27 August 2010

Q: Who Makes the Best Chess News Videos?

A: The guys who made this clip...

NH Chess: Wild Finale (5:34) • 'Nakamura edges out Giri in a blitz tiebreak, to win a trip to the prestigious Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament in March, 2011.'

...For more in the same series, see YouTube Channel ICCchessFM. In One more time: the NH Tournament, Chessvibes.com reports,

This year’s NH Chess Tournament was the fifth, and also the last. Five times, a team of Rising Stars played, and learnt from, Experienced grandmasters. With five times ten rounds times five games, a total of 250 games were played in Amsterdam. The final score over five years of NH Chess is 136.5-113.5 for the Rising Stars.

Only in 2009 did the 'Experience' team manage to win the overall contest.

26 August 2010


In my series on Top eBay Chess Items by Price, it took more than four months to find a painting worth featuring. Now I find a second painting within a month. The first was Casanova Y Estorach, and the second is pictured below. The eBay item was titled 'Antique Chess Game Interior Scene Genre Oil Painting' and sold for US $1,525.00 after receiving 59 bids.

The item, listed in categories 'Art from Dealers & Resellers > Paintings' and 'Antiques > Primitives', carried the following description, written in a flowery style that is typical of eBay art items.

You are bidding on an Antique Oil Painting in Gilded Carved Frame. This piece is a RARE FIND due to its size, age and beauty and is an original oil painting that was signed by who we believe is VERY WELL listed artist Francois Dumont (1850-?) who is listed in the Davenport, Askart, Artprice and various other art indexes. This is a very beautiful subject and is an original Oil on Canvas that depicts a beautiful interior scene from an earlier time period of a chess game with each person sitting and standing with observation.

This could have been family or friends sitting down conversing with beautiful archtectural designs with tapestry fabrics along the windows and nice objects D'Art near a beautiful fireplace mantle throughout the painting.. This was done with such fine detail in both color and clarity with the distinctive characteristics of their facial features and expressions on their faces down to their beautiful clothing of the time period and their mannerism was so well founded with such fine detail of all the beautiful objects and the interior scene with nice large open windows of a beautiful landscape on the horizon and the artist giving us a depiction of a nice day.

Much time and love went into this painting with beautiful colors that were very well blended and even the interior scene of different objects in the surrounding were done down to the finest details. This has beautiful brush strokes with tonalism and shading with the walls and shelving and the detail of the interior architectural designs which could be a form of expression of Love, Family, Traditions, Happiness and can mean so many things to so many different people. The beauty of art is that there are many different ways of looking at this painting and the beauty is all in the eye of the beholder.

Because of its size this is a beautiful painting that can be accented in a Hallway or Foyer, Dining Room, Study or Parlor, Bedroom or Boudior, or in a guest room and anywhere else throughout your home that I PROMISE will be a topic of conversation and is an heirloom quality piece with investment value as a listed artist. The artist was a TRUE MASTER, because we see great care and SKILL in the painting down to its finest details. With paintings of this caliber you can see the amount of care and attention the artist put into the piece and accomplished quite a bit here.

The painting itself is very old and please keep in mind this is an antique has craquelure throughout due to its natural age with paint flaking and minor imperfections and wear consistant with its age that may need some professional touch up at your discretion. The frame is nicely gilded and recessed with floral carved ancathus leaves and also has minor imperfections with some gilt wear as well that is consistant with its age and we believe it to be original to the painting. This piece was VERY WELL made with quality that surpasses ANYTHING that is made today but Please understand that this is an antique and has some minor imperfections on it with its age but overall its in excellent shape. This piece overall measures approx 33 inches wide and approx 29 inches high.

Wikipedia has a page on Fran├žois Dumont (1751–1831), 'a French painter of portrait miniatures'. Furthermore,

A younger brother, Tony Dumont, was also a miniature painter, a pupil of his brother, a frequent exhibitor and the recipient of a medal from the Academy in 1810. Each artist signed with the surname only, and there is some controversy concerning the attribution to each artist of his own work.

