31 December 2008

2008-2009 Grand Prix, Elista

I added the crosstable and PGN for the just-concluded Grand Prix event at Elista to my page on the 2008-2009 Grand Prix.

The January 2009 issue of Europe Echecs mentioned several rumors concerning the Grand Prix that I hadn't heard before, all apparently emanating from Dresden -- that Doha was cancelled partly because of a 'divergence of funds' by FIDE officials; that when the Grand Prix was announced at the beginning of 2008, only two of the six contracts had been signed; and that the next (fourth) event will also be held at Elista.

It's becoming impossible to follow what is happening with the event. The official site (grandprix.fide.com) still lists Doha and Montreux as venues for the third and fourth events, and has the same player list announced at the beginning of the series.

As for the four players replacing those who have bowed out, it's unclear what their status is. In mid-December, Fide.com posted Kirsan Ilyumzhinov at Elista FIDE Grand Prix (subtitled 'Press conference of the FIDE President'). When asked, 'Which principle was used when the withdrawn players were replaced by the new ones?', Ilyumzhinov gave an answer that I've been unable to decipher.

For my previous posts on the Grand Prix, see

What a mess.

24 December 2008

Current WCC Events

I updated a handful of pages on current World Championship events.
2007-09 cycle:-

2008-11 cycle:-

The main updates were links to FIDE.com that document the several recent changes. I also reorganized the content of the pages to show chronological sequences better. The page on the 2010 candidates event is a new page.

The next cycle is a four-year cycle and I don't understand why it stretches into 2011. There seems to be enough time to have both the candidates event (or whatever FIDE decides to call it) and the title match in 2010.

17 December 2008

Elista Events

The first of the videos made for the Elista Grand Prix presents a history of chess events in Kalmykia. Although the video uses the Russian language, the images are self-explanatory for anyone who knows chess history and has a good ear for names, especially chess names.

Elista Grand Prix (2:52) • Chess Events in Elista

For more in the series, see Videos on elista2008.fide.com.

10 December 2008

Groan Prix

That's not just how a French speaker would pronounce 'Grand Prix', as in 2008-9 FIDE Grand Prix, that's also how an English speaker might understand it. The Franglais homonym well describes the current status of the series of six World Championship qualifying tournaments.

Less than a month before the Doha leg was scheduled to start, FIDE announced that the venue for the third Grand Prix event was to be the FIDE President's home town, the fallback of last resort for every troubled chess event since Ilyumzhinov became FIDE President, and itself the announced venue for the fifth event in August 2009.

  • Next Grand Prix Event in Elista • 'The change is due to the withdrawal of the Qatar Chess Federation from the organization. An alternative location for the Grand Prix event in August 2009 is being negotiated and will be announced in due course.' [Fide.com; 23 November 2008]

Then FIDE announced that the Grand Prix would not lead to a two-person match to determine the 2011 World Championship challenger, but would instead lead to an eight-person candidates event with the same purpose in mind.

Later it announced that a replacement had been found for the original Elista event.

  • FIDE Grand Prix in Yerevan • 'FIDE is pleased to announce that the Armenian Chess Federation has agreed to organise one of the FIDE Grand-Prix tournaments from 8th to 24th August 2009 in Yerevan.' [Fide.com; 5 December 2008]

The sudden, last-minute shift of the Doha event was already a signal that FIDE's current World Championship cycle was out-of-order, but the bait-and-switch technique to change the format of a cycle already in progress was more than the top players could countenance.

  • After Dresden and on the Grand Prix • 'What really stole the attention of Magnus and many others during the latter part of the Olympiad was of course the news from FIDE about changes to the Grand Prix cycle. First came the short notice cancellation of Doha (about two weeks after we had been told everything was all right and could go ahead and buy plane tickets (which we did). Later the really big issue came up. Without proper prior notice, and on the last day of the FIDE congress, a proposal was approved by the (people still left in the) General Assembly to degrade the GP midway by introducing a new qualifying layer'
    [blog.magnuschess.com; 2 December 2008]

Magnus Carlsen, just turned 18-years old and a world top-10 player, is widely considered to be a future World Champion. The success of an event like the Grand Prix depends on attracting and keeping top talent, especially attention getters like Carlsen, but a few days later he announced his withdrawal from the event.

  • Magnus withdraws from the Grand Prix 2008 - 2009 • 'We have just informed FIDE by e-mail that Magnus withdraws from the Grand Prix series due to the dramatic change to these regulations approved by the General Assembly.' [blog.magnuschess.com; 5 December 2008]

An exchange in the comments to Carlsen's announcement left no doubt who the young Norwegian grandmaster held responsible for the fiasco. First there was a comment by GM Alexei Shirov, himself a former world top-10 and contender for the world title.

I have posted a lot in Russian forums these days, so I'll try to make a brief summary for English speaking readers. I have mixed feelings about your decision. It's good to feel that chessplayers are no longer FIDE's puppets and that Kirsan's and Makro's personal behaviour should change as quickly as possible. But I still wonder what's Kirsan's fault in what happened with Grand Prix when it was Borg and Kok's project. And what is wrong with Russian winter for Norwegians. And why not to look for a more suitable compromise if your criticism is not directed at the change itself. On the other hand FIDE need to take a real lesson about the transparecy and fairness and I'd like to thank you for giving it to them. - Alexei Shirov

This was answered by Carlsen's blogmaster, his father Henrik.

Alexei Shirov, thank you for your comments! I would like to respond briefly on some of them. The two organisers that have cancelled their GP events are firstly a friend of Kirsan (Montreux) and a secondly represented by a FIDE VP from Qatar (Doha). Taking into account the control FIDE has over GlobalChess, Kirsan's ownership in the company and the link FIDE - Doha/Montreux organisers, we do put the responsibility mostly on FIDE (and not on G.Borg in GlobalChess). As Norwegians we don't mind Russian winters and Magnus has indeed been to Khanty-Mansyisk twice and in Moscow many times during the winter. As communicated in more detail to FIDE after the change from Doha to Elista our main concern was the safety hazard involved in travelling through Moscow, flying Moscow - Elista and not least travelling by car within Elista for two weeks in wintertime. - Henrik C.

Montreux is the scheduled venue for the fourth event in the Grand Prix and its mention gave weight to the rumor, still not confirmed by FIDE, that it would suffer the same fate as Doha.


At some point after the first appearance of the details for the Next Grand Prix Event in Elista, FIDE added a list of participants. Of the 14 players originally scheduled for the event, four names were missing: Carlsen, GM Michael Adams, GM Mohamad Al Modiahki (the nominated player of the Doha organizers and a forced withdrawal), and GM Yannick Pelletier (the nominated player of the Montreux organizers). The four were replaced by GMs Vladimir Akopian, Evgeny Alekseev, Pavel Eljanov, and Ruslan Kasimdzhanov.

