About the Webmaster
by Thomas Katsampes

I am the webmaster for Bill Wall's Chess Page. I'm responsible for the maintenance of the website, to include formatting and posting of new articles, links, resources, PGN collections, and so on. I also maintain our Twitter feed.

I was born in the early 1970s, and graduated high school in Costa Mesa, California in the early 1990s. In the early 1990s I served in the United States Army, attaining the rank of Sergeant (E-5). I left Active Duty for an ROTC scholarship at St. Mary's University but while I finished my degree I was unable to be commissioned. I worked for Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio for almost a year, then for Silicon Graphics in Eagan, MN for a couple of years. After that I held a variety of positions in IT system administration, and security and compliance. Currently I am an IT corporate auditor at a major firm in the Twin Cities.

I learned to play chess in the early 1980s. I was largely self-taught but I did take lessons for about six months from a local master. I continued to play chess through high school but took a break from chess to play Xianqi (Chinese chess, or Co Tuong in Vietnamese) in high school. I reached about 1800 in Xianqi and was one of the extremely few non-Asian players at the time (I never met another non-Asian player back in those days). I was regularly winning at coffeehouses in the Little Saigon area in California, where people couldn't believe a non-Asian kid could play Co Tuong well. I was taught the game by Vietnamese people, and one little-known difference between Vietnamese and Chinese play — at least back then — is that in Vietnam checking "from behind" the opponent's General (King) with a Chariot (Rook) is considered a breach of etiquette and usually not allowed.


Rook checking behind
a King in Xianqi.

During my army service I resumed chess. In 1994 I met Major Bill Wall while I was stationed at Kelly Air Force Base. I studied chess under Bill for about a year and a half, reaching class A or possibly expert strength. I again took a break from chess in late 90s only to resume in the early 2000s. I was giving free lessons in 2009. In 2009 I reached my highest rating on FICS of 2180. I have coached chess at schools in San Antonio and here in the Twin Cities. Currently I am the chess coach at St. Agnes K-12 in Saint Paul. I also teach online to anyone rated under 1700 who is interested. One of my students went on to become a master and another is now rated over 2000, so I think I am doing something right. I have taught dozens if not hundreds of people to play chess, but not nearly as many as Bill. My on-again, off-again relationship with chess which I had in my youth is probably why I haven't yet become a master. Perhaps some day...

The following is probably my best game ever. I won against Bill Wall back in 1994. I managed to grind this out and win after 80 moves. This is the sort of thing you have to do. No game is a foregone conclusion because a mere book or computer program says so. Any opponent no matter how good can always make mistakes. If you want to be good like Bobby Fischer you have to fight like Bobby Fischer. If you look at some of the tournaments today, these GMs like Carlsen, Karjakin, Caruana, and so on are drawing game after game... just like the Soviet GMs did in the 1960s. The Soviets tried — and failed — to break Fischer by drawing among themselves, whereas a lot of players today just want a break.

