30 March 2010

What's the CNC?

Notice anything different about the FIDE home page? I'm talking about the logo in the upper left of the screen just to the right of the FIDE logo: CNC. I noticed it for the first time this weekend and I can't figure out what it means. For starters, there is no underlying hyperlink.

Maybe it's been there for ages and maybe everyone associated with FIDE knows what it stands for, but I haven't a clue. Although it's on every page of Fide.com, a search of the site returns 'Your search - site:fide.com cnc - did not match any documents.' A general search on 'chess fide cnc' returns pages about lathes like a video post I did last year: Cutting the Chess Pieces, 'Simultaneous 5-axis milling'.

I am truly baffled.

29 March 2010

World Championship Opening Preparation - Summary

For the last six months I've been posting a series on 'World Championship Opening Preparation'. The posts have been primarily excerpts from participants in the matches and covered events held since FIDE took responsibility for the World Championship in 1948.

The following table lists the posts and shows which matches were covered by which posts. The column headers are a bit cryptic, but should make sense once you know that '5x' means matches played in the 1950s.

World Championship Opening Preparation
The World Championship According to Bareev
***** **   *
WCC Opening Preparation x 2
    *  *  **
The 'Clear Head' Theory
The Choice of Seconds
Opening Preparation - Between the Lines
A Rigged Match? [WCCB]
The Vladimirov Affair
The Dorfman Affair
The Geller Affair
Playing the Opponent's Opening
The Azmai Affair
Two World Champions in Combat
Who Has the Richer Store of Ideas?
The Appeal of a Certain Strategic Pattern
The Key to Kasparov's Success Against Karpov
Preparation and the Path of the Challenger
One Hundred Days for an Opening Repertoire
The Chief Trainer
Theatrics in Professional Chess
'An Enormous Investment of Effort and Time'
Specialization and Secrecy
'Did You Consider Just Playing Chess?'
'Computer Preparation Is Useless Here'
Kasparov Reminisces
The Investigatory Tendency
*  **       

Modern opening preparation gathered steam during the five Kasparov - Karpov matches, which explains why each of those matches is listed individually; there is simply more source material. Curiously, the 1987 match (KK4) is missing an entry, meaning that I should make a special effort to include it.

I intend to come back to this topic in the future, but I'll give it a rest for now. There are other topics that deserve attention.

26 March 2010

Alice in Lumberland

These days you can't do a chess news search without dredging up at least a few stories about Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (IMDB). Even artists are haunted by the theme. Is this drawing meant to show that a chess game moves at a mock turtle's pace?

The Red Queen © Flickr user Brooks Elliott under Creative Commons.

The piece is subtitled 'daily sketch challenge', apparently referring to a Flickr group of the same name: Daily Sketch Challenge. For more of the artist's daily sketches, which have nothing to do with chess, see Brooks Elliott's Photostream.

25 March 2010

Peter Ganine and Star Trek

Ever wonder about that three dimensional chess set that was used on the original Star Trek? No, neither have I, but it must be quite an item for collectors of chess sets or of Star Trek paraphernalia.

The set is pictured on the left. The 32 pieces taken together were one of the top priced items on eBay over the last two weeks (for an introduction to the series of posts, see Top eBay Chess Items by Price).

Just to be clear, only the pieces were included in the item that sold. The multi-layered, space age board was not part of the auction. The pieces received 33 bids and finally sold for US $1250. Of the 50 most expensive items offered over the last fortnight, it was one of only six that received a bid. The description said,


You are bidding on a complete 32 piece 1961 PETER GANINE CLASSIC CHESS SET. This set is in EXCELLENT CONDITION, all pieces are weighted and felted and have been lightly buffed to a beautiful shine. These pieces have no chips, cracks or funny discoloration. These are VERY BEAUTIFUL pieces and are VERY RARE and HARD TO FIND especially in this condition. These "Classic Style" pieces were the pieces generally associated with the STAR TREK three dimensional chess set and were used as PROPS in the series as shown in the pictures.

Original box is included and is in good condition considering how old it is. Original mint instructions, original board, and original inspection receipt, although not pictured, will also be included. THIS EXTREMELY RARE set, if you are lucky, will come along once in a lifetime. I have been collecting Ganine chess sets for many years and have only seen one similar set on Ebay. This set is the original classic style you have been looking for.

