08 August 2018

News about 2018 Carlsen - Caruana

Four months after the 2018 Candidates Tournament ended, we finally have some news about the forthcoming 2018 Carlsen - Caruana match. Received from Worldchess.com, World Chess Championship Match takes place in Holborn, Central London (email):-
We are very happy to announce The College, a breath-taking historic building in the heart of London as the venue for the FIDE World Chess Championship Match 2018! The 10,000-square foot space in Holborn will host 400 people each day to see Magnus Carlsen defend his world title against US challenger Fabiano Caruana. The much-anticipated match will be held in London from 9th to 28th November.

The announcement carried an artist's conception of the playing area. It was too dark to see much, so I took its negative.


'Render of the playing hall at the College, Holborn'
[reverse black & white]

Before the announcement of the venue, the only other email communication from Worldchess.com was dated 17 June 2018; US President Will Meet the Challenger to the World Championship Title (If You Want Him To!):-

Chess fans from the [USA] contacted us with an idea: to petition Donald Trump to invite Fabiano Caruana, the challenger to the Title, to the White House before the World Chess Championship Match that takes place in London in November. They published a petition today in support of this proposal at the White House’ petitions page. According to the rules, if the petition is signed by over 100,000 in 30 days, the Administration will review and possibly grant it.

The related link to petitions.whitehouse.gov now informs,

Signature Count • 847 signed, 100,000 goal // Closed Petition • This petition has been archived because it did not meet the signature requirements. It can no longer be signed.

In other match related news -- carrying the same date as this blog post -- Unibet secures 'opening move' sponsoring FIDE World Chess London 2018 (sbcnews.co.uk):-

Kindred Group Plc European sports betting subsidiary Unibet has broadened its sponsorship portfolio confirming that it has become the official betting partner to the ‘FIDE World Chess Championship Match’ (London 9-28 November). The bookmaker confirms a ‘ground-breaking deal’ with principal organiser World Chess, becoming the first betting partner of a FIDE syndicated event. World Chess expects a sell-out crowd for its much-anticipated event. [...]

Ilya Merenzon, the CEO of World Chess, backed Unibet as new partner: "World Chess is proud to announce this exclusive partnership with Unibet. We're enabling fans to be even closer to the action in this tantalising match. The tournament is the highlight of the chess calendar and millions of people around the world will follow every move."

Speaking of World Chess, whatever happened to their Grand Prix series, last seen in Palma de Mallorca, November 2017, according to my page 2017 Grand Prix. The FIDE calendar has nothing listed for 2019. Anyone taking bets on whether it will take place next year?

25 July 2018

Another Bad Day for Spassky

In the previous post, A Bad Day for Spassky, I extracted a passage from 'Chess Panorama' by William Lombardy and David Daniels.
The 'Chess Panorama' excerpt mentions the book 'Spassky's 100 Best Games' by Bruce Cafferty. That should of course be Bernard Cafferty, who also mentioned other last round incidents of the same genre. I'll cover those in another post.

In fact, the 'Chess Panorama' excerpt is from the Foreword to Cafferty's book, written by Leonard Barden. Here's the full text around the excerpt (p.19).

The Spassky - Tal was important becuase of its role in the 1957-1960 Zonal Cycle (C04, Z04). The Stein - Spassky game was important because of a similar role in the 1960-1963 Zonal Cycle (C05, Z04).

For the moves of the Stein - Spassky game, see Leonid Stein vs Boris Spassky; USSR Championship (1961), Moscow URS (chessgames.com). For the moves of the other two games mentioned above, also from Chessgames.com, see Rodolfo Tan Cardoso vs David Bronstein; Portoroz Interzonal (1958), Portoroz SLO, and Oscar Quinones Carrillo vs Leonid Stein; Amsterdam Interzonal (1964), Amsterdam NED.

18 July 2018

A Bad Day for Spassky

On my main blog, in a post titled Chess-books and Chess-players, I rediscovered the chess books offered by the Internet Archive's Open Library. In one of the books I looked at, Chess panorama By William Lombardy (openlibrary.org), in a chapter titled 'The Last Round', I found a long anecdote about a famous failure that occurred in the 1958 Soviet Championship, a zonal (p.179).

For a crosstable of the tournament, see 1957-1960 Zonal Cycle (C04, Z04). To play through the moves of the game, see Boris Spassky vs Mikhail Tal; USSR Championship (1958), Riga URS (chessgames.com).

The 'Chess Panorama' excerpt mentions the book 'Spassky's 100 Best Games' by Bruce Cafferty. That should of course be Bernard Cafferty, who also mentioned other last round incidents of the same genre. I'll cover those in another post.

04 July 2018

2018 FIDE Election Tickets

A couple of months ago, in 2018 FIDE Chess Politics, I wrote,
The situation is changing so rapidly that anything I say is bound to be wrong even before I press 'POST'. [...] In the meantime, let's settle for an overview of the election process. [...] I'll come back to the subject at the beginning of summer.

Earlier today, in Tickets for FIDE Presidential elections 2018 (fide.com), FIDE announced,

FIDE has received, within the specified deadline of 3 July 2018, 17:00 (Athens time), the following three (3) Presidential Tickets of Arkady Dvorkovich, Georgios Makropoulos and Nigel Short for the upcoming FIDE elections 2018 (listed alphabetically):

Arkady Dvorkovich – President
Bachar Kouatly – Deputy President
Sewa Enyonam Fumey – General Secretary
Mahir Mammedov – Vice President
Julio Granda Zuniga – Vice President
Zhu Chen – Treasurer

Georgios Makropoulos – President
Malcolm Pein – Deputy President
Sundar Damal Villivalam – General Secretary
Martha Fierro – Vice President
Chitalu Chilufya – Vice President
Adrian M. Siegel – Treasurer

Nigel Short – President
Lukasz Marek Turlej – Deputy President
Ruth Haring – General Secretary
Olalekan Adeyemi – Vice President
Paul Spiller – Vice President
Panu Laine – Treasurer

What happened to current FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov? Last week, in e.g. Arkady Dvorkovich is RCF’s candidate for FIDE President (chessdom.com), we learned,

24 ballots were received by the RCF Secretariat by 6 p.m. (Moscow time) on June 27th. 22 RCF Supervisory Board members voted in favour of Arkady Dvorkovich and 2 in favour of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.

