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!

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Sex Lives of Chess Pieces

Who knew that chess pieces had secret sex lives?

Adult Swim. Chess Mating from Rubber House on Vimeo.

Tromsø, An Olympiad of Surprises

It was dramatic in the lead up and it was dramatic until the very end. So many surprises, upsets and twists. That was the Tromsø Olympiad. I almost regret not pulling the trigger on a summer vacation in Tromsø.

The event was an historic one, too. For the first time, the Chinese men won gold! If you didn't think that this was a big deal for them, just have a gander at this photograph in Susan Polgar's tweet. Beautiful!

Of course, well done to the Aussies. Over on Chess Chat, Kevo reports that both teams finished way above their seedings.

As for this Smirnov kid, well, he wasn't even my pick for a spot in the team as I was thinking he'd be a bit too inexperienced. But sheesh, was I wrong?! You know, I actually remember him turning up to Hyde Park, in Sydney, many years ago, sitting around while his father (now an IM) played blitz. There was absolutely no sign, then, that the kid would himself actually end up being this good! If he keeps up, the selectors will have to put him on board one for Baku.

To close, let me briefly extend condolences to the Seychelles team. Last night, one of their members suffered a medical emergency during play and later passed away. A terribly sad ending. And this morning, Norwegian journo Tarjei Svensen just tweeted that yet another player passed away, too. No further details yet of this second incident.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Silly Chess News Day

With no over-the-board action coming from Tromsø yesterday, and with the key political dogfight for FIDE now over, attention turned to other news.

It all began with an article from The Times (UK) announcing that Judit Polar will retire from competitive chess. This is big. Except that nobody was really sure! The problem is The Times' article is behind a paywall.

On Twitter @ChessVibes tweeted, "It all just doesn't feel right, somehow." And the man behind TWIC, Mark Crowther, was having doubts, too.

Norwegian journo Tarjei J. Svensen did read the article but, according to him, there's absolutely no mention of retirement. And he's right. Here's the text of the article courtesy of today's The Australian. Still, just because there's no direct quote like "I'm retiring from competitive chess" doesn't mean that the whole story isn't true.

But Tarjei got all excited about some other thing.

Paired against the Malaysians in the last round, the Norwegian 1 team have decided to give Magnus Carlsen the day off. This doesn't seem particularly unusual to me. The local press, however, viewed Carlsen's non-appearance as a withdrawal. After their man's disastrous outing in round 10, you can imagine how the Norwegian press could leap to that conclusion. But GM Agdestein would have none of it; Carlsen's alleged withdrawal, he says, is "bullshit".

Although it wasn't quite as big a news, GM Nigel Short's agreement to work with FIDE did come as a surprise. A deal with the Devil perhaps?

Appropriately, yesterday ended with the announcement of the new Olympiad host. In 2018, the Olympiad caravan will head to Batumi. Chessdom has their bid video. The presentation has a lot of irrelevant imagery, but here are the key promises. Remember these!
  • 20 million USD budget 
  • 5-star accommodation for all participants
  • Two extra rooms for each delegation
  • 1.6 million USD travel subsidy
  • 800,000 USD assistance for developing federations
I might have preferred to see the planned playing hall, toilet facilities, the press room, etc. Hec, how much does a bottle of beer cost in Batumi? These are really the key questions.

To close, congrats to Indian chess star Humpy Koneru. She got hitched!

Smirnov and Smerdon in Chessbase Interview

Here's a nice interview by GM Daniel King with FM Anton Smirnov and GM David Smerdon.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Smerdon: Anton Will Be Next Carlsen

Aussie chess fans who didn't stay up late last night to watch Chess24's coverage of the Olympiad will have missed the guest appearance on their show of grandmaster David Smerdon. It was really all just the usual banter about ongoing games and why he was sitting out yesterday's round (2 straight losses and a bad history with the Tajiks), but then he added a pretty bold prediction.

According to Australia's current board one, the young gun FM Anton Smirnov, who is debuting in the Olympiad for Australia as reserve, will be the next Magnus Carlsen!

That's incredible even by my standards. But I suppose if there is anybody best qualified to predict such futures, it would be GM Smerdon.

And by the way, in eight appearances so far for Australia, Smirnov is yet to drop the full point. His current total is 7 points. The kid is on fire.