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Archive for the ‘Chess’ Category

Quebec’s teen chess grandmaster ready to play best in the world – CTV News

Posted: January 14, 2020 at 8:41 pm

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MONTREAL -- Maili-Jade Ouellet is at the top of her chess game, the world of strategy, discipline and little room for chance.

"I was five years old when one of my uncles taught me how to play," she said.

Ouellet started playing in chess tournaments when she was seven and, at 15, won the North American Youth Chess Championship (NAYCC) in 2016.

She continues to play all over the world.

In November, Ouellet was invited to the 2019 FIDE Women's North American Continental Championship in Mexico and won the women's grandmaster title, the second Canadian to do so.

Winning means she qualifies for the 2020 Women's World Chess Cup in Belarus in September.

"I was really happy," she said. "Throughout the tournament, you get a feeling if you're going to win or not."

A Google search or YouTube tutorial will teach most chess openings, but the middle of the game is where Ouellet shines.

"Middle game is more about strategy and planning and attacking or defending, and it's really where everything happens," she said. "There's a lot of studies that were made on end game and they're very complicated and they're very hard to master and everyone is bad at it. Everyone."

Ouellet spends hours going over online databases studying her opponents' past games in preparation for meeting them on the board.

"You can anticipate what they're going to play in the opening and you can counter that and play according to this, and there's a lot of theory, so if you prepare well, it could be a lot of moves," she said. "It's really about out-prepping your opponents and having the psychological and positional edge over the board."

Even though she juggles chess with CEGEP, work and family, Ouellet said it's all worthwhile because she has so much fun.

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Quebec's teen chess grandmaster ready to play best in the world - CTV News

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Aronian In South Africa: ‘Chess Is The Purpose Of My Life’ –

Posted: January 13, 2020 at 1:46 pm

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Levon Aronian: You dont play chess to have fun. You play chess to crush your opponent.

A high-spirited Aronian attended the South African Junior Chess Championship (SAJCC) Jan. 3-8 in the city of Ekurhuleni. More than 2,700 youths competed in a record-breaking team event and had the opportunity to meet Aronian, who was a guest star in many side events hosted during the competition.

Freestyle blitz in Joubert Park:

Following in the footsteps of Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So, who attended the SAJCC in 2018 and 2019respectively, Aronian spent a morning in Johannesburg in the iconic Joubert Park, the lair of Africas best chess hustlers. After warming up against the juniors of the Hyenas Chess Club, Levon took on some local masters, including the South African champion Johannes Mabusela.

In an attempt to stop Levons perfect streak, the grandmasters wife Arianne Caoili joined the crowd amid cheers and local music. Only the youthful Simphiwe Buthelezi managed to score against the Armenian superstar, and won a dramatic game thanks to a blunder by the overworked opponent.

Chess is my 9-to-5:

Another surprise for Aronian came from an inspired local veteran, who managed to beat the GM in a draining eight-hour-long simul on 107 boards the following day. The national master pulled off a mate-in-four in a complicated position, after a strenuous fight from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

I have never faced so many opponents in a simul, admitted Aronian before making the first move. Whats more, the exhibition had no rating cap and a few players rated between 1800 and 2200 showed up.

In an interview with, Aronian commented: Every time Im playing a simul, people say 'this guy is good, this guy is bad, pay attention to this one'but I actually dont like that. I like the randomness and I like the fact that I have to put up an effort.

Aronian also met some of the best players in southern Africa in a master class and Q&A. He described his path to success to players and coaches and shared with them some suggestions on how to train a future champion.

A bughouse walkover:

Aronian joined forces with his wife to wipe out the competition in a carnival-themed bughouse tournament. Slick chess hustlers and go-getting youth in costume were no challenge for the world authority in bughouse, who also sported a sensational Joker costume.

We love playing every kind of game partnering with my wife," said Aronian, "because we love being a team generally, in every sport. If only the level was a little bit higher, we could have had some competition.

A day with a super-GM:

Along with being an unmatchable bughouse specialist, Levon turned out to be an outstanding athlete, or at least thats the rumor in the South African U10 circuit!

