26 December 2018

2018 Women's World Championship Crosstables

Continuing with last week's post, 2018 Women's World Championship, I added the match crosstables to the new page. See World Chess Championship (Women) : 2018 FIDE Knockout Matches for the results.

While I was working on this I noticed a mismatch across various sources for the player 'Kulkarni Bhakti'. The sources are inconsistent in choosing which name to index the player. I'll come back to this when I update the index of women players over all events.

I also noticed that I've never added a legend to document the time controls for the different stages ('SG : RP1 : RP2 : BLZ : 4/5') of the individual matches. This will require a separate effort to correct.

19 December 2018

2018 Women's World Championship

After seven straight weeks of the 2018 Carlsen - Caruana match, culminating in last week's Wrapup post, it's time to move on to other subjects. I created a new page for the recent 2018 FIDE Knockout Matches (Women) and added it to the index page World Chess Championship for Women.

A good portion of the time I spent working on the new page was to understand the recent announcement, FIDE on the Women's World Championship Cycle (fide.com; 21 November 2018). It says,

According to the existing regulations, in 2019 there should have been a Women’s World Championship match between the current winner of the 2018 Women’s World KO Championship and the winner of the FIDE Women`s Grand Prix Series 2017-2018. Unfortunately, the previous FIDE leadership were unable to hold the Grand Prix series thus threatening the 2019 Women`s World Championship match entirely.

I'll come back to that subject when I add the crosstables and PGN to the new page for the 2018 Knockout Matches (Women), which took place in Khanty-Mansiysk.

12 December 2018

2018 Carlsen - Caruana, Wrapup

This is the sixth consecutive post on this blog about the 2018 Carlsen - Caruana title match, and as with past title matches, I'll use it to summarize my other posts about the match. The first link in the next list contains summaries of pre-match posts and of wrapup posts for past title events.

On my main blog I also wrote a number of posts about the match.

One good turn deserves another. In the first post on this blog listed above, 'Warmup', I noted that GM Ian Rogers had mentioned my blog in his own article titled 'Couch Potato’s Guide' (uschess.org). A week later, in the post 'Chess @ 538.com', I noted that Rogers had abandoned the contract with USchess after a dispute over their censorship of his coverage of an unfortunate video released during the match. The GM continued to issue periodic reports on Lichess, where I found the following articles:-

Another journalist, GM Jonathan Tisdall, an expert in the key skills of chess, reporting, and the Norwegian language, also issued a series of in-depth reports via a well known online play site:-

For more from both journalist GMs, see their Twitter feeds, @GMIanRogers and @GMjtis.

05 December 2018

2018 Carlsen - Caruana, PGN

I added the crosstable and PGN game scores to my page on the 2018 Carlsen - Caruana title match, recently concluded. Then I added the event against both names on the Index of players. Somewhat curiously, the players are next to each other on the list: ..., Cardoso R, Carlsen M, Caruana F, Castro O, ...

28 November 2018

2018 Carlsen - Caruana, the Third Week

Another week in the 2018 Carlsen - Caruana World Championship match, another four games, another four draws. After twelve regulation games, twelve draws, the two players tied at 6.0 points each : the match moves to tiebreak.

Continuing with the same mainstream media source seen in the previous post, 2018 Carlsen - Caruana, the Second Week, here is a graphic overview of the entire match. The credit for the evaluation of individual games goes to Stockfish.

fivethirtyeight.com (538.com)

While the squiggles might show an overall advantage for Black during the first six games, the trend reversed course for the last six games, when White retook its traditional advantage. Here are the reports from 538.com for games 9 through 12:-

Later today a series of tiebreak games will decide who will be the World Champion for the next two years. Opening preparation has played an important role in the first twelve games, played at slow time control. What role will it play in the faster tiebreak games? Last year, on my chess960 blog, I quoted GM Caruana in a post titled Caruana on Chess960 (April 2017). In response to the question, 'What about Chess960?', he said, 'Maybe preparation plays a big role in classical chess, but in blitz and rapid it doesn’t play much of a role at all.' In a few hours, in the tiebreak, we'll get some clues about whether he was right.


Later: Magnus Carlsen won a World Championship match for the fourth consecutive time. After 12 consecutive draws in the regulation games at a slow time control, he won three consecutive tiebreak games at rapid time control. Here is the final report from the same mainstream news source I've used in the previous posts on the match.

And once again, from the same source I've been relying on throughout the match, here is a squiggle chart showing the progress of each of the three tiebreak games.

fivethirtyeight.com (538.com)

For sure, there will be discussions and even arguments about the fairness of the tiebreak system used in the match. Will that system be changed? We'll find out in the next World Championship match, currently scheduled for the year 2020.

21 November 2018

2018 Carlsen - Caruana, the Second Week

Last week's summary of the World Championship match currently underway in London, 2018 Carlsen - Caruana, the First Week, started with:-
The first four games of the match all ended in draws.

It ended with:-

By this time next week, another four games will have been played.

This week's summary could start with:-

The next four games of the match all ended in draws.

Eight games and eight draws -- is this unprecedented? No, because the 1995 Kasparov - Anand PCA Title Match, also started with eight draws. GM Anand won the ninth game, but World Champion Kasparov came roaring back with four wins in the next five games.

Back to the 2018 match, last week on my main blog I identified a new resource for mainstream reporting on top level chess events: Chess @ 538.com. I wrote, 'A unique feature of the reports is a graphic overview of the match so far.' Here is a similar graphic for the match status after eight games. Note that after game six the players switched assignment of the White pieces for the remaining games.

fivethirtyeight.com (538.com)

The squiggles tell the story behind each game. In week two Caruana held an enduring advantage in three of the four games, where he had excellent chances to score a win in game six and good chances in game eight. Game seven, the only game where Carlsen held an advantage, tracked game four. For a more detailed analysis, see the week two game reports from 538.com:-

That somewhat snarky headline for game six, 'Chess World Rattled As Someone Nearly Wins Game', was echoed by many other reports coming out of London (and elsewhere). In FIDE WCCM Game 8: Dubious Record Tied (fide.com), the ultimate responsible for the match declared,

With a draw on Monday in Game 8 of the World Championship match in London, Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana equaled the record for the most consecutive draws to start a title contest. In 1995, Garry Kasparov and Viswanathan Anand also drew the first eight games of their title match in New York City.

Is this the first time that FIDE has admitted that the rival 1995 PCA match was a legitimate match for the World Championship? Twenty three years after the fact, 'misery loves company'.

By this time next week, the last four regulation games will have been played and the match might be in tiebreak. We are guaranteed to have at least three more regulation games and will have four unless one of the players is leading by two games after game eleven. Who said draws are boring?

14 November 2018

2018 Carlsen - Caruana, the First Week

Every time the World Championship hits the global village, the hubbub is even louder than it was for the previous event. It's impossible to keep up with all developments, so I'll just note some of the highlights and set some pointers to find more.