RCF stands for Russian Chess Federation, and the group voted overwhelmingly Ilyumzhinov out, Dvorkovich in. I can't imagine that anyone outside of Ilyumzhinov's inner circle is sorry to see him go. After nearly 23 years at the helm of FIDE, the quirky Kalmyk has consistently demonstrated that his strongest quality is unpredictability.

As for the three confirmed candidates, they are all damaged goods. Dvorkovich is a puppet of the Putin regime; Makropoulos has been a controversial figure in FIDE for even longer than Ilyumzhinov and has been in bad health; Short has never shown any political acumen and specializes in insulting people. I imagine the election will be decided the same way all FIDE elections are decided, with palm grease.

Of special interest is the upcoming World Championship. With Ilyumzhinov out of the picture, what is organizer Agon's outlook? I'll be watching to see how the three candidates treat all aspects of the Carlsen - Caruana match. Both players are tremendously popular and should deliver positive publicity to world chess. Will the three candidates build on that or will they destroy it?

28 June 2018

Garry Kasparov Face Recognition

Does the general public recognize the names of World Chess Champions? For Garry Kasparov, I have anecdotal evidence that, 'Yes!', they do. For Magnus Carlsen, I'm not so sure. How about recognizing their faces? I can't answer that question easily, but I can run their photographs through the sort of AI software I discussed last week on my main blog in Analyze Your Own Images. If AI doesn't recognize them, then non-artificial intelligence probably won't either.

The software I used is available through Vision API - Image Content Analysis (cloud.google.com/vision). I used another Google service, image search, to locate a studio portrait of GM Kasparov, then fed it to the Vision API. The 'Faces' section of the analysis returned the image shown below on the left, while the first item in the 'Web Entities' section told me 'Garry Kasparov 10.947', where the number is probably some kind of a confidence metric. The second item was 'Chess 1.06755' and the last was 'Bobby Fischer 0.09179'.

The 'Pages with Matched Images' section returned a long list of links, most of them from Pinterest.com, including a link to the same image I used for the test. No question about it, Garry Kasparov has both name and face recognition.

While I was conducting that test, it occurred to me that the Google AI software might be cheating. It could easily locate copies of the image in the Google archive of results from web searches, then analyze the associated text.

I searched my own archive of images and located one that might not have found its way to a web page somewhere. I fed this one to the Vision API and it returned the image shown above on the right, along with 'Garry Kasparov 10.2885'. There's no doubt about it -- the API recognized Garry, and this time 'Pages with Matched Images' was empty.

One more curiosity is worth mentioning: the analysis of both photos returned the following list of face attributes:-

Joy : Very Unlikely
Sorrow : Very Unlikely
Anger : Very Unlikely
Surprise : Very Unlikely

It seems that AI software can recognize Kasparov's face, but it can't recognize his expression.

20 June 2018

Imagery of 1995 Kasparov - Anand

Start with the format used in Imagery of 1889 Steinitz - Chigorin, then fast forward more than a century to Chess at the World Trade Center. You end up with something like the following.

Google image search on '1995 kasparov anand'

[Call the rows 'A' to 'C' (from top to bottom) and number the images in each row '1' to 'x' (from left to right).]

First observation: There is nothing from Pinterest (Thank you, Google!), although there is plenty from Youtube (A2, A5, B5, C1, C4). Second observation: There are also plenty of similar aerial photos showing New York City (A1, B3, B4, B5, C5). Given that there is not a real position on the board and no clock. this was probably a publicity shot.

The 'Intel World Chess' logo figures in many photos (A4, A5, B1) and is partially obscured in others. In A4 -- Kasparov vs Anand, 1995 (kasparov.com) -- the word 'Intel' is cropped out on the top, though a smaller version is visible on the bottom; ditto A5.

Two more photos (A2 & B2) are from the match and show arbiter Carol Jarecki. A2 is from a Youtube video, Kasparov - Anand, Game 10, World Championship 1995, that includes footage taken during the match plus game analysis by Daniel King. In B2, NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani makes the first move.

Nearly all of the images on the third row are from other Kasparov - Anand encounters. C1 is titled 'BLITZ Intel World Chess 1995'; C2 is from a Spanish tournament (Linares?); and C3, dated August 2017, says 'Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz'. C4 is from another Youtube video, although the image returned by Google is not in the clip.

The match took place during a period of increased interest in chess by Americans. In The USCF in Numbers (June 2014), I documented a 'period of growth from 52.898 members in 1990 to a peak of 88.908 members in 2002'.

13 June 2018

Chess at the World Trade Center

I found this image while preparing a recent post, Chess in The Graphic, on my main blog.

Under the heading 'Checkmate!', the text says,

Intel World Chess Championship 1995
Garry Kasparov versus Vishy Anand
World Trade Center Observation Deck
September 11, 1995 through October 13, 1995
on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, 3:00 pm
For tickets call 1 800 388 KING

The four sponsors listed at the bottom are

World Trade Center,
Intel World Chess,
PCA, and
Alliance for Downtown New York Inc.