Uncle Lev is better at soccer than at chess, claimed Caleb and Judah Levitan, two of the most promising South African youth and the best "springboks" in last years World Youth. We managed to snatch a draw with him in the simul, but he gave us no chance on the soccer field.

The two boys showed the Armenian guest the beauty of South Africa and forced him to add a Mandela shirt to his wardrobe.

It was a great emotion to meet Aronian, said Lindiwe Kololo, an intellectually-disabled player who made the ceremonial first move against the GM. Chess taught me that if you really want to achieve something, you will. Now that I've met one of the best players in the world, I want to play international tournaments with opponents from all over the world.

On another note:

Levon Aronian's visit to South Africa was a unique experience for many aspiring GMs, and an opportunity for the country to promote chess in local news and national broadcasts. The tournament has few equals worldwide in terms of participation, despite the gap that still exists between the quality of chess in the continent and global standards.

However, South African chess has experienced a political crisis for the past few months, resulting in the coexistence of two national federations. The Chessa crisis has precedents in Gabon and Kenya and has hindered the organization of international tournaments in the country, as well as the participation of some players in the 2019 African Youth Chess Championship.

A severe restructuring of the federation will possibly have a more effective impact on local chess players than the visit of an incredible role model like Aronian. In the margins of the SAJCC, Chessa is expected to find a quick solution to months of uncertainty and court cases. This will certainly help South African chess to move forward, and players to be competitive internationally.

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Aronian In South Africa: 'Chess Is The Purpose Of My Life' -

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Chess: find Whites weird three-move winning tactic – Financial Times

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Britains 4NCL (Four Nations Chess League) has been monopolised by a single team for almost a decade now.

Guildford last lost a match in 2012, since when the Surrey players have won 79 encounters and drawn just two. They often score at least 7-1 over eight boards, and even single game defeats are rare.

They had just one game loss in the entire 2018-19 season, and in last weekends matches, which launched the 2019-20 fixtures, Guildford crushed Cambridge University by 8-0, then Barbican, the City of London team, by 7-1.

Englands national team, which won medals at the 2019 world and European championships, form Guildfords core players along with highly rated GMs from France. Continuity also counts. Roger Emerson and Nigel Povah, the managers and sponsors, are experts with successes of their own.

Guildfords hegemony faces a double challenge this season. Manx Liberty, based in the Isle of Man, has a nucleus of GMs who played for Trier in the Bundesliga, and is now sponsored by the website Manx lost to Guildford in the 2019 final round after a close match, and is set for a fresh attempt with a reinforced squad.

Yorkshire-based White Rose, the strongest team in the North, has new backing from Magnus Carlsens Chessable learning site and hopes to field elite GMs from India and the US who teach there in the later 4NCL rounds.

It promises to be a competitive season.


Can you work out Whites bizarre three-move winning tactic in this (see graphic ) apparently drawn rook ending?

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Chess: find Whites weird three-move winning tactic - Financial Times

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Might & Magic: Chess Royale is an auto battle royale from Ubisoft – VentureBeat

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Ubisofts scientists have done the unthinkable and combined the two biggest new gaming genres of the last few years. The publisher revealed today that it plans to release Might & Magic: Chess Royale for mobile and PC on January 30. As the name suggests, it mixes together elements of auto battlers (think Auto Chess) and battle royale games (PlayerUnknowns Battlegrounds and Fortnite).

In Might & Magic: Chess Royale, you put together an army of units from the Might & Magic series in a fight against 99 other players. The game borrows a lot from Dota: Auto Chess, Dota Underlords, and Teamfight Tactics. Players must focus on creating powerful synergies between units. But Chess Royale drops the teams and instead has every player fighting for themselves. As in Fortnite or PlayerUnknowns Battlegrounds, you want to outlast everyone else to get the victory.

While this isnt a direct spinoff of Ubisofts Might & Magic Heroes strategy games, fans of those games will recognize many of the units. And some knowledge should transfer from one game to the other.

Ubisoft has already begun testing Might & Magic: Chess Royale in a soft launch. This has enabled the games designers to work on optimizations.

One of the big goals is to create relatively short matches. Ubisoft claims that you can lose quick or win quick with game sessions that last 10 minutes. That could help distinguish it from the auto battler crowd. Dota Underlords and Teamfight Tactics can have 30-minute matches or longer.

