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.