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).