18 May 2022

The Ding Liren Affair

Let's return to The Karjakin Affair (March 2022), where I wrote,
I added the FIDE announcement about GM Karjakin's ban to my page 2022 Candidates Tournament. Why is this important to the Candidates event, scheduled to start in June?

The answer to that question was because Karjakin had earlier qualified as one of the eight candidates to challenge Magnus Carlsen in the next title match. Earlier this week we learned that the Russian Karjakin had been replaced by the Chinese Ding Liren.

We learned not via a formal announcement on the FIDE site, but via a tweet on the world's largest chat room. Even then, Karjakin's replacement wasn't identified by name, but by a photo.

Mark your calendars! We are a month away from the start of the #FIDECandidates in Madrid, Spain... (twitter.com; 16 May 2022)

I hope we get a FIDE announcement so that I can add it to my page on the 2022 Candidates Tournament (m-w.com), due to start at Madrid in less than a month. I also hope they replace Karjakin's photo, which is still on what appears to be the official site for the tournament, FIDE World Championship. Cycle 2021-2023 (wcc.fide.com). I looked at that subdomain in my previous post on the cycle, 2022 Candidates; 2023(?) Title Match (May 2022), and nothing has changed since then.

So how did Ding Liren qualify for the second most important event in chess? He qualified by rating. The nitty-gritty was explained in two reports by Chess.com's Peter Doggers:-

As the comments to that second report testify, many chess fans aren't happy with the rating method of qualification, but rules are rules. Better to fix anomalies by updating the rules for the next time than to make stuff up as you go along.

For the nittier-grittier on the rating, see Ding, Liren CHN Individual Calculations Chess Ratings FIDE, period=2022-05-01. He gained 7.2 rating points for the period.

11 May 2022

A Giant Among GMs

Earlier this week, in Yuri Averbakh, 1922-2022 (chess.com), Peter Doggers reported,
GM Yuri Averbakh, the world’s oldest grandmaster, a trainer, international arbiter, chess composer, endgame theoretician, writer, historian, honorary member of FIDE, and the last living participant of the famous Zurich 1953 Candidates Tournament, has passed away, three months after turning 100. His death has been confirmed by the Russian Chess Federation and FIDE. Averbakh was one of the few strong players who managed to simultaneously reach significant heights in chess theory, literature, journalism, history, and chess politics.

Of the dozen photos of GM Averbakh in my eBay photo archive, this was my favorite. From an eBay auction in February 2012:-

The description informed,

Original Soviet chess press photo. The 26th Championship of USSR in Tbilisi 1959. Grandmasters from left to right: Tigran Petrosian, David Bronstein, Mikhail Tal, Yuri Averbakh.

The photo pictures a former World Championship challenger (Bronstein) and two future World Champions (Tal, Petrosian). GM Averbakh competed in the 1952 Saltsjobaden Interzonal (5-8th/21), the 1953 Zurich Candidates (10th-11th/15), and the 1958 Portoroz Interzonal (7-11th/21) a half point behind the group that qualified for the 1959 Yugoslavia Candidates (all links m-w.com).

Averbakh has figured many times on this blog, as well as on my main blog, e.g. in these related posts:-

Many of the posts on my main blog were related to his contributions to endgame theory. This post is all Averbakh:-

In another post on that blog, Friendly Chess Players (July 2013), I mentioned,

Near the end of the book ['Centre-Stage and Behind the Scenes: A Personal Memoir'], GM Averbakh divides great players into six groups. Here are quotes from Averbakh describing each group [...]

Another obituary from this week, Yuri Averbakh, Chess’s First Centenarian Grandmaster, Dies at 100 (nytimes.com), by the NYT's top chess writer, Dylan Loeb McClain, referenced the same categories:-

Though Mr. Averbakh was talented, he said he knew he lacked the necessary qualities to become a world champion. In his autobiography, he wrote that great players fall into six categories: killers, fighters, sportsmen, people who like to play games, artists and explorers. All of the world champions came from the first four groups, he said. He put himself in the sixth category -- that of an explorer.

GM Averbakh was a World Champion chess explorer, possibly the greatest ever. Who else comes close?

