Ding-A-Ling Liren Shares Sinquefield Cup First Place With Magnus

Magnus Carlsen defeated Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

with the black pieces in the final round of the Sinquefield Cup to finish in a tie for first place with Ding Liren.


Magnus Carlsen resigning to Ding Liren after last “hurry-up and get it over” game

The next day the Chess tournament devolved into much faster time controls and the World Champion lost the exhibition, causing some to report the man from China had actually ‘won’ the tournament. Ding had a better performance rating than Magnus, 2845 to 2838. There are many ways, including performance rating, to determine a “winner,” without forcing the best human players on the planet to play Blunder Fest Chess. FIDE has led the Chess world into Mass psychogenic illness. (Mass psychogenic illness (MPI), also called mass sociogenic illness, mass psychogenic disorder, epidemic hysteria, or mass hysteria, is “the rapid spread of illness signs and symptoms affecting members of a cohesive group, originating from a nervous system disturbance involving excitation, loss, or alteration of function, whereby physical complaints that are exhibited unconsciously have no corresponding organic aetiology”.)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_psychogenic_illness

Although there are a few sane humans who realize Ding and Magnus were Co-Champions of the Sinquefield Cup we are vastly outnumbered by weak-minded, go along to get along type followers. Maybe things will change after Ding defeats Magnus to win the World Human Chess Championship as the Chinese will then rule the Chess world and could possibly restore sanity to the Royal game. We sane fans can only hope…

Stinking It Up At The Sinquefield Cup

The players continue to making headlines at the Sinquefield Cup:

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

By IM Rakesh

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

Sinquefield Cup Sees Another All-Draw Day In Round 7

By IM Rakesh

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

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

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

Sasori: no suprise

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

columbeau: thos who preach peace don’t have peace

kambodja: soon they will exhaust, and mistakes will follow

shtighnits: 42 games, 38 draws.

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

oneEfour: draw draw draw

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

Rambus: Rex has been taken to the cleaners

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

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

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

Petrosian Memorial (1999)

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

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

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

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

Losers In The Game

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

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

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

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

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

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

All Your Sorrows

Metal Church

[D. Wayne / K. Vanderhoof]

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

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

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

You’ve made a mess
Of your Sunday best

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

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

GM Igor Rausis says “Chess is a disease”

The post dated July 13, 2019, GM Igors Rausis Caught With The Toilet Seat Down, (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2019/07/12/grandmaster-igors-rausis-caught-cheating/) went viral. The number of viewers was the most, by far, of any previous post on the AW blog. Tens of thousands of people all over the world viewed the post in numbers that dwarfed any other post. The number of viewers is given each day and there is a map of the world in which the number of viewers is color coded. The world map lit up like a Christmas tree, with viewers from almost every country on the planet. This continued for a few days until dropping back to what was previously considered “normal.” Because of the huge daily numbers for those days what was formerly considered a “normal” day is now seen as a tiny blip on the graph of viewers. From this it is more than a little obvious people interested in the Royal game are very interested in the ever increasing problem of cheating in Chess.

I had not intended on writing anything else on cheating but a recent interview with GM Igor Rausis has caused me to have second thoughts about posting anything concerning the confessed cheater. Chessbase published, Igors Rausis: How to quit chess in one move By Andris Tihomirovs, yesterday, August 23, 2019, which was read this morning. (https://en.chessbase.com/post/how-to-quit-chess-in-one-move) The article was, “Originally published in SestDiena magazine, July 26, 2019.” I clicked onto the link (https://www.diena.lv/raksts/sestdiena/tuvplana/ka-ar-ravienu-tikt-prom-no-saha.-saruna-ar-igoru-rausi-14223781) finding it in need of translation, so I headed to Google translate only to learn only the heading could be translated but one cannot cut & paste the article. This is what could be translated:

How to Get Away from Chess A conversation with Igor Rausis

A photo of a chess player in a restroom using his mobile phone during a game

broke a long-standing storm not only among fans of the sport, but also for those who have a simple black and white picture of chess. Chess grandmaster Igor Rausis, who has been trapped in a fraud, says it was his chance to get away from the chess world with a twist.

What follows is part of the translation from the aforementioned Chessbase article:

Has anyone else been accused or suspected of cheating in chess?

Lots. Unfortunately, lots. I don’t want to talk about the others. I don’t want to name any specific surnames. I don’t know why people came up with this idea of making phone apps for chess. It all started with that.

They’ve been around for a long time.

But why? What’s the point?

To play. To analyse. I play on the tram.

But they didn’t think about the consequences. Well, there are a lot of sick people in the world. Previously, this sickness didn’t exist. Gaming mania. Unfortunately, it’s a contemporary illness.

Like casino?

That’s different, because a person goes to the casino and leaves money behind. It’s like drugs.

What exactly? Chess?

Gaming. And the world supports this, because somebody’s earning money from his. (It is possible the word “his” should be “this.” It is printed exactly as found at Chessbase.)

Beyond phones, is chess a sickness?

Chess players never talk about it, because chess fans like other words — like chess is art. Maybe it partially applies to those who compile compositions [chess problems].

So is chess a disease?

In a manner of speaking. A great pyramid has been built. I can now say something controversial aimed at the functionaries.

THE THREAT IS STRONGER THAN ITS EXECUTION!

