Chess on Ice!
I always enjoy the Olympics and I watch as much as possible on TV. Of course, I prefer some sports over others. One of my favorite Winter sports is curling, the team sport where 42 pound stones are sent sliding down the ice towards a target, rather like shuffle board. It's an excellent sport with elements of strategy and tactics, where sometimes a move is made to place stones, not where they may score themselves, but where they will shield other stones and co-ordinate with the other pieces (stones). Though Jay Leno may make fun of the sport on his late night TV show, I find it a gripping and compelling sport, and I was up and cheering when the USA Skip made a brilliant shot, converting the loss of a point to the win of four points against the defending world champions. What excitement! For me this was the most memorable moment of the 2002 Olympic games.
I was surprised to see a short article on curling which described it as "chess on ice." I lost track of the web site before I could record the information, but after a little time searching I found the following. A February 1999 article in Smithsonian Magazine proclaimed, "Curling is chess on ice, with broomsticks." So my appreciation of curling comes quite naturally. More than one other person noted the attributes of the game that make both curling and chess fascinating and entertaining.
I noticed another interesting parallel to chess. A typical match lasts about 2-1/2 hours and they use a clock very similar to a chess clock to keep the game going. In the women's match-up between the USA and Switzerland, the USA had 4 seconds left on their clock after throwing their last rock and Switzerland threw theirs with under ten seconds. Wow blitz curling! OTB chess players would have felt right at home.
16th Postal and 2nd Email USA Championships
With Email chess getting more popular all the time, the last USA Championship was conducted by email. It was decided that the popular USCCC events would be conducted by email in alternating years. Now the ICCF-U.S. office has announced the next two U. S. Correspondence Chess Championship (USCCC) tournaments.
For the 16th Postal USCCC entries close July 15, 2002 with a start date of August 15,2002.
For the 2nd Email USCCC entries close December 15, 2002 with a start date of January 15, 2003.
Both U. S. Championship events will be held in two rounds. The preliminary rounds will have up to 15 players per section carefully balanced by rating. Section winners will advance to the Final Round. Also seeded in the final round are designated champions of USPCF organizations and recent U. S. Champions.
Any U. S. citizen or permanent resident who is an APCT, CCLA or USCF member with a cc rating of 2000 or OTB rating of 2100 or higher is eligible to play. The winner of the final will be considered the USA Champion and an appropriate trophy will be presented. The last APCT'er to win the championship was Jon Edwards, who won the 10th postal USCCC.
You may enter either or both events. The entry fee for each event is $25.00. To enter send your check made out to ICCF-U.S. to:
Chess on Television
Occasionally, while following chess on the Internet, an interesting tidbit arrives that I just must pass on to my dear readers. The following arrived in my In Box as part of the CHESS-L mailing list digest. The story was submitted by Arlen P. Walker, who graciously granted me permission to reproduce it here.
Lennox Lewis, Chess Heavyweight
I've written before about the British World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Lennox Lewis. I admit to a fascination with the story of Lewis being a chess fanatic. I read an interesting story about him at the News Telegraph web site http://www.telegraph.co.uk/. Following the collapse of the scheduled match with American boxer Mike Tyson (due to an unscheduled scuffle at a press conference where Tyson bit Lewis' leg) Lewis accepted the challenge of Telegraph reporter Dominic Lawson to a match of chess. Lawson's account of this match was riveting.
Upon arriving at Lewis' house the reporter and his photographer read a sign which stated, "No shoes allowed upstairs under any circumstances. By order of WBC Champion Lennox Lewis." an interesting beginning. Lewis is a impressive man who can be most imposing. Lawson recalled the advice he received from The Telegraph's chess columnist Nigel Short. His recommendation: "If he offers you a draw in a menacing tone of voice, accept."
As the match began Lewis switched on his CD player (at a high volume) and play started accompanied by Snoop Doggy Dogg. Lewis dropped the first game without much of a struggle, but the second game was a battle. To quote Lawson, "Eventually I do manage to grind him down, but not before almost falling into a series of devilish traps set by Lennox. (Later that day I ring Nigel Short and read out the moves to him. The former challenger to Garry Kasparov is impressed, too: 'He's obviously not too bad. He clearly has the right ideas, and played a lot of very logical moves.' That's a high compliment from Short.)"
