Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Chess Endgame Brief: Can white maintain the advantage?

I was black in this position, and it was white to move after I pushed the pawn to F5. My opponent made a mistake in this position with the bishop, and lost the game. How could white have maintained the advantage in this position?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Chess Resources at www.jrobichess.com

Added a new section on the main page for free chess resources, mostly of programs and things that I have found useful in my personal study so far. Here's a list:

Aquarium w/Rybka Demo Engines/Interface
Solid program I use for a variety of things, including engine analysis, multi-engine competition, annotations and diagrams, and quick database and tree checks. This is the demo of the program with limited functionality, but it showcases it very well.

Babaschess 4.0 (Graphical Interface for http://www.freechess.org )
This is the graphical interface I use to connect to the Free Internet Chess server. It acts as a player obviously, has some engine analysis capabilities, and saves the game PGN files when you're done. This is in addition to all the play options of the FICS.

ChessDB – Chess Database SoftwareReliable and free chess database software. Currently I use it with a database of around 5 million games. One of the things I like about ChessDB is it has download from TWIC (This Week in Chess) and other locations built into the menu structures. It's a good program to find out what database programs are all about before spending some money on a retail package.

ChessPad – PGN Editor/Viewer
This is a no bells and whistles PGN writer/viewer. I use it to create annotated PGN's when I need them to work in a variety of PGN viewers. Some software lets your write PGN's but places it's own symbols into the PGN, making it useless for other viewers - especially when it comes to annotations and symbols. This one does it in a very basic but universal way.

Chess Score Sheet – "jrobi style"
A chess score sheet for OTB play with a reflections section for thoughts after the game.

Fritz 5.32 Chess Engine/Interface
This is one of the best free engine interfaces out there. The engine itself isn't strong anymore compared to the new generations, but it's free and works great for a variety of quick tasks. If you have Aquarium or something similar already like I do, you won't need this at all, but for people with nothing it's a good free one to get.

WEBMASTER ITEMS
Chess Theatre - PGN viewer that creates online versions of PGN's for people to see at your page.
Chess Viewer Deluxe - The best online viewer out there in my opinion.
Little Chess Partner - Add the option to play chess on your website via java.
Shredder Daily Chess Puzzle - Puzzle code to the left.

The links to all of these are on the main site at http://www.jrobichess.com. If you think something else should be listed, post a comment here and I will check it out.

Tweaked the Annotated Opening Section at www.jrobichess.com


I thought it would also be handy having GM games in the opening positions to browse through while looking at the annotated PGN file and practicing against the computer. Now there are some links underneath the viewer that open up a second window showcasing GM play in those positions. All the games are between 2700 or higher rated GM's.

I have highlighted the new section on this picture from http://www.jrobichess.com above.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Annotated Chess Opening Feature on jrobichess.com

I have finished the first example of the new annotated chess opening PGN feature of the main site www.jrobichess.com. One of my big goals with 2009 is to get a lot of these online with my annotations from personal research. The first one I have uploaded is the English Attack in the Sicilian Najdorf variation. Here's a snapshot of the main page where it can be opened:














It's going to be a lot of work, but I think it will be a fun process overall. Along with the Chess Viewer Deluxe which shows my annotations along with different move orders in certain positions, I have also placed a computer in the starting positions for practice from both black and white.

I am excited about the process in general, as I will have to revisit a number of openings to annotate the PGN file. Even with my previous videos on openings I have the move orders, but didn't annotate the PGN's. This project should reinforce things a lot for me, and be a useful resource to check on occasion for overall practice. The plan is to create annotated PGN's for for the videos I have already done and then go from there.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Anand States "Fischer would not be able to compete with the present generation."


Showing that chess skill does not always translate into thinking before speaking, Anand, the current World Chess Champion, had the following to say regarding Bobby Fischer, one of the greatest chess players of all time:

"The learning curve becomes good if one gets associated with computers at an early stage and it is impossible to become skilled in chess without a computer. It was possible then, but not now. Players like Bobby Fischer would not be able to compete with the present generation,"Source

There are a number of issues with this statement. First, it's only weeks away from the first anniversary of Fisher's passing. Secondly, even though Fischer lacked computer assistance in his prime, many of his thoughts on chess were extremely accurate and indicative of a genius of the game. Many of Fischer's deep line analysis is even supported by the best chess computers of today. Were all of Fischer's perspectives on lines and positions accurate when held under the light of computer analysis? Definitely not, but many were. This is very impressive considering the power of today's modern chess engines and how deep they can assess a position.

The thing about Bobby Fischer was that he accomplished what he did without the help of computers or huge support teams during tournament play. For instance, during Kasaprov's prime he had entire teams to support him at tournaments. Grandmasters today at the highest levels of chess are no different, with even the recent 2008 World Chess Championship match showcasing impressive supporting teams for both Anand and Kramnik. This is in addition to computer assistance for training and preparation. And lets be honest, the quality of games in this year's World Championship match left a lot to be desired, especially on the side of Kramnik. It would be very reasonable to say that Fischer, looking back on his tournament play in his prime, would have most likely been a far more challenging opponent for Anand than what Kramnik brought to the table this year.

When I think of the role of computers in chess nowadays, there can be no argument that it is definitely a huge help for modern players. In fact, it has more than revolutionized the competitive game. But it would be hard to argue against the logic that if Fischer, in his prime, had the same capabilities and resources, his game would have been even better than it was. His dedication to chess study was revolutionary in his own time. Consequently, it makes little sense to compare Fischer's achievements in the pre-computer world to those of today.

It's also best to remember that while computers have greatly helped chess, at the end of the day it's still a game of 2 people squaring off against each other. Solid and brilliant play is still rewarded, and mistakes can and always will happen in all levels of chess.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Lucky Christmas Blitz

Here is a 5 minute blitz game I played after things calmed down and everyone took a breather after a fantastic Christmas morning! With coffee spiced with Baileys in hand, I got very lucky in a sacrifice line that threw off my opponent and caused him/her to make some mistakes. However, my sacrifice line was not sound!




I have annotated the game up until move 12. See if you can pick apart my attack and what my opponent could have done to capitalize on my heroic yet harmless attacking idea:

[Event "rated blitz match"]
[Site "Free Internet Chess Server"]
[Date "2008.12.25"]
[Round "?"]
[White "jantonacci"]
[Black "jrobi"]
[Result "0-1"]
[BlackElo "1151"]
[ECO "D01"]
[TimeControl "300"]
[WhiteElo "1088"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nc3 d5 3. Nf3 e6 4. e3 Bb4 (4... Bd6 5. Bd3 O-O {Better
alternative to Bb4}) 5. a3 Ba5 (5... Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 {Better alternative to
retreating the bishop. Brings the positional strength closer to equality.}) 6.
b4 Bb6 7. Na4 Nbd7 8. Nd2 (8. c4 c6 9. Nxb6 axb6 10. Bd3 {Better move for
white. Yields a strong position of +0.31.}) 8... O-O 9. c4 c6 10. cxd5 cxd5
(10... exd5 11. Nxb6 axb6 {Better line for black as it liberates the light
square bishop.}) 11. Nxb6 Nxb6 12. Bb2 Nbd7 {Blunder for black as it leads to a
half pawn advantage for white.} (12... Bd7 13. a4 Rc8 {Better for black as it
maintains equality.}) 13. Bd3 a6 14. O-O b5 15. h4 Ne4 16. g3 Ndf6 17. h5 Re8
18. h6 g6 19. Kg2 e5 20. f3 Nxd2 21. Qxd2 exd4 22. Bxd4 Nh5 23. g4 Qg5 24. Rh1
Bxg4 25. fxg4 Qxg4+ 26. Kf2 Qg3+ 27. Ke2 Nf4+ 28. Kd1 Qf3+ 29. Kc2 Nxd3 30.
Qxd3 Rac8+ 31. Kd2 Qf2+ 32. Qe2 Rc2+ 33. Kxc2 Qxe2+ 34. Kc3 Rc8+ 35. Kb3 Qc4+
36. Kb2 Qc2# {jantonacci checkmated} 0-1

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! I hope the holiday season is treating you all as best as possible! I have made some decisions on things that I will be working on moving forward into 2009, so stay tuned for some info on that.

