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Archive for the ‘Chess’ Category

Game of chess with no pawns – The Star Online

Posted: March 23, 2020 at 2:48 pm

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THE Covid-19 pandemic is World War III in a different sense. Instead of soldiers, doctors and other medical personnel are all fighting against a common enemy now with personal protective equipment (PPE) as our armour and medical treatment as our weapons.

Over the past few weeks, Covid-19 cases have steadily increased in Malaysia. When the existing manpower could not continue to cope with the workload, major hospitals had to seek floating medical officers as back-up support teams in the front line of this battle.

Floating medical officers refer to those who have completed housemanship but are currently in limbo, waiting for their next posting and confirmation on whether they will continue as contract or permanent medical officers.

Many of us readily accepted the call of duty to play the crucial role as pawns on the front line of this pandemic. With our leave frozen until further notice and our next posting put on hold, we are still doing our best to serve the public despite the creeping fatigue and dangers of being infected with the coronavirus.

We obeyed orders as a pawn, hoping that when we advanced to the other side of the board, we would be promoted to higher ranks, be it knight, rook, or bishop not necessarily a queen yet. We just want to be on the same rank as other permanent medical officers.

But no, life isnt like a game of chess. It was revealed last week that no one from the latest batch of housemen (May 2017) have been offered a permanent post and all would remain on contract basis. In fact, this will be the last two years contract offered.

This means that the employment of a whole generation of medical officers will be terminated after the end of another two years.

Our performance during the two years of housemanship did not matter anymore, contrary to what we were told previously. All will be sacrificed come May 2022.

The worst news is that despite being required to work with the same responsibilities as permanent medical officers (UD44), we are not even given the contract medical officer grade (UD43) that was already agreed upon by the previous Cabinet last year.

All contract medical officers are stagnant on the same house officer grade (UD41).

Even though we feel cheated and demotivated now, we continue working every day to fight the Covid-19 war.

We are not turning our back despite being treated like we are dispensable, non-critical and sacrificial pawns.

This is because we know that we are better than the circumstances surrounding us and we do not want the worst to befall our nation.

We will fight till we win this war against Covid-19 together, but the demotivation we feel now is akin to putting a lighted candle in a vacuum.

We will burn out, and this makes us burn out even faster.

On a final note, eventually the strategists might be playing a game of chess without pawns.

Remember that pawns are the pieces that can advance on the board, and if you sacrifice all your armies, you will end up fighting a losing battle alone.



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Game of chess with no pawns - The Star Online

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March 23rd, 2020 at 2:48 pm

Posted in Chess

Candidates 2020, 5: Nepo takes the lead – chess24

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Ian Nepomniachtchi squeezed out a win against Wang Hao in Round 5 to become the first player to take the sole lead in the 2020 Candidates Tournament. The other games were drawn, but not without a real fight. Alekseenko-MVL was a spectacular Najdorf where Kirills 48-move think midgame proved to be time well spent, while Anish Giri missed a great chance to beat Fabiano Caruana. Ding Liren-Grischuk was quieter than the post-game press conference where Alexander called for the tournament to be halted due to the coronavirus situation.

You can replay all the games from the 2020 Candidates Tournament using the selector below click a result to open the game with computer analysis:

15-year-old Indian star Nihal Sarin joined whats become the regular team of Jan, Lawrence and a certain Magnus Carlsen for Round 5, and you can rewatch the show below:

And here's a recap of the day's play from 2-time Canadian Chess Champion Pascal Charbonneau:

It was an important day on the chessboard in Round 5. Ian Nepomniachtchi became the first player to take the sole lead, and with 9 rounds to go, the length of an average supertournament, that could be significant. Historically the leaders after Round 5 have won these 14-round Candidates Tournaments!

A decisive result in Giri-Caruana could have made or broken the players tournaments, but in the post-game interviews it was the clear the players thoughts are on more than chess. It seems a very long time ago that Teimour Radjabov withdrew over coronavirus fears, but if wed known 17 days ago how the world would look now its hard to imagine the tournament would not have been postponed, as he requested.

Anna Burtasova asked whether the players try to avoid news and social media during the event, with Fabi explaining that would take too much discipline nowadays. Giri interrupted:

You might have to, because at some point there might be a message like you have to go to that place otherwise we all die, so you really have to follow, because if you dont it might be really, really bad simply. I think with stakes this high its more important to follow the news than to focus on the event.

A question on the difficult life of a constantly traveling chess professional provoked nostalgia:

I think the coming few months are going to be easier when it comes to traveling. In general, those were the good days we travelled and got to see different places. It was good. You could get out of the house. It was nice. I enjoyed it!

Travel was of course on Fabianos mind too:

I have a situation where Im usually away from home for three months at a time, but now Im not actually sure Ill have anywhere to return to at the end of this tournament. I might be stranded somewhere, and Im not exactly sure where, because the US State Department said that American citizens have to come back to the US or wont be able to come back if they dont come back right now. Im not exactly sure, but Im not really thinking about it now - where Ill have to go at the end of this event.

When Anna tried to reassure the players on getting back home, Giri responded with what is essentially no joke:

I have faith in the private jet of FIDE, that we will fly all players to their houses. Thats my only hope!

Private transportation arranged by FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich or the tournament organisers may well be the best hope for many of the players to return home, though there are restrictions everywhere.

The most dramatic intervention on the virus, however, came from Alexander Grischuk, who has never shied away from speaking his mind.

He was asked about his form:

My form is terrible. I dont want to play at all because of this situation. When it was the beginning I did not have a clear opinion but now already for several days I have a very clear opinion that it should be stopped, this tournament. The whole atmosphere is very hostile. Everyone is with masks, the security and so on. For me its very difficult, I just dont want to play, I dont want to be here and actually considering this Im quite happy with my result, but overall its no coincidence that everything else is stopped. We are the only ones left playing, the only major sport event in the world, and I think it should be stopped and postponed.

He went on to clarify:

Im not talking about myself, Im talking in general, of course. Im not saying it should be stopped because I dont want to play that is not what Im trying to say. Im just saying in general, and also Botvinnik was commenting on this, that if you make two players play while standing its completely unsure that the same one will win who would win while playing seated.

Ding Liren has suffered more than most from the situation around the virus, finding himself in lockdown in China before having to spend 14 days in quarantine near Moscow before traveling to Yekaterinburg. Its understandable he wants to be able to open his hotel window!

My form is much better compared to the first two days. Since I moved to a new hotel I get some fresh air and life became more beautiful after that.

What is certain is that the Candidates has been a godsend for many chess fans around the world who are currently on lockdown:

But now lets get to the days chess:

Of all Anish Giris misses in the 2016 Candidates Tournament in Moscow perhaps the most crazy was his game with White against Fabiano Caruana, where he had no less than four extra pawns but failed to go on to win. This game in Yekaterinburg didnt reach quite such legendary status, but it was close.

