IM Colin Crouch on The So – Rich – Akobian dispute

The news was announced on the English Chess Forum by Nevil Chan, Sat Apr 18, 2015 8:34 am:

“Harrow Chess Club deeply regret to announce that Colin Crouch has passed away. Colin was 58 years old and a member of the club since 1970.” (http://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?t=7336)

Dr. Crouch was Professor Emeritus, University of Warwick; External Scientific Member, Max-Planck-Institut für Gesellschaftsforschung, Cologne. (http://www.britac.ac.uk/fellowship/elections/index.cfm?member=4526)

His Principal publications were:
Making Capitalism Fit for Society, 2013
The Strange Non-Death of Neoliberalism, 2011
Capitalist Diversity and Change, 2005
Post-Democracy, 2004
Social Change in Western Europe, 1999
Industrial Relations and European State Traditions, 1993

IM Crouch published a chess book, one of many, How to Defend in Chess, in 2007. It became one of my favorite chess books. “Many books discuss how to attack in chess, but resourceful defensive play is also a vital ingredient in competitive success. This is an area largely neglected in the literature of the game. This book fills the gap admirably. Following a survey of general defensive methods in chess, Dr Colin Crouch investigates the techniques of World Champions Emanuel Lasker and Tigran Petrosian, both highly effective defenders. Lasker would place myriad practical obstacles in the opponent’s way, and was a master of the counterattack. Petrosian developed Nimzowitsch’s theories of prophylaxis to a new level. His opponents would find that somehow their attacking chances had been nullified long before they could become reality.” (http://www.amazon.com/How-Defend-Chess-Colin-Crouch/dp/1904600832/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1429714416&sr=1-1&keywords=colin+crouch+chess)

I enjoyed the blog written by IM Colin Crouch. This is an excerpt from his last post:

The So – Rich – Akobian dispute

“Sadly, the news at St Louis dominates all discussion in the US Championships. The forfeit of Wesley So’s game against Varuzhan Akobian is deeply controversial, and no doubt will have long term implications.

The situation was, at its most basic, that Akobian had made a complaint against So, after move 6. There was no indication that there was any cheating by So, of, for example, using the computer of finding the very best moves in a particular position (the main reason for barring electronic devices).

What then was Akobian complaining about? The answer was that he had been scribbling a few notes, while the game was being started, mainly as motivation techniques. It was along the lines of thinking before you make a move, slow down, don’t hurry. It is more a case of getting more relaxed, for what is likely to be a tense game.

I have heard recently of this type of technique, used in political speaking. At a recent Seven-ways Leader debate (hes, these days there were seven parties, plus minor groupings), just before the British General Election, there were notes placed before the podium, for many of the leaders. With seven players battling it out, there were never going to be long set-piece speeches. It was much more the case of the speakers having written down in advance something like, calm down, don’t get wound up, that sort of thing. It does not even involve the speakers having written notes, and loads of statistical facts and figures o be wheeled out. That would have caused unconvincing lack of spontaneity.

It is in many ways what Wesley So has been doing in the last few months, and maybe before. Maybe it can be claimed that what he was doing was technically in breach of the chess laws, although it is, it can be regarded, as only a slight technically breach. Presumably something will need to be clarified at some later FIDE congress. Again though, such a writing down in such notes is, it seems, acceptable in politics, and in other fields. Is there is no totally clear rule that this should be forbidden during a game of chess? And what happens if, for example a couple of players agree to meet up for a meal after the game, and write down where they should meet up at a restaurant?

The simple point is that unless there is absolute clarity in the regulations, there should be no reason for a player being given the drastic punishment of a loss – after six moves of play!

Akobian claimed that he was distracted by So’s play. Really? It is surely much more of a question of how much Wesley So was distracted by Akobin’s play, and in particular in trying to make a formal complaint. It is of course just about possible that Akobian had only made a casual note to the chief arbiter, and that the Chief Arbiter, Tony Rich jumped the gun. I do not know, and without much clearer information, I cannot be certain.

My suspicions are however that Akobian was at least as guilty as distracting So, than So is of distracting Akobian. It is an unfortunate aspects of chess that one way of “cheating” is by accusing the opponent of cheating. Akobian was clearly able to take full advantage of Tony Rich’s actions. Even so, without 100% knowledge of what was going on, I am reluctant to say whether this was what in fact happened.

