I have been involved with Chess for over half a century and have no idea what constitutes the “blitz” time control used in the event because the writer does not mention the specific time limit used in the event. I am guessing “blitz” means three minutes for the entire game for both opponents. I could be wrong. “Back in the day “blitz” was just another word for “speed” Chess, which was also called “rapid transit.” Last century a “speed” Chess game was was also called “5 minute,” because each player had only five minutes on the clock for the entire game.
In an excellent article at Chessbase, which contains each and every game, one finds:
Herceg Novi 1970 and the Fischer Papers by André Schulz
4/8/2020 – 50 years ago today, on April 8, 1970, Herceg Novi in Yugoslavia hosted a blitz tournament that might well be the best blitz tournament of all time. Twelve of the world’s best players competed in a double round-robin. Bobby Fischer won with 19 out of 22. |
‘Back in the day’ some called speed Chess “Throw away games.” Games scores of speed Chess were rare because there were no electronic boards. The only games recorded were those played by the top Grandmasters, and a human had to actually write down the moves, called “taking notation.”
The problem is that now people who know little, if anything, about how Chess is played, write articles making it appear “blitz” Chess is Chess. There was no “blitz” in the title of the article, so for a casual reader it appears the young player defeated the highest rated Chess player on the planet, Magnus Carlsen in CHESS! One can imagine a hypothetical conversation between two people knowing little, if anything, about Chess, in which it is said, “Didja see where that young teenager defeated the top Chess player on the planet by blitzing him?”
“Yeah buddy, he blitzed him right offa the board!”
I have heard that “Any publicity is good publicity,” but this kind of thing only cheapens and devalues serious Chess, which is really all that matters.
Having had a very late start playing Chess at twenty I was never very good at “speed” Chess, which was five minutes for each player for the whole game. I therefore watched in amazement those who could play so well with very little time to cogitate. I was more like Rudy, who was “on a train to nowhere/Halfway down the line/He don’t wanna get there/But he needs time…”
I needed more time, and when playing fifteen minute Chess my strength went up exponentially. The trouble was that the speed demons did not want to play with that much time. There was a nice gentleman who was a habitué of the Atlanta Chess and Game Center, aka, the House of Pain, named Oddo Fox, who was a hairdresser greatly in demand. Oddo made it to lower class B, which means he had stopped dropping pieces and could give almost anyone a decent game. But when it came to speed Chess Oddo’s strength increased tremendously, probably because he played so much of speed Chess. I recall seeing a player in San Antonio way back in 1972 who was defeating very strong players at speed Chess, but who could no longer play over the board, classical type Chess because of a heart problem. I recall wondering why he could play fast Chess, but not slow Chess, when it seemed it should be the reverse, because the adrenaline really gets pumpin’ when playing any kind of “speed” Chess. The dude was drillin’ Grandmasters, who would get up from the board after losing shaking their heads.
The new Chess clocks with a “time added” feature have revolutionized the Royal Game. Organizers no long want to spend a whole weekend hosting “around the clock” Chess events. They are, though, pleased to spend and afternoon or evening hosting quick play events. What does this mean for the future of Chess? I have no idea. Life is change, and often not for better. Nevertheless, one must adapt to change because there is no alternative, other than to stop playing. Unfortunately, Chess has become the “go to” game for many of those with a short attention span, who will, and are, bringing the game down to their level.
In the first round of the ongoing Nicosia FIDE Women’s Grand Prix 2023, Alexandra Kosteniuk
led the white army versus Zhongyi Tan,
who chose the Berlin Defense, which has a reputation for being a defense played with a view to making a draw. Former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov once said something about we “lesser players” not understanding the “subtleties” of the Berlin Defense. Garry obviously did not understand the subtlety of the opening in the game below:
When things got outta hand in Checkers because of the plethora of drawn games the openings known to be drawn were discarded, and later particular openings were assigned. How long before Chess players will follow in the Checkers footsteps?
In the second round game between Gunay Mammadzada (2449)
and Kateryna Lagno (2558)
the following position was reached in a game that featured the Berlin defense:
It should be more than a little obvious the way to win with the Berlin defense is to subtly bore your opponent for many hours until they finally blunder. Unless, that is, I am missing the more subtle aspects of the defense.
Cracking the Chess Code: A Groundbreaking Study Reveals Hidden Patterns in Openings
By Complexity Science Hub Vienna April 4, 2023
Using real data from an online chess platform, scientists of the Complexity Science Hub and the Centro Ricerche Enrico Fermi (CREF) studied similarities of different chess openings. Based on these similarities, they developed a new classification method that can complement the standard classification.
“To find out how similar chess openings actually are to each other – meaning in real game behavior – we drew on the wisdom of the crowd,” Giordano De Marzo of the Complexity Science Hub and the Centro Ricerche Enrico Fermi (CREF) explains. The researchers analyzed 3,746,135 chess games, 18,253 players, and 988 different openings from the chess platform Lichess and observed who plays which opening games.
Did You Know?
It is possible to checkmate an opponent in chess in two moves.
Mathematically, there are more possible chess games than there are atoms in the observable universe. This is the Shannon number, which represents all possible move variations in chess. It is estimated there are between 10111 and 10123 positions (including illegal moves) in chess.
If several players choose two specific opening games over and over again, it stands to reason that they will be similar. Opening games that are so popular that they occur together with most others were excluded. “We also only included players in our analyses that had a rating above 2,000 on the platform Lichess. Total novices could randomly play any opening games, which would skew our analyses,” explains Vito D.P. Servedio of the Complexity Science Hub.