If Chess is to survive it MUST change in order to adapt to the current circumstances. Over a decade ago I wrote about the need for Chess to adapt but money was flowing into Chess thanks to billionaire bullies with more money than sense, so who wanted to be the first to rock the boat? (I use the term “billionaire bullies” because of people like the Koch bros, etc., and other extremely wealthy people who donate money to political candidates who would obviously be more comfortable in a Nazi-type party than any political party consisting of We The People) At a recent Chess tournament in Atlanta someone mentioned Daniel Lucas,

formerly editor of Georgia Chess before becoming editor of Chess Life magazine. There was laughter upon my mentioning I thought Daniel was still editor of Chess Life. “Because USCF is now awash in Sinquebucks there have been many changes at USCF, Bacon,” said someone who will remain nameless. “Now Daniel’s WIFE is the editor and he has been given a new title of, Senior Director of Strategic Communication for the United States Chess Federation.”

“What does that mean, exactly?” I asked. “I mean, wouldn’t simply Director of Communication have sufficed? Is there a “Junior Director of Strategic Communication?” After more laughter I asked, “What, exactly, is ‘Strategic Communication’ and how does it differ from just plain Communication?” After the uproarious laughter abated someone said, “They just pull those kind of names out of their ass.” This brought the house down, so to speak.

In a capitalist economy it is said, “He who has the money makes the rules.” It is no secret Rex Sinquefield wants much shorter time controls for the Royal game. It has become apparent how little it matters what he, on any other wealthy patron of Chess wants, because now, for the game of Chess to survive, it MUST limit a game to one sitting, with no player allowed to leave the room.

On the very popular, and famous, television show, House, the character of Doctor House

was famous for saying, “Everyone lies.” The way Chess is currently played I can say, “Everyone cheats,” and who will argue? It is too easy to cheat so it is happening in every section by players of all ages. Some years ago at a tournament in Atlanta a player was caught cheating and his response was, “Everyone else is doing it, so I must do it too.” At another tournament, at Emory University some years ago, everyone but the TDs was talking about a group of young boys who would simply leave the playing hall heading for the seats of the cafeteria where they would check out a cell phone in plain sight. Why go to the lavatory when one can sit in the comfort of the cafeteria?

There are signs everywhere pointing to the death of Chess. The recently concluded US Open Chess tournament managed to draw only three hundred plus players. Before a recent round of the Sinquefield Cup Chess tournament in St. Louis, Maurice Asheley talked about the myriad draws in the tournament thus far, contrasting the mostly draw “classical” Chess tourney with a recent “rapid” tournament round in which six of the ten games were decisive. Is the Royal game as it is played by the best Chess players “played out?” How many people will be interested in Chess if it must devolve to “Blunder Fest Chess” to survive?

They Bad

In an interview with Albert Silver appearing on Chessbase, former World Chess Champion Anatoly Karpov said, “…the quality of the players has worsened. In the autumn, Carlsen and Anand were playing, and I came to the final. The FIDE Vice President Georgios Makropoulos came to me and said: “Judging by today’s games, even an out-of-shape Karpov would beat either of them…”

It is natural for older people to consider things having been better “back in the day.” This is common in all walks of life. For example, many years ago I worked for a company owned by a former Delta Airlines employee. The company transported vehicles to nine different Southern states, and many of the drivers were former Delta employees who had retired. To a man they all agreed Delta was a better company “back in the day.” Upon hearing this for the umptheenth time, I said, “Maybe it was just a different company back then.” This was met with glares and stares, and I was shunned. A short time later I mentioned one of my girlfriends had been a stewardess for Delta in the early ’70’s, and another had worked for only Delta, and had done so for decades, adding, “Seems like it was a better company back then.” Everyone smiled, clapped me on the back, and things were right with the world of James Auto Transport!

That said, I must agree with Mr. Karpov. The matches for the World Chess Championship this decade have left much to be desired. Back in the day we looked forward to the upcoming WC match with much anticipation. This is no longer the case. I am having trouble recalling the last interesting match for the World Chess Championship.

I must also agree with the former WCC about the quality of the play of the current top players. I am not exactly certain, but it could be the influence of the computer chess programs in that they have humbled the Grandmasters, or, shall we say, taken them down a peg, or two. My friend the Discman said something, published on this blog, some time ago, “GM’s used to be thought of as Gods.” Now the Gods of chess come with names like Komodo, and Stockfish.

As an example of what I mean let me refer you to the coverage on Chessbase of the most recent “elite” tournament, the Grenke Chess Classic in Baden-Baden. The players were having much trouble converting winning endgames. I watched as GM Etienne Bacrot, who had been winning for quite sometime, came completely unglued trying to push home his advantage versus GM Michael Adams. (http://en.chessbase.com/post/grenke-rd5-carlsen-back-in-the-lead) This was one of many butchered endgames in this particular tournament. Unfortunately, it is not the only recent tournament about which the same can be said.

What makes it worse is that the players make statements like, “We are so much better than the players of the last century that even when they were on top of their game the best players of today would wipe the floor with them, and we have got the numbers to prove it.” OK, I am paraphrasing here, but you get the idea. Their ratings are higher and the best players of today do seem to strut around like Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor in the movie Silver Streak, saying, “That’s right, we bad, WE BAD!” Then they go out and draw another winnable endgame. For example, “…while Adams could not convert his advantage against Aronian.” (http://en.chessbase.com/post/grenke-rd6-anand-only-win)

Sometimes it is even worse than the above. Consider what was written after the headline, “GRENKE Rd4: Two Blunders, Two Black wins.”
“What a round! Two major blunders defined the two victories, games that were on the verge of being wildly interesting and dissipated into a win for Black as in both cases the White side simply missed Black’s resources or overestimated his own attacking chances. Carlsen bounced back with a win over Anand in a stonewall, while Baramidze basically gave Naiditsch the tournament lead.” (http://en.chessbase.com/post/grenke-rd4-two-blunders-two-black-wins-2)

