Posted March 10, 2016 in FIDE

Support the Broadcast of #BootlegChess!

Because I grew up in the United States of America and believe in freedom from oppression and disobedience to illegitimate authority, I would like to take this opportunity to voice my support for the growing number of chess websites that are lining up to disobey the illegal order of Agon and the World Chess Federation to block the broadcast of moves from the Candidates 2016 tournament.

Chess24 sent out a link earlier via Twitter with a video broadcast feed for the event on LiveStream

Chessbomb, which is one of my personal favorite sites for following tournament games, has posted instructions on its blog so that fans can help the site broadcast the games. I encourage you, if you have the time and resources available, to check out the instructions and support Chessbomb and other websites in broadcasting these moves around the world! Do not let corporate greed silence the chess community!

Here is the full text of the instructions from Chessbomb:

As explained in this post, ChessBomb will not use the official site of the FIDE Candidates Tournament 2016 because we don’t accept or agree to their Terms and Conditions. This means we have to obtain the moves from other sources. First and foremost, we rely on volunteers to anonymously submit the moves to us. Here is how you can do that:

  1. Download and install the Tor Browser.
  2. Using the Tor Browser, visit this link: http://cbomb73x6akxqm6r.onion/
  3. Select a game, and send us any missing moves!
  4. Click Back, repeat step 3.
  5. By using a Tor Hidden Service, we protect the anonymity of the volunteers. We don’t know their IP addresses or locations, so we can’t be compelled to reveal them.

Your support means everything to us. Thank you!

Posted March 8, 2016 in FIDE

The Strange Goings-Ons at FIDE

Back when I started running this blog, started paying closer attention to what was happening with FIDE and the politics of chess. I am not a big fan of politics and I assume that most people are not, but it is hard to resist the temptation to follow the latest drama whether it be a United States political race or controversy in the World Chess Federation. Obviously, Gary Kasparov has made quite a few headlines in recent years over his staunch opposition to the current regime in the World Chess Federation. He took a brutal beating in the 2014 election cycle to elect the new president and is even being accused by Kramnik of being directly responsible for Ilyumzhinov sanctions by the United States Department of Treasury due to his ties with terrorist nations and their leaders.

Therefore, it was no surprise today when I was browsing through Twitter and came across an outstanding article by Chessdom in which the author poured out an immense level of fury over the World Chess Federation’s recent decisions involving the broadcast and exclusive rights of the candidates tournament. This tournament will determine who faces Magnus Carlsen in the 2016 World Chess Championship, and is of great interest to millions of chess players around the world. Before I get into the specifics, I would like to provide you with a link to the tweet that prompted this post. At the end of the day, it is my intention to reaffirm that regardless of your political leaning or your philosophical beliefs: chess belongs to the people!

In my day job we have a saying called BLUF, which stands for Bottom Line Up Front. As clearly indicated by Anton Mihailov’s post on Chessdom, the BLUF is that FIDE and AGON continue to show immense Disrespect and outright contempt for the chess community of the world. Because I am the kind of guy who does not like doing double the work I will not take the time to fully analyze the post, but I highly encourage you to stop over and read it! However, I do not encourage you to go over and read the article simply because I am worried about the future of the world chess Federation or the tournament system as it exists today. Instead, I encourage you to go over and read the article in the context of what Mihailov is trying to say: FIDE, through its corporate sponsors, is continuing its relentless attempt to subvert the freedom of chess players and their fans around the world, and has crossed the line!

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Kent Brockman is not a big fan of chess censorship. (Credit: FOX)

Imagine if you will for a moment what would happen if Major League Baseball suddenly decreed that no one was allowed to discuss games in progress in any form on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or any other social media website. I think it is safe to say that there would be riots in the streets! This is because MLB appreciates its fans and understands how to harness the power of the fan community to boost interest and to create a personal connection to the game. Because FIDE is just now showing up to the internet world (20 years too late), it believes that it can exert control over information flow like the moves of a chessboard are the key to unlocking the launch codes of a nuclear submarine. FIDE does not respect its players and its community, which is why it is able to treat its fan base with this kind of contempt with absolutely no remorse.

I am sure that I am not alone when I say that I would not shed a tear if the World Chess Federation simply ceased to exist as a result of its own miscalculations. It is curious that an organization charged with supporting a vast community of the finest calculating minds in the world routinely makes some of the worst possible decisions both on and off the board. Chess is counter-culture because it is so accessible, which is why countries like Saudi Arabia and other regimes frequently target it for banishment.