04 May 2022

2022 Candidates; 2023(?) Title Match

The 2022 Candidates Tournament; Madrid, VI-VII (m-w.com) starts next month. I updated that page to include the latest announcements.

The eighth player is still unknown. A Fide.com subdomain that I had never seen before, FIDE World Championship. Cycle 2021-2023 (worldchampionshipcycle.fide.com), includes Sergey Karjakin as a participant, but with an asterisk against his name:-

World Cup runner-up; (* : Suspended by a decision of FIDE EDC. Subject to appeals.)

See a previous post on this blog, The Karjakin Affair (March 2022), for background. I could have written a companion post, 'The Ding Liren Affair', but decided that it was premature. See Ding Liren on his way to the Candidates (chessbase.com), for a different opinion. Instead of speculating on the eventual outcome, I'll just wait for FIDE's decision. It should come soon.

For a comprehensive explanation of the current status of the Candidates tournament and of the subsequent title match, see

Both pages are from Chess.com. The WCC title match is not yet listed on the FIDE calendar. Although the previous title match, 2021 Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi (m-w.com), was held at the end of last year in Dubai, it was originally scheduled for end-2020.

27 April 2022

It's Not an April Fool's Joke

You've seen the publicity: Announcing The $1,000,000 Chess.com World Championship (chess.com). Now watch the trailer!

Announcing The $1,000,000 Chess.com World Championship (?:??) • '[Published on] Apr 21, 2022'

Hey, wait a minute! Now it says, 'Video unavailable; This video is private'. I watched the clip yesterday and recorded the description, which said,

With $1,000,000 in prizes, we are excited to announce the Chess.com World Championship! Prepare for open qualifiers, play-in and knockout rounds featuring the world's best chess players, and you! Take part in this record-breaking event by verifying your Chess.com profile!

Yes, the video was sort of silly. It started with an inside joke -- 'World Hess Hampionship' -- seen in Chess.com's broadcasts of the last *real* World Championship, the 2021 Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi match. If you don't get the joke, see the 'CHR' column in a post from my main blog, A Trio of World Championship Video Makers (December 2021). Sorry I can't be more specific about which round the joke appeared. It was worth a smile at the time, but that was nearly six months ago.

My guess is that someone pulled the plug on the video because the subject is serious, but the video wasn't. It's not every day a chess site announces a World Chess Championship of its own. Why would they turn around and make fun of it? As an April Fool's joke maybe, but they missed that by three weeks. A few days after the Chess.com announcement, there was a similar announcement from another online chess play site: Announcing the Lichess World Championship (lichess.org).

Are these real World Chess Championships? In my opinion, no, they aren't, but I'm just one voice in the court of public opinion that decides such matters. I think they're more like site championships. I'll come back to the subject if public opinion eventually disagrees with me.

20 April 2022

2022 Grand Prix, Wrapup

2022 Grand Prix; Berlin / Belgrade, I've already posted six times:-

At the end of that last post, 'Final Actions', I noted,

Not done: Add the 25 players to the Index of Players.

Consider it done -- see World Chess Championship : Index of Players -- and that's a wrap! Congratulations to World Chess for the most interesting of the six Grand Prix events that started with the 2008-2009 Grand Prix.

13 April 2022

2022 Grand Prix, Final Actions

In the previous post, 2022 Grand Prix, 3rd Leg (April 2022), I left myself with three actions: 'Still to do on my page'. First I added the PGN and total Grand Prix points to 2022 Grand Prix; Berlin / Belgrade (m-w.com).

Then I created the chart shown on the left. It lists the 25 players who participated in the three legs of the 2022 Grand Prix, their total score across the events in which they played ('Tot'), and the number of games played in the events ('Gms').

The last column shows the number of events in which each player participated ('Tnmt'). Two players participated in a single event and were substituted in their second event. I should say more about the substitutions, but I'll save that for another time.

Not done: Add the 25 players to the Index of Players. I had hoped to do that for this post, but I ran out of time. I'll schedule one last post for this long and complicated event.

