Monday, May 31, 2010

Bulgarians Act Against Chessbase

The shit fight between the Bulgarians and Chessbase over the broadcast of chess games has erupted anew after the former began formal proceedings in court. Silvio Danailov tells Chessdom:

Before the start of the World Chess Championship we explicitly stated that no company can use the moves without the official site's staff permission. And this was violated by Chessbase, they put themselves above the law in Europe, above the general FIDE ethical rules.

It could be about ethics or it could be about contracts. Or it could just be payback. See the comments section of an old post relating to this same subject.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hiarcs Saved Anand's Butt

The Times of India today has a very long must-read article on their World Champ, GM Vishy Anand. There are a couple of new tidbits that I hadn't previously known about, but most are the familiar detail.

To counter Team Topalov's Blue Gene/P supercomputer, Team Anand had the decidedly lightweight Hiarcs!

Team Anand may not have been short on money - and that makes a difference to preparation - but there was no way they could match the resources and firepower that such noholds-barred state patronage brings. India, which later celebrated Anand's title win with the usual momentary hysteria, was oblivious to the event, much less the challenges. The best Team Anand could do was to tap into contacts who had developed Hiarcs, a computer chess program that had come second best to Rybka in 2008 World Computer Chess Championship. They now had improved versions of it, and developers of the programme let Team Anand have it along with a powerful computer for the duration of the match.

Read more in Return of the King: Viswanathan Anand.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Chess Inside Facebook HQ

Chess for relaxation. Inside Facebook.

Photo by Emily Shur for Time

View the whole essay here.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Back in OTB Action

It looks like I'll be seeing some action this Sunday, for the first time since January. A Tokyo-based reader (yeah, I only have one so far!) informed me about the upcoming Matsudo Spring Tournament hosted by the Matsudo Chess Club.

If you happen to be in Tokyo this Sunday, here are the usual details.

Four-round Swiss system, 40min + 15sec/move (Fischer mode). Venue will be the Art Center of Tokyo, in Kitasenju plus an entry fee 2,000 yen. With the Aussie's recent slide against the yen, that amount is now about $27.

Schedule is:

10:00 (open the room)
10:10 opening ceremony
10:30 1R
13:20 2R
15:20 3R
17:20 4R
19:30 closing ceremony

Of course this means I'm going to have to do some training leading up to the weekend. But in Tokyo, "training" doesn't quite mean rocking up to the park and laying down a few games of 5-minute blitz, like I usually used to do before a big event. No, for me it's 3-minute games of blitz on the ICC. Less bullets this time.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Oldest Woman Aussie Chesser

Graeme Gardiner dropped in to make a comment on my post yesterday about the Old Man of Aussie Chess. How about Grand Old Woman, he asked. Indeed.

I know of Evelyn Koshnitsky, who is 95, and now I am reminded of Nell Van De Graaff, also aged 95! Not quite sure if Mrs Koshnitsky still has the time or even the energy to play a game, but Graeme hopes that Nell will make an appearance in the upcoming Gold Coast Open (26-27 June).

Speaking of women in the Australian chess scene, my googling for some info led me to a gem of a post by Cathy Chua. This one's apparently a portion that didn't quite make the cut for her book, "Australian Chess at the Top".

Koshnitsky’s patrons were grown women, of course, and to create a player of top class it was surely necessary to begin with much younger pupils. That is where the second creator of mountains enters. Evelyn Koshnitsky has made her life’s work the promotion of chess among the young and her special passion has been to get girls to play. First in Sydney and then in Adelaide from the early 1960s when the couple moved there she cajoled, begged and bullied support. Manpower, money, venues – she is an expert at getting what she wants from parents, schools, government, business – whoever might have something of use.

I wonder if she has any more posts like this one. Read in "Computers, women and things like that".

Monday, May 24, 2010

"Old Man of Aussie Chess"

When Smyslov died a couple of months ago, one of my friends asked as to who is now the oldest living former World Chess Champion. Must admit, I had to think hard about that one.