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Bobby Fischer had problems with FIDE as well. (Credit: Pawn Sacrifice)

Campfire Chess is proud to be among the tiny chess blogs that make up the dynamic and thriving global chess community. Trust me that if I had the servers and resources, every single move would be beamed into the stratosphere the moment it was made. For now, I leave that to the professionals who have been doing this longer and have the resources. Go forth, my brothers and sisters! The beautiful, hard truth for organizations like FIDE and AGON is this: chess is for the people!

Posted February 18, 2016 in FIDE, News, Saint Louis Chess Club

Sinquefield Cup Changes Tournament Dates

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the World Chess Federation (FIDE) recently changed the dates of the 2016 Baku Chess Olympiad and Chess Congress, which created some conflict with the Sinquefield Cup. According to Chess24, the Sinquefield Cup has changed its tournament dates to August 4-16 to de-conflict.

This means that starting in the 3rd quarter of this year will begin a marathon of professional chess that will culminate with November’s 2016 World Chess Championship at a location to be announced in the United States. Here’s a quick breakdown of how the chess calendar looks from August to December of this year, barring any sudden changes by our robot overlords FIDE.

August 2016

September 2016

October 2016

  • Women’s World Championship: October 11-31 (website)

November 2016

  • World Chess Championship: Dates TBD
Posted February 16, 2016 in FIDE, News, Saint Louis Chess Club

I, For One, Am Still Skeptical of Our Robot Overlords

In 1994 when Homer Simpson was launched into outer space and inadvertently released laboratory ants aboard the space shuttle and a closeup of the floating insects was interpreted by Kent Brockman, everyone’s favorite TV announcer, as an invasion of earth by insectoids. The quote, I for one welcome our new insect overlords, was taken from the film adaptation of H.G. Wells’ Empire of the Ants and has since been parodied countless times through various memes.

Kent Does Not Look Happy About This One… (Credit: FOX)

So, why the backstory on the title? No reason, just word count. :)

I felt that it was the proper way to address the World Chess Federation‘s (FIDE) recent release of date changes to the 2016 Chess Olympiad in Baku and the 2016 FIDE Congress, moving both tournaments up from the end of September to the first two weeks of the month. Why is this such a big deal, then? Well, it just so happens that the end of August and into the first week of September is traditionally the time of the Sinquefield Cup in Saint Louis, where the world’s strongest chess players including Magnus Carlsen play as part of the Grand Chess Tour.

With the overlords at FIDE now dictating that the Olympiad and the Congress will occur at the same time as the Sinquefield Cup, that creates a very difficult situation for players in both tournaments. The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis has already mentioned via Twitter at 1450 CST that it is aware of the conflict and is working on a revised schedule.

I, for one, am not so welcoming of our robot overlords who can shift tournaments without so much as an explanation. I also suspect that I am not the only one out there that might be reading between the lines on this one. Even if FIDE is not engaged in a conspiracy against American players, the sudden change of tournament dates will definitely affect players, friends, and family members who have already made plans to attend one of the events or the Sinquefield Cup.

Can chess players make big deals out of nothing? Of course they can, but our FIDE overlords can also making nothing out of really big deals. Just ask the friends and family of Larissa Yudina.

Points of Interest

Posted January 7, 2016 in FIDE, Tournaments

Norway Chess Withdraws from Grand Chess Tour

In a surprising turn of events, the Altibox Norway Chess Tournament has withdrawn from the Grand Chess Tour which also features the London Chess Classic and the Sinquefield Cup. Early speculation ran rampant that the Grand Chess Tour was doomed because of this setback since Norway Chess was an immensely popular and successful event in 2015. The Norway Chess tournament directors issued a statement in which they explain that the decision to leave the GCT was more about securing the future of their vision for Norway Chess and not necessarily problems with the idea of the GCT itself. Unfortunately, politics abounds in the world of professional chess and differences in vision between organizations like Norway Chess and GCT are an inevitability.

