Is The Most Powerful Man In Chess A Lunatic?

What people who do not play Chess think of the Royal game matters. If people consider those who are in control of the game suspect, the Royal game is suspect. For decades the top man at FIDE, the governing body of World Chess, has been ridiculed by the press. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is the President of FIDE, and the man who has made Chess a punch line to some kind of sick joke about Chess.

The following article at the Deadspin website is yet another in a long line of articles (https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/chess-with-qaddafi-and-aliens) (https://www.rferl.org/a/chess-ilyumzhinov-denies-resignation-russia/28393841.html) disparaging the FIDE President, and by inference, the Royal game.

The Most Powerful Man In Chess Is Maybe A Lunatic

By Patrick Redford 3/30/17

The sports world is replete with notably wacky commissioners and leaders, and for all the wild shit that the Sepp Blatters and Oleg Tinkovs of the world get up to, the World Chess Federation’s president probably has them all beat. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov

has been the top dog at FIDE since 1995, and for most of that time he was also president of Kalmykia, a majority-Buddhist, semi-autonomous Russian republic in the Caucasus Mountains near Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Dagestan.

Ilyumzhinov is also a world-class kook who believes that chess was invented by aliens, and has repeatedly claimed that he was abducted by aliens in 1997 and taken to visit a distant star.


Ilyumzhinov has sensationally claimed he was taken on a trip through space (Getty)

The way he sees it, aliens will inevitably come back to Earth and “take us away” as punishment for “bad behavior.”

That he’s remained atop FIDE for as long as he has despite unnervingly detailed accounts of his supposed alien abduction is one thing, but the fact that he’s held onto power despite some shady associations is more surprising. In 2006, Ilyumzhinov boasted about his friendship with Saddam Hussein and has claimed that history will exonerate him. A few months before Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi

was tortured and killed by rebel forces 2011, Ilyumzhinov flew to Tripoli to play a game of chess with Gaddafi and his son. When leaders condemned Ilyumzhinov for smiling for photo ops and hanging out with a repressive dictator, he insisted that chess could play a role in the peace process.

Two years ago, the United States announced sanctions against Ilyumzhinov for “materially assisting and acting for or on behalf of the Government of Syria.” Ilyumzhinov, who visited Bashar al-Assad

in 2012, claims that the only involvement he had in Syria was when he delivered chess sets in 2012 and tried to lobby Assad to incorporate chess into the country’s primary school curriculum. (Chess lessons are compulsory in Kalmykia.)

Ilyumzhinov is a longtime friend and ally of Vladimir Putin,

although the Russian state replaced him as president of Kalmykia in 2010. When Ilyumzhinov was re-elected FIDE president in 2014, Putin personally congratulated him. The longtime chess leader is a businessman who made his millions in the wave of privatization following the collapse of the USSR, though like so many others who became fabulously wealthy during this period, it’s unclear exactly how he got so rich.

Grandmasters and chess federation officials have accused Ilyumzhinov of using his role as FIDE president to promote Russian foreign policy, and Ilyumzhinov has been a vocal supporter of Putin’s military annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and advances into Ukraine. The Panama Papers revealed that Ilyumzhinov controlled a network of secret shell business centered in the British Virgin Islands that controlled TV rights and commercial rights of official FIDE events.

FIDE has been trying to get Ilyumzhinov out of the paint for a long time. Russian chess legend Garry Kasparov

tried to oust him in 2014 with the support of several Western chess federations, but Ilyumzhinov prevailed, perhaps thanks to him paying off a bloc of minor chess federations. After the sanctions were announced in 2015, Ilyumzhinov announced that he’d be stepping away from all legal, financial, and business operations at FIDE, although he remained president.

This week, it appeared that Ilyumzhinov would finally be resigning from his post. FIDE released a statement on Monday announcing that Ilyumzhinov had resigned at a board meeting in Greece over the weekend after getting into an argument over the U.S. sanctions. However, Ilyumzhinov quickly denied that he would be leaving and decried the announcement as fake. FIDE executive director Nigel Freeman pointed out that Ilyumzhinov ended the meeting by repeating “I resign” three times then storming out.

