87 Year-Old Beats Capablanca’s Record

Brigitta Sinka

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Last Sunday, 87 year-old Brigitta Sinka from Hungary accomplished what she had set as a goal five years ago: The retired chess player beat the simultaneous chess record of the chess icon José Raúl Capablanca who had played remarkable 13,545 matches during his life until, finally, he passed away in 1920.

While attending a one-week open chess event at an immense tent in Budapest, the chess mentor, who played her first duel against her father at the early age of four, proved her physical and mental health by keeping up with her mentees – after all, she did have to play up to thirty rounds per hour.

Sinka states that chess makes up her entire life and simultaneous chess is her passion. In her lifetime she was supposed to compete in two world championships, both of which she tragically couldn’t attend, as fate had planned otherwise for her – the ambitioned Hungarian has endured heart surgery three times. Fifty-eight years ago, she made first contact with simultaneous chess at the Chess Olympics in Budapest. She has played enthusiastically ever since, especially at summer camps against students. She kept thorough records of every single match as if she had had a feeling that those might come in handy one day. Her chronicle include all matches’ opponents, their dates, locations and results; and she had witnesses sign her every one of her records.

Five years ago, the chess historian Sinka pointed out the record of the Cuban grandmaster Capablanca during an interview. She had already kept record of 9,000 duels at that time and had the idea of breaking his record right away.

Last Sunday was her day: having played over 13,600 matches of simultaneous chess, Brigitta Sinka broke Capablanca’s record. Now, she is waiting for recognition of her accomplishment by the Guinness Book of World Records. Having reached her goal, she still has no intention of quitting the game yet. Sinka plans on improving her record as long as her state of health allowed her to.

Best of Luck!

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe

Frequeny of Fraud in Chess Increases

The recent scandal at the Women’s European Chess Championship yet again stirs the question for suitable measures to prevent fraud.

The number of cheaters caught at small and big chess tournaments around the globe has increased over the last years. This is no surprise, as chess programs are faster and better than ever and new technology tempts with new ways of cheating. Tournament participants have access to smartphones, tablets, headsets, or a partner in crime who has endless options to analyze live stream matches and to forward the information to the player. Vague security measures, high prize money incentives, and a reputation in the chess community allure amateurs and professionals to drop the idea of fair play and make use of illegal help instead. Computer analysis is to chess players what doping is to other sport professionals.

The chances of being caught cheating are very low. Though frauds are caught frequently, it seems to be only those who cheat obviously. The Georgian grandmaster Nigalidze, who quickly became target of his Armenian opponent’s suspicion at the 6th round of Dubai Open in April, used the same bathroom stall before every major move. After the referee had been informed about the suspicion, he found (hidden in a roll of toilet paper) a smartphone in the very stall Nigalidze had been using. Although denying made no sense at this point (Nigalidze was logged in to his social media account and a chess application of the current match was running), the fraud unsuccessfully tried to deny being the owner of the phone. Previous successes of his, such as the Georgian championship titles from 2013 and 2014 and a surprise victory at a tournament in Al-Ain, are now being questioned.

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Nigalidze

Nigalidze’s Case

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Particularly bold and obvious attempts to cheat with the help of technology were already documented in 1993. Back then, an unknown player with the name John von Neumann (Austrian mathematician) signed up for participation at the World Cup and managed to make his way to finals through signals in his pants. He acted so suspiciously that he was searched for prohibited items. During a following interrogation it turned out that the player wasn’t even familiar with the basic rules of chess.

In 1998, a German chess player caused a stir when performing far better than his usual ELO would suggest, made reconstructible moves with Fritz and even predicted the way his opponent would be checkmated in eight moves which by far exceeds the capacity of the human brain. As it turned out he was wearing mini earbuds, hidden by his long hair, through which the moves were transmitted to him.

Earbuds, Bluetooth-sets, alleged hearing aids, long hair, hats, caps, phones in pockets and taped to legs, text messages to partners in crime, pounding signals. So many attempts to cheat were discovered during the last years and have caused skepticism and mistrust amongst chess players.

If a tournament participant performs extraordinarily and unexpectedly well, he becomes subject to questioning. Such good performance is usually followed by accusations, strong players even face general suspicion. And even if no illegal means of help are found, the bitter taste stays and the performance is not honored by competitors.

The FIDE and tournament organizers haven’t come up with serious consequences. Though tournaments are always broadcasted live with a fifteen minute delay to interfere with analyses and tips from third parties, and bags as well as phones can be searched by referees when acute suspicion arises, many options of fraud are still accessible. Bathrooms and smoking areas are no subjects to controls, players are allowed to leave the board at any time and as often as they desire, without witnessing escort. As long as chess players have access to means of fraud, the sport will not be free of scams. The skepticism amongst players will continue to grow and the reputation of the sport will suffer severe damage.