Ten Clusters Clearly Delineated
In this way, the researchers found that certain opening games group together. Ten different clusters clearly stood out according to actual similarities in playing behavior. “And these clusters don’t necessarily coincide with the common classification of chess openings,” says De Marzo.
For example, certain opening games from different classes were played repeatedly by the same players. Therefore, although these strategies are classified in different classes, they must have some similarity. So, they are all in the same cluster. Each cluster thus represents a certain style of play – for example, rather defensive or very offensive. Moreover, the method of classification that the researchers have developed here can be applied not only to chess, but to similar games such as Go or Stratego.
Who Plays Chess
Currently, Magnus Carlsen from Norway (born in 1990) is ranked as the best chess player worldwide (rating: 2853; according to FIDE). According to the Federation Internationale des Echecs (FIDE) there are currently 1785 grandmasters worldwide (ten of them in Austria) Of course, nobody knows how many people play chess worldwide. To give an approximate impression: FIDE currently has 160,684 active players registered. Estimates say that around 600 million adults worldwide play chess regularly.
Complement the Standard Classification
The opening phase in chess is usually less than 20 moves. Depending on which pieces are moved first, one speaks of an open, half-open, closed or irregular opening. The standard classification, the so-called ECO Code (Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings), divides them into five main groups: A, B, C, D, and E.
“Since this has evolved historically, it contains very useful information. Our clustering represents a new order that is close to the used one and can add to it by showing players how similar openings actually are to each other,” Servedio explains. After all, something that grows historically cannot be reordered from scratch. “You can’t say A20 now becomes B3. That would be like trying to exchange words in a language,” adds De Marzo.
July 20 is World Chess Day. It marks the date of the founding of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) in Paris in 1924.
Rate Players and Opening Games
In addition, their method also allowed the researchers to determine how good a player and how difficult a particular opening game is. The basic assumption: if a particular opening game is played by many people, it is likely to be rather easy. So, they examined which opening games were played the most and who played them. This gave the researchers a measure of how difficult an opening game is (= complexity) and a measure of how good a player is (= fitness). Matching these with the players’ rating on the chess platform itself showed a significant correlation.
“On the one hand, this underlines the significance of our two newly introduced measures, but also the accuracy of our analysis,” explains Servedio. To ensure the relevance and validity of these results from a chess theory perspective, the researchers sought the expertise of a renowned chess grandmaster who wishes to remain anonymous.
Reference: “Quantifying the complexity and similarity of chess openings using online chess community data” by Giordano De Marzo and Vito D. P. Servedio, 1 April 2023, Scientific Reports. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-023-31658-w (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-023-31658-w)
Yet another article has appeared at the New York Times concerning the Chess Boom:
There was a time not too long ago when people who played Chess were thought to be “smart.” Chess was a serious game held in esteem by many people all over the planet. Unfortunately, as can be seen from the above picture, Chess has become a frivolity. Case in point:
From the article:
“But by all accounts — from players, parents, teachers, website metrics — the game’s popularity has exploded.”
At least there is one honest and objective ‘player’ in the current ‘game’ and his name is Mike Klein.
“Mr. Klein has been traveling the country trying to convince schools to include chess in the curriculum. He argues that chess is good for the brain, but he concedes that the scientific studies he invokes, linking chess with better performance on standardized tests, “are pretty old or don’t have a good control group or are not a large enough sample size.”
28, another chess celebrity on Twitch and YouTube, earned a particular claim to fame: Once, while streaming a match, she blundered into losing her queen and reacted with an endearing, bemused shock that made the gaffe seem cool. To accidentally lose your queen is now known as the Botez Gambit.
With multiple women coming forward about their disturbing experiences in the chess world, including accusations of sexual misconduct by a grandmaster, the historic game is having its own #MeToo moment.
Popular online chess streamer Anna Cramling says she’s also had uncomfortable experiences during her career in the game.
The 20-year-old, who boasts almost 400,000 subscribers on YouTube, says being a woman in chess has sometimes led to unwanted comments by men that left her feeling uncomfortable and lonely during tournaments. Alejandro Ramirez at the 2016 Pan-Ams.
US Chess Federation investigates grandmaster following accusations of sexual misconduct
“I’ve had weird experiences in the chess world ever since I was a kid,” Cramling told CNN Sport.
“From adult men complimenting me at chess tournaments, to receiving DMs from my chess opponents saying things such as ‘I couldn’t stop looking at you’ during our chess game.
“This made me feel very uncomfortable, as a chess game typically takes four or five hours, so it felt weird knowing that someone so much older than me had been thinking about me in that way for so many hours.”
As the daughter of two grandmasters – her mother, Pia, was the fifth-ever female grandmaster and her father, Juan Manuel Bellón López, a five-time Spanish champion – chess has always played an important role in Cramling’s life.
Born in Spain, Cramling said she spent a lot of time traveling with her parents to tournaments around the world and eventually decided to develop her own skills.
She says she started taking chess more seriously after moving to Sweden with her family, studying the game for up to two hours every day.
“Even if I didn’t study every day, I constantly heard about chess, I constantly saw my parents analyzing their chess games, talking about chess,” she said.
According to Chess.com, Cramling reached a peak International Chess Federation (FIDE) rating of 2175 in 2018 which qualifies her as a Woman FIDE Master – the third-highest ranking for women, behind the woman grandmaster and the woman international master.
