26 December 2012

2012 Women's World Championship, Players

Finishing with my two previous posts, 2012 Women's World Championship and Knockout Format KOed?, I added the participants in the 2012 FIDE Knockout Matches to the Index of Women Players.

Three posts to finish one page?! I must be slipping.

19 December 2012

2012-2013 Grand Prix, Tashkent

I added the crosstable and PGN for the 2012 Tashkent event to my page on the 2012-2013 Grand Prix. After the 2012 London event, this is the second of six events. According to the FIDE calendar, the third event will take place in Lisbon starting April 2013.

Media coverage for Tashkent was considerably more subdued than for London, perhaps because the organizer, Agon, has not yet hit full stride. The Candidates Matches for the current cycle, to be held in March 2013 in London, and the Lisbon leg of the next cycle's Grand Prix will show us what Agon is capable of doing.

12 December 2012

Knockout Format KOed?

Finishing up with last week's post on the 2012 Women's World Championship, I added records of the individual matches to my page on the Women's 2012 FIDE Knockout Matches. The last task was to add an issue date to my link for the 'Regulations' for the event. I keep track of FIDE announcements on the World Championship, but for this event I had nothing.

I couldn't find an announcement on the FIDE site, but I did find something related on Chessvibes.com: Hou Yifan starts new Women GP with 4/4, dated August 2011. The search also led me to a page on YifanHou.net, titled Women's World Chess Championship 2012, a site/blog not administered by the former Women's World Champion, but by an admirer. The page starts,

The "new" FIDE Regulations for the Women’s World Chess Championship Cycle have caused some serious amazement among the insiders of the chess scene.

Later it gets heavier.

It has to be mentioned again and again that these regulations apply exclusively in women's chess. Ilyumzhinov seems to be too much a miserable coward to involve the men's championship since the resistance would blow him out of his presidency when Anand loses his first round match against one of the African stars.

This is close to what happened in the 2012 Women's Championship, when all of the top seeds were eliminated in the second round. More pages in the same style can be found using the search 'site:yifanhou.net inurl:uncensored'. It's good to know that some keen observers of the international chess scene are paying close attention to women's chess. Despite the deficiencies of the current format, congratulations are due to Anna Ushenina, the new Women's World Champion.

05 December 2012

2012 Women's World Championship

I added the recently completed Women's World Championship, aka 2012 FIDE Knockout Matches, to my page on the World Chess Championship for Women. The page on the matches is only a stub, because I ran into a number of small technical problems and ran out of time. I'll complete it as soon as I can.

28 November 2012

Gelfand and His Colleagues

It's been a year since I last posted an interview -- Kramnik on Kramnik -- and looking through the material that has been published since then, the reason is obvious: there hasn't been much to choose from. Many of the best interviews first appeared on Whychess.com, but the site hasn't been as active in 2012 as it was last year. Earlier this month it was a pleasure to see 'Boris Gelfand: With Shining Eyes' by GM Vladislav Tkachiev, Part 1 and Part 2. Here are some excerpts where Anand's unsuccessful challenger discussed his colleagues.
KasparovQ: Do you study Kasparov's books? • A: Yes, of course I read Kasparov attentively. I even read more than I play through the games, because computer variations are not so interesting, even if they are beautiful. But the assessments, thoughts, etc. these are very interesting.

AnandQ: How did it seem to you when it was Anand who turned into a real chess superman? • A: When wasn't he? He was great in 1994-1996, and had another peak when he improved his openings, it was around 2005-2007, I think. Because it seems to me that the opening was always his Achilles Heel, he played every opening going.

Kasparov (again) • Q: Are you definitely sure you did the right thing in refusing help from Kasparov in your match against Anand? • A: Yes. • Q: And you definitely think his invitation was not quite correct? • A: Well, it is a question of your life priorities. I am used to being friendly with people, not enemies with them. Opposing someone is a political thing. It is clear that Kasparov had an absolutely bad attitude to me all his life, he just had some problems with Anand and wanted to help fight against him. I have not spoken to him since he left chess, and I saw him again for the first time only for about a minute and a half in the press centre at the Tal Memorial. He continued to be against me, and even after I won in Kazan, he had only negative things to say. In other words, it was a suggestion directed against Anand, and I even know why it was made. • Q: Why? • A: As far as I know, Anand refused to help support him and Karpov in the battle for the FIDE Presidency. That is, he thought that after he had helped Anand against Topalov, Anand would now support him. Now this is in the public domain, although I was aware of it even when he made his suggestion.

CarlsenQ: Some years ago, we were comparing Carlsen's play in simple positions to that of Karpov in his best years. • A: As far as Carlsen is concerned, he has certain exceptional qualities, which I think are just natural. For example, a feeling for the pieces, plus absolute determination and motivation. It seems to me that we now have a generation to whom ratings are important, and not just in chess. They watch highly-rated films, and read highly-rated books. This desire to pass Kasparov's rating record gives Carlsen motivation to play every game to the end, with maximum effort. • Q: And does he have other qualities, in a purely chess sense? • A: In a great number, and most of all, his strength in defence is incredible. All this, together with tremendous belief in himself, makes him similar to Karpov, but raised to a computer level.

CaruanaQ: And what about Caruana? • A: I played with him last at Wijk aan Zee, and it was after this that he made his big leap forward, so it is not easy for me to summarise him today. It seems to me that he also has incredible concentration. He is calculating variations the whole time, like a kind of computer, with a sort of enhanced processor. No, I really have no idea. He has great confidence, you can feel it. • Q: But this alone cannot explain his results. • A: I think now we have to wait, because I have often seen phenomena in the first year, but it is only in the second year that one finds out if it can last. Carlsen too has said that he beat Caruana without great problems at Biel last year, yet at Wijk aan Zee, he shared first place with him and he was already a totally different player. Of course, he also works enormously hard and has great motivation. But the question is still whether he will become a great player, or just an extremely strong one.

AronianQ: What about [Aronian]? • A: Well, he is the most striking player around, with the highest creative level, in terms both of openings and original ideas in the middlegame. Number one at the moment. So, frankly, it surprises me that the entire press is part of the Carlsen fan club, and not Aronian's. • Q: But it is typical that fan-clubs grow up around Western players. People are tired of the years of Soviet domination and the huge number of players coming from that school. • A: Yes, indeed, in the main it is the Western press, I agree. Hence the enormous reaction, when an English-speaking star emerges, everyone is hoping for this.

I was somewhat surprised to see Caruana included in the list of subjects. I know his recent results have been stellar, but hadn't realized that he was already viewed as a top title contender. He is not on the list of players for the Candidate tournament, March 2013 in London. From the 'Rules & regulations for the Candidates Tournament of the FIDE World Championship cycle 2011-2013':-

2. Qualification for the 2012 Candidates Tournament

The players who qualify for the Candidates Tournament are determined according to the following, in order of priority:

2.1 World Cup 2011 - The three (3) top winners of the World Cup 2011 qualify.

2.2 World Championship Match 2012 - The player who lost the 2012 World Championship Match qualifies.

2.3 Average FIDE Rating List of July 2011 & January 2012 - Three (3) players qualify to participate by rating (excluding the players who qualify from articles 2.1 and 2.2 above). [...]

2.6 One nominated player by the Organiser - A player, nominated by the organiser, with a rating of at least 2700 in the FIDE rating list of January 2012.

2.7 Replacements - Any replacements necessary will be fulfilled from the average rating list of July 2011 & January 2012.

[That is now '2013 Candidates Tournament'; what happened to paragraphs 2.4 & 2.5?]

In World Chess Championship 2013, Wikipedia lists the qualifiers according to the published criteria: Svidler, Grischuk, & Ivanchuk; Gelfand; Carlsen, Aronian, & Kramnik; Radjabov.

