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

Monday, October 28, 2013

India, France have Highest Number of Rated Chess Players in the World

India has just moved up to join France as the No. One ranked chess nation in terms of FIDE rated players. India rose to 35,200, and this number will be moving back and forth in the next few days until November when India is expected to be No. One.

Strangely, 35,200 is the same as France, the leader for over ten years. But India is growing steeply and France moderately. This had to happen. This week, one can expect India to surge ahead of the French number and never look back! Asia set to rule world chess.

About four decades back, India had just Manuel Aaron on the rating list. People still remember him since his name was the first entry in the rating list for many decades. For many years he was the only Indian and later among the few Indians.

Since, Anand won the World Junior in 1987 and then went on to became World Champion in Tehran 2000, the numbers tended to grow sharply. More players took to the game in the summer of 2001 and the progress kept growing.

Anand might be the primary cause for all this but the organisers, particularly, the All India Chess Federation did plenty of ground work. Rated events were organised all over the country and particularly more in the state of Tamil Nadu, Anand's home state.

In Europe, when Veselin Topalov emerged, Bulgaria's mobile networks supported elite events. In India it was even more basic. NIIT together with many state Governments supported school chess. On its part, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu went several steps ahead and cleared the way for chess in schools programme. Children in the age group 7-17 play chess in Tamil Nadu. Many states have chess in schools programme, but Tamil Nadu is one step ahead. They also practically implement it.

Two years back, India had overtaken the Germans and the Russians in the rating list. Earlier this year, the Indians went past Spain. Now, when experts were expecting India to get the better of France around March 2014, this sudden surge in the chess activity related to the world championship has helped India go past or equal France in October.

India's growth style is pyramid. The base is broad. A recent study related article in The Economist said more Indians play chess than any other nation. This number comes as no surprise. But that it came a few months ago needs to be analysed, since we might be observing a 2013 wave on the back of this Anand v Carlsen match, which could be several times bigger than the 2001 Anand wave after he won the world title in 2000.

The AICF and its administrators have laid a perfect platform for chess to grow in the land which invented the game. Our style will soon be copied by leading lights and European nations. Anand is in his final phase of preparation and not available to react to this good news. "It is all team effort," said V. Hariharan, Honorary Secretary of the All India Chess Federation while reacting to this news. "This is great news," said Bharat Singh, CEO of the AICF. D.V. Sundar, Vice President of FIDE was delighted about the timing of this achievement as India is making the final touches to the organising of the Anand v Carlsen match from Nov 7-28. (AICF Press Release – 28.10.2013)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Carlsen's Form vs Anand's Experience

The clash itself is still a good two weeks away but the buzz is already palpable for the World Chess Championship match between Viswanathan Anand and world number one Magnus Carlsen, who is half the Indian legend's age.

Given the statistics, Anand holds the advantage. The two have played 29 games so far in the Classical format with Anand winning six and Carlsen clinching three while the remaining 20 ending in draws.

The November 9 to 28 match can be best described by a famous line -- An unstoppable force meeting an immovable object.

Carlsen is the unstoppable force, having broken all records, scaled one peak after the other like no one else and won almost everything except the World championship at a young age of just 22 years.

Anand, on the other hand, has been the immovable object at the top of World Chess for nearly 22 years.

It was in 1991-92 that the Tiger from Madras won the Reggio Emilia tournament ahead of Soviet greats such as Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov and announced his arrival in a fitting manner in the elite chess circles.

Carlsen was one year and one month old then.

Anand's perseverance, ability to adapt to new challenges and creativity has helped him stay on top for all these years.

This has resulted in five World Championship victories coming in knockout, match tournament, and three one-on-one matches, making him not only the undisputed champion of the world but also one of the legends of the game.

Carlsen grew up watching Anand at the top and in some of the games that the Indian won between them, he was quite severe.

Carlsen seems to have learned all the lessons well. Psychologically especially and this explains his results against Anand in the last few years. The Norwegian has won all his three games post 2009 and has beaten Anand in the last two encounters.

While the top players are hardly intimidated by rating differences, for the layman the gap between ratings (95) seems too much in favour of Carlsen.

The 2870 (highest ever) rating has come from some phenomenal results and says a lot about Carlsen's ability to play for a victory in all situations.

The stamina, ability to calculate, to play very long games, tiring out opposition, almost hypnotising opponents into making mistakes have been crucial to his stupendous success.

And going by current form, the Norwegian holds a definite edge over Anand.

It's almost an intriguing that the five-time world champion Indian starts an underdog against someone half his age.

A few months back in South Africa, Garry Kasparov shared a hearty laugh drawing similarities to his victory over Anatoly Karpov in the 80s. However, Kasparov then won several matches and tournaments against (mostly) the younger generation.