For starters, though, you can expect more frequent blog postings. The general plan is to increase the amount of posts in certain areas, such as tactics and a larger emphasis on positional practice discussions. There will also be some substantial changes to the main page at http://www.jrobichess.com (with a test change live right now). More details to come on that closer to the New Year. Thanks for your continued support and help with all things chess, and once again MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

CONFIRMED: Susan Polgar's Chess Discussion Forums Hacked!


Susan Polgar confirmed that her Chess Discussion Forums were hacked in the previous post on this blog. The identities of the hackers are unknown at this point, but hopefully they will be identified and face the consequences for their actions. Public discussion about the unfortunate incident is quite lively at Susan's blog - you can read more here.

Mrs. Polgar has done a great deal for the chess world, especially when it comes to getting more youth involved in the game. She also has the following list of outstanding personal achievements in the world of chess:

♦ Winner of 4 Women’s World Championships (Under 16, Blitz, Rapid, and Classical)
♦ The only World Champion in history to win the triple-crown (Blitz, Rapid and Classical World Championships)
♦ 5-time Olympic Champion with 10 overall medals (5 Gold, 4 Silver, 1 Bronze)
♦ Currently holds the record for most consecutive Olympiad game scoring streaks without a loss ( 56 )
♦ 2006 Women’s Chess Cup Champion
♦ 4 world records for simultaneous chess exhibitions.
♦ Won the Budapest Championship for Girls under 11 at age of 4 with the perfect score of 10-0!
♦ #1 ranked woman chess player in the world at the age of 15 (remain in the top 3 in the world for 23 straight years)
♦ Currently ranked #1 in the United States
♦ 3-time US Open Blitz Champion (2003, 2005, 2006)
♦ Award-winning and best-selling chess author in numerous languages
♦ Winner of the prestigious Cramer Award for "Best Chess Column of the Year" (2003)
♦ 3-time winner of the Chess Journalists of America Award for Best Magazine Column and Best Endgame Analysis
♦ First ever recipient of the “Chess Educator of the Year” award (2003)
♦ First ever recipient of the “US Scholastic Chess Ambassador” award (2006)
♦ Founder of the Susan Polgar Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization to promote chess, with all its educational, social and competitive benefits throughout the U.S., for young people of all ages, especially girls
♦ Sponsor and organizer of the prestigious annual SPICE Cup, Susan Polgar National Invitational for Girls Championship, Susan Polgar World Open and National Open for Girls and Boys

Susan Polgar has also accomplished a number of historical firsts:

♦ Broke the gender barrier to qualify for the Men’s World Championship Cycle (1986)
♦ Earned the Men’s Grandmaster title (1991) through traditional FIDE requirements
♦ Won the U.S. Open Blitz Championship (2003)
♦ Receive the Grandmaster of the Year Award (2003)

It is extremely unfortunate that this happened to someone who works so hard for chess, especially this close to the Christmas season. Hopefully those responsible will be identified and face consequences for their actions.

Both Susan and her contributors worked hard at making the Chess Discussion forums very useful, from frequent chess world news to great advances in forum interactivity related to chess (sharing games, playing games, etc). Hopefully the downtime will be minimal and the forums will be back up in short order.

Susan Polgar's Chess Discussion Forums Allegedly Hacked


Susan Polgar, famous Chess Grandmaster, started a Chess Discussion forum a number of months ago. As of this post, the forums are unavailable, and discussion on Susan's blog in the Saturday Open forum section has allegations of computer hackers being the reason.

While unconfirmed at this point, the site http://chessdiscussion.com/ is definitely down. Hopefully there will be an official word on the forums and what happened soon.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Calculus

In my opinion, the single most important aspect of tactics is to know when to look for a tactic and when not to. I'm talking about large-scale tactical manoeuvres here, not the simple one-move wonders. In tournament and blitz play, we simply haven't got the time or energy to evaluate every position from a tactical point of view, as it would take up too much time and energy. We need to manage our resources shrewdly, and save deep calculation for positions known to be rich in tactical possibilities. One such position is the "exposed" king hunt. I reached a typical king hunt position in my last blitz game and in the end, I succeeded, albeit clumsily, to mate the king. I didn't calculate very deeply, but assuming you reach the position below in a tournament game with ample time, how would you go about calculating the position?

I'm interested in details here. Do you simply move the pieces in your head? Do you analyse what squares your pieces already guard, which squares they guard potentially, where they can move? When and how much do you consider in between moves or moves by enemy pieces? Do you tackle them when they occur in your imaginary move-by-move sequence, or do you have a mental checklist to take them into account from the beginning? In other words, do you have regular parameters or mottoes that you use when you determine a tactical sequence?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Tactic

We don't celebrate Thanksgiving on this side of the pond, but let me take the opportunity nonetheless to thank Jrobi for all he's done for the chess-vlogging world. Can't offer you a turkey, J, but how about a tasty little chess tactic from one of my games, and one which I sadly missed at the time. The position arose from the French advance. White's down in material, and things are beginning to look really bleak now that the knight's been pinned (POSITION A). So I decide to exchange pawns; White takes back and then snatches up my d-pawn up with his bishop (POSITION B). And here I was desperately looking for the finishing blow. There are several good moves, but one's particularly devastating. Can you spot it?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remembrance Day - Lest We Forget



To all the troops, past and present, God bless and thank you for your service, sacrifice, and willingness to give that which is most sacred on earth for our freedom. May the memories live on, and may freedom continue to be the banner that we wrap around our sense of national pride.



"In Flanders Fields" is one of the most famous poems written during the First World War, and has been called "the most popular poem" produced during that period. Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae wrote it on May 3, 1915, after he witnessed the death of his friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, the day before.

Monday, November 10, 2008

jrobichess Finds First Edition "My 60 Memorable Games" by the late Bobby Fischer in a Thrift Store!

Personally I am amazed. In awe might even be a better description of how I am feeling. There will be a video today posted on YouTube about this, but before I do that I am posting this on the blog while everything is still fresh in my mind.

We went down to the local thrift store to check things out. Generally I end up just browsing in the book corner while the rest of the family browses the other sections. I walked up to the book section and began checking out the shelves. I remember talking to the big guy in the sky saying something along the lines, "Wouldn't it be awesome to come across Bobby Fischer's book?". That book being of course "My 60 Memorable Games" which was printed in 1969. It's considered a rare book now, and catches a fair price on Ebay - not like I would sell it of course.

