03 April 2024

Toronto Candidates - Last Resources

The two FIDE Candidate tournaments start tomorrow. After a series of four consecutive preliminary posts, starting with Toronto Candidates - Kickoff (March 2024), we're one day away from the real deal. Since there is nothing to say about the results, let's list some of the resources.

First, here are some general references. The TWIC pages are good for getting a bird's eye view of the two main events -- the Candidates and the Women's Candidates -- without having to scroll past the dozens of large, extraneous photos that the other main chess sites use to illustrate their reports.

Next, here are some predictions. The favorite appears to be Fabiano Caruana.

One of the traditions on this blog has been to track the round-by-round progress of the players compared with the winners of previous events. For example:-

  • Madrid Candidates - First Week (June 2022) • 'Chart showing the round-by-round progress of the participants in the 2013, 2014, and 2016 candidates tournaments [...] New chart for the 2018 and 2020 tournaments'

I'll do the same for the next post -- which should also be a 'First Week' post -- by adapting the chart developed for 2022 Candidates Tournament (m-w.com; see 'Cumulative Score'). I've always been impressed at how fast the main contestants can be identified. There is only one real prize : first place and a crack at the World Championship. Second place is the same as last place.

27 March 2024

Toronto Candidates - Sponsors

Given all the visa trouble we saw in the previous post, Toronto Candidates - Visas (March 2024), you might well ask, 'Why was Toronto Canada chosen to host the event?'. The answer to the question starts with Partners (candidates2024.fide.com), where we find,
The Scheinberg Family • The Scheinberg family is a long-term partner of the International Chess Federation. The cooperation that started a few years ago has already resulted in three Grand Swiss events (2019, 2021 and 2023), two editions oa [sic; 'of'?] Women Grand Swiss (2021 and 2023), and the FIDE Candidates (2022). Supporting the FIDE Candidates Tournament 2024 and the FIDE Women’s Candidates Tournament 2024 in Toronto, Canada is another step to help the top-level chess as well as to promote the game on all the continents.

Other partners mentioned on the page are 1 Hotel Toronto, Chessable, and The Chess Federation of Canada. Here are some recent announcements by FIDE referring to the Scheinbergs:-

Despite the six previous events, the Scheinbergs have received only one mention on this blog: 2023 Grand Swiss, Isle of Man (November 2023). This says as much about their desire for privacy as it does about my journalistic skills. That one blog mention said, 'For the Scheinberg family, see the FIDE news item dated 2022-04-19 in the following list' [also above]. It turns out that there are three generations of the Scheinberg family with a keen interest in chess. All links are to Wikipedia:-

  • Matafia Seinbergas (wikipedia.org) • 'Matafia Seinbergas (also Matafia Sembergas or Matafia Scheinberg; 17 November 1909 — 11 September 2002) was a Lithuanian chess player, medical scientist (immunologist, microbiologist, virologist), and the father of Isai Scheinberg, founder of PokerStars.'
  • Isai Scheinberg (ditto) • 'Isai Scheinberg (born 1946 or 1947) is the Lithuanian Jewish founder of the PokerStars online poker site. Scheinberg previously had been a senior programmer for IBM Canada.'
  • Mark Scheinberg (ditto) • '(Igal) Mark Scheinberg (born 1973) is an Israeli-Canadian businessman and investor with investments in various sectors including real estate and luxury hospitality. He is the co-founder and former co-owner of the online gambling company PokerStars, which was sold in 2014 to Amaya Gaming for $4.9 billion.'

I doubt that anyone has become fabulously wealthy working as a 'senior programmer for IBM Canada', but the 'online gambling company PokerStars' offers a clue. Here are two sources, the first American and the second Canadian:-

  • 2020-01-24 The Incredible Rise Of PokerStars Cofounder Isai Scheinberg -- And His Surrender To Federal Agents (forbes.com) • 'Last Friday, Isai Scheinberg, the 73-year-old cofounder of PokerStars, the world’s biggest online poker company, boarded a plane in Switzerland for the nine-hour flight to New York City. On the other end, he would not be greeted at the airport by family members or businesses associates, but by federal agents who would take him into custody.'
  • 2023-11-23: How a Canadian billionaire made a fortune from illegal gaming and avoided prison (ricochet.media; 'The Israeli-Canadian founder of PokerStars used his vast wealth and powerful connections to cut deals') • 'He is arguably one of Canada’s wealthiest and most successful business people that the country knows virtually nothing about. But Isai Scheinberg is okay with that. [...] In 2016, the Scheinbergs bought a substantial stake in Chess.com, the largest online chess platform in the world. [...] The Scheinbergs decided to end their investment in 2020.'

