Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Kiwi and Pinoy in Action

New Zealand's Puchen Wang and RP's GM-elect Julio Sadorra will be in action this coming weekend for their school UT Dallas as they face off their rivals in the so-called College Chess Final Four. Hostilities will be hosted by Booz Allen Hamilton in their headquarters in Washington, D.C., while games are expected to be broadcast on the Monroi site.

For some of our aspiring young chess stars in Oceania, I think a berth on a US college team bench might just be something to aim for. Get a degree and play plenty of chess at the same time!

Here is UTD's GM Alejandro Ramirez talking about chess as a sport.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Where's the Money in Myanmar?

Last year the first of a planned series of annual tournaments to celebrate the life of Campomanes was held in the Philippines. These are supposed to be hosted by all 10 of ASEAN's member nations. To make the whole thing happen, no less than FIDE boss Kirsan Ilyumzhinov sponsored the series to a tune of US$1 million. Therefore, that's roughly $100,000 for each event.

Thanks to a tipster, I've now just seen the details of the next Campo Memorial which is scheduled to take place in Myanmar from 5 - 11 July later this year. To my surprise, the prizes on offer there will be nowhere near the much-touted one hundred grand.

It is just $10,000!

Here's the section on prize fund that appears in the tournament presser:

4. Prize Fund (US$ 10,000)
Open: 1st US$ 3,000; 2nd US$ 1,600; 3rd US$ 1,200; 4th US$ 1,000; 5th US$ 700; 6th US$ 500; 7th & 8th US$ 300 each; 9th & 10th US$ 200 each.
Best Myanmar Players: 1st US$ 500; 2nd US$ 300; 3rd US$ 200.
Best Women Players and Best Junior Players (U-18, U-14, U-10) prizes are also awarded.
All the prize winners will get the special prizes (Quantum Shields, Quantum Pendants, Quantum Flasks and Quantum Bracelets awarded by Fusionexcel International). Information on these health products is available at
Remark: The prize fund is guaranteed-minimum amount. It may be increased and the final one shall be announced before the start of Round 3. Prize money shall be shared equally among the tied-players.

Compared to the inaugural event, which did offer prizes totaling $100k, this Myanmar edition looks to be no better than a large weekender. Which makes me wonder if it's even a legit tournament!

Who knows what might have happened to the vast chunk of Kirsan's largesse. But whatever the reason, the shortfall is perhaps why the Myanmar tournament has had to seek sponsorship from some outfit called "Fusion Excel International", apparently the world's largest purveyors of "scalar energy"! Maybe you'd like a quantum pendant? It "promotes positive flow of energy and helps to maintain energy balance."

As my tipster said, "New Age Fruitloopery".

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Chess: An Ideal Laboratory

Old, but I just saw this pop up in my feeds. From Seed Magazine:

Because chess is competitive and mentally demanding, yet objectively measured, the resulting studies of gendered performance can potentially be more conclusive and less contentious than other approaches to this subject have been. Often, comparisons of male and female brains appear to pathologize the female condition in a manner reminiscent of the Victorian-era pseudoscientific sexism and racism that persisted in opposition to 19th century minority-rights movements. One argument, famously posed by Simone DeBeauvoir and periodically reinvented to support women’s equality, claims that the industrial revolution rendered superfluous the physical strength that long justified masculine dominance. Areas like sports and combat are reminders of male physical advantage, and lead to questions as to why there should not be a corresponding mental advantage.

In "Why Chess May Be An Ideal Laboratory For Investigating Gender Gaps in Science".

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Cordover's Crusade

The fire of revolution is ablaze across the Middle East....

Oh scratch that!

When I began to write this post I had in mind contemporary events. But given the language used by Melbourne chess businessman David Cordover, he apparently thinks of this, his latest war against the ACF, as a sort of crusade. I thought he was merely calling for a revolution. I was wrong.

He wants a new religion.

In a series of often acrimonious emails (to which I am cc'd) between himself and the Australian Chess Federation big wigs, David Cordover ends with, what seems to me, a threat of nothing less than all out war! To split Australian chess.

All this is over his new venture called "Tornelo".

If you missed it, the first shot in this war was actually fired by the ACF. This from their most recent newsletter:

The ACF has decided that only Swiss Perfect, Swiss Master or Swiss Manager are to be used for pairing purposes for any ACF event including ACF Grand Prix events or any event that is to be FIDE rated.

