28 December 2016

2015-2016 Women's Grand Prix, the Players

After the previous post, 2015-2016 Women's Grand Prix, Khanty-Mansiysk, I left myself two tasks to close the chapter on the 4th Women's Grand Prix (WGP):-
Add the final, overall standings to the page 2015-2016 FIDE WGP, and add the names of the participants to the Index of Women Players.

This is now done.

The chart on the left shows the cumulative scores of all 22 participants in the 4th WGP. The two players listed at the top -- Ju Wenjun and Koneru,H -- also finished in convincing 1st and 2nd place according to the WGP scoring system.

Ju Wenjun earned a seat in the next championship match, currently shown on the FIDE calendar as Women’s World Championship 2018; Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. She will be playing against the winner of next year's knockout event, shown as Women's World Chess Championship 2017; Tehran, Iran; 10-Feb-2017 to 5-Mar-2017.

For previous blog reports on the final standing of the first three WGPs, see:-

The first two posts, 2009-2010 & 2011-2012, could use a chart like the one shown above.

21 December 2016

2015-2016 Women's Grand Prix, Khanty-Mansiysk

I added the crosstable and PGN for the fifth (and last) event in the 2015-2016 FIDE Women's Grand Prix, held at Khanty-Mansiysk in Russia. Still to do: add the final, overall standings to the same page, and add the names of the participants to the Index of Women Players.

14 December 2016

Carlsen - Karjakin, Wrapup

It's time to wrap up the recent World Championship match, the same way I did for the two previous Carlsen matches: Carlsen - Anand, Wrapup (December 2013) and Carlsen - Anand II, Wrapup (December 2014). Let's start with a number of posts, mainly on this blog, that preceded the match.

During the match I posted a number of weekly 'progress reports'.

On my main blog, 'Chess for All Ages', I ran two series on the careers of the match protagonists.

I also looked at a number of aspects surrounding the match.

While the match was being played, I ran a weekly post on the mainstream press reporting.

Last, and probably least, I looked at the match in the context of a new series, the 'Sociology of Chess'.

Whenever a World Championship match is held, chess comes into focus for a few intense weeks. In two years we'll see GM Carlsen defend his title against another strong challenger, maybe GM Karjakin, maybe someone else. See you then!

07 December 2016

2016 Carlsen - Karjakin

I added the crosstable and PGN game scores to my page on the recently concluded 2016 Carlsen - Karjakin title match. Then I added the event against both names on the Index of Players.

While I was working on this match, which ended in tiebreak, I looked at the two previous matches that went to tiebreak -- 2006 Kramnik - Topalov and 2012 Anand - Gelfand --- and noticed that the tiebreak games were not explained adequately. I added some brief notes for the 2006, 2012, and 2016 matches.

Another point isn't even worth mentioning, so of course I'll mention it. I found two different (but similar) logos in use.

Left: www.fide.com
Right: nyc2016.fide.com

The left logo is the one that I use on my 2016 Carlsen - Karjakin page; I found it on fide.com, linking to the official site for the match. The right logo is from the official site. Note that the board orientations are flipped.

30 November 2016

Carlsen - Karjakin, the Third Week

In the previous post, we left Carlsen - Karjakin, the Second Week, with challenger Karjakin having just scored the first win in the match to forge ahead with a +1-0=7 score. In neither of his two previous title matches with GM Anand had World Champion Carlsen fallen behind in the score. How would he handle a must-win situation?

In the ninth game, Carlsen held a difficult position with the Black pieces, then prevailed in the tenth game after a tense endgame. The score was level again. In game 11 Karjakin was unable to make an impression on the Norwegian and game 12 was an insipid draw that ended a little more than 30 minutes after it started. After nearly three weeks of play, the score was +1-1=10, and the match was heading into tiebreak games. Following is an excerpt from the official broadacst.

2016 FIDE World Chess Championship Magnus Carlsen vs Sergey Karjakin Game 12 (24:42) • 'Press Conference Uncut'

Question to Karjakin just after the 12th game ended:-

Q: This was an extremely quick draw. Are you happy with that?
A: I played with Black, so maybe this is a question more to Magnus than to me.

Question to Carlsen a minute later:-

Q: Why did you decide to go into this quick draw?
A: I wanted to play a tiebreak. That's all I can say.
Q: Can you try to tell us why you want to do that?
A: We'll see [smiles].

As I write this, the tiebreak session is due to start in a a few hours. Today is also Carlsen's 26th birthday. It's well known that playing on one's birthday is psychologically difficult for most players, but Magnus is not like most players.

23 November 2016

Carlsen - Karjakin, the Second Week

I ended last week's post, Carlsen - Karjakin, the First Week, with an observation followed by a question:-
After four complete games, the match has the same tied score as the two preceding Carlsen - Anand matches. In both of those matches, Carlsen pulled ahead in the following week. Will history repeat itself?

After another four match games it was challenger Karjakin who pulled ahead with three draws and a big win in game eight, where he played Black. In his other game with Black, game five, he also had Carlsen on the ropes, but the World Champion managed to escape.

The biggest news of the week was that first decisive result after seven straight draws. The second biggest news was Carlsen's meltdown after the loss when he stormed out of the press conference while waiting for Karjakin to arrive. That bit of bad boy behavior could prove to be costly, since FIDE rules call for a penalty of 10% from his share of the match purse. I'm one of those people who believe a punishment should match the crime, making FIDE's assessment excessive. The loss of face in his native Norway might be punishment enough.

Found on Chess.com's Youtube channel, published on 17 November 2014 (during the 2014 Carlsen - Anand match):-

Carlsen-Anand 2014: Kaja Marie Snare (2:41) • 'An interview with Kaja Marie Snare, reporter in Sochi for TV2. She tells about the media attention from Norway, and speaks about Magnus Carlsen.'

That's the same Kaja Snare we saw in a post on the current match, World Championship Notes and News. The interviewer sounds like Mike Klein of Chess.com.

Q: [After KMS rated GM Carlsen's dancing as 'not too good'] Tell us one more thing about Magnus that the average public does not know. • A: Ooo. Well. What would that be? Umm. I think everyone knows that he's a really bad loser. We noticed that when we played sports with him. [...] But he's a really nice guy!

The World Champion is a really bad loser? If everyone didn't know that before, they know now.

16 November 2016

Carlsen - Karjakin, the First Week

What a difference a week makes. At this time last week the chess world, faced with Agon's World Championship Bullying, was looking at limited options for viewing the long-awaited 2016 Carlsen - Karjakin World Championship match. The rule of law prevailed and a day before the first game of the match we learned that U.S. judge rejects World Chess bid to block websites from airing moves (reuters.com):-
Organizers of the World Chess Championship on Thursday failed to persuade a federal judge to block rival website operators from broadcasting chess moves at the upcoming Nov. 11-30 match in New York.

Unfortunately, the start time for the games -- 14:00 NYC time (20:00 my time) -- isn't a good fit for me. Game one started while I was having dinner. I took a short break and tried to find the Agon widget on the official site, but failed. Although there was a broadcast on Chess24.com, the format wasn't really suitable for casual viewing on the iPad, and by the time I opened it, the commentators were already predicting a draw, which is what happened.

The next day, for the start of game two, the Agon widget was available on the official site. I soon decided that moves without commentary can't compete with the other distractions in life. At one point one of the players went into a long think. I said to my wife, 'They've been thinking for 18 minutes now'. Her passion is figure skating and she said, 'That's too slow. It's definitely not for me.' I said, 'Me neither', and switched it off. The game was again a fairly quick draw.

