30 December 2020

C01-C29 IZ/KO/QP Cosmetic Changes

While working on the last three posts...

...I noted a number of areas for further modifications. Although none of these were particularly urgent, I tackled a few of them for this current post:-

More to follow...

23 December 2020

C01-C29 IZ/KO to QP

The title of last week's post, C15-C29 QP for IZ/KO, used enough codes to put it on the AAP most wanted list, where AAP stands for the Assault on Acronyms Program. Let's break those codes down:-
World Championship cycles 15 through 29 • This is my own numbering system for keeping track of the often overlapping cycles.
Qualification Paths • How the various players qualified to play in the cycle
Knockout • The FIDE format for World Championships and World Cups since C17

Putting it all together, the post 'C15-C29 QP for IZ/KO' linked the QP page for each referenced cycle to the corresponding IZ/KO page. The earlier cycles, C01-C14, had already been done. At the end of the post, I wrote,

The next step will be to link the IZ/KO/WCup pages back to the corresponding QP page.

Since I had already prepared this in the earlier post Qualification Paths for IZ/KO Events (December 2020; 'To facilitate the crosslink action, I developed a table of pages that need to be changed.'), the task to link the IZ++ pages was relatively straightforward. There were 38 such pages.

While I was working on those two previous posts and this current post, I had the opportunity to review all of the 29 QP pages as a matched set, and all of the 38 IZ++ pages as another matched set. (C09-C14 had two or three Interzonals each.) I identified a number of discrepancies that I'll tackle in another post.

16 December 2020

C15-C29 QP for IZ/KO

Continuing with last weeks's post, Qualification Paths for IZ/KO Events, where I documented the first step of a multi-step action:-
Crosslink (in both directions) the IZ/KO/WCup pages with the corresponding QP page for faster navigation between them. [...] To facilitate the crosslink action, I developed a table of pages that need to be changed.

For this current post, I linked the 'QP' pages (Qualification Paths) to the corresponding IZ/KO/WCup pages. As I noted in the previous post,

Zonal Qualifiers (QP) for C01 through C14 already have a link to the corresponding Interzonal(s).

For the other cycles, here are links to the first and the last QP pages for those cycles:-

The next step will be to link the IZ/KO/WCup pages back to the corresponding QP page.

09 December 2020

Qualification Paths for IZ/KO Events

In a recent post, 2019 World Cup - Qualified Players (November 2020), I closed one outstanding action, but left another:-
As for that second action stemming from the '2020 Candidates', to crosslink pages, I'll tackle it another time.

More specifically:-

Crosslink (in both directions) the IZ/KO/WCup pages with the corresponding QP page for faster navigation between them.

The acronym 'QP' stands for 'Qualification Paths'. To facilitate the crosslink action, I developed a table of pages that need to be changed.

Timespan Format Event
C01 1949-51 IZ Saltsjobaden
C02 1952-54 IZ Saltsjobaden
C03 1955-57 IZ Goteborg
C04 1958-60 IZ Portoroz
C05 1961-63 IZ Stockholm
C06 1964-66 IZ Amsterdam
C07 1967-69 IZ Sousse
C08 1970-72 IZ Palma de Mallorca
C09 1973-75 IZ Leningrad
IZ Petropolis
C10 1976-78 IZ Biel
IZ Manila
C11 1979-81 IZ Riga
IZ Rio de Janeiro
C12 1982-84 IZ Las Palmas
IZ Moscow
IZ Toluca
C13 1985-87 IZ Biel
IZ Taxco
IZ Tunis
C14 1988-90 IZ Subotica
IZ Szirak
IZ Zagreb
C15 1991-93 IZ Manila
C16 1994-96 IZ Biel
C17 1997-98 WCC Groningen
C18 1998-99 WCC FIDE Las Vegas (Khalifman 1st)
C19 2000 WCC FIDE India/Iran (Anand 1st)
C20 2001-02 WCC FIDE Moscow (Ponomariov 1st)
C21 2002-04 WCC FIDE Tripoli (Kasimdzhanov 1st)
C22 2005-07 WCup Khanty-Mansiysk (2005)
C23 2007-10 WCup Khanty-Mansiysk (2007)
C24 2008-12 WCup Khanty-Mansiysk (2009)
C25 2011-13 WCup Khanty-Mansiysk (2011)
C26 2012-14 WCup Tromso (2013)
C27 2014-16 WCup Baku (2015)
C28 2017-18 WCup Tbilisi (2017)
C29 2019-20 WCup Khanty-Mansiysk (2019)
1994-95 -- Groningen

Legend: Codes used in 'Format'.

  • IZ = Interzonal
  • WCC = World Championship in KO format
  • WCup = World Cup in KO format

(1) Zonal Qualifiers (QP) for C01 through C14 already have a link to the corresponding Interzonal(s).
(2) The last event in the list, '1993 Groningen PCA Qualifying Tournament', could use a note on how the players were selected.

02 December 2020

Karpov on the Rock

Earlier this year, for a featured monthly video on my main blog, I chose Retro Engine Chess (February 2020). There was another good choice, but it had already so many views and comments that I decided not to use it. It popped up on my radar again this past week, and it's too good to ignore a second time.

"I wanted to defeat Bobby" | GM Anatoly Karpov Interview (20:20) • '[Published on] Jan 29, 2020'

The GibChess description said,

A candid interview with former World Champion Anatoly Karpov. The Russian GM shares stories and reflections on his chess career with Tania Sachdev. Special thanks to Chess Base India.

For a transcript of the video, see Karpov on Fischer, Korchnoi, Kasparov and the chess world today (chessbase.com). For a related Youtube video, this one from GBC News and with far fewer views, see Former Official Chess World Champion Anatoly Karpov on the Rock. Its description said,

Former Official Chess World Champion Anatoly Karpov is visiting the Rock as part of the Gibraltar International Chess Festival. Considered one of the greatest players in history, he's the third longest world champion, behind Magnus Carlsen and Garry Kasparov. Christine Vasquez took the opportunity of gaining an insight into current developments in Russian politics but first asked Mr Karpov how he felt to be on the Rock supporting the Chess festival.

Change 'third longest world champion' to 'third longest world champion in post-WWII times' and I'll say no more, even though Carlsen hasn't (yet) caught up with Karpov.

25 November 2020

2019 World Cup - Qualified Players

Last week, in a post on my main blog, 2020 Candidates - Early World Championship Steps, I ended with a couple of actions:-
To do: (1) Fill in those three blanks for the nominees to '2019 WCup'. (2) Crosslink (in both directions) the IZ/KO/WCup pages with the corresponding QP page for faster navigation between them.

That first action was a continuation of a post from last year, C29 Zonal Qualification Paths (December 2019), on this World Chess Championship blog. After researching the 'three blanks', I added the necessary info to the December post. Most of that post was about discrepancies between the list of players who qualified for the 2019 World Cup and the players who eventually appeared for the event. At the time I identified a further project:-

Try to apply [the methodology] to the players listed on Zonal Qualifiers 2016-2017 (C28). Ditto for previous cycles.

As for that second action stemming from the '2020 Candidates', to crosslink pages, I'll tackle it another time.

18 November 2020

Zonal/Continental World Cup Qualifiers

Before continuing with last week's post Opens for Discussion (ACP: 'make the open tournaments part of the World Championship cycle'), I should catch up on the changes that have already been made to the next World Championship cycle. Fortunately, in the post from two weeks ago, Notes on the Women's Championship, I have a snapshot of the structure of the FIDE Handbook as of February 2020. Comparing that to the current FIDE Handbook reveals a number of differences. Here is the current structure:-
D. Regulations for Specific Competitions
01. FIDE Individual World Championship Cycles
   01. Scope
   02. Zonal Tournaments
   03. Regulations for the FIDE World Cup
   04. Regulations for the FIDE Grand Prix Series
   05. Regulations for the FIDE Grand Swiss
   06. Regulations for the FIDE Candidates Tournament 2020
   07. Regulations for the FIDE World Championship Match 2020

What was previously called '01. World Championship General Provision' is now called '01. Scope', which is much clearer. Its essence is captured in the following image:-

The table at the bottom of the chart, 'Table of Zonal Divisions', gives basic information about the different FIDE zones, from Zone 1.1 through Zone 4.4 . For example, 'Zone 2.1 (1); USA; 5M 2W' means Continent no.2 (the Americas) Zone no.1 ['2.1'], which includes one country ['(1)'], the USA. When organizing zonals, the USA is entitled to five men and two women ['5M 2W'] qualifying into the respective World Cup events. Paragraph 'B. Zonal Tournaments' is expanded in handbook chapter '02. Zonal Tournaments', which looks like a cut-and-paste job. It starts with an annex...