Pieces measure: King 3 2/8" Height, 1 3/8" Base; Queen 3" Height, 1 3/8" Base; Pawn 1 2/8" Height, 1" Base

The other images used to illustrate the auction showed the set in more detail. Yes, it was the same style set shown in the Star Trek photos.

23 March 2010

Weeks' Tweaks

Once in a while I discover a tweak for a previous post, sometimes on another blog I maintain, sometimes written long ago. What to do with it? Add it to a list of tweaks ('follow ups'). What to do with the list as it grows? Apply the tweaks to the original posts.

And voila! A wrap-up post summarizes the effort.

22 March 2010

The Investigatory Tendency

Coming to the end of this series on World Championship Opening Preparation, it's appropriate to quote Botvinnik, the first of the World Champions to document his own method of preparation. The following is from his preface to his book on Karpov's three 1974 candidate matches, 'Anatoly Karpov: His Road to the World Championship' (p.vii, my excerpt is abridged).

In 1938 I suggested that a chess player's strength could be determined by four factors. The first of these is chess talent. Without a specific chess talent one cannot become a strong player.

The second factor is character. And not only competitive character, which is usually identified with will to win, tenacity in defense, resourcefulness, and penetration into the psychology of the opponent. Of no less importance is how a player behaves when he is not at the chess board, when he is not taking part in a chess event.

The third factor is health. Although chess is an intellectual exercise, it involves nervous strain, and a player is called on to bear a heavy work load.

And, finally, the fourth factor -- special preparation. It is useful for every master to have his own theory of openings, which only he knows, and which is closely linked with plans in the middlegame. It is very useful, but -- alas! -- it is by no means everyone who is capable of doing this, and many players do not attempt such work.

In order to operate successfully in this field, one should have not only a capacity for hard work, but also a talent for searching, for investigation. When such a major talent appears, he indirectly influences the play of other grandmasters; in studying his games, other masters discover the aspects of chess theory on which it is then necessary to work, and the investigatory tendency in chess triumphs. If there is no such leading investigator, then it is the pragmatic approach that triumphs.

But if in recent years it is pragmatism that has prevailed, this does not mean that grandmasters may rest content -- there is still work to be done, and special preparation is still necessary.

That last paragraph diminishes the effort made by Fischer, who worked just as hard as any of the Soviet champions, if not harder. The rest of Botvinnik's preface is generally critical of Fischer's importance to the development of chess. Was this Botvinnik's real opinion or was he expressing ideas expected by the Soviet chess establishment?

I wonder if Fischer ever prepared for the aborted 1975 title match with Karpov.

19 March 2010

Feast or Famine

Some weeks, when I review recent clips for Video Friday, I find very little worth spotlighting. Then the choice becomes selecting the least flawed of a dubious bunch. The previous selection, 'Make No Mistake! You Are the Target!', fell into that category. Other weeks, I find so much that I have a real problem making a final selection. The following clip is one of a half-dozen I considered for this current post.

BBC - How to Win at Chess (1/6) (9:50) • 'In a programme showing how to play better chess, grandmasters Dan King and Ray Keene go through a demonstration game...'

From bbc.co.uk: How to Win at Chess; 'Many people know the basic rules of chess, but few can play really well. This programme offers some essential tips on how to raise our game.'

A few months ago I spotlighted an earlier video by Keene: 1972 Fischer - Spassky, game 6. The latest effort is much higher quality.

18 March 2010

Russian Federation to Decide FIDE Election?

First we had a hint from Chessvibes: 'Karpov candidate for FIDE President' [Chessvibes.com; 2 March 2010]. Then we had confirmation from Chessbase: Karpov to run for FIDE President [Chessbase.com; 13 March]. Suddenly the upcoming FIDE election became interesting (for background, see my previous post Counting Down to the 2010 FIDE Election).

There is supposedly a lot more in a Europe Echecs video, Karpov on his FIDE presidential campaign [Chessbase.com; 13 March], but Chessbase warns that the clip is problematic and, despite several attempts, I haven't been able to watch from beginning to end. Here's a synopsis of the highlights from TWIC.