Since 2020, however, Cramling says her focus has been more on building her social media platforms. ‘Embarrassed and guilty’
Cramling recalls the moment when an arbiter questioned her outfit during a youth tournament that she was part of when she was 15.
It was summer, she said, so like many she was wearing shorts, and had gone over to speak to some friends she knew competing in the men’s tournament.
She said a tournament official approached her and told her she was “distracting all the male players.”
“I remember going back to the women’s section of the tournament and feeling so embarrassed and guilty that I couldn’t concentrate throughout my whole game – I just wanted to leave,” she said.
“One of the main issues has been that there are so many more guys than girls that play chess, and being a woman at a chess tournament can sometimes feel lonely.
“I have sometimes played in tournaments with over 300 participants, where only five have been women.
“I think that one of the reasons so few women compete is because the environment in chess tournaments can be very hostile to them, and I know that many, many women have stories like mine, or worse.”
Despite these incidents, Cramling still has an obvious passion for the game that is visible on her online platforms.
She regularly uploads videos, such as informal matches against grandmaster Magnus Carlsen, and streams her games online.
The world of chess streaming may be relatively new, but it certainly has an audience.
In addition to her growing YouTube channel, Cramling boasts 301,000 followers on Twitch and almost 150,000 on Instagram. She says that most of the feedback she receives online is friendly.
Cramling says her presence and subsequent following have grown monthly, and she was recently nominated for Best Chess Streamer at The Streamer Awards this year.
She’s come a long way since her first video, which she says she made using her then boyfriend’s laptop.
By chance, her decision to experiment with streaming coincided with the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw the world of online chess experience a boom in popularity – online platform Chess.com said earlier this year it had more than 102 million users signed up, a 238% increase from January 2020.
Cramling says she is grateful that her knowledge and enthusiasm for chess have found an audience.
“I never thought I was going to make a living out of this,” she said. “It was so fun in the beginning, and I still think it’s really fun.
“I think that also translates into streams, people see that I’m having fun and I think that’s the most important thing.
“The moment when it starts not being fun, I think it’s really hard to make good content.” What chess must do for women
Cramling says she wants her content to serve as more than just entertainment.
According to researcher David Smerdon, only 11% of FIDE-rated players and only 2% of grandmasters – the highest chess title awarded by the sport’s governing body – are women.
Just like her mother was her role model, Cramling now wants to inspire other women to play chess, but says tournaments must do their part.
She says she wants officials to be more engaged in monitoring behavior toward women and has called on them to take charge if an issue arises.
“Chess trainers, players and especially tournament officials should all set an example to make everyone feel welcome, no matter who they are. Chess is a game for everyone,” she said.
“I hope that, through my online presence, I can contribute in showing that women have a voice in chess and inspire more women to play.
“I know that chess tournaments will not forever look this way, we just need to get more women to play.
“The more we talk about how badly some women are treated at tournaments, and the more we listen to everyone’s stories, the more we are able to make a change.”
The fourth chapter, in which the author rips FIDE a new one several times, is the best part of the book, and it is a chapter every person involved with the Royal Game should read. The chapter opens with this paragraph:
“Technically, of course, FIDE is not a word at all, but a French acronym-Federation Internationale des Echecs-and by titling this essay in the manner that I did, I have sportingly given its defenders the opportunity to launch a counter-attack by being able to point to a minor inaccuracy on my part. Because it does, of course, have defenders-everyone does. Hitler had his defenders. Pol Pot had his defenders. Vladimir Putin currently finds himself surrounded by hordes of sycophantic defenders-indeed, the current President of FIDE was one of his most loyal supporters for deacdes. But I am getting ahead of myself.”
Several paragraphs follow in which the author takes FIDE to task for holding a World Chess Championship, writing, “It could have, in short, done away with the entire antiquated “world champion” idea right from its very beginning-a notion which has done so much to emphatically hold chess back in its forward sporting progress and lies at the heart of so many of its current concerns. But it didn’t.”
I do not know about that, because things were different ‘back in the day’. Mr. Burton is writing about a time prior to when he was BORN, for crying out loud. Who knows where the Royal Game would be if there had been no World Champion. Things have changed drastically this century, so the writer may (does?) have a point about the current irrelevance of the title. But still, unless one was alive, and playing Chess at the time, one cannot imagine how the WORLD, and not just the “Chess World”, was captivated by the Fischer vs Spassky match. As many have written, “It put Chess on the map.”
The author continues, “Whatever the intentions might have been, shortly after its creation FIDE immediately plunged into the businesses of promoting Chess Olympiads and managing the chess world championships, with varying results.”
There follows a history of Chess which was interesting reading considering the writer is new to Chess and has no preconceived notions about the past. For example, the author first hits a forehand smash prior to a backhanded shot: “Max Euwe’s subsequent eight year term as president from 1970-78, meanwhile, represents the unequivocal apex of FIDE leadership-which is admittedly a bit like being the most tasteful hotel on the Las Vegas Strip-but still.”
That is followed by this: “And then things just got completely ridiculous.’ Campomanes, a former Philippine national champion, was FIDE president from 1982-1995, overseeing what was widely considered to be a period of unprecedented corruption.”
There is that word “C” word again, which seems to go hand in hand with anything written about the unctuous Campomanes.
Campo “was followed by Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, FIDE president from 1995-2018 and president of the Russian Republic of Kalmykia from 1993 to 2010. Ilyumzhinov has repeatedly claimed to have been abducted by aliens (“chess comes from space,” he adamantly maintains)…”
“Finally, Ilyumzhinov’s 23 year reign was followed in 2018 by the current FIDE president, Arkady Dvorkovich, an economist…”
“Despite having placed his demonstrably ambitious fingers in many pies throughout his life, Dvorkovich never seems to have manifested any particular interest in chess.”