Grandmaster Parimarjan Negi is probably right in his assertion, "I would trust a coin-toss more than any predictions." -- PTI

For cool chess stories surrounding the Anand - Carlsen World Chess Championship 2013 check:

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Computer World Chess: Komodo wins Stage 2; Stage 3 Begins Today

The chess engine Komodo is the winner of Stage 2 of the world’s strongest computer chess championship TCEC. Komodo, the engine by Don Dailey and Larry Kaufman rated 3084 elo, achieved 14,0/19 to edge the solid opposition. Second place is for the new Stockfish 4, by M. Costalba, T. Romstad and J. Kiiski. The 3098 rated engine collected 13,5/19 and what deprived it of the first place was probably the direct match loss against Komodo.

Third place is for Gull 2.2 by Vadim Demichev with 12,0/19. It started as 8th seeded, but showed spectacular ability outplaying all lower rated competitors and getting a full point against the winner Komodo. With the same points as Gull, but with lower tiebreak, at fourth and fifth positions are Hiarcs. It is the top placed engine under 3000 elo and fared through the event with good start and strong finish.

Houdini 3, the absolute champion of the competition, remained at 5th position. The engine by Robert Houdart rated 3145 elo scored 11,5/19. A total of 10 engines qualify for Stage 3 (that starts October 19th at 12:00 CET). The remaining qualifiers are Bouquet with 11,5/19, Rybka with 11,5/19, Critter with 11,5/19, Naum with 10,0/19, and Junior with 8,5/19. (final standings all engines here)

Replay the games of Stage 1 / Replay the games of TCEC Stage 2 / See the current live game / Full list of participants / Information / Play online at Chessdom Arena

Stage 3 starts today!

TCEC enters the decisive stages of the competition, that will allow the chess world to evaluate which is the strongest engine at the moment. All 10 participants qualified at this stage deserve to be here – Komodo, Stockfish, Gull, Hiarcs, Houdini, Bouquet, Rybka, Critter, Naum, and Junior. It is a field with average ELO approaching 3100 and exciting chess is expected ahead.

To spice up things even more, the tireless tournament director Martin Thoresen has decided that Stage 3 will be thematic – the openings used by the engines will be taken from Candidates 2013, Sinquefield Cup, and King’s Tournament ! After seeing how the top chess players played out the strategy in the given situations, it will be curious to se what the engines will add to that.

Stage 3 starts October 19th at 12:00 CET Watch the live games here / Visit the official website

These are the evaluation graphs, time usage and the depth search of the engines. Onno was always a step ahead

Stage 3
Stage 3 consists of the 10 engines that qualified from Stage 2. The format for Stage 3 is a double round robin and the openings are chosen per pair so that each engine will play both sides of the same opening against each other. The top 6 will move on to Stage 4 while the rest is out of nTCEC for the current Season. 90 games are played in Stage 3.

See predictions for Stage 3 here

Stage 4

Stage 4 consists of the 6 engines that qualified from Stage 3. It is a hexa round robin and will use the same book rules as in Stage 3, meaning that the openings are chosen randomly per pair so that each engine will play both sides of the same opening against each other. The top 2 will qualify to play the Superfinal, while the other 4 engines are out of nTCEC for the current Season. 90 games are played in Stage 4.

After Stage 4 has finished, the top 2 engines will meet in a Superfinal of 48 games. This match is played with 24 different openings so that each engine plays both black and white of the same position. The match will be presented with opening 1 used in games 1 and 2, then opening 2 used in games 3 and 4 etc. If the match is theoretically won for one side before game 48, the match will still continue until all 48 games have been played. In the case of a drawn match there will be a Rapid match of 12 games with a time control of 25′ + 10″. In case it is still tied there will be a Blitz match of 6 games with a time control of 3″ + 2′. When the Superfinal is over, the current Season ends.

The nTCEC Grand Champion

The winner of the Superfinal will be crowned the nTCEC Grand Champion and will keep this title until there is a winner in the next Superfinal. There is no automatic qualification for the reigning Grand Champion, it will have to go all the way through the next Season for it to be able to defend the title.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Russian Chess Superfinal 2013: Peter Svidler, Valentina Gunina Champions

Peter Svidler and Valentina Gunina have won the Russian National Chess Champion 2013. Svidler wins the title for a record seventh time, while Gunina wins it for the second time. Svidler beat Ian Nepomniachtchi in the tiebreak. In the last round, Ian Nepomniachtchi was able to capitalise on a blunder by Vladimir Kramnik to catch up with Svidler as the latter drew a game with Sergey Karjakin. 

(From top left) Peter Svidler, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Nikita Vitiugov, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Valentina Gunina and Natalia Pogonina. Photos: Boris Dolmatovski

Svidler and Nepomniachtchi then faced each other in a 15-minute rapid playoff which was won by Svidler 1.5-0.5. Also, Nikita Vitiugov was able to beat Vladimir Kramnik for the third spot on a better tiebreak score.