Here's the full story given from the poker perspective:-

To understand that story, it helps to understand Black Friday. We're not talking the day after Turkey Day (aka Thanksgiving) here: United States v. Scheinberg (wikipedia.org). It starts,

United States v. Scheinberg (2011) is a United States federal criminal case against the founders of the three largest online poker companies, PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Cereus (Absolute Poker/Ultimatebet), and a handful of their associates, which alleges that the defendants violated the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) and engaged in bank fraud and money laundering to process transfers to and from their customers.

In the mid-2000s, I remember watching poker for the first time on television. It was at a bar run by a Brussels tennis club and it was riveting. Is there a connection between the success of online poker and the success of online chess? I bet that the management of Chess.com thinks so and that is has something to do with the Scheinbergs.

20 March 2024

Toronto Candidates - Visas

Visa problems for World Championship events and qualifiers aren't new -- consider, for example, the 1999 FIDE Knockout Matches (m-w.com; Las Vegas, VII-VIII, 1999), and the 2004 FIDE Knockout Matches (ditto; Tripoli, VI-VII, 2004) -- but they have never threatened to derail the organization of an event. The 2024 Toronto Candidates provided a new level of uncertainty:-
  • 2024-03-04: Candidates Tournament: Visa trouble (chessbase.com; André Schulz) • 'Four weeks before the start of the Candidates Tournament in Toronto, almost all the participants and their travelling companions are still waiting for the visas they applied for months ago to be issued. FIDE has now sent an "urgent visa appeal to the Canadian government" and is even considering moving the "most prestigious tournament in the chess world" to another country.'
  • 2024-03-08: Candidates Tournaments to take place in Toronto after all! (ditto) • 'FIDE has announced that all outstanding visa applications for the entry of the Candidates and their companions as well as organising staff have been approved by the Canadian authorities and the Candidates Tournaments will take place in Toronto starting from April 3, as was originally planned.'

The Chessbase.com reports provided a sober analysis of speculation concerning the global political issues behind the visa brouhaha. The corresponding Chess.com reports provided another level of brouhaha in the hundreds of comments about the situation:-

The second Chess.com report mentioned,

The event was at risk of being relocated to Spain with over 40 players and officials grappling with pending visa approvals, as revealed by Vladimir Drkulec, the President of the Canadian Chess Federation, last weekend.

The CFC's Drkulec participated in the commentary ('vdrkulec') during the rapidly evolving situation. One of his last comments, a long summary documenting the resolution of the crisis, is an important footnote to the historical record.

13 March 2024

Toronto Candidates - Women

In last week's post, Toronto Candidates - Kickoff (March 2024), I created a crosstable to determine the historical record of all eight participants playing each other. I ended the post saying,
Apologies for not creating a similar table for the Women's Candidates Tournament, which takes place at the same time in Toronto. I ran out of time for the table, but will make up for it when I can.

Since I was also interested in the results, I decided to give it priority. The last row is for the Women's World Champion, Ju Wenjun.

Gor Kon Lag Lei Muz Ram Sal Tan : Ju
Goryachkina xx * * * * * * * : *
Koneru, Humpy xx * * * * * * : *
Lagno xx * * * * * : *
Lei Tingjie xx * * * * : *
Muzychuk A. xx * * * : *
Rameshbabu xx * * : *
Salimova xx * : *
Tan Zhongyi xx : *
Ju Wenjun : xx

As with last week's table, the links under the players' names go to that player's FIDE rating page. The links in the crosstable go to Chessgames.com.