Between games one and two I received an email from the 'World Chess Team (newsletter)' announcing 'Subject: Day 1 - Full Video'. While preparing this post, I finally found the time to watch it on Worldchess.com:-

I captured GM Carlsen's second move in the following image.

While certainly better than watching the moves on the Agon widget, it has its drawbacks: there is no move list and the players' clocks aren't visible. I'll postpone a fuller discussion of the format until another post. Articles for subsequent games are also on the Worldchess.com site:-

The full official video is available for game two, but is missing for games three and four. Chess24.com, by contrast, has made their game broadcasts available using a playlist on their Youtube channel.

After four complete games, the match has the same tied score as the two preceding Carlsen - Anand matches. In both of those matches, Carlsen pulled ahead in the following week. Will history repeat itself?

09 November 2016

World Championship Bullying

Before the ink had dried on my previous post, World Championship Broadcasting, the news broke that Agon had lost an initial battle to restrict broadcasting the upcoming Carlsen - Karjakin title match. Let's start this post with statements by Chess24.com and by Agon.

• 2016-11-03: Chess24 win Moscow case, announce New York line-up (chess24.com)

We’ve kept very quiet about the controversy over broadcasting live moves from the Candidates Tournament, believing the chess public isn’t gullible and can see through PR bluster, while the best place to respond to legal threats is in court, if it comes to that.

It did, and earlier this year Turnir Pretendentov LLC (a company set up by Ilya Merenzon and a lawyer – the name is the Russian for Candidates Tournament), sued eLearning Ltd (a Gibraltar company owning chess24’s intellectual property) for 20 million roubles, or around 290,000 euros at current exchange rates. The claim alleged unfair competition based on disclosing trade secrets.

After one preliminary hearing in September the final hearing in the Commercial Court of the City of Moscow took place on 25 October, with the judge announcing his verdict at the end. He rejected chess24’s motion to cease proceedings based on the court lacking jurisdiction, but then went on to reject Agon’s claim in full.

• 2016-11-03: Statement in response to the First Circuit Court ruling (agonlimited.com)

We note the ruling by the First Circuit Court in Moscow in the case we brought against Chess24. We did not fully expect a judgement in our favour due to the complicated nature of the case and limited time the judge has to consider the case (the average time that a judge in the Moscow Arbitration Court can spend on one case is only 48 minutes). We believe that the court has not properly addressed the documents and arguments and has declined to consider some of them in breach of procedural requirements, all of which has greatly affected the decision.

We will appeal the verdict this month and continue to protect our rights as the commercial rights holder to the World Chess Championship. We remain confident of a favourable outcome on appeal.

In that 'Broadcasting' post I relied on a Chess.com article by Peter Doggers to explain the implications of the Agon position. A more recent article explains the latest legal maneuvering.

• 2016-11-04: Chess24 Wins Court Case; Agon To Appeal (chess.com)

The Commercial Court of the City of Moscow rejected AGON's claim that Chess24 was not allowed to transmit the moves of the Candidates' Tournament. Agon will appeal that decision.

End of story? Hardly.

• 2016-11-06: World Chess Championship officials sue to stop pirating of match (reuters.com)

Organizers of the World Chess Championship sued on Monday to block a trio of website operators from broadcasting chess moves at the November 11-30 match in New York, which is expected to draw millions of online viewers. The lawsuit, filed by World Chess U.S. Inc and World Chess Events Ltd in federal court in Manhattan, seeks to limit the operators from transmitting the moves from the 12-game contest between world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway and challenger Sergey Karjakin of Russia.

With their constant bullying, Agon isn't making any friends in the chess world. Don't they realize that the sites they are attacking provide a necessary chess service, have legions of loyal chess fans, and are promoting chess successfully day after day? Something is seriously wrong with Agon's approach to professional chess.


Later: User Profile Chessgames.com (p.960), representing one of the targets of Agon's legal action:-

Nov-10-16 Richard Taylor: To see the World Championships alive (live streaming, I presume we can see the actual game here): is it necessary to pay $15 or whatever it is they want? Is there an alternative?

Nov-10-16 Chessgames.com: I was hesitating answer your question because it largely depended on the opinion of the Honorable Judge Victor Marrero. In a hearing which ended a little more than an hour ago in Manhattan, it was decided that the injunctive relief sought to prevent Chessgames and other sites from relaying the raw move data was unfounded. Virtually every claim was rejected, with the judge adding "I know this area of the law very well."

It is possible they will continue to press forward with a suit for perceived damages but they cannot prevent Chessgames nor any other website from relaying the move data.

So to answer your question: if you want to see the official World Chess video and commentary, and the "3D immersive experience", there is an app that starts at $15 available from the official site: https://worldchess.com/nyc2016/. Chessgames has no problem in their attempt to commercialize chess, and if a 3D virtual-reality chess experience is what you want, that's the place to get it.

End of legal action? Somehow I doubt it.

02 November 2016

World Championship Broadcasting

How will I watch the World Championship? Let me count the ways.

First, let's have some links. My previous post, World Championship Affiliates, links to my permanent page, 2016 Carlsen - Karjakin, which links to the official site, nyc2016.fide.com. What's the schedule for the match? The official site doesn't present that info in a friendly way, so I made a little calendar. It also doesn't mention the start time, but I found the info on the site for ticket sales, where each day says, 'Show 1:30 PM'. [Later: Other sites are reporting 2:00 PM, so I'll go with that.]

(Game start 14:00, New York time)

Where can I watch the match? My 'Affiliates' post quoted a press release from Agon, that left me scratching my head. Fortunately, I found an explanation on Chess.com: Agon Limits Carlsen-Karjakin Relays To Official Widget (18 October 2016). It starts,

In an attempt to distribute their product as widely as possible while restricting unauthorized world championship relays, Agon will be providing a widget for chess websites that want to broadcast the games from the upcoming world championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin.

Even that explanation wasn't entirely clear, but the comments clarified matters. The first comment asked,

Using-Name: Will there be commentary on the free (non-premium) broadcast? They have a Q&A that suggests only computer analysis is included with the widget. In any case, given that Agon claims a (vast) monopoly on anyone doing live commentary, what languages will they provide?

A Chess.com staff member replied,

FM MikeKlein: To answer the initial question by @using-name, I can confirm that I asked [Agon's] Merenzon this question in Baku, and the commenters are correct. Without paying for the premium upgrade, no live commentary will be available. The widget is just live moves and clock times, no computer analysis, etc. I don't have any answer about the languages to be offered.

Another commenter added,

CM Nutflush: You won't see [the match] on chess.com ... if they sign-up for the widget deal then they can't offer their own commentary. Good time to check-out Chess24 folks!

To which the author of the Chess.com article replied,

PeterDoggers: Our general philosophy is the same as Chess24's: we're not a fan of limiting the relay of live games. We too feel that the moves of a chess game should be considered in the public domain as soon as they've been played. However, we also feel we should follow our lawyers' advice which apparently was different from their lawyers' advice.

Doggers had mentioned another important point in that same Chess.com article:-

The [Agon] widget is directly related to the turmoil which arose during the Candidates' Tournament in March. Back then, Agon surprised the chess world by announcing that the games would be shown exclusively on its website. Any website that transmitted the games live would face legal action.

Three major chess websites that decided to ignore Agon's threats -- Chessbomb.com, Chess24.com and Chessgames.com -- are being sued. Agon is seeking 20 million rubles (€288.275 or $317,000) in damages from each of the sites.