Fabiano repeated the Slav Defence hed played against Ding Liren, and Giri was ready. Caruana admitted he had to improvise after 10.Qc2 came as a surprise, with Giri commenting, I think Fabiano wanted to be clever with 13Qb8 but then after 14.h4 there is no real point to it. Although the computer was showing equality at this point Magnus explained that something had gone badly wrong:

Events developed fast, with Carlsen enjoying the change in the structure that followed:

He soon commented, he's just showing superior understanding... of chess, of life, of everything! and it was more or less genuine praise of how Anish had handled the position, since the Dutch no. 1 was building up a very significant advantage.

The first hints this might not be Giris day appeared on move 25:

26.f5! was a powerful move, but both here and for a few more moves Giri resisted (playing 26.Bd3), with Magnus commenting, "He doesn't want f5 g5 at all - our boy is not about taking those chances!"

He did eventually play it, however, and it was only 33.Re2?! that finally spoilt what was still a very promising position:

Again Magnus was enjoying himself as he described that as showing, a little too much class (33...Rxh4? 34.Qc6! wins) while here Fabiano really did show class to find the resource 33d4!, suddenly threatening Nd5-c3+. After 34.Re5 Black was also just in time with 34Ng4!, though Anish thought he still had a win until 35.Rc5 Ne3 36.Rc8+ Rxc8 37.Qxc8+ Ke7 38.Rc1:

The threat of Rc7+ means White would be winning here if not for the backwards move 38Nd5! that Anish had missed. After that there was nothing better than to take a draw after 39.Re1+ Ne3 40.Rc1 Nd5 and repeating the position. Fabiano admitted it had been a lucky break.

This was a spectacular Najdorf, but there was more than a hint of dj vu. One move quicker (Bg5 instead of Bg5-e3 and h5 instead of h6-h5), the players reached the same position as in the first playoff game of the Carlsen-MVL Grand Chess Tour semi-final in London last year:

In that game Maxime played Bf8, but soon realised that Bg5! Qc7 Rh4! would have been winning for Magnus. The World Champion missed that, got a winning position anyway but then went on to lose!

The reason Maxime had gone for that bishop move instead of his intended g6 was that he suddenly realised it was losing to Rxg6 fxg6 Nxe6, but computers immediately spot that things arent so simple, and in Yekaterinburg we saw 16g6! 17.Rxg6! Rxc3!

And here Kirill sank into a 48-minute think. Jan and Lawrence felt this was a horrible situation for Kirill to find himself in, pondering a crazy position over the board while his opponent was clearly in home preparation, but Magnus insisted, he's rather just enjoying calculating all the lines. Kirill explained afterwards that his preparation consisted of the knowledge that Rxg6 was a good move, but that he only saw that Rxc3 was coming at the board.

The long think paid off as he found the crisp continuation 18.Nxe6! Qc8 19.Ng7+! Kf8 20.Rh6! Rxh6 21.Bxh6 Rxc2! 22.Nf5+ Ke8 23.Nxe7 Kxe7 24.Qh4+ f6 25.Bf4:

25Rxb2+! 26.Kxb2 Na4+ 27.Kb1 Nc3+ 28.Ka1 Nxd1

Kirill had 7 minutes to his opponents over one hour at this point and sensibly chose to force a draw by perpetual check after 29.Qh7+.

It was the second day in a row that Maxime had seen his opponent spend almost an hour on a move when just out of preparation, with the French no. 1 joking:

I just wanted to add, if my next opponents another time think for like 50 minutes Im going to have to ask the arbiters to bring some board games to the rest room!

Kirill began to apologise, but Maxime intervened:

At least you had a reason after Rxc3! Sasha (Grischuk) really had no reason for that yesterday.

Alexander Grischuk described his draw against Ding Liren in Round 5 as a very good game, but not a very interesting one. Ding varied from the line of the Anti-Marshall he lost to MVL in Round 2 with 9d5 instead of 9d6, but still found himself outprepared and had to find some good moves to hold.

That brings us to the days one decisive game:

Ian Nepomniachtchi took a long break from chess after a crazy schedule last year, pulling out of Wijk aan Zee at the last moment, and so far that seems to have paid off. In Round 5 he unleashed a novelty on Wang Hao, playing 13.h4 in a position where, for instance, Vishy Anand had played Ne3 against Yu Yangyi in Norway Chess last year:

Ian already identified it as a mistake that Wang Hao replied 13Nc7 14.Ng5 Bxg5!? (14g6! seems a better try), since White got a nagging advantage in the simplified position that followed. It became a full-blown AlphaZero approach when the pawn reached h6, allowing Nepo to push his c-pawn to c4:

The position looks relatively quiet, but after 29Nxc4?? 30.Nxc4 Qxc4 here 31.Qh2! (not e.g. 31.Qg3? Qc1+ and the h-pawn falls) wins on the spot due to the threat of mate against the black king. Our Russian commentators were full of praise for Nepos grasp of such positions, where fine technique is woven from the brilliant calculation of short variations. As former Russian team coach Evgeny Bareev put it, you realise that in a minute (and he doesnt spend longer on a move) he sees more than youll see in the next life!

After 29Kg8 30.Qh2 Boris Gelfand already felt it would be extremely difficult for Wang Hao to handle the impending infiltration of the white queen, and so it proved, though it turns out there was a chance to hold after 30Kf7 31.c5 Nb5 32.Qb8:

32Nxd4! was the move, and although after the game Nepo still didnt believe you can play like this it seems that after 33.Qxb7+ Qe7 34.Qxa6 Qe4! there's nothing White can do to stop a draw by perpetual check.

Wang Hao agreed it was very hard to play like that, however, and in the game he went for 32Qd7? 33.Qh8 Ke6 34.f4 Nxd4 35.Qg8+ Qf7 36.Qc8+ Qd7 37.Qg8+ Qf7 and was here hit by the move hed missed 38.Qd8!

38Nb5 can be met by 39.a4, so theres nothing better than losing a piece to 38Qd7 39.f5+! gxf5 40.gxf5+ Nxf5 41.Qxd7+ Kxd7 42.Nxf5. It was still a puzzle, however, that after 42Ke6 43.Ne3 Wang Hao simply threw in the towel:

Black has a lot of pawns and an active king, so maybe there are still chances of holding? Often in such cases the win is obvious to grandmasters, but in this case even World Champion Magnus Carlsen wasnt so sure! We're assuming there's a way, but resignation seems premature.