The image I used above is a cropped version of the painting where the artist's signature is not visible. The eBay item included a detail of the signature that looks to me like 'Fr.Dumar...', where the paint is missing from the '...' portion. There appear to be 2-3 letters missing and the last letter is almost certainly an 'l'. The odds are that this was not done by the same Francois Dumont who is represented in the Louvre. If so, it would have sold for much, much more. Whoever the artist was, it's still a very attractive piece.

24 August 2010

More R+P vs. B+P Magic

After writing the recent post on R+P vs. B+P (see R vs. B Plus Knight Pawns), I reviewed previous posts in my tablebase category and discovered one with the same material: Tablebase 1 - Polugaevsky/Kasparov ½. Starting from the position given in that post, three world class GMs -- Gligoric, Polugaevsky, and Kasparov -- all overlooked a moment in the game where a double blunder occurred; White threw away a theoretical draw and Black failed to capitalize on it.

I dragged out my copy of Averbakh's treatise on Rook & minor piece endings, which is one book of his five volume series on theoretical endgames, and looked for similar positions. His chapter on R+P vs. B+P splits the examples into two parts. The first part examines Pawns separated by at least one file, while the second deals with Pawns on the same or on adjacent files. Since my two previous posts both featured positions with Pawns on the same file, I compared Averbakh's second part to the tablebase results. How accurate is his analysis?

On the whole the analysis is extremely good, but not perfect. In the 17 positions I found two erroneous evaluations. The first stems from the following position.

Averbakh no.430
[FEN "8/8/8/8/4pk2/8/r3BP2/4K3 w - - 0 1"]

Averbakh gives 1.Kf1! Ra1+ 2.Kg2 Rb1 3.Bh5! Re1 4.Be8 Re2 5.Kf1 Rd2 6.Bh5 Draw. I don't understand the short comment in Russian here, but he apparently believes that White has a fortress making it impossible for Black to approach the Pawn. The tablebase disagrees, saying the position after 6.Bh5 is a win in 40 moves. One critical path goes as follows:

6...Rb2 7.Be8 Rb8 8.Ba4 Ke5 9.Bc6 Rb6 10.Ba4 Kd4 11.Ke2 Rb2+ 12.Kf1 Kd3 13.Bc6 Rb1+ 14.Kg2 Kd4 15.Bd7 Rb6 16.Bf5 Ke5 17.Bd7 Rd6 18.Bb5 Kd4 19.Kf1 Rb6 20.Bd7 Kd3 21.Bh3 Ra6 22.Kg2 Rf6 23.Kg3 Ke2 24.Bg4+ Kd2 25.Bh5 Rf5 26.Bg4 Rf8 27.Bh5 Ke1 28.f4

To explain the winning procedure in words: Black switches the attack on the Pawn by bringing the King to e1/e2 and the Rook to the f-file, a plan which White is unable to prevent. This forces f2-f4, after which the win is easy.


The second erroneous analysis is in the position -- White Kg3,Bg5,Ph4; Black Ke4,Rf8,Ph5 -- from the game Salwe - Rubinstein, Prague 1909. The Pawns are mutually blocked on the h-file and the White King is confined to a six square rectangle stretching from g3 to h1.

Averbakh no.434
[FEN "5r2/8/8/6Bp/4k2P/6K1/8/8 b - - 0 1"]

The players continued 1...Rf7 2.Bh6 Rf3+ 3.Kg2 Rd3 4.Bg5 Kf5 5.Kf2 Kg4 6.Ke2. Averbakh gave these moves without comment, then showed how White could have preserved the draw a few moves later.

What Averbakh overlooked, but the tablebase finds immediately, is that White was lost in the initial position. After 1...Rf7, Black wins in 48 moves. The move 3...Rd3 throws away the win, 4.Bg5 gives it back, and 4...Kf5 throws it away again. The explanation for this is easy, even if the execution is not.