This is the time to introduce observational measures and rules that are in line with the technical standard of today, train referees to recognize indicators, and to make chess a fair sport again to maintain an integer image in public. Whether associations and organizers will finally see the necessity to counteract fraud and when they step in, remains speculation at this point.

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe

Fabiano Caruana Joins American Team

Fabiano Caruana, ranking 3rd in worldwide standings, leaves the Italian National Chess Team after ten year and will return to the United States Chess Federation (USCF), as the organization declared in a press conference last week.

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Background Information

Fabiano CaruanaFabiano Caruana was born in Miami in 1992 and grew up in New York, his mother being Italian and his father also having Italian roots. At the age of five, he began playing chess and was member of the United States Chess Federation until thirteen years old. In October 2005, Caruana joined the Italian Chess Federation after he and his family had moved back to Europa to enhance his career opportunities. The United States weren’t particularly successful in the chess scene at that time – only six Americans ranked among the Top 85 of the world. To help their son obtain better training and to enhance the chances of successful and relevant tournament participation, his parents decided for their son to represent Italy on the international stage. Saying their plans added up, would simply be an understatement. On the other side of the big pond, Caruana exceeded all expectations and ascended to the absolute top of the world of chess.

Caruana holds dual citizenship – meaning he is Italian and American citizen at the same time. Until today, he pays taxes in the United States and speaks English flawlessly.

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The Change

The USCF has fought for Caruana’s attention for years and repeatedly invited him to participate in US championships. His decision and statements were still a surprise to many, although he had always shown his loyalty towards Italy which graciously supported him for an entire decade. Only half a year ago, Caruana answered the question of whether he planned to join a US chess team again as follows: “No, I do not have such plans at this point. However, I don’t know what the future holds.”

The Italian Chess Federation’s spokesman responded to the rumors of Caruana changing teams a while back: “America offered him 100,000 EUR per year, Azerbaijan even 400,000 EUR. I would love for him to make that amount of money with playing chess, but frankly, these offers were unsuccessful. Caruana signed a contract with the Italian Chess Federation over 80,000 EUR per annum in January and will stay with us until December.”

According to rumors, Caruana was offered a contract by St. Louis over six years and 200,000 EUR, which at first he distanced himself from by calling them speculations, but recently he admitted to the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis playing a major role in his change:

“I am looking forward to representing the United States again and to working with the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis. I would like to thank everybody who made this possible and am excited for this new partnership. Also, I would like to use the occasion and express my appreciation and gratefulness for the support that the Italian Chess Federation has provided me with during the last ten years. I wish them all the best.”

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An Outlook

The Americans have put quite some effort into their establishment in the world’s chess elite in the recent past. Their endeavors are now rewarded with success. Jean Hoffmann, Executive Director of USCF, announced:

“For the first time in history, the United States have three players in the Top 10: The world’s third, Fabiano Caruana, its fourth, Hikaru Nakamura, and its ninth, Wesley So.”

Measured by their ELO-ratings (2745.4) the US national team is now second best team in the world, behind Russia (2759.4). The first meaningful international tournament at which Caruana will represent the United States are the Chess Olympics in Baku next year.

And of course, there is this thing with the World Championship title. If Caruana were to win the world championship next year, he’d be the first American player since Bobby Fischer to accomplish this milestone.

Caruana answered the question whether he would feel like an American or Italian world champion in case he would actually win the title diplomatically:

“Why can’t I be both at the same time? I consider myself an American, as I was born in the States and grew up there. At the same time, I am Italian, because my Mother is Italian and the ancestors on my father’s side of the family were also Italian.”

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe

Chess Boxing: Sport with Strength, Endurance, and Cleverness

The Dutch action artist Iepe Rubingh invented a discipline called Chess Boxing” in 2003 that (in compliance with the comic book “Froid Équateur”) originally intended to combine sport professionals at board an in the ring. The extraordinary concept became popular in very short time which caused it to spread from Berlin to the Netherlands and the entire world and made it a competitive sport.

World Championship 2008 in Berlin: Nikolay Sazhin (Russia) against Frank Stoldt (Germany).

Chess Boxing

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The Ruldeset

A chess boxing battle is usually fought in eleven rounds; six of which are chess competitions, the other five are boxing rounds. Each round is three minutes long and the disciplines are fought in turns, beginning with a game of chess. This game remains the same throughout the entire competition and is interrupted by the rounds of boxing every three minutes. The exact position of every chess figure is registered and reconstructed on the board before every round of chess.

