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:

Weiqi (Go) Versus Chess

“Using a universally relevant metaphor, Zbigniew Brzezinski,

former National Security Adviser to US president Jimmy Carter,

wrote in The Grand Chessboard,

published in 1997 (http://www.takeoverworld.info/Grand_Chessboard.pdf): “Eurasia is the chessboard on which the struggle for global primacy continues to be played.” China’s New Silk Road strategy certainly integrates the importance of Eurasia but it also neutralizes the US pivot to Asia by enveloping it in a move which is broader both in space and in time: an approach inspired by the intelligence of Weiqi has outwitted the calculation of a chess player.”
“The chronicle by Japanese writer Kawabata Yasunari (1899-1972) of an intense intellectual duel, translated in English as The Master of Go,

contributed to the popularity of the game in the West, but Weiqi is a product of the Chinese civilization and spread over time in the educated circles of Northeast Asia. Kawabata, who viewed the Master as one of his favorite creations, knew that for China the game of “abundant spiritual powers encompassed the principles of nature and the universe of human life,” and that the Chinese had named it “the diversion of the immortals.”
(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-gosset/weiqi-versus-chess_b_6974686.html)

Several years ago I contrasted the number of players in the US Chess Open with the number of players in the US Go Congress, posting the findings on the United States Chess Federation forum, and was excoriated for so doing, except for one person, Michael Mulford, who put the nattering nabobs of negativism to shame by congratulating me for “good work.” Basically, the numbers showed Chess losing players while Go had gained enough to have caught up with, and surpassed, Chess. It has continued to the point that if one thinks of it as a graph, with Chess in the top left hand corner; and Go in the bottom left hand corner, an “X” would appear.

I have spent some time recently cogitating about why this has come to pass. Certainly world Chess (FIDE) being administered as a criminal enterprise for at least a quarter of a century has not helped the cause of the Royal game. It has not helped that members of the USCF policy board have stated things like it being better to work within a corrupt system than to leave the corrupt system. See my post, Scott Parker Versus Allen Priest, of November 29, 2017 (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/?s=alan+priest)

Now that the bank account of FIDE, the world governing body of Chess, has been closed I do not foresee anything but further decline for the game of Chess. IM Malcolm Pein,

Mr. Everything tin British Chess, commented for Chessdom, “The statement from the FIDE Treasurer was alarming to say the least, but not totally unexpected. As the statement said, we had been warned. All legal means should be used to remove Ilyumzhinov

from office as soon as possible. Taking away his executive authority has not been good enough for the bank and FIDE will experience difficulty finding another institution to handle it’s accounts and this threatens the viability of the organisation. ((http://www.chessdom.com/trouble-for-chess-as-swiss-bank-account-closed/))

Although both Weiqi (Go in America) and Chess are board games there are major differences between the two. The following encapsulates the drastic difference between the two games:

R. Saxon, Member of a GO club in Tokyo (3k). USCF B rated at chess
Updated Mar 14 2017

From my experience, GO players are far friendlier and more polite than Chess players, who are prone to both trash talk and to gloating after a win. This is especially true for club players and younger players. Chess players may engage in gamesmanship to psych out their opponent. I’ve known quite a few superb Chess players that were real nut cases. More than just a few, actually.

That has not been my experience with GO players. GO players are almost always successful and well-adjusted outside of GO. GO players are willing to say with sincerity that they enjoyed a game that they just lost. I don’t recall a Chess player ever being so gracious.

The nature of the game is a good indicator of the personality of the players that like them. Chess is an attacking game in which you try to control the center. It’s very direct and may be over quickly if a player makes a mistake. The idea of a “Checkmate” is like a home run or a touchdown. It’s a sudden and dramatic moment that appeals to a particular type of person.

Chess appeals to people who like to attack and who savor the win over the process.

GO, on the hand, is a slower game which starts at the corners and edges and only gradually moves to the center. It’s extremely complicated, but in a subtle way. GO strategy is indirect. It’s a game of influence and efficiency more than a game of capture. The best players are those that know how to sacrifice pieces for territory elsewhere or to take the initiative. Making tradeoffs are key. There’s usually no “checkmate” type moment or fast victory.