06 April 2022

2022 Grand Prix, 3rd Leg (Berlin)

Three weeks after 2022 Grand Prix, 2nd Leg (March 2022), the third and final leg concluded in Berlin. I added the various crosstables for the last leg to my page 2022 Grand Prix : Berlin / Belgrade, II-IV (m-w.com). Following the lead set in the '2nd Leg' post, here are TWIC introductions ('by Mark Crowther') from the weeks when the event took place:-
  • TWIC1428, 2022-03-21 • 'Russian players are competing under the FIDE flag in the final leg of the FIDE Grand Prix series which starts tomorrow.'
  • TWIC1429, 2022-03-28 • 'The three event FIDE Grand Prix is not over but the main issue has been decided, Richard Rapport and Hikaru Nakamura take the final Candidates places. Nakamura was in a group with Levon Aronian and lost his first game to him but came back to score 4/5 including a revenge win against Aronian.'
  • TWIC1430, 2022-04-04 • 'Wesley So defeated Hikaru Nakamura in the final of the final FIDE Grand Prix but the two Candidates places had long been decided in favour of Nakamura and Richard Rapport.'

Still to do on my page:-

  • Add the PGN for the third leg.
  • Add the spreadsheet showing total Grand Prix points allocated.
  • Calculate the total score for each player over the three legs.
  • Add the event to the Index of Players for all participants.

TWIC1430 had another comment on the current cycle:-

Ding Liren scored 10.5/12 in a tournament entirely arranged to produce enough games with the right results to qualify him for the Candidates if Sergey Karjakin is suspended for the event. Whilst Ding does belong in the Candidates and seems to have been one of the worst affected players by the Covid-19 crisis this whole event was really not a proper tournament at all.

I'll look at that in another post.

30 March 2022

C30 Zonal Hybrid Events

My most recent post on the series of events that kicked off the current cycle, C30 Zonal Rating Reports (March 2022), didn't go very smoothly. As I wrote then,
I encountered a problem -- most of the events had no rating reports. I don't know if they are missing because the events weren't rated -or- because they are documented elsewhere -or- because I made a mistake. I didn't have time to investigate more thoroughly.

A few days later I learned that FIDE had changed its presentation of ratings -- Mark Crowther on Twitter: "@FIDE_chess The old version of the page is back..." -- and had problems with it. That encouraged me to look at the rating reports again, but the zonal++ events were still missing.

Not having another good idea for this week's post on this blog, I decided to document one of the many hybrid events that made up the bulk of the zonal stage of the current cycle. I've already looked at the technology, once on this blog in FIDE Hybrid Competitions (March 2021), and once on my main blog in The Tornelo Online Platform (June 2021).

Last year the European Chess Union (ECU) issued a series of reports on its own World Cup qualifier. The reports explained, in text and in photos, how the tournament was conducted:-

That first report, 'Tournament Starts', included a couple of important references:-

The 'FIDE Requirements' included a brief section:-

7. Rating calculations (Decision pending)

Since that section has been there for a year or so, we can conclude that the hybrid events were not rated. And that explains why there were no FIDE rating reports for the qualification events.

23 March 2022

The Karjakin Affair

I added the FIDE announcement about GM Karjakin's ban to my page 2022 Candidates Tournament (m-w.com). Why is this important to the Candidates event, scheduled to start in June? From Karjakin Banned For 6 Months, Misses Out On Candidates (chess.com; Peter Doggers):-
The FIDE Ethics and Disciplinary Commission (EDC) has banned GM Sergey Karjakin for six months from participating as a player in any FIDE rated chess competition. The 32-year-old Russian grandmaster, who is a fierce supporter of Russian president Vladimir Putin, was punished for his recent statements on social media and will be missing out on this year's FIDE Candidates Tournament.

A related Chess.com analysis of the third, last leg of the ongoing 2022 Grand Prix (m-w.com), explains the details. From The Final 3: Who Will Qualify For The Candidates 2022? (chess.com; Nathaniel Green):-

Now we come to the other huge news of the past several days, Karjakin's six-month ban by FIDE. The Candidates rules dictate that Karjakin's spot goes to the highest-rated player on the May 2022 rating list (not an average over several months) who has played at least 30 rated classical games in the previous 12 months (since the June 2021 list).