The next question is how Tony Rich handled things. We must too remember that unfortunately he would have had his clashes with chess authority. We was, for example, not given the expected payment for his contributions for Chess for the Philippines, in a bib Asian sports event, as the excuse was made that chess does not count. He moved to the USA, but it took time to play for the team in the Olympiad in Tromso, while various players originally from Ukraine were given the chance to change qualifications to Russia almost instantly. Where is the justice in that? I do not want to attempt to write about what was happening during his time at St Louis. There were some complications. He did not however complete his university degree there, which is totally understandable, as, unlike the vast majority of even top grandmasters, he is capable of playing at fully equal terms against Carlsen, given time. He also had problems with his mother, on his future in chess and study. There was an unexpected encounter with her at the beginning of the US Championship.

My instincts here is that quite probably he felt that he was being hassled by Tony Rich, and his continuous complaints that Wesley was doing such-and-such a thing, and that quite simply he merely wanted to play chess, concentrate on chess, and try to become the top player from the USA. He could easily be thinking that why does this arbiter keep whinging? It is not as if he is a strong player anyway.

There is an indication that probably Tony Rich is not quite as clued up as one would like. To make things easier, it is simplest that when strong players, including super-strong players, are under the control of the arbiters, the convention is that the arbiters have full knowledge and understanding of what is going on, during the game, and elsewhere in the tournament and surrounds. It is only when suspicions arise, that players have doubts about the arbiters.

A final point. I would hope that the game between Akobian and So is to be expunged from the points gained and lost in their game. Akobian did not win any points through his superior chess knowledge.” (http://crouchnotes.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/the-so-rich-akobian-hispute.html)

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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”

Hail ToThe King of Fish!

The chess program known as Stockfish defeated the chess program known as Komodo after what would be called a grueling 64 game match if played by humans. The chess world had looked forward with great anticipation to a close fight after the one-sided match between World Human Chess Champion Vishy Anand and New World Human Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen. It was written that Magnus won because he “played like a machine.” After the humiliating defeat Anand won the right to play Carlsen in a rematch by winning the tournament to determine a challenger. This turn about was a tremendous feat, proving, as if any proof were needed, what a truly great player is Viswanathan Anand. The chess world has responded with a collective yawn…An example is an article published yesterday entitled, “Major chess tournaments in trouble,” by Frank ‘Boy’ Pestaño (http://www.sunstar.com.ph/cebu/sports/2014/05/29/pestano-major-chess-tournaments-trouble-345428). The article begins, “THE two biggest tournaments in chess are in trouble.
I am referring to the world championship rematch between former champion Vishy Anand of India and current world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway and the World Chess Olympiad this August in Tromso, Norway.”
Articles like this have proliferated recently, as well they should. What the chess world would like to see is a match between players like Hikaru Nakamura and/or Fabiano Caruana, but they were not invited to play for a chance to battle Magnus. So we are faced with another battle between young and old, and the chess world could care less. I, on he other hand, think this one may turn out to be a close match, possibly one for the ages. I am looking forward to the match with great anticipation, if interest and money can be found. I am “pulling” for the Madras Tiger.
As for the Olympiad…After decades of publicity about the head of FIDE, Kirsan from Ork, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mork_%26_Mindy) talking about having intellectual intercourse with Extraterrestrials, is anyone surprised? For example, see the article, “Out of this world: Russian region leader’s alien abduction story shakes officials” ( http://www.smh.com.au/world/strangebuttrue/out-of-this-world-russian-region-leaders-alien-abduction-story-shakes-officials-20100506-ucw9.html#ixzz33DRmyqaQ ), in which it is written, “They put a spacesuit on me, told me many things and showed me around. They wanted to demonstrate that UFOs do exist.” And, “I am often asked which language I used to talk to them. Perhaps it was on a level of the exchange of the ideas,” he told the television program host.
Kirsan may have actually been abducted for all I know. Many humans now claim to have been abducted. I will give Kirsan the benefit of doubt for his alien claims, but how can one disregard the pictures of the man with brutal dictators, about whom he said, Saddam Hussein was “a normal person, a politician who cheered for his republic and wanted to do good things for people” and calls eccentric Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi a friend, The Guardian reported. (From the aforementioned article)
How much interest is left in chess after negative publicity like this, and multiple cheating scandals with names like “toiletgate?” Most articles concerning the man called the “greatest chessplayer of all-time,” Garry Kasparov, go on to mention the match he “lost” to a computer chess program called, “Deep Blue.” The gizmo had Kasparov singing the blues. An exception is an article, “Cranial knowledge” by Arnaud de Borchgrave (http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Analysis/de-Borchgrave/2014/05/28/Cranial-knowledge/1821401283996/). There one finds a picture of Garry deep in thought while playing a thing called, “Deep Junior” with a caption, “Kasparov and the Deep Junior computer concluded their match in a tie.” Most people have completely forgotten that particular match, remembering only the lost match. The article focuses more on the attempt to have programs “think” more like humans. That is something called “selective search,” championed by former World Chess Champion Mikhail Botvinnik when he devoted his time to producing a chess playing program. He failed, losing out to a method called “brute force.”
“Real brains are so impressive to computer scientists,” says Dr. Olds, “so instead of banging our heads against Moore’s Law, why not build computers more like the brain and get them to solve problems the way the brain does?”
Good luck with that!

