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?

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.

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.

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...

01 February 2023

Hooked on 1994-95 Sanghi Nagar

A couple of weeks ago, in the post Karpov on 1994-95 Sanghi Nagar (January 2023), I wrote,
The Bill Hook report was the only CL [Chess Life] report on that stage of the FIDE Candidates Matches, where an American qualified into a World Championship title match. Karpov's column for the following month discussed his match with Gelfand, who was eliminated for the title match. [...] Where can we find more detail about the two Sanghi Nagar events?

A clue to one source is given in that paragraph: Bill Hook's Hooked On Chess (newinchess.com). Starting on p.159 he explained how he got the photographer's job for the matches and then provided some background:-

Sanghi Nagar is a self-contained industrial complex, isolated in a dry hilly landscape, and run by wealthy Sri Ravi Sanghi, who was sponsoring the chess matches. Mr. Sanghi was convinced that India was destined to be a power in international chess, and was doing what he could to further that aim. He had constructed a special air-conditioned theatre for the matches with the players on stage behind a soundproof glass wall. There were small housing units for the players and analysts as well as some members of the press. Additionally, he was responsible for the creation of an attractive Hindu temple perched dramatically on a nearby hill, and his impressive home could be seen on another distant hill. Mimi [Bill Hook's wife] later interviewed Mr. Sanghi, and her article subsequently appeared in Inside Chess.

The contending players in the two qualifying matches were Anatoly Karpov, paired against Boris Gelfand, and Valery Salov vs. Gata Kamsky. Young Kamsky, a Russian defector, was representing the USA, and was accompanied by GM analysts Alex Shabalov, Roman Dzindzichashvili and, most notably, Gata's father, Rustam. Rustam and his son had been granted political asylum some years back after the highly talented Gata, then 13 , had played in a strong New York Open tournament. Since then Rustam, a burly man in his forties, had gotten a reputation for aggressively protecting the rights of his son.

Another source is a three page report in Europe Echecs, April 1995 p.8, signed 'Leontxo Garcia (WCS)'. Just like our previous sources, the article was illustrated with photos by Bill Hook. This photo shows the playing hall.

I'll come back to both the book and the French language magazine in another post.

25 January 2023

FIDE's Venue for the Nepo - Ding Match

I added a couple of FIDE announcements to my page 2023 Nepomniachtchi - Ding Liren (m-w.com). The more recent announcement contained the following infographic.

Astana to host FIDE World Championship match 2023 (fide.com)

The week before the announcement there were catcalls from a group of diehard Magnus Carlsen supporters:-

This made me wonder whether Carlsen's withdrawal from the cycle had partly been orchestrated to embarrass FIDE. The subsequent announcement about Astana was carried by the usual news sources.

The many comments to the Chess.com article were heavily in favor of Ding Liren. One comment said,

I hope Magnus afterwards decides (whoever wins), to say he wants his title back and goes and gets it again!

That would indeed be a unique occurrence. Stranger things have happened, but I would be surprised if this is an objective for GM Carlsen, the current World Champion. He would be the clear favorite in such a match.

18 January 2023

Karpov on 1994-95 Sanghi Nagar

Two weeks ago, in 1994 Sanghi Nagar (January 2023), I developed a list of Kasparov and Karpov columns from Chess Life in the 1990s. I also gave myself an action:-
Of immediate interest are the four Karpov columns discussing the FIDE Sanghi-Nagar events. I'll look at these four columns in more depth in a future post.

I've documented the FIDE Sanghi-Nagar events on my page 1994-96 FIDE Candidates Matches (m-w.com). There I split the matches into three stages, listed below in chronological order:-

  • Quarterfinal matches - Wijk aan Zee, I, 1994. [six matches]
  • Semifinal matches - Sanghi Nagar, VII-VIII, 1994. [three matches]
  • Final matches - Sanghi Nagar, II, 1995. [two matches]

For the 'Quarterfinals', the ten top finishers from the 1993 Biel FIDE Interzonal Tournament (also m-w.com; July 1993), were joined by two players (Timman and Yusupov) eliminated in the last stages of the previous cycle, 1991-93 Candidates Matches (ditto; Final match in January 1993). The six winners were then reduced to three players in the 'Semifinals'. They were joined by Karpov in the 'Finals', after which the two victorious players met in the 1996 FIDE Title Match (ditto; June-July 1996).

That's how I understood the FIDE cycle at the time I created those pages in 1997. It turns out that my understanding was not in line with official terminology. Let's follow Karpov's explanations from his Chess Life (CL) columns.

CL 1994-12 Sanghi Nagar

The match of my future opponent [Gelfand - Kramnik] was of most interest to me personally. If we talk about forecasts, then it must be stated that many preferred the chances of the young star, Vladimir Kramnik. His victories over Kasparov were mentioned in this regard. But his opponent was also not the easiest to deal with. It is no accident that Boris Gelfand was clear first in the 1993 Interzonal, and tied for first with Ivanchuk in 1990.

Karpov also discussed the Kamsky - Anand match played at the same time. He continued the discussion in the next column.

CL 1995-01 Sanghi Nagar, Part II

White's passive play [i.e. Anand] in game seven decided the outcome, and the match became tied! The last game of regulation time ended in a draw, and the match went into overtime and was decided by Rapid Chess games! What a horribly stupid idea of FIDE -- mixing one kind of chess with another. If not for all of the twists and turns of this match, Anand would have been the clear favorite in overtime, judging by the results of Rapid Chess tournaments. But the situation in the match was already abnormal. Kamsky was on the rise, and Anand was in a depression!

