24 February 2021

Small Projects for 2021

This year's 'Small Projects' could almost be a carbon copy of last year's post, Small Projects for 2020 (February 2020). The main topics a year ago were:-
- 2017-02-22: Missing Months
- Renewed interest in 1983 for London

- Posts with label Computers
- Posts with label Correspondence
- Posts with label zFLUP
  * 2020: Currently 26 posts
  * 2021: Currently 33 posts

I made no progress on those first two bullets, so they are still outstanding. As for label 'Computers' and 'Correspondence', there is no significant activity to report in either category. The ICGA cancelled nearly everything in 2020 because of the covid pandemic. The ICCF started one new World Championship, the 32nd, but finished none. It might be worthwhile to write a post about three time ICCF winner Aleksandr Dronov, so I'll keep that in mind.

As for label zFLUP ('Follow-up') the increase from 2020 to 2021 is partly due to posts that were followed-up, but not closed. Add that to the list of small projects.

Another idea that's been in the back of my mind for a few years is to clean up the Index of Zonals. The country codes could be standardized and the columns of counters, 'GMG' etc., could be moved into the background. At the same time I could investigate events that are still marked '?'. There are currently 16 of them.

17 February 2021

Olimpbase Zonals

In last week's post, Another Azmai Controversy? (February 2021), I discovered an exciting development on Olimpbase concerning the documentation of zonal tournaments. As a consequence, I assigned myself a future action:-
For further investigation: [...] How much more than 'Zonal 1.2b, Struga 1995' is available on Olimpbase?

Unable to find an index to zonals on the site, I concentrated on the directory where the zonal files are located: olimpbase.org/ind-wcc. I loaded the filenames of the zonal pages into a database and learned that they were all similarly structured:-

[cycle]-zonal[info], e.g. 'wc1998-zonal12b' for the Struga 1995 page mentioned above.

This let me count the number of zonals available for each [cycle], as shown in the following chart (excludes playoffs).

For example, the 'wc1998' cycle has 21 zonals associated with it, of which one is the Struga 1995 page. The codes shown in red in the last column correspond to my system of numbering the cycles. From this we can see that cycles C01 through C10 are represented, C11 to C14 are missing, and C15 to C20 are represented, although C20 has only a single zonal. (The current cycle is C29.)

The largest number of zonals are from the 'wc1996' cycle (C16), so I decided to compare the Olimpbase data with my own data on the page C16: 1993-1996 Zonal Cycle. The word 'compare' isn't the most precise term, because Olimpbase has full crosstables, round-by-round progress, and much more, where I often have only the year/place of the event with a clipping to confirm its existence elsewhere in chess literature. For example, my C16 page mentions,

1.5a Kladovo YUG 1993-06
1.5a Zouberi 1993-00

On several occasions I've looked for more info about these events, without success. The equivalent Olimpbase page, Zonal 1.5a, Kladovo/Zouberi 1993, has crosstables for both events plus links to a corresponding PGN file and a playoff. The Olimpbase home page, OlimpBase :: the encyclopaedia of team chess (olimpbase.org), currently says, 'Individual tournament finally available - a long expected feature is ON', plus:-

Under construction a.o.: • Individual World Championship (including complete results of zonals) • Individual Continental Championship (Panamerican, Asian, African, European) - most complete! [...]

This indicates that the championships of the four continents, which are equivalent to zonals for cycle qualification, are available elsewhere. The site's right sidebar lists all four under 'Continental Championships', but the links only lead back to the Olimpbase home page. Technical glitches of this sort are common on new resources. The timestamps on the zonal pages show that most were released on May 2020, so I expect we'll see updates at some time in the future.

OlimpBase's Wojciech Bartelski shows once again that he is a trailblazer in chess history. Thanks, Wojciech!


Later: Re...

The site's right sidebar lists all four under 'Continental Championships', but the links only lead back to the Olimpbase home page. Technical glitches of this sort are common on new resources.

...the 'glitch' was mine. I was trying to open the links in a new browser tab -- as I often do -- but the target page was not loading as it usually does. It was defaulting to the site's home page. A straightforward click on the link produces the desired target page. Apologies for the misleading remark!

10 February 2021

Another Azmai Controversy?

One of the events on my page (C17) Zonals 1995-1997 is '1.2b Struga (Macedonia) 1995-03', with a clipping attributed to 'Europe Echecs, 1995-09, p.50'. A note under the entry says,
EK: Europe Echecs wonders why Azmaiparashvili played in this zone. He was representing Bosnia & Hercegovina at that time, which can be seen from the rating lists of that time. So he was in the right zone after all.