What a round, indeed. Baramidze failed to answer a question every chess player should ask himself before making a move, “Am I leaving anything en prise?” He actually put a Knight en prise, giving Naiditsch a piece for nothing. Amazing….Granted, GM Baramidze is clearly not a Super GM, but still…

Not to be outdone, former World Human Chess Champion Vishy Anand gave his opponent that day, World Human Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen, a full ROOK! I kid you not. The game is annotated by GM Alejandro Ramirez at the Chessbase website. (http://en.chessbase.com/post/grenke-rd4-two-blunders-two-black-wins-2) Anand should give some serious consideration to retiring. If he continues to play he will only continue to embarrass himself, and tarnish his reputation.

That’s right, they bad, THEY BAD!

Speaking of GM Alejandro Ramirez…Annotating the game between Radoslaw Wojtaszek and Magnus Carlsen from round three of the Tata Steel tournament, after 1.d4 d6 2.Nf3 g6 3.c4 f5 4.b4 Bg7 5.Bb2 a5 6.b5 a4!?, Alejandro writes, “This brave pawn will be weak, but it does restrict White a little. Carlsen has to be very careful not to lose it though.”

Come on! I know Magnus is the World Human Chess Champion, but I do not need a 3300 rated program to tell me this move is bad, REAL BAD! And this is not an isolated example. Everyone in the chess world, except maybe the VP of the GCA, is aware of the “howler,” Kd2, Magnus played against Viswanathan Anand in their most recent WCC match. Magnus was saved because Vishy sat there for one minute without asking himself the first question every chess player, other than the VP of the GCA, asks himself after his opponent makes a move, which is, “Why did my opponent make that move?” But what about the move Carlsen played as White against Fabiano Caruana in a Bishop’s Opening last year at the Sinquefield Cup?

Carlsen vs Caruana

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 c6 4. Nf3 d5 5. Bb3 Bb4+ 6. c3 Bd6 7. Bg5 dxe4 8. dxe4 h6 9. Bh4 Qe7 10. Nbd2 Nbd7 11. Bg3 Bc7 12. O-O Nh5 13. h3?

Once again, I do not need a computer program to tell me how bad is this move. This move stinks. It is the kind of move that may be played by the VP of the GCA, a triple digit player. I give the rest of the game for the record, and as proof as to what kind of chess is being passed off a being better than that played “back in the day.” 13…Nxg3 14. fxg3 Nc5 15. Bxf7+ Kxf7 16. Nxe5+ Kg8 17. Ng6 Qg5 18. Rf8+ Kh7 19. Nxh8 Bg4 20. Qf1 Nd3 21. Qxd3 Rxf8 22. hxg4 Qxg4 23. Nf3 Qxg3 24. e5+ Kxh8 25. e6 Bb6+ 26. Kh1 Qg4 27. Qd6 Rd8 28. Qe5 Rd5 29. Qb8+ Kh7 30. e7 Qh5+ 31. Nh2 Rd1+ 32. Rxd1 Qxd1+ 33. Nf1 Qxf1+ 34. Kh2 Qg1+ 0-1

Keep in mind the current human WCC backed into the match in which he became Chess Champ of the World. In the biggest game of his career, a game he had to win, Magnus Carlsen LOST. He was saved when GM Vladmir Kramnik also lost, giving the right to Carlsen to play a match with an old, tired, and obviously worn out toothless Tiger. I can still picture the young Magnus sitting on his knees in his chair like a little boy at a weekend swiss as his time dwindled. This man could never stand toe to toe with the Giants of the past. They would wipe the floor with him, and then eat him alive.

The Greatest Chess Tournament of All-Time

The last day of the 2011 Major League Baseball season has often been called “The Greatest Day Of Baseball Ever.” Eric Simon @AmazinAvenue used the aforementioned headline (http://www.amazinavenue.com/2011/9/29/2457299/red-sox-rays-braves-wild-card-jose-reyes-mlb-playoffs).

MLB.com continues the trend with headlines such as, “One year later, recalling baseball’s Best Night Ever” (http://m.mlb.com/news/article/39125938/)

Do a search and a film by MLB.com heads the line-up, “Regular season’s wild end” (http://m.mlb.com/video/v19789807/the-2011-regular-season-ends-with-a-flourish).

The sad thing is that all this “greatness” transpired long after most fans had gone to sleep. Little League baseball players cannot stay up until after midnight to watch, no matter how “great” the event. Most who have to rise early to get to work cannot stay awake because the games drag on and on, with an endless series of commercials between innings and endless pitching changes. Most fans have been bored stiff long before something “great” happens.

Every generation has its “greatest.” The sixth game of the 1975 World Series between the Reds and Red Sox, which featured a home run that barely stayed fair by Carlton Fisk, was the “greatest game of all-time.” To the fans in Pittsburgh the home run hit by Bill Mazeroski to beat the damn Yankees in the bottom of the ninth inning off of Ralph Terry in the 1960 World Series will always be the “greatest game of all-time” no matter what happens in the future.

The recently concluded second Sinquefield Cup is being called the latest, greatest, chess tournament of all-time. Except for the runaway winner, Fabiano Caruana, who kept his head while those around him were losing theirs, the standard of play was abysmally low. It is possible the player who finished, the sinister Vesilin Topalov, played the worse chess. Fortunately for him some of his opponents played their worst chess against him. For example, Hikaru Nakamura should have blown Topalov off of the board in the third round, leaving him three losses and having to face World Champion Magnus Carlsen while sitting behind the black army. Nakamura would have only a half point behind Fab Car and it would have been a completely different tournament. I will be kind and say that other than Fab Car the players did not bring their “A” game. It was certainly not the most interesting chess tournament of all-time.