GO is a game of patience and position. It appeals to very bright people who don’t expect to win quickly but who are willing to earn success one small step at a time. GO players enjoy the process as much as the win.
(https://www.quora.com/What-do-chess-players-think-of-Go-and-Go-players)

There are many Chess players involved with Go. Natasha Regan,

a Woman Chess International Master who has represented the English women’s team at both Chess and Go, says: “When I learnt Go I was fascinated. It has a similar mix of strategy and tactics that you find in Chess and, with just a few simple rules, Go uncovers a whole new world of possibilities and creativity. Chess players may also find that they can use their Chess experience to improve in Go very quickly. I highly recommend learning this ancient but ever new game!” (https://www.britgo.org/learners/chessgo.html)

Consider, for example, this by Mike Klein: “Many cultures have nationally popular strategy games, but rarely do top chess players “cross the streams” and take other games seriously. That is not the case with GMs Tiger Hillarp Persson and Alexander Morozevich,

who long ago claimed the top title in chess, and who both now take go somewhat seriously.” (https://www.chess.com/news/view/chess-go-chess-go-morozevich-beats-tiger-in-dizzying-match-2272) Check out Tiger’s website and you will see annotated Go games along with Chess games (https://tiger.bagofcats.net/). Chess Grandmaster Alexander Morozevich

plays in Go tournaments,

and holds Go classes.

(https://chess24.com/en/read/news/morozevich-on-go-computers-and-cheating)

AlphaGo has done for the game of Go in America what Bobby Fischer did for the game of Chess when he defeated the World Chess Champion, Boris Spassky, in 1972.

The number of people playing Go has increased dramatically in the past few years. After the world-wide release of a new movie about Go, The Surrounding Game,

the number of people playing Go will increase exponentially. In a very short period of time the game of Go will be unrivaled, leaving all other board games in its wake.

Sometime around 1980 a place named Gammons opened in the Peachtree Piedmont shopping center located in the section of Atlanta called Buckhead, the “high-end” district of Atlanta. In was a restaurant/bar, which contained tables with inlaid Backgammon boards.

I quit my job at a bookstore and began punching the proverbial time clock at Gammons, which closed at four am. The Backgammon craze burned brightly for a short period of time, as do most fads, such as putt-putt. Few remember the time when putt-putt was so popular it was on television, and the professional putters earned as much, if not more, that professional golfers.
(http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/24/magazine/putting-for-the-fences.html)

Although quite popular for centuries, Chess lost its luster after the human World Chess Champion, Garry Kasparov, was defeated by a computer program known as Deep Blue,

a product of the IBM corporation. The defeat by AlphaGo, a computer program from Google’s Deep Mind project, of first Lee Sedol,

one of the all-time great Go players, and then Ke Jie,

currently the top human Go player in the world, has, unlike Chess, been a tremendous boon for the ancient game of Go, which is riding a crest of popularity, while interest in Chess has waned.

I have wondered about the situation in the world considering the rise of China and the decline of the USA.

For example, consider these headlines:

China’s Rise, America’s Fall by Tyler Durden (https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-10-25/chinas-rise-americas-fall)

China’s rise didn’t have to mean America’s fall. Then came Trump. By Zachary Karabell(https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2017/11/15/chinas-rise-didnt-have-to-mean-americas-fall-then-came-trump/?utm_term=.59f66290ffff)

Is China’s Rise America’s Fall? by Glenn Luk (https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2018/01/03/is-chinas-rise-americas-fall/#41bd7a0d1e5f)

Also to be considered is the stark difference between the two games. It could be that the people of the planet are moving away from the brutal, war like, mindset of a war like game such as Chess and toward a more cerebral game such as Go.

