Monday, August 31, 2009

Chess Champ Enthrals School Children

The Times of India

HUBLI: In an effort to inspire the young to develop a passion for chess, chess champion Sharad Vaze played simultaneous chess with 20 schoolchildren
in Hubli on Sunday.

In a demonstration event organized by the Innerwheel Club of Hubli Midtown, 137 children got an opportunity to play with the champ. Children from 20 schools participated. One of the players, S Krishna of V S Pillay school won his match with Vaze.

Vaze, who is also the founder president of the Challenger Chess Academy in Mumbai, gave tips to upcoming players. He recounted that he had broken his own record of playing with 133 children. Vaze has played simultaneous chess with schoolchildren across the country. He had recorded all the games and would present the VCD as a souvenir to Vishwanathan Anand, he said.

Club president Nayan Vinod Kumar and others organised the event.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Kuala Lumpur: Chess Recognized as a SPORT

Ministry Ready To Support Development Of Chess As A Sport - Ahmad Shabery

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 29 (Bernama)

-- The Ministry of Youth and Sports has agreed to include chess in their development programme due to the increasing popularity of the sport.

Its Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek said as a first step, the ministry would discuss with the Malaysian Chess Federation to identify and draw up a development programme.

"We need to take the initial step towards producing grandmasters for the future," he told reporters after opening the Malaysia Chess Festival here on Saturday.

"We need more publicity and to promote the sport aggressively to bring in the fans to see such games. For example, bowling and cricket were deemed boring sports before but due to improvisation of the rules and competition times, it is now well accepted by the public."

Ahmad Shabery said the ministry would try to provide financial support for the Federation to organise more competitions at the national level.

"Apart from the government's support and assistance, the Federation must also put in its own effort and try to find their own sponsors," he said.

Meanwhile, its President Tan Sri Ramli Ngah Talib in welcoming the government's initiative to support the sport, said the federation would do its part to further promote the sport.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Online chess Business ChessCube Receives US $1.25m VC Funding

Online chess Business ChessCube Receives US $1.25m VC Funding
Written by content team 27 August 2009

ChessCube has concluded a US$1.25m funding agreement with Venture Capital fund, InVenFin (Pty) Ltd. InVenFin, the VC-focused subsidiary of VenFin Limited, invests in intellectual property-based start-ups with global potential. This transaction brings ChessCube’s total funding to date to US$1.8m. The partnership between and InVenfin will allow to become the most recognized and loved online brand for chess enthusiasts.

ChessCube is an online chess site, which allows players of all skill levels to compete and learn chess, while socializing with others. With a potential market of over fifty million active chess players in the world, has already attracted over 650,000 registered users across 207 countries – making it one of the leaders in the growing online chess market.

Mark Levitt, CEO and founder of ChessCube says, “We are delighted to have InVenFin on board as our partner. Over and above the valuable capital injection, InVenFin gives us access to an international business network, and their team of experts in branding, product strategy, intellectual property management and corporate structuring. This investment allows ChessCube to focus on establishing itself as the world leader in online chess.”

InVenFin’s Stuart Gast says, “ChessCube’s innovative product offering has impressed us, along with the strong team led by Mark. The social gaming space is growing rapidly worldwide, and we believe ChessCube represents an excellent entrance for us into this world. We look forward to assisting ChessCube achieve its aspirations.”

Vinny Lingham, CEO of San Francisco-based, was an early investor in ChessCube. “As a keen chess player myself, it is particularly exciting to be part of an innovative chess venture,” said Lingham. “This investment by InVenFin further highlights the potential of Cape Town as the technology hub of Africa - which I like to dub Silicon Cape. ChessCube has enormous potential to dominate the massive global chess players’ market.”

ChessCube enables all levels of chess players to play live chess against other like-minded players, in various forms of the game. The focus at is enjoying the game of chess in a positive and fun environment. also offers interactive chess videos written by international grandmasters. Unlike DVDs, these videos interact with each user, offering them personalised instruction – an outstanding innovation that earned ChessCube a Semi-final placing in the 2008 Adobe Max Awards in San Francisco.

World history was recently made by ChessCube when, during its recent sponsorship of the 2009 South African Open, along with the 400 participants at a Cape Town venue, for the first time in history three grandmasters and masters participated from a second venue in Melbourne, Australia. FIDE, the world chess federation, worked with ChessCube to ensure that the games, which were played across the Internet, were officially rated, setting a new precedent that could see tournaments using this technology in the future.

ChessCube continues to innovate and build on its award-winning chess playing platform from its Cape Town headquarters.