The first four games of the match all ended in draws. Of the seven most recent matches, all with 12 games at standard time control, the first three (2006, 2008, 2010) saw the eventual winner jump into the lead after four games. The last four saw a tied score after four games, where only one (2014) had decisive games. The other three matches started with six consecutive draws (2012), four draws (2013), and seven draws (2016). In the 2018 match, Carlsen achieved a near-decisive advantage playing Black in game one, after which the other games were more balanced.

So far I've collected relevant links into four posts scattered across two blogs:-

Since that last post from a few days ago, Worldchess has released more videos. This one gives some idea about the physical atmosphere at the match itself.

World Chess Championship 2018 Venue Introduction (2:26) • 'Published on Nov 12, 2018'

The description says,

Anna Rudolph, hosting the World Chess Championship 2018 in London, presents the playing venue along with exclusive highlights from day one!

For additional background from people who are geographically closer to the match than most of us, see 2018 World Championship in London (ecforum.org.uk). Although the thread started in May 2017, skipping ahead to page 10 (out of 20 currently) brings us to end-October 2018, when Agon started once again to threaten competing broadcasters. Following that are first-hand reports from chess fans who have visited the match venue, mixed with many relevant links (including frequent Twitter spats).

Today is a rest day. By this time next week, another four games will have been played.

07 November 2018

2018 Carlsen - Caruana, Warmup

With the 2018 Carlsen - Caruana title match due to start in two days, the entire chess world turns its attention to London. First, here's a summary of pre-match posts on this blog:-

Add to these a couple of posts from my main blog:-

I expected more in pre-match publicity from FIDE / Agon / Worldchess. I should know better than to expect more, but we can always dream. The most comprehensive writeup to date appeared a couple of days ago from another source -- The Couch Potato’s Guide to the 2018 World Chess Championship (uschess.org) by GM Ian Rogers -- and even mentioned my own resources:-

Mark Weeks’ long-running World Championship site and blog cover both history and less well known World Championship news.

How long-running has the coverage been on this blog? Here's a summary of wrapup posts for past title events:-

I haven't noticed much Carlsen - Caruana reporting from the non-chess press and hope I get some material for the next post in the Yahoo series. The most interesting report so far is Marky’s Malarkey: Betting On the World Chess Championship (actionnetwork.com; 'Marky takes a deep look into the world of chess to find out where the value lies.'). I'm not a gambler and Marky’s Malarkey is full of jargon that leaves me baffled: 'prop bet', 'shop for the best line', 'both a Pinnacle and Bovada account', etc. etc.

More in my comfort zone is a countdown series by Chess.com's Mike Klein: The 10 Most Exciting World Chess Championships Ever (started end-October 2018). Here's his list to date.

No.1 on the list is a no-brainer, 1972 Fischer - Spassky, but what about no.2? I'll put my money on 1987 Kasparov - Karpov. The match was tied going into the next-but-last game, the 23nd, which Karpov won thanks to a blunder by his opponent. Needing a win to keep his title, Kasparov presented a classic example of how to handle a clutch game. As I wrote on my highlights page for the match, 1987 Kasparov - Karpov : Highlights,

A few moves into the resumption, Karpov played an inaccurate move and resigned on his 64th move. Thus are the greatest world chess championship matches decided -- two months of mental combat turn on a single move. Since the match ended in a 12-12 draw, Kasparov retained the title for another three years.

In 2018, tied title matches are decided by rapid and blitz tiebreak games. That raises the excitement by several more notches.

31 October 2018

Worldchess Is Wide Awake

The 2018 Carlsen - Caruana World Championship title match starts next week. After the brief detour on this blog to cover the FIDE Presidential election (last seen in Gonzo Chess Journalism) let's return to the main subject, where the most recent posts were

But what to write about? Maybe the half-dozen emails I received from Worldchess during the month of October? When I went back to review them, I found an ad sitting on top of the list of messages. It looked something like this:-

Worldchess.com [AD] • World Chess - Watch The Championship Online • The World Chess Championship Has Started. See the Official Live Broadcast Today.

After wondering how the ad got there, I clicked on it and was sent to the main page, Worldchess.com. The site has been much expanded since I last visited it and now contains a goldmine of information about the match. Particularly noteworthy are the three links for social media:-

I captured the start of the Instagram page in the following image. The most recent images are related to the flurry of email messages I received from Worldchess in October.


Even more interesting are a couple of images that appear a few screens down, both posted on Instagram last June. One shows Caruana playing chess against a Donald Trump lookalike. Another is a much racier version of the logo that made headlines last December. I reported on it in a couple of posts at that time:-

When did chess become 'R'-rated?

24 October 2018

Gonzo Chess Journalism

After the two latest posts on the FIDE Presidential election...

...I should move on to the forthcoming 2018 Carlsen - Caruana World Championship match, but I have one more post on the election. While I was collecting material, I found a set of election reports in an unexpected place, rec.games.chess (rgc). Twenty years ago, rgc would have been a first choice for chess reports of any kind -- see An Early Digital Clock (August 2015) on my main chess blog for one example -- but it's not 1998 anymore, it's 2018. The reports were by Sam Sloan, the same person I once featured on that same blog in Sam Sloan and Gulf News (July 2014). Sloan has a unique angle on chess reporting, which some might liken to Gonzo journalism. As Wikipedia explains,

Gonzo journalism is a style of journalism that is written without claims of objectivity, often including the reporter as part of the story via a first-person narrative. The word "gonzo" is believed to have been first used in 1970 to describe an article by Hunter S. Thompson, who later popularized the style. It is an energetic first-person participatory writing style in which the author is a protagonist, and it draws its power from a combination of social critique and self-satire. It has since been applied to other subjective artistic endeavors. Gonzo journalism involves an approach to accuracy that concerns the reporting of personal experiences and emotions, in contrast to traditional journalism, which favors a detached style and relies on facts or quotations that can be verified by third parties.

In Sloan's first report,

he started,

I am here at the World Chess Olympiad in Batumi Republic of Georgia in the visitors gallery. The first round is about to begin. It is 24 September. There is no WIFI in the visitors gallery or on the playing floor. This is no doubt an anti-cheating measure because otherwise I could look at the games from here, find the best move on my laptop computer and then acting as an accomplice signal the right move to a player down below. There was also a drug-sniffing dog being led of a leash. No doubt this is an anti-drug measure although there is no known instance of a drug being used to improve a chess players performance.

For the record, here are Sloan's other reports in chronological order. They are a mixture of reporting on the Olympiad and on the FIDE elections:-

In case there's any doubt, the reports are Sam Sloan's thoughts, not mine.

17 October 2018

In with the New!

2018-10-10: Out with the Old! (this blog)
Letter of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov to Delegates of 89th FIDE Congress: 'I congratulate Arkady Dvorkovich on his victory in FIDE presidential election.' (fide.com)

[The following links are all from chess-news.ru, translated by translate.googleusercontent.com]

2018-10-03: Arkady Dvorkovich: "It's all not black and white ..." (interview)

E. SUROV: You apparently do not manage to eat well during the day?
A. DVORKOVICH: Yes, the election campaign, especially its last hours, requires constant concentration. But we lived like that for two months. In general, the campaign was quite successful. Of course, there is good news, and for sure we made some mistakes - in particular, not all countries managed to visit, it was very difficult to do.