When Lawson asked Lennox how often he plays chess he replied, "When I am in training camp? Oh, all day, sometimes. Well, certainly about four hours a day." Later he added, "It's like boxing: there's a strategy. You have to decide what move to use, or what combination of moves. I'm thinking less when I'm boxing, because the reaction time is a lot quicker, but some people call me the chess boxer because they say I think too much when I'm in the ring. I am taking my time about it and they are not seeing the action they want. Well, that is because I am thinking of the proper strategy to defeat this man. I am thinking and boxing at the same time. Some boxers just go in there and just throw punches and hope to win."
Lawson suggested to Lennox that the boxing match with Tyson may never occur and proposed a chess match with him as an alternative. When asked how such a match would end Lennox said, "Oh, I would definitely win. He would eat the pieces and be disqualified."
ICCF Champions League
By the time you read this the ICCF Champions League team tournament will be underway. I hope some APCT players answered my call in the last column to form teams to represent APCT in the competition. I'm playing for Team CC.COM, representing the CorrespondenceChess.Com Internet domain. Actually, all four team members are APCT'ers, so in a way APCT has at least one team participating.
Not much firm information will be available till pairings are announced, but the rumors indicate at least 80 teams have entered so far. The Germans are strong ICCF supporters, so I'm expecting to see a strong contingent of German teams. Chess Mail magazine is sponsoring eight teams, some quite strong. Some top ICCF organizers, including ICCF President Alan Borwell, have formed a team with a name something like "All the President's Men" and many other teams have formed with pertinent names. Many teams consist of members from four different countries. Tim Harding (Chess Mail publisher) insisted on this with the 8 teams he sponsored. This is truly an international competition and the ICCF motto should be much in evidence: Amici Sumus We are Friends.
I'll report further in the future when the team names and players are known. There will probably be many GM's and certainly a boatload of IM's competing. There's likely to be some amusing names as well.
Dot Com Slowdown Hits Internet Chess
The Kasparov web site has been one of the most interesting and varied chess web sites on the web. One facet of Internet chess sites that makes a site vital, in my opinion, is the constant availability of new content, such as current news, live coverage of major chess events, interviews of famous players and annotated chess games from current events. The Kasparov site used to have this in abundance, and it stood head and shoulders above almost every other site. I believe that Hanon Russell's Chess Café was the only comparable site, with its many regular chess columns and book reviews.
Now word is out that most of the staff of the Kasparov site has been let go, including popular chess columnist Michael Greengard (known affectionately as Mig). Still, the site retains much of interest. I just read an article by Mig at the site, so his relationship with the Kasparov site hasn't been completely ended. However, more and more of the content of the site is being made available only to paying members, and my visit to the site a few moments ago resulted in five advertising windows popping up in the background. Beware of these windows. When they have moving gifs and other animations they can chew up your computer cycles without you even being aware that they are lurking behind your active windows.
Annual CJA Awards Program
The Chess Journalists of America will be conducting their annual chess journalist awards competition for material published between June 1, 2001 and May 31, 2002. The categories will be the same as last year. If you're interested in submitting something for competition check out the CJA web site at http://chessjournalism.org/ for the rules. The March 2002 issue of The Chess Journalist also has the complete rules. I'm thinking about entering this column I haven't entered it for some years. I got a couple honorable mentions in the past, but the competition has gotten very rough.
American GM Yasser Seirawan publishes "A Fresh Start"
GM Yasser Seirawan is well known for his logical and reasonable approach to organized chess. At this time of confusion and controversy in the world of OTB chess his is the voice of moderation and reason. Who is world champion, what is happening to time limits in major competitions and who will be tested for those awful chess-enhancing drugs? The division between FIDE and a few of the highest profile chess competitors (primarily Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik) is common knowledge. The war declared by FIDE on the major independent chess tournaments (like Linares) is terrible for chess. What will happen next?
Seirawan has attempted to bring some order to the chaos with his proposal labeled "A Fresh Start". He has proposed a meeting of the players and organizers and the establishment of a new office of Chess Commissioner. The three commissioners he proposed have already indicated they would be willing to serve. They are Bessel Kok (Europe), Dato Tan Chin Nam (Asia) and Erik Anderson (America). As with other professional sports, the office of the Commissioners would act independently of the organizers and players to mediate differences and make vital decisions.
Seirawan also offered specific tournament recommendations for solving the world championship problem and proposed two different world championship titles. FIDE would continue to organize their Knockout World Championship and World Cup events, to be played at rapid rates, while there would be a separate World Championship played at traditional time limits. The key would be getting the participation of all the top players. A world championship without the participation of Kasparov, Kramnik and Anand would likely not be considered legitimate by the chess public. Seirawan has attempted to make a proposal that would be attractive to both the FIDE people and the top three players (and the Einstein Company, which currently holds the World Championship contract with Kramnik). Time will tell if he can pull off the seemingly impossible. Kramnik has practically disappeared from view since winning the match with Kasparov, and Kasparov appears to only be prepared to play a return match with Kramnik without the requirement to play any challengers events. With his impressive string of consecutive wins in Super GM tournaments Kasparov must surely believe he is the only legitimate challenger.
