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.