Can you say, “Titular figurehead?” Campo was not the only FIDE president with greasy hands… How Chess has managed to succeed while being run by kooks and criminals is anybody’s guess. Then one reads this:
“Why on earth, you might be forgiven for interjecting at this point, is the international chess community so intent on portraying itself as such an irredeemable laughing stock? In a world replete with behind the scenes horse-trading and “gentleman’s agreements” that decide who should head global organizations, how can it be that the international chess federation, of all things, stands out as one of the most cavalierly corrupt of them all, nonchalantly lurching from one buffoon-like leadership situation to the next, decade after decade?
Well, because on the whole, nobody gives a damn.”
“And you can’t really blame them, of course. Concern that the world chess federation is so wantonly politicized and laughably incompetent is naturally going to fall exceptionally low on the global priority list, somewhere between cultural subsidies for korfball and doctoral scholarships in the philosophy of quantum theory. And the powers that be at FIDE-i.e. the Kremlin-are all too well aware of this.”
Then he unloads the other barrel:
“More significantly for our purposes, they are also well aware of the fact that the few people who do care about such issues-i.e. chess players-will not be able to do anything about it, given that, on the whole, chess players are, as a group, the most politically hopeless of all human beings.”
Why hold back when you are on a roll?
“Indeed, while I’ve long been convinced that becoming an excellent chess player is no more proof of superabundant intelligence than becoming an excellent pole vaulter, I’m beginning to suspect that chess players are somehow exceptionally disastrous to a statistically significant degree when it comes to appreciating matters of governance and social organization; and the better the chess player, on the whole, the more hopeless things are.”
“This is, I recognize, a curious sort of claim. Am I implying that those who become strong chess players are somehow a priori inclined towards such sociopolitical dysfunctionality? Or could it be that the very act of rigorously developing one’s chess skills produces a consequent inability in these domains-a sort of “inverse far transfer”?”
“I have no idea, and even less inclination to attempt to parse this particular correlation-causation conundrum. All I know is that the closer I examine the chess world, the more convinced I am that such a link exists.”
“Which brings me to Garry Kasparov.”
“By far the most dominant chess player of recent times, Kasparov’s remarkably long reign at the pinnacle of chess is second only to that of Emanuel Lasker. He is, without a shadow of a doubt, the greatest and most influential chess player in living memory, whose manifold contributions to chess, both over the board and through his extensive chess-related writings, are simply unparalleled.”
“And very much in keeping with the mooted correlation above, it turns out that his level of sociopolitical naivete and bombastic non-chess maladroitness is also unparalleled. Over the years Kasparov has vigorously portrayed himself as a knowledgeable spokesman for business leadership, historical scholarship, artificial intelligence, human rights, philanthropy, democracy and much more besides-the upshot of which goes a considerable distance towards convincing anyone with the slightest shred of genuine understanding of any of these issues that an essential requirement for elite chess dominance must be the ability to remove oneself, wholesale, from reality.”
Say what? After stickin’ and rippin’ the Royal Game to the point where there is blood all over the board (the tables, chairs, and floors) HB gives us “the bad news.” Which is:
“Nobody who is not directly competing in the Chess Olympiads knows or cares the slightest bit about them; and the world chess championships are a ridiculous anachronism that has well and truly outlived any possible value that it might have possessed. It’s very much time to grow up and move on from all of that.”
Indeed…why stop when you are on a roll?
“Let’s take the Chess Olympiads first. I have talked to enough professional chess players to know that these are unquestionably very popular events within the chess world, with many people spontaneously waxing on about the uniquely uplifting spirit of camaraderie that they’ve experienced while participating. But here’s the thing: if you want to make a living by pushing pieces of wood around a board, the only thing that matters is whether or not there are sufficient numbers of other people around who are willing to watch you do so, not how warm and fuzzy the experience makes you feel, or to what extent various self-important members of your national federation can take pleasure in schmoozing with you and your teammates.”
“This might well be, I appreciate, quite confusing to most modern-day professional players, many of whom-particularly women-have spent their lives feeling deeply beholden to the interests of their national federation. But it is long past time to wake up and smell the coffee: these federations are holding you back. Indeed, they are precisely the reason that FIDE has the “power” that it has at all.”
“So here, finally, is the good news-and to any chess-lover, from the Magnus Carlsen groupie to the would-be professional chess player, it is very good news indeed.”
“There is lots of money in chess. It has an enormously large international following and is poised to grow much, much more. And no, this is not because of Netflix or coronavirus pandemics or any of the nonsense that chess people are so often repeating to themselves, but because chess is one of the very few activities that can so easily and so naturally lend itself to modern communications technologies.”
“It’s not just that you can play chess online too-you can play backgammon online too-it’s that the rapid creation of a comprehensive online chess infrastructure has incomparably transformed the chess experience.”
There is a footnote, number 42, in which it is written: “I’m sorry to be picking so much on backgammon, and doubtless this will raise the hackles of any Pahlavi-speaking ancient Zoroastrians out there who are indignant that I am not being sufficiently respectful of its cosmological allegorical potential (which is certainly the case), but I can’t help feeling that it is a worthy point of comparison.”
The author continues: “Chess, through the internet, has come of age. It has not just “adjusted” to the new normal, or found a way to successfully harness the fruits of modern technology in order to better do what it was already doing: chess has been nothing less than comprehensively transformed by modern technology. And, needless to say, this state of affairs has absolutely nothing to do with anything that FIDE, or any national chess federation, has ever done.”