The participants have sixty second breaks in between rounds and the chess boxing competition can be decided prematurely through a knockout, technical knockout, or checkmate. Players may be disqualified after time trials (when a warning has been announced already). If one of the players resigns prematurely, he or she loses too. If all rounds are undecided and the last game of chess ends in a tie, the player with the alcohol en viagra most points in boxing prevails. If even the scores were equal in this discipline, the players playing the Black figures would win (which hasn’t occurred during competition yet).

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The Requirements

Players fight battles and competitions generic for plavix 75 mg in accordance with their weight category (lightweight, middle-weight, light heavyweight, and heavyweight). For admission at professional competitions, players must have at least 1600 ELO points and record of at least fifty amateur fights in boxing or another martial art.

Therefore, a chess boxer needs a high performance level in both disciplines. The competitors must be in good shape at rapid chess and must be able to switch between chess and boxing repeatedly and quickly, since this is the most challenging element of the sport. With adrenalin pumping and blood circulation at its highest level, the players must get their minds together within seconds to deliver a sound, calm, and tactical performance at the board. This game demands more from its players by the round, while they must cope with bodily exhaustion.

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The Preparation

The birthplace of chess boxing is considered to be Berlin, where inventor Iepe Rubingh founded the World Chess Boxing Organization (WCBO) in 2003 and of which he is still chairman today. Rubingh even won first World Championship took place in Amsterdam the same year. The following year, he founded the oldest chess boxing club of the world, the Chess Boxing Club Berlin. Since invented, the sport has gained popularity amongst sport professionals and spectators. More than eight hundred people watched the world championship qualifications in Cologne in 2006. Over twelve hundred tickets were sold for the following world championship battle in Berlin. The German player Frank Stoldt secured the first German championship title in 2007 and thus strengthened the country’s advanced position in chess boxing.

Even the FIDE supports this sport; FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov participated in a demonstration battle in 2008 to promote the sport’s worldwide popularity and acceptance. Another capital for chess boxing (next to Berlin) is London, where the London Chess Boxing Club has earned a reputation and came off winner at the first club challenge against Berlin with 2:1 points.

plavix dosage

During the last four years, the sport has gained popularity in Asia. The Chess Boxing Organization India (founded in 2011) has four hundred members today and in the largest chess boxing club in the world. The first association in Western Asia was founded in 2012, which is the Chess Boxing Organization Iran.

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Current World Champions

Middle-Weight: Sven Rooch (GER)

Light-Heavyweight: Leonid Chernobaev (BLR)

Heavyweight: Nikolay Sazhin (RUS)

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Practice

By now, there are particular training methods that have been tailored to the requirements of chess boxing. Blitz chess duels can thus be integrated in strength and cardio exercises, such as “track chess” which is a rapid chess duel combined with intensive sprints or rapid chess duels while boxing.

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Who would like to try chess boxing or is looking for fellow chess boxers can check out one of the many clubs and associations:

  • Chessboxing Club Berlin (CBCB)
  • Chessboxing Organisation of India (CBOI)
  • Chessboxing Organisation of Iran (CBOIR)
  • Italian Chessboxing Federation (FISP)
  • China Chessboxing (CBCN)
  • USA Chessboxing
  • Russian Chessboxing Organisation
  • London Chessboxing
  • LA Chessboxing
  • Boxwerk München
  • New York Chessboxing Club

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe

Chess Pieces Must Officially Be Renamed in Germany!

The German Federation for Assertion of General Equalization and Equal Opportunities for Women and Men (German abbreviation: DVDGC) has obtained assurance of altering the traditional names of chess pieces at the European Court of Justice.

Chess PiecesThe federation has been engaged in asserting the use of female red light icons in Germany traffic and has furthermore raised a voice in changing the articles of the nouns success, peace, and victory – the common article for those nouns used to be “der” implying for the grammatical gender to be masculine which was now changed to “die”, the feminine pendant. They have now obtained their first success in national sports. The federation itself claims only a partial success. Primarily they aimed for substitution of at least two figures (Bishop and Knight) through newly created pieces whose designs were supposed to severely differ from the others. The request, however, was declined, as implementing the changes would be too complicated and confusing. Special retail stores, for instance, wouldn’t be allowed to sell their chess sets remaining in stock. This alteration would furthermore lead to disparities in international tournaments, since other countries would continue to use the figures  they have always used.

The DVDGC is not going to withdraw their requests for equality because of one setback. Say they it is bad enough that the words rule and defeat  were accompanied by female articles and negative connotation in the German language, whilst a term as victory with a masculine article was understood completely different.