Personally, I like the idea of the unified GCT but given the current landscape of established major chess tournaments it is hard to see it becoming a longterm viable option for promoting professional chess. Part of the challenge is the ego factor that comes with organizing and running a large-scale successful tournament. Control is a key objective in chess and just like control of the center squares can improve a player’s game security, control of tournament operations also levies a significant amount of security. I doubt that many TD’s are really interested in giving up that control right now, but only time will tell.

Further Reading

Posted December 28, 2015 in FIDE

Nigalidze Stripped of GM Title

Earning the rank of Grandmaster is a monumental feat for any chess player and having it taken away can be equally devastating. As reported by various blogs and covered here earlier this year, GM Gaoiz Nigalidze of Georgia was caught cheating at the 2015 Dubai Open with an iPod Touch hidden in a restroom stall. GM Tigran Petrosian voiced his concerns to the tournament organizers after it became apparent that Nigalidze was strongly attracted to a particular bathroom stall. Investigation by the organizers revealed the hidden device and the back-to-back Georgian champion was immediately disqualified.

The World Chess Federation issued a ruling on December 4th which stripped the Georgian champion of his Grandmaster title and banned him from FIDE tournament play for 3 years. This scorched earth approach is a welcome tactic in the wake of the increasing amount of cheating scandals within the professional chess community. Nigalidze was allowed to keep his International Master (IM) title.

Additional reading:

Posted December 18, 2015 in FIDE, Tournaments

Should Tournament Chess Be Faster?

Chess24 ran a great article yesterday on the organizer of the Zurich Chess Challenge and his desire to speed up the time control for classical chess. I skipped it when it first appeared in my Feedly list, but I came back to it after some thought about how long professional chess tournaments actually last. Regularly I have tuned in to matches and left Chessbase up on the computer while doing a myriad of other tasks. Imagine my surprise when I take my family out to eat, visit the mall, and then come home to find the same game still in progress! People are naturally resistant to change so it is not surprising that not much traction has been made in efforts to change classical time controls.

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For the 2016 edition of the Zurich Chess Challenge, the players will utilize a 40-minute control per player with 10 second increments per move. According to the article, FIDE has not responded to the organizer’s proposal to change the time control definition for classical chess, but I would imagine that with sanctions against their president are most likely a priority right now.

Read the full article on Chess24.

Posted December 6, 2015 in FIDE, News

Sanctions Temporarily Force Kirsan Out

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has shocked everyone today by temporarily handing over control of the World Chess Federation (FIDE) to Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos. This comes in the wake of the recent sanctions against him by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Kirsan assures the world that his departure is only temporary and that he intends to sue the U.S. Finance Ministry (whatever that is) for defamation of his character.

Read more on Chessbase and Susan Polgar’s Chess Daily News

Posted December 5, 2015 in Famous Players, FIDE, News

Secret Chess in Ukraine

Ukraine has a secret, and it is the games of Mariya Muzychuk from the Ukrainian Chess Championship in Lviv. The reason? Chinese spies! Mariya Muzychuk is the current Women’s World Chess Champion and will compete to retain her title against challenger Hou Yifan from China in March 2016. The Ukrainian tournament organizers decided to restrict the games from publication because they do not want to provide preparation insight for Hou Yifan prior to the championship match. Many online commentators are drawing parallels to the old Soviet Chess way of doing business in which candidates would compete against powerful chess players without releasing the games or results.

This kind of strategy is humorous in that a simple search in Chessbase reveals 1,132 of Mariya’s games spanning almost 18 years! I hope that the games are released after the championship. Although I love Mariya and will cheer her on during the championship, suppressing games to provide a competitive advantage is too iron curtain for my taste.

Read more on Chessbase.

Posted November 26, 2015 in FIDE, US Chess

Kirsan Illyumzhinov Sanctioned by the United States

You might have already read this story making waves across the online chess community, but its potential effects on international chess warrant another mention. The United States Department of the Treasury has slapped sanctions on Kirsan Illyumzhinov because of his continued support of oppressive regimes like those in Syria and the former governments of Iraq and Libya. Kirsan’s eccentric political connections are well known and often despised within the chess community, but these sanctions come primarily because of his connections to the government of Syria. American intelligence has linked Syrian government assets to support of the terrorist group known as ISIS. These sanctions come at a difficult time for Illyumzhinov and the World Chess Federation as the organization is actively searching for a US-based venue for the 2016 World Chess Championship.

For an in-depth exposé into the developing story along with the official response from Kirsan himself, check out this article on Chessbase.