Regardless, the chances of finding this book were practically non-existent. The town that I live in has less than 15,000 people in it, and there isn't anything for chess here other than what I do. But one can dream right? Yes one can!

So I am looking at the first couple shelves. Most of the books are of a historical nature, a lot to do with war, and of course your standard assortment of fiction books and self-help manuals. I had checked out a couple of the long rows, spine by spine, and was about to pack it in and head off when I thought I would glance to the right of me on the top shelf. The word "Memorable" caught my eyes, and I glanced at it and was completely stunned. Sure enough, at the bottom of the book's spine was the name "Bobby Fischer". Even thought I was stunned and in awe, that didn't stop me from IMMEDIATELY grabbing it!

In my hands I was holding a first printing of Fischer's chess masterpiece! I opened it up right away and noticed some check marks alongside move orders in the first 4 pages, left behind by some unknown chess enthusiast who marked them while exploring his or her passion with the game with Fischer as the guide. The book looked like it was cared for quite well, all things considered. Who knows the journey this particular book has been through on it's road from a passionate chess fan to the shelf of a thrift store, so seeing the relatively good condition was a blessing.

The book itself has undergone many revisions. It must be stated, however, that Fischer himself objected to the revised versions - believing the first edition to be the only real version. The timeless classic is slated to be re-released in algebraic notation - supposedly this time with no changes to Fischer's personal analysis and commentary. I will be picking up the new version, but now I will be able to check to make sure no changes were made to the thoughts and chess ideas of arguably the best chess player in recorded history with this first printing in hand.

For those wondering, I paid $1.00 for the book. Now on to make the YouTube video about this.

EDIT: Here's the video.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Funny Kasparov vs. Short Video

Enjoy and remember to think of the troops (present and past) on the 11th month, 11th day, and 11th hour - Remembrance Day 2008!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

New Chess Video: Legends of Chess #1: Boris Gulko



This video series focuses on legendary players (both past and present) from the world of chess. The first video in this series talks about Grandmaster Boris Gulko, one of the very few people in the world that holds a positive score against one of the greatest chess champions of all time, Gary Kasparov.

Aside from chess, Boris Gulko has led an extremely interesting life! He won the USSR Chess Championships in 1977. Sadly, as an avid anti-communist living in the USSR, his chess career was put on hold when both Boris and his wife were banned from competitive play due to their political beliefs. During this time he was also arrested and beaten by KGB agents for his political views.

Finally, in 1986, he was allowed to leave Russia and moved to the United States of America. Amazingly, he then went on to win the United States Chess Championship, so along with all of his other trials and successes, he is the only person in history to ever win both the USSR and USA chess championships.

A political activist, a brilliant chess player, and an overall amazing human being, this video takes a look at Grandmaster Boris Gulko, one of the living legends of the Chess world.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Dealing with Poisoned Pawns in Real Life Situations

Adisa Banjoko (CEO of the Hip-Hop Chess Federation) has been making some bang on videos lately talking about chess and how it relates to life. Here's the most recent one:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

Kramnik Loses again to Anand

The World Chess Championship between Anand and Kramnik took another turn in Anand's favor with another win over the board between two of the world's greatest chess players. The score now after 5 games is Anand 3.5 - 1.5 Kramnik. Interestingly enough, in the latest game Kramnik made some very quick moves in quite complex positions. This is a let down from this chess fan - it's hard to say someone is giving their best effort when they make very quick moves in complicated positions, especially at the top levels of play. If Kramnik would have won, I guess such a strategy would make him look quite brilliant, but when you move quick with plenty of time on your clock in a position that demands complex analysis, and end up losing the game, what can one say really. It's a let down at the very least.

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Bd3 a6 9.e4 c5 10.e5 cxd4 11.Nxb5 axb5 12.exf6 gxf6 13.O-O Qb6 14.Qe2 Bb7 15.Bxb5 Rg8 16.Bf4 Bd6 17.Bg3 f5 18.Rfc1 f4 19.Bh4 Be7 20.a4 Bxh4 21.Nxh4 Ke7 22.Ra3 Rac8 23.Rxc8 Rxc8 24.Ra1 Qc5 25.Qg4 Qe5 26.Nf3 Qf6 27.Re1 Rc5 28.b4 Rc3 29.Nxd4 Qxd4 30.Rd1 Nf6 31.Rxd4 Nxg4 32.Rd7+ Kf6 33.Rxb7 Rc1+ 34.Bf1 Ne3 35.fxe3 fxe3 0-1




Official World Chess Championship Site

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Chess Software: Rybka 3 Aquarium Overview

Awhile ago now I downloaded the demo for the Aquarium Graphical Interface for the new Rybka 3 Chess Engine, and was instantly impressed by the layout and speed of the application when it comes to a variety of chess-related tasks. I have posted an overview to the software on YouTube, which you can see here:



Unfortunately due to the time limit restrictions on YouTube videos I couldn't spend a lot of time on some of the more powerful features of the interface. For instance, the Interactive Deep Analysis tool is very impressive. A full guide to this tool can be found here and there is a great deal of more information on the official Rybka forums.

If you're thinking of trying a new chess software package that includes the world's strongest chess engine, I definitely recommend you download the demo to Aquarium and play around with it. While the demo has some features restricted, it will give you a good feel for how the program operates, and what kinds of things that it can do to help with your chess pursuits.

ChessOK.com - Convekta
www.rybkachess.com
Official Rybka & Aquarium Forums
Download Aquarium Demo
Purchase Rybka 3 Aquarium
Purchase Deep Rybka 3 Aquarium

World Chess Championship - Game 2 Drawn

Anand,V (2783) - Kramnik,V (2772) [E25]
WCh Bonn GER (2), 15.10.2008
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.f3 d5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 c5 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.dxc5 f5 9.Qc2 Nd7 10.e4 fxe4 11.fxe4 N5f6 12.c6 bxc6 13.Nf3 Qa5 14.Bd2 Ba6 15.c4 Qc5 16.Bd3 Ng4 17.Bb4 Qe3+ 18.Qe2 0-0-0 19.Qxe3 Nxe3 20.Kf2 Ng4+ 21.Kg3 Ndf6 22.Bb1 h5 23.h3 h4+ 24.Nxh4 Ne5 25.Nf3 Nh5+ 26.Kf2 Nxf3 27.Kxf3 e5 28.Rc1 Nf4 29.Ra2 Nd3 30.Rc3 Nf4 31.Bc2 Ne6 32.Kg3 Rd4 1/2 1/2


World Chess Championship 2008 - Game 1 Drawn

Here is an overview of Game 1 with comments by a member of chess discussion:

Friday, October 10, 2008

San Quentin Prison - Johnny Cash


I like pretty much all types of music. From old country, to heavy metal, to some rap, fusion, dance - pretty much anything and everything. If it is good music (and by good I mean touches the soul and makes you move!) then I am a fan. I don't really care if somethings mainstream or not, if it sounds good - then it is good.

That being said, one of my favorite artists of all time is Johnny Cash. I don't even think the man fits into a musical category to be honest. I know he was branded country, but he's a little country, rock, soul, etc. He probably would fit in many categories actually. He has written some of the most powerful story songs of all time, and even covered songs from bands like Nine Inch Nails.