I was reminded of that because in my hot little hands is a copy of Brian Jones' "Australian Chess" magazine. In the back pages of the current issue is a nice tribute to Garry Koshnitsky, written by Robert Jamieson and Glen Gibbs.

Their first line reads: "Garry Koshnitsky MBE, the 'Grand Old Man of Australian Chess' was born Garrick Semienovich Koshnitsky on 6 October 1907 in Vilnius, Lithuania (at the time part of the Russian Empire)."

There it is again, "Grand Old Man of Australian Chess". I called Lloyd that, taking my cue from Peter Parr. Which makes me wonder: is that some sort of monicker that's given to the oldest bloke on the Aussie chess scene? If so, who is today Australia's Grand Old Man of Chess?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Melbourne Chess Club on Phony Tony

Did you see today's Insiders program on the ABC? The program dropped in on the Melbourne Chess Club to talk about national opposition leader, Tony Abbott (or, after his gaffe last week, "Phony Tony").

You can see a replay of the segment by clicking on "Your shout: Abbott's gaffe a calculated move" on the right hand side panel of the Insiders website. Note that when program goes into the archives, you need to find the episode that was aired on 23 May.

I see FM Michael Baron and MCC boss Grant Szuveges. I have no idea who the funky-looking lady is!

Here are some juicy quotes.

Grant Szuveges on Tony Abbott
"He'd have to reinvent himself more completely as a person if he was to be taken more seriously."

"Stop wearing the bike gear."

Michael Baron on Tony Abbott
"In politics just like in chess, if a particular piece is becoming useless, it's going to be sacrificed."

Saturday, May 22, 2010

No Money in Bridge

This one nearly had me choking on my unagi.

Chess players look at poker and think, "Wow, if only we had all that money", and then waste plenty of time imagining all sorts of ways to make chess more exciting, like poker.

But much to my surprise I've just discovered a very popular game that is apparently in an even worse state than chess, at least money-wise.


Author of "Australian Chess at the Top", Cathy Chua, who now blogs on bridge, writes:

I was hoping to find out how many people actually watched this live, but so far have not succeeded. Hundreds of thousands maybe? Over a million euros for the winner, going on for that for the runnerup and richly deserved by both. It was a fabulous contest, the games were wildly exciting.

Why can’t bridge be like that? Have we exhausted the arguments?

Unsurprisingly, there are plenty of reactions and I never thought that I'd feel warm, happy about chess thanks to a blog about bridge. I particularly loved this: "Bridge has a long way to go in the propaganda wars before people are saying this about it." And by "this", the commenter meant the description of the New York Times Gambit Blog.

Also catching my attention was this remark by Cathy in the comment section: "In contrast, when I played two chess Olympiads**, a sport which is respected by the community and sponsored as a consequence, I paid nothing."

Sponsored? The last sponsor of an Australian Olympiad team that I can remember was a company that, aptly enough, produced prophylactics! Who else sponsored the Aussies back in the day?

Speaking of which, do donate!

** Then known as Cathy Depasquale, she appeared for Australia in both Haifa '76, scoring 3/6, and Buenos Aires '78, scoring 5.5/10.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Campo Memorial

Not long after his passing a couple of weeks ago, the former boss of FIDE Florencio Campomanes now has his own memorial tournament. Actually, it's supposed to be called the "Angora Chess Tournament", but was apparently changed when the organisers learned of Campo's passing.

I suppose we should tip our hats to the organisers for such a gesture. They meant well. But such a tiny tournament is hardly apt for a giant in world chess, no matter one's opinion of him. So I hope this name change is only temporary. Besides, an event to be called a "Florencio Campomanes Memorial" really ought to be in the right place: the Philippines.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

RIP Lloyd Fell (1918 – 2010)

Peter Parr has just announced a very sad news. Lloyd Fell, the Grand Old Man of Australian Chess, passed away aged 91.

Without access to my old Aussie magazines, I cannot possibly do justice to his long chess playing life. But two details are worth a mention. First, he did not miss a single Doeberl Cup from 1963 to 2008. Second, he was also once a champion of draughts up in Queensland.

Doubtless many others will remember Lloyd for his often blunt manner of speaking, but I always thought that quality about him to be one of honesty. "You're a mug!" he would often dismiss people. If you got that, you deserved it.

He was also generous, giving away some of his chess books to juniors for example. And always willing to show off a few endgame studies that he would have learned a long, long time ago. Of course, let's not forget that even in the last couple of years of his life, he was always willing to offer his modest pad to accommodate visiting players from interstate.

I am proud to say that he and I crossed swords over-the-board. And yes, he beat me. Twice, if I remember right.

I will miss Lloyd Fell - a genuine character of Australian Chess.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

2010 US Championships

This event seems to have come around quickly. The United States Chess Championships are on again in St Louis and, just like last year, we're getting treated to some ESPN style video coverage. It's one thing that the yanks do quite well. But geez, who the hell designed the set? It looks like the interior of some mausoleum!

With thanks to the ICC's Macauley Peterson. Make sure to also check out his blog here.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

NSFW: Love Chess

WARNING: This post links to a website that contains sexually explicit images. They are 'not safe for work' (NSFW).

The people at Artmunk are about to release a follow up to their 2006 game, "Lovechess: Age of Egypt". Entitled "Lovechess: Salvage", the new game takes the graphics at least a couple of levels up. Here's a screenshot, the safest image I felt I could use on this blog!

And from the website: "Besides the visual side of things we also implemented a new "sex" system, this time you can guide your "pieces" while they have sex and let them reach an orgasm if you play correctly. A good fight should have a proper reward after all!"

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Birth of the NCFP

The second instalment in Bobby Ang's "Campo and I" is out. You can read it in Monday's edition of Business World paper in the Philippines. Better move fast before it gets archived, after which I think you'd have to pay for the access.

I must say, I was expecting a second part that would be packed full of exciting details. As it turned out, the whole saga seemed like it was nothing more than a clash of personalities. To be fair, though, a two-part series can hardly do justice to a story that must surely have unfolded over many years.

Bobby Ang on Campomanes:

Campo once said that he regretted not having a chance to destroy my life completely. He couldn’t, of course, for unlike many of the unfortunate souls who came before me, chess was not a source of income for me. When I quit chess administration I went to work in the Equitable Card Network and found happiness there.

That is Campo -- he brings you up and oftentimes himself finds it necessary to destroy you. Taras Bulba. But you know what? It did not end so pleasantly, but those four years from 1998 to 2001 when we were closely working together to better the chess life in the country, were the best years of my life, and I owe them to Campo.

If you're lucky enough to be on Bobby's email list, you might actually get to read more about all this courtesy of his old articles from way back. He's even sent out a copy of the rare "Chess Philippines" magazine that set out the "bad things" that the then PCF was doing.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Only Chess I Get

My only chess fix these days is 1-minute bullet on the Internet Chess Club. Twenty games or so per night is about enough. You play so many of these that chances are some unsuspecting IM will fall flat at your mercy. And that's exactly what happened to this guy (whose name I've anonymised).

Well, OK, it's only bullet, but his normal blitz rating is 2600+ and I beat him twice in a row!

ICC 1 0
Internet Chess Club
(My Opponent)
The Closet Grandmaster

1. e3 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. exd4 d5 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. Bd3 Bg4 6. c3 e6 7. Nbd2 Bd6 8. h3 Bh5 9. Nf1 Nf6 10. Ng3 Bg6 11. O-O Qc7 12. Ne2 O-O-O 13. b4 Ne4 14. a4 Ne7 15. Be3 Kb8 16. a5 Nxc3 17. Nxc3 Qxc3 18. Bxg6 hxg6 19. b5 Nf5 20. Re1 Rc8 21. a6 b6 22. Rc1 Nxe3 23. fxe3 Qb4 24. Qd3 Rxc1 25. Rxc1 Rc8 26. Rxc8+ Kxc8 27. Qc2+ Kd8 28. Qc6 Qb1+ 29. Kf2 Qb2+ 30. Kf1 Qa1+ 31. Ke2 Qa2+ 32. Nd2 Qa3 {White forfeits on time} 0-1

Hopefully it won't be long before I finally get back to some over-the-board action. A Tokyo-based reader informs me that a new chess club will open very near to where I live! Thank Caissa for that.

If there's something I truly miss, it is the dance of pieces all about the board and punctuated by the slamming of clocks. I miss the feel and the sounds of it all.

Actually, there's supposed to be a tournament tomorrow. But I'm off to some festival, instead, where the Yakuza apparently show their tattoos. I plan to photograph them. If you guys don't hear from me again, you'll know why.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Campo and Bobby

It's out. The first in a 2-part series of articles that outlines the history of the National Chess Fed of the Philippines can now be read online.

I really like what Bobby Ang said to a bunch of us in an email to excite his readers:

A lot of people think that the NCFP was set up by the top players of the Philippines when they got fed up with the PCF. They think GM Joey got mad at the PCF for deducting 20% from his P1 Million prize in the Philippine Millenium Grand Prix. They think GM Eugene Torre set it up because of the continuing persecution from PCF.

That, of course, is complete BS.

The NCFP was set up by Campo, myself, Sammy Estimo with Eugene Torre as figurehead and great assistance from GM Bong Villamayor, backed by some businessmen/sportsmen, who will remain unnamed.


Beg, borrow, or steal, but read part 2 on Monday!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Karpov 2010

There was Kevin07 (with plans for Kevin11) in Australia and Obama08 in the US. Now, taking their cue from these two very successful campaigns, and clearly taking the war for FIDE to the trenches of the internet, the Anatoly Karpov camp have produced 'Karpov2010'.

This from their press release:

On May 17, 2010, KARPOV2010 will launch its campaign to elect the twelfth world chess champion, Anatoly Karpov, as President of the World Chess Federation (FIDE) with a fundraiser at the Trump Soho in New York City. Mr. Karpov is running with Richard A. Conn Jr. as his Deputy President, and if they win, it will be the first time an American will hold such a high position in FIDE.

I'm sure it won't be long before we see the almost obligatory YouTube videos and Twitter account. But there is already a group on Facebook, started by ChessVibes writer Arne Moll, dedicated to changing FIDE.

UQ Chess Club

I should give these guys a shout out for linking to me.

University of Queensland students now have their own chess club back online. The good thing is, it looks like they also welcome non-students.

Anand Defeats Topalov

...and is still the World Champion!

GM Vishy Anand, on the black side of a Queen's Gambit Declined, defeated challenger GM Veselin Topalov in their twelfth and final World Championship match in Sofia. It was probably downhill for the challenger once the Indian slipped in 31...e4, totally penetrating. But the game lasted for 25 more moves, with the Bulgarian in the end looking like he was just taking the piss.

Congratulations Vishy! A sweet win also for those who have more than a few things to say against the Bulgarians.

The question now is: who will be Anand's next challenger? Carlsen, perhaps?

World Chess Championship
Topalov, Veselin
Anand, Viswanathan

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bh4 O-O 7. e3 Ne4 8. Bxe7 Qxe7 9. Rc1 c6 10. Be2 Nxc3 11. Rxc3 dxc4 12. Bxc4 Nd7 13. O-O b6 14. Bd3 c5 15. Be4 Rb8 16. Qc2 Nf6 17. dxc5 Nxe4 18. Qxe4 bxc5 19. Qc2 Bb7 20. Nd2 Rfd8 21. f3 Ba6 22. Rf2 Rd7 23. g3 Rbd8 24. Kg2 Bd3 25. Qc1 Ba6 26. Ra3 Bb7 27. Nb3 Rc7 28. Na5 Ba8 29. Nc4 e5 30. e4 f5 31. exf5 e4 32. fxe4 Qxe4+ 33. Kh3 Rd4 34. Ne3 Qe8 35. g4 h5 36. Kh4 g5+ 37. fxg6 Qxg6 38. Qf1 Rxg4+ 39. Kh3 Re7 40. Rf8+ Kg7 41. Nf5+ Kh7 42. Rg3 Rxg3+ 43. hxg3 Qg4+ 44. Kh2 Re2+ 45. Kg1 Rg2+ 46. Qxg2 Bxg2 47. Kxg2 Qe2+ 48. Kh3 c4 49. a4 a5 50. Rf6 Kg8 51. Nh6+ Kg7 52. Rb6 Qe4 53. Kh2 Kh7 54. Rd6 Qe5 55. Nf7 Qxb2+ 56. Kh3 Qg7 0-1

UPDATE: Chessdom has kindly sent a link to the critical images of the final game. See here, for the last few moments of yesterday's encounter.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

De Mortuis Nil Nisi Bonum

Reading the condolences and comments on a couple of websites on the death of Campomanes, you would think that the man was free from the controversies that dogged him. Certainly, one of my own readers showed no mercy, but he was clearly outnumbered. I think that most people basically just opted to be decent: de mortuis nil nisi bonum.

Speak no ill of the dead.

This coming Friday and next Monday in his column for the Philippines' BusinessWorld publication, former RP men's Olympiad team captain Bobby Ang will run a mini series entitled "Campo and I". As Mr Ang promises, it will be "a short recounting of the events which led to the NCFP [National Chess Federation of the Philippines] taking over from PCF [Philippine Chess Federation] as the official governing body of chess in the Philippines".

I'm sure that it will be interesting reading. And perhaps, then, we'll finally get to see some real claws.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Dead Legends

They're dropping off like the pawns in the BDG. Now yet another big name from an earlier era passes away.

RIP Andor Lilienthal.

Chessbase has the better pictures but, as always, Chessvibes has the superior discussion with some very fine nuggets from their readers. (Which, by the way, always begs the question for me: when, oh when, will Chessbase ever enter the 21st century as far as web-publishing is concerned?)

Also passing away is Feodor Skripchenko.

Earlier, of course, was Campo's death at age 83. To their credit, FIDE has a nice page that includes condolences from various feds around the world, including even one from New Zealand. There was no such message from the Australians.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Nakamura's House Move

GM Hikaru Nakamura moves house and it's big news. Well, at least in St Louis.


Friday, May 07, 2010

Game 9: Worst Game of the Match

Last night's game number 9 in Topalov v Anand had everything: risk-taking, close calls, missed chances and a confused as well as frustrated audience. It's really the sort of mix that elevates chess to the level of sport. Even I had heart palpitations along with a rising level of anger that the Indian had once again stuffed up. It reminded me of those nights when I'd scream at the Wallabies (at the TV, actually) as they would once again falter in the last few minutes against the All Blacks.

If I patzer like me got near upset, just consider the reaction of one big-name US grandmaster. On the Internet Chess Club last night, here's a series of what he kibitzed:

"I was surprised by Ne4".

"[T]hey play quick and mediocre at best".

"[T]his is the worst game of the match".

Then when another spectator observed that perhaps it was Aruna, Anand's wife and manager, who was making the moves, the American GM replied that Aruna would have played 33. Nxe6 instead of 33. Ne4.

Anyway, after what I thought were some hairy moments, the Indian did manage to draw. Thank Caissa for that.

World Chess Championship
Anand, Viswanathan
Topalov, Veselin

Position after 32...Qd6

33. Ne4 Qxa3 34. Rc3 Qb2 35. h4 b5 36. Rc8+ Kg7 37. Rc7+ Kf8 38. Ng5 Ke8 39. Rxh7 Qc3 40. Rh8+ Kd7 41. Rh7+ Kc6 42. Re4 b4 43. Nxe6 Kb6 44. Nf4 Qa1+ 45. Kh2 a5 46. h5 gxh5 47. Rxh5 Nc6 48. Nd5+ Kb7 49. Rh7+ Ka6 50. Re6 Kb5 51. Rh5 Nd4 52. Nb6+ Ka6 53. Rd6 Kb7 54. Nc4 Nxf3+ 55. gxf3 Qa2+ 56. Nd2 Kc7 57. Rhd5 b3 58. Rd7+ Kc8 59. Rd8+ Kc7 60. R8d7+ Kc8 61. Rg7 a4 62. Rc5+ Kb8 63. Rd5 Kc8 64. Kg3 Qa1 65. Rg4 b2 66. Rc4+ Kb7 67. Kf2 b1=Q 68. Nxb1 Qxb1 69. Rdd4 Qa2+ 70. Kg3 a3 71. Rc3 Qa1 72. Rb4+ Ka6 73. Ra4+ Kb5 74. Rcxa3 Qg1+ 75. Kf4 Qc1+ 76. Kf5 Qc5+ 77. Ke4 Qc2+ 78. Ke3 Qc1+ 79. Kf2 Qd2+ 80. Kg3 Qe1+ 81. Kf4 Qc1+ 82. Kg3 Qg1+ 83. Kf4 1/2-1/2

Thursday, May 06, 2010

SMH on the Strange Mr Kirsan

Today's SMH has a special mention of FIDE boss, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov:

He said he saw a "semi-transparent half tube" spaceship on his balcony. He then entered it and met "human-like creatures in yellow spacesuits", The Moscow Times reported.

"I am often asked which language I used to talk to them. Perhaps it was on a level of the exchange of the ideas," he told the television program host.

He had told The Guardian the aliens took him to "some kind of star".

Read more in "Out of this world: Russian region leader's alien abduction story shakes officials".

With a bizzaro head for the world chess body like that, I can only wish us good luck for attracting big-time money sponsorships.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Boxing's Bobby Fischer?

Highly amusing and you gotta love it: boxing commentary with a chess theme!

For once, the master of his own domain was thrust into a situation that required improvisation from a boxing brain whose synapses were suddenly scrambled.

While Mayweather’s body wobbled under the force of Mosley’s blows his mind remained steady and focused. Therefore, he worked his way out of trouble and by round’s end he had regained his composure.

From the third round onward, Mayweather – his resourcefulness and toughness now confirmed – shifted into grandmaster mode.

Just as Fischer scanned the squares for points of attack, Mayweather’s eyes darted around Mosley’s head and body for openings and struck only when the best chances to do damage presented themselves.

Yeah, right! So if Mayweather is boxing's Bobby Fischer, then what do we make of Manny Pacquiao?

RIP Campo

I've just woken up and the first chess news I spot is that Campo is dead at 83. Whatever we may think of this man, he sure did put Philippines chess on the map! In fact, I'd say that he put chess on the map.

I met him twice, the first time was in Sydney for the Saintly Cup and the second time was in Dresden. He always seemed like a gentleman and very civilised.

Chessvibes has a nice summary of his life.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Goldman and the Queen Sac

An interesting perspective on the current woes of Goldman Sachs:

Goldman Sachs is very much analogous to a queen in the chess game being played by the ownership class—the richest pools of private capital controlled by multi-generational wealthy families that hover above countries via the central banking system. It has been one of the most potent pieces on the board for many years, its most recent attack being on the entire nation of Greece. But as the endgame comes into view, perhaps the most brilliant play to reach checkmate is now the queen sacrifice. Goldman employees had better be sending their resumes to JP Morgan Chase—a critical chess piece in the endgame that will be protected at all costs.

From "Goldman Sachs, Chess, and the Godfather".

Note that I'm presently in Kyoto, Japan. As Japan celebrates Golden Week, I thought I'd haul myself down to the old capital for some culinary and geisha adventures. Since I'll be terribly occupied, there's no guarantee that I'll be doing any updates for the next coupe of days.