The inequality amongst chess pieces could not be tolerated any longer, according to the DVDGC. The female Queen has had to stand up against the Rook, Knight, Bishop, King, and Pawn on the board, which allegedly created a discriminating imbalance. Germany is therefore introducing the female Knight and female Bishop at instance.  

“We are convinced that this alteration will change chess in Germany fundamentally”, says DVDGC spokeswoman Irmgard Grundelmüser-Schachtler in her first interview. “The alterations will certainly promote chess among young women and encourage them to pay more attention to this traditional sport. They will identify with the game more easily and enjoy it.” In the recent past, the German Chess Federation has complained about the lack of young female talents.

The verdict consequently leads to editing of the entire German ruleset and literature on chess matters. Publishers must change their products until May 1, 2016. After that date they may no longer sell their original editions in book stores.

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Who is aware of today’s date might suspect: You have been target of our April fool hoax. Of course, Germany has not initiated the change of chess pieces’ names 🙂

Nevertheless, we would like to point out to you today that a few more female talents wouldn’t hurt chess competitions – Grab your daughter, friend, girlfriend, niece, mother, aunt, or neighbor and hit the board! 🙂

And: We did not mean to offend anyone with our little joke! Feminists and equal opportunities representatives are doing important jobs in Germany. Chessimo supports equal opportunities at any time!

(But as long as serious discussions about red light icons and verbal expressions are preferred over discussions about equal wages and salaries for equal performance, the author of this article takes the freedom of making a joke at the “engagement’s” expense).

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written by Sarah, translated by Birthe

Wei Yi: Youngest Grandmaster of all Time

The Chinese chess grandmaster Wei Yi is currently considered the first serious future challenge for Magnus Carlsen. For two reasons: He was born June 2, 1999 and is therefore only fifteen years old at the moment. Since March 2015, he has ranged above the mark of 2700 ELO points and became the youngest Super-Grandmaster of all time – and took over the first of Carlsen’s records.

Wie Yi

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Wei Yi’s development is a rocket-like ascend

At the young age of eight, the boy participated at the Chinese Chess Championship (Group B) and as a total newcomer scored a draw against Grandmaster Zhou Jianchao.

Wei won the 2010 Asian Youth Championship in the category Under 12 and shortly after the Youth World Championship. He was rewarded with the FIDE Master title thereafter.

He fulfilled the IM norm in 2012 at the Aeroflot Open in Moscow and at the Asian Individual Championship in Ho-Chi-Minh City. The victory over Richard Rapport and a draw against winner Alexander Ipatov helped him reach the first GM norm at the Youth World Championship in Athens. For this tournament only participants under twenty years old were admitted, Wei Yi was only twelve at that time. A few months later, he fulfilled the second GM norm at the 2nd INA Open in Jakarta, at which he prevailed over Michael Krasenkow and Sergey Fedorchuk.

In January 2013, Wei Yi became International Master.

In March, he competed at the Reykjavik Open, defeated Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and thus fulfilled the third GM norm. His performance at the Chess World Cup in Tromsö was remarkable as well – with victories over favorite players Ian Nepomniachtchi and Alexey Shirov he made if two third round, which is when he lost to Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.

He was announced Grandmaster in May 2013. At the age of fourteen and about five months, Wei held an astonishing ELO of 2602 points and thus became youngest player in history who surpassed a rating of 2600 points.

The story of success continued when Wei Yi helped the Chinese national chess team to win the gold medal at the Chess Olympics in Tromsö in August 2014, and when Group B dominated with 10.5 points out of 13 duels at the Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Vijk aan Zee the following January. Without a single defeat on his account, he achieved a better ELO-rating (2804) and David Navara and qualified for joining Group A of the same tournament in the 2016 edition at which only the world’s best players compete.

In February 2015, he achieved a shared 3rd to 11th rank at the Tradewise Gibraltar Masters and improved his rating to 2706 points. He rapidly advanced to rank 40 of the worldwide standings. In March, his rating of 2706 points was officially approved, which makes him the youngest player since implementation of the ELO rating system who holds an ELO of 2700 and above.

We dedicated an article to the question of whether China is becoming the world’s new chess nation and Wei Yi will grow to become the next Magnus Carlsen. Only three months later, the question is now more discussed than ever before. There is potential in the enthusiastic Wei Yi, without doubt. What the future holds for him depends on how he uses and utilizes his talent. Magnus Carlsen, for sure, should get ready.

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe

Veselin Topalov: World Class for a Quarter of a Century

Veselin-Topalov

The Bulgarian chess grandmaster Veselin Topalov (or in Cyrillic Веселин Топалов) celebrates his birthday today. It is not just any birthday – it is his 40th! Round lots seem to play a special role in his life anyway. At the exact age of 30, 10 years back, Topalov was crowned chess world champion. The best reason for us to have a closer look at the life of the superstar who has constantly stayed at the world’s top in matters of chess.

