30 August 2013

Armageddon Action

From round 2 of the 2013 World Cup, Daniil Dubov vs. Ruslan Ponomariov.

World Chess Cup in Tromso 2013 (8:55) • 'Armageddon Blitz in Tromso 2013 commented by Susan Polgar & Lawrence Trent'

Both standard games and all six tiebreak games were drawn, so the match was hanging on a single game: five minutes for White to four minutes and draw odds for Black...

27 August 2013

Chess Club Live

On several occasions over the past year, my daily posts have been inspired by Facebook's Chess Club Live (CCL). It's happened often enough that it's high time I collected those posts into a separate category to give credit where credit is due -- see the new label on the right navigation bar.

The CCL also links automatically to all posts on this blog via an RSS feed. This unnatural behavior is entirely their choice! There's no accounting for taste...

26 August 2013

The Carlsens @ Corus 2008

After the video clips showing how Carlsen Analyzes His Games, let's fill out the 2008 Corus tournament with onsite blogging by Henrik Carlsen, Magnus's father. For the original reports in their entirety, see blog.magnuschess.com on Archive.org. For the following excerpts, I've chosen the blog posts that correspond to the videos, plus a few other important moments.

Corus 2008; (see also the Chessvibes video clip Opening Ceremony, Interview Magnus Carlsen).

The Corus field is as strong as ever despite the progress on January 2008 FIDE rating of the only top 13 players missing (Morozevich, Svidler and Shirov). Magnus is ranked 10 in the tournament with an expected score of 6.3 points.

Round 1 January 12th.

Magnus was surprised by Mamedyarov's 1.e4 and chose the Sicilian as he did not expect Shakriar to go for the sharpest continuations. Shakriar indeed chose 4.g3 with a quiet set-up. Magnus felt he got sufficient counterplay on the queenside to offset the potential white kingside attack as well as the white bishop-pair. It is hard to say where Shakriar went wrong but Magnus thinks he was at least equal after 24.Qxa6 and clearly better after 32.Nh5. Magnus went on to attack the white queenside and Mamedyarov obviously disliked the position and got into time trouble.

Just before the time control Magnus sacrificed both a-pawns to threaten the bishop on g2 with 40....Ne3 and it looked lost for white after for instance 41.Ra5 Rxb2. At this stage the players thought black was winning, but they had probably both missed the defence with Bh1. Black would still have been clearly better, but it is far from obvious how to win. Anyhow Mamedyarov resigned, and Magnus was immensely pleased to secure his first Corus a win after his +0=9-4 score last year!

January 18th 2008.

We received the sad news today that former World Champion Bobby Fischer has passed away at the age of 64. He was controversial as a person but as chess player maybe the greatest ever. His book "My 60 Memorable Games" made a great impression, and I went through a number of the games with Magnus 8 or 9 years ago.

Corus 2008 Round 5 & 6.

Against Polgar Magnus played Qc2 in the Nimzo Indian variation but instead of her previously used 4.... 0-0 she played 4....d5. Magnus had looked at this variation some time back and thought 10.e3 Qf6 11.f3 looked interesting. Polgar played 10... Qf6 and indeed, white got excellent positional play despite the black knights threatening f3. Magnus continued to play fast, finding natural moves putting pressure on black weaknesses. After 40 moves he was two pawns up in the knight and bishop ending and could soon decide the game with the unstoppable h-pawn. 1-0!

Corus 2008 Round 11 & 12.

Yesterday's round 11 is old news. Despite the loss against Anand, Magnus got a lot of praise for his fighting spirit and will to win. Frankly he had lots of doubts about what to play yesterday and probably spent too much time preparing various openings. He was a bit tired (both after a short night and a long tournament), but choosing 1.e4 he was prepared to fight for a win. After Vishy played the somewhat dubious 14...Bd7 allowing 15.g5 at the right moment, Magnus felt he was better and had to go for it. When Anand offered to exchange queens with 22.Qc5 both players thought white's attack would be overwhelming and Magnus went for the pawn sacks with Qh4 instead. However, Anand defended well and after 28.Bf3 white is probably worse. Commentators have pointed out that 28.Nf3 may have been better or even decisive for white but the lines are complicated. After 32.g6+ Kg8 Magnus could probably draw with Rxf5 but missed Rhf3 after Qxd5+. (Kg1 is losing.) Short on time and not calculating at his best, he quickly played Qh7+? and the black king escapes to d6. 0-1. Anand deserves praise for a good defence and taking the opportunity when it arose.