2018-10-03: Arkady Dvorkovich - New FIDE President

The election of the FIDE President has just ended in Batumi. With the exception of small emotions at the very beginning of the General Assembly meeting, everything went smoothly. Candidates' speeches cannot compare in brightness with those sounded four years ago in Tromsø by Ilyumzhinov and Kasparov. Nigel Short expectedly starred in favor of Arkady Dvorkovich ; The last speaker, Georgios Makropoulos, condemned the grandmaster’s deed and announced that he was going to win the race. However, the result was in favor of the Russians: 103 votes against 78.

2018-10-03: Putin congratulated Dvorkovich. He hopes that chess "will remain a clean sport from politics"

2018-10-06: Short, Mamedov, Khodarkovsky. Who else became FIDE Vice President?

After the election of Arkady Dvorkovich as FIDE President, the Congress delegates identified the vice presidents. Five were chosen, five were appointed.

2018-10-10: Great combinator. Why Arkady Dvorkovich headed the world chess federation (originally from theins.ru; Denis Bilunov)

FIDE consists of 189 countries, it is the third largest sports federation in the world - after football and athletics. Voting in such organizations is based on the principle of “one country - one vote”, and it is not difficult to guess what character the election campaign usually takes.

2018-10-12: Arkady Dvorkovich: "If it is necessary, I will leave the structures subject to sanctions risks"

During a press conference in Moscow, Arkady Dvorkovich responded, in particular, to the question about the Kremlin report , the so-called “waiting list” of persons to whom the US Treasury may subsequently impose sanctions. The name Dvorkovich is present in that list.

Next: ???

10 October 2018

Out with the Old!

2018-10-03: 2018 Carlsen - Caruana, ChessCasting (this blog)
While I was writing this post, I learned that Arkady Dvorkovich defeated Georgios Makropoulos in the FIDE Presidential election. The vote count was 103 to 78.

1996-06-15: In the Republic of Kirsanstan (vedomosti.ru; Matt Taibbi)

ELISTA, Kalmykia -- Like most places, the tiny Russian republic of Kalmykia has its own bad joke about a fisherman who catches a golden fish. Their version goes like this: The fish begs the fisherman not to eat him, saying that he'll give him three wishes in return for his freedom. "You can have anything," the fish says. "Money, power, women ..."

"Who needs all that?" answers the fisherman. "Just make it so that I went to school with Kirsan Nikolayevich."

2018-10-02: Russia Made The King Of Chess. The U.S. Dethroned Him (fivethirtyeight.com)

In the days following the 2016 election, a large group of Russians gathered in New York to watch one of their own wage war in miniature. They were at the World Chess Championship, where a patriotic Russian grandmaster was challenging the Norwegian defending champion in Manhattan’s South Street Seaport. [...]

One person was especially conspicuous, and he wasn’t even there. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has lorded over the sport as the president of the World Chess Federation, more commonly known by its French acronym FIDE, for more than two decades. But the game’s most powerful figure had been barred from the country hosting its highest profile event.

2018-10-03: Letter of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov to Delegates of 89th FIDE Congress (fide.com)

I congratulate Arkady Dvorkovich on his victory in FIDE presidential election. I would like to thank you, the delegates of the Congress and all the national federations, for this choice. I wish all the success to all of you. who will continue to develop and popularize the ancient game along with the new leader. Chess is the best that humanity has. I am sure that our most important dream -- one billion people playing chess -- will come true. I would like to thank you for your trust that allowed me to win against the most serious rivals in elections several times.

Today. many people remember that difficult time when I came to work at FIDE. Together we managed to rally the chess world! Thanks to our collaboration, I have made many friends in FIDE.

2018-10-08: The Week in Chess 1248 (theweekinchess.com; Mark Crowther)

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was FIDE President from 1995 to 2018. The final ejection of this cuckoo in the nest should be a cause for relief. He claimed a fictional chess career and used the post of FIDE President to further his own business interests. He was both a constant embarassment and directly cost the game many potiential commercial sponsors. I hope chess never sees or hears of him again.

Just as when he was finally removed as Kalmykian President there should be celebration but also the realisation that things are not guaranteed to get better. Ilyumzhinov should also be the last of the long serving FIDE Presidents as Dvorkovich should only be able to serve two terms after new rules were passed. Eight years to make an impact is plenty for anyone.

Next: In with the New!

03 October 2018

2018 Carlsen - Caruana, ChessCasting

In my previous post, 2018 Carlsen - Caruana, Online, I quoted Worldchess,
Introducing ChessCasting! [...] You can follow the 43rd Olympiad in Batumi on Worldchess.com. The games start this Monday! Based on your feedback, we'll add and improve the broadcasting before the World Chess Championship Match, the biggest event in the sport, that takes place in November of 2018 in London.

and promised,

I'll look at some of the rounds and report on the broadcast for the next post on this blog.

Today the ninth round of the Olympiad is taking place, with two rounds to go. Following is a screen capture of the Worldchess broadcast. It shows the top board of the top match, Duda (Poland) vs. Caruana (USA). The third line showing the players' names is the mechanism to switch between matches and between games within a match.

While the presentation of the game is certainly professional enough, I still prefer the layout used by Chess24.com. There you have an overview of the progress of all games on a single page.

As for the other functions, I never noticed anyone using the chat (large gray rectangle on the right: 'There are no messages yet. Be the first!'), which indicates that the site was not used much during the Olympiad. The video shown above the move list is the Chess24 commentary from Youtube's channel Batumi Chess Olympiad 2018. The scribbles at the bottom of the screen show which rounds of the tournament have already completed.


While I was writing this post, I learned that Arkady Dvorkovich defeated Georgios Makropoulos in the FIDE Presidential election. The vote count was 103 to 78.

For my previous post on the election, see Three Candidates in Three Weeks. For a snap, post-election writeup, see World chess gets first new president in two decades as Putin loyalist takes power (telegraph.co.uk).

26 September 2018

2018 Carlsen - Caruana, Online

I closed the previous post, 2018 Carlsen - Caruana, Schedule, with:-
Looks like I waited too long to get tickets, but I'm glad to see that the match is so popular. Maybe I'll look at online viewing options in another post.

My page on the 2018 Carlsen - Caruana match points to london2018.worldchess.com, which redirects to worldchess.com/london. A screen capture of that page is shown below.

The info on the left says,

FIDE World Chess Championship Match 2018 starts in
44 days : 08 hours : 59 minutes : 29 seconds

With online access, you will have the best seats in the house! Multi-camera view, commentary, access to behind-the-scenes, interviews and press conferences, advanced chat options and more. It's 2018 and chess is spectacular!

Of the options on the bottom of the screen, I tried the first ('get the ticket') in the previous 'Schedule' post. The other two options ('get my 12-month pass' and 'get my online ticket') both go to the same page: worldchess.com/paygate.

