Archive for the ‘World Chess Championship’ Category

Brain Freeze at the Chessboard

February 20, 2009

Only two Americans have ever made it to the very pinnacle of championship chess, and both of them were crazy.

[So starts my NPR piece, which continues at]

Spurious Cheating Charge Against Chess Child

October 29, 2007

In the infamous Toiletgate scandal in last year’s world chess championship, challenger Veselin Topalov insinuated that champion Vladimir Kramnik was somehow cheating during his frequent trips to the restroom. The implication was that, when Kramnik was on the throne, he was consulting a computer or receiving move suggestions through a wireless earpiece.

Now similar vague cheating charges have been made at the European Union championship for young children in Batumi, Georgia. Entry was restricted to the age of eight and below, and Nikita Ayvazyan of Moscow won last week with a score of 8 to 1. Andy Soltis wrote in yesterday’s New York Post (the article is not yet posted online) that the Azerbaijani delegation of parents and chess teachers accused Ayvazyan of receiving secret help during the game. The tournament organizers found no basis to the accusation and blasted the Azerbaijanis for making it.


Russia Loses the World Chess Championship

October 1, 2007

For the first time since Bobby Fischer, a non-Russian player has become the undisputed chess champion of the world. Last night in Mexico City, the Indian phenom Viswanathan Anand, age 37, was crowned world champion, after emerging as the high scorer with nine points out of 14 in a double round robin against seven other super grandmasters. He did not lose a single game in Mexico City.

(By some counts, this was the second time Anand had won the title; in 2000 he won the championship of FIDE, the World Chess Federation, but the legitimacy of the title was in dispute because a splinter organization, the Professional Chess Association, had its own world champion.)

Bathroom Break

September 24, 2007

The world championship now being conducted in Mexico City is a nice reprieve from last year’s off-the-board shenanigans in Elista, Kalmykia, when the Bulgarian challenger Veselin Topalov insinuated that reigning champion Vladimir Kramnik was cheating on the toilet and the tournament officials responded by locking Kramnik out of his bathroom.

“I was lying on my couch next to my toilet and was furious,” Kramnik recalled. “I did not think about the world championship or the score. And then there was a new problem: I had to go to the bathroom, urgently. I asked the arbiter to open my toilet. He just shrugged and offered me an empty coffee cup.”

Martin Landau Dragged into Chess Cheating Scandal

September 20, 2007

The manager of Veselin Topalov, who forced world chess champion Vladimir Kramnik to defend his hydration and evacuation habits in last year’s Toiletgate cheating scandal, has finally released a video. The manager claims that Kramnik left the video behind in his private restroom at the World Championship and is the blueprint for how he cheated Topalov. (Many thanks to Tom Panelas for posting the video on his own blog.)

Justice, Finally, in Libya

August 3, 2007

In June 2004, I went to Tripoli with Canadian champion Pascal Charbonneau to watch him represent his country in the world chess championship. At that time the United States did not have diplomatic with Libya, and the United States Chess Federation had discouraged American players from participating. I attended anyway because I really wanted to witness a world championship for King’s Gambit and the tournament organizers were trying to arrange for me to play chess with Libyan strongman Muammar Gadhafi, who was funding the 64-player knockout championship with $1.5 million of his personal assets.

But my visit turned into a nightmare after I was detained and interrogated repeatedly because they suspected that I was a CIA agent who might fire a poison dart at Gadhafi. A month before I arrived, a Libyan “court” had imposed a death sentence on five Bulgarian nurses who had come to the health-care-impoverished country as idealists eager to help save lives but ended up framed for infecting 400 children with HIV-tainted blood. During my detention, the possible imminent execution of the medics was big news, and was very disturbing to me because I, too, did not want to be made an example of by the Libyan “court” system.

Fast forward to this past week, when I was out of the loop on international news because I was in the jungle in Costa Rica: the six nurses, after extensive appeals by many European heads of states, were finally set free. They had been imprisoned since 1999 and under a death sentence for the past three years.