Speed Kills

Like most chess fans I have been following the World Cup. Unlike most fans of the Royal game I have only watched the games played with a longer time control. I am uncertain what to call those games because the “longer time control” is not a classical one. During a discussion of the WC I mentioned to the Legendary Georgia Ironman I had not even gone to the official tournament website on the days of the tiebreak games in order to make a statement, certain the organizers checked the number of fans clicking on each day. I cannot help but wonder what those numbers show. Are there others doing the same?
I made an exception today, clicking on today just in time to hear GM Nigel Short, a much better commentator than those previously doing the commentary, say, “It looks like neither player has a clue as to what to do. At this speed it does not matter; they just better move.” The comment sums up what happens to chess when played without enough time to think. The games are played at such a rapid rate that the moves come in bunches, making it impossible to follow the action, a comment I have heard from others.
I won the only tournament played at the now antiquated time control of 40 moves in 2 ½ hours. It was the 1976 Atlanta Chess Championship, played at the downtown YMCA each Wednesday night for five weeks. There were no adjournments and the games finished at a reasonable hour. In those days a player reaching time control with a lost position would resign. Today the players play on, hoping for a “miracle,” which means a blunder, or “howler,” as GM Yasser Seirawan would say.
Former Georgia champion, and Georgia Senior champion, LM David Vest mentioned people watch NASCAR to see the wrecks. I wonder if chess fans who watch the quick play games are doing the same thing? Do they spectate only to see top GM’s humbled by making horrible howlers like the ones they make in their own games? I have heard players say something like, “After seeing GM X make that blunder I do not feel so bad about the ones I have made!”
The hyperbole reached epic proportions on the Chessbase website on 8/22/2013 in an article “World Cup 4.3: unparalleled drama in Tromso.” (http://www.chessbase.com/Home/TabId/211/PostId/4010880/world-cup-43-unparalleled-drama-in-troms-230813.aspx) I do not know about that; what about the last game of the 1987 Kasparov-Karpov match in Seville when Garry was in a must win situation? Chessbase comments on the last game of the match between Quang Liem Le and Peter Svidler, a quick-play game lasting 135 moves, won by Svidler, writing, “This game is well worth replaying.” I think not.
One of the things I have most liked about playing chess is having time to cogitate. Thinking is not for everyone. The winner of the ECF book of the year 2012 award was, “Move First, Think Later,” by Willy Hendricks. The title says all one needs to know about the state of modern chess. The other books shortlisted that year were, Advanced Chess Tactics by Lev Psakhis (Quality Chess); Fighting Chess with Magnus Carlsen by Adrian Mikhalchisin & Oleg Stetsko (Edition Olms); & Gary Kasparov on Garry Kasparov Part 1: 1973-1985 (Everyman). What does it say about the state of chess when books by the current number one player by rating, and the player called by some “the greatest player of all-time,” lose out to a book advocating one move first, then think? Chess Café announced the winner of its award with this: “After several weeks of voting, the early front runners for Book of the Year were Aron Nimzowitsch, 1886-1924 by Per Skjoldager and Jørn Erik Nielsen and Move First, Think Later by Willy Hendriks. Grandmaster Preparation: Calculation by Jacob Aagaard had its supporters, but just not to the same extent as the other finalists.” (http://www.chesscafe.com/Reviews/boty.htm) Days after acquiring the Nimzowitsch book I recall reading on the internet a question posed concerning how the Nimzo book could have possibly won the award. “Who would buy such a book?” the writer asked. “Me!” I shouted in my mind.
Earlier in my life I would often hear old-timers say, “The world is speeding up.” I was left wondering if it was them slowing down…Now that I have become an “old-timer,” the question has been answered.
There can be no doubt about the fact that the world of chess is “speeding up.” I cannot help but find it sad. Backgammon is played at a much faster pace than chess. The faster one plays the more games can be played in a limited amount of time, which means more money in the pocket when the “Last call” is given. Chess is an exponentially more complex game than is backgammon. The game does not need to be sped up to create blunders. The Chess Bomb (http://chessbomb.com/) has a color coded system with weaker moves given in purple and howlers in red. I seem to recall a back to back series of red moves by GM’s Magnus Carlsen and Levon Aronian in what is now called a “classical” game. Chess is too difficult a game to play well even at longer time limits. It does not need to be sped up for the best players in the world to make mistakes.