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AlphaZero (And Other!) Chess Variants Now Available For Everyone –

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Six new variants, including four from the recent AlphaZero paper,are now available for all members to try. They can be found at

The recent scientific paper from Google's DeepMind, co-written by 14th world chess champion Vladimir Kramnik, caused quite a stir. The nine variants that were tested bythe self-learning chess engine AlphaZero were discussed widely in the chess world.

Now, four of them can be played on Three other variants are now available on our site as well. Here's an overview, starting with the AlphaZero ones:

This is a variant that's easy to understand and possibly closest to regular chess: castling is not allowed, and that's it. As GM Magnus Carlsen remarked this weekend, he would have answered GM Hikaru Nakamura's Bongcloud 1.e4 e5 2.Ke2(which Naka played against GM Jeffery Xiong) with 2...Ke7 and after 3.Ke1 Ke8 you have No Castling chess.

But it's safer to play the variant itself, now available on our site so that you don't run the risk of playing that Bongcloud and getting an opponent that doesn't play along and smashes you instead.

Play No Castling chess here.

This variant was called Self-capture in the DeepMind paper. It basically allows you to take your own pieces as well, in addition to your opponent's pieces. You can imagine positions where it makes sense for a rook to take the pawn in front of it because opening a line could be (much) more valuable than that pawn.

Kramnik was very enthusiastic about this variant. He wrote:"I like this variation a lot, I would even go as far as to say that to me this is simply an improved version of regular chess.... Regardless of its relatively minor effect on the openings, self-captures add aesthetically beautiful motifs in the middlegames and provides additional options and winning motifs in endgames."

Play Capture Anything here.

On Friday, September 18, hosted a round-table discussion with GM Vladimir Kramnik, IM Danny Rensch, and researchers of DeepMind discussing their latest paper in which AlphaZero explores chess variants. Here it is for replay:

This is possibly the most complicated variant of all: pawns are not only allowed to run forward but also sideways.As Kramnik wrote, "Even after having looked at how AlphaZero plays Pawnside chess, the principles of play remain somewhat mysteriousit is not entirely clear what each side should aim for. The patterns are very different, and this makes many moves visually appear very strange, as they would be mistakes in classical chess."

Play Sideways Pawns here.

Torpedo speeds up the game as here pawns can move by one or twosquares anywhere on the board. (In standard chess, only in the starting position are they allowed to move two squares.) Interestingly, en passant canconsequently happen anywhereon the board. But the biggest difference is that games become more tacticalcompared to standard chess. Watch those pawns.

Play Torpedo here.

Besides the four variants tested by AlphaZero, three other variants have been made available this week as well. Fog of War, also known as Dark Chess, has been the most popular so far. It is a variant where the main novelty is lack of information:you can only see the squares where your pieces or pawns can move and attack.

Play Fog of War here.

If you want to remove any information (instead of the board itself, which you'll need to play), you can try Blindfold chess. In addition to being a fun challenge, this could be a good way to train your visualization skills.

Playing blindfold chess has such a rich history that there's a separate Wikipedia page on it as well as a page in our Terms section. In the 1990s and early 2000s, the Melody Amber tournament had top grandmasters play blindfold chess behind a laptop for which special software was created. If the tournament were to be re-instated, they could just log into

Play Blindfold chess here.

Last but not least, has added the variant Chaturanga. Speaking of history, this ancient Indian board game is in fact considered to be a common ancestor to chess.

So what are the rules? Well, for starters, the pieces have different names. The king is Raja, the queenFerz, the rook Ratha, the bishop Alfil, the knight Ashva, and the pawnBhata.The Ferz is much weaker is it can only move one square diagonally.The Alfil jumps two squares diagonally. Other than that, the pawns can only move one square and castling does not exist.

Play Chaturanga chess here.

This is not all. As some of's programmers go pretty wild about variants, they are now working on a project called Custom variants, where members can mix and match rules to make their own variant.