For the history of the PCA (Professional Chess Association), see my page World Chess Championship : FIDE/PCA Chronology. I've documented the event shown in the poster on the page 1995 Kasparov - Anand PCA Title Match.

Just above the name for that last sponsor, 'Alliance for Downtown New York Inc.', is a logo composed of buildings that appear to say 'Alliad', where the two letters 'll' represent the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The group's LinkedIn page, Overview ('Nonprofit Organization Management'), shows a similar but different logo that spells 'Alliance'.

I found the image in an August 2007 eBay auction. The auction description said,

1995 WORLD CHESS CHAMPIONSHIP PROMOTION CARD • SEPTEMBER 11, 1995 • WORLD TRADE CENTER

Attractive announcement of Garry Kasparov versus Vishy Anand duel that took place on that fateful date, September 11 at the World Trade Center. ROOK GRAPHIC on opaque/glossy white chessboard. Suitable for framing. Dimensions: 6" x 9".

Accompanying WTC NEWS (World Trade Center) announcement: "The world's greatest chess players will compete a quarter mile high in the sky ... on the 107th floor Observation Deck at Two World Trade Center..."

The connection between my post about 'Chess in The Graphic' and this poster is the phrase 'ROOK GRAPHIC'. From such connections little discoveries are made.

06 June 2018

Imagery of 1889 Steinitz - Chigorin

The previous post, Leading Chess Players in 1886, included a short discussion of images from the first World Championship, the 1886 Steinitz - Zukertort match. What can we learn from a similar discussion of the second World Championship, 1889 Steinitz - Chigorin (Havana)?

Google image search on '1889 Steinitz Chigorin'

[Call the rows 'A' to 'C' (from top to bottom) and number the images in each row '1' to 'x' (from left to right).]

Three of the images (A1, C3, & C4) show the same setting and appear to be taken from the 1889 match; the first version is from Steinitz vs Chigorin 1889 (chessgames.com). The large text image (C5) is from my page 1889 Steinitz - Chigorin : Background, which is a collection of clippings from issues of British Chess Magazine in the 1880s.

Two more images (A3 & A4) are said to be from the rematch 1892 Steinitz - Chigorin (Havana). Another image is shown twice (A2 & B1), where the second version includes a caption, 'Petersburgo 1896: M.Chigorin, E.Lasker, H.N.Pillsbury, W.Steinitz'. The other images have little to do with the 1889 match.

Back to the only image from the 1889 match (A1 etc.), none of the sources identified the origin of the image or the other six men behind the chess table. More information about the photo can be found on another page, Échecs à Cuba -- 500 ans d'histoire (europe-echecs.com), by Georges Bertola.

30 May 2018

Leading Chess Players in 1886

Yesterday's post on my main blog, An 1886 Photoshopped Illustration, was based on an 1886 illustration titled 'The 16 Leading Chess Players of the World'. While looking into various aspects of the image, I discovered a couple of copies that were used to illustrate pages on the first World Championship.

According to my page on that match, 1886 Steinitz - Zukertort Title Match, it took place in 'New York / St.Louis / New Orleans, I-III, 1886'. The '16 Leading Players' illustration was published in the 17 July 1886 issue of The Graphic. The centerpiece of that composite illustration, Steinitz and Zukertort seated at a chess table, could very well have been taken from the match. What other images are available from the 1886 match?


Google image search on '1886 Steinitz Zukertort'

The composite image shown above is based on a technique that I use frequently on my main blog, most recently in a post for Berlin Candidates - Venue (March 2018); 'Call the rows 'A' to 'C' (from top to bottom) and number the images in each row '1' to 'x' (from left to right)'. Two of the images (A3 & B1) show the '16 Leading Players' illustration, other images are from the 1886 match (e.g. A1 & A2), and others are from different Steinitz matches (e.g. C1 & C4).

Given that the 1886 match was the first recognized World Championship, were Steinitz and Zukertort the world's best players? Were the other 14 players also among the best? My page of relevant BCM clippings, 1886 Steinitz - Zukertort : Background, confirms that the match was a direct consequence of the 1883 London Tournament, where Zukertort and Steinitz finished 1st and 2nd. In fact, nine of the '16 Leading Players' finished in the first ten of the 14 players in that event; only Chigorin, who finished 4th, is missing.

Chessmetrics.com has a page that covers the period coinciding with the start of the match, Monthly List: January 1886 rating list. Although the Chessmetrics calculations can't be taken as gospel, they do show 11 of the 16 players in the site's own top-16. The bottom line is that The Graphic's selection is probably as good a list as anyone's.

23 May 2018

2017 Women's Title Match (May 2018)

I added a new page for the 2017 Ju Wenjun - Tan Zhongyi Title Match held in Shanghai and Chongqing (China) earlier this month. For once I managed to include the full package in one update: crosstable, PGN file, and links from the Index of Women Players.

The event's logo is shown on the left. The acronym FWWCM means 'FIDE Women's World Championship Match'. According to the earliest news page on the official site, The last rehearsal before the fight,

The match consisting of 10 games will start on May 2nd. The first half of the match will be held in Shang Hai and the second half in Chong Qing.

This is the third time for two Chinese players to join in the match in history. The first one was between Xie Jun and Qin Kanying in 2000. the second time is ten years later, then 16-year-old Hou Yifan defeated the teammate Ruan Lufei being the youngest Chess Queen in chess history.

Those last two events were the 2000 FIDE Knockout Matches (New Delhi), and the 2010 FIDE Knockout Matches (Antakya, Turkey). The 2018 FIDE calendar says that the next event will be the 'Women’s World Championship 2018, Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, 1-Nov-2018, 25-Nov-2018', a knockout tournament.