Ilyumzhinov has since claimed that he offered to step down during an “emotional” conversation with board members, but that it was not a formal offer of resignation. He says that FIDE put out their initial statement in an attempt to push him out and chalks up his confusing remarks to his shaky English skills. The Kremlin voiced its support for Ilyumzhinov to stay in office, and it appears that Ilyumzhinov will hold onto some form of power for the time being, no matter how many aliens and dictators he cozies up to.

https://deadspin.com/the-most-powerful-man-in-chess-is-maybe-a-lunatic-1793846998

Brain Damage
Pink Floyd
Produced by Pink Floyd
Album Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii

[Verse 1: Roger Waters]
The lunatic is on the grass
The lunatic is on the grass
Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs
Got to keep the loonies on the path
The lunatic is in the hall
The lunatics are in my hall
The paper holds their folded faces to the floor
And every day the paperboy brings more

[Chorus 1]
And if the dam breaks open many years too soon
And if there is no room upon the hill
And if your head explodes with dark forebodings too
I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon

[Verse 2]
The lunatic is in my head
The lunatic is in my head
You raise the blade, you make the change
You rearrange me ’til I’m sane
You lock the door
And throw away the key
There’s someone in my head but it’s not me

[Chorus 2]
And if the cloud bursts, thunder in your ear
You shout and no one seems to hear
And if the band you’re in starts playing different tunes
I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon

[Outro]
I can’t think of anything to say except
Hahahahahahaha!
I think it’s marvellous!
Hahaha..

https://genius.com/Pink-floyd-brain-damage-lyrics

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How Not To Play The Dutch

I enjoy the first round of open tournaments more than any other round as the chance for upsets abound. I managed to draw with an IM,
Andrzej Filipowicz,

from Poland, in the first round of a tournament in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1980. He was there for the FIDE congress, and decided to play in a weekend event, where I was at the top of the bottom half of the tournament. While looking forward to being paired with much higher rated players, I will admit to having, as Bobby said, “Taken many lessons.” The thing about facing stronger players is that they are not usually going to lose a game in the opening. If you are a lower ranked player you simply must know the opening or else when playing titled players there will not be a middle-game, or endgame, as in, “He ended the game in the opening,” something heard at the House of Pain shortly after the round had started.

Irakli Beradze IM

2464 (GEO) – Ruslan Ponomariov GM 2697 (UKR)

European Individual Championship 2018 round 01

1. Nf3 d6 2. d4 g6 3. c4 f5 4. e3 (Only a few examples of this move in the databases) Bg7 5. Nc3 Nd7

(I was unable to find this move on the Chessbase Data Base, or at 365Chess, and there is a reason…The knight belongs on c6 in this position. 5… Nc6 6. Be2 e5 7. d5 Nce7 8. O-O Nf6 9. b3 O-O 10. Ba3 h6 11. Qc2 a6 12. h3 b5 13. Rfe1 Bd7. Development is complete and looks like a fight! [Analysis from the StockFish at ChessBomb.] This is a plausible line that I could have produced, but then you would want to run it by your clanking digital monster, and now you do not have to do any inputing…Maybe the 2700 GM decided to “Blaze his own path,” or “Invent the wheel.” Who knows? The fact is it is a horribly terrible move. It shows a complete lack of understanding of the opening. Not to mention it is a Theoretical Novelty.)

6. Be2 (6. e4 fxe4 7. Nxe4 Ndf6 8. Nc3 Nh6 and with his better pawn structure and better placed knights white is better)

e5 (Ngf6 should be played. It is unfathomable anyone in his right mind would play the e5 advance before playing Nf6. Moving the queen’s knight to f6 would have been better, but Ngf6 is best. Black has dug himself a hole from which he is unable to extricate himself.)