Given that there are currently no more Agon/Worldchess events on the agenda after the Carlsen - Caruana match, there is no apparent advantage to the $25 '12-month pass' over the $20 'online ticket', so I opted for the less expensive access. This brought me to a panel to enter my Worldchess login credentials and my credit card info ('secured by STRIPE'). Since I've never used STRIPE for payments, I thought I should look into the company before I give them any credit card credentials. In the meantime, this past weekend I received a newsletter from Worldchess.com saying,

Introducing ChessCasting! Welcome to the new World Chess Broadcasting Platform! • Dear chess fans! We are pleased to introduce the new official chesscasting platform: it’s well-designed, has great features that appeal to non-professionals, has the best chess chat ever, will be available for all chess organizers shortly to broadcast events for free (and even make money with it), and it works well. [...] You can follow the 43rd Olympiad in Batumi on Worldchess.com. The games start this Monday! Based on your feedback, we'll add and improve the broadcasting before the World Chess Championship Match, the biggest event in the sport, that takes place in November of 2018 in London.

The link for the 43rd Olympiad went to a Worldchess.com page, Olympiad : Open Section, with an announcement 'Round's pairings will be available soon'. Tomorrow the fourth round will take place. I'll look at some of the rounds and report on the broadcast for the next post on this blog.

19 September 2018

2018 Carlsen - Caruana, Schedule

It's already been six weeks since I posted News about 2018 Carlsen - Caruana, where I quoted a press release,
The much-anticipated match will be held in London from 9th to 28th November.

It's high time to decide whether I want to travel to London to see the match myself. First, what's the schedule? The official site, FIDE World Chess (worldchess.com/london), only informs,

FIDE World Chess Championship Match 2018 starts in
51 days : 10 hours : 35 minutes : 18 seconds

but 'Watch live at the college : get the ticket' leads to World Chess 2018 | Official Ticketmaster UK Site, which displays a useful calendar. Here's a copy in reverse black & white, which is easier to read in this reduced size.

The small print in the bottom line, which applies to rounds 10 through 12, says,

* : Sales will be open after the end of the 3rd and 4th round.

Second, what about tickets? Details for the first game are at Tickets: World Chess Championship - Round 1, London | Fri 9 Nov 2018 @ 3:00 pm:-

Best Available
Price : £600.00
Section : VIP Area

Ouch! The info button says, 'Event Info : General Admission Only', which probably means there are no numbered seats. The rest of the info informs,

VIP Tickets - with the VIP ticket you will get: separate entrance to the venue with VIP reception and separate coat check; comfortable VIP area with seating zones; bar with free drinks; priority entrance to the Players area; possibility to book seats in the first rows during the games and press-conference; memorable souvenirs.

General Admission Tickets - if you are buying this ticket you are getting: access to the Players area, where you can watch the two best world chess players compete for the chess crown; live commentating of the games by chess grandmasters; entertainment area, where you can try to beat your mate in chess; chess cafe where you can buy snacks and drinks; chess shop with chess souvenirs.

How about round 2? A page similar to round 1 informs,

General Admission Tickets : £70.00
VIP Ticket : £500.00

The related 'Find tickets' button informs, 'Tickets not currently available from Ticketmaster', which is the same message I received for round 3. The first available tickets I could find were for round 4 at £45.00 per ticket. Rounds 5 and 6 were also marked 'Tickets not currently available'. Looks like I waited too long to get tickets, but I'm glad to see that the match is so popular. Maybe I'll look at online viewing options in another post.

12 September 2018

Three Candidates in Three Weeks

With the FIDE presidential elections due to take place in three weeks, let's return to the subject of 2018 FIDE Election Tickets (July 2018). Last month the Association of Chess Professionals (ACP) endorsed one of the three candidates:-

That second link, 'Why', listed seven areas of concern:-

  • The work of FIDE ['utterly ineffective for quite some time now']
  • Anti-cheating issues
  • World Championship Cycle [*]
  • Women's chess
  • Helping veterans
  • Calendar of official events ['dates of the major events are regularly shifted']
  • FIDE General Assemblies and Terms ['no President should be serving for more than two consecutive terms']

Given that this blog is named the World Chess Championship Blog, the area marked '*' is of particular interest. The ACP board stated,

This is a very troublesome area. To start with, the last title match saw the highest budget for such an event ever but also one of the lowest prize-funds in modern history. That is simply ridiculous. Restoring transparency and respect for the players is a very much needed action. It is not irrelevant to mention that the Grand Prix series suffered a major blow in recent years, mainly due to FIDE’s inability to attract corporate sponsors.

FIDE is composed of national federations. Although the federations are political bodies that don't pay much attention to the thoughts of their strongest players, the ACP endorsement is the strongest statement to date by any single chess organization. The FIDE election has also attracted attention outside chess circles.

Who will be king? Three-way battle for control rocks international chess
(2 September 2018; theguardian.com)

Of Dvorkovich, the Guardian article said,

The Russian bid sees one of the Kremlin’s most capable and modern lieutenants unleashed on a sport that, frankly, seems small fry for him. Dvorkovich was Russian deputy prime minister for six years and chaired Russia’s World Cup organising committee, which spent an estimated £10bn on the tournament. By contrast, the Fide’s annual budget is just £2.3m.

The article also quoted Chess.com's Peter Doggers, recently seen on this blog in Peter Doggers on Chess Politics (August 2018). His most recent post on the election was FIDE Elections: 'Fake News' And The Call For Transparency, from which we can conclude that GM Short is already the odd man out. For more about the three candidates, see their Wikipedia pages:-

The winner in the election will shape FIDE policy for the next decade and probably longer.

22 August 2018

24th World Computer Championship

Last week, while working on Battles of the Chess NNs, a post about TCEC S13, I was reminded that the 2018 edition of the World Computer Chess Championship (WCCC) had taken place in July. From the Leela blog (archived version):-

That second link took a not-so-subtle swipe at the WCCC:-

WCCC still has a human operator make moves on a board. It's all very punchcard and mainframe and has one expecting to play against Belle and Cray Blitz. Hopefully the remote connection and special ASCII interface won’t lead to any snafus.

As someone who actually worked with punchcards and mainframes, I can say with certainty that they were 1960's technology, while the WCCC references in the rest of the quote were 1980's technology. But point taken, the WCCC is badly in need of a complete makeover.

What about the outcome? Relevant pages from the WCCC organizers are:-

This was Komodo's third straight WCCC title, but the engine has not been as successful in the TCEC against Stockfish. The message is clear: the TCEC is the World Computer Championship in all but name only; the ICGA's WCCC is the World Championship only in name. On my page about the World Chess Championship : Computer Chess, I decided to stop including details (PGN and crosstable) about new ICGA events. From now on, the page will only list the winner.

[For my post on the previous WCCC event, see 23rd World Computer Championship (January 2018).]

15 August 2018

Peter Doggers on Chess Politics

In a post last week on my main blog, 2018 CJA Awards, I assigned myself a couple of follow-ups:-
Getting back to those two 'Special Achievement' awards that head the awards list:-
- American Chess Magazine for 'All Four Issues', and
- Peter Doggers for 'Yearlong FIDE Coverage'
Both are worthy of a follow-up post.