16 May 2018

A Two Year Cycle

For the last few World Championship cycles, FIDE has managed to maintain a two year rhythm, with title matches taking place at the end of even-numbered years (like 2018). How many chess fans remember that FIDE tried to do the same nearly 35 years ago? From Informant 36 (1983-H2):-
A new system of competitions for Individual and Team World Championships was adopted by FIDE at its congress in Manila, in October 1983. The proposal was being prepared for some time by an ad hoc Committee headed by Mr. Campomanes, the President of FIDE.

The new system contains many changes:

• a restructuring of FIDE Zones was carried out (new distribution of countries among the Zones, two Zones in Africa, the so-called Sub-zones set up in some Zones);

• a two-year cycle of competitions for Individual World Championship was introduced to replace the hitherto three-year cycle (i.e., the World Title Match will henceforth be played every other year);

• 12 (in 1985, 14) best players from the FIDE rating list will also have the right to participate in three Interzonal Tournaments;

• a candidates' all-play-all tournament with 16 participants was instituted, to be played after the Interzonal Tournaments;

• Individual Candidates' Matches with four participants -- the players placed lst-4th in the Candidates' Tournament -- will be played after the candidates' all-play-all tournament;

• in addition to the Chess Olympiad, a World Team Championship (with ten participant teams) was instituted to be played every fourth year.

What happened to this grand plan? The infamous 1984 Karpov - Kasparov title match (Moscow; 1984-09 through 1985-02) took place.

09 May 2018

2018 FIDE Chess Politics

If chess players aren't interested in chess politics, why is the chess press running so many stories these days about chess politics? Maybe because there's serious trouble in FIDE's leadership with both a FIDE election and a World Championship match looming later this year.

I last covered the FIDE problems in a couple of 'Yahoo' posts on my main blog -- February Yahoos (February 2018; 'I've been following the sanctions saga since the end of 2016.'), and April Yahoos (April 2018) -- and now I should cover the jockeying for the FIDE election, but the situation is changing so rapidly that anything I say is bound to be wrong even before I press 'POST'.

In the meantime, let's settle for an overview of the election process. The FIDE page Handbook >> A. Administrative Subjects >> 04. Electoral Regulations (fide.com) starts,

1. The Presidential Ticket

1.1 The Presidential ticket shall be six persons, at least one of whom must be a woman. Nominations on the Presidential ticket shall specify the proposed nominees for the offices of FIDE President, Deputy President, General Secretary, Treasurer and two Vice Presidents.

1.2 Nominations for the Presidential ticket and Continental Presidents must reach the Secretariat at least three months before the opening of the General Assembly. Each ticket must be nominated by at least five member federations. The decision of the federation shall be communicated to FIDE by the federation's President. A federation is entitled to nominate only one Presidential ticket.

The General Assembly will take place during the forthcoming Olympiad. The FIDE Calendar 2018 (also fide.com) says,

43rd World Chess Olympiad 2018 • Batumi, Georgia • 23-Sep-2018 • 6-Oct-2018
89th FIDE Congress • Batumi, Georgia • 26-Sep-2018 • 6-Oct-2018

Three months before the opening of the General Assembly will happen around end-June. I'll come back to the subject at the beginning of summer.

02 May 2018

Three and a Half Cycles

While preparing for the previous post (see the last link below, 'Berlin Candidates - Wrapup'), I assembled a collection of links to similar posts for past events. This was primarily with an eye on maintaining consistency, but the list has other uses, too.

C25: Candidates

C25: Title Match

C26: Candidates

C26: Title Match

C27: Candidates

C27: Title Match

C28: Candidates

C28: Title Match

  • 2018-11-xx: Carlsen - Caruana, London

Only six months to wait before I can start filling in that last list...

25 April 2018

Berlin Candidates - Wrapup

During a World Championship event, like the recent 2018 Candidates Tournament, I generate so many posts that it's useful to summarize them when I'm done. First, here are posts from this blog:-

And here are posts from my main blog:-

Posts marked '(*)' include a video clip.

18 April 2018

Berlin Candidates - Last Updates

I ended the previous post, Berlin Candidates - My Resources, with a number of small actions for a final update. To close these, I added the PGN file and tiebreak rules to my page on the 2018 Candidates Tournament. I also added links for that page to the four pages comprising the Index of Players.

Given that the tournament finished three weeks ago, you might think I was slow to make the updates. My excuse is that I had a vacation during that period. The official site for the 2018 Carlsen - Caruana title match to be held later this year is still wondering who the challenger will be.


london2018.worldchess.com
(Hint: It's the guy in the darkly shaded box.)

What's their excuse?

11 April 2018

Berlin Candidates - My Resources

I added the crosstable and cumulative score to my page on the 2018 Candidates Tournament. The cumulative score is reproduced below.

Still to be done:-

  • Add the PGN file
  • Document the tiebreak rules
  • Update the index of players
  • Summarize the action from major chess news sources

I also updated the page for the 2018 Carlsen - Caruana match, to be held in London later this year.

28 March 2018

Berlin Candidates - Third Week

Yesterday the 2018 Berlin Candidates Tournament finished with a clear winner, no tiebreaks necessary. Congratulations to Fabiano Caruana on earning the right to challenge World Champion Magnus Carlsen next November in a title match. In my previous post, Berlin Candidates - Second Week, I recorded the situation at the top after nine of the 14 rounds had been played:-
6.0 Caruana; 5.5 Mamedyarov; 5.0 Grischuk

Since the official site, worldchess.com/berlin, never did manage to produce a crosstable, I'll use their chart of scores per round ('Standings') to show the final scores.

