda, was none other
than GM Josh Friedel, Kraai’s old roommate who is at the championship.

Benjamin was good-humored about the game, thought he admitted the loss
“pretty much ends my tournament.” Still, IM Greg Shahade, co-creator
of the new format, said that he expects 4.5/7 to possibly qualify for
the tiebreaker into the quad final. Benjamin, at 1.5/4, would need
three wins in three games to get to the mark.

The final five games were all draws, though IM Irina Krush missed a
win for the second game in a row. Coming off a disappointing 113-move
loss in round three, she entered a rook-and-bishop versus rook endgame
against GM Ray Robson. She missed the zwischenzug 66…Ra7 67. Ke1 Rf7,
winning immediately. She has now played 12 hours and 206 chess moves
in the last two rounds.

After her loss yesterday, Krush said she received lots of thoughtful
emails from chess friends. She said she wanted to fight hard today to
validate her support group. After the game Krush reminisced about her
missed chances and how a few different moves could have allowed her to
win all four games. “I still love chess,” she said without any hint of

Carlsen Vs Anand 2007

Carlsen vs Anand 2007

Could this be a preview of the next championship? Has Carlsen improved enough under the mentoring of Kasparov to capture the title from Anand?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Why Kasparov Supports Karpov

By Larry Parr
with permission


I could answer some questions, but maybe I would rather address a
common falsification of facts that is going on in the world. Even
though we live in the age of the Internet and other modern
technologies, some news spread slowly. There are a few myths in the
chess world on which people try to base their ungrounded decisions.
The situation itself is somewhat surreal: I and Karpov have clashed at
this very building a couple of times, we have always been antagonists.

A lot of issues have been sorted out, sometimes everything ended in an
ideologic debate, sometimes in "bad peace". It has always been a
confrontation. As you might understand, today is a totally different
case. I believe this day is very important for Russian chess. The sole
fact that there is a dilemma, and it it seriously discussed - Karpov
or Ilyumzhinov - seems strange to me. Not because it's a candidate
master vs a world champion; but because nowadays in chess and the
professional world in general reputation is the key factor. I don't
think there is any challenge in determining who is more reputable.
It's a disgrace that they are trying to impose the 15-year old (as
Ilyumzhinov's reign) mythology on the Russian Chess Federation.

The other members of the Supervisory Board (who haven't joined us) are
under the impression that the whole world supports Ilyumzhinov. It's a
lie. I haven't been in the chess circles for a while, but I visit a
lot of countries. I can estimate in what condition the world is. That
statement is not true. In fact, the chess world is in a disastrous
condition. The leading chess website - ChessBase - has posted a
trivia. People had to guess where the 6th Grand Prix stage will take
place. Baku, Jermuk, Sochi, Nalchik, Elista, where will the next one
be? The answer was Astrakhan, to form a circle on the map. Just think
about the names of the cities! (Then some polite remarks aimed at
showing he means no offense towards the locations). When we were
playing with Karpov, where was it? Moscow, London, New York, Seville,
Leon. And where are we today? It didn't happen just all of a sudden.
Chess is not at the circumference because everywhere else it is not
taken seriously. And it's not just a problem of world's chess, it's a
problem for Russia. When all the world media is showing the FIDE
president recalling his meeting with aliens. One can live in the world
of hallucinations. But when the future of chess depends on such

It's obvious that this situation won't change, and everyone
understands it in (lists countries). You have been provided with a
presentation by Anatoly Evgenievich Karpov with a list of the
countries which support him. The chess countries (USA, Germany,
England, Spain, Switzerland) are on the list. Also many others
(mentions them). Even Ukraine. I.e. the countries which have
traditionally been supporting Ilyumzhinov. Just think about it. This
support stands for something. Supporting someone at an early stage is
a risky step. It's a serious risk to oppose the current President (who
has been the head of FIDE for 15 years) at such an early stage of the
elections. The situation has changed dramatically. 21 countries
already, before the elections, are supporting Karpov. About half of
them have been supporting Ilyumzhinov before. Ukraine - it's actually
a very uncommon thing. Previously they have been supporting Iyumzhnov
vs Bessel Kok, now they have expressed their support for Karpov...Per
Anatoly Evgenievich request I have been communicating with many
leaders of chess federations and grandmasters.