Annex A. Specific Regulations for the Men's and Women's Zonal Tournaments

...that incorporates 'General Assemblies' by reference, then skips sections 1-6 to cover the following sections:-

7. Organization
8. Participation
9. Prize Fund
10. Costs
11. Appeals Committee
12. Qualification for the World Championship

Back to '01. Scope', where are 'C. Continental Chess Championships' described? They are included in '03. Regulations for the FIDE World Cup', for which there are already regulations for both the World Cup 2021 and the World Cup 2023. The number of qualifiers has been expanded from 128 in 2019 to 206 in 2021:-

2. Qualification
2.1. Two hundred and six (206) players take part in World Cup. Players qualify for World Cup by the following paths:
I. Reigning World Champion.
II. Winner, runner-up and two (2) other semi-finalists of the FIDE World Cup 2019 – four (4) players.
III. Reigning Women's World Champion.
IV. World Junior Champions U-20 of 2019 & 2020 – two (2) players.
V. Qualifiers from the Continental events (see Annex 2) – eighty (80) players.
VI. Highest rated players from the average of the twelve (12) standard FIDE rating lists - thirteen (13) players, who have notqualified by any path from I to V.
VII. Highest placed player of the ACP Tour 2020, who has not qualified by any path from I to VI.
VIII. One hundred (100) players are determined according to the Final Ranking of the Chess Olympiad 2020 open section.
IX. Nominees of the FIDE President – two (2) players.
X. Nominees of the Organiser – two (2) players.

Section 'V. Qualifiers from the Continental events' mentions 'Annex 2', which is structured like this:-

Qualifying events for the FIDE World Cup
1. Zonal Tournaments
2. Continental Championships
3. Tie-break

An important paragraph in '1. Zonal Tournaments' is:-

1.2. Where a Continent decides to have zonal tournaments for qualification to World Cup, the number of zonal qualifiers shall be restricted to the approved figure by zone; the extra qualification places for each Continent shall be given to the Continental Championship to determine the remaining qualifiers to the World Cup.

Back to our example of 'Zone 2.1 USA', if the Americans decide not to hold a zonal, which has historically been the U.S. championship, their qualifying places '5M 2W : shall be given to the Continental Championship', depending on whether it is the zonal/continental for men or women. Why would any zone want to give up its right to a guaranteed number of qualifiers into the World Cup? That is a question I can't answer. Perhaps the Europeans can explain.

11 November 2020

Opens for Discussion

The Association of Chess Professionals (ACP) recently issued a Proposal For The World Championship Cycle (chessprofessionals.org), where the essence of the proposal is:-
It seems natural then to make the open tournaments part of the World Championship cycle.

How did the group arrive at the conclusion that 'it seems natural'? The argument starts with a curious observation:-

Chess is often unfavourably compared to tennis. Unlike the tennis world, chess lacks an open, all-inclusive cycle that would encompass the top and the bottom of the pyramid. [...] Needless to say, a bottom-to-top cycle is a product that sponsors love to be part of.

Instead I would have guessed that what sponsors love is tennis as a superb spectator sport. It has action that is simple to understand, coupled with a scoring system that provokes many critical moments throughout a hard fought match. I'm a terrible tennis player, but I love to watch a close match between top players because of the drama and suspense. Sponsors love tennis because the public loves it and because the public's many eyeballs are associating the match with their product.

Maybe a 'bottom-to-top cycle' is indeed a hook for sponsors. I would better trust that statement coming from a sports marketing organization rather than from an elite group of top-level chess players. I could give other examples of suggestions by chess professionals to make their game more marketable, but none of them have succeeded in the past. Remember FIDE Commerce? Chess Network (CNC)? Worldchess.com?

Let's assume for a moment that the ACP has identified a game changer for chess marketing. Here is the next piece of their argument:-

In chess we have a well-established upper part of the pyramid. The World Championship match is the cherry on top, the Candidates Tournament is the most-awaited tournament, the Grand Prix tournaments, the World Cup and the Continental Championships all form a coherent system of qualification.

Overlooking the bizarre image of a cherry on top of a pyramid, can we really talk about a 'coherent system of qualification'? The top players at the Continental Championships qualify into the World Cup, which along with the winners of the Grand Prix and the Grand Swiss qualify into the Candidates. (Or does the Grand Swiss only qualify into the World Cup? I'm too lazy to look it up. If the system were coherent, I wouldn't have to.)

And what about the Zonals, which are on the same qualification level as the Continentals? There are presently four levels of qualification : Zonals, Continentals; World Cup, Grand Prix, Grand Swiss; Candidates; World Championship. What's coherent about that? To return to the ACP proposal:-

The lowest entry point for qualification in the World Championship cycle are the Continental Championships and these are not easily accessible to the lower-rated professionals, among other things because they are very expensive tournaments to play in. What is obviously missing here is the bottom part of the pyramid.

Again there is no mention of the Zonals. The Europeans eliminated their Zonals in 2001 (for cycle no.20 in my system of counting -- we're up to cycle no.29 now) and have been complaining ever since that the three other continents (the Americas, Asia, and Africa) kept their Zonals. Under the new ACP proposal, would the Zonals continue or would they be replaced by the opens?

As for the Continentals being 'expensive', is that because of travel costs -or- is there another reason? If it's because of travel costs, how would a series of open tournaments be less expensive? That would partially depend on the next question: Would a player who finishes 1st in one open have a better or worse chance of qualifying than a player who finishes 10th in 10 opens? (Or 5th in five opens, etc.) In the Zonals, the top finishers qualify into the World Cup after a single tournament. The proposal continues:-

We would like to propose a concept where many open tournaments are part of a World Open Circuit. For this purpose the already well-established ACP Tour system or a similar one may serve as a basis on which the Circuit can be built.

Without doing any research on existing tournaments that might be incorporated into this scheme, I imagine they are concentrated in Europe. In a future scheme, would they be evenly distributed across the four continents? (I'm again wondering about travel costs.) On top of that, will ACP membership continue to be a requirement for eventual qualification?

The ACP ends the proposal with its weakest arguments. The first is a non-sequitur:-

The pause in over-the-board activities that the pandemic has forced us to have is an excellent opportunity for FIDE to prepare and reform the World Championship cycle by including the open tournaments in it.

The second is based on a work of fiction:-

Thanks to the popularity brought about by Netflix’s "The Queen’s Gambit" series, where such a climb from bottom to top is at the very center of the story that is currently inspiring the whole world.

All of the major chess news sources have issued reports on the ACP proposal. All have received comments from chess fans around the world. I'll try to find the time to review the many comments to see if I've overlooked the most important points.


Not long after I posted this essay, it appeared on the list of 'Popular Posts (Last 12 months)' at the bottom of every page on this blog. That in itself is unusual. At the same time, an older post appeared on the popular list: Dual Qualification Paths (July 2007). I knew that the two posts were related, but when I wrote the newer post, I didn't have the time to locate the older post. By some small twist of fate, it was done for me!

04 November 2020

Notes on the Women's Championship

While working on last week's post, Interview with Dvorkovich (October 2020), I noted a couple of points concerning the Women's World Championship. Both were in the two excerpts of the interview in English on Chesstech.org. The first was in Part 1: FIDE’s next steps:-
Dvorkovich is concerned about the next World Cup and Women’s World Cup, that were supposed to take place in Minsk in summer 2021 respectively spring 2022: "The World Cups have never been popular among organisers. The players love them, the audience loves them, but it’s a nightmare for the hosts. We are looking for a way to allow all players that qualified to play and at the same time make the life of organisers easier, the events shorter and more spectacular."

That explains why, for the last few cycles, the unrestricted version of the World Cup has always been given to the organizer of the Olympiad. If you want the Olympiad, you have to organize the World Cup in the preceding year. It also explains why the Women’s World Cup was called a World Championship -- it added prestige to the event. The second point was in Part 2: "I am not used to discussing politics":-

After two hours Dubov ran out of questions and asked if Dvorkovich wanted to address anything else. The FIDE President was still agile and raised several issues: The promotion of women by aligning their world championship cycle with the men and providing more playing opportunities. [...]

This reminded me of my current pet peeve regarding the 2019 Women's Title Match (February 2020). After the match, played in January 2020, I observed,

[My page on the match] included a short explanation about the change of regulations that went into effect between the time they were announced and the time the match was played. It's a pity that FIDE still hasn't updated the obsolete regulations, especially since the announcement of the change is buried in the Fide.com Archive.