GM Alejandro Ramirez wrote an article on 9/7/2014 for Chessbase, “Sinquefield 10: Draws end magnificent event,” which included this: “This super-GM double round robin tournament is being played from August 27th to September 7th. It is billed as the strongest tournament in the history of chess.” (http://en.chessbase.com/post/sinquefield-10-draws-end-magnificent-event)

A few days later, 9/10/2014, Alisa Melekhina wrote an article, “Behind the Scenes of the Sinquefield Cup,” which included this: “This super-GM double round robin tournament is being played from August 27th to September 7th. It is billed as the strongest tournament in the history of chess.” (http://en.chessbase.com/post/behind-the-scenes-of-the-sinquefield-cup)

“Strongest Chess Tournament Ever Begins in Saint Louis”
By Brian Jerauld
August 27, 2014
SAINT LOUIS, MO (August 26, 2014) — It‘s time to ring the bell on the strongest chess tournament in history.
http://www.uschess.org/content/view/12780/772/

Saturday, August 16, 2014
Sinquefield Cup 2014 – Strongest Chess Tournament in History
http://susanpolgar.blogspot.com/2014/08/sinquefield-cup-2014-strongest-chess.html

Jason Rosenhouse, writing on something called the “Evolution Blog: Science, Religion, Math, Politics and Chess” has this headline: “The Greatest Chess Tournament in the History of Chess Tournaments”
Posted by jrosenhouse on August 28, 2014
http://scienceblogs.com/evolutionblog/2014/08/28/the-greatest-chess-tournament-in-the-history-of-chess-tournaments/

But wait, there’s MORE!

“Fabiano Caruana Is Doing The Impossible At Chess’s Most Competitive Tournament”
10:21 AMSep 5 By Oliver Roeder
http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/fabiano-caruana-is-doing-the-impossible-at-chesss-most-competitive-tournament/

Leave it to Tim Krabbé to put an end to the hyperbole:

“Could this nonsense about ´the strongest chess tournament in history´ please stop? You have the numbers 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 and 9 of the most recent ranking. The 1938 AVRO tournament had the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. Of your six players, four are in the top-six – a density of 4/6, or .67. The AVRO Tournament had eight of the top eight – a density of 8/8 or 1. Both tournaments are double round robins, with of 30 and 56 games respectively. Multiplying these numbers, we get an index of 4/6*30=20 for Sinquefield, and 1*56=56 for AVRO.

AVRO, therefore, was almost 3 times as strong.

Should anyone see these calculations as meaningless, they should consider that they share that quality with Sinquefield´s average rating of 2802. Ratings do not reflect playing strength – they reflect relative playing strength and therefore, inflation more than anything else. I could go out right now and buy the most expensive pingpong ball in the history of humankind.

With many thanks for the wonderful tournament,

Tim Krabbé”
http://timkr.home.xs4all.nl/chess2/diary.htm

Many thanks for putting the latest, greatest, chess tournament of all-time into perspective, Tim.

MUHAMMAD ALI: THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME

Hikaru No Chess

The title is a play on the hugely popular Japanese TV series, “Hikaru no Go” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0426711/).
the popularity of this program is best described by this, “World Go population probably tripled because of ‘Hikaru no Go'”, said Joey Hung, USA 8 dan Go instructor. All of Joey’s Go School ( http://www.egogames.com) Go students in Fremont, CA, USA have watched the exciting Go anime. Also, at the World Amateur Go Tournament and Beijing Mental Olympics Tournament, many European, South American and Asian players reflected that they have seen a dramatic increase in Go population due to the ‘Hikaru no GO’ anime.”

“Hikaru no Go (literally The Go of Hikaru or Hikaru’s Go) is a manga (a Japanese comic) and an anime (a Japanese cartoon) about a boy (Hikaru Shindo) who discovers the ancient game when he finds an old board in the attic and meets the spirit of a past Go master (Fujiwara-no-Sai).
The Hikaru no Go manga is published by VIZ Media ([ext] http://www.viz.com) in the United States and Canada, and the Hikaru no Go anime has been licensed by VIZ Media in the United States and Canada. The manga is serialized in the United States version of Shonen Jump ( http://www.shonenjump.com), while the entire anime is viewable at Hulu.com. In North America Hikaru no Go is also available on the ImaginAsian TV Channel” (http://senseis.xmp.net/?HikaruNoGo).

“Hikaru no Go ( lit. “Hikaru’s Go”) is a manga series, a coming of age story based on the board game Go written by Yumi Hotta and illustrated by Takeshi Obata with an anime adaptation. The production of the series’ Go games was supervised by Go professional Yukari Umezawa (5-dan). The manga is largely responsible for popularizing Go among the youth of Japan since its debut, and considered by Go players everywhere to have sparked worldwide interest in Go, noticeably increasing the Go-playing population across the globe, perhaps tripling it.
Current top Japanese Go professional Iyama Yuta is considered to be part of the influx of young Go players whose generation was inspired by the series.
First released in Japan in Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump in 1998, Hikaru no Go achieved tremendous success, spawning a popular Go fad of almost unprecedented proportions” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hikaru_no_Go).

