17 February 2015

Wesley So & Kenneth Rogoff

What do those two names have in common? Besides being GM-level chess players and besides having been featured on this blog for infamously short draws -- WS: Next Short Draw: 2750, KR: 1.c4 Draw! -- the players are currently no.1 & no.2 on the Chessgames.com Chess Statistics page for 'Which pages on CG.com have the most kibitzing?'. See my recent post, Chessgames.com and the Odd Lie, for more.

From Chessgames.com:-

Left: Kenneth Rogoff; Right: Wesley So

With both players having more than 170.000 kibitzes (that's CG.com jargon for 'comments') against their names, how do you reduce that mass of material to something comprehensible? Short answer: You don't. Long answer: You can try, but you still don't.

Here's how I tried. Since the comments are displayed 25 to a page, they currently take nearly 7000 pages to display in entirety. For each player, I looked at the first page and noted the date of the first comment, then did the same for page 1000, ditto for page 2000, ..., up to the last page. After calculating the time period covered by each sequence of 1000 pages, I used the same technique and drilled down to discover the time period having the most activity. What did I find?

For Wesley So, I discovered that his CG.com page is a true fan site. With many of the comments in a language that Google Translate detects to be 'Filipino', it's clear that, like So, many of the kibitzers are themselves Filipino. The most concentrated sequence of comments for So starts on page no.2000, dated November 2009. This coincides with the start of the 2009 World Cup, So's first participation in a top-level World Championship event. The comments follow his progress through the first four rounds, beating GMs Guseinov, Ivanchuk, and Kamsky, before losing to GM Malakhov in the fourth round. The excitement of his fans is almost palpable. Given that another top Filipino player, Eugenio Torre,

Born in Iloilo City, the Philippines and is the strongest Filipino chess player of his generation. He reached a peak world ranking of 20 in January 1983 and was in the world's top 100 players for most of the period from 1975 until 1992. (1) At the age of 60, he remains ranked among the top players in the Philippines.

is no.22 on the 'Most Kibitzing' list, we can conclude that there are a significant number of Filipinos who are keen members of the site.

For Kenneth Rogoff, the reason for the popularity of his CG.com page is completely different. The first page of 25 kibitzes starts in April 2004,

Kenneth Rogoff is not only an international GM, but he also was the Economic Counsellor and Director, Research Department of the IMF!

meanders lazily through four years of occasional remarks, then explodes on page two in August 2008, at just about the same time that the world's financial systems began their long, scary implosion. The first comments from that period are about the so-called 'Illuminati', from which we understand that the rest of the thousands of pages will be more about the World Bank and the IMF than about Rogoff or his chess. It's worth noting that no.3 on CG's Chess Statistics page, The Kibitzer's Cafe, is another largely off-topic page.

A few years ago I wrote another post about the well known GM economist, Kenny Rogoff as You've Never Seen Him (February 2012), where I mentioned,

His page at Chessgames.com, Kenneth Rogoff, currently has 2827 pages of kibitzing. I doubt that more than a few of those pages have much to do with chess, and are more likely filled with flame wars related to the subject of economics, aka the dismal science.

Looks like I was right.

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