Will any of those three sites go up against Agon for the Carlsen - Karjakin match? We'll find out next week. Lawsuits can be expensive to fight even when you've done nothing wrong.

The official site for the match offers 'live online broadcasting' for the entire match for $15. That's certainly a reasonable price and I decided to go for it. Unfortunately, I soon discovered that the only way to pay was with a credit card and I'm not willing to give credit card information to a commercial group with Russian roots. No Paypal, no Bitcoin, no deal.

How will I watch the World Championship? I won't. Just like in the old days, I'll find out the next day what happened.

26 October 2016

World Championship Affiliates?

The next World Championship match starts in a little more than two weeks. I updated my page on the match, 2016 Carlsen - Karjakin, to add the latest FIDE announcements, including the image shown on the left.

Since my most recent post on the subject, World Chess Championship Buzz (September 2016), the most significant announcement has been Agon Press Release about World Championship Match (19 October 2016; fide.com). Although it started innocently,

Agon Ltd launches affiliate programme for broadcast of World Championship Match.

it ended aggressively,

[Agon's Chief Executive Ilya Merenzon] said: "A website that wants to broadcast the live moves for free simply has to request the use of our official widget. But any rogue website that chooses to operate a pirate broadcast of the live moves will be subject to legal action".

What does this mean for those of us who would like to watch the match? I'll look at this in my next post.

19 October 2016

Hijab Hubris

In the previous post, Hijab Hubbub, I said, 'It's been exactly ten years since I saw as much interest in a chess story from the mainstream press'. What brought this about and is there a way to put a positive spin on it for the good of chess? The story started with the publication of the General Assembly 2016 Decisions (27 September 2016; fide.com):-
87th FIDE Congress; General Assembly; 11-13 September 2016; Baku, Azerbaijan [...] GA-2016/31. To award the organization of the Women’s World Chess Championship to Tehran, Iran, in February 2017.

It took only a few days for the mainstream press to spread the effect of the decision to the wider world: Female chess players forced to wear hijab as governing body awards world championship to Iran (29 September 2016; telegraph.co.uk):-

The world's top female chess players have reacted with horror after being told they must compete at next year's world championship wearing a hijab. Within hours of Iran being revealed as its host country, the prestigious event was plunged into crisis as it emerged players taking part face arrest if they don't cover up. [...] Fide's Commission for Women's Chess, meanwhile, called on participants to respect "cultural differences" and accept the regulations. [...]

Nigel Short, the British former world title contender, said: "There are people from all sorts of backgrounds going to this, there will be atheists, Christians, all sorts of people." [...] Susan Polgar, the Hungarian-born American Grandmaster and chair of Fide's Commission for Women's Chess, responded by defending the federation and saying women should respect "cultural differences".

The story spread to other mainstream news sources. Susan Polgar, who is in fact listed as co-chair for the Women's Commission, responded almost immediately on her blog: My response to CNN regarding the upcoming Women's World Championship (29 September 2016; chessdailynews.com):-

I was contacted by CNN regarding the upcoming Women’s World Championship. Here is my response: Q: Is it true female players have been told they must wear a hijab to compete at the above event? A: I have not been informed about this so far. I do not know if all women have to comply or if exceptions can be made. I will ask FIDE about this. [...]

It appears from this and from her further responses ('I was simply addressing if "I" have a problem wearing a hijab during this chess event, and personally, I do not.') that she did not realize that she was initially contacted because of her role as co-chair for the Women's Commission. She went on to say,

[The Women's Commission] does not decide where the event should be held. We are not and have never been directly involved with any negotiation. We are not even being informed as of who the bidders are until after the winning bid is announced. We simply discuss various issues among our committee members, and female players around the world, and we send our findings / recommendations to FIDE. This is why it is important for women players to communicate with us and let us know about any issue.

Two days later GM Polgar, in Media made up narratives (1 October 2016), added,

No one from FIDE Commission for Women’s Chess, including me, has made ANY comment to endorse the venue or the regime. In fact, I specifically said, "If any player has a problem with it, she can and should voice her opinion to the Commission for Women’s Chess or FIDE and we can address it in our next meeting."

A day later, in Response to inquiry from Telegraph UK regarding Women’s World Championship in Iran (2 October 2016), it was more of the same:-

The Commission for Women's Chess (WOM) has not taken any official position. We are actively talking to female players who qualified for the upcoming Women’s World Championship for their feedback. WOM was NOT involved in the bidding process, nor were we involved in the process to award the bid. We had no vote. I personally found out about it after the fact. The delegates from 159 countries were in Baku at the General Assembly. They were told of this bid, and it was their place to voice their objections or concerns. None of the 159 delegates representing their countries, including the United States, objected. Therefore, everyone who questions the decision to award the Women’s World Championship to the Iranian Chess Federation should direct their inquiries to these delegates, including the US which represents Nazi Paikidze who demanded for a boycott.

A day later the blog issued Official Statement From FIDE About The Women's World Championship in Iran (2 October 2016), a statement which does not appear on FIDE's own site:-

During the FIDE General Assembly in Baku 2016 the chess Federation of Iran was awarded the organization of the Women’s World Chess Championship in Tehran in February 2017. Iran was the only country which made a proposal to host the event and since there were no objections from any of the delegates (representatives of 159 national federations), the General Assembly accepted the proposal. [...]

At this point in time, there have been no official complaints to FIDE, from any player who is eligible to participate in the Women’s World Championship 2017. It is not a FIDE regulation or requirement to wear a hijab during the event. I would kindly refer you to local laws or regulations such as wearing the hijab, if you kindly check the UK foreign office website for more information you will find there "You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend" [...]

Anastasiya Karlovich, FIDE Press Officer

Case closed? Probably. FIDE has a long tradition of -- officially -- passing the buck. Another of the 'General Assembly 2016 Decisions' regarding the Women's World Championship said,

GA-2016/34. To ratify the recommendation of the Executive Board to authorize Presidential Board to take a final decision on the proposal by the Chinese Chess Association for the modification of the Women’s World Championship cycle.

Removing the references to FIDE organizations leaves, 'To ratify the recommendation to authorize to take a final decision on the proposal'. It's meaningless and it's mind boggling.

12 October 2016

Hijab Hubbub

It's been exactly ten years since I saw as much interest in a chess story from the mainstream press. Back then it was the Kramnik - Topalov unification match: Kramnik's carry on over his own convenience (theguardian.com; Leonard Barden; 30 September 2006; 'They are calling it Toiletgate.'). This time it's the Women's World Championship. The same story showed up in my Yahoo news feed at least three times.

2016-10-01: Checkmate? U.S. Women's Chess Champ Says She Won't Don Hijab in Iran • 'Sports competitors are often asked to conform to the rules of the countries they visit. That might mean eating local cuisine or simply driving on the opposite side of the road. For one elite chess player, embracing one country's religious customs isn't an option. And she may not be alone.'

2016-10-02: US Chess Champion: I'd Rather Sacrifice My Career Than Be Forced To Wear A Hijab • 'The best-ranked female chess player in the United States has said she would rather sacrifice her career than submit to demands to wear a hijab at the next world championship. Nazi Paikidze, the reigning US Women's Chess Champion, swore to boycott the 2017 contest, which is being held in Iran.'

2016-10-07: ‘I will NOT wear a hijab’: U.S. chess star refuses to attend world championships in Iran • 'As one of the most successful women to ever play the male-dominated game of chess, Nazi Paikidze is used to having her moves watched closely. Her latest has drawn international attention: Paikidze announced last week that she will boycott February’s Women's World Chess Championship in Iran because the players will have to wear hijabs.'