21 November 2012

2012 FIDE General Assembly : Whither the World Championship?

My series on 'Whither the World Championship?' is becoming an annual fixture, last seen on this blog in 2011 FIDE Executive Board : Whither the World Championship?, and on my main blog in Out to Ruin FIDE?. The pattern of alternating between the two blogs, depending on subject matter, has already produced four posts on the latest FIDE gathering:-

Now, with the release of the 83rd FIDE General Assembly Minutes and Annexes, we're going to see another post. From the minutes of the 'FIDE Congress, Istanbul, Turkey, General Assembly, 7-9 September 2012', the kickoff topic was the traditional 'Report of the President', FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov's annual report. First he reminded everyone about the two World Championships held in the previous 12 months,

During the period after our last Congress, the two top events took place in our chess life: November 2011 in Tirana, the Women’s World Chess Championship took place. Women’s World Champion Hou Yifan has convincingly defended her title in the fight against a challenger from India – Humpy Koneru. Mr. Mikhail Gorbachev, ex President of the USSR visited the first official FIDE event in Albania, which gave additional weight to the event. I would like to thank the President of the Albanian Chess Federation Mr. Taci for the successful organization of the match.

This May in one of the most well-known places of the Russian capital – the Tretyakov Gallery – the World Chess Championship Match between Viswanathan Anand and Boris Gelfand took place, for the prize fund of 2,55 mln USD. It was organized on the highest organization level and attracted huge attention both of chess experts and just chess lovers. During live Internet broadcast people had a chance to see not only all details of the match and hear professional chess commentary, but get acquainted with the history and masterpieces of one of the best museums of the world. At the closing of the match President of Russia Vladimir Putin met with the participants. I would also like to express our enormous gratitude to the Russian Chess Federation management led by Arkady Dvorkovich and to FIDE Vice President Ilya Levitov, the main match sponsor Andrei Filatov for the brilliant realization of the idea to unite sports and arts in the presentation of chess.

Later Ilyumzhinov branched into the qualifying events for the current cycle.

You all remember a beautiful building of the chess centre in Khanty-Mansiysk, the venue of our previous General Assembly. Last September, they hosted the 4th World Chess Cup won by Peter Svidler. I would like to note that we tried the video broadcast of the event, which now takes place in all FIDE official events. We received a proposal from ChessTV company, which is ready to invest and carry out video broadcast of our other tournaments. This company was involved in the Moscow World Championship match, and they are currently working here at the Olympiad. They think that if we both work together, it is possible to create sponsor and advertisement market, to become a serious source of income for the chess events organizers. As for Khanty-Mansiysk, they are going to host the Women’s World Championship in November and next year – World Rapid and Blitz Championships.

I would also like to note a successful organization of the FIDE Grand Prix series, and in ten days we are opening a new series by a London tournament, followed by Tashkent, and next year the Grand Prix tournaments will take place in Lisbon, Madrid, Berlin and Paris. London will also host next year in March the Candidates matches, and the prize fund has already been transferred to the FIDE account. According to the signed contract, the organization of these tournaments is undertaken by Agon. Ankara next week will host the last leg of the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix tournaments.

A substantial chunk of time was later spent on Agon. I've already covered this in the post on 'Agon's Paulson' and will only mention that the minutes are nearly a transcript of the events recorded in that video.

Out with the old and in with the new? The segment on the CNC presented a distinct contrast to the promise of the Agon vision. Here are excerpts from 'CNC Project', which preceded the Agon discussion:-

Deputy President G. Makropoulos said that from the beginning of the original contract, CNC had a right to organise events and find sponsorship, and later this part was given to Agon when we signed the contract with them. So the Agreement with CNC has changed.

Mr. D. Levitansky from CNC is here to report to the Assembly. He said that it is a great honour to speak about the internet chess project, with the goal to change the situation of market capitalisation of chess websites. There is a huge demand for chess information and entertainment. There are a lot of links and non-chess portals and traffic is dispersed. They have been exploring marketing research in this situation and found it that it is necessary to join our efforts with Federations and players. They informed the CNC committee and have certain suggestions. They will launch MyFIDE.com project and will introduce new services, to make chess and FIDE financially efficient. They suggest synergy and a high level of support and promotion, to achieve a positive cash flow. [...]

Mr. Yazici said [...] We signed a contract with CNC four years ago, and he was happy to see initiative from them. We knew that according to the contract which ends in 2013, we hope to work with them and we hope that FIDE and CNC accept and we can create cash flow for FIDE. MyFIDE.com is a very nice idea to get many issues under one umbrella and to unite different sources and to get a rating which is feasible for advertisers. With a small blog you are not so interesting for an advertiser, this is promising for the future. He hoped it will not be like last four years, we want to see action as soon as possible. He hoped they will move very fast to start acting.

Mr. Makropoulos said our contract has been published, CNC has a list of rights which they can activate based on a concrete project, following the approval of FIDE. This is a new idea and we would like to see a final project. At the same time, we could present a project to them and if they reject, we could choose another partner to fulfil it.

I expect that any future 'Whither' posts will have little to say about CNC and much to say about Agon. Their London Grand Prix was a definite success and the Tashkent event starts today. The London Candidate matches in March will mark a clean break between the pre-Agon and Agon eras of chess history. The Agon contract is for 11 years into the future. Looking at everything that has happened in the last 11 years, I can't begin to imagine what the chess world will look like in 2023.

14 November 2012

ICCF 20th to 24th WCCC Finals (PGN)

Finishing with ICCF 20th to 24th World Championships, I added the PGN game scores to the five events. See World Chess Championship : Correspondence Chess for links to the crosstables, where the game scores can also be found.

07 November 2012

ICCF 20th to 24th World Championships

Following up my previous post, ICCF World Championships (2012 Status), I added the finals for the 20th through 24th championships to my page on the World Chess Championship : Correspondence Chess. I didn't have time to finish the associated PGN files, so I'll add those as soon as I can.

31 October 2012

ICCF World Championships (2012 Status)

Since my last report on correspondence chess ICCF World Championships (2011 Status), three World Champions have emerged:-
  • WC23: Ulrich Stephan
  • WC24: Marjan Šemrl
  • WC26: Ron A. H. Langeveld

I also received the PGN for WC20, meaning I now have five completed events to add to my page World Chess Championship : Correspondence Chess.

20 * 2004-11 Lehikoinen, Pertti (FIN)
21 * 2005-08 Oosterom, Joop J. van (NED)
22 * 2007-10 Dronov, Aleksandr (RUS)
23 * 2007-11 Stephan, Ulrich (GER)
24 * 2009-12 Šemrl, Marjan (SLO)
25   2009- Started 2009-12-10
26   2010- Langeveld, Ron (NED)
27   2011- Started 2011-06-10

As before, the asterisk ('*') means the winner is known and the PGN game scores are available. I expect the last three events to be completed by this time next year. As for further events, I have no information.

24 October 2012

The Agon Schedule

In Evolution of a Press Release and Agon's Paulson at the FIDE General Assembly, I reported on the the relationship between Agon and FIDE, but what exactly has Agon contracted to do for FIDE? The full agreement was published by Chessvibes.com at the time of the 2012 General Assembly: Agreement between FIDE and Agon [PDF]. Here is an excerpt.

2.1 The Events shall include the following Competitions (or the same number of events which may have different Formats or Schedules) during the term of the Agreement, during each World Chess Championship cycle:

(a) the World Chess Championship Match, every second year;

(b) the World Chess Challenger competition (also known as the Candidates Tournament), alternating with the World Chess Championship, every second year;

(c) six Grand Prix competitions or their equivalent, as may be agreed between FIDE and Agon from time to time, are spread out over the two year cycle;

(d) the World Cup competition held in 2015 and each second year thereafter; provided that the World Cup competition shall only be a "Competition" hereunder if (i) FIDE has used its best efforts to bundle that and subsequent World Cup and Chess Olympiad with a single sponsor; and (ii) FIDE has notified Agon no later than 18 month prior to the start of the calendar year in which the World Cup is to take place that it has failed to find such a sponsor. For any World Cup that is not a "Competition" hereunder, Agon will remain available to provide full marketing and branding support for this event, as specifically provided for in this Agreement, as with all the other Competitions provided that there are no branding and sponsorship conflicts;

(e) any other competition that offers or assures the winner a place in the World Chess Challenger competition; and

(f) such additional competitions ("Additional Competitions") as may be designated as Competitions by Interface Resolution from time to time.

