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.