Stinking It Up At The Sinquefield Cup

The players continue to making headlines at the Sinquefield Cup:

Sinquefield Cup: 6 Games, 6 Draws In 6th Round

By IM Rakesh

After yesterday’s rest day, everyone expected some action at the 2019 Sinquefield Cup! But round six saw an anti-climatic end to a round…

Sinquefield Cup Sees Another All-Draw Day In Round 7

By IM Rakesh

It was a new day, a new round but sadly the same old story at the 2019 Sinquefield Cup. Round seven again ended with all draws. (https://www.chess.com/news)

What do We The Fans of Chess think of the death of Chess by draw demonstrated in St. Louis? The chatterers over at the ChessBomb weighed in with these thoughts:

Sasori: if you look at teh mini match of caruana, nakamura, dominguez and so, it was all drawn

Sasori: no suprise

Sasori: BUT: Naka hasnt won a single classical game against a decent palyer in whole 2019!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

columbeau: thos who preach peace don’t have peace

kambodja: soon they will exhaust, and mistakes will follow

shtighnits: 42 games, 38 draws.

oneEfour: one of the worst tournaments I’ve seen in a long time

oneEfour: draw draw draw

cappiness: if all players become tired and exhausted now, the games are draw anyway

Rambus: Rex has been taken to the cleaners

Rambus: I wonder if he can press charges against them for conspiring to defraud him

jphamlore: Not far off from the decisive result of the Petrosian Memorial 1999.

https://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2019-grand-chess-tour-sinquefield-cup

Petrosian Memorial (1999)

So here’s the idea. To commemorate the 15th anniversary of the death of former World Champion Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian and the 70th of his birth, a memorial tournament was organized in Moscow featuring ten of his contemporaries:
Yuri Balashov (50); Svetozar Gligoric (76); Vlastimil Hort (55); Borislav Ivkov (65); Bent Larsen (64); Lajos Portisch (62); Vasily Smyslov (78); Boris Spassky (62); Mark Taimanov (73); Vitaly Tseshkovsky (54).
Sounds nice, but think about it. Ten players, ranging in age from 50 to 78, playing in a . So how do you best honor Tigran Petrosian?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts
01 Ivkov * ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 5.0
02 Portisch ½ * ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 5.0
03 Taimanov ½ ½ * ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 4.5
04 Spassky ½ ½ ½ * ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 4.5
05 Smyslov ½ ½ ½ ½ * ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 4.5
06 Hort ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ * ½ ½ ½ ½ 4.5
07 Balashov ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ * ½ ½ ½ 4.5
08 Tseshkovsky 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ * 1 ½ 4.5
09 Gligoric ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 * ½ 4.0
10 Larsen ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ * 4.0

This could be regarded as the Least Interesting Tournament in the World, with 42 draws in 45 games and five of the ten players drawing every game.
So who stepped out of line? Larsen, of course, but you have to expect that. The big offender was the youthful Tseshkovsky, with two decisive results in the first four rounds. I imagine his elders sat him down and told him to get with the program, and he took the advice: every game in the last five rounds was drawn.
But mocking and criticizing this tournament is the wrong attitude to take. Instead, it should probably be regarded more as an exhibition than a truly serious competition. Many sports will have “Old-Timers” games, where retired players will dress up in their uniforms and go through the motions. The attraction is not who wins or loses or what the final score is, but just watching the legends of long ago gathered together – here, in tribute to a fallen comrade.
Original collection: Game Collection: Petrosian Memorial 1999, by User: Phony Benoni.
http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chess.pl?tid=80793

Phony Benoni seems to consider the Petrosian Memorial 1999 an aberration, attributing it to the age of the participants. The players stinking it up at the Sinquefield Cup are still mostly young men half the age of those who battled at the Petrosian Memorial. What is their excuse?

Losers In The Game

The endless years and hardluck tales,
and some that have just moved on,
I guess it could be envy
when I wonder what’s gone wrong
Fingers point at all the problems,
but that won’t change my mind
I must have been held back
in hardknox school a few more times

A few more years, a few more tears,
are we the losers in the game?
When time is done and kingdom come,
we’ll not be losers in the game!

No one ever said it’s easy to watch the world go by
Console myself by trying and trying,
and trying just one more time
Put on a smile and fake your way in through another door
But only if you have more luck than a thousand times before

A few more years, a few more tears,
are we the losers in the game?
When time is done and kingdom come,
we’ll not be losers in the game!