Nine months later, FIDE still hasn't documented the cycle. The top section of the image below shows the table of contents for the FIDE handbook at the time of the match. Chapters 7 and 12 have since been removed. The other chapters have been renumbered, but their content hasn't changed. FIDE recently announced two more pieces of the current cycle for the Women's World Championship:-

Both of the Grand Swiss tournaments are described in 'Draft Regulations'. That gives us no regulations describing the entire current cycle, especially the candidates tournament, *plus* draft regulations for a new event that qualifies into the candidates tournament and that is already in the bidding stage. C'mon FIDE; you should be able to do better than that. Anyway, here is the list of documents that were available at the beginning of the year.

While I'm on the subject of women's chess, I have a small change to the Index of Women Players. The Vikipedija page for Eva Karakasa (lv.wikipedia.org) links to five of my pages for the Women's World Championship. The first link is to the 1955 Candidates Tournament, where 'Karakas' is not found. The second link is to the 1959 Candidates Tournament, where we find '07 Karakas'. The other three pages also list 'Karakas'.

The bottom section of the image above, from Jeremy Gaige's 'Chess Personalia', explains the discrepancy. In the 1955 Candidates event we find '14 Kertesz', and assume that she must have remarried between the 1955 and the 1959 events. I updated the 'Index of Women Players' accordingly.

28 October 2020

Interview with Dvorkovich

A few weeks before the announcement that FIDE Candidates Postponed Again, FIDE President Dvorkovich gave a wide ranging interview touching on many aspects of the current situation in world chess. In particular, he discussed the various events that make up the World Championship cycle.

Interview with FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich (2:07:40) • '[Published on] Sep 30, 2020'

The description starts in Russian (here translated by Google):-

Created jointly with the Moscow Chess Federation 'MskChess TV' [...]

Then it switches to English:-

English subtitles are added! In this two-hour-long interview, GM Daniil Dubov asks questions about FIDE, chess during pandemic, online chess, the future of the world championship cycle, and touches other burning issues.

As usual, the '[CC]' box on the status line at the bottom of the embedded video switches between 'subtitles <-> no-subtitles'. On top of that, excerpts of the interview are available in English on Chesstech.org:-

  • 2020-10-14 (Part 1): FIDE’s next steps • 'Stefan Loeffler has excerpted the essentials in two parts. The first one focuses on competitive chess.'
  • 2020-10-17 (Part 2): "I am not used to discussing politics" • 'After part one of our excerpts focused on competitions, this one deals with FIDE’s functioning, finance and online chess policy.'

'Part 1' places the time of the interview:-

In August, FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich was interviewed for more than two hours by Daniil Dubov, the 24-year old Russian grandmaster.

'Part 2' has a strange title that I understand as "I am not used to discussing politics [online]". Dvorkovich explained further, 'Probably this has to do with my former work in the Russian government, when social media could not be used to discuss political matters.'

21 October 2020

FIDE Candidates Postponed Again

In last week's post, 'Tournir of the FIDE Applicants', where the 'Tournir' is FIDE's Candidate tournament and the issue is its resumption, I noted dates from two sources:-
'Today, 5 October, it is planned to make a final decision' -- almost ten days have passed -- Fide.com: 'The 8th round has been scheduled for 1 November 2020.'

Since the 'Tournir' post was near the mid-point between 5 October and 1 November, we didn't have to wait long for an announcement. Before we go there, let's look at another FIDE announcement from early October: Decisions of the 3rd quarter FIDE Online Council Meeting (fide.com); 'Decisions ... 30 September 2020', relevant to the World Championship:-

Q3OC-2020/8: To note that the final decision regarding the 2020 Candidates’ Tournament shall be taken by 5 October 2020 conditional on the results of the analysis of the current situation in the respective countries.
Q3OC-2020/9: To note the update provided by Mr Sutovsky regarding the 2021 World Championship Match.
Q3OC-2020/10: To note that the decision regarding the organization of the Women’s World Cup and World Cup 2021 shall be taken at the Online GA.
Q3OC-2020/11: To note the information provided by Mr. Sutovsky in respect to Women’s Grand Prix. [...]
Q3OC-2020/48: To investigate how the organization of the forthcoming Zonal events may be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. [...]
Q3OC-2020/50: To note that the next online meeting of the FIDE Council will take place on 4 December 2020, prior to the 2020 FIDE General Assembly.

A few days later, FIDE announced the decision for Q3OC-2020/8: The second leg of the Candidates Tournament is postponed to the spring of 2021 (fide.com). It started,

Unfortunately, FIDE is forced to postpone the resumption of the Candidates Tournament until the spring of 2021. The main reason for rescheduling the event is, of course, the concern related to the well-being of the players in the midst of the second wave of the pandemic.

Did anyone expect a different decision?

14 October 2020

'Tournir of the FIDE Applicants'

Spotted on the Russian language site chess-news.ru:-

If you're wondering about the English language titles on a Russian site, there's a simple explanation. I ran the orginal articles through Google's translation service. Here's how it translated the first few paragraphs of the first article, 'Wang Hao and FIDE':-

Wang Hao posted on his Facebook a letter from Arkady Dvorkovich to him. The FIDE President, according to the Chinese grandmaster, then asked him to publish all the correspondence. Wang Hao did that too.

The main correspondence is with FIDE lawyer Alexander Martynov . It is about the second round of the Candidates Tournament. From the letters it follows that FIDE is still considering two locations for the game - Yekaterinburg and Tbilisi, but is determined to resume the competition from November 1.

Today, October 5th, it is planned to make a final decision. However, Wang Hao (and possibly Ding Liren too) does not consider it correct to organize the tournament now for security reasons and suggests FIDE to postpone this matter until better, from an epidemiological point of view, times.

The rest of that article was a chain of emails written in English. As for the second article, 'Karpov to Dvorkovich', the translation was simpler:-

Anatoly Karpov sent a letter to Arkady Dvorkovich regarding the second round of the Candidates Tournament.

The rest of the article was a letter in Russian, in the form of an image, which Google didn't translate. I ran the letter through an OCR service, then ran the output Russian text through the Google translator. Here's what I got:-

Axioms. Ssrligsvaya region, Yelagsriya, Surg
Prgzkhdeit of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) Dvorkovich A.V.

Dear Arkady Vladnmirovkhch!

In accordance with the Agreement between FIDE, FSHR and SHFSO, we had an excellent first part of the 2020 Tournament and went to a forced break due to pag1demiI at your decision. Ekatsriiburg has the unconditional right to host the rest of the tournament, which you noted in your letter to the First Deputy Governor of the Sverdlovsk Region, Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Candidates' Tournament Orlov A.V. The continuation of the tournament in Ekatsrinburg was confirmed by the press secretary of the President of the Russian Federation, chairman of the board of trustees of the FSHR D.S. Peskov.

We have never waived our right to host a tournament in Ekaterhiburg. Therefore, the actions of the FIDE representatives, who are holding underground negotiations and putting pressure on the participants to move the tournament to another place, are surprising.

If the epidemic situation in the Sverdlovsk region does not allow the tournament to continue from November 1, 2020, then it can be held at a later date. Before the World Championship Match between Mapgus Karpsen x the winner of the Pretsidegp Tournament, postponed to mid-2021, there is enough time to spend the rest of the tournament in the same place as x the first half.

As the plenipotentiary representative of the Organizational Committee of the Candidates Tournament in Ekatsrieburg, I express my readiness to hold the second half of the tournament in any eventuality.

Mnogokragg1 world champion.
Member of the Organizing Committee of the
Candidates Tournament in Eka erinburg-2020

A.E. Karpov

There are plenty of errors in that OCR translation, and if I were doing a more formal article than this current post I would try to correct them, but the text makes sense as it is. It helps to know that 'applicants' in the first line and 'pretsidegp' in the third paragraph both stand for 'candidates'. The nonsense word 'pag1demiI' in the first paragraph must be 'pandemic'. As for 'Mapgus Karpsen', also in the third paragraph , the phrase 'World Championship Match between Mapgus...' should eliminate any confusion.

Getting back to the sentence, 'Today, October 5th, it is planned to make a final decision', almost ten days have passed. My previous post on the subject, Yekaterinburg Candidates - 2nd Half Announced (September 2020), noted,

Fide.com: 'The 8th round has been scheduled for 1 November 2020.'

Something's got to give!

07 October 2020

Early World Championship Tournament Play

Continuing with two posts on the early World Championships...

...in that second post I quoted H.J.R.Murray from his 'History of Chess'...

After 1860 the opinion that the Tournament was not the best way of discovering the strongest player of the day became general, and the match became the recognized test.

...and wondered...

On what evidence did [Murray] conclude that 'the opinion became general'? I'm afraid that might be looking for a needle in a haystack, but a good place to start would be the Early Chess Periodicals that I collected last year.

That 'Early Chess Periodicals' post leads to Tabulating the Rabbit Hole (June 2019), where I counted the number of early periodicals in my digital collection by year. For the 1860s, that totals 46 annual volumes; for the 1870s (through 1878), 14 volumes.

