Archive for March, 2017

Iran, head-covering, chess.

In October I wrote about the World Women’s Championship being played in Iran, with female competitors being forced to wear head coverings. Some women boycotted the tournament. There is always an argument made at such times that women should agree to play, it doesn’t really mean anything, so why not? Obviously, however, it does mean a lot and to make that point, the Iranian player  Dorsa Derakhshani has been banned from the National Team for not wearing a hijab during the Gibraltar Open earlier this year. Details here.

Ironically, she was quoted in December saying

I’m definitely not conservative in this issue but I think we shouldn’t make such a big deal out of it. Those who really oppose these measures for political reasons are free to stay away. This really doesn’t help anybody and would truly be a pity for the event itself! Full interview here.

Many would disagree with her on this. And it’s all very well to say that women can stay away and some did, but at large professional/financial cost. It’s the world championship they were forced to boycott, not a tournament of no significance.

Overall, the point must be made: how has it helped anybody in Iran, chess players or others, for women from other countries to have aided in legitimising this method of subjugating women?





March 27, 2017 at 5:31 am 4 comments

Applications of Chess Theory Geller

Written in 2010.

This happens to be by my bed at the moment.

Geller’s career spans decades and he is one of those players more than capable of beating world champions – he has a plus score against most he has played – but I’m guessing could never become a world champion because he did not excel at match play. He had more than one terrible trouncing at this form of the game.

But I think we can say of chess more than of any sport, that there is no room at the top. To become world champion at chess is so hard! At the moment we are watching this fabulous tussle between Anand and Topalov. Geller’s description of his ongoing duel with Gligoric brings to mind the role of the Catalan in this match:

Quite often the chess world witnesses some curious creative duels which sometimes last for several years. They proceed according to the following typical scheme. Two players have played a game. On meeting each other again, they choose the same variation, without any prior agreement, of course, thus adding a psychological struggle to the purely chess struggle. Over each of them, like a sword of Damocles, hangs the anxious thought: why is the opponent repeating the previous game? On what move has he prepared a surprise, and has he in fact prepared one? Should I wait for the unpleasant surprise, or should I be the first to deviate from the familiar path? And if I deviate, then when and how?

One can add that the mere kibitzer shares in this anxious excitement. Is Anand going to play the Catalan yet again? Has Topalov a new response? Tomorrow there is another game. Anand has just lost with black so will he retreat to the Catalan? The comfort of something he has a plus score with so far – 2.5/3 – would have to be tempting him. He bounced back from such a situation in game two employing it. I’m guessing he’s going to try it again….

March 24, 2017 at 12:55 am Leave a comment

Bad chess in the movies

Atlas Obscura has an article with good detail on badly done chess in movies, you can see it here.

It includes a link to a video of 101 checkmate scenes in movies.

I would question, however, the comment that

Real players also don’t make a big thing out of winning: “Chess players almost never reveal any emotions,” says Zaragatski. “Being cool is key.”

Seriously? Does that mean Kasparov and Carlsen are not real players? They both carry on like pork chops when they are done over.

March 23, 2017 at 6:49 pm Leave a comment

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