The post-game press conference didn't solve that mystery, but there was a lot of analysis of the game:

In any case, that victory in a clash of the co-leaders was huge, since it leaves Ian Nepomniachtchi in sole first place on 3.5/5, with MVL now in sole second on 3/5:

In Round 6 Nepomniachtchi has a chance to make a real statement with the white pieces against Ding Liren, while MVL is Black against Wang Hao. Fabiano Caruana is likely to try and makes things complex and time-consuming with Black against Alexander Grischuk. Our English commentary team will again feature Nihal Sarin, while Swedish no. 1 Nils Grandelius will be joining for the first time!

Follow all the games with live commentary in 9 languages on chess24 from 12:00 CET!

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Candidates 2020, 5: Nepo takes the lead - chess24

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March 23rd, 2020 at 2:48 pm

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In times of coronavirus: Chess wizard Anand talks about life in lockdown in Germany – Hindustan Times

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File photo of Viswanathan Anand. (Getty Images)

I had come to Germany in February to play in the Chess Bundesliga for my team OSG Baden-Baden but the matches got cancelled because of the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak. Before returning to India, I decided to voluntarily isolate myself for some days, as a precaution and to be socially distant, in my apartment near Frankfurt. But by then the travel restrictions (by the Indian government) were in place, so it made sense to follow them rather than put yourself as well as your family at risk.

This is a very unusual experience for me as I am doing something like this for the first time in my life. I do keep in touch with my family and have a video chat with my son Akhil and wife Aruna daily. We try to get some happiness in these difficult times by talking to each other. I have been playing chess with Akhil too. Aruna tells me to as a dad!

ALSO READ:Coronavirus pandemic:Postponement an option for Tokyo Olympics - IOC

Basically I am staying in the apartment most of the time. To keep myself fit and engaged, I do a lot of exercises at home, like yoga and stretching. Plus, once in a day I go out for a short walk just down the block to get some fresh air. I avoid going to places where people congregate. If I need to buy a few things, then I visit the nearby grocery store but for the rest of the time, I stay indoors.

There are no problems in getting basic things here. Basic necessities are exempted from the shutdown, pharmacies are open, and people are trying to order in rather than going out to restaurants.

ALSO READ: Will take each day as it comes with the hope that this virus is wiped out

The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted my playing schedule, as the Bundesliga (chess) matches last weekend got cancelled. We are all waiting for the news of how the future of this tournament will shape up depending on the result of this outbreak. Even other tournaments are suspended or cancelled, so we will have to wait till things are in control to think of the chess circuit.

One thing that keeps me busy in the evenings is the online commentary for a chess website that I am doing for the Candidates tournament that is currently going on in Ekaterinburg, Russia. I am connecting with people from the website from Germany for commentary on the games. This is a new experience for me as its the first time that I am commentating at this scale (most other times, I have been involved as a participant).

As far as returning to India is concerned, we are following the travel advisories right now and based on what the government of India and Germany say, we will go with that. As of now, flights have been cancelled till March 28, so we will have to see post that what the scenario is.

This is a global issue and one thing that is very crucial in this is that no cure has been found for this virus. So all we can do is follow the advisories issued by the government and implement social distancing as much as possible. My wife always reminds me to keep indoors as much as possible and wash my hands at regular intervalsgenerally asking me to follow the dos and donts. Everybody has to follow what the authorities are saying so that we dont contribute in the spread of the outbreak. Lets all be safe and healthy.

As told to B Shrikant

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In times of coronavirus: Chess wizard Anand talks about life in lockdown in Germany - Hindustan Times

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March 23rd, 2020 at 2:48 pm

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Chess: The Black Death – TheArticle

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How to deal with a pandemic? The medievalAvignon Pope Clement VI allegedly surrounded himself with huge fires and retreated, splendidly isolated, to a throne in the centre of his great hall. Nobody (apart from those delivering nourishment) was permitted to approach him. As a historical fact, Pope Clement did indeed survive the Black Death of 1348. This wasin part due to the fact that, as it happens, in spite of the hit and miss nature of the Papal defences, and total lack of medicinal solutions, plague-bearing fleas really were deterred by the heat radiating from the flames.

In literature, Johann Wolfgang von Goethes epic Faust also engages at one moment with the helplessness of medicine when confronted by a tenacious disease, for which there is no known cure. The scene is the medieval university town of Wittenberg where the eponymous Faust, the revered doctor, is lionised by the locals for his efforts in suppressing the plague. Yet he knows that his remedies were useless at best and positively harmful at worst.

One of my ambitions has been to create a modern English version of both parts of Faust, which would normally take about nine hours to perform. My aim was to abbreviate andparaphrase, so this is how I conveyed the moral dilemma of Fausts treatment of the plague:

These peasants flock to praise mewith one breath,

Because they think I cured them of their ills.

They have no concept that the Plague Black Death

Did farless damage than my bogus pills.

A century and a half after Goethe wrote his Faust, another European artist of world stature again wrestled with the problem of the impotence of medicine in the face of raging pestilence. Ingmar Bergmans film The Seventh Seal (pictured) depicts the return to his native Sweden, of the Knight Antonius Block from the traumatic experience of the Crusades. In part inspired by Drers iconic masterpiece Ritter, Tod und Teufel (Knight, Death and the Devil), The Seventh Seal solves the problem of confronting the plague, by the desperate remedy of resorting to a game of chess against Death itself.

Block was memorably portrayed by the eminent Swedish actor Max von Sydow, celebrated also for his role as the eponymous Exorcist, not to mention King Osric the Usurper in Conan the Barbarian and Emperor Ming the Merciless in Flash Gordon. Von Sydow coincidentally died at a vast age earlier this month. Von Sydow always looked much older than his years and was, therefore, a perfect choice to embody the Scandinavian paladin, bearing the woes of the world on his shoulders.

The returning Knight discovers a blasted realm, villages deserted, so-called witches burnt in pointless expiation, propitiatory self-flagellation, ignored by an unresponsive cosmos and meanwhile, figuratively, the Devil is dancing wildly on the beach.

Amid the widespread collapse of the social order,under the unrelenting pressure of the Black Death, Antonius Block rescues a young family through the ingenious, if extreme, expedient of distracting the attention of Death by challenging the Grim Reaper to a game of chess. As Deaths attention is diverted by his inevitablevictory in the game, the young family makes their escape from the otherwise universal carnage. They are the only survivors.

I have attempted at great length to reconstruct the chess positions from the film, but I have reached the conclusion that the pieces are strewn on the board, more or less at random. The positions only make sense to the players themselves.

However, in its place here is a brilliant victory by the outstanding British chess exponent Joseph Henry Blackburne, victor or co-victor at such illustrious tournaments as Vienna 1873 and Berlin 1881. So deadly an opponent was Blackburne that he earned himself the soubriquet, The Black Death. This weeks game helps to explain why.