Since that is too many volumes for practical guidance, I turned to another good source, 'Chess: the History of a Game' by Richard Eales (Batsford, London, 1985), for further guidance. Here is a long paragraph from the book.

Eales p.152

There are two passages in that excerpt relevant to the issue of match vs. tournament play. The first is:-

In 1866 Steinitz met Anderssen in a match in London, both players being backed entirely by stakes subscribed in England. Steinitz won by eight games to six, and this was the basis of his later claims to have been 'chess champion for twenty-eight years', though contemporaries were not so sure. Now over fifty (he was born in 1818), Anderssen won the Baden tournament of 1870 and defeated Steinitz in both their individual games, though Steinitz finally established his superiority in the Vienna tournament of 1873.

The second is:-

When in 1883 [Zukertort] convincingly won the great London tournament, Steinitz challenged him to a match rather than the other way round, so recognizing that the title of champion was still at the mercy of public opinion.

The first passage mentions the 1870 and 1873 tournaments as having an influence on thinking about the early World Championship. Those are the same tournaments that I flagged in the 'Official Unofficial' post. The second passage mentions the 1883 tournament. Since I've already documented the 1883 event, perhaps I should look more closely at the two earlier events. The 'Tabulating' post counts only a handful of periodicals from the early 1870s. Even though they are in the German language, it's a manageable number.

One more thought: there must have been a 'list zero' of unofficial early World Championship events. Since an introduction to chess history consists of parroting what recognized historians have already documented -- that's how I started -- there must be a chain of lists of unofficial early events. Who compiled the first such lists? Where were they published or otherwise documented? Perhaps the first official World Championship, the 1886 Steinitz - Zukertort match, is a logical place to start looking.

30 September 2020

Early World Championship Match Play

In last week's post, Official Unofficial Early World Champions, I wondered about the importance of tournament play in the early history of the World Championships:-
After 1866, Steinitz played a number of matches with other players. Those matches are considered unofficial World Championships, but what about the tournaments that were held in the period 1866 to 1886. [...] What does H.J.R.Murray have to say about this subject. His 'History of Chess' first appeared in the early years of the official World Championship.

I found a copy of Murray's book on the Internet Archive: Full text of "A History of Chess". It identifies itself as:-


On p.888, Murray wrote,

With the commencement of the era of magazines, tournaments, tourneys, and newspaper columns, I have reached the limit which I have prescribed for myself. I shall only add the. briefest of references to the crowded chess life of the last sixty years.

Before he signed off, Murray had a few paragraphs on the Anderssen era:-

With Anderssen’s triumph in the 1851 Tournament the supremacy of chess passed into German hands, and Germany might claim to be the first chess country of Europe. But circumstances had changed since the time of Philidor, and a claim of this kind, probably never really tenable at any time, had become an absurdity with the general rise in the standard or chess in all countries. The sceptre of chess was henceforward an individual, not a national possession.

That Anderssen’s victory was no chance one was made clear by his success in later Tournaments. Between 1851 and 1878 he took part in twelve Tournaments and his name appeared on the prize list in every one of them, while on seven occasions he won the first prize (London 1851 and 1862, Hamburg 1869, Barmen 1869, Baden 1870, Crefeld 1871, Leipzig 1876). But after 1860 the opinion that the Tournament was not the best way of discovering the strongest player of the day became general, and the match became the recognized test. [26] It was as a result of his match with Wilhelm Steinitz, in 1866, which he lost by 6 games to 8, that Anderssen’s supremacy is assumed to have come to an end.

From this I took away two main points. The first was a transition for any World Championship (as a concept) from a 'national possession' to an individual possession. The second was in the sentence that I repeat:-

After 1860 the opinion that the Tournament was not the best way of discovering the strongest player of the day became general, and the match became the recognized test.

Murray gave no references to support that statement; note '[26]' is irrelevant to the sentence in question. On what evidence did he conclude that 'the opinion became general'? I'm afraid that might be looking for a needle in a haystack, but a good place to start would be the Early Chess Periodicals (April 2019) that I collected last year.

23 September 2020

Official Unofficial Early World Champions

Last year I wrote a couple of posts on aspects of German master Adolf Anderssen's career:-

While I was working on those, I started to wonder how the list of early, unofficial World Champions originated. I imagine that someone started with Wilhelm Steinitz, the first official World Champion, then worked backwards. If so, who created the list and when?

E.G.Winter's, editor of the book 'World Chess Champions' (Pergamon Press, Oxford, 1981), included 16 chapters by 12 contributors. After the first chapter, titled 'Early times', the book had chapters on Staunton, Anderssen, and Morphy -- in that order -- followed by the World Champions that are usually numbered 1 to 12, i.e. no.1 Steinitz, no.2 Lasker, ... through no.12 Karpov.

The 'Early times' chapter was written by W.H.Cozens, who mentioned Ruy Lopez, Paolo Boi, Leonardo da Cutri, Greco, Philidor, and Deschapelles, all chronologically. To these he added Petroff, Cochrane, McDonnell, and La Bourdonnais.

Kasparov, in his five part 'My Great Predecessors', had 'Chess before Steinitz' as the first chapter of Part I. He mentioned Greco, Philidor, Deschapelles, Lewis, La Bourdonnais, McDonnell, Staunton, Saint-Amant, Anderssen, Kieseritzky, Morphy, Kolisch, Zukertort, and Paulsen.

In more recent times, others have carried the list even further back. Wikipedia's World Chess Championship lists 14 'Leading players before the World Chess Championships' from Ruy Lopez to Zukertort. Steinitz is included in that list (1866–1886), as well as under 'Undisputed world champions (1886–1993)', where his reign is determined by official matches (1886–1894). Anderssen is listed twice (1851–1858 & 1862–1866), where the intervening period (1858–1862) is assigned to Morphy.

Wikiwand's List of World Chess Champions lists 19 players under 'Some players and authors before 1821', starting with 'Francesch Vicent (author)' through Deschapelles. Under 'World Champions pre-FIDE', Wikiwand lists 10 players from La Bourdonnais to Euwe. The list might be considered the equivalent of an official list of unofficial World Champions, although the inclusion of Saint-Amant (1840–1843) renders even this questionable.

Therein lies a problem. Working backwards from Steinitz requires concrete events to pinpoint a transition from one 'World Champion' to the next -- but no one beat La Bourdonnais and no one beat Morphy. The 1834 La Bourdonnais - McDonnell match had the best player from France against the best player from Britain; likewise 1843 Staunton - Saint-Amant. Anderssen beat Staunton in the penultimate round of the 1851 London tournament, winning the event in the last round, then lost a match to Morphy in 1858. After Morphy's withdrawal from play, Anderssen won the 1862 London tournament, to regain his place on the list until losing a match to Steinitz in 1866.

Those six years -- 1834, 1843, 1851, 1858, 1862, and 1866 -- are the same years that appear in the timespans of unofficial World Champions. After 1866, Steinitz played a number of matches with other players. Those matches are considered unofficial World Championships, but what about the tournaments that were held in the period 1866 to 1886. The tournaments 1851 London and 1862 London are both used to assign transition. Why, in 1866, do we start to ignore tournaments and count only matches?

On my page World Chess Championship : Pre-FIDE Events, I list 1883 London as the last of the 'Unofficial events'. That is my decision and I don't believe it is confirmed by any published chess historians. Gelo's 'Chess World Championships' doesn't include the tournament, although the book does include two Steinitz matches won by lopsided scores. Are there other tournaments in the period 1866-1886 that might be considered unofficial events? If so, which ones?

To answer this question I looked at Anderssen's career in Winter's 'World Chess Champions'. Here is the book's summary of Anderssen's record, slightly reformatted to fit into a single image.

Two large tournaments stand out as worthy of further attention. Here are links to their Wikipedia pages:-

  • 1870 Baden-Baden • First was Anderssen, 1.5 points ahead of second place Steinitz. Anderssen beat Steinitz in both of their individual games.
  • 1873 Vienna • According to an unusual scoring system, Steinitz and Blackburne finished tied for first and second, ahead of third place Anderssen. This time Steinitz beat Anderssen in both of their individual games.

Are these events less worthy for consideration as unofficial World Championships than two matches that appear on everyone's list?:-

  • 1872 Steinitz - Zukertort, with a score of +7-1=4; or
  • 1876 Steinitz - Blackburne, +7-0=0

After all...

  • 1866 Steinitz - Anderssen, +8-6=0

...is an 'official' unofficial match, where the score was tied at six each after 12 games. Have later unofficial events been chosen because they best fit the conclusion? If so, chess history has sacrificed consistency in favor of clarity.


