Monday, November 29, 2010

Pissed Off with ICC

This post has an update.

Tonight, as is my usual routine these days, I logged in to the Internet Chess Club. Or at least I tried to. I couldn't. It turns out that my account expired just yesterday. That's right - my damn account has expired for only 24 hours and ICC prevents me from logging in!

Any attempt I make to log in just automatically redirects me to this renewal page. There you'll see various methods to extend your account, including this one:

On the ICC, type extend while logged on ICC
Just log in with your registered name. You will be prompted for payment information if your ICC account has expired. Or, after you log on ICC, type extend

Well I would do that except that I can't actually do it! I couldn't log in.

OK, I used the secure web form, but it would have been easier to allow me a couple to a few days of grace to log in and actually extend my account from the inside the app instead of being redirected to a browser. If I'm not mistaken, that's how it used to be.

UPDATE (30 Nov): It looks like the guys at the ICC spotted this post and handled the situation. Let's just say that I continue to be a happy customer.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Beauties on Top of Old Men

WIM Arianne Caoili was the worst scorer among the "Snowdrops", but she did walk away with two wins against a couple of legends. I quite like the one over Velimirovic.

Snowdrops vs Old Hands
Caoili, Arianne
Velimirovic, Dragoljub

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. Bf4 d6 4. h3 Bg7 5. e3 O-O 6. Be2 b6 7. O-O Bb7 8. Bh2 Nbd7 9. Nbd2 Qe8 10. Rc1 e5 11. c4 e4 12. Ne1 Qe7 13. b4 c5 14. Nc2 Rad8 15. Nb1 cxd4 16. Nxd4 Ne5 17. Nc3 Rd7 18. Qa4 a6 19. Qb3 Rc7 20. Na4 Nfd7 21. Rfd1 Rfc8 22. Rc2 Nd3 23. Bg4 N3e5 24. Be2 h5 25. Nb2 Nc5 26. bxc5 bxc5 27. Qa3 cxd4 28. exd4 Nf3+ 29. gxf3 Qg5+ 30. Kh1 Qh4 31. d5 Qxh3 32. Qe3 Re7 33. fxe4 Qxe3 34. fxe3 Rxe4 35. Bxd6 Rxe3 36. c5 Rce8 37. c6 Bc8 38. Bf1 Bf5 39. Rf2 Bg4 40. Rd3 Rxd3 41. Nxd3 Rd8

Position after 41...Rd8

42. Ne5 Bxe5 43. Bxe5 Rxd5 44. Bf6 Rc5 45. Rd2 1-0

The team of young women, the Snowdrops, won the match 18 - 14 thanks to hits by Humpy Koneru and Viktorija Čmilyte. Caoili totalled just 3 points (4 losses, 2 wins and 2 draws).

Friday, November 26, 2010

Turks Admit Pay Offs

From the NY Times' Gambit blog:

A recent audit of the Turkish Chess Federation reported that the federation paid voters to help win an election for the right to host the Chess Olympiad in 2012.

Rumors of corruption have long plagued the chess world, where it is a commonly held assumption that elections of officials and decisions about where to locate tournaments are determined by bribery. But the disclosure by the Turkish federation may be the first time that anyone has admitted it so matter-of-factly.

Tell us something new.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Fighting in the Snow

When he can be bothered to update his blog, IM Aleks Wohl's stories are always interesting, full of side details on his latest culinary adventures, travel and the like. Of course, there's also plenty of chess - like this one, for example.

He dropped into Marianske Lazne, in the Czech Republic, to witness proceedings in the so-called "Snowdrops and Old Hands" or perhaps better known as "young gorgeous chicas versus old fogeys" tournament. This one is of interest because it happens to include Aussie women's numero uno, WIM Arianne Caoili.

Live games are available here.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Harvard Bound Smerdon

In a post over on his blog, GM Smerdon gives the reason for why he didn't become a pro: "Basically the answer is because I’m not good enough, but I usually prefer to save face and instead tell them about that other passion that has taken over my career path, behavioural economics."

It now turns out that he may have another reason. He's aiming for a spot in the Ivy League. Last week he was one of 8 recipients of the Sir John Monash scholarship and will be on his way to Harvard University in the US. Congrats David!