This is doubly important because several players participating in the Grand Prix have the opportunity to raise their own ratings during the event. A number of scenarios are possible.

16 March 2022

2022 Grand Prix, 2nd Leg (Belgrade)

Two weeks after adding 2022 Grand Prix, 1st Leg (March 2022) to my page on the 2022 Grand Prix; Berlin / Belgrade (m-w.com), I incorporated the second leg on the same page. Following is a summary of TWIC introductions ('by Mark Crowther') from the weeks when the event took place:-
  • TWIC1425, 2022-02-28 • 'The second FIDE Grand Prix starts tomorrow in Belgrade, I have no idea what to expect.'
  • TWIC1426, 2022-03-07 • 'The FIDE Grand Prix in Belgrade has a day off tomorrow as the group stages all proved decisive. Dmitry Andreikin, Anish Giri, Richard Rapport and MVL [Maxime Vachier-Lagrave] all topped their group without the need for a tie-break.'
  • TWIC1427, 2022-03-14 • 'Richard Rapport has one foot in the Candidates tournament after his win in the second FIDE Grand Prix in Belgrade. The third and final one takes place in Berlin starting next Monday.'

The sentence in the first TWIC report, 'I have no idea what to expect', referred to the Russian attack on Ukraine that started a few days before the Belgrade event opened. Of the five Russian players, only GM Andreikin advanced from the preliminary stage to the playoff stage. He lost in the final match to GM Rapport of Hungary. There were no Ukrainian players.

The official site for the event FIDE Grand Prix 2022 Series (worldchess.com) offers a 'Fleece Hoodie', shown in the following image ('Time to say Berlin'). I can't figure out what the design means. A man dressed in white is fighting a black ghost over spaghetti, while stepping in something that can't be good. Hmmm.

09 March 2022

C30 Zonal Rating Reports

After C30 Zonal Qualification Paths (February 2022), the next step would be a post like C29 Zonal Rating Reports (March 2020), to identify the different events on Fide.com (more specifically ratings.fide.com). When I started to do this, using C30 Zonals 2020-2021 (m-w.com) as a guide, I encountered a problem -- most of the events had no rating reports.

As I write this post, I don't know if they are missing because the events weren't rated -or- because they are documented elsewhere -or- because I made a mistake. I didn't have time to investigate more thoroughly. In the meantime, I located the same events on Chess-results.com:-

I'll look at this once more before I update the page Zonals : Links and Other References; Last updated 2020-03-11 (m-w.com; 'Reports from ratings.fide.com'). Note that two events are also missing on Chess-results.com. Something is wrong here.

02 March 2022

2022 Grand Prix, 1st Leg (Berlin)

In last week's post, 2022 Grand Prix Regulations (cont.) (February 2022), I wrote,
I added more detailed explanation to my page and will continue with the crosstables as soon as I can.

'My page' is 2022 Grand Prix, Berlin/Belgrade. It now has both crosstables and PGN for the first leg, which took place in in Berlin.

The second leg, in Belgrade, started this week. With war raging in nearby Ukraine, the organizers announced a new logo.

World Chess Changes Logo to Anti-War Version

I'll add the Belgrade leg to my page after the results are known.

23 February 2022

2022 Grand Prix Regulations (cont.)

A few weeks after the previous post on forthcoming events for the current cycle, 2022 Grand Prix & Candidates (February 2022), the first tournament of the Grand Prix finished. As I gathered the PGN and prepared the corresponding crosstables, I realized that the structure of the event was even more complicated than I had previously understood.

To help with this, I added more detailed explanation to my page 2022 Grand Prix; Berlin, II-IV (m-w.com), and will continue with the crosstables as soon as I can. The second tournament of the Grand Prix will take place in Belgrade. [NB: The venue on that page for the series of three tournaments should read 'Berlin and Belgrade'.]

16 February 2022

C30 Zonal Qualification Paths

After last week's post, C30 More Zonal Clippings (February 2022), I had one more action to accomplish : expand the page C30 Zonal Qualifiers 2020-2021 (m-w.com) from a stub to a full list of qualifying players. The data was adapted from links announced in Players lists and full pairings of FIDE World Cups published (fide.com).