In short, Agon will be responsible for the World Championship title match, the Candidates event, and the Grand Prix. Should FIDE be unable to bundle the World Cup with the Olympiad, the World Cup will be included. An entire cycle will take place over two years instead of the haphazard scheduling we've seen over the last few cycles.

17 October 2012

2011-2012 Women's Grand Prix, Players

Since the 2011-2012 Women's Grand Prix, Ankara, was the sixth and last Grand Prix event in the current cycle, I added the players' names from my page on the series, 2011-2012 FIDE Women's Grand Prix (WGP), to my World Chess Championship : Index of Women Players.

The original announcement specified that '18 players will participate', but there were 23 different players over the six events. A pair of articles on Chessbase.com -- FIDE Grand Prix: A call for a fair player selection process and Geoffrey Borg replies to Zhdanov on the FIDE Women Grand Prix -- explained how this came about.

I had hoped to document the final Grand Prix standings on that 2011-12 WGP page, but was unable to find them. The official site, grandprix.fide.com, currently lists only the totals through the fifth event, Jermuk 2012. If you're not sure what happens next in the Women's World Championship, see my post on the fifth event, 2011-2012 Women's Grand Prix, Jermuk.


Later: Following up a subsequent idea, outlined in 2015-2016 Women's Grand Prix, the Players (December 2016; 'The first two posts, 2009-2010 & 2011-2012, could use a chart like the one shown above.'), I added the chart shown on the left.

For each of the players who competed in the 2011-2012 Grand Prix, it shows the total score achieved and the number of games played by the player.

10 October 2012

2012-2013 Grand Prix, London

I added the crosstable and PGN for the 2012 London event to my page on the 2012-2013 Grand Prix. The first event of the second Grand Prix (GP) series came almost four and a half years after the first event, 2008 Baku, of the first GP series, 2008-2009 Grand Prix. Will the second GP series manage to dodge the many bullets that crippled the first? Time will tell, but FIDE and its sponsor Agon are certainly off to a good start.

03 October 2012

2011-2012 Women's Grand Prix, Ankara

I added the Ankara event to my page on the 2011-2012 FIDE Women's Grand Prix. Coming only two months after the 2011-2012 Women's Grand Prix, Jermuk tournament, this was the last of the six events in the current series. I haven't seen the final official standings for the entire series, but Fide.com says,
Humpy Koneru became a winner of sixth stage of the FWGP in Ankara and placed second in the overall Grand Prix series after Hou Yifan. The Chinese has already clinched the first place in the overall Grand Prix cycle.
As soon as I see the final results for all competitors, I'll add it, and will also update the Index of Women Players.

26 September 2012

Agon's Paulson at the FIDE General Assembly

The link to the series of Youtube videos that I noted in 83rd FIDE Congress isn't the only video resource available for that gathering. It turns out that the same camera man, Sevan Muradian, has extracted some of the most important sequences to separate videos. For example, below is a clip covering Andrew Paulson's appearance in front of the General Assembly. If you're not familiar with Paulson, he's the white knight to whom FIDE has given the contract for the next few World Championship cycles. I covered his swift ascent to FIDE center stage in two recent posts: Evolution of a Press Release and C25 Candidates & C26 Grand Prix.

Agon (47:27) • 'Published on 19 Sep 2012 by North American Chess; no description available'

Although the clip is over 47 minutes long, Paulson's main presentation lasts for only three minutes near the beginning. Here's a highlight:-

I'm often asked by journalists, do I really think that I can make chess as big as it was 20 or 30 years ago, and I point out to them that chess is bigger than it was 20 or 30 years ago. It's simply that media attention -- the eye of the camera -- has been elsewhere. So in fact a major part of our strategy is to bring back media attention to the events themselves. It's not a major transformation. I don't have any revolutionary ideas. I simply plan on doing everything a little bit better and I think that's the core of our plan.

The rest of the video is a Q&A featuring various FIDE heavyweights, epsecially FIDE Deputy President Makropoulos. FIDE President Ilyumzhinov remains silent throughout. My favorite segment is an exchange between Paulson and Vice President Ilya Levitov, who also happens to be President of the Russian Chess Federation, on the withdrawal of the Chelyabinsk organizers from the first Grand Prix event, which was hastily reorganized in London. Another portion worth excerpting is Paulson's response when asked about 'media channels' at the London Grand Prix:-

The first two Grand Prix's, which were supposed to be in Chelyabinsk and Tashkent, we had no major plans for innovation. We signed the contract six months ago and there was still an amount of uncertainty around it. Our plans are to make a big, let's say, a transitional moment during the Candidates which will also be in London in March.

Toward the end of the video, Makropoulos explains the importance of the contract to FIDE:-

I'm proposing to approve this contract, because it's very important for FIDE at this moment. It's the first time in our history to have our events for the World Championship cycle, very expensive events; it's the first time in our history to have someone who can guarantee these events.

If you are also interested in the CNC presentation, which preceded the Agon time slot, see CNC, on the same Youtube channel.

19 September 2012

The Philippine Connection

While writing yesterday's post on my main blog, The Match That Never Was, I had a vague recollection of another fabricated Fischer - Karpov game from a few years ago. Sure enough, I found it on Chessbase.com and added the relevant links to the 'Never Was' post.

One unfabricated fact about the game didn't seem right: that the main negotiations between Fischer and Karpov occurred in the Philippines. The one reference by Chessbase -- Russians vs. Fischer, by Plisetsky and Voronkov (1994), p.366-367 -- mentions only meetings in Tokyo and Cordoba. Then I turned to Kasparov's volume on Fischer, My Great Predecessors IV, where starting on p.467, there is a long, detailed account titled 'Abdication'. Here is a timeline derived from that account.

1972-09Reykjavik: Fischer wins title from Spassky
1972 San Antonio: Fischer visits tournament; meets Karpov for first time
1973 Manila: Fischer visits tournament; meets Marcos, Campomanes
1973-09Helsinki: FIDE Congress, Fred Cramer presents Fischer's proposals
1974-06Nice: FIDE Congress; Fischer resigns title
1974-11Moscow: Karpov beats Korchnoi in Candidates final
1975-01Philippines offers $5.000.000 for match
1975-03Bergen-aan-Zee, Holland: Extraordinary FIDE Congress
1975-04Euwe declares Karpov World Champion

1974(?)Campomanes takes role of intermediary between Fischer & Karpov
1976-07Tokyo: First negotiations
1976-08Cordoba: Next meeting
1977-10Washington: (1) restaurant, (2) Philippine embassy

There are some gaps in that table, especially months and venues, which I'll fill in from other accounts.

12 September 2012

Notable Resources

A few resources worth mentioning;-

I also created a new category for 'Resources'.

05 September 2012

C25 Candidates & C26 Grand Prix

Working on the previous post, Evolution of a Press Release, I realized that I didn't have a good grasp of the events leading to the forthcoming start of the Grand Prix in London. Following is a series of relevant articles from Chessvibes.com. I prefer Chessvibes over the other main chess news services because it incorporates visitor comments.

C25: Candidates

C26: Grand Prix

Given the many things that have gone wrong with world chess in the last decade, I'm not easily impressed by FIDE, but the accomplishments of the past six months are taking the organization in a new direction. If the London Grand Prix is even moderately successful, we can expect great things to follow.

29 August 2012

Evolution of a Press Release

While looking over material related to the FIDE cycle that starts with next month's Grand Prix -- see New Cycle, New Page for background -- I noticed that Chessbase.com published two different press releases for the same article, the second release replacing the first. The first release is still available elsewhere on the Web, so I thought it would be informative to compare the two versions.