To win, Black needs to keep White's King confined to the g3-h1 rectangle. Black's winning procedure is to bring the King to e1-e2, where it prevents the White King from escaping the rectangle. Then Black has mate threats that force the Bishop to defend its Pawn on the e1-h4 diagonal. Once this is accomplished, Black can force the Bishop away from the diagonal and win the Pawn. This reduces to an elementary endgame where, even though the Bishop is on the right color to defend against R and h-Pawn, the Pawn is far enough from the Queening square to give Black a forced win.

The underlying principle behind both of Averbakh's positions is that a Rook and King can often dominate a Bishop that is tied down to defending a point. Once the Bishop is out of the way, the entire defense collapses.

23 August 2010

Organizing Tournaments

Tackling yet another page from Where to Go From Here?, I added So You Want to Organize Chess Tournaments? to Chess for Fun. What's fun about organizing chess tournaments? The best way to find out is by trying it!

20 August 2010

Topiary Chess at Hever Castle

'This hedge is carved in the form of a row of chess pieces. The sundial in front has nothing to do with chess.'

Topiary Chess Set © Flickr user Tim Schofield under Creative Commons.

Other remarks on the Flickr page place the set at Hever Castle [Wikipedia], Kent, England.


Later: Another Flickr photo, Tudor Chess Set - Hever castle Bridge, included a sign explaining the setting. It said,

The Tudor Chess Set • The Topiary Chess Set is formed from golden yew and is based on the style of chess pieces used in the time of King Henry VIII. It was planted in 1905 for William Waldorf Astor. Standing in front of the chess set is an armillary sphere sundial dating from 1710. This astronomical instrument was used to measure the altitude of the sun, moon, and stars, from which it was possible to estimate both time and latitude.

One thing I'm missing from the photos is a clue to the real size of the chess pieces.

19 August 2010

R vs. B Plus Knight Pawns

Here's an interesting position I discovered with the help of a tablebase. The diagrammed position is White to move (WTM). Only the moves 1.Be7 and 1.Bf8 hold the draw. The move 1.Bd6, for example, loses in 48 moves. With Black to move (BTM), Black wins with 1...Kc4 in 47 moves and with 1...Kc6 in 48; other moves allow a draw.

Placing the Pawn on g7 (instead of g6) is only a draw, whichever side is on move. Placing it on g5 is a win with BTM, but only a draw with WTM.

[FEN "8/8/6p1/1k6/8/B7/2r3PK/8 w - - 0 1"]

I didn't work out the complete theory of the resulting positions, but Black eventually ends up winning the White Pawn with the Rook, where it is in front of its own Pawn. In the drawn games, White has a neat trick that prevents the Rook from escaping its poor position without losing its own Pawn. In the won games, White is unable to set up the trick.

It turns out that Rook vs. Bishop, with both sides having Pawns on the g-file (or b-file) is known to be tricky. The side with the Bishop can aim for these positions in search of a theoretical draw.

17 August 2010

'It Speaks Volumes'

Following up No News Is Normal for Chess, where I mentioned that the Chess Journalists of America (CJA) had published entries received for their 2010 awards, the group announced the winners at end-July: 2010 CJA Awards Announcement. You can find all of the winners listed there, so I'll highlight a few of what I consider to be the most notable awards.

As the only entry in the category, Dan Heisman won 'Chess Journalist of the Year', while 'Best Chess Blog Award' went to The Kenilworthian for the second time. The winner of 'CJA Best Chess Art Award', the cover of Chess Life's June 2009 issue, is pictured on the left.