What happens with the departing players and their substitutes is described in Regulations for the 2008 - 2009 FIDE Grand-Prix [grandprix.fide.com].

4.2 If a player withdraws after completing 50% or more of the games, the rest of his games are lost by default. In case a player completes less than 50%, all his results are annulled.

6.4 If a player withdraws from the GP for any reason whatsoever, less than two weeks prior to the commencement of the GP series or even during the series, then FIDE reserves the right to select one or more players, as may be required, to compete 'hors concours' in the withdrawn player's GP tournament schedule. The replacement players selected will be from the top 40 players and will only compete for the prize money within the specific tournament. They will not earn ranking points and their results will be used for any potential tie-break as specified under Article 7.2.2. The players selected will be varied from tournament to tournament and no replacement player will participate in more than one event.

Since Pelletier hadn't yet played in a Grand Prix event, while the other three players had played in only one of the four events they were expected to play, their results should all be annulled. Unfortunately, those aren't the only clauses in the FIDE Regulations that apply to this complicated situation. There's also a mention of penalties for withdrawal.

6.2 Players that fail to provide a satisfactory reason for withdrawal from the Grand Prix during or even before the series, after they have signed the player`s undertaking, may be excluded from the next World Championship cycle, apart from any other action that FIDE may reserve the right to take.

18.3 Should a player withdraw from a tournament or the GP series without proper justification to the WCCC, then a penalty of [Euro] 10,000 will be imposed on the player and the player may be excluded from the next World Championship cycle'

Will FIDE consider the withdrawals to be for a 'satisfactory reason'? Will chess's top bureaucrats fine both Carlsen and Adams and exclude them from the next World Championship cycle? Given FIDE's recent record of major blunders and indifference to the top players, the possibility can't be dismissed.

03 December 2008

Troubled Matches

After the derailment and rescheduling of the Topalov - Kamsky match, I planned a post on other troubled matches of the recent past. Then I discovered I had been anticipated in a comment to a Daily Dirt piece titled Kamsky-Topalov to Sign for Sofia. Dirt fan Pradeep John compiled the following list of 'important matches which were agreed and did not take place'.
  • 1975 Fischer - Karpov
  • 1998 Kasparov - Shirov
  • 1999 Kasparov - Anand
  • 2003 Kasparov - Ponomariov
  • 2004 Kasparov - Kasimdzhanov
  • 2006 Topalov - Radjabov
  • 2008 Topalov - Kamsky

The comment also listed URLs, the majority from Chessbase.com, for further info on the different matches. I've corrected the year of Kasparov - Shirov from 1999 to 1998, and should point out that the name of the Kasparov / Rentero organization behind the match was not, as mentioned in the comment, the World Chess Association, but the World Chess Council. Other matches which narrowly missed inclusion on the list are

  • 1983 Kasparov - Korchnoi,
  • 1993 Karpov - Timman, and
  • 1996 Karpov - Kamsky

FIDE has taken much well-earned flack for the bungled Topalov - Kamsky match, which followed the change of venues for the 2008 Women's World Championship and the 2008 Doha Grand Prix, and which showed once again that FIDE's procurement policies are neither adequate nor adhered to. The other matches on the list are a mixture of FIDE internal failures (Kasparov - Kasimdzhanov), policy disputes (Fischer - Karpov), and non-FIDE failures (Kasparov - Shirov).

Earlier examples of failures in the Women's Championship were the cancelled Xie Jun - Galliamova and Xie Jun - Polgar matches of the late 1990s. Organizational failure also damaged the 1994 Olympiad, caused the cancellation of the 1996 Interzonal (eventually replaced by the 1997 Groningen Knockout), and torpedoed the 1996 Kasparov - Karpov reunification match.

In retrospect, FIDE's record in the 2000s has been no worse than in the 1990s, when the failure of high profile chess events became more common. I suppose this was partly because of the breakup of the Soviet Union, when former Soviet players were no longer manipulated by the heavy hand of the state.

26 November 2008

Which Takes Priority, Rumors or Reality?

It's been a busy week for World Chess Championship events. I could have written about the rescheduled Topalov - Kamsky match, about the last-minute transfer of the Doha Grand Prix to Elista, or about the (rumored) addition of a candidate tournament to the 2008-10 Championship cycle. Instead of these stories, which will certainly have evolved by next week, I caught up on various changes. First I added the

to my page on Correspondence Chess Champions. Then I added

to 'Other WCC Sites' on this blog's sidebar. Reality took priority over rumors past and present.

19 November 2008

Interview with Makropoulos

In September, Chessdom.com ran a two part 'Interview with FIDE Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos': part 1 (Women's World Championship in Nalchik and Grand Prix) and part 2 (Global Chess and Topalov - Kamsky match). Google fixes the date of publication for the two parts on 17 & 18 September 2008.

According to the register of FIDE Officials on the 'Presidential Board', Makropoulos is the second highest FIDE officer after Ilyumzhinov. As an insider, he is in a position to offer valuable insight into FIDE projects. Here's what he had to say about three aspects of the World Championship.

Women's Grand Prix

The women's Grand Prix will be similar to the men's...

Our idea with this Grand Prix is to create a series of six tournaments, where every player can participate in four events, and provide women an opportunity to play in more good tournaments. At the same time, we will include the Grand Prix into the World Championship cycle. One year, we will have a Champion after the knockout competition, and the next year this Champion will play a match with the winner of Grand Prix. Thus, Women's World Championship will be held every year.

...although the World Champion is not determined the same way. The plan for the men's World Championship is that the winner of the knockout event will meet the winner of the Grand Prix to determine the challenger for the reigning World Champion.

Global Chess

An important leadership change earlier this year at the helm of Global Chess was not announced by FIDE, and received little attention elsewhere. Chessdom reported it in conjunction with an announcement on the Kamsky - Topalov match: Fresh, fresh information about the Kamsky - Topalov match!, 'Kok is not anymore shareholder of Global Chess.' (Google: 31 May 2008)

Bessel Kok is not anymore shareholder of Global Chess. Mr. Kaplan, is the new shareholder at the company. Global Chess is responsible for FIDE Grand Prix, FIDE website, and other marketing activities. Geoffrey Borg, CEO of Global Chess, shared with Chessdom, "The transfer of shares of Global Chess BV from Mr Bessel Kok to Mr Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was finalised last month. Mr Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is currently finalising the transfer of these shares to Chess Lane SA, a company which will be equally owned by Mr Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and Mr David Kaplan."