Try again, change direction, spend more money,
new horizons, what’s it gonna be?
Take your hits, I hate my job, live like who,
think like what, no thanks I’ll just stay me

A few more years, a few more tears,
are we the losers in the game?
When time is done and kingdom come,
we’ll not be losers in the game!
http://www.darklyrics.com/lyrics/metalchurch/hanginginthebalance.html#2

All Your Sorrows

Metal Church

[D. Wayne / K. Vanderhoof]

Times like these to people please
Fables spread like some disease
New age gods like old facades
Write a book
You’ll like the odds
Inventing gods
Old facades

Take apart human heart you will start
Through the doorway of all your sorrows
Beginning to pull you away

In the night the sometimes light
The seasons which run out of time
When I press this game of chess
I always end with something less

You’ve made a mess
Of your Sunday best

In search of the answers, what never should be
Laughter erupts from primordial sea
Standing there naked with bended knee
All of your works face eternity

So though I play the same each day
When faced with pain I often pray
Take my hand you’ll understand
The place we go is no-mans land
http://www.darklyrics.com/lyrics/metalchurch/masterpeace.html#7

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Grandmaster Igors Rausis Caught Cheating!!

Igors Rausis (58) Under Investigation Of Cheating

By Peter Doggers
Updated: Jul 12, 2019, 6:51 AM

GM Igors Rausis

is under investigation for cheating after he was caught with his phone during a game at the Strasbourg Open. The 58-year-old Latvian-Czech grandmaster had raised suspicions after he increased his rating in recent years to almost 2700.
During an open tournament that is taking place July 10-14 in Strasbourg, France, a phone was found in a toilet that had just been used by Rausis. He later signed a declaration that the phone was his.
Whether he was using his phone to get assistance from a chess engine is not clear at the moment.
In a comment to Chess.com, Rausis said:
“I simply lost my mind yesterday. I confirmed the fact of using my phone during the game by written [statement]. What could I say more? Yes, I was tired after the morning game and all the Facebook activity of accusers also have a known impact. At least what I committed yesterday is a good lesson, not for me – I played my last game of chess already.”

https://www.chess.com/news/view/igors-rausis-58-under-investigation-of-cheating

Speed Kills

An article, Do We Still Need Classical Chess? by GM Gregory Serper, was published on Chess.com a few days ago. The Grandmaster begins with this statement: The classical format of our beloved game is under attack.

Fact is, the classical format has been under attack for many years. Consider this article published much earlier this decade, Slow Chess Should Die a Fast Death – Part 2
This was published November 5, 2015, by IM Greg Shahade on his blog (https://gregshahade.wordpress.com/2015/11/05/slow-chess-should-die-a-fast-death-part-2/).
Greg wrote, “Wow. Part 1 of this blog was by far the most controversial thing I’ve written. The blog received hundreds of comments on multiple websites, for instance reddit and chess.com.
There was lots of positive feedback and also lots of violently aggressive negative feedback. I can’t imagine that I’d get more hatred from some of these people than if I kidnapped their child. Multiple people even made it clear that I must have wrote the blog because I was so jaded due to some slow chess game that I lost in the past or that I had some deep, dark emotional problems that were finally manifesting themselves in my blog.
One person, a complete stranger, was seemingly so offended by the article, that at 4:17 AM they posted a tweet on my Twitter feed that simply said “@GregShahade Jackass”
What’s the truth? I love chess but I also live in the real world and realize that 5-6 hour chess games are an impractical use of resources and time.”

GM Serper writes: “People are complaining about boring games that lead to an abundance of draws in super-GM tournaments. They are trying to change everything: the scoring system (three points for a win, one point for a draw), the time control and even the traditional tournament format.
One of the latest attempts was made in the recent Norway Chess super-tournament in Stavanger. To put it mildly, the result failed to impress.
Not only were there a lot of draws; some of them were true “gems.” Look at this:

Alexander Grischuk (2775) vs. Wesley So (2754)
1/2-1/2 Norway Chess Stavanger NOR 5 Jun 2019 Round: 2.5 ECO: C67

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. dxe5 Nxb5 7. a4 Nbd4 8. Nxd4 d5 9. exd6 Nxd4 10. Qxd4 Qxd6 11. Qe4+ Qe6 12. Qd4 Qd6 13. Qe4+ Qe6 14. Qd4 Qd6 15. Qe4+ Qe6 ½-½

These triple repetition games can be stopped simply by adopting the Go rule, Ko, which prevents repeating the position endlessly. In the above game, for instance, Grischuk would have been unable to play 13 Qe4+ and would, therefore, have had to make a different move.

Serper poses the question, “Can we blame the players for a short draw that didn’t produce a single new move?”

YES, we can, and I will! The so-called “game” is BULLSHIT! No one other than the players are responsible for stinking up the tournament hall.

Serper follows up with, “They quickly figured out that rather than play for four hours, they can make a quick draw and decide the outcome in a fraction of that time. Some people would call it efficiency and some might call it cynicism.”

I call it blasphemy against Cassia.

