More Fischer Random, etc.
From time to time I read comments about Fischer Random chess from the elite OTB players. There seems to be a feeling that many FR positions give White too big of an advantage. Some say that regular chess still has a long way to go before it is played out. Many people really enjoy the opening research required to push theory out another move or two.
Of course, many professionals make their living off of opening research. I've heard some really interesting theories about published analysis, though. One theory is that the top players make a ton more money from playing in big tournaments than for publishing articles. One win in a big event can make a huge difference. Therefore, they would be crazy to reveal any important opening novelties in their low-paying articles.
Some people believe we must be careful accepting annotations in the opening books and in publications such as Informant. It is claimed that some players purposely plant bad suggestions in the hope of catching an opponent in a bad line. It all comes down to being responsible for your moves. Whether you use reference books, on-line annotated games, computer analysis of openings … whatever … when you make the move it is solely your responsibility. You'd better check things out for yourself before risking that new line or new move in a competitive game.
CC Players Don't Get No Respect!
Please forgive that bad grammar, but that wording just seemed right. We constantly get the impression that our OTB brethren don't consider cc as "real chess." I've just run across another such reference. While checking out the recent 4-game match between GM Evgeny Bareev and the computer engine HiarcsX in The Netherlands, I went to the official web site and found the following comment describing one of the organization's members.
I can't claim to analyze at a GM level, but I do believe that our top cc players, like former USA world champions GM Hans Berliner and GM Victor Palciauskas and current world champion GM Gert Timmerman of The Netherlands, may be able to match just about any OTB player.
Mickey Adams' Greatest Weakness
The British chess humor magazine Kingpin has a series titled "The Kingpin Questionaire" which it gives to various famous chessplayers. One of their on-line samples lists the following question and answer by GM Mickey Adams.
I ran across the following interesting note concerning chess notation used by the Chinese players. This was written by Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam in his article "The Dragon Slays the Eagle Again" in New in Chess 2002 Nr. 6. This was a report on the second in the series of annual matches between the USA and Chinese teams.
This brings to mind a debate on chess notation. ICCF has for many years used Numeric notation where 1.e4 is represented by 1.5254. Some of us were complaining that this notation is error-prone and non-intuitive. The main argument in favor of the notation is that it is independent of language. For instance, 1.Nf3 is written as 1.Sf3 in German and 1.Cf3 in French. Numeric removes this problem by just using numerals. However, a "new" notation called Alphanumeric also avoids the language "problem" by using only the origin/destination squares and not listing the piece being moved. Thus, 1.Nf3 would be written 1.g1f3. You may recognize this as what we used to call "Computer Notation." Complaints about the use of alpha characters seemed reasonable, since some foreign languages use different alphabets. But if you check a Russian book (or a Chinese player's scoresheet) you'll see the familiar algebraic notation. Wim van Vugt of The Netherlands wrote a brilliant article (published at my web site) titled "Numeric or alphanumeric - The final verdict" where he refuted those arguments against using the familiar alpha characters.
With the popularity of email chess there has been a discussion about what notation to use. The famous webmaster (and ICCF SIM-elect) John Knudsen favors the universal use of PGN, the notation that is readable by quite a range of software programs such as ChessBase. This is basically short English algebraic notation with the proper Header information for the computer programs. However, there is a clear bias against using English notation among many non-English using people. It's easy for us English speakers to see no problem with using English abbreviations for the pieces, but there is a lot of resentment out there based on the feeling that we are cramming English down their throats. Of course, it is a valid complaint that they should not be forced to use English. There is already a lot of that in the world already. It is true that English algebraic is the most popular single notation, but a truly international organization, such as the ICCF, needs to accommodate the feelings of all their members. Thus, the need for a notation not based on English or any other specific language exists. To be honest, I could live quite comfortably using a specific language-based notation, such as German algebraic. However, I support the use of Alphanumeric as a languageless notation that is superior to Numeric.
Of course, this may all be mute in a few years when ICCF and other major international cc organizations switch to the use of chess web servers instead of email. This would make the use of notations superfluous, though it should be easy enough to display the games in the notation of each user's choice, say English algebraic for me and German algebraic for my German opponent. The email organization IECG has already made a move in this direction by making a deal with the chess server organization Chessfriends.Com. IECG competitors can now log into the Chessfriends server to play their games. ICCF is investigating creating their own web server in the near future. It is my personal opinion that email chess has little time left as a major method of playing correspondence chess. Email chess is basically postal chess using an improved and faster form of transmission. Server chess will be a completely different animal with a whole host of advantages. However, we're not quite there yet.