In his interview, Makropoulos added this

At some point, Mr. David Kaplan, friend of FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, entered the world of chess and as a rich man he was interested to invest money in chess. We met him several times, he also attended FIDE Presidential Board and Executive Board, and it appears that he was seriously interested to invest. Next, there were meetings with Bessel Kok, Geoffrey Borg and Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, and the agreement was reached - Mr. Kaplan and Mr. Ilyumzhinov are now shareholders in Global Chess.

followed by this

I have to say that it is unpleasant situation to start a co-operation with Global Chess, when we knew that Bessel Kok is Chairman and Geoffrey Borg is Executive Director, and then suddenly some changes are being made. But if this means that more money will be invested in different chess projects, then perhaps it all turns out well. So the question is if really Mr. Kaplan is ready to invest serious money.

The FIDE page on Global Chess still says,

Global Chess BV is a Company incorporated in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. It was set up by Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, President of Kalmykia and FIDE and Bessel Kok with the main objective of promoting and marketing chess worldwide. Global Chess is currently finalising negotiations with FIDE for a commercial licence. The Company will work actively on attracting sponsorship and support from investors and global companies, by working on marketing campaigns, public relations in chess and non-chess media and by ensuring that a proper interface is maintained with FIDE to ensure that events are organised to the highest standards possible.

From all of this we can infer that one of the means of 'attracting sponsorship and support from investors' is to offer prospective sponsors an equity stake in Global Chess. So who's running the search for sponsors? The agenda for FIDE's 2008 General Assembly at the 79th FIDE Congress 23-25 November 2008 Dresden, Germany mentions

  • 3.3. GlobalChess: CEO Geoffrey Borg to report.
  • 3.4. Development Department: CEO Development David Kaplan to report.

That's who.

Topalov - Kamsky

That last Chessdom post titled 'Fresh, fresh information...' also reported that the Topalov - Kamsky 'sponsor is Ukrainian businessman Sobancheyev', rather than Alexander Chernenko, whose name has been bandied about in recent news about the ill-starred match. Makropoulos added,

[The sponsor] was supposed to send the money to FIDE many months ago. For the last few weeks we are hearing "tomorrow, tomorrow, the money is going to be transfered". FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who knows the sponsor, they are friends, is aware of the serious situation and that is why he personally guaranteed the prize fund.


Our problem, at the moment, is that as long as money is not on the FIDE bank account, we cannot even go to Ukraine and speak with the potential organizer. [...] The time is running out. I think in the next few days, one or two weeks the most, we should know what is going on. I have time, by the end of September, to visit Ukraine and discuss the preparation, if we really have an organizer there.

Why wasn't the whistle blown at the end of September, rather than at the beginning of November? Ask FIDE's no.2, Makropoulos.

12 November 2008

Topalov - Kamsky Match on eBay

Since the reporting by the main chess news services on the Topalov - Kamsky match has been only a little short of hysterical, I have to agree with the sentiment expressed in the most recent issue of TWIC:
20) Topalov - Kamsky match awarded to Bulgaria • I have a general rule of not covering these kind of negotiations these days. So much of what is said and announced is just wrong. No doubt this will drag on and on too and its all just embarrassing. (TWIC 731; 10 November 2008)

While waiting to see how the situation plays out, I reviewed my notes on this match and found a twist that I don't remember reported elsewhere. The following is a screen capture from an eBay auction list.

Apologies for the poor quality. I saved the original image as a GIF, and it's resisted efforts to resample gracefully. Anyway, the image was made on 7 April 2008 to document several eBay auctions for the Topalov - Kamsky match. At that time the auctions still had about 2 1/2 days to run. The descriptions read like this:

You have the last chance to participate and win an option to make an official bid to International Chess Federation (FIDE) on behalf of grandmaster Gata Kamsky who is the only American to compete at the World Chess Championship since Bobby Fisher won the Championship title in 1972.

This is an offer to make a bid to sponsor and organize the 2008 World Championship semi-final Kamsky-Topalov Match where the best American player Gata Kamsky will compete against the former world champion Vaselin Topalov of Bulgaria. See United States Chess Federation site http://main.uschess.org/content/view/8206/1/

The match must be organized in France, Switzerland or other European country other than Bulgaria. As a sponsor you will receive about 2 weeks of worldwide publicity and internet, TV, Press coverage togeter with commercial advertizing for the sponsor's company and products.

The deadline for official submission to FIDE is April 11, 2008. The starting bid amount is about $200,000 Euro.

For Bidding Rules and Procedures you must visit FIDE website: http://www.fide.com/news.asp?id=1594

If You have any questios please contact GM Kamsky's attorney directly at bk...@optonline.net , attention B.. K.., Esq.

Visit the Gata Gamsky International Chess & Sports Foundation website to learn more at www.01chess.com

Help to find a sponsor for this World Chess Championship match and claim your 5%

The last line is particularly mysterious; it's offering 5% of what? I never followed up the auctions, but I'm fairly certain there were no bidders.

05 November 2008

2008 Anand - Kramnik

I added results from the Anand - Kramnik title match to my page World Chess Championship : 2008 Matches. Among the many sites providing informed commentary were

FIDE doesn't aggregate content with categories, so I've used an approximation based on Google.

29 October 2008

16th World Computer Championship

I added the crosstable and PGN for the 16th WCCC, 2008 Beijing to my page on Computer Chess.

01 October 2008

What's in a Woman's Name?

I added players from the 2008 World Women's Championship to my Index of Women Players. On top of the usual challenges with names, women's surnames present a special problem because they often change when the women marry. The only instance I noted for the 2008 event was to equate Tea Bosboom-Lanchava with Lanchava.

I had a few other small problems to sort out. The PGN file from the event used 'Sachdev, T.', but the official crosstable listed 'Tania, Sachdev'. This is a special problem with Indian names, and I'm not sure which variant to use. Perhaps I should use the full name, as I do for Chinese names. This way the search engines can find both names. In any case, I'm certain that I haven't been consistent with the use of Indian names, both men and women, and I should address this in a separate action.

A similar problem arose with PGN: 'Mona, K.' and XTBL: 'Khaled, Mona'. The FIDE card lists 'Mona, Khaled', so I used Mona as the surname.

While I was working on the 2008 list, I noticed a few possible problems from previous events. I have 'Vasilevich I' in the 2006 championship, but 'Vasilevich T' in the 2000 and 2004 events. Are these two different players or has a mistake been introduced? Ditto for 'Sakhatova E' in the 1995 Interzonal, and 'Sakhatova G' in the 1985 and 1987 Interzonals.

24 September 2008

03 September 2008

ICCF World Championships (2008 Status)

A year ago, with the goal of updating my page on Correspondence Chess Champions, I spent some time getting up to speed with the status of the ICCF World Championships. No updates were made, but the status has evolved and is less confusing than it was a year ago.