Karpov says that FIDE should promote the current players better otherwise Kasparov, Fischer and Karpov would remain the most famous players to the wider public rather than Topalov, Anand and younger stars such as Carlsen and Nakamura. Also that the profile of the game as a whole needed to be raised and the game should be promoted in schools.

Karpov criticised Georgios Makropoulos, Zurab Azmaiparashvili even the president Kirsan Iljumzhinov of making money where the players are not.

He wants to reverse the fall in the prestige of chess. Like everyone he wants to promote chess in schools (that's a given with almost everyone in chess at the moment) [The Week in Chess 801, 15 March 2010, by Mark Crowther]

This isn't Karpov's first run at the FIDE Presidency. He tested the waters in 2006: Karpov: 'Chess could disappear from the face of the earth' [Chessbase.com; 26 January 2006]...

Q: Are you ready to run for FIDE President? A: It has been suggested, but I have not yet made a final decision. Discussions are still ongoing. I think everybody connected with chess understands that if we allow chess to continue for another four years in its presented terrible state, it will simply disappear from the face of the earth.

...but finally left the field open to incumbent Ilyumzhinov and challenger Kok: FIDE elections: Right Move on the march [Chessbase.com; 24 February 2006].

Former world champion Anatoly Karpov appears finally to have abandoned plans to run for the FIDE Presidency himself. The exact reason is not known, but one factor may have been the Russian Chess Federation’s decision to back Ilyumzhinov. Without even the backing of his own national federation, is seems unlikely that Karpov could mount a serious challenge, whilst some sources also suggest that FIDE rules do not permit more than one candidate from the same federation.

That last point about two candidates from the same federation is the next hurdle for both Ilyumzhinov and Karpov. I don't expect much transparency on this. Some day in the next few months we will simply learn that one of the men is running and the other is not. The survivor will be the FIDE President for 2010 to 2014.

16 March 2010

Future GM Ray Kleene

Ebay seller xavgallery is back with more photos from great chess events of yesteryear (see Capablanca in Memoriam for an introduction). This shot features the English player 'Kleene' in a match against Argentina for preliminary group 4 of the 1966 Olympiad at Havana.

Facing GMs Najdorf and Panno on the first two boards, England lost the match 3-1, but the untitled 'Kleene' managed a draw with the Black pieces against IM Garcia. For more about the event and the player, see 17th Chess Olympiad: Havana 1966 and Keene, Raymond Dennis on Olimpbase.org.

15 March 2010

Kasparov Reminisces

In this series of posts on World Championship Opening Preparation, I've already mentioned the second Kasparov - Karpov match (KK2-1985) several times -- Two World Champions in Combat, Who Has the Richer Store of Ideas?, and The Appeal of a Certain Strategic Pattern -- and, almost as if on cue, Kasparov himself discussed the same match in a recent interview published on Chessbase.com: Bisik-Bisik with Garry Kasparov (Part 2; I linked to the first part for my post on The Chief Trainer in this same series).

Q: You are well-known for your intense, thorough and deep pre-match and competition preparations -- especially in your matches against Karpov. As 2009 is the 25th anniversary of the first K-K match can you perhaps use the 1984 match against Karpov to illustrate the depth and breadth of your preparation on the eve of that match?

A: I had a five-month time before the match to rest and to prepare for the unknown test. I had a group of four chess trainers, Nikitin, Shakarov, Vladimirov and Timoschenko throughout my preparation. Dorfman came to assist me at the start of the main match, while Adorjan participated in the final pre-match training session. This was a very small team compared to the resources that Karpov had, but still, what mattered was that we had a plan to prepare for the match.

Initially, my trainers and I looked at Karpov's games and drew up a competitive and creative portrait of him, picking out the strong and weak aspects of his play. After that, we compiled a list of chess openings that were most likely to occur in the match, with a preference to variations leading to complicated and at times intricate positions. From here onwards, we began concrete chess opening preparations. This is a most important part of the preparation for any important chess match, and our work here included studying a number of variations for both the black and white sides of the same chess opening. All these work, which were the result of hours and hours of prolonged brainstorming together with my highly-qualified trainers throughout a five-month period, helped me greatly in the critical situation, which arose soon after the start of the match

But, the biggest achievements in this pre-match preparation were above all, my ability to start the match with Karpov with a creative approach to solving a broad grasp of chess opening problems as well as a readiness on my part to engage in a battle with Karpov in any chess openings' dispute in the most varied situations.