As I write, the Candidates Tournament to decide the challenger to World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen is under way in Ekaterinburg, the site of the slaughter of the Russian Imperial family during the Russian Revolution. This is one of the few sporting events to proceed during the Coronavirus crisis, but as a precaution, the customary pre game handshake has been suspended and all competitors will be tested twice a day for the virus.

Paradoxically, I expect some brilliant games to be played in Ekaterinburg, since the presence of the plague appears to be no bar to creativity. Sir Isaac Newton developed his theory of gravity while self-isolating during an outbreak, while Shakespeare used similar seclusion to write King Lear.

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Chess: The Black Death - TheArticle

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March 23rd, 2020 at 2:48 pm

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Chess | Koneru Humpy on the difficulties of training in the times of COVID-19 lockdown – The Hindu

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Given that chess is an indoor sport, the Candidates tournament is on in Russia even though sporting events around the world have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. But, contrary to general belief, not all chess players, confined indoors, can continue working on their game on the computer.

Ask World rapid champion Koneru Humpy, for instance. You cannot afford any sort of distractions when training. And, this is different. A lockdown where everyone is forced to stay at home. Since I have to take care of my 30-month-old Ahana, it is not easy to spare time for chess, she told The Hindu from Vijayawada. Our normal daily schedule meant dropping her at my parents home and carry on the training. Now, since she cannot go out due to precautionary measures, it is a 24x7 job for Anvesh Dasari [her husband] and me, she said.

Though this is not the first time I have had to take such a long break (the last one being when she was pregnant), this is different. There is uncertainty with whats is happening around the world and in our country, the 32-year-old Humpy said.

The Candidates tournament notwithstanding, chess too is badly affected as Europe has been the hub of the activity with many Indians featuring in the leagues there, especially in Spain.

With Italy being the worst-hit, Humpy is not sure if the FIDE Womens Grand Prix Series scheduled there in May will be held.

Though there is no official communication, given the grim scenario, it seems unlikely that it will be on, the World No. 2 said.

The other major events lined up for her are the Olympiad in August in Moscow and the World knock-out championship for women in Belarus in September.

About these two events we can be optimistic as things might improve by then given the measures being taken by the Governments here and elsewhere. Humpy appealed to every citizen to be responsible and follow the guidelines of maintaining social distancing.

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Chess | Koneru Humpy on the difficulties of training in the times of COVID-19 lockdown - The Hindu

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March 23rd, 2020 at 2:48 pm

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Facebook Messenger games you can play with pals including Space Invaders, chess and Words With Friends – The Irish Sun

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A LOT of us will be trying to social distance at the moment but that doesn't mean we can't connect with friends virtually.

Facebook Messenger has lots of games you can play remotely and we've rounded up a few of them below.


You'll need to make sure you and the people you want to play with are using the latest version of the Facebook Messenger app.

If not simply update in the Google Play or App Store.

Next you'll need to launch the Messenger App and open the chat with the friend you want to play against.


Click the game controller icon, which should be located down near the camera icon.

Alternatively, tap the "More" button in the toolbar, and then click the controller icon.

Once here you can select a game.

Then send your friend a request to start playing.

Facebook has a number of games on offer.

Here's some of the games you could be playing:

There are certain messages you can send that unlock hidden games.

Send a basketball emoji then tap it to unlock a game.

Or send a football emoji to unlock a keepy-uppy mini game.

You can also type "@FacebookChess" to launch a chess challenge.

Get the latest coronavirus news, facts and figures from around the world - plus essential advice for you and your family.

To receive our Covid-19 newsletter in your inbox every tea time, sign up here.

To follow us on Facebook, simply 'Like' our Coronavirus page.


In other news, experts have spotted a new coronavirus phishing email to watch out for.

WhatsAppcoronavirus text hoaxesare spreading like wildfire.

And, your internet may be gettingslower as the coronavirusoutbreak causes a huge surge in daytime traffic.

Do you have any social distancing entertainment tips? Let us know in the comments...

We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Tech & Science team? Email us at

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Facebook Messenger games you can play with pals including Space Invaders, chess and Words With Friends - The Irish Sun

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March 23rd, 2020 at 2:48 pm

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Chess: controversial world Candidates starts in Ekaterinburg but will it finish? – Financial Times

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The eight-man world championship Candidates has begun this week in Ekaterinburg, Russia, amid controversy over whether it should have been postponed and doubts as to whether it will survive the virus until its planned finish on April 4.

Three Russians, two Chinese, and one each from the US, Netherlands and France are competing in the 500,000 event for the right to meet Norways Magnus Carlsen for the global crown at Dubai in December.

Even before a pawn was pushed, Azerbaijans Teimour Radjabov withdrew after his request for a postponement was refused. Chinas world No3 Ding Liren arrived two weeks early for the mandatory quarantine, while his compatriot Wang Hao came from Japan but arrived without his aides due to quarantine and visa problems.

Wang Hao had also wanted a postponement, so was not in the best mental state for the first round, when the rules stipulate that compatriots should play each other. But contrary to expectations, Ding mishandled the white pieces and was convincingly beaten, a big blow to his chances even though there are still 13 rounds to go.

The games are free and live to watch online daily with move by move grandmaster and computer commentary, starting 11am GMT.

Fabiano Caruana, the US world No2 and Candidates favourite, has made a good start with a draw with Black against Frances Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and a convincing round two win against the Russian wild card Kirill Alekseenko.


White (to move) is threatened with instant mate by Qh2 or Qh1. How does he turn the tables and win? This ancient puzzle is from the 1745 book The Noble Game of Chess, whose author Philipp Stamma liked victories from seemingly hopeless positions.

Click here for solution

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Chess: controversial world Candidates starts in Ekaterinburg but will it finish? - Financial Times

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March 23rd, 2020 at 2:48 pm

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Aagaard on the Candidates: Round 5 –

