29 November 2023

C31 Zonals

Continuing with qualifying events for the 2023 World Cup, Baku (August 2023), after identifying the events in C31 Regulations for World Cup Qualifiers (November 2023), I ended saying,
Next step: Add the 22 events on the right to the index page, World Chess Championship Zonals.

That index page needs a date and a venue for each event. Of the 22 events identified on the 'C31 Regulations' post, I found 21 reported in Mark Crowther's 'The Week in Chess' (TWIC). They are listed in the table below, which follows the format established for the previous cycle in the post C30 Zonals (January 2022). The missing C31 event is discussed in a note to the table.

1.0: TWIC 1400 (2021)
1.0: TWIC 1431 (2022)
1.0: TWIC 1480 (2023)
1.10: TWIC 1456

2.0: TWIC 1436 (2022)
2.0: TWIC 1461 (2023)
2.1: TWIC 1459
2.2: TWIC 1433
2.3: TWIC 1429
2.4: TWIC 1460
2.5: TWIC 1479

3.0: TWIC 1461 (2022)
3.0: TWIC 1492 (2023)
3.1: TWIC 1491
3.2: TWIC 1488
3.3: TWIC 1488
3.4: TWIC 1491
3.5: TWIC 1484
3.6: TWIC 1473
3.7: TWIC 1470

4.0: [A] (2022)
4.0: TWIC 1489 (2023)

There are other issues here. The event was identified in the previous post as 'Continental Chp [Africa 2022] (3)'. The number in parentheses is the number of players qualifying from the event. FIDE said three players qualified, but their list of players had four names. Was there a playoff? No, it turns out that the list of players was wrong. Another FIDE page 2022 African Chess Championship: Bassem Amin and Shahenda Wafa claim titles (worldchampionshipcycle.fide.com; September 2022), says that

3. GM Hesham Abdelrahman

was the third qualifier. The list of all players said that

3. Hesham
4. Abdelrahman (EGY)

were the third and fourth qualifiers. The error is easily understood and corrected. The table above is enough to proceed with populating the 22 events on the index page World Chess Championship Zonals.

22 November 2023

C31 Regulations for World Cup Qualifiers

In Small Projects Checkpoint (September 2023), I wrote,
One topic demands attention -- documenting the qualification paths for the most recent World Cup, 2023 World Cup, Baku (August 2023). It's a time consuming procedure that involves pulling together various sources of information. Here's what I produced for the previous cycle (C30 in my system of numbering the World Championship cycles):-
* 2021-10-27: C30 Regulations for World Cup Qualifiers
* [...]

Those links in italics are repeated here for easier reference. Since this isn't the first time I've performed the exercise, I've added links to 'Regulations' posts for previous cycles:-

For C31, the current cycle, FIDE published a preliminary list of qualifiers:-

That document leads to a PDF, Qualified players for the World Cup 2023 (fide.com). I downloaded the PDF, extracted the various lists, reformatted them for use in a database, and produced the following composite image. It shows the various qualification paths for the 2023 World Cup.

The chart on the left counts players who qualified by various routes other than a World Cup qualification tournament. The numbers in parentheses, e.g. 'FIDE President's nominee (4)', are copied directly from FIDE's document. The number in the 'Ct' column are my own counts. The chart on the right counts players who qualified via a tournament played in the current World Championship cycle.

Next step: Add the 22 events on the right to the index page, World Chess Championship Zonals.

15 November 2023

Why 1993 Karpov - Timman?

In Small Projects 'On the Cover' (October 2023), I flagged,
2023-04-18: 'news of Kasparov's non-FIDE World Championship title; see also the letter from Karpov'

In this post I'll tackle the letter from Karpov. It shines a light on one of the most obscure matches in World Championship history. For the original post, see April 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' (April 2023). For the circumstances surrounding the match, see FIDE/PCA Chronology (m-w.com). For the match itself, see 1993 Karpov - Timman FIDE Title Match (ditto). Following is the full text of Karpov's letter.

During my recent participation in the 1998 U.S. Amateur Team East Championship in Parsippany, NJ, I had time to read several American Chess magazines. In the January 1998 issue of Chess Life I came across an article about the history of the World Chess Championships. I don't wish to discuss the biased nature of the article, or the factual inaccuracies, which should be presented as the author's personal views. Instead the actual title portrays this as a historical account of the history of the World Championships. Even in this case, just to have a valid opinion you must know the facts. Therefore I would take a moment to correct the most serious mistake in the author's interpretation of modern chess history.

It was written that when Kasparov and Short left FIDE -- "Surprisingly FIDE ignored another player, Artur Yusupov, who lost in the same round as Karpov, but was not even given a chance." (Jan. issue, page 43, column 1, paragraph 2). This FIDE action had nothing to do with Karpov and favoritism as alleged in the article. Nobody expected that Kasparov and Short would not play under the auspices of FIDE. However, in any serious organization, you must be prepared for all contingencies.

As it happened, FIDE had regulations pertaining to exactly what did transpire. "In case the Challenger can not play with the World Champion, he will be replaced by another Finalist." That player was Timman, at that moment in chess history. In case both World Champion and Challenger could not or refused to play the match, then FIDE would organize a match for the World Championship between the second finalist and the highest rated player in the World. In the regulations you do not see any semi-finalist mentioned. For many years and at that moment in history I was the highest or top ranked player (considering Kasparov was out) in the world. Therefore FIDE was simply following the regulations established prior to each cycle and approved by the FIDE Congress.

Best regards, Anatoly Karpov

The four-page article in the January 1998 Chess Life was titled 'A Brief History of the World Chess Championship' by Michael Khodarkovsky. Nowhere in the article was the author's close relationship to Kasparov mentioned. In Michael Khodarkovsky (wikipedia.org), we learn,

[Khodarkovsky] was a member of Kasparov's coaching team during the 1995 and 2000 World Championship matches and during the 1996, 1997 matches versus IBM's computer Deep Blue.

In 1993, many observers of the international chess scene, including me, assumed that Karpov had received favorable treatment from FIDE in being invited to play the match with Timman. It took me 30 years to discover Karpov's side of the story.

08 November 2023

2023 Grand Swiss, Isle of Man

Taking the previous blog post documenting a FIDE World Championship event, 2023 World Cup, Baku (August 2023), as a model, this post for the 2023 Grand Swiss needs the following info:-
  • Official site and logo
  • FIDE news items about the event

The rest can be found on Wikipedia via my main index pages:-

The 2023 logo is shown here:-

2023 official site:

FIDE Grand Swiss 2023 (fide.com)

Compare that with the 2021 logo for the previous event:-

2021 official site:

The design on the left changed, although the two designs were inspired by the same motif. The text on the right has dropped the mention of 'Chess.com' as a sponsor. I looked for an explanation of that change, but found nothing. I suppose it was a high-level business decision by one or more of the parties. I copied the following infographic from the 2023-11-05 news item in the list below and added the corresponding web domains.

fide.com • iomchess.com • visitiom.co.uk • --

As for the Scheinberg family, see the FIDE news item dated 2022-04-19 in the following list. From FIDE.com:-

That last news item doesn't mention who qualified for the 2024 Candidates tournament. Other sources tell us that Vidit Santosh Gujrathi and Hikaru Nakamura qualified from the 2023 Grand Swiss, and that Vaishali Rameshbabu and Tan Zhongyi qualified from the 2023 Women's Grand Swiss For the two index pages mentioned at the top of this post, I added links to Wikipedia pages for the two 2024 Candidates tournaments.

01 November 2023

Rules for the 1973 Interzonals

After posting Qualifiers for the 1973 Interzonals (October 2023) a few weeks ago, I found another source of info even more detailed than the source for that post. The January 1973 issue of Chess Life (p.33-34) had an article titled 'FIDE Congress : The Men's World Championship' by Fred Cramer, Vice President of FIDE. It covered all aspects of the cycle, including the following section headers:-
  • The Cycle Ending at [1972] Reykjavik
  • The New Cycle, First Stage : The 1972 Zonals
  • The 1973 Interzonals - The Euwe Plan
  • The 1973 Interzonals
  • The 1974 Candidate's Matches
  • The 1975 World Championship Match
  • A Championship Match Out of Cycle?