The GM continues, “I’ve shared my opinion on the subject many times. I laugh when some people claim that classical chess is dead from “draw death.” Somehow, Magnus Carlsen’s opponents in the recent super-tournaments didn’t get the memo and that’s why they couldn’t hold the world champion to a draw frequently.”

Magnus Carlsen plays to WIN, which is why he is the human World Champion.

Serper continues, “Now let’s talk about boring chess vs. exciting chess.
The recent match between Benjamin Gledura and Awonder Liang was indeed very interesting to watch. Blunders are unavoidable in blitz and this is a major part of the entertainment.”

I derive absolutely no pleasure from watching the best human Chess players alive produce a festival of blunders. As I have written previously on this blog, Chess is NOT Backgammon! To play Chess well requires TIME to COGITATE! Backgammon can, and is played at a fast pace because it is a much simpler game than Chess.

The GM then shows a game after writing, “Nevertheless, when I watched the finish of the following game I could almost hear some people asking: “Are they really grandmasters?”

Exactly. Some people may enjoy watching Chess GMs play what GM Yasser Seirawan called, “Howlers,” followed by more howlers, but I am not one of them.

After presenting the ridiculous “game” Serper then writes, “This is precisely why blitz was strictly forbidden when I was a student of the famous Botvinnik-Kasparov school. The Patriarch believed that blitz hurt your chess. I even asked him if he ever played blitz himself. Botvinnik looked surprised by such a stupid question and paused for a moment. Indeed, what kind of a chess player would never play blitz?
“Of course I’ve played blitz,” he finally answered. “Once. On a train.”

GM Serper then compares the games Benjamin Gledura played with different time controls, before writing, “On one side we have a lot of excitement (and of course blunders!) in his blitz games. On the other side we have an extremely well-played and instructive game in a regular time control.
Many people will probably call this endgame boring. So, do we still need classical chess?

My reply is, Hell Yeah! Without classical there is no Chess.

What Happens at Chess Club

I attended the Chess club Thursday night at the local Barnes & Noble bookstore. Because of my age and having only recently sufficiently recovered from illness I informed the TD I would be willing to act as a “filler” in the event there were an odd number of players and would only play in the first two rounds.

Having attended the previous week, the first time I had made it in some time, a few new players were noticed, which the gentleman who runs the club attributed to the recently finished match for the Human World Chess Championship. Most, if not all, of the players who attend are so hungry for a game they play “skittles” games before the G/15 event begins. There was a “newby” who caught my eye because he was wearing sandals during winter. He looked as though he would have fit in at Woodstock in 1969, so I spoke to the young man, saying, “You gotta like a guy who refuses to give in to winter.” His name was Dawson and he was ready to play, someone…anyone, so we sat down for a game after introductions. I had the white pieces and opened with 1 e4. He responded with the French move of 1…e6. After playing the standard 2 d4 he answered with 2…d5, whereupon I advanced my pawn to e5 on my third move. My opponent stopped to cogitate a few moments before playing 3…Nc6 with obvious trepidation, which showed when he kept his finger on the Knight after placing it gingerly on the square. As he did so I took a good look at him while thinking he appeared about the same age as I was when first visiting an official Chess club. He finally removed his finger from the Knight. I continued looking at the young man, wondering if I should say anything…Before speaking a particular scene from one of my favorite movies flashed in my mind:

When he looked up from the board I said, “At the Chess Club we do not, ever, hold our finger on a piece. When you decide upon your move, make it like you mean it and place it firmly on the square with deliberation, and immediately remove your fingers from the piece.”

The young fellow was somewhat taken aback, but gathered himself quickly and nodded in assent. I continued, “Are you playing in the tournament?” He said he was not. “Then I suggest you spend some time watching these gentlemen play, paying particular attention to how they move their pieces.” Again, he nodded. I did not have to mention it again.

Granted, I am no longer the player I was earlier in my life, and having played over many of the games from the recent World Senior Chess Championship,
(http://www.wscc2018.european-chessacademy.com/index.php/en/) I realize how much of a decline there is for an old(er) player, especially in the 65+ section, which is now my category. That said, the young fellow played a decent game, developing his pieces in the opening without any extraneous pawn moves or outright blunders. We arrived at about an even position in the early middle game, before he made a mistake, moving his a-pawn aggressively, but weakening his b-pawn in the process. I secured my b-pawn by playing a3, then picked off his undefended b-pawn. A few moves later there was a tactical skirmish in which I came out a piece ahead, and he sort of went downhill from there. The game ended in mate by my newly minted Queen protected by a lone Knight.

“You played very well, young man,” I said. There were a couple of players watching the game and they seconded my remark. He said graciously, “I appreciate your saying that, sir.” We talked and I learned he was twenty years old, the same age as was I when I first went to the Atlanta Chess club. He mentioned coming because he was beating the players with whom he had been playing and wanted better competition. Wondering how he could play such a decent game I asked if he read any Chess books. “Not really,” he said. “But I’ve been on Chess.com and watched many YouTube videos.”