“While in chess or in Chinese chess (xiangqi)


http://georgiachessnews.com/2018/01/09/why-you-need-to-learn-xiangqi-for-playing-better-chess/

the pieces with a certain preordained constraint of movement are on the board when the game begins, the grid is empty at the opening of the Weiqi game. During a chess game, one subtracts pieces; in Weiqi, one adds stones to the surface of the board. In the Classic of Weiqi, the author remarks that “since ancient times, one has never seen two identical Weiqi games.”

“In Written in a Dream, the polymath and statesman Ouyang Xiu (1007-1072), a magister ludi, captures the depth and mystery of Weiqi: “The Weiqi game comes to an end, one is unaware that in the meantime the world has changed.”
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-gosset/weiqi-versus-chess_b_6974686.html

Playing With The Polar Bear

An article on the Chessdom website published March 9, 2015, GM Danielsen publishes The Polar Bear System, caught my eye. It begins, “The famous Grandmaster from Iceland – Henrik Danielsen – has published his first edition of The Polar Bear System. GM Danielsen shared, “I have spent 15 years developing the Polar Bear system. Indeed I have turned every stone in the system and lost many games in doing so. Since there is no theory of importance I had to work hard. I read everything about the Dutch defense and used the ideas with reversed colors. So the theory in the book is mainly created with my own games and analysis.”

“The Polar Bear System starts with 1.f4 (the Bird opening) and then fianchetto of the kings, bishop as a mirror image of the Leningrad Dutch.” (http://www.chessdom.com/gm-danielsen-publishes-the-polar-bear-system/)

I have played this system without knowing it was called “The Polar Bear System.” I cannot help but wonder if the chess players down under, in Australia, have developed a Koala Bear System…

I clicked on “See the official website of The Polar Bear System” and saw this, a continuation from above, “I had to select the cream. And turn the cream into a repertoire book. Omitting lines in which I do not believe.

“Every game and every move has been checked by the chess programs Stockfish and Fritz 13. It will not be easy for the reader to find a tactical mistake in the text. It is on purpose I have chosen to comment the games with short text. Boiling the material down and letting the games speak for themselves. The repertoire is for serious club players but also professionals can get inspired.” (http://www.polarbearsystem.com/about-pbs.html)

At this point the Polar had me in a Bear hug, so I clicked on where it says, “But the book hear!” I landed in the Amazon, going from the grip of a Polar Bear into that of a Gorilla. For sixteen inflated US digits I could have purchased the “book” with one more click. Unfortunately for me the “book” only comes in digits, and I would need something named a “Kindle” to read those digits. Finding nothing about a real book, I decided to click on “contact” and sent GM Danielsen an email, asking if he had any plans for a book we e-reader challenged people could purchase. This was his reply: “On Tuesday, March 10, 2015 3:35 PM, The Polarbear System gmhenrikdanielsen wrote:

Hello Michael

thank you for your e-mail, I can hopefully publish the book later. I would like that to happen.
All the best of luck to you also.

Regards
GM Henrik Danielsen”

Oh well…Unless and until a book is published I will have to content myself with the video included in the Chessdom article and others I have located, such as this one on youtube: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXq4–F816I&list=PL0Pymw6KEu42sv0wo-pMyrBDzpcYle3Ki), and this one, Blitz Chess #1 with Live Comments – Bird Opening vs GM Hikaru Nakamura (b loss). (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXq4–F816I&list=PL0Pymw6KEu42sv0wo-pMyrBDzpcYle3Ki)

And here is an article found on the USCF website, GM Joel on the Polar Bear, By GM Joel Benjamin, March 18, 2009. (http://www.uschess.org/content/view/9203/341/)

Corruption Scandal Rocks Chess World

The headline at the Chessdom website says it all:

“Corruption scandal rocks the Bulgarian Chess Federation.”
Dec 9, 2014

“Chess was once again on TV in the European Union, in a central show on Bulgarian television viewed by more than 2 million people. However, this time the news is not positive for the community, as the topic of the report was a scandal concerning election manipulation by the Bulgarian Chess Federation highest officials.