I extracted the two sections covering the 1973 Interzonals and created the following composite image.

(Can be expanded)

I then added the image to my page (C09) Zonals 1972-1975 (m-w.com). The Cramer article presents new details about several aspects of the Interzonals and sometimes contradicts sources that I have previously used. Since Cramer was as close to the original discussions as anyone, his word takes precedence.

25 October 2023

Competing World Championships in 1998

Continuing with Small Projects 'On the Cover' (October 2023), the next follow-up is small enough that I have time to handle a second project. Together the two follow-ups provide a snapshot of the World Championship in 1998.

(1) August 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' (August 2023) • The two part match report by GM Leonid Shamkovich started in the July 1998 issue of Chess Life and ended in August 1998. Since I gave the full introduction to the first part of the report in the August 'On the Cover', I'll repeat only the first paragraph of that intro here:-

Two outstanding young grandmasters, [Kramnik and Shirov], crossed chess swords in the best of 10 World Chess Council (WCC) World Championship candidates' match. The match started May 24 and finished June 5 in the small Spanish city of Cazorla, in Andalusia. Alexei Shirov, who won the match with a score of 5.5-3.5, will meet Garry Kasparov in October for the WCC World Championship.

The rest of the report included annotations for all nine games of the match. GM Shamkovich, after commenting on the ninth game, closed the article saying,

This game turned out to be a final brilliant ending to a relatively dull duel.

An inline text box accompanying the article added,

The World Chess Council (WCC) World Championship Match between defending champion Garry Kasparov and challenger Alexei Shirov will begin October 16 in Seville, Spain. Besides the WCC title, $1.9 million will be on the line, with $1.235 million to the winner and $665,000 to the loser. We will pass along more information on the match as it becomes available.

All in all, largely because the Kasparov - Shirov match was never played, the 1998 Shirov - Kramnik match must be one of the most neglected high-level matches in chess history.

(2) July 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' (July 2023) • The post provided some background and introduced an important historical speech by (then) FIDE World Champion Karpov.

Karpov's presence in Las Vegas [for the National Open] was explained in the story '1998 National Open, Part II: "A Really Big Shew"' by Jerry Hanken. A sidebar to the story, titled 'Karpov Speaks', started [...]

Karpov's speech covered many topics relevant to the World Championship in the last decades of the 1900s. Following are the sidebar's bullets (in bold text) and its main points. There is much more of historical value behind the '[...]s'.

  • Karpov on his trip to America to play in San Antonio: "I remember 1972, my second trip to the U.S. (The first was to Puerto Rico for the Student Team Championship in 1971.) 1972 was a serious tournament which happened in November. Fischer and Spassky had played in the summer, and when I came through New York in November it was not possible to buy a chess set or book, because all America was crazy for chess and all books and sets had been sold. [...]

  • Karpov on meetings with Fischer: "My first meeting was actually in San Antonio. He was invited by Bill Church, and was to appear at the last round. He was, as usual, late. So the organizers didn't want to start the round. He came and greeted all the people and grandmasters, and then he disappeared almost immediately." [...]

  • Karpov [on] later meetings with Fischer: "Even after '75 we met three times. At the meeting in Washington in 1977, we were very close to signing a contract and agreement to play a match. All the problems were solved. We already had pens in our hands to sign, and then Fischer said, 'OK, we play. We agree to everything but one point. The match should be called ...' [...]

  • Karpov on Kasparov: Karpov disputed Kasparov's contention that the Fischer - Spassky match of 1992 was an amateur level match. He thinks some of the games were quite good and could rank in the top ten games of 1992. [...] • Also: Kasparov's claim to be World Champion, Kasparov's claim that Karpov was not a legitimate World Champion, and a private match with Kasparov.

  • Karpov on the last [1997] FIDE Championships: Anatoly noted the criticism (which came from some American magazines) of his entering the matches at the end. [...]

  • Karpov on the future of chess: 'For [chess] to be in the Olympic Games would be very good. Chess is not a sport in every country, and you can get much better support from sponsors and official organizations [once you are part of the official Olympics]. [...]

Wouldn't it be enlightening to have the full transcript of the talk? I suppose it is lost to us forever.

18 October 2023

Qualifiers for the 1973 Interzonals

Continuing with Small Projects 'On the Cover' (October 2023), the next small project is a follow-up to September 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' (September 2023). In those posts I noted,
The bulletin said, [...] Here are the final scores from Petropolis. [...] Bronstein replaced Leonid Stein, who died suddenly a few weeks before the tournament. • 'Bronstein replaced Stein', doesn't square with related info on my other pages. More research needed

By 'related info' I was referring to two pages. The first page was (C09) Zonals 1972-1975 (m-w.com). There I quoted a correspondent, EK:-

I am missing one player. I have Polugaevsky, Smyslov, Keres, Stein, Gligoric, Hort, Portisch and ???. That missing player was then in late-1972/early-1973 replaced by Panno. After Stein passed away in July 1973, he was replaced by 2nd reserve Bronstein. Who was that missing player that was nominated by committee but declined to participate?

The second page was (C09) Zonal Qualifiers 1972-1975 (m-w.com). There I quoted another correspondent, GMG:-

The FIDE committee selected the players who did not win a zonal spot. Leonid Stein was selected, but passed away a few weeks before, and was replaced by Oscar Panno. Bronstein, the second reservist, made a special appeal to FIDE president Euwe and was allowed to play. • Reshevsky was chosen as third reserve by the FIDE selection committee. He seems to have been been given a place to balance the numbers at Petropolis when FIDE president Euwe gave second reservist Bronstein special dispensation to play.

It turns out that neither of those correspondents got the story right. The full story starts with the following info, taken from an appendix titled 'How They Qualified' (p.282) in World Championship Interzonals : Leningrad and Petropolis 1973 by Wade, Blackstock, and Kotov.

The first point to note is 'two, as nearly equal as possible, 16-players tournaments'. In fact, both events had 18 players; see:-

Wade, Blackstock, and Kotov (WBK) say that the 32 Interzonal participants (16 * 2) qualified as follows:-

*   6 candidates from the previous cycle
*   8 selected by a FIDE commission
* 17 zonal qualifiers
*   1 World Junior Champion

WBK also say that four other participants qualified by rules added afterward:-

*   3 additional zonal qualifiers
*   1 additional World Junior Champion

What about those eight participants who were 'selected by a FIDE commission'? Like EK (above), WBK listed only seven names. (This isn't the only omission on the WBK page, but the details are not important for this discussion.) Six names are the same on both lists, but EK mentions Gligoric as the 7th, while WBK mentions Tal. The six names on both lists plus Gligoric and Tal all played in the two Interzonals.

In addition to the eight selected participants, WBK listed more players as reserves: Panno, Bronstein, Reshevsky, Ivkov, and Mecking. Other sources say a total of 14 players was nominated by FIDE (apparently 8 + 6), but this doesn't change the narrative.

Both Panno and Reshevsky qualified from zonals -- as did Ivkov and Mecking -- leaving only Bronstein as a reserve player not qualified otherwise. How did my two correspondents, who were generally accurate in their other remarks on similar topics, make their mistakes?

According to WBK, the 13/14 players selected by the FIDE commission were known 'before 31 December 1971'. The zonals were all played in 1972. It appears that most of the players on the FIDE reserve list, wanting to boost their chance of qualifying for the Interzonals, decided to participate in the appropriate Zonal. Unless a researcher was aware that some players were on two different lists of (potential) qualifiers, he had only half the story.

It's worth noting that Panno qualified from a zone that was expanded from two to three qualifiers at the 1972 FIDE Congress, Skopje. Quinteros and Panno finished tied for 2nd/3rd at the zone 8 tournament, held at Sao Paulo in May 1972. If the number of qualifiers from the zone had stayed fixed at two, Panno would have played a match against Quinteros for the second qualifying place. I couldn't find any trace of a match between the two players in 1972.