06 March 2024

Toronto Candidates - Kickoff

It's been nearly two months since I last posted on the two 2024 Candidates tournaments; see The Race for the 2024 Candidates Events (January 2024). Since the tournaments are due to start at the beginning of next month, it's time to get serious.

For the past six Candidates tournaments, I've produced a crosstable of links to Chessgames.com showing the record between each pair of players. The post for the 2022 tournament was Madrid Candidates - Kickoff (June 2022). First, here are some relevant links for the 2024 tournament:-

In previous kickoff posts, I included a link to my page for the event. I stopped creating my own pages starting with the current cycle, so I'll reference the Wikipedia page instead:-

The following table includes each players record against the reigning World Champion, Ding Liren. The players' names link to their corresponding FIDE page.

Aba Car Fir Guk Nak Nep Pra Vid : Din
Abasov xx * * * * * * * : *
Caruana xx * * * * * * : *
Firouzja xx * * * * * : *
Gukesh xx * * * * : *
Nakamura xx * * * : *
Nepomniachtchi xx * * : *
Praggnanandhaa xx * : *
Vidit (*) xx : *
Ding Liren : xx

(*) Vidit Santosh Gujrathi

Four of the eight players plus Ding Liren competed in the 2022 Madrid Candidates Tournament (m-w.com). The newcomers are Abasov, Gukesh, Praggnanandhaa, and Vidit.

Apologies for not creating a similar table for the Women's Candidates Tournament, which takes place at the same time in Toronto. I ran out of time for the table, but will make up for it when I can. The links for both the official site and the Wikipedia page lead to info on the Women's event.

28 February 2024

C31 Zonals++ More Names

The previous post, C31 Zonals++ More Data (February 2024), was about data missing from the page (C31) Zonal Qualifiers 2022-2023 (m-w.com). At the end of the post I noted,
It looks like I'll need another post on this subject to incorporate the Wikipedia data into the other data. I'll come back to this another time.

The resulting update added nearly 100 names. For more notes related to the qualifying players, see Talk: Chess World Cup 2023 (wikipedia.org). Kudos to the Wikipedians who did a nice job documenting the World Cup on the main article.

21 February 2024

C31 Zonals++ More Data

In the previous post, C31 Zonal Qualification Paths (February 2024), I wrote,
There are many names missing on the new page. I'll come back later and try to fill in the blanks.

That 'new page' is (C31) Zonal Qualifiers 2022-2023 (m-w.com). I created a database and loaded two sources for data into it:-

  • Players who were listed in FIDE's document 'FIDE World Cup 2023: Preliminary lists of eligible players announced' (125 players); see C31 Regulations for World Cup Qualifiers (November 2023), for a link to the document.
  • Players who participated at 'FIDE World Cup 2023' (Baku; 206 players).

I determined that of the 125 players in the 'Preliminary lists of eligible players', 11 did not play at Baku. Of the 206 players who played at Baku, 89 were not in the preliminary list. That made 100 names to investigate, which is too many. I turned to the Wikipedia page, Chess World Cup 2023, for help.

The Wikipedia page lists all 206 players who participated in Baku, along with their qualification paths. When I compared FIDE's list of players to Wikipedia's list, I had 35 mismatches. Most of these were due to the usual difficulties with comparing names -- letters specific to a language, Asian names, Spanish names -- along with one real difference in spelling: Aleksandar Indic / Indjic of Serbia. After correcting those mismatches, the lists matched almost perfectly.

From the Wikipedia data, I derived a few counts, summarized in the following chart. The left column shows federations that had more than three players at Baku, out of a total of 86 different federations with at least one player.

The right column shows the counts of players who qualified via a zonal. The middle column shows the counts of players who qualified via a route other than a zonal. Most of the non-zonal codes are easily understood; 'WC' means the 2021 World Cup at Sochi.

It looks like I'll need another post on this subject to incorporate the Wikipedia data into the other data. I'll come back to this another time.

14 February 2024

C31 Zonal Qualification Paths

Continuing with zonals++ for the current cycle, after...

...there remains...