Today the roles was reversed in that Magnus was well rested and ready for a good fight after a quiet evening yesterday and a long sleep, while Kramnik had a cold and didn't show his best play. Magnus played the Hedgehog against Kramnik's 1.c4 and looked a bit cramped after 12.Qf4 0-0. White had lots of space and active pieces. Magnus spent much time and came up with the nice sequence Ne8, Ra8-a7-d7, Nc7, f5, g5, g4 after which black has regained space and despite apparent weaknesses on the queen side, the position is fairly equal. Magnus got his knights to e4 and e5 and was maybe somewhat better when Kramnik played 29.Qxa6. After Ra7 white has go to b5 as Qxb6 loses the queen after Rfb7 Qd4 Bf6!

Magnus had expected to have to fight for a draw and for the first 25+ moves he would happily have accepted a draw offer. But, when it came after 30.Qb5, he decided he was already better due to his more flexible and active pieces and played on. Both players was low on time but in this game Magnus continued to find very good moves and at the time control black is winning! Kramnik fought on until move 57 but with two extra pawns and continues mating threats on the first rank Magnus had no real problems realizing the win. 0-1 as black against the World ranked no.1! A remarkable comeback by Magnus. He is again co-leader as Aronian drew with Ivanchuk.

Corus 2008 Final Round.

Magnus and Radjabov played the Torre system and Magnus accepted a fairly equal position in order to try to outplay his opponent in the middle game. And he was quite successful. Positionally he was clearly better with both rooks in the d-file and no apparent weaknesses. However, Radjabov found the good defence Nd6-e8-f6 and despite his better position Magnus could not find anything decisive for the next few moves and as time ran out he had to steer into a more drawish endgame towards the time control. After exchanging rooks and queens, the opposite colour bishop was easily drawn. Radjabov played on for another 20 moves desparately trying to catch up with the leaders but with 2 against 1 pawn it was a draw in the end. [...]

Both co-winners Aronian (1st on second tiebreak Sonnenborn-Berger) and Magnus expressed utter satisfaction with their performance in Corus, and Aronian also qualified for the Bilbao Grand Slam Final in September. Congratulations to Levon, a deserved and sympathetic winner, and to Magnus for his strongest tournament performance ever! (+3 against avg 2742, TPR 2830, gained 17 rating points!)

See also Press conference Carlsen Aronian r13.

25 August 2013

China and India Top-20

In my first post comparing Asian chess powerhouses China and India, I looked at the number of titled players in both countries. Although they have equivalent numbers of GMs, India has around twice as many IMs and FMs. This might simply be because India has far more players registered with FIDE.

Who are the top players in each country? The following chart shows FIDE calculations for the highest rated active players in both China (top half of chart) and India (bottom half).

Except for the top player in each country, Chinese players are consistently higher rated than the similarly ranked Indian player. Some months ago, in Putting Faces to Names, I did exactly that for the top Chinese players. It should be useful to do the same for the Indian players.

23 August 2013

Giant Knights

Hang on! Isn't that a domain name on the base of the statue?

Chess Piece in Grant Park © Flickr user City Running Tours Chicago under Creative Commons.

Indeed it is: thekelpies.co.uk; from their 'Story':-

The title and theme of The Kelpies as mystical water-borne equine creatures was inherited at the outset of the project, seven years ago. Since then it has evolved dramatically and in the process the ethos and function has shifted from the original concept.

For more about the statue pictured, see The Kelpies News: THE KELPIES IN CHICAGO:-

August 2012 • The Kelpies maquettes have been installed at the Field Museum, Grant Park, Chicago, overlooking Lake Michigan. They are being exhibited as part of the Chicago Sculpture International Exhibition, and will be in Chicago for 12 months.

Note the two 'Knights' in the photo.

22 August 2013

Averbakh's 'Index of Names'

Over on my World Championship blog, I posted about Averbakh on the World Championship, an overview of World Championship events covered by GM Yuri Averbakh's book 'Centre-Stage and Behind the Scenes: A Personal Memoir'. Even more important to the historical significance of the book are the many chess personalities who figure into the accounts and stories.