The first column in the following table is a copy of the first release, published by Chessbase on 6 June 2012. The second column is a copy of the second release, published 2 July 2012.

Andrew Paulsen’s plans for chess [exd5.com, June 2012] Agon appoints Pentagram to reposition chess [chessbase.com, July 2012]

As we recently reported, FIDE has transferred the rights to its World Championship cycle to an American media entrepreneur. Now Andrew Paulson has founded a venture call World Chess, which will host the championships with a prize fund of 5.4 million Euros! World Chess estimates the potential global audience for the sport at more than one billion. Mission statement.

As we recently reported, American media entrepreneur Andrew Paulson has founded a venture to host the World Chess Championships – with a prize fund of 5.4 million Euros! He has now appointed a leading design agency, Pentagram (in London) to rebrand the championships, which will be broadcast live on iPads, smartphones and cable TV channels. Press release (revised).

Press release : Media entrepreneur buys exclusive commercial rights to World Chess

Chess-loving entrepreneur Andrew Paulson has bought the commercial rights to the World Chess Championships, in a bid to transform the 1,600 year-old sport into a global entertainment form.

Press release : Agon appoints Pentagram to reposition chess for the world stage

Leading design agency Pentagram has been hired to rebrand the World Chess Championships, after the World Chess Federation (FIDE) accorded the commercial rights to the sport to technology entrepreneur Andrew Paulson.

American entrepreneur Andrew Paulson [photo Ester Dyson, New York]

Paulson struck the exclusive deal with Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, president of the World Chess Federation (FIDE), to host the championships and provide long-term commercial structure for the game, with a prize fund of 5.4 million Euros. His new venture, called World Chess, plans to return the sport to the UK’s television screens for the first time since Nigel Short played Garry Kasparov for the top prize in 1993. Condensed highlights will be shown on living room television sets, supported by interactive broadcast on the internet, iPads and smartphones.

The move represents a huge sponsorship opportunity for brands, as the sport is so far a clean slate in terms of advertising. When IBM’s supercomputer Deep Blue beat Garry Kasparov in 1997, IBM said it received $500m of free publicity.

World Chess estimates the potential global audience for the sport at more than one billion, with over 600 million chess players worldwide. Its broadcast strategy will exploit the interactive potential of the Internet and mobile technology, allowing fans to post live match commentary, monitor players’ heartbeats, track their eye movements over the board, and predict the next move.

World Chess will also develop a range of apps that will allow fans to follow the games on all the major social media platforms. London-based design agency Pentagram, which has been hired to provide the branding for World Chess, has designed the purpose-built arena and cockpit for the matches.

Mr Paulson struck the deal with Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, president of FIDE, to host the championships and provide long-term commercial structure for the game, with an increased prize fund of 5.4 million euros.

AGON, the company set up to administer the commercial activities of World Chess, has briefed Pentagram to position the sport as a global entertainment form that encompasses the interactive potential of the internet and mobile technology.

Pentagram has designed the new auditorium for the next World Chess Championship cycle, which will start next March in London as part of the European Tour, before moving on to Lisbon, Madrid, Paris, Berlin and Istanbul.

The championship games will be broadcast live on the internet, on iPads and on smartphones. A range of apps will allow fans to follow the championships on all the major social media platforms. Mr Paulson is also negotiating with global cable television channels for highlights coverage on living room television sets.

The sport is so far a clean slate in terms of advertising, and Mr Paulson is looking for six brand partners to “professionalise and enliven” the sport.

He said: “World Chess will make household names of Grandmasters and provide a compelling media proposition for global companies to become sponsors. YouGov research has shown that chess is more associated with intelligence, sophistication and strategy than any other major global sport.”

Paulson, a serial media and technology entrepreneur, founded Aisha Publishing House and the $300m online media business SUP. His vision for World Chess was born following a chance meeting with Ilyumzhinov, the former leader of the oil-rich Buddhist region of Kalmykia, who was re-elected as president of FIDE in 2010. FIDE will supply the players and regulate the tournament, initially receiving 20 per cent of the prize money, with an additional profit-share agreement planned over the longer term.

World Chess has ample finance to fund the first cycle of the world chess championship, but it is expected that additional support will be secured from sponsors. The company is understood to be in talks with a number of businesses in the technology, media, financial and professional services sectors. Mr Paulson said: “We are looking for six global sponsors in non-competing sectors.

Research undertaken by YouGov has shown that chess is more associated with intelligence, sophistication and strategy than any other major global sport.”

Mr Paulson founded the Russian businesses Afisha Publishing House and the online media business SUP. His vision for the World Chess Championships was born following a chance meeting with Ilyumzhinov, the former leader of the Buddhist region of Kalmykia, who was re-elected as president of FIDE in 2010.

FIDE will supply the players and regulate the tournament, initially receiving 20 per cent of the prize money, with an additional profit-share agreement planned over the longer term.

The first fixture will be played in London in March 2013 followed by events in other major European cities. The tournament will be hosted by North African and Middle Eastern cities in 2014, followed by India in 2015 and the Americas in 2016. Each World Chess Championship cycle will take two years, working up to the Championship Match via the Candidates Tournament, six Grand Prix and one World Cup game, where the reigning World Champion will take on the leading contender.

Harriet Dennys, Mission PR

Each World Chess Championship cycle will take two years, working up to the Championship Match via the Candidates Tournament, six Grand Prix and one World Cup game, where the leading challenger will take on the reigning World Champion.

Following the European Tour-themed first year, the World Chess Championships will be hosted by cities in a different economic zone each succeeding year: the Arab world in 2014, India in 2015 and the Americas in 2016.

Harriet Dennys, Mission PR

The June press release shows lack of familiarity with professional chess ('the purpose-built arena and cockpit for the matches'; 'fixture' instead of 'tournament') and reveals some difference in the expectations of the two parties ('bought the commercial rights' vs. 'accorded the commercial rights'; 'exclusive deal' vs. 'deal'). The chess world has cut Paulson a lot of slack, hoping that maybe, just maybe, Ilyumzhinov has finally discovered a worthy commercial partner.

22 August 2012

History of the World Championship on Fide.com

The Official site of the match for the title of World Chess Champion, aka the 2012 Anand - Gelfand match, has a good summary of World Championship title events: Match History. Perhaps unique among 'official' lists, it includes both FIDE and non-FIDE matches, as well as the final rounds of the knockout events. The Anand - Gelfand match would be the 52nd on the list.

15 August 2012

Fortunate with His Temperament

Fischer (1943-2008), Filip (1928-2009), Smyslov (1921–2010), Larsen (1935–2010), now Gligoric (1923–2012); one by one the World Championship contenders of the mid-20th century are leaving us: Svetozar Gligoric, legend of the King's Indian, dies at 89, (Chessvibes.com, 14 August 2012).

The first chapter of Gligoric's I Play against Pieces (Batsford 2002) is autobiographical, with several passages relating to his struggles for the World Championship. A sample:-

An episode from my 'comeback' in 1967: After the Interzonal in Portoroz 1958 I gave the impression of being one of favourites in the Candidates tournament 1959 of 8 participants, and I disappointed my audience when I finished 5th-6th in the company of a young grandmaster by name of Bobby Fischer... I continued my 'going down' in the Interzonals at Stockholm 1962 and Amsterdam 1964, failing twice to qualify for the Candidates stage. When I went to Sousse in 1967, nothing spectacular was to be expected from me.

At that time, I had some new ideas for a safe opening repertoire and intended, as usual, to rely on my intuition during play. My plan was not to lose a single game and to gain the minimum number of wins necessary for qualification -- and that I thought I could do.

I was 44 and it surprised me when my new second, young Velimirovic, treated me like a novice in international chess. He forced me to break my regular habits and to spend 2-3 hours each morning in preparation for the game in the afternoon. It was like a prophecy of how chess players behave nowadays, where preparation can offer a 90% guarantee of success.