But Ubisoft is definitely chasing the trends. And thats going to make it challenging to find an audience. Teamfight Tactics and Dota Underlords are already major hits with millions of players.

Of course, that doesnt mean Chess Royale doesnt have a chance. Fortnite and then Apex Legends proved that new games could come along and thrive in the battle royale space. Maybe Chess Royale will do the same for autobattlers.


Might & Magic: Chess Royale is an auto battle royale from Ubisoft - VentureBeat

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January 13th, 2020 at 1:46 pm

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Chess the barometer of a nation’s health – TheArticle

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This chess column is the commencement of my weekly contributions to TheArticle, and I must express my gratitude to editor Daniel Johnson, for giving me the opportunity to explore this new way forwards.

For some time I have felt that traditional newspaper chess columns, designed to appeal to the general chess enthusiast (rather than the devoted chess expert) are failing to keep pace with 21st-century technology. Papers are indeed paying minimal homage to modern technology by reproducing material online, but without the ability to play over games on screen, this represents little more than offering the same fare online as in print.

Readers and fans will still need a chessboard and pieces to follow a game. In contrast, the modern chess column should be accessible anywhere that readers have mobile communications. To enjoy a chess column, you should not need to be stuck at home with a chess set.

This column will be different. I will not be spending time on analysing the latest wrinkle in the Chelyabinsk sub variation of the Sveshnikov line of the Sicilian Defence from the game between Bonsch Osmolovsky and Dus Chotimirsky played in the the Union Championship of Magnetogorsk. Rather, to adapt a phrase from Stefan Zweig, I will focus on what I describe as Sternstunden der Schachheit: stellar moments from the rich and diverse archives of chess, which seek to place the game in its historical, cultural and even financial context.

Games will be made available by linking towww.chessgames.coma free website which not only gives you access to instantly replayable games onscreen, but also invites readers to contribute their own comments to the analytical debate. There is also a computerised analysis function to add an extra dimension of enlightenment, should it be desired.

My inaugural focus of specific interest will be the annual Hastings tournament, which was founded in 1895, with probably the strongest chess tournament ever held up to that time. This years Hastings finishes during the first week of January and at some point I shall return to the 2020 event.

During the 19th century the UK experienced a kind of love affair with chess. The first ever international chess tournament took place in London 1851, with powerful tournaments across the country to follow, of which Hastings 1895 was, at that time, the most impressive. Moreover, Masters and champions of world status regularly gravitated to London, including Paul Morphy, Wilhelm Steinitz , Johannes Zukertort and Emanuel Lasker. Their names are still inscribed on the famous chessboard at Londons Simpsons in the Strand.

Our 19th-century love affair with chess went out with a bang in 1899, when the greatest tournament held anywhere up to that time (exceeding even Hastings) was staged in London. But this was to be the swansong. Over the next 46 years only one significant match, a mere six Grandmaster tournaments and the inaugural chess Olympiad were to be held in London. And worse was to come; between 1947 and 1972, a period of 25 years, no single Grandmaster level tournament was staged in London at all! Hastings was left to carry the flag through all this time as the sole regular Grandmaster level chess tournament in the UK.

How can this be explained?

The answer is that these chess tournaments provide an alarmingly accurate barometer of the financial health of the nation. Chess tournaments famously produce great beauty, intellectual depth, fabulous publicity and profound artistry, but very little hard revenue. They, therefore, flourish in environments where there is wealth to spare. From 1895 to 1899 Britain might have been thought to be at the zenith of her imperial might and wealth, yet the nations riches were about to be sucked into the running sore of the Boer war, which in current terms cost 20 billion pounds. Meanwhile, the nations attention was soon to be diverted by diplomatic, armaments and, ultimately, overt military conflict with the Kaisers Germany.

Howard Staunton, the founder of the 1851 tournament, and great Victorian polymath, believed, and wrote, that chess was the appropriate recreation for men of genius, and in spite of the counter-attractions of computer games, that description remains true to the present day.