One of the most famous social-political comedy shows in Bulgaria is Gospodari na Efira (directly translated Masters of the Broadcast, or for short “The Masters”), followed daily by 2+ million people. This Monday it had as central topic the election practices in the Bulgarian Chess Federation. In a report titled “How to become a President of the chess federation with illegal moves” the investigating journalist Vladi Vassilev exposed the scheme by bringing in a hidden camera in the BCF offices.

The local Botvinnik Club President – Orlin Nikolov – was promised by the Executive Director of BCF – Nikolay Velchev – supplies for a chess tournament and arbiter positions, only if he votes for the team of Silvio Danailov at the coming elections.”

Later on one finds, “More corruption allegations around BCF”

“With the elections for President of the Bulgarian Chess Federation approaching, the corruption allegations against Silvio Danailov and his team are piling up.”

The man who gave the chess world the infamous “toiletgate” scandal during the match for the World Championship between Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov in 2006 continues to heap discredit upon the chess world. In his book on the match, “Topalov-Kramnik: 2006 World Chess Championship, On the Edge in Elista,” GM Topalov writes, “The world of chess is a strange one.” Indeed it is, and Topalov and his manager, Silvio Danilov, have contributed greatly to the recent strangeness.

There is much more to the story, including a video of the case,including a transcription of the key moments. (http://www.chessdom.com/corruption-scandal-rocks-the-bulgarian-chess-federaition/)

TCEC Stage 2 “a pure lab for beautiful novelties”

This notice appeared on the TCEC (Thoresen Chess Engine Competition) website:

“…Stage 2 will be played without an opening book this Season. This idea was advocated by several TCEC fans and Martin thought it ought to be tried. Initially I was skeptical, but after thinking about it, I could not imagine a better time or a better way to stimulate interest in the tournament. If the aim was entertainment, we had to try it. We will all see what happens and Martin will determine if bookless Stages ought to be a recurring feature in TCEC.” (http://tcec.chessdom.com/live.php)

From Chessdom.com:

“TCEC Stage 2 starts today with average ELO 3000+”

“The second stage of the Top Computer Chess Championship TCEC starts today with a brilliant field of average 3000+ ELO. The favorites Stockfish, Komodo, Houdini, and Gull, as well as ten more engines are starting the competition tonight, live at the official website.”

“This stage of TCEC is unique – the engines will not be allowed to use opening books, making TCEC a pure lab for beautiful novelties. This is the first time TCEC excludes opening books in search of discoveries of novelties and new lines, something very probable given the strength of the engines and the monster processing power of the super-computer behind TCEC.” (http://www.chessdom.com/tcec-stage-2-starts-today-with-average-elo-3000/)

Unfortunately the format is only for Stage 2.

“Stages 3 and 4, being double round robin and allowing engines to play all openings from both sides of the board, do not require the same exacting level of play-balance as Stage 1. Instead, lowering the draw-rate assumes much greater importance as otherwise you will likely see 70-75% of the games ending in draws given the hardware being used, the time control and the strength of the engines that make it into these Stages. Such a high draw-rate could get boring. We have an aversion to anything boring.”
(http://tcec.chessdom.com/live.php)

Fleetwood Mac – Go Your Own Way (Official Music Video)

