The Culture of Chess

A communication was recently received in which the writer asked, “Why do you hate Chess.com?”

“Whoa now…I do not hate Chess.com,” was my first thought. I will admit Chess.com is not at the top of my list when it comes to Chess websites, but I do not “hate” Chess.com. I have not liked how those at Chess.com have handled the Hans Niemann affair, and judging from what others have said and written I am not alone. The question did cause me to take another, let us say, more objective look at the website, and the next post will address what was found.

Another communication pointed out an article at Chess.com, asking if I had read it, adding, “It’s like the Armchair Warrior on steroids!”

Well now, you know that piqued my interest and caused me to surf on over to Chess.com and take a good look at the article in question. The title is, Everything You Need To Know About Chess Culture, and it is by NathanielGreen, Updated: Nov 3, 2022, 11:17 AM Fun & Trivia (https://www.chess.com/article/view/chess-culture).

https://www.chess.com/article/view/chess-culture

After pursuing the article it was apparent the writer had not gone hyperbolic but simply stated a fact. Much time was spent reading, and watching, the excellent and wonderful article. I must admit is was a pleasure to read, and that it does qualify as “Fun.” It was interesting and entertaining enough to put a smile on this ol’ curmudgeon’s face. There must be something of interest for anyone taking the time to read the massive article on steroids. My hat is off to the writer. Like with an earlier article, The Magnus Carlsen Affair (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2022/10/25/the-magnus-carlsen-affair/) I will advocate those at the Chess Journalists of America give this tremendous article consideration when it comes time to give out awards to the best Chess writing being done these daze. So LISTEN UP, Daniel Lucas!

Daniel Lucas Senior Director Of Strategic Communication https://en.chessbase.com/post/why-imsa-had-men-s-not-open-chess

Some of what is to be found in the article:

The above is only the tip of the iceberg that is a potential award winning article!

The Magnus Carlsen Affair

The intention was to write a post today concerning a few of the games, and positions of the recent US Chess Championships, to follow the previous post, but a couple of emails from regular readers recently changed my mind. One reader wanted to know if I could recommend one article that would bring him up to speed with the events of the Magnus Carlsen caused affair. This caused me to smile. One article. Ha! I have read so much on the subject it has made my eyes bleed, and this guy wants one article that is a be all and end all article…

The other reader asked a question that is on every mind of everyone involved with Chess. “How will this affect the future of Chess?”

Is that a loaded question, or what? I am no soothsayer. Nevertheless, how can all the negative publicity do anything but harm the Royal Game? Then again, the recent cheating scandals in Major League Baseball by the Houston Astros, now called by many the “Cheating ‘stros,” has not ended MLB, although the people who watch the game has dwindled to alarmingly low numbers, but then, MLB has been losing interest for other reasons ever since the Ragin’ Roid’ scandal and the Bud Selig caused premature end of the 1994 season. Then there is the New England Patriots serial cheating which has not appeared to diminish the number of fans. The title of one article tells the story: A timeline of Patriots scandals: Spygate, Deflategate and other controversial incidents under Bill Belichick (https://www.sportingnews.com/us/nfl/news/patriots-spygate-deflategate-bill-belichick-timeline/ovkdjh8ny5qb1fnns9grat5mk). Just type in “Patriots” and “Cheating” into any search engine and you will be inundated with a plethora of maimball cheating articles.

As luck would have it I surfed over to the excellent website of Daiim Shabazz,

ifoundthisgreatbook.com

The Chess Drum,

thechessdrum.net

recently, something I had put off because of all the reading done on the Magnus Carlsen affair in an attempt to understand why the current World Chess Champion would do the things he has done recently.

There, at The Chess Drum, I found one of the best articles read recently. I was taken aback by the depth and breadth of the article. Although much of it was known I read every word because there was so much that was new to me. If I were a member of the Chess Journalists of America I would nominate the article for an award because it is that good. It is a remarkable piece of Chess journalism. I left a comment for Daiim and only just revisited the article in preparing to write these words. The following, which had obviously just been posted, was found:

Daaim Shabazz says:
October 25, 2022 at 12:47 pm

For arbiters…

What impact would Carlsen’s signing the scoresheets have on whether he believed that Niemann had cheated during their game? Signing the scoresheet in FIDE games is an agreement that the result was fair. Refusing to sign could be considered a protest.

I once saw a cheating case (touch move violation) at an Olympiad. The accused (a GM) claimed that he had adjusted his king (despite holding it and hovering over a square). The move would’ve allowed the queening of a pawn and resulted in a big team upset. There were bystanders who saw the violation. The arbiter was not present but did not allow any witness statements. After a back-and-forth debate, he believed the GM and allowed the game to continue. The GM moved another piece. The accuser (an FM) was distraught and let his clock run out in protest and signed the sheets.

When the appeal was filed, it was determined that while it appeared the GM had violated the rules, the accuser had signed the scoresheets and had thus agreed with the result. Based on this, the committee rejected the appeal.