The scenario for an exciting finish was set in the 12th round when the two front runners were both defeated. Playing with the White pieces, Karjakin (6.0/11 before the round) beat Caruana (7.0). Playing Black, Ding Liren (5.5 after 11 draws) beat Mamedyarov (6.5) Many onlookers started to wonder whether we were going to see a second Carlsen - Karjakin title match, after the Russian scored +4-0=2 in rounds seven through twelve, thereby catching up with Caruana.

The two most recent posts on my main blog described the situation before the last two rounds. With two rounds to go, in Two Championship Qualifying Events, I noted,

The 2018 Berlin Candidates Tournament is also reaching its climax and here the results are anything but clear. [...] Five players are bunched within a half-point of each other.

Before the final round, in Berlin Candidates - Tiebreaks, I wrote,

The players with a chance of winning the tournament (plus their scores going into the last round) are: 8.0 Caruana; 7.5 Mamedyarov, Karjakin; 7.0 Ding Liren. It's still not easy to calculate each player's chances to win.

Playing Black, Caruana beat Grischuk and none of the other games mattered anymore. The chart above shows that Caruana won his last two games, despite the tension. He seems to have the nerves of steel that all World Chess Champions necessarily possess.

I watched the beginning of the last few rounds on Chess24.com. For the first nine rounds, I alternated between that site and the official site, Worldchess.com, switching when the commentators on one site or the other took a break. After the Worldchess broadcasts disappeared behind the site's paywall, I settled on Chess24 exclusively. Although Judit Polgar did a capable job for Worldchess, their other commentators were not at her level.

Worldchess.com was plagued by technical and organizational problems. For the first few rounds, the site was unable to display the games in progress. News reports only started appearing after the first half of the event had been played, even though the same reports had been available on Fide.com from the beginning. For games in progress, the main page displayed broken images for the players' caricatures, although these were working on other parts of the site (as the chart above shows).

Now I have to change the title of my 'World Chess Championship' page. Until now, it has shown 2018 Carlsen - TBA; London, XI, 2018. After three successful title matches, GM Carlsen might be favored to win, but GM Caruana has shown that he will be a worthy challenger.

21 March 2018

Berlin Candidates - Second Week

In last week's report on the 2018 Berlin Candidates Tournament (see Berlin Candidates - First Week), we saw three players with a plus score after three rounds:-
2.5 Kramnik; 2.0 Caruana, Mamedyarov

Another six rounds have been played, again leaving three players with plus scores:-

6.0 Caruana; 5.5 Mamedyarov; 5.0 Grischuk

In past reports on Candidates tournaments from previous cycles, like Moscow Candidates - Second Week (March 2016), I presented a crosstable from the offical site. I could find no such chart on the official site for the current tournament, so I took a snapshot of the crosstable from the news site that most of the English-speaking chess world uses for up-to-date chess information.

FIDE Candidates Tournament 2018

Source: The Week in Chess

The chart shows who will be playing whom in the last five rounds. The schedule for the critical games between the current leaders is:-

Round 10: Mamedyarov - Caruana
Round 13: Mamedyarov - Grischuk
Round 14: Grischuk - Caruana

In my 'First Week' report, I developed a chart from the last three Candidates tournaments projecting winners at different points in the events. The same observations were offered by GM Ian Rogers in his report on the first half of the Berlin event, Caruana Leading Candidates Race: “I’ll Try to Stay Calm.” (uschess.org; 18 March 2018):-

In the modern era, the winning recipe for qualifying to challenge the World Champion from the Candidates Tournament has been to be in the lead at the halfway mark. In fact one has to go back to 1959 to find a Candidates Tournament where the winner was not leading halfway through the event. [...] The winners in 2013, 2014 and 2016 – Carlsen, Anand and then Karjakin – were always tied with Levon Aronian at the halfway point, before going on to outpace the Armenian.

I double-checked GM Rogers on his facts from the earlier cycles and discovered that in the eight player, four stage round-robin 1959 Yugoslavia Candidates, the unlucky Paul Keres was leading at the half-way point with 10.0/14, a half point ahead of Mikhail Tal, who eventually won the event. In the 1962 Curacao Candidates, which used the same structure as in 1959, GMs Petrosian and Geller were leading at the half-way mark with 9.0/14. Petrosian eventually finished a half-point ahead of Geller and Keres. That tournament was marred by accusations that the three leaders colluded to draw against each other (which the crosstable confirms) and to play for wins against the other participants, the non-Soviets in particular.

For those suspicions of collusion, the Candidates stage of subsequent World Championship cycles was changed to a system of long matches which -- except for a handful of cycles using a single-event knockout system -- persisted until a round-robin tournament was reintroduced for the 2013 London Candidates. For more about Soviet collusion in Candidates tournament of the 1950s, see Calculating Collusion (February 2010) on this blog.

Predictions based on the leader at the halfway mark also held for two title tournaments in the 2000s. At 2005 San Luis, GM Topalov was ahead of the next player, GM Svidler, by two full points after seven rounds. At 2007 Mexico City, GM Anand was ahead of GM Gelfand by a half point after seven rounds.

The only Candidates tournament for which I haven't developed a cumulative score by round is the 1985 Montpellier Candidates. That event was unusual in that it qualified the first four players into a short series of matches.

14 March 2018

Berlin Candidates - First Week

As I write this, three rounds of the 2018 Candidates Tournament, Berlin have been played. At this point in past Candidate tournaments, I displayed a crosstable and added a bit of commentary. Let's do it differently this time. Given the results of the last three Candidate tournaments, what do the current standings say about each player's chance of ultimately winning the event?

The following chart shows the cumulative score by round for each of the last three tournaments. If the details are too small to read, you can find the same tables on three pages:-

The winners of each event are circled in red (in 2013 Carlsen beat Kramnik on tiebreak), as are the players with a plus score after round 3. I've also indicated the leaders after round 7, the halfway point of the tournament, when the participants have played each other once.