Q: Against Karpov in the 1984 match, you came up a little short in the dynamism vs. long-term advantages' struggle. You learnt well and about a year and a half later in the 1985 match, you were a changed man. What specific plans did you put in place prior to the 1985 match?

A: One of the key challenges the Kasparov team had prior to the second match was time. We realized that time was short and we began preparations began virtually the day after Campomanes' announcement of the match. We drew up a six-month schedule that included both relaxation and independent work, besides three twenty-day sessions with my trainers and helpers. As part of my preparation I also played two training matches with GMs Hubner and Andersson in May 1985. And, thereafter began my first of the three twenty-day sessions with my trainers. Here, we continued our work on chess openings, besides working to improve my positional technique. We also included as part of the session some form of physical training, whereby we went running barefoot along the beach besides swimming in the sea, cycling and football.

Q: In 1972 Fischer was known to be always carrying a red-colored book containing Spassky's games wherever he went. This represented the most extreme of chess preparations. Can you please share with us on what you think is the ideal preparation plan of a modern-day chess professional prior to competition?

A: You can't prepare without the computer. You must be constantly updated with all the improvements in the modern-day game of chess. Now that I am working with Magnus, Alexander Shakarov and I will always go to TWIC and we will look at the regular issues, just to see the games -- all the relevant ones. You have to follow, you have to update your database and you have to be aware about the improvements. And, those are just general tournaments. As for, big tournaments like Moscow, I am always following them. You can't be behind. It's not like 20 years ago, when you knew you could benefit from a game that was played somewhere where nobody else saw it. Today, in a week, or in 24 hours, or live, people can see all these games. So that's why you have to be very creative, because everybody has access to the same information. Your creativity is more important, because you have to process these games and invent something new.

One of the striking features of these reminiscences is how consistent they are with previous reports from 20 years ago on the same match.

12 March 2010

Blessed Shall You Be

Lavater and Lessing Visit Moses Mendelssohn (1856) © Flickr user MagnesMuseum under Creative Commons.

From the collection of the Judah L. Magnes Museum, Berkeley, California:

Painting by Moritz Daniel Oppenheim (1800-1882) portraying the meeting of scholars Moses Mendelsohn (1729-1786), Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781) and theologian Johann Kaspar Lavater (1741-1801) in Berlin (1763).

Mendelssohn is depicted on the left, wearing a red coat, and seated at a chess table in his library with Lessing. Lavater stands at the center behind the two. Above them hangs a brass lamp (Judenstern). A servant at right is holding holding a tray, under a door with a Hebrew blessing (Deuteronomy 28:6).

Deuteronomy 28:6 'Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.' (English Standard Version Bible)

11 March 2010

Top eBay Chess Items by Price

For the next month or so, my time for blogging is going to be extremely limited, but I'm reluctant to stop completely. Instead, I'll concentrate on topics that don't take much effort, like photos and videos. Another area that requires minimum effort is eBay.

For the About.com forum I used to do a weekly look at eBay chess auctions that I called 'Top eBay chess items by price'. There were two consecutive threads -- spanning 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 -- that started with active auctions and eventually included closed auctions. This time around I'll concentrate on closed auctions. I used to describe the more interesting auction items, because I was unable to use photos from the descriptions, but these days I'm less concerned about any adverse consequences.

Ebay auctions work for me on several levels. First, they teach me about the impact of chess on society for the last hundred years and more. Second, they teach me about both the eBay and Internet cultures, because eBay was one of the original services that showed the real power of network connectivity that we all take for granted these days. Third, they are a trove of much weird, wonderful, and wacky chess paraphernalia.

I set up a new category -- Posts with label eBay -- and added some relevant historical posts. The most recent in the category was Ghostly Fischer Images, which reminded me about the old forum threads. Here are two resources to retrieve eBay items.