Magnus Carlsen once said, "the day chess stops being fun is the day I give it up." Bobby Fischer would never have said such a thing. For Fischer, chess was life and life was chess. But this, and his invincible will to win, is why Fischer was the best ever (except perhaps for Paul Morphy...).
[Event "San Antonio, 1994"]
[White "Wall, Bill (2200)"]
[Black "Katsampes (1800)"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "E97"]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 O-O 6.Be2 e5 7.O-O Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.a4 a5 10.Ne1 Nd7 11.Be3 f5 12.f3 Nc5 13.Bxc5 dxc5 14.Nd3 b6 15.Nb5 c6 16.d6 cxb5 17.dxe7 Qxe7 18.cxb5 Bb7 19.exf5 e4 20.Qb3+ Kh8 21.fxe4 Bxe4 22.fxg6 Bd4+ 23.Nf2 Qg5 24.Qg3 Qxg3 25.hxg3 Bxg6 26.Bf3 Rad8 27.Kh2 Bxb2 28.Ra2 Bd4 29.Nh3 Rde8 30.Nf4 Re5 31.Nxg6+ hxg6 32.Rh1 Kg7 33.Bg4 Rh8+ 34.Bh3 g5 35.g4 Re4 36.Kg3 Rf8 37.Kh2 Be5+ 38.g3 Re3 39.Rg1 Rff3 40.Rag2 Ra3 41.Re2 Bxg3+ 42.Kh1 Bf2 43.Bg2 Bxg1 44.Bxf3 Rxf3 45.Kxg1 Kf7 46.Kg2 Rf4 47.Rf2 Kg6 48.Rd2 Rxg4+ 49.Kf3 Rd4 50.Re2 Kf6 51.Re8 Rxa4 52.Rb8 Kf5 53.Rxb6 Ra3+ 54.Kf2 Rb3 55.Rb8 Kg4 56.b6 a4 57.Ra8 Rxb6 58.Rxa4+ Rb4 59.Ra1 Kf4 60.Rc1 c4 61.Rc3 g4 62.Kg2 Ke4 63.Kf2 Rb2+ 64.Ke1 Kd4 65.Rg3 Ra2 66.Rxg4+ Kd3 67.Rg3+ Kc2 68.Rg2+ Kb1 69.Rg8 c3 70.Rb8+ Kc1 71.Rb3 c2 72.Rc3 Ra8 73.Rc7 Re8+ 74.Kf2 Re5 75.Kf3 Kb2 76.Rb7+ Kc3 77.Rc7+ Kb3 78.Kf4 Rb5 79.Ke3 Kb2 80.Kd2 Rd5+ 0-1
A year later Coach Bill Wall got his revenge in another long grinder:
[Event "San Antonio, 1994"]
[White "Katsampes, Tom"]
[Black "Wall, Bill"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "E19"]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Bb7 5.Bg2 Be7 6.O-O O-O 7.Nc3 Ne4 8.Qc2 Nxc3 9.Qxc3 c5 10.Rd1 d6 11.Qc2 Nc6 12.dxc5 bxc5 13.Be3 Qc7 14.Ng5 Bxg5 15.Bxg5 Nd4 16.Qd3 Bxg2 17.Kxg2 Qb7+ 18.Kg1 Qxb2 19.e4 h6 20.Be7 Rfe8 21.Bxd6 Rad8 22.Be5 Ne2+ 23.Kh1 Rxd3 24.Bxb2 Red8 25.Rxd3 Rxd3 26.a4 Nd4 27.Bxd4 Rxd4 28.Rb1 Rxc4 29.a5 Rxe4 30.Rb7 c4 31.Rxa7 Re5 32.Rc7 Rxa5 33.Rxc4 Kh7 34.Kg2 Kg6 35.Rc7 Kf6 36.Kf3 Rf5+ 37.Ke3 Kg5 38.h3 h5 39.Rc4 Re5+ 40.Kf3 f5 41.h4+ Kf6 42.Kg2 Rd5 43.f4 Rd7 44.Rc6 Re7 45.Ra6 Kf7 46.Ra5 Ke8 47.Re5 Kd7 48.Kf3 Kd6 49.Ke3 Ra7 50.Rb5 Re7 51.Re5 Rc7 52.Ra5 g6 53.Kd4 Rd7 54.Ra6+ Ke7+ 55.Ke3 Rb7 56.Ke2 Rb3 57.Kf2 Rc3 58.Rb6 Kd7 59.Rb7+ Rc7 60.Rb6 Rc6 61.Rb7+ Kd6 62.Rg7 Kd5 63.Rxg6 Ke4 64.Rg5 Rc2+ 65.Kf1 Kf3 66.Ke1 Rg2 67.Rxh5 Rxg3 68.Rh6 Rh3 69.Rxe6 Rh1+ 70.Kd2 Rxh4 71.Rf6 Rxf4 72.Rg6 Kf2 73.Rf6 Rf3 74.Rf7 f4 75.Rf8 Kg2 76.Ke2 Re3+ 77.Kd2 Re4 78.Kd3 Ra4 79.Rg8+ Kf2 80.Rg4 Ra3+ 81.Kd2 f3 82.Rg8 Ra7 83.Kd3 Kf1 84.Rf8 f2 85.Kd2 Ra2+ 86.Kd1 Ra3 87.Rf7 Kg2 88.Ke2 Ra2+ 0-1
In my spare time I enjoy chess (of course), Magic: The Gathering, updating this website, and spending time with my family. I've largely given up on Xianqi because of the lack of opponents in my area, as I enjoy the game in person much more than online. I talk to Bill Wall often, probably once a week or two. I am always looking for more information to post on our chess website, or new novice chess players who need help improving their game.

I have my own website where I write on religion, morality, politics, and other subjects. I can also be reached on Twitter @tpkatsa1 or by sending an email to tpkatsa at gmail dot com.



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