22 May 2019

Zonal Qualifiers C01-C16

The current FIDE World Championship cycle is slowly getting into gear, so I'll fill the idle time with another crack at Small Projects for 2019 (January 2019):-
The first two of the actions on that [2018] 'Projects' post are still open [...], while the second required permission to reuse published material. This permission was granted recently: 'If you'd like to quote my zonal material, that's fine.'

That second action is a continuation of Zonal Qualifiers C01-C12 : Archive.org (June 2017), where I took 'the first steps for documenting the interzonal qualification process in C01-C12'. The numbering C01, C12, etc. is a convention I use to identify the different World Championship cycles that have taken place since 1948. According to that convention, we are in the 29th cycle or '2019-20 C29'. The complete cycles C01-C14 are documented on my page, Index of FIDE Events 1948-1990.

The table on the left shows my count of the number of players ('Plyrs') who participated in the interzonals for C01 through C16. The column 'Evts' (events) shows the number of interzonals that took place during the cycle. The column 'ZQP' (zonal qualifying paths) shows the number of players documented in the zonal material that I'm using as the base for this exercise.

The table gives me a guide for further work on this particular project. Ideally, 'Plyrs' should be equal to 'ZQP', although even when it is there might be a mismatch between the names of the players.

I've already documented the qualifying paths for C13 through C28, as shown at the bottom of the page Index of Zonals. The new data lets me complete C01-C12 and also lets me doublecheck C13-C16.

15 May 2019

FIDE Starts the New Cycle

With the first leg of the 2019 Grand Prix starting this week, I added three new pages to my site for the World Chess Championship:-

The new pages include links to Fide.com announcements that I've documented in previous blog posts:-

The contest to determine the next challenger for World Champion Magnus Carlsen starts this week with the Grand Prix event in Moscow.

08 May 2019

Wrapping-up Recent Posts

Several of the posts on this blog over the last two months... ...have been to improve my record of the Pre-FIDE Events, specifically the early, unofficial events. These resulted in two new pages that are consistent with similar pages:-

While I was working on those, I left a few loose ends that required small corrections:-

  • Redirecting obsolete pages to the new pages
  • Deleting PGN files for the obsolete pages
  • Updating the player indices
  • Checking that nothing had been overlooked

Before I tackled that, I considered consolidating the pages of three other related matches:-

I finally decided against doing this because of a key difference: the first page covers exhibition matches, but the second is for a World Championship title match. Before I do any more work on the 'Pre-FIDE Events', I'll try to address another item on the list of Small Projects for 2019 (January 2019).

01 May 2019

FIDE Details the New Cycle

Following-up the previous post on FIDE's new management, FIDE Maps the New Cycle (February 2019), we find that FIDE has pressed ahead with its plans. In this post I'll cover announcements related to various aspects of the World Championship. The first batch all appeared around the same time. (Links are to Fide.com.)

That last link, an interview covering several talking points related to the World Championship, took place at the same time as the PB meeting in Astana.

AD [Arkady Dvorkovich]: We are working on the World Championship Cycle. The Regulations of the Title Match and the Candidates Tournament will soon be ready for publication, which will naturally launch the bidding procedure for these events. [...]

YP [Yannick Pelletier]: A few significant modifications have been brought to the formula of the World Championship cycle. What impact will they have in your opinion?

AD: First of all, we are improving the visibility of our tournaments. The new "Grand Swiss" will be spectacular and attractive. This event opens the door to the Candidates Tournament for all young and talented players who have not yet made it to the Top-10. And it also represents an opportunity for all participants to improve by being confronted directly with world-class players. Moreover, we have reformed the Grand Prix Series. For the first time, tournaments will be staged with the knockout system, as in tennis. We are expecting to arouse interest from sponsors and journalists through this new format. All participants will be motivated to fight until the end, both for the qualification spots and for prizes in each event and the overall rankings.

Another aspect I would like to broach is the importance of side events at such tournaments. Starting with the World Rapid and Blitz Championship in St Petersburg, and also here in Astana, we are making a point of cooperating with local organizers to have a program of parallel activities, like simultaneous, events for kids, blitz, etc. I consider it crucial to open the doors of a top tournament to all levels of chess players and fans, and thus to avoid seclusion. It improves the image of chess and attracts attention.

YP: A last question related to the World Championship cycle, which has been sent to me by Mr. Leonard Barden, emblematic figure for chess in The Guardian: What has been done to try and build a friendly relationship with Rex Sinquefield and Garry Kasparov, since it is clear that an agreement could bring major benefits to chess?

AD: I met Rex Sinquefield for the first time during the opening ceremony of the World Championship match in London and our short discussion was very friendly. Actually, my colleague of the management board Director General Emil Sutovsky has had intense consultations with Sinquefield’s team of the Grand Chess Tour, including Garry Kasparov, in order to adjust the tournament calendar. They have increased the number of events this year, so that coordination with the World Championship cycle was essential.