Getting back to September 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover', the simple statement 'Bronstein replaced Stein' was the truth, if not the whole truth. I hope the preceding discussion is closer to the whole truth.

11 October 2023

GM Shirov in 1998

The previous post on this blog, Small Projects 'On the Cover' (October 2023), identified a number of World Championship posts on my main blog that need a follow-up. The first post I'll tackle is the most recent on the list: October 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' (October 2023). There are three topics worth developing, all involving Alexei Shirov. From the October 1998 cover introduction:-
  • 'The Kasparov - Shirov World Chess Council (WCC) championship match will not take place in 1998, if indeed it takes place at all.'
  • 'Beginning with next month's issue, Alexei Shirov will author a series of articles for USCF members.'
  • 'Shirov will also be in the country in time to participate in the FIDE World Championship tournament, which begins November 29 and ends December 27 [1998].'

Re the Kasparov - Shirov match, I have a page, 1998-99 World Chess Council (and more) that places the match in context. See the section titled, 'The WCC loses its sponsors'.

Re the Shirov articles, I found five in a column titled 'Shirov's Inferno' which appeared irregularly. The first article was in the November 1998 issue of Chess Life (CL), the last in August 1999. In February and March 1999, Shirov wrote a two part article, 'Consolation Match', that discussed the collapse of the Kasparov match and a replacement match with GM Zybnek Hracek. [NB: The page 9899GKIX should explain the connection between the two matches.] See also World Championship Columnists (December 2022, main blog): 'Back in the mid-1990s, both Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov -- bitter rivals at the time -- wrote separate columns for the USCF's Chess Life (CL)'

Re the 1998 FIDE World Championship tournament, the October 1998 issue of CL carried the following advertisement. It echoes that issue's 'On the Cover' introduction.

The postponement of the tournament until 1999 (to be discussed in next month's November 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover') had a negative impact on a possible reset of relations between FIDE and Kasparov. From my page on the '1998-99 World Chess Council':-

In December [1998], FIDE Secretary Emmanuel Omuku verbally rejected Kok's offer to finance the match between Kasparov and a FIDE champion. The FIDE championship in Las Vegas had been cancelled, reportedly due to contract difficulties with Karpov, so the FIDE decision may have been due more to the lack of a player than to any fundamental opposition to the idea. Some observers suspected that the collapse of the Russian economy in August may have been a factor in FIDE's cancellation of the event. The cancellation meant that there was little world class chess in December, as most other events had been pushed off the calendar.

Unfortunately, the USchess.org URL mentioned in the CL ad is not available via Archive.org. To explore what is available from the USchess site around the same time, see Archive.org on 1998 USchess.org. For more about GM Shirov's U.S. activities in 1998, see Shirov's SmartChess Videos (December 2022).

04 October 2023

Small Projects 'On the Cover'

Last week's post, Small Projects Checkpoint (September 2023), was all about establishing a plan for the next few months on this blog. For example,
One topic demands attention -- documenting the qualification paths for the most recent World Cup, '2023 World Cup, Baku' (August 2023).

On my main blog, 'Chess for All Ages', the past year has seen a dozen posts on various aspects of the World Championship. It's useful to summarize these posts in order to group them chronologically using this blog's system of labels. Posts marked '(*)' need further attention to develop some interesting aspect which was only mentioned in the original post.

  • 2022-11-18: 'A Clock Without Hands' • '"We're nearing the end of this blog's 'Fischer Friday' series". I'll end the series with a post on "1975 Fischer forfeits to Karpov" (m-w.com)'; also summarizes previous posts in Fischer series
  • 2022-12-23: Wayback to Chess.net • 'What did former World Champion Karpov say exactly?'
  • 2022-12-30: World Championship Columnists • 'In the mid-1990s, both Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov -- bitter rivals at the time -- wrote separate columns for the USCF's Chess Life'
  • 2023-01-03: January 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' • 'Interviews of Fischer, Spassky, and Gudmundur Thorarinsson, president of the Icelandic Chess Federation'
  • 2023-01-05: Chess at Trump Tower • 'Intel World Chess Championship Quarterfinal Matches'
  • 2023-02-02: February 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' • CL: 'Anand cuts through FIDE knock-out to challenge Karpov'
  • 2023-03-09: March 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' • 'Karpov defended his FIDE World Championship title'; 'Kasparov will finally defend his PCA World Championship title'; 'Ilyumzhinov has announced plans to make the knockout world championship an annual affair. Las Vegas is high on the list of possible sites for 1998.' (*)
  • 2023-04-18: April 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' • 'Byrne's progress in that World Championship cycle' [needs better intro in post]; ' news of Kasparov's non-FIDE World Championship title; see also the letter from Karpov' (*)
  • 2023-07-20: July 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' • 'FIDE World Champion Anatoly Karpov addressed more than 200 players'
  • 2023-08-15: August 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' • IZ 1973 Leningrad; Shirov/Kasparov news (*)
  • 2023-09-12: September 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' • IZ 1973 Petropolis, Brazil; '"Bronstein replaced Stein", doesn't square with related info on my other pages. More research needed' (*)
  • 2023-10-03: October 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' • Vukcevich; Kasparov - Shirov (WCC); *1998* FIDE World Championship, Las Vegas (*)

I trust that the title and description of each post is sufficient to place it chronologically.

27 September 2023

Small Projects Checkpoint

After last week's post, Forthcoming Events (September 2023), it's time to shift gears. In the past I regularly prepared a summary of open points that required attention. The most recent posts were for 2020 and 2021:-

I'm not yet prepared to do a similar overview, but at least one topic demands attention -- documenting the qualification paths for the most recent World Cup, 2023 World Cup, Baku (August 2023). It's a time consuming procedure that involves pulling together various sources of information. Here's what I produced for the previous cycle (C30 in my system of numbering the World Championship cycles):-

While I was looking at those posts, I added the phrase 'World Cup' to my index pages. The entries for World Cup events previously listed only venues and years. That worked when there was only a single qualifying event for the Candidates event, but in recent years there have been as many as three qualifiers: the World Cup, the Grand Swiss, and the Grand Prix.

For the current cycle (C31), the Grand Prix has been scrapped and replaced by 'High-Level International Tournaments (HIT)'. See FIDE: 'No' to GPX and GCT; 'Yes' to HIT (January 2023), for the previous post on the subject.

20 September 2023

Forthcoming Events

The previous post, 2022-23 WGP Wrapup (September 2023), was the last of my updates for recent events. For this current post I updated my two main index pages by adding links to Wikipedia for forthcoming events:-

Also worth mentioning are two FIDE pages describing the next WCC cycles:-

At this time I'm not sure why there's a discrepancy between the years for the two cycles. The unrestricted championship says, '2024 DATES AND HOST CITY TO BE ANNOUNCED'. The women's championship says, 'DATES AND HOST CITY TO BE ANNOUNCED'. The FIDE Calendar currently lists four events for the two separate cycles:-

  • FIDE Grand Swiss and Women’s Grand Swiss 2023 • Isle of Man • 23 Oct 2023 • 06 Nov 2023
  • FIDE World Fischer Random Championship • • 19 Feb 2024 • 25 Feb 2024
  • Women's Candidates Tournament • Toronto, Canada • 03 Apr 2024 • 25 Apr 2024
  • Candidates Tournament • Toronto, Canada • 03 Apr 2024 • 25 Apr 2024

I include the 'FIDE World FRC [Chess960] Championship' for completeness. Perhaps one day it will be considered a World Championship of the same importance as the others, but I'm not holding my breath.

13 September 2023

2022-23 WGP Wrapup

In the previous post (see the last link in the following list), I wrote,
The series of four Women's Grand Prix events needs a wrapup post to pull everything together.

The posts documenting the four events were:-

Add a chart showing the cumulative Grand Prix points...