Yesterday I closed the first in a post titled American Chess Magazine. Today I'll close the second.

I've referenced Doggers' reports many times on this blog -- most recently Grand Prix Boycott (August 2017) -- and on my main blog -- Ethics in Chess Politics - Stories (November 2015) -- and have also featured his video reports. He's extremely knowledgeable, level-headed, and fair to all sides, even to FIDE, a group often criticized in knee-jerk reactions by the chess press.

Until I started to write this post, I didn't realize there was a Chess.com news category that mainly features Doggers' work: News > Chess Politics. The following screen capture shows examples of his most recent reports.

Another Chess.com category also archives his work: News > Misc. Now I can catch up on the latest FIDE news about chess politics through one or two easy links.

08 August 2018

News about 2018 Carlsen - Caruana

Four months after the 2018 Candidates Tournament ended, we finally have some news about the forthcoming 2018 Carlsen - Caruana match. Received from Worldchess.com, World Chess Championship Match takes place in Holborn, Central London (email):-
We are very happy to announce The College, a breath-taking historic building in the heart of London as the venue for the FIDE World Chess Championship Match 2018! The 10,000-square foot space in Holborn will host 400 people each day to see Magnus Carlsen defend his world title against US challenger Fabiano Caruana. The much-anticipated match will be held in London from 9th to 28th November.

The announcement carried an artist's conception of the playing area. It was too dark to see much, so I took its negative.

'Render of the playing hall at the College, Holborn'
[reverse black & white]

Before the announcement of the venue, the only other email communication from Worldchess.com was dated 17 June 2018; US President Will Meet the Challenger to the World Championship Title (If You Want Him To!):-

Chess fans from the [USA] contacted us with an idea: to petition Donald Trump to invite Fabiano Caruana, the challenger to the Title, to the White House before the World Chess Championship Match that takes place in London in November. They published a petition today in support of this proposal at the White House’ petitions page. According to the rules, if the petition is signed by over 100,000 in 30 days, the Administration will review and possibly grant it.

The related link to petitions.whitehouse.gov now informs,

Signature Count • 847 signed, 100,000 goal // Closed Petition • This petition has been archived because it did not meet the signature requirements. It can no longer be signed.

In other match related news -- carrying the same date as this blog post -- Unibet secures 'opening move' sponsoring FIDE World Chess London 2018 (sbcnews.co.uk):-

Kindred Group Plc European sports betting subsidiary Unibet has broadened its sponsorship portfolio confirming that it has become the official betting partner to the ‘FIDE World Chess Championship Match’ (London 9-28 November). The bookmaker confirms a ‘ground-breaking deal’ with principal organiser World Chess, becoming the first betting partner of a FIDE syndicated event. World Chess expects a sell-out crowd for its much-anticipated event. [...]

Ilya Merenzon, the CEO of World Chess, backed Unibet as new partner: "World Chess is proud to announce this exclusive partnership with Unibet. We're enabling fans to be even closer to the action in this tantalising match. The tournament is the highlight of the chess calendar and millions of people around the world will follow every move."

Speaking of World Chess, whatever happened to their Grand Prix series, last seen in Palma de Mallorca, November 2017, according to my page 2017 Grand Prix. The FIDE calendar has nothing listed for 2019. Anyone taking bets on whether it will take place next year?

25 July 2018

Another Bad Day for Spassky

In the previous post, A Bad Day for Spassky, I extracted a passage from 'Chess Panorama' by William Lombardy and David Daniels.
The 'Chess Panorama' excerpt mentions the book 'Spassky's 100 Best Games' by Bruce Cafferty. That should of course be Bernard Cafferty, who also mentioned other last round incidents of the same genre. I'll cover those in another post.

In fact, the 'Chess Panorama' excerpt is from the Foreword to Cafferty's book, written by Leonard Barden. Here's the full text around the excerpt (p.19).

The Spassky - Tal was important becuase of its role in the 1957-1960 Zonal Cycle (C04, Z04). The Stein - Spassky game was important because of a similar role in the 1960-1963 Zonal Cycle (C05, Z04).

For the moves of the Stein - Spassky game, see Leonid Stein vs Boris Spassky; USSR Championship (1961), Moscow URS (chessgames.com). For the moves of the other two games mentioned above, also from Chessgames.com, see Rodolfo Tan Cardoso vs David Bronstein; Portoroz Interzonal (1958), Portoroz SLO, and Oscar Quinones Carrillo vs Leonid Stein; Amsterdam Interzonal (1964), Amsterdam NED.

18 July 2018

A Bad Day for Spassky

On my main blog, in a post titled Chess-books and Chess-players, I rediscovered the chess books offered by the Internet Archive's Open Library. In one of the books I looked at, Chess panorama By William Lombardy (openlibrary.org), in a chapter titled 'The Last Round', I found a long anecdote about a famous failure that occurred in the 1958 Soviet Championship, a zonal (p.179).

For a crosstable of the tournament, see 1957-1960 Zonal Cycle (C04, Z04). To play through the moves of the game, see Boris Spassky vs Mikhail Tal; USSR Championship (1958), Riga URS (chessgames.com).

The 'Chess Panorama' excerpt mentions the book 'Spassky's 100 Best Games' by Bruce Cafferty. That should of course be Bernard Cafferty, who also mentioned other last round incidents of the same genre. I'll cover those in another post.

04 July 2018

2018 FIDE Election Tickets

A couple of months ago, in 2018 FIDE Chess Politics, I wrote,
The situation is changing so rapidly that anything I say is bound to be wrong even before I press 'POST'. [...] In the meantime, let's settle for an overview of the election process. [...] I'll come back to the subject at the beginning of summer.

Earlier today, in Tickets for FIDE Presidential elections 2018 (fide.com), FIDE announced,

FIDE has received, within the specified deadline of 3 July 2018, 17:00 (Athens time), the following three (3) Presidential Tickets of Arkady Dvorkovich, Georgios Makropoulos and Nigel Short for the upcoming FIDE elections 2018 (listed alphabetically):

Arkady Dvorkovich – President
Bachar Kouatly – Deputy President
Sewa Enyonam Fumey – General Secretary
Mahir Mammedov – Vice President
Julio Granda Zuniga – Vice President
Zhu Chen – Treasurer

Georgios Makropoulos – President
Malcolm Pein – Deputy President
Sundar Damal Villivalam – General Secretary
Martha Fierro – Vice President
Chitalu Chilufya – Vice President
Adrian M. Siegel – Treasurer

Nigel Short – President
Lukasz Marek Turlej – Deputy President
Ruth Haring – General Secretary
Olalekan Adeyemi – Vice President
Paul Spiller – Vice President
Panu Laine – Treasurer

What happened to current FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov? Last week, in e.g. Arkady Dvorkovich is RCF’s candidate for FIDE President (chessdom.com), we learned,

24 ballots were received by the RCF Secretariat by 6 p.m. (Moscow time) on June 27th. 22 RCF Supervisory Board members voted in favour of Arkady Dvorkovich and 2 in favour of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.