Still to do: Create a 'C31 Qualifiers' page and add it the appropriate pages.

...The new page is (C31) Zonal Qualifiers 2022-2023 (m-w.com). FIDE's official announcement for the qualifying players appears to have been made prematurely, so there are many names missing on the new page. I'll come back later and try to fill in the blanks.

07 February 2024

1998 Zonals 2.x References

In the previous post, 1998 Zonals 2.x (January 2024), I discussed several updates related to the 1998-99 zonal cycle (C18) and that concerned the American continent. For this post, I added the corresponding references to two of those zonal events:-
2.0 San Felipe 1998-10 (A)
2.1 Denver 1998-10 (B)

Both events now have additional info on the page covering the events for that cycle: (C18) Zonals 1998-1999 (m-w.com). Here are a couple of notes for the two events:-

(A) This was a new event that I had previously overlooked while developing the index page for The World Chess Championship Zonals.
(B) I added a link to the post for '1998 Zonals 2.x'. The focus of the post concerned the playoffs for the preliminary ('group') stage of the event, a U.S. championship.

There might be even more to the story. I had overlooked the '2.0 San Felipe' event partly because the winner of that event, Alexander Ivanov, was listed by FIDE as qualifying through one of the 'Nominees by Continental President'. In a feature article for the April 1999 issue of Chess Life, GM Ivanov wrote,

I was happy to hear the news from the last FIDE Congress in Elista (Kalmykia), held during the last Chess Olympiad, that a tournament called the Pan American Championship, to be held in San Felipe, Venezuela from October 25 through November 5, 1998, would be a qualifying event for the coming FIDE World Championship in Las Vegas.

According to my page (C18) Zonal Qualifiers 1998-1999 (m-w.com), there were four nominees in the same category as Ivanov:-

Nominees by Continental President
15. Africa: H. HAMDOUCHI (MAR)
16. America: A. IVANOV (USA)
17. Asia: AL-MODIAHKI (QAT)
18. Europe: L. ARONIAN (ARM)

Did any of the other three nominees qualify via a competition? My preliminary investigation said, 'No', but I am not yet convinced. TBD.

31 January 2024

1998 Zonals 2.x

A post from earlier this month, World Championships from 50 and 25 Years Ago (January 2024), uncovered a couple of details about the 1998-1999 zonals. The relevant info is in the following clipping which was taken from that post.

All of that together prompted me to comment,

The qualification of GMs Gulko, Ivanov, and Kudrin, is not consistent between the two sources. GM Ivanov's qualification is confirmed in TWIC 209, but the details about the other two GMs need further investigation.

TWIC 209 reported,

12) Panam Championship in Venezuela • GM Alexander Ivanov took the single qualifying place for Las Vegas scoring 6.5/9 ahead of Alexandre Lesiege on 6.

As far as I can tell, this was the first Continental Championship to serve as a qualifier for a World Championship. The same issue of TWIC, 'The Week In Chess 209 - 9th November 1998 by Mark Crowther', also carried news about that year's U.S. Championship.

3) US Championships 1998 • In group A Nick DeFirmian and Dmitry Gurevich progressed to the knockout stage and Seirawan, Dzindzichashvili, and Kudrin played off for third place seeing Kudrin qualified for Las Vegas eliminating Seirawan, possibly one of the US's best prospects. • There was a four way tie in group B and Gulko, Benjamin, Fedorowicz and Shaked played off seeing first Benjamin qualify after a round robin involving the players, then Shaked beating Gulko to take the other place.

TWIC had no crosstables for the playoffs. The February 1998 issue of Chess Life also gave no details. In GM Nick de Firmian wins the 1998 US Championship! (archive.org -> uschess.org), USchess.org reported,

Standings: Group A after 7 (Top 2 Advance to Semi-Finals); de Firmian and Gurevich Advance; Kudrin takes 3rd in play-offs • de Firmian and Gurevich qualify for the two Semi-Final spots from this group and do not need to go through the play-offs. Kudrin wins the play-offs to take third in the section and qualify for the WCT ['World Championship Tournament'].