All tournaments now have their place in the calendar 2019, and we basically avoided clashes of the main competitions, except for November which was completely unavoidable. But the smooth cooperation with the Grand Chess Tour allowed to minimize the damage for the players. Indeed, providing for the satisfactory distribution of all participants in the events of both cycles was fundamental. Both sides are happy and continue to work effectively. FIDE has big expectations for the upcoming World Championship and I hope that we will receive competing bids from many countries.

Of the 35 PB decisions, I counted five related to the World Championship. Note the new African zone.

  • 2019-03-13: List of Q1 2019 Presidential Board Decisions
    Q1PB-2019/17 To approve the regulations for the 2020 World Chess Championship Candidate Tournament. Also to set a recommended prize fund of 2 Mln Euro for the Title Match.
    Q1PB-2019/18 To approve GSC proposal to ban draws by mutual agreement before move 40 in Candidates and World Championship Matches starting 2020.
    Q1PB-2019/19 To approve GSC proposal in regards to the tie-break criteria for the Swiss-system events of the World Championship Cycle.
    Q1PB-2019/25 To confirm the new Addendum to the Agreement with World Chess., approved by absentee voting in January 2019.
    Q1PB-2019/32 To approve the African continental report and the creation of the zone 4.5 with further ratification by GA.

  • 2019-03-14: Tie-break criteria in Swiss-system events of the World Championship Cycle

  • 2019-03-26: Kazan inaugurates a new stage in women’s chess • See PDF

The following announcements were accompanied by PDF documents giving details.

  • 2019-04-19: FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss Tournament • 'Please find below the updated version of the Tournament Regulations in accordance with the decision of the FIDE Presidential Board as well as the current ranking of top 120 players by average rating as per April 1, 2019.'

  • 2019-04-26: New regulations for the World Championship matches • 'FIDE has approved the regulations for the World Championship Match 2020, as well as for the Women's World Championship match 2019-2020. The bidding procedure will last three months. [...] Apart from the technical and format changes in both cycles, the main novelty respect to the past few years is that FIDE is again in charge of organizing the World Championship match. After having delegated this responsibility on a third party company for the past few editions, a top priority for the new leadership under Arkady Dvorkovich's direction was to regain the commercial rights over its flagship event. The approval of these regulations marks the completion of this plan.'

In the last day, two more announcements further separated current FIDE management from the previous administration.

According to the previous post, 'FIDE Maps the New Cycle', we will see two events in May: (1) the first event of the new Grand Prix tournaments, in Moscow; and (2) the Women’s Candidates Tournament in Kazan, Russia. All eyes will be on FIDE to see whether it can execute its plans as smoothly as it announces them.

24 April 2019

1860s Anderssen Matches

I added a new page, 1861-62 Adolf Anderssen matches, to the index of World Chess Championship : Pre-FIDE Events. The page consolidates and replaces two older pages that documented Anderssen's unofficial matches for the World Championship:-
  • London, VII, 1861; Anderssen - Kolisch [+4-3=2]
  • London, VII-VIII, 1862; Anderssen - Paulsen [+3-3=2]

I also added links to other pages on the site that document events where Anderssen played a role in the history of the early, unofficial World Championship. Just like my previous effort to consolidate separate pages about matches, 1840s Staunton Matches (March 2019), the new page serves as a framework for further notes about the events it documents.

17 April 2019

Corrections to Recent Posts

Since the beginning of the year, I've been focusing on the early history of the World Championship. After finishing the posts, I've sometimes discovered additional information that required documenting. Finding the time to make the corrections is always another matter. Here are the posts in chronological order.

2019-01-23: Acknowledging an Important Source • I wrote, 'Here's a copy of the tournament crosstable given in Gelo's book (chapter 17), slightly reformatted.' • Gelo's crosstable is better than any other version I've seen and the reformatted version is better than the original. I added a copy to my page on the 1862 London Tournament.

2019-03-19: Wilhelm Hanstein, Schachzeitung • I wrote, 'For some reason, missing characters occur frequently, not only in the Schachzeitung scans, but in other scans that have nothing to do with chess. Add this to the (long) list of things that can go wrong with digitized documents.' • Although that post is on my main blog, it covers techniques that are useful for this present blog. I added a note about the missing characters.

2019-04-10: (last week's post) 1834 London : How Many Matches? • I wrote, 'While I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of the conventional view, I'll keep the discrepancy in mind while I review other material on the match.' • A couple of hours later I resolved the discrepancy, so I added a note to the post.

