28 January 2015

Small Projects for 2015

A year ago I set out to accomplish a number of Small Projects for 2014. It's totally out of character for me, but I actually accomplished all of them.

World Computer Championship: I wrote two posts on the topic.

The ICGA, responsible for organizing the events, hasn't kept up with the underlying technical evolution and their champions no longer include the strongest competitors in the world. Can they adapt?

World Correspondence Championship: With the exception of the 27th championship, which finished last year, the list in 'Small Projects' remains the current status. No new events were started in 2014.

Zonals: After completing the tasks listed in 'Small Projects', I wrapped them up with a second set of tasks.

Ditto for the second set, but the third set of tasks remains open.

Grand Prix: The following pages now show 'Overall Standings'.

As for 'Small Projects for 2015', I have nothing beyond the tasks for the zonals.

21 January 2015

2015 a Zonal Year

At the beginning of the previous World Championship cycle (C26 according to my system of numbering the cycles), it was useful to put together a list of forthcoming FIDE qualifying events and related activities -- see 2013 a Zonal Year. For the current cycle, C27, the following table is taken from the FIDE Calendar 2015, plus events completed in 2014. For the history of previous cycles, C00-C26, see World Chess Championship Zonals.

1.0 European Individual Championship 2015 Jerusalem, Israel 23-Feb-2015
2.0 American Continental Championship 2015 Montevideo, Uruguay 15-May-2015
2.2 American Zonal Canada 9-Jul-2015
2.3 American Zonal Guayaquil, Ecuador  
3.0 Asian Continental Championships 2015 Al Ain, UAE 20-Jun-2015
3.1 Asian Zonal Muscat, Oman  
3.2 Asian Zonal Kathmandu, Nepal  
3.3 Asian Zonal Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam 6-Mar-2015
3.4 Asian Zonal Dushanbe, Tajikistan 3-Jun-2015
3.5 Asian Zonal China  
3.6 Asian Zonal Sydney, Australia 4-Jul-2015
4.3 African Zonal Malawi 13-Apr-2015
>> World Cup 2015 Baku, Azerbaijan 10-Sep-2015
  1st Quarter 2015 Presidential Board Chengdu, China 26-Apr-2015
  86th FIDE Congress Abu Dhabi, UAE 1-Sep-2015
Other (2014):
1.? Baltic Zonal (A)  
1.10 European Small Nations Chp (B)  
3.5 China Zonal TWIC1044  
4.2 African Zonal TWIC1047  

(A) FIDE President Opens the Baltic Zonal Chess Tournament in Liepaja (chessdom.com; June 2014): 'In Liepaja the first of the three stages of the Baltic Zonal Tournament takes place; the second will be held in September in Lithuania, and the third – in January in Estonia. The winner of the three stages in aggregate will be admitted to the World Cup tournament in 2015.'

The Week in Chess (TWIC):-
TWIC1022, Jun 2014, Liepaja
TWIC1047, Nov 2014, Vilnius
TWIC1054, Jan 2015, Tallinn

(B) 1st Individual FIDE Zone 1.10 Championship (chessdom.com; January 2014; follow links for the tournament bulletin): 'The winner of the Zone Championship will be one of FIDE president nominations for FIDE World Cup 2015.'

14 January 2015

'Happy to Take the Money'

In my previous post, Books on the Carlsen - Anand Matches, I mentioned the low ratings given by customer reviews for the Keene / Karlovich books. One comment on the book about the 2014 match baffled me:-
I am returning my two books. I bought one, and Amazon sent another when I said the first one was defective. Well, the second one was messed up, too. All of the chess diagrams in the second half of the text are complete nonsense, e.g. a diagram may have a black knight sitting on each light square: 24 black knights at once.

I couldn't imagine how that looked on the printed page. By coincidence, a few days later in 9046. Carlsen v Anand match book, Chesshistory.com reproduced a pair of pages from the same book. It boggles the mind that such a blatant series of errors could slip through the proofreading process. Then it struck me -- the book has never been proofread!

The Amazon 'Look Inside' feature (a real godsend for books like this one) offers many more examples of errors. See, for example, the following photo and caption from page 7.

'One it entitled to wonder...'

'Us chess players do not ask questions. [Us] are just happy to take the money...'. That pretty much sums up the philosophy behind this book.

07 January 2015

Books on the Carlsen - Anand Matches

Anyone interested in a book on one or both of the Carlsen - Anand title matches? I imagine many people are, so let's take a look at what's available. Amazon.com currently lists five titles. I've grouped them here by author, with links to the corresponding Amazon pages.

Karsten Müller

Jon Edwards

Raymond Keene and Anastasiya Karlovich

Bookfinder.com lists only the Keene / Karlovich titles: Title is anand carlsen; Book is written in English. Why is that? The Müller and Edwards titles are listed on Amazon as 'Kindle Edition', implying that they are only available in digital format.