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[Event "FIDE Candidates Tournament"] [Date "2020.03.22"] [Round "5.4"] [White "Nepomniachtchi, Ian"] [Black "Wang, Hao"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C42"] [WhiteElo "2774"] [BlackElo "2762"] [Annotator "Aagaard"] [PlyCount "85"] [EventDate "2020.??.??"] [WhiteTeam "Russia"] [BlackTeam "China"] [WhiteTeamCountry "RUS"] [BlackTeamCountry "CHN"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. d4 d5 6. Bd3 Bf5 {This is the current trend in the Petroff.} 7. O-O Be7 8. Re1 O-O 9. Nbd2 Nd6 10. Nf1 Bxd3 11. Qxd3 c6 {[#] Black has achieved a solidity in a symmetrical structure. But his development is a bit behind and White is more active. White will continue to apply pressure and it will then be up to Black at some point to play a few good moves in order to equalise. In short, both players were heading here and knew what they were heading for. It is quite common that players want to apply pressure with White and are OK trying to neutralise it with Black.} 12. Bf4 Na6 {Almost everything has been played here. Nepomniachtchi plays an obvious novelty, recommended by Stockfish.} 13. h4 $5 $146 {A generally sensible move.} Nc7 ({Black’s other natural move} 13... Ne4 {is met with a nice refutation:} 14. Ng3 $1 f5 {Without this move it makes no sense to play …Ne4.} 15. Qb3 $1 Qb6 16. c3 {White has a nice advantage. He will continue with Ne2, h5, Ne5 with a nice advantage. There are several reasons why White is better. Most obviously that he will be able to play f3, while Black cannot repair the damage done to the e5-square.}) 14. Ng5 $1 {[#] The key idea. Black will have to make a concession of some sort.} Bxg5 ({The real alternative was} 14... g6 15. Ne3 h6 16. Nf3 h5 17. Re2 $14) (14... f5 $6 {looks bad, on account of} 15. Qg3 $1 {, when White has managed to create tactical threats already.} Rf6 16. Re2 {leads to a big advantage for White. You can easily see things go wrong for Black tactically. There are too many threats.} h6 $6 17. Rae1 $1 hxg5 $2 ( 17... Bf8 18. Nf3) 18. hxg5 Ne4 {[#]} 19. gxf6 $5 {This queen sacrifice is not necessary, but it is very compelling.} ({The simpler} 19. Rxe4 {just wins a piece.}) 19... Nxg3 20. Rxe7 Nxf1 21. Rxg7+ Kh8 {[#]} 22. Ree7 {Threatening mate in three.} Ne8 23. Rh7+ Kg8 24. f7+ Kxh7 25. f8=Q+ {With mate looming.}) 15. Bxg5 f6 {The necessary concession.} 16. Bf4 Qd7 {This is a typical scenario in the plus equal mode. White has to work out how he can improve his position and keep up the pressure. The worst placed pieces are the a1-rook and the f1-knight. As Black is planning to play …Rae8 and exchange rooks, there is little point to playing Re2. So White needs to bring the knight to f5. But which path it takes is not obvious.} {[#]} 17. Ng3 $6 {An incurracy of no importance to the course of the game, but it did offer Black a chance to equalise immediately.} ({The correct path for the knight to f5, was} 17. Ne3 $1 {, when Black should play 17…Rae8, transposing to the game, as} g6 $6 { does not work here.} ({And} 17... Ne4 $2 {would leave Black under pressure after} 18. f3 Ne6 19. Bh2 Nd6 20. Re2 $16) 18. h5 {and after} Kg7 {or} (18... Kf7 {White has} 19. Ng4 $1 {, when the Black position is crumbling.})) 17... Rae8 $6 {Allowing White to occupy the f5-square with the knight.} ({Black here had a chance to reduce the pressure with} 17... g6 $1 18. h5 Kf7 {. White has no serious way to apply real pressure here. As we shall see, Black has a number of chances to defend in this game, but the failure to take the easy ones, means that he will later have to defend difficult positions.}) 18. Bxd6 Qxd6 19. Nf5 Qd7 20. Qh3 {Threatening Nh6+, gaining an important tempo to make it possible to apply pressure. [#]} Kh8 $1 {The only move. Nepomniachtchi said he remembered his preparation to around here.} (20... Re6 {could be considered. Black is intending to play …g6 or …Rfe8.} 21. h5 $1 g6 {Without this, nothing makes sense.} (21... Rfe8 {also} 22. Re3 $1 {does not allow Black to relieve the pressure.}) 22. hxg6 hxg6 {[#] Black is threatening to take the knight and retreat would relieve the pressure. White has to find a way to increase the pressure.} 23. Re3 $3 Qh7 (23... gxf5 24. Rg3+ Kf7 25. Qh5+ Ke7 26. Rg7+ {wins the queen.}) 24. Rg3 Rfe8 (24... Qxh3 {is met with an intermediate move.} 25. Rxg6+) 25. Rf1 $1 Re1 26. Nd6 Qxh3 27. gxh3 $16 { Black is under serious pressure with two pawns currently hanging.}) ({Black had another option.} 20... Ne6 $2 {, which is unpleasant for Black after} 21. h5 g6 22. Nh4 $1 $14 {Putting pressure on the weak squares g6. The best move is to take on h5, but this has clearly gone wrong.} Kf7 $6 {is the critical move. [#] Here the strongest move is:} 23. f4 $1 {One of the most important attacking techniques is to bring more wood to the fire whenever you can. Black now has to play the very sad} (23. Re3 Qd6 24. Rae1 Ng5 {holds, althogh Black is still under some pressure.}) 23... gxh5 {, when after} 24. Re3 {Black is unlikely to resist the pressure.}) 21. h5 $1 {Keeping up the pressure and preventing …g6.} Rxe1+ 22. Rxe1 Re8 {[#]} 23. Rxe8+ {This move seems entirely natural, but a deeper investigation of the position reveals that both kings are currently out of the game and that both players should have aimed at improving them.} ({Strongest was therefore} 23. Kf1 $1 {, when after} Rxe1+ 24. Kxe1 Ne8 25. Kd2 {White has a serious advantage. Against 25…Qf7 White has 26. Qh2! and after} Qe6 26. b3 $5 Qe4 27. f3 Qf4+ {[#]} 28. Kd3 {White is threatening h6 and also Ne3 followed by an invasion of the white queen.} Qc7 { is therefore forced, after which} 29. Ne3 $16 {White is ready to increase the pressure. Next comes Qe6 or Qc8.}) 23... Nxe8 24. g4 $2 {This move looks entirely natural, but the logic has not changed since the previous move. White is better after} (24. Kf1 $1 Qe6 (24... Nc7 {does not work. White has} 25. Qa3 $1 Kg8 26. Qxa7 $1 {and White is on his way towards the full point, although there is a lot of play left.}) (24... a5 $5 {is possible though.}) {[#] White has a number of decent moves here. I quite like} 25. b3 {, just slowly improving the position. White has a real advantage, but it is not clear to me how serious this advantage is. A key point is that the counterplay does not work for Black.} Qe4 $6 26. Ne3 $1 Qxd4 (26... Qe7 27. Qc8 $16 {is very unpleasant.}) 27. Qd7 Qa1+ (27... Qe5 28. Qxb7 {gives White a winning advantage. Black has too many weaknesses.}) 28. Ke2 Qe5 {[#]} {White will first remove the counterplay, then start picking out the weak pawns one by one. } 29. f4 $1 Qe4 30. c3 $1 h6 31. Qxb7 Qxf4 32. Qxc6 Nc7 33. Qd7 {White has a winning advantage. Long term he will advance the pawns on the queenside.}) (24. Qa3 {is premature. After} Kg8 {Black is OK.}) {[#]} 24... a6 $2 ({In the same way Wang Hao fails to equalise.} 24... Kg8 $1 {improves the worst placed piece. The king, which is not only not contributing, but also in risk for his life in the corner.} 25. Qh2 (25. g5 Qf7 {is not dangerous. More about this below.}) 25... g6 $1 {Black is able to push back the knight and thereby equalise.} 26. hxg6 hxg6 27. Ne3 Qc7 28. Qh6 Qg7 {and it is easy to see a possible draw by repetition arising.}) (24... Qe6 25. Qa3 {would however be good for White.}) 25. b3 $6 ({Nepomniachtchi explained after the game that he played too rashly here, missing the necessity for playing} 25. Kf1 $1 {. The key idea is that 25. ..Kg8 has been prevented. After 26.g5! the Black king is forced back into the corner, which is hardly ideal. The tactical point to justify 25.Kf1 was 26… Qf7? 