If Carlsen signed the scoresheets, does that mean he initially believed it was a fair result despite later accusing Hans of cheating in the game?
https://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2022/10/20/the-anatomy-of-carlsen-niemann-cheating-controversy/

I urge everyone reading this to visit the website and read it for yourself. In addition, I urge anyone involved with the Chess Journalists of America to give strong consideration to giving some kind of award to the writer. To the gentleman wanting that “one article” this, sir, is that article. I am still amazed at how much time and effort was put into the article. It is more than an overview. It is more like the kind of article that answers questions you did not ask, but after reading, wondered why you had not asked those questions. It is a magnificent article at which I stand in awe. To this writer it is a masterpiece, like an artwork.

The other article The Hans Niemann case: Numbers – what they reveal and what they do not reveal by Andrea Carta appeared at Chessbase yesterday (https://en.chessbase.com/post/the-hans-niemann-case-numbers-what-they-reveal-and-what-they-do-not-reveal). This is written about the author:

“Andrea Carte: Born in Italy, IT engineer, he’s written some GO software, published several papers about reconstructing GO games from videos by means of AI tecniques and has joined two scientific conferences (Liberec 2015 and Pisa 2018) during the corresponding European Go Congresses. Like Ingo Althoefer – who arranged such conferences – he’s above all a chess fan since the Spassky-Fischer match and has even attended many World Championships since then. He considers himself a good amateur, despite not even reaching the 2000 barrier (that will forever remain his forbidden dream).”

Since there are only three degrees of separation, especially among we lovers of games, I urge anyone reading this to contact the writer in order to give him a ‘heads-up’ about this post. And to Mr. Carta, I too, play Go, but not very well. Nevertheless, I enjoy reading about the great game of Go and replaying games online, and have been known to actually play a few games over the years. I sincerely hope you manage to cross the 2000 barrier because although it has been said the demarcation line for becoming a respected Chess player is 1600, which is class “B”, any player who has ever seen that crooked number after his name knows it bestows credibility lacking when a rating begins with a ‘one’.

The final two paragraphs of the stellar article follow:

“In the end we have found that “statistics at first sight”, all of them, look like strong evidence of Hans Niemann cheating, and cheating a lot. But at second sight, all the statistics show instead a picture typical of a young player rising fast, with no evidence of cheating whatsoever. Ken Regan was right.

Does this mean that Hans Niemann never cheated on the board? It’s still difficult to say. Opinions of strong players cannot be discounted, nor cannot be the ones of expert commentators like Alejandro Ramirez (his opinion can be read at https://en.chessbase.com/post/alejandro-ramirez-it-does-seem-very-likely-that-hans-cheated-over-the-board, with a link to a podcast in which the matter is fully discussed). But it’s extremely unlikely that statistics alone will ever provide evidence on the matter, and unless some clever Philo Vance will ever be able to deduce his method and trap him “on the spot”, the mystery will never be solved. Chess, already diminished because of the overwhelming engines’ dominance, is on the verge of completely losing its charisma. Hysteria is spreading fast: already people are not permitted to watch important tournaments in person, and live broadcast is quickly disappearing. Will the “old times” ever come back?”
https://en.chessbase.com/post/the-hans-niemann-case-numbers-what-they-reveal-and-what-they-do-not-reveal

No, the “old times” never come back. Life is change; there is no going back. One day putt-putt players were earning more money than professional golfers, the next day the television contract ended, and so did Putt-Putt. (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2022/07/21/chess-is-in-a-world-of-trouble/) One day Gammons (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2018/03/13/paul-magriel-r-i-p/) was thriving; the next day it closed. Backgammon was, and is, still played, but the number of players dramatically dwindled and never returned. The same goes for Checkers, as can be learned when reading the superb book, Seven Games: A Human History

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/seven-games-oliver-roeder/1139522041

by Oliver Roeder.

People still play the antiquated game, and there are still tournaments, but reading about them makes one sad. We here in America live in a boom and bust society. I cannot speak for the rest of the world, but here it is obvious the ship named the Royal Game has taken a torpedo and is in damage control mode. I have no idea how much damage has been done or what kind of deleterious effect it will have upon Chess, but I do know each and every Chess player needs to grab a pail and start dipping to keep the ship of Chess afloat. Chess is akin to a rudderless ship because FIDE, the World Chess organization, has done absolutely nothing to mitigate the damage. This could be because FIDE is controlled by the Russians. The head of FIDE does not make any decision without the approval of Mad Vlad, and he has other, much more important things on his mind at the moment. The President of FIDE, Arkady Dvorkovich,

https://www.khaleejtimes.com/europe/top-russian-official-who-spoke-out-against-war-leaves-post

known as “The Dvork”, is far too busy covering his ass while trying to stay alive to even consider doing something, anything, to mitigate the onslaught of negative publicity that has inundated the Royal Game over the last month or so. The dude has got to be cringing in fear of doing anything that might displease Mad Vlad,

or else he, like so many other nefarious Russians in Putin’s orbit, might take a header out of a window in a high rise building.

“…the mystery will never be solved.” And there’s the rub. Hans Niemann

can never, ever, prove he did not cheat, which means his reputation has been drastically damaged by the allegations made by the nattering nabobs. His reputation has been forever tarnished. With that in mind, I have something to say to young Mr. Niemann, and would appreciate it if a reader will pass this along to Hans, or someone who knows him.

“Until you’ve lost your reputation, you never realize what a burden it was.” – Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone With The Wind.