In this respect, Hastings 1895 was fortunate in witnessing a number of outstanding cerebral masterpieces, the most thrilling of which was the victory by former world champion Steinitz against the German master Von Bardeleben. When the loser conceded, Steinitz was threatened with checkmate, and every single one of his pieces was under attack . . . yet he was still able to demonstrate a forced win.

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Chess the barometer of a nation's health - TheArticle

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Chess: Magnus Carlsen to face arch rival Anish Giri in opening round at Wijk – The Guardian

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Favourable early pairings give the world champion a good chance of setting a record streak of 111 games unbeaten

Jan-Krzysztof Duda v Alexei Shirov, world rapid 2019. Black, a rook down, chose 1Rd6+? and lost. How could he have won?

The world champion, Magnus Carlsen, starts his 2020 campaign on Saturday when he meets his arch rival Anish Giri in the opening round at Tata Steel Wijk aan Zee, the traditional Dutch tournament which he has dominated ever since he won its C group aged 13. In his past eight Masters appearances there Carlsen has won seven times and placed second once.

Carlsen and Giri have had some sharp clashes on Twitter, and a highlight of the 29-year-old Norwegians interview with the Guardian on Thursday was his relish in recounting how he psychologically crushed the Dutch champion when they met at Zagreb last summer.

The Wijk pairings have been kind to Carlsen in his quest to set a world record streak of 111 games unbeaten, breaking Sergei Tiviakovs mark of 110 against lesser opponents in 2004-05. He is in the top half of the draw with an extra White, and will hope for full points from some of his next opponents Yu Yangyi, Jeffery Xiong and Jorden van Foreest.

Carlsen is in the best form of his career after his vintage 2019 when he won 10 elite events, was unbeaten in classical play, held three global crowns, and in his spare time briefly reached No 1 in Fantasy Premier League. The fifth round at Wijk will be played in PSV Eindhovens Philips Stadion. Rounds start at 1.30pm and are free and live to watch online with grandmaster and computer commentaries.

Last summer, when Carlsen triumphed in Zagreb, where his game was zestful and sharp after his work with AlphaZero, he looked ready to break his own record rating of 2889 points and go for a round 2900. That proved a bridge too far and he starts the year at 2872. He will not achieve all those 28 points at Wijk but a strong performance there would set up another shot at the record in the spring.

Dangers abound. Fabiano Caruana, the world No 2, chose a lower profile in 2019 but will aim at a good start to the year before the candidates in March where the American aims to qualify for a world title rematch and avenge his defeat in 2018. Wesley So, the winner at Wijk 2017 in Carlsens only blemish, crushed him in Oslo for the Fischer Random title.

Alireza Firouzja, the 16-year-old whose world blitz game against Carlsen sparked a huge controversy, will aim to match Bobby Fischer, Boris Spassky and Carlsen himself, who all showed their world class at that age.

Tata Steel Wijk is such a reliably classic fixture to launch the chess year that it is easy to forget that its future is not assured. Steel production is in severe decline in Europe, and 2019 was a poor year for Tata Steel Netherlands. In November the Indian multinational announced job cuts which may involve nearly 20% of its 9,000 Dutch workforce.

Chinas Ju Wenjun, 28, took a 2.5-1.5 lead on Thursday in her womens world title defence against Russias Aleksandra Goryachkina, 21. Their 12-game series has a record prize fund 500,000 for any womens world championship, though this is still only a fraction of what Carlsen and his challenger will earn later this year. The first half is in Shanghai, with a 7.30am start, and the second half at Vladivostok from 5.30am.

For most of this century the womens title has been decided by a 64-player knockout, leading to a rapid turnover of champions, but the format has now reverted to a candidates tournament and a title match. Nigel Short is trebling up as chairman of the appeals committee, official match commentator and Fide representative.

The womens match which would attract most interest from chess fans, between the two clearly best players of all time, has never happened except for a single game in the 2012 Gibraltar Open. Judit Polgar v Hou Yifan is the female version of Bobby Fischer v Anatoly Karpov, the legends match that never was. It could still happen if Rex Sinquefield, who organises many similar events at St Louis, gets involved.

