What If Sun Tzu Played Chess?

What If Sun Tzu Played Chess?

| 11 | Misc

We're often told chess is a war game, so it was only a matter of time before a seminal book on warfare became intertwined with chess.

In addition to the discussion of this new text, part two of this month's "In Other News" also discusses Indian youth dominance, an American GM's off-the-board assault, and yet another chess movie! If you missed part one, you can find it here.

Chess And The Art Of War: Ancient Wisdom To Make You A Better Player

The new book, to be released in January, also represents a bit of yin and yang. The two authors bring very different knowledge to the table. Al Lawrence, former Executive Director of the U.S. Chess Federation (and currently working for the U.S. Chess Trust), teamed up his historical knowledge and Vietnam War experience with GM Elshan Moradiabadi, who just so happens to be from Iran, near our game's purported Persian roots.

The pages won't be simply a history of Sun Tzu and chess. It professes to be actual chess lessons broken up into 40 parts.

The book doesn't have a promotional copy yet and there are no reviews, but we trust that it will be at least as interesting as that other best-selling Eastern philosophy/classic book mashup -- "The Tao of Pooh."

"The Polgar Variant" Makes The Rounds

It seems every month we write about another chess movie, and this month's selection is the documentary "The Polgar Variant," a study of László Polgar's unique upbringing of his famous daughters.

The film came to the U.S. for the first time last month in Chicago and is making the rounds at film festivals. In this trailer, you get a look at the Polgar Chess Festival's early years, but also archival footage of Susan, Judit and Sofia in their youth.

Indians Dominate World Youth Championship

The annual tournament features the world's best under the age of 18, and has grown to such a large spectacle, it will split up into two events next year. In this final year of a combined championship, the Indian contingent easily topped the podium more than any other country.

In November in Porto Carras, GreeceIndians pick up 11 medals (five gold). Russia and U.S.A. both had four total medals. China only netted a lone silver.

Here's a list of gold medal winners: Masoud Mosadeghpour, Iran (Open U18); WFM M. Mahalakshmi, India (Girls U18); Roven Vogel, Germany (Open U16); WIM Stavroula Tsolakidou, Greece (Girls U16), Shamsiddin Vokhidov, Uzbekistan (Open U14); WFM R. Vaishali, India (Girls U14); CM Mahammed Muradi, Azerbaijan (Open U12); WFM Nurgyul Salimova, Bulgaria (Girls U12); FM R. Praggnanandhaa, India (Open U10); Ravi Rakshitta, India (Girls U10); H. Bharath Subramaniyam, India (Open U8); WCM Le Cam Hien Nguyen, Vietnam (Girls U8).

Mosadeghpour's victory came a point clear of the field (9.5/11) and gave him the automatic IM title. During his run he defeated the Hippo Defense with a really pretty checkmate:

Youngest American IM Record Broken

While we're talking about new international masters, Awonder Liang has broken the record for youngest American to reach the title, breaking now-GM Sam Sevian's record by about three months. Liang was 12 years, seven months, and 16 days old when he made history.

He did it in style, earning his final norm at a tournament organized by the University of Texas at Dallas Chess program. Liang played seven grandmasters, scoring an even 3.5/7, beat a master and drew an IM.

IM-elect Awonder Liang at this year's Millionaire Chess, where he almost earned the title.

If he wants to break the record for youngest American grandmaster ever, he will be again chasing down Sevian. He also needs to hurry -- he only has 15 months to earn the norms and get his rating above 2500.

Da Mystery Of Da Philanthropy

Hip-hip royalty Wu-Tang Clan often incuded chess references in their music, and for good reason. Several of them enjoy the game. That appreciation has led to a donation from RZA (Robert Diggs) to benefit at-risk youth in St. Louis.

The money will be channeled through the Hip-Hop Chess Federation. Many of the beneficiaries reside in Ferguson, Missouri, the district that is partnering with the St. Louis chess club.

Local kids in Ferguson, Missouri pose with Nakamura, Caruana, and other famous chess players.

Timur Gareev Wins Tournament, Attacked

After winning the International Festival of Figueira da Foz in Portugal, American GM Timur Gareev was assaulted. This report says that at 4 a.m. he was "involved in a tussle" and was "violently punched and kicked."

The tournament took place almost exactly half way between Lisbon and Porto. Gareev was also the top seed.

He had injuries on his face after the attack but sources say he was able to return to the U.S. shortly thereafter. Gareev remains committed to establishing the record for most blindfold games played simultaneously -- his personal record is 33.

GM Timur Gareev at the 2015 U.S. Championship.

English Chess Takedown

Guardian writer Stephen Moss, author of a forthcoming book on his travels through modern chess, clearly wants to know what happened to the halcyon days of English chess in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In this article he reveals that finances are the major culprit in the decline of his homeland's chess prowess.

A bit longer than most chess articles, Moss's column also get personal thoughts on GM Nigel Davies' defection to Wales, a candid interview with GM Danny Gormally, and his overall outlook for chess going forward.

When Aliens Visit, Grab This Chess Board

FIDE (former?) President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is on record as saying that he was once abducted by aliens. The next time this happens to you, make sure to pack this chess set, where the pieces are actually designed like the movements they make.

The exhibit, dubbed Orthagonal/Diagonal, transcends language in that the pieces are essentially the rulebook. The artist has also created chess sets for regional variants of chess in Thailand, Korea, Mongolia, Myanmar, Japan, China and Persia.

A rendering of Orthagonal/Diagonal Chess from artist Nova Jiang.

Are The Best Players The Most Famous Players?

This research paper deals with a simple concept: Are the best historical players also the ones we are most interested in reading about?

By taking pre-internet players (actually the player pool dissected comes from 1901-1943) and measuring both their performances amongst others and the number of Google hits, the researchers found not only a correlation between talent and fame, but that fame grows exponentially with talent.

Would this hold up in modern times? Likely it would at the very top, as Magnus Carlsen's talent is superior for now, but his fame (think "60-Minutes," "G-Star Raw," and "Porsche") is likely just even more logarithmic.

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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