Thursday, January 1, 2009

Chess Blog Carnival 1/09

For Chess Blogs and Websites, 2009 opens with both new opportunities and threatening clouds on the horizon. New opportunities include new chess discussion and networking sites; new threats include attacks on chess sites by authorities (e.g. the US Chess Federation). More on this at the end. A few housekeeping points:

  1. The general rule is one article per blog but since it has been S-O-O long since the last edition, I’m allowing multiple entries. Readers be aware that the blogs showcased here have many good articles to read, even if they submitted only one article herein.
  2. I didn’t send rejection e-mails to the many sites that submitted non-chess related material, so I’ll explain here. This Chess Carnival is devoted to the game of chess. While I appreciate your interest in other games (poker, etc.), we’re keeping the Chess Carnival focus on chess. And while I am aware that many people are sincere in their beliefs in mind-expanding drugs and I see the claims that the particular ones discussed are legal, the tie-in to chess is just too indirect for inclusion here.
  3. If anybody wants to do another one of these chess carnivals soon, please drop me an e-mail. I’ve set up all the tools. There’s no use reinventing the wheel. You can have anything you need.

So, how does chess blogging look like at the beginning of 2009? Let’s check it out.


Let’s start with the grand daddy of all chess matches, and a gem of chess history courtesy of John Hillery: La Bourdonnais - McDonnell, 21st Match Game, 1834 posted at Western Chess.

From Susan Polgar’s Chess Discussion Forum come these analyses of the games from the 2008 World Championships. These positions use her chess viewer feature, so you will have to enable Java to see them.


Do you want to read "How Life Imitates Chess" and Vice Versa? Read his review first and post a note and tell him Jack sent you. Jim West On Chess.

This discussion on the Best Endgame Books at the USCF Forums morphed into a general discussion of the best books for E/D players.


Say it ain’t so, Mark! Chess for All Ages: Some Chess Players Fib About Their Birthdays posted at Chess for All Ages.

Tom Panelas presents New York in Nine Hours posted at The Knights of Castle Kimbark. This is a tour of the chess places in NYC.


Naditha Amarakoon presents Chess and Drugs posted at A Chess Player's Rumblings. Don’t you just hate this topic? The blogger makes distinctions between stimulants and narcotics in the issue of how chess authorities test for them.

The larger chess world probably does not know just how bad a shape the USCF is in. There are multiple lawsuits; major chess events, such as the US Junior Championship is being botched; the USCF’s leaders are preoccupied with their feud with Susan Polgar. Chess Life, the USCF’s magazine is going down: (1) pages were cut and (2) it has been downgraded to optional status. Here’s a couple of articles I wrote:

From Chess USA, devoted mainly to US Chess Politics, here’s a dark piece on 2008 USCF Highlights. Be sure to read Steve’s comments to the essay.

From this blog, here’s Turning Point which I modestly believe is all you need to know about the USCF’s lawsuits vs. Susan Polgar and hers’ versus them. Not that there’s so much more to tell, but what has been written has been mostly false. The rest is trivial. You have better things to read than this stuff, anyway. Thus, the basis of my claim.

Though if you want to follow all the lawsuits, see John Hillery’s Nut Cases posted at Western Chess.


James Stripes presents Elementary Positions posted at Chess Skills.

If you haven’t sampled one of the famous Mark Dvoretsky’s works, try last month’s Extra Pawn on the Side from Chess CafĂ©. This online magazine is one of the best chess sites ever.


Ryan Emmett presents Chess Ratings: A Necessary Evil? posted at SonofPearl.

From Chessvibes via Polgar Chess Daily News and Information comes a selection of Susan’s podcasts from the Dresden Olympiad. Watch for Boris Spassky’s interview for the eyewitness point of view to history.

The Boyleston Chess Club has long supported chess bloggers. For the Harry Lyman Memorial, here’s a memorial of the local hero himself.


Chess bloggers are funny people. Lots of submittals to the humor category.

George Duvalpresents You’re (still) a Mean one Mr. Grinch posted at Blunder Prone ... the troubled Knight.