In all three tournaments, the eventual winner was from the group of players who had a plus score after round 3. The winner was also one of the leaders after the first half of the tournament. The following table shows the leaders after round 3 in the 2018 Berlin Candidates.

2.5 Kramnik
2.0 Caruana, Mamedyarov
1.5 Ding Liren, Grischuk
1.0 Aronian, Karjakin
0.5 Wesley So

If past is prologue (it's usually not!), then the eventual winner will be one of Kramnik, Caruana, or Mamedyarov. It's curious to note that in each of the last three events, GM Aronian was one of the leaders at mid-point, then faltered in the second half. It's also curious that the ultimate winning score was always 8.5-5.5, or plus-three as they say in the lingo.

07 March 2018

Berlin Candidates - Resources

In a few days the much awaited 2018 Candidates Tournament starts in Berlin. Since I've already done a Berlin Candidates - Kickoff post with links to career info for the eight players, let's add some additional info from other resources. First, here's a series of Youtube videos from the PowerPlayChess channel, discussing each player 'in ranking order from the bottom up'.


Candidates 2018 | Berlin | Preview 1 (16:14) • 'Published on Feb 21, 2018'

The description for this first clip says,

Daniel King with a first preview of the Candidates' tournament introducing three of the eight players: Sergey Karjakin, Alexander Grischuk and Ding Liren.

The other five players are covered in two more videos in the series.

Next, here are profiles of the eight players by Carlos Colodro from Chess24.com (including comments from chess fans):-

Chess24.com will be following the action (live?): Jan, Peter & Sopiko commentate Candidates. If you're not a Chess24 insider, that's Jan Gustafsson, Peter Svidler, and Sopiko Guramishvili. NB: GM Svidler played in the last three candidates tournaments: 2013 London, 2014 Khanty-Mansiysk, and 2016 Moscow.

What about Agon/Worldchess.com? The resources I gave in the 'Kickoff' post -- official site and Facebook page-- are still valid, and I could add the Twitter feed and Youtube channel:-

A few days ago Worldchess.com announced they will be Making Chess Broadcasting Dramatic, with 'Top-view cameras' and 'Excellent commentary':-

Judit Polgar, who did excellent commentary during the 2016 World Chess Championship, will be the lead commentator. [...] Judit is going to be supported by Lawrence Trent, an international master, as well as numerous guests.

They will also have 'Stickers and important moments':-

We are trying stickers in the commentary for the first time. Believing that chess is a very emoji-friendly sport, we have developed a sticker-set, which we’ll use in the commentary as well as in Social Media. Feel free to use them and also add your own.

Two of the stickers say, 'Boring'(!); another says, 'In Kramnik We Trust'. The group also announced, Media organisations to be able to broadcast moves from Chess World Candidates Tournament with five minute delay. Let's see how that works out. The first round starts Saturday, 10 March, 15:00 local Berlin time.

28 February 2018

Kramnik on Playing for the Title

On my main blog I'm doing a weekly series on the eight players who will be competing in next month's candidates tournament (see the previous post, Berlin Candidates - Kickoff, for more about the tournament). The most recent player to be covered was in Interview Videos : Kramnik. As the oldest of the eight players, there is a wide choice of material about Kramnik. The following video is even better than an interview.


Chess : V Kramnik's preparation before WC match 2000 vs G Kasparov (27:55) • 'Published on Sep 27, 2017'

Pirated material on Youtube typically omits mention of the source and this is no exception. Without too much trouble, I discovered that the clip is a segment from a DVD titled 'My Path to the Top' by Vladimir Kramnik (chessbase.com).

On this DVD Vladimir Kramnik retraces his career from talented schoolboy to World Champion in 2006. With humour and charm he describes his first successes, what it meant to be part of the Russian Gold Medal team at the Olympiad, and how he undertook the Herculean task of beating his former mentor and teacher Garry Kasparov. Kramnik dissects his wins against Leko and Topalov, giving us a vivid impression of the super-dramatic final games of the 2006 match.

The specific segment in the Youtube clip is:-

Part 8 - Preparation for the World Championship match against Kasparov in London 2000, 27:55

A review of the DVD by Prof. Nagesh Havanur is at Kramnik speaks: My Path to the Top (chessbase.com; May 2012).

This ChessBase DVD was produced in 2007, when Vladimir Kramnik was still world champion. On it he describes the nirvana of attending the Botvinnik School, of being nominated for the Olympiad in 1992 by Garry Kasparov, how he went on to dethrone his mentor. Apart from narrative and analysis the DVD also includes previous interviews with ChessBase.

Particularly insightful is the explanation of how GM Kramnik chose the Berlin Defense as his main weapon with Black.

21 February 2018

Berlin Candidates - Kickoff

A few weeks ago FIDE issued the 2018 FIDE Candidates' Tournament Pairings, including dates and times for the 14 rounds ('Round 1 on 10.03.2018 at 15.00'). I'll use this week's post to summarize available info about the event, just as I did two years ago in Moscow Candidates - Kickoff (March 2016).

I give the 'Official site' a question mark ('?'), because it's inconceivable to me that such a poorly designed page will be the main repository for daily information about the event. Perhaps I should follow the lead from a post on my main blog, World Championship Social Media (December 2016), and rely instead on other sources. Here, for example, is the organizer's Facebook page:-

As for other recent Candidates tournaments, I developed a table with links to Chessgames.com showing how the eight players have fared against each other and against World Champion Magnus Carlsen. The links behind the players' names go to ratings.fide.com/card.