That would be perfect for GM Levon Aronian, who already came up with something. He recently stated that he would like to try Capture Anything but limit captures to the heavy pieces. Soon, he might be able to create Aronian Chess on

Interested in trying out the new variants? Find them at

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AlphaZero (And Other!) Chess Variants Now Available For Everyone -

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September 23rd, 2020 at 7:56 am

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On the origins of chess (7/7) – Chessbase News

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1: Introduction | 2: India| 3: China| 4: Egypt| 5:Myths, legends| 6: Cultural syncretism

At this point of the investigations on the origin of chess there are things we know, things wesuppose we know and thingsthat we ignore. Lets list them one by one:

We know that the game arose in the Orient.

We know that there are only three theories that present valid sources to support their stance onthe original source of the game: the one that locates the origin in India; the one that focuses onChina, and that of cultural syncretism.

We know that a variant of proto-chess entered Persia in the sixth century AD coming from a region of India.

We suppose thatthis game was chaturanga, in its two-player modality, which was taken to Ctesiphon, the capital of the Persian Empire.

We know that the first precise mentions to a variant of proto-chess, coming from diverse literary sources, appear inthe fourthcentury AD, the first of which refers tothe Chinese xiang-qi and the second one to chaturanga.

We know that bothxiang-qi andchaturanga had their respective transformation processes.

We know that there are two previous games that were born in these cultures, which had been recorded in literary works since ancient times: the Chinese liubo and the Indian ashtpada.

We suppose thatxiang-qi if it came exclusively from theChinese culture could have been conceived fromliubo.

We suppose that chaturanga if it came exclusively from the Indian culture could have been conceived from ashtpada or chaturaji.

We ignore the sequence in which chaturaji and chaturangacame to be(although the predominant theory is that the latter came first), or even if chaturaji is a mere position of chaturanga.

We know that a version ofxiang-qi has survived to the present day (it is currently played in China and, at least, also in Vietnam) while chaturanga disappeared as a practice at some distant moment in time.

We ignore under whichprecise circumstanceschaturangaabandoned the use of dice.

We ignore whether the evolutionary process ofchaturanga went from the four-player version to the two-player one or the other way around.

We suppose thata synthesis of several previous games was generated on the Silk Route, appearing a new prototype thatlater turned into chess.

We ignore if, at the end of that process, only one game arose or, if on the contrary, both chaturanga andxiang-qiappeared simultaneously.

We suppose that the games that were part of the process of cultural syncretism wereliubo, ashtpada and the Greek petteia, andpossiblythe process took place underthe influence of an old astrolabe of Babylonian origin.

We suppose that this symbiosis occurred in a period of time between the second century BC andthe third century AD.

We suppose that the process took place ina vast region occupied successively by the Kingdom of Bactria and the Kushn Empire

We know that the oldest archaeological findings of pieces that were used insome variant of proto-chess which correlate perfectly with the geographical zones linked to the Silk Route existed approximately in the sixth century AD.

We suppose that in the future other important archaeological elements will be discovered that, depending on theirlocation, characteristics and antiquity, will strengthen our knowledge regarding thismatter.

We know that it is necessary to deepen the analysis with regard to the theory of games, establishing greater precision and causal relationships between the various variants of proto-chess and linked practices namelyashtpada,chaturanga,chaturaji,liubo,xiang-qi, petteiaand others.

We know that there is much yet to be investigatedon the origin of chess.

We suppose thatwe will eventually find an answerthat, without becoming an absolute certainty, at least will allowus to find a majorconsensus, thus establishing a uniform explanatory paradigm on the origin of chess.

Master Class Vol.9: Paul Morphy

Learn about one of the greatest geniuses in the history of chess! Paul Morphy's career (1837-1884) lasted only a few years and yet he managed to defeat the best chess players of his time.

Statuettes probably from the first to the second century of the Christian era representing two players disputing a game of liubo. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Chess might be the product of a cooperative process and we would prefer it to be this way, to show that Humanity has the capacity to bevirtuous at times (although it is known that it usually favours quarrels, often bloody, between people who seem to forget that they come from a common origin). The game could also have been an invention/creation/discovery of a single culture. Anyway, there is only one thing that is entirely certain: as Borges correctly pointed out, chess comes from the East.