17*2002-07Bern, Ivar (NOR)
18*2003-05Oosterom, Joop J. van (NED)
19*2004-07Léotard, Christophe (FRA)
20 2004-Lehikoinen, Pertti (FIN)
21 2005-08Oosterom, Joop J. van (NED)
22 2007-Started 31 December 2007
23 2007-Started 31 December 2007

The asterisk ('*') means I've listed the winner, but am missing the crosstable. All game scores for these events are now available. I imagine that the game scores for the two other finished events are also available, but the effort to locate them exceeds their value.

Also confusing was the status of the correspondence chess forums. I stopped following the ICCF when its forum split and moved around mid-2007. The current status is:-


Later: Corrected a mistake to WCC20. I had marked it as finished, but there was (and is) one game still being played.

27 August 2008

2008 Restricted World Championships

I added the winners of the recently completed World Junior Championship in Gaziantep, Turkey to my page on Other World Chess Champions (Restricted events). I also added a new page on the 2008 FIDE Knockout Matches to my page on the World Chess Championship for Women.

For photos from the World Junior Championship, see 2008 world young championship, from which the following is taken.

KIF_7617 © Flickr user karpidis under Creative Commons.

I assume it's a photo of the prize winners from the men's competition.


Because it's a tense situation which is still evolving, it's perhaps better to say nothing about the controversies surrounding the World Women's Championship. Unfortunately, the FIDE reaction to Appeal to FIDE: move the Women's World Championship (follow the links for the reactions) defies belief: FIDE President Ilyumzhinov: 'Do not mix politics and sport'; ECU President Boris Kutin: 'mixing politics with sports is clearly against the spirit of the international chess community'; Ilyumzhinov: 'It is not [the organizers'] fault that blood was shed.'

When Ilyumzhinov was abducted by extraterrestrials (see my Elsewhere on the Web, Kalmykia, 'The Home of World Chess'), did they erase his memory of FIDE sanctions against South Africa, or of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre? Even so, that doesn't explain Kutin's response. The players' safety, security, and peace of mind cannot be dismissed with weasel words.

People having longer memories than chess politicians might remember that in 2004, FIDE managed to move the venue of the World Women's Championship under similar, even less dangerous circumstances (see Elsewhere on the Web World Championships Galore). Future chess officials seeking executive position should be checked for the presence of a heart. The presence of a brain is clearly asking too much.

See also Chessbase.com's July report Women's World Championship in Nalchik, showing the geography of the region, and their more recent report Ilyumzhinov reiterates: we should not mix sport and politics, with reader comments. • For my previous posts on the event, including other changes of venue (Prague -> San Luis -> Iran -> Istanbul) see Women's World Championship 2008 [10 April 2008], and Women Put Kabardino-Balkaria on the Chess Map [11 June].

20 August 2008

2008-2009 Grand Prix, Sochi

I added the crosstable and PGN for the recent Grand Prix event at Sochi to my page on the 2008-2009 Grand Prix.

13 August 2008

1972-75 Zonals Complete

World Championship Interzonals : Leningrad and Petropolis 1973 by Wade, Blackstock, and Kotov has full crosstables for all zonals in the 1972-75 cycle. The additional info includes a zone 4 playoff missing from Soviet Zonals 1951-87.

06 August 2008

'Pursuant to this Agreement...'

My first Web related task after Bye, Bye, About.com! was to delete the About.com links from my World Championship site.

These were originally created because of a contractual requirement 'to place a link to [About Chess] on Guide's existing site, if one exists'. It takes only a few minutes longer to place them on all pages rather than a single page, so that's what I originally did. The links produced a fair number of clicks into the site, consistently in the top-5 of external sites.

Removing the links was the first global change to the site since Round Trip Complete, when I added the links to this blog. While I was testing the change I was reminded that two other internal links in the header -- Highlights and Best games -- haven't been updated in years. Now that I have more free time, I should be able to tackle them in the coming months.

My page on 2004-05 Unification, which contains links to my material on About.com is going to be a problem. If I can't get permission to reuse the different posts, I'll have to come up with something else.

31 July 2008

Anand on Kramnik on Anand

A number of recent articles discuss the forthcoming Anand - Kramnik match from the players' point of view.

Let the match decide!

23 July 2008

Kasparov vs. Karpov 1975-1985

The next tome in Kasparov's series on the World Championship has been announced for August. Since I first heard it about it from Newinchess.com, I'll reference their page: Kasparov vs Karpov 1975-1985.

The full title is Garry Kasparov on Modern Chess, Part 2: Kasparov vs Karpov 1975-1985. It's the sequel to Garry Kasparov on Modern Chess, Part 1: Revolution in the 70s, a book published in March 2007, that didn't receive much attention. Amazon.com lists 'K-K 1975-85' for $29.70; Amazon.co.uk lists it for £28.50. At current exchange rates, that's twice the price. Here is the 'Amazon.com Sales Rank (in Books)' for the series:

  • My Great Predecessors, Part 1 (August 2003); #282,544
  • My Great Predecessors, Part 2 (January 2004); #286,583
  • My Great Predecessors, Part 3 (November 2004); #261,378
  • My Great Predecessors, Part 4 (Fischer, January 2005); #40,735
  • My Great Predecessors, Part 5 (March 2006); #183,014
  • Part 1: Revolution in the 70's (March 2007); #264,777

Even Garry will admit that Fischer sells. I already have Kasparov's books on the 1985 (KK2), 1986 (KK3), and 1990 (KK5) matches. How much new material is in the latest series?

17 July 2008

U.S. Zonals 1954-89

I added clippings for U.S. Championships which served as zonals to the pages for these cycles: 1954-57, 1957-60, 1960-63, 1963-66, 1966-69, 1969-72, 1972-75, 1975-78, 1978-81, 1981-84, 1984-87, 1987-90, and 1990-93. The clippings are taken from Graeme Cree's U.S. Chess Championships.

09 July 2008


I recently reviewed Bill Hook's memoirs titled Hooked on Chess. While reading it I noted mention of four events that he called 'Caribbean Zonals':-
  • p.066 1969 Quito, Ecuador
  • p.080 1975 Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
  • p.134 1985 San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • p.148 1990 Pinar del Rio, Cuba

The first two events square with my notes on the World Chess Championship Zonals, but the last two don't. I have:-

  • 8 Caracas 1985-03
  • 8 Cali 1990-04 • 8? Pinar del Rio CUB 1990-00

From this I gather that Hook's 1985 and 1990 events were subzonals, preliminary events where the top players in a region compete for the right to play in the zonal. I've encountered other mentions of these from time to time, but always pushed them aside, since I had enough on my plate tackling the zonals themselves. It's time to take them more seriously.

A few recent news reports mentioned that subzonal 2.3.5 was in full swing. A search on the FIDE America site returns about 19,000 from fideamerica.com for subzonal. Most of these are because the keyword 'subzonal' is currently used in a sidebar.