The tournament began and I was not needed, fortunately. This gave me an opportunity to watch some of the action, talk with some of those who come and play without playing in the tourney, and those who come to simply “hang-out.” It was immensely enjoyable. I watched Dawson play one of the young players who is not a member of the USCF (“It costs $30!”) but comes to play skittles. Dawson was a piece down but came back to win the game.

After becoming a Senior I began staying home at night for a reason. Although exhausted after being at the Chess Club I was unable to sleep soundly and the next day, Friday, was not one of my better days, so I took it easy and relaxed, spending much time reading, and listening to programs via the internet.

Fortunately, Saturday was a totally different story. I read while having my first cuppa joe. After breakfast the web was surfed. Chess is usually saved for last and one of the sites I visit every day is GM Kevin Spraggett’s

website (http://www.spraggettonchess.com/). He has a “Chess News” scroll, “What is Happening Today?” I clicked on the ones new to me and began reading. I read every article and there were many on AlphaZero. I even read an editorial by Garry Kasparov

in Science magazine. (http://science.sciencemag.org/content/362/6419/1087) Then I clicked on to read Mastering board games, by Murray Campbell.

I had intended on watching several videos by GM Matthew Sadler concerning the recent World Human Chess Championship games, but discovered videos at Chess24 in the article, AlphaZero really is that good (https://chess24.com/en/read/news/alphazero-really-is-that-good). I watched every video contained in the article superbly elucidated by GM Sadler. I was had by hook, line and sinker, after watching the first one, All-in Defence, “A true Najdorf brawl.”

The Najdorf was my first love. Like many others I played it because Bobby Fischer played the opening. With Bobby the Najdorf was an offensive defense.

While watching the Najdorf “brawl” I noticed another Sadler video over on the right and it looked like the position could have emanated from the Leningrad Dutch, my “second love.” I clicked on and, sure enough, it was a Leningrad! I was compelled to watch.

As if that were not enough I noticed a video by GM Ben Finegold, who married a woman in my home city of Atlanta and they opened the new Atlanta Chess Club & Scholastic Center. (https://atlchessclub.com/) The video is Capablanca Endgames with GM Ben Finegold.

I enjoyed Ben’s commentary while thinking, “I wish the internet existed in 1970.” How can young players, and even older players, not be far superior to those of my generation with tools like this, and the best players giving great advice away for practically nothing? Why would anyone pay someone to teach Chess?

In an email to Karen I wrote, “I did surf over to Twitch the other day to listen to the lonely Ben comment on the game. I was thinking it must be very difficult to do it alone for a long period of time…Ben the Maytag repairman…”

Karen replied, ” I don’t think he gets lonely streaming …. he seems to enjoy it and likes to talk a lot so it works out.” Ben talks a lot because he has something useful to say. He is like the old EF Hutton TV commercial. “When EF Hutton talks, people listen.”

Other articles read:

AlphaZero: Shedding new light on the grand games of chess, shogi and Go
https://deepmind.com/blog/alphazero-shedding-new-light-grand-games-chess-shogi-and-go/

Updated AlphaZero Crushes Stockfish In New 1,000-Game Match
https://www.chess.com/news/view/updated-alphazero-crushes-stockfish-in-new-1-000-game-match

Inside the (deep) mind of AlphaZero
by Albert Silver
https://en.chessbase.com/post/the-full-alphazero-paper-is-published-at-long-last

Three new articles were found before writing this post at Spaggett On Chess and I intend on reading them later today, even the one by discredited economist and former GM Ken Rogoff:

Commentary: Where is the fun of playing chess against a robot? by Kenneth Rogoff
https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/commentary/why-human-classic-chess-survives-even-with-technology-chess-ai-10980248

Saudi Arabia calls Israel’s bluff
If Saudis do not feel like welcoming Israelis on their lands, they are perfectly right


Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Image Credit: AFP

Published: December 08, 2018 16:39 Tariq A. Al Maeena, Special to Gulf News
https://gulfnews.com/opinion/op-eds/saudi-arabia-calls-israels-bluff-1.60805086

Chess Is An Important Part Of Russian Soft Power
by Joseph Hammond December 3, 2018

https://tsarizm.com/analysis/2018/12/03/chess-part-russia-soft-power/

Kevin Spraggett’s Whipping Post

Georgios Makropoulos,

acting-FIDE president, sent a letter to GM Kevin Spraggett

which appeared on Kevin’s website today (http://www.spraggettonchess.com/2018-fide-election-campaign/).

“Dear Kevin,

The reason for my present letter is your recent posts on your website about the upcoming FIDE elections and I would like to have my reply published as well.