There was a side to the "Man in Black", however, that is absolutely amazing to this day - a side of him that will live on for generations to come. He really wanted to help the lowest of the low in society, and tried to do many good things for them over the course of his career. One of these pursuits was his numerous live concerts within many American prisons, such as San Quentin, and Folsom State to name a few.

For those who don't know, San Quentin prison is the oldest prison in California. It's prison population has held (and currently holds) some of the worst criminals in American history. An entire gambit of prisoners call San Quentin their home, and since it first opened in 1852, many have been reformed and re-entered society successfully, while many others stayed in those concrete walls for a lifetime due to the horrific crimes they committed.

So what was Johnny Cash thinking when he did concerts right inside the prison? The answer is complex and simple at the same time, but the key words are compassion and faith. Johnny Cash was a Christian and actually did the rare thing of walking the walk while talking the talk - something rarely seen. He wanted to go to the "lowest of the low" in society and give what he could, which was his music - his artistry.

To some people who live free, this might not sound like a big deal, but to those within the walls of San Quentin and the various other prisons Cash visited, it was probably one of the best experiences in their prison time.

You will notice from the videos I am linking here that there was no barrier in between Johnny Cash and the prisoners, and he even shakes some of their hands heading to his small stage. So, to help keep the story going of this powerful piece of artistic history, here are some clips of the "Man in Black" from within the walls of San Quentin prison:







Some other noteworthy YouTube Cash vids:

Stars Pay Tribute to Johnny


Hurt (Originally from Nine Inch Nails)


Johnny Cash died less than four months after his wife June Carter Cash, on September 12, 2003, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Links of Interest
Johnny Cash
June Carter Cash
San Quentin Prison
Folsom State Prison
Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison
Johnny Cash at San Quentin

One Inch Punch Documentary

If you have ever heard the legend of Bruce Lee's 1" punch - definitely check out this video. It's amazing how he conditioned his mind and his body to produce the amount of power in such a short distance - capable of knocking a large man straight backwards as you see in the video. According to witnesses at another event, Bruce apperantly did this in a ring against someone and sent his opponent flying across the ring.



While it's not chess related, it definitely shows the benefits of a comprehensive training and conditioning regiment. Taking that kind of focus and determination to any passion can only lead to extraordinary results. Plus, it's not about the collapsing global markets which is getting rather depressing to keep hearing about! Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Global Markets Going Haywire

Points of interest:

-In New York, the Dow Jones lost 679 points or 7.3 per cent, while the Nasdaq shed 95 points or 5.5 per cent.
-The TSX composite index closed down 456 points at 9,600, a 4.5 per cent decline
-Japan Exchange fell 7 percent in early trading
-Indonesia trading canceled after the benchmark JSX index sank 10.4 percent. Authorities order market closed following a late night Cabinet meeting.
-Iceland's government has taken control of the country's largest bank as it struggles to prevent a collapse in its entire banking system. Leaders say country is on the verge of bankruptcy.
-Australian Exchange and South Korea's Index dropped a further 5 percent
-Sweden's OSMX All Share down 6.37 percent
-Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 2.8 percent Thursday afternoon
-Iceland negotiates with Russia to secure a $5.45-billion loan.
-Russia's stock markets rebound. Leading stocks on the MICEX exchange gain 16 percent

Regular blog readers might notice something interesting here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

SCHEDULE OF 2008 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH


Schedule for the World Chess Championship 2008:

Game 1 Tuesday October 14 3 p.m.
Game 2 Wednesday October 15 3 p.m.
Game 3 Friday October 17 3 p.m.
Game 4 Saturday October 18 3 p.m.
Game 5 Monday October 20 3 p.m.
Game 6 Tuesday October 21 3 p.m.
Game 7 Thursday October 23 3 p.m.
Game 8 Friday October 24 3 p.m.
Game 9 Sunday October 26 3 p.m.
Game 10 Monday October 27 3 p.m.
Game 11 Wednesday October 29 3 p.m.
Game 12 Friday October 31 3 p.m.

Tiebreak Sunday November 02 3 p.m.

Monday, October 6, 2008

HHCF's 2nd Annual Chess Kings Invitational Re-Scheduled to February 2009

The big HHCF event was pushed ahead to February 2009. The following information was posted on their site:
WE ARE PROUD TO ANNOUNCE THAT THE CHESS KINGS TOURNAMENT
HAS BEEN MOVED FORWARD TO FEBRUARY 2009
THIS WILL ALLOW THE TEAM TO ANNOUNCE BIGGER PRIZES AND EVENTS
REGISTRATION WILL OPEN IN JANUARY 2009

And for some history of the event in the past:
Welcome to the HHCF Annual Chess Kings Invitational & Scholarship Exhibition. Last year over 500 guests from around the globe participated in a variety of events including the HHCF scholastic tournament, scholarship tournament & celebrity life strategies panel.

This years event will offer even more prizes, celebrity guest and other special surprise. Due to high demand the HHCF has expanded its scholastic and adult tournament, for more information on scholastic chess please visit us here.

This year guest will enjoy a variety of special events such as watching chess players battle it out on the boards while blind-folding, grappling exhibition featuring award winning MMA/UFC fighters, panels on Fitness of Body & Mind and Art and Education, RZA of film American Gangster & WuTang Clan defend his belt title in the celebrity tournament and many more events throughout the day.


For more information please visit http://hiphopchessfederation.org

Sunday, October 5, 2008

It's getting close to the Hip-Hop Chess Federation's 2nd Annual Chess Kings Invitational!

A number of days ago I blogged about the upcoming Hip-Hop Chess Federation's 2nd Annual Chess Kings Invitational on October 11th, but the event is now only 6 days away! Once again, here is the press release from the HHCF and also a recent video Adisa Banjoko (CEO of the Hip-Hop Chess Federation) posted to YouTube showcasing a collage of past HHCF events with a powerful song by Sabac Red.



UFC Fighters to Play Wu-Tang Clan at HHCF 2nd Annual Chess Kings Invitational
Chess Masters, Rappers and MMA Fighters Come Together for Charity Chess & Grappling
Sept. 15, 2008 - San Francisco, CA


The Hip-Hop Chess Federation is proud to announce the 2nd Annual Chess Kings Invitational. The Hip-Hop Chess Federation fuses music, chess and martial arts to promote unity, strategy and non-violence. The Chess Kings Invitational is a charity chess tournament where celebrities and youth interact through a variety of avenues. Due to the popularity of the event, the HHCF will host the 2nd Annual Chess Kings Invitational at the San Francisco Cow Palace. Everyone is invited to join the team on Saturday October 11, 2008 starting with a scholastic tournament.

UFC Fighters Rich Franklin and Jeff Monson, RZA & GZA from the Wu-Tang Clan, Rakaa from Dilated Peoples and pioneer female MC Roxanne Shante are just some of the stars participating in the celebrity tournament. Best selling author of The Art of Learning and chess master Josh Waitzkin, Rich Franklin, RZA and Ralek Gracie will participate on a panel called “Fitness of Body & Mind “. A second panel “Art and Education” will feature Roxanne Shante, Josh Waitzkin, author of children’s book Chess Rumble Greg Neri and Def Poetry Jam’s Amir Sulaiman.

There will be a standard scholastic chess competition for youth and adults. Additionally, four schools selected by the HHCF will play in the HHCF Scholarship Invitational for scholarship money. A Brazilian jiu jitsu exhibition by MMA fighter Ralek Gracie and Rakaa will also take place. There will be open free chess gaming all day and those who do not know how to play can learn the basics from HHCF chess mentors.

