Friday, September 12, 2014

Illingworth GM Hunting in Hungary


International master Max Illingworth, who starred for Australia at the Tromsø Olympiad last month, is extending his European stint in the hunt for another GM norm. And obviously in the process, hopefully, also raise his rating ever closer to that magic 2500.

Max is currently in the First Saturday GM event in Hungary. After 5 rounds there, the Sydneysider is undefeated on 3.5 points. With 4 rounds to go, he'll be desperately needing to double that tally for that prized grandmaster norm. Looking at his upcoming opponents, I must say that his chances are very good, indeed.

Good luck Max!

Monday, September 08, 2014

Carlsen Will Play in Sochi


And it's on!

After days of uncertainty, the World Championship match between Carlsen and Anand is finally set to happen after the defending title holder signed the contract.

No doubt many will be relieved, happy that a potential split in world chess has been averted. On the other hand, FIDE will be quite satisfied by the outcome; they can carry on business-as-usual. Others, particularly the average fan, will just be glad that there is yet another big event to look forward to.

I am, however, slightly disappointed. I was hoping that Carlsen would stick to his guns. I was very curious about what would happen next if he didn't sign. That surely would have made things a lot more interesting.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Japan's First International Master


As far as chess news go this is hardly up there with Caruana's incredible 5/5 at the ongoing Sinquefield Cup, Carlsen possibly losing the world championship title by default or whatever else is happening in the world of chess. But since I am in the country, I might as well mention this little bit of news.

Japan is set to gain its first ever international master - Nanjo Ryosuke. News was broken by FM Shinya Kojima over on his blog. The irony, of course, is that FM Kojima himself was once touted as possibly Japan's first IM!

Obviously, Nanjo-san is not the first ethnic Japanese to achieve the international master title. There is, for example, Australia's Junta Ikeda as well as GM Nakamura who, I think, held the title once, too, before becoming a grandmaster in 2003 (at the time breaking Fischer's record as the youngest American to earn the title).

As they say here, "おめでとう"!


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Another Split in World Chess?


This is what I like to see, a World Champion who’s prepared to throw his weight around.

Magnus Carlsen is, for now, dragging his feet over the re-match against Anand that is slated for November. The Norwegian and his team have to date not signed the contract papers, queried the suitability of the venue, asked for more prize money and also raised questions about media coverage.

This is good. For if there’s anyone who really ought to do more to, at least, ruffle FIDE’s feathers – it’s the numero uno, the World Champ.

How is the world body supposed to react?

Already there is speculation that if he doesn't front up, Carlsen could be replaced by Karjakin. Of course, that would also mean stripping the Norwegian of his title!

Unlikely scenarios, I think, for what a disaster the situation would be for FIDE itself! First, there will once again be the problem of the FIDE champ's (il)legitimacy; and, second, lost revenues. Who would want to bankroll a match involving an alternate?

I am truly hoping that Carlsen will hold his ground on this one. A media star as big as him need not be FIDE's poodle.

How do you say "up yours" in Norwegian?


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Levon Aronian's Preparation


GM Levon Aronian just tweeted this.
The world number two spent the weekend in South Carolina. He and Arianne are on their way to St Louis where Levon will play in the Sinquefield Cup.

I imagine that the other participants are busy in front of their computers looking for that next big novelty. Between that and Aronian's prep method, I know exactly which one I prefer. After all, if you're world number 2 you can probably afford a bit of a frolick in the surf prior to the strongest tournament history!

Friday, August 22, 2014

How Norway Does Chess on TV

We know that chess has been really big on Norwegian TV and that is thanks, of course, to their favourite son, Magnus Carlsen. The just completed Olympiad, for example, as well as the World Championships match in Chennai months before that were both heavily covered. Really impressive stuff.

But what does it take for a mainstream outfit to cover something like a chess event?

You would think that just a few cheap Handycams and maybe some GoPro's will do. Oh, no. The Norwegians went about their business like they were covering the summer Olympics! Sort of.

Here's Jon Stale Carlsen describing the lengths that NRK took to do their coverage of the Olympiad.

And just in case you're wondering how the official webcast did it, here's a wee look.



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Rwandans Upset By Captain

I wonder what some experts on the regulations think of this.

It seems that the unfortunate incident on the last day of the Olympiad has had the unintended side-effect of causing ructions within the Rwandan men's team.

From Rwanda's The New Times paper:

The controversy started on the final day of the tournament on Thursday last week, when in round 11, a Seychelles player against Rwanda’s Alain Patience Niyibizi on board 2, suddenly collapsed and was later pronounced dead.

Although Rwanda was leading on the score against Seychelles before the incident, team captain Maxence Murara chose to sacrifice two games as loses in a gesture of goodwill to Seychelles, a decision which did not go down well with his teammates.

Never mind that the captain apparently did not consult his players, for that was just poor decision-making and obviously bad leadership. I am just curious about this: if the position is not evident on the board during actual play, how can a game be declared lost? Obviously, there may be situations wherein a game can be lost regardless of the position, like player behaving badly if I remember the Laws right, but we are not talking about this. The only procedure I can think of is that the captain sort of "resigned" on behalf of his players, although I am not sure if he can do that either.

Honestly, it is easy to understand the motivations of the Rwandan captain. But I think offering a draw would have been quite adequate as a gesture of goodwill.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Zhukova Berates Lagno

Fourth board for Ukraine's women, Natalia Zhukova, had some pretty nasty things to say about ex-compatriot Kateryna Lagno.

Zhukova: "Getting rid of the parasites is always painless. Well, love cannot be forced. If she doesn't want to play for Ukraine, why do we need such people? We didn't communicate at the Olympiad, she avoided it. Cleansing is always for the better."

Terrible thing to say even for my tastes.

Obviously we're relying on the translation to be accurate, but since it is a Russian site, I guess it is 100% reliable.

Anyway, GM Jonathan Tisdall thought he might have read something else, too, in Zhukova's remarks.


He was talking about the Ukrainian's comment that the Chinese "have some kind of medications which helps them to feel refreshed as on the first day."

Well, what do we think?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

UK Parliament To Promote Chess

The UK has just announced an All Party Parliamentary Group on Chess with the aim of promoting the game. It is an exciting development and one that many other countries could look to emulate. But I doubt if anything like this could be done in Australia any time soon.

The BBC has an audio of the news that features Malcolm Pein.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Havoc in The Olympiad

A bomb, a gun! Apparently, players and spectators alike either momentarily imagined things or they just made stuff up. What exactly happened in that last round of the Olympiad? Courtesy of Australian arbiter Kerry Stead, who officiated in the event, we have now this sensational account.

According to Ian Rogers, Meier's face went red & the arbiter noticed this & went to get some medical attention. Another player also noticed this & ran across the room towards the medical area screaming 'MEDIC! MEDIC!'. The medical staff were quickly on the scene, but the commotion created concern amongst the otherwise very quiet playing hall. Some players & spectators moved towards the commotion to see what was happening & according to Kevin Bonham, at some point someone yelled out 'BOMB!' & this created havoc in the playing hall, with players, spectators & officials running for an exit. Seeing the likes of GM Michael Adams & other top chess players running past me as fast as they could was quite a sight!