More in The Australian.

Hat tip again to Graeme Gardiner for that story.

Queenstown Classic Is On Again

From a purely business point of view, last year's Queenstown Chess Classic was a disappointment. The GFC had just struck and it seemed as if people, particularly Australians, were holding off a big spend on travelling. In that sombre economic reality, there were whispers that perhaps the tournament, now a much-loved event after just two editions, might never happen again.

Last year's winner, GM David Smerdon (then an IM), in his winner's speech, was moved to plead, "Please hold it again."

Well, David and the rest of us, have just received a piece of good news. It's on again! I've just got this press release from the folks over at the NZCF courtesy of Helen Milligan.

The New Zealand Chess Federation is delighted to announce official confirmation of the 2012 Queenstown Chess Classic, to be held 15th-23rd January 2012. The $50,000 sponsorship is being provided by New Zealand Chess Grandmaster Murray Chandler.

The tournament will be a nine round Swiss-system, staged over nine days. As with the previous Queenstown events of 2006 and 2009, the 2012 Classic will be a fully-fledged International Open tournament. The 119th New Zealand National Championship will also be incorporated within the event. The venue will be the ballroom of the Millennium Hotel, Queenstown.

Previous Queenstown events have attracted numerous international players, including masters and grandmasters. Opportunities for international title norms are once again expected to be available.

For further information see the tournament website, which will be updated regularly over the coming months:

So guys, start saving the cash. Take it from me, this event is a total blast!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

SA Prez Favours Chess

Jacob Zuma, president of South Africa, reckons that it's about that chess made a comeback to schools in SA.

He's decried TV and Video, saying these don't teach children the same level of patience, strategic thinking, concentration, analytical skills and the attention to detail that they would gain from what he calls "this timeless intellectual game".

"It is an important game in many respects, the main benefit being that it contributes to the development of strategic thinking as well as concentration, analytical skills and problem solving. These are traits that are important for school going children," he said.

Thanks to Graeme Gardiner for the tip.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Commie Beats The Nazi

It's not very often that TCG inspires others, but when it happens it's as equally satisfying as it is amusing. Dave Shapland, of the Hebden Bridge Chess Club over in the UK, dropped in to say that my "Nazi Chess Board" post apparently inspired one of their members to "re-create" the score to that game between Lenin and Hitler.

[Q]uite by chance only a few weeks ago, after a pleasant exchange of banter with someone I played a game against online, I stumbled across our humble blog's first exclusive scoop!

You see, the person I had been playing against turned out to be none other than Lady Cynthia Blunderboro whose Father, Horace (the 4th Duke), was instrumental in organising the game and was actually present when it was played. Most importantly of all however, he kept Hitler's copy of the score sheet!

Read more about this amazing tale in "Lenin vs Hitler: Who won?"

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Japanese Invitation to Event

Got this in the mail last week. It's an invitation to a tournament in Nagano, Japan. You can't see it properly here, of course, but this thing is a postcard size with quite elegant paper. Imagine the NSWCA sending out invitations on something like that.

According to this, first prize is 95,000 yen or (or roughly AU$1,150; US$1,135; €835). Second and third prizes are 25,000 yen and 15,000 yen, respectively. Now I could head over to Nagano and enjoy a nice weekend trip to a gorgeous area of Japan, but there's only one problem. A reserved seat on the Shinkansen will set me back almost 20,000 yen!

Friday, November 19, 2010

E.T. Invented Chess

Part 3 of the NY Times' interview with Kirsan is out. Yep, he reckons ET invented chess.

I do, indeed, consider chess a gift from extraterrestrial civilizations. Chess is one of the world’s oldest games. But where was it invented? In India? But an ancient set of figures was also found at excavations in the Bulgarian town of Plovdiv. And two years ago, the president of Mongolia showed me chessmen discovered when they were searching for the grave of Genghis Khan and excavated a kurgan. There have been similar finds in Latin America and other parts of the world. And in those times, of course, travel was almost impossible. But the rules of chess were almost identical everywhere. It is hard to imagine that people in different parts of the world many thousands of years ago simultaneously thought up an identical game with the same rules just by chance.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Arrested for Playing Chess

This must be a joke.