Standings: Group B after 7 (Top 2 Advance to Semi-Finals) Benjamin and Shaked advance to SemiFinals; Gulko takes 3rd. • There was a play-off on Sunday between Gulko, Benjamin, Fedorowicz and Shaked to determine both the two who would advance to the Semi-Finals on Monday and the 3rd place who would also qualify for the 1999 FIDE World Championship Tournament event. Benjamin and Shaked advanced to the SemiFinals; Gulko took 3rd.

Since the U.S., aka Zone 2.1, produced six qualifiers with only five qualifying spots, I'm guessing that there was some sort of arrangement among American chess officials to have both Gulko and Kudrin qualify using a spot reserved for the Las Vegas organizers ('Nominee by the Administrator').

I'll add all of this to the page (C18) Zonals 1998-1999 (m-w.com), under '2.0 San Felipe (VEN) 1998-10' [new] and '2.1 Denver 1998-10'. I'll also add any further info if I discover it.

24 January 2024

More 1970s Fischer Philippines Photos

One of the topics I covered in World Championships from 50 and 25 Years Ago (January 2024) was a famous meeting from more than 50 years ago. In that post I wrote,
Re [1973] Fischer/Marcos, good thing I didn't go any further for that post. I've already dealt with the meeting in posts on both of my blogs [w/ links].

While I was researching that post, I discovered a related video


Bobby Fischer in Philippines (1973) (4:16) • '[Published on] Mar 10, 2017'

The description of the video is repeated in the video's opening sequence:-

These pictures were from albums given as a gift from President Marcos to Bobby Fischer to commemorate his visit to the Philippines in 1973. These albums were in storage in Pasadena that was abandoned by Fischer when he fled the U.S. These albums ended up in a local flea market.

The video adds,

Presented by
His Excellency
The President
of the
Republic of the Philippines
Ferdinand E. Marcos
and the First Lady
Imelda Romualdez Marcos

The Fischer/Marcos photo appearing in the '50 and 25 Years Ago' post is not included in the video, but there is a photo showing the table around 1:05 into the video. I'm guessing that Florencio Campomanes (wikipedia.org; 1927 – 2010), is the fellow between Fischer and Marcos (striped shirt?) starting at around 2:05.

For more about the 'storage in Pasadena', see Fischer's Storage Locker and eBay (May 2022). For more photos, this time in color, see Bobby Fischer in Philippines, Tokyo & Hong Kong - 1973/74 (youtube.com), on the same Youtube channel.

In the previous post featuring a Youtube video, Man City and Magnus (January 2024), I mentioned that 'While I was preparing the post on my local PC, I received the message: "Video unavailable : Watch on YouTube"'. The same thing happened this time. Has Youtube changed its policy on local use of its videos?

17 January 2024

The Race for the 2024 Candidates Events

The new year saw a flurry of activity related to the next stage of the current cycle (all links are fide.com):-

That last link includes full lists of the players who qualified for the two Candidates events and how they qualified:-

Candidates (*):-
Ian Nepomniachtchi, 2023 Match Runner-up
R Praggnanandhaa, 2023 World Cup 2nd
Fabiano Caruana, 2023 World Cup 3rd
Nijat Abasov, 2023 World Cup 4th
Vidit Santosh Gujrathi, 2023 Grand Swiss winner
Hikaru Nakamura, 2023 Grand Swiss 2nd
Alireza Firouzja, Best by Rating
Gukesh D, 2023 FIDE Circuit Winner

(*) Magnus Carlsen, who qualified for the Candidates by winning the 2023 World Cup, earlier informed FIDE that he will not be taking part in the event. As per FIDE Candidates qualification paths, Nijat Abasov, who finished 4th in the World Cup, took his place.

Women's Candidates:-
Lei Tingjie, 2023 Match Runner-up
Kateryna Lagno, 2022-23 WGP 1st
Aleksandra Goryachkina, 2022-23 WGP 2nd
Nurgyul Salimova, 2023 World Cup 2nd
Anna Muzychuk, 2023 World Cup 3rd
Vaishali Rameshbabu, 2023 Grand Swiss 1st
Tan Zhongyi, 2023 Grand Swiss 2nd
Humpy Koneru, Best by Rating (World Cup spot replacement)

Also worth noting is an official page on a new feature of the current cycle:-

  • FIDE Circuit 2023 (wcc.fide.com) • 'FIDE Circuit is the new path to qualify for the FIDE Candidates Tournament 2024.'