Maybe the best way to impart just how popular is “Hikaru no Go” would be to mention that in the December, 2012, issue of the second best chess publication in the world, “Chess Monthly,” the man who recently tied with GM David Howell for first place in the British chess championships, IM Jonathan Hawkins, the author of “Amateur to IM: Proven Ideas and Training Methods,” when asked the question of what is your favorite film or TV series, answered, “Hikaru no Go.” (!)

The impetus for my last post was Hikaru Nakamura. It is no secret that Hikaru has not been playing well recently. I am sure many other fans of “Naka” have “felt his pain.” After blowing a certain win against human World Champion Magnus Carlsen in the third round of the Zurich tournament, I could not help but wonder if he could ever come back from such a defeat, especially since he has never beaten Magnus in a classical game of chess. Now he has finished dead last on his home court of the St. Louis Chess Club & Scholastic Center in the latest edition of the Sinquefield Cup. If there is a next S.C. Hikaru should be left out, as was Gata Kamsky this year. It is clear there is something wrong with Hikaru. He would not be a good poker player because he is easy to read. It is obvious from his body language that he is not the same person I saw in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, at the 32nd Continental Open in 2002, when he was kicking ass and taking names. He was brimming with confidence and the world was his oyster.

After losing to Veselin Topalov, the Bulgarian, who is often referred to as a former “world champion” though I know not why, Hikaru was interviewed by GM Maurice Ashley. Maurice said, “There was a moment in the game that the computer spotted an idea and we thought you were for sure gonna play. It’s the kind of move you always play. Yasser said you would play it in a bullet game, the move Bxf2. Tell us your thoughts in this moment right now.” Hikaru responded, “Well, I mean basically I had this exact position up until move 19 up on the board, um, you know, before the game and e5 was not a computer move and I knew it had to be bad but, um, during the game I just couldn’t quite figure it out. Um, OK, obviously I looked at Bxf2 and then I rejected it, but, I mean I just simply did not see the end of the line and more or less it’s unfortunate, but even then later I was still OK and then I just completely lost the thread, so I mean, sometimes things don’t go your way.”

Maurice: “The…we hear this often from really high level players like yourself that something goes wrong in the calculation. Can you ever explain it when that happens, because it seems unnerving even to you guys.”

Hikaru: “Um…well I mean…I’m not so upset about missing this one because I mean it wasn’t clear even though it’s the most intuitive move on the board. I mean, sometimes it happens, but again what can you do, sometimes, sometimes you don’t…I mean, if you don’t calculate perfectly, I mean that’s why, that’s why computers are just much better than all of us.”

Maurice: “Well, at least it’s calculating for sure. You’re in a tough situation now.”

There is a caption underneath a picture of Nakamura on the Chessbase website in an article by Alejandro Ramirez titled “Sinquefield 08: Streak stopped, Event clinched” dated 9/5/2014, “Nakamura has had some trouble calculating this tournament, it is unclear why.”
(http://en.chessbase.com/post/sinquefield-08-streak-stopped-event-clinched)

It appears the wagons have been circled and the popular thing to say is that GM Nakamura finished last, without winning a single game, because his powers of calculation have deserted him. Nothing could be further from the truth. Hikaru has been playing badly because he has lost faith in his judgement and doubt has crept in where there once was confidence. Losing will do that to a player no matter what game is being played. Simply put, Hikaru has lost confidence in his intuition. His suspect moves show this fact.

When on his way to becoming World Chess Champion Mikhail Tal played moves that defied calculation. There were no super computer programs in those days so humans could not calculate the ramifications of some of Tal’s moves. Tal could not calculate the ramifications of some of his moves, yet he played them anyway, because his intuition told him they were the right moves to play. Nakamura played like that at one time in the past. Now he seems to be trying to play like a calculating machine. He tells us this with his answer above to the question posed by GM Ashley. “I looked at Bxf2+ and then I rejected it…I just simply did not see the end of the line…”

There is a battle raging inside the head of Hikaru Nakamura. It is a battle between the emotional Captain Kirk and the logical Mr. Spock. Hikaru is an intuitive player, not a calculating machine. He is a poet of the chess board, not a philosopher. I say that with a line from Kevin L. Stoehr, professor of Humanities at Boston University, in mind. He wrote, “Philosophy typically strives for the clarity of definition and proposition. Poetry, in most cases, revels in ambiguity and mystery.” (From the essay, “You Who Philosophize Dylan: The Quarrel between Philosophy and Poetry in the Songs of Bob Dylan” in the book, “Bob Dylan and Philosophy: It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Thinking).” Later on in the same essay he writes, “Like the true poet that he is, Dylan believes that when it comes to the construction of his lyrics (and certainly the creation of the music itself, we might assume), the power of immediate intuition counts far more than the categorizing and ordering power of the intellect.” Hikaru Nakamura must somehow come to terms with the fact that he is an intuitive player and know that ” the power of immediate intuition counts far more than the categorizing and ordering power of the intellect.”

In an alternate universe Nakamura, at Zurich, after disposing of the former Human World Chess Champion, Vishy Anand, in round two, then beat the new Human World Champion, Magnus Carlsen, in lieu of losing the “won game” as he did in this universe. In that universe Hikaru played 21…Bxf6+ in lieu of the insipid 21…g6, bringing the sinister Topalov to his knees, making him 0-3, and having the black pieces against the Human World Champion the next round. Hikaru would have been in clear second place, only a half point behind Fab Car. Things would have turned out differently. After the tournament in which Nakamura and Caruana tied for first place, bizillionaire Rex Sinquefield put up one million dollars for a match between Naka and Fab Car, with the winner going on to play a match with Human World Champion Magnus Carlsen, with ten million dollars going to the winner. I regret it is impossible for me to give you any more details, as I am certain you would like to know who won the matches in the other universe, but Dr. Walter Bishop’s machine providing a window into the other universe destructed when Rootin’ Tootin’ Putin invaded Ukraine, which caused the other Magnus to decline the match with the other Vishy Anand. This caused World War III in which nuclear weapons were used, which destroyed the window on the other side.