Standings - FIDE Grand Prix 2023

...and that's all I really need to do.

06 September 2023

2022-23 WGP, New Delhi & Nicosia

In the previous post, 2023 World Cup, Baku (August 2023), I reminded myself about a couple of actions:-
Last week, in Back in the Saddle with PGN (August 2023), I ended saying, "Next stop: The 2023 World Cup is nearing its finish in Baku. Also to do is the final leg of the Women's Grand Prix, last seen in 2022-23 WGP, New Delhi (April 2023)."

I tackled the first action in that Baku post, while the second action referenced an earlier post, 2022-23 WGP, New Delhi, Marred by Withdrawals (April 2023). The second action would have more accurately described as documenting 'the final *two* legs'.


2022-23 WGP, New Delhi

From Fide.com:-


2022-23 WGP, Nicosia

From Fide.com:-

The series of four Women's Grand Prix events needs a wrapup post to pull everything together.

30 August 2023

2023 World Cup, Baku (Azerbaijan)

Last week, in Back in the Saddle with PGN (August 2023), I ended saying,
Next stop: The 2023 World Cup is nearing its finish in Baku. Also to do is the final leg of the Women's Grand Prix, last seen in 2022-23 WGP, New Delhi (April 2023).

A few weeks earlier, in Back in the Saddle (August 2023), I had decided,

From now on, I'll rely on links to Wikipedia to document future World Championship events.

There are usually five sections to one of my pages:-

  • Crosstable
  • Official site and logo
  • Regulations in effect (optional)
  • FIDE news items about the event
  • PGN

The crosstable and PGN are no longer necessary. The regulations are still optional. The site, logo, and news might be useful for future reference.

FIDE World Chess Cup 2023 (fide.com)

From FIDE.com:-

What about the rosters of players -- specifically the Index of Players and the Index of Women Players -- across all events? I find both of them to be useful. Maybe I should link them to the blog post documenting the finished event.

23 August 2023

Back in the Saddle with PGN

Continuing with Back in the Saddle (August 2023), I added the PGN to the two women's events mentioned in that post. I also added the names of the two players in the title match to the Index of Women Players.

Next stop: The 2023 World Cup is nearing its finish in Baku. Also to do is the final leg of the Women's Grand Prix, last seen in 2022-23 WGP, New Delhi (April 2023).

16 August 2023

Back in the Saddle with Crosstables

Following up last week's post, Back in the Saddle (August 2023), where I gave myself a few actions, I managed to accomplish one of them. I added the crosstables for two pages:-

These will likely be the last crosstables I create for the site. I created the first in 1997 and have kept their appearance the same since then.

09 August 2023

Back in the Saddle

After a six week break -- the previous post on this blog was 2023 World Championship Side Events (June 2023) -- it's time to tackle some of the events that have taken place since the beginning of the year. In particular, I fell seriously behind in documenting women's events.

I created a new page for the recently concluded 2023 Ju Wenjun - Lei Tingjie Title Match (m-w.com), and added it to the index for the World Chess Championship for Women (ditto). The logo is shown below.

Source: FIDE Women’s World Championship Match

The new page needs a crosstable and PGN. The same goes for the previous event, the 2022-23 Women's Candidates Tournament (ditto; missing 'Stage II', played '27 March - 6 April 2023'). The title match should also be included on the Index of Women Players.

Last year I stopped adding new pages for the next cycle of the Women's World Championship. For this current post I did the same for the unrestricted championship (aka 'Open' according to current terminology), indexed on my site's main page, The World Chess Championship (ditto). From now on, I'll rely on links to Wikipedia to document future World Championship events.

There's more to do, but that's a good start. I'll fill in the blanks during the coming weeks.

21 June 2023

2023 World Championship Side Events

For this current post let's have more of More Photos from Ding - Nepo (June 2023). See that post for links and a brief explanation.

Courtesy of FIDE / Photographers listed below

Photos for 'Side events', starting upper left:-

UL: 'Future World Champions - tournament for kids. 10 April, 2023' • Photo by Anna Shtourman
UR: 'Arbiter Workshop with IA Nebojsa Baralic. 11 April, 2023' • Photo by Stev Bonhage
LL: 'Dana Reizniece-Ozola gave a lecture titled "How to Win the Game: balancing work and family life'. April 16, 2023' • Photo by David Llada
LR: 'Chess in Education International Conference. 20 April, 2023' • Photo by Anna Shtourman

For more about the events in the bottom row, see:-

For a list of all side events, see Side Events FIDE World Championship 2023, Astana (ditto).

14 June 2023

The Robot Picked White

We're in the fifth week -- or is it the sixth week? -- of a heat wave and my enthusiasm for writing anything that requires thinking is at absolute rock bottom. Let's follow up last week's post, More Photos from Ding - Nepo (June 2023), with ... drumroll ... 'Even More Photos from Ding - Nepo'. You've seen the pictures...

First It Picked Two Pieces; Photos from 'Opening Ceremony'
Courtesy of FIDE / Stev Bonhage

...Now here's the story. From FIDE World Championship Match 2023 officially opened (worldchampionship.fide.com; Milan Dinic), dated 7 April 2023:-

A magician suddenly appeared beside [the players], signalling that the drawing of lots would be nothing short of magical. Ding Liren was particularly intrigued, closely observing the magician's every move. But as it turned out, it was all just a playful and humorous illusion.

Then came the real drawing of lots. Unlike the traditional way of doing this, with the arbiter holding a black and a white pawn in each hand clinched to a fist, this was done with the help of Artificial Intelligence. A robotic pyramid with a chess piece-filled bowl and a robotic arm on top took centre stage.

The AI ceremony had two parts. In the first, one of the players had to name a colour -- black or white -- and if the robotic arm picked up the piece with the same colour, that player moved to the second stage, where the robot then decided if that player would be White or Black in the first round.

As he is currently ranked ahead of Ding Liren on the FIDE rating list, Ian Nepomniachtchi was invited to come forward. Nepomniachtchi curiously walked over and said, "white", and then pressed a button on the computer. Luckily for him, that was the colour the robot chose as well, which meant he moved on to the next stage. Had he guessed it wrong, it would be Ding's turn.

In the next stage, Nepomniachtchi had to press the button again, and the robot was the one to choose the colour of his pieces in game one. While robots may be better than humans in almost everything, in a sign that they're still not perfect (especially when it comes to the fine sensory skills of hand movement), it took the robot three times to successfully navigate the task. The robotic hand mixed pieces in the bowl but did not pick up any pieces on the first try. Then, on the second – it picked up two pieces – black and white! On the final, third try – it picked up one piece. Nepo was again lucky – the colour of the piece was white!

I think we're confusing AI with robotics here, but who cares? It was an original way to decide which player gets which color for the first game of the match.

07 June 2023

More Photos from Ding - Nepo

After last week's post, 2023 Ding Liren - Nepomniachtchi, Wrapup (May 2023), I went back to Chess Photos : 'Courtesy of FIDE' (May 2023), and added other official photos to earlier posts. Here's another photo that caught my eye because of its geopolitical symbolism...

Three Flags; Photo from 'Tiebreak'
Courtesy of FIDE / Stev Bonhage

...Thanks again, FIDE, for making these photos available.

31 May 2023

2023 Ding Liren - Nepomniachtchi, Wrapup

In the previous post, 2023 Ding Liren - Nepomniachtchi, Crosstable (May 2023), I gave myself a number of actions -- list the winner first where necessary, add the PGN, update the player index -- and promised a wrapup post. The actions were done (see that 'Crosstable' posts for links) and here's the wrapup:-

The posts listed above are all from this blog. The posts listed below are all from my main blog.

On my main blog I also ran a series about Ding Liren, who won the match against GM Nepomniachtchi, thereby becoming World Champion. The series was intended to learn more about his career.

This is the last World Championship that I intend to document on my personal domain, mark-weeks.com. The time has come to give it a rest.