A number of personalities mentioned in the book's eight-page 'Index of names' receive more attention than others, including some who are completely unfamiliar to me. I decided to learn more about those people and started by making a list of the most-mentioned names. Many of them are immediately familiar to most amateur chess historians because they were world class players:-

Alekhine, Averbakh, Botvinnik, Bronstein, Capablanca, Fischer, Flohr, Geller, Gligoric, Karpov, Kasparov, Keres, Korchnoi, Lasker, Petrosian, Polugaevsky, Reshevsky, Smyslov, Spassky, Taimanov, Tal

Others are familiar because they were FIDE presidents...

Campomanes, Euwe, Olafsson

...or figures of historical importance in general world history:-

Krushchev, Stalin

This leaves a large number of names who can be considered as important figures in Soviet chess history.

  • Aronin
  • Benko
  • Boleslavsky
  • Bonch-Osmolovsky
  • Bondarevsky
  • Huebner
  • Ioseliani
  • Kan
  • Kazic
  • Keene
  • Koblents
  • Kotov
  • Kouatly
  • Levenfish
  • Lilienthal
  • Mikenas
  • Panov
  • Petrosian, Rona
  • Ragozin
  • Ribli
  • Simagin
  • Stahlberg
  • Suetin
  • Tolush
  • Yudovich
  • Zubarev

Some of the names here are immediately familiar to most chess players, e.g. Benko and Huebner; others are perhaps less familiar, e.g. Boleslavsky and Bondarevsky; while others are likely to be completely unfamiliar, e.g. Bebchuk and Ivonin. Why were these people important to Averbakh's story and what role did they play in the history of Soviet chess? I'll look at some of these personalities in future posts.


Later: Many of the less familiar names (' likely to be completely unfamiliar') were Soviet era chess administrators, aka bureaucrats, aka politicians. I split these out for separate treatment.

  • Baturinsky
  • Bebchuk
  • Ivonin
  • Krogius
  • Postnikov
  • Rodionov
  • Romanov
  • Sevastianov

20 August 2013

China and India

The two powerhouses of Asian chess are China and India. How do they compare to each other? I returned to my database derived from the January 2013 FIDE rating list, last seen in The Youngest and the Oldest, to do some calculations.

Of the 151322 players on the worldwide list, the following chart shows for both countries the number of registered players ('Ct'), the total number of titled players ('Tot'), and counts for the main titles. The 'W' titles are for women.

More information about the two countries can be found in the FIDE Directory for the Asian continent.

19 August 2013

Carlsen Analyzes His Games

After that brief commercial break for Wonderboy Returns, let's return to the mini-series that started with The Carlsen Question: 'What makes him so good?' Although we got some hints from the Norwegian GM's interviews, e.g. Magnus Carlsen Video Interviews, it's safe to say that we've barely scratched the surface. How to go deeper?

Along with the sit-down interviews, there is an enormous quantity of Carlsen material available on Youtube in the form of press conferences and post-game interviews. Sorting through them to find the truly valuable clips is a question of patience (some of them run over 30 minutes) and luck. I was lucky to locate a series of multi-part Chessvibes videos from the 2008 Corus tournament where Carlsen analyzed his latest game from the round just played. Here they are along with links to the games on Chessgames.com.

One of the recurring themes in Carlsen's analysis is the search to present maximum problems to the opponent. As White it means varying from what the opponent expects to see in the opening; as Black it means steering for active counterplay.

Note also how, after analyzing an unplayed variation, he plays the moves in reverse order to return to the game. This is a technique that I've never been able to master. Maybe it is worth practicing.

[I haven't reviewed all of the clips in entirety yet, so if you find a problem, let me know in a comment to this post.]

18 August 2013

Could Be a Checker Board

For this series on Top eBay Chess Items by Price, I prefer that an item be clearly identified as a chess item. If it's artwork, that means something more than an empty chess board. This avoids non-chess items like the work shown in Matisse Was a Checker Player.

The painting shown below, titled 'Monumental 50's Expressionist Painting by Franzoi Chess Players "Next Move"', doesn't quite meet my criteria, but I still liked it more than the two other items on my short list: (1) an autographed Fischer photo [~$750, 'Best offer accepted'], and (2) a 1990 letter from Walter Browne to Mikhail Tal about the World Blitz Chess Association [$430 after 46 bids from five bidders]. Initially listed for $1295, the painting sold for around $900, also 'Best offer accepted'.

The description added,

Oil on canvas / magnificent art by Italian Painter. Art ~ 39" x 27.5", Frame ~ 45" x 33", Fresh From The Estate of a Prominent Art Gallery Owner.