. Veselin Topalov was born Son of an economist and doctor on March 15 1975 in Russe, Bulgaria.

. In 1982, at the age of seven, he learned to play chess. Owed to his quick and remarkable development, he began his chess career early.

. Topalov won the U14 World Championship in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico in 1989.

. He was announced grandmaster in 1992.

. In 1993 he ranked 11th in worldwide standings and has remained at the world’s top ever since.

. 1994 was the year Topalov achieved the best ELO-performance at the Chess Olympics that he competed at with the Bulgarian national team.

. He had his longest sequence of successes in 1996 when he won in Madrid (1.-2.), Amsterdam (1.-2.) León (1.-2.), Novgorod (1.), Vienna (1.-3.), and Dos Hermanas (1.-3.).

. Topalov competed at the Chess Olympics with the Bulgarian national Team again in 1998 and 2000 and achieved the second best ELO-performance of all participants.

. Furthermore, he represented Bulgaria at the European Team Chess Championship in 1999 at which he delivered the best ELO-performance of all participants.

. The same year he participated at the European Club Cup as a member of the ŠK Bosna Sarajevo that won the tournament.

. At the international traditional tournament in Vijk aan Zee in 1999 Topalov played against Kasparov which is one of the most commented duel in the history of chess (he lost, unfortunately).

. In 2002 he made it all the way to the final duel at the Braingames Candidates’ Tournament which he lost to Peter Leko in the end.

. Topalov prevailed over World Champion Vladimir Kramnik at Vijk aan Zee in 2005 and thus ranked 3rd.

. With Kasparov, whom he defeated in the last round, he won the Tournament of Linares and also secured gold at the M-Tel Masters in Sofia one point ahead of Visvanathan Anand.

. Veselin Topalov won the 2005 edition of the double-rounded FIDE World Championship tournament at the Argentinian city San Luis prematurely. One round prior to the last he secured the victory and should have become first single World Champion in history. As the classical World Champion Kramnik was not present, the title remained divided.

. In 2005 topalov was awarded with the Chess Oscar.

. The year after he won a shared first rank with Visvanathan Anand at thr world-class tournament Corus Vijk aan Zee.

. In addition, he prevailed over European Champion Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu and repeatedly won the M-Tel Masters in Sofia.

. Topalov and Kramnik faced each other for the battle for the title in 2006. The question of who would be the single World Champion was finally to be answered. After the two were even in score and had drawn in the last round, Kramnik was able to decide the rapid chess tiebreaks in his favor – and thus became Chess World Champion.

. In 2007 Topalov, Aronian, and Radjabov won the Grandmaster Tournament in Vijk aan Zee. Another victory followed at the Spanish tournament of Category 19 the same year.

. He won the Bilbao Final Chess Masters and the Pearl Spring Tournament in Nanjing in 2008. With the Bulgarian national team he also achieved the third best result at the Chess Olympics.

. Topalov won the 2009 edition of the Candidates‘ Final in Sofia prematurely which qualified him to compete for the World Championship title.

. In 2010 he competed against World Champion Visvanathan Anand at the World Championship duel in Sofia, which he lost with a one point disadvantage. In April that year his ELO rated 2816.9 points and is therefore the seventh highest rating ever achieved.

. At the Candidates’ Tournament 2011 for the World Championship 2012 Topalov made it to quarter finals, but then dropped out after a defeat through Kamsky.

. Topalov achieved the best result at third board of all European Club Cup participants (as a member of SOCAR Baku).

. At the FIDE Grand Prix 2012/13 he secured ahead of Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Fabiano Caruana the overall victory and qualified for the Candidates’ Tournament 2014.

. He also represented Bulgaria at the European Team Chess Championship 2013 and achieved the best result at third board.

. In 2014 he, unfortunately, he ended up in bottom rank with 6 out of 14 points at the Candidates’ Tournament. At the Chess Olympics, however, he achieved the best result at first board as a member of the Bulgarian national team. He also won the European Club Cup with SOCAR Baku and achieved the best result at second board. He ranked 3rd (behind Carlsen and Caruana) at the Sinquefield Cup the same year.

. The year 2015 had a good start for him at stake: In February he ranked 5th with a 2747 ELO-performance at the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival.

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After several successful decades of chess Topalov is currently 4th in worldwide standings at 2798 ELO points behind Carlsen, Caruana, and Nakamura.

All the best, Veselin! To a successful year!

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe

 

The World’s 20 Best Chess Players

magnus carlsenThe official FIDE world rankings have already undergone significant changes this year.

While Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana persistently hold out on first and second rank, Hikaru Nakamura has leaped forward due to his recent successes like the third rank at the Zurich Chess Challenge. Certainly worth recognition when considering that he only barely stayed in the Top 10 in the January rakings (9th). His predecessor as the world’s third, Alexander Grischuk, was expelled to 5th place from which he ousted Visvanathan Anand. The vice World Champion now has to comply with 6th rank.

Cursed by his fate is Radoslav Voitaszek who fell back five ranks since the beginning of the year and brings up the rear now. Peter Svidler, Nikita Vitiugov, and Dmitry Andreikin have even completely vanished from the Top 20.

David Navara, Liren Ding, and Evgeny Tomashevsky, on the other hand, have reason to celebrate. The three of them have just arrived in the world’s Top 20! Tomashevsky gained a remarkable 29 ELO-points this year, after he had proved his abilities at the 3rd Grand Prix tournament last week. The Chinese number one, Liren Ding, advanced from 22nd to 19th rank in January and made it to 15th rank now that he performed well at the Tata Steel Tournament. David Navara is literally rocking the ongoing European Championship and has already prevailed over Rui, Parligras, Shimanov, Potkin, and Kempinsky. Not a bad count after eight rounds. It remains to be seen how the final results of this championship and the Reykjavik Open in mid-March affect merry go-round of the world’s Top 20.

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Current Ranking

Rank

Name

Title

Country

Rating

Change

B-Year

1

Magnus Carlsen

G

NOR

2863

1990

2

Fabiano Caruana

G

ITA

2802

1992

3

Hikaru Nakamura

G

USA

2798

↑ (9)

1987

4

Veselin Topalov

G

BUL

2798

1975

5

Alexander Grischuk

G

RUS

2794

↓ (3)

1983

6

Viswanathan Anand

G

IND

2791

↓ (5)

1969

7

Anish Giri

G

NED

2790

1994

8

Wesley So

G

PHI

2788

↑ (10)

1993

9

Vladimir  Kramnik

G

RUS

2783

↓ (8)

1975

10

Levon Aronian

G

ARM

2770

↓ (6)

1982

11

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

G

FRA

2765

1990

12

Sergey Karjakin

G

RUS

2757

1990

13

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

G

AZE

2756

1985

14

David Navara

G

CZR

2750

↑ (23)

1985

15

Ding Liren

G

CHN

2749

↑ (22)

1992

16

Boris Gelfand

G

ISR

2747

↓ (14)

1968

17

Evgeny  Tomashevsky

G

RUS

2745

↑ (31)

1987

18

Michael Adams

G

ENG

2745

1971

19

Dmitry Jakovenko

G

RUS

2742

↑ (20)

1983

20

Radoslaw Wojtaszek

G

POL

2738

↓ (15)

1987

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe

Chess Jargon for Beginners

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Relatively often, beginners and people interested in chess are scared away by complicated terms and do not dare diving deeper into the topic.

Having only just learned how to move the figures on the board and facing a more experienced player, who then asks you why you haven’t castled yet, advises you not to use the Isolani strategy, or tells you that you should have used your Pawn advantage to create a free Pawn in order to avoid the minority-driven attack, can be frustrating.

Shoptalk, after all, is just as big of a part of chess as strategic thinking and the poker face is. Beginners, however, tend to get the impression that the complexity of chess is tied to serious time commitment to only learn the basics.

Today, Chessimo shows you that the professional terms aren’t so difficult at all and gives you an overview of the fundamental vocabulary. Behind the big expressions are usually simple positions and move sequences. Get yourself a cup of coffee in a fifteen-minute break, lean back and look forward to wearing the smarty-pants during the next game of chess!

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The Opening Game

The “Opening” is the very beginning of a game and that part of the duel that emphasizes the phase of piece development and taking the chance of castling as early as possible. The opening stage is over when one or both players’ Rooks are connected. The player who finishes the development phase first takes initiative. Opening variations are defined as three different playing styles:

  • The Open Game

Begins with the sequence 1. e4 e5

Risky variation – every mistake leads to loss

Example: Italian, Spanish

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  • Semi-Open Game

Begins with 1. e4, Black continues with any move other than e5

Calm variation

Example: Sicilian, French

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  • Closed Game

Begins with anything but 1. e4

Few tactical opening elements, played with few losses

Example: Queen’s Gambit, Larsen-System

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Castling

Castling serves two primary functions simultaneously: it puts the King in a protected position behind an own Pawn and offers the opportunity to develop a Rook that can easily occupy an open or semi-open line. If both of the following mandatory preconditions are met, the King and Rook can move at the same time:

  • Neither of the two figures have been moved in the game
  • The King is not in check
  • The squares that the King must pass are not in check
  • The King is not in check after castling
  • The squares between the King and Rook are not occupied by other pieces

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If these conditions are met, the King can move two squares towards the Rook. The Rook may then move past the King to its neighboring square. Chess professionals distinguish between short and long castling (depending on whether the King is moved towards the left-hand or right-hand Rook). Short castling is safer than long castling, as it can be performed in shorter time (one only has to move two figures in between the King and Rook). In addition, the King stays in further distance to the board’s center and therefore in a safer position behind an own Pawn.