24 May 2023

2023 Ding Liren - Nepomniachtchi, Crosstable

Following up the previous post, 2023 Nepomniachtchi - Ding Liren, Fourth Week (May 2023; 'Congratulations to Ding Liren on a nail-biting victory!'), I added the crosstable to my page on the match: 2023 Nepomniachtchi - Ding Liren (m-w.com). Still to do:-
  • Change the title of that m-w.com page to put the winner first.
  • Add the PGN.
  • Update the Index of players.

At the same time I can create a wrapup post, tying together all of the posts on this blog and on my main blog.


The New World Champion; Photo from 'Tiebreak'
Courtesy of FIDE / Stev Bonhage

17 May 2023

Chess Photos : 'Courtesy of FIDE'

The previous post, 2023 Nepomniachtchi - Ding Liren, Fourth Week (May 2023), used a photo. And it wasn't just any photo; it was a photo from the official site for the Nepo - Ding match: Photos from 2023 FIDE World Championship Match (worldchampionship.fide.com). That FIDE page offers reuse of the photos, but with a condition:-
Please note that these photographs are provided to the media as a courtesy from FIDE, strictly for editorial use only. when used, these photos must include proper credits in the caption, using the following formula:

"Photo: FIDE / Name of the photographer"
"Courtesy of FIDE / Name of the photographer"

In case of doubt regarding the authorship, please contact a FIDE representative at press@fide.com

I'm pleased to oblige. I'm not sure if this post qualifies as 'editorial use', but I'll take a chance that it does.

Photos from 'Closing Ceremony'
Courtesy of FIDE / Stev Bonhage

At the beginning of last year, I posted on my main blog, Chess Photos : 'All rights reserved' (January 2022). The post ended saying,

I imagine that all of the photos in these albums are marked '© All rights reserved'. That's why they never appear on my short lists. Would it hurt any of the expert photographers who took the photos to license a few under 'Creative Commons'? That would allow other content creators (like me) to share the photos with a larger public.

My prayers have been answered. I'm a happy blogger.

03 May 2023

2023 Nepomniachtchi - Ding Liren, Fourth Week

What a difference a single week can make. Or a single game. Or a single move. In the previous report, 2023 Nepomniachtchi - Ding Liren, Third Week (April 2023), I wrote,
Starting with last week's +3-2=2 and adding this week's +0-0=4 gives a current score of +3-2=6 in Nepo's favor, with three games still to be played. Ding will have the White pieces in two of those games.

All other things equal, the advantage of the White pieces in a chess game gives a player an undisputed upper hand. Following the lead set in the 'Third Week' post, here are the official reports from the same site, worldchampionship.fide.com, and the same journalist, Milan Dinic, for the last three regulation games:-

After 11 games the score was +3-2=6 in Nepo's favor. Adding +0-1=2 from the last three games gives +3-3=6, a tied match. In an early post introducing the match, 2023 Nepomniachtchi - Ding Liren Warmup (March 2023), I gave some of the ground rules for the match, including tiebreak.

A four-game playoff shall be played with a time control of 25 minutes + 10 seconds increment per move, starting from move 1. There shall be a drawing of lots to decide which player starts with White. If the score is still a tie after the four-game playoff...

The first series of four games was enough to break the tie. From the same news source as the last three games, here are the reports on the tiebreak and its aftermath:-

That last report started,

The last act of the greatest chess event on earth was held in Astana. A new era in chess history as Ding Liren emerges as the first player from China to hold the world title in the open section.

The clumsy phrase 'open section' is meant to distinguish the title up for grabs in Astana from the women's version. The Women's title was first won by a Chinese player more than 30 years ago -- 1991 Xie Jun - Chiburdanidze Title Match -- and Chinese women have largely dominated the event ever since. Following is a photo of the trophy won by Ding.

Photo: FIDE / Anna Shtourman

Congratulations to Ding Liren on a nail-biting victory!

26 April 2023

2023 Nepomniachtchi - Ding Liren, Third Week

In the previous report on this blog, 2023 Nepomniachtchi - Ding Liren, Second Week (April 2023), I summed up the action saying,
The last four games this week were all decisive, leaving Nepo with a +3-2=2 lead. As the game seven report implies, Ding Liren had the opportunity to take the lead.

Since then, all four games have ended in draws. Starting with last week's +3-2=2 and adding this week's +0-0=4 gives a current score of +3-2=6 in Nepo's favor, with three games still to be played. Ding will have the White pieces in two of those games.

Let's document the action using reports from the same site, worldchampionship.fide.com, and the same journalist, Milan Dinic. Here are his reports on the four draws:-

While writing this, I'm watching game 12 on YouTube's FIDE chess channel. Currently around move 30, the game has now entered a phase where the evaluation bar is swinging up and down on every move. I have rarely understood so little while watching an online game.

In a recent post on my main blog, World Championship Social Media 2023 (April 2023), I noted,

The main drawback to the FIDE broadcasts is the chat stream. There are some notable exceptions to the many cringeworthy comments, but how to eliminate the dross?

The chat has disappeared for game 12, so it appears that other people felt the same as I did. While I miss the knowledgeable comments, I can do without the racist and sexist slurs that are too common. Imagine watching a Grand Slam tennis tournament while rubes are hollaring insults at the players. There's no reason why we should accept such behavior during top chess events. Thanks, FIDE chess, for improving the atmosphere of your broadcast.

19 April 2023

2023 Nepomniachtchi - Ding Liren, Second Week

I summarized last week's post, 2023 Nepomniachtchi - Ding Liren, First Week (April 2023), writing,
The first two match games ended in a draw and a win for Nepo as Black. Here are the game reports on Fide.com, both signed Milan Dinic [...]

Let's continue with more reports from the same source, worldchampionship.fide.com, and the same writer:-

The last four games this week were all decisive, leaving Nepo with a +3-2=2 lead. As the game seven report implies, Ding Liren had the opportunity to take the lead.

One of the main side stories in the match is the state of Ding's nerves. Will this turn out to be the deciding factor?


First Move by Dana Reizniece-Ozola; Photo from 'Game 6'
Courtesy of FIDE / Stev Bonhage

12 April 2023

2023 Nepomniachtchi - Ding Liren, First Week

Make that 'First Half-Week'. This post is dated Wednesday, as are all posts on this blog. The opening ceremony, which took place last Friday, was followed by a rest day, two games, and another rest day. On my main blog I've already posted a video for 2023 Nepo - Ding, Opening Press Conference (April 2023). On this blog I posted basic information about the match in 2023 Nepomniachtchi - Ding Liren Warmup (March 2023).

The first two match games ended in a draw and a win for Nepo as Black. Here are the game reports on Fide.com, both signed Milan Dinic:-

So far the court of public opinion seems to consider the match a legitmate World Championship. One prominent naysayer is the 13th World Champion:-

Barden quoted Kasparov saying, 'The match between Nepo and Ding is a great show, but it’s not a world championship match', then opined,

Comments on Kasparov's assertion have been mostly negative, pointing out that the match is actually between the two highest rated players who are ready to participate, which Carlsen is not.

For the rest of the match I'll loosely follow the same format I used for the previous title match. See 2021 Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi, Wrapup (December 2021) for a summary of that match.