7. dxe5 (7. e4 is better. If then fxe4 8. Ng5 the misplaced knight must ‘advance to the rear’ with Nb8)

dxe5 (Unbelievable! Certainly the pawn MUST be taken with the KNIGHT!)

8. e4 Ngf6 9. exf5 gxf5 10. Nh4 f4 (Yet another weak move when the wandering knight could have been moved to c5. Go figure…)

11. Nf5 O-O 12. Nxg7 Kxg7 13. g3 Nc5 14. Qxd8 Rxd8 15. gxf4 e4 16. Be3 Nd3+ 17. Bxd3 Rxd3 18. Rg1+ Kf7 19. Rd1 a6 20. Rxd3 exd3 21. Kd2 Be6 22. b3 Rd8 23. f3 b6 24. Ne4 h6 25. f5 Bxf5 26. Nxf6 Kxf6 27. Bxh6 Re8 28. Be3 Kf7 29. h4 Rh8 30. Bg5 c6 31. Re1 Re8 32. Rxe8 Kxe8 33. Be3 b5 34. Kc3 Bg6 35. Kb4 bxc4 36. Kxc4 Kd7 37. Kc5 Kc7 38. Bf4+ Kb7 39. Bd2 Kc7 40. Ba5+ Kd7 41. Bd2 Kc7 42. f4 Bh7 43. h5 Bf5 44. h6 Bg6 45. a4 Bh7 46. Ba5+ Kd7 47. Kb6 d2 48. Bxd2 Bd3 49. f5 Bxf5 50. Kxa6 1-0

A well played game. The favorite played weakly in the opening and the underdog held on to the advantage like a pit bull!

When looking for a picture of Ponomariov

I came across this article at Chessbase:

Ponomariov: ‘Probably I became world champion too early’

https://en.chessbase.com/post/ponomariov-probably-i-became-world-champion-too-early-

After racking my aged brain I simply could not recall him becoming World Chess Champion. Could he be one of those players Garry Kasparov, a real World Champion, called a “tourist?”

Akopian and the Revenge of the Tourists

Dennis Monokroussos writes:

“During the knockout event that was the 1999 FIDE World Championship in Las Vegas, Nevada, there were upsets a-plenty. Nisipeanu knocked out Ivanchuk and Shirov; Fedorov defeated Timman (after Timman had beaten a very young Aronian); Movsesian beat Leko; Georgiev beat Svidler; Adams beat Kramnik; Akopian beat Adams; Khalifman beat Kamsky, Gelfand and Polgar – and on and on it went. Around the time of the semi-finals, when only Adams, Akopian, Nisipeanu and Khalifman were left, Garry Kasparov – then still in possession of the other world championship title – infamously and dismissively dubbed most of the participants in the FIDE event “tourists”.
https://en.chessbase.com/post/akopian-and-the-revenge-of-the-tourists

No mention of Ruslan…Exactly how many “tourist” World Chess Champions have there been recently? Seriously…

For the record, Chessgames.com shows this opening named, Zukertort Opening: Pirc Invitation (A04).
http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1915415

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

How God Plays Chess

An article, How God plays chess, by Frederic Friedel, was published 1/23/2018. at the Chessbase website. It contained this story:

“One day World Champion Garry Kasparov,

who towers above all his rivals, reached an Elo of 3000. When the rating list was released the heavens over Baku opened and an Angel of the Lord descended. He approached Garry and said: “For what you have achieved you are invited to play a game of chess against God.”

Garry was overwhelmed. He dressed into his finest and got onto the golden escalator that transported him to heaven. There the Angel led him into a small room where God was sitting, drinking coffee and looking at a computer screen. Garry was somewhat surprised that He was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and had a fairly unkempt white beard. He bowed deeply and said:

“Oh Almighty Lord, Creator of the Universe…”

“Just call me God,” God interrupted. “Or G, which is what most of my friends call me.”

“Okay, God, it is a great privilege for me to stand in your presence and to actually play a game of chess against you. Of course I have absolutely no expectation of winning. I assume you play a perfect game!?”