A squad of cops in bulletproof vests swooped into an upper Manhattan park and charged seven men with the "crime" of playing chess in an area off-limits to adults unaccompanied by kids, the New York Post reported Thursday.

The chess tables where they were ticketed for "failure to comply with signs" were in a fenced-in area where posted notices read, "Adults allowed in playground areas only when accompanied by a child under the age of 12."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Kirsan Speaks to the People

The NY Times' chess blog, Gambit, is featuring a 3-part interview with FIDE supremo, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. What makes the questions interesting is that they came courtesy of the paper's readers. Today's first set of questions has the following from Kirsan:

The results of the election speak volumes about who has the sympathies of the chess world at the moment. At the same time I’m always open to collaboration. Immediately after my victory in the elections I had constructive talks with representatives of the United States and Spanish Chess Federations. And President [Robert von] Weizsäcker of the German Chess Federation became a member of FIDE’s executive committee. There is no antagonism between us. But we do share a goal –- the development of chess around the world. There may be differences in our approaches, but the aim is the same. We all love chess and are ready to go to great lengths for its development.

But what I can't really wait for is an apparent remark from Kirsan that chess was invented by aliens.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Parr: Australia Should Improve

I understand that once a upon a time Australian chessers played in that big yard called Asia. But, for whatever reason, Australia exited that yard to play in a smaller yard, with nations like, oh I don't know, Palau, Fiji and the Solomon Islands. (Yeah, go ahead and try finding them on the map)! Have you ever wondered why that is so?

I know. Because Australia likes to be a big dog, but in reality it's just a puppy. Put this puppy in among the genuine big dogs and the puppy whimpers.

In this third and final instalment of the interview with the retiring founder of Chess Discount Sales, Peter Parr, the man has one simple demand: "We must improve our standard of play. Australia should reinstate itself in Asia instead of trying to find more small islands in Oceania to compete against."

Can't really argue with that.


(TCG): By the way, and this one's for our Pinoy readers, I know you had a few dealings with Campo. What do you reckon of that bloke?
(Peter Parr): Campomanes really loved chess. He could have been a very successful businessman or politician – he dated the young Imelda Marcos! And later was a good friend of President Marcos. He dedicated his life to chess – and was very active in promoting the game widely in China and in numerous other countries. He was very good for chess despite his critics. He visited my chess shop on numerous visits to Sydney and played lightning all night.

Switching gears a bit now Peter, though I think you anticipated this one. Politics. There's too much to cover and many of us have read and heard the plenty you've had to say about many a topic - ratings, the ACF, the NSWCA, etc. On Aussie chess, I just want to ask you this simple question: what's the state of Australian chess today in your view?
Simple answer – mixed. The standard of play of our top players is similar to 40 years ago but all other major countries have dramatically improved. 2400 FIDE rating in 2010 and you are in the Australian Olympiad Team although ranked outside the top 2200 players in the world – tell that to tennis, swimming, cricket,etc! We must improve our standard of play. Australia should reinstate itself in Asia instead of trying to find more small islands in Oceania to compete against. Many of our leading players are getting older yet the youngsters are not good enough to replace them. The rate of play in weekenders and four rounds a day(!) needs review.

On the plus side Primary Schools chess around Australia is very encouraging. There are over 8,000 competing each year in inter-school competitions in NSW alone. Sales of chess products in Australia continues to increase at an ever increasing pace particularly with full containers of outdoor garden sets. Adult club chess at night is on the decline with an alarmingly few chess administrators under the age of 50 – this was not the case 40 years ago when many organisers were aged 20-40. We urgently need members of all states to assist in the administration of chess. FIDE recently described Australia as backward – blunt, but sadly true.

Anything you think urgently needs fixing? I hope to Caissa you won't say ratings!
You hit the nail on the head. Ratings – The Glicko rating system is only used in Australia – but rejected with good reason by the other 169 FIDE countries. The system in my opinion based on hundreds of complaints is very bad and suggestions of an ACF rating review have been firmly rejected. There is widespread discontent, yet [there is] no ACF review or discussion. We simply should return to a rating system adopted by FIDE and all major national federations.