10 April 2019

1834 London : How Many Matches?

In last week's post, Early Chess Periodicals, about the availability of 19th century chess literature on Google Books, I ended the post saying,
The early chess magazines have been locked away in specialist libraries for many years. Assuming that they have not been picked over completely, what more information about the early unofficial events can be gleaned from their pages?

I started chronologically, tackling the earliest matches first, noting the location of different early articles about the matches. This page in particular caught my attention.

The Chess Player's Chronicle [S01V03; 1842], p.410

The page is titled,


The lead paragraph says,

In concluding the series of games between these distinguished Champions, it may not be uninteresting to review briefly the results of their several contests. It appears that in all, they played together EIGHTY-FIVE GAMES, divided into four separate matches of twenty-one games each, and one extra game.

This is contrary to conventional wisdom, which says the games were played in a series of six matches of varying length, between 9 and 25 games per match. That's what I've recorded on my own page, World Chess Championship : 1834 Labourdonnais - McDonnell Matches, which I double-checked against Gelo's book 'Chess World Championships 1834-1984'; see Acknowledging an Important Source (January 2019) for more about the book.

The summary in 'Chess Player’s Chronicle' (CPC) gives the following scores for the four matches. The +/- tallies are from the Labourdonnais point of view:-

1st: +13-4=4
2nd: +11-9=1
3rd: +8-6=7
4th: +11-9=1
Xtra: +1-0=0

Total: +44-28=13

This maps fairly well onto the sequential score given by the conventional view of six matches. For example, the score of the first 21 games of the first match was +13-4=4, which is the same as the CPC tally. There are, however, a few differences arising in subsequent matches. These might be accounted for by the choice of the 85th game, CPC's 'one extra game'. While I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of the conventional view, I'll keep the discrepancy in mind while I review other material on the match.


Later: Re 'I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of the conventional view', that view is from an essay by George Walker. I discussed his book 'Chess and Chess-players: Consisting of Original Stories and Sketches' last year in Chess-books and Chess-players (July 2018), including a link to access a copy. The last chapter is titled 'The Battles of M'Donnell and De La Bourdonnais' and starts with a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

"The splendors of the firmament of time
May be eclipsed—but are extinguished not.
Like stars, to their appointed height they climb,
And death is a low mist, which cannot blot
The brightness it may veil."

The literary tone continues with the first paragraph.

ALL the world -- at least all the world we care about upon the present occasion, the Chess world -- has heard of the Chess encounters of De la Bourdonnais and M'Donnell. The battle has been sung by Mery in French, by D'Arblay in English. The games themselves have been printed in several different European languages, and have become a code of precedents, like the famed Pandects of Justinian, by the light of which future players may walk safely through almost all the dark mazes of the Sacred Grove -- if they have but the intellect to understand, and the memory to apply these splendid examples of Chess-play to the varied situations which arise during the progress of an actual game.

A note to the essay mentions, 'This paper was first published in the Chess Player's Chronicle, 1843.' It was the last article in CPC volume 4, signed by George Walker and dated October 1843. I'll use the CPC version for the rest of the quotes in this section. Later in the essay G.Walker writes,

Mr. William Greenwood Walker, himself but a very moderate Chess-player, (related to me only in name,) was the most enthusiastic Chess-recorder I have ever had the honour to know. He cared little to play himself, but delighted to be always at M`Donnell's elbow, to record his victory ; like one of the bards of old, ever by the side of his Chief to hymn the song of triumph in his praise. Mr. Walker took down the whole of the games played by M'Donnell and La Bourdonnais, and printed them, with many others played by the former, in a well known octavo volume. Without him, these fine games would have been lost for ever. Great, then, is the obligation we are all under to his name, for thus constantly attending at his post—the scribe, the herald of the war. It is no light thing to sit daily five or six hours, during a period of months, to watch games playing, and write them down. Mr. William Greenwood Walker has been taken from us long since. He died full of years. We could "well have spared a better -- aye, many a better -- man."

As for the structure of the matches, he writes,

I intend to be the more particular in presenting what may be termed the statistics of the games played by M‘Donnell and De la Bourdonnais, as they have been on many occasions so erroneously stated. Writers of these latter times have assumed that they were all comprised within two, three, or four matches. Be it mine to state the exact and full truth. During the time they were playing, I visited the club daily, and took some of the games down, move by move, as they were played; relieving my worthy namesake thus occasionally at his post. At the close of each day's play, the notes of Mr. Greenwood Walker were kindly placed at the disposal of Mr. [William] Lewis and myself; who thus were enabled to get the games in a complete shape. I have them all by me, as I wrote them out at the time -- in the exact order they were played, and classed according to the actual matches of which each one formed a part.

Following that are page after page of 'the exact and full truth'. These correspond to the conventional wisdom and are undoubtedly the source of what we know about the first (unofficial) World Championship event.