While I was preparing this post, I noted several points worth mentioning that don't fit easily into the above narrative. Kasparov mentions a match 1868 Anderssen - Zukertort, which is not listed in Winter's book. The chapter on Anderssen was written by G.H.Diggle.

Nearly 20 years ago I used another table from Winter's book in Howard Staunton's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (1840-1866) I was astounded to see that the links to Bookfinder.com still work. I was also astounded to see the prices some booksellers are asking.

What does H.J.R.Murray have to say about this subject. His 'History of Chess' first appeared in the early years of the official World Championship.

16 September 2020

Yekaterinburg Candidates - 2nd Half Announced

Last month I gave up on waiting for news about the continuation of the 2020 Candidates Tournament, and decided to document the tournament situation at that time:-

If I had been a little more patient, I would have seen the official announcement a few weeks later:-

At about the same time, FIDE announced plans for its next Congress:-

The GA will be preceded by five days of online meetings.

09 September 2020

Women's Events 1927-39 : Discrepancies

Continuing with World Chess Championship (Women) : 1927-39 Title Tournaments, in last week's post Women's Events 1927-39 : Players, I built a table showing 'Which players participated in which events' and noted,
I counted nine events and 55 players on the page, across which there are a few items for further investigation. [...] I'll look at the discrepancies in another post.

Since most of the discrepancies were with the names of players, I started by examining Gaige's 'Chess Personalia', but quickly determined that his coverage of early women players was uneven. I switched to Whyld's 'Guinness - Chess - The Records', and was able to complete the task of resolving discrepancies. Whyld has two pages on the early Women's Championship, including eight of the nine events on my own page, which was based on Kazic's 'International Championship Chess'. Only the 1934 Rotterdam match is missing, which Kazic notes was 'not under the auspices of FIDE'.

Whyld spent more effort than Kazic resolving the names of the players across the eight events. On top of that, his book has nearly 40 pages cross referencing almost all of the players listed in 'The Records' portion of the book. After tackling the discrepancies I compared the names given by Kazic against the names given by Whyld and gave preference to Whyld. I ended up with 51 different players in Kazic's nine events.

While I was working on this, I looked at Wikipedia's page Women's World Chess Championship. Its 'List of Women's World Chess Championships' has nine early events all of which lead to a separate Wikipedia page. Those pages for events have good coverage of the participants, usually leading to a separate page for a player. For example, the 1937 Stockholm event has tentative links for all 26 players, of which six are missing, and the 1939 Buenos Aires event has links for 20 players, of which four are missing.

Next step: Add the info for the 51 different players to my page World Chess Championship : Index of Women Players.


Later: Re 'Next step', while adding the 51 names to the index, I counted seven who were already listed for having played in a later tournament. I wasn't sure whether one player was the same...

Berea M : 1927-39 Chp
Berea de Montero M : 1952 CT

...so I left both entries for now.


Even later: Wikipedia's page Maria Berea de Montero explains,

An Argentine chess Woman International Master (WIM) and women's champion of Argentina in 1951. With the married name of María Angélica Berea de Montero, she participated in the Women's World Chess Championship 1939 in Buenos Aires. She played in several national and South American tournaments, winning the Argentine title in 1951. This let her play in the Candidates tournament of Moscow 1952 and gave her the title of Woman International Master.

The page was created in January 2014.

02 September 2020

Women's Events 1927-39 : Players

In last week's post, Women's World Championship Stalwarts (August 2020), I looked at my World Chess Championship : Index of Women Players, and noticed,
None of the pre-WWII events won by Vera Menchik are included in the counts.

The pre-WWII women's events are all on the same 'World Chess Championship (Women)' page: 1927-39 Title Tournaments. To get started, I built a table showing 'Which players participated in which events' and added it to the 1927-39 page. I counted nine events and 55 players on the page, across which there are a few items for further investigation:-

1 Andersson
1 Andersson,A.
1 Andersson,I.

1 Hermanowa
1 Hermanova

1 Larsen
1 Larsen,I.

9 Menchik,V.
2 Menchik,O.

1 Nakkerud
1 Nakkerund

Also, from the same page: 'Notes for the 1939 Buenos Aires PGN: [...] And Kazic gives Janecek instead of B. Janeckova'

The mention of the Menchiks is not to flag a discrepancy, but to find out more about the less known Menchik. I'll look at the discrepancies in another post.

26 August 2020

Women's World Championship Stalwarts

A few years ago, in a post on my main blog titled World Championship Stalwarts (October 2015), I developed a few statistics:-
[Re] the 'World Championship : Index of players'. I started to ask myself a few questions -- How many events does the index of players include? How many players? Which players participated in the most events? -- and so on.

Why not do the same for the World Chess Championship : Index of Women Players? I used that page to build a database, then developed the same sort of chart shown on the 'Stalwarts' post.

I counted 451 different women players who participated in 73 events. The events start with the 1949-50 Title Tournament, so none of the pre-WWII events won by Vera Menchik are included in the counts.

The table on the left shows how many players participated in a specific number of events. The table on the right gives the names of the players with the most events. For example, two players participated in 19 events, and 211 players participated in a single event. The two players topping the list, Maia Chiburdanidze and Nona Gaprindashvili, were both from the country of Georgia.

The original 'Stalwarts' post mentioned a number of other statistical curiosities. If there is no forthcoming news about the current cycle of the World Championship -- not that I'm expecting any -- I'll apply the same analysis to the 'Index of Women Players'.

19 August 2020

Yekaterinburg Candidates - Players

As I wrote in last week's post, Yekaterinburg Candidates - 1st Half Crosstable,
I added the crosstable and PGN for the first half of the tournament to the '2020 CT' page.

The code '2020 CT' refers to my page on the 2020 Candidates Tournament. For this current post, I added the nine players in the CT to my page World Chess Championship : Index of players. 'Nine players?', you ask; aren't there only eight? I included Teimour Radjabov, because even though he didn't play, FIDE has to take his initial qualification and subsequent withdrawal into consideration. He was the only stakeholder who correctly assessed the impact of the coronavirus.

12 August 2020

Yekaterinburg Candidates - 1st Half Crosstable

It's been more than four months since the 2020 Candidates Tournament was suspended mid-way, an action last discussed on this blog in Yekaterinburg Candidates - Intermezzo. I expected to have some news on its continuation by now, but there is little in the public domain. In last week's post, FIDE Newsletters Revisited, I noted,
The [FIDE] Council plans to make a final decision on the dates and location of the second part of the FIDE Candidates tournament 2020 during July 2020. Resuming the competition in a host country other than Russia is one of the possibilities that is being explored.

That quote was from Newsletter #009, dated 6 July 2020. Since that 'final' decision might be dragged out for months I added the crosstable and PGN for the first half of the tournament to the '2020 CT' page referenced in the first link above. Whatever FIDE decides, the second half of the tournament will not be a straightforward continuation of the first half. Even if FIDE adheres to the rules established before the event, the dynamics will have changed completely.

05 August 2020

FIDE Newsletters Revisited

Since my first post on FIDE Newsletters (May 2020), the world federation has published another six numbers. Unlike many newsletters, the FIDE version is relevant and interesting. Three sections in particular caught my attention. The first two had news about the FIDE Council.
Subject: Newsletter #006
Sent: May 25, 2020

First online meeting of the FIDE Council

The first meeting of the newly established FIDE Council was held online on May 12. For the first time, both Women's World Champion Ju Wenjun and World Champion Magnus Carlsen (represented by his father Henrik) participated in the meeting.

One of the main topics was the approval of the revised FIDE budget for 2020 as proposed by the Management Board, having been adjusted to the new situation. The Council also officially approved the shifting of the 2020 Chess Olympiad to the next year, 2021, keeping the same locations in Russia and within the same time frame, as it had been already announced on March 24th, 2020.

The Council was informed that FIDE received a bid for the 2024 Olympiad from the Hungarian Chess Federation. The documents included detailed information about the plans and initial preparations, while formal inspections will be conducted as soon as the situation allows. Likewise, the Argentinian Chess Federation provided FIDE with a letter of intent to bid for the Olympiad, with a promise to present the whole package with official guarantees by September 2020.

The possibility of organizing an online 2020 General Assembly was also discussed by the Council. To be prepared for such eventuality, Mr. Roberto Rivello, Chairman of the Constitutional Commission, was assigned with the task of developing a plan to implement electronic voting.

The Council approved the creation of the Athletes’ Commission, as well as the liquidation of the Online Commission under the condition that a clear operational framework is established in order to manage and support all FIDE online activities. The Council acknowledged the decisions by the President to appoint the new Chairs for the Planning and Development Commission and the Social Commission.

A complete list of decisions and topics discussed during the meeting is available at the FIDE website.

The group's second online meeting continued to tackle the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic.

