Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Fischer to be Exhumed?

Pinoy journo Marlon Bernardino has just filed a news report for the RP press in which he writes:

IN a bizarre twist to the battle for the estate left by the late chess legend Bobby Fischer, lawyer Sammy Estimo revealed that the remains of the chess icon will be exhumed soon.

Estimo, lawyer of Fischer’s Filipino child, Jinky Young, said that Judge Sigrun Gudmundsdottir of the Icelandic probate court found no DNA samples of Fischer at the National Hospital in Iceland where the ex-world champion died on January 17, 2008 of renal failure.

Because of this development, Estimo and his collaborating Icelandic lawyer, Thordur Bogason, were left with no other recourse but to request the court to issue an order for the exhumation of Bobby’s remains for DNA samples to be tested with the blood samples extracted from Jinky when she went to Iceland in December last year.

UPDATE (1 April): The Manila Bulletin has the article here.

Sydney Chesser Boxes

Some of our Australian readers may remember Bradley Loh. He was once an avid weekend warrior, travelling from tournament to tournament and, in fact, reached a fairly good level of play. His last rating was 2083.

But he gave up chess to focus on other things - such as his career and travel. Like me, Brad is an expat currently living and working in London (I'm in Tokyo myself). Recently, he's picked up another interest. Boxing.

And we have the vid to prove it!

This one is basically a fight between "white collar" workers, a sort of stress relief, something to give cubicle jockeys a bit of excitement. So that everyone's a winner, there is no point scoring. But note the 30-second mark. Apparently, his opponent 'wobbles'. Based on that, he reckons he won.

Brad's the guy in the blue shirt.

Round 2 is here and round 3 here.

I understand that Brad's also taken up chess boxing. We'll definitely need to see that, too!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Chess in Hollywood

Cigars, sexy chicks, celeb opponents, Beverly Hills and chess. Yeah, only if you're a Hollywood A-lister. If you're Leonardo diCaprio, that is.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Where's the Appeal?

A couple of years ago, the ACF ran a highly successful Olympiad Appeal. I think it must have been the most successful ever. According to the Appeal website, the effort, in fact, raised a near unbelievable total of almost twenty grand!

But here we are again in yet another Olympiad year and so far the ACF hasn't asked for or announced anything about an appeal. I guess they must still have some pennies left from the last time.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Malaysian Ambush

Thanks to IM Wohl we now have a list of participants from the KL Open. It's a list that ought to send shivers up the spines of both the Doeberl Cup and SIO organisers. Just look at that!

If I were an Indian player I might think: why fly all the way to Australia, including a long drive to the capital, when I can simply stop over in KL and enjoy some good laksa, cheap shopping and put in a couple of days on some white sandy beach?

RIP Vasily Smyslov

Chess news sites, forums and blogs are abuzz today with the death of Vasily Smyslov. He was the seventh World Chess Champion. You can read brief profiles of this great chess champion on the usual sites, but what they seem to overlook is Smyslov's more recent achievement.

In 1991, at age seventy, Vasily Smyslov became the first World Senior Chess Champion.

As mentioned by various other sources, Smyslov was a baritone. And in YouTube, I found this.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Malaysian Party

It looks like our northern neighbours, the Malaysians, are also having their own little party this coming Easter.

According to Quah Seng Sun, the upcoming KL Open will feature no less than 15 grandmasters: "There will be at least 15 grandmasters in the tournament, led by Georgia’s Mikheil Mchedlishvili who will be the highest rated participant with 2,634 rating points. However, all eyes will be on China’s 16-year-old lass, Hou Yifan."

They'll also even have GM Nigel Short who'll be dropping in for a simul. More here in The Star Online.

Hopefully, they don't get too big. Else these Malaysians could very well spoil a long-running do down in the Australian capital.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Chess Match to the Death

Soon to play at the National Youth Theater in Moscow is "Nichya Dlitsya Mgnovenie" (A Stalemate Lasts but a Moment).

But it is Isaac’s standoff with the German guard Schoger (Stepan Morozov) that is the fulcrum of this piece. A brilliant chess master, he is trapped into playing a chess match to the death. If he wins, he dies, but the rest of the children in the ghetto will live. If he loses, he will live, but the children will be carted to the death camps.