Kamsky won the match, having overcome a 0-2 deficit after four games of the main eight-game match. Karpov's condemnation of the tiebreak stage -- 'mixing one kind of chess with another' -- sounds curious in 2023, where progressively faster time controls are the norm for tiebreak. The next stage of the FIDE Candidates Matches, with Karpov participating, was held six monthe later.

CL 1995-06 Sanghi Nagar: The Semi-Finals

After a successful quarterfinal, our new chess admirer, Ravi Sanghi, decided to sponsor the semifinal match in Sanghi Nagar. For the first time we played under the reformed FIDE rules, whereby the reigning world champion enters before the final match. However, we maintained the old terminology, which creates confusion. In comparison with the old system, this would have been the finals. The system needs to be further refined, but I believe this is more democratic and offers less advantage to the world champion in defending his title.

NB Karpov: 'In comparison with the old system, this would have been the finals.' Hello, confusion! Looks like I misunderstood in 1997. The *error* has been on my page for so long, that I'll just leave it as is. Karpov continued,

Nowadays, missing a stage in the cycle (and having more time to prepare for the most dangerous opponent) confers a great advantage upon the defending world champion. When the changes were proposed by the FIDE Expert Commission I didn't oppose them, but simply restated my position which I had already expressed in 1988.

There is one major inconsistency in the new system, which is when the world champion doesn't pass through the first stage. According to the rules, the world champion maintains his title until the end of the cycle, but in reality this is ridiculous. Fortunately for the new ideas and changes, this did not occur during this new FIDE World Championship cycle.

Karpov's column discussed games from the Kamsky - Salov match, won by Kamsky and thereby qualifying him into the title match. The column was 'continued' in the same issue of Chess Life, a two page report titled 'Sanghi Nagar, photo essay by Bill Hook', pictured in full below.

Chess Life, June 1995, p.46-47

The Bill Hook report was the only CL report on that stage of the FIDE Candidates Matches, where an American qualified into a World Championship title match. Karpov's column for the following month discussed his match with Gelfand, who was eliminated for the title match.

CL 1995-07 Sanghi Nagar, Part II

[Nothing special to highlight]

We've already seen a high level look at the title match by CL on my main blog in May 1970 & 1995 'On the Cover' (May 2020). Where can we find more detail about the two Sanghi Nagar events?

11 January 2023

FIDE: 'No' to GPX and GCT; 'Yes' to HIT

Mid-December 2022, FIDE announced, FIDE reforms the qualifications paths to the Candidates Tournament (fide.com; 'FIDE Candidates Tournament 2024'). The announcement started,
The FIDE Council approved a major reform of the qualification paths to the Candidates Tournament. [...] The main innovation is creating a new qualification path through different FIDE-rated tournaments. [...] The second main change consists of increasing the number of qualification spots at the World Cup from 2 to 3.

To summarize the announcement:-

  • 1 spot - FIDE World Championship Match 2023, Runner-up
  • 3 spots - FIDE World Cup 2023
  • 2 spots - FIDE Grand Swiss Tournament 2023
  • 1 spot - High-Level International Tournaments (HIT)
  • 1 spot - The highest-rated player by standard rating in the January 2024 rating list

Most of the announcement discussed the criteria for 'Eligible Tournaments' in the newly invented 'HIT'. One consequence of the announcement was Grand Chess Tour out of new FIDE Candidates system (chess24.com; Colin McGourty). The article summarized FIDE's changes:-

The Grand Prix is gone and there’s no wildcard, with an extra 3rd spot for the World Cup and a new "FIDE Circuit" place for the best results in eligible tournaments in 2023. The biggest surprise is that the two announced spots for the Grand Chess Tour are gone.

The Grand Chess Tour [GCT] has never been associated with the FIDE World Championship, but there was a surprising announcement in April 2022: Grand Chess Tour becomes part of the World Championship Cycle (fide.com). The entire announcement said only this and nothing more:-

The FIDE Council has approved a cooperation agreement with the Grand Chess Tour. By virtue of this agreement, the two top finishers of the 2023 and 2025 Series will qualify for the Candidates 2024 and 2026 respectively. More details on the agreement and the format will follow in due time.

The phrase 'in due time' turned out to mean 'never'. The GCT was intended to replace the Grand Prix, last held in 2022. For a reminder of what happened then, see 2022 Grand Prix; Berlin / Belgrade, II-IV, 2022 (m-w.com). The two spots were won by Hikaru Nakamura and Richard Rapport.

For the official record of qualifications to the previous Candidates tournament, 2022 Candidates Tournament; Madrid, VI-VII, 2022 (m-w.com), see Road to Candidates (fide.com/madrid2022). There were several twists and turns along the way. I suppose we can expect more of the same for 2024.

04 January 2023

1994 Sanghi Nagar

Last week, on my main blog, I developed a table overviewing Chess Life columns written by Kasparov and Karpov that covered the period when the two were World Champions for rival organizations, FIDE and PCA; see World Championship Columnists (December 2022). Many of the columns discussed World Championship events, so I summarized them in the following extract from the table.

The Kasparov columns are dated through 1994-06; the rest are Karpov columns. Of immediate interest are the four Karpov columns discussing the FIDE Sanghi-Nagar events. These are summarized on my page 1994-96 FIDE Candidates Matches (m-w.com). I'll look at these four columns in more depth in a future post.