“Yes,” replied God, “I have done the 32-piece endgame.”

“Ahh,” said Garry, “Of course that is trivially easy for you.”

“No, no,” said God, “it was really tough. More than 10^35 legal positions — it took the matter from a good-sized planet to store. But let us play. You can have white.”

So Garry played his favourite 1.e4, expecting an exciting Sicilian. But after a few moves the game had left all known theory and a weird position was on the board. Actually God’s position was in shambles. “This is divine humour,” Garry said, “You want me to have a chance, God?” But He just smiled and said “No.” Soon Garry was two pawns up and had an overwhelming position. “But I am winning for sure now,” he said. “No,” said God, “it is a draw. The whole game is a draw. Can’t be won.”

Garry was not convinced. He played on with great attacking moves, and even won an additional piece. Surely now he was completely winning. He reached a stage where it was clearly only a matter of technique to mate the opponent. However, try as he might, he was not able to actually deliver mate. There was always some unexpected defence, some bizarre move that prevented it. He tried this and that, but somehow could not succeed.

Then suddenly God interrupted a phone call he was making and stared in disbelief at the board. “My Self!” he said, “It’s a win! I haven’t seen one in a billion years.” “But I can’t find it,” said Garry, “I cannot seem to convert my advantage to a mate.” “Oh, no,” God said, “it is a win for me — for Black. This only happens once in a decillion times.”

The game proceeded, and God, now fully concentrated, started making moves that were completely incomprehensible to Garry. But they slowly improved Black’s position. Soon the game was equal, and then Black started to take what for Garry seemed to be the “initiative”. Then, in a flurry of unexpectedly brilliant moves, he found himself mated.

“I will be eternally grateful, God, for this demonstration of your omniscience,” Garry said in parting. “I thank you for a very interesting game, Garry,” God replied. “A one in a billion experience.”

The entire article can be found here:

https://en.chessbase.com/post/how-god-plays-chess

Garry Kasparov Lives In Fear Of Being Assassinated By Putin

An article, Garry Kasparov told us what it’s like to live in fear of being assassinated by Putin, by Jim Edwards, appeared on the Business Insider website.


Garry Kasparov and Jim Edwards

These are the main points given in the article:

In 2007, a former KGB general warned that he believed former chess champion Garry Kasparov was next on a list of Putin critics to be assassinated.

Putin is suspected of condoning the assassination of 14 people in the UK.

Kasparov has lived in exile in New York since 2013. “Look I’m an optimist and I think it will not last forever,” he told Business Insider.

Putin will be a major issue at the World Economic Forum in Davos this year because US President Donald Trump will address the meeting. Putin and Trump have a relationship that baffles outsiders.

Trump gets unusually positive coverage in the Kremlin-controlled Russian media, Kasparov says.

Excerpts from the lengthy article:

When I met Garry Kasparov, the Russian chess grandmaster and Putin critic, in Lisbon recently, he was sporting a large Band-Aid on his forehead. The wound had been sustained in the back of a taxi in London on the way from Heathrow Airport to a conference in Canary Wharf. With traffic crawling along, as it always does in London, Kasparov decided he didn’t need to wear a seatbelt.

Then the taxi driver slammed on the brakes.

“I was just talking to my wife, talking to my mother, looking at my phone. And next thing I remember I’m just lying on the floor with my head covered in blood,” Kasparov says. “At first, I was screaming because — now it looks fine — but I was bleeding for more than an hour, so it was pretty nasty. Then I realised how lucky I was because I had my glasses on me, these glasses, one inch down, could be my eyes. One inch on the side could have been temple.”

Kasparov went flying across the back of the Hackney cab, and hit his forehead on the top side of the jump chair. After a couple of stitches at Newham University Hospital Urgent Care, he posted a picture of his injury on Twitter. It spawned a rash of jokes in response: “Lame assassination attempt, Putin is desperate,” that kind of thing, Kasparov says. “The best one was, ‘are you preparing to play Gorbachev at Halloween?’ I was lucky, but now I buckle up.”