Gligoric finished tied for 2nd-4th (+7-0=14) with Korchnoi and Geller (1967 Sousse Interzonal Tournament). The following year he played Tal in the first round of the Candidate matches.

My tactics were like balancing on the brink of a threatening abyss -- if I lost a single game. It did happen in my next match with Tal who, in 1968 said that for several reasons Belgrade as a playing site was a handicap to me. I was leading after five games and both Tal and his second Koblentz believed that I was going to win the match.

Then in the 6th game, stupidly irritated by journalistic comments on the 'monotony of our duel', I shocked myself with a sudden decision at the board to make a 3rd move as White for which I was unprepared. After that defeat I collapsed. If one could explain it -- I must have been tired of the situation with no tranquillity. Among other things, the playing hall was across the street from where I lived downtown with my wife and this was like an open invitation to benevolent visitors to frequent our place. However I was fortunate with my temperament and did not regret one bit my lost chance.

Not only was Gligoric a world class player, he was also a world class journalist and a world class arbiter. The man who declared himself to be 'fortunate with my temperament' is already in the books as one of the greatest.

08 August 2012

New Cycle, New Page

I added a new page, 2012-2013 Grand Prix, to my index of the World Chess Championship. This is the first event in a new cycle -- C26 according to my numbering -- as previously outlined in Overview of Four Cycles.

01 August 2012

2011-2012 Women's Grand Prix, Jermuk

I added the Jermuk event to my page on the 2011-2012 FIDE Women's Grand Prix. This was the fifth of six events in the series, where the previous event was the Women's Grand Prix, Kazan. The final event was originally scheduled for November in Turkey, but this has been moved forward.

I'd lost track of the events for the current cycle of the Women’s World Championship, so I looked at the current 03. Regulations for the Women`s World Chess Championship Cycle. Here are the most important points:-

1. Organisation

1.1. The Women’s World Chess Championship shall be organised annually and qualifying events include the following: National Championships, Zonal Tournaments, Continental Championships, FIDE Women’s Grand Prix and the final stages, the Women’s World Chess Championship Tournament in even years 2012, 2014 etc. (64-player knock out system) and the Women’s World Chess Championship Match (10 games, 2 players) in odd years 2013, 2015, etc.

2. Qualifying events for the Women’s World Chess Championship Tournament (knock out system)

2. 1. National Chess Championships
2. 2. Zonal Tournaments
2. 3. Continental Chess Championships

3. Women’s World Chess Championship 2012

3. 1. Qualifiers – There are 64 qualifiers (in order of priority):
a. The Women’s World Champion, the runner up from the Women’s World Championship Match 2011 and the two other semi-finalists of the Women’s World Championship 2010 (4 players)
b. The World Junior Girl Champions U-20 of 2010 & 2011. (2 players)
c. The five best rated players from the average of the FIDE rating lists of July 2011 and January 2012 (5 players).
d. Fifty-one qualifiers from the Women’s Continental Championships and Zones (51 players).
e. Two nominees of the FIDE President (2 players).

4. Women’s World Chess Championship 2013

4. 1. The winner of the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix series 2011-2012 will play the Women’s World Champion in the second half of 2013 in a ten game match for the Women’s World Championship title. Should the overall winner of the Women’s Grand Prix also be the Women’s World Champion at the end of the Grand Prix series in 2013, then the challenger rights will go to the second placed overall in the Grand Prix.

According to the FIDE Calendar 2012, the remaining events this year are:-

  • Women's FIDE Grand Prix Series; Ankara, Turkey; 15-Sep-2012; 30-Sep-2012
  • Women's World Championship 2012; Khanty Mansiysk, Russia; 9-Nov-2012; 3-Dec-2012

Next year will see the match described in 4.1 above.

25 July 2012

Kasparov's Thoughts, Emotions, and Perceptions

I'm not sure how many books I have that document specific World Championship events, but it must be around 40 to 50. The content of these books is similar and is invariably drawn from the following list.
  • Background to the event (usually a match).
  • Biographies of the (two) players.
  • Table of results.
  • Moves of the individual games, usually with notes.
  • Aftermath, if worth a special note.

In The Question of Old Material, with specific reference to online material, I mentioned,

There's more to say about [...] how best to document a World Championship event. Through the years I've given this a lot of thought and might come back to it for a future post.

The most recent addition to my book collection is the series on Kasparov's Modern Chess. Making this series unique is how Kasparov has woven his thoughts, emotions, and perceptions into the record of the games. The second volume in the series, published in 2008, covers the first two of the Karpov - Kasparov matches, KK1 (1984-85) and KK2 (1985). KK1 was the marathon 48-game match where Kasparov was trounced at the outset, but gradually found his bearings. Here is his personal note inserted between game one, where he played Black, and game two; both games were draws.

Despite the successful outcome, the discomfort I experienced during the course of this game forced me to seek other ways of defending. Later I realised that such a rejection of a perfectly acceptable opening variation [Sicilian Defense, Scheveningen Variation, Keres Attack] because of purely subjective, sometimes inexplicable, feelings is a normal phenomenon in serious matches.

Even so, a draw with the black pieces added to my optimism, and I arrived for the second game with a desire to engage the world champion in a large-scale battle. Alas, however, I was unable to overcome my nervousness, which told soon after emerging from the opening.

Between games two and three, which he lost.

Raymond Keene called this game 'one of the most violent and tempestuous I have ever seen in a world championship.' In the middle we reached the type of position which I would usually convert into a win, but here, in the words of Keene, Kasparov went 'berserk' . Trying at all costs to cling on to my fading initiative, I made several blunders, and only the opponent's mistakes in reply allowed me to avoid defeat.

My nervous condition also let me down in the 3rd game (before it Karpov took a time-out - the first of three he was allowed in the first 24 games). I employed a dubious novelty in the opening, and then, in an attempt to solve the resulting problems as quickly as possible, I incorrectly sacrificed a pawn. Karpov exploited these mistakes with surgical precision, permitting me to experience for the first time his ice-cold scalpel.

Between games three and four.

Thus in the 1st game Karpov avoided all my novelties, in the 2nd game he himself 'delighted' me with an unknown move, and in the 3rd he proved excellently prepared for a variation that had not previously occurred ... However, my play in that game was not nearly at the standard of a world championship match. Emotions overcame cold rationality, which is so necessary for such matches.

The two players arrived for the 4th game in different moods. I needed to come to after my defeat in the previous game (for this I even took a time-out). But Karpov, no doubt wishing to build on his success, for the only time in the match chose virtually the most complicated variation in the Queen's Indian Defence, leading to tense and unclear play.

After losing the sixth, seventh, and ninth games, his match situation seemed hopeless. Here are the notes between games nine and ten.

Thus the score had increased to 4-0 in Karpov's favour. This was a disaster! For me it came as a great shock to lose four of the first nine games, without a single win (just imagine: during the preceding two years I had lost only three games, and here I had already lost four!). I was just two steps away from a humiliating rout. Not surprisingly, everyone had already written me off and had begun talking about me as though in the past tense. 'Keene and I had hurried to join the match in the middle, but it seemed we were just in time for the end,' Jonathan Speelman lamented. 'Karpov has always played well, but this I hadn't expected. As for Kasparov, he probably lost his nerve. He's still young. His nerves are not good. He hasn't developed an iron will.'

And on the pages of The Times Harry Golombek came out with the unexpected claim that the Soviet authorities had supposedly demanded that I should lose to Karpov. 'Perhaps Kasparov has been warned not to play well and has been given to understand that the consequences for him and his family would be disastrous,' he wrote. Yuri Mamedov, the leader of my delegation, wrote to FIDE rejecting this nonsense. Campomanes described the story as 'unfounded and absurd' (at last he and I had found something we could agree about!).

Golombek, like many others, could not understand why I was losing seemingly without putting up a fight. He correctly observed that 'something abnormal' was happening in the match, that in the initial games I had launched into an attack with- out proper preparation, and that some of my openings had been familiar to Karpov. But to look in my play for some hidden political meaning was simply ridiculous. The reason lay with me, and in my incorrect initial stance. No one forced me to play that way - I contrived it all myself.