RCF stands for Russian Chess Federation, and the group voted overwhelmingly Ilyumzhinov out, Dvorkovich in. I can't imagine that anyone outside of Ilyumzhinov's inner circle is sorry to see him go. After nearly 23 years at the helm of FIDE, the quirky Kalmyk has consistently demonstrated that his strongest quality is unpredictability.

As for the three confirmed candidates, they are all damaged goods. Dvorkovich is a puppet of the Putin regime; Makropoulos has been a controversial figure in FIDE for even longer than Ilyumzhinov and has been in bad health; Short has never shown any political acumen and specializes in insulting people. I imagine the election will be decided the same way all FIDE elections are decided, with palm grease.

Of special interest is the upcoming World Championship. With Ilyumzhinov out of the picture, what is organizer Agon's outlook? I'll be watching to see how the three candidates treat all aspects of the Carlsen - Caruana match. Both players are tremendously popular and should deliver positive publicity to world chess. Will the three candidates build on that or will they destroy it?

28 June 2018

Garry Kasparov Face Recognition

Does the general public recognize the names of World Chess Champions? For Garry Kasparov, I have anecdotal evidence that, 'Yes!', they do. For Magnus Carlsen, I'm not so sure. How about recognizing their faces? I can't answer that question easily, but I can run their photographs through the sort of AI software I discussed last week on my main blog in Analyze Your Own Images. If AI doesn't recognize them, then non-artificial intelligence probably won't either.

The software I used is available through Vision API - Image Content Analysis (cloud.google.com/vision). I used another Google service, image search, to locate a studio portrait of GM Kasparov, then fed it to the Vision API. The 'Faces' section of the analysis returned the image shown below on the left, while the first item in the 'Web Entities' section told me 'Garry Kasparov 10.947', where the number is probably some kind of a confidence metric. The second item was 'Chess 1.06755' and the last was 'Bobby Fischer 0.09179'.

The 'Pages with Matched Images' section returned a long list of links, most of them from Pinterest.com, including a link to the same image I used for the test. No question about it, Garry Kasparov has both name and face recognition.

While I was conducting that test, it occurred to me that the Google AI software might be cheating. It could easily locate copies of the image in the Google archive of results from web searches, then analyze the associated text.

I searched my own archive of images and located one that might not have found its way to a web page somewhere. I fed this one to the Vision API and it returned the image shown above on the right, along with 'Garry Kasparov 10.2885'. There's no doubt about it -- the API recognized Garry, and this time 'Pages with Matched Images' was empty.

One more curiosity is worth mentioning: the analysis of both photos returned the following list of face attributes:-

Joy : Very Unlikely
Sorrow : Very Unlikely
Anger : Very Unlikely
Surprise : Very Unlikely

It seems that AI software can recognize Kasparov's face, but it can't recognize his expression.

20 June 2018

Imagery of 1995 Kasparov - Anand

Start with the format used in Imagery of 1889 Steinitz - Chigorin, then fast forward more than a century to Chess at the World Trade Center. You end up with something like the following.

Google image search on '1995 kasparov anand'

[Call the rows 'A' to 'C' (from top to bottom) and number the images in each row '1' to 'x' (from left to right).]

First observation: There is nothing from Pinterest (Thank you, Google!), although there is plenty from Youtube (A2, A5, B5, C1, C4). Second observation: There are also plenty of similar aerial photos showing New York City (A1, B3, B4, B5, C5). Given that there is not a real position on the board and no clock. this was probably a publicity shot.

The 'Intel World Chess' logo figures in many photos (A4, A5, B1) and is partially obscured in others. In A4 -- Kasparov vs Anand, 1995 (kasparov.com) -- the word 'Intel' is cropped out on the top, though a smaller version is visible on the bottom; ditto A5.

Two more photos (A2 & B2) are from the match and show arbiter Carol Jarecki. A2 is from a Youtube video, Kasparov - Anand, Game 10, World Championship 1995, that includes footage taken during the match plus game analysis by Daniel King. In B2, NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani makes the first move.

Nearly all of the images on the third row are from other Kasparov - Anand encounters. C1 is titled 'BLITZ Intel World Chess 1995'; C2 is from a Spanish tournament (Linares?); and C3, dated August 2017, says 'Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz'. C4 is from another Youtube video, although the image returned by Google is not in the clip.

The match took place during a period of increased interest in chess by Americans. In The USCF in Numbers (June 2014), I documented a 'period of growth from 52.898 members in 1990 to a peak of 88.908 members in 2002'.

13 June 2018

Chess at the World Trade Center

I found this image while preparing a recent post, Chess in The Graphic, on my main blog.

Under the heading 'Checkmate!', the text says,

Intel World Chess Championship 1995
Garry Kasparov versus Vishy Anand
World Trade Center Observation Deck
September 11, 1995 through October 13, 1995
on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, 3:00 pm
For tickets call 1 800 388 KING

The four sponsors listed at the bottom are

World Trade Center,
Intel World Chess,
PCA, and
Alliance for Downtown New York Inc.

For the history of the PCA (Professional Chess Association), see my page World Chess Championship : FIDE/PCA Chronology. I've documented the event shown in the poster on the page 1995 Kasparov - Anand PCA Title Match.

Just above the name for that last sponsor, 'Alliance for Downtown New York Inc.', is a logo composed of buildings that appear to say 'Alliad', where the two letters 'll' represent the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The group's LinkedIn page, Overview ('Nonprofit Organization Management'), shows a similar but different logo that spells 'Alliance'.

I found the image in an August 2007 eBay auction. The auction description said,


Attractive announcement of Garry Kasparov versus Vishy Anand duel that took place on that fateful date, September 11 at the World Trade Center. ROOK GRAPHIC on opaque/glossy white chessboard. Suitable for framing. Dimensions: 6" x 9".

Accompanying WTC NEWS (World Trade Center) announcement: "The world's greatest chess players will compete a quarter mile high in the sky ... on the 107th floor Observation Deck at Two World Trade Center..."

The connection between my post about 'Chess in The Graphic' and this poster is the phrase 'ROOK GRAPHIC'. From such connections little discoveries are made.

06 June 2018

Imagery of 1889 Steinitz - Chigorin

The previous post, Leading Chess Players in 1886, included a short discussion of images from the first World Championship, the 1886 Steinitz - Zukertort match. What can we learn from a similar discussion of the second World Championship, 1889 Steinitz - Chigorin (Havana)?

Google image search on '1889 Steinitz Chigorin'

[Call the rows 'A' to 'C' (from top to bottom) and number the images in each row '1' to 'x' (from left to right).]

Three of the images (A1, C3, & C4) show the same setting and appear to be taken from the 1889 match; the first version is from Steinitz vs Chigorin 1889 (chessgames.com). The large text image (C5) is from my page 1889 Steinitz - Chigorin : Background, which is a collection of clippings from issues of British Chess Magazine in the 1880s.

Two more images (A3 & A4) are said to be from the rematch 1892 Steinitz - Chigorin (Havana). Another image is shown twice (A2 & B1), where the second version includes a caption, 'Petersburgo 1896: M.Chigorin, E.Lasker, H.N.Pillsbury, W.Steinitz'. The other images have little to do with the 1889 match.