All three of those yahoo.com stories directed to articles on other sites -- pjmedia.com, foxnews.com, and washingtonpost.com -- and you can see from the Yahoo summaries that there were even more mainstream articles. In a future post I'll go deeper into this.

05 October 2016

Buying a Title Match 2006

Observers of the World Chess Championship with long memories might recall that the events overviewed in Buying a Title Match 2016 echoed the past. The circumstances were connected to 2005 San Luis (Topalov 1st; IX-X 2005), and the 2006 Kramnik - Topalov Unification Match (Elista, Kalmykia; IX-X, 2006).

Here is a chronology according to Chessbase.com:-

  • 2005-10-18: San Luis: The prize-giving ceremony

  • 2005-12-06: FIDE to charge $1 million for a presidential bid • 'Another dramatic development is that FIDE will permit anyone to challenge the current World Chess Champion Veselin Topalov, provided he or she is rated 2700 or higher and is able to put up the prize fund – including a 20% fee for FIDE. Apparently the regular world championship cycle is unaffected by this rule. If Topalov should lose his title in this kind of free challenge he will simply be replaced by the new champion in the 2007 eight-player world championship.'

  • 2006-04-16: Kirsan reveals details of Topalov-Kramnik match • 'FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has revealed further details on the reunification match planned for Elista in September. All contracts have been signed, the prize fund of one million dollars will be split, whatever the outcome of the match, and the loser will have to start in the next cycle from scratch. Sport Express report.' • 'Topalov-Kramnik match to take place in Elista, "Tournament of Eight" in Mexico'

  • 2006-05-16: Topalov to play Radjabov for the world title • 'Last December we reported that the FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov had proposed that any grandmaster with an Elo rating of over 2700 could challenge the FIDE world champion Veselin Topalov – if he could put up at least $1 million in prize money. Azerbaijani talent Teimour Radjabov can, the match is on.'

  • 2006-10-14: Elista Tiebreak: Vladimir Kramnik wins unified title!

  • 2006-12-15: Danailov, Topalov challenge Kramnik • 'There is a FIDE regulation that states that any player with a rating of 2700 or higher can issue a challenge for a match of 12 games for the World Championship title against the incumbent World Champion. Condition: the challenger's side has to provide the prize fund of one million dollars. Now Silvio Danailov, the manager of former FIDE world champion Veselin Topalov has issued the challenge.'

I found the FIDE regulations on Archive.org: Rules & regulations for a World Chess Championship Match within the cycle 2005-2007.

1. Organisation

1.1 A World Chess Championship Match between the World Champion and a challenger who was either an ex-World champion or has a minimum FIDE rating of 2700, can be organized under specific conditions as described in articles 2.1, 2.2, 2.3 and 2.4 of these regulations. This World Chess Championship match shall be organised in 2006/07 and represent an integral part of the World Chess Championship regulations for the cycle 2005-2007.

1.2 Governing Body: the World Chess Federation (FIDE). For the purpose of creating the regulations, communicating with the players and negotiating with the organisers, the FIDE President has nominated a committee, hereby called the World Chess Championship Committee (WCCC).

1.3 FIDE retains all commercial and media rights of the World Chess Championship match, including internet rights. These rights can be granted by FIDE to the organizer(s) of the event.

2. Qualification for the World Chess Championship Match

2.1 A player with a current FIDE rating of 2700 and above, as well as an ex-World Champion, can issue a challenge for a match of 12 games for the World Championship title against the incumbent World Champion on the following conditions:

a. The challenger’s side shall provide an amount of 1,000,000 (one million) USD as guaranteed prize money for the incumbent World Champion, net and not subject to any further deductions such as tax. The challenger’s side should also provide the exact total prize fund of the event (World Champion and challenger), net and not subject to any further deductions such as tax.

b. At the same time, the challenger’s side shall guarantee the organisational budget of the match, including a contribution fee to FIDE in the amount of 20% above and over of the total prize fund, net and not subject to any further deductions such as tax.

c. If the challenger wins the World Championship Match and becomes the new World Champion, then his previous status in the World Championship Cycle 2005-2007 (World Cup or Candidates or World Championship Tournament qualifier, etc.) passes to the loser of the World Championship Match. This would not be a replacement but a switch of status between the challenger and the World Champion. The winner of the World Championship Match shall be obliged to defend his title in the World Chess Championship Tournament 2007.

d. Should the above-mentioned provisions be fulfilled, the World Champion is obliged to play the match.

2.2 In case the challenger’s side provides, as guaranteed prize money for the incumbent World Champion, an amount less than 1,000,000 (one million) USD but more than 500,000 (five hundred thousand) USD, the World Champion has the right to negotiate the proposal with the challenger and FIDE in order to decide whether to accept the challenge or refuse it. If the World Champion agrees to play the match, the challenger’s side shall be responsible for covering the organisational costs as well as a contribution fee to FIDE in the amount of 20% above and over of the total prize fund.

2.3 The match should be terminated at least six (6) months before the start of the World Championship Tournament, due to be held in September/October 2007.

2.4 The challenger’s side should present the bank guarantees, for the whole sums described in articles 2.1.a, 2.1.b and 2.2, at the same time as his proposal, after which FIDE shall organise the match within a 5-month period.

The tournament mentioned in section 2.3 would eventually be 2007 Mexico City (Anand 1st; IX-X 2007). Neither the Topalov - Radjabov match nor the Kramnik - Topalov rematch ever took place.

28 September 2016

Buying a Title Match 2016

Buried among the 63 annexes for the recent FIDE Congress was a stunner:-

The text of Annex 44 read...

4 July 2016
To: Chairman of FIDE Commission for World Championships & Olympiads (WCO)

Dear Mr. Makropoulos,
Russian Chess Federation asks the Commission to consider and (if needed) improve and approve the below mentioned amendments to the current system of determining the World Chess Champion at the 87th FIDE Congress (04-14.09.2016, Baku, Azerbaijan). RCF suggests adding an article to the rules governing World Chess Championship matches stating that the World Chess Champion can accept the challenge of any player who can contribute to the prize fund and the costs of holding of the match. Herewith a number of basic conditions should be fulfilled:
• The FIDE President would have the power to veto any proposed match. Any proposed World Championship match would be carried out under the auspices of FIDE and according FIDE rules.
• 50% of the prize fund will go to FIDE.
• The match must be held before the end of the current FIDE qualifying round, that is, before a challenger has been determined by the Candidates Tournament.

FIDE Vice President, President of the Russian Chess Federation
Andrey Filatov

I suspect that the motivation for the proposal was that '50% of the prize fund will go to FIDE'. Whatever the reason, it brought a quick reaction:-

The Filatov/RCF proposal was eventually rejected:-

It's curious that the ACP's announcement 'RCF proposal not approved', predated the General Assembly, but I suppose someone changed the title of the original post after the GA was held.

21 September 2016

World Chess Championship Buzz

The buzz around the upcoming 2016 Carlsen - Karjakin World Championship match is starting to pick up. Since the last report, Chess in Manhattan (August 2016), we had

Agreed, that was more of a snoring sound than a buzz, but it got better.