This leads to a few new topics of research:-

  • When were subzonals introduced in the Central American zone?
  • Are subzonals used in other FIDE zones? (I think I've seen them in Asia/Oceania)
  • Where is it documented how different zones have split themselves into subzones?

One document which could be useful is 'Regulations for the America's Men and Women Subzonals Tournaments', but I haven't located it online.

03 July 2008

Soviet Zonals 1951-87

I added clippings for Soviet Championships which served as zonals to the pages for nine cycles: 1951-54, 1954-57, 1957-60, 1960-63, 1966-69, 1969-72, 1972-75, 1984-87, and 1987-90. The clippings are taken from Graeme Cree's Soviet Championships.

25 June 2008

Canadian Zonals 1951-65

I added clippings for Canadian zonals to the pages for six cycles: 1951-54, 1954-57, 1957-60, 1960-63, 1963-66, and 1966-69.

19 June 2008

More Zonal Clippings

Six months after uploading the first set of Zonal Clippings, for the 1946-48 cycle, I loaded clippings up to and including the 1990-93 cycle to...

The World Chess Championship Zonals

...Scroll to the end of the page for the full list. • Next step: Compare the list of zonals with the info in the clippings to resolve open points and identify missing cross tables.

11 June 2008

Women Put Kabardino-Balkaria on the Chess Map

In Women's World Championship 2008, I outlined the difficulties that FIDE was having in organizing the premier women's event. FIDE plans, announced on Fide.com by the awkward title Player’s Undertaking for Participation in the 2008 Women’s World Chess Championship, have finally come together. The event will be held 'in Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria (Russian Federation), from 28 August to 18 September with a prize fund of 450,000 USD', using a 64-player knockout format.

A few items from the 'Player's Undertaking' caught my attention.

  • 1.2 All the players qualified for the Championship must stay at the official Championship hotel(s), and the name of this hotel(s) shall be announced later by FIDE.

  • 4.3 For the two years following the Championship, the Women’s World Champion shall agree to promote chess around the World and be ready to attend promotional events at no fee but with her expenses paid by FIDE provided the prescribed date(s) for the promotion are not in conflict with any established tournaments in the calendar. This period of promotion shall not exceed fourteen days in total (excluding days of travel).

  • 4.4 Players will be required to wear clothes or apparel with special branding from sponsors when specifically approved by the FIDE President.

  • 5.5 FIDE or the Organizing Committee will not be responsible for any application of political or financial sanctions from the organizing country regarding players of the tournament. At the same time, FIDE has no prior knowledge of such sanctions.

  • 5.6 Without prejudice to the provisions of this undertaking, the game scores are the property of FIDE.

How long have the game scores been the property of FIDE?

05 June 2008

The FIDE Bidding Process for Kamsky - Topalov

Following up Kamsky - Topalov Update [27 March 2008]:
  • The original FIDE notice: Update on the Topalov - Kamsky match • 'Bids for the WCC Challengers Match Kamsky - Topalov 2008 : FIDE has accepted an offer for the WCC Challengers Match Kamsky - Topalov 2008 by the Bulgarian Chess Federation. This offer included a net prize fund of 150,000 USD and has been approved by the FIDE Presidential Board since June 2007. However, after the recent FIDE Presidential Board meeting in Singapore and following discussions with all parties involved, FIDE has decided the following in order to try to improve the financial terms and conditions for both players: a) if by 11 April 2008, FIDE receives a bid with a net prize fund of 250,000 USD...' [12 February 2008; susanpolgar.blogspot.com; FIDE text dated 11 February 2008]

  • Bids for the Match V.Topalov - G. Kamsky • 'FIDE President has authorised the extension of the deadline for receiving bids for the match V. Topalov - G. Kamsky until April 23rd 2008. FIDE has accepted an offer for the WCC Challengers Match Kamsky - Topalov 2008 by the Bulgarian Chess Federation...' [9 April 2008; Fide.com]

  • The original FIDE notice was changed later: Bids for the WCC Challengers Match Kamsky - Topalov 2008 • 'FIDE President has authorised the extension of the deadline for receiving bids for the match V. Topalov - G. Kamsky until April 23rd 2008.' [dated 19 February 2008; Fide.com]

  • WCC semi-final match Kamsky-Topalov • 'The official announcement concerning the host country of the WCC semi-final match Kamsky-Topalov will be published and distributed by Monday 12 May 2008.' [5 May 2008; Fide.com]

  • Press Release / Kamsky - Topalov 2008 • 'FIDE received today the following bid from Mr Alexander Chernenko, manager of GM Gata Kamsky, for the WCC Challengers Match 2008 Kamsky - Topalov. The World Chess Federation is expecting the confirmation of the wire transfer from its bankers in Switzerland in order to finalise all the remaining details for this great event.' [15 May 2008; Fide.com]

  • FIDE President guarantees Topalov-Kamsky Match • 'FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has announced that the World Championship Challenger Match between Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria) and Gata Kamsky (USA) will take place in Lvov, Ukraine in November 2008. The organiser offered a prize fund of 750,000 USD and to hold the match on the “neutral” territory of Ukraine, as the players wanted to avoid Bulgaria or the USA. FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov guarantees the organiser’s offer by backing the event from his personal finances.'[1 June 2008; Fide.com]

To be continued?

28 May 2008

Over 5.000.000 Served!

Pages, that is, not burgers. My World Championship site served its 5.000.000th page this week.

The current counter started on 21 October 1999 and has been running ever since. The site serves about 2000 pages per day, a number that has been rising slowly for a long time. Today there are more World Chess Championship sites, notably the Wikipedia pages, than there were in 1999.

14 May 2008

2008 European Championship

The recent European Championship was a World Championship qualifier. The official site, European Individual Chess Championship Plovdiv 2008, says, 'The Individual Men’s European Championship 2008 and the Individual European Women`s Championship 2008 are qualification events for the next World Cup or the next World Championship for Women respectively. According to FIDE regulations and the decision of the ECU Board, 23 players from the men's section and 14 players from the women's section will qualify.' • Historical standings and games for the years 2000 to 2007 are available under the the site's History section.

See also: European Chess Union (ECU).

08 May 2008

2008-2009 Grand Prix, Baku

I updated my World Chess Championship page on the 2008-2009 Grand Prix to include the crosstable and PGN from the recently completed Baku event.