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En Passant

If a first move is made with a Pawn two fields forward, one has to account for a few particularities. If it moves past the offence line of an opposite Pawn (and is then located right next to it), this exact opposite Pawn is allowed to capture yours immediately after your move (and only then). Capturing en passant must always be carried out right away.

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The Center

The center of the chess board is made up of the following squares: e4, e5, d4, and d5. The so-called big center is that square in between the cornering fields c3, c6, f3, and f6. The opening’s objective to obtain the advantage of space. Who is in space advantage, claims more mobility for his pieces (while the Knight controls eight squares in the center, a corner piece can only move onto one of two squares) and is therefore flexible in positioning his figures on one wing or the other.

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Structure of Pawns

Isolani – Pawns without another back-up Pawn in the same color on a neighboring line. Therefore, they can only be covered by pieces other than Pawns if attacked. The crucial weakness of an Isolani is the fact that the square right in front of it is weak, as it cannot be controlled by another Pawn and is therefore easily taken over by the opposite color.

Backward Pawn – Pawns behind the line of their neighboring Pawns that cannot move forward, because an opposite Pawn holds control of that square. Usually, a Backward Pawn disrupts the line of defending pieces. In addition, the square in front of it can be preoccupied by a piece of the opposite color.

Double Pawns – Pawns of the same color in positions on the same line. Double Pawns are less flexible in movement than common Pawns and more vulnerable to attacks of the opposite side, especially when they are Isolani too. Nevertheless, Double Pawns don’t necessarily have to be a disadvantage: at times, they can compensate by holding control of an open or semi-open Line or of the center.

Hanging Pawns – Pawns on lines with no Pawns of the same color neighboring them. When positioned in a line, they can control several squares in front of them which is an advantage, but they cannot be defended by other Pawns. If one of them moves forwards, a backward Pawn and a weak square occur which can be taken advantage of by the opponent.

Passed Pawn – Pawn with no opposite Pawns in the way. On the line they are part of as well as of neighboring lines. A Passed Pawn is considered a harmful weapon, as it can quickly reach the eighth line and be promoted (see “Promotion”).

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Promotion

If a Pawn reaches the opposite base line it must immediately (within the same move) be promoted to a Bishop, Knight, Rook, or Queen.

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Minority Attack

If a player holds a Pawn Majority on either side of the board, the opponent can initiate a minority attack on the opposite side. Such attack means moving the Pawns forward for capturing. The opponent will then be left with only one Pawn or a Backward Pawn.

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Fianchetto

If a Bishop is placed at the edge of the own piece positioning, in a cave of the Pawn Structure on one of the two main diagonals of the board, professionals speak of a “Fianchetto”. Sounds complicated, but isn’t complicated at all in practice. Go ahead and google a few pictures, that’ll help you understand J

This positioning of the Bishop is very effective and therefore very popular in a number of opening strategies in chess. The Fianchetto move is in fact an opening move, like the King’s Fianchetto, but can also be applied in mid-game.

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“Zugzwang” – German for a situation in chess with compulsion to move

Zugzwang is a situation in which the positioning after every possible move will be worse than before or if no move had been made at all. Pushing the opponent toward Zugzwang is particularly important in the end-game of Bishop against Knight. The Bishop is in serious advantage, as it can make moves within a waiting position, as it practically controls all the same fields if it makes a diagonal move. The Knight, on the other hand, loses control of the previous fields after every move.

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Opposition

Kings are in Opposition, if they face each other on the same line, row, or diagonal only one square away from each other. Opposition is a derivative of Zugzwang: the King obliged to move lets the other Kind invade his own position.

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Stalemate

If the player who is up for the next turn cannot make another move and the King is not in check, the duels ends in a draw. Professionals refer to this situation as a Stalemate, which is rated like a draw.

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Draw

A duel ends in a draw (tie game = 0.5 points),

  • If the draw was negotiated consensually
  • If a Stalemate occurs (see above)
  • If even every possible series of moves lead to a win or loss
  • If a positioning has appeared for the third time and the same player is up for a move
  • If for fifty moves without movement of any Pawns or capture
  • If a clock of either of the players has run out, but the duel cannot be won by own means (not through no legal series of moves, in accordance with FIDE paragraph 6.10).