GM Valentina Gunina drew with GM Alexandra Kosteniuk to become the Russian Women's Chess Champion 2013. Kosteniuk ended just half-point behind the winner and is the Women's Vice-Champion of Russia 2013. Gunina and Kosteniuk went into the last round with only half point as a difference. While Gunina needed to draw to win the title, Kosteniuk needed a win. In fact, the 12th Women's World Chess Champion got out of the opening with a winning edge but, the hard-fought game drifted into a draw eventually.

Valentina Gunina and Alexandra Kosteniuk very much set the pace of the tournament ahead of the rest of the field which was bunched together a full point away. 

The Russian Chess Championships (known as the Russian Super Final) for men and women was held from 5th to 14th October at the State Historical and Architectural Museum in Nizhny Novgorod. Both events were held according to the round robin system with 10 players each. The total prize fund for both groups is 6 million RUB (approx 138,000 EUR).

Final Standings (Men):

1. Peter Svidler 6.5 2. Ian Nepomniachtchi - 6.5
3. Nikita Vitiugov 4. Vladimir Kramnik - at 5.5
5. Dmitry Andrejkin - 5
6. Sergey Karjakin, 7. Ernest Inarkiev - 4.5
8. Aleksey Goganov - 3.5
9. Alexander Motylev - 2.5
10. Anton Shomo - 1

Final Standings (Women):
1. Valentina Gunina - 7
2. Alexandra Kosteniuk - 6.5 
3. Natalia Pogonina - 5.5
4-6. Aleksandra Goryachkina, Baira Kovanova and Ekaterina Kovalevskaya - 4.5 points
7-8. Tatiana Kosintseva, Anastasia Bodnaruk - 3.5
9-10. Alina Kashlinskaya, Daria Charochkina - 3

You can find games and detailed tournament updates at the official website of the Russian Chess Federation.

The tournament was organised by the Russian Chess Federation in cooperation with the Charity Foundation of Elena and Gennady Timchenko with support from the Government of the Nizhny Novgorod region. Continuing with the tradition of 'Chess in the museums' begun by hosting the Anand-Gelfand World Chess Championship 2012 at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow on the initiative of businessmen Andrei Filatov and Gennady Timchenko, the Russian Superfinal The venue for the prestigious tournament in Nizhny Novgorod will be the State Historical and Architectural Museum Manor Rukavishnikov. The Nizhny Novgorod State Art Museum also took part in the organisation of the tournament.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sunday Photo Chess Trivia: Name the Girls Challenging Magnus Carlsen

Here are two photos of the very talented World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen across the chess board with two very interesting (and talented young ladies). Can you name the girls?

The first photo is by Espen Agdestein (World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen's manager) and the second photo is by Tata Steel Chess Press from the tournament earlier this year. For the answers, just select with your cursor (horizontally) the white space after this colon:  Liv Tyler and Hou Yifan.  Hope you are also following our special articles at on the 2013 World Chess Championship Match Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen coming up in November. Carlsen leads our online poll so far and you can vote at the site as well for your choice of the World Chess Champion 2013!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Anand on the Mystery of his Name, Indian Talent and More (NDTV Video)

NDTV Video @25 Walk The Talk: Chess Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand speaks to Shekhar Gupta about his successes and failures and his journey to the top of the game. For full coverage of the 2013 World Chess Championship 2013 between Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen visit

3rd Indonesia Chess Open R3: Avetik Grigoryan, Ivan Ivanisevic Lead

After the intense battles of the first two days of Indonesia Open 2013, round three was seemingly a relatively peaceful affair, but even if there were draws amongst the leaders on the top four boards, all were not with fights. GMs Alexander Moiseenko, Vaibhav Suri, Nigel Short, Vadim Malakhatko, John Paul Gomez, Aleksey Dreev, Gundavaa Bayarsaikhan, and Surya Sekhar Ganguly were therefore joined by GMs Antoaneta Stefanova and Igarza Renier Vazquez who had the only really quick draw and Hoang Thanh Trang who held off Jaan Ehlvest on 2.5/3.

On board five GM Ivan Ivanesevic won against GM Darwin Laylo and on board eight the unfancied, but very determined GM Avetik Grigoryan stopped giant killing local FM Anjas Novitas to take the lead. Ivanisvic and Grigoryan will play each other in Round 4 on the top board.

Notable other leading results include GM Eduardo Iturrizaga beating GM G N Gopal, GM Oliver Barbosa prevailing over IM Denny Juswanto, GM Sandro Mareco proving too good for IM Sadikin Irwanto, GM Ehsan Ghaem Maghami edging WGM Tuvshintugs Batchinmeg and Indonesia’s No. 1 GM Susanto Megaranto outplaying veteran countryman GM Cerda Barus to move back into contention, also with 2.5/3.

So we have two players on 3,0/3 and no less than 18 players with 2.5/3 going into round 4 and there are some exciting match-ups that might help determine the final winners! Watch live at official website.



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