27.g6!, when the pawn cannot be taken with check, meaning White wins.} Qe6 {is therefore better. After} 26. Qh2 Kg8 27. Qb8 g6 28. hxg6 hxg6 29. Nh4 Qf7 30. Ng2 {White retains just a little bit of pressure.}) 25... Qe6 (25... Kg8 $1 {would have equalised. After} 26. g5 Qf7 $1 {[#] White no longer has g5-g6, as the pawn would be taken with check. Instead White would probably try} 27. f4 { , but after} Kf8 {Black is fully OK.}) 26. Ne3 Nd6 $6 ({Both Nepomniachtchi thought that White would be better after} 26... h6 {. Nepomniachtchi had considered playing 27.Qg3 Nd6 28.Qf4 with a slight pressure. Wang Hao had considered the following variation:} 27. Nf5 Qe1+ {This was Wang’s idea.} ( 27... Nd6 $5 28. Qe3 Qd7 $1 {was also possible. After} 29. Qe7 Qxe7 30. Nxe7 Nb5 31. Nf5 Na3 32. c3 {Stockfish says that Black draws with any which move, but in reality he will have to play a good deal of decent moves to do so.}) 28. Kg2 Qe4+ 29. Qf3 Qxc2 30. Qe3 Qe4+ $1 31. Qxe4 dxe4 {[#] But he felt that the endgame was risky. It is, but Black can hold a draw with extremely accurate play.} 32. Kg3 Nc7 33. Nd6 b6 34. Kf4 Nd5+ 35. Kf5 $1 e3 36. fxe3 Nxe3+ 37. Ke6 Nxg4 38. Nf5 Kh7 39. a4 (39. Ne7 f5 $1 40. Nxf5 Nf6 41. Ng3 b5 42. Kd6 g6 { gives Black enough counterplay on the kingside.}) 39... g6 40. Nh4 $1 {Keeping the Black king out of the game.} gxh5 41. Kd6 {[#] White’s position looks very dangerous. For example 41…c5 42.a5! with a breakthrough.} Ne5 $3 {This piece sacrifice saves the day.} 42. dxe5 (42. Kc7 b5 43. Kb6 bxa4 44. bxa4 Nd3 45. Kxa6 c5 {with a draw is another line.}) 42... fxe5 43. Kxe5 Kg7 {Black draws. If the white king eliminates the kingside, Black will eliminate the queenside.} ) ({Although this draws, it is a very straight and narrow path. Much better is for this reason} 26... Kg8 $1 27. h6 g6 {with a decent position, based on} 28. Qg3 Qd6 $1 {and Black is fine.}) 27. h6 $1 {This leads to an advantage quite similar to the games by AlphaZero and later Magnus Carlsen. The latters coach, Peter Heine Nielsen wrote a nice article about the strategy behind this idea in the latest New in Chess magazine. Yesterday Caruana used the same idea of advancing the h-pawn against Nepomniachtchi and missed a chance to win the game at an opportune moment.} g6 28. c4 {[#]} dxc4 ({If you look at the computer evaluation, you may think that} 28... Kg8 29. cxd5 cxd5 30. Qf3 Ne4 31. Qf4 Qd6 32. Qxd6 Nxd6 33. Nxd5 Kf7 {equalises. Well, you are both right and wrong. White’s best try is probably} 34. Kg2 $1 {, with ideas such as} Nb5 35. Kf3 Nxd4+ (35... Ke6 $2 {does not work here because of} 36. Nf4+ {, but it can be played on the previous move.}) 36. Ke4 Nc6 37. f4 Ke6 38. f5+ gxf5+ 39. gxf5+ Kf7 {This knight ending is a draw, but Black still have to play some accurate moves to prove it.}) 29. bxc4 Kg8 $6 (29... Nxc4 $2 {would lose directly to} 30. Nxc4 Qxc4 31. Qh2 $1 {, where the queen plans to penetrate the black position, while keeping the defence of the h6-pawn up.} Kg8 {The only move.} (31... Qg8 32. Qd6 $1 {leads to a direct mate.}) 32. Qb8+ Kf7 33. Qxb7+ Ke6 34. Qxh7 Qxd4 35. Qxg6 {and White wins.}) ({The best way to neutralise the pressure was} 29... Nf7 $1 {. The knight is ready to deal with the main problem in Black’s position, which is the strong h6-pawn. If White plays Qh2, Black has …Qd6 with full equality. Thus the most dangerous option is} 30. c5 $5 {, where Black is entirely OK in many ways. The most direct is} Qxa2 31. Qh2 Qa1+ 32. Kg2 Qxd4 33. Qb8+ Qd8 34. Qxb7 Qe8 {and White has no advantage at all.}) 30. Qh2 $1 Kf7 31. c5 Nb5 ({Black also had a fantastic active defence with} 31... Ne4 $5 32. Qb8 (32. Qf4 Ke7 $1 33. a4 Kd7 {also holds. Apparently.}) {[#]} 32... Qxa2 $3 {This is a bit surprising. But White cannot defend f2 conveniently after he pics up the h7-pawn with check.} 33. Qxb7+ Kf8 34. Qg7+ Ke8 35. Qh8+ Ke7 36. Qxh7+ Kd8 37. Qh8+ Kc7 38. Qg7+ Kd8 39. Nd1 Qe2 40. Qxg6 Qxd1+ 41. Kg2 Qxd4 {and Black survives because of the counterattack against f2.}) 32. Qb8 {Black has plenty of problems left to solve. The fact that they can be solved is of much less importance. In the game Wang Hao tried his best and failed.} Qd7 $2 {Finally the pressure leads to a decisive mistake. Black had two ways of saving the game, but both required some accuracy and understanding. Spending the last five minutes of his time, Wang Hao was not able to see in which direction he had to go.} ({ Black had another computer defence after} 32... Nxd4 $5 33. Qxb7+ (33. Qh8 { leaves Black with two defences. The smartass one has a very important illustrative point that I saw in another game yesterday, where it really was the only option available to hold the game.} Ke7 $3 ({The human defence is obviously} 33... Nf3+ 34. Kg2 Ng5 {, defending the h-pawn, whereafter} 35. Qg7+ Ke8 36. Qxb7 Qe4+ {it is not surprising that Black makes the draw with a combination of counterplay and perpetual check.}) 34. Qxh7+ Qf7 35. Qh8 Qf8 { Black draws.}) 33... Qe7 34. Qxa6 Qe4 $3 {Nepomniachtichi was a true professional, telling the journalists exactly what he was thinking, holding nothing bad.} (34... Qxc5 35. a4 {is unpleasant for Black, although} f5 $1 { still offers him counterplay.} 36. a5 fxg4 37. Qb7+ Ke6 38. a6 g3 $1 {Black has enough counterplay, even though White can still create problems for him.}) 35. Qb7+ Ke6 36. Qxh7 {Nepomniachtchi believed that there was no way Black could deliver a perpetual with the knight on e3 defending everything. But actually, there are several ways for Black to create the necessary counterplay. …Qb1+ and …Ne2. 36…Nf3+ 37.Kf1 Nd4 and finally} Ne2+ 37. Kf1 {and the knight can retract to threaten …Qh1 mate. But nicest is} Ng3+ $1 38. fxg3 Qf3+ {with a draw.}) ({The more human attempt was} 32... Qe7 {, where White could still create problems for his opponent.} 33. Nc4 (33. Qh8 Ke6 34. Nc2 $1 {is dangerous for Black, but accurate defence hold.} Nc3 35. Qg8+ Kd7 $1 (35... Qf7 $2 36. d5+ $1 Nxd5 (36... cxd5 37. Nd4+ Ke7 38. Qc8 $18) 37. Nd4+ Ke7 38. Qb8 Qe8 39. Qxb7+ Qd7 40. Nxc6+ Ke8 41. Qa8+ Kf7 42. Kh1 {where White is close to winning, as Black cannot play} Qxg4 {on account of} 43. Nd8+ {and 44.Qxd5.}) 36. Qb3 Nb5 37. a4 Nc7 38. Ne3 f5 $1 39. Qg8 f4 40. Nc4 Qe1+ 41. Kg2 {[#]} f3+ $1 {Black survives by perpetual check.} 42. Kxf3 Qd1+ 43. Ke4 Qxg4+ 44. Kd3 Qf5+ 45. Ke2 Qg4+ 46. Ke3 Qg5+ $11) 33... Qe1+ 34. Kg2 Qe4+ 35. Kh2 {looks bad for Black, but after} Qf3 $1 {Black has enough counterplay to ensure the draw.} ) 33. Qh8 $1 Ke6 34. f4 $1 Nxd4 (34... Qxd4 35. Qe8#) (34... Qe7 35. f5+ Kd7 36. Kf2 $1 {leaves Black utterly lost. The main threat is 37.hxg6 fxg6 38.Qg7! and the h-pawn queens. And if Black plays 36…g5, he will face down the secondary threat 37.Nc4! when it is at least checkmate.} {So he has to play} gxf5 {, when after} 37. Nxf5 Qf7 38. a4 {Black’s position is disintegrating. He cannot allow the knight to land on d6. It will hurt too much.}) 35. Qg8+ Qf7 (35... Ke7 36. Qxh7+ {and the h-pawn queens.}) 36. Qc8+ Qd7 (36... Ke7 37. Qxb7+ Kf8 38. Qb8+ Qe8 39. Qd6+ {and White picks up the knight.}) 37. Qg8+ ({ At first Nepomniachtchi believed that he was winning after} 37. f5+ gxf5 38. gxf5+ Ke7 39. Qh8 {, but then realised that Black can defend the pawn with} Nf3+ $1 40. Kf2 Ng5 {and Black is not worse at all.}) 37... Qf7 {[#]} 38. Qd8 $1 {Wang Hao had missed this move. With the threat of mate on d6, Black has no options left.} Qd7 (38... Nb5 39. a4 {also wins a piece.}) 39. f5+ gxf5 40. gxf5+ Nxf5 41. Qxd7+ Kxd7 42. Nxf5 Ke6 43. Ne3 1-0