Computers … Again
Though I said in my last column that I thought the topic of computers and chess had worn rather thin, the subject continues to be of interest, so following are a couple items I received from readers.
"Lacking Journalistic Integrity"
Walter Lewis of Soledad, CA writes"
Of course, I apologize to those readers who found my comments insulting. I will continue to cover items of interest to readers, as long as they are related to chess. My opinion is that we've spent rather a lot of time discussing computers. I was simply trying to get input from readers on other subjects as well. Also, at my discretion, I'll edit or ignore material that is just a rehash of material already covered here. I am a computer programmer by profession and have been associated with computers for over 40 years. I continue to find computers and their application to chess quite compelling. I find the subject of "cheaters" using computers of minimal interest, though. Those who believe computers are killing chess will not find a compatriot here. I think computers are great, and I'm personally finding computers are allowing me even greater pleasure in chess. See my topic further down on following "live" events on the Internet. Of course, as I frequently do, I'll add this disclaimer. Those who use computers to generate moves for APCT games are cheating, not because computer analysis is bad but because it is a violation of the APCT rules of play. Don't fool yourself … "blunder checking" and such uses of chess engines cannot be justified in APCT play. It is cheating, pure and simple. The same is true for CCLA, USCF and many other cc organizations.
"I think CB should be banned!"
I received the following note by email from APCT'er Lyle Cherner of Arizona. Note that through the years correspondence chess has evolved into something very different from OTB (over-the-board) chess. In OTB it is strictly forbidden to check reference books or databases. You must play strictly "on your own" during the games, though you may use any means to prepare for competition, from getting the advice of trainers and other strong players to using computer analysis and libraries of reference books to fine-tune your openings. I believe the use of reference books has been a subject of debate in past years. Currently I'm not aware of any organization that bans the use of computer databases, books or magazines during competition in cc events (if you know of any such organization, please let me know). Lyle makes reference to using a ChessBase database during competition below. APCT Director Helen Warren has specifically stated that using computers to look up material, such as in a database, is the same as looking up moves in opening books, and it is allowed in APCT play. Now to Lyle Cherner's message.
The Postal Player's Wonderful World. Is it???
Recently a message was posted on the Internet web site The Correspondence Chess Message Board (TCCMB) under the above title.
Per Söderberg of Sweden said, among other things, "As a postal player I always have time before I write the card and it's posted. Time for more thinking. When playing by email I have sent off moves before they were processed properly and lost games due to this." He added some other advantages of playing by post, such as exchanging Christmas cards, magazines and other items. This caused me to think about my own feelings about leaving postal chess behind. Following is an edited version of my response.
I think in the near future email chess tournaments may very well become a thing of the past. But, somehow, I think some people will continue playing chess by post card. With all its disadvantages of slow transmission time, expense and time-consuming requirements for preparing the physical cards, I think some people will retain their love of postal chess and will continue to play a few games using the lowly post card.
A Golden Age for Chess Coverage?
Recently I've been enjoying chess more than ever before, at least as a spectator. My opportunities to attend great chess events has been quite limited in the past. I observed two rounds of the famous Hastings chess tournament in England in 1972. I've played in a few simuls over the years against players like Samuel Reshevsky and Tigran Petrosian. I played in one U. S. Open in Boston in the 1980's. I was the match photographer for the Lev Alburt - Nigel Short match in 1985. These events were exciting for me, but they were also limited in number.
Now, with the advent of the Internet, we can experience a wide range of chess experiences. We can listen to chess authorities on Internet radio and watch games as they are played all over the world. Here is my recent schedule for Internet chess enjoyment.
I followed the games at the annual Corus super-GM tournament played at Wijk aan Zee in The Netherlands. Each day I followed the games of players like Viswanathan Anand, Judit Polgar, Vladimir Kramnik, Evgeny Bareev, Ruslan Ponomariov, Alexey Shirov, Vassily Ivanchuk, Anatoly Karpov, Loek van Wely, Michael Krasenkow, Teymour Radjabov and Jan Timman. Sometimes I watched on the official web site, other times on the Internet Chess Club (ICC). On ICC I was able to open six or more windows, each with its own game. With the new sensory chess boards the moves can be communicated directly to the computers and then onto the Internet with very little delay. Meanwhile, I was tuned into Chess.FM, which had expert commentary I could listen to as the games were played. Host Tony Rook has various expert commentators to explain the moves. This coverage was in the early morning, as the Europeans are about five hours ahead of the USA Eastern time zone. After a while coverage of the USA Championship began in the afternoons. I got to see the outstanding veteran chess players along with the talented younger players battling it out for the USA title. What a thrill to watch the final tense game that finally led to GM Alexander Shabalov defeating young IM Varuzhan Akobian for the title. What a game!