The Australian Chess Federation does not endorse in any way, or have anything whatsoever to do with, David Cordover's Tornelo system and any statements or implications otherwise are false.

Then adding

In connection with the above matter, the ACF Council has recently resolved that [it will have] nothing to do with David Cordover, his chess business or his Tornelo system is to appear in the ACF newsletter until he removes to the satisfaction of the ACF Council all references, inferences or implications that his Tornelo system is in any way related to the Australian Chess Federation or ACF ratings [obviously with the exception of the above notice itself].

Please note that if you wish to write Letters to the Editor debating this decision they must do so in ways that do not breach the resolution.

For the time being, in some ways aided by Mr Cordover's carelessness, not to mention his propensity for confusing and totally irrelevant diversions, the ACF has the tactical advantage. The national body can simply sit back and drag this along until the Melburnian does what he's been told to do.

1) That on you change the wording that was "Australian Chess Federation" to "Tornelo Demonstration"
2) That on you change the title that was "Australian Chess Ratings" to "Tornelo Demonstration".
3) That you remove the link on the top left hand side of that links back to the ACF website and does not link to the ACF website from or

I looked at all that and thought, fair enough. Just make it happen and be done with it. But Mr Cordover apparently had some kind of epiphany. And, of course, being a successful entrepreneur he doesn't exactly like being told what to do - certainly not by what he considers as an aging Ancien Régime devoid of ideas.

He just had to have his own demands. And he just had to say this:

I will be quite honest with you [Bill Gletsos, ACF ratings officer, and the ACF] - if we cannot reach an amicable resolution then I will consider my other options to include actively encouraging clubs and organisers to withdraw from the ACF ratings system to use Tornelo (free) and simultaneously petition FIDE to allow an organisation OTHER than the ACF to deal with them for ratings.

Read it how you like, but that sounds like a new religion to me.

To be honest, I have some sympathies for David Cordover. Notwithstanding my unhappiness about that email, Tornelo (and yes, I've had a brief, very brief, play) looks to be quite attractive. Why wouldn't you want a fancy system that has detailed reports and fully searchable instead of this monstrosity?

I think the ACF needs to tread carefully here. They have every right to make their demands, protect their turf, and I support them. But they ought to state clearly why they have a problem with Tornelo, the technology. From a user's point of view, the tool seems to be far and ahead of what even FIDE has to offer.

The ACF's Bill Gletsos talks about David Cordover's past sins and why people don't trust him. Yet we know of at least one other ACF office-holder who was more than happy to do business with Mr. Cordover - none other than Mr Reliable, Dr Kevin Bonham!

As for our wannabe Martin Luther, he could start by doing what he was told to do in the first place: just get rid of any references to "auschess". Then he should genuflect before the ACF, say sorry to my mate Bill Gletsos, the High Priest (I gotta pay Mr Cordover for this moniker) of Aussie chess ratings, and stop talking about new religion. More importantly, he should just be out with it and tell us exactly how much Tornelo is going to cost.

Bottom line: any talk of new religion will fuck us all up. Whatever side you're on, we have to prevent that from happening.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Chess and Revolts

I began writing a post where the opening lines were:

The fire of revolution is ablaze across the Middle East. Led by the Tunisians, some 5 other countries, by my count, are in a state of emergency. By the year's end 2011 could well be stamped into our memories as the year of revolts.

Perhaps taking his cue from these distant events, Melbourne chess businessman, David Cordover, looks to be sparking a revolution of his own.

But then, I thought, I better save that for another day.

For the time being, let's make do with this: "A Chess Game in Libya"

Staying in power is a game you must play. Like the popular board game, “Chess”, one should look forward a few more moves, and protect your king to win the game. You must plan it well, and do timely moves. You have to put your opponent in apposition where you want him to be and do your planned attack.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Magic of Wood

Thumbs up to the Brisbane Times!

Anyway, now we use the checkers set regularly and we’ve even starting to dabble in chess. I don’t think I’d ever opt to play on the iPad if the physical board was at hand. Why? Because I want my son to appreciate that not all games need to be high tech. They don’t all rely on batteries. It’s not that I’m a luddite, it’s just that sometimes it’s nice to get away from technology. The feel of the wooden pieces and the sound they make on the board is all part of the experience.

In "Will Tablets Kill Boardgames?"