I might have overlooked it in previous years, but this year's awards included a long CJA Awards Committee Report (PDF): 'Final 2010 Chess Journalists of America Awards Committee Report; Prepared by Ramon Antonio Hernandez; CJA Awards Committee Chairman and Chief Judge'

Hernandez describes himself as 'a high school journalism teacher with years of advising scholastic newspapers and yearbooks'. If you are interested in chess journalism, the committee report offers an inside look at the award process. For example,

CJA Chess Journalist of the Year (2010) Award: With one individual having entered an entry for what anyone can consider the most valuable of the prestigious awards CJA awards. I had weigh in various options, two individuals I reminded of the award told me either no thanks or paraphrasing the other, no I'd like for once that Dan Heisman wins it. Mind you he as the rest world did not know that Dan Heisman had indeed entered his name and credentials for the award. I think it speaks volumes that another individual who could have easily fueled a great competition for the entry gave such a noble reply.

For the blog category, we learn that there were runners-up.

CJA Best Chess Blog Award: This category had 6 entries submitted. After the first round there were 2 entries which tied for 2nd Place, the Co-Runner-up for the CJA Best Chess Blog Award goes to BELLE, Baczynskyj, and Bisguier in addition to Chessvine.com. While the CJA Best Chess Blog Award is presented to THE KENILWORTHIAN The entry was submitted by Michael Goeller.

I was mystified that the announcement of the winning Chess Life cover didn't include any creative details. I found the info on page 4 of that issue.

On The Cover: Garry Kasparov looking regal, as befits perhaps the greatest player of all time. Kasparov created quite a stir at the 2009 SuperNationals IV, one of the largest chess tournaments in history. Also pictured are some of the pre-tournament favorites. • Photos: Mark Mosrie; Art direction: Frankie Butler

In CJA 2007 Journalism Awards, a former chief awards judge wrote, 'I have not enjoyed the sniping of people on the internet who criticize us and even attack me personally.' Before then I hadn't realized that the journalist members of the CJA are beyond criticism, so I'll just close with a note of sincere congratulations to the winners, especially those who had some competition.

16 August 2010

Neither Here Nor There

When I posted Where to Go From Here?, I wasn't sure whether I would convert a series on specific openings and decided to do one as a test to see how many page views it attracts. As guinea pig I chose the Nimzo Indian Defense - 4.e3. I added it to Improve Your Chess Game and will check on the results in a few months. The full list of all openings to be converted, in chronological order of first appearance, is:-

These and other unconverted opening tutorials can also be found on Chess Instruction - Improve Your Openings.

13 August 2010

The Art of Chess in Milan

Emanuele Bonomi: 'We're here at Project B in Milano. We wanted to see how we could get as close as possible to the furniture, to the design. Seven different interpretations. They all represent one game.'

Crane TV Presents: Check Mate! (3:47) • 'If you think chess is for bespectacled intellectual types, think again.'

'Embedding disabled by request'; see Crane tv Presents: Check Mate! on YouTube.

Emanuele Bonomi, curator of B Project in Milan, has brought chess into the art sphere with one-of-a-kind, eye-popping chess sets designed by contemporary artists like Damien Hirst, Alastair Mackie and Tracy Emin. For more like this, see here: http://thecrane.tv/#channel/crane-art

Francesca Amfitheatrof presents sets by Tom Friedman, Rachel Whiteread, Yayoi Kusama, Tracey Emin, Alastair Mackie, Barbara Kruger ('I shop, therefore I am'), and Damien Hirst.

12 August 2010

Vasa Lucite Acrylic Sculpture

In my fortnightly(*) look at Top eBay Chess Items by Price, chess sets are always near the top of the list. I used one a couple of posts ago in Chess Sets, 'Never Been Used', and now I'll use another. I admit that I chose it because of its colors.

Many other people apparently like the set's look, because it received 15 bids and sold for US $551. The item's title was '60s LUCITE Sculpture Optic POP CHESS SET Vasa PANTON; 60s 70s POP ART BLUE ORANGE Side MULTI Color ACRYLIC', and the description said,

Here we have an amazing chess set. We do not know who made this set as it is unsigned but it is in VASA style. Each piece is hand sculpted and is not exact, close. The colors change from every angle and is just a beautiful set all you need add is a board. The Pawns are 1 1/2 inches tall and the King and Queen are 2 3/4 inches tall. All are in very nice to excellent condition with one Bishop that has some slight air bubbling on the interior. Clear and wonderful.