There was a 3-way tie for the Women's title, so the next day I watched a playoff match of 15-minute chess. Those pieces were really flying around the board! Perhaps the Internet coverage for speed chess events still lacks something, as delays in transmission led to whole collections of moves being made instantaneously instead of one at a time. Still, it was quite exciting. Congratulations to WIM Anna Hahn for winning the playoff and the USA Women's Championship title.
Talking about 3-D views of the chessboard, the Kasparov vs. Deep Junior match is being sponsored by the 3-D graphics company X3D Technologies. They manufacture equipment allowing a true 3-D image to be broadcast on the Internet. Using two cameras for the binocular capture of the image and special glasses, which allow your two eyes to see separate views of your monitor, they can create a 3-D image that floats in front of and behind your computer monitor. The match is being broadcast at the official web site in 3-D as well as in the regular fashion. I'm very tempted to rush out before game 3 to get a pair of these glasses and the required software so I can watch the remaining games in 3-D. What a world we live in!
So, we may lament the intrusion of computer engines into our world of correspondence chess, but when you look at the whole picture you have to admit that computers have led to a golden age for chess spectators. More top players are getting web sites of their own, more chess events are being broadcast on the Internet, chess news and analysis is being published as it happens, and the whole chess world, along with the rest of the world, is fast shrinking. I correspond daily with my opponents in Romania, Greece, France, Germany, England, Hungary, etc. and following tournaments as they occur in every corner of the world. I'm looking forward to the Linares super tournament in Spain. In another area ChessBase has just updated their 2.5 million game database to 2.7 million games, and it's all searchable via the Internet.
Now the major problem is finding time to follow all this great chess coverage on the Internet. My wife, who shares the same computer room with me, has become very familiar with people like John Fedorowicz, Dr. Danny Kopec, and a host of Grandmasters whose games are being covered. I even won a trivia contest on Chess.FM and should be receiving a fleece pullover any day now.
Question: What world champion held the championship for a single day.
Answer: Dr. Max Euwe, who was named by FIDE as world champion after the death of Alexander Alekhine. One day after the FIDE assembly made this decision the Soviet delegation arrived and insisted on a new vote. As a result, Euwe was removed as the officially recognized champion, so he held the title officially for that one day.
"The Miracle Man"
Last time I reported on the return to competition of Peruvian GM Julio Granda Zuniga. A recent interview by Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam titled "The Miracle Man" was published in New in Chess 2002 Nr. 8 and shed more light on the situation. He talked to Zuniga at the Bled Chess Olympiad, where Zuniga has a fantastic result of 10 points out of 13. It turns out the Zuniga originally quit chess to work on his farm, which seemed a better thing to him to which to devote his time. He ran for a local political office but then dropped out of the race. He said, "But I resigned as a candidate because I had felt that God existed and realized that it was better for me to be a farmer than a politician or a chess player."
His return to chess was for a very plebian purpose, namely to pay the bills. He said, "… I don't like to be in debt. At that moment the Peruvian federation called me and asked if I wanted to play in the national championship and told me the conditions. That was a difficult decision, but I understood that if I played I could pay my debts. So, I accepted." The rest is history. He won the championship and went on to very successfully represent his country in the Olympiad.
Kasparov Web Site Is Kaput
Kasparov Chess was recently shut down. Rumors are that it lost millions of dollars. A bank in Israel who had loaned them money filed suit against the site's directors trying to force them to re-open the site to protect their investment. In fact, Kasparov had been scheduled to play a couple exhibition games against Deep Junior in Israel to promote his match with Deep Junior in New York City, but he cancelled out of fear that he would be arrested in Israel because of the bank's legal action. Reliable reports on what is going on with the site are not available, but it seems clear that this excellent web site is now a thing of the past.
copyright © 2003 by J. Franklin Campbell
|Home||Column Menu||Previous Column||Next Column|