Dortmund, Germany will be hosting the Dortmund Sparkassen Chess Meeting 2002, which will be the home of the world championship qualifier to determine a challenger to GM Vladimir Kramnik's world championship title (July 6-21, 2002). Even with the excitement about Seirawan's proposals, the Einstein organization is going forward with their challengers event, and they plan a world championship match next year. Eight GM's will be competing for the right to play Kramnik, including seven in the top ten in the world. Kramnik, Kasparov and Anand will not be competing. As the host country, the Dortmund organizers have entered the top German player GM Christopher Lutz. Two groups of four players will play double round robins. The top two finishers in each group will advance to 4-game knockout matches followed by a four game match between the winners. The winner of Group 1 will play the runner-up in Group 2 and the winner of Group 2 will play the runner-up in Group 1 in the semi-finals.
To quote from the rules the playing session will be 7 hours: 40 moves in the first two hours followed by 20 moves in one hour, followed by all the moves in 30 minutes. The games shall be played using the DGT clocks.
Whatever happens in the discussions concerning the future of the world championship, this event should be a great spectacle. I know I'll be following it closely. I'm just sorry that Kasparov and Anand won't be participating. It's a shame that Kasparov is unwilling to participate in the logical continuation of a world championship event that he supported so fully at the beginning before he lost the match to Kramnik.
World Champions Jubilee Tournament
I was hoping to be able to report a few results in the ICCF 50 years World Champions Jubilee Tournament but all games are still in progress. There are some lively games going, though, and some will certainly be finished by the time I next sit typing my column. 5th World Champion Dr. Hans Berliner continues to play energetically. He is a passed Rook Pawn up on 2-time champ Tonu Oim (EST) and has a lot of interesting and hard-to-assess games going. The second American World Champion (10th) Dr. Vytas Palciauskas also seems to be doing OK. I can't pretend to understand the game positions all these guys are playing complex chess. Current World Champion Gert Timmerman (NLD) gave up the exchange to Tonu Oim (EST) but Oim's Knight may be trapped in the corner on a8. Pretty wild stuff!
Dr. Fritz Baumbach (GER) gave up a piece for three pawns against Mikhail Umansky (RUS). Palciauskas appears to be a solid pawn up on Umansky. Gert Timmerman vs. Vytas Palciauskas is just plain wild with even material. However, Timmerman just moved 16.exf6+ with black's King on e7. He has a Bishop on g5, a Rook on d5 and a Bishop on c6 attacking Black's Rook on a8. However, his Rook is still on a1 and Knight on b1. On the other hand, Palciauskas is fully developed and has a Knight on f2 poised to move giving discovered check. The position seems fairly balanced, but there are so many threats and weaknesses that both sides appear on the verge of losing. My prediction is a draw by perpetual check, but who knows? Mikhail Umansky has a Queen plus three connected, passed pawns vs. the Rook, Bishop and Knight of Grigory Sanakoev (RUS) (each also has another Rook). It appears that Umansky has enough material to win with those passed pawns, but they haven't advanced much and the King is sitting right behind them. It should be exciting.
When you get the nine living world champions together you can expect some fireworks. These guys aren't playing short grandmaster draws, like Kasparov and Kramnik did in Moscow. They are playing fighting chess, and every game looks like a humdinger. Further reports next time, and hopefully I'll have a few results for you. Some of the games appear to be balanced on a knife's edge. If you have Internet access check out the positions yourself at the ICCF web site.
See you next time, you paranoid thrillseekers. Till then enjoy your chess to the fullest and make some more friends via correspondence chess. This is an activity for our lifetimes. Chess is a friend that provides company through thick and thin. It is romance, excitement, competition and poetry. It is science, sport and art. Caissa is good to us and provides joy and pleasure. My life changed when I discovered chess back in 1959 and cc in 1964. I will never be a champion competitor but it won't really matter. I strive to do my best and enjoy the competition and artistic elements of the game. I have friends all over the world and have a focus for my web site work. I get to write about the game and share my thoughts with friends like you. I hear from numerous chess enthusiasts. There's a lot to appreciate about chess, wouldn't you say?
copyright © 2002 by J. Franklin Campbell
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