“We are enthusiastic and grateful to all the celebrities, kids and educators coming together for the Chess Kings Invitational” said CEO Adisa Banjoko. “This Invitational is going to be an incredible event. These are tough times for many of America’s youth. Nevertheless the HHCF remains unflinching in our goal to share the countless educational and artistic life options for them in this world. People are flying in from all over the country to participate. We’re are grateful for all the rappers, chess masters and martial artists who have donated their time to teaching kids healthy alternatives to violence on the streets.”

UFC’s Rich Franlkin stated ” I’m excited to a part of the Hip-Hop Chess Federation event. Anything that can help young people better their lives is worth it for me.”

Fellow UFC vet Jeff Monson is eager to attend after missing last years event due to a car accident. “I look forward to coming out to the Chess Kings Invitational and teach the kids about staying focused and having fun” said Monson. “I want them to know that it is equally important to train your brain and body to get the most out of life.”

To sign up for the tournament visit: http://www.hiphopchessfederation.org/kings2008

Partners for the 2nd Annual Chess Kings Invitational include Scion and Bay Area Chess. Other sponsors include JW Foundation, www.thechesspiece.com, www.onthemat.com, www.friendster.com and Cal Chess.org. To be a sponsor for this event or for more information on how to participate visit http://www.hiphopchessfederation.org/kings2008

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

GM Lets Clock Tick Down Against Opponent

Whether he was waiting for the noise to settle down, or just playing mind games with his opponent to throw him off, GM Shabalov has a deep think on move one.



There are many interesting stories of people letting their clocks tick down to throw off their opponents. Bobby Fischer was known to do this on occassion - coupled with his solid stare it would definitely be unnerving for the opponent. This is the first time I have seen such a thing on video, however.

Senate Passes Bailout

The United States senate passed a modified version of the $700 billion bailout package with modifications that are expected to solidify support in the house for an upcoming vote. The modifications include:

*Temporarily raising the FDIC insurance cap to $250,000 from $100,000.
*Extends a number of renewable energy tax breaks for individuals and businesses, with incentives for purchasing solar panels.
*Research and development credit for businesses
*Credit that allows individuals to deduct state and local sales taxes on federal returns.
*Relief for another year from the Alternative Minimum Tax.

The house voted down the first bill by a narrow margin. The stock markets had their largest point drop in history, but they rebounded in the following days. It's a tough call if the bailout will change much - some are very adamant for it and others are just as adamant against it.

It should be an interesting vote nonetheless, and no matter which way it goes we will see the results soon in the market. The question will be what kind of results those will be.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Markets Rebound

North American markets had a strong rebound today. I was interested by a couple of points that I came across in the news:

1. Some news agencies claim the rebound is because the American Fed made mention of continuing to pursue the bailout package by Thursday this week. I am not sold that this has any big reason behind the resurgance in the market. Instead I think a lot of overseas investors took great advantage of many bargain buys after the largest point drop in history, and that helped to kickstart things once again. Also, I am not sure the $700 billion tax payer bailout is what the market needs anyway. To me it just tells bankers and lenders that they can make huge mistakes, because the tax payers will be there to bail them out. I am not sure how effective that message is.

2. I also found it very interesting that China's exchange gained while other economies around the globe lost over the past 48 hours. While China's stock market intially dropped when the trouble began, it quickly rebounded and even ended higher by just over 2%. If the western economies slide into further problems, keep your eyes out for the new economic global super alliance spearheaded by China - Iran, India, and quite possibly even Russia if they play their cards right. Very interesting times indeed. I welcome any opinions on this point - it's pretty much brainstorming at the moment.

Nonetheless, it was good to see the markets rebound. Pretty much all analysts are at a loss to predict what's going to happen in the short-term. They are quick to point out that we are in brand new economic times with no historical backdrop to reference.

Global Stock Markets Rebound Overnight

While many global markets experienced a downward trend in their exchanges, most eventually rebounded. Interestingly enough, Hong Kong shares closed 0.8 percent higher, although they had dropped as low as 6% at some points.

Tokyo ended down 4.1 percent, Sydney dropped 4.3 percent, and Taipei lost 3.55 percent. Many media outlets are posting optomistic articles titled "Stocks Set to Rebound" for Tuesday trading. Hopefully that will be the case moving forward.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Black Monday: Dow/TSX Shed Worst Point Drop in History


The Dow dropped nearly 778 points - the worst single-day point loss in history. The massive drop came along with news that the US government rejected a $700 billion bank bailout plan.

Canadian markets experienced dramatic falls too, with its TSX falling by a record 840.93 points. The price of oil fell to $95 US a barrel. In Canada alone an estimated 100 billion dollars was lost today.

European markets suffered losses as well amid concerns that the credit crisis was seeping into their financial systems, with total losses ranging from 3%-5%.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Draw Issue in Chess Rears its Head Again: No Armageddon Playoff or Modern Point System Results in 4 Spice Cup 2008 Champions

At the 2008 Spice Cup Grandmasters Onischuk, Pentala, Kritz, and Akobian all tied for 1st place with 5.5 points each. By order of tie-breaks the co-champions were listed in the following order:

Pentala, Harikrishna g IND 2668 5½
Onischuk, Alexander g USA 2670 5½
Kritz, Leonid g GER 2610 5½
Akobian, Varuzhan g USA 2610 5½

On www.monroi.com the header reads "GM Harikrishna Pentala of India won the 2008 SPICE Cup!" yet all things considered, each of the 4 are considered co-champions and are listed as so on many notable blogs.

Out of 45 total games, 27 were draws over 9 rounds - which is a staggering 60% of all games played. Results like this really emphasize the point that draws in tournament play need to be managed better, either through Armageddon blitz or a point system like the one used at the recent Bilbao 2008 chess tournament where players were awarded 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, and 0 points for a loss.

While there was just over 50% of draws at Bilbao in terms of total games, there was definitely a clear winner as the players who could win were rewarded for doing so. Players who drew many games were punished in the total points pool, which is how it should be. Even having a controversial Armageddon blitz is much better in my opinion than having 4 people all sharing first place. A 9 day tournament needs a clear champion!

I don't mean any disrespect to the GM's involved - obviously they were only playing under the rules of the tournament, and for the 4 who tied for first that's a good job on their end - but the tournament organizers themselves need to seriously re-think the rules they have people compete under next time around if they want to maintain public interest in the tournament.

LA I.C.E. Illegal Canadian Enforcement "Episode 1"



Too many golden moments in this clip to write down - enjoy!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

World Chess Championship: Anand and Kramnik will battle for the highest chess title soon



When: From October 14 – November 02, 2008
Where: Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany in Bonn
Overall Prize fund: 1,5 Million Euro
Patron: German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück
Main sponsors: Evonik Industries and Gazprom

To date Viswanathan Anand holds an estimated score of 19 to 15 against Vladimir Kramnik, with 93 draws. With Anand's questionable performance at the recent Bilbao 2008 tournament (an event that boasted the highest ELO average rating in the history of chess) it should be interesting to see if he can hold back the charge of Kramnik who has no doubt been preparing for this match for quite some time.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Chess Federation of Canada Cancels Chess Magazine



I was surprised to find out that the Chess Federation of Canada's magazine has been cancelled. The Federations's current plans are to replace it with an online version. Now don't get me wrong, I enjoy a lot of online chess sites, but at the end of the day nothing can replace a good old chess magazine with a variety of articles in it that you can tote around the house with you to a variety of "destinations".