In that sense, we have presented the different protohistoric versions regarding the origins of thegame, focusing onthat geographical space (India, China, Persia and other undetermined spots within the Silk Road), with physical or literary records that refer to a few centuries before and after the arrival of Christ.

There are quite exact records of many specific episodes, such as the time when one of the versions of the game entered Ctesiphon from India, which happened exactly in the sixth century AD. From that moment on, everything is quite clear, in terms of the diffusionof chess; before this event, however, everything is much less clear.

In this context of uncertainty, there are conflicting theses on the origin of chess, some of which have empirical support while others can only be recognized as myths or legends. All of them, with the inevitable omissions born out ofthe vastness of the analytical field, were compiled in this work.

After all, there are mainly three possibilities with a high degree of truthfulness and verisimilitude: two of them correspond to particular cultures those that consider that chess comes from the Indian chaturanga or the Chinese xiang-qi; the third possibility, on the other hand, recognizes the existence of a syncretic civilizing effort, postulating a confluence of practices from different civilizations.

Beyond the validity of this trio of hypotheses, which are often each seen as independent efforts, we believe that an effort can be made to integrate theperspectives.

All the theories present elements that can be interconnected, in their complementarity, leaving aside, or perhaps reinterpreting, the divergences between them. The fact that the different variants of proto-chess have emerged in a wide but interconnected geographical space, and that this has happened in temporal synchrony, gives strong clues to a fact that we believe is incontrovertible: we are in the presence of a single family of games, with interconnected processes of evolution, which have yet to be fully discerned.

By extending the analysis, it would be possible to trace not only the interrelationship of the various proto-chess variants but also their origins in even older games. We could even go back to the Egyptian senet and, reconstructing the sequence from there on, arrive at chess as it was redefined in medieval Europe.

Under these conditions, it would be possible to work no longer from univocal, fragmented perspectives, but rather by proposing a holistic theory, integrating the evidence of each singular hypothesis, in such a way as to construct a unique, all-encompassingexplanation.

Thus, instead of giving pre-eminence tochaturanga or xiang-qi aninitial prototypes, it could be believed that at least one game appeared on the Silk Road from which these were derived, either concomitantly or sequentially. Therefore, in that case, the formerwould not derive from ashtpada and the latter from liubo rather,these earliergames, probably together with the Greek petteiaandwith the contribution of an ancient Babylonian astrolabe, produced a variant ofproto-chess via cultural syncretism. This game, from then on, would expand through different routes, to the East and to the West.

So there are very interesting lines of exploration still to be developed. Although the possibility of testimonials appearing from ancient manuscripts on the subject is increasingly remote (although not entirely impossible), therecould appear new archaeological findings that provide newclues, particularly inregard to the dating of games vestiges, which couldbetter establishinterrelationships and sequential information about thesepractices.

It is also possible, and indeed necessary, to continue to deepen structural analyses, based on the intrinsic characteristics and aetiology of the various games, in order to determine more precisely their correlation according to historical, geographical and cultural variables. This question is central to the design of the common evolutionary tree discussed above.

In any case, it is necessary to deepen the understanding of the practices that would have served as inputs of the proto-chess petteia, liubo, ashtpada so that it will be possible to evaluate with more certainty, from the study of their particularities, the degree in which they could have had an effect in the subsequent modalities:xiang-qi andchaturanga.

Master Class Vol.4: Jos Ral Capablanca

He was a child prodigy and he is surrounded by legends. In his best times he was considered to be unbeatable and by many he was reckoned to be the greatest chess talent of all time: Jose Raul Capablanca, born 1888 in Havana.

A senet board that may correspond to the 14th century B.C.

In short, where did chess originate and under what circumstances?

We could simply reproducesome well-knownlegendary stories, such as the ones thatattribute the invention of the game toSissa the Wiseor the queen of Lanka or even to the battle in which asovereign lost one of her sons in confrontation with his brother.