Litsitsin’s Gambit

This game was played in the sixth round of the Chess Championship of the Netherlands:
GM Van Wely, Loek (2657) – GM L’Ami, Erwin (2650)
ch-NED 2014 Amsterdam NED 2014.07.12
1.Nf3 f5 2.d3 Nc6 3.e4 e5 4.g3 Nf6 5.Bg2 fxe4 6.dxe4 Bc5 7.Nc3 O-O 8.O-O a6 9.Nd5 Nxe4 10.Qe2 Nxf2 11.Qc4 Ba7 12.Bg5 b5 13.Ne7+ Kh8 14.Ng6+ 1-0
In his remarks to the opening of his game with WFM Y. Cardona (2270), IM Mark Ginsburg writes:
“1. Nf3 f5?! An inaccuracy on the first move! To get to a Leningrad Dutch, much more circumspect is 1…g6 2. c4 and only now 2….f5 to avoid a nasty pitfall in this particular move order.”
This leaves open the possibility of White playing 2 e4 and there is no Dutch. IM Ginsburg continues:
“The problem here is that white has the surprisingly strong 2. d3! as demonstrated by GM Magnus Carlsen recently in a crushing win versus veteran Russian GM Sergei Dolmatov. As a New In Chess Secrets of Opening Surprises (SOS) book analysis noted, “this move argues that 1…f5 is weakening.” So it does! That game went 2…d6 3. e4 e5 4. Nc3 Nc6 5. exf5 Bxf5 6. d4! and white had an obvious plus. After 2. d3, black is not having any fun at all. Why didn’t I play it? I knew about it, but didn’t really remember how the Carlsen game went. Still, 2. d3! is strongest and I should have played it.
Side note. There is another attempt for white – in the 1980s and 1990s, GM Michael Rohde revived the Lisitsin Gambit (2. e4 fxe4 3. Ng5) with success but in the intervening years, methods were found by black to combat that try. Nevertheless, 2. e4 is exceedingly dangerous and black has to be well prepared for it. This is moot, though, given the strength of the apparently modest 2. d3!
In the game, I played the insipid 2. g3?! and play reverted back to the Leningrad proper.” (https://nezhmet.wordpress.com/2007/06/13/the-dutch-defense-leningrad-variation/)
Why should Black fear the attempt to improve on Litsitsin’s Gambit with 2 d3? The human World Champion, Magnus Carlsen has played the move, and so does the number three program, Houdini, but numbers two, Komodo, and three, Stockfish, opt for different moves, so the jury is still out on the best second move for White.
I “annotated” the Van Wely- L’Ami game above, using the three programs used on Chess Arena at Chessdom (http://www.chessdom.com/dutch-men-championship-2014-live/), and at the Chessbase database (http://database.chessbase.com/js/apps/onlinedb/).
1.Nf3 f5 2.d3 (SF has c4 & e3 tied while Komodo plays d4; only Houdini plays the move in the game) Nc6 (SF has the game move tied with Nf6 & d6; Komodo plays d5, while Hou plays d6. The databases show Nc6 scoring best.) 3.e4 (SF-e3 or c4; Kom-Nc3; Hou-e4. The Houdini shown on the CBDB plays c4. e4 has been played most often, but has scored less well than the other choices.) e5 (Total agreement this is the best move) 4.g3 (Nc3 has been played most often with poor results. SF plays d4; Kom Nc3; & Hou exf5) Nf6 (SF & Kom play d6, with Hou opting for d5) 5.Bg2 (Total agreement on 5 exf5) fxe4 (All agree) 6.dxe4 (Ditto) Bc5 (Ditto) 7.Nc3 (SF has this move tied with Qd3 & O-O; Kom has it tied with O-O; while Hou simply castles) O-O (I can find no games with this move at the CBDB. SF & Hou play d6; Kom O-O) 8 O-O (SF has Qd3 tied with the game move; Kom plays Be3; Houdini shows a3) a6 (Universal agreement d6 is the best move) 9.Nd5 (SF & Komodo have this tied with Bg5 while Houdini has it best) Nxe4 (Hou plays this move, but SF & Kom play d6) 10.Qe2 (All agree) Nxf2 (Ditto) 11.Qc4 (SF-Be3; Kom-Rf2; Hou-Bg5) Ba7 (SF & Kom play this move, but Hou prefers Ne4+) 12.Bg5 (Total agreement. Imagine that…) b5 13.Ne7+ Kh8 14.Ng6+ 1-0
In addition this game was found on 365Chess. Although a different opening, we have the same position after six moves.
Buchicchio, Giancarlo vs Tribuiani, Renato (2146)
Nereto op 8/16/2000 rd 6
ECO has it listed as B00, while 365Chess calls this the “Colorado counter.” If anyone knows why, please leave a comment.
1. e4 Nc6 2. Nf3 f5 3. d3 e5 4. g3 Nf6 5. Bg2 fxe4 6. dxe4 Bc5 7. O-O d6 8. Bg5 h6 9. Bxf6 Qxf6 10. Nc3 Bg4 11. Nd5 Qf7 12. h3 Bh5 13. g4 Bg6 14. Nh4 O-O-O 15. c3 Bh7 16. a4 a5 17. Nf5 g6 18. Nxh6 Qg7 19. g5 Bg8 20. Nxg8 Rdxg8 21. Qd2 Rh4 22. Bf3 Qd7 23. Bg2 Rgh8 24. Nf6 Qe7 25. Bf3 Nd8 26. Bg4+ Rxg4+ 27. hxg4 Ne6 28. Rab1 Nf4 29. b4 Ba7 30. Rb3 Rh3 31. Rfb1 Qd8 32. c4 Qh8 33. Nh5 gxh5 34. Qxf4 exf4 35. Rxh3 h4 36. bxa5 Qd4 37. Rf3 Qxe4 38. Rbb3 Qe1+ 39. Kh2 Bxf2 40. Rxf2 Qxf2+ 0-1
http://www.365chess.com/view_game.php?g=644423
Rarely have I had to face the Litsitsin Gambit. The last time was some years ago against Tim Bond, one of the Road Warriors and fellow Senior, the “Dude” from LA, which means “Lower Alabama” to Southern folk. The game was a hard fought draw. The Dude became dejected upon discovering I had missed a King move that would have won a piece. It was strange to me because I had seen the move in earlier deliberations, but missed it when given the opportunity later. Little has been written about the Litsitsin Gambit, but I seem to recall an article in “Inside Chess” by GM Michael Rhode, or was it Larry Christiansen? Maybe Michael used one of Larry’s games…Whatever… It is easy to recall because of the fact that I have faced both GM’s over a backgammon board.
This is the game that caused interest in the move 2 d3, and a game played a decade later:
Magnus Carlsen vs Sergey Dolmatov
3rd Aeroflot Festival (2004)
Zukertort Opening: Dutch Variation (A04)
1. Nf3 f5 2. d3 d6 3. e4 e5 4. Nc3 Nc6 5. ef5 Bf5 6. d4 Nd4 7. Nd4 ed4 8. Qd4 Nf6 9. Bc4 c6 10. Bg5 b5 11. Bb3 Be7 12. O-O-O Qd7 13. Rhe1 Kd8 14. Re7 Qe7 15. Qf4 Bd7 16. Ne4 d5 17. Nf6 h6 18. Bh4 g5 19. Qd4 1-0