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Did you now begin to see? If you feel like spending more time with the theory of chess, have a look at our 101 Chess Tips!

Do you know any other professional terms that you need a simple explanation for? Leave a comment or send us a message!

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe

How Much Money Do Chess Professionals Make?

Money

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Many enthusiastic chess players wonder at some point in their career whether or not they can make a living from their hobby. This thought of earning money through passionately playing on the board tempts many.

Today, we report about different ways for chess players to earn money.

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Significant Amounts of Prize Money for Top-Professionals

It is no surprise at all that Magnus Carlsen should have it together financially. For only the last two World Championship titles he took home over two million US Dollars ($900,000 in 2014 and $1,500,000 in 2013. The runner-ups are rewarded with not much less than that – Visvanathan Anand still made $600,000 in 2014 and $900,000 in 2013 when losing the World Championship duels.

To qualify as Magnus Carlsen’s challenger chess players have to prove themselves through a set of hurdles: For starters, one must win the FIDE Grand Prix. Four Grand Prix tournaments are being held for the upcoming World Championship. Each of the sixteen participants must compete in three out of four events. The prize money fund for each tournament amounts to €120,000, €20,000 of which go to the victor. The right to participate in these tournaments is reserved exclusively for the world-class players, who make quite a salary with their performances. Within the last few weeks, Hikaru Nakamura won £20,000 at the Tradewise Gibraltar Open, Yanyi Yu was rewarded with $25,000 at the Qatar Masters Open, while Vladimir Kramnik and Anish Giri received $15,000 and $10,000 at the same event. Nevertheless, most of the top-class players don’t make a fortune with only participating in chess tournaments. Fabiano Caruana, number 2 in worldwide standings (right behind Magnus Carlsen) participated in a number of tournaments during the last twelve months: Grenke Chess Classic (4th), London Chess Classic (6th), Grand Prix (7th), Sinquefield Cup (1st, $100,000 prize money), Torneio Agosto (3rd), World Championship in Blitz Chess (36th) and Rapid Chess (2nd, $24,000), as well as the Zurich Chess Challenge (2nd). Participating in chess tournaments he made an average monthly salary of $10,000, in which the victory at the Sinquefield Cup weighs heavily.

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Open Tournaments as a Source of Income?

The world’s Top 20 does not only profit from prize money. Most tournament organizers decorate themselves with prestigious names and offer the professional players free participation, board & lodging. Many chess players in their early careers can only dream of such invitation. Along with travelling expenses, they usually pay high entry fees and board & lodging from their own pocket. Prize funds, if even existent, barely cover the incurred costs. The victor of the recent Amateur Chess Championship, with participants of ELO-ratings under 2,000 points, on the Greek island Evia won €1,000 prize money. Chess enthusiasts who have not made it to the “who-is-who” of chess yet may categorize this sport an expensive hobby rather than as a lucrative additional income. Competition is fierce at open tournaments, winning chances are low, and the risks of only becoming richer in experience are high.

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Alternative: Team Membership

To achieve a reliable extra income most professionals have no other option than joining a team (or many teams) in league games. Regardless of the game results players are paid for tournament participation. The salaries vary between clubs and professional level and amount to €150 to €500. The goal of most players is to participate in as many league games as possible – and they enjoy a very special privilege in this sport. In chess, players have the right to represent several different countries at a time. Only at the European Chess Club Cup players have to decide which country they would like to represent at the tournament. However, only the best of the best have this difficult decision to make.

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Having More Than One Career Pillar

Government support for chess is very limited in some countries (in Germany’s case chess was almost completely cut off), so that many players do not have the opportunity to focus on their chess career. Many young talents are forced to reduce their passion to a spare-time activity – next to high school, college, or job training. Below an ELO-rating of 2650 points it is close to impossible to earn more with chess than is invested in it. This is in distinct contrary to countries like China, Russia, or India where chess prodigies have all kinds of possibilities to receive intensive coaching.

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Expertise as an Additional Source of Income

As many countries don’t offer their chess talents sufficient sources of income in league membership and/or tournament participation, ‘All-rounders’ have better chances to make a living from their passion for chess. Enthusiasm for the sport can be profitable in neighboring businesses as well – Professionals pass on their expertise as coaches and built a second pillar in their pay-roll. There is always an option of publicizing books, eBooks, specialists’ articles, newspaper columns, blogs, instructional videos, and online comments to make additional income. Whoever has solid expertise and good game performance but isn’t exactly a prodigy must be creative today and always keep an eye open for innovative ideas and engagements. Undoubtedly, it is a time-consuming business to make money with chess.

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe