Category Archives: Chess

The Lure of Limelight!

Former world chess champion Garry Kasparov has taken the bait to get back from retirement possibly to garner some attention.

I doubt it is a prudent decision unless he is ready to dent the reputation he has as one of the greatest chess players ever. His comeback notwithstanding, he can never upstage late Fischer who, to me, will remain the finest player the chess world has seen.

Moreover, these are times when current and former world champions Magnus Carlsen and Vishwanathan Anand do not hesitate to draw games through repetitive moves.

Kasparov back from retirement for US tournament

G Joslin Vethakumar 

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What a Tame Draw!

Carlsen, Anand Dish Out Mediocre Chess in World’s Strongest Tournament

It was a waste of time watching two world champions, current and past, play out a draw by repetition of moves in the ninth and final round of the Norway Chess 2017 that ended that minutes ago.

V Anand appeared to hold the edge after the first 10 moves, but then he started to cower and got into defensive mode. Magnus Carlsen was no better as both were perhaps too keen to avoid finishing at the bottom of the world’s strongest Super GM tournament.

Carlsen’s dismal performance all through the event will have been a huge disappointment for his home fans in Norway.

G Joslin Vethakumar

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Carlsen Faces Anand in Norway Today

But the Super GM Tournament has been a Forgettable One for Both

Altibox Norway Chess, the strongest Super GM tournament, has so far been a forgettable one for both World Champion Magnus Carlson and the player he dethroned Viswanathan Anand.

Anand vs Carlsen 2The two face each other today in the final round with leader Aronian having a comfortable two-point lead over both.

It was only in Round 7 that Anand had his first win, with Fabiano Caruana being his victim. Still, that was one up on Carlsen who had his first win only yesterday, in Round 8 over Karjakin.

I intend to watch the live streaming, as I did last night when Anand drew with Aronian. Carlsen holds the psychological edge while Anand will hope to salvage some lost pride.

G Joslin Vethakumar

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China Takes Top Two Spots in Asian Chess Championships

India has been steadily losing ground to China in chess the last few years. This despite hundreds of its players spending time overseas all year round, playing in international tournaments in the game that had its origins in India.

In the just-concluded Asian championship, China took the top two slots with the bronze going to GM Vidyut Gujarathi.

In the women’s section, a player from Vietnam struck gold. India’s Vaishali was a surprise third.

G Joslin Vethakumar 

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Zhongyi, World Women’s Chess Champion

When Queens Become Kings

Tan Zhongyi of China, who had beaten India’s Harika in the semis, is now World Champion!

Women players from the two Asian superpowers are doing well in the world of chess. And that is good for the game!

V Anand had held the men’s crown for long. But there is no serious contender from Asia to challenge Norway’s Magnus Carlsen.

Narrow regional considerations should, however, not matter in sport. The quality of the game is what that should count!

Congratulations, Zhongyi!

G Joslin Vethakumar 


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Ivanchuk Wins World Rapid Chess Title, Carlsen Third

Vidit Eighth, Anand a Poor 16th

Reigning champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway had to be content with the Bronze as Ukrainian Vassily Ivanchuk struck Gold after a stellar run at the World Rapid Chess Championship that concluded in Doha yesterday.

Another surprise result was Indian GM Vidit Santhosh Gujrathi finishing eighth, well ahead of former World Champion V Anand, who came in a poor 16th, having lost to Ivanchuk in Round 14. Well done Ivanchuk and Vidit!

G Joslin Vethakumar 

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Olympics Must Go Beyond Populism and Stereotype

Chess Deserves Inclusion in the Games

Swimming and Athletics (Track and Field) are the most popular events at any Olympics, keeping audiences glued. Tennis, football, table-tennis and badminton also get some attention.

I may be a little prejudiced here as these are the games I typically follow.


Image credit: The Guardian

With the Rio Olympics less than a week away from drawing to a close, it is done with swimming. Besides swimming great Michael Phelps, the man the world talks about the most is Usain Bolt who won his third straight triple-gold effort in Rio.

It is this kind of predictable results that distinguish great athletes from the rest.

There are many nondescript events at the Olympics and they are there for a purpose – sport cannot be allowed to be monopolised by a few popular events.


Diversity in sport

Diversity in sport needs to be encouraged as the Olympics goes beyond populism. It is a platform that brings to the limelight human endeavour spread across multiple sporting events.

I would wish to see chess also making it to the Olympics. It does have a Chess Olympiad as well as the world chess championship but FIDE’s (chess federation) expressions of interest to get it included in the Olympic Games have consistently been rejected by the IOC.

Recognising it as sport but putting roadblocks for its acceptance do not make sense.

Requires Mental Strength, a Lifetime of Effort

What is working against it is that chess is not a physical sport but the thinking that it requires less effort than, say, what swimming requires is a fallacy born out of an inability to understand the game or some inherent prejudices.

Even The Straits Times in Singapore does not consider chess a sport and chess championship results are only covered in the general news pages. That is downright silly, to say the least.


Go, ask Magnus Carlsen or Kasparov or Viswanathan Anand what it took them to win the world title! In fact, the world chess title match is spread over 24 games over more than a month. 

Chess is a mind game that requires great mental strength and a lifetime of effort that includes mastering the openings and gambits, threadbare analysis and practice with seconds. It is a game which has no room for error – a single wrong move can cost you the game unlike in other events that allow you the leeway to come out of a mistake.

Even physical sports such as cricket, squash and netball are not at the Olympics. They are events where Asian countries excel.

Spectator Interest

Chess is a popular board game of strategy that is played universally but it cannot excite people who do not understand the game. In other words, spectator interest in chess will be confined to those who are familiar with the game.

Chess cannot attract the kind of spectator interest enjoyed by games like swimming, tennis or track and field events. They are games that can be enjoyed by people who have not played them.

But that is not sufficient reason to keep chess away from the Olympics.  

G Joslin Vethakumar

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