29 July 2020

International Chess Day 2020

This video features two former World Champions, GMs Anand & Kramnik, and one former Women's World Champion, GM Hou Yifan.


“Chess for Recovering Better” | United Nations and FIDE (1:33:13) • 'Streamed live on Jul 20, 2020'

The description says,

To celebrate the International Chess Day on 20 July, top chess personalities, including the FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich, Viswanathan Anand, Vladimir Kramnik, Levon Aronian, Hou Yifan will take part in a high-level virtual event - “Chess for Recovering Better”.

The high-level participants of the meeting from the United Nations include H.E. Mr. Mher Margaryan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Armenia to the United Nations, and Melissa Ruth Fleming, Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications.

For more about chess's special day see World Chess Day | United Nations (un.org).

22 July 2020

2020 World Championship Postponed

Less than three months ago, in 90th FIDE Congress : Whither the World Championship? (April 2020), I wrote,
'The biggest news came at the end of the minutes, although it's entirely possible that the next title match will be postponed because of scheduling complications caused by the coronavirus: 'Mr. Dvorkovich also announced that FIDE has almost finalized its negotiation with the organizers of Dubai Expo 2020 regarding the World Championship Match, which will most probably take place in the United Arab Emirates. The most likely starting date for the tournament will be the 20th December.'

Although the post was dated end-April, the 90th Congress took place end-February. Since then, FIDE has made several announcements concerning the match:-

  • 2020-05-16: FIDE Council online meeting decisions • (12 May 2020:) 'OCM-2020/05 - The Council noted that the opening of World EXPO 2020 is confirmed to move to the fourth quarter of 2021 under the same name and with the same organizer, who expressed a clear commitment to host the World Championship Match with the dates and terms to be reconfirmed in a due course.'

  • 2020-06-29: Arkady Dvorkovich: The match for the chess crown will be postponed to 2021

  • 2020-07-02: Decisions of the 2nd quarter FIDE Online Council Meeting • (23 June 2020:) 'Q2OC-2020/9 -To continue monitoring the situation and discussing the logistics of the World Chess Championship Match 2021 with the World Expo organizers in Dubai, keeping in mind two possible dates (spring and autumn 2021) and considering all possible adjustments / changes in the FIDE official calendar.'

To keep track of the evolution, I created a new page, World Chess Championship : 2021 Carlsen - ?. Normally I would have created the page only after both players were known, but there is nothing normal about the current cycle.

24 June 2020

Defecting Characters

In last week's post, Women's 1980-81 Candidates Matches, I finished with a couple of actions. The first action was:-
Lematchko tied for 1st in the 1979 Alicante Interzonal, but did not play in the 1980-81 Women's Candidates Matches. Why not? I'll look into that another time.

The second action was:-

At the same time, I'll standardize the spelling of her name across my pages. While preparing this post, I found Lemachko, Lematcho, Lematschko, and there might be others. I can do better than that.

The first action was answered on the appropriate Wikipedia page, Women's World Chess Championship 1981:-

In Alicante, Lematschko and Akhmilovskaya shared first place, well ahead of Gurieli and Litinskaya. However, Lematschko subsequently defected from socialist Bulgaria and was unable to take part in the Candidates Tournament, so her place was given to Fischdick as fourth-placed from the Rio Interzonal (on tie-breaks).

That's a detailed answer in just two sentences. It was followed by a note ('[2]') indicating its source:-

[2] -> "World Chess Championship (women) : 1979 Alicante Interzonal Tournament". Mark-weeks.com. Retrieved 2012-02-06

Thanks for the reference, Wikipedia! The problem is: my page doesn't say that (and I didn't know it). While much of the basic information on the Wikipedia page is indeed taken from my pages, the Wikipedia enhancements are considerable. Congratulations to the semi-anonymous Wikipedians who put the whole package together.

I was especially impressed to see that *all* of the participants in the 1980-81 women's WCC cycle have their own Wikipedia page. This might be expected for the corresponding men's WCC cycle, but is not trivial for women's events which received less press at the time than they do today. I know this from personal experience in my own library research. Are other Wikipedia pages for other women's WCC cycles so comprehensive?