You've been a very vocal critic of the NSWCA in the past, yet you're now that body's current boss. What's the working relationship like with my friend Bill Gletsos and all the other guys?
In the past I have been a critic if there is a serious problem. One NSWCA AGM I did not attend but found out by chance months later that the Association lost about $11,000 in one year! Unfortunately no-one at the AGM said anything – well they should have.

The council has worked well together since the AGM in November 2009. The executive have all attended every meeting. I get on with vice-president Bill Gletsos who I have known since he emerged from junior ranks (at Concordia Club) in the early 1970’s. Clearly I do not agree with him at all about Glicko and some other matters but in general terms we get on OK.

Is a role in state chess politics something that you'll be doing more in your retirement, then?
The last few months have been extremely busy since our 30% off everything retirement sale. I will of course have a lot more time in my retirement and will of course continue to help and promote the game of chess. There is so much to do at the grass roots level. We need to establish new chess clubs to replace those that no longer exist. There are 14 members of the NSWCA Council and as in any organisation we need new people with new ideas joining the administration and changes made and urgent reviews by majority vote.

Before we close Peter, we want to know, will we see "Peter Parr, A Memoir" any time soon?
The purchase of premises in the CBD for a Chess Centre open 12 hours a day seven days a week (as I had established 30 years ago – although only rented) is my long-term Goal which I will work on in my retirement.

And finally, are we ever going to see you back in over-the-board action at some point? You're still 2000+, right?
To be more precise 2227 (down from 2297). I would of course like to play again after retirement when I am not working 12 hours a day every day serving customers. I will play in a number of FIDE rated events overseas. Like hundreds of other adults who are currently inactive I will not play under the Glicko rating system where a modest result in a weekender can knock off 500 rating points when a correct rating system would only knock off 50 rating points. I put it to everyone that Australia is steadily losing many adult clubs and members due to Glicko.


CDS' 30% off everything sale is until Christmas 2010. The month of October 2010 with the sale has been their busiest month ever, Peter tells me, with some quality items selling out very quickly. The more you buy the more you save!

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Hurrah for Public Schools

Here's an answer to my question yesterday.

It turns out that the NSW Junior Chess League isn't just for moneyed private school kids. The York Public School was in the comp and their boys and girls were winners, reports the Penrith Press. Well done to them. Even more impressive is that they were all apparently complete novices. That's one thing you can say about the public school system: it produces robust character, winning kids.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Catholic Chess Kids Rule

What's going on here? Is the NSW Junior League only for private Christian schools? I see only mention of private schools. Whatever. Being a Catholic myself, I'm going for the Catholic schools. It's only proper.

From the Macarthur Chronicle:

The NSW Junior Chess League primary schools one-day tournaments began in the Macarthur region in 1981. The competition now features 33 district tournaments held across the state.

A total of 66 three-player teams from 13 schools competed in the league’s 2010 Macarthur district tournament, with 12 more teams and one more school than last year fielding nearly 200 players.

Players from St Peter’s Anglican Primary School, St Paul’s Catholic Primary School and St Andrews, Narellan, Campbellfield, Narellan Vale, Ruse and Currans Hill public schools also put their strategic skills to the test in the hotly contested event.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Koreans Lost Their Marbles

There's one sure way for The Philipines to go home with medals in a mix of colours from almost any inter-Asian sports competition. That's if chess is a fixture.

But from the 2014 Asian Games, RP may have to seek fortunes in other sports. The South Korean hosts are planning to exclude chess from their program. These silly bastards are also looking to drop "cue sports", presumably billiards, in which Pinoys are also good, cricket, rugby and even dance!

Dance, for crying out loud. What's wrong with dancing? All this is almost a good enough reason to call for a North Korean invasion.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Israel Lied to World?

Well, this is embarassing for Israel. Remember that so-called record set by GM Alik Gershon? It seems that the whole thing was completely bogus and thus forcing the Guinness World Records organisation to review how chess records are set.

It was Israel's own biggest selling daily that broke the story.

Israeli officials bent the rules in order to ensure the breaking of a Guinness chess record, Yedioth Ahronoth revealed Friday in a special investigative report.