Subject: Newsletter #009
Sent: July 6, 2020

Main decisions of the FIDE Council meeting

As it is the norm now, the 2nd quarter FIDE Council Meeting was held online, on 23 June 2020. In fact, one of the first and main decisions to be approved during the meeting was the confirmation that the FIDE General Assembly, scheduled for the end of November 2020, will also be held online. This possibility had already been discussed in the previous FIDE Council meeting, on May 12. Back then, Mr. Roberto Rivello, Chairman of the Constitutional Commission, was asked to put together a contingency plan to implement electronic voting.

Among the main decisions were the final approval of the dates for the 2020 Online Olympiad, and to give a green light to some other new online competitions: a top event for juniors, cadet, and seniors, and a World Bullet Chess Championship.

On the other hand, it was approved that all the remaining 2020 competitions under the control of the Events Commission are postponed to 2021 (except World Amateur 2020); all the EVE competitions for 2021 are moved to 2022; and the bidding procedure of 2023 events will be done in 2021. Please note that these postponements do not affect the World Cup 2021 or the Grand Prix, since these events are not supervised by the EVE Commission.

The Council plans to make a final decision on the dates and location of the second part of the FIDE Candidates tournament 2020 during July 2020. Resuming the competition in a host country other than Russia is one of the possibilities that is being explored.

Regarding the World Championship match, the plan is still to hold it in Dubai in connection with the World Expo, with two possible dates: in spring, as a prelude to the Expo, or in autumn, during the first weeks of the World Expo. FIDE will continue monitoring the situation and considering the pros and cons of both scenarios.

A delicate point is the situation affecting the All India Chess Federation, where two factions claim to be the legitimate representatives of Indian chess – both of them backed by different governmental authorities. The FIDE President offered to mediate and received the approval of the Council to arrange a conference call with both parties, trying to establish an agreement that would allow AICF to function until the situation is clarified.

A complete list of decisions and topics discussed during the meeting is available at the FIDE website.

Those mentions of decisions and topics in the last paragraphs refer to the following news items:-

The third section that interested me was part of a newsletter mostly about 'International Chess Day'.

Subject: Newsletter #010
Sent: July 21, 2020


On this day in 1924, FIDE was born in Paris. This is hardly news to any chess lover, since the echoes of our birthday celebrations still resound on social media. But, where exactly was our Federation born, and who were its parents? [...]

For the rest of the story, including the names of 'the 15 founding signatories', see the archive of all issues, FIDE Newsletter (fide.com).

29 July 2020

International Chess Day 2020

This video features two former World Champions, GMs Anand & Kramnik, and one former Women's World Champion, GM Hou Yifan.

“Chess for Recovering Better” | United Nations and FIDE (1:33:13) • 'Streamed live on Jul 20, 2020'

The description says,

To celebrate the International Chess Day on 20 July, top chess personalities, including the FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich, Viswanathan Anand, Vladimir Kramnik, Levon Aronian, Hou Yifan will take part in a high-level virtual event - “Chess for Recovering Better”.

The high-level participants of the meeting from the United Nations include H.E. Mr. Mher Margaryan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Armenia to the United Nations, and Melissa Ruth Fleming, Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications.

For more about chess's special day see World Chess Day | United Nations (un.org).

22 July 2020

2020 World Championship Postponed

Less than three months ago, in 90th FIDE Congress : Whither the World Championship? (April 2020), I wrote,
'The biggest news came at the end of the minutes, although it's entirely possible that the next title match will be postponed because of scheduling complications caused by the coronavirus: 'Mr. Dvorkovich also announced that FIDE has almost finalized its negotiation with the organizers of Dubai Expo 2020 regarding the World Championship Match, which will most probably take place in the United Arab Emirates. The most likely starting date for the tournament will be the 20th December.'

Although the post was dated end-April, the 90th Congress took place end-February. Since then, FIDE has made several announcements concerning the match:-

  • 2020-05-16: FIDE Council online meeting decisions • (12 May 2020:) 'OCM-2020/05 - The Council noted that the opening of World EXPO 2020 is confirmed to move to the fourth quarter of 2021 under the same name and with the same organizer, who expressed a clear commitment to host the World Championship Match with the dates and terms to be reconfirmed in a due course.'

  • 2020-06-29: Arkady Dvorkovich: The match for the chess crown will be postponed to 2021

  • 2020-07-02: Decisions of the 2nd quarter FIDE Online Council Meeting • (23 June 2020:) 'Q2OC-2020/9 -To continue monitoring the situation and discussing the logistics of the World Chess Championship Match 2021 with the World Expo organizers in Dubai, keeping in mind two possible dates (spring and autumn 2021) and considering all possible adjustments / changes in the FIDE official calendar.'

To keep track of the evolution, I created a new page, World Chess Championship : 2021 Carlsen - ?. Normally I would have created the page only after both players were known, but there is nothing normal about the current cycle.

24 June 2020

Defecting Characters

In last week's post, Women's 1980-81 Candidates Matches, I finished with a couple of actions. The first action was:-
Lematchko tied for 1st in the 1979 Alicante Interzonal, but did not play in the 1980-81 Women's Candidates Matches. Why not? I'll look into that another time.

The second action was:-

At the same time, I'll standardize the spelling of her name across my pages. While preparing this post, I found Lemachko, Lematcho, Lematschko, and there might be others. I can do better than that.

The first action was answered on the appropriate Wikipedia page, Women's World Chess Championship 1981:-

In Alicante, Lematschko and Akhmilovskaya shared first place, well ahead of Gurieli and Litinskaya. However, Lematschko subsequently defected from socialist Bulgaria and was unable to take part in the Candidates Tournament, so her place was given to Fischdick as fourth-placed from the Rio Interzonal (on tie-breaks).

That's a detailed answer in just two sentences. It was followed by a note ('[2]') indicating its source:-

[2] -> "World Chess Championship (women) : 1979 Alicante Interzonal Tournament". Mark-weeks.com. Retrieved 2012-02-06

Thanks for the reference, Wikipedia! The problem is: my page doesn't say that (and I didn't know it). While much of the basic information on the Wikipedia page is indeed taken from my pages, the Wikipedia enhancements are considerable. Congratulations to the semi-anonymous Wikipedians who put the whole package together.

I was especially impressed to see that *all* of the participants in the 1980-81 women's WCC cycle have their own Wikipedia page. This might be expected for the corresponding men's WCC cycle, but is not trivial for women's events which received less press at the time than they do today. I know this from personal experience in my own library research. Are other Wikipedia pages for other women's WCC cycles so comprehensive?

As an aside, one of the participants in the 1980-81 women's WCC cycle was Miyoko Watai. If the name sounds familiar, the Wikipedia page explains,

After Bobby Fischer's detention on July 13, 2004 for trying to travel with a revoked U.S. passport, she campaigned for his release. They were reportedly married in August 2004.

As for the second action, 'standardize the spelling of [Lematchko] across my pages', my reference page Index of Women Players uses 'Lemachko'. Somewhat curiously, that spelling isn't found on any of my other pages where her name occurs:-

Lemachko T 1976 IZ-Roo: Lematschko T
1977 CM : Lematchko, T
1979 IZ-Ali: Lematcho
1982 IZ-Bad: Lematcho
1983 CM : Lematschko T
1990 IZ-Gen: Lematschko T
1995 IZ : Lematschko T

I don't remember why I chose that spelling for the index, but it's probably not a coincidence that 'Chess Personalia' by Jeremy Gaige uses the same spelling. For the 1979 Alicante Interzonal, Informant 28 (1979-H2) gives the spelling as 'LEMAČKO'. This uses the same character 'Č' (lower case 'č') that you sometimes see for Korchnoi, i.e. 'KORČNOI'. That's another name with a similar set of variations found for Lemachko. In other words, the 'Č' is replaced by 'CH', or 'TCH', or 'TSCH'.

While I should be consistent and use 'Lemachko' on all of my own pages, I'll let it go for now. On top of the HTML pages, there are PGN files involved.

17 June 2020

Women's 1980-81 Candidates Matches

In last week's post, Women's 1983-84 Candidates Matches, I quoted Fide.com:-
[Tatjana] Lematschko took part in the [quarterfinals] of the candidates' matches three times: in 1977 she lost to Akhmilovskaya, in 1980 to Litinskaya and in 1983 was defeated by Alexandria.

Since last week's post fixed an error on one of my pages about the Women's World Chess Championship (WWCC), I was concerned that I had discovered another error:-

For the 1980-81 Candidates Matches, I have a quarterfinal match Litinskaya Shul - Fischdick. I'll look into that another time.

First stop: Wikipedia's Women's World Chess Championship 1981. Since that page gave my site as the only source ('Retrieved 2012-02-06'), I couldn't accept it at face value. Where had my information come from originally?