3653 After 1...Rd6+? 2 Kc3 Qf3+ 3 Qe3 Blacks checks ran out and White won with his extra rook. Instead 1...Qf3+! wins after 2 Kc4 (2 Kc2 Re2 wins Q for R) Re4+! 3 Kc5 Qa3+! when 4 Rb4 a5 and 4 Kxc6 Qa6+ both win a rook when Blacks extra pawns decide.

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Chess: Magnus Carlsen to face arch rival Anish Giri in opening round at Wijk - The Guardian

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Our 5 Favorite Parts of This Bonkers 2020 Election Chess Set – Rolling Stone

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From the weirdos who brought you the Ped Egg foot filer, the Brass Bullet indestructible pocket hose, and the Egg Sitter support cushion comes another bonkers product: the 2020 Battle for the White House Collectors Edition Chess Set. Its a keepsake youll cherish for generations and proudly display in your home, the commercial promises. And for just $99 (plus $9.99 shipping and handling), you, too, can turn family political squabbles into riveting games of chess with the Presidential Edition of the game. Or, you can choose the Standard or Deluxe versions for $39.99 and $59.98, respectively.

Republicans and Democrats face off against each other in this chess set, with each sides party leaders represented and the parties animal mascots, the elephant and donkey, serving as pawns. The products website claims that each chess piece is handsomely designed with incredible detail. And lest you think theyre lying, right there in the commercial and on the website is a person painstakingly hand-painting a piece.

There are so many oddities to choose from with this product, but weve narrowed it down to our top five:

According to, an analytics company that tracks commercial ad buys, Telebrands Corp., the company that makes the chess set, has spent an estimated $153,000 to run these ads between December 23 and today, generating approximately 17.6 million impressions. Since June 2019, the ad has run 292 times.

The commercial goes on to depict smiling families, happily playing chess. A grandparent playing the Republican side high-fives his grandson seated next to him as a college-age young man contemplates the Democrats next move. Interestingly, and perhaps reflecting the American electorate, in the commercial its always an older white man playing the Republican side against a younger Democratic opponent. We reached out to Telebrands Corp. to ask about sales numbers and will update this story if we hear back.

So if youre still recovering from family political fights over Christmas, you could always order this chess set to escalate the tension at your next family gathering. You can yell at your grandfather about Medicare for All as your Sotomayor bishop takes his Mike Pence queen!

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Our 5 Favorite Parts of This Bonkers 2020 Election Chess Set - Rolling Stone

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Chess: Viswanathan Anand suffers defeat against USAs Wesley So in round two of Tata Steel Masters –

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Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand suffered an early jolt, losing to Wesley So in the second round of the Tata Steel Masters chess tournament in Wijk Aan Zee on Monday.

Anand, who played out a draw in the first round, was in no mood to relent and showcased some sensational moves with the black pieces.

Sacrificing a piece early in the Italian opening, he took USAs So by surprise and continued what appeared to be a brilliant attack.

However, the Indian ace faltered on the 22nd turn when another piece sacrifice would have sealed a draw, a fact that was unearthed through computer analysis after the game. Capitalising on the fault, So sealed the victory in just three moves thereafter.

The day produced four decisive games and it was again the youngsters who provided most of the entertainment. Russian Daniil Dubov, 23, defeated Vladislav Kovalev of Belarus while Vladislav Artemiev accounted for his Russian teammate Nikita Vituigov. USAs Jeffery Xiong was the other winner of the second round at the expense of Jorden van Foreest of Holland.

World champion Magnus Carlsen could do little and had to settle for a draw for the second day running as Yu Yangyi played an ultra-solid with white pieces.

Jan-Krzysztof Duda of Poland signed peace with Firouza Alireza while Anish Giri of Holland also split the point with Fabiano Caruana of USA.

With 11 rounds still remaining in the 14-player round robin tournament, its a five-way tie at the top with Xiong, Wesley, Firouza, Artemiev and Dubov on 1.5 points each.

Caruana, Giri, Foreest, Carlsen and Duda follow the leaders with one point while Anand shares the 11th spot with Yangyi and Vituigov on a half point with Kovalev at the bottom currently as he is yet to open his account.