That Putin joke is only half funny.

Kasparov really is one of Putin’s potential assassination targets. In 2007, the former KGB general Oleg Kalugin told Foreign Policy magazine that Putin’s targeted killings would one day reach Kasparov.

Cryptically, Kalugin said: “People who knew them are all dead now because they were vocal, they were open. I am quiet. There is only one man who is vocal, and he may be in trouble: [Former] world chess champion [Garry] Kasparov. He has been very outspoken in his attacks on Putin, and I believe that he is probably next on the list.”

Kasparov is no longer one of Putin’s most visible critics, but Putin still regularly assassinates inconvenient Russians. Fourteen people have been killed in the UK on Putin’s orders, according to an exhaustive investigation by BuzzFeed.

As world leaders, billionaires, and oligarchs meet at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, again this year, Putin and Russia are suddenly one of the biggest issues at the conference.

That’s because US President Trump will address the Alpine gathering for the first time. Trump has repeatedly expressed his enthusiasm and admiration for Putin. And many in America believe Russia covertly interfered in the 2016 presidential election in a way that swayed votes toward Trump.

Russia is normally mere background noise at Davos. While Russia has a large military and is not afraid to flex its muscles in Crimea, Ukraine, and Syria, the country itself is relatively poor. Its GDP ranks below Italy and Canada, and only just above Spain — a country whose economy was so heavily battered by the 2008 credit crisis that it still hasn’t fully recovered.

Russia’s influence in the West is limited in large part because European and US companies are afraid of doing business with Russia, precisely because of the ever-present threat of showing up on Putin’s radar.

That means individual ex-patriot Russians in the West who disagree publically with Putin — like Kasparov — can never go home. Does Kasparov worry about being in danger from Putin?

“Would it help? I live in New York, so what else can I do? I live in New York, I don’t drink tea with strangers,” he says.

“Tea with strangers” is a reference to the death of Alexander Litvinenko, the former Russian FSB secret service agent who was fatally poisoned in 2006 when he met two Putin agents at the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair who placed radioactive polonium-210 into his drink.

“I don’t travel to certain countries where I believe that my security could be in jeopardy. So, unfortunately, the list of the countries I have to avoid is growing,” Kasparov says.

Of course, the big unanswered question for everybody in Davos is, what is the true nature of the relationship between Putin and Trump? Does Putin have some kind of hold over Trump — as the infamous Steele dossier suggests? Or is it simply that Trump really likes to be in the presence of powerful people, and that Putin — and ex-KGB man — is playing him like an asset, as James Clapper, the former US director of national intelligence, believes?

Kasparov doesn’t believe it is quite that sinister.

“No, what I saw from the beginning of the US presidential campaign is that the Russian press they like Trump but for different reasons. So they started liking him because he could help them to portray US elections as a circus. And this is, by the way, a part of Putin’s message, both inside and outside of Russia. Truth is relative — everybody’s bad. We bad, they bad,

we corrupt, they corrupt. We don’t have democracy, they have a circus. So that was the original message,” he says.

“America-bashing is 24/7 on all the Russian channels, on Kremlin-controlled media,” Kasparov says. “Trump is an exception. Trump personally is not criticised. The only criticism, mild criticism, is that he’s too weak to fight the deep state, which is amazing. … So everything’s bad in America. Except Trump, who’s a good guy.”

http://www.businessinsider.com/garry-kasparov-fear-of-being-assassinated-by-putin-2018-1

I have never understood what our Republican Presidents have seen in Vladimir Putin. For example, George Dubya Bush infamously said, “I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialog. I was able to get a sense of his soul, a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country.”

Dubya has even painted a picture of Vladimir Putin:

https://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/the-26-biggest-bromance-moments-between-george-w-bush-and-vl?utm_term=.bn0KKbLgZV#.fkOaa5ylzQ

Now the Trumpster has a bromance with Vladimir.

