Kasparov Beats Greece, Anand Becomes Doctor, Kiwi Street Chess Returns

Kasparov Beats Greece, Anand Becomes Doctor, Kiwi Street Chess Returns

| 20 | Chess Event Coverage

Back in his world-champion days, GM Garry Kasparov used to challenge himself by playing clock simuls against entire national teams. He beat Germany, he beat Israel, he beat the Czech Republic. Last month he was back, this time against a collection of Greek champions.

Also "In Other News" last month, GM Viswanathan Anand "graduated" college, while another school made chess a varsity sport. Chess is back in the South Island of New Zealand (the damaged Christchurch Cathedral is pictured above), while Tobago upended its long chess subservience to Trinidad.

Kasparov Versus The Ladies

Whereas in the past, Kasparov had played a country's top four boards, this simul was more exhibition than training for the retired Kasparov. Held at Thessaloniki City Hall, the same city in which he won double gold at the 1988 Olympiad, Kasparov's opponents were the best and brightest females in Greek chess.

They were: WGM Stavroula Tsolakidou, reigning Girls-Under-16 World Champion and Greek number one; WFM Anastasia Avramidou, several times European Youth Champion; and Ekaterini Pasoglou and Evagelia Mastrakouli, both city champions. All were born around 2000 and were only one year old when Kasparov played his last national team match (Czech Republic, 2001)!

Here's the veteran back in action.

Don't Have A Cow, Korchnoi

We've chronicled more than one dozen chess movies in this column, but here's a new category: chess players in advertisements (well, OK, we have written about Justus Williams and Cadillac). This article compiles a trio of long-forgotten commercials.

Do you remember an irascible GM Viktor Korchnoi playing a cow? The branding for milk got it right — the late Korchnoi often didn't handle defeats with grace, and now we know bovine opponents were treated the same.

We also have Kasparov pitching for an early web browser. Meanwhile, Anand talks up a microprocessor company while going undetected by a man on the train.

There's at least one commercial that the above article omits: Kasparov vs the Pepsi machine. What other commercials with famous chess players did we forget?

Park Players Return After Earthquake

Just as New Orleanian master Jude Acers returned to the French Quarter after Hurricane Katrina, so too did one of New Zealand's famous chess faces. Five years after the earthquake that leveled the central business district of Christchurch, 83-year-old Ian Facer is back at the giant chess board.

He was knocked to the ground on that fateful day in 2011 when a 6.3 earthquake devastated the South Island's largest city. The proximity to the epicenter and the resulting liquefaction of the ground has made recovery slow, but the retired Facer finally returned to a place that he used to visit daily.

Ian Facer, who has played chess for seven decades. Photo | Andrea Thompson.

The oversized chess set is only meters from the destroyed cathedral (A temporary cathedral made of cardboard, which is now permanent, was built a few blocks away.).

This reporter visited the site in early June, just days before Facer returned. The image at the top of this article is the current state of the famed cathedral, which sits partially demolished and in legal limbo. Here's the innovative replacement, designed by Shigeru Ban and supported largely by cardboard tubes:

The replacement cathedral in Christchurch was originally planned to be temporary but is now permanent. Yes, those brown tubes are cardboard.

The chess pieces are stored inside the wooden bleachers. Directly behind is the (old) cathedral.

Anand Receives Doctorate Of Science

He already had a (real) undergraduate degree in commerce from Loyola College in Chennai, but now former World Champion Viswanathan Anand is a doctor. He was conferred the honorary degree in science ("Honoris Causa") by the Indian Institute of Technology.

He gave a short speech during the graduation ceremonies and told the attendees that his learning never stops.

In his second "attempt," Anand got that doctorate.

Previously, the University of Hyderabad tried to give Anand an honorary doctorate as well. But in 2010, with Anand still living in Spain, his citizenship was questioned to the point that the ceremony was indefinitely delayed. According to this report, Anand decided the fuss just wasn't worth it.

Mental Sports To Earn Varsity Letters?

In the United States, playing a varsity sport in high school or college usually earns you a "varsity letter." The most tangible benefit is an official school jacket, and the most intangible benefit is often some respect from the cool crowd.