As an aside, one of the participants in the 1980-81 women's WCC cycle was Miyoko Watai. If the name sounds familiar, the Wikipedia page explains,

After Bobby Fischer's detention on July 13, 2004 for trying to travel with a revoked U.S. passport, she campaigned for his release. They were reportedly married in August 2004.

As for the second action, 'standardize the spelling of [Lematchko] across my pages', my reference page Index of Women Players uses 'Lemachko'. Somewhat curiously, that spelling isn't found on any of my other pages where her name occurs:-

Lemachko T 1976 IZ-Roo: Lematschko T
1977 CM : Lematchko, T
1979 IZ-Ali: Lematcho
1982 IZ-Bad: Lematcho
1983 CM : Lematschko T
1990 IZ-Gen: Lematschko T
1995 IZ : Lematschko T

I don't remember why I chose that spelling for the index, but it's probably not a coincidence that 'Chess Personalia' by Jeremy Gaige uses the same spelling. For the 1979 Alicante Interzonal, Informant 28 (1979-H2) gives the spelling as 'LEMAČKO'. This uses the same character 'Č' (lower case 'č') that you sometimes see for Korchnoi, i.e. 'KORČNOI'. That's another name with a similar set of variations found for Lemachko. In other words, the 'Č' is replaced by 'CH', or 'TCH', or 'TSCH'.

While I should be consistent and use 'Lemachko' on all of my own pages, I'll let it go for now. On top of the HTML pages, there are PGN files involved.

17 June 2020

Women's 1980-81 Candidates Matches

In last week's post, Women's 1983-84 Candidates Matches, I quoted Fide.com:-
[Tatjana] Lematschko took part in the [quarterfinals] of the candidates' matches three times: in 1977 she lost to Akhmilovskaya, in 1980 to Litinskaya and in 1983 was defeated by Alexandria.

Since last week's post fixed an error on one of my pages about the Women's World Chess Championship (WWCC), I was concerned that I had discovered another error:-

For the 1980-81 Candidates Matches, I have a quarterfinal match Litinskaya Shul - Fischdick. I'll look into that another time.

First stop: Wikipedia's Women's World Chess Championship 1981. Since that page gave my site as the only source ('Retrieved 2012-02-06'), I couldn't accept it at face value. Where had my information come from originally?

Last year, in Status of the Women's World Championship (October 2019), I described the process of creating the WWCC pages. Since I never delete digital documents, I still had my working files from that period. My master reference file told me that the source for the 1979-81 women's cycle was Informant. Here's a composite image showing the four women's quarterfinal matches...


Informant 29 (1980-H1)

...Back to the discrepancy that provoked this post, looks like I had it right and FIDE was wrong. But that's not the end of this episode. Lematchko tied for 1st in the 1979 Alicante Interzonal, but did not play in the 1980-81 Women's Candidates Matches. Why not? I'll look into that another time. At the same time, I'll standardize the spelling of her name across my pages. While preparing this post, I found Lemachko, Lematcho, Lematschko, and there might be others. I can do better than that.

10 June 2020

Women's 1983-84 Candidates Matches

A few days ago on my main blog, as part of a long-running series on 'Top eBay Chess Items by Price', I posted about the 1982 Tbilisi Women's Interzonal. While comparing the info to my own records, I noticed a discrepancy on my page World Chess Championship (Women) : 1983-84 Candidates Matches. In the eBay post I wrote,
The quarterfinal round of the 1983-84 Candidates Matches saw only three matches. Lematchko didn't play and Alexandria started with a semifinal match. That circumstance deserves a mention and an explanation on the 1983-84 CM page.

It turned out that the 'circumstance' was an oversight on my part. Here's an extract from Wikipedia.


Women's World Chess Championship 1984

Wikipedia gave me credit for the bulk of the information ('Retrieved 2012-02-07'), but attributed info on the quarterfinal match Alexandria - Lematschko to 365chess.com ('Retrieved 2015-01-03'). Since I had already discovered the match PGN on the same site, I looked no further.