The Long View; Photo from 'Game 1'
Courtesy of FIDE / Stev Bonhage

05 April 2023

2022-23 WGP, New Delhi, Marred by Withdrawals

For the record:-
  • 2023-03-23: Anna and Mariya Muzychuk will not play in the third leg of the Grand Prix (chessbase.com; Johannes Fischer) • 'On March 24, the third of four tournaments in the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix Series 2022/2023 will begin in New Delhi, India. Twelve players will compete, but the two Ukrainian grandmasters Anna and Mariya Muzychuk have decided not to take part, presumably because Kateryna Lagno, Polina Shuvalova and Aleksandra Goryachkina, who are members of the Russian Chess Federation but play under the FIDE flag, will be among the participants in New Delhi.' • NB: 'presumably'

  • 2023-03-25: New Delhi GP: Abdumalik withdraws, first round postponed due to organizational issues (chessbase.com; Carlos Alberto Colodro) • 'The third stage of the Women’s Grand Prix series, set to take place in New Delhi, did not start as scheduled on Saturday, March 25. It was reported that some of the players were not received by official transport at the airport and that, at the hotel, they were informed that the rooms were not ready and the breakfast was not included in the price. Due to these conditions, Zhansaya Abdumalik withdrew from the event. FIDE and the eleven remaining players decided that the event would take place anyway, albeit starting on Sunday.' • NB: 'breakfast was not included in the price'

  • 2023-03-27: What is happening in New Delhi at the Women’s Grand Prix? (chessbase.com; Sagar Shah) • 'The FIDE Women’s Grand Prix 2022-23 is into its third leg, and it is a huge moment for Indian chess. The start to the event has been rocky. One of the participants, Zhansaya Abdumalik, has withdrawn from the tournament after reaching New Delhi and spending a day at the venue. The players wrote an official letter to the FIDE President, and FIDE responded back with an official statement. Meanwhile, Zhansaya’s compatriot Bibisara Assaubayeva, who is present at the venue, wrote a post on social media voicing her opinions. We try to put it all together in this article.' • NB: 'a huge moment for Indian chess'

For the previous Grand Prix event, see 2022-23 WGP, Munich (February 2023).

29 March 2023

2023 Nepomniachtchi - Ding Liren Warmup

With the 2023 Nepomniachtchi - Ding Liren (m-w.com) due to start next week in Astana, Kazakhstan, I updated that page with the latest info, including the official site and a link to the schedule. The logo and domain name are copied here:-


The schedule says the opening ceremony will take place 7 April, the 1st game 9 April, with a rhythm of two days play and one day off through the 7th game on Tuesday, 18 April, which will be followed by a free day. Then the two days/one day schedule continues until the 14th game on Saturday, 29 April. If necessary, tiebreak will be played the following day. Games will start at 15:00 Astana time. [NB: Current Local Time in Astana (timeanddate.com).]

From the FIDE Handbook
'07. Regulations for the FIDE World Championship Match'

Also from the Handbook:-

4.2.2. The time control for each game is 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from move 61.

As for tiebreak:- A four-game playoff shall be played with a time control of 25 minutes + 10 seconds increment per move, starting from move 1. There shall be a drawing of lots to decide which player starts with white. If the score is still a tie after the four-game playoff described in Article, another two-game playoff shall be played with a time control of 5 minutes + 3 seconds increment per move, starting from move 1. If the score is still level, another 2-game playoff shall be played with the same time control. There shall be a drawing of lots to decide which player starts with white before each of the 2-game matches. If the score is still level after the playoffs described in Article, after a new drawing of lots, a single game shall be played with a time control of 3 minutes for each player + 2 seconds increment per move, starting from move 1. If the game in Article is drawn, another game shall be played with a time control of 3 minutes for each player + 2 seconds increment per move, starting from move 1 with the colors reversed. If the game in Article is drawn, the procedure described in Article shall be applied until a game is played with a decisive result.

To see the previous results between the two players, follow the crosstable I created for last year's post Madrid Candidates - Kickoff (June 2022). According to Chessgames.com, the current standing is:-

  • Classical games: Ian Nepomniachtchi beat Ding Liren 3 to 2, with 8 draws.
  • Only rapid/exhibition games: Ian Nepomniachtchi beat Ding Liren 10 to 7, with 9 draws.

In the Madrid Candidates, Nepo as Black beat Ding and as White drew. Nepo would appear to be the favorite in the forthcoming match.


Sizing Up the Opponent; Photo from 'Before the Match'
Courtesy of FIDE / Stev Bonhage

22 March 2023

'Chess on Olympus'

Last week's post was about the 1998 Karpov - Anand FIDE Title Match. The post, Chess Heaven in Lausanne (March 2023), was based on Elizabeth Karnazes's report in the March 1998 issue of Chess Life. Summarizing the report at the end of the post, I noted,
The entire piece was more about the ambience surrounding the event. [...] As good a story as it was, I'll try to add a post that focuses more on the chess played in the match.

This current post is based on 'Le jeu d'Echecs vers l'Olympe' (English: 'Chess on Olympus') by Christophe Bouton, the introduction to a 16-page report that appeared in the February 1998 issue of Europe Echecs. Just like I did in Sanghi Nagar: The Kamskys vs. the World (March 2023), I'll use Google Translate together with my high school French to understand the report. It used the following photo at the top of the first page.

The photo didn't have a caption. If it did have, it might have been something like this:-

At the board: Karpov (left), Anand (right) • Behind the board: (left to right) FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Juan Antonio Samaranch, Match Arbiter Geurt Gijssen • Photo: SIPA/Sichov

The report started,

Suffocated by a hug from his French representative, Jean-Paul Touzé, at the end of his victory in the second game of the tiebreak, Anatoli Karpov finally relaxes. Head bowed, he immediately takes refuge with a few members of his team in the three-meter-squared box which served as a relax room during the match, on the side of the hall of the Olympic museum where he faced the Indian Viswanathan Anand for a week. And he cries.

That's not the behavior one normally imagines from the winner of a world class competition, and Bouton's article was no normal report. Why did Karpov cry? Because, 'The tension was too great.' And Anand?

At the other end of the room, Anand sports a strained smile. His dream came crashing down in just over a hundred minutes [for both tiebreak games]. His wife Aruna is at his side and does not stray far. He responds mechanically to timid questions and slips away discreetly so as not to be bothered by many fans, disappointed and sad.

From the above excerpts, we can be cetain that Bouton was an eye-witness to the match. From Karnazes's report we also know that there was a side-event for journalists without chess titles, in which she played. According to EE, in a small box attached to the full report, Bouton won the event and pocketed US$ 9000 offered by 'His Excellence' Ilyumzhinov. Bouton's understanding of current chess events permeated paragraphs like the following.

But is Karpov really champion of the world? Anand fans doubt it, the best players in the world laugh at it, the numbers speak: to qualify for Lausanne, Anand played 23 games and eliminated six of the best players in the world. Meanwhile, Karpov was preparing in peace, because he was directly qualified.

He and Kasparov were to enter the semi-finals. Kasparov did not follow up, as expected. And Karpov dug in behind the leonine [one-sided?; inequitable?] clause which stipulated that if one of the two "K"s did not play, the other went directly to the final. With this victory thanks to semi-rapids -- because finally in long games, Karpov drew 3-3 against Anand (two wins and two losses each) -- Karpov, sixth player in the world in the January international ranking, is champion of the world until the year 2000.

Bouton's two-page report, including more photos from the same photographer featured above, was followed by annotations of all games, three of them with detailed notes by GM Joel Lautier, who was ranked French no.1 (World no.28) at the time. I have access to about 35 years of Europe Echecs and it might be useful to inventory the many other world class events covered by the magazine.

15 March 2023

Chess Heaven in Lausanne

My main blog is often the inspiration for posts on this World Chess Championship blog. Consider the following two 'On the Cover' posts, where the quotes are from the introduction to the respective issues of the 1998 Chess Life (CL):-
  • 2023-02-02: February 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' • '[Cover] photo by Elizabeth Karnazes. And she will be providing next month's cover, as well as a photographic essay of the final match, to accompany a report by Larry Christiansen.'
  • 2023-03-09: March 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' • 'Elizabeth Karnazes shot the cover photo of Anatoly Karpov just after he successfully defended his FIDE World Championship title in Lausanne, Switzerland.'

The common element is the cover photo by Elizabeth Karnazes. The February 1998 issue of CL promised a pair of articles on the 1998 Karpov - Anand FIDE Title Match, and the March 1998 issue delivered, more or less.

GM Christiansen's one page report was really about the 1997 FIDE Knockout Matches, held in December at Groningen, where he played. Photographer Karnazes two page report was about the final match held in January at Lausanne, which she spectated. The report started with a half page of photos. Two of them are reproduced below along with their original captions.

