04 May 2016

Correspondence Chess 2016

Hmmm. It seems the last time I looked at correspondence chess was Small Projects for 2015 (January 2015), where I already had two World Championship finals to add to my page on the World Chess Championship : Correspondence Chess. Since that post another final has ended, meaning that I am seriously behind on ICCF events. Here's a recap of the current status, including new events, with links to ICCF.com:-

Before I update my page, I'm going to look at some statistics to measure the interest in this topic. It might be sufficient to provide ZIP files as I now do for the World Chess Championship : Computer Chess.

27 April 2016

2016 Carlsen - Karjakin

I added a new page for the 2016 Carlsen - Karjakin title match, scheduled for November in New York. This was the next-to-last action from the post Moscow Candidates - My Resources. The last action -- 'Review title match resources' -- can only be done as the start of the match approaches.

I did set up a Google news alert for chess carlsen karjakin, but need to check whether it is accessible without a login. Two useful items flagged by the alert were:-

This past month FIDE also issued Bids for the World Chess Championships 2018 as an XLS spreadsheet. The title is somewhat misleading, as it includes only restricted World Championships. One nuance of which I wasn't previously aware is the naming of the FIDE championships for young players:-

  • World Cadet 2018 (U8-U10-U12),
  • World Youth 2018 (U14-U18),
  • World Junior 2018

Nearly all of the bids for these and the other three events are for European venues.

20 April 2016

Hou Yifan Recaptures a Title She Never Lost

I added the crosstable and PGN to my page on the 2015 Hou Yifan - M.Muzychuk Title Match. Should I change that title? The match, originally scheduled for 2015, was delayed until 2016, perhaps because of FIDE's all-too-typical fumbling when it comes to arranging anything.

At the beginning of the month, Chessbase.com ran a piece titled Interview with Hou Yifan by Dagobert Kohlmeyer. The Women's World Champion confirmed,

Initially, the match was supposed to take place in October 2015, but then got rescheduled to March 2016.

Later she mentioned an issue that I touched on last year in A Pseudo World Championship ('When is a World Chess Championship not a *real* World Championship?').

The current Women's World Championship system seems to be unfair. And I believe I'm not the only one who thinks like this. It would be good if the current system changed to a more reasonable format. I am sure, a "real" World Championship Match would attract much more attention.

Last month I officially made a proposal to FIDE to change the format of the Women’s World Championship. I suggested three reasonable alternatives but the answer I received seems to indicate that my proposal was not accepted. The main reason why they want to stick to the current system is the fact that it is easier to find sponsors if you call the knock-out tournament "World Championship". If you called it "World Cup" it would be extremely difficult to find sponsors.

Trivia question: When was the last time FIDE ran a women's event outside of the former Soviet Union? In fact, you don't have to go too far back. The first leg of the 2015-2016 FIDE Women's Grand Prix was held in one of the swankiest places on earth, Monte Carlo (Monaco), and the second was held in one of the most controversial, Tehran. The previous title match, 2013 Hou Yifan - Ushenina, took place in Taizhou (China).

If the sponsors are there, perhaps the problem with the 'World Cup' (aka 'World Championship') is the size of the event. Or perhaps it's its checkered history for determining a winner. If we give it a grandiose title, does everyone overlook the obvious?

13 April 2016

Moscow Candidates - Wrapup

I ended my previous post, Moscow Candidates - My Resources, with a few follow-up actions. First, I added the tiebreag regulations to my permanaent page on the 2016 Candidates Tournament. Then I added the names of the eight players to my Index of Players. As I did for the previous event, Khanty-Mansiysk Candidates - Wrapup (April 2014), here is a list of noteworthy resources from two of the chess world's premier news sites.

Rd. Chessbase Chess24
R0 Opening ceremony at the Candidates 2016
R1 Anand the first to score Round 1 Commentary
R2 Nakamura implodes, Karjakin strikes! Round 2 Commentary
R3 Aronian beats Topalov Round 3 Commentary
R4 Super Sergey! Round 4 Commentary
R5 Fabiano’s Benoni! Round 5 Commentary
R6 Anand beats Svidler, Aronian wins Round 6 Commentary
R7 Nakamura beats Topalov Round 7 Commentary
R8 Caruana is back! Round 8 Commentary
R9 Anand beats Aronian Round 9 Commentary
R10 Caruana wins, joins lead Round 10 Commentary
R11 Vishy Anand, the comeback man! Round 11 Commentary
R12 Young guns forge ahead! Round 12 Commentary
R13 It's Karjakin or Caruana! Round 13 Commentary
R14 Sergey Karjakin is the new Challenger! Round 14 Commentary Part 1, Part 2
  Candidates closing ceremony revisited

This current post is the last in a series that stretches back more than a month:-

Finally, here are related posts from my main blog:-

All in all, the tournament was a great show -- plenty of suspense, drama, off-board antics, and really great chess. Like the rest of the chess world, I'm already looking forward to the World Championship match later this year!