Personally I began to question the CFC's whole magazine program earlier in the year anyway when I only received 2 issues over the course of 11 months. That alone was signs of impending trouble. I did not, however, assume this meant the complete demise of the entire magazine program!

It amazes me that a magazine like the British Chess Magazine (which I will be subscribing to now) has been published monthly since 1881 and only costs £33.00 (a price that already includes airmail for international customers) yet the CFC can't continue putting out 2-4 issues per year? Generally speaking, per each junior membership the CFC was getting around $14.00 towards the magazine program, and most likely $30.00 from the adult memberships. So the British Chess Magazine can fly across the ocean to my door 12 times a year for £33.00 euros but I can't get Canada's own national chess federation's magazine a couple times a year for $30.00?

What makes things even more confusing is that the federation's fees continue to include an annual subscription to "a magazine". For example, a junior fee is $27.00 and states:
$27.00 - A person can become a Junior member if they are under the age of 18. Junior members receive Chess Canada Échecs[magazine], can play in CFC rated events and receive members’ prices on books and equipment as long as their membership is valid. All junior members must provide a date of birth with their membership.

There is another option for junior membership without the magazine for $13.00:
$13.00 - A person can become a Junior Participating member if they are under the age of 18. Junior Participating members do not receive Chess Canada Échecs[magazine], but can play in CFC rated events and receive members’ prices on books and equipment as long as their membership is valid. All junior members must provide a date of birth with their membership.

This makes me wonder how many people have signed up their children for the larger junior fee - especially since you can still buy these memberships online. In fact, the post in the federation's news section stating the end of the print magazine was loaded 7/29/2008 and the prices and explanations quoted above are still online as of 9/25/2008.

Whoever has paid these fees over the last two months will probably be wondering where their magazines are 4 months down the road only to call and find out that it's an "online magazine" that isn't online yet.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Book Review: "Chess Rumble" by G. Neri with artwork by Jesse Joshua Watson


In our world today, it is common for kids to be assaulted by a variety of negative influences. From video game addictions, violent and heartless media, broken families, gangs and drugs, understanding the walk of youth these days is more difficult than ever before in our society’s history. The worst thing about this current state of affairs, however, is that the older generations quite often ignore what today’s youth go through because they don’t understand it, or they choose to ignore it hoping that it will “go away”. In many instances, this leaves our kids feeling isolated and left alone, further hurting their chances at a vibrant and meaningful life.

Enter the book “Chess Rumble” by G. Neri and Jesse Joshua Watson – a story that lets the reader walk alongside a troubled boy facing many of the curveballs that society throws at him. From a broken single-parent home, the main character experiences family violence, rage and anger, bullying, and depression. On the brink of sinking to the depths of a criminal mindset, the story’s main character goes through what so many of our youth deal with all the time. These negative forces almost pull him to the point of no return. What helps him work his way out of these massive challenges, you might be asking? Chess, mentorship, and love – and if you want to know how this all works out you will have to pick up the book and read the story!

If you’re looking for a book to get youth excited about chess, or a story that helps the older generations understand the struggle and adversity that today’s youth face, look no further – “Chess Rumble” by G. Neri and Jesse Joshua Watson is a must have story of the struggle and adversity that our youth face on a daily basis, and how chess, compassion, and mentorship can improve not only the way we think but the way we live.

-----
Chess Rumble
ISBN-10: 1584302798
ISBN-13: 978-1584302797
Buy from Amazon
Chess Rumble Official Web Site
Teen Fiction from the Mind of G. Neri
The Art of Jesse Joshua Watson

Chess Rumble Video Trailer

Thursday, September 18, 2008

UFC Fighters vs. Wu-Tang Clan at HHCF Invitational Chess Tournament Oct. 11th

UFC Fighters to Play Wu-Tang Clan at HHCF 2nd Annual Chess Kings Invitational
Chess Masters, Rappers and MMA Fighters Come Together for Charity Chess & Grappling
Sept. 15, 2008 - San Francisco, CA

The Hip-Hop Chess Federation is proud to announce the 2nd Annual Chess Kings Invitational. The Hip-Hop Chess Federation fuses music, chess and martial arts to promote unity, strategy and non-violence. The Chess Kings Invitational is a charity chess tournament where celebrities and youth interact through a variety of avenues. Due to the popularity of the event, the HHCF will host the 2nd Annual Chess Kings Invitational at the San Francisco Cow Palace. Everyone is invited to join the team on Saturday October 11, 2008 starting with a scholastic tournament.

UFC Fighters Rich Franklin and Jeff Monson, RZA & GZA from the Wu-Tang Clan, Rakaa from Dilated Peoples and pioneer female MC Roxanne Shante are just some of the stars participating in the celebrity tournament. Best selling author of The Art of Learning and chess master Josh Waitzkin, Rich Franklin, RZA and Ralek Gracie will participate on a panel called “Fitness of Body & Mind “. A second panel “Art and Education” will feature Roxanne Shante, Josh Waitzkin, author of children’s book Chess Rumble Greg Neri and Def Poetry Jam’s Amir Sulaiman.

There will be a standard scholastic chess competition for youth and adults. Additionally, four schools selected by the HHCF will play in the HHCF Scholarship Invitational for scholarship money. A Brazilian jiu jitsu exhibition by MMA fighter Ralek Gracie and Rakaa will also take place. There will be open free chess gaming all day and those who do not know how to play can learn the basics from HHCF chess mentors.

“We are enthusiastic and grateful to all the celebrities, kids and educators coming together for the Chess Kings Invitational” said CEO Adisa Banjoko. “This Invitational is going to be an incredible event. These are tough times for many of America’s youth. Nevertheless the HHCF remains unflinching in our goal to share the countless educational and artistic life options for them in this world. People are flying in from all over the country to participate. We’re are grateful for all the rappers, chess masters and martial artists who have donated their time to teaching kids healthy alternatives to violence on the streets.”

UFC’s Rich Franlkin stated ” I’m excited to a part of the Hip-Hop Chess Federation event. Anything that can help young people better their lives is worth it for me.”

Fellow UFC vet Jeff Monson is eager to attend after missing last years event due to a car accident. “I look forward to coming out to the Chess Kings Invitational and teach the kids about staying focused and having fun” said Monson. “I want them to know that it is equally important to train your brain and body to get the most out of life.”

To sign up for the tournament visit: http://www.hiphopchessfederation.org/kings2008

Partners for the 2nd Annual Chess Kings Invitational include Scion and Bay Area Chess. Other sponsors include JW Foundation, www.thechesspiece.com, www.onthemat.com, www.friendster.com and Cal Chess.org. To be a sponsor for this event or for more information on how to participate visit http://www.hiphopchessfederation.org/kings2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Bilbao 2008 Tournament PGN on www.jrobichess.com

To go through the tournament games of Bilbao 2008, the entire PGN is available for viewing on www.jrobichess.com on the main page (left hand side) in the tournament section.

This one took me awhile to put together due to text inconsistencies in the available round PGN's. Nonetheless, Enjoy!