“So let me set the record straight. It is certainly true that devotees of chess have an alarming tendency to consistently make sweeping, rigidly hierarchical judgments about virtually all aspects of their fellow human beings based solely on their Elo rating, which I find particularly unpalatable. It is true, too, that they are particularly prone to confuse wishful thinking with actual evidence when it comes to anty chess-related issue, irrepressibly holding forth on how chess can cure ADHD and prevent Alzheimer’s in a way which seems to comprehensively annihilate any claim that acquiring chess competency is linked to the development of critical thinking skills. And it cannot be denied that chess players, even more than most of us, do not generally take kindly to having their flaws pointed out to them, and will reflexively resort to any criticism coming their way be promptly launching a bevy of ad hominem counter-attacks inevitably linked to the Elo rating of their perceived attacker (see above).”
“Yes, yes, yes,. But it is also most conspicuously the case that the chess world is peopled by an extremely large number of capable, passionately dedicated individuals who exhibit a deeply impressive sense of community spirit. I have never witnessed anything remotely like it.”
“You see it in the astonishing number of thoughtful, well-constructed, instructional chess videos on YouTube. (Footnote 74: In a world replete with “content creators” of every description, including thousands who post abominably-edited tutorial videos on how to edit videos, the chess word stands out as nothing less than a paragon of content excellence.) You see it in the spontaneous sharing of any and all chess-related resources. You see it on the thousands of chess newsgroups scattered throughout the internet. And you see it whenever you speak, as I have, to the many, many extremely kind and gracious people within the remarkably large and varied “chess ecosystem,” from chess teachers to chess organizers to the countless altruists using chess as an innovative means of personal empowerment and social change.”
“How such a uniquely supportive global environment could have possibly emerged from a frequently ego-destroying contest based on ancient Indian war practices is one of the world’s great mysteries. But emerge it most assuredly has.”
“Which makes it all the more exasperating when the likes of FIDE so blatantly hijack the interests of this extraordinary community while cynically purporting to serve its interests. Back in 1924, when FIDE adopted the motto Gens Una Sumus, it was likely an honest and accurate reflection of what those founders felt they were doing and on whose behalf they believed they were doing it. These days, however, it has an unquestionably Arbeit Macht Frei ring to it.”
“The key point, then, is that chess today is different-very, very different-from chess of 20 years ago. The rise of powerful, universally-available chess engines naturally represents one part of the transformation which has garnered the lion’s share of attention, but it is, in fact, a relatively minor part. By far the most dominant factor is that an extremely large and dedicated international community has emphatically embraced an entirely new communications technology that just happened to perfectly fit its needs.”
“Intriguingly, too, this has coherently played out in both a capitalist and non-for-profit context, with the rapid simultaneous development of the likes of chess.com and lichess.org. Both of these organizations, along with several more, are flourishing in the new age of chess. Both provide continually expanding, top-quality services to their loyal membership. And yet, business-wise, they are completely different: chess.com is unabashedly corporate, operating through advertising and paid subscriptions; lichess.org is unabashedly non-corporate, offering all of its content freely and with no advertising within an avowedly open-source framework while being supported through volunteer donations. In any other domain, the rivalry would be tense, cutthroat even. In the chess world, however, they exist together relatively harmoniously, with significant overlap in their international user base.”
“I have no idea to what extent the business ecosystem of online chess is a harbinger of things to come or a temporary aberration, but it is, most assuredly, quite different.”
“And the difference, I’m convinced, can be traced back to the uniqueness of the global chess community itself-and in particular its passion.”
“Passion is he vital common denominator throughout the international chess community, the secret sauce that has ripples through everyone, from the novice unexpectedly finding herself hooked on the game to the spontaneous panegyrics of the ageless Bruce Pandolfini, expounding upon the unparalleled beauty of Morphy’s “Opera Game.”
The review concludes with this: “In order to build a steady following, it’s important to create a full contextual environment for fans to follow along with the sport. If I’m a fan of major league baseball, for example, I know from the first days of spring training that the regular season consists of 162 games, and that my team has a good chance of making it to the postseason if it wins 90 of those games, while it will almost certainly make it if it wins 95. And if I’m a tennis fan, I know which tournaments count the most, both in terms of prestige and associated ranking points; and I can confidently tell you at any given moment who is the tenth best player in the world and who is #1.By following a particular sport, in other words, I’m doing much more than simply watching a ball being struck or people running around: I am entering a world.”
“Now consider chess. Suppose I want a clear sense of which players are ranked fifth and sixth in the world respectively and why. It’s far from clear.”
“What about which tournaments I should pay the most attention to? If I follow men’s chess, the situation seems to change almost hourly, presumably depending on whatever shady backroom deal happened to be agreed upon at some mediocre, overpriced Swiss tournament, (Footnote 54: It’s true: I don’t like Switzerland. I could tell you why, but this essay is long enough already. Instead, let’s just ask why Kirill Alekseenko officially the world’s #39 player, was involved in the 2020 Candidates Tournament? The answer, I’m afraid, is simply because he’s Russian.) while if I try to follow women’s chess, it’s somehow even worse. That’s no way to run a bingo parlor, let alone a sport with such tremendous international potential.”