A New Jersey official now thinks that other activities like chess and robotics, which do have competitions among schools but lack much of the physicality of athletics, should be treated the same.

“There is a long tradition of high schools awarding athletes with varsity letters," said N.J. State Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli. "At many schools, marching-band and jazz-band members also earn letters. Why stop there?”

A typical example of a varsity letter-jacket. That emblem on the top left sure looks like a chess patch!

He introduced a bill that would put chess on a level playing field with football, which would help with more than just notoriety. The measure could help chess clubs apply for school funds for things like out-of-town tournaments.

Tobago In Front of Trinidad?

No, they're not renaming the 31st smallest country in the world, but they are inverting the chess hierarchy. Although Trinidad dwarfs its twin in both area and population, for the first time in recent memory, a Tobago resident has defended his home turf.

The Caribbean nation hosts four qualifiers for its national championship, and this article claims that for years Trinidadians have island-hopped to win the "weaker" events on the small island. Dr. Sean Nedd changed that in June, as the local player won 5.5/6 to finish in first place ahead of a pack of treasure hunters.

The third of four qualifiers for the 11-person Trini national championship saw quite an upset. Photo | Trinidad and Tobago Chess Association Facebook page.

Amazingly, Nedd has no FIDE rating, but finished ahead of one FM and three CMs. However, he does play on as Ganicus (In fact, he is online as I write this!). He is the first Tobago resident to qualify for the national championship in 10 years.

The Trinidad and Tobago Chess Association is celebrating its 80th year. They've played in 16 Olympiads, with their highest finish coming in 1980 (50th).

Chess Master Turned Music Star called online music legend Kurt Schneider a "chess master." For once, mainstream media wasn't using the term flippantly. The 2235-rated Californian doesn't play in tournaments much anymore, but once upon a time he was board one for Yale's chess team and represented the school at the Pan-American Intercollegiate Championships.

Since moving on from New Haven, he's become one of the most successful producers for online music-videos. Often pairing with fellow Bulldog Sam Tsui, Schneider often plays keyboard and mixes the vocals himself. Oprah Winfrey once had him on her show.

Here's his YouTube page, which boasts more than seven-million followers. And here's an example of his work, a Ghostbusters remake, shot all in one take, which also features Schneider playing keyboard while donning an ersatz proton-pack. We'd like to think his chess skills were in use here, but I'm not sure if there's any connection!

Here's one of his games played while representing Yale. Was his play as creative as his video? You decide:

What's The Most Important Factor Influencing Blunders?

Researchers are back; once again placing chess in the Petri dish. This time they wanted to know what's the most vital essence of a blunder?

Is it Elo differential, time trouble, complexity of the position, or perhaps time spent on a position?

These variable make for quite a difficult to digest study, but here are a few surprising findings:

  • Amount of time taken on a position matters up to 10 seconds. After that, the likelihood of a blunder does not increase or decrease.
  • Researchers found some "skill-anomalous" positions whereby higher-rated players were more likely to play blunders than lower-rated players.
  • The paper's findings could be used to predict everything from driving acumen to political movements.

Like charts and data? Here's the abstract to the research paper.

FM Mike Klein

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Mike Klein began playing chess at the age of four in Charlotte, NC. In 1986, he lost to Josh Waitzkin at the National Championship featured in the movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer." A year later, Mike became the youngest member of the very first All-America Chess Team, and was on the team a total of eight times. In 1988, he won the K-3 National Championship, and eventually became North Carolina's youngest-ever master. In 1996, he won clear first for under-2250 players in the top section of the World Open. Mike has taught chess full-time for a dozen years in New York City and Charlotte, with his students and teams winning many national championships. He now works at as a Senior Journalist and at as the Chief Chess Officer. In 2012, 2015, and 2018, he was awarded Chess Journalist of the Year by the Chess Journalists of America. He has also previously won other awards from the CJA such as Best Tournament Report, and also several writing awards for mainstream newspapers. His chess writing and personal travels have now brought him to more than 85 countries.

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