What if they play to a stalemate? asks Avraam.

But is that what Isaac wants to do?

More by John Freedman in the Moscow Times.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mystery of the Missing IM

Just days prior to this year's Doeberl Cup event in Canberra, mystery surrounds the 2005 edition. More specifically, the trophy!

According to current cup organiser Charles Bishop, the cup only has the name I. Rogers (as in GM Ian Rogers). But my photo of the cup, taken the following year in 2006, clearly shows both Ian's and official co-winner A. Wohl's (as in IM Aleks Wohl) names.

So what cup does Mr Bishop have? Is it a fake one? Where's the real one, then? If it's the same thing, then we have to ask the same sorts of questions that Mr Peter Parr asked: who replaced the engraving and who authorised it?

There's more about this over on Australia's most popular chess bulletin board, Chess Chat. Read from post no. 505 by Bill Gletsos. A couple of relevant entries are also on Wikipedia's discussion page.

Whatever the outcome of this new, albeit I think little, controversy in Aussie chess that has so far drawn some of the usual heavyweights, I am so glad that I can still contribute to chess there across both physical and temporal distance.

Youngest Chess Author

Here's something that really pisses me off.

Tune into the airwaves and you're very likely to hear some pop-song about love all sung by some bloody 14-year old. If it's not on radio, then just check out the most popular talent shows on TV. The saccharine rhymes are enough to make me wanna puke. I'm always thinking: what the hell do you know about love you dumbass?

I bring this up because some 14-year old kid in the US has just published a book making him, apparently, the "youngest chess author ever".

The book title? "Mastering Positional Chess".

I thought maybe he settled for a book on 1-2 combos or cheapo gambits or perhaps something like, "Between World of Warcraft and the 64 Squares - How I Became a Junior World Champion". Oh no, he's onto positional chess!

Now the kid's a FIDE Master with a FIDE rating of 2388, so I dare not ask him a similar sort of question I asked a love struck 14-year old. For doubtless, FM Daniel Naroditsky knows quite a fair bit about the game. But I don't know, I just don't know. There's something unsettling about taking chess lessons from a kid.

Note that a book on endgames is also forthcoming. One thing is certain: young Daniel is full of ambition. At least in publishing.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Naked Cyclist

From the RiotACT. Spot the naked chess player.

There's more from our man about cycling over on his blog: "Ah, what Zen! Now I see the true meaning of this whole ‘enlightenment’ thing. It’s not about finding peace or raising yourself up at all – all you really have to do is look down on cyclists."

He should try living in Tokyo. These f**kers are everywhere. They ride even on sidewalks, popping out of corners or weaving through pedestrian traffic at speed. Cyclists are downright dangerous.

All about the ECU

Until Silvio Danailov's recent announcement to run for the ECU's presidential office, I have to admit that I knew little about the ECU (European Chess Union) despite the fact that they've actually been around for a quarter of a century. ChessDom has a little bit more about that body courtesy of their marketing man FM Theodoros Tsorbatzoglou.

Today ECU finally has a profile, a base, a budget and a considerable portfolio of annual Events. And this is one of the main reasons that many chess personalities want to work and offer their services to the Organization. We have already three candidates for the President’s Office and it seems that we will have more proposals. In fact this is good for ECU, Chess, and Democracy because the competition will bring more work and development.

There's also now a follow-up interview with current ECU boss, Boris Kutin who will face up to both Danailov and Turkish fed boss Ali Nihat Yazici. My money's on Yazici.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Chess or Romance?

Some advice from the Financial Times' resident economist: "Chess, romance and good works count in your son’s eyes, but when you boast to your friends in Harpenden, the hard currency is A grades and university places."

Read more here.