I believe that your website was one of the most objective during the previous election campaign of 2014. But, unfortunately, I am afraid that this year you have turned your website, most probably unintentionally, to a propaganda outlet of Kirsan.”

I have been flummoxed as to why Kevin would support Kirsan Ilyumzhinov,

known to most of the world as the man who took a trip around the universe as a guest of Aliens, or ET’s, if you prefer.

Like a politician, Makropoulous included a caveat when he wrote, “…most probably unintentionally.” I have read the same thing Makro has read and what Kevin wrote was intentional. I cannot understand how anyone could read Kevin’s blog and feel it was anything but intentional.

In his post of May 7, Stranger things have happened! Remember Trump?, Spraggett writes, “Monty Python is alive and well…” He then wrote: “Here comes Nigel Short onto the world stage! I love the British sense of humour…” Underneath he posted this picture:

http://www.spraggettonchess.com/stranger-things-have-happened/

That is not funny, it is an INSULT!

Spraggett’s post of May 11 continued with, 2018 FIDE Carnival Begins! Again Kevin insults Nigel Short

again by using the previous picture:

Kevin writes, “I have read what a lot of commentators on the social media have written on the subject of a 3-horse race. I think that not one has stated the obvious: Nigel Short is Kasparov’s proxy.”

Kevin gives absolutely nothing to back up his claim that Nigel is “Kasparov’s proxy.” This is not only insulting, but libelous. There is more: “Kasparov can be a jerk (at times), but we all forgive him. The same will not likely be said concerning Nigel.”
http://www.spraggettonchess.com/friday-coffee-part-ii/

Kasparov beat Nigel in a match for the World Chess Championship so he is forgiven for being a “jerk” but the man who lost will not be forgiven for being a “jerk?”

Until reading Kevin’s blog I was unaware there was a Main Stream Chess Media, which he puts into the “right-wing” category. In this post Kevin continues tying the Chess “MSM” to the whipping post:

“Good morning, Monday! It is the middle of the month already…where does the time go? You can tell it is approaching the middle of the year when the number of tournaments (teams and individual) are such that it is (almost) impossible to follow them all. Not that some well known sites care less…

Have you also noticed how FEW tournaments are followed by the more popular chess-news blogs? The ‘msm-chess’ sites , in the english language , that I am referring to include Chess.Com, ChessBase, ChessDom, Susan Polgar’s DailyChessNews, and one or two others. If you visit these sites during the week, you will have noticed that they cover virtually the same few tournaments.

Worse still, the political views expressed on these sites all have the same right-ish bias. (Don’t take me literally, please.) I don’t have a problem with this, but it does get boring to see the world as either black/white or as a hammer/nail type of model.”
http://www.spraggettonchess.com/monday-coffee-32/

Kevin also criticizes the regular, so-called, Main Stream Media:

“One of my favourite topics on this blog is how MSM (main stream media) more often than not goes out of its way to give chess a bad name. Any ugly story that might otherwise go unnoticed soon becomes headlines if the main character involved ever played a game of chess. The narrative immediately changes from ‘a random crime was committed’ to ‘one more chess player goes crazy’.

Witness the Women’s World Championship being played this week. Does MSM report on it? No way! But this past week has seen a higher than average number of articles in MSM linking chess to sex crimes and even murder. Here are just three examples. Of course there are more!” (http://www.spraggettonchess.com/friday-coffee-chess-and-potpourri/)

Kevin shows pictures of three recent incidents in which the word “chess” is given.

Man who taught children chess sentenced to 12 years in prison for downloading child pornography

If the word “chess” had been “golf,” or “piano,” do you think he would have put it on his blog? How many “teachers” are there in the whole country? Something like this occurs almost every day yet Kevin thinks the “MSM” “goes out of its way to give chess a bad name.” The MSM reports the news.

The second one:

‘Chess ace’ accused of murdering professor is perp-walked

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/video/news/video-1685338/Video-Chess-ace-accused-murdering-professor-perp-walked.html

Change ‘Chess’ above to “billiards.” Do you think that would have been included on Kevin’s blog?

The last one:

Minor girl accuses chess coach of molestation

https://udaipurtimes.com/minor-girl-accuses-chess-coach-of-molestation/

By now I’m sure you get my drift…

Kevin poses a question:

“Witness the Women’s World Championship being played this week. Does MSM report on it? No way!”

There is a reason the “MSM” does not report on the Women’s World Championship but Kevin segues into “…MSM linking chess to sex crimes…” without doing anything other than to slam the “MSM” for NOT covering the WoCC. Give me a reason why it should be reported on the “MSM” Kevin! Think of it from the perspective of the person who decides how much space is to be devoted to anything. He would ask himself, “How many people know about the WoCC? How many people care if there is a WoCC?” After pausing he could think, “We do not cover the men’s WCC. Why would we cover the WoCC?”