We could focusondivinities, on the esoteric worldor onfictional literature.

We could, without analysing the whole, but observing only the parts, attribute the creation of the game to Indians, Chinese or other culture.

We could say, so as not to be mistaken, although falling into an obvious imprecision which we can only admit in poetry that chess appeared at a distant moment in time somewhere in the East.

What I said at the beginning. The restless Humanitywants to know everything. We will never be satisfied with simple and insufficient explanations; and less so with inaccurate ones.

A holistic theory about the origin of chess can perhaps help explain the steps that were taken for the emergence of the most influential and metaphorical game ever conceived.

In any case, we believe we are closer to discovering the key that will allow us to determine the initiating moment when the game appeared. And, from that, determine with much greater certainty how the whole sequence of subsequent diffusion took place.

For now, it might be better not to knoweverything yet.

Thus, there is a powerful incentive to further research this topic.

In this way, a suggestive and primordial mystery continues to haunt us: when did the magical and millenary game of chess appeared on Earth.

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On the origins of chess (7/7) - Chessbase News

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September 23rd, 2020 at 7:56 am

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Ten Years of Chess Innovation. How Lichess grew from a simple tech | by Samuel Sullivan | SUPERJUMP | Sep, 2020 – Medium

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Lichess ( started as a simple tech experiment and grew into the second most popular chess website on the internet, second only to According to Alexa, Lichess is currently one of the 1,150 most visited websites globally. Lichess is entirely free for users, has no advertisements, and is open-source, meaning the code is publicly accessible.

1. will always be free.

2. It will never contain advertisements.

3. It will always be open source.

Over the past ten years, Lichess has evolved to push the boundaries of online chess. On a 2017 podcast episode of The Perpetual Chess Podcast hosted by Ben Johnson, Thibault Duplessis, the founder of Lichess, talked about how Lichess has evolved through the years. Duplessis was a twenty-four-year-old coder at the time and described himself as an average chess player. Duplessis decided to use chess as a vehicle to show the abilities of open source for real-time communication. Early improvements were just for Duplessis technical pleasure.

Lichess attracted an enthusiastic community that would cause the site to expand rapidly. Coders, developers, and players were all attracted by the core principles of Lichess. Having no advertisements is a point of emphasis for Duplessis. He describes advertisements as pollutants that make people stupid.

Duplessis said, I want to interact with people, not just consumers. I want them to be contributors if possible.

By contributors, Duplessis means with their time and energy, but the site does rely on donations from users who become patrons. I have been a Lichess user for almost four years, but only recently decided to become a paying supporter. It wasnt easy to find the donation page, which is by design.

The site is maintained and developed by people who want to work on it. They work on the site out of passion, not for money, which Duplessis says brings out peoples best work. Lichess has been translated into over ninety languages and was the first chess site to have features that support players with blindness.

Duplessis proudly touted that The bus factor for Lichess was up to four people. The site is not wholly reliant on Duplessis to continue. It would take a bus to hit him and three other of the top developers for Lichess to fail.

The Lichess community is welcoming, and it is an excellent place to play chess for all levels of skill and experience. The site, behind its founder, Thibault Duplessis, remains true to its core principles of being completely open-source, staying free to users, and having no advertisements. This fidelity has caused the Lichess community to grow because it does not answer to anyone. The passion of the contributors and players continues to keep Lichess on the cutting edge. May the next ten years of Lichess be as successful and inspiring as the first.

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Ten Years of Chess Innovation. How Lichess grew from a simple tech | by Samuel Sullivan | SUPERJUMP | Sep, 2020 - Medium

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September 23rd, 2020 at 7:56 am

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Mechanics’ to Host U.S. Cadet National Championship this Weekend –

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TheMechanics Institute will gather the top U16 players in the country for the 2020 U.S. Cadet National Championship onChess.comthis weekend, Sept. 25-27.