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Aagaard on the Candidates: Round 5 -

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Online chess, meditation: What US millennials are doing while isolated at home – CNA

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Like most of us, young Americans face the prospect of being physically detached for a long time.

A young chef is honing his online chess game. A copywriter is meditating to battle isolation anxiety. And many are spending even more time on social media to stay connected.

American millennials, young adults in their 20s and 30s, who are under "shelter-at-home" orders in major cities from New York to California are facing the prospect of being physically detached, but this generation is the one most prepared for the long lonely slog, experts said.

"They are the core group that will stop this virus. They're the group that communicates successfully, independent of picking up a phone," Deborah Birx, coronavirus response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said this week.

California areas under a shelter-in-place order all have the same rule: Vulnerable populations must stay home and anyone else can only leave to get food, care for a relative or friend, get necessary health care or work an "essential" job.

Taking a walk or bike ride outside is okay as long as people are not in groups and stay 1.8 metres away from one another.


"I've been communicating with friends and family a lot more than I ever did in the past," said Chef Kyle McBride, 32, in San Francisco. "It's been a moment for sharing a lot and reaching out to people."

McBride and 15 other friends refashioned a WhatsApp messaging group created to plan a Costa Rica vacation into a forum for sharing news and commiserating about the pandemic.

"A lot of people are really tuned into social media and news right now just because of sheer boredom and wanting to stay connected to the latest," he said.

Increased online connections will be critical for millions of Americans as they retreat into their homes for an indefinite period.

"A focus can be the potentially good feeling of solidarity, that we're looking our for each other in this pandemic," said Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a psychology and neuroscience professor at Brigham Young University and a top scholar on loneliness in the United States.

"Look at the Italians out singing on balconies and communicating across distances. That is communicating to others that 'we're in this together' despite the distance."

Holt-Lunstad said most people in a shelter-at-place situation need to focus on increasing contact with the outside world to stay mentally healthy.

"Some research also suggests that engaging in creative arts would be helpful, so this is potentially a time when people could try that," she said. "It could be anything from poetry to cooking to any number of ways to creatively express yourself."


World events for the last two decades have prepared young adults for crisis.