Since the FIDE announcements are 'Just the facts, Ma'am', reports from the chess news sites add substantial background and color.

For both Candidates tournaments, the FIDE calendar says, 'Toronto, Canada • 03 Apr 2024 • 25 Apr 2024'.

10 January 2024

World Championships from 50 and 25 Years Ago

Last week on my main blog, I encountered a few World Championship topics that needed more time than I had. In the post January 1974 & 1999 'On the Cover' (January 2024), I commented,
That mention of Fischer and Marcos deserves further exploration, but I'm worried it might lead me down a rabbit hole from which I won't return in time to finish this current post. Maybe later...

That comment referred to January 1974, while a second comment in the same post referred to January 1999:-

The cover introduction continued with news about two World Championships. [...] Once again, that news 'deserves further exploration'.

The post quoted 'Chess Life & Review (50 Years Ago)':-

The great Philippines International Tournament, the most important chess event ever held in Asia and the Pacific area, ended November 6. The significance of the event was highlighted by the ceremonial presence of World Champion Bobby Fischer and Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos.

Re Fischer/Marcos, good thing I didn't go any further for that post. I've already dealt with the meeting in posts on both of my blogs:-

Here is that Fischer photo again.

Re the 1999 'news about two World Championships', the first concerned the FIDE Knockout Matches; Las Vegas, VII-VIII, 1999 (m-w.com). The post quoted 'Chess Life (25 Years Ago)':-

De Firmian, Benjamin, and the other semi-finalists, Dmitry Gurevich and Tal Shaked, qualified to participate in the FIDE World Championship, along with Boris Gulko and Sergey Kudrin, both of whom qualified by previous performance or rating; and Alexander Ivanov, who qualified by winning the 1998 Pan American Championship, which was held in Venezuela in October. Gata Kamsky has also been invited (by rating).

My page Zonal Qualifiers 1998-1999 (C18) (m-w.com) has info on all eight players:-

Zone 2.1
55. J. BENJAMIN (USA)
56. N. de FIRMAN (USA)
57. D. GUREVICH (USA)
58. T. SHAKED (USA)
59. B. GULKO (USA)

Nominee by the Administrator
14. S. KUDRIN (USA)

Nominees by Continental President
16. America: A. IVANOV (USA)

Qualified by ELO (average January-July 1998)
85. G. KAMSKY (USA) (2720)

The qualification of GMs Gulko, Ivanov, and Kudrin, is not consistent between the two sources. GM Ivanov's qualification is confirmed in TWIC 209, but the details about the other two GMs need further investigation.

Re the 1999 news about the second World Championship, the January 1999 CL said,

Alisa Galliamova-Ivanchuk forfeited her match with Jun Xie. China was awarded the bid for the match; Alisa wanted to play at least half of the match in Russia, so she didn't show up at all. Jun Xie, the former women's world champion, will now challenge the current champion, Susan Polgar.

The reference is to an unprecedented sequence of matches for the 1995-99 cycle outlined on the World Chess Championship for Women (m-w.com). The Candidates final match is listed there as 'Xie Jun - Galliamova (forfeit)'; the subsequent World Championship match is listed first as 'Xie Jun - Z.Polgar (forfeit)'; and then as 'Xie Jun - Galliamova'. I've already posted twice about these matches:-

There is nothing more to add here.

03 January 2024

C31 More Zonal Clippings

In the previous post, C31 Zonal Clippings (December 2023), I created the incomplete page Zonals 2022-2023 (C31) with about half of its required clippings. I also noted,
I'll add the other half of the events for the next post on this blog.

I did this and then added a link for the 'C31 Zonals' to two index pages: World Chess Championship and World Chess Championship Zonals. The 'Still to do' at the end of the previous post remains 'Still to do'.