Friday, March 19, 2010


The latest Doeberl Cup newsletter has a nice touch to it. Editor Lara Bishop writes:

On a final note, those of you who are interested in Art may wish to visit the National Gallery while you are here to view the "Masterpieces from Paris" exhibition. It features 112 of some of the best-known works of modern art from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, one of the great museums of 19th-century art. Famous works include Van Gogh’s Bedroom at Arles 1889, Cézanne’s beloved Mount Saint-Victoire c 1890, Gauguin’s Tahitian women 1891, as well as many other great examples of Post-Impressionist art. For more information, go to the National Gallery website

Firstly, I wholeheartedly endorse the exhibition. I had the good fortune to visit the Musee d'Orsay myself and I think that this one in the National Gallery is a must-see. Secondly, more organisers really should adopt this cross-selling type of activity. Some folks are not only in it for chess. Many are cashed up baby boomers who like to see events such as an exhibit or possibly a jazz performance, maybe a concert, whatever, anything really. My only hope is that these organisers are getting something for that Gallery promo.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Dangerous Chess Set

This is new.

The Customs & Excise Department in Hong Kong has banned the "Flying Places" chess set apparently for the danger it poses to children. It seems that the offending set contains an unsafe amount of lead!

HK's Information Services Department has the details.

While we're on chess sets, check out these 28 cool sets courtesy of the Walyou blog. Among the twenty-right, this one's kinda cool.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sledging Vishy

I don't think I've used the word before on this blog, but there's always a first time. Silvio Danailov is a cunt. And I swear I mean that with affection.

Chessvibes has the reason why. Talking about whether or not the 'Sofia rules' will apply during the upcoming match between Topalov and Anand, Chessvibes quotes Danailov:

If one player doesn’t offer or accept draws they will apply. Vishy [Anand] doesn’t agree but he will be forced, because Topalov will not offer him a draw and he will not speak to him. So, what to do? He will be forced. This is the best. This is the best, otherwise… I don’t know, there’s people who are absolutely conservative, they are against these rules, but this is the future of chess. This is for sure.

To which Arne Moll, writing in CV, responds with understandable shock. But the Dutchman should relax.

Danailov is simply practicing a bit of that old familiar technique: sledging. Now as I understand it, Danailov spent some time in Melbourne. Did he learn it there, I wonder.

Speaking of sledging, Anand ought to have no problems with salvos of his own. Who else to turn to for a few good ones but his compatriots the cricketers? He could take a few tips from Indian legend, Ravi Shastri.

Here's what happened between an Australian 12th man and Shashtri:

Shastri hits the ball towards the 12th man in the game and looks for a single. The Aussie guy gets the ball in and says,

Aussie: "If you leave the crease I'll break your f***ing head".

Shastri: "If you could bat as well as you can talk you wouldn't be the f***ing 12th man."

True story that. And as a matter of fact, it was Indian sledging against the old enemy Pakistan that led to the so-called "Frog Jumping Incident". That one's a hoot!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

New Films on Chess

There's more today about last month's news of Toby Maguire transforming himself from Spidey to Fischer. The film, Pawn Sacrifice, "...will tell the first half of the chess Grandmaster's life story, from his beginnings as a prodigy of the game through to his historical (mostly for the media's hyping its Cold War significance) 1972 World Championship match against Russian rival Boris Spassky, after which Fischer became a celebrity and then, surprisingly, retreated into early retirement."

And chess must be the current favourite flavour among film-makers (or wanna-be film-makers) because Chilly Gonzales, a so-called "entertainist", is now filming a movie based around our beloved board game. The movie title is "Ivory Tower" and is about a "an eccentric genius who invents an intuitive and collaborative style of play called "jazz chess."

More in Spinner.

Of course, there is also a chess variant called "Ivory Tower". I wonder if they even realised that.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Oceania Zonal is in Rotorua

As I reported in June last year, the next Oceania Zonal (in 2011) was likely to be held in Rotorua, New Zealand. Well now there is nothing likely about it. It's happening right there!

Kiwi Helen Milligan has just emailed me to share info about the still basic website. As you can see, the event is set to run from the 25th to the 31st of January, 2011. Start budgetting folks! I think that one is going to be a fun event in one of the most beautiful places on Earth!

Helen also informs me that the Kiwi contingent for Doeberl and the SIO will be taking piles of brochures with them, so look out for those, too.

Danailov Targets Europe

It looks like Silvio Danailov has higher political ambitions of his own. He might not become the next FIDE boss, but he could possibly take control of the European Chess Union. The Bulgarian paper Standart has the news citing

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Battle vs Chess

This should keep chess and video games fans happy.