Yes, I was playing badly. As a player Karpov was more cunning and resourceful than me, to say nothing of his experience in general and of match play in particular. I think that one of the reasons for my collapse at the start was precisely my lack of experience at the world championship level. Even the Candidates matches cannot be compared with the final. Here Karpov was a professional, whereas I was an amateur. I could only guess about the laws of struggle at the highest level, whereas Karpov knew intimately all their nuances. He was calm and confident of victory, whereas I was merely hoping for success. Before the start of the duel not only did I not have the necessary experience - I did not even have a clear impression of what that experience was! All this came later, at great cost: specific knowledge, the correct evaluation of my powers, the ability to determine the critical moment of the play and to plan the correct strategic course, and the ability to retain objectivity and composure . . .

However, the match was not yet over and, in order to hold out for as long as possible and restore my strength of mind, I needed an urgent change of tactics. From then on I began acting extremely cautiously, endeavouring to exclude even the slightest risk. It was not in my character to play colourlessly, but I had no other choice. When you are drowning, there is no time to think about how attractively you are swimming.

Between games ten and eleven.

Draw agreed on White's proposal. Times: 1.03-1 .10.

In an evening telephone conversation Botvinnik called the draw offer my strongest move in this game: Black had a comfortable position. But Karpov went along with the peace proposal, probably having decided to avoid any complications and to pin his hopes on the white pieces, especially since at that moment in the match my black defences seemed shaky.

It only remained, so to speak, for the champion to wrap up and dispatch his opponent, i.e. me. But here Karpov violated an undisputable law of the struggle - the opponent must be finished off. Having decided that I myself would ripen and drop off, like a mature fruit, he lessened the pressure. If Karpov had continued playing as he did at the start of the match, I think that it would all have been over by about the 20th game. In this case he might have lost a couple of games, but this would not have affected the outcome. In an interview after the match Karpov admitted: 'With a lead of four points, I also did not aim for sharp play. Perhaps this was a mistake on my part: one must strike while the iron is hot.'

The ease with which Karpov had managed to achieve an overwhelming advantage in the very first games reduced his fighting spirit. Intoxicated by success, he set himself a high objective: to win by a 6-0 whitewash and disable a dangerous rival for a long time. This was no longer a contest only with me, but also with the shadow of the legendary Bobby Fischer, who in his time won by the same score (true, without any draws) in his Candidates matches with Taimanov and Larsen.

Looking ahead, it can be said that the opponent's decision not to take risks played into my hands. It was important for me to come to, and to regain my composure and confidence. Hence the record series of seventeen draws, many of which justifiably provoked the dissatisfaction of the fans. Karpov was waiting for my next mistake, while I was psychologically not yet ready to seize the initiative.

But before the 11th game I was still in a state of semi-shock, I had no idea about my opponent's mood, and the idea of making several draws in succession had hardly occurred to me. First I had to 'tame' 1 d4 - find a worthy replacement for the Tarrasch Defence. A couple of days before the game Andras Adorjan flew in to Moscow to help me, and we urgently got ready to employ the Gruenfeld Defence - 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 d5. This was risky: until then I had only played it a few times, and that had been much earlier and only against the variation with g2-g3. But we took account of the fact that this sharp defence had also occurred rarely in Karpov' s games, and we were hoping that his knowledge here would not be deep.

But with his very first move Karpov sprang a surprise, which demands a separate commentary.

What was the surprise?

1.Nf3 For the first time in the match! This move, a rare one for Karpov, put me on my guard: what was his reason for avoiding the successful 1 d4 ? After all, 1 Nf3 does not exclude the Queen's Gambit (including the Tarrasch Defence) and it reduces White's options against the King's Indian Defence (which at the time I employed extremely rarely), but it 'kills' the Gruenfeld Defence, an opening which was not part of my repertoire!

What was this? Foresight?! Alas, it was all far more prosaic. As I have already said, up to that day Dorfman had been secretly playing on the match totaliser, organised by a 'Karpov person'. Stakes could be made on almost any occurrence - the result of a game, the opening which occurred in it, the sealed move, and so on. Thus Dorfman 'exposed' my sealed move 42 ... f6 in the 9th game, by betting that White would exchange bishop for knight. Also my choice of openings was not a secret to my opponent. Before the 7th and 9th games my helper bet on the Tarrasch Defence, and before the 11th - on the fact that the black bishop would be developed at g7. By linking this inside information with the appearance of Adorjan (his arrival had not gone unnoticed), it was easy to guess that it was a question not of the King's Indian, but the Griinfeld Defence. In this first match Karpov did not intend to play against it: beginning with this game, he played (apart from 1 e4) only 1 Nf3 - fourteen times!

Game ten was the first in a long series of 17 draws, where Kasparov gradually recovered his composure. Although he lost the 27th game, it was Karpov's last win of the match, which was stopped by FIDE President Campomanes with the score at 5-3 after 48 games. It was the most spectacular reversal of form in the history of chess and we are fortunate to have Kasparov's personal recollection of how he accomplished it.

18 July 2012

2011-2012 Women's Grand Prix, Kazan

I added the Kazan event to my page on the 2011-2012 FIDE Women's Grand Prix. This was the fourth of six events in the series, where the previous event was the Women's Grand Prix, Nalchik

I also added the recent 2012 Anand - Gelfand match to my Index of players for World Championship events. This corrected an oversight dating back to my post on Anand - Gelfand Wrapup.

11 July 2012

The Question of Old Material

Even though I don't promote my chess sites on the social networking services, I received a comment about the World Championship site on Facebook.
I love your webpage about the world championship of chess. Will you ever add further material? I particularly like the "Highlights" sections... Sadly, that of the Capablanca - Alekhine match is void, and that of the Spassky - Fischer match is very scant... Will you ever beef them up? - S.T.

The comment refers to my page Match and Tournament Highlights, more specifically the 1927 Alekhine - Capablanca and 1972 Fischer - Spassky matches. These are pages where I collect material relevant to a specific match, above and beyond the basic crosstable and PGN game scores. Many of the pages, like the 1927 match, are simply a collection of references to specific games from well known chess literature, documented with a diagram to a critical position from the game. The most recent diagram on any page dates to December 2000. Some of the pages, like the 1972 match, are more detailed. I'm not sure which of these is the most recent, but I would be surprised to find anything after 2002.

When I created the material, there was no Wikipedia or Chessgames.com. These sites, with their legions of anonymous contributors, have far more resource available than I do. Here are links to their material that coincides with the Facebook comment.

What do to with old material like mine? There are three possibilities: update it, delete it, leave it. I've always taken the option to leave it alone, knowing full well that the material just gets older by the year. I see no pressing reason to change this approach, even though I've collected more source material to draw on than when I did the original work.

There's more to say about this subject, specifically how best to document a World Championship event. Through the years I've given this a lot of thought and might come back to it for a future post.

13 June 2012

Anand - Gelfand Wrapup

Let's have one last post on the 2012 Anand - Gelfand match. First, it gives me the opportunity to use (with permission) a couple of photos from Eric van Reem's unique record of the match from an insider's point of view.

Photos and captions from the Mate in Moscow blog:

Left: The trophy; creator of the sculpture Andrey Molchanovsky. You can recognize the crown in the chessboard. The trophy is made of gold and bronze, the chessboard of optical glass. It weighs about 8 kg. • Right: Team Anand, Moscow 2012: Peter Heine Nielsen, Aruna Anand, Viswanathan Anand, Rustam Kasimdzahnov, Radek Wojtaszek, Surya Ganguly, Eric van Reem and Hans-Walter Schmitt.

Next, it gives me a place to tie together my various posts on the match. Posts marked '(*)' are from the my main blog Chess for All Ages.