Mark Levitt CEO of ChessCube at ChessCube center

About ChessCube

ChessCube ( was launched in May 2007 from its Cape Town headquarters. It has since grown into a community of over 650,000 avid chess players, and continues to grow at a rapid pace. ChessCube is an innovative, live chess platform, allowing competition and education within a social community. Mark Levitt, founder and CEO of ChessCube, is four times South African Chess Champion. ChessCube’s investors include InVenfin, Vinny Lingham and Michael Leeman.

For more information or images, please contact Mark Levitt ( or Sarah Blake (

Thursday, August 27, 2009

USCF Cuts Scholastic's/FIDE Director Position

Letter From Jerry Nash
By Bill Hall

August 26, 2009

Due to unfortunate but necessary cutbacks, the USCF is cutting the position of Scholastic and FIDE Director. Jerry Nash's last day in the office was Tuesday, August 25th. We are fortunate to be able to announce that Mr. Nash will continue his relationship with the Federation as our National Education Consultant. Jerry's focus will be primarily on working with individuals, schools, and communities in the role of a consultant to assist in the development of local scholastic and collegiate chess programs. He will also promote the training of educators to connect chess with the efforts to improve math skills, critical thinking skills, and life skills. Read his letter to the chess community below, and contact him directly at

- Bill Hall, USCF Executive Director

August 26,2009

Dear Chess Community,

Since March of 2005 it has been my privilege to serve as the Scholastic and FIDE Director of the United States Chess Federation. While unfortunate circumstances necessitate my leaving this position, I hope to maintain my connections with the chess community. It has been my pleasure to make the acquaintance of so many players, coaches, tournament directors, parents, and students who love the game of chess and use it to impact their communities.

I will continue my relationship with the Federation as National Education Consultant. Working with individuals, schools, and communities, I hope to assist in the development of local scholastic and collegiate chess programs. I also plan to continue helping educators connect chess with the improvement of math skills, critical thinking skills, and life skills.

I would like to thank all those with whom I have worked for having the opportunity to be a part of their efforts to make a difference in the lives of others. I have been blessed by these relationships. My hope and prayer is that we will discover the resources needed to face the challenges and fulfill the opportunities of the days ahead.

Best regards,
Jerry Nash

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ousted members of Florida chess board sue to reclaim their volunteer positions

By Luis Perez, Times Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 26, 2009

ST. PETERSBURG — The future of chess belongs to the young. On this, these chess fanatics agree.

As for everything else, well, they'll hash it out in court.

Andrew Scherman, a chess master at 51, says he had the brainy board game's future at heart when he collected 16 written votes supporting him and two 20-somethings as officers of the Florida Chess Association.

They won in a 2008 coup, giving them three seats on the statewide 13-member board. Then, a few months ago, the St. Petersburg Chess Club members were swept off the board like plastic pawns. The proxy votes, the other officers voted, were illegal.

Check. But not mate, apparently.

Scherman is a retired lawyer who has been butting heads in local chess politics for years. On July 21, he moved the game into Pinellas County Circuit Court.

"It wouldn't be so bad if they just did it to me; I might have moved on," Scherman said. "But they did it to Skippy and Joe, too. They're punishing them. They are young. They are active. If you believe in anything about that kids are our future, you can see this is wrong."

Skippy is Robert Foreman, 21. He and Joseph Virgin, 23, of Orlando are also plaintiffs.

Board members Harvey Lerman, 71, and Chuck Hall, 44, call Scherman a troublemaker with an ax to grind and a possible conspiracy to take over the board.

Lerman and Hall are officers of the Orlando-based Central Florida Chess Club, which Scherman describes as a rival group. Lerman and Hall disagree on that, but Scherman says the CFCC is jealous of his success. Both acknowledge that the SPCC is bigger and holds more tournaments.

The 16 proxy votes were illegal, and not allowed under Robert's Rules of Order, Lerman said. He said the final insult was when Scherman tried to thrust 50 new members into the organization, paying $1,000 for their memberships in advance of next month's general election. That move was blocked, and the electorate frozen.

"There's an old saying in local chess: 'Andrew is just being Andrew,' " said Lerman, a retired computer programmer. "It could be just that Andrew wants to control everything. We don't know what he wants to do with that control."

The FCA, which has 17 regional affiliates in Florida, began in the 1940s. It has 300 members this year, down from 1,000 in 2001, and an annual budget of about $10,000. Comparatively, the Florida Scholastic Chess League, an FCA partner that promotes chess in schools, began in 1998, has 2,000 members and a $40,000 budget.

Scherman's lawsuit, which seeks to restore him and the others to the board and to remove Lerman and Hall, does not contain a dollar figure. But Robert Persante, a Clearwater attorney who is defending them pro bono, said the FCA cannot afford a legal challenge.