More on the official site.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The State of Nothingness

Oh, yes! I know how John Summerfield feels. In a letter to the CAWA editor, Mr Summerfield is dismayed at the lack of chess clubs:

I have recently returned to active chess after almost 15 years.

In my first outing, I played in the Xmas Swiss where I scored 0/5. Clearly, that wasn't the best choice of tournament for my return.

I look around for a club, and I am appalled. There are almost no clubs, certainly none near me.

I used to live in a suburb of Melbourne were I could, and did, play at Waverley, Dandenong, Mentone, and none was a long drive from where I lived.

Here, nothing.

What are Western Australian chessplayers doing about it? Nothing. It's almost the end of January, and the CAWA website is full of ... nothing but empty space. Not even a mention of the AGM which I thought was coming up.

Read the whole thing and more in CAWA's February 2010 newsletter to its members.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Becoming a Salaryman

The downside to Tokyo life is that one lives just like most other Japanese. Work, work and work.

I miss clocking off at 4 or 5PM in Sydney, head off to Town Hall or Hyde Park and put in at least two hours of chess before catching the train for home. You could have a few laughs with friends, maybe even an argument or two with some dumbass patzer who thinks he knows all the Sicilian secrets, but all in all it was always a lot of fun.

These days, I get none of that.

Twelve plus hour days are common, worsened by the absence of fellow lovers of chess! Post work I head straight for my town, or sometimes Shinjuku, and pop into some tiny bar with enough seats for just 6-8 people. Yes, I'm now a regular salaryman! It feels like it anyway.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Chess Sets in Tokyo

It's not everywhere that you find European chess sets sold around Tokyo. But over the last 2 days I found a couple of places near where I live. One joint basically sells all kinds of wooden toys, while the other is a sort of general store (called "Village Vanguard") for knick-knacks. I was even pleasantly surprised to find the same glass chess sets that Chess Discount Sales once gave away in some tournament (I think the SIO) being sold around here for a very cheap 1,000 yen.

For serious tournament players, the local JCA seems to be the only retailer of popular programs like Fritz or books and boards. But in my case, I have no worries. I pretty much packed all my chess software, a digital clock and a couple of boards when I left.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Let's Quit Playing Chess

Danish pop band, Alphabeat, features a chess-themed song in their latest album, "The Beat Is...".

Baby, let's quit playing chess,
You've been to my address,

You keep checking me out,

I wanna get loud,

Stop playing mouse and cat,

I'm telling you that,

I'm gonna win,

I'm checking you in

Alphabeat is currently supporting Lady Gaga's tour of the UK.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Double Blunder by Zuma

On a visit to England this week, SA president Jacob Zuma managed to achieve a double. He embarassed himself silly in front of his hosts.

After blasting the Brits as "colonialists", the African leader then later met the Queen and presented her with a chess set. There's only one problem. Former SA president Nelson Mandela had already given the same exact chess set way back in 1996! The Mirror has the juice.

In fact, that chess set was shown at this recent exhibition.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Wesley Climbs Higher

With the latest FIDE ratings now out, Pinoy chess fans have rejoiced once again at the news of GM Wesley So climbing up ever higher in the world rankings. Most appropriately, the still 16 year old super grandmaster is ranked 64th in the world!

In terms of countries, RP is placed thirty-third, while Australia is way, way down in number 53 spot.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Karpov Vies for FIDE

Chessvibes is reporting that Karpov will be a candidate for presidency of FIDE.

Sunday night Anatoli Karpov landed at the airport of Saratov, Russia for a simul and a meeting with the local governor. There, according to local news agency SarInform, Karpov announced that he has the ambition to become FIDE President.

“It is necessary to restore order,” Karpov was quoted. “The problems with the World Championship, the calendar, changes of decisions, changes during a cycle, this didn’t happen before. Besides, the prestige of the World Champion should return to its old level.”

Somehow I have big doubts over Karpov's candidacy. Ilyumzhinov and his mates are far too entrenched now, I think, to be movable. I remember very well that journalists' meeting in Dresden when famed Spanish chess journo Leontxo Garcia suddenly remarked (words to this effect), "if you want to see corruption, just go in there", while pointing to the main hall where the FIDE delegates where also meeting. The whole thing is a joke!