Everyone is afraid of just one myth: that in Khanty-Mansiisk [where
the elections will take place] everyone will be "buried". Today's
meeting will be decisive in the confrontation. People somehow believe
that Ilyumzhinov controls everything in Russia. Today we have a chance
to show that it is not the truth. Kirsan has no support in the world,
all the can rely upon is the so-called "administrative resource."
Dvorkovich, Ilyumzhinov, Magomedov? And Karpov? How can one compare

This discussion is extremely important. It's not only about Russian
chess, it's about the future of world chess. These things are
interconnected. The agenda which we were supposed to discuss today has
some unreal items. Let's talk about the real problems. We can't win 3
Chess Olympiads in a row. I have been brought up in the system of
coordinates where 2nd place was a failure. Has something happened? Now
people approach it in a different way. For the first time since 1921
(Lasker-Capablanca) no Russian (or Soviet) representative is playing
at the WC match. Look at our teeenagers. Karjakin (although he is not
a teenager already) and came from Ukraine. Anyway, it's clear that he
is not a future world champion due to...(pauses) format. We are on the
decline everywhere. That's what we should be discussing. Today we have
a great chance to start affecting the process. Not by hiring
legionaries from (names countries), but by working with Karpov's
strong team. This can be discussed properly. And where is Ilyumzhinov?
Why is Kirsan not here? Why is he not telling us about aliens, his
connections, banks, Chess City, New Vasiuki? He has nothing to say
because 15 years is a lot of time. It has been understood everywhere.
The only reason why not everyone has supported Karpov already is that
they are afraid and waiting for the decision here. We have to prove
that it's not like that. It's a house of cards. A great chess player
on one side and a cardsharper on the other. You have the power to
change this.

If you have any questions on the situation in the world, feel free to
ask. I know it pretty well, and have contacted a great number of
people during the last two months. I am surprised. I also had the same
instincts: everyone in Africa and the Carribean region is bribed; and
then you start talking to people and see that people have understood
everything. They are contacted once in 4 years, and then forgot about.
They want changes, they want to see grandmasters, some programs.
Campomanes (although we had many controversies with him), at least
tried to do something. Not much, but now nothing is being done at all.
This situation can be changed, because the potential of chess is
absolutely incredible. Modern technologies would allow create chess
communities on the Internet, but nothing of that type has been done.
Once again, we're faced with some sort of delirium: David Kaplan is
going to teach us how to live. We have got more professional
experience. And the reaction from the federations that have already
supported Karpov show us that it is the right moment, people are ready
for a change.

Any questions?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Chess Scholar All Around Best

Kansas City Star
May 16th,2010

During their first days at Lawrence High School, packs of sophomores are led into the gymnasium during a sort of guided tour and directed to scan the school’s state championship banners on the western wall.

“You’ll notice there are no banners for league titles or winning a regional up there,” the newest Chesty Lions are told. “We don’t put up individual state titles either. Only team champions go on the wall.”

Lawrence claims to have won 106 state titles, the most in Kansas, which makes it quite a shock to glance toward the gym’s east wall and see one name featured so prominently — Roy Wedge.

A giant banner proclaims Wedge, a senior, as the 2009-10 Gatorade Kansas boys cross country runner of the year. Eventually, the slick black banner will be retired to a trophy case, but for now, it hangs in the gym.

“Oh, don’t get me started on that,” Wedge says, shaking his head with an embarrassed smile when asked what he thinks of his banner being displayed in defiance of tradition.

• • •

There’s a little bit of Roy Wedge in everyone. That’s the essence of his charm. It makes him approachable and also keeps him humble.

But when the sum of Roy Wedge is totaled, there’s nobody quite like him.

“He makes his own category, honestly,” said fellow senior Lucy Daldorph, Wedge’s prom date. “We had to do something in my English class about what makes a man, what qualities define a man, and two or three times Roy Wedge was the list of what you have do to be a man.”

It’s not hard to figure why.

Academically, he’s a national merit finalist and Kansas AP Scholar who ranks eighth in a class of 410 with a 4.065 grade-point average and boasts a 35 score on the ACT.