30 April 2008

Index of FIDE Rating Lists

Some early FIDE rating lists published by Informant (incomplete)

InformantRating List
151973H1The Rating System in National Applications by Arpad Elo (w/ references) 
161973H2FIDE International Rating List A/B/C 
181974H2FIDE International Rating List Men/Women 
201975H2FIDE International Rating List Men/Women1976-01-01
221976H2FIDE International Rating List Men1977-01-01
231977H1FIDE International Rating List Women1977-01-01
241977H2FIDE International Rating List Men/Women1978-01-01
251978H1Revised Rating List for 1978 
261978H2FIDE International Rating List Men/Women1979-01-01; sorted by descending rating
271979H1FIDE Supplementary Rating List Men/Women1979-07-01
281979H2FIDE International Rating List Men/Women1980-01-01
291980H1FIDE Supplementary Rating List Men/Women1980-07-01
301980H2FIDE International Rating List Men/Women1981-01-01
311981H1FIDE International Rating List Men/Women1981-07-01
321981H2FIDE International Rating List Men/Women1982-01-01
331982H1FIDE International Rating List Men/Women1982-07-01
341982H2FIDE International Rating List Men/Women1983-01-01
371984H1International Rating List Men/Women1984-07-01
381984H2International Rating List Men/Women1985-01-01
391985H1International Rating List Men/Women1985-07-01
401985H2International Rating List Men/Women1986-01-01

24 April 2008

Thoughts on the Grand Prix

I updated my World Chess Championship page on the 2008-2009 Grand Prix to include the logos and links published in the last week. I decided to carry all six events on the same page rather than have a separate page for each event.


I have had my doubts about the viability of the format since it was first announced. These were confirmed when the list of participants turned out to be missing five of the world's top-10 players. Here, as I see it, are the weaknesses of the current Grand Prix format as a qualifier for the World Championship.

  • Its Objective: The six tournaments are designed to produce a single challenger for a match against the winner of the World Cup. The interzonals of yesteryear generally promoted at least six players to the following stage, the candidates event. Eliminating 20 out of 21 players is better than 127 out of 128 for the World Cup, but it still leaves a lot to chance.

  • Its Length: The time lag between the first event in Baku and the last event in Karlovy Vary is about 20 months. In the 1970s and 1980s, when bloated interzonals were gradually split into three separate events, they were organized to take place within 3-4 months of each other. Can the chess public's attention be held for 20 months?

    Also worth mentioning is the possibility for manipulating the outcome. Ten players will play in one of the last two events, nine will play in both, and two won't play at all. The nine who play in both can follow a different strategy than the others.

  • Its Participants: The 21 players are a mixture of the world's elite chess players and a large group invited for political reasons. In the GMA World Cup, a prototype for the Grand Prix, the organizers of the six events were allowed to invite one participant, who played only in the one event. His games were not counted in the calculations to determine the overall winner. That was a more sensible approach than the current format. How many of the six host nominees will finish in the top-10 players overall?

    Four of the 21 players are 'Presidential Nominees'. Three of these were replacements for Anand, Kramnik, and Topalov, who declined to play. This gave FIDE leadership substantial opportunity to peddle its influence with national federations: bend to FIDE's will and your boy gets to play. The three replacements should have been chosen by some neutral criterion like rating.

Chessbase.com posted an article about Morozevich's reasons for not playing -- Morozevich drops out of FIDE Grand Prix -- where he mentioned another weakness: 'The players are being required to sign a contract to take part in four tournaments, without having any definite information about where or when they will be held. I do not think it is right that I should agree in advance to play wherever they might tell me.'

The Grand Prix was designed and organized in a short period of time. It shows. Let's hope its architects use the next two years to improve it.

16 April 2008

The 1st and 2nd GMA World Cups

A few weeks ago, in Kamsky - Topalov Update, a quote from Roustam (Rustam) Kamsky caught my attention:
In 1989 Gata, only 15 years old, wins 2-nd place in Palma de Mayorka, competing against 160 grandmasters from around the world. That qualified him to play in world championship qualifier held in Moscow but Kamsky was not invited.

I knew that he was referring to the GMA World Cup, rather than the World Championship, but I wasn't sure which events he meant. I decided to investigate. The 1st World Cup was a series of six tournaments that brought together the best players in the world.

  • Brussels, April 1988
  • Belfort, June 1988
  • Reykjavik, October 1988
  • Barcelona, April 1989
  • Rotterdam, June 1989
  • Skelleftea, August 1989

The 2008-9 Grand Prix that starts in a few days was modelled after the GMA World Cup. The 2nd World Cup began with three qualifying tournaments, called GMA Opens.

  • Belgrade, December 1988
  • Moscow, May 1989
  • Palma de Mallorca, December 1989

Gata Kamsky finished tied for 2nd/3rd at Palma. A final qualifying tournament was held

  • Moscow, May-June 1990
bringing together the eight best finishers from each of the three GMA Opens plus 19 players qualified by rating. Of the 43 qualified players, 42 assembled in Moscow. Kamsky, who in March 1989 had stayed in the U.S. with his father after playing in the New York Open, was missing. Reports mentioned that the Kamskys were afraid to visit Russia for fear of political repercussions. This was despite the fact that Boris Gulko, another Soviet-era dissident living in the U.S., managed to obtain a visa and play.

10 April 2008

Women's World Championship 2008

The next Women's World Championship is beset with organizational problems.
Women's World Championship in Istanbul? • 'The Women's World Chess Championship was scheduled to be held in Argentina from June 18 to July 11 this year. It is a knock-out event with 64 participants. Unfortunately the Argentinian bid has been retracted, after FIDE extended the deadline a number of times. Now it was too late to find a new sponsor – until the Turkish Chess Federation stepped in and made an informal bid. However the time constraints were most severe and nobody was sure that the estimated $500,000 staging costs could be found at such short notice. Ali Nihat Yazici and Kirsan Ilyumzhinov discussed the matter with Minister Basesgioglu, who spontaneously offered the full support of his government. The TCF and IsBankas can now spring into action. We estimate (based on past exprience) that they will pull it off.' [25 March 2008; Chessbase.com]

A Turkish news source mentioned an additional difficulty.

Turkey solves chess headscarf crisis • 'Initially it was Argentina that was picked as the host country for the championship, but it later announced that it would not be able to host the event and Iran stepped in instead. However problems arose during initial meetings between FIDE and Iranian representatives, when Iran set conditions like wearing headscarves and preventing men from entering the championship arena. Furthermore it said Israeli players would not be allowed into the country. Turkey will host the event in Istanbul in December.' [29 March 2008; turkishdailynews.com.tr]

According to FIDE documents, which are not currently available since Fide.com was redesigned, Argentina was not the first choice.

Presidential Board Meeting, January 26-28th, 2007 • 'The Presidential Board reviewed preparations and decided on bids regarding the following chess tournaments: [...] Women’s World Chess Championship 2008 will be held on March 8-25th, 2008 in Prague, Czech Republic'

The next mention of the event was the agenda for the 78th FIDE Congress in November. The agenda and minutes have also gone AWOL.

78th FIDE Congress 14-16 November 2007 Antalya, Turkey • '30. Women’s World Chess Championship 2008. The event shall be held in San Luis, Argentina. Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos to report.'