The two Keene / Karlovich works are both listed on Amazon as 'Publisher: Ishi Press'. I am extremely reluctant to buy anything published by that outfit, not just because the book on the 2013 match has two stars (out of five) based on three customer reviews, while the book on the 2014 match has one-and-a half stars on two reviews.

I already have one book by Ishi Press: ELISTA DIARIES: Karpov-Kamsky, Karpov-Anand, Anand Mexico City 2007 World Chess Championship Matches by Anatoly Karpov and Ron Henley; December 5, 2007. The Karpov / Henley writings, which make up the bulk of the book, are first rate, but the rest is not.

For example, the last page of the book discusses the following photo. The discussion is signed 'Sam Sloan'.

'Hot Tomalis [sic] on the Mexican Professional Chess Player circuit?'

'Nondescript women'? Before reading Sloan's petty, sexist writeup, many players would recognize Arianne Caoili and Aruna Anand. They might also wonder what they have to do with the Karpov / Henley material. In a word, they have *nothing* to do with it.

Back to the Keene / Karlovich works, the name Raymond Keene also raises a red flag. I have a number of his books on title matches, which I listed in World Championship Bibliography. While I wouldn't mind buying another work in his series, other knowledgeable chess fans wouldn't go near them.

The names Ishi and Keene taken together convince me to keep my money in my wallet. Buyer beware.

31 December 2014

Guardian of the WCCC

Earlier this year, in a post on the World Chess Championship : Computer Chess (WCCC), titled WCCC Ain't What It Used to Be (February 2014), I wrote,
The three most recent events -- 2010, 2011, & 2013 -- have seen two separate competitions, hardware and software, where the software event is not considered as important as the equivalent TCEC competitions. It's time to acknowledge that the ICGA tournaments are not real World Championships.

The ICGA is the International Computer Games Association, a group more inclined to awarding titles through procedural decisions than through competitions. I was reminded of this in a recent blog post, The New Chess World Champion (with extensive comments) by IM Kenneth Regan, best known in the chess world for his work on computer cheating and last seen in this blog in The 'No Cheating' Jigsaw Puzzle. Dr. Regan wrote,

Today we salute Komodo for winning the 7th Thoresen Chess Engines Competition (TCEC), which some regard as the de-facto world computer chess championship.

The phrase 'De-facto World Computer Chess Championship' bears repeating and echoes the Wikipedia page on the Thoresen Chess Engines Competition.

TCEC is often regarded as the Unofficial World Computer Chess Championship because of its strong participant line-up and long time control matches on high-end hardware, giving rise to very high-class chess. [along with a couple of links to support the argument]

What does the ICGA [link redirects] have to say?

ICGA Events July 2015 • Posted on December 25, 2014 by Aske Plaat • We are expecting to organize the ICGA Events in early July of 2015. • The Events will consist of
- The ACG2015 Advances in Computer Games Conference
- The World Computer Chess Championship
- The World Computer Software Championship
- The Speed Computer Chess Championship
- The Computer Olympiad

We expect to be able to provide more details in January of 2015

The post previous to this is titled 'Complaints against the Chess programs LOOP and THINKER' by 'David Levy : ICGA President'.

The ICGA has received formal complaints against the Chess programs LOOP and THINKER, both of which have participated in the World Computer Chess Championship.

The computer chess world appears to pay little attention to these procedural disputes. Who appointed the ICGA guardian of the WCCC?

24 December 2014

2014 FIDE General Assembly : Whither the World Championship?

Just like last year's annual 'Whither' post, 2013 FIDE Executive Board : Whither the World Championship?, the documents released by FIDE for its big meeting are less interesting than in previous years. Maybe the organization is running more smoothly; maybe they are less willing to air their dirty laundry in public; maybe both.

First let's hear what FIDE President Ilyumzhinov had to say in August about the main events. If you need help finding the originals of the documents referenced below, see the post on my main blog, FIDE's 'Chess in Schools' 2014.

As you are aware, the World Championship match which ended by victory of Norwegian wonder child Magnus Carlsen, took place in Chennai in November 2013. Please join me once again in congratulations to this remarkable Grand Master and Norwegian Chess Federation with its outstanding success. I would also like to note, that World Champion is also a top rated player in the world. The match was organized superbly and for this I’m especially grateful to Vice President of FIDE, Mr. Sundar, All India Chess Association and the match organizing committee. The match prize fund was 2,55 mln USD with the total budget of the event exceeding 5 mln USD.

During my discussion with the Tamil Nadu State President H. E. Ms. Jayaram Jayalalithaa, I expressed my gratitude for my patience as all of you know Chennai had been candidate for this match 2 years earlier and I also thanked Tamil Nadu State Government for the support of the development of the chess, especially for inclusion of chess into school curriculum in this province. This match would set a good model of interaction between a National Chess Federation with local state and government bodies in respect of development of chess.

