On Chess: St. Louis showcases chess in Africa – KBIA

Inspired by the Grand Chess Tour, the FIDEC (Ivory Coast Chess Federation) teamed up with the Kasparov Chess Foundation (KCF) to bring out the best of African chess. These efforts culminated in the Cote d’Ivoire Rapid (25+10d) & Blitz (5+3d) Invitational that took place July 25–29. The field included 10 players from 10 different African nations, each of them being the top-rated player from their respective countries. The field was as follows:

  • GM Amin, Bassem Egypt 2680
  • GM Haddouche, Mohamed Algeria 2495
  • IM El Adnani, Mokliss Morocco 2450
  • IM Rakotomaharo, Fy Antenaina Madagascar 2421
  • GM Solomon, Kenny South Africa 2418
  • IM Ssegwanyi, Arthur Uganda 2389
  • GM Belkhodja, Slim Tunisia 2386
  • IM Kayonde, Andrew Zambia 2385
  • IM Silva, David Angola 2319
  • IM Adu, Oladapo Nigeria 2270

With a total prize pool of $15,000, the event also brought the largest purse for a rapid/blitz event in the history of Africa. But of arguably greater consequence is that it provided the ideal stage for some lesser-known players to showcase their skill and prove what many already suspect: that African players are alarmingly underrated.

This was also a historic moment for African chess, because the St. Louis Chess Club provided live commentary. This was my first time doing commentary, and it was thrilling to play over games where I had to articulate what went through my mind on the spot.

First, as it pertains to live commentary, I would not be surprised if this quicker-time-control format overtook classical chess in the future. Blitz chess, in particular, allows for a much more engaging experience with the viewer. When I first learned that I would be the commentator, I quickly turned to one of the most entertaining chess events I ever saw: the 1988 World Blitz Championship in Saint John, New Brunswick. Not only was the event top level, but so was the production value and the commentary. The fact that I still hold it in such high esteem and have watched the whole thing several times speaks volumes. I would not go so far as to say that blitz will rule the chess world (as Vladislav Tkachiev proposed in a very interesting interview), but it could definitely be carved out and perfected as a niche.

Secondly, I am impressed by the raw talent and uncompromising style of the participants — which I assume is a microcosm for the continent, as it was a truly representative event. I am optimistic about the future of African chess and hope the players, especially the youngest ones, get the needed support and opportunities to work and perfect their craft. At the end of the tournament, it was grandmaster Amin Bassem who came out on top of both the rapid and blitz portions. As African chess continues to grow and prosper, I am optimistic that we will see more top-level events like this one.

Even though the Cote d’Ivoire Rapid & Blitz has come to an end, the St. Louis Chess Club will start up another round of commentary for the last two stops on the Grand Chess Tour: the St. Louis Rapid & Blitz, and the Sinquefield Cup. Don’t miss all the action live, starting Aug. 10 on grandchesstour.org.

Robert Hungaski is a grandmaster from New York City. He has won several medals at the Pan-American Junior Chess Championships and served as the coach for the U.S. team at the World Youth Championships in 2013 and 2014. Hungaski has been Grandmaster in Residence at the Saint Louis Chess Club once before and recently joined the broadcast team for the Cote d’Ivoire Rapid & Blitz. 

Tunisian Chess Federation pledges for 7-year-old Israeli girl to compete – The Jerusalem Post

JUNIOR CHESS champion Liel Levitan wins the gold medal.

JUNIOR CHESS champion Liel Levitan wins the gold medal. .
(photo credit: Courtesy)


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The Tunisian Chess Federation issued a letter Tuesday stating players from all countries are invited, “without exception,” to an international chess championship it will host next year. The letter came in light of mounting pressure to allow a seven-year-old Israeli chess champion to attend the 2019 World School Championship chess tournament in Sousse, Tunisia, despite Tunisia’s current policy of not allowing entry to Israelis.