I just do not understand what it is they find so mesmerizing when they look into the eyes of Vladimir Putin.

The Tortured Face of an International Tournament Chess Photographer

An article, The Tortured Faces of International Tournament Chess Players by Michael Hardy, was published in Wired “1.22.18 09:00 AM.”

It begins:

“In 1987, Russian grandmasters Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov faced off in Seville, Spain for the World Chess Championship. David Lloda, then a nine-year-old boy growing up the small northern town of Asturias, remembers being captivated by a newspaper photograph of the two chess geniuses. “Two grown men, playing a mysterious game, with those little figures carved in wood?” he recalls thinking. “That seemed interesting.”

Unfortunately the author of the article, which is about a recently published book of photographs of Chess players, The Thinkers, misspelled the name of the photographer who authored the book, David Llada. Adding insult to injury, Michael Hardy did it again in the next paragraph:

“A few days later, a teacher at Lloda’s school taught him the basic chess moves, sparking a lifelong passion for the game that has persisted throughout stints as a journalist, author, entrepreneur, and money manager—and, most recently, photographer. About five years ago, Lloda began traveling the world to shoot chess tournaments, who then hired him to help them get publicity.”

After skipping a paragraph which does not include Llada’s name, Michael Hardy does it again but also gets it right once in the fourth paragraph:

Lloda has included over a hundred of his portraits in his new book The Thinkers, which was published earlier this month by Quality Chess Books. Llada’s favorite photos in the book are the ones he took of his childhood heroes, Kasparov and Karpov. He particularly liked Kasparov’s picture: “I think it captured his soul, all that energy in him.”

The last paragraph:

Although chess might not appear the most exciting sport to the average viewer, Lloda captures the game’s intensity through the often tortured faces of its players. “Only those who have played it know how tense a chess game is,” he says. “You spend five or six hours ‘fighting’ with someone, but you can’t touch him, you can’t talk, you can barely move…. All that pent-up tension can be felt by the observer, and I thought it could be captured, too.”

https://www.wired.com/story/photos-tournament-chess-players/

David Llada must feel like Rodney Dangerfield…

Chessbase has an excellent article about the book in which they spell David Llada correctly:

https://en.chessbase.com/post/master-class-with-david-llada


David Llada with new book from Chessbase article

Magnus Carlsen Superman

The World Human Chess Champion, Magnus Carlsen, did not win the recently completed London Chess Classic. Although he may have lost a battle he won the war by taking the Grand Chess Tour.

One of the headlines at the Chessbase website during the tournament proclaimed, London Chess Classic: Magnus on tilt. (https://en.chessbase.com/post/london-chess-classic-round-8)

The article, by Macauley Peterson, began:

“Round 8 saw a startling blunder from the World Champion whose frustration following the game was palpable.”

Later we fans of the Royal Game read this:

Round 8

“For the first few hours of Sunday’s games, it looked like we could be heading for another day of peaceful results. Adams vs Aronian and Vachier-Lagrave vs Anand both ended in early draws, and the remaining games were level. Suddenly, a shock blunder from World Champion Magnus Carlsen flashed up on the screens, a variation which lead to Ian Nepomniachtchi being up a piece, and easily winning. Carlsen resigned just four moves later.

After the game, a visibly frustrated World Champion stepped into the live webcast interview zone for a contractually obligated webcast standup with Grand Chess Tour commentator GM Maurice Ashley.

These occur in the same conference room in which a live audience enjoys commentary during the round, and around 150 people were crowded into the room to hear from Carlsen.”

Whoa! Let us stop right here and consider what we have just read…

“…a visibly frustrated World Champion stepped into the live webcast interview zone for a contractually obligated webcast standup…” I believe the word “interview” should be inserted after “standup.”

Why would anyone in their right mind put something in any contract, in any game or sport, forcing a player who has just lost to be interviewed by anyone BEFORE THEY HAVE HAD A CHANCE TO DECOMPRESS?! This is incomprehensible, and the sanity of those responsible for forcing anyone to sign a contract that requires the person to be interviewed before having a chance to compose themselves must be questioned.