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Another RP Grandmaster

There's always time for some good news, especially Philippine-related ones. That country is set to have another grandmaster. GMA has the details:

Julio Catalino Sadorra earned his third and final Grandmaster (GM) norm after beating American GM Alexander Shabalov in the 10th round of the University of Texas-Dallas Spring Invitational GM tournament in North Dallas, Texas.

Sadorra is still considered an International Master (IM) pending the official confirmation from the World Chess Federation (Fédération Internationale des Échecs, FIDE). He was one of the Philippines' brightest young players before moving to the United States to continue his studies at UT-Dallas where he is in his second year taking up Applied Mathematics.

Note that one of Sadorra's teammates is none other than New Zealander IM Puchen Wang.

You can see both guys appear in this UT Dallas chess team video.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Chess in Clay

Hat tip to Max and the Open Culture. This one really did cheer me up. Thanks Max.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Update from Tokyo

To be honest, I really haven't had the head space to think chess over the last couple of days. As you can perhaps imagine it's been terribly hectic over here. Aftershocks occur almost every hour, although, thankfully, most are barely felt. This morning, however, at about 10AM Tokyo time, a 6.2 struck the city. Quite mild but it had enough thrust to shake my apartment.

Other than aftershocks there is the threat of a nuclear meltdown. I try not to think too much about that.

Anyway, to all my fans, I'm sure you bastards are worried about me, I just wanted to say that I'm perfectly alright.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Begonia Chess Festival

From The Courier: a brief report on the Begonia Festival. PR man Chris Segrave on the first champion, Ernest Greenhalgh: "He was obviously a very good chess player. He trained as a school teacher and taught schools in the western district and his main interests were maths, chess and the stock market".

And I can't help but slip this one in - a bit of news from the US with at least two chessic connections. You may have to look more closely for the second one.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Is Tornelo Breaking the Law?

This afternoon, while in the midst of one of the biggest quakes to hit Tokyo, I received this strange unsolicited email.

Welcome to Australian Chess Ratings Tornelo!

Tornelo is friendly, web-based tournament management and ratings software.

We have created your free Australian Chess Ratings Tornelo account. With an account you can:
* Enter a tournament
* Update your player profile
* Use the Electronic Scoresheet during tournaments (through your smart phone)
* View ratings, player profiles, pairings, results and games
* Club Admins can also promote tournaments online, collect entries, submit for ratings and display live results and games

To log-in to Tornelo please use the following details:

Email: ********
Temporary Password: ***********

Please update your password to something you will remember when you first log-in. If you forget your password you will need access to your email to reset it.

Have fun using Tornelo and thanks for being part of our community.

- The Tornelo Pixie

PS. We love feedback and we are hungry to improve! Let your imagination run wild with possibilities - we're eager to hear ideas from players and organisers about new features that Tornelo could use.

Well, Tornelo Pixie, I'm sure you love feedback. Here it is: you may have just broken the law. The Anti-Spam Laws.

I have never heard of Tornelo. I never signed up to them. So how they acquired my email address is beyond me. Hec, they've even created a user ID and a password then sent those in the email! Genius.

I'll be reporting you.

UPDATE (11 Mar, 8:59PM): Apparently, I subscribed to a Robert Jamieson enewsletter that is put out by Chess Kids. I'm confident that I didn't. Why in the world would I subscribe to an enewsletter for beginners?

But suppose I did. Let's take a look at their subscription page. Nope, no privacy provisions there. No fine print about being signed up to every affiliated company of the Chess Group, whoever they are.

I just searched my inbox and it looks like I've got another unexplained subscription. This time it's for "On The Move", apparently from the same mob. Nope, didn't subscribe to that one either. I can't even find the subscription page. That's because there isn't one!

I think I've got somebody by the balls.

Chess & Chicks Don't Mix

I don't know about this:

[T]he Chess Olympiad and the world chess championship are in the highest level of chess competition. Going down to ordinary chess-playing, many a wife, girlfriend or child has experienced problems with the husband, boyfriend or father because of the time he spends on this game. Due to this so-called "gymnastics of the mind", the chess lover tends to forget all his other loves. From my own experience, I concluded that "Chess and chicks don't mix."

From Bacolod's Sun Star paper.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Wohl on Laragate

I was going to post something else, but this latest entry by IM Alex Wohl had me laughing over some cheap chianti. His take on the whole Laragate affair (well, I had to come up with something).