In this universe the best thing our Hikaru Nakamura could do would be to take a page out of Bobby Fischer’s book and take a year or so off from chess to, as Human World Champion Magnus Carlsen said to GM Maurice Ashley after beating Naka for the ELEVENTH time, “Figure it out.”

Hikaru No Go can be watched free at these sites:

http://www.hulu.com/hikaru-no-go

http://www.animehere.com/anime/hikaru-no-go.html

The Beatles – Across The Universe

Across The Universe Soundtrack

Chess and War

GM Lubomir Kavalek has written one of the most powerful articles ever written, “Chess in the Time of War.” The original article can be found at the Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lubomir-kavalek/chess-in-the-time-of-war_b_5702082.html) It can also be found at Chessbase, (http://en.chessbase.com/post/huffington-chess-in-the-time-of-war). I urge everyone to read Grandmaster Kavalek’s article, and ask others to do the same.

Chess is not played in a vacuum; t takes place on the stage of the world. The “chess moves” of powerful world leaders affect not only players of the Royal game, but often everyone in the world, as was the case when the mentally deranged Adolf Hitler led the world into what is now known as “World War II,” when Germany invaded Poland on false pretense. George Dubya did the same when the Bushwhackers invaded Iraq ostensibly looking for “weapons of mass destruction.” Then Dubya the Dummy made fun of We The People, and played US for chumps when, “During the annual Radio and Television Correspondents Dinner this week, Bush presented a slide show of quirky photographs from inside the White House. In one, the president is looking under furniture in the Oval Office.”

“Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere,” Bush joked. “Nope, no weapons over there … maybe under here?” (http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/03/26/bush.wmd.jokes/)

This has to be seen to be believed, and with modern technology, it can be seen right here. See below…

GM Kavalek writes this about Soviet GM Vladimir Simagin, “A few moments earlier, she met Vladimir Simagin pacing back and forth in the lobby of the Polish hotel in Polanica Zdroj, repeating:”Stupid people, stupid people, stupid people….” The Moscow grandmaster explained to her that Soviet tanks crossed into Czechoslovakia overnight. It was August 21, 1968. “The night would not be short,” predicted the Czech poet Karel Kryl in one of his songs.”

I remember it well because that day, August 21, 1968, was my eighteenth birthday. On that day I became eligible to be drafted, and the leaders of my country, whom I think of as Fools In Power (F.I.P.’s), were sending young men to die needlessly in the rice paddies of Viet Nam in what can only be described as internecine warfare. The “Ruskies”, as they were called, sending tanks into another country only increased the chances that I would be called upon to “gear up” to fight in yet another World War, possibly the last such war. What these F.I.P.’s decide has an effect on people individually, as can be seen by what GM Kavalek next writes about the peace loving Simagin.

“As fate would have it, I played Simagin in the penultimate round and I knew that the man across the board disagreed with the Soviet occupation. He was a chess philosopher believing that violence has no place in our lives and it is best to leave it on the chessboard. We played nervously, exchanged a lot of pieces until we were left only with my rook against his knight. We sensed that in an absurd, symbolic way the single rook was fighting against thousands of Soviet tanks. Eventually, we agreed to a draw, but the invasion broke his heart. Simagin died of a heart attack during the tournament in Kislovodsk on September 25, 1968 at the age of 49.”

Vladimir Putin is obviously a F.I.P. He recently divorced his wife and decided to encroach upon the people of another country. The man is obviously a megalomaniac who is using the Royal game to serve his nefarious purposes. As an example there is this, from the article, “FIDE today: Against dictatorship and empire,” by Peter Long (http://www.themalaymailonline.com/what-you-think/article/fide-today-against-dictatorship-and-empire-peter-long#sthash.j7jZrQY4.dpuf).

“For months, Ilyumzhinov had shamelessly used FIDE resources to campaign and go around the world, but by the time August came around and the campaign moved to Tromso, it had become clear that the cause was all but lost as a well-funded professionally-run team had no chance in a world where Russia had thrown its considerable diplomatic muscle behind their Russian colleague and together with other incumbents were prepared to ignore all decorum and rules.
A case in point was Asia where Team Kasparov had 28 sure votes and was looking to reach 32, a huge win with 48 at stake. But with Russian intervention, Mongolia, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar were lost through a combination of proxies being taken or delegates replaced!

Then the incumbent Asia President, Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifah Al Nahyan from UAE adopted similar tactics as well as considerable largesse to ensure a united Arab vote and naturally India and the majority of that sub-continent also fell in line, again with liberal taking of proxies and change of delegates, some like Afghanistan even having its Federation administratively removed.

Closer home and very sadly and shamefully, Malaysia went back on its promise, Tan Sri Ramli Ngah Talib sacrificed his own Deputy President and Secretary by going back on supporting him in a position on the Asia ticket and Indonesia’s vote was even stolen, its delegate showing up in vain at the ballot box.

While Africa rose as promised, only beaten 20-22 through use of proxies, it was the same continued whitewash in Latin America and the Caribbean where so many delegates are existing FIDE officials despite not living or enjoying citizenship of the countries they represent. And Europe, which traditionally threw its weight against dictatorship, showed that they were tired of always being on the losing side.”