“So why are things so terrible? Why, notwithstanding the outstanding global penetration of a tradition-rich, highly engaging activity that is passionately endorsed by millions of dedicated and capable people-and moreover, just so happens to fit perfectly within the modern technological sporting entertainment paradigm-is there simply nothing to hang on to for the incoming fan: no program, no schedule, no context whatsoever?”
“Well, because of FIDE, of course. Rather than letting someone both appropriate and competent run things, FIDE has customarily opted to “take control” of professional chess competitions in its inimitably corrupt, antediluvian fashion, thereby ensuring the continual repulsion of any would-be professional chess fan.”
“Not so!” protest the indignant FIDEstas. “There’s a wonderful international sporting culture associated with chess: there’s the World Championship and the Olympiads, both of which we run!”
“Well, that’s exactly my point.”
Whew…was that something, or what?What can I say? The Dude has a point.
Although there is much more, far much more, such as the last four chapters: 5. Watch Her Play; 6. Far Transfer; 7. Farther Transfer; and 8. Farthest Transfer, about which to write, the fact is that I have written enough for you to have a clue about the book, and therefore must truncate the review, and let you enjoy the latter chapters.
Driven By Curiosity
Howard Burton is a documentary filmmaker and author. He is also the founder of the award-winning multimedia initiative Ideas Roadshow and the editor of 120 books that are part of the Ideas Roadshow Conversations and Collections series. Howard holds a PhD in theoretical physics and an MA in philosophy and was the Founding Director of Canada’s Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. He lives in France. (https://howardburton.com/)
According to 365Chess.com the opening move of 1 g4 is known as the A00 Grob’s attack. ‘Back in the day’ it was simply known as “The Grob.”
Any Chess player reaching class B, which is a rating between 1600 and 1799, knows he should defeat any player dumb enough to attempt playing the Grob’s attack. I played the Grob several times in rated tournaments, losing only to IM Boris Kogan.
Why would I have played 1 g4 versus an International Master of Grandmaster strength? After losing to Boris three times in OTB play when playing a more conventional opening the decision was made to try something a little different. OK, that should be “a lot different.” Sure, I lost the game, but the loss was worth something just to see the look on my opponent’s face! The fact is that a decent middle game position was reached prior to my blundering the exchange. Still, it was the only time playing Boris I had the feeling of being in the game. Players do not like facing the Grob attack because they know anything less that a win is tantamount to a loss…of face and credibility. After losing to the Grob one of my Stein Club (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2021/06/06/shanglei-lu-seeks-bishops-opening-truth/) opponents had to listen to an onlooker ask, “You lost to the Grob? How the hell does anyone lose to the Grob?” At that point my opponent emptied his beer stein into the face of the kibitzer before exiting the Stein Club… How bad is Grob’s attack? To put it into perspective, after 1 e4 e5 2 Qh5 the SF program at lichess.com shows white with a disadvantage of -0.4. Before the move white had a +0.4 advantage. You do the math…
According to the Big Database at 365Chess (https://www.365chess.com/opening.php) the thirteenth most often opening move made by those in charge of the white brigade has been 1 g4. The Grob. The Grob spelled backwards is:
Anyone can occasionally play what has come to be known as the, C20 KP, Patzer opening.
GM Magnus Carlsen (2835) – IM Shamsiddin Vokhidov (2480) World Rapid 2018 St Petersburg RUS, 2018.12.26
It takes a special type of player to open with the Grob’s Attack. There are those who highly tout Grob’s Attack. For instance:
Most Underrated Chess Opening: Grob’s Attack
So today we’ll learn another underrated chess opening called the Grob’s Attack, which starts with the unusual 1.g4. The opening takes its name from Swiss International Master Henri Grob (1904–1974) who analysed it extensively and played hundreds of correspondence games with it.
A great thing about this opening is that the White’s first move 1.g4 is so rare that most of your opponents will be shocked to see it. Therefore, you get them out of their opening preparation giving you a great chance of winning the game!
Before getting to the most underrated chess opening, let me remind you that the special offers we’re providing you with in honour of our upgraded training portal and new shop is expiring TOMORROW (31 March).
Have you ever felt like you stepped into a pile of hyperbole?
In the first round of the Caplin Hastings Masters 2022 a chap named Stellio Jerome, rated 1501, opened with the A00 Grob’s attack versus Expert Matthew J Payne, rated 2116. The result will come as no surprise:
It has taken Nick only seven moves to go from having a winning advantage to having an even game. Things obviously went downhill from here… If you are a class A player and you lose to anyone opening with the Grob you must ask yourself some serious questions, beginning with, “Why am I playing Chess?”
In the fifth round Stellio Jerome did it again:
Stellio Jerome (1501) vs Sanjit S Kumar, (1965) Hastings 2023 Round 5 The Grob Attack
After only eight moves he Stockfish program utilized at lichess.com shows the game to be even, Steven.
Do not let this happen to YOU! Give the Grob a chance and open with 1 g4 in an off-hand game or several. No matter what opening your opponent fires at you, a player should have at least an idea about how to play against any, and every opening. To help you down that path here are the opening moves preferred by Stockfish:
With my first cuppa Joe this morning I did the usual surfin’ by hitting the high spots, which includes rounding up the usual suspects, such as The Week In Chess (TWIC), and Chessdom, Chessbase, Chess24, and last and least, Chess.com. It has become rare to stay at the latter for any amount of time these days, but today was an exception because our girl, Lularobs, had published an article, How To Talk To Your Kids About Chess. This turned out to be one of the funniest Chess articles ever read, and when one gets to my advanced age that is saying much. Until recently Chess had not been known for it’s frivolity, but as Bob Dylan sang:
‘Back in the day’ Chess was considered a serious game played by smart adults, mostly men. The game had gravitas. “Oh, you play Chess? You must be smart,” was often heard. Now one hears things like, “Oh, you play Chess? I’ve heard there is much CHEATING IN CHESS these days.” One of the saddest things I have ever heard about Chess was a woman, when describing todaze Chess, said, “It’s become a game for children.” My first thought was to argue with her, but upon quick reflection it was obvious she was correct.