World Chess by Agon presenting new sponsor of World Championship Match in New York (33:41) • 'Published on Sep 12, 2016'

That press conference was held during the recent 2016 Baku Olympiad. For details, see:-

In addition to the usual FIDE/Agon hyperbole -- 'truly historic event', 'the championship last year [2014 Sochi?] attracted more than one billion viewers around the world', 'roughly 600 million people in the world who actively play chess' -- the EG/VR introduction had one glaring inaccuracy:-

We recall that the last time the World Chess Championship played in New York, it was in 1990. (1:55 into the clip)
The 1995 Kasparov - Anand PCA Title Match (New York, IX-X, 1995), is considered by most (all?) experts to have been a far more important World Chess Championship than any of the subsequent FIDE Knockout events, perhaps even more important than all of the knockouts taken together. It coincided with The Start of the Scholastic Boom (chessforallages.blogspot.com; July 2014), a period of U.S. chess growth eclipsed only by the Fischer boom in the 1970s. As for the broadcasting gimmicks, does anyone remember:-

Headset or not, I'm looking forward to the big show. Game one is scheduled for 11 November. That's a public holiday in many countries.

14 September 2016

The Best Psychological Chance

Garry Kasparov as chess commentator is always as interesting and as entertaining as he was during his heyday as a chess player. Here he is with Jennifer Shahade and Yasser Seirawan during the last round of the recent Sinquefield Cup.

Garry Kasparov, Commentator - 2016 Sinquefield Cup - Grand Chess Tour Round 9 (52:59) • 'Source : Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis - YouTube'

At one point [around 30:20 into the video clip] GM Seirawan asks about Kasparov's fourth World Championship match against Karpov.

YS: Thought process: One of the hardest things in chess is to win on demand. For me, one of your greatest achievements was Seville [1987] game 24. You're trailing in the match 12-11. You have one and one result only : you have to win with White. [GK: And I was playing Karpov!] And you accomplished it. How do you play for a win on demand? In your game with Karpov, you wanted to play a long, slow game and just let his nerves... • GK: Yes, I thought it would be a game of nerves and I thought the best psychological chance...

Kasparov goes on to explain.

GK: In a last round game, the last game of the match -- a long, marathon match, ten weeks -- you don't play a game of beauty. It's all about creating psychological discomfort for your opponent. I thought that if we had a slow game, Karpov would be under pressure to simplify the position, even by making little concessions, concession after concession, because he wanted to finish the game, he wanted to reach a position where he would be out of danger. But by trying to force it, without contemplating the potential consequences, he could give me some chances. And it worked out nicely. He was gradually making his position worse and worse, he gave me a big chance and blundered in time trouble. We entered the adjournment with me having an extra Pawn and Karpov couldn't survive under the pressure.

For more about the match, see 1987 Kasparov - Karpov Title Match; Seville, X-XII, 1987. Kasparov could have been describing a typical Magnus Carlsen game.

07 September 2016

ICCF 25th to 27th World Championships

I updated my page for the World Chess Championship : Correspondence Chess to add the ICCF's 25th, 26th and 27th final events. As I decided earlier this year in Correspondence Chess 2016 and Stats for Index Pages (both May 2016), the latest events have only a ZIP file that contains both the crosstable and PGN game scores.

The previous update of the Correspondence Chess page was documented in ICCF 20th to 24th World Championships and WCCC Finals PGN (both November 2012). Given the slow pace of correspondence games, I imagine the next update will be in another four years or so.

31 August 2016

Chess in Manhattan

I added links for the official site (see nyc2016.fide.com) plus the latest FIDE news to my page on the World Chess Championship : 2016 Carlsen - Karjakin match. The latest news was announced in FIDE World Chess Championship Match 2016 (fide.com; 10 August 2016):-
The FIDE World Chess Championship Match 2016 is to take place at the Seaport District in Manhattan, New York. [...] The Match arena will be built within the Fulton Market Building, a five minute walk from Wall Street, and will also feature dedicated spectator and VIP lounges with panoramic views of the Brooklyn Bridge as well as retail space, a restaurant, TV studios and much more.

Match principals mentioned in the FIDE announcement included 'Ilya Merenzon, Chief Executive of Agon Limited, owner of World Chess and the commercial rights holder to the FIDE Chess Championship cycle' and 'Alan Baum of CAA Premium Experience'.

Formed in 2015, CAA Premium Experience is a best-in-class, full-service hospitality, event management, and marketing practice with more than 50 employees working with Fortune 500 companies across hundreds of global sports and entertainment events annually.'

Google Maps points to the site of the match....

...while New York news sources provided local commentary. Speculation Ends: Date and Venue Set for World Chess Championship in New York (nytimes.com):-

Mr. Merenzon said that securing a venue for such a long period proved harder than expected. Among the other sites considered: Trump Tower. The players will compete in a soundproof glass room, in front of 300 spectators plus VIPs, who will have a lounge area. Regular tickets will cost up to $50.

World Chess Championship to Be Played at South Street Seaport (wsj.com):-

The match -- a duel between two grandmasters in their mid-20s -- will take place on the second-floor atrium of the Fulton Market inside a glass, soundproof room that organizers are referring to as the "cockpit." As Carlsen and Karjakin play, attendees will be able to engage with the moves on the board in various ways. Since individual games can take hours, sometimes with prolonged stretches between moves, Merenzon wants to give attendees some options.

Cockpit? Where have we heard that before? In an early Agon press release from the previous cycle: Evolution of a Press Release (August 2012); 'the purpose-built arena and cockpit for the matches'.

24 August 2016

22nd World Computer Championship

I added the PGN and crosstable for the 21st World Computer Championship (WCCC) held in Leiden (Netherlands) to my page on the World Chess Championship : Computer Chess. Just like the two previous events (see my post on the 21st World Computer Championship, November 2015), both files are packed into a single ZIP file. For more about the event, see
  • WCCC 2016 [ICGA; 'From Monday 27 June until Friday 1 July the WCCC will be held in Leiden at the Leiden University, Snellius Building, Turing Room.'], and
  • WCCC 2016 [chessprogramming.wikispaces.com]

The ICGA page links to a report that starts,

The 22nd World Computer Chess Championship started on June 27, 2016. Six programs participate in a double round robin tournament of ten rounds. The tournament takes place at the Leiden University and is organized by the ICGA, LIACS and LCDS. The sponsors are Google, Naturalis Biodiversity Center, the municipality of Leiden, Leiden University, Faculty of Science, ICGA, iSSC, SurfSara, Digital Game Technology and NWO Exact Sciences. It is held in conjunction with the 19th Computer Olympiad and the 15th Advances in Computer Games conference.

The page also informs about the tiebreak,

Play-off between Komodo and Jonny: Two games 45 minutes + 16 seconds: 1-1. Two games with 5 min. + 5 seconds. 1-1. Two games with 3 min. + 5 seconds 1½-½ for Komodo

Chessbase.com published a commercial puff piece, Komodo is World Computer Chess Champion (July 2016), that started,

[Komodo's] stiffest competition came from the German program Jonny, running on a giant 2400-core machine. With only 48 cores the US program Komodo finished the computer tournament in Leiden, Netherlands, equal first with Jonny, then went on to win a hard-fought tiebreak, making it the 22nd World Computer Chess Champion. It may interest you to know that the latest version of our flagship chess engine, Komodo 10, was released just a month ago.

It received some pointed comments from skeptical readers, like

'Why didn’t Stockfish compete?' • 'I thought the TCEC tournament determines the World Computer Chess Champion? ' • 'Please explain how did these engines qualify to this competition, and how does this compare to TCEC.' • etc. etc.