If it is true that the pen is mightier than the sword, then GM Kavalek strikes a mighty blow with these words, “In December 1991 the Soviet Union collapsed and ceased to exist. It was split into many countries, and that didn’t go over well with Vladimir Putin. As soon as he came to power, he plotted how to get back the Soviet territories. And this led to the current situation. Russia is at war again. The armor and the little green men Vladimir Putin sent to Ukraine this year to annex Crimea and to carve up the mainland were also without Russian insignias.

Russian tanks tend to invade at night as if ashamed to be seen. Their favorite time for invasions seems to be August (Czechoslovakia 1968, Georgia 2008, Ukraine 2014) or during the Olympic Games (Georgia 2008, Ukraine 2014) when the world is distracted. They come under the pretense of “brotherly” or “humanitarian” help. They even use chess strategies in their action: the principle of two weaknesses – creating threats in two separate places – is applied in the Ukraine as we speak.

Putin helped Kirsan Ilyumzhinov to win the FIDE presidential campaign. They announced together that the next world championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Vishy Anand will take place in November in Sochi. Carlsen, now playing the Sinquefield Cup, has till Sunday to accept, although the conditions of the match are far from clear. FIDE already shaved one million dollars off the previous match budget.

Ilyumzhinov is staging other major events in the former Soviet territories. The Chess Olympiad in 2016 will be in Baku, Azerbaijan and in 2018 in Batumi, Georgia. Grand Prix tournaments – important qualification events for the world championship – are scheduled for Moscow, Baku and Tashkent, Uzbekistan. There is also another one in Tehran, Iran, but it is hard to imagine the American Hikaru Nakamura playing there. Or for that matter the Armenian Levon Aronjan playing in Baku. And some of the events will be played while Putin is aiming his guns at Ukraine.”

Rootin’ Tootin’ Putin was best described by NY Times op-ed columnist David Brooks in his September 1, 2014 column titled, “The Revolt of the Weak.” “What we’re seeing around the world is a revolt of the weak. There are certain weak movements and nations, beset by internal contradictions, that can’t compete if they play by the normal rules of civilization. Therefore, they are conspiring to blow up the rule book.

The first example is Russia. Putin is poor in legitimacy. He is poor in his ability to deliver goods and dignity for his people. But he is rich in brazenness. He is rich in his ability to play by the lawlessness of the jungle, so he wants the whole world to operate by jungle rules.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/02/opinion/david-brooks-the-revolt-of-the-weak.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&_r=0)

The world would have been a better place if Adolf Hitler had been stopped before coming to power. That is not possible with Putin because he is in power. But he still can, and should, be stopped, by any means necessary.

Bush laughs at no WMD in Iraq

THE GUESS WHO-“LAUGHING”

US Masters: All Over But The Shouting

The grueling ordeal that is the US Masters came to an end last night with GM Bartlomiej Macieja alone in first place at +6 while winning $5000. GM Yaroslav Zherebukh in second place at +5 and took home $3000. Six players tied for third at +4. They each won $850. If you think this a tremendous disparity between first and third, the winner of the ongoing Sinquefield Cup will win $100,000. It pays to be at the top.
GM Alonso Zapata drew with Damir Studen in the last round with both finishing with a +1 score of 5-4. Damir took home $114.29 as second U2300 while the GM went home empty-handed.

Michael Corallo drew his last game with Vladimir Romankenko to also finish at +1 and also won $114.29. IM Carlos Perdomo also finished with a +1 score, but took home only $75 after his last round draw with Nicolas D Checa.

Sanjay Ghatti lost in the last round to Gabriel Petesch to finish at -1, with a score, but yet took home 266.67 for the 2nd U2100. As is often the case in tournament chess it often pays to be a lower rated player.

The Frisco Kid, Richard Francisco, showing great fighting spirit when those around him were doing the “buddy-buddy shake,” won his last round game against Sam Copeland to finish with an even score and took home that home as consolation.

Michael Corallo (2300) vs Vladimir Romankenko (2548)
USM Rd 9
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 d6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 a6 8. O-O-O Bd7 9. f3 Be7 10. h4 h6 11. Be3 b5 12. Nxc6 Bxc6 13. Kb1 Qc7 14. Ne2 d5 15. e5 Nd7 16. f4 Nc5 17. Bxc5 Bxc5 18. Nd4 Bd7 19. g4 O-O-O 20. h5 Kb7 21. Bg2 Ka7 22. Rhe1 Qb6 23. Nb3 Be7 24. Rh1 Rc8 1/2-1/2

Richard Francisco (2382) vs Sam Copeland (2302)
USM Rd 9
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 f5 4. d3 fxe4 5. dxe4 Nf6 6. Be3 Nxe4 7. O-O d6 8. Qd3 Bf5 9. Ng5 Nxg5 10. Qxf5 Be7 11. Bxg5 Bxg5 12. Qf3 h5 13. Bxc6 bxc6 14. Qxc6 Kf7 15. Nc3 Kg6 16. Rae1 Kh7 17. Nd5 Rc8 18. g3 Qe8 19. Qa6 c6 20. Nc3 Rc7 21. f4 Bd8 22. fxe5 dxe5 23. Qd3 Qg6 24. Rf5 Kh6 25. Rexe5 Bf6 26. Qe3 1-0

I was able to provide most of these games because I transcribed them myself, and enjoyed replaying them immensely. Unfortunately, the scoresheets for most of the last round games have not been provided on the website (http://www.carolinaschessinitiative.com/tournaments/US-Masters-NC-Open-2014/)
The disparity between the ratings shown is because the USCF rating is different, and usually higher, than the FIDE rating.