The lack of coverage of Chess by the “MSM” is an indication of how society values the Royal game. In the minds of the general public things changed dramatically after Kasparov lost to Deep Blue. I cannot count the times someone who learns about my involvement with the game has said something along the lines of, “I thought people stopped playing after thr Russian lost to that machine.”

Wake up and smell the coffee, Kevin! The “MSM” needs a reason to utilize valuable space with a Chess story. If, for example, a female player managed to win a candidates tournament and challenge the World Champ how much space would be devoted to the match?

Then there is the problem of continued cheating, and cheating allegations, in Chess.:

GM Solozhenkin Suspended For Making Cheating Accusations; Fellow GMs Protest

PeterDoggers
Apr 13, 2018, 2:01 AM

“The FIDE ethics commission has suspended GM Evgeniy Solozhenkin for making unsubstantiated allegations of cheating, published in different articles on the internet. A group of grandmasters has written an open letter in support of Solozhenkin.

It’s an incident that shocked the Russian chess scene, and even months later, things haven’t calmed down. A 13-year-old girl, whose rating had reached that of IM level, was accused of cheating by a well-known Russian coach during the World Youth U14 last September in Uruguay.”

(https://www.chess.com/news/view/gm-solozhenkin-suspended-for-cheating-accusations-fellow-gms-protest)

The Chess world must face, and come to terms with, the fact that there are more stories concerning Chess cheating than about playing Chess.

A blind man can see that the Chess world is in crisis. If you do not think the fortunes of something can change in a short period of time, look at NASCAR. All one needs do is read the headlines:

NASCAR Is In Trouble And Nobody Wants To Talk About It

https://beyondtheflag.com/2016/04/19/nascar-trouble-nobody-wants-talk/

That was two years ago. This was before the 2018 season:

NASCAR Wobbles Into 2018 Low On Gas, And Badly Needing A Spark

https://www.forbes.com/sites/davecaldwell/2017/12/18/nascar-wobbles-into-2018-low-on-gas-and-badly-needing-a-spark/#18a133da6a62

This is today:

Can NASCAR’s biggest problems be repaired? Petty, Gordon and other legends weigh in

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/sports/nascar-auto-racing/thatsracin/article207551864.html#storylink=cpy

One of the major problems is the folks who run NASCAR changed the traditional format of a race which alienated the most ardent racing enthusiasts. Knowing this caused me to cogitate on the changes that have been made to how Chess is played. The time for thinking has continued to diminish. For some reason those making decisions have decided to transform Chess into a much faster game. Chess is not Backgammon.

Chess is a wonderful tool with which to teach a child how to think. Why should Chess be taken seriously when the point of the game is to THINK, and time to do so is increasingly limited? What purpose does it serve to teach a child how to play Chess when there is not enough time to think?

Ask yourself, “Why should the “MSM” take the Royal game seriously when the collective Chess World does not take it seriously? How can anyone in their right mind believe yet another Kirsan term will change the downward trajectory on which the Royal game founders? How can anyone in their right mind think the “MSM” will take the news that Kirsan the ET will continue running the Royal game into the ground? Does the Chess world want Kirsan the ET, who has been ridiculed, pilloried, and sanctioned, continuing as the face of Chess?

The Right-Wing Chess Media

In a post published May 3, 2018,

Kirsan enroute to BIG win in October!

GM Kevin Spraggett,

writes:

“You have to hand it to the man! He has managed to out-finesse each and every of his political rivals since first taking control of FIDE back in November 1995 in Paris.

Today it very much seems that he is going to be the big favourite , once more, at the FIDE elections to be held at during the Chess Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia. According to my own research figures, Kirsan is heading towards a 70% support level, sweeping almost all of Asia and Africa, with a new strategy that accepts that his support in the America’s might decline to 50%. Europe’s vote will be , once more, irrelevant, once all the votes are counted.”

The post culminates with:

“It is curious that while all of the recent FIDE presidential board drama has unfolded, not a single top player has voiced any criticism of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, or expressed any public opinion to support Makro and gang. Only the right-wing chess media (Chess.com, ChessBase, ChessDom, etc) have expressed any support for Makro.

From what I have been able to find out, most top players believe that Kirsan will be re-elected, and by a large margin, regardless of who runs against him. Once more, it seems, there is a large divide in the chess community and its self-elected ‘journalists’!”

To be continued…(probably tomorrow when there should be some news coming out of Moscow)

Until reading Kevin’s post I was unaware there were different “wings” of the Chess media. I cannot help but wonder what “chess media” constitutes the “left-wing?”

