Interview with Jeff Sarwer by Jennifer Shahade

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  • Interview with Jeff Sarwer by Jennifer Shahade

    From the USCF site - an excellent interview with Jeff Sarwer - the kid from Ottawa who won the 1986 World U10 championship, and is now picking up cash playing poker (but not forgetting about chess).


    http://main.uschess.org/content/view/10007/571/

  • #2
    Re: Interview with Jeff Sarwer by Jennifer Shahade

    Originally posted by Hugh Brodie View Post
    From the USCF site - an excellent interview with Jeff Sarwer - the kid from Ottawa who won the 1986 World U10 championship, and is now picking up cash playing poker (but not forgetting about chess).


    http://main.uschess.org/content/view/10007/571/
    It looks like he doesn't have any FIDE rating or even registration #! Is he still in hiding in Poland??

    :)

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    • #3
      Re: Interview with Jeff Sarwer by Jennifer Shahade

      It looks like he doesn't have any FIDE rating or even registration #!
      The tournament in Poland was an active event - so probably not FIDE-rated. Under his alias he used while in Canada (from about 1996 to about 2007), he has a FIDE rating of 2250, a CFC rating of 2308, and an FQE rating of 2308.

      And he did come tied for 5th place in a Canadian Closed. He lost a probably-winning game in one of the later rounds - my theory is that if he won the event - he would have had to reveal his real name (which he wasn't ready to do publicly at the time). Also - how would/did he cash prize money cheques?

      It's too bad the interview didn't discuss that 10-year period - since he was quite active chess-wise - primarily in blitz events.

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      • #4
        Re: Interview with Jeff Sarwer by Jennifer Shahade

        Originally posted by Hugh Brodie View Post
        ... Under his alias he used while in Canada (from about 1996 to about 2007), he has a FIDE rating of 2250, a CFC rating of 2308, and an FQE rating of 2308.

        And he did come tied for 5th place in a Canadian Closed. He lost a probably-winning game in one of the later rounds - my theory is that if he won the event - he would have had to reveal his real name (which he wasn't ready to do publicly at the time). Also - how would/did he cash prize money cheques?

        It's too bad the interview didn't discuss that 10-year period - since he was quite active chess-wise - primarily in blitz events.
        Wow, I never guessed. I had wondered where such a strong player had been hiding before that Closed appearance. Surely there were players in that tournament who did recognize him. If I had met him then, would I have recognized him? I had known him as a youngster in Saint John 1988 and he also appeared at the Keres in Vancouver at Robson Square around the same time.

        Canada has quite a history of players with multiple names. There's Peter Broffman / Harold Bohn (sp?), Ivan Theodorovitch / Suk. Many years ago, a player who is a regular contributor to this board got in trouble in the US for playing under another name. A Canadian Master used numerology to change his name. The new name happened to be the same as the name of a US chess organizer! He soon changed back to the old name, I guess it was too much of a hassle. Yasser Seirawan at Fredericton 1977 told the story that the first time he was in New York, he went out to hustle the hustlers at Washington Square. Somebody asked who he was. He hadn't thought through the combination, but was sure that he didn't want to give them his real name. So he told them he was .... What a nice man, always thinking of me!

        And I of course am Ferzberry. But never tried to use that in a tournament.

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        • #5
          Re: Interview with Jeff Sarwer by Jennifer Shahade

          William Klarner / Billy Oxygen, although I think deception wasn't really an issue in his case.

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          • #6
            Re: Interview with Jeff Sarwer by Jennifer Shahade

            Some time in the 1980's, an Ontario player with the initals H.E. wanted the CFC to publish his rating under the name "Asshole" - he said "Everyone calls me an asshole".

            (but most of the name changes we see are done legally - often tongue-twisting Eastern European names - so they can be easily pronounced here. Example - the late Michel Scherbak, was originally Michael Szczerbak.)
            Last edited by Hugh Brodie; Sunday, 10th January, 2010, 01:07 PM. Reason: Better to leave the name anonymous

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            • #7
              Re: Interview with Jeff Sarwer by Jennifer Shahade

              H.E. told me that he sent the CFC a picture of the relevent body part to prove it. Don't fully remember his name though Hasseem El-Saka maybe?

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              • #8
                Re: Interview with Jeff Sarwer by Jennifer Shahade

                Originally posted by Hugh Brodie View Post
                Under his alias he used while in Canada (from about 1996 to about 2007), he has a FIDE rating of 2250, a CFC rating of 2308, and an FQE rating of 2308.
                Is there still a reason not to mention this alias ? Just figured out who it was. Pretty amazing. I played and talked to the guy many times without knowing...

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                • #9
                  Re: Interview with Jeff Sarwer by Jennifer Shahade

                  Roger Patterson wrote:

                  H.E. told me that he sent the CFC a picture of the relevent body part to prove it. Don't fully remember his name though Hasseem El-Saka maybe?
                  That's a good approximation of the spelling.

                  Jean Hébert wrote:

                  Is there still a reason not to mention this alias ? Just figured out who it was. Pretty amazing. I played and talked to the guy many times without knowing...
                  The alias Jeff Sarwer used was "Ray Philips". He "confessed" to a few of us Montreal chessplayers as far back as 1997 with the stipulation that it remain secret until he was ready to "come out of the closet". I remember Alexandre Lesiège seeing him for the "first" time around 1997 and giving him a "Haven't we met somewhere before?" look. (they had both played in the World Youth in Romania in 1988)

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                  • #10
                    Re: Interview with Jeff Sarwer by Jennifer Shahade

                    Originally posted by Roger Patterson View Post
                    H.E. told me that he sent the CFC a picture of the relevent body part to prove it. Don't fully remember his name though Hasseem El-Saka maybe?
                    "Elsakka" was a regular at the Toronto Chess Club in the 1980s - 1990s. His speed rating varied from about 1400 to 1900, depending upon just how much medication he had been taking!

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                    • #11
                      Re: Interview with Jeff Sarwer by Jennifer Shahade

                      That's interesting - I've played him.

                      So Hugh, what's the correct procedure for the database? keep the game under Ray Philips or change it to his actual name?

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                      • #12
                        Re: Interview with Jeff Sarwer by Jennifer Shahade

                        Originally posted by Hugh Brodie View Post

                        I remember Alexandre Lesiège seeing him for the "first" time around 1997 and giving him a "Haven't we met somewhere before?" look. (they had both played in the World Youth in Romania in 1988)
                        I was there too as Alexandre's coach and saw the Sarwers too. But this was the time when I met for the first time the "nobody in the playing room but the players and officials" situation that is now the norm for youth events. So I could not watch the players (including the Sarwers) as much as I wanted to which is probably why I made no connection between Ray and Jeff.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Interview with Jeff Sarwer by Jennifer Shahade

                          Originally posted by Hugh Brodie View Post

                          I remember Alexandre Lesiège seeing him for the "first" time around 1997 and giving him a "Haven't we met somewhere before?" look. (they had both played in the World Youth in Romania in 1988)
                          I was there too as Alexandre's coach and saw the Sarwers. But this was the time when I met for the first time the "nobody in the playing room but the players and officials" situation that is now the norm for youth events. So I could not watch the players (including the Sarwers) as much as I wanted to which is probably why I made no connection between Ray and Jeff. In any case I found Ray (Jeff) to be a very pleasant and open young man.

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