Another resource that once documented the WCCC events but is now little more than a stub, is Leiden 2016 [game-ai-forum.org; formerly www.grappa.univ-lille3.fr]. For more about the computer chess world, see my main blog, e.g.:-

How much longer will tradition continue to accept the ICGA events as World Championships?

17 August 2016

Site Migration II

A week ago, in Site Migration, I quoted an email from my web site host: 'Your account has been successfully migrated to the new technology platform.' I quickly learned that while 'migrated' was an accurate term, 'successfully' wasn't. At the end of the post, I asked,
How long will it be out of service?

It took four days for technical support to update the nameserver info that redirects traffic to the new platform instead of the old, deleted platform. The following graphic shows the evolution of the migration in terms of the size of the log files that record traffic to the site.

The line for the day after migration reads

File: access_log_20160811.gz
Updated: 08/11/2016 9:15 AM EDT
Size: <1KB

Traffic doesn't occur on the site until

File: access_log_20160814.gz

In the last day or so traffic has returned to pre-migration levels, meaning that the site was out of service for nearly a week.

10 August 2016

Site Migration

This morning I received the following message...
Subject: Your Account Has Been Moved to the New Platform
Sent: Wednesday, August 10, 2016 8:03 AM

Your account has been successfully migrated to the new technology platform. This account is associated with the following domains: mark-weeks.com

The last step of the migration is pointing these domains to the new platform. If you are already using [our] name servers, we have made this change for you. (It usually takes just a few hours for domain name server (DNS) changes to take effect, though it can take up to 24 hours for the update to spread globally.) [...]

...While I knew the change was coming, I wasn't sure when exactly. I won't make any changes to the site until I'm sure that I'm using the new, migrated version.


Later: I received another message...

Subject: mark-weeks.com - Your Web Hosting account status
Sent: Wednesday, August 10, 2016 8:37 PM

The Web hosting account [mark-weeks.com] has been suspended. If you recently received a migration message for this account, your account has been migrated to the new platform and you are receiving this notice as part of the cleanup process on the old platform. No further action on your part is required.

...The main WCC index page, The World Chess Championship, is now returning a '404 Not Found' message...

Not Found: The requested URL /chess/wcc-indx.htm was not found on this server.

...How long will it be out of service?

03 August 2016

2015-2016 Women's Grand Prix, Chengdu

I added the crosstable and PGN for the fourth event in the 2015-2016 FIDE Women's Grand Prix, held at Chengdu (China).

The previous event was 2015-2016 Women's Grand Prix, Batumi. In that Batumi post I mentioned a fifth event that had not yet been scheduled. It is now listed on the FIDE calendar as:-

Women's FIDE Grand Prix Series; Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia; 12-Oct-2016 to 27-Oct-2016

Other than the updated calendar, I can find no announcement on the FIDE site.

13 July 2016

An Infamous Unplayed Match

A few months ago I received a message concerning my page 1975 Fischer forfeits to Karpov.
Subject: World championship rules 1974
From: GMG

On your Fischer forfeits to Karpov page [link given above], you wrote, "The same rules governing World Championship matches had been in place since the 1949 FIDE Congress in Paris. They were confirmed at the 1974 Congress in Nice."

In Bozidar Kazic's article "Anatoly Karpov The New World Champion" in Chess Informant 19, he writes that "In September 1971, the FIDE Congress in Vancouver decided that ... the world title in 1975 will be played for 6 won games draws not counting." In 1972, Euwe reportedly tabled a proposal for a match of 30 games. At Helsinki, Fischer sent his 10 wins and 9-9 plan, and a commission was created to draw up rules. At Nice, Kazic has them adopting a match of 36 games where one could win ahead of schedule by scoring 10 wins.

GMG, Toronto

Indeed, the referenced Informant has two-and-a-half pages titled 'An Outline of the Dispute Over the Unplayed Match' with a summary of FIDE actions between 1971 and 1975. While looking a bit more into the background of the 1975 match, I discovered the following table in a 1974 article titled 'The Historical Background' by Frank Skoff, President, USCF.

Chess Life & Review, October 1974, p.652

Although it might contain its own errors, it's a good summary of pre-WWII top-level matches and shows that Fischer's demands were not as outrageous as many of his critics declared.

06 July 2016

Postcard Pretty Merano

While searching for Korchnoi images on my main blog -- e.g. Korchnoi's Defection and Composite Korchnoi -- I came across a couple of attractive postcards.

The event was the 1981 Karpov - Korchnoi Title Match; Merano, X-XI, 1981. Merano/Meran has multiple associations with chess; from Wikipedia's entry on Merano:-

Merano or Meran is a town and comune in South Tyrol, northern Italy. Generally best known for its spa resorts, it is located within a basin, surrounded by mountains standing up to 3,335 metres (10,942 feet) above sea level, at the entrance to the Passeier Valley and the Vinschgau. [...]

A chess opening, the Meran Variation of the Semi-Slav Defense, is named after the town, from its successful use by Akiba Rubinstein against Ernst Grünfeld during a tournament held in the town in 1924. In 1981, the World Chess Championship match between Anatoly Karpov and Victor Korchnoi was held in Meran. The first act of the musical Chess also has a world chess championship match set in Meran, and features a song entitled "Merano", which includes the line, "rosy-cheeked Merano, flourishing to a fault".

I have spotted many examples of the upper card on eBay, but the lower card is seen less frequently.

29 June 2016

Korchnoi's Zonals

On my main chess blog, I've already mentioned Korchnoi's autobiography 'Chess Is My Life' (Batsford 1977) in a post about Korchnoi's Defection. There is also much in the book relevant to Korchnoi's World Championship career, pre-1977.

Of particular interest is Korchnoi's mention of five consecutive USSR championships that served as zonals (or in one case as a zonal qualifier). In two of the zonals the future World Championship challenger was successful in advancing to the Interzonal stage. Here are the five events with links to my page on the cycle and page references to Korchnoi's book.

  • C03; 1955 Moscow; p.27 'I did not live up to expectations'
  • C04; 1958 Riga; p.34 'it turned out badly for me'
  • C05; 1961 Moscow; p.42 'I thus took second place'
  • C06; 1963 Leningrad (qualifier, USSR chp) & 1964 Moscow (zonal); p.49-50 'I scored less than 50%'
  • C07; 1966 Tbilisi; p.56 'I shared third place'

Also of particular interest is Korchnoi's discussion of the 1964 zonal. I've already included an introductory clipping on my page for the C06 cycle, but would like to add a transcription.

After the [USSR] Championship, a special Zonal Tournament was arranged, as a qualifying event for the Interzonal. It was to be made up of the six highest placed in the Championship, plus two personally invited players (on the basis of previous successes). The seventh particpant named was Smyslov, who had not taken part in the Championship (it was for his sake that this whole system had been thought up), and for the eighth the Chess Federation nominated me.

Literally a few days before the start of the tournament there was a surprising turn of events. Smyslov put in an application to the Federation, requesting that he be allowed to have one of the four USSR qualifying places and go directly into the Interzonal. The Federation rejected his claim. He then turned to his friends with access to the Government and leading Party Organs. From there -- from above -- came an order which was un-conditionally accepted by the USSR Sports Committee, and the head of the Chess Federation (at that time Rodionov) was reprimanded.

From this incident the reader can gain an idea of the bureaucratic hierarchy of the heads of sport, in particular of chess.