To prove that this fight isn't about him, Scherman notes that when he was kicked off the FCA board in 2001, he didn't sue. Persante was FCA president then.

"This kind of turmoil is really nothing new," Persante said. "And when you step back and you look at it, that individuals have decided to file litigation because they have been removed from their volunteer positions, you begin to wonder.

"I am saying that they have too much time on their hands."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Street Chess: Reality TV Promo

Cuban Chess Players Attend World Cup

Cuban chess players attend World Cup

HAVANA, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) -- Cuban chess players Leinier Dominguez, Lazaro Bruzon and Fidel Corrales will represent Cuba at the World Cup of Khanty-Mainsysk, Russia from Nov.20 to Dec.15, authorities said on Monday.

Dominguez got direct entry with his world ranking while Bruzon and Corrales went through after the qualification matches.

Bulgarian Vesselin Topalove, Ukranian Vassily Ivanchuk, Russians Alexander Morozevich and Valdimir Kramnik will also attend the event.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tragic Coulsdon chess girl's mother pays tribute on her third anniversary

Sunday, August 23, 2009, 11:00By Brian Haran

The grieving mother of a chess starlet who fell 65 feet to her death has spoken of the poignant moments this time of year brings.
July 26 was the third anniversary of teenage prodigy Jessie Gilbert's fatal plunge from the eighth floor of a Czech hotel during an international tournament.
And yesterday (Saturday) saw the start of the second annual Jessie Gilbert Celebration International Chess Festival in her memory.
The 19-year-old, who had lived in Southdown Road, Woldingham, for most of her life, died a few months before she was due to give evidence against her father Ian, who had been accused of repeatedly raping her.
Mr Gilbert, 50, was subsequently found not guilty at Guildford Crown Court of five charges of rape.
Jessie, a former Croydon High School pupil, had won the women's world amateur chess championships when she was aged just 11.
She was a long-standing member of Coulsdon Chess Fellowship - and yesterday saw the start of the nine-day tournament in her memory.
Her mother Angela, 55, who now lives in Reigate, said: "The summer is hard for us with these two landmark events in our minds.
"Jessie always wanted to stage her own chess tournament one day.
"I just wish she was alive to see this. She was such a modest and self-effacing person, Jessie could have no concept just how much her death would affect so many people - and how much she would mean to them."
Mrs Gilbert visits Jessie's grave in Redhill about three times a week.
She added: "My other daughters have been determined to ensure they make successes of their lives, partly in Jessie's honour."
Her oldest daughter Samantha, 24, is a qualified solicitor working in London.
Anni , a 17-year-old pupil at Woldingham School, will take her A Levels next year and is hoping to study medicine at Oxford University, following the precise aspirations of Jessie.
And Josie, 11, is transferring next term from Croydon High School to Woldingham School.
Up to 40 players of all ages are expected to take part in the memorial chess tournament.
Among them will be two chess grandmasters who are travelling down from Dundee and Manchester respectively.
Scott Freeman, activities manager for Coulsdon Chess Fellowship, said: "I have known Jessie since she was eight years old.
"We were all absolutely devastated to lose her but we see this annual tournament as an opportunity to celebrate her life as opposed to mourning her."

Friday, August 21, 2009

Malaysia's Main Man of Chess

The Star OnlineBy By QUAH SENG SUN
Datuk Tan Chin Nam is regarded as the driving force behind chess in Malaysia.

IT’S been nine months since I last met Datuk Tan Chin Nam in Penang. That Sunday in November, he was still basking in the glory of winning the 2008 Melbourne Cup in Australia. It was an unprecedented and historical win for him: the only horse owner ever to win that coveted cup four times.

Prior to the Malaysia Chess Festival starting tomorrow, I sat down with him again and this time, it was at his office at Menara Tan&Tan in Kuala Lumpur. This time, instead of horses, he turned his attention to the other interest in his life, which is chess.

This game of kings has taken up much of his free time, effort, and money since 1974. In that year, he was elected president of the Malaysian Chess Federation. But despite stepping down in 1986, he could never get chess out of his life. He remains the main engine behind chess in this country. It is estimated that in the past 35 years, he has poured at least RM10mil into the game.

“People remarked that I am stupid to put so much of my money into chess when I cannot see the return from there,” he remarked. “They say that if I had invested this sum and the time I’ve spent on chess into my business, I would have earned back my capital many times over. Am I stupid? Of course, I’m stupid!”

Then, as he leaned forward as if to confide in me, Tan boomed: “But you know what? It’s not all about money. I did it because of personal joy. I enjoy chess just like I enjoy horse racing. But I’ve already achieved the peak in horses.