James R. West presents My 59 Memorable Philidor Counter Gambits"

The community at Chess.Com presents two items for your consideration:
(1) polleke presents Bad behavior posted at Final Moves and

(2) David Evans presents Chess blindness or neuronepaenia? saying, "Chess blindness may be only a warning that something much more sinister is wrong with the way we play..."


Ivan Wijetunge is still Getting to 2000. Here’s the Last round loss from the Wisconsin Memorial.

Naditha Amarakoon presents Play To Improve While You Can posted at A Chess Player's Rumblings.

Chessvine has a short post on using the computer for tactical chess training.


Fajarowicz TN is a theoretical novelty but is it sound?

Anindya presents The Ruy Lopez for White - an Introduction Chess Blog The Pulse of Chess posted at Chess Blog The Pulse of Chess, saying, "This is the introductory article on Ruy Lopez. Deeper analysis of different variations were done on subsequent articles." Here’s essays on the Berlin Defense, Part 1 and Part 2 .

The The Kenilworthian presents two articles: (1) Bird's Defense Bibliography (C61) and (2) The Left Hook Grand Prix Revisited. This last is an analysis of the line 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.a3!? d6 6.Bc4 e6 7.O-O Nge7 8.d3 O-O 9.Qe1.


Polly Wright presents Castling Queen Side: Chess Survival posted at Castling Queen Side.

Blue Devil Knight of Confessions of a Chess Novice is probably going to get all over me for this but I grabbed this entry at the last minute because it is so very good. Safety First!.


Finally, here’s Mark Weeks again, a support beam of the chess bloggers. This is more a chess variant than strategic but here it goes. A Database of Chess960 Start Positions I like the idea of comparing the database of alternate starting positions to the standard start position. Do you notice that the middlegame strategic concepts remain the same? (e.g. center control, kights in the middle, knights in closed positions, etc.)


Storm clouds and opportunities. First the bad stuff.

2008 had too many stories of governments and other official bodies censoring, punishing, and other wise taking control of the internet. Here in the chess world the internet war between Susan Polgar and the US Chess Federation begat dangers for the rest of us. First came the accusation that SP had conspired to hack into a USCF leader’s e-mail account. The USCF then used that as a pretext to commence legal attacks on her websites, ostensibly seeking the data to verify this accusation. The legal tactic was to serve papers on the internet service providers. Once the “keys to the kingdom” were turned over to the USCF, it could then use them to get the IP addresses of anybody who had ever posted anything and then go after them. (They are suing Susan, Gregory Alexander, and 10 other “John Does”.) Both defendants deny having anything to do with this.

Up to this point, the chess world can say that this is just a personal problem of Susan and Gregory. But those John Does are what concerns the rest of us. If the USCF are just targeting Susan and Gregory just because of politics, then they could target anybody. Do any of you reading this want chess politicians who may not like you, tracking your internet surfing and then use that information to embarrass you? Do any of you want to be victimized by specious lawsuits? - Just because you rubbed someone in power the wrong way?

On the other hand, the chess world should not hinder legitimate investigations into actual wrongs done on the internet. What we need is a statement from the USCF telling us what their policies, procedures, and safeguards are in this area. In the USCF’s Issues Forums I posted extensively on this and the USCF roundly rebuffed this call.

In the future, we may see other authorities in other countries who may want to target chess bloggers. Sadly, these events mean that we won’t be able to look to the chess leaders of the United States for support.

Let’s end on a more positive story. The opportunities.

There’s three opportunities for specifically CHESS bloggers to network:

A new Facebook Chess Community has recently formed. Ask this fellow about it.
A new MODERATED Google Chess Forum although this concerns USCF Chess.
Chess Networking Site

Here’s past Chess Blog Carnivals. Click on the Past Posts tab.

Happy new year!


BlunderProne said...

Thanks Jack for including my humor in this carnival.

My blog lately has turned into the chess blogger's history channel as I have been studying and posting about historical tournaments.