What's the Vasa style? I'm not really sure, but the keywords 'lucite', 'acrylic', and 'sculpture' are often associated with it, like in the item's title. The most examples I could find on a single page were here: 1stdibs Furniture Search: Vasa pieces for sale. I couldn't find any other chess sets, perhaps explaining why the eBay item sold for over $500. What kind of board goes with that?


(*) I originally wrote 'biweekly', then checked to make sure I used the right word. It turns out that 'biweekly' can mean both

  • 1 : occurring twice a week, and
  • 2 : occurring every two weeks

Language can be so illogical.

10 August 2010

Access to Referrers

A few days after shelling out my hard earned eurobucks for Access 2010, as recounted in the post Database for Chess History, the software arrived. During transit, the DVD's plastic container broke into several pieces and I was concerned that there might be some damage to the product, but everything installed smoothly. I didn't even have to reboot.

Now that I had new software, what to do with it? I decided to look at my World Chess Championship (see the right sidebar) log files for the months of June and July. Since writing the post on Favorite Icons and MSPaint Adventures, I've been reviewing the files regularly to find out what interests the site's visitors, where they come from, and so on. In recent months the logs were the basis for posts like Log Wallowing and Searching for Amand - Topalon. The logs are the largest text files I keep, which makes them useful for judging the performance of the software.

After watching the instructional videos on Microsoft's Getting started with Access 2010 -- MS: 'Used an earlier version of Access?' MW: Yes, Access 2002; thanks for asking! -- I was ready to roll. I launched the MS software, opened my database with its queries designed to parse & quantify individual log records, pointed it at the two months of data, and started clicking things. Everything opened without a single hitch and I was soon involved in looking at referring pages to my site. Here are a few of the most interesting pages I discovered.

  • Next world championship cycle (rybkaforum.net) • The last link on the page is to my account of the 1978 Karpov - Korchnoi match, 'In 1978 it was about flags, chairs, hypnosis, mirror glasses, yogurt flavours, etc.' Further up on the referring page are some nice images giving a graphical overview of the candidate matches starting in 1965. I hadn't seen them before and suppose they are from Wikipedia or similar. Finding those made the whole exercise worthwhile; one of these days I might try to locate the original source.

  • What chess book are you reading now? (chessforums.org) and April Fools' Day: Fact or Fiction - Answer 1 (chessstuff.blogspot.com, an early blog by Dennis Monokroussos) • That 1978 match was one of the most eccentric in chess history and these two pages touched on the same subject.

  • It's King Vishy Again (epradeep98.blogspot.com) • Many of the referring pages use one of my pages to document a detail in a longer narrative. This blog post from an Anand admirer mentioned the 1995 Kasparov - Anand PCA match in New York.

  • Links & Bookmarks (history.chess.free.fr) and ajedrez [links] (ajedrez.deeuropa.net) • Many of the referrers, like these two, which I had never seen before, are pages of chess links. I could easily do a post on this kind of resource and might come back to that in the future.

  • Greatest chess tale (ever?) (chess.com) and Does the Soviet School of Chess still rule? (thechessdrum.net) • Not all referrers are to World Championship material. These two are to pages I recreated from my days at About.com.

  • Site Reviews - The World Chess Championship (chessville.com) • This page is a site review from 2002 that I had never seen before.

  • AltaVista Search: world chess championship (altavista.com) • Like many early webheads, I used Alta Vista for searches before Google took over that space. I was surprised to find that it still exists.

  • Free PageRank Button for your website (3w1.eu) and Social Search Engine (find1friend.com) • Some references lead to a dead end. For example, I have no idea why these two appear in the log.

That's not a bad catch for an hour's work. Next time I'll point Access 2010 at one of my more complicated databases.