The USSR Chess Federation, a public organ with the right of consultative vote, is controlled by the USSR Sports Committee. Supervision of the activities of the Sports Committee is carried out by corresponding departments in the Communist Party Central Committee. Even higher, in the Communist Party Central Committee's Politburo, there is a man who is responsible for sport, including chess. At that time this man was the present Minister of Culture (demoted from the Gods to a mere mortal!) Demichev. Evidently it was he who heeded Smyslov's call, and in an instant decided the matter in favour of the capricious grandmaster.

There was no limit to the indignation of the competitors in the Zonal Tournament. It was decided to call a strike and refuse to play. However, the strike was vetoed by Spassky (strongly influenced by Bondarevsky). With such a small number of participants it had to be unanimous and as a result the conspiracy broke up. A pity!

Knowing about this incident, chess followers will now be able to guess why, at the Biel Interzonal Tournament in 1976, Kuzmin was replaced by Smyslov.

In the C07 cycle, Korchnoi advanced to the final stage of the 1967-69 Candidates Matches, thereby qualifying for the Candidates stage of the following cycle. He remained in World Championship cycles through 2001.

22 June 2016

Dailymotion Chess

The previous post, Worldchess Newsletter, brought to mind 'the attempt by Agon, the organizer of the Moscow [Candidates] event, to restrict broadcasts of the tournament'. Here's a different approach.

Malcolm Pein On Limiting Chess Broadcast And Moves (5:03) • 'IM Malcolm Pein, organizer of the Paris and London tournaments in the Grand Chess Tour, explains why their video broadcasts and chess moves are shared without cost to chess websites.'

About one minute into the clip, IM Pein says,

Having an association with Vivendi Dailymotion games enables us to use a platform to put all these different streams and make them available to everyone. Previosly this would have been extremely difficult to do and would have required a huge amount of money. With Dailymotion games we can put all the video streams in one platform, put all the commentary streams in one platform. We have 23 cameras in the hall so people can just look at whatever they want.

The real joy of it is by making all of this available to everyone, anyone can do their own commentary and add it. So if you want to do an amateur commentary, I don't think we would mind. My ambition is to get as many languages -- I want commentary to be available in as many languages as possible for as many different markets as possible and Dailymotion games platform is the ideal way to do that.

Now I know that the 'secret to the sauce' is Vivendi Dailymotion.

15 June 2016

Worldchess Newsletter

Remember Worldchess.com? I had almost forgotten about the site until I received an email a few days ago announcing a newsletter. The site has apparently leveraged its signup procedure -- mandatory to watch any live action on the site -- into a periodic communication. It started,
This is the first newsletter from WorldChess.com, the official web site of the World Championship cycle of events. This is a monthly newsletter that contains information that we hope you will find interesting and useful.

I mentioned the site in March, in a couple of posts on the Moscow Candidates:-

  • First Week • 'The big news of the first week was the attempt by Agon, the organizer of the Moscow event, to restrict broadcasts of the tournament'
  • Third Week • 'I watched the event both on Agon's site, Worldchess.com, and on Chess24.com, often switching between the two. Although Worldchess.com had more technical problems, it offered post-game press conferences with the players.'

The newsletter's first link was to a video that I featured last month on my main blog: We Will Be Agog!, 'Making of the World Chess Candidates Tournament'. Other links eventually led me to the site's page on the forthcoming title match.

The World Chess Championship comes to New York City

'I and all New Yorkers welcome the World Chess Championship back to New York City. What better place to be than the city where parks are often populated by chess enthusiasts!' — New York Mayor Bill de Blasio

I'm following this match on my own WCC page 2016 Carlsen - Karjakin. The newsletter also introduced a series of articles titled History of the World Championship by Tim Harding:-

The same author, perhaps best known for his detailed histories of correspondence chess, wrote a shorter series titled History of the Candidates:-

In WCC Part I, Harding writes of the 1886 match, '[Steinitz] won the 19th and final game on March 24 in only 19 moves'. This statement received a comment, 'I thought that the match lasted 20 games, not 19. The Steinitz Gambit was game 20 to end the match.' My own page, 1886 Steinitz - Zukertort Title Match, gives 20 games. Is there a controversy here that I haven't seen before?

08 June 2016

Viktor Korchnoi (1931-2016)

After the passing of Viktor Korchnoi at the beginning of the week, a post about him on this WCC blog is mandatory, but also problematic. Mandatory because of his long record of participation in WCC events, as in World Championship Stalwarts (October 2015 on my main blog: 'GM Korchnoi heads the list'); problematic because of the often controversial nature of his participation, as in A Rigged Match? (November 2009).

While my main blog probably focuses more on chess personalities, as in yesterday's post My Two Encounters with Korchnoi, this WCC blog is more about events. Here is an image I picked off eBay back in its early days. It depicts another controversial event.

The quality of the image isn't great, but the elements are readable. The eBay description said,

SIGNED MATCH POSTER BY VIKTOR KORCHNOI. This is an item of great historical chess significance. This is the official match poster from the aborted Viktor Korchnoi versus Garry Kasparov Candidates semi-final match in Pasadena, August 1983! Kasparov never showed and Viktor was left sitting for an hour and won the forfeited match which was later re-played(!) in England. Korchnoi was paid twice!

This is a beautiful framed mounted poster with a glorious painting as the back drop. The chess position is taken from the famous game between the two played at the Olympiad (if I remember the tourney correctly) prior to the match. Gazza won a beautiful game that Korchnoi was winning at one point. The border has their names in English and Cyrillic. Korchnoi has signed on 8/17/99 on the lower right in Cyrillic.

Where is Korchnoi's signature? In those days I 'cleaned up' the images I saved, so I probably deleted it. In any case, my file holding the image is dated 26 April 1999, but the description says it was signed 17 August 1999, so something is amiss.

01 June 2016

Searching for Zonals

The mention of a page on the 1972 Caorle zonal (FIDE zone 1) in My Name in Bytes led to an index page on ChessScotland.com: World Championship - Zonal Tournaments.
Under the earlier format of qualification tournaments used to find a challenger to the World Champion, several Scottish players took part in Zonal tournaments. Here is a selection of these events.

That index page currently leads to pages on eight zonals held between 1951 and 1975. There is also a separate page for each of the Scottish participants in those events.

Whenever I work on my own zonal pages, I spend most of my time looking for events where I'm missing basic documentation. What about looking for events where I already have a full crosstable? I used this idea to search on the two winners of 1972 Caorle -- Ljubojevic and Ivkov -- and discovered a number of promising leads. An example from my own backyard is Belgian Chess History - Zonal Tournament.

Although I could do the same search on all of the documented zonals, there are more than 400 such events. Is there a way to prioritize these? How about searching for events where I have less than a full crosstable? Using 1969 Mar del Plata as an example -- an event won by Najdorf and Panno -- I couldn't find a crosstable on the web, but I didn't spend much time on it.

This idea is worth pursuing, but first I have to catalog events with less than a full crosstable. Such a list would also be useful for a library visit.

25 May 2016

Blog Follow-ups, WCC Style

Following the lead from my main blog, Blog Follow-ups, I added a tag for posts on this blog that require a follow-up. The idea is to keep track of them, and after I follow-up (if ever), delete the tag from the original post. After going through various references that I've maintained offline, I discovered 11 such posts. The number will vary.

18 May 2016

Stats for Index Pages

When I looked at correspondence chess a few weeks ago in CC 2016, I decided,
Before I update my page, I'm going to look at some statistics to measure the interest in this topic. It might be sufficient to provide ZIP files as I now do for the World Chess Championship : Computer Chess.