Grand plans: ‘I am embarking on the Malaysia chess project to take the Malaysian chess culture to a higher plane,’ says Datuk Tan Chin Nam.

“In chess, there’s still much to do and I like to see other people enjoy the game and succeed in the game. There’s the joy of watching a young child of seven or eight beaming when he succeeds. I think that chess is valuable to the community as an intellectual sport endeavour. It’s incomparable.”

How does he see the direction of chess in Malaysia in the next five to 10 years?

“I am very certain the progress will be phenomenal. To achieve this, I am embarking on the Malaysia chess project to take the Malaysian chess culture to a higher plane,” he said.

“Various Asean governments already support chess to a great degree, including Vietnam, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia. Malaysia is the one exception that can do better. So my proposal is that the Government can help chess the same way that it already supports other sports. For example, let foreign professional chess players into Malaysia to raise our standard to the full international level.

“Our neighbours give strong foreign players permanent residencies or even citizenship. Singapore has about 10 of them. In Vietnam, even more. For instance, China’s grandmaster Zhang Zhong is a permanent resident in Singapore and plays for Singapore.

“In Malaysia, we don’t even have a grandmaster. If we get a competent core of grandmasters here, I believe the effort will be self-sustaining. You have the grandmasters teaching younger players and once they reach that level, it doesn’t go back down. For example, England achieved it in the 1960s, same with Indonesia, India and China. Self-sustaining, so that it continues on its own.

“The Malaysia chess project also involves organising high-level tournaments. We already have some success putting Malaysia on the international chess map. Saturday is the start of the sixth Malaysia Chess Festival. I’m committed to the next five years of the Arthur Tan Malaysia open, which is the festival’s centrepiece.

“Making it a success means it’s a great chess festival for tourism. We put Malaysia on the chess map and we have people coming from all over the world to take part in our tournaments. But it’s very expensive for them just to come: plane fare, accommodation, entry fee.

“Why should it be so expensive? What if the entry fee is reduced? The numbers will increase. I foresee 2,000 players in the future. It’s not impossible. Make it free even, and we’ll have 3,000, including friends and relatives. That’s chess tourism.”

But all these plans would require money and a lot of fund-raising, I remind him.

“Right now, my Tan Chin Nam Foundation awards scholarships to needy university students. I’m asking my people to see how a separate fund can be set up and properly administered within the foundation specifically for chess development.

“I’m considering a decent donation to the chess part of the foundation. It’ll be a challenge, if I give a donation, to persuade the Government and the big corporations to back me up ringgit for ringgit. I estimate the chess portion of the foundation will require several million to make chess self-sustaining in Malaysia. One idea is that if I offer one-third of the amount, then the Government can add its third and corporations and others can provide the remainder. So that’s the challenge.”

I asked about the chess centre that was set up on the fourth floor of the Wilayah Complex in Kuala Lumpur in February this year. This centre, as well as the Malaysia open, was dedicated to Arthur Tan, his son who passed away in Australia in 2004.

Arthur grew up in a chess-playing family, competing against siblings and relatives, and playing across the board and over the Internet. People who knew him said he could talk business 24 hours a day, reminding them of his father.

He had a similar business management style. In Malaysia, his projects included the Bukit Belimbing residential project and the Sierramas. In Australia, he managed and developed portions of the Como Hotel shopping and residential project in Melbourne.

“The Dato’ Arthur Tan Chess Centre was set up near the beginning of the year. I realised that the Malaysian chess public would need a practical centre to take part in activities and raise the level of the game. It’s something that my son himself would have liked to do.

“The chess centre is a focal point of the Malaysia chess project. It’s also meant for enjoyment, with plans to create a congenial coffeehouse atmosphere for everyone – from students to businessmen – to socialise. For too long, I’ve been in chess organising that I haven’t even begun to enjoy myself more in my chess games. Starting soon, I want to be a playing member. I will play more chess.”

What would Tan consider as his biggest achievements on the world stage?

“I value greatly the award of Commander of the Legion of Grandmasters given to me by Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the president of the World Chess Federation, when Fide celebrated its 75th anniversary in 1999. Only 20 people worldwide were recognised. And a few years earlier, I was given direct membership in Fide. Very few people are direct members of Fide, all others are national chess federations.

“I was also a deputy president of Fide for four years from 1982 and was part of its executive board until 1990. In 1990 and 1994, the leading members of the exco – the main representatives from Asia, Europe, the Middle East and South America – offered me, in effect, the Fide presidency. But I declined to run both times. I couldn’t be visiting a hundred or more countries. The time wasn’t right. There were other priorities in my business back here.