Left: 'A little slice of chess heaven.' (taken from the photographer's Lausanne hotel?) • Right: 'Anatoly Karpov and his wife, Natalie Karpova, as they emerge from the Olympic Museum, just after Karpov defeated Anand.'

The report carried the same title as the photo on the left, 'A Little Slice of Chess Heaven' by Elizabeth Karnazes. It started,

Nestled on the shores of Lake Geneva high in the Swiss Alps lies the charming town of Lausanne, Switzerland. Lausanne is the Olympic Capital, headquarters of the International Olympic Committee and the Federation Internationale des Echecs [FIDE]. It is the site of the Olympic Museum, which hosted the FIDE World Chess Championship Finals under the auspices of the IOC from January 1-9, 1998. Lausanne is also the home of the Beau-Rivage Palace, arguably one of the top ten hotels in the world. Most importantly, Lausanne is where I first experienced a little slice of chess heaven.

The next paragraph set the tone of the entire piece, which was more about the ambience surrounding the event. Asking for directions to Lausanne while in a Parisian McDonald's is roughly equivalent to asking for directions to Lake Champlain while in a New York City McDonald's.

After a grueling ten hour drive over the top of the Swiss Alps from Paris with my usual caravan of luggage and two young sons in tow, I saw a glittering array of lights leading me to my destination. As it turned out, there was a shorter route via a major highway, which would have placed us in Lausanne five hours earlier. Surely the charming employees of McDonald's Paris, who provided me with directions for the journey, were having a great laugh at the silly American woman in the Volkswagen. No matter, the view was spectacular and we were on our way to witness two of the world's greatest chessplayers, Anatoly Karpov and Viswanathan Anand, vie for close to two million dollars in prize money and the right to be called World Champion. (Deeper Blue and Garry Kasparov notwithstanding.)

The 'two young sons' (ten-year-old twins) were also chess players and participated in a junior event held during the match. Their Mom played in a different event for journalists without chess titles. As good a story as it was, I'll try to add a post that focuses more on the chess played in the match.

08 March 2023

Sanghi Nagar: The Kamskys vs. the World

A couple of weeks ago I posted How to Lose a Sponsor in Ten Days (February 2023). It ended with a question:-
What happened between 'Chess deserves to be promoted' and 'I will never organize an event in which Gata Kamsky participates'? It will take another post to explain.

Remember that the post was part of a series about the 1994-96 FIDE Candidates Matches (m-w.com), specifically the 'Final matches', Sanghi Nagar, February 1995: Karpov - Gelfand and Kamsky - Salov. The 'Lose a Sponsor' post quoted from Leontxo Garcia's report in Europe Echecs, April 1995, translated from the French language. Garcia described an incident that defined the matches in the public's memory:-

Karpov has taken a number of precautions: his team is made up of [...] The Kamskys had strengthened their team with Alexander Shabalov, but he has just left after a quarrel with Rustam. According to several witnesses, [Gata] Kamsky's father had hit the second. Which Rustam denies by declaring: "It was a discussion between men" and by specifying that Shabalov was incapable of working more than two or three hours a day, against the thirteen or fourteen that he asked of him. Shabalov, who had a lip injury, explained the situation before returning to New York:

"It is very difficult to work with Rustam. Financially, he always keeps his word but he wants to make all the decisions, including on the purely technical level, despite his poor knowledge of chess. I'm sorry for Gata. But whether he loses or wins, it will not be because of my departure."

Rustam Kamsky was just getting warmed up. Later he took on the match organizer and sponsor:-

As match interest begins to dwindle faster than expected [NB: because the winners were clear], Rustam escalates the tension with a stormy statement. After Gata and Salov's relatively peaceful press conference, Rustam, still nervous despite the victory, goes to Ravi Sanghi's office to demand Gata's "money". According to Ravi, travel costs and the prize itself, according to Rustam, only plane tickets. Rustam complains that he is tired of always being told "tomorrow" when he comes to ask for his team's $7,000 for tickets. Sanghi explains to Rustam that it is very difficult to obtain foreign currency in India and reminds him that he has offered to pay him several times in rupees or traveller's checks, instead of cash. Kamsky's father becomes even more agitated and returns to the press center to launch an attack on Sanghi, accusing him of not providing him with proper food, of conspiring with Kasparov and Campomanes, of deliberately making life difficult for Gata in these semi-finals as in the previous quarter-finals, etc.

Sanghi then gets very angry and prepares to "take very severe measures". Dzindzi [GM Dzindzihashvili; see below], who has also been made aware of Rustam's outburst, then calls Sanghi to restore the situation. He demands a written apology from Rustam "before 8:30 p.m.", the time at which most Indian journalists must return to Hyderabad. In return, Dzindzi asks for a written guarantee that the amount due will be paid in full.

Rustam [Kamsky] then signs a document in which he retracts his attacks against Sanghi and the organizers. But Sanghi does not calm down and declares to the Indian press that he "will never organize an event in which Gata Kamsky participates". And Sanghi insists that Rustam can no longer give interviews without his formal permission.

The next day, Campomanes sends a fax to Rustam, announcing that his apologies "attenuate but do not absolve this misconduct... And [he] imposes a symbolic fine of 150 Swiss francs. Any recidivism or any similar attitude in the future will be severely punished". Rustam reacts very badly to the answers of Sanghi and Campomanes, and declares: "I am afraid for the life of my son".

Given that every controversy has at least two sides, the other side of the story was described in Kamsky's House Arrest (rec.games.chess; March 1995; 'Copyright by Chesstours'): 'Interview with GM Roman Dzindzihashvili (Gata Kamsky's second) by GM Larry Evans'.

01 March 2023

Zone 1.6 (Russia) Becomes Zone 3.8

Here's continuing a story from my main blog that was mentioned in First Yahoos of 2023 (January 2023):-
2023-01-30: Russian Chess Federation moves to Asia (chessbase.com) • 'The Russian Chess Federation has advised the European Chess Union that they have applied for membership of the Asian Chess Federation, and that they intend to withdraw from the ECU as soon as they have been admitted.'

The Europeans reacted immediately:-

  • 2023-01-30: Statement of the European Chess Union (europechess.org) • 'The European Chess Union (ECU) hereby expresses its position on the possible transfer of the Russian Chess Federation (RCF) to the Asian Chess Federation (ACF). '

FIDE took a few weeks to respond formally:-

  • 2023-02-22: FIDE resolution on the Russian Federation joining the ACF (fide.com) • 'The FIDE Council reviewed yesterday, February 21, the report prepared by the Constitutional Commission on the request made by the Chess Federation of Russia (CFR) to join the Asian Chess Federation (ACF).'

The ECU reaction was again immediate:-

  • 2023-02-22: Statement of the European Chess Union – 22.02.2023 (europechess.org) • 'Following the FIDE Council’s decision concerning the proposed transfer of the Russian Chess Federation (RCF) to the Asian Chess Federation (ACF), the European Chess Union (ECU) hereby declares [...]'

The vote of the Asian Federation was overwhelmingly in favor of the transfer, with six abstentions:-

The Chess24 report discussed the qualification for places in a forthcoming stage of the World Championship.

It’s already been confirmed by the European Chess Union that players who were already enrolled in the European Championship that starts in Vrnjacka Banja, Serbia in three days’ time will still be able to play -- and potentially take one of the 23 spots available in the upcoming World Cup. [...]

It appears there’s nothing to stop players competing in Serbia and then, later in the year, competing in the Asian Continental Championships in Kazakhstan, for which no dates have yet been set, according to FIDE’s calendar. The question of World Cup places is an interesting one, with the regulations of the 2023 World Cup, to be held in August in Baku, Azerbaijan, allocating spaces based on the number of players in the World Top 60 in January 2022.

Counting individual players, the Russian federation is FIDE's largest; see FIDE Rating List - January 2023 (January 2023), also on my main blog, for some numbers. The full impact of the transfer remains to be seen.