  Aro Car Din Gri Kar Kra Mam So   : Car
Aronian xx * * * * * * * : *
Caruana xx * * * * * * : *
Ding Liren xx * * * * * : *
Grischuk xx * * * * : *
Karjakin xx * * * : *
Kramnik xx * * : *
Mamedyarov xx * : *
So, Wesley xx : *
Carlsen : xx

The action starts on the second Saturday in March. This is not an event where the players finishing 1-2-3 get a place on the winners' podium. The only real prize is a ticket for one player to the title match, Carlsen - TBA; London, XI, 2018.

14 February 2018

C28 Zonal Links

My previous post, C28 Zonal Rating Reports, promised,
The next (and last) step is to add all of these links to the page Zonals : Links (and Other References).

The results are here: Zonals : Links (and Other References). Note the first appearance on the page for European zone '1.3 Nordic Championship'.

07 February 2018

C28 Zonal Rating Reports

Going down the list of Small Projects for 2018 (December 2017), the next project is to continue where I left off with C28 Zonal Qualification Paths (November 2017), i.e. needing 'two more steps that were done for the previous cycle'. The first of those two steps was to collect the links from ratings.fide.com, as in C27 Zonal Rating Reports (January 2016).

The database of FIDE rating reports is a wonderful resource that stores all of the work FIDE produces to calculate ratings. The page linked here is the list of players for each event. Attached to this, under the heading 'More Info', is additional data about the event, like time control and arbiters. For many events the database also points to a crosstable and PGN file.

Here is a list of continental and zonal events that played a role in the current World Championship cycle (C28). The titles are taken directly from the rating reports:-

There are two events listed on the index of all World Chess Championship Zonals that are missing here -- '0.0 ACP' and '1.7 Baltic Zonals' -- because these don't fit the pattern used for the other events. The next (and last) step is to add all of these links to the page Zonals : Links (and Other References). That page has similar links to all cycles since 2001 (C20).

31 January 2018

Catching up with PGN

Continuing with Small Projects for 2018 (December 2017), I tackled the backlog of PGN files mentioned in that post:-
I have two technical problems to address. [...] The second is a replacement for my old PGN normalization software, which was forcibly retired last summer. I added two recent events without including the corresponding PGN.

A few weeks ago I switched to PGN-extract, and performed a small, successful trial on the 23rd World Computer Championship. Now I used the software to add the PGN files for all rounds of the 2017 World Cup, and for the last leg of the 2017 Grand Prix.

The trial went well for the PGN-extract software, but I discovered an unfortunate error in my processing of forfeit games. This happened in both round 1 (Onischuk - Zherebukh) and round 3 (Rodshtein - Kovalyov; the infamous 'shorts' incident). While it was easy to fix once I had identified it, the same error may have crept into previous knockout events. I'll have to come back to this another time.

24 January 2018

2018 Candidates Schedule

Sometimes it takes a lot of work to write one simple sentence. Take, for example, a recent post on my main blog, Interview Videos : Aronian, where I wrote, 'I have just enough time to review the eight players who will be starting the 2018 Berlin Candidates Tournament in March.' To calculate this, I had to know the date of round one of the upcoming tournament. First stop: FIDE Calendar 2018, where I learned,
Candidates Tournament 2018; Berlin, Germany; 10-Mar-2018; 28-Mar-2018

That pointed to a page Candidates Tournament 2018, where the only additional information on the page was a link to 'REGULATIONS', i.e. Rules & Regulations for the Candidates Tournament of the FIDE World Championship cycle 2016-2018. The associated PDF, which has been available since last spring, gives a day-by-day tentative schedule:-

Arrivals: 1 day
Opening Ceremony & Players Meeting: [etc.]
Round 1
Round 2
Round 3
Free day
[...]
Free day
Round 13
Round 14
Tiebreaks / Closing ceremony
Departures
TOTAL: 22 days

The FIDE Calendar says the event starts 10 March and lasts 19 days. I guess that day count includes round one through any tiebreaks. So round one starts 10 March. Is there any way to confirm this? My own page, 2018 Candidates Tournament (created November 2017), points to FIDE World Chess Berlin Candidates Tournament 2018 (worldchess.com/berlin). Is that the official site? I captured the current look of the page in the following image.

Those blue buttons in the bottom left say, 'Select Broadcast Plan' and 'Buy Ticket', but I couldn't find any information about who is playing or the schedule. After endless screens about broadcasting details, the last piece of info on the page says, 'Read full regulations' and points to a PDF titled 'Regulations for the 2016-2017 FIDE World Chess Grand-Prix Series'. Grand Prix? It looks like this page is a copy/paste from another page. Fortunately, that 'Buy Ticket' button points to FIDE World Chess Candidates Tournament Tickets & Event Dates (ticketmaster.de), which says,

10 Mar 2018; FIDE World Chess Candidates Tournament | Round 1; Sat 15:00; Kühlhaus Berlin
[...]
27 Mar 2018; FIDE World Chess Candidates Tournament | Round 14; Tue 15:00; Kühlhaus Berlin

A 'Find tickets' button for round one lists prices in three ticket categories: white, silver, and gold. With the tournament starting in a little more than six weeks, I still have time to make travel arrangements.

17 January 2018

23rd World Computer Championship

One of my Small Projects for 2018 (December 2017), was to update my page on the World Computer championship. Besides catching up with the ICGA, it gave me the chance to try out the PGN-extract software on a real PGN file. I noticed two differences with the previous software:-
  • a space between the move number and White's move (e.g. '1. e4' instead of '1.e4')
  • some lines start with a move instead of a move number (e.g. '1.d4 [...] 8. // O-O [...]' instead of '1.d4 [...] // 8.O-O [...]', where '//' indicates a new line)

Both of these are matters of taste and are probably not dictated by the SAN standard (which I don't remember ever reading anyway). On the positive side, the PGN-extract software does its most important job admirably : checking the validity of the moves in a PGN file. It also allowed me to remove comments from the file in the same step as the checking, which was a separate step with the previous software.