Prague -> San Luis -> Iran -> Istanbul • Regulations for the Women`s World Chess Championship Cycle.


Later: I discovered that the old FIDE site is available at Thanks, FIDE!

02 April 2008

Resources for Historical Ratings

Thanks to OlimpBase, here are two more resources related to ratings.

The rgc post (groups.google.com) points to Benoni.de which in turn points to more resources.

27 March 2008

Kamsky - Topalov Update

In FIDE Announcements: Grand Prix, Kamsky - Topalov, I neglected to mention that FIDE expressed a desire 'to improve the financial terms and conditions for both [Kamsky and Topalov]'. At the time, it looked to me like window dressing. Following up on that story, I've seen at least two attempts to improve the match conditions.
  • USCF Seeks Sponsor for Kamsky-Topalov Match • 'The United States Chess Federation is seeking a sponsor to enable a bid for the World Championship semi-final match between GM Gata Kamsky of Brooklyn, NY and GM and former World Champion Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria.' [3 March 2008; uschess.org]

  • Kamsky - Topalov in Lviv? • 'Alexander Chernenko, Gata Kamsky's manager, claims in an interview with Russian "Sport Express" that match Kamsky-Topalov will take place in Lviv, Ukraine, for a prize fund "several times bigger" than 250.000 USD offered from Bulgarian sponsors.' [Like much of Chessdom.com's 'news', the story is undated. A Google date search places the story on 16 March 2008.]


Kamsky's own fund raising site ran an interesting piece by his father: To the American chess fans: The hidden chess war, how KGB influenced the world of chess and politics thru advertising and press by Roustam Kamsky. The article contained opinions from the Kamsky team about past World Championship events.

On the 1989 GMA Qualifier:-

In 1989 Gata, only 15 years old, wins 2-nd place in Palma de Mayorka, competing against 160 grandmasters from around the world. That qualified him to play in world championship qualifier held in Moscow but Kamsky was not invited.

On the 1994 FIDE & PCA parallel cycles:-

1994 PCA, headed by Kasparov, intentionally schedules the PCA semi-final qualifying world championship Kamsky – Anand match held in Spain within a week of finishing FIDE’s semi-final qualifying world championship Kamsky –Salov match, held in India.

On the 1996 FIDE title match:-

In 1995 was the year when the Kamsky-Karpov match was scheduled for but Karpov delayed the match for one year using his powers as the world champion. In the mean time USCF consuming donations from abroad did not react to adequately protect no sponsor Gata Kamsky in his preparations against Karpov.

On the 2006 Unification match:-

In 2006 Russian FIDE president nominates without any selection Russian grandmaster Kramnik as a champion to play a reunification match against Topalov in Russia.

On the 2007 Mexico City title tournament:-

Kramnik was given unexplainable favor against interest of other strongest world chess players when in 2008 Kramnik was allowed to play against Anand after he lost his title in Mexico City in 2007. [...] Then to keep Topalov quiet FIDE allowed him to play against the winner the 2007 World Cup.

If you believe all of this, Russian agents have been at the center of a world chess conspiracy during Kamsky's entire career.

19 March 2008

2008-2009 Grand Prix (Details)

For easier reference, I added info from FIDE Grand Prix. Participants, host cities, schedule (dated 2008-03-05) to my World Chess Championship page on the 2008-2009 Grand Prix. Although this is easier to access than opening FIDE's two PDF files, it would be even easier as a text table.

13 March 2008

2008-2009 Grand Prix

FIDE announced the players and venues for its first Grand Prix series: FIDE Grand Prix. Participants, host cities, schedule. Five of the world's top-10 players are missing -- no.1/2 Kramnik & Anand, no.3 Topalov, no.4 Morozevich, and no.7 Shirov -- although only Morozevich has explained why: Morozevich drops out of FIDE Grand Prix. One of those first three will emerge from the current cycle (2007-2009) as World Champion, but the other two will be missing from the next cycle unless they choose to play in the 2009 World Cup.

FIDE had offered to seed the losers of both the forthcoming Anand - Kramnik title match and the Topalov - Kamsky challengers' match into the last four Grand Prix events, but only Kamsky picked up the option. The loser of the subsequent title match in early 2009 would have been out of luck in any case, forced to fall back on the 2009 World Cup to stay in the cycle.

For informed commentary on the event, see FIDE Grand Prix Announced, and Morozevich Bails on FIDE Grand Prix on Chessninja.com. I opened a page on my World Chess Championship site, 2008-2009 Grand Prix, but it has only links to the recent FIDE announcements.

20 February 2008

FIDE Historical Ratings, July 1990-2000

Several people have asked if I have any midyear rating files. I received the July files for the years 1990-2000 at the same time I received the January files, but never processed them. The July files covering those 11 years are now available in the same directory...

FIDE historical ratings

...as the other files.

14 February 2008

FIDE Announcements: Grand Prix, Kamsky - Topalov

The last few weeks have seen a flurry of FIDE anouncements on the Grand Prix, Global Chess BV, Kamsky - Topalov, and Anti-Doping Regulations.
  • Grand Prix Qualifiers • 'FIDE is pleased to publish the names of the first batch of players who have qualified for the Grand Prix series 2008/9' [4 January 2008]

  • Agreement between Global Chess BV and Turkish Chess Federation • 'Following the contractual assignment of relaunching the FIDE website by the Executive board in November, the CEO of Global Chess BV Geoffrey Borg and President of Turkish Chess Federation Ali Nihat Yazici signed an agreement for cooperating on developing new web technologies, improving the design and the content of the FIDE web site.' [14 January 2008]

  • FIDE Grand Prix and Player's Undertaking • 'FIDE is pleased to announce the dates and venues for the 2008/2009 Grand Prix Tournaments' [1 February 2008, changed later]

    2008-04-20 / -05-06 Baku, Azerbaijan
    2008-07-30 / -08-15 Krasnoyarsk (or other Russian city), Russia
    2008-12-13 / -12-29 Doha, Qatar
    2009-04-14 / -04-28 Montreux, Switzerland
    2009-09-01 / -08-17 Elista, Russia
    2009-12-07 / -12-23 Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic [aka Karlsbad]

    Reserve cities are Istanbul and Teheran.

  • Bids for the WCC Challengers Match Kamsky - Topalov 2008 • 'FIDE has accepted an offer for the WCC Challengers Match Kamsky - Topalov 2008 by the Bulgarian Chess Federation. This offer included a net prize fund of 150,000 USD and has been approved by the FIDE Presidential Board since June 2007.' [12 February 2008]

  • FIDE Anti-Doping Regulations • 'In furtherance of its role, Federation Internationale Des Echecs (FIDE) [...] dedicates its efforts to ensuring that in chess the spirit of Fair Play prevails, leads the fight against doping in sport and takes measures the goal of which is to prevent endangering the health of competitors. [...] FIDE has accepted the World Anti Doping Code and its International Standards. For any matter that is not covered in these rules, the Code and the standards will prevail.' [13 February 2008]

It's curious that the FIDE Presidential Board accepted the Kamsky - Topalov bid in June 2007. There was recent speculation that it would take place in Elista.