Looking at the most recent closed auctions (eBay search finds them for two weeks after the auction ends), I noticed six for aluminum chess sets by Austin Enterprises. Five of the sets sold in the range of $555 to $760. The set pictured here sold for US $760 after nine bids.

Its description said,

'Modernist chess set comprised of extruded aluminum pieces in natural and coppery brown anodized finishes, by Austin Enterprises for Aluminum Company of America' (i.e. Alcoa)

along with sizes and conditions. The photo shows four pieces in front of the box holding the other pieces.

It's worth noting that of the 50 highest priced closed auctions, only five found a buyer. Of the 50 highest priced active auctions, there is not yet a single bid.


December 2016: At some time earlier this year the link for closed items stopped working correctly. The replacement link is

In the original post I wrote 'Closed - requires eBay ID & password', but that restriction was removed several years later.

09 March 2010

Ghostly Fischer Images

Ever wonder where the Fischer photo on the cover of Predecessors IV came from? I know I have. The drawings in the following image are even more obscure.

I spotted them on eBay as part of the item description for Bobby Fischer - 2-volume chess book by Dimitrije Bjelica, and they are apparently the covers for the two volumes. The description also mentioned,

Bjelica, Dimitrije: Robert Fiser. Genije koji se ne vraca, volume 1-2 (complete set). Beograd, Niro Knijizevne novine, 1984. Orig. soft covers. 472 + 244 pages + 36 unnumbered pages with ca 50 photos. Also, many photos and illustrations in text. 20 cm. In Serbo-Croatian. Games, chess biography inclusive authors remembrances and many (I guess 100 or more) photos and illustrations, of which some are not available from other sources.

Bjelica is one of those chess writers who receives a regular roasting from Edward Winter. His Chesshistory.com essay titled A Unique Chess Writer even mentions the two books that were sold at auction.

Whatever the literary merits of the Bjelica work, the final auction bid of US $148.00 indicates that it has considerable value to collectors. The seller -- About Me: chessbookshop -- was GM Karel Mokry, the proprietor of Chessbookshop.com, who often features unusual items in his eBay auctions (see Items for Sale From: chessbookshop for any current offerings).

One other fact worth noting is that Fischer would have been 67 years old today. RIP, Bobby.

08 March 2010

'Computer Preparation Is Useless Here'

One of the fascinating aspects of World Championship Opening Preparation is that, like any good controversy, there are two sides to each story. In 'Did You Consider Just Playing Chess?', we heard Kasparov's opinion on his 2000 title match with Kramnik, as recorded by Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam in 'The Day Kasparov Quit'. Here is Kramnik's opinion according to the same source (p.208):

Q: Kasparov said that his opening repertoire proved useless when he ran into an opening repertoire that you had been forging for three years, to be untouchable as Black.

A: No, I can tell you honestly, on this endgame [the 'Berlin Wall'] I'd been working for two weeks. It was in no way the only weapon I had, but it was good enough. In fact it was mostly psychological, because it is clear that White is slightly better in this endgame. But I knew that he wouldn't like it for several reasons. First of all, computer preparation is useless here. Also it is not his type of position. The other thing which is quite important actually is that the Petroff Defense, which I have been defending a lot with Black over the past few years, helped me a lot in this match. I always ended up with worse positions and in the end I was no longer afraid of them. [...]

Q: Were you surprised he kept returning to this Berlin Defense?

A: Not really. Because, whatever he may say, he understands that White is pressing in this endgame. It was also a challenge for him. He immediately gets this slightly better endgame; I don't even fight for equality. He fails once or twice and then he wants to prove he can win it. That was a mistake, probably. [...]

Q: In recent games you were playing very aggressively. Did you want him to get the idea that you might play like this?

A: Yes, of course. Also this 1.e4 gainst Leko in Cologne [a few months before the Kasparov match] was to create the idea that I was preparing for 1.e4 and an aggressive approach. [...]

Q: Does this result confirm a favorite statement amongst top players? Take away Kasparov's openings and he is still a strong player, but nothing more than that?

A: I don't want to insult him, but in a way this is true. He's a brilliant player, an absolutely brilliant player with his openings and still an excellent player without his openings, but already not better than some others. In any case he is not better than me. Actually now I am sure that I am stronger than him in pure chess, which I proved. It isn't true that I was much better prepared. You simply look at the games. I was psychologically better prepared. My preparation was cleverer. I was getting him in positions that he doesn't like. [...]

