Thursday, January 31

Editorial Regarding Changes By FIDE

The World Chess Federation (FIDE) sanctions international competition among master and professional level chess players.  One right of passage for advanced juniors (and adults too) is earning a published FIDE rating.  In the USA, organizers host three categories of FIDE rated events: invitational round-robins (often called norm tournaments), rating restricted Internationals, and the Open/Master section at high profile (big money) weekend tournaments.  The author of the editorial below organizes many of the biggest weekend events across the country, including World Open, North American Open and Golden State Open.

The current issue involves the registration and licensing of all players in a FIDE rated tournament.  Starting July 1, participants in a FIDE rated section must be registered and licensed with FIDE, prior to the first round.  Licensing costs nothing--for now.  Registration is more complex, e.g. including a player's passport number.  The burden lies on the organizer, with financial penalties on top of already high fees.  These rules come on the heels of a new license for arbiters to run any FIDE tournament.

Bill Goichberg decided that his Continental Chess Association will not cooperate with the latest edict.  Instead, he will stop submitting tournaments to FIDE.  Smaller organizers may follow suit.  Players will see a decrease in opportunities to play FIDE rated games and compete for norms.  Only invitational round-robins escape the brunt of these rules, since it is easier to register 10 players who have been invited well in advance.

The last word has not been spoken.  Stay tuned. -- fpawn

Update on February 11: "Dear friends, The licensing of the players has been cancelled. The new documents about registration will be presented in due course. FIDE Secretariat"

Bill Goichberg
Continental Chess will not participate in the FIDE registration/licensing process, and does not plan to hold FIDE rated tournaments which begin after June 30. The idea that we have to register players for FIDE before the first round is ludicrous, and would probably cause that round to start very late. We also are not going to do the work of contacting advance entries to try to register them for FIDE online.

I predict that because of complaints, FIDE will modify this requirement to allow registration to be submitted with the rating report. I thought about whether CCA could accept this and decided that no, we are not going to do all that extra work just because FIDE says so. There is also the issue of the passport numbers facilitating identity theft. I suggest that USCF inform FIDE that it will not register players either.

A plan I'm considering for the World Open is to modify our publicity to bring back the two weekend schedule, probably in the Open Section only. This will make the starting date of the overall event June 29 rather than July 1, which should mean it will use June FIDE ratings and not be subject to the changes effective July 1. We will have to use 40/90, SD/30, inc/30 in the Open Section for norms to be possible, but won't need to do any FIDE registration. After the World Open, we will hold no more FIDE rated tournaments unless the registration and licensing nonsense is repealed, and not replaced by something else similarly objectionable.

The FIDE method appears to be gradually issuing one edict after another announcing new fees, restrictions, or tasks that federations and organizers are required to pay, observe, or undertake. When there is an outcry they back off somewhat, but soon they return with another version of the same thing, and ultimately, little by little, they get what they want. If they insisted on everything immediately, too many organizers and federations might quit, so instead they announce a big power/money grab and "generously" settle for less, but soon are back with a different power/money grab. Each time, many federations are unhappy and object, but then grudgingly go along, thinking that even given the latest outrage, it's still worth being part of FIDE. This acceptance is a mistake. When the arbiter fees were passed as a result of Kirsan declaring them approved without objection and not allowing opponents of the fees to speak or vote (microphones disabled), that would have been a good time for a group of federations to tell FIDE, "No arbiter fees or we drop out of FIDE." Now we have another chance to draw a line in the sand, and I hope the letter of complaint from the Netherlands Chess Federation to FIDE issues such a warning if their latest idiotic rules are not quickly annulled.

FIDE already charges very high federation dues, rating fees, title fees, arbiter fees, federation switch fees, late fees, etc. They now have an individual membership fee for scholastic players and a "relisting fee" for delisted players (not clear why USCF would want to delist players but presumably FIDE will force us to), and they want to in effect collect from multiple federations in the same country by having "FIDE Academy" fees and giving the academies powers previously reserved for federations (the right to submit rating reports to FIDE, to apply for CM titles, and to send players to the World Youth). It's only a matter of time before all "registered players" are required to renew their "licenses" by paying a fee.

If we can get some other leading chess countries to participate, it may be time to help set up a new international association to calculate ratings and award titles. This could certainly be done at far less cost than what FIDE has been charging.

Bill Goichberg

Wednesday, January 23

Confident Magnus Takes Charge!

Update: Magnus clinched clear 1st by defeating Nakamura in the penultimate round.

World #1 ranked Magnus Carlsen has taken command at the Tata tournament at Wijk aan Zee in Holland.  He leads by an impressive 1.5 points over reigning world champion Vishy Anand with three rounds to play.  Only a trio of participants has avoided defeat in the first ten games: Carlsen, Anand and US champion Hikaru Nakamura

Round 10 Standings
  • 8.0 Carlsen
  • 6.5 Anand, Aronian, Nakamura
  • 5.5 Karjakin, Leko
  • 5.0 Harikrishna, vanWely
  • 4.5 Caruana
  • 4.0 Giri, WangHao
  • 3.5 HouYifan
  • 3.0 L'Ami
  • 2.5 Sokolov
In round 9, Magnus beat the lowest seed, former women's world champion Hou Yifan of China, in a complex queen endgame arising from the offbeat Ponziani opening.  Watch the candid interview above for his analysis of the key moments of the game, pointing out some of his own inaccuracies.  When asked whether his resolution for 2013 was to break 2900 or to claim the world championship, his unequivocal reply was "both."