TheCadet Championship is aneight-player invitational event comprised of the six highest USCF-rated players under the age of 16, the 2020K-8Barber Champion, and an organizer wildcard.Considering the accessibility to players who do not have the obstacle of travel for this online event, this may be one of the strongest fields ever assembled in the championships history, anda lot of action is expected.Here is the field for this year:

IM Justin Wang 2540

IM Christopher Yoo 2540

IM Andrew Zhang Hong 2533

FM Robert Shlyakhtenko 2459 (Barber Champion)

IM Arthur Guo 2446

FM Maximillian Lu 2431

FM Christopher Shen 2424

NM Ruiyang Yan 2242 (Organizer Wildcard)

The tournament will be round-robin format with seven rounds, with one gameto beplayed on Friday, three gamesonSaturday, and thefinalthree rounds on Sunday. All games will be played with a time control of G/70 +10.No playoff will happen inthe event of afirst-placetie, but instead tiebreak scores will determine the prize distribution.

First place will collect $7,000 in prizes,including a $6,000 collegiate scholarshipjointly supported by US Chess and Dewain Barber. Barber, the Dean of Scholastic Chess in the U.S., has also made available one-year US Chess membership extensions for each of the participants.

Fair play in the event is a top priority for both the organizer and US Chess.Players will be monitored live,where every player will have two cameras on them, andgameswillalso be analyzed by grandmasters, experts and Dr. Ken Reganfrom the University of Buffalo. Directing the eventwill be NTD JohnMcCumiskey, who will oversee the overall decisions and executions.

The Mechanics Institute will provide live commentary of the action every day through itsTwitch channel.Main commentators will be the Institutes grandmaster-in-residence and three-time U.S. Champion GM Nick deFirmian, along withMechanics legend FM Paul Whiteheadand chessdirector Abel Talamantez.Special guest commentatorsare expectedthroughout the weekend, including2018 US Champion GM Sam Shankland, two-time US champion GM Patrick Wolff,as well asformer Mechanicschessdirector andcaptain of the US Olympic Team IM John Donaldson.

Event schedule is as follows:

Virtual Opening Ceremony -Friday, Sep 25: 3PM PT / 6ET

Round 1 - Friday, Sep 25: 4PM PT / 7 ET

Round 2- Saturday, Sep 26: 9AM PT / 12ET

Round 3- Saturday, Sep 26: 1PM PT / 4ET

Round 4- Saturday, Sep 26: 4PM PT / 7 ET

Round 5- Sunday, Sep 26: 9AM PT / 12ET

Round 6- Sunday, Sep 26: 1PM PT / 4ET

Round 7- Sunday, Sep 26: 4PM PT / 7 ET

Thisyears eventmarks the 20thanniversary sinceit was last hosted by theMechanics Institute. In 2000, Donaldson directed theCadet Championship fora field thatincluded current GM Josh Friedel and IM Daniel Fernandez. It is a great honor and prestige for the Institute to be able to organize this event in this special year.

For more information, visit the event page.

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September 23rd, 2020 at 7:55 am

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Guess the child prodigy – Chessbase News

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9/22/2020 When was the first time in your life you played chess? Most probably at the age of six to eight years? Whatever the answer is, we have an adorable quiz about young titled chess masters for you. If chess is a big part in your life, which isn't a bad thing at all, you should be able to guess at least seven out of twelve correctly. Here is your challenge!

The young talents you are about to see have grown into exceptional chess players. You have surely seen all of their faces in their adult state, but rarely how they looked like as a children. If you think of some outstandingdetails of their faces, e.g. the haircut, eye colour, lips, jaw structure or even the ears, you might be able to tell who is who.







Fritz and Chesster - Part 2

Jump into chess action, move by move, to rescue Chesster from deep within King Blacks castle. Join Fritz and Bianca in a thrilling chess adventure as they enter rooms of the castle, where each challenge will help you sharpen skills and prepare for the ultimate showdown.







Fritz and Chesster - Part 3 Chess for winners

This unforgettable chess adventure is designed to advance young chess players skills, move by move. Discover mini-games, brain-twisters and more at every attraction. Pick up