A Google image search on 'art franzoi' didn't reveal any other works that looked similar, but did return lots of photos of Aline Franzoi,

A model who’s said she’s an evangelical Christian is reportedly appearing on the cover of the Brazilian edition of Playboy magazine in September [2013], the Christian Post reports, adding that she apparently won’t pose nude because of her faith.

That makes two of us.

16 August 2013

2013 World Cup, Tromsø, Norway

After the Olympiad, the World Cup must be the most exciting chess event on the calendar. 'Players, start your clocks!'

Video report from Fide World Cup - Round 1, Game 1 (4:56) • 'August 11 2013 - Scandic Hotel, Tromsø.'

For more, see the tromso2014chess Youtube channel.

15 August 2013

Cutting the Mustard

After I wrote the post about the 2013 CJA annual awards, 'Got to Find Me a Chess Blog!', I started to wonder if there really were no better candidates for the art award, pictured in that post. An animal with a chess piece on its nose, be it rhino or hippo, just doesn't cut the mustard.

I spent 15 minutes leafing through a year's worth of Chess Life (CL), starting from May 2012, and found at least a half-dozen images that were 'artier' than the CJA winner. My favorite, from the December 2012 CL, is pictured below. I should mention that the CL issues through July 2012 were monocolor between the covers, and I didn't pay much attention to the interior artwork.

Caption: 'The 2012 Chess Journalist of the Year, FM Mike Klein, a frequent contributor to Chess Life and Chess Life Online. Photo by Sean Busher'

There is a certain irony here in that the photo (it looks more like a painting to me) was used to illustrate a one page article on the CJA's 2012 awards.


Later: The image was also used in the Summer/Autumn 2012 edition of the CJA's The Chess Journalist, p.13, where I learned,

OUR CHESS JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR, FM MIKE, ALSO HAPPENED to have been the subject some years ago of a work by conceptual commercial artist Sean Busher. We appreciate Sean Busher’s kind permission to reproduce his color photograph in black and white in our centerfold. Check out his other fantastic work at http://www.seanbusher.com. As for this image: Is it humor? A cautionary tale about chess hustling among toughs? Would you take lessons from this fellow? You decide.

If I get to decide, then it's humor.

13 August 2013

'Got to Find Me a Chess Blog!'

If writing is a solitary activity, blogging can be even more solitary, especially when no one is interested in what you write. The most solitary chess blogging topic must be the Chess Journalists of America (CJA). I can count the number of other blogs following that august group on my other thumb. Why august? That's the month they jump into action and announce their annual awards.

This year I was alerted to the awards announcement by Marsh Towers: CJA - Best Book of 2013.

"Best Book (paper-printed only) -- Winner: Amateur to IM by Jonathan Hawkins, nominated by Mongoose Press" • As the editor of this best-selling chess book I must declare an interest but it doesn't prevent me from congratulating Jonathan and Mongoose Press on this fine achievement.

That pretty much sums up the CJA awards process. Members nominate their own work and only people with a particular interest in that work pay any attention to the award. The list of all 2013 awards can be found on the Prize List for 2013 CJA Awards. Besides the annual book award, I'm interested in the journalist award, the art award, and the blog award.

The 'Chess Journalist of the Year' for 2013 went to Jamaal Abdul-Alim, 'nominated by Chess Life'. If you read Chess Life (CL), you've undoubtedly noticed his excellent articles, of which the most recent I could find was a book review of 'Fighting Chess with Hiikaru Nakamura', in the April 2013 issue.

As for the art award: 'Best Chess Art -- Winner: Rhino Chess by Frankie Butler, April 2013 Chess Life'. That's the same issue I mentioned above. I couldn't find a rhino picture, but I did find a hippo with a King on its nose, pictured to the left. Is this the winning work? If so, it was used to illustrate an article titled 'The Bill Wright Saint Louis Open APRIL 12-14 : A Saint Louis Tradition' by Mike Wilmering.

Maybe I've seen too much outstanding chess art on the web, because the photo doesn't strike any chords in me. Another art nominee -- the cover of the July 2012 CL showing members of the acclaimed IS 318 team holding giant chess pieces -- did even less for me. It must have been a substandard year for chess art.