Last month, local chess grandmaster Alik Gershon was said to have broken a record previously held by Iran in a marathon 19-hour match against more than 500 players.

Yet as it turns out, many of the players who took part in the mega-event did not meet the standards dictated by Guinness World Records.

Ahmadinejad and the mullahs must now be laughing.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

On Carlsen's Withdrawal

Wow. When I read this pop up in the news, I thought, so what. So the guy withdraws, big deal. But almost a week since that letter from Carlsen, ChessVibes is still milking the story after seeing their comment numbers break records.

The long and short of all this is that fans' reactions are mixed: some support the Norwegian, others don't, while some are just plain confused. Even I got confused for a moment when our old mate Macauley appeared to accuse Chessbase of making up an interview!

Anyway, here's my take. Carlsen obviously wants change and he wants that quickly. He could have just as easily played on and his career (apparently something he's concerned about) would have remained intact.

So, he plays chicken with FIDE. When you're number one, not necessarily continuously but definitely consistently for the foreseesable future, you can afford to do that. The guy is saying, "show me your world champ, but I'll show you who's really numero uno".

It is just now a matter of watching who'll blink first. I'd like to say and believe that it will be FIDE, for I'm with Carlsen on at least this one point that the whole system of matches is not "sufficiently modern and fair". In fact, the idea of a match (or series of matches) is just plain old-fashioned. Matches hark back to the days when men challenged other men to a duel. Time now I say to dump that idea.

I think, however, that FIDE can afford to bide their time. After all many fans, and possibly players, still believe that one-on-one contests are the very heights of chess combat. Hec, even I get excited, especially when one guy is an absolute wanker. Think Topalov. It's really that sort of polarising effect that stimulates plenty of interest.

But a World Championship series sans the best is ridiculous. I hope FIDE will accomodate Carlsen: shorten the cycle, firm up the structure and remove privileges. Too hard?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

I pledge to play better

I was in the Boy Scouts once and I remember that we used to have a pledge. It was something about duty to self, country, other people and God. But how about this - The Pledge of Chess?

I will consider every check and every capture on every move!
I will never trade a bishop for a knight without a good reason!
I will not stop developing until my rooks are active!
I will make a special effort to consider pawn moves that change the pawn structure (like pawn breaks!)!

Read more in USCL News and Gossip.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Nazi Chess Board

Is this the chess set used by Hitler and Lenin? Supposedly.

Read more in Guy Walters' blog.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Bulgaria, Birthplace of Chess?

An exciting new chess news site has just emerged courtesy of Russian journo Evgeny Surov. The problem for us is that it's in Russian. Check out Thankfully, we've got our man over at Chess in Translation quickly in on the action and obviously translating some of that good content into English. I just hope that he doesn't run into any copyright issues, but I figure he's got that angle covered.

The first intalment, for instance, features an interview with Aussie starlet Arianne Caoili's beau, GM Aronian.

Speaking of translations, I have no idea if something was lost in this next story. Then again, Kirsan being Kirsan, believer of the weird and wonderful, I'm willing to bet that he meant every word. The FIDE boss seems to think that Bulgaria could just be a place where chess actually originated.

Hat tip to CGaE on that one.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Kasparov: Innovation comes to a halt

I'm always impressed at how the ex-Champ Gary Kasparov seamlessly transforms himself from an angry polie one day to being some sort of guru the next, charming his way through a crowd of technologists.

Speaking at a technology event earlier this week, Kasparov told his audience that innovation in America, genuine innovation that aparently serves as a catalyst for economic advancement, has come to a halt. Quoted by Forbes, Kasparov said: "We are surrounded by gadgets and computers like never before. They are better each time; a little faster, a little shinier, a little thinner. But it is derivative, incremental, profit margin-forced, consumer-friendly technology — not the kind that pushes the whole world forward economically."

I suppose in some ways he's right. And here I have in mind, not just America, but specifically my current home of Japan. Here, you're surrounded by all kinds of tech that are basically eye candy or that don't really solve a problem at all.