Q: Some of the ideas came from people outside your direct team. Kasparov was shocked when he heard about the extent of this help and learned that also people like Gelfand, Morozevich, and Svidler helped you.

A: I don't see any reason for him to be surprised. Just pay and they work for you. I spent a lot of money on preparation. He could also have hired five 2670 players but he didn't. It's his own fault.

Kasparov said, 'It's clearly not as much Kramnik's win as my loss', a sentiment with which Kramnik, just as clearly, disagreed.

05 March 2010

'Make No Mistake! You Are the Target!'

'Have you seen this before? Perhaps around the school or in a park? If, so, beware! It's the classic sign of a chess player. These delinquents have been a silent menace to society for generations! ... Early signs include proficiency in mathematics and pocket protectors.'

The Chess Player (3:08) • 'Misunderstanding of subculture leads to unfair misrepresentation.'

At certain points the clip is crude, but nevertheless clever overall.

04 March 2010

Log Wallowing

After fixing the small problems I mentioned in Favorite Icons and MSPaint Adventures, I became curious about other statistics that my World Championship site log might reveal for the month of February. My server host gives me detailed daily stats or global stats covering three months, but not monthly stats. The daily stats only show if a minimum number of search terms, for example, are used on that day, meaning that unusual searches are lost in the noise.

Like most web sites these days, my top external referrer is Google. The following table shows which pages received the most traffic from Google. For example, my 'World Chess Championship' index page had 538 visitors from many different Google domains combined.

538 The World Chess Championship
356 1972 Fischer - Spassky Title Match : Highlights
331 2010 Anand - Topalov
140 1992 Fischer - Spassky Rematch : Highlights
100 2010 Candidates Event
  94 The Origin of Chess (*)
  94 Sicilian Defense - 2...e6 Variations (*)
  82 1995 Kasparov - Anand PCA Title Match : Highlights
  80 World Chess Championship : Computer Chess
  59 Positional Play : Piece Placement and Chess Strategy (*)
  59 1984 Karpov - Kasparov Title Match : Highlights
  59 1993 Kasparov - Short PCA Title Match : Highlights
  59 World Chess Championship : Three star games

It would be helpful to see what keywords people are using to find some of those pages, like the '2010 Candidates Event' or 'Sicilian Defense - 2...e6 Variations'. I was surprised to find out that dozens of visitors for the main 'World Chess Championship' home page are finding it after searches on variations of 'mark weeks chess' or even just 'mark weeks', including spellings like 'weekes' and 'wiicks'. I especially liked the search term 'mark weeks chess champion'; if only I really was!

The pages marked '(*)' are articles that I recovered after writing for About.com (for more about these see Posts with label About.com). I'm interested in these because, unlike the specialist World Championship pages, they are general interest chess pages and I'm unsure about spending any further effort on them.

  94 The Origin of Chess
  94 Sicilian Defense - 2...e6 Variations
  59 Positional Play : Piece Placement and Chess Strategy
  54 Award Winning Chess Books
  52 Chess Bibliography
  47 Chess in the Middle Ages
  45 Chess Traps : View Full Games
  35 Positional Play : Pawn Structure
  32 Openings - Introduction to 1.d4
  27 Elementary endgames (Part 2)
  27 Chess Openings - Unusual First Moves

Two of the those top-10 pages -- 'The Origin of Chess' and 'Chess in the Middle Ages' -- are related to chess history, a subject which appears to rank favorably with openings and improvement.

I also noticed more traffic coming from Wikipedia than I'd expected. It looks like people do click through the references at the bottom of a Wikipedia page, something which I rarely do.

139 The World Chess Championship
  31 1985 Kasparov - Karpov Title Match : Highlights
  28 World Chess Championship : FIDE Events 1948-1990
  26 World Chess Championship for Women
  19 1984 Karpov - Kasparov Title Match : Highlights

There is a lot more that I could say about the February log, but I'll come back to the subject using another month at some time in the future.