06 February 2008

FIDE Historical Ratings 1971-79

Continuing with FIDE Historical Ratings 1971-74, I added links for the four new files to the index page of all rating files. (See that previous post for links to other pages mentioned here). Then I did some simple tests on the files.

The first test was to see why there is a different count of players between the 1971 file and another copy on Old in Chess (OiC). I determined that all of the players on OiC are on my new file (WCC), but the WCC file lists three additional players. There are many other differences, especially in the spelling of names. Two of over 160 examples are WCC: 'Tseshkovsky, Vitaly V', OiC: 'Cheshkovsky, Vitaly', and WCC: 'Vinje-Gulbrandsen, Arne', OiC: 'Gulbrandsen, Arne'.

There are also small differences in the number of titled players. WCC lists 83 GMs and 178 IMs; OiC lists 82 GMs and 172 IMs. The ratings for the 589 players found on both files match perfectly, and that is what really matters. It is clear the files have a common source, but have been massaged by different hands. The numbers of players on the four new files are as follows:

1971:   592
1972:   794
1973: 1119
1974: 1096

Except for 1974, when many women disappeared from the list, this compares favorably with growth for the rest of the first decade of FIDE ratings:

1975: 1528
1976: 1650
1977: 1910
1978: 2020
1979: 2426
1980: 2883

Some numbers for subsequent years are 1990: 7786, and 2000: 33383. This compares with 87562 names on the January 2008 FIDE rating list, including 1109 GMs and 2808 IMs.

31 January 2008

FIDE Historical Ratings 1971-74

I added four new rating files -- 1971.zip, 1972.zip, 1973.zip, and 1974.zip -- to my directory on FIDE historical ratings. The zipped TXT files were extracted from HTML files sent by Wojciech Bartelski of OlimpBase. The HTML files contained navigation links like...

Elo FIDE 71

...(1972N02.php etc.) indicating their origin. The archive pages are no longer available on Chessmile.com, but there is a different version of the first two years on the site's Histoire : Titres et Elo FIDE.

When were the ratings published? The Chessmile page says, '1er classement : publié en juillet 1971; 2e classement : publié en juillet 1972', i.e. published July 1971 and 1972. According to my notes, the other files on my own page (>1975) were issued January of the year used in the file name, so there is a short period transition somewhere.

Another version of the 1971 list on 'Old in Chess' under LISTAS ELO > LISTA 1971, gives the validity dates as '01.07.1971 to 30.06.1972'. The same page says 'Jugadores [Players] 589', but the Chessmile list has 592 names.

The 1974 file is missing almost all women.

When I've had a chance to reconcile the discrepancies, I'll add links to my index page for historical ratings. The page now offers FIDE ratings from 1971 to 1999, with more recent files available from FIDE.com. Thanks, Wojtek!

17 January 2008

The Year 2007 in Review

Highlights from 2007 and links to posts from this blog:-It was a good year for FIDE and for the World Chess Championship.

09 January 2008

The Club of Eight (1938)

The Interregnum According to Fine was a synopsis by Reuben Fine of the period 1946-48. Here is a brief account by Botvinnik on the last great tournament of the pre-WWII era:
It is worth recalling that after the AVRO tournament in 1938, in which eight of the strongest players of the world participated, another attempt was made to settle the question concerning matches for the world championship. At a meeting of the participants a proposal was made to organize "the club of eight" which was to be entitled to fix regulations for the world championship, any member of the club being entitled to play a match with the world champion and admittance to the club being decided by a vote among club members. In other words, it was proposed to replace the personal dictatorship of the world champion by a dictatorship of "the eight", the right to play a match with the champion not being won by eliminatory competitions, but by winning the favors of the all-powerful members of the club. At the request of the participants in the AVRO tournament, the grandmasters R.Fine and M.Euwe some time later elaborated a project for "regulations", but the Second World War suspended for the time the decision about this question. - M. Botvinnik, 'On the World Championship', FIDE Review 1956

In the same essay, Botvinnik discussed the various rules that governed match play for the title in the post-WWII years.


The eight participants at AVRO were Alekhine, Botvinnik, Capablanca, Euwe, Fine, Flohr, Keres, and Reshevsky. Capablanca died during the war, Alekhine shortly after the war ended. The six surviving players were invited to the 1948 FIDE World Championship Title Tournament, with Smyslov replacing Flohr.

03 January 2008

Petrosian on the 1970-72 Cycle

Excerpts from 'Petrosian's Legacy' by Tigran Petrosian, on the 1970-72 Candidates Matches:

'The recent match system of competition for the World Championship was introduced [for the 1964-66 cycle]. In my opinion, it was the triumph of a more objective system. The principle of playing "one against one" is after all, the essence of our game. In addition up to 1965 the challenger passed all steps by playing only in tournaments, whereas the summit match was for 24 games against a single opponent. Not too logical.'

'The fact that these matches should be preceded by a drawing procedure was completely overlooked. [...] I could not understand why the drawing of lots for the Soccer World Championship was a crowned ceremony where reporters, TV, and film cameramen were present, while similar "events in chess" were completely passed over and neglected.'

[He attributed the 6-0 scores of Fischer against Taimanov and Larsen partially to the match venues. Both matches were played in North America, Fischer's backyard, and in both the venue was not fixed early enough in the negotations.]

'I cannot say I was glad to have Huebner as my first opponent. He was one of the most unpleasant rivals for the first round. A young and very strong player. [...] The match was extremely difficult. Especially when I got what was probably a lost position in the very first game and narrowly escaped.'

'Next was my match with Korchnoi. [...] I think Korchnoi had some good opportunities in the first half of the match, but when he failed to win the fourth game his chances went down sharply.'

'Now it was my turn to play Fischer. [...] Just look at the way in which he has been able to impose his will on the authorities, and get all his conditions. At the same time his opponents do not achieve the same results. It makes one uncomfortable to know beforehand that the town, the hall, the lighting, and even the furniture is designated by your opponent.'

'If you look attentively to the games played in the first half of our match, you will see that in almost all of them, except the first game, he was driven into schemes which had occurred but very seldom in his games. In those situations which Fischer has studied a lot and played many times, he makes errors very seldom.'

'What happened in Buenos Aires is still mysterious. Petrosian dominated in five initial games, but then "degraded" down to the level of Taimanov and Larsen. What Petrosian managed to do in games one and five was a great achievement. He demonstrated that it is possible to compete with Fischer.'