Topálov Comes out Top in Bilbao - Carlsen Drops in Live Rating

One of the strongest tournaments of all time has wrapped up, with Véselin Topálov coming out on top. The final point breakdown is as follows:

Players POINTS
Véselin Topálov 17
Magnus Carlsen 13
Levon Aronián 13
Vasili Ivanchuk 12
Teimur Radyábov 10
Viswanathan Anand 8

Scoring System
3 - Points per win
1 - Point per draw
0 - Point per loss

To view the entire tournament PGN please visit http://www.jrobichess.com and click on "Bilbao 2008" in the tournament section on the left-hand side.

Current Chess Live Ratings (Source: http://chess.liverating.org)
Rank Name Rating
01 Topalov 2790.6
02 Morozevich 2787.0
03 Carlsen 2786.1
04 Ivanchuk 2785.6
05 Anand 2783.2
06 Kramnik 2771.9
07 Aronian 2756.8
08 Radjabov 2751.5
09 Leko 2746.6
10 Wang Yue 2735.5

For comparison - top computer engine ratings:

Rybka 3241
Naum 3077
Zappa Mexico II 3075

Thursday, September 11, 2008

'Big bang' Particle Beam Completes First Circuit

The machine was able to send the beam around - now we just need to see what happens when they make those protons collide!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Magnus Carlsen - Chess Phenom Leads all in Ratings


With solid play against some of the best in the world of chess at the Bilbao Chess Tournament, Magnus Carlsen's LIVE rating has surpassed all, including the current World Chess Champion Anand.

1 Carlsen 2796.1
2 Anand 2790.4
3 Morozevich 2787.0
4 Topalov 2785.8
5 Ivanchuk 2781.9
6 Kramnik 2771.9
7 Radjabov 2749.9
8 Aronian 2749.7

Carlsen became a Grandmaster at the age of 13 on On 26 April 2004, and shows nothing but amazing potential in all things chess.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Chess Database Software Discussion

I have been throwing around the idea of getting a retail chess database software suite. There are a couple options out there, mainly Chessbase 10 and Chess Assistant 10. There are also some free versions available, namely ChessDB and SCID. If you have used one or more of these programs, please post your thoughts and how you got them set up to meet your needs.

Also, if you have tried both Chessbase and Chess Assistant, post your comparisons and what you recommend between the two.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Immortal Mates, Part IV

Our last immortal mates were Damiano's and the dovetail mate. Think you can spot them in the following positions? (White to move, solution at the end.)


Strictly speaking, the dovetail mate is not an immortal mate; after all, it doesn't commemorate any particular chess player. Two other such mates are the epaulette mate and the guéridon mate. Back in the days when the French were a force to be reckoned with in the chess world (no offence, Monsieur Bacrot), people sometimes named mates after things from France. Epaulettes are shoulder ornaments that used to decorate French army uniforms; in the epaulette mate, the mated king cannot escape because it is sandwiched between two friendly pieces.


In the guéridon mate, two pieces to the left and right behind the king prevent it from escaping on the diagonal; the setup resembles a guéridon, a peculiarly shaped French coffee table.


Returning now to a true immortal mate: Gioachino Greco was a 17th century chess master whose legacy lives on in Greco's mate, a file/rank mate delivered by a queen and a bishop:


Forza Italia!

(Solution to the quiz: (a) 1. Qxd6+ Kxf7 2. Rf1+ Kg7 3. Qf6# leads to a dovetail mate; (b) 1. Rf8+ Bxf8 2. Qf7+ paves the way for Damiano's mate.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

British MP Calls for More Chess in Schools

Chess and education is on the increase in many western nations after numerous studies have shown improvements in math and reading when chess is introduced into the school's curriculum. In this short clip, Dr Evan Harris touches on this while playing a game with 11 year old chess champion Emma Bentley while endorsing a chess DVD.

Monday, August 18, 2008

jrobichess Interviewed by Hip-Hop Chess Federation's Co-Founder and CEO Adisa Banjoko

I was both happy and humbled when Adisa Banjoko, co-founder of the Hip-Hop Chess Federation and award winning author and public speaker, contacted me regarding an interview. I have been following the growth of the HHCF for awhile now, and both the HHCF and the new WuChess site have been working wonders at getting young people interested not only in chess, but good values to live by. A lot of high profile people have been involved with the HHCF, including Josh Waitzkin (subject of one of my favorite movies "Searching for Bobby Fischer" and many high profile Hip-Hop artists like RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan to name a few.

To read the interview, please visit the new Hip-Hop Chess Federation blog here, and here are some videos going over what the HHCF and WuChess is all about.

RZA, Josh Waitzkin & QBert Playing Chess at HHCF!


Hip-Hop Chess Federation Talk w/ Adisa,RZA and Josh Waitzkin


WuChess Chess (Founded by RZA from Wu-Tang Clan and Chesspark)


Hip-Hop Chess Federation Main Page
Hip-Hop Chess Federation Blog
WuChess Online Premium Chess Site

Friday, August 15, 2008

New Video Series: Grandmaster Chess Endgames


In pursuing my own work on endgame study I launched a new video series on Grandmaster Chess Endgame play. The first video can be viewed here and it goes over an interesting game between Bobby Fischer and Rodolfo Cardoso. While Fischer was not yet a Grandmaster at the time of his match with Cardoso, it was just prior to his amazing rise to the top levels of the global chess scene.

In creating the video, I also found the story of Rodolfo Cardoso to be very interesting. According to what I could find, Cardoso was the world's first Asian International Master, with a track record of strong chess performances to his credit. In 1956 he won the Philippine Junior Championships, and also won a silver medal at the Chess Olympiads in Moscow in 1956. Cardoso was also the Philippine champion in 1958 and 1963.

The PGN file of the lines covered in the video can be downloaded on the lower left in the match feed section.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Fantastic Re-Make of Pixar's Chess Game

I came across this in YouTube today, and was very impressed. It's a re-make of the famous Pixar chess short animation sequence with a real person going through the motions.

Sadly, according to the YouTube clip's information, it was the posters Grandpa who acted in the clip, and shortly thereafter making it he got cancer. But it must have been fun and an amazing thing to work on for both Grandpa and Grandson (or G.Daughter!).

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Mangalia Chess Festival With New Scoring System - A Step in the Right Direction for the Integrity of Chess Competitions

The Mangalia Chess Festival used a scoring system in which draws led to a blitz standoff. The rules for the tournament were as follows:

Each game bears three points instead of the "normal" one. In case of decisive result, the winner receives three points, the defeated signs zero. But if the game ends in a draw, each player takes one point and then they move in to play Armageddon blitz game (5 minutes for White, 4 for Black + draw odds) for the remaining third point. Thus a game can give 3-0 or 2-1 score.

I completely support the use of a game to determine who gets the points coming out of a draw, but I am not sure blitz time controls is the way to go. For my long-term readers you will recall that I have posted on a few occasions that the whole notion of questionable draws has greatly hurt the world of chess in terms of the integrity of tournament results. Questionable draws over the years have given rise to many skeptics of chess competitions, and rightly so.

I firmly believe that the new rules surfacing are a big step in the right direction, but the time controls need to be longer. I would even fully support a normal time control second game right after the draw happens, as this would add a level of "overtime" and excitement to the competition. Then it's a matter of stamina and skill, just like in so many other professional competitions.