I began my quest to learn more about the Chess MSM (Main Street Media) and the difference between the ‘left’ or ‘right factions of World Chess, and what defines ‘left’ or ‘right’, and who belongs to each group, if there is a “group.”

First stop on the internet highway was http://www.startpage.com. I was, unfortunately, unable to find elucidation…but something unexpected was discovered at the FIDE website, which obviously flew under my radar.

FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov urged to resign

By Siranush Ghazanchyan 09 Apr 2018

The FIDE Presidential Board voted 14 to 1 with no abstentions to urge President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov to resign.

The issue was discussed during a meeting in Minsk, Belarus over the weekend.

FIDE said earlier that its Swiss bank accounts would be closed after its president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was accused of facilitating transactions on behalf of the Syrian government.

Ilyumzhinov was added to a US Treasury Department sanctions list in 2015 for his alleged dealings with the Assad government.

The senior management of the bank extended the deadline from the original 28th February, 2018 to 30th April, 2018, but was unwilling to extend until the FIDE elections on 3rd October, 2018.

The Presidential Board recognized the dire situation and passed the following resolution.

“Dear Kirsan

The Presidential Board has resolved that:

In the light of:

a) The imminent withdrawal of FIDE’s banking facilities by UBS,
b) The inability of FIDE to obtain replacement banking facilities while you remain nominal President and
c) subject to US Treasury Department sanctions,
d) The consequent severe difficulties facing FIDE in funding its obligations and its commitments to the chess family,
e) The adverse publicity that reflects badly on FIDE’s reputation and undermines the confidence of all those who are or would be involved in chess,

That in the interests of the organization:

You should resign with immediate effect.

The resolution has been signed by FIDE General Secretary Abraham Tolentino, Adrian Siegel, Treasurer Vice-presidents Georgios Makropoulos, Martha Fierro, Herbert Bastian, Mohammed Kambuzia, Beatriz Marinello, D.V. Sundar, Khalifa Al-Hitmi, Israel Gelfer, Boris Kutin, Gulkiz Tulay, Honorary Vice-Presidents Javier Ochoa and Mario Ramirez, President of Americas Jorge Vega, President of ECU Zurab Azmaiparashvili,

http://www.armradio.am/en/2018/04/09/fide-president-kirsan-ilyumzhinov-urged-to-resign/

BTW, You will not be surprised to learn that Kirsan’s Wiki entry heads the list at http://www.startpage.com. This is second:

“A Chess Engine Is NOT Your Friend!”

In their new book, “Play Unconventional Chess and Win,” Noam A. Manella and Zeev Zohar posit, “…that technological tools do contribute toward creativity of top human chess players.” This flies in the face of conventional thinking, and they mention this in the preface to the book:

“Experienced chess players, those who learned the game some decades ago (or even recently),
are sometimes puzzled while being in the tournament hall or watching a live
broadcast of a top game. Do they witness a game between two wise and experienced people,
having enormous knowledge combined with a unique creative ability, or is it rather a
battle between machines, cold, technical, mechanical super-computers which happen also
to have bodily needs, feelings and desires?
The influence of technological tools over the game of chess is controversial. Some think
that chess players become robotic, lose all creativity and avoid taking any risk. The inevitable
outcome is a lot of uninteresting games ending in a draw.
Back in our youth, when chess programs had not yet been used, the players found the
moves “over the board”. The first impression is that the game was then slightly different,
and that nowadays we witness the decay of classical chess. Our intuition suggests that top
players find it hard to play creatively, and the computer plays an important role in this
situation. The fact that those top players and their seconds spend most of their time preparing
while looking at the computer monitor surely contributes to this.
However, others think that technological advances have made a huge amount of information
available to chess players. Thus they can solve, within a short time, problems
which were hitherto considered too complex. Today’s players have more resources to look
for new creative ideas, and those emerge in abundance.
One of the co-authors, Zeev Zohar, a chess expert, has investigated this subject deeply
as part of his academic work. He looked deeply at the arguments of both sides while interviewing
professional chess players as well as chess software developers. Finally he became
convinced that technological tools do contribute toward creativity of top human chess
players. He shared his conclusions with Noam Manella, who is a well-known expert in the
field of creativity, besides being a chess national master and study composer whose works
have received many awards. Mr. Manella, author of the best-selling book The Creative Code,
was highly enthusiastic about the subject. Thus this book was born.
Chess is a game based on patterns, axioms, rules and mathematical calculations. A
computer has no psychological barriers. It is “willing” to check moves that most humans,
including top players, reject instantly as part of a psychological elimination process based
on paradigms. Computer-aided home analyses of top chess players leads to a reassessment
of all old axioms, principles and evaluations. Hence one can easily understand why work
with computers adds a new creative layer to the game.” (http://www.everymanchess.com/chess/books/Play_Unconventional_Chess_and_Win)

I have not seen the book, only an excerpt provided at the Everyman Chess website. I am not now, nor have I ever been, one to “tow the party line.” Knowledge is only advanced by those who question conventional thinking. Although it is true “…that technological advances have made a huge amount of information available to chess players,” I do not understand how that fact can be considered “creative.”

