India's first chess features print magazine published quarterly from Lucknow since 2004 by Aspire Welfare Society.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Women's World Chess Championship Anna Ushenina vs Hou Yifan Begins

Ukraine's Anna Ushenina - reigning Women's World Chess Champion - begins her defence of the title in Taizhou Hotel, China today against China's Hou Yifan. The opening ceremony of the match was held on Tuesday. Xiao Min, the vice-president of Chinese Olympic Committee and Assistant Director of National Sports Bureau, declared the Women’s World Championship Match open. Ushenina got White in the drawing of colours ceremony. 

Yang Junan, the President of Chinese Chess Association, welcomed guests to Taizhou and said, “Through years’ development, under the lead of government and chess association, chess in Taizhou is very popular and contributes a lot to the development of chess in China. Here also comes out many excellent chess players among whom Hou Yifan is the outstanding representative. I believe that this event held in Taizhou will further raise the reputation of Taizhou and promote chess in this city."

FIDE President Kirsan Iljumzhinov congratulated everybody with the start of the Match, expressed his gratitude to Ms. Xiao Min, the Vice president of Chinese Olympic Committee and Assistant Director of National Sports Bureau, the Mayor of Taizhou city Mr. Xu Guoping, FIDE Vice-President Mr. Chu Bo, the President of Chinese Chess Association Mr.Yang Junan, for the attention which chess receives here.

After the opening ceremony the Women’s world champion Anna Ushenina, FIDE President Kirsan Iljumzhinov and guests were invited for the excursion to impressive China Medical City.

In the evening the World champion Anna Ushenina and challenger Hou Yifan inspected the playing venue and checked the lighting. The Chief Arbiter Panagiotis Nikolopoulos drew the attention of the participants to time control, "zero tolerance" rule and the absence of any restrictions concerning draw offer. The members of the Appeals Committee Chairman Jorge Vega, David Jarett and FIDE Supervisor Ali Nihat Yazici were introduced to players.

The first game will start at 3 p.m. local time on 11th of September.

Official website

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

An Incredible Secret KGB Chess Tactic used by Putin to Checkmate the US

We just received this fascinating article from our friend Dr Michael Metzger who is a Russian and KGB expert now defected to the West. We look forward to receiving your opinion on the subject at, or at our Facebook post about the article. (Yes, Dr Michael Metzger also sent this story to, so readers need not worry that we plagiarized.)

Kavlov in 1949, a secret photograph taken by US intelligence camera concealed in his chess board.

Russia’s incredibly quick response to John Kerry’s suggestion yesterday that Syria could avert a US strike if it handed its chemical weapons was a masterful tactical move by the Kremlin master. Putin instructed his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to make a statement that Russia will ensure that Syria will surrender and agree to the destruction of its chemical weapon, extending a process a lifeline to president Obama who was struggling to convince US representatives of the necessity of attacking Syria.

Many commentators have pointed that Putin’s quick thinking has offered a convenient solution for all involved, but few have recognised the role that chess played in this incident. Keen enthusiast of the game will recognise that Putin’s proposal was a variation on the classic ‘Jabowntski sacrifice’, in which a functionally-degraded chess piece is sacrificed to create space for manoeuvre elsewhere. But that is only half the story.
Few people will know of the role chess played in Soviet strategic thinking and the various programmes that the USSR established to train its military and intelligence elites in the art of Zevsebia, or chess-think. Chess-think was for the USSR what game theory was for the US during the Cold War, but the Soviets went further than the Americans in making chess-think second nature to their cadres. 

According to Soviet documents that were declassified in 2004, the first Zevsebia programme was initiated in 1932 when Stalin, an obsessive chess player, put the man who would later head the NKVD Beria in charge of running the programme. Beria recruited Russian chess grandmaster Kavlov, also a keen amateur boxer who won a bronze medal in the 1924 Olympics, and charged him with developing the outline of the programme.

Kavlov’s template was to survive almost unchanged until 1986, when Gorbachev, who had an aversion to chess, cancelled the programme after decades of successful operation during which it trained hundreds of the top Soviet cadres. Kavlov’s combination of intellectual and physical rigorous training provided a winning formula for the programme, and Stalin often joked that graduates were ‘our own Supermen’.