The record of the corresponding event, 2021 World Cup; Sochi (Russia), VII-VIII, 2021, reveals many discrepancies between players who qualified and players who participated. There were at least two reasons for this:-

  • Complications from the coronavirus covid-19 pandemic.
  • Enlargement of the event to include 90+ players nominated by national federations.

While documenting the previous cycle, C29 Zonal Qualification Paths (December 2019), I developed a chart comparing 'Qualified, but didn't play' vs. 'Played, but not on list of qualified players'. I'll do the same for C30.

09 February 2022

C30 More Zonal Clippings

A few weeks ago, in C30 Zonal Clippings (January 2022), I created a couple of stub pages to document the zonals for the current cycle. I ended the post saying,
The next step, of course, will be to flesh out the two stubs. I hope to tackle both at the same time.

Of course, of course, that was too ambitious. The clippings that I added to the primary page, Zonals 2020-2021, (C30; m-w.com), documented several events that had more complicated structures than zonals in past cycles. These were multi-stage hybrid events held online to decide qualifying players from continental federations. Will this online trend continue into the next cycle (C31)? We'll find out next year.

Worth mentioning is a blow-by-blow account by the Chessexpress blog of the event for zone 3.6. We first saw this blog two years ago in C29 Zonal Qualification Paths (December 2019). Here are the relevant posts:-

Next step: tackle the page Zonal Qualifiers 2020-2021 (C30; m-w.com). Given the increase in the number of players, this also promises to be more complicated then previous pages of the same type.

02 February 2022

2022 Grand Prix & Candidates

I updated my WCC site with the latest info related to the two final World Championship qualifying events:-

The Grand Prix starts in a few days and the Candidates Tournament, announced in December 2021, is a new page. The Grand Prix will qualify two players into the Candidates, which will decide the challenger for the next title match.

When I say, 'the Grand Prix starts in a few days', I'm not completely certain. On Monday, 31 January, FIDE annnounced, 'FIDE Grand Prix Series 2022 starts in Berlin on February 3', i.e. Thursday this week. A day later, on Tuesday, 1 February, the world federation announced, 'FIDE Grand Prix 2022: Ding and Andreikin replaced by Esipenko and Wojtaszek.' (See my 'Grand Prix' page for links to both annnouncements.)

Both Ding Liren and Dmitry Andreikin were on the list of players starting this week. Does FIDE's left hand not know what the right hand is doing? Did the federation not contact the players one last time before making the announcement?

Both of this week's annnouncements used the comic-style illustration shown below. On top of reminding me about those weird logos created for the 2018 World Championship, London (December 2017), I asked myself, 'What are those structures on the right side of the drawing?' The only explanation I could think of, besides Niagara Falls, was that they represent the Berlin Wall. That's OK if we're talking about chess; it's not OK if we're talking about Berlin as a 20th century political symbol.

There was one more surprise on the Monday announcement. Belgrade was listed as the venue for the second of the three Grand Prix events, where previously Berlin had been the announced venue for all three.

For the Candidates Tournament, there was also a surprise announcement: 'Candidates play-off introduced':-

The play-off will consist of rapid games. Details like the exact time control to be used and the total number of players to take part in the tie-break, will be decided in January after further consultation with players.

This would have been an issue for the 2013 Candidates Tournament, London (m-w.com), where Carlsen tied with Kramnik for first. As I documented on that page,

Carlsen was declared the winner based on 'b) The total number of wins'

Given Carlsen's expressed desire to cherry-pick his challenger -- see 2021 Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi, Wrapup (December 2021) for details -- a play-off match would allow the challengers to nudge Carlsen out of the title match. Has everyone thought these things through?

26 January 2022

C30 Zonal Clippings

After last week's post C30 Zonals Indexed (January 2022), the next step was to follow the lead established during the previous cycle, C29 Zonal Clippings (November 2019). First I created two new pages:-

Both pages are stubs. The first page, 'Zonals 2020-2021', only has crosstables for two events that took place before 2021. The corresponding 'Qualifiers' page is currently marked 'TBD'. After creating those pages, I plugged them into two index pages:-

The next step, of course, will be to flesh out the two stubs. I hope to tackle both at the same time.