By coincidence, Lematchko/Lematschko was in the news recently: Tatjana Lematschko passes away (fide.com; May 2020). Of her WCC exploits, the World Federation noted,

Lematschko entered the race for the world championship title in 1975. Tatjana took part in the Interzonal tournaments in Rosendal (1976), Alicante (1979) where she shared for first with Akhmilovskaya and Bad Kissingen (1982). Lematschko took part in the [quarterfinals] of the candidates' matches three times: in 1977 she lost to Akhmilovskaya, in 1980 to Litinskaya and in 1983 was defeated by Alexandria.

On my page World Chess Championship : Index of Women Players, I have her listed only for the 1977-78 Candidates Matches. For the 1980-81 Candidates Matches, I have a quarterfinal match Litinskaya Shul - Fischdick. I'll look into that another time.

03 June 2020

Qualification by Rating

In 90th FIDE Congress : Whither the World Championship? (April 2020), I ended with a quote from the minutes and an action for me:-
'5.9 Global Strategy Commission [...] The qualification requirements for both Grand Prix and the Candidates Tournament represent another issue to be focused on. Many players complained that the qualification requirements used for the current Grand Prix and Candidates Tournament had a bias on the initial rating.' • 'I'll come back to that so-called rating bias another time. It's an issue that has been simmering for some time.

I couldn't recall a specific controversy with the Grand Prix, but I remembered one from the Candidates tournament; FIDE Candidates 2020 (fide.com; February 2020):-

Anish Giri (NED, 2763) -- qualified by rating as the player with the highest average rating for 12 rating periods from February 2019 to January 2020

The controversy arose in the lead-up to the Grand Swiss, played in October. In Preview: 2019 FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss (iominternationalchess.com; 15 September 2019), John Saunders wrote,

Ding Liren is not playing in the Isle of Man but is instead competing in the FIDE World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk. The knock-out event provides two berths into the Candidates' tournament, but it is unlikely that Ding Liren needs to worry about his World Cup result since his high rating will almost certainly get him into that competition anyway (with four more monthly rating lists to be taken into account he is well ahead of Anish Giri and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov).

According to my page 2019 World Cup, that was written around the start of the Khanty-Mansiysk (Russia) event, where Ding Liren was the highest rated player, and still very much in contention for a top place. In the tiebreak for round six, the semifinal round played on 28 September, he beat his compatriot Yu Yangyi, thereby qualifying for the final round and guaranteeing a spot in the Candidates. A short note was soon added to the 'Preview Grand Swiss' page:-

Updated 30 September: Anish Giri [has] now withdrawn

In other words, once GM Giri was nearly assured of qualifying into the Candidates thanks to his high rating, he withdrew from the Grand Swiss, where he would have been at risk of losing valuable rating points. GM Vachier-Lagrave, the new third in line for a Candidates spot by rating, pointed out (twitter.com),

@FIDE_chess Grand Swiss rules supposedly forbid players to withdraw without a valid reason from the tournament after signing the agreement...

and added,

...otherwise I would have entered the tournament back in July if I knew I had the option to withdraw at any time.

The 2020 Candidates tournament was the first to have only a single qualification based on rating. The history of rating qualification for Candidates events played over the last decade looks like this:-

  • 2011 Candidates - 2 players
  • 2013 Candidates - 3 players
  • 2014 Candidates - 2 players
  • 2016 Candidates - 2 players
  • 2018 Candidates - 2 players
  • 2020 Candidates - 1 player

GM Giri had already qualified by rating into the 2016 Candidates and has never qualified for the tournment any other way. In the 2019 World Cup, he was eliminated in the third round. What sort of a rule favors those who don't play?

Qualification by rating makes sense for events with a large number of entrants, like the World Cup. It makes less sense for events where the number of spots is severely limited, like the Candidates. A high rating can be achieved by consistently beating lower rated players. Is that sufficient reason for competing in an event that determines the next challenger for the World Championship?

27 May 2020

ICCF 28th to 30th World Championships

Continuing with Small Projects for 2020 (February 2020), I updated my page for the World Chess Championship : Correspondence Chess to add the ICCF's 28th, 29th and 30th final events. For the previous update, see ICCF 25th to 27th World Championships (September 2016). The current events -- 31st (started 2019) and 32nd (started 2020) -- are marked 'Ongoing'.