The article on the Saint Louis Open was mainly about tourism in St. Louis, the current center of gravity for U.S. chess. The caption for the 'rhino' photo said,

The Saint Louis Zoo is one of the few free zoos in the nation and has been named #1 zoo by Zagat Survey's U.S. Family Travel Guide in association with Parenting magazine. The Zoo annually attracts three million visitors, who can see more than 19,000 wild animals.

On to the blog award. The last winner in the last group of categories ('The following categories are open only to online journalist [sic] and their websites. ELECTRONIC MEDIA:'), 'Best Chess Blog' went to Chess Book Reviews, by John Hartmann, whose blog's first post is dated January 2013: About this blog, and this reviewer. The next two posts were about the Amateur to IM book that won the CJA book award. Coincidence? Probably, but I'm not sure. The procedure for choosing the blog winner was explained in one of a series of posts about this year's U.S. Open, Rd 7: The Good Fight.

Frank Niro and Jeffrey Rolland [sic] have been playing a 12 game match across America, with this game the last in the series. The game was in its death throes when I was taking these pictures, so I got a chance to talk to them both and exchange information. Frank’s ears perked up when I mentioned the existence of this blog, and he scribbled down the URL. Sometimes chance meetings lead to good things. [...]

I also attended the Chess Journalists of America meeting in the afternoon session. I, of course, am only an amateur ‘journalist,’ but because of the increased blurring in information services between print and electronic media, and because I also write for the Nebraska state chess magazine, I thought I should check them out. Dan Lucas and Jen Shahade from Chess Life and Chess Life Online joined Nero [sic], Rolland and Al Lawrence at the head of the room, and the meeting served as a dual CJA and Publications Committee meeting.

CJA awards were handed out at the end of the meeting; much to my surprise and great embarrassment, this blog was named the Best Chess Blog. Apparently Nero [ahem] and Rolland had read the blog in its entirety during the few hours between our meeting and this meeting, and deemed it worthy of the award.

Indeed, there were no blogs listed on the July list of 2013 CJA Awards - Entries Received. Perhaps it would be better to eliminate the category completely.

There is more about Niro/Nero and Roland/Rolland on the home page of the CJA website...

11 April 2013: Interim President and Vice-President Approved by Board • Past Interim President Al Lawrence invited Frank Niro to serve as the new Interim CJA President and Jeff Roland to serve as the new Interim CJA Vice-President.

...along with links to bios of the two CJA officers. They have their work cut out for them. After the awards, the flagship publication of the CJA is The Chess Journalist, 'published quarterly'. The last issue was dated 'Fall 2011', and that issue appeared at some time in 2012. The origins of the woes besetting the group go back a few years. I won't repeat them now, but they can be found by following the link trail I set down in last year's post on the awards, 2012's Best Chess Blog, Chess Journalist, Chess Art.

It's easy to take potshots at a struggling organization, but I'm being sincere when I offer congratulations to all of the 2013 CJA award winners.

12 August 2013

Wonderboy Returns

I'll take a short break from my series on Magnus Carlsen, last seen in Video Interviews, to insert an *unpaid* commercial announcement. Throughout the series, I've made frequent use of GM Agdestein's 'Wonderboy' (New in Chess, 2004), for example, in Working with Wonderboy.

The book was recently reissued under a new title: How Magnus Carlsen Became the Youngest Chess Grandmaster in the World (newinchess.com). That New in Chess product page informs,

The fairy-tale-like story of Magnus Carlsen’s rise is told by Simen Agdestein, who trained Magnus in the years leading up to his grandmaster title, repeatedly pinching himself in amazement at his pupil’s lightning progress. [...] PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED AS 'WONDERBOY'.

Something tells me that the new publication is related to Carlsen's upcoming World Championship title match with Anand. Something else tells me that the book is guaranteed to be a best seller.

11 August 2013

Goichberg as Fischer's 'Gopher'

Following in the footsteps of Name that Player, this is a fairly well known photo of Fischer (at least I've seen it before) that always has the right two-thirds of the image cropped out.

From CHESS LIFE, September 1965

The caption said,

J.F.Reinhardt, who was New York referee in the first two games of the Capablanca Memorial, makes White's second move in Round I. Bill Goichberg, who relayed the moves from the teletype room, is in the foreground. -- Photo by Robt. Parent

I found the photo while I was researching Goichberg's early career as a tournament organizer.

09 August 2013

No Money in Chess?

The caption said, 'American dollars versus African francs - everything is a chess piece.'

The Great Money Game © Flickr user failing_angel under Creative Commons.