22 February 2023

How to Lose a Sponsor in Ten Days

A few weeks ago, in Hooked on 1994-95 Sanghi Nagar (February 2023), I discussed Bill Hook's report on the 1994-95 FIDE Candidates Matches. I also mentioned,
Another source is a three page report in Europe Echecs, April 1995 p.8, signed 'Leontxo Garcia (WCS)'.

With the help of Google Translate, I translated Leontxo Garcia's report from the French language. He covered three topics -- the matches as a high-level chess competition, friction between FIDE & the PCA, and the behavior of the Kamskys. The report started,

February 5, 8 pm: I am still on the dangerous road which leads from Hyderabad, the capital of the state of Andhra Pradesh, to the small village of Sanghi Nagar, in the south-east of India. In the middle of August, when I had made the trip in the opposite direction at 4:30 am after the closing ceremony of the FIDE quarter-finals, I doubted that I would ever return to these exotic places. Like my colleagues, I thought it would be surprising that once Anand was eliminated, the Sanghi Industries firm continued to invest money, effort and illusions in chess.

But Ravi Sanghi, the president of the company, kept his word: "Chess deserves to be promoted, particularly in India, because it is very useful educationally, it is inexpensive and you can play without discrimination of age, sex, caste, culture, religion or social class”. This fine declaration led to a tangible result in the very great improvements made to the infrastructures and, in particular, to one of the best press centers (approximately 300 square meters) that I have seen in twelve years in the business.

Some time later, Garcia's narrative changed dramatically:-

Rustam [Kamsky] then signed a document in which he retracted his attacks against Sanghi and the organizers. But Sanghi did not calm down and declared to the Indian press that he "will never organize an event in which Gata Kamsky participates".

What happened between 'Chess deserves to be promoted' and 'I will never organize an event in which Gata Kamsky participates'? It will take another post to explain.

15 February 2023

2022-23 WGP, Munich

The second of four legs for the 2022-23 Women's Grand Prix [WGP] finished this week. The FIDE report, Alexandra Kosteniuk wins Women's Grand Prix Munich (fide.com), started,

Despite losing to Chinese phenomenon Zhu Jiner [in the final round], former Women's World Champion and winner of the 2021 World Cup Alexandra Kosteniuk added another tournament victory to her list of achievements by winning the Munich International Tournament this afternoon, the second event of the 2022-2023 FIDE Women's Grand Prix.

For this blog's post on the first leg, see 2022-23 WGP, Astana (October 2022). An earlier post, Women's Events 2022-23 (September 2022), listed four legs for the WGP:-

1st leg; Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan; 17 Sep 2022; 30 Sep 2022
2nd leg; Munich, Germany; 01 Feb 2023; 14 Feb 2023
3rd leg; India; 2023; 2023
4th leg; Bydgoscz, Poland; 2023; 2023

The FIDE Calendar (fide.com), now adds,

3rd leg; Remarks: second half of March 2023 in India (place and exact dates TBD)
4th leg; Remarks: May-June 2023 (exact dates TBD)

Note that the WGP is a qualification event for the next cycle. I reported on the current cycle in 2022-23 Women's Candidates, Pool B (December 2022), where I wrote,

The FIDE Calendar doesn't yet list the Candidates final match between GM Lei Tingjie and GM Tan Zhongyi, both from China. The winner will play the current Women’s World Champion, GM Ju Wenjun, also from China. That title match is also not listed.

Those events are now listed as:-

Women's Candidates Tournament Final; Chongqing, China; 27 Mar 2023; 06 Apr 2023

Women's World Championship Match; 2023; 2023

Getting back to the 2022-23 WGP, winner Kosteniuk recently made the news with 'Alexandra Kosteniuk To Play For Switzerland' (chess.com; Peter Doggers). On the event's official site, FIDE Grand Prix 2022 (womengrandprix.fide.com), she was listed on the crosstable with the FIDE flag.

08 February 2023

Chess in the 70s and 80s

That's 1870s and 1880s. Last year on my main blog, I posted The No.2 Yahoo (May 2022; 'Yahoos are mainstream news stories about chess'). That footnote quoted between the parentheses is not completely accurate. Yahoos also include mainstream chess news sources. The Big Kahuna is Chess.com, but other sources also vie for the spotlight. The post explained,
For the first time that I can remember, a news source other than Chess.com tallied at least ten stories, with ChessBase accounting for exactly ten. At the beginning of the year, I calculated that ChessBase was the no.2 news source for the year 2021, so their visibility in May was not an accident.

During the last few years, ChessBase.com has run a number of feature articles on the two main rivals for the first World Chess Championship. I have some familiarity with the subject, thanks to a number of pages that I created in days of yore:-

The first wave of articles from Chessbase.com were penned by Stephan Oliver Platz:-

  • 2018-01-31: The final years of Zukertort (chessbase.com; ditto for this list and the following lists) • 'In 1886 Johann Hermann Zukertort played the first official match for the World Championship and lost to Steinitz. But at that time Zukertort already suffered from severe health issues which two years later led to his early death. Stephan-Oliver Platz takes a look at the health of Zukertort in the final years of the chess legend.'
  • 2019-05-26: Romantic Steinitz • 'As is well known, Wilhelm Steinitz justified positional chess theory and thus ended the Romantic era. It is less well-known that Steinitz himself was previously a great chess romantic.'
  • 2020-04-07: An "interview" with Wilhelm Steinitz • 'The first official World Chess Champion William Steinitz (1836-1900) is regarded as a pioneer of modern chess strategy. His theories pushed back the gambit style that had prevailed until then and led to a much more cautious approach. How did Steinitz get his insights and what principles did he teach? Read an imagined interview with the legendary chess thinker, drawn from his own writings. [...] William Steinitz's answers are excerpts from his book "The Modern Chess Instructor", New York and London 1889.'

Last year Eugene Manlapao returned with an article on the same period:-

  • 2022-04-27; London 1883: Prelude to the First World Championship Match (26 April - 23 June) • 'London, with its rich chess tradition, has been the scene of many great tournaments. One of these, the London International Tournament of 1883, happened at an important point in history. It is remembered mainly as the event that led to the first World Chess Championship, which, in turn, formalized the title of World Champion. Johannes Zukertort won the tournament ahead of Wilhelm Steinitz, and in 1886, three years after London, they played the first official World Championship match against each other.'

During the past two months, the period resurfaced in a pair of articles based on a new book from Willy Hendriks:-

  • 2022-12-13: Willy Hendriks' "The Ink War" - The Mystery of Zukertort's Breakdown • '"The Ink War: Romanticism versus Modernity in Chess", the new book by Dutch author Willy Hendriks, is definitely one of the most exciting and interesting chess books of 2022. Hendriks first of all looks at the bitter rivalry between William Steinitz and Johannes Zukertort, who in 1886 played the first official World Championship match. But Hendriks also analyses how chess understanding developed and takes a critical look at chess history and the way chess history is written. Thoroughly researched, well-written, entertaining, witty, and thought-provoking. [...] This article is an adaptation of a chapter of Willy Hendriks’s book "The Ink War, Romanticism versus Modernity in Chess" (New In Chess 2022).'
  • 2023-01-24: "Does chess history have to be rewritten?" - An interview with Willy Hendriks (by Johannes Fischer) • 'Dutch author and International Master Willy Hendriks just published "The Ink War: Romanticism vs Modernity in chess". The book analyses the rivalry between Wilhelm Steinitz and Johannes Zukertort, who in 1886 played the first official World Championship match. But Hendriks also looks at chess history and challenges a number of accepted views about chess improvement and the development of chess knowledge. In an interview with Johannes Fischer, Hendriks talks about Steinitz, Zukertort, chess history, the pleasures of studying the classics, and why studying the openings helps you to improve in chess.'

For more about the book from its publisher, see The Ink War (newinchess.com; sample pages). There is some overlap and some contradiction across the six articles linked above, but I've run out of time for this post. Mayber later...