Next important event for us the Candidate Tournament. Once again brilliantly organized by Khanty-Mansiysk. The Mayor of Khanty-Mansiysk, President of the Ugra Vasily Filipenko is present here among our guests and I would like him to pass our most sincere gratitude to the leadership and the government of Ugra and personally Governor Natalya Komarova. It’s a pleasant fact that the interest to this event broadcast was higher than the once to the previous Candidate Tournament in London. Chess lovers in 207 countries and territories visited the official site and could enjoy the games transmissions through Chess casting application created by FIDE. This year’s calendar was full of the vents organized in Khanty-Mansiysk with the above mentioned tournaments and the Presidential Board in March, 4th Womens’ Grand Prix stage in April, followed by Women’s World Rapid and Blitz Championships.

The 5th stage of the Women’s Grand Prix was organized in June in a picturesque Lopota in Georgia and a final 6th tournament was moved, will take place in Sharjah instead of Mongolia. The change was due a serious illness of the President of the Mongolian Chess Federation which unfortunately interfered with the activity with this federation.

Dubai has successfully organized Men’s World Rapid and Blitz Championship with the unique situation when one player Magnus Carlsen has having become World Champion in all the formats.

We are going to announce final schedule for the new series of the Men’s Grand Prix Tournament. This year 2 legs will be organized in October-November in Baku and Tashkent respectively and the other two legs will take place early next year.

The Opening Ceremony of the World Championship match between Magnus Calrsen and Viswanathan Anand is scheduled in November 7th of Sochi. The match will take place in the Olympic Park area which is 5 minute drive the international airport. The managers and the representatives of both teams can select their accommodation from the substantial number of new hotels built for the winter Olympics. The match will be held in EXPO Centre which was home for the Winter Olympics media centre and is equipped with latest technologies.

Then let's hear from the Presidential Board in November about forthcoming events.

4.5. Agon. Annex 13 is a letter from Agon with a change in the Agon/FIDE interface team.

5.11. Women’s Chess Commission. Annex 33 is Commission’s report for Tromso GA. Annex 34 is proposed regulations for FIDE Online Women’s World Blitz Championship 2014 for Tromso GA. Annex 35 is Minutes of the Commission’s meeting held in Tromso.

5.21.1. FIDE World Cup 2015. The event shall be held in Baku, Azerbaijan, 10 September – 4 October 2015.

5.21.2. FIDE World Cup 2017. The event shall be held in Batumi, Georgia, 1-25 September 2017.

5.21.3. FIDE World Championship Match 2014. The event is being held in Sochi, Russia, 7-28 November.

5.21.4. FIDE Candidates’ Matches 2016. Venue to be decided.

5.21.5. FIDE Grand-Prix series. Mr. G. Borg to report. Baku, Azerbaijan : 1-15 October 2014; Tashkent, Uzbekistan : 20 October - 4 November 2014; Tbilisi, Georgia : 14-28 February 2015; Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia : 13-27 May 2015.

5.21.6. FIDE Women’s Grand-Prix series. Mr. G. Borg to report.

5.21.7. FIDE Women’s World Championship 2014. The event is postponed. Mr. G. Borg to report.

5.21.8. FIDE Women’s World Championship Match 2015. Bids open 1st January - close 31st March 2015. The event will be held from 11 to 31 October 2015.

I don't have much to add here. It's Christmas Eve and there are better things to do!

17 December 2014

Label Maintenance

The LABELS listed to the right -- C00:1946-48, C01:1949-51, etc. -- are a useful technique to group posts dealing with a specific World Championship cycle. For many years the numbering was straightforward: one cycle ended and the following year another started. This worked until the infamous C15:1991-93 cycle, when the World Championship split into two because of the Kasparov - Short title match. The scheduling of title events became increasingly erratic.

After the title reunification in C22:2005-07, the scheduling started to improve slowly, but for a number of cycles the chess world was faced with overlapping cycles where a new cycle started before the previous cycle had finished. For example, the 2009 World Cup at Khanty-Mansiysk (C24) was played before the 2010 Anand - Topalov title match of the previous cycle (C23).

When I started this blog in 2007, I was never sure how long a cycle was going to last. When a new cycle started I used a question mark ('?') to indicate the end of a cycle, e.g. C25:2011-?. When a cycle finished, I could eliminate the '?', but after Blogger.com changed its interface a few years ago, I wasn't sure how to do this without changing each post separately. Fortunately, a technique for a global change exists and I used it to close the most recent cycles, e.g. C25:2011-13.

Now that FIDE has brought the World Championship into a steady two year cycle, we can predict when a cycle will end, making the question mark unnecessary. I eliminated it for the current cycle C27:2015-16, and hope that FIDE will be able to maintain a two-year rhythm. World class chess needs the stability.

[Reference: A post on Google.com, I have a question about my labels..., explains the technique for making a global change to labels.]