06 August 2010

Chess in Asheville

From: Asheville Mural Project...

mural project 2 © Flickr user zen under Creative Commons.

...Asheville, North Carolina, USA.

05 August 2010

Chess City, Dubai

In a recent post, Money Laundering in Chess?, I mentioned Chess City in Dubai, an example not of money laundering, but of chess construction gone wild. While I was researching the post I stumbled on an artist's conception of the place, an image which is too good not to share. You can find a larger image in various places on the Web, but I found it on Dubai credit crisis - cancelled construction projects, along with the following:

Chess City: Announced in October 2004, this $3 billion project was the brainchild of World Chess Federation (FIDE) president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. It would feature clusters of hotels built in the shape of giant chess pieces, 16 black and 16 white hotels, sitting upon a 64-hectare plot of land that would landscaped to resemble a chessboard. [...] However, with property prices dropping by 50 per cent last year, this ambitious scheme has been put on hold indefinitely. (January 2010)

If you missed the Dubai credit crisis of November 2009, see the link in that same article (from menainfra.com, "The source for Middle East construction news and information"). The Menainfra article was kinder than this one -- UAE: Most Ridiculous projects announced -- which listed Chess City along with the Upside Down Tower and the Dubai Snowdome ('just what the desert needs!').

The project was first announced in 2004. Chessbase ran a feature piece, Ilyumzhinov and the Chess City in Dubai, along with photos of Chess City in Kalmykia.

Who can say he doesn't think big? FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has just unveiled a plan to build a new "chess city" in the Emirate of Dubai. It's a US $2.6 billion project that is expected to play host to (hold on to your hats) 60 million amateur and professional chess followers annually. You don't believe he can do it?

For more, much more, on the project see Dubai Backing $2.6-Billion International Chess City; '"Dubai will annually play host to over 60 million amateur and professional chess followers from around the globe," Ilyumzhinov asserted at the announcement in Abu Dhabi, the UAE's federal capital.' How's that for a business plan!

03 August 2010

Money Laundering in Chess?

I just don't get it. Last week, in Need a Program to Identify the Players?, one of the groups I identified was 'Sodbiznesbank, VIP-Bank, CB Diamond; Andrei Kozlov, Alexei Frenkel'. What does this have to do with the game of Kings? An article published in June on the Karpov campaign site for this year's FIDE presidential election, Ilyumzhinov's Game – For the Benefit of the Elites (karpov2010.org), tries to make the connection. First it tells us,

Remember all the financial institutions like Diamant, VIP-Bank, etc.? That they were closed for money laundering? And the murder of Andrei Kozlov, the first deputy chairman of the Central Bank, remember? It's true that a certain Alexei Frenkel took the rap for everything. He, apparently, didn't have the chess know-how to jump off the board in time.

And later ties this together with chess by saying,

We also mustn't forget that FIDE and the general structures of chess are almost ideally suited for money laundering in general and bribery in particular. So you'd like for your person to have, for example, a big post in whatever Ministry of Economic Development, the VEB or there in the Skolkovo Innograd – sponsor a chess tournament on the border between Sudan and Zimbabwe. And there's no corruption!

The second half of that paragraph, about sponsoring a chess tournament, makes absolutely no sense to me, so I'll concentrate on the charges directed at FIDE. These are apparently what Mark Crowther had in mind when he wrote about Potential legal cases. He started,

Two potential legal cases may or may not reach courts in the near future. The organisers of the World Championship in Sofia are said to be taking action against ChessBase on the strictly limited idea that you can't dynamically take content from a website and sell it for profit. The next is that Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is planning to take Anatoly Karpov to he FIDE Ethics Commission over saying he was corrupt.

Skipping the first case for now,

The second case is perhaps more interesting. The Russian Press [link] is reporting that Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is about to sue his opponent Anatoly Karpov for libel. Well except he says it says that he is taking Karpov to the FIDE Commission of Ethics, which I can entirely believe but hardly sounds scary for Karpov. My understanding is that Ilyumzhinov is accusing Karpov of specifically saying that money is laundered through FIDE. I don't even know whether Karpov said this or whether he limited himself to saying that Ilyumzhinov or FIDE is corrupt in a more general way.