African franc? See Wikipedia: CFA franc. Other tags: Tate Modern, Meschac Gaba, Museum of Contemporary African Art.

08 August 2013

The Value of Castling

Look at the position in the following diagram. Can you tell what the previous moves were? Before you leave in a huff, muttering, 'Another stupid question from a stupid blog', consider the following three variations:-

  • 1.e4 e5
  • 1.e4 e5 2.Ke2 Nf6 3.Ke1 Ng8
  • 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Ke7 3.Ng1 Ke8

Each of those variations leads to the diagrammed position, but the final positions are not at all equivalent. The first variation is a normal open game, the second is a line where White can't castle, and the third is a line where Black can't castle.

A few months ago, in a series titled Practical Evaluation, I wrote a post about less known material imbalances: One Imbalance Leads to Another. One of those imbalances was

  • 1.0 - Value of castling

where '1.0' is the well-known value of a Pawn. Ever since encountering that statement by GM Kaufman, I've wondered if there was any way to verify it. I've also wondered about the value of castling O-O as opposed to O-O-O. Armed with the three variations at the beginning of this post, I can plug the resulting positions into an engine and record the results.

Of course, there's no reason to choose the position after 1.e4 e5. I could have also chosen 1.d4 d5, or 1.c4 c5. I could have also invented positions identical to 1.e4 e5, where one or both sides have forfeited the right to castle to one side or the other. Looks like I have a neat little tool for further exploration.


Later: In fact, the moves 1.c4 c5 don't serve the same purpose, because they don't provide an outlet for the Kings. The moves 1.f4 f5, would do the trick, although the esthetics aren't the same.

06 August 2013

Name that Player

More wallowing in the past, ala Fifty Years Ago in Chess Life.

Can you identify the player? The event? [The answer is in the comments.]

05 August 2013

Magnus Carlsen Video Interviews

Last week my post about Magnus Carlsen Interviews focused on print interviews. This week I'll cover some video interviews.

The first interview, from a year and a half ago, Magnus Carlsen - The Colbert Report, borders on the silly when the Norwegian GM is challenged to a game of rock-paper-scissors. There is, however, one revealing moment.

(Q:) Do you see the board differently than a normal, average not-genius? (A:) No, not really. I just see the board, the pieces, everything. I think of patterns -- what to do next and so on -- but the pieces in general are just tools for me. (Q:) So they don't talk to you. [laughter] (A:) No, not too much. [01:35]

The next interview, Rainn & Magnus Carlsen get Metaphysical over Chess, also has a few silly moments, but there is one insightful exchange. [See also Rainn battles Magnus Carlsen in CHESS - Metaphysical BONUS!.]

(Q:) Some people view success in chess as you have to be more of a warrior and some people view chess as you need to be more of an artist. Which would you say that you are? Which of those is more true? (A:) I think I'm more of a warrior than an artist. I like to find some kind of art, some kind of beauty, in my games, but the main goal is to win. That's the warrior. [02:20]

During the March 2013 Candidates Tournament in London, the BBC conducted a couple of interviews. While neither of them approached the BBC's usual standards, they are still worth reviewing. Both are linked from a Chess.com forum post: BBC interview with Carlsen 19/3/2013. The first is a radio interview.

(Q:) Jon Speelman said of you, 'He plays on forever, calmly, methodically, and perhaps most important of all, without fear. This makes him a monster and makes many opponents wilt.' Is that how you see yourself? (A:) Being a monster is fine to me. (Q:) You see it as a war. (A:) No, it's just about -- as he says -- to keep the game going. I'm not so concerned with possible evaluations during the game: whether I'm winning or losing. I just try to make the best moves, sometimes the moves that are most unpleasant for my opponents. More often than not, I'm going to get there in the end. [00:50]

The second is a studio interview shared with Agon's Andrew Poulson, who does more talking than Carlsen. Magnus manages to make at least one excellent point.

(Q:) What's the dynamic between you and one of your big rivals when you're a meter apart playing in a match that matters so much to each other? Are you aware of the other person or is all of your focus on the board? Is it like playing a computer for all you care or does the other person matter? (A:) The other person matters. There are certain psychological elements. Sometimes you make decisions that you perhaps wouldn't have made against a computer because you think either for humans in general or for that particular opponent might be difficult to respond to. That's part of what I like with chess. It's psychological warfare at the board. When you play computers you lose that element. [04:07]

The next interview took place just after the Candidates' Tournament: Magnus Carlsen - interview with the new world title challenger. The 'situation you got into' refers to losing two of the last three games, which nearly gave the event to his main rival, GM Kramnik.