“Rapid chess was proposed by me, so that more people can take part in short tournaments and events. It took years for rapid chess to be accepted. If I remember, countries in the West, like Bulgaria, objected to it but after several years, the Fide family has come around to support it. Today, rapid chess is used not only for weekend events but also as a tie-break system at high-level matches.

“So you see, all these efforts have been good public relations for Malaysia,” said Tan.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Malaysian Chess PLayers Sweep Tournament

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 19 (Bernama)

-- Malaysian chess players made a clean sweep of all the four gold medals offered in chess competitions on the final day of the Asean Para Games (KL 09) at the National Sports Council's Commonwealth Hall here on Wednesday.

With the four gold medals won on Wednesday, the last of the 20 gold medals offered in chess competitions, Malaysia ended their campaign in the Games with eight gold medals, surpassing the six gold target set earlier.

Nur Feiqah Maulud Mohd Halil and Choo Min Wang lived up to their top billing by winning the women's and men's individual events and later led their respective teams to win the team gold in both events.

The two gold medals won on Wednesday increased Nur Feiqah's personal gold medal tally in the Games to four but the young petite lass remained modest and gracious in her celebrations.

"This victory is a win for all and a team effort. It will not have been possible if not for the support and guidance from the coaches and officials," she told Bernama here on Wednesday.

Nur Feiqah whose two gold medals came through the women's B1/B2/B3 category events, hopes to repeat a similar feat at the next Asean Para Games to be hosted by Indonesia in 2011.

"Though I will be busy with my studies, I hope to continue playing and learning the techniques of the game," said Nur Feiqah who teamed up with Athirah Azman and Teo Suat Mui for the team gold in the same event.

Meanwhile, Choo who swept the men's individual in the B1/B2/B3 event, partnered Mah Hassan Omar and Shahruddin Sidek for the team gold in the same event.

Team manager Abdul Latif Mohammad said he was more than satisfied with the performances of his charges as they were able to surpass their initial target of six gold medals.

"Having performed well here, it will be important to identify new talents to repeat a similar feat in Indonesia two years later," he said.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Laszlo Nagy:Chess Promoter Helped Bring Down Berlin Wall

SOPRONPUSZTA, Hungary – It was a picnic that changed the course of history.

Twenty years ago Wednesday, members of Hungary's budding opposition organized a picnic at the border with Austria to press for greater political freedom and promote friendship with their Western neighbors.

Some 600 East Germans got word of the event and turned up among the estimated 10,000 participants. They had a plan: to take advantage of an excursion across the border to escape to Austria.

Hungarian President Laszelo Solyom and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were taking part Wednesday in festivities Wednesday marking the 20th anniversary of the "Pan-European Picnic," which helped precipitate the fall nearly three months later of the Berlin Wall.

One of the key factors allowing the Germans to escape: the decision by a Hungarian border guard commander not to stop them as they pushed through to freedom.

Lt. Col. Arpad Bella and five of his men had been expecting a Hungarian delegation to cross the border at Sopronpuszta by bus, visit a nearby Austrian town as a symbol of the new era of glasnost — or openness — under reformist Soviet leader Mikail Gorbachev, and return to Hungary.

Instead, at the planned time of 3 p.m., Bella suddenly found himself face to face with 150 East Germans marching up the road to the border gate, which had been closed since 1948.

"I had about 20 seconds to think about it until they got here," said Bella, 63, during an interview where the gate once stood.

"Had the five of us confronted the Germans, they would have (overwhelmed us)."

Once the initial group got through hundreds more East Germans joined them. Still vivid in Bella's mind was the reactions of the Germans, including many young people and families with small children, once they were on the other side.

"They embraced, they kissed, they cried and laughed in their joy. Some sat down right across the border, others had to be stopped by the Austrian guards because they kept running and didn't believe they were in Austria," Bella said. "It was in incredible experience for them."

Laszlo Nagy, one of the organizers of the picnic, was startled by the East Germans' actions, who left behind hundreds of cars and other possessions near the border for the chance to make the short walk to a new life in the West.

"Some of them were waiting for this moment for 20 or 30 years," Nagy said. "They left behind everything ... because freedom has the greatest value."

Dirk Mennenga was one the "Ossies," a nickname for East Germans, who made it to Austria on that day. He had come to Hungary from Dresden.

"We had planned beforehand that we would try to cross the border through Hungary," Mennenga said. "We didn't know how easy or difficult it would be."

After seeing flyers promoting the picnic, Mennenga thought the event could provide an opportunity to escape West.

"It was a very emotional situation," Mennenga said. "There was a sole border guard. A young Hungarian man kept pointing the way and before we knew it we were in Austria."

While Bella was unaware of the East Germans' intentions, behind the scenes the Hungarian government had already decided that it would somehow let them go West.