You guys are probably yet to see these, but walk into any large electronics store in Tokyo today and you'll find 3D TV! Problem is, you've got to wear the appropriate googles to see the 3D effect (although Toshiba will soon fix that). And how about self-flushing toilets? Just about the only thing that these things won't do is actually wipe your butt.

But who the hec really needs 3D TV anyway? And why do we need self-flushing toilets? As it happens, I found myself in one of these poop units yesterday and the damn thing kept flushing itself. Turns out that there's some sort of censor inside that detects either your movements or your position or both. If it thinks your off the bowl, it flushes. So, lesson learnt: next time, I gotta sit my ass still.

All that said, I think that Kasparov is also wrong. Forbes reports that, according to him, the last piece of tech that was truly revolutionary was the Apple II! If he believes that then he's never heard of the mobile phone. Or the web! These two combined will totally change the way we consume information and, more critically, the way we buy and sell. In fact, it's already happening.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Chess, Curaçao and Commies

The problem with communism is that it's an ideology that is always desperate to get ahead. Commies, therefore, always do desperate things. Like cheat. In chess tournaments. Now please, don't ask me if players, pros and juniors alike, caught cheating in dunnies are commies. That's for another day.

Curaçao 1962 was and is one of the most talked-about chess tournaments ever mainly for the wrong reasons. Weeks after the event, Bobby Fischer wrote an article for Sports Illustrated magazine (published on August 60, 1962) in which he bluntly accused his Russian opponents of colluding against him. In other words, they just flat out cheated.

But between 1959 and 1962 the Russian dominance of the Candidates' Tournament became much more open than it had been before. At Curacao it was flagrant. There was open collusion between the Russian players. They agreed ahead of time to draw the games they played against each other. Each time they drew they gave each other half a point. The tournament winner, Petrosian, got 5 points of his 17 total this way. They consulted during the games. If I was playing a Russian opponent, the other Russians watched my games, and commented on my moves in my hearing. Then they ridiculed my protests to officials. They worked as a team.

It is perhaps thanks largely to Fischer's renown that we often think of him as the biggest victim of this collusion. However, reading the paper, "Did the Soviets collude? A statistical analysis of championship chess 1940–1978", by Moul and Nye, tells us something different.

The bigger victim to this commie cheating was another American in yet another famous tournament. Sammy Reshevsky in Zurich 1953.

I am talking about all this because Bobby Ang has just revisited the whole issue in his latest column for RP's Business World magazine. You can still read that article here.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Mixing Fashion and Chess

This is what we need: a mix of fashion and chess. Admittedly, there ain't no number one looking like a badly made-up klingon hanging off the arms of a rock star's daugher. But the site has all the right names - Ferragamo, Burberry, Kenzo and the rest. I'm partial to Paul Smith myself.

They've even got t-shirts on sale! Can you handle it, the shirts say. No, thanks!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Best Goal Ever

As I watched this very funny Man U goal over the weekend, I thought that it's a pity that football doesn't have anything like Appendix B.3.c, a rule for blitz, which says in part: "An illegal move is completed once the opponent’s clock has been started. The opponent is entitled to claim a win before he has made his own move."

OK, the Spurs team and their fans couldn't exactly claim an immediate win when Nani handled the ball, but they were at least entitled to a free kick. They thought so, anyway.

But nope! This is what happened.

I don't know, but that's almost like the equivalent of player A making an illegal move, B motioning to summon the arbiter, then A suddenly picks up a piece and, BANG, checkmates player B.

Art of Chess Exhibition

A storm, Halloween and some film development all combined to knock my whole chess schedule this past weekend. Hence, I just couldn't find the time to post. Tokyo isn't the most beautiful city, but you'll have plenty to see and do. It's a fast town and sometimes I do wish I was back Down Under, where life is slower and where I'll have time to check out the Bendigo Art Gallery's "The Art of Chess" exhibition.

Actually, it's a duo of exhibits, with the main one being a travelling exhibit from London, while the smaller component is a collection of chess sets and pieces by 13 Aussie artists.

Whatever some our concerned readers think of the Murdoch press, it is at least a Murdoch pressman who's written the longest piece I could find about the whole exhibition.

Rachel WHITEREAD, Modern chess set 2005