Finally, it gives me a reason to analyze the spike in my visitor stats, as I did two years ago in Searching for Amand - Topalon.

The site gets more visitors every time a World Championship is held and I've often wondered where they come from. Since creating the simple database I described [in March 2010], I'm better equipped to do a detailed analysis.

Traffic to my site more than doubled during the duration of the match. Visitors to the page on the 2012 Anand - Gelfand match (linked above) exceeded those to the site's Index Page, which is normally the most visited page in any particular period. About 50% of the traffic came from Google, another 25% from my other pages, the index page in particular, and 5% from Yahoo and Bing each. The other 15% came from various sources. I was pleasantly surprised to see referrals from Wikipedia's page on the Tretyakov Gallery, the site of the match.

Another page that received far more traffic than usual was 1995 Kasparov - Anand PCA Title Match : Highlights. Most of the traffic came from searches on variations of 'Kasparov Anand', although Chessgames.com's page on Viswanathan Anand vs Garry Kasparov; World Championship Match 1995 (game nine) was also a significant source. Game nine was the first decisive game after eight straight draws in the 1995 match. I imagine that many of these visitors were wondering if the six initial draws of Anand - Gelfand were some sort of a record.

06 June 2012

The Way Forward?

I added the crosstable and PGN game scores to my page on the 2012 Anand - Gelfand title match. Although I was impressed by the match organization (see Anand: 'This match could have gone either way'), I am less enthusiastic about the games themselves.

The greater the anticipation, the greater the letdown? There was so little content in the games at standard time control that most of them will be soon forgotten. Compared to the 2010 Anand - Topalov title match (see What a Match!), the 2012 edition left a lot to be desired.

Hyperdeveloped opening theory, powerful computers for further opening preparation, short matches, and draw offers -- all of these combined make for dreary chess. After the similar experience at the 2011 Candidates Event in Kazan something needs to change. Since the only element not dictated by circumstances is the draw offer, and since experience with the Sofia rules is positive, the way forward looks clear.

30 May 2012

Anand: 'This match could have gone either way.'

Congratulations to Viswanathan Anand on retaining his title as World Chess Champion. Congratulations to Boris Gelfand on believing that, despite what the pundits might say, winners and losers are never predetermined. Congratulations to the match organizers, to the sponsors, and to FIDE on showing to the world how a top-level chess match can and should be organized. Congratulations to Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam and his team of commentators on providing a constant stream of first class entertainment. It was a great show.

23 May 2012

Anand - Gelfand, Petrosian - Botvinnik

Just as I did for the previous games, I spent my chess time today watching World Championship Chess on TV. During the commercial breaks, which tend to be much too long for my taste, I switch the sound off and work on something else related to chess. Regarding the current match taking place in Moscow, I've spotted a number of comparisons with the 1963 Petrosian - Botvinnik match.

One comparison involves the combined age of the two opponents: Are Anand and Gelfand the oldest players to have contested a World Championship? One analysis concluded Anand vs. Gelfand world chess championship 2012 oldest pair of contenders since 1886. If I were doing this, I would calculate age in terms of years, months, and days at the start of the match, but since I'm not going to do this, it's a moot point.

Another comparison involves the dullness of the match. This was a common complaint during the first six games, which were all draws. It disappeared after the seventh and eighth games, which were both decisive. The same sort of complaints were heard regarding the 2011 Candidates Event at Kazan, Russia. I'm afraid it's just a characteristic of top-level chess in the early 21st century and is not going to change unless some sort of a major change to the rules is allowed. Most of the complainers seem to think it's the fault of the players, a point of view I don't agree with.

The comparisons between the 1963 and 2012 matches prompted me to open a couple of books on the earlier match. This is always a speculative act, because it invariably gets me started on researching aspects which have nothing to do with the original question. A real gold mine was 'Botvinnik - Petrosian : The 1963 World Chess Championship Match', published in 2010 by New in Chess. Although the author is listed as Mikhail Botvinnik, the book is in fact compiled from various sources related to the match. For example, the book has a section titles 'Petrosian's view of the match'. It starts, 'I never thought that I would play a match for the world championship' and then crams all sorts of informed opinion into its ten pages. Following are two excerpts. The first is about the infamous rematch clause.

A convincing victory over Botvinnik in their second match in 1957 made Smyslov the seventh World Champion. The balance of forces in the world chess elite seemed to leave no doubt that chess had a new leader, who was capable of remaining at the top for a long time to come. But there was one obstacle, namely the ex-champions right to a return match. Admittedly, the logic or appropriateness of the return match is highly debatable, since it is really just a further barrier in the path of the challenger.

Judge for yourself -- he has to be successful in events of various calibre, win the formal right to a match with the World Champion, by winning the Candidates' tournament, beat the champion, and then... within a year, he has to meet the ex-champion again. Isn't it all a bit much? It is hard to accept Botvinnik's argument that this lengthy, multi-stage system of qualifying events, followed by a World Championship match itself, could result in the chess world ending up with a 'fluke' champion. If that is so, then the entire system of determining the challenger is at fault. (p.92)

The second is about Botvinnik's intention to play the 1963 match.

It was well known that when he emerged from the Polytechnic Museum, after beating Tal in the return match, Botvinnik had said something to the effect that, if a Soviet player won the Candidates' event, he might decide not to defend his title. Under the rules of the International Chess Federation, the conditions for the World Championship match must be ratified by the FIDE President, not less than four months before the start of the match. Given that matches in Moscow usually begin around the middle of March, Botvinnik still had quite a long time in which to consider whether to defend his title.

There were some outward signs that the chess federation of the USSR was preparing for the possibility of Botvinnik refusing to play the match. This explained the hastily arranged match between grandmasters Keres and Geller, who had shared 2nd-3rd places in the Candidates' tournament. The match was needed to determine outright 2nd place, the player concerned thereby gaining the right to play the next Candidates' tournament, but also, what is more important, the right to participate in a match for the World Championship itself, if Botvinnik did not play. (p.93)

Although it doesn't say so explicitly, that second is likely related to the first. Botvinnik hesitated to play because his right to a return match had been taken away by FIDE. It's a fact that he never won a match in defense of his title.


A couple of resources worth visiting and revisiting are:-

I haven't spent nearly as much time with these as I would like to.

16 May 2012

World Championship Chess on TV

I'm old enough to remember the 1972 Fischer - Spassky match, when I saw chess on television for the first time. I don't remember how many times I caught the Shelby Lyman PBS show, but I vividly remember watching Spassky - Fischer, game 19, an Alekhine's Defense where Spassky sacrificed a Knight for a Kingside attack, which Fischer countered by miraculously forcing the exchange of Queens. I had already been playing for a few years, was rated around 1800 at the time, and the moves of both players seemed supernatural.

Eighteen years passed before I next saw World Championship chess on TV. It was during the second half of the 1990 Kasparov - Karpov match, played in Lyon, France. According to my page on the event, 'The match was televised by the main French station TF1, which broadcast 14 programs of 45 minutes.' Although I didn't note where I got that information, I never invent details like that so it must be right. The shows must have been aired late in the evening or I would have had competition for the remote control and would most likely not have seen any of them.

A few years later, I caught several TV broadcasts of the 1993 Kasparov - Short match. It must have been on BBC1 or BBC2, because we didn't receive any other BBC stations at the time. The recaps were up to BBC's usual high standards, but I wasn't able to find out ahead of time when the shows would be aired and missed most of them.

These memories all came back while I watched the first four games of the 2012 Anand - Gelfand match, broadcast live on the web from Moscow. For various reasons, live chess doesn't suit network television. While there are also some annoying aspects of the Moscow broadcasts, they are far outweighed by the sheer pleasure of seeing the most important chess event of the year in real time. Kudos to everyone responsible for the web production.

09 May 2012

Wikipedia's World Championship

A few days ago I posted a piece on my main blog titled A Chess Popularity Contest, which looked at Wikipedia's WikiProject Chess/Popular pages. Since more than 50 of those 1500 pages deal with the World Chess Championship, I list the ten most popular below.