Miklos Nemeth, Hungary's last prime minister of the communist era, said the picnic and the East Germans' breakthrough on that day was one in a series of steps that brought democracy to most of the Soviet bloc within a year.

"It was a planned process on behalf of the government, but it was a transition where everyone was also seeking to secure their own future," Nemeth said.

With 80,000 Soviet troops stationed in Hungary, Nemeth said it was difficult to know how Moscow would react to the unprecedented events.

"In my mind this was an important event, a test," Nemeth said. "And fortunately, Arpad Bella ... although he did not get any information, he decided in the right way."

Tens of thousands of East Germans had traveled to Hungary as expectations mounted that the more moderate Communist country might open its borders to the West.

They lived in makeshift shelters in Budapest on the grounds of the West German Embassy and at a tent city set up by a Catholic parish.

In the weeks after the picnic, East Germans continued to make attempts to cross the border, although many were still turned back. Then, on Sept. 11, Hungary began allowing all East Germans to travel West.

Bella continued his career as a border guard for several more years before retiring in 1996, later even working as a consultant on developing aspects of the Schengen agreement, which now allows for borderless travel within 25 European countries.

"I didn't think of myself as a hero. How could I? I wasn't even sure I'd be around for another week," Bella said. "If the Russians had wanted to come, they would have swept us aside like nothing."

For Nagy, the significance of the events of Aug. 19 has grown over the past 20 years.

"At the time, we didn't feel like we were making history," Nagy said. "It was the world's greatest garden party."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cheats,Spies,Crooks and Commies

Washington Post

Nikolai Krylenko, the Soviet Commissar of Justice and Prosecutor General, used to sentence innocent people to death in show trials in the 1930s, until he himself perished in 1938 in Stalin's Great Purge. He neglected his work by spending too much time on chess and mountain climbing, his accusers claimed. In chess, Krylenko had a vision: He wanted to export the game as part of Soviet culture and to establish Soviet domination in the chess world. He began a ruthless game, playing with human pawns ¿ the Soviet chess masters and champions. In 1948, Mikhail Botvinnik won the world title. The aim was achieved.

Since 1931, Botvinnik was regarded as the best Soviet player and everybody thought that he, and only he, had the right to be World Champion, David Bronstein explained in "The Sorcerer's Apprentice." (The second, updated and enlarged edition of Bronstein's classic was recently published by New in Chess.) With the championship came political power, and Botvinnik and his helpers used it. In 1951, Bronstein's father was not allowed to go to Moscow to see his son in the world championship match against Botvinnik. Bronstein smuggled him in anyway and almost won the match. It ended in a 12-12 tie, but there was no love lost between Botvinnik and Bronstein through the end of their lives. Shortly before he died, Botvinnik got irritated when someone mentioned Bronstein's name. Botvinnik said, "Please never mention his name in my presence ever again; he is my enemy!" Upon learning of Botvinnik's death, Bronstein quipped: "What a surprise; he was human after all!"

The history of Soviet chess is full of personal quarrels and intrigues. The former world champion and Soviet grandmaster Boris Spassky once compared Soviet players to spiders in a bottle, biting and kicking each other, sometimes literally, as Viktor Korchnoi and Tigran Petrosian did during one of their Candidates games. A partition under the table was installed next time they met.

The Soviet players, however, united against a common foreign enemy. According to Bobby Fischer, the American Sammy Reshevsky was the best player in the world in the early 1950s. Bronstein revealed that during the 1953 Candidates tournament in Zurich, the Soviet players were asked to help Vassily Smyslov finish ahead of Reshevsky and therefore prevent the American grandmaster to reach the world championship match against Botvinnik. It was not necessary. Smyslov played too well and won the event. When the Soviet players ganged up on Fischer in the 1962 Candidates tournament in Curacao, playing hard against him but making quick draws among themselves, he called them "cheating commies" and demanded change from tournament to matches. After the change was made, Fischer was unstoppable and in 1972 won the world title.

The world championship matches in 1978 and 1981 between Anatoly Karpov and Korchnoi, who defected from Soviet Union in 1976, were politically motivated. Many shadowy figures, KGB agents and parapsychologists kept coming and going during these contests. Karpov won both encounters. A few years later, with the appearance of Garry Kasparov, the Soviets had suddenly two players capable of winning the world title.

The first world championship match between Karpov and Kasparov in 1984 in Moscow was the longest in history. The final outcome was discussed high up in the Soviet Politburo and in the offices of the KGB. The players were on a destructive collision course and there were fears the long match would inflict lasting damage, both physical and mental. The maneuvers behind the scenes intensified and the match was stopped without a decision after 48 games in February 1985. Kasparov won the next title match in December 1985. The continuation of the feud between the last two Soviet world champions is described in a new book, "Garry Kasparov on Modern Chess, Part Three: Kasparov vs. Karpov 1986-1987," released by Everyman Chess.