In the Challengers section being organized simultaneously, Grandmaster Surya Shekhar Ganguly was held to a draw by Lucas van Foreest of Holland to remain in joint lead on 1.5 points. The other Indian talent Nihal Sareen drew with Pavel Eljanov of Ukraine to inch up to one point from two draws. Nihal had to defend an inferior position for quite a while but in the end escaped unscathed.

Masters Round two results: Jeffery Xiong (Usa, 1.5) beat Jorden Van Foreest (Ned, 1); Yu Yangyi (Chn, 0.5) drew with Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 1); Anish Giri (Ned, 1) drew with Fabiano Caruana (Usa, 1) Wesley So (Usa, 1.5) beat V Anand (Ind, 0.5); Vladislav Artemiev (Rus, 1.5) beat Nikita Vitiugov (Rus, 0.5); Jan-Krzysztof Duda (Pol, 1) drew with Firouzja, Alireza (Fid, 1.5); drew with Daniil Dubov (Rus) beat Vladislav Kovalev (Blr).

Challengers: Dinara Saduakassova (Kaz, 1) drew with David Anton Guijarro (Esp, 1); Abdusattorov Nodirbek (Uzb, 0.5) lost to Jan Smeets (Ned, 1.5); Lucas Van Foreest (Ned, 1) drew with Surya Shekhar Ganguly (Ind, 1.5); Max Warmerdam (Ned, 0.5) drew with Erwin LAmi (Ned, 1.5); Anton Smirnov (Can, 0.5) drew with Vincent Keymer (Ger, 0.5); Pavel Eljanov (Ukr, 1.5) drew with Nihal Sarin (Ind, 1); Rauf Mamedov (Aze, 1.5)beat Nils Grandelius (Swe).

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Chess grandmaster: AI wont cause the downfall of mankind – Fox Business

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Renew Democracy Initiative chairman, chess grandmaster and political activist Garry Kasparov discusses losing a chess match to a computer and the implications AI has for the future.

The man widely considered to be one of the greatest chess players of all time said humans shouldnt fear artificial intelligence.

Garry Kasparov told FOX Business' Gerry Baker on "WSJ at Large," those who are warning AI will replace us are just wrong.


Im really concerned aboutthe doomsayers, all these doomsayers that are trying to terrorize our minds, he said. And maybe we should stop watching too many Hollywood movies because the future is for our making.

"Im arguing that we have to work with machines, and theres the endless opportunities that will actually bring more benefits than problems, as its happened many times before.

Kasparov should know about the power of AI.His defeat in 1997 by the IBM computer, Deep Blue, is considered the major turning point in the argument over whether machines could ever outthink humans.

My experience [is]fighting machines, he said.But now, Im arguing that we have to work with machines, and theres the endless opportunities that will actually bring more benefits than problems, as its happened many times before.

Kasparov is author of the book, Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins, based on what he learned from his battle with Deep Blue. And he believes that while AI will be disruptive to the workforce, that wont spell gloom and doom for employees.

Grandmaster chess player Garry Kasparov taps the clock after a move in a match against grandmaster Fabiano Caruana on Aug. 18, 2017. (BILL GREENBLATT/AFP via Getty Images)

The machines always helped us, he points out. Yes, they always create problems. Obviously many industries are just, you know, facing their end, but jobs do not disappear. They evolve.


But to what level of purely human achievement can computers actually reach? Kasparov isnt sure, but even so, hes betting on mankind to come out on top.

The Russian essayist and activist Garry Kasparov at the Excelsior Hotel in Rome. Rome, May 20, 2016 (Photo by Mondadori via Getty Images)

"Maybe we should stop watching too many Hollywood movies because the future is for our making.

Machines could do many, many, many things, he admits. We dont know their limits, but I think its what we should, you know, consider that our imagination, our dreams will not be limited.


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Chess grandmaster: AI wont cause the downfall of mankind - Fox Business

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PRO Chess League Week In Review: Season Starts With Surprises And Upsets –

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The 2020 PRO Chess League is back, ending a 247-day drought since the end of last season. With the new improvements to the league format, fans watched the most competitive week in PRO Chess League history. The stronger competition brought debuts forAlexander Grischuk,Wei Yi,David NavaraandEvgeny Tomashevsky, but also showcased PRO Chess League stars likeFabiano Caruana,Wesley So, Hikaru NakamuraandMaxime Vachier-Lagrave.