"Being a millennial, we've seen a lot of scary things. I grew up in New York during 9/11," said Miles Gamble, 32, a New York City employee who works on federal compliance. "I grew up in New York during swine flu, during West Nile virus, during the second and third Ebola outbreaks."

Gamble celebrated his birthday this week in his studio apartment.

"Our generation particularly are not worried enough," he said. "We have been a generation that has literally been on the brink of the end of the world for like now, arguably 20 years."

Public health officials have been urging young adults to take the disease seriously. Americans aged 20-44 represented one in five of the cases hospitalized with the disease from Feb 12-March 16, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For Timothy J. Seppala, a 35-year-old copywriter in the Detroit area, his first week working at home made it hard to exercise, but he was meditating to keep anxiety at bay.

He echoed others about going online to stay in touch and keep spirits up, but that can only go so far.

Seppala, who is single, could not meet up with a potential date he was set up with.

"I don't know if anyone is feeling ready to go out," he said. "Right now the vibe is just we all stay home."

(Source: Reuters)

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Online chess, meditation: What US millennials are doing while isolated at home - CNA

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March 23rd, 2020 at 2:48 pm

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The Candidates Round 6 LIVE – Chessbase News

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3/23/2020 Ian Nepomniachtchi goes into the second rest day of the Candidates Tournament leading by a full point after beating Ding Liren with White on Monday. The only other player with a plus score is Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who was worse but managed to hold a draw against Wang Hao. Anish Giri defeated Kirill Alekseenko in a game that lasted over seven hours, while Alexander Grischuk had to be precise to split the point with Fabiano Caruana. Express report. | Live games and commentary from 11:00 UTC (12:00 CET / 7:00 EDT). | Photo: Lennart Ootes / FIDE

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The eight-player Candidates tournament is one of the most prestigious global chess events, held every two years. The event will determine who will challenge the defender Magnus Carlsen for the title of the World Chess Champion. This years event has a prize fund of 500,000 Euros, which is the highest ever in the history of the Candidates tournaments.

Previous reports: Round 1| Round 2| Round 3| Round 4| Round 5

The tournament is approachingits half-way point, and a player has emerged as the clear leader in Yekaterinburg. Ian Nepomniachtchi scored his second straight win to get a full-point lead over Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. The Russian grandmaster beat Ding Liren, who entered a strategically risky position in the middlegame and soon found himself on the ropes against an in-form opponent. Ding threw in the towel on move 40.

The remaining three games saw one of the players trying to squeeze slight advantages after the time control. Alexander Grischuk survived time trouble and managed to find plenty of only moves to hold Fabiano Caruana to a draw, while Vachier-Lagrave survived anendgame a pawn down against Wang Hao.

The one that got to score a win from what seemed to be a holdable position for his opponent was Anish Giri. Playing Black against Kirill Alekseenko, he was pressing in a queen and knight endgame. Alekseenko strangely rejected capturing a pawn on move 38 and later found himself defending a 3 v 2 knight ending. Giri continued to tighten the screw until his opponent failed to play a simple forcingline that secured a draw moreover, the move simply gave the game away. Thus, Giri scored his first win after 98 moves and over seven hours of play.

Replay the games with computer analysis. Full report to follow shortly.

Players receive100 minutes for 40 moves, then 50 minutes for the next 20 moves, then 15 minutes for the restof the game, plus a 30-second bonus per move starting from move 1. No draw offers are allowed prior to move 40.

Commentary byEvgenij Miroshnichenko and Daniil Dubov

As available.

Press release

The opening ceremony took place at the Ekaterinburg Expo congress center and was hosted by the renowned Russian film actress Alena Babenko and sports commentator Viktor Gusev. Speakers at the Opening Ceremony were Evgeny Kuyvashev (Governor of the Sverdlovsk Oblast (Region)), FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich, former World Champion Anatoly Karpov, the President of the Sverdlovsk Chess Federation AndreySimanovsky as well as the Regional Corporate Sales Head at Kaspersky Marina Usova.

Evgeny Kuyvashev, the Governor of the Sverdlovsk Oblast (Region) said that it is the first time this region is hosting a FIDE Candidates tournament and added: Our region considers itself one of the leaders of the home [Russian] chess movement and the center for the development of the chess thought. Today some 20,000 people professionally play chess in the Sverdlovsk Region, including 2.500 children and teenagers. We are proud of our chess masters and our young chess talents.

Arkady Dvorkovich| Photo: Lennart Ootes / FIDE

Congratulating the players and chess fans across the world on the start of the FIDE Candidates Tournament in Yekaterinburg, FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich pointed to this event being the most important stage in the qualifying cycle for the World Chess Championship, as it will determine the opponent of the current world champion Magnus Carlsen. In the coming weeks, we will witness epic battles between eight world's leading chess players. They went through the toughest selection process in the previous few months to compete for the right to challenge for the world chess crown in Yekaterinburg.

FIDE president also reflected on the fact that the Tournament is held in the environment of an alarming situation with the spread of COVID-19. I would like to note that in terms of medical safety measures, the Tournament organizing Committee fully follows the recommendations of the World Health Organization, the IOC and Rospotrebnadzor and fulfils all the prescribed requirements. We also ask for maximum support from the chess community, the media, and all of you.

Once again, I would like to welcome the participants of the FIDE Candidates Tournament and wish them memorable combinations and spectacular victories. And let the Tournament bring only joy and new positive emotions to all the fans, Dvorkovich concluded.

The mayor of Yekaterinburg, Alexander Vysokinsky highlighted the importance of this event for the local community, adding we will try to do everything in our power so that this event is held according to highest standards, so everyone could enjoy!

Press conference| Photo: Lennart Ootes/ FIDE

One of the speakers at the ceremony was Grandmaster Anatoly Karpov, the 12th World Champion in chess, who himself comes from the Ural region. Karpov emphasized the uniqueness of the tournament for the region and spoke about efforts made to develop chess education, including at the Ural Federal University.

Anatoly Karpov (middle) | Photo: Lennart Ootes/ FIDE

The President of the Sverdlovsk Chess Federation Andrey Simanovsky, as well as the Regional Corporate Sales Head at Kaspersky Marina Usova joined the speakers in wishing the players good luck in the tournament.

The medal awaits| Photo: Lennart Ootes/ FIDE

The official part of the Opening ceremony was followed by a concert by the famous Russian violinist and conductor, Yuri Bashmet and his Moscow Soloists Chamber Orchestra. The concert featured other renowned Russian classical music artists such as Bolshoi Theatre soloist Alina Yarovaya and opera singer Vassily Gerello. The musical event also included a performance of the top stars of the Bolshoi Theatre.

Colourful performances courtesy the Bolshoi Theatre | Photo: Lennart Ootes/ FIDE

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The Candidates Round 6 LIVE - Chessbase News

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