In the summer of 1986 in London, Kasparov and Karpov sat down over the board and for the first time two Soviet players contested the world title in a Western country. Newspapers covered the match on front pages, reporting on the clash between a good communist and a bad one. During the first 12 games in the English capital, both players behaved well, but when the match moved for the second half to the Soviet city of Leningrad, all hell broke loose. Kasparov wrote about treason and bribery after he lost three straight games. He named those who betrayed him and the crooks who tried to bribe them. He was still the world champion when the next match was played in Seville, Spain, in 1987, but he barely hung onto the title in the end. In a must-win situation, he won the last game. The murky world of Soviet chess, the stories behind the scenes and game analyses make for fascinating reading, but did Kasparov tell all? For example, his gamesmanship during the 11th game in Seville, unparalleled in the history of the world championships, is not mentioned. After Karpov blundered, Kasparov openly laughed in his face. One has the feeling there are more tales to be told.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Afghanistan Chess: Kandahar dreamers test Taliban edicts

Kandahar dreamers test Taliban edicts

By M Ilyas Khan
BBC News, Kandahar, Afghanistan

Nearly everyone who lives in Kandahar city, the capital of Afghanistan's southern province by the same name, has acquaintances among the local Taliban militants.

Fazal Ahmad Anis is one of them.

"We are all people from the same area, and Taliban also have good intelligence inside the city, so they know who's who," he says.

Mr Anis has been hosting music shows for two Kandahar-based television stations for some time, and is now setting up the city's first audio-visual studios where television plays would be produced.

Taliban consider music and television viewing as un-Islamic, and have often spoken to him by telephone about his plans, without overtly threatening him.

"Their message is clear, though, that I should give up my plans, but producing television dramas has been my dream since I was living in the Pakistani city of Quetta as a refugee," he says.

Wry smile

Kandahar, once a major centre of arts and culture in Afghanistan, has many dreamers like Mr Anis.

In the soothing, air-conditioned atmosphere of Kandahar Coffee Shop - a trendy café with a small library and a billiards parlour - a group of old and young people sit quietly around a table, watching two of them play a game of chess.

One of the players is Naimatullah Zalmay, the head of Kandahar's chess players' association.

He has been playing chess for 35 years, he says, and is among the 14-member national chess team recently selected to play in international competitions.

But like music and TV, chess is also considered un-Islamic by the Taliban and the country's powerful conservative clerics.

When I ask him if he feels threatened by the Taliban, he gives me a wry smile.

"The Taliban's position on the issue is well known, but what do you do when a high official close to our democratic president opposes our request for funds on grounds that we are indulging in un-Islamic activities?"

He doesn't name names, but one of his colleagues later tells me he was referring to Fazl Hadi Shinwari, chief justice of Afghanistan until August 2006 and still considered close to President Hamid Karzai.

Dejection and fear

During the seven years of Mr Karzai's rule, Kandahar city has developed by leaps and bounds.

Multi-storey trade centres have appeared all over the place, roads and streets have been built, and most commercial streets now have wide, tiled pavements.

But patrols by the US and Canadian armoured cars frequently force civilian traffic off the road, creating dejection and fear among people.

A bomb-shaped "spy" balloon that hangs high over the city and is said to carry US surveillance cameras is a constant reminder that things outside the city are also not satisfactory.

The governor of Kandahar province, Tooryalai Wesa, admits that his government has not been able to break the Taliban stranglehold in some parts of the province.

In some cases, these "lawless" areas extend to within 5 or 6 km of the city.

The Taliban have comparatively greater freedom to operate in the provinces of Helmand to the west, Uruzgan to the north and Zabul to the northeast of Kandahar.

Together, the four provinces form the lawless south of Afghanistan.

For now, the most immediate target of the Taliban is to prevent people across this region from turning out to vote in presidential elections, due on 20 August.

If they succeed, it will dent the credibility of the election and may spiral into a political crisis for the government, analysts say.

But if they fail, then Kandaharis hope for greater stability in the future.

Awareness show

And many are willing to have close brushes with the Taliban to achieve this.

Abdullah Abdali, a television actor, has been doing government-sponsored stage shows for public awareness in some of the most dangerous corners of the south.

Last year he went to Uruzgan to act in a play on drugs awareness.

"Going there was no problem, but once we had appeared on the stage, we felt exposed and did not feel safe to return to Kandahar by road," he says.