Last year, in Status of the Women's World Championship (October 2019), I described the process of creating the WWCC pages. Since I never delete digital documents, I still had my working files from that period. My master reference file told me that the source for the 1979-81 women's cycle was Informant. Here's a composite image showing the four women's quarterfinal matches...

Informant 29 (1980-H1)

...Back to the discrepancy that provoked this post, looks like I had it right and FIDE was wrong. But that's not the end of this episode. Lematchko tied for 1st in the 1979 Alicante Interzonal, but did not play in the 1980-81 Women's Candidates Matches. Why not? I'll look into that another time. At the same time, I'll standardize the spelling of her name across my pages. While preparing this post, I found Lemachko, Lematcho, Lematschko, and there might be others. I can do better than that.

10 June 2020

Women's 1983-84 Candidates Matches

A few days ago on my main blog, as part of a long-running series on 'Top eBay Chess Items by Price', I posted about the 1982 Tbilisi Women's Interzonal. While comparing the info to my own records, I noticed a discrepancy on my page World Chess Championship (Women) : 1983-84 Candidates Matches. In the eBay post I wrote,
The quarterfinal round of the 1983-84 Candidates Matches saw only three matches. Lematchko didn't play and Alexandria started with a semifinal match. That circumstance deserves a mention and an explanation on the 1983-84 CM page.

It turned out that the 'circumstance' was an oversight on my part. Here's an extract from Wikipedia.

Women's World Chess Championship 1984

Wikipedia gave me credit for the bulk of the information ('Retrieved 2012-02-07'), but attributed info on the quarterfinal match Alexandria - Lematschko to 365chess.com ('Retrieved 2015-01-03'). Since I had already discovered the match PGN on the same site, I looked no further.

By coincidence, Lematchko/Lematschko was in the news recently: Tatjana Lematschko passes away (fide.com; May 2020). Of her WCC exploits, the World Federation noted,

Lematschko entered the race for the world championship title in 1975. Tatjana took part in the Interzonal tournaments in Rosendal (1976), Alicante (1979) where she shared for first with Akhmilovskaya and Bad Kissingen (1982). Lematschko took part in the [quarterfinals] of the candidates' matches three times: in 1977 she lost to Akhmilovskaya, in 1980 to Litinskaya and in 1983 was defeated by Alexandria.

On my page World Chess Championship : Index of Women Players, I have her listed only for the 1977-78 Candidates Matches. For the 1980-81 Candidates Matches, I have a quarterfinal match Litinskaya Shul - Fischdick. I'll look into that another time.

03 June 2020

Qualification by Rating

In 90th FIDE Congress : Whither the World Championship? (April 2020), I ended with a quote from the minutes and an action for me:-
'5.9 Global Strategy Commission [...] The qualification requirements for both Grand Prix and the Candidates Tournament represent another issue to be focused on. Many players complained that the qualification requirements used for the current Grand Prix and Candidates Tournament had a bias on the initial rating.' • 'I'll come back to that so-called rating bias another time. It's an issue that has been simmering for some time.

I couldn't recall a specific controversy with the Grand Prix, but I remembered one from the Candidates tournament; FIDE Candidates 2020 (fide.com; February 2020):-

Anish Giri (NED, 2763) -- qualified by rating as the player with the highest average rating for 12 rating periods from February 2019 to January 2020

The controversy arose in the lead-up to the Grand Swiss, played in October. In Preview: 2019 FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss (iominternationalchess.com; 15 September 2019), John Saunders wrote,

Ding Liren is not playing in the Isle of Man but is instead competing in the FIDE World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk. The knock-out event provides two berths into the Candidates' tournament, but it is unlikely that Ding Liren needs to worry about his World Cup result since his high rating will almost certainly get him into that competition anyway (with four more monthly rating lists to be taken into account he is well ahead of Anish Giri and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov).

According to my page 2019 World Cup, that was written around the start of the Khanty-Mansiysk (Russia) event, where Ding Liren was the highest rated player, and still very much in contention for a top place. In the tiebreak for round six, the semifinal round played on 28 September, he beat his compatriot Yu Yangyi, thereby qualifying for the final round and guaranteeing a spot in the Candidates. A short note was soon added to the 'Preview Grand Swiss' page:-

Updated 30 September: Anish Giri [has] now withdrawn

In other words, once GM Giri was nearly assured of qualifying into the Candidates thanks to his high rating, he withdrew from the Grand Swiss, where he would have been at risk of losing valuable rating points. GM Vachier-Lagrave, the new third in line for a Candidates spot by rating, pointed out (twitter.com),

@FIDE_chess Grand Swiss rules supposedly forbid players to withdraw without a valid reason from the tournament after signing the agreement...

and added,

...otherwise I would have entered the tournament back in July if I knew I had the option to withdraw at any time.

The 2020 Candidates tournament was the first to have only a single qualification based on rating. The history of rating qualification for Candidates events played over the last decade looks like this:-

  • 2011 Candidates - 2 players
  • 2013 Candidates - 3 players
  • 2014 Candidates - 2 players
  • 2016 Candidates - 2 players
  • 2018 Candidates - 2 players
  • 2020 Candidates - 1 player

GM Giri had already qualified by rating into the 2016 Candidates and has never qualified for the tournment any other way. In the 2019 World Cup, he was eliminated in the third round. What sort of a rule favors those who don't play?

Qualification by rating makes sense for events with a large number of entrants, like the World Cup. It makes less sense for events where the number of spots is severely limited, like the Candidates. A high rating can be achieved by consistently beating lower rated players. Is that sufficient reason for competing in an event that determines the next challenger for the World Championship?

27 May 2020

ICCF 28th to 30th World Championships

Continuing with Small Projects for 2020 (February 2020), I updated my page for the World Chess Championship : Correspondence Chess to add the ICCF's 28th, 29th and 30th final events. For the previous update, see ICCF 25th to 27th World Championships (September 2016). The current events -- 31st (started 2019) and 32nd (started 2020) -- are marked 'Ongoing'.

20 May 2020

25th World Computer Championship [ICGA]

Getting back to Small Projects for 2020 (February 2020), one project was:-
Posts with label Computers • The ICGA home page mentions two topics worth a deeper look -- 'World Computer Chess Championship 2019' and 'A Welcome from the [new] President, Jonathan Schaeffer'

Details of the so-called 'World Computer Chess Championship' are on Komodo World Champion Computer Chess 2019 (icga.org; August 2019), and WCCC 2019 (ditto). I also added a mention of the event to my page Computer Chess : World Chess Championship, although the events have long ceased to be considered World Championships by objective observers.

As for the new president, see the ICGA pages A New President (December 2018; 'announcement by David Levy', the outgoing president), and Welcome by the New President (September 2019, Jonathan Schaeffer). For a bit of ICGA history, see Ben Mittman (October 2018; 1928-2018, 'Founding President of the ICCA, forerunner of the ICGA').

The next ICGA championship was announced at the beginning of the year. It was subsequently postponed because of the coronavirus Covid-19:-

  • 2020-01-15: 2020 ICGA Events • 'ICGA events will be hosted by ECAI, the European Conference on Artificial Intelligence. The dates are June 7-12 in beautiful Santiago De Compostela, Spain'
  • 2020-03-16: Events postponed • '[ECAI] have moved their annual meeting from early June to August 29 - September 2'

[For my blog post on the previous ICGA championship, see 24th World Computer Championship (August 2018)].

13 May 2020

FIDE Newsletters++

After using my main blog to sign up for the latest incarnation of FIDE Newsletters (01 May 2020), I was disappointed that nothing arrived in my email. I finally received a newsletter ('#005', dated 11 May) at the beginning of the week. As a bonus, the newsletter included links to six FIDE social media addresses, most of which I hadn't visited before:-

While I haven't explored all six of the resources, the first one listed above, Twitter, had a link to the online version of the same email: Newsletter #005. From that I was able to work out the addresses of the first four newsletters, although I'm not convinced that #002 is the real deal.

These social media resources are a useful complement to the three Worldchess.com equivalents that I documented in Worldchess Is Wide Awake (October 2018). That post was dated a few months before Worldchess handed responsibilty for most World Championship events back to FIDE.


Later: Some time after writing this post I discovered the FIDE archive of newsletters: FIDE Newsletter (fide.com). Could be useful!

06 May 2020

When Fischer Snubbed a Zonal

Three months ago, in a post on my main blog, February 1970 & 1995 'On the Cover' (February 2020), the highlight of the 1970 Chess Life & Review (CL&R) side was a report by Bert Hochberg on the 1969 U.S. Championship. The post included quotes from Hochberg:-
The Hochberg report continued, 'Since this championship, as it is every three years, is the FIDE zonal from which the top three players go to the Interzonal late in 1970, Addison qualifies by finishing second. We are happy and proud to see Bill Addison in the Interzonal and we wish him great success. Pal Benko has never done better than third place in a U. S. Championship.'