The federation had responded to an inquiry by the World Chess Federation (FIDE), which threatened to revoke Tunisia’s hosting privileges if the country did not issue visas to Haifa native Liel Levitan and other Israelis ahead of the event.

FIDE was approached by the Israel advocacy organization StandWithUs earlier this month, seeking clarification on whether Levitan would be allowed entry to participate in the tournament.

StandWithUs started an online petition that prompted hundreds of letters from people across the world asking the country to reverse its policy. Tunisia and Israel do not have diplomatic relations, and Israelis are required to have pre-arranged visas before entry.

The letter added that “as a sports federation, we will be very proud and honored to receive participants from all over the world and we will ensure hospitality to all.”

While Levitan was referred to only as the “Israeli child,” or the “Israeli participant,” the Tunisian Chess Federation said it had not yet received notice of participation or preregistration from Levitan, as of Tuesday. Still, the organization emphasized that preregistration was open to all participants.

StandWithUs Public Affairs Director Gilad Kabilo said the organization is in touch with Levitan’s family, which is currently on vacation, and that she still has adequate time to register for the tournament.

Kabilo said this is the first example of civil action he can recall that has led to this type of response.

“You don’t get a lot of examples of that in the real world, unfortunately,” he said.

The statement from the chess federation did not specifically indicate whether Levitan or any other Israeli would be granted a visa.

Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev released a letter Tuesday to FIDE deputy president Makropoulos Georgios urging him to stop any planned boycott of Levitan.

“I believe that sports should bring people of different nationalities together,” Regev said. “Therefore, I ask you, our dear friend, to follow [International Judo Federation] president Mr. Marius Vizer’s justified and brave decision to cancel the Grand Prix and Grand Slam in Tunisia and Abu Dhabi – Arab states that do not abide by the customary Sports Charter. Mr. Vizer’s decision should set an example to all international sports organizations. Israeli sports competitors should not be banned. They should be given equal opportunity.”

Kabilo said the federation’s statement is unprecedented progress for Arab countries to welcome Israeli athletes to competitions.

“We’ve been looking at the issue of boycotting Israeli athletes for a long time,” Kabilo said. “Honestly, I don’t know of an instance where online civil action led to a world sports body to pressure an Arab country to let Israelis play and get a written commitment to that effect.”

Mamedyarov Beats Carlsen, Wins Biel With Round To Spare – Chess.com

An excellent tournament turned into a brilliant tournament for Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who today beat Magnus Carlsen for the first time in a decade and won the Biel Chess Festival with a round to spare. 

For the last time Mamedyarov beat Carlsen in a classical game, we have to go all the way back to the Baku FIDE Grand Prix tournament in 2008, won by Carlsen, Wang Yue and the late Vugar Gashimov.

Ever since, Mamedyarov was Carlsen’s “client” (or “bunny”, as GM Ian Rogers called it!), like Hikaru Nakamura was too, for several years. But things have changed.

Rogers was discussing it with GM Danny King in the live broadcast of the ninth round. Their explanation was that, whereas Carlsen’s openings were never his strongest suit, his talent and hard work at the board made him a dominating player anyway.

But in recent years, many of his colleagues have adapted in areas where Carlsen used to excel. Now, “the technique[s] of others have improved to cope with the Carlsen pressure,” as Rogers put it.

As a result, Carlsen isn’t winning tournaments with high margins anymore, and he also doesn’t win as many tournaments anymore. After today, Biel is out of reach as well.

Mamedyarov Carlsen Biel 2018

Another impressive game by Mamedyarov. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

“Magnus played very risky. He wanted to win, and he didn’t want a draw,” said Mamedyarov. He admitted that Black was (more than) fine out of the opening, thanks to the excellent 8…d5. After that, White would really like to have his pawn on e2, instead of e3. “I think White has to look for equality there,” said Carlsen.

Black could have equalized with 14…Ne5, but also after 14…Nb4 he was still solid. Asked where things went wrong, Carlsen started with: “First of all I would like to congratulate Shakhriyar on a wonderful tournament victory.”