I've had a new stats package running on the site since last summer -- see New Stats for M-W.com (October 2015) for details -- which is enough time to account for temporary anomalies. I set the time period to cover six months (November 2015 - April 2016), loaded those results into a database, and analyzed them. The following table shows the results for each of the main index pages.

Since the page receiving the most views is the site's main index page, I calculated views on the other pages as a fraction relative to that index page. For example, the table shows that the page covering events for 'FIDE 1948-1990' gets 18 views for each 100 views that the main page gets.

Views per 100
'Main Index' Pages
Main Index 100 WCC-INDX.HTM
FIDE 1948-1990 18 WCC-INDY.HTM
Computers 6 WCC-COMP.HTM
Correspondence 4 WCC-CORR.HTM

I was happy to see that women's events and zonals received a decent number of views and this was confirmed by the stats for the individual pages in those topics. Stats for the pages on correspondence chess showed fewer views, indicating less interest in that topic. I'll stop creating separate pages for new events in World Chess Championship : Correspondence Chess and will provide ZIP files only.

11 May 2016

2015-2016 Women's Grand Prix, Batumi

I added the crosstable and PGN for the third event in the 2015-2016 Women's Grand Prix, held at Batumi (Georgia). The previous event was 2015-2016 Women's Grand Prix, Tehran.

I'm not sure what happens next in this Grand Prix series. My page, 2015-2016 FIDE Women's Grand Prix, gives the rules as they were announced in August 2015. The fourth and next event was to be the last. It is listed on the FIDE calendar as:-

Women's FIDE Grand Prix Series; Chengdu, China; 1-Jul-2016 to 15-Jul-2016

Under 2016, the calendar also lists, without start or end dates, another event:-

Women's FIDE Grand Prix Series; Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia

This supports a curious article posted on Chess-news.ru, that I give here via Google Translate: Grand Prix women's new member, the new rules. Among other news, it mentions,

On the FIDE Presidential Board, held in Moscow during the Candidates Tournament, it was decided to change the format already ongoing series and instead of originally planned four stages to organize five.

This is confirmed by List of Decisions of the 2016 1st quarter FIDE PB (fide.com; 13 April 2016):-

1PB-2016/14. To recommend the bid of the Khanty-Mansiysk for 2020 Olympiad, 2019 World Chess Cup, 2018 Women’s World Chess Championship and 2016 Women’s Grand-Prix tournament for the approval, should there be no other bids at the deadline.

As far as I can see, none of this has been documented in FIDE's 'Handbook > D. Regulations for Specific Competitions > 09. Regulations for the 2015-2016 Women's FIDE Grand-Prix'. Business as usual at FIDE?

04 May 2016

Correspondence Chess 2016

Hmmm. It seems the last time I looked at correspondence chess was Small Projects for 2015 (January 2015), where I already had two World Championship finals to add to my page on the World Chess Championship : Correspondence Chess. Since that post another final has ended, meaning that I am seriously behind on ICCF events. Here's a recap of the current status, including new events, with links to ICCF.com:-

Before I update my page, I'm going to look at some statistics to measure the interest in this topic. It might be sufficient to provide ZIP files as I now do for the World Chess Championship : Computer Chess.

27 April 2016

2016 Carlsen - Karjakin

I added a new page for the 2016 Carlsen - Karjakin title match, scheduled for November in New York. This was the next-to-last action from the post Moscow Candidates - My Resources. The last action -- 'Review title match resources' -- can only be done as the start of the match approaches.

I did set up a Google news alert for chess carlsen karjakin, but need to check whether it is accessible without a login. [Later: It isn't.] Two useful items flagged by the alert were:-

This past month FIDE also issued Bids for the World Chess Championships 2018 as an XLS spreadsheet. The title is somewhat misleading, as it includes only restricted World Championships. One nuance of which I wasn't previously aware is the naming of the FIDE championships for young players:-

  • World Cadet 2018 (U8-U10-U12),
  • World Youth 2018 (U14-U18),
  • World Junior 2018

Nearly all of the bids for these and the other three events are for European venues.

20 April 2016

Hou Yifan Recaptures a Title She Never Lost

I added the crosstable and PGN to my page on the 2015 Hou Yifan - M.Muzychuk Title Match. Should I change that title? The match, originally scheduled for 2015, was delayed until 2016, perhaps because of FIDE's all-too-typical fumbling when it comes to arranging anything.

At the beginning of the month, Chessbase.com ran a piece titled Interview with Hou Yifan by Dagobert Kohlmeyer. The Women's World Champion confirmed,

Initially, the match was supposed to take place in October 2015, but then got rescheduled to March 2016.

Later she mentioned an issue that I touched on last year in A Pseudo World Championship ('When is a World Chess Championship not a *real* World Championship?').

The current Women's World Championship system seems to be unfair. And I believe I'm not the only one who thinks like this. It would be good if the current system changed to a more reasonable format. I am sure, a "real" World Championship Match would attract much more attention.

Last month I officially made a proposal to FIDE to change the format of the Women’s World Championship. I suggested three reasonable alternatives but the answer I received seems to indicate that my proposal was not accepted. The main reason why they want to stick to the current system is the fact that it is easier to find sponsors if you call the knock-out tournament "World Championship". If you called it "World Cup" it would be extremely difficult to find sponsors.

Trivia question: When was the last time FIDE ran a women's event outside of the former Soviet Union? In fact, you don't have to go too far back. The first leg of the 2015-2016 FIDE Women's Grand Prix was held in one of the swankiest places on earth, Monte Carlo (Monaco), and the second was held in one of the most controversial, Tehran. The previous title match, 2013 Hou Yifan - Ushenina, took place in Taizhou (China).

If the sponsors are there, perhaps the problem with the 'World Cup' (aka 'World Championship') is the size of the event. Or perhaps it's its checkered history for determining a winner. If we give it a grandiose title, does everyone overlook the obvious?

13 April 2016

Moscow Candidates - Wrapup

I ended my previous post, Moscow Candidates - My Resources, with a few follow-up actions. First, I added the tiebreak regulations to my permanaent page on the 2016 Candidates Tournament. Then I added the names of the eight players to my Index of Players. As I did for the previous event, Khanty-Mansiysk Candidates - Wrapup (April 2014), here is a list of noteworthy resources from two of the chess world's premier news sites.

Rd. Chessbase Chess24
R0 Opening ceremony at the Candidates 2016
R1 Anand the first to score Round 1 Commentary
R2 Nakamura implodes, Karjakin strikes! Round 2 Commentary
R3 Aronian beats Topalov Round 3 Commentary
R4 Super Sergey! Round 4 Commentary
R5 Fabiano’s Benoni! Round 5 Commentary
R6 Anand beats Svidler, Aronian wins Round 6 Commentary
R7 Nakamura beats Topalov Round 7 Commentary
R8 Caruana is back! Round 8 Commentary
R9 Anand beats Aronian Round 9 Commentary
R10 Caruana wins, joins lead Round 10 Commentary
R11 Vishy Anand, the comeback man! Round 11 Commentary
R12 Young guns forge ahead! Round 12 Commentary
R13 It's Karjakin or Caruana! Round 13 Commentary
R14 Sergey Karjakin is the new Challenger! Round 14 Commentary Part 1, Part 2
  Candidates closing ceremony revisited

This current post is the last in a series that stretches back more than a month:-

Finally, here are related posts from my main blog:-

All in all, the tournament was a great show -- plenty of suspense, drama, off-board antics, and really great chess. Like the rest of the chess world, I'm already looking forward to the World Championship match later this year!