The article continues:

“A few moments before they were to go on air, Ashley casually reached over to adjust the collar on Carlsen’s sport coat, which had become turned outward awkwardly. Magnus reacted by violently throwing his arms up in the air, silently but forcefully saying “don’t touch me”, and striking Ashley in the process. Maurice was, naturally, taken aback but just seconds later he received the queue that he was live.”

Maurice is a GM, and a pro, not only when it comes to playing Chess, but also when it gets down to interviewing tightly wound Chess players. Since he played the Royal game at the highest level he knows the emotions it can, and does, evoke first hand. Maurice was the first one to ‘fergettaboutit.’

I recall a time during a tournament when a young fellow playing in his first tournament lost control of his emotions and, shall we say, “flared-up.” His mother was aghast, and appalled, saying, “Now you will never be able to come here again.” Since I had given lessons at the school the boy attended I stepped in saying, “Ma’am, that’s not the way it works around here. By the next time your son comes here everyone will have forgotten what happened today.” The mother gave me the strangest look before asking, “Are you just saying that to make me feel better?” I assured her I was not and then someone else interjected, telling her, with a large grin on his face, that I was indeed telling her the truth. Chess people, to their credit, are about the most forgiving people one will ever know.

There followed:

Magnus was clearly in no mood to chat:

“I missed everything. There’s not much else to say. I think I failed to predict a single of his moves, and then, well, you saw what happened.”

“It will be interesting to see if Magnus will recover tomorrow. When asked for his thoughts on the last round pairing he replied, “I don’t care at all. “Black against Levon Aronian will be no easy task, with that attitude.”

The excellent annotation of the game Magnus lost to Ian Nepomniachtchi

on Chessbase is by GM by Tiger Hillarp-Persson,

who has also annotated games of Go on his blog (https://tiger.bagofcats.net/). After move 29 Tiger writes, “There were probably a few who thought Magnus would win at this stage…”

Magnus begins going wrong at move 30. He then gives a line and writes, “White is dominating. It is quite out of character for Carlsen to miss something like this. It seems like he wasn’t able to think clearly today.”

Before Magnus plays his 33rd move Tiger writes, “Now White’s pieces are all in the wrong places.”

After White’s 34th move Tiger writes, “Here Carlsen seems to lose his will to fight. Now one mistake follows another.”

Those are very STRONG WORDS! Human World Chess Champions, with the exception of Garry Kasparov when losing to Deep Blue,

do not lose their will to fight!

Yuri Averbakh,

Russian GM, and author, in a 1997 article in New in Chess magazine, the best Chess magazine of ALL TIME, placed chess players into 6 categories; Killers; Fighters; Sportsmen; Gamblers; Artists; and Explorers. Although he listed only Kasparov and Bronstein

as “Fighters,” the World Chess Champion best known for being a “Fighter” was Emanuel Lasker.

I would put current human World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen in the class with Lasker as a “Fighter.”

In an interview at the Chess24 website his opponent in the game, Ian Nepomniachtchi,


had this to say, “To be fair, Magnus had a bad cold during the second half of the tournament and therefore wasn’t in his very best form.”

Nepo is extremely gracious while explaining why Magnus “…seemed to lose his will to fight.” When one is under the weather it is extremely difficult to think clearly, especially as the game goes on and fatigue begins to dominate. Imagine what history would have recorded if Bobby Fischer had not caught a cold after the first few games against former World Chess Champion Tigran Petrosian.

This was a topic of conversation during a meal with Petrosian, Paul Keres,

and future World Chess Champion Anatoly Karpov,

at a restaurant in San Antonio, the Golden Egg, during the Church’s Fried Chicken tournament in 1972.

Interviewer Colin McGourty asked Nepo this question:

“It seems as though he’s stopped dominating as he did a few years ago. Is that the case?