Our girl, Lularobs, begins her post with: You may have seen the news: the Chess.com app has reached number one in popularity for free games on the App Store. I can hear your sigh from across the screen because you and I both know the gravity of the situation. This is no Flappy Bird, Temple Run, or Candy Crush situation. This is a big deal; this is chess.
I have no idea, or even a clue as to what is, “Flappy Bird, Temple Run, or Candy Crush.” This is because I am a Senior citizen who cares not what constitutes Flappy, Temple, or Candy. I will proudly admit to being “not with it,” at least when it comes to FB, TR, and/or CC.
Next comes the second paragraph: Your fears are confirmed; your child has been playing blitz throughout dinner, talking about “blunders” and “forks” (not the ones on the table), and asking if they can sign up for a “FIDE rating.” All weekend, you hear “chat, then we go here, takes, takes, takes, here, no no no chat, here, then you grab the juicer chat, it’s so obviously winning chat,” coming from their laptop. You’ve decided it can’t be put off any longer… you need to talk to your child about chess.
It may be better for the child to have a talk with his parent(s) about Chess because from my experience most parents have absolutely no clue when it comes to Chess. That goes for the majority of adults who become involved with the Royal Game because of their children because they come into the Chess world and want to “get involved,” while knowing little, if anything, about Chess. Unfortunately, from their perspective what they want coincides with what is best for their children, and possibly the children of ohter adults. When it comes to the Big Picture of what is actually best for Chess they could care less because to them their children are all that matter. When working at the Atlanta Chess & Game Center a parent actually said, “I don’t care whether or not it’s good for Chess. The only thing I’m concerned with is how it relates to my child.” There were nods all around from some of the other parents.
Miss Lula next continues under the header: Reassure Your Child
Developing an interest in chess is perfectly natural, and your child needs to know that.
My first thought was, “Know what, exactly?” How about, “Your child needs to know that developing an interest in chess is perfectly natural.” There appears to be little, if any, oversight when it comes to writing articles for this website, which is strange because it is mostly a website for children, and don’t you want your child to read something well written? Who knows, being able to construct a well written sentence later on in life may mean much more than knowing how to play the Najdorf Sicilian. Then again, maybe not, as there are now chat type thing-a-ma-jigs that will take your words, rearrange them and make you look like you know what you are doing.
Miss Lula continues: You remember your first checkmate, your first heartbreak (a loss from a completely winning position), and your first tournament. Your naive fascination for one of the oldest board games on Earth developed into a meaningful life-long relationship, through hardship and victory, and now it was time for your child to discover this wonder of life for themselves.
Was that written with tongue in cheek?
Lula continues with what is really important: When you talk to your child about chess, make sure not to confront them. Don’t make them feel shameful about their new obsession with tactics or GothamChess recap videos. Encourage them to explore chess in a healthy, informed way. Sit down across from them with a chess board and talk through tactical themes, explain your own excitement for chess, and help them to make a ChessKid or Chess.com account (depending on their age).
Lula is not finished, at least with this part: If your child becomes comfortable with talking to you about chess, then you’re already doing great. If you don’t have this conversation, then your child might end up doing nothing more than playing ultrabullet and grunting disdainfully at you whenever you mention “Chessable” or “studying.” Even worse, your child might end up quitting chess altogether and playing checkers.
What is wrong with playing checkers? Well, from the perspective of Chess.com, everything is wrong because there is no Chess.com account for checkers! If you are an adult reading this then I urge you to give some serious thought to making your child aware of the Great Game of Go (https://www.usgo.org/) because we live in a boom and bust society and Chess currently happens to be in a “boom” period. From over half a century in Chess my perspective says it is inevitable that Chess will eventually, sooner or later, devolve into the “bust” part of the equation. Just sayin’…
The next phase is: Speaking About Chess Respectfully
I will respectfully publish only the picture, with caption:
Unfortunately, Chess.com will not allow the picture to load.
For some reason I feel compelled to put what follows after the above picture because it cracked me up…
Show your child how to report unkind behavior from their opponents instead of returning the negativity, and don’t worry… I won’t tell them about the trash talk between you and your friends when you’re playing blitz at the bar on the weekend.
When reading the next header: Introduce Them to Chess in a Safe Way, I wondered if sometime in the past I had read almost the same sentence: Introduce Them to Sex in a Safe Way.
Miss Lula continues: It can be easy for kids today to be drawn into “KILLER OPENING TRAPS THAT WIN IN 5 MOVES!” when what they need are solid foundations and opening principles to nurture their chess development. After all, skipping to the Tennison Gambit: Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Variation when they haven’t yet learned “knights before bishops!” or “control the center, castle and connect your rooks” is a dangerous game, and will more often than not end in disappointment.
Over fifty years in Chess and this was the first time learning of the Tennison Gambit: Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Variation. If you go to Chess.com and read the article, you, too, can learn what constitutes the above gambit.