"We waited there three days for a US forces convoy to roll out to Kandahar, and followed it."

Early this month, he did a six-day election awareness show in Qalat, the capital of Zabul, and again took safety precautions on the return journey.

"We told our hosts - the district election commission - that we were staying the night and would leave for Kandahar the next day. Then we went out, quietly jumped into our van and left. You never know who will inform the Taliban that we are coming."
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/08/16 10:57:10 GMT


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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Ray Robson: 2009 US Closed Junior Champion

Chess Notes
By Harold Dondis and Patrick Wolff
August 15, 2009

Ray Robson, originally from Guam, moved to Florida with his parents at the age of 3. In 2007, at the age of 13, Robson became the youngest International Master in US history and is certainly one of the rising stars of American chess. In a sense, he trails Robert Hess and Hikaru Nakamura as one of the young Turks of this country’s chess. Recently, he won the 2009 US Junior Closed title with a convincing score of 6-1.

Robson Coleman Sicilian Defense 2009 US Junior Closed

Robson Coleman Robson Coleman
White Black White Black
1. e4 c5 26. Qxf6+ Kg8
2. Nf3 d6 27. Qxe6+ Kf8
3. d4 cxd4 28. Bxc6 Qxc6 (g)
4. Nxd4 Nf6 29. Rf1+ Kg7
5. Nc3 a6 30. Qf7+ Kh6
6. h3 e6 31. Rf6+ Qxf6
7. g4 Be7 32. Qxf6+ Kh7
8. Bg2 Qc7 33. Ne4 Be3+
9. Be3 Nc6 34. Kb1 Bf4 (h)
10. f4 h6 35. Qf7+ Kh6
11. Qd2 Bd7 36. Qe6+ Kg7
12. O-O-O Rc8 37. Qd7+ Kg6
13. Qf2 b5 38. Qg4+ Kh7
14. g5! (a) Nh5 39. Qd7+ Kg6
15. gxh6 Rxh6 40. Qxb5 Rcd8
16. Nxc6! Bxc6 41. Qxa5 Kf5
17. a3 (b) Rh8 42. Nf2 Rd2
18. Rhf1 Qb7 43. Qc5 Rg8
19. f5 Nf6? (c) 44. Nd3 Rgg2
20. fxe6 fxe6 45. a4 Rd1+
21. Qg3! a5 46. Ka2 Rh2
22. Qg6+ Kf8 47. a5 Rhh1
23. e5! (d) dxe5 (e) 48. a6 Ra1+
24. Bc5!! Bxc5 (f) 49. Kb3 Rxh3? (i)
25. Rxf6+ gxf6 50. Qc8+ 1-0

Here is a game from that tournament: Robson vs. Maxx Coleman of Kansas, winner of last year’s title. Robson signals attack as early as the 7th move. His opponent keeps his king well fortified in the center. Robson tucks his king away on the queenside, and assaults his opponent’s fortifications. The key moves that expose Coleman’s position begin with move 22, in which Robson gives up a pawn, a bishop, and then the exchange. The Black king is helpless as Robson gradually takes back the sacrificed material and pushes a pawn toward the queening square.

a) Wasting no time! Now 14. . .hxg5 15.fxg5 Nh5 16.Nxc6! Bxc6 17.Rhf1 is problematic for Black.

b) White has secured an edge. Black’s counterplay on the queenside is stalled (e.g. 17. . .a5? 18.Bb6), his pieces are somewhat scattered, and his king is stuck in the middle of the board.

c) I think this is a misjudgment and 19. . .e5 was correct, with a tough fight.

d) Black appears to have miscalculated the consequences of this sequence.

e) Or 23. . .Bxg2 24.exf6 Bxf6 25.Rxf6+ gxf6 26.Qxf6+ Kg8 27.Qxe6+ etc. and White’s attack is obviously crushing.

f) Or 24. . .Bxg2 (note that 24Rh6?? loses to 25.Rxf6+ gxf6 26.Qxh6+) 25.Rxf6+ gxf6 26.Qxf6+ Kg8 (26Ke8 27.Qxh8+ Kf7 28.Qh5+ quickly wins a piece by pushing Black’s king to the right square and then capturing on e7 and forking the bishop on g2) 27.Qxe6+ Kf8 and White has several ways to win, e.g. 28.Bxe7+ Qxe7 29.Qxc8+ etc.

g) Not 28. . .Rxc6? 29.Rd8+ Kg7 30.Rd7+ and the roof caves in.

h) While the position requires some care, it is clearly winning for White with accurate play.

i) A blunder, but it doesn’t matter.

Annotations by grandmaster Patrick Wolff, a two-time US champion who offers chess exercises and more at