1. Saint Louis is still really good.

The Arch Bishops are a favorite to win this year's PRO Chess League, and after dispatching the New York Marshalls last Monday, cemented their status. Even with bothNakamuraandGadir Guseinov headlining the New York lineup, the defending league champions proved too much to handle.

The match started to slip out of reach whenSo beat Nakamura in the second round. Nakamura needed to take some risks to keep the match close, but So's solid play gave Black the endgame advantage:

Saint Louis took the match 10.5-5.5, thanks to strong performances from both So andCaruana. New York faces the Brazil Capybaras on Monday, and the Arch Bishops will take on the UK Lions.

2. Russia stuns China in season opener.

China looked like a serious competitor to Saint Louis in the preseason, butVlad Dobrov's perfect 4/4 will leave the Pandas scrambling for a better strategy next week. A last-minute substitution for Russia, Dobrov opened his day with a strong defensive win againstWen Yang:

In the third round,Weiseemed to have built an edge, but a quick blunder gave Dobrov the point:

Dobrov's performance was crucial to Russia's 9.5-6.5 win, as no other Russian players scored over 2/4. China now enters a must-win match against Armenia next week, while Russia will take on the Turkey Knights.

3. Sweden has the best fans.

After falling short of qualification in past seasons, the Wasabis finally made their PRO Chess League debut against their Scandinavian rival, the Norway Gnomes. Determined to win, the Wasabis putJon Ludvig Hammeron notice a few days before the match:

The Stockholm-based club started slowly and quickly fell behind 3-1 after the first round.Sweden slowly worked their way back into the match, and with the score locked at 7.5-7.5,Bassem Aminbroke the tie, beating Hammer with the black pieces to clinch the match:

Watching from the Wasa SK in Stockholm, Sweden's fans were pumped to see the Wasabis win in their debut. In his interview,GM Erik Blomqvist said that at least 50 fans came to watch him play live.

Sweden will face Spain next week in a match they should be favored to win. If they do, the fan-favorite could face Vachier-Lagrave's Roosters in a clash of unbeaten teams in week three.

With the higher level of competition, this week's Game Of The Week was especially hard to pick, but none is more deserving than the fighting draw betweenYannick Gozzoli andKacper Piorun. While it's rare for a draw to be selected, this game brought a complex endgame where both sides had winning chances. For most of the game, both players were under one minute on the clock, making this draw an exciting affair:

The France Roosters went on to win the match after sweeping the Poland Hussars in the final round. This week's honorable mention goes toSam Sevianof theNew York Marshalls for his win with the black pieces againstCaruana:

Sevian played incredibly well, posting a 98.1 CAPS score against the 2018 world championship challenger.

During this week's Eastern Division broadcast, a fan asked which game deserved Blunder Of The Week. With several strong contenders, the PRO Chess League has decided to select theHungary Hunters' Gergely Antal. After holding a worse position for much of the game, Antal erred with five seconds left on the clock:

Hungary could not quite recover, and theArmenia Eagleswent on to win the match, 11-5. The Hunters play the Croatia Bulldogs next week, a match they should be favored to win.

Stats matter in the PRO Chess League. Here are three stats you may have missed in the season's opening week.

1. The Bird's Opening (1.f4) scored 100% in the opening week. Sure, it was only one game, but Italy'sLorenzo Lodici,well-prepared for his game againstWouter Spoelman, developed quickly and sacrificed pieces as early as move 15. The Bird's Opening is not a likely candidate to get more screen time this season, and new openings are always welcome:

2. Speaking of Lodici, he and just four other players scored a perfect 4/4.Ray Robson (Chicago), Anton Korobov (Germany), Dobrov (Russia) and Shant Sargsyan (Armenia) also completed a perfect day. Of the five players, only twoDobrov and Sargsyannotched performance ratings over 3000. Nearly making the list, Bassem Amin (Sweden) scored three out of three, as his first-round opponent had to forfeit.