Shout – Otis Day & The Knights (Animal House 1978)

The Isley Brothers – Shout

The Ol’ Swindler Strikes Again!

Many years ago NM Neal Harris beat the Legendary Georgia Ironman for the second time in the exact same variation. The Ironman, who was none too pleased, said, “That Neal…he ain’t nothing but an ol’ swindler!” We have all laughed about it since then, and I have been known to address my friend Neal as “Ol’ Swindler”, which invariably brings out a smile from the Ol’ Swindler. Today the ol’ dog proved he still has some bite!
This afternoon as fire raged on every board at the Sinquefield Cup, with GM Maurice displaying histrionics that would make Tom Cruise proud, and Jen and Ben talking excitedly when given the chance, with even the usually calm and understated Yaz getting in on the act, especially when Hikaru Nakamura eschewed the opportunity to put Darth Topalov out of his misery with 21…Bxf2+, I was following the game between Neal and Kazim Gulamali at the US Masters along with the coverage from St. Louis.
Neal is a fellow Senior who happens to be against Senior tournaments. We have agreed to disagree on the matter. Knowing Kazim from the time he was a child put me in a tough position. It is one of those situations where one might hope for a great game that turns out to be a draw. Then there is David Spinks, who said, “You gotta pull for SOMEBODY!” I admit that when the Ol’ Swindler obtained an advantage my heart was with him. “Come on Neal, push that pawn to e2!” I exclaimed as he missed chance after chance to do just that. Nevertheless, Neal found a way to win. Congratulations my friend! NC obtained a modicum of revenge for the loss to the Atlanta Kings earlier this week.

NEAL D HARRIS (2218) vs KAZIM GULAMALI (2398)

US Masters rd 2 Greensboro, North Carolina

B29 Sicilian, Nimzovich-Rubinstein variation

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. e5 Nd5 4. Nc3 Nxc3 5. dxc3 Nc6 6. Bf4 e6 7. Qd2 h6 8. h4 Qc7 9. Rd1 b6 10. Qe3 Bb7 11. Nd2 Ne7 12. (12. Ne4 Nf5 13. Qe2 Qc6 14. Nd6+ Bxd6 15. exd6 h5 16. f3 O-O-O 17. Qd2 e5 18. Bh2 e4 19. Qf4 exf3 20. Bd3 Ne3 21. Qxe3 fxg2 22. Rg1 Rde8 23. Be5 f6 24. Kd2 Rxe5 25. Qg3 Qf3 26. Qxf3 Bxf3 27. Rde1 Rhe8 28. Rxe5 Rxe5 0-1, Ingvar Asmundsson (2338) – Jacob Murey (2496) EU-ch Seniors, 10/03/2002) Nc4 Nd5 13. Qg3 O-O-O 14. Nd6 Bxd6 15. exd6 Qc6 16. Bc1 Qa4 17. c4 Nb4 18. c3 Nc2 19. Kd2 Na1 20. a3 Nb3 21. Ke1 Nxc1 22. Rxc1 Qc6 23. f3 e5 24. Rd1 e4 25. b3 Rde8 26. f4 Rhg8 27. Rd5 Kb8 28. h5 Qc8 29. Rf5 f6 30. Rh4 Re6 31. Rg4 Qf8 32. b4 e3 33. bxc5 bxc5 34. Rd5 Bxd5 35. cxd5 Qxd6 36. c4 Re7 37. Bd3 Qc7 38. Kf1 Rge8 39. Qe1 Qb6 40. Bg6 Rf8 41. Bd3 Qb3 42. Ke2 Qxa3 43. Qb1 Qb4 44. Qxb4 cxb4 45. d6 Re6 46. c5 a5 47. Bf5 Rc8 48. Bxe6 dxe6 49. f5 exf5 50. Rc4 b3 51. Rc3 a4 52. Rc4 Kb7 53. Rxa4 Rxc5 54. d7 Kc7 55. Rb4 Kxd7 56. Rxb3 f4 57. Rb7 Ke6 58. Rxg7 Rxh5 59. Kf3 Re5 0-1

Traveling Wilburys – Congratulations

It’s All Happening in St. Lou!

Upon learning from the USCF website that the number one and two players in the world will be taking on the top two players in the US at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis (CCSCSL) September 9-15, (http://saintlouischessclub.org/) for what is called the Sinquefield Cup, I immediately thought of an old song from my youth by Simon & Garfunkel, At The Zoo. While reflecting I was struck by the realization that what the Sinquefield’s have done for chess in St. Louis, and the US, is the second biggest story in US chess since I have been involved with chess since 1970, behind only the winning of the World Championship by Bobby Fischer. So, with apologies to Paul Simon:

Someone told me
It’s all happening in St. Lou.

I do believe it
I do believe it’s true.

It’s a light and tumble journey
From the East Coast to the Chess Club
and Hall of Fame.
Just a fine and fancy ramble
To St. Lou.

But you can take the Greyhound bus
If it’s raining or it’s cold,
And the chess players will love it
If you do.

Something tells me
It’s all happening in St. Lou.

The Bishops stand for honesty.
Rooks dance,
And the Knights are kindly while
They prance.
Pawns are skeptical
Of changes in their formation,
And the tournament director is very fond of rules.Kings are reactionaries,
Prelates are missionaries,
Queens plot in secrecy,
And Knights joust frequently.
What a gas! You gotta come and see
it all in St. Lou.