Nonetheless, the use of "Armageddon blitz" to determine draw games is a massive step in the right direction. Players will try to avoid getting into a drawing situation and will fight harder for the win from move one. Frankly I hope to see similar rules used in many more top-level competitions, even if it has to be short-time controls for the time being.

Once questionable draws are removed from Chess, the main integrity issues will be resolved and hopefully the general media over time will get engaged with the competitions as they were in the past.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Did you know that chess has a Goddess?



Caïssa - The Goddess of Chess ( wikipedia )
Caïssa originated in a poem called Caïssa, written in 1763 in latin hexameters by orientalist Sir William Jones. In the poem, Caïssa initially repels the advances of the god of war, Mars. Spurned, Mars seeks the aid of the god of sport – Euphron, brother of Venus/Aphrodite – who creates the game of chess as a gift for Mars to win Caissa's favor.

On a side note I have added the games of Mikhail Tal to www.jrobichess.com from a request from a reader. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Immortal Mates, Part III

Quiz time: White to move and black to move -- Blackburne's or Boden's mate? Solution at the end of the post.


Much to my dismay, the letter "c" hasn't any immortal mates to show for it. Let's move on to "d", then, and one of the pioneers of chess writing, Pedro Damiano (1480-1544). Caissa has played a cruel trick on Damiano's legacy by naming one of the worst defences to 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 after him: Damiano's Defence, 2. ... f6, which Pedro the chess sage condemned in his chess treatise and which has since been named in his "honour". Fortunately, she also rewarded Damiano with an immortal mate, whose trademark signature is a forcing two-move attack by a queen assisted by a pawn or bishop: Damiano's mate and Damiano's bishop mate.


Qf7+, Qd7#. Another queen mate, the Dovetail mate, takes its name from the dovetail setup of the king's pieces. They block the horizontal and vertical escape routes, allowing the queen to mate on the diagonal:


Merry mating!

(Solution to the quiz: 1. Qh7+ paves the way to Blackburne's mate after 1. ... Nxh7 2. Bxh7# / 1. ... Qxc3+! 2. bxc3 Ba3# -- Boden's bishops strike again!)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Controversy at the US Women's Championship Tournament

Anna Zatonskih and Irina Krush had to decide the 2008 Women's Chess Championship in a blitz match (which was mutually agreed to by both players) after the both had played to a tie in the overall tournament. The blitz game was won by Anna in the very last possible second, and all heck broke loose near the end of the match with pieces flying around on the board and one was even thrown across the room by Irina Krush!

Krush has since drafted a letter claiming that her opponent should not be given the win due to the fact that she believes Anna was touching the pieces before Krush had hit her clock.

In part of her letter she exclaims, "And that's the crux of the matter. My opponent, seeing herself on the verge of losing on time, began playing moves before I had completed mine. She made her moves before I hit my clock, and as soon as I pressed the clock, it was punched back at me. That is how my lead in time was chipped away at..." The full letter can be found here on the USCF site.

Here is the normal speed video posted to YouTube which shows the entire game including the chaotic final moments:



The United States Chess Federation issued a full reply to the letter here and determined that nothing illegal happened during the match except for a knocked over piece not being placed back in the upright position during the game. According to the USCF response both players can be seen moving their pieces before the opponent hit the clock.

Definitely an interesting story!

www.jrobichess.com: Paul Morphy Chess Games Added to Online Database



I have added a database of Paul Morphy games to the main site ( www.jrobichess.com ) from a request sent in to me. Paul Morphy is known as quite possibly the first "modern" chess player, and many of his games have brilliant queen sacrifices among other notable attacking techniques. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Immortal Mates, Part II

Think you remember the immortal mates from our last segment? Test yourself! Which of the following positions features Anastasia's, Anderssen's and the Arabian mate? (White to move in each case, solution at the end of the post)


Today, the letter "b", and here we shall look at Blackburne's and Boden's mate. Joseph Henry Blackburne (1841–1924) earned himself the nickname "The Black Death" (can you think of a more badass name for a chess player?). The ingredients of Blackburne's mate are, as usual, an obstructed king, a knight and a bishop phalanx.


The English appear to be the champions of bishop mates! Samuel Standidge Boden (1826–1882), a contemporary of Blackburne, lends his name to another nasty bishop mate, preferably used against careless queen-side castlers. Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce, Boden's mate:


Once again, a jolly good mating to you!

(Solution to the quiz: 1. Qxh7 leads to Anderssen's mate / 2. Rf8# and we have ourselves an Arabian mate / 3. Qxa7+ sets up Anastasia's mate Ra3#)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Renowned Journalist Tim Russert Passes Away


Tim Russert, an extremely respected American journalist, passed away today at the age of 58 while at work from an apparent heart-attack. His passion for honest and meaningful journalism was a rarity in today's North American media. He was known and respected world-wide for his engaging interviews and honest approach to journalism.

Adisa Banjoko (co-founder of the Hip-Hop Chess Federation and award winning author/public speaker) gives respect to Tim Russert in this thoughtful video posted to YouTube today.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Immortal Mates, Part I

Caissa does not bestow fame lavishly, but to her few champions and those who unravel the secrets of her game, she grants nothing short of immortality. Ruy Lopez sits on his throne on the Chess Olympus, smiling every time the bishop moves to b5. To his left, Philidor brushes his wig -- slightly disgruntled, perhaps, because he hasn't seen his d6 much in recent grandmaster games ("Sacrebleu!"). And Nicolas Rossolimo (one of the younger members of the chess pantheon) sips his wine, laughing a raucous laugh at this blogger's feeble attempts to squeeze a couple of cheap wins out of the Rossolimo variation in the Sicilian.

This is the heyday of chess opening fame. After all, few grandmaster games nowadays end in a decisive mate. But let us not forget that the ultimate goal of chess is to checkmate the enemy king, and those who "discovered" a mate deserve no less of our admiration, nor ring their names any less magnificent: Damiano, Greco, Morphy, Réti, Philidor, Blackburne, Legall.

On a more practical note, familiarising yourself with their mates, absorbing them till you know them by heart, is arguably more beneficial to the amateur player than studying openings. And in this vein, I would like to start a series on the various checkmates, from "Anastasia's" mate to the "Smothered" mate. Since I love the melody of chess names, I shall start at the letter "A" and proceed alphabetically. I draw on Mark Lowery's comprehensive chess site and a couple of excellent posts by chess blogger Batgirl, that go by the delightful title How Do I Mate Thee, Let Me Count The Ways. (She also has a fascinating website dedicated to Paul Morphy and the history of chess.)

Our first mate, then, is Anastasia's mate, named after a Chess novel by Wilhelm Heinse, Anastasia und das Schachspiel (the next entry on my to-read list!):


Ne7+! and the king is doomed. Similar to Anastasia's mate, the Arabian mate uses the combined power of the rook and knight to checkmate the king in the corner. The Arabian mate takes its name from its source, an old Arabian manuscript, and ranks among the earliest recorded check mates in history:


Once again, the knight delivers the death blow: Nf6+ and the rook finishes the king off! Anderssen, who achieved immortality through his "Immortal Game" against Lionel Kieseritzky in 1851, has also a mate named after him. In Anderssen's Mate you trap the enemy king with a bishop and rook:


Rh8#! Crucial to these mates is the restrained maneuverability of the enemy king, his own pieces blocking his escape route. Of course, these mates can appear in all sorts of different variations, but the basic arrangement remains the same. Until next time, good mating!