3. All four of Argentina's players had performance ratings of 2690 and higher. In their thrashing of the U.K. Lions, each of the Krakens' players scored at least 2.5/4. Considering the performance ratings, the Krakens outperformed the Saint Louis Arch Bishops, asLeinier DominguezandLe Quang Liem both managed a 2666 performance rating. Argentina's best game came fromAlan Pichot, who beatGawain Jonesafter making a long-term sacrifice in the endgame:

This week's power rankings were compiled by Isaac Steincamp (@IsaacSteincamp), who served as a general manager for the Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers for three seasons before working with

Opening week in the PRO Chess League tells us which teams were prepared to play. Managers are still trying to determine their best lineups and adjust to the new format of the league. However, losses are expensive this year. With only seven weeks of regular season to play, each match is critical, and managers need to be smart moving forward.

It's easy to overreact given the small sample size of games, but here are this week's power rankings:

No surprises here. After a dominating performance against the New York Marshalls, the defending PRO Chess League champion looked the part withCaruanaandSo combining for 6.5/8. Except for Canada, it's quite difficult to see another Western Division team beating the Missouri-based squad. Its regular season losses generally stem from significant upsets: Minnesota and Pittsburgh in 2018, and Miami in 2019.

General ManagerArtak Manukyan will tell you his team is not a title contender in 2020, but his team is fun to watch.Sargsyanwas just one of two Eastern Division players to score a perfect 4/4, and Armenia beat a talented Hungary team.Zaven Andriasianis particularly impressive, notching 3.5/4. This team will need to get through Russia, India, and China to win the Eastern Division, but the race to first place just got even more interesting.

While it was not the biggest story in this week's opener, Argentina's crushing upset over the U.K. Lions is one of the big surprises in the season's opening week, although it's hard to read too much into this one result. Argentina has just one player rated over 2600, and while Pichot looks to be a star player for the Krakens, the schedule now gets tougher. For Argentina to make a significant jump in the power rankings, they'll need to upset Canada next week.

Still one of the favorites to win the title this year, China will have to grow quickly from their loss to Russia. Other than conceding a perfect score against Vlad Dobrov, China did everything else right by holding the other three boards to a combined 5.5/12. Based on this week's result, don't be surprised ifLi Di becomes a featured player in the Pandas' lineup. The 20-year old is a proven force in the PRO Chess League with victories over So,Eltaj SafarliandTigran Petrosian in 2019.

Truly impressive opening-week performance, even with a loss to the France Roosters. WithoutJan-Krzysztof DudaandRadoslav Wojtaszek, the Hussars still nearly upset the Central Division favorite last Thursday. While they will need some help to win the division, second place is easily within reach for them. With so many other strong players on the roster, Poland is officially a dark horse to win the PRO Chess League.

This year the PRO Chess League is raising the stakes with its Fantasy Contest that offers weekly cash prizes and even more opportunities to win. Every week will have three contests, one for each division. The first-place finisher in each contest will wina three-month diamond membership, and a perfect submissionin any contest will win up to $100, so make sure to complete your three submissions every week.

This past week's winners are:

Make sure to submit your Fantasy lineup for every division each week to win prizes! You can reach the Fantasy portal on the PRO Chess League website by clicking the button below:

Next week the PRO Chess League will bring a critical prime-time match between the California Unicorns and the Chicago Wind. California will be looking to rebound from last week's loss to Canada, while the Wind have a chance to win two straight after beating Brazil. California needs a win to stay in the playoff race, as a second loss before facing Saint Louis and New York can put its postseason hopes in serious jeopardy.

Wednesday will bring the first division doubleheader of the season. The China Pandas face the red-hot Armenia Eagles in a 2018 PRO Chess League Final rematch. China avenged their 2018 defeat by winning in last year's third-place match, so next week's match will be the third edition of the rivalry. TheNorway Gnomeswill face the France Roosters in the Central Division's prime-time match, a key test for both sides.

Have a burning question about next week's matches? Starting Sunday, every weekly preview will answer at least one question from a fan. To submit your question, you can tweet using #prochess or leave a question in the comments of this article. You can ask about your favorite team, player, or anything related to the PRO Chess League!

Here is the original post:

PRO Chess League Week In Review: Season Starts With Surprises And Upsets -

Written by admin

January 13th, 2020 at 1:46 pm

Posted in Chess

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