One of the few known Jabowntski sacrifice notations

The programme was only offered however to a small number of top operatives that had the appropriate levels of mental and physical fitness to pass the rigorous training. In the KGB for example, only agents promoted to the prestigious X2, nicknamed the steel professors, were allowed to receive a Zevsebia training. The X2, as you might have expected, was Vladimir Putin’s old unit in the KGB. An even more interesting fact is that the six remaining Zevsebia graduates are all associated with Putin’s inner policy circles, as former Kremlin insider Yuri Nodov revealed in his critical but obscure 2008 book ‘The Circle’. 

In one of the few available written documents on Zevsebia, Nodov published a description of the programme and its training routines in his book, providing a valuable insight that has gone largely unnoticed in the West. Not only were the trainees subjected to intensive training in tactics, military theory, chess and physical fitness, they were forced to compete in chess under extreme conditions. 

For example, the trainees were forced to play rounds of chess inside refrigerator rooms at below-zero temperatures. They were also made to compete inside very hot rooms, invariably while hopping one foot or doing push-ups. It isn’t surprising than fewer than fifteen per cent of all candidates graduated from the programme. It won’t come as a surprise that Putin came top of his class. Putin no doubt came across the ‘Jabowntski sacrifice’ during his Zevsebia training, as Russian chess players were forbidden to use it in play and it remained a tactic known only to those within the intelligence community. 

Stalin had good reasons to maintain the secrecy. During the siege of Leningrad, he and Beria and Kavlov implemented a variation of the manoeuvre by offering Hitler forces what appeared to be a valuable strategic position on the outskirts of the Zabvadna, only for the jubilant Nazis to realize too late that this allowed Stalin to outflank them and finally manage to break the long siege. Yaroslav Mitske’s book ‘The Gamble’ has a detailed description of the operation. Mitske also describes how Stalin had the sixty officers who were in charge of the operation shot after the war ended to preserve the secrets of the ‘Jabowntski sacrifice’, no doubt because of his paranoia.

Young Putin at the Zevsebia school, in its trademark uniform.

For Zevsebia experts, there is no doubt that Putin’s manoeuvre yesterday when he offered to sacrifice the Assad regime’s chemical weapons in return for staving off the US attack was inspired by the classic chess move. The Kremlin will no doubt dismiss those reports as fantasy, as it has done for decades but the evidence is there for all to see. It’s not a little bit ironic that the manoeuvre that allowed the US to save face was developed by the Soviets for precisely the opposite reason. 

Stalin and Beria at a visit to the Zevsebia school in 1947. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Sinquefield Chess Video: Nakamura

Hikaru Nakamura is the top chess player in the United States, among the ten best in the world, and he’s playing in one of the year’s biggest tournaments in his and our backyard. He’s moved to St. Louis to pursue his dream of a chess world championship. Here's a video feature on the American player and the Sinquefield Chess Cup starting today in St Louis. €50 Discount for ACO World Chess Championship 2014

The Amateur Chess Organization (ACO) and have partnered for a special opportunity for discounted rates for the ACO World Chess Championship 2014!

Did you know that every chess player now has the opportunity to become a world champion?

 That's right! As we look forward to this November's “professional level” World Championship Match between Carlsen and Anand, the world's largest group of amateur chess enthusiasts (that's right, you guys) should know that there is also the ACO World Amateur Chess Championship to consider!

All players rated below 2400 can compete in the Championship, and this year has partnered with ACO to offer members a very special discounted entry fee. 

The World Amateur Championships are broken into different 7 rating classes, ensuring that each player has a fair chance of becoming world champion in his or her class!

 About the ACO...

Don't know about the ACO?...The Amateur Chess Organization organizes events for amateur chess players all around the world.

The 1st ACO World Amateur Chess Championship (WACC) took place in Dubai in 2012 and had 72 players.

The 2nd ACO Championship was held on the Greek island Crete in May 2013, where 168 players from 28 countries participated.

The 3rd ACO World Amateur Chess Championship (WACC) will take place on the beautiful Greek island of Rhodes on June 7th-16th, 2014.

...And this year's championship is an “open tournament” (everyone can sign-up!) and has total cash purse of 5000 Euros!

A: 2200 – 2400
B: 2000 – 2199
C: 1800 – 1999
D: 1600 – 1799
E: 1400 – 1599
F: 1200 – 1399
G: Unrated – 1199

The winner of each rating group will become the 2014 ACO World Amateur Champion of their respective rating class. Members who register by emailing this address will receive the special discount of 50 EURO per player / entry!

More information can be found at the official tournament website!


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