06 April 2016

Moscow Candidates - My Resources

I added the crosstable, cumulative score, and PGN file to my page on the 2016 Candidates Tournament. The cumulative score is reproduced below.

Still to be done:-

  • Document the tiebreak rules
  • Update the index of players
  • Summarize the action from major chess news sources
  • Create a new page for the Carlsen - Karjakin title match
  • Review title match resources

World Championship cycles are becoming complicated affairs.

30 March 2016

Moscow Candidates - Third Week

In the previous report, Moscow Candidates - Second Week, there were four rounds to go and four players still had good chances to emerge as the challenger to World Champion Carlsen. Aronian then had another bad week, winning none and losing one, leaving three players with chances.

Going into the last round, the tiebreak situation was complicated. The two players leading the pack, Karjakin and Caruana, were due to play each other, so a win for either would be sufficient to win the event. In case of a draw, Karjakin would win on tiebreak if Anand, the third placed player, also drew. If Anand won, thereby achieving the same score as the other two, Caruana would win on tiebreak.

As the round progressed, Anand playing Black could only draw, leaving Caruana in a must-win situation, also playing Black. Caruana pressed hard from the start of the game, but ultimately walked into a stunning combination, leaving Karjakin the winner. The following crosstable from the official site shows the total scores for both halves of the event plus individual game results for the second half.

Although the tournament is finally over, one story is sure to continue: Agon vs. other online chess sites. Bloomberg.com reported, There's a New King of the Chess Internet, and Fans Are Outraged:-

This week's tournament has been shadowed by moves taking place off the chess board. The company hired by the World Chess Federation to organize and broadcast the ongoing tournament in Russia announced earlier this month that other websites would not be allowed to offer live coverage, as many had done in the past. A few chess sites refused to honor the ban, and now the company, Agon Limited, is suing them in a Moscow court. [...] The websites sued by Agon, Bulgaria-based Chessbomb.com and an outfit called Chess24.com that operates from Germany and Gibraltar, have said they will continue offering live coverage.

I watched the event both on Agon's site, Worldchess.com, and on Chess24.com, often switching between the two. Although Worldchess.com had more technical problems, it offered post-game press conferences with the players. As attractive as these are for chess fans, the format needs more thought, as they often reduce to a private, post-mortem discussion by the two players over the just-concluded game, which is difficult to follow. The commentary was also marred by numerous breaks showing the same ads and explanatory videos over-and-over-and-over, to the point where I just switched off the sound until the live commentators returned.

Chess24.com has more experience doing live chess broadcasts and their overall performance was head-and-shoulders above Worldchess.com. I hope that Agon reconsiders its heavy-handed, eggs-in-one-basket approach, because it will be a step backwards for world-class chess. Some sort of syndicated approach blending the strengths of all stakeholders is needed.

23 March 2016

Moscow Candidates - Second Week

Since the previous intermediate report, Moscow Candidates - First Week, five more rounds have been played in the 2016 Candidates Tournament. The standings after ten rounds, with four rounds still to be played, are shown in the following crosstable from the official site.

Only individual games from the second half are marked on the crosstable, while the totals include results from the first half. The first four players, all with a plus score, are most likely to emerge as the eventual challenger for a match with World Champion Carlsen. GM Giri, who has played ten draws in ten games, has an outside chance, but the other three players are effectively relegated to the role of spoiler.

Looking at the games still to be player, the first three players listed -- GMs Caruana, Karjakin, and Aronian -- must still play each other. The pairings for those games, as well as the remaining game for former World Champion Anand, show one critical game per round. [The single decisive game from the first half is marked with '(*)'.]

Rd.11 Anand - Karjakin (*)
Rd.12 Caruana - Aronian
Rd.13 Aronian - Karjakin
Rd.14 Karjakin - Caruana

The tournament is wide open, the players are tired, and a single move might very well determine the challenger to Carlsen.