(Q:) Do you have the feeling that before or during the tournament you did anything wrong? Anything that could have saved you from the situation you got into? (A:) Probably during the game with Ivanchuk, at some point in the game I was just too casual. After all, I wasn't exactly used to losing. I always thought that if things go slightly wrong I will rectify it by making some strong defensive moves. It was a wake-up call for me, for sure. [12:00]

The final interview is Charlie Rose & Magnus Carlsen.

(Q:) Why do you think you're so good? What is it about your experience, about your game? (A:) I really wish I knew. Maybe I will in 20 or 30 years, when I'm older and wiser. I've spent a lot of time on chess, obviously, and I've developed a feeling for the game. I calculate well, and so on. But there are many others who did the same hours, who have the same dedication, so it's hard to say. What I do know is that the game somehow comes naturally to me. [02:15]

In a previous post I featured a different excerpt from this interview: Carlsen on Confidence. I'm sure we'll see more interviews in the coming months, especially during the title match with Anand.

04 August 2013

Anton Chotka (18??-19??)

This ongoing series about Top eBay Chess Items by Price depends heavily on an image of the chosen item. For this current edition I had the choice between a bound set of the'"Deutschen" Schachzeitung 1846-1848' (sold for US $2455 after 7 bids) and the item pictured below, an 'ANTON CHOTKA LAMP WITH "TWO MEN PLAYING CHESS"'. The photo of the book was as uninteresting as you might expect, so I chose the lamp.

The Chotka lamp, which sold 'Buy It Now' for US $1200, was described only as

Anton Chotka (1875-1925) COLD PAINTED BRONZE FIGURAL LIGHT - Cast as two Arabs playing chess upon a carpet, one seated on a bench below a lantern. At a private auction, a lamp like this went for $9,000. It is an amazing lamp. The lamp itself works. See the pictures. A wonderful piece to own.

I couldn't find much about Chotka on the web, and there is some disagreement on his life span: 'Anton Chotka (1878-1928)' and 'Anton Chotka (1881-1955, Austrian)'. Is art history even more unreliable than chess history?

02 August 2013

Chess for Aardvarks

'All you need to know about chess is this: it's like the wind. Resist it and it will break you. Go with it and you can sail across oceans.' • 'What does THAT mean?' • 'I don't know, but it sounded good.'

Brain's Chess Mess (11:01) • 'Arthur - Season 16'

Wikipedia: Arthur (TV series).

Arthur Read, the series's titular character, is an anthropomorphic eight-year-old brown aardvark who lives in the fictional town of Elwood City. He is a third-grade student at Lakewood Elementary School.

'Blatsky's Book of Classic Games'?

01 August 2013

1.c4 Draw!

In the most recent post on my World Chess Championship Blog, Averbakh on the World Championship, I rediscovered an old story that is resurrected from time to time. GM Averbakh included it in the section 'Who judges the judges?' from his book 'Centre-Stage and Behind the Scenes: A Personal Memoir'.

One very difficult question is what to do if the players agree a draw in advance, and just go through the motions of playing a few moves and then shake hands. This happens especially often in the final round, when the players and prizes are already settled. I believe that such games, in which there is no real battle at all, should not be counted, either for rating purposes, or for the awarding of titles.

But what should the arbiter do if the players agree a draw on move one? This is what happened in the last round of the World Student Team Championships at Graz [Austria] 1972. The final round saw the match between the USA and the successful German team, who were in third place.

Here's how GM Pal Benko described the incident in his 'In the Arena' column of the November 1972 Chess Life. Benko was captain for the U.S. team.

I was surprised to discover that the game -- or one of its several versions -- found its way into Chessgames.com (see Robert Huebner vs Kenneth Rogoff; WchT U26 19th fin-A 1972), into Chessbase.com (see 2009 ChessBase April Fool joke), and even into a Youtube 'instructional' video (see English opening - Huebner vs Rogoff).

For more about Rogoff, see Kenny Rogoff as You've Never Seen Him and Fischer on the 'Rubbish' Defense, on this current blog.

Averbakh's suggestion that such games not be rated would have prevented the rating manipulation I condemned in Next Short Draw: 2750.