I wrote about FIDE Ethics a few months ago, but money laundering is a topic about which I am essentially clueless, especially when it comes to chess. Everyone knows that there is no money in chess, so how can the game be used for money laundering? First stop: How Money Laundering Works (howstuffworks.com).

The basic money laundering process has three steps: 1. Placement, 2. Layering, 3. Integration. • At the integration stage, the money re-enters the mainstream economy in legitimate-looking form -- it appears to come from a legal transaction. This may involve a final bank transfer into the account of a local business in which the launderer is "investing" in exchange for a cut of the profits, the sale of a yacht bought during the layering stage or the purchase of a $10 million screwdriver from a company owned by the launderer.

I've emphasized the integration step, because that would be the most likely point where professional chess might be useful. The first two steps involve banks: depositing cash, then hiding its origin.

To get an idea about how integration might work for chess, I looked at how it works in a sport which is known to have a problem with money laundering: football (soccer). A report from the European Commission, Study on Money Laundering through the Football Sector (europa.eu), says,

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has published a study examining what makes the football sector attractive to criminals. The report warns that football is at risk from criminals buying clubs, transferring players, and betting on the sport. The study has relied on the experience and support of the Member States of the FATF, the European Commission and the private sector. The report is a contribution to the implementation of the White Paper on Sport in the area of the fight against corruption and money laundering.

The report, Money Laundering through the Football Sector (fatf-gafi.org), which connects loosely to chess as 'the sports industry in general', starts,

The goal of this FATF report is to draw attention to some of the risks facing the football sector in particular – and the sports industry in general – to misuse by criminals so that government policy makers, law enforcement, the financial sector and sports regulatory authorities can better understand and begin dealing with this problem.

The associated PDF relates dozens of anecdotes about how criminal elements have used football as a legitimate cover for illegitimate activities. While most of the activities involve sums of money that the chess sector can only dream about, a couple of points made an impression on me.

56: 'Football has a status with which many people would like to be associated. Criminals often seek a status outside the criminal world and football can offer the opportunity for acquiring such a patron status ("sugar daddy") thanks to supporting a club no matter where the money comes from. An investment in a football club can provide the criminal the favoured status. In most cases investments in football clubs are characterised by a high degree of uncertainty over future results. However there are strong non-material rewards for wealthy individuals who invest in football clubs or players.

'Football clubs are deeply rooted in (local) societies. This makes football clubs an attractive way to gain social status in the local community and get entry to the establishment. By investing in football, criminal organisations might also gain control of associated activities such as betting, real estate businesses and contracts with the local government (in some countries, many club owners have come from the construction industry). This complex set of financial and non-financial motives could make football attractive to criminals seeking legitimate social status.'


92: 'The construction of sports facilities and the purchase of large amounts of equipment provide fertile fields for corruption in procurement.'

The 'sugar daddy' phenomenon is well known in chess, starting in the 19th century when wealthy patrons backed world class players in their chessboard struggles against each other. The construction aspect is a more recent phenomenon. Construction projects related to chess, which a few decades ago would have been dismissed during the brainstorming stage as idiocy, have been sprouting like mushrooms since the 1990s. Remember Chess City in Dubai? Perhaps it is simply a coincidence that Dubai is one of the money laundering centers of the world.

While it is very unlikely that FIDE itself is involved in illegal activities, it provides an attractive affiliation for anyone interested in profiting through illegal activites related to chess. Where in the FIDE statutes is it stated that all illegal activities are to be condemned? If there is no such statement, there should be.

02 August 2010

Romantic Chess

I added Romance in Chess to my page on Chess for Fun. Since it used examples of romantic games from Classic Chess : View 64 Great Games, I converted that page and added it to Learn to Play Chess under For the Advanced Beginner.