Wedge, who is headed to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study computer science, helped the Lawrence string and symphonic orchestras achieve I ratings at state the last two years and finished third at the Kansas state chess tournament as a senior. He was 11th as a junior.

But he’s more than a mere brainiac.

Wedge also has been the top finisher for a Lions cross country team that claimed state titles each of the last two seasons, ending Shawnee Mission Northwest’s 14-year reign as 6A champs in the process.

He was the state runner-up after being passed late in the race as a junior at Rim Rock Farm, but made sure no one would catch him last fall in winning state by more than 25 seconds.

As much as he’d prefer to blend in, Wedge, who also reached the state track meet in three events last year and has won three varsity letters in swimming, seldom does. He can now add yet another distinction to his impressive personal résumé after being selected as The Star’s 2010 Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

“Yeah, that’s nice. I did not see that coming,” Wedge said. “It’s a nice honor, but when I first found out, I was like, ‘Ah, I don’t want to be recognized again.’ ”

• • •

It might seem odd to some that a genius, chess-playing, cross country runner, who can be seen most mornings walking down the hill to Lawrence High with a large binder in one arm and a viola case in the other hand, would be so revered by faculty and students alike.

Wedge, who is soft-spoken and meticulous, doesn’t fit neatly into the mold of the typical high school hero.

“He’s never done what most kids do,” his mother, Linda Wedge, said.

As a first-grader at Wakarusa Valley Elementary in rural Lawrence, Wedge convinced the school’s principal to start a chess club.

Wedge also spends part of his summer helping his dad, Phil Wedge, count migratory birds in several western Kansas counties as a member of the Jayhawk Audubon Society.

The two start at the county line and count the birds observed in a three-minute period. They drive a half-mile and repeat the observation for 25 miles, with the younger Wedge taking notes for his dad, so the elder Wedge doesn’t have to turn away from the horizon.

Using the drawing function on his calculator, Wedge wrote a chess program to ward off boredom in calculus class.

“I wasted like a week in calculus class to do that,” he said. “It was during the review portion and I’d already had AP calculus. They were going over derivatives or something I’ve already done. I was trying to do Battleship, but the grid was too big for the screen.”

Tinkering with code writing is one of Wedge’s favorite pastimes.

“I’ve been messing around with the chess thing,” Wedge said, “and there’s a medieval computer game I have that I sort of understand how the code works, so I can mess it up.”

• • •

Wedge was the Class 6A runner-up at the Kansas state cross country meet in 2008, but he gives former captain Ben Wilson, who was something of a mentor, the lion’s share of the credit for the Lions’ title-winning breakthrough.

“That’s him. That’s Roy,” Lawrence principal Matt Brungardt said. “That shows his humility, and maybe that’s one of the qualities people really like about Roy and something that draws him to them.”

Ask Wedge about the time he placed sixth at the U.S. Junior National Chess Championships in 2008 and he responds with a perplexed look.

“There’s probably some national tournament on my résumé,” Wedge said. “I don’t really remember.”

Excellence seems to dog Wedge’s every undertaking, but he doesn’t feel the need to point that out. Perhaps that is why nobody seems to mind that Roy Wedge’s name hangs on that banner in the gym.

“He probably doesn’t even care about that,” Lions assistant track coach Audrey Pope said. “That’s the best part about Roy. If you saw him in the hall, you’d never know he was this brilliant stud athlete. He flies under the radar.”

Wedge’s quiet and kind nature only makes him more beloved by the Lawrence student body.

“Everybody is just so impressed at how dedicated he is and purely good. He does everything so well, but he’s not pompous about it,” Daldorph said. “He doesn’t let it go to his head, and that’s really the deciding factor. Everybody appreciates that, because it’s not like he walks around wearing a crown. Well, actually he does because he won Homecoming King, but he doesn’t act like he’s better than anyone.”

Of course, that personal résumé Wedge has constructed indicates otherwise.

Ask any of the 153 members of The Roy Wedge Fan Club on Facebook, which reads in part: “From expert violist to king of cross country, Roy Wedge has graced the halls of LHS from his arrival, and hasn’t stopped impressing everyone since then. We all know that Roy is pretty much the coolest guy around, so why not show it?”

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