The first column shows the relative position of the topic out of 1500, while 'V', 'A', and 'I' stand for 'Views per Day', 'Assessment', and 'Importance', respectively. For example, the main World Championship topic ranks 29th in popularity over all Wikipedia chess pages, received 550 views per day (in March 2012), is assessed to be of quality 'B' (whatever that means), and has top importance (ditto).

Pos Topic V A I
29 World Championship 550 B Top
43 World Championship 2012 415 Start High
113 World Championship 1972 159 B Top
220 World Championship 2010 68 B Top
246 World Computer Championship 60 Start Mid
247 Women's World Championship 60 Start High
332 World Junior Championship 44 Start Mid
378 List of world championship matches 38 List Mid
387 World Youth Championship 37 Start Mid
435 World Championship 2006 31 C High
444 World Championship 2013 31 Start Low

See the original WikiProject page for links to specific topics and explanations of the values in the columns. Not surprisingly, the 1972 Fischer - Spassky match is the only 20th century match to make the top-10 cut. Very surprisingly, four restricted events -- Computer, Women, Junior, & Youth -- also make the cut.

02 May 2012

Gunsberg - Chigorin - Tarrasch

I added a crosstable and PGN for the 1890 Chigorin - Gunsberg match to 1890 Steinitz - Gunsberg : Background. For my previous post on this match, see 1890 Chigorin - Gunsberg ['Next step: 1890 Chigorin - Gunsberg (Anatomy).']

I also added a crosstable and PGN for the 1893 Chigorin - Tarrasch match to 1894 Lasker - Steinitz : Background. For a previous series including this match, see Chigorin Wrapup.

18 April 2012

1889 Steinitz - Chigorin Background

Using the same techniques as in 1886 Steinitz - Zukertort Title Match : Background, I added 1889 Steinitz - Chigorin Title Match : Background to my page on the World Chess Championship : Pre-FIDE Events. The new page doesn't address the points raised in my post on the The Role of the 6th American Chess Congress, but it provides a framework for doing so.

28 March 2012

Two Big Events for 2012

The 2012 Anand - Gelfand match is fast approaching, so I updated that page to include the latest announcements from FIDE plus a link to the official site. After that match, the 2012 Candidates Event is the next big event in the lineup, and I added that page to my index for the World Chess Championship. The Candidates event deserves a blog post on it own, but details on its organization are still too unclear to do anything except speculate.


Later: No sooner had the ink dried (so to speak) on this post, than it was obsolete, as was the title: FIDE Announces Dates for World Chess Championship Cycles [28 March 2012].

In the revised calendar, the next World Chess Candidates Tournament has been moved to March 13 – March 31, 2013. The tournament will take place in London.

Comparing the new calendar with the old, which I documented in Overview of Four Cycles, reveals other significant changes. The 2014 Candidates event has been moved forward from November to March and the World Championship match for the same cycle, C26 using my numbering, has been moved from November 2015 to November 2014.

Even more importantly, FIDE has finally settled on a consistent two year cycle. The World Cup will be held around third quarter (Q3) of the start year of a new cycle, the Candidates event around Q1 of the following year, and the title match around Q3 of the same year. This means that the overlapping cycles we have seen over the past few years will disappear for C27. Continental championships and zonal tournaments can be scheduled accordingly.

As for the Grand Prix tournaments in major cities of the world, it remains to be seen if FIDE can execute its plan. Nothing we have seen in the past inspires confidence.

21 March 2012

The Role of the 6th American Chess Congress

I started this post with the intention of adding a new page to my index of World Chess Championship : Pre-FIDE Events. It was to be modeled after the page I did for The First World Championship, and to incorporate basic information about the 1890 Chigorin - Gunsberg match.

While sifting through the source material at hand, I realized that before documenting that match I needed to tackle the Sixth American Chess Congress. That brought me to the door of one of the mysteries of the early World Championships. Here's a writeup from Wikipedia:-

Under rules that reigning World Champion Wilhelm Steinitz helped to develop, the winner was to be regarded as World Champion for the time being, but must be prepared to face a challenge from the second- or third-placed competitor within a month. Mikhail Chigorin and Max Weiss tied for first, and remained tied after drawing all four games of a playoff. Weiss was not interested in playing a championship match, but Isidor Gunsberg, the third place finisher, exercised his right and challenged Chigorin to a World Championship match. In 1890, he drew a first-to-10-wins match against Chigorin (9-9 with five draws). These were the same terms (9-9 draw clause) as the first World Championship match between Steinitz and Zukertort in 1886. Incidentally, they were also the same match terms that Bobby Fischer would insist on for his title defense in 1975. • Sixth American Chess Congress (1889)

Note the phrase 'the winner was to be regarded as World Champion for the time being'. This is contrary to what I knew about the Congress, and I assumed that the anonymous Wikipedia writer simply got it wrong. After all, I've seen similar errors before. Another well known web source on the World Championship explained things differently:-

This tournament was, in a sense, the first Candidates tournament. In addition to naming a US Champion, the organizers planned to finance the winner in a World Championship match against Steinitz. Max Weiss and Mikhail Tchigorn tied for first, and remained tied after drawing all 4 games of a playoff. Tchigorin was not interested in challenging Steinitz again so soon, and Weiss was not interested in playing one at all, and so the plans came to nothing. However, Isidor Gunsberg, the 3rd place finisher, was interested. In 1890, he drew a 10 wins match against Tchigorin (9-9 with 5 draws). Because of these two results, his challenge to Steinitz was accepted, with their match being played in 1890-1. • Sixth American Chess Congress, 1889 (graeme.50webs.com)

The phrase 'in a sense, the first Candidates tournament' was closer to my understanding, but the issue of who would challenge whom provoked another question mark.

This brought me back to a footnote in the Wikipedia article, a link to Steinitz — Chigorin, Havana 1889 - A World Championship Match or Not? by Anders Thulin, a well-documented essay that drags the Steinitz - Chigorin match into the discussion. Wikipedia dates the Thulin essay to 2007, while the current version is dated 2009. This means that the document requires careful re-reading and a comparison with other sources from that era. I'm not prepared to do that now, but will find the time as soon as I can.

14 March 2012

Overview of Four Cycles

FIDE's announcement for the forthcoming World Championship events, FIDE Announces Draft Dates for World Chess Championship Cycles (Fide.com), would have been more exciting if we hadn't seen it all before. The plan was nearly identical to the one announced in June 2007, last discussed on this blog in The New/Old World Championship Cycle.

Here's an overview of the schedule announced by FIDE, mapped onto the cycle numbering I use for my index page on the World Chess Championship. I sincerely hope that FIDE, with its new sponsor, will have more success following through the 2012 plan than it did in 2007.

2011 C24 C25 C26 C27
CT Kazan 2011-05 CM      
WC Russia 2011-08   WC    
2012 C24 C25 C26 C27
Chp Moscow 2012-05 A/G      
OL Istanbul 2012-08        
GP Chelyabinsk 2012-09     *  
CT London 2012-10   *    
GP Tashkent 2012-11     *  
2013 C24 C25 C26 C27
GP Lisbon 2013-04     *  
GP Madrid 2013-05     *  
GP Berlin 2013-07     *  
WC Norway 2013-08     *  
GP Paris 2013-09     *  
Chp TBD 2013-10   *    
2014 C24 C25 C26 C27
GP TBD 2014-05       *
GP TBD 2014-07       *
OL Norway 2014-08        
GP TBD 2014-09       *
CT TBD 2014-11     *  
2015 C24 C25 C26 C27
GP TBD 2015-05       *
GP TBD 2015-07       *
WC TBD 2015-08       *
GP TBD 2015-09       *
Chp TBD 2015-11     *  

Chp: World Championship
CT: Candidates
WC: World Cup
GP: Grand Prix
OL: Olympiad


Later: See also Two Big Events for 2012 for subsequent changes to several of these events.