Back to the only image from the 1889 match (A1 etc.), none of the sources identified the origin of the image or the other six men behind the chess table. More information about the photo can be found on another page, Échecs à Cuba -- 500 ans d'histoire (europe-echecs.com), by Georges Bertola.

30 May 2018

Leading Chess Players in 1886

Yesterday's post on my main blog, An 1886 Photoshopped Illustration, was based on an 1886 illustration titled 'The 16 Leading Chess Players of the World'. While looking into various aspects of the image, I discovered a couple of copies that were used to illustrate pages on the first World Championship.

According to my page on that match, 1886 Steinitz - Zukertort Title Match, it took place in 'New York / St.Louis / New Orleans, I-III, 1886'. The '16 Leading Players' illustration was published in the 17 July 1886 issue of The Graphic. The centerpiece of that composite illustration, Steinitz and Zukertort seated at a chess table, could very well have been taken from the match. What other images are available from the 1886 match?

Google image search on '1886 Steinitz Zukertort'

The composite image shown above is based on a technique that I use frequently on my main blog, most recently in a post for Berlin Candidates - Venue (March 2018); 'Call the rows 'A' to 'C' (from top to bottom) and number the images in each row '1' to 'x' (from left to right)'. Two of the images (A3 & B1) show the '16 Leading Players' illustration, other images are from the 1886 match (e.g. A1 & A2), and others are from different Steinitz matches (e.g. C1 & C4).

Given that the 1886 match was the first recognized World Championship, were Steinitz and Zukertort the world's best players? Were the other 14 players also among the best? My page of relevant BCM clippings, 1886 Steinitz - Zukertort : Background, confirms that the match was a direct consequence of the 1883 London Tournament, where Zukertort and Steinitz finished 1st and 2nd. In fact, nine of the '16 Leading Players' finished in the first ten of the 14 players in that event; only Chigorin, who finished 4th, is missing.

Chessmetrics.com has a page that covers the period coinciding with the start of the match, Monthly List: January 1886 rating list. Although the Chessmetrics calculations can't be taken as gospel, they do show 11 of the 16 players in the site's own top-16. The bottom line is that The Graphic's selection is probably as good a list as anyone's.

23 May 2018

2017 Women's Title Match (May 2018)

I added a new page for the 2017 Ju Wenjun - Tan Zhongyi Title Match held in Shanghai and Chongqing (China) earlier this month. For once I managed to include the full package in one update: crosstable, PGN file, and links from the Index of Women Players.

The event's logo is shown on the left. The acronym FWWCM means 'FIDE Women's World Championship Match'. According to the earliest news page on the official site, The last rehearsal before the fight,

The match consisting of 10 games will start on May 2nd. The first half of the match will be held in Shang Hai and the second half in Chong Qing.

This is the third time for two Chinese players to join in the match in history. The first one was between Xie Jun and Qin Kanying in 2000. the second time is ten years later, then 16-year-old Hou Yifan defeated the teammate Ruan Lufei being the youngest Chess Queen in chess history.

Those last two events were the 2000 FIDE Knockout Matches (New Delhi), and the 2010 FIDE Knockout Matches (Antakya, Turkey). The 2018 FIDE calendar says that the next event will be the 'Women’s World Championship 2018, Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, 1-Nov-2018, 25-Nov-2018', a knockout tournament.

16 May 2018

A Two Year Cycle

For the last few World Championship cycles, FIDE has managed to maintain a two year rhythm, with title matches taking place at the end of even-numbered years (like 2018). How many chess fans remember that FIDE tried to do the same nearly 35 years ago? From Informant 36 (1983-H2):-
A new system of competitions for Individual and Team World Championships was adopted by FIDE at its congress in Manila, in October 1983. The proposal was being prepared for some time by an ad hoc Committee headed by Mr. Campomanes, the President of FIDE.

The new system contains many changes:

• a restructuring of FIDE Zones was carried out (new distribution of countries among the Zones, two Zones in Africa, the so-called Sub-zones set up in some Zones);

• a two-year cycle of competitions for Individual World Championship was introduced to replace the hitherto three-year cycle (i.e., the World Title Match will henceforth be played every other year);

• 12 (in 1985, 14) best players from the FIDE rating list will also have the right to participate in three Interzonal Tournaments;

• a candidates' all-play-all tournament with 16 participants was instituted, to be played after the Interzonal Tournaments;

• Individual Candidates' Matches with four participants -- the players placed lst-4th in the Candidates' Tournament -- will be played after the candidates' all-play-all tournament;

• in addition to the Chess Olympiad, a World Team Championship (with ten participant teams) was instituted to be played every fourth year.

What happened to this grand plan? The infamous 1984 Karpov - Kasparov title match (Moscow; 1984-09 through 1985-02) took place.

09 May 2018

2018 FIDE Chess Politics

If chess players aren't interested in chess politics, why is the chess press running so many stories these days about chess politics? Maybe because there's serious trouble in FIDE's leadership with both a FIDE election and a World Championship match looming later this year.

I last covered the FIDE problems in a couple of 'Yahoo' posts on my main blog -- February Yahoos (February 2018; 'I've been following the sanctions saga since the end of 2016.'), and April Yahoos (April 2018) -- and now I should cover the jockeying for the FIDE election, but the situation is changing so rapidly that anything I say is bound to be wrong even before I press 'POST'.

In the meantime, let's settle for an overview of the election process. The FIDE page Handbook >> A. Administrative Subjects >> 04. Electoral Regulations (fide.com) starts,

1. The Presidential Ticket

1.1 The Presidential ticket shall be six persons, at least one of whom must be a woman. Nominations on the Presidential ticket shall specify the proposed nominees for the offices of FIDE President, Deputy President, General Secretary, Treasurer and two Vice Presidents.

1.2 Nominations for the Presidential ticket and Continental Presidents must reach the Secretariat at least three months before the opening of the General Assembly. Each ticket must be nominated by at least five member federations. The decision of the federation shall be communicated to FIDE by the federation's President. A federation is entitled to nominate only one Presidential ticket.

The General Assembly will take place during the forthcoming Olympiad. The FIDE Calendar 2018 (also fide.com) says,

43rd World Chess Olympiad 2018 • Batumi, Georgia • 23-Sep-2018 • 6-Oct-2018
89th FIDE Congress • Batumi, Georgia • 26-Sep-2018 • 6-Oct-2018

Three months before the opening of the General Assembly will happen around end-June. I'll come back to the subject at the beginning of summer.

02 May 2018

Three and a Half Cycles

While preparing for the previous post (see the last link below, 'Berlin Candidates - Wrapup'), I assembled a collection of links to similar posts for past events. This was primarily with an eye on maintaining consistency, but the list has other uses, too.

C25: Candidates

C25: Title Match

C26: Candidates

C26: Title Match

C27: Candidates

C27: Title Match

C28: Candidates

C28: Title Match

  • 2018-11-xx: Carlsen - Caruana, London

Only six months to wait before I can start filling in that last list...

25 April 2018

Berlin Candidates - Wrapup

During a World Championship event, like the recent 2018 Candidates Tournament, I generate so many posts that it's useful to summarize them when I'm done. First, here are posts from this blog:-

And here are posts from my main blog:-

Posts marked '(*)' include a video clip.

18 April 2018

Berlin Candidates - Last Updates

I ended the previous post, Berlin Candidates - My Resources, with a number of small actions for a final update. To close these, I added the PGN file and tiebreak rules to my page on the 2018 Candidates Tournament. I also added links for that page to the four pages comprising the Index of Players.

Given that the tournament finished three weeks ago, you might think I was slow to make the updates. My excuse is that I had a vacation during that period. The official site for the 2018 Carlsen - Caruana title match to be held later this year is still wondering who the challenger will be.

(Hint: It's the guy in the darkly shaded box.)

What's their excuse?

11 April 2018

Berlin Candidates - My Resources

I added the crosstable and cumulative score to my page on the 2018 Candidates Tournament. The cumulative score is reproduced below.

Still to be done:-

  • Add the PGN file
  • Document the tiebreak rules
  • Update the index of players
  • Summarize the action from major chess news sources

I also updated the page for the 2018 Carlsen - Caruana match, to be held in London later this year.

28 March 2018

Berlin Candidates - Third Week

Yesterday the 2018 Berlin Candidates Tournament finished with a clear winner, no tiebreaks necessary. Congratulations to Fabiano Caruana on earning the right to challenge World Champion Magnus Carlsen next November in a title match. In my previous post, Berlin Candidates - Second Week, I recorded the situation at the top after nine of the 14 rounds had been played:-
6.0 Caruana; 5.5 Mamedyarov; 5.0 Grischuk

Since the official site, worldchess.com/berlin, never did manage to produce a crosstable, I'll use their chart of scores per round ('Standings') to show the final scores.

The scenario for an exciting finish was set in the 12th round when the two front runners were both defeated. Playing with the White pieces, Karjakin (6.0/11 before the round) beat Caruana (7.0). Playing Black, Ding Liren (5.5 after 11 draws) beat Mamedyarov (6.5) Many onlookers started to wonder whether we were going to see a second Carlsen - Karjakin title match, after the Russian scored +4-0=2 in rounds seven through twelve, thereby catching up with Caruana.

The two most recent posts on my main blog described the situation before the last two rounds. With two rounds to go, in Two Championship Qualifying Events, I noted,

The 2018 Berlin Candidates Tournament is also reaching its climax and here the results are anything but clear. [...] Five players are bunched within a half-point of each other.

Before the final round, in Berlin Candidates - Tiebreaks, I wrote,

The players with a chance of winning the tournament (plus their scores going into the last round) are: 8.0 Caruana; 7.5 Mamedyarov, Karjakin; 7.0 Ding Liren. It's still not easy to calculate each player's chances to win.

Playing Black, Caruana beat Grischuk and none of the other games mattered anymore. The chart above shows that Caruana won his last two games, despite the tension. He seems to have the nerves of steel that all World Chess Champions necessarily possess.

I watched the beginning of the last few rounds on Chess24.com. For the first nine rounds, I alternated between that site and the official site, Worldchess.com, switching when the commentators on one site or the other took a break. After the Worldchess broadcasts disappeared behind the site's paywall, I settled on Chess24 exclusively. Although Judit Polgar did a capable job for Worldchess, their other commentators were not at her level.

Worldchess.com was plagued by technical and organizational problems. For the first few rounds, the site was unable to display the games in progress. News reports only started appearing after the first half of the event had been played, even though the same reports had been available on Fide.com from the beginning. For games in progress, the main page displayed broken images for the players' caricatures, although these were working on other parts of the site (as the chart above shows).

Now I have to change the title of my 'World Chess Championship' page. Until now, it has shown 2018 Carlsen - TBA; London, XI, 2018. After three successful title matches, GM Carlsen might be favored to win, but GM Caruana has shown that he will be a worthy challenger.

21 March 2018

Berlin Candidates - Second Week

In last week's report on the 2018 Berlin Candidates Tournament (see Berlin Candidates - First Week), we saw three players with a plus score after three rounds:-
2.5 Kramnik; 2.0 Caruana, Mamedyarov

Another six rounds have been played, again leaving three players with plus scores:-

6.0 Caruana; 5.5 Mamedyarov; 5.0 Grischuk

In past reports on Candidates tournaments from previous cycles, like Moscow Candidates - Second Week (March 2016), I presented a crosstable from the offical site. I could find no such chart on the official site for the current tournament, so I took a snapshot of the crosstable from the news site that most of the English-speaking chess world uses for up-to-date chess information.

FIDE Candidates Tournament 2018

Source: The Week in Chess

The chart shows who will be playing whom in the last five rounds. The schedule for the critical games between the current leaders is:-

Round 10: Mamedyarov - Caruana
Round 13: Mamedyarov - Grischuk
Round 14: Grischuk - Caruana

In my 'First Week' report, I developed a chart from the last three Candidates tournaments projecting winners at different points in the events. The same observations were offered by GM Ian Rogers in his report on the first half of the Berlin event, Caruana Leading Candidates Race: “I’ll Try to Stay Calm.” (uschess.org; 18 March 2018):-

In the modern era, the winning recipe for qualifying to challenge the World Champion from the Candidates Tournament has been to be in the lead at the halfway mark. In fact one has to go back to 1959 to find a Candidates Tournament where the winner was not leading halfway through the event. [...] The winners in 2013, 2014 and 2016 – Carlsen, Anand and then Karjakin – were always tied with Levon Aronian at the halfway point, before going on to outpace the Armenian.

I double-checked GM Rogers on his facts from the earlier cycles and discovered that in the eight player, four stage round-robin 1959 Yugoslavia Candidates, the unlucky Paul Keres was leading at the half-way point with 10.0/14, a half point ahead of Mikhail Tal, who eventually won the event. In the 1962 Curacao Candidates, which used the same structure as in 1959, GMs Petrosian and Geller were leading at the half-way mark with 9.0/14. Petrosian eventually finished a half-point ahead of Geller and Keres. That tournament was marred by accusations that the three leaders colluded to draw against each other (which the crosstable confirms) and to play for wins against the other participants, the non-Soviets in particular.

For those suspicions of collusion, the Candidates stage of subsequent World Championship cycles was changed to a system of long matches which -- except for a handful of cycles using a single-event knockout system -- persisted until a round-robin tournament was reintroduced for the 2013 London Candidates. For more about Soviet collusion in Candidates tournament of the 1950s, see Calculating Collusion (February 2010) on this blog.

Predictions based on the leader at the halfway mark also held for two title tournaments in the 2000s. At 2005 San Luis, GM Topalov was ahead of the next player, GM Svidler, by two full points after seven rounds. At 2007 Mexico City, GM Anand was ahead of GM Gelfand by a half point after seven rounds.

The only Candidates tournament for which I haven't developed a cumulative score by round is the 1985 Montpellier Candidates. That event was unusual in that it qualified the first four players into a short series of matches.