Carlsen, Magnus (2881) – Rodriguez Vila, Andres (2437)
Four Player Rapid KO/Caxias do Sul (1) 2014
1. Nf3 f5 2. d3 Nf6 3. e4 d6 4. exf5 Bxf5 5. d4 Qd7 6. Nc3 g6 7. Bd3 Bg7 8. O-O Nc6 9. d5 Nb4 10. Bxf5 gxf5 11. a3 Na6 12. Nd4 Nc5 13. b4 Nce4 14. Nxe4 fxe4 15. Ne6 Rg8 16. Bb2 c6 17. c4 Bh8 18. Re1 Rg6 19. Bxf6 exf6 20. Qh5 Qf7 21. Qf5 Qg8 22. g3 Kf7 23. Rxe4 1-0
http://www.chessib.com/carlsen-rodrigues-vila-caxias-do-sul-2014.html
And for the one (because there is always one) player out there somewhere in the one hundred plus countries reading the AW who now has to have more about Georgy Lisitsin and his gambit, I provide enough links to more than whet your appetite.
http://www.chesscafe.com/text/lane43.pdf

http://www.chess.com/forum/view/chess-openings/the-lisitsin-gambit

http://www.chessvideos.tv/chess-opening-database/search/Pirc-Lisitsin-gambit

http://www.kingpinchess.net/2010/02/the-sincerest-form-of-flattery/

http://nezhmet.wordpress.com/2007/06/13/the-dutch-defense-leningrad-variation/