She goes by many names and is a master of disguise. If you spot her do not approach but immediately inform Steve Giddons (sic), secret agent 000 who has a special licence to blow anything out of all proportion. All of the worlds chess enforcement forces are now looking for the pair including Chessbase and Chessvibes. Even the Closetgrandmaster has mobilized his considerable resources to try apprehend her.

Monday, March 07, 2011

So who won?

I just love this. It's an old story, but it reminds me of one of the best things in life. Late night blitz.

There's more on this by Macauley Peterson over on Chess Life Online from way back in December. Rightly so, Macauley is keeping the final score a secret. Being a Nakamura fan, I hope he won!

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Reliable Stock Quote?

As the minor controversy over Lara "I'm no woman grandmaster" Stock dies down, there is still really one question left unanswered. Why? Why go through all that trouble?

In the English Chess Forum, Gareth Harley-Yeo, a Welsh chess player, claims to have been in contact with our troublesome Fraulein.

I decided to ask the horse:

Lara Antonia Sofie Stock 05 March at 00:52 Report
actually .. i just wanted to play chess without media or any "special treatment". Just be a normal chessplayer not a wgm ..

Of course, the authenticity of that quote is yet to be confirmed.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Japanese Scores Fischer Money

A rare chess victory for Japan: Reuters reports, "An Icelandic court said on Thursday the widow of former world chess champion Bobby Fischer should inherit his estimated $2 million estate, which has been in dispute since his death in 2008."

Read more here.

The Colour of Titles

I must admit that when I posted yesterday's news about the drop-dead-gorgeous WGM Lara Stock winning a Kiwi event with a false name, I didn't expect that the two premiere chess news sites would quickly follow. The Germans can recognise a pretty face when they see one, but seem a tad coy about naming Lara. While our Dutch friends have at least managed to make Australia's 'rebel' chess forum very happy, indeed!

The most strident reaction so far, however, is from British Chess Magazine editor, FM Steve Giddins. Says he:

Despite the paltry rewards that their actions have earned them, it would be nice to see appropriate action taken, if only pour encourager les autres. Since the young lady is so keen not to let anyone know that she holds the WGM title, I think a good start would be to take away her title altogether. Throw in a life ban from all internationally rated chess, and that should make others think twice about trying the same tactic.

Maybe I'm just too much of a sucker for pretty blondes (if only they aged gracefully), but perhaps we should withold calling for her head until we understand why.

As Chessvibes pointed out, Lara quit playing competition chess in 2007. Maybe, just maybe, the pressures were too much for the then teenager and now she just prefers to get into the rough and tumble free from expectations. Just think: if this was all about cash, why not simply rock up to a local club or organiser and demand an appearance fee? Or just play in a big event. With her kind of horsepower in this part of the world, she'll easily finish among the prize winners.

So there you have it, none of us like fraud, but let's not be too hasty on this one.

At any rate, if she ever stops over in Tokyo en route back to Europe, I'm quite happy to take her around my local chess club. I might even drop her a line: "What you got in there?"

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Foreigners Scam NZ Tournament

Just received a note this morning from Scott Humphreys, of the Hamilton CC in New Zealand, in which he relates the case of what appears to be an outright scam. A pair of players calling themselves Matteus Wagner and Carmen Lempert turned out to be father and daughter, Michael Stock and 18 year old WGM Lara Stock of Croatia!

Both players entered (get this) a rookies event and naturally finished in one-two spots. Here's a picture of the winners.

Image courtesy of Hamilton CC

Well, what can we say? At least she's hot.

UPDATE (3 March, 11.12): I just realised that my first link forces you to log in to Facebook. Here's an alternative link to the Hamilton CC homepage.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The Future of Chess

For €59.00, you could get your hands on what seems like an interesting read. It's "The Future of Post-Human Chess: A Preface to a New Theory of Tactics and Strategy" by Dr. Peter Baofu.

Here's a brief write-up:

[T]his book provides an alternative (better) way to understand the future of chess, especially in the context of strategy and tactics-while learning from different approaches in the literature but without favoring any one of them (nor integrating them, since they are not necessarily compatible with each other). Thus, this book offers a new theory to go beyond the existing approaches in the literature on chess in a new way not conceived before.

This seminal project is to fundamentally alter the way that we think about chess, from the combined perspectives of the mind, nature, society, and culture, with enormous implications for the human future and what I originally called its 'post-human' fate.