19 January 2022

C30 Zonals Indexed

After identifying qualification events in C30 Zonals (January 2022), I added the required data to the index of World Chess Championship Zonals. In a similar exercise for the previous cycle, C29 Zonals Indexed (November 2019), I noted, 'The 28 new events make a total of 469 events recorded on the index.' The same calculation this time yields:-
The 18 new events make a total of 487 events recorded on the index.

The drop in the number of new events from 28 to 18 is, of course, a result of the covid pandemic which has swept the world during the last two years. The following chart shows the evolution in the number of events during the last five cycles, where each cycle took two years to complete.

C26: 2012-13, ... C30: 2020-21

The left column is the continent number -- '1' (= Europe), etc. -- where I use '0' for events not tied to a specific continent. In this chart, the count for continent '0' means the ACP Tour. It was undoubtedly suspended because of the pandemic, although I could find nothing official on the ACP's site Chessprofessionals.org.

All continents showed a drop in the number of events from C29 to C30. The drop for '2' (= Americas) was likely even more severe than the numbers show, because the C30 count includes three zones for which I could find almost no info. I'll look more closely into those for a future post.

At one point last year I wasn't sure if the cycle would go forward. I documented this in a pair of posts:-

That second post mentions Tornelo, which I documented in another post on my main blog:-

Tornelo was used in eight of the 15 events that I know took place (18 - 3). Three more events were played using other online platforms, meaning that just four events were played in a traditional face-to-face venue.

12 January 2022

C30 Zonals

Continuing with C30 Regulations for World Cup Qualifiers (October 2021), where I referenced 'Players lists and full pairings of FIDE World Cups published' (fide.com; June 2021), the following table uses the same format as the equivalent post for the previous cycle. C29 Zonals (September 2019). For each event, it references the corresponding number of 'The Week in Chess' (TWIC).

For many events, the FIDE document mentioned above, 'Players lists', references a page for the event in Chess-results.com. It turns out that these are only a subset of the events documented in TWIC.

1.0: TWIC 1386 (2021)
1.10: TWIC 1381

2.0: TWIC 1386 (2021)
2.1: TWIC 1356
2.2: TWIC 1387
2.3: (02)
2.4: (03)
2.5: (04)

3.0: TWIC 1386 (2021)
3.0i: TWIC 1386 (01, AICF)
3.1: TWIC 1387
3.2: TWIC 1388
3.3: TWIC 1383
3.4: TWIC 1384
3.5: TWIC 1387
3.6: TWIC 1377
3.7: TWIC 1311

4.0: TWIC 1386

In previous cycles continental championships were organized for both years of the cycle, with players qualifying from both events. In the current cycle, only a single event was held for each continent.

TWIC: 'AICF World Cup Qualifier 2021'; FIDE: 'Asian Continental - Indian Qual', 'India Asian quota qualifier'

See GM Albornoz, Cuba y Barrientos, Colombia na Copa do Mundo (fideamerica.org), which implies that the representatives from the zone were chosen by the zone president.

Same as '(02)'?

In the 'C30 Regulations' post, I wrote,

The covid coronvirus created havoc with qualifying events for the cycle C30. I hope I don't fall into any more traps along the way.

While I didn't see any traps, I did notice that the various events were not covered by the chess press as well as they were in previous cycles. The blame still falls on covid-19.

05 January 2022

2021 Grand Swiss PGN and Player Indices

As planned in two recent posts -- 2021 Grand Swiss Crosstables (November 2021), and 2021 Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi, Crosstable & PGN (December 2021) -- I finally finished related updates for the three events.

For the two Grand Swiss events, I added the PGN and updated both indices of players, unrestricted events and women's events. The links for all updated resources are in the 'Crosstables' post. At the same time I updated the index of players for the Carlsen - Nepo match.

Of 108 players in the unrestricted Grand Swiss, 17 were new to the index (although two still require an additional verification step). Of the 50 players in the Women's Grand Swiss, eight were new to the women's index.

The second half of 2021 was a busy period for the World Championship, with two cycles in full swing. FIDE has announced some plans for 2022, which will be the subject of a future post.