My reaction when I first copied the comment to that page was 'Oh, OK', and I've since re-read it many times without giving it a second thought. On the latest reading it occurred to me that in 1995, Bosnia was in the middle of a civil war. This is confirmed by Wikipedia's page Bosnian War that says,

The Bosnian War was an international armed conflict that took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1992 and 1995. The war is commonly seen as having started on 6 April 1992, following a number of violent incidents earlier in the year. The war ended on 14 December 1995.

Did GM Azmaiparashvili really change his nationality to a country involved in a civil war? It happens that there is another page on the web Zonal 1.2b, Struga 1995 (olimpbase.org), with a full crosstable of the event. That OlimpBase page lists three participants under the Bosnian flag:-

  • GM Azmaiparashvili, Zurab
  • GM Kurajica, Bojan
  • GM Dizdarevic, Emir

The three GMs finished 1st, 3rd, and 5-7th, respectively. To verify the EK explanation, I turned to my rating database and queried the three Bosnian participants for four consecutive years. The following image shows what I found.

I have one rating list per year, dated 1 January each year. My public page, FIDE historical ratings, points to one more file that is not in my database, 1995-07.ZIP, for ratings dated 1 July 1995. It also lists GM Azmaiparashvili's nationality as GEO (Georgia). On its own Elo lists, Europe Echecs (EE) had

Jan 1995 • 'Azmaiparachvili GEO 2610' at 44-46th in the world
Jul 1995 • 'Azmaiparachvili BOS 2620', 39-44th in the world.
In other words, EE confirms EK. For 1996, EE had the Georgian GM back in GEO at mid-year.
Feb 1996 • 'Azmaiparachvili BOS 2660' 15-17th in the world
Jul 1996 • 'Azmaiparachvili GEO 2670' 12-15th in the world

Azmaiparashvili's career has been dogged by controversies, including one in 1995. His Wikipedia page, Zurab Azmaiparashvili, says (with references),

Azmaiparashvili was alleged to have rigged the results of the Strumica [Macedonia] tournament of 1995 [month?] to boost his rating.

That particular World Championship cycle was itself controversial. Instead of The Last, Lost Interzonal (February 2012 on this blog), the chess world saw 1997 FIDE Knockout Matches. GM Azmaiparashvili was seeded into the second round and eliminated in the fourth round by GM Krasenkow.


For further investigation:-

  • How was Azmaiparashvili's transfer GEO -> BIH -> GEO handled administratively within FIDE?
  • Why don't the historical rating lists reflect the transfer?
  • How much more than 'Zonal 1.2b, Struga 1995 (olimpbase.org)' is available on Olimpbase?

I doubt the first two questions can be answered so many years after the fact, but the third should be easy.

03 February 2021

Expo 2020 Dubai (in 2021)

Dubai emerges as likely host for November world championship (theguardian.com; Leonard Barden) • Breaking news? No, the dateline is February 2020 and the first line warns, 'This article is more than 11 months old'. It starts,
Magnus Carlsen’s next world championship defence is likely to be in Dubai. The global chess body’s president, Arkady Dvorkovich, said in an interview in Gibraltar that Fide is close to signing a contract with Expo Dubai to stage the €2m, 14-game series there in November.

Carlsen’s opponent will be decided by the eight-man candidates’ tournament which starts at Ekaterinburg, Russia, on 15 March, and where the United States world No 2, Fabiano Caruana, who tied the 2018 championship series with Carlsen before losing a speed play-off, is the favourite.

We all know what happened next. First there was the Coronavirus Candidates (March 2020; on my main blog). Then there was 2020 World Championship Postponed (July 2020). Fast forward to a year after the Leonard Barden article and we learn, Expo 2020 Dubai to host FIDE World Chess Championship (fide.com):-

The next FIDE World Chess Championship -- the highlight of the world chess calendar -- will be held at Expo 2020 Dubai, promising an enthralling contest that will delight chess fans and the wider public alike.

Organised by the International Chess Federation (FIDE), the postponed 2020 championship will take place between 24 November and 16 December 2021, and will see the reigning world champion, Magnus Carlsen of Norway, defend his title against the winner of the delayed Candidates Tournament, which is due to conclude in Ekaterinburg, Russia, in April. The two players will compete for a prize fund of EUR 2 million (AED 9 million).

I added that FIDE link to my page on the next title match, 2021 Carlsen - ?, then wondered what are the odds that the Candidates tournament and/or the title match will take place. Does anyone know?