There is more before a video:
Chess content creators are awesome, and you enjoy them yourself, so don’t withhold fun chess content from your kids. Instead, show them rating-appropriate content. The landscape has changed since we were kids, and now all your favorite content creators are making beginner-friendly videos and courses. These are great for your kids, and healthy ways to engage in fun chess content without being peer-pressured into all the latest opening gambits and traps just because their friends are trying them.
I could not help but wonder if I am a “Chess content creator” and, if so, am I awesome, or what?!
The next section is titled: Practicing Safe Chess
It can be hard to know when to stop when it comes to chess. It could be a three-hour bullet chess binge late at night or “just one more game” when there’s still homework to be done. Your child must learn when to stop.
I know that’s right! Then again, what does a parent say when the child says, “But Daddy, can I just do it until I need glasses?” Maybe the parent should give some serious consideration to informing the child about what is a condom. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want that Tennison Gambit: Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Variation all over me!
Then there is: The Issue of Elo
Ratings and Elo are huge talking points among chess-playing adolescents, and such discussions can, unfortunately, devolve into competitive comparisons such as “my blitz rating is 1300” and “oh, well my peak rapid rating is 1450.” These my horse is bigger than your horse discussions are commonplace among individuals whose prefrontal cortices are not fully developed, and while they should grow out of this in time, if such behavior goes unchecked, it may become entrenched.
Then we come to: The Inevitability of Heartbreak
As children grow up, they form all sorts of attachments, whether these be to people, TikTok dances, or chess openings. A devastating loss in their pet line of the Sicilian Defense: Hyperaccelerated Dragon Variation at such a formative stage in their chess could mark the end of an era, and a lot of heartache. “I’m not playing this opening ever again!”, “It was my favorite opening!” or “I can’t believe it would let me down!” are all sentiments you may be hearing after a five-hour classical game that didn’t go your child’s way.
I am here to inform you that if you play Chess, you will inevitably suffer some form of heartburn that will break your heart…
This part concludes with this admonition from Miss Lularobs: If you want your child to stay honest and open with you about the chess openings and strategies they are using, then this is when they need you to support them the most. Let them know that you’re on their side, even if they hung their queen with an hour on the clock.
The article ends with: To Conclude
Ultimately, when it comes to their child discovering chess, every parent knows they’re in for a bumpy ride. There will be highs: the excitement of the World Chess Championship, seeing your child’s eyes light up when their favorite streamer takes part in PogChamps, and your child’s first classical FIDE-rated win. But, you know, there will also be lows: rating fluctuations, schoolyard teasing about the London System, and seeing Danny Rensch in a giant pawn costume. (If you go to Chess.com one can click onto a link in which Danny Rensch is actually dressed in some lime green thing that does sorta resemble a huge pawn, which is kinda appropriate for Danny Rensch, if you come to think about it…)
I don’t know about the part concerning “…the excitement of the World Chess Championship.” The two players contesting the upcoming WCC, which only found a venue recently, are not the best Chess players on the planet. One of the players melted down against World Chess Champ Magnus Carlsen during the last WCC, and the other just played miserably in the first ‘Major” tournament of the year. The excitement for the upcoming WCC in the Chess world is most definitely NOT at a fever pitch. The so-called “World Chess Championship” has been turned into some kind of sick joke. What do you expect when the body overseeing Chess in the world, FIDE, is controlled by the Russians, who are currently perpetuating genocide against their neighbors in Ukraine.
Miss Lula concludes with: We may not have all been afforded such a supportive start to chess. I mean, playing Chessmaster alone and getting one weekly after-school session on ladder mates might have been the extent of your developmental support during your period of chess discovery, but we can do better by our kids and provide support for them in improving at chess, being respectful towards other players, and perhaps one day even beating Mittens.
In the article at Chessbase, Not quite unprecedented, by Carlos Alberto Colodro, much was made of the fact that current World Chess Champ Magnus Carlsen lost two consecutive games in rounds four and five in the 2023 Tata Steel Chess tournament.
“Before the rest day at the Tata Steel Masters, Carlsen had lost to Anish Giri, and in the very next round, he was shockingly defeated by 18-year-old Nodirbek Abdusattorov. The last time Carlsen had lost two classical games in a row was in 2015, at the Norway Chess event, where he lost to Veselin Topalov and Fabiano Caruana in the first two rounds of the super-tournament.” (https://en.chessbase.com/post/tata-steel-chess-2023-r5-b)
There is a box in the article which contains the number of Carlsen losses since 2013:
Amount of losses in classical chess for Carlsen by year: 2013: 4 2014: 6 2015: 10 2016: 3 2017: 6 2018: 2 2019: 0 2020: 2 2021: 2 2022: 1#TataSteelChess — Tarjei J. Svensen (@TarjeiJS) January 19, 2023
Anyone who knows anything about statistics knows that without context numbers are meaningless.
For example, the two games Magnus lost during the pandemic year could be more, percentage wise, than the ten lost in 2015. Without knowing how many games were contested by Magnus for the above years the numbers are meaningless.
Things would have been different if the writer had, for example, taken time to research his subject. The author also could have researched how often the other World Chess Champions had lost two consecutive games, which would have added something interesting to the article.
The article did stoke my curiosity, causing me to wonder why Magnus played such poor Chess moves. I researched the earlier tournament in order to learn the dates of the two games that were lost back in 2015. Then I went to the preferred biorhythm calculator (https://www.biorhythm-calculator.net/) to check what it displayed for Magnus at the beginning of the 2015 Norway Chess event:
Magnus finished the tournament one-half point out of last place in the event, winning two, drawing three, and losing four games. The above chart shows Magnus intellectually low for the entire tournament.