The computer chess programs have drastically altered the Royal game; this is not your father’s chess. For example, take the response to a question posed by Sergey Kim to Rafael Vaganian during an interview on the Chess24 website, “Both at the board and simply in life you met all the Soviet world champions from Botvinnik to Kasparov. The world champions of the twentieth century – of your generation – and the champions of the third millennium – first and foremost, Carlsen: how do they differ?”

GM Rafael Vaganian: “It’s hard to compare, because the chess is totally different. Those champions worked in another setting, playing another kind of chess. With no computers, they worked and created on their own, and their creativity was immense. If they found something it was with their own minds, while now there are these amazing programs. Theory has “grown” to 30-35 moves, and you simply can’t compare the two types of chess. Frankly speaking, I don’t like modern chess, and I’m not sure what’s going to happen next. After all, a person isn’t capable of remembering so much, so they simply suffer because of it. They need to remember and learn it all, but then what of creativity? They barely play at the board, but at home, and that’s bad.” (https://chess24.com/en/read/news/rafael-vaganian-anand-won-t-lose)

Prior to the domination of the chess “engines” knowledge was gleaned from intercourse between humans. Mikhail Tal was forced to work with Anatoly Karpov by the Soviet authorities and it changed his style of play. Contrast the games of the young Tal from the 1950’s and 60’s with that of the Tal of the 80’s and you will see an almost complete transformation. Granted, most players change as they age, but not to the drastic extent of Tal. Back in the day human players fed off of each other and learned from their human peers. Today the intercourse is between man and machine. The chess playing programs have altered the natural development of the game of chess. We will never know how chess play would have developed if humans had been left alone.

Former World Chess Champion Vladimir Kramnik had this to say in an “Indepth interview with Vladimir Kramnik” on Chessbase: “Chess openings are like science. It keeps evolving. Judging by the standards of the time when Garry was an active player, he indeed knew the opening extremely well. Now it is over, his preparation isn’t good anymore. It is part of the past. Chess is developing very rapidly – just like the Internet, gadgets. You know, no one cares about the first models of iPhones now. Without day-by-day opening studies it is not possible. You can’t just invent a bunch of ideas and then spend ten years capitalizing on them. In the 70s or 80s this might have been possible. Now, in the computer age, you have to keep finding more and more new ideas. This is a paramount amount of work. You can’t rely on the old databases.” (http://en.chessbase.com/post/indepth-interview-with-vladimir-kramnik-120413)

Kramnik had this to say in response to a question by mishanp, on August 4, 2013, during an interview on the Chess in Translation website:

“A lot has been said recently about how super-computers will put an end to chess. Is chess really finite?”

Vlad: “It’s finite, no doubt, but it’s a number with 27 or 28 zeros – for the human mind it’s still infinite. Checkers, and particularly Russian checkers, really has been exhausted by computers, if you can put it like that. Chess is too complex: even the most powerful computers we use to train can analyse positions to a maximum of about 30 moves ahead. Games, meanwhile, can sometimes stretch to 200 moves. Yes, computers are strong, but they don’t calculate the game to the end and sometimes they make mistakes.” – Kramnik: “Intellectual effort gives me enormous pleasure.” ( http://www.chessintranslation.com/2013/08/kramnik-intellectual-effort-gives-me-enormous-pleasure/)

Computer chess programs are now two of three classes above Vladimir and have become so powerful that it is rare when Black loses a game in a match between these monsters. The same fate awaits human grandmasters as they become stronger.

Colin McGourty posed this question to GM Levon Aronian, “Is there a particular part or subject of the game you enjoy studying? (openings, middlegames, endgames, tactical combinations, etc.)” Levon answered, “I really enjoy finding new ideas in the early stages of the game. The biggest joy in the modern chess era is the discovery of good moves that are not approved by the computer.”

If the grandmasters today are “creating” anything, what is it they are creating? The young players today eschew post-game analysis so they can put the moves played into a computer in order to learn how the “engine” evaluates their moves. Things have changed in the same way things have changed for the game of Checkers. Name the current World Human Checkers Champion. As the “engines” become ever more powerful, chess will inevitably follow the same path as that of the game of Checkers.

IM Jeremy Silman wrote this recently, “The point of this article is to discuss something that needs to be addressed: CHESS ENGINES ARE OFTEN DETRIMENTAL TO THE CHESS HEALTH OF NON-MASTERS. – A Chess Engine Is NOT Your Friend!” (http://www.chess.com/article/view/chess-engines-are-not-your-friend)