A few years ago the level he was demonstrating was out of this world, particularly when he wasn’t yet World Champion, plus at times good patches in his career alternated with even better ones. Gradually, though, people have got used to him, and when you’ve already achieved it all, when over the course of a few years you’ve been better than everyone, it gets tougher to motivate yourself. That doesn’t just apply to sport, after all. Magnus has a great deal of interests outside of chess, but even his relatively unsuccessful periods are much more successful than for many of his rivals. Even in what generally wasn’t the tournament of his life he beat Aronian with Black in the final round and finished third i.e. he performed very decently.”

https://chess24.com/en/read/news/nepomniachtchi-on-london-carlsen-and-alphazero

There you have it. “Even in what generally wasn’t the tournament of his life he beat Aronian with Black in the final round and finished third i.e. he performed very decently.”

Levon had the year of his life in 2017. He had the White pieces in the last round against a weakened World Champion. He could have ended the year in style with a victory. This from Chessbase:

The Magnus bounce

“The World Champion, after a troubling performance yesterday, appeared once more to be on the brink of defeat with the black pieces against Levon Aronian. Carlsen was considerably worse in the middlegame, but it took just a couple of inaccuracies from Aronian for the World Champion to completely turn the tables. He went on to win, despite knowing that a draw would be enough to clinch first place in the Grand Chess Tour standings.

In fact, Aronian offered Carlsen a draw, right after the time control, which Magnus refused, as he was already much better in the position. It was the 11th time in 17 tries that Carlsen came back with a win immediately following a loss, since 2015.” (https://en.chessbase.com/post/london-chess-classic-2017-carlsen-wins-grand-chess-tour)

Many years ago IM Boris Kogan told me the measure of a Chess player is how he responds to a loss. Many in the same condition would have been happy to settle for a draw in the last round. Some would have made it a quick draw. Not Magnus!
Magnus Carlsen is a worthy World Champion. My admiration for our World Champion has grown immensely.

Consider this headline from the official tournament website:

Round 8 – Carlsen Car Crash at the Classic

11.12.17 – John Saunders reports: The eighth round of the 9th London Chess Classic was played on Sunday 10 December 2017 at the Olympia Conference Centre. The round featured just the one decisive game, which was a disastrous loss for Carlsen, as the result of two terrible blunders.
http://www.londonchessclassic.com/downloads/reports17/2017-12-10%20LCC%20Round%208.pdf

As bad as that is, it could have been much worse. Even when completely well Magnus has sometimes gotten into trouble early in the game, especially when playing an opening some consider “offbeat.” Every true human World Chess Champion, one who beat the previous title holder in a match, was a trend setter who was emulated by other players of all ranks and abilities. Simply because Magnus opened with the Bird against Mickey Adams

in round seven other players may now begin opening games with 1 f4. It is true that Magnus got into trouble in the opening of that game, but his opponent was unable to take advantage of it and Magnus FOUGHT his way out of trouble. (see the excellent article, including annotations to The Bird game, by Alex Yermolinsky at Chessbase: https://en.chessbase.com/post/london-classic-nepomniachtchi-joins-lead)

As Macauley Peterson

wrote, “Black against Levon Aronian will be no easy task…” That is Black in the LAST ROUND against the player who this year has stolen Magnus Carlsen’s thunder. An obviously under the weather Magnus had Black versus a man who believes he should be the human World Chess Champion. If there were no FIDE (we can only dream…) and things were like they were before World War II, Levon Aronian would have absolutely no trouble whatsoever finding backers for a match with Magnus Carlsen. The outcome of the game could have psychological ramifications for some time to come.

Levon held an advantage through 34 moves, but let it slip with an ill-advised pawn push on his 35th move.


Position before 35. b6

The game ws then even. The player who fought best would win the game. That player was Magnus ‘The Fighter’ Carlsen. The loss must have shattered Levon Aronian’s psyche; there is no other way to put it. Levon had White against a weakened World Champion yet he did not even manage to make a draw. That fact has to be devastating to Aronian. Oh well, Levon has a pretty wife…