02 March 2010

Champions Without Lineage to Steinitz

In 'The Day Kasparov Quit', a book of interviews by Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam, Kasparov, just after losing the 2000 match to Kramnik, is quoted as saying (p.202),

[Kramnik] is the 14th World Champion. This is not Khalifman, Mattison, Bogoljubow, or whoever wins India. This is the man who joins Capablanca and the others.

What is the thread that ties these names -- Khalifman, Mattison, and Bogoljubow -- together?

Mattison: Mattison, Herman (1894-1932), Latvian player and study composer, known in Latvia as Matisons. In 1924 he won his country's first championship tournament and, later that year, ahead of Colle and Euwe, the first world amateur championship, arranged in connection with the Olympic Games at Paris. In the second and last amateur championship, organized by FIDE at The Hague in 1928, he took third prize after Euwe and Przepiorka, ahead of Becker. (Hooper & Whyld, 'Oxford Companion', p.252)

Bogoljubow: After Alekhine's victory over Capablanca [1927], FIDE, for which the conducting of the World Championship was an eternally sore point, decided to establish its own championship in a match of ten games and to declare him the official contender to the throne. The participants in the 'candidates match', held in the spring of 1928 in Holland, were Bogoljubow, the winner of the super-tournament at Moscow 1925 and Euwe, supported by his 'committee'. This was a battle of equals: after a win in the sixth game the Dutchman was a point ahead, but in the end he lost by the minimal score: 4.5-5.5 (+2-3=5). (Kasparov, 'Predecessors II' [chapter on Euwe], p.20) • See also FIDE Championship (1928) (Chesshistory.com).

Khalifman: 1999 FIDE Las Vegas (Khalifman 1st)

Anand (winner at India): 2000 FIDE India/Iran (Anand 1st)

See also my recent post on Knockout Champions. What about Topalov, winner at 2005 San Luis; does he count as a real World Champion?

01 March 2010

'Did You Consider Just Playing Chess?'

The previous post about World Championship Opening Preparation, titled Specialization and Secrecy, covered the 2000 Kramnik - Kasparov match from the point of view of GM Bareev, one of Kramnik assistants. Kasparov's thoughts on the same match can be found in an interview from 'The Day Kasparov Quit' by Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam. I've already mentioned the book in a post about Insiders' Perspectives on World Championship Matches. The interview took place on the day of the last scheduled game, a game not played because Kramnik was already assured of winning the match (p.198):-

Every free minute [Kasparov] has he is putting in the analysis of the match, he says.

Q: Are you analyzing the match technically or psychologically?

A: Both. It's clearly not as much Kramnik's win as my loss. I made so many mistakes and did not anticipate what he was going to do. Basically everything was about preparation. The first two games had a devastating effect, when I understood that I would have to play endgames.

The story is simple. I had two successful years. I believed that what I had to do was add volume. We had great ideas in [any opening] you can imagine. With Black, frankly speaking, we relied on the Gruenfeld with the Queens's Gambit Accepted as a reserve. So, when after game two you realize that your main Black opening is not going to work, and the guy is going to trade Queens with White, this doesn't have a good effect. Still, I think I played relatively well. [...]

The problem was I burned myself down, because we had to rebuild my entire opening repertoire. I worked for hours and hours. I had a parallel training session and then I had to go and play Kramnik. [...]

Q: Before the match I said to Kramnik that one of his biggest opponents was he himself, burning himself while trying to keep on preparing during the match, as he has done so often at tournaments. Instead it happened to you, despite all your experience.

A: Our preparation was absolutely wrong. For the past three years I have been concentrating on winning tournaments with plus seven [+7, shorthand for wins minus losses, a measure of success], while he was concentrating on creating a very good opening repertoire with Black. He created a very small parameter. These victories worked against me. I didn't want to change anything. [...]

Q: Did you consider forgetting about all opening preparation and just playing chess?

A: A good recommendation. At one point I wished we could change Bishop and Knight in the opening position, because then I had no doubts I would win the match.

After interviewing Kasparov, ten Geuzendam conducted another interview with Kramnik, when the subject of opening preparation was again a central theme of the discussion. I'll cover that in the next post. (NB: The start position (SP) that Kasparov mentions in the last paragraph is known in chess960 as 'SP524: RBNQKNBR'.)