Fpawn Favorite Games from Tata A 
(rounds 1-7 click here)

New Masters Panchanatham and Chow!

Vignesh Panchanatham
Colin Chow

It came to my attention that the long list of talented Northern California juniors to achieve the rank of master grew by two in the past month.  Indeed there are now nine local kids in K-12 with USCF ratings of 2200 and higher, including five who have yet to start high school!  I would like to take this opportunity to recognize four of them.

12 year old Vignesh Panchanatham achieved the milestone at the Bay Area Chess Winter Open on December 21-23.  He broke 2200 in style, by beating experienced NM Mike Splane.  I have watched his progress for several years, ever since he wove a clever mating net to checkmate me--as an 8 year old!  Vignesh scalped many more masters since then, including IMs Elliott Winslow and Odondoo Ganbold.  At the recent World Youth in Slovenia, he played well to share 6th place in a competitive U12 division.  Check out his chess blog for round-by-round insights and a great poem at the end.

13 year old Colin Chow reached 2200 by picking up the final three rating points at the Burger G/45  at Mechanics' Institute on January 12.  He already distinguished himself as one of the elite players at the Sacramento Chess Club, and now he lays claim to being the youngest master in the club's 75+ year history.  I first saw Colin's budding talent at the Larry Evans Memorial in Reno last April, where he turned heads by scoring 3.5 against 5 masters, including wins against IMs Vladimir Mezentsev and Ed Formanek.

Congratulations to Master Panchanatham and Master Chow on their achievements!

In other news, the international federation FIDE finally awarded World U12 co-champions Sam Sevian and Cameron Wheeler the automatic FM title.  Woot!  For Sam, however, this honor will be short-lived,  Just last weekend, FIDE approved his IM title on condition of breaking 2400 FIDE rating.  His current rating is 2385 (before dropping a few points at North American Open).  Hey Sam, how does IM-elect sound?

(K-12 Only, USCF Rating)

1 IM Naroditsky, Daniel 2553
2 IM-elect Sevian, Sam 2471
3 FM Liou, Yian 2469
4 SM Young, Greg 2467
5 FM Wheeler, Cameron 2279
6 NM Viswanadha, Kesav 2257
7 NM Panchanatham, Vignesh 2206
8 NM Chow, Colin 2200
9 NM Liu, Daniel 2199

Tuesday, January 15

Anand Smacks Aronian in the Meran

If you haven't seen today's game from Wijk aan Zee, then stop everything and take a look.  You don't just see 2800 players getting checkmated in under 25 moves with either color, even less with the White pieces!  Absolutely stunning!

Indeed, after the stunning one-two punch 15... Bc5 and 16... Nde5, Levon Aronian found himself in deep trouble.  Kudos to Vishy Anand for executing an incredible piece of opening preparation (originally intended for Boris Gelfand in last year's title defense).  This was not the first time that Anand refuted a topical opening variation with an explosive double piece sacrifice.  Young Grandmaster Sergey Karjakin learned a painful lesson in the Najdorf in 2006, ironically also at Wijk aan Zee.

Make sure to check out the dozens of poignant short videos at the Tata 2013 website, featuring the participants in the elite section.  Some videos appear humorous, others emotional, still others downright instructional, and all worth watching.  Highly recommended!

Saturday, January 12

Tata Chess Tournament

The large De Moriaan playing hall.  Credit:
Happy New Year!  The beginning of the year brings perhaps the most prestigious tournament on the chess calendar.  This year, the 75th Tata Steel Chess festival features 6 of the Top 10 players in the world, including the highest rated Magnus Carlsen and the reigning world champion Viswanathan Anand.  Indeed, the Norwegian wonderboy comes in as the clear favorite, and he hopes to build on his all-time record high rating of 2861.  The US champion Hikaru Nakamura may be defending champion, but he faces an uphill climb against a wide open field of super-Grandmasters.

Invitees to 2013 Tata A
  •  #1 Magnus Carlsen (NOR) 2861 
  •  #3 Levon Aronian (ARM) 2802 
  •  #5 Fabiano Caruana (ITA) 2781 
  •  #6 Sergey Karjakin (RUS) 2780 
  •  #7 Viswanathan Anand (IND) 2772 
  •  #9 Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 2769
  • #14 Wang Hao (CHN) 2752
  • #19 Peter Leko (HUN) 2735
  • #29 Anish Giri (NED) 2720
  • and five more

Please check back on my blog for my daily favorite game.  I strongly urge all chess students rated 1800 or higher to diligently play through every round over the next fortnight.  Try to learn something too!  Although the elite A group attracts the most attention, the powerful B and C sections often generate more fireworks.  The live audio broadcasts at the Internet Chess Club begin at 4:30am PST each morning (except for three rest days), but completed rounds and Game of the Day videos are available at your convenience. Make sure to also visit the Chessbase news website for daily reports, vibrant photos and thoughtfully annotated games.

Fpawn Favorite Games from Tata A