I created the PGN file & crosstable, combined the two into a ZIP file, loaded the result to my site, and updated the index page, World Chess Championship : Computer Chess. For the post on the previous ICGA championship, see 22nd World Computer Championship (August 2016).

One small question I had during the process was whether to continue listing Don Dailey as a developer for the winning program, Komodo. According to the Wikipedia page, Don Dailey, he died in November 2013. Since the Komodo site, komodochess.com, is titled 'Komodo chess engine by Don Dailey, Larry Kaufman & Mark Lefler', I decided to use that as a guideline. For details about the 23rd WCCC, see the ICGA site:-

The ICGA is going through some soul-searching about its stewardship of the WCCC. For specifics, see:-

That last link, by 'David Levy – ICGA President', includes a capsule history of the WCCC, e.g.:-

It came to pass that the first WCCC took place in Stockholm, at the Birger Jarl Hotel, in the summer of 1974. The British entrepreneur publisher Robert Maxwell donated a medal for the first World Champion, which was won by the Soviet program Kaissa, developed by Mikhail Donskoy, Vladimir Arlazarov and Anatoly Uskov.

It remains to be seen whether the current ICGA initiative is a fresh start or 'too little, too late'. Although a comment to the Levy article acknowledges the existential challenge of the TCEC, the ICGA plans future chess events:-

It's also worth noting the group's Facebook page: ICGA - Home.

10 January 2018

PGN-extract

Continuing with Small Projects for 2018 and 'a replacement for my old PGN normalization software, which was forcibly retired last summer', I had to look no further than PGN-extract ('A Portable Game Notation Manipulator for Chess Games'). Although its output is not completely what I was looking for, it does the more important job of checking the validity of PGN files. I'll test drive it for some of the other 'Small Projects' before adopting it definitively. An overview of its functionality is available on the page PGN-extract Help file.

I also spent some time poking around the chess software on GitHub.com. The projects go beyond the basic support needed for my World Championship site and would better be addressed on my main chess blog.

03 January 2018

Petrosian Talks About Fischer

Since the first of the Small Projects for 2018 (December 2017) is 'a replacement for my old FTP package' and since I have nothing to say about that other than 'file name case conversion is an issue!', what can I write about in today's post? Luckily, yesterday's post on my main blog, January 1968 'On the Cover', provided a topic from the January 1968 Chess Life in an article 'Venice 1967' by Larry Evans. The report by the five-time U.S. champion included a long section titled 'Petrosian Talks':-
Since we were quartered in the same hotel, and frequently walked to the tournament hall together, I had the opportunity to ask Petrosian some burning questions. (His wife served as translator.) He readily admitted not being satisfied with his chess ever since the title match with Spassky, in which he felt the quality of his play was considerably better than the result would indicate. He is confident of finding his form in 1968 and attributes his poor tournament showings (as opposed to his winning the gold medal on Board One at the Havana Olympic) to the cross [curse?] of the title: everyone now plays for a draw against him.

And what about a match with Fischer? He says FIDE would not permit one for the title. What about an unofficial match, say, 12 games, for a purse of $10,000, divided 60% for the winner and 40% for the loser? Here Petrosian's attitude was ambiguous. He personally would be happy to play such a match, but it's a question of what his own chess federation would say. Furthermore, who would want to put up with all of Fischer's conditions? By now the latter's eccentricities are well known. Then Petrosian said that $10,000 would not be enough. I indicated surprise, pointing out that he received less than $2,000 for winning the title match against Spassky. Donner happened to be present at this discussion, and when asked by Petrosian's wife who he thought would win such a match, Donner replied instantly: "Fischer!" Donner, further, thought that the FIDE system was strong enough to withstand unofficial matches of this nature when the title was not involved (although the winner would have a moral claim). Petrosian wondered whether Fischer's chess was not somewhat stronger five years ago, before his temporary retirement from the game. I said Bobby was playing better than ever and would undoubtedly win the Interzonal.

Then came the news of the scandal in Tunis and Fischer's withdrawal. Everyone thought that Bobby was crazy. I said we would have to have more facts, but that Bobby was generally right when it came to matters of principle. I couldn't tell whether Petrosian was pleased by the prospect of not now having to meet Fischer for the title; but again he indicated that he would play Fischer a match if the decision were his to make. His wife pointed out that Tigran had a tremendous plus score against Bobby, and I replied that it had been piled up when Bobby was just developing. I know that of all the Russians, Bobby has the greatest respect for Petrosian. If they made draw after draw in a match, which is not unlikely, Bobby might very well get impatient and suicidally try to force the issue. When I asked Petrosian how he felt about a return to the old type of match for the title -- based on who wins the first six games, for example, thus making ties impossible -- he said he was not opposed, but it could produce an endless number of games since the players are so evenly matched nowadays. Besides, this is a matter which rests solely in the hands of FIDE.

It is clear that Petrosian, whether he says so or not, considers Bobby the strongest possible challenger. But, he said, in their own games Bobby did not make a single move which he had not anticipated. Furthermore, he gave Fischer a draw (in their second round encounter at the Piatigorsky Cup 1966), even though he demonstrated to Bobby after the game that he (Petrosian) had a winning position. Why? Because he wanted to see Bobby finish second (rather than Larsen) because Bobby had played the best chess in the tournament. His wife, seeing that I took this with a grain of salt, assured me that it was true. Apart from that, he would like to play in the next Piatigorsky and give an exhibition tour in America.

Tigran Petrosian was the reigning World Champion from 1963 to 1969.