Then he explained: “It’s only later that a combination of many, many oversights on my part and very precise play on his part that he managed to get something. Nevertheless, I thought I had drawing chances right at the end but I just made two blunders in a row and that was it.”


Magnus Carlsen Biel 2018

Many oversights on Carlsen’s part today. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

With a plus-one score, Carlsen is now tied for second place with Peter Svidler, who drew with David Navara. The Russian GM explained his strategy in the endgame as steering the game as much as possible into a Grünfeld structure (mostly, the two-vs-one on the queenside) because as a life-long Grünfeld player, he understands that!

That reminded Navara of a joke, which he recited:

What does a mathematician do when the house is on fire? He starts filling a bucket and throws water over the fire.

What does a mathematician do when there is no fire? He starts a fire, because he knows how to solve this problem.

David Navara  Biel 2018

Navara’s special sense of humor is hard not to like! | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

Nico Georgiadis can be satisfied with his “grandmaster draw” vs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Although he made an oversight in the opening, Black’s edge in the endgame was only minimal.

“The position wasn’t very easy for me to play for a win, but at the same time it was quite interesting,” said MVL. The Frenchman thought he had some chances in the endgame, but then Georgiadis played a few very accurate moves.

Biel 2018 | Round 9 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pts SB
1 Mamedyarov,Shakhriyar 2801 2943 ½1 ½ ½1 11 7.0/9
2 Carlsen,Magnus 2842 2781 ½0 ½½ ½ 5.0/9 22
3 Svidler,Peter 2753 2769 ½ ½½ ½0 ½½ 11 5.0/9 17.75
4 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2779 2732 ½1 ½ 4.5/9
5 Navara,David 2741 2698 ½0 ½½ ½ 4.0/9
6 Georgiadis,Nico 2526 2498 00 ½ 00 1.5/9


Games via TWIC.

Round-10 pairings (Wednesday): Svidler vs Mamedyarov, Carlsen vs Georgiadis, Vachier-Lagrave vs Navara. Wednesday’s games start two hours earlier, at 12 p.m. central European time (3 a.m. Pacific, 6 a.m. Eastern)

You can follow them in Live Chess. The Chessbrahs are providing daily commentary with GMs Yasser Seirawan, Eric Hansen and Aman Hambleton, which you can follow on Chess.com/TV and Twitch.tv/Chessbrah.

Earlier posts:


Chess legal action threat after 'unpaid commission' claims – Mobile News

Three executives have left the airtime distributor this year

Chess is facing the threat of legal action, with a number of dealers telling Mobile News they are in dispute with the airtime provider with allegations of unpaid commissions.

A number of Chess partners, who agreed to speak to Mobile News on condition of anonymity, claim Chess has caused cash flow problems which are having a damaging effect on their businesses. Chess has denied the claims.

One partner explained: “For commissions, Chess was meant to pay a revenue share in advance which is a term in the contract. Chess would came back and say to us the commission was a different total, going against what I had in my commercial letter.

“It has affected my health, my business and family. I am facing possible closure. We’ve had great relationships with a number of people at Chess, now they just don’t care.”

A source close to Chess told Mobile News: “The standard required to help partners properly wasn’t there anymore”.

Two dealers said they would consider legal action should the alleged issues with Chess

It comes at a difficult time for the airtime provider, which has seen the departure of three executives since February, including head of commercial finance Paul Brickle, head of commission Dean Jones and acquisitions and financial controller Gavin Jones.

Their departure was followed by the resignation of managing director John Pett who left this month.

Head of partner sales Dan Russell confirmed on social media website LinkedIn he is “on the look out for a new opportunity”. Head of partner support Kerri Lendon is reportedly on long-term leave.

Chess partner services director Richard Btesh confirmed there had been a number of senior resignations but declined to confirm the names of those who had left.

He said: “We’ve paid dealers commission. There’s no truth in no payments. We pay our partners and have remained professional. That is why people deal with Chess, we have a really good reputation.”