It signed off, 'The question will of course be asked: "Why didn't Bobby Fischer play?" The answer to this question, in the form of a letter from Fischer to USCF. Executive Director E.B. Edmondson, will be published next month, along with Mr. Edmondson's reply.'

I was reminded of this in the most recent post on that blog, May 1970 & 1995 'On the Cover' (May 2020). The May 1970 CL&R included another report, titled 'Fischer Dialogue' by Ed Edmondson. It started,

Ever since Grandmaster Fischer withdrew from the 1967 Interzonal after forging to an early lead with seven wins and three draws out of ten games completed, the big question has been "Will Fischer compete in the next World Championship Cycle?" No one has been more concerned with that question than I, both personally and on behalf of our Federation. Personally because I like Bobby, am interested in his welfare, and think he would serve himself best by contesting for the World Championship. On behalf of USCF because the majority of our members admire Fischer's undeniable chess skill and because our national interest would also be served if he tried for the world title.

The report included copies of several letters:-

  • 1969-10-24: EBE to RJF, 'available to participate'?
  • 1969-10-29: RJF to EBE; 'Information copies sent to major news sources'

The Fischer letter started,

Thank you for your inquiry as to my availability to participate in the 1969 U.S.A. Chess Championship. I am not available. Also I would like to take this opportunity to make a correction of fact. It was stated in last year's CHESS LIFE magazine that I never answered my 1968 invitation to the 1968 U.S.A. Chess Championship. This, as you know Ed, is a lie. I answered and declined in writing to you well over a month before the championship began. The reason I did not play last year and will not play this year is the same -- the tournament is too short.

Another copy of the letter is available in Frank Brady's book, 'Profile of a Prodigy'. More letters followed in the Edmondson report:-

  • 1969-11-13: Saul Rubin ('former President of the Marshall Chess Club') to RJF
  • 1969-11-??: comments by GM Isaac Kashdan
  • 1969-11-04: EBE to RJF, 'reconsider your decision'? [...] 'Returned to sender -- Addressee Unknown'

With the hope of convincing him to play, Edmondson made one more attempt to contact Fischer, this time by telephone. He ended his report saying,

When I talked with Fischer, these last hopes were dashed. Thinking back, I feel that both of us were tense because the tournament was about to begin and the question of whether or not he played was so vital. I tried to expound upon the arguments advanced in my undelivered letter, but Bobby was adamant in his demand for 22 rounds. This demand simply could not be met; you know the rest -- the tournament was played without Fischer.

I still think he's the greatest player of our time.

A coda to the report by CL&R Editor Hochberg said,

We had intended to report here on the unsuccessful negotiations for a Fischer - Botvinnik match and the successful(!) negotiations for Fischer to participate in the USSR vs. Rest of World Match. But we just ran out of room and will have to continue the Dialogue next month.

The June 1970 CL&R delivered as promised. A follow-up report by Edmondson, also titled 'Fischer Dialogue', started,

In May we discussed Grandmaster Robert J. Fischer's declining to play in the 1969 U.S. Chess Championship and Zonal Qualifying Tournament. This month we bring the dialogue up to date by covering the negotiations for a Fischer - Botvinnik Match, the USSR vs. Rest of the World Match, and the Tournament of Peace in Rovinj and Zagreb.

The report included a document by Fischer titled, 'Proposals by Grandmaster Robert J. Fischer for Standardizing Rules and Playing Conditions'. Edmondson commented,

Yes, the organizer who seeks Fischer as a contestant in his chess event often faces insurmountable obstacles. Many try, a few meet all of the originally proposed conditions, and yet success is not so easily come by. Take the case of the Netherlands' Leiden Chess Club and its offer to arrange and host a match between Fischer and former World Champion Botvinnik.

Last summer, President Goudsmit of the Royal Netherlands Chess Federation telephoned to ask if I could supply Fischer's current address and/or telephone number. He explained that he wanted to contact Bobby on behalf of the Leiden Chess Club. which hoped to sponsor a Fischer - Botvinnik Match to observe its 75th Anniversary in 1970.

The report covered negotiations between Goudsmit and 'Fischer's business representative, Bernard Davis of New York City'. The match finally fell through because of last minute format changes demanded by Fischer, and 'was replaced by a four man tournament in which Spassky, Donner, Botvinnik, and Larsen played four games against one another'.

Who would have guessed that Fischer eventually played in the upcoming Interzonal?

29 April 2020

90th FIDE Congress : Whither the World Championship?

A couple of months ago, mid-February 2020 to be exact, I had a couple of posts continuing an annual series on this blog, Whither the World Championship?: The Missing Link and The GSC. I ended that second post with a wish:-
I hope we'll learn more from the 90th Congress, although based on recent performance it might take a long time before anything is formally announced.

It only took a month before I was able to report on my main blog that the Minutes of the 90th FIDE Congress (April 2020) were available. They comprised two documents. I'll highlight a few paragraphs that touched on the World Championship.

First, here are extracts from the minutes for the 90th FIDE Congress; FIDE Extraordinary General Assembly; Abu Dhabi, UAE; 28th February 2020 :-

1. FIDE President address

The President's address is always a good source for current FIDE thinking. The 90th Congress featured FIDE President Dvorkovich's first address since his election in 2018. The first highlight answers a question from late last year, WADA Ya Know? (December 2019):-

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) sanctioned Russia for doping practices and there was the risk that our Chess Olympiad could be under threat. However, following the discussions we had with WADA, it was agreed that most of the FIDE tournaments are not under threat. This was the result of our good collaboration with WADA.

Another point listed changes adopted for the current cycle:-

Mr. Dvorkovich illustrated the new projects for the future, firstly focusing on the World Championship Cycle. A new system of qualifications for the Candidates Tournaments was introduced, including the new tournament Grand Swiss, that allows more players to compete and have a chance to become a candidate in the World Championship Cycle. Another important point was the knock-out format of the Grand Prix Series, which increased the visibility and competitiveness of this stage of qualification. A more inclusive World Cup format has been developed, increasing the number of participants both in the open and women’s tournaments, thus allowing more countries to participate to the World Cup, which will start already this year in September in Minsk. [?]

I question that last sentence, because the Minsk World Cup is currently scheduled for August 2021. Another paragraph mentioned women's events, where I also had a small problem with the last sentence (what 'tournament'?):-

Mr. Dvorkovich is confident that there have been improvements in gender equality. The World Championship Cycle was reformed in such a way, that it could be the same as open tournaments. This goal has not been achieved yet, but FIDE is on the right track. We are also working on establishing the Women’s Grand Swiss Tournaments by this year. Moreover, the prize money for women has been substantially increased. According to the recommendations from the Women’s Chess Commission, a quota for the participation of women in management positions has been introduced, which means that there will be more space for women in the management positions and in the tournament. [?]

Another point mentioned WCC sponsors:-

Total (one of the main sponsors of the Women’s Grand Prix Series), [...] Algorand (for the World Championship Cycle) and a few other companies that supported the Women’s Grand Prix tournaments.

In the past I've been critical of FIDE communication under the Dvorkovich management, and I know I'm not alone. This is being addressed:-

He added that FIDE needs to improve its communication practices. FIDE already counts on multiple channels of communication, but it is still not enough. One of the initiatives which will start today is the publication of the electronic FIDE Newsletter.

The biggest news came at the end of the minutes, although it's entirely possible that the next title match will be postponed because of scheduling complications caused by the coronavirus:-

7. 91st FIDE Congress 2020 [...] Mr. Dvorkovich also announced that FIDE has almost finalized its negotiation with the organizers of Dubai Expo 2020 regarding the World Championship Match, which will most probably take place in the United Arab Emirates. The most likely starting date for the tournament will be the 20th December.

Second, the relevant extracts from the minutes for the 90th FIDE Congress; FIDE Executive Board; Abu Dhabi, UAE; 29th February 2020 came entirely from the report of the GSC:-

5.9 Global Strategy Commission • Mr. Dvorkovich reported about the activity of this Commission. Regarding the World Cup, it was established to increase the number of players who could participate to the tournament, thus increasing the representation of the national federations on this occasion.

The qualification requirements for both Grand Prix and the Candidates Tournament represent another issue to be focused on. Many players complained that the qualification requirements used for the current Grand Prix and Candidates Tournament had a bias on the initial rating. Therefore, it is necessary to change these requirements. This is one of the issues the Global Strategy Commission is discussing about and all the Federations are invited to share their opinions about this matter.

The Global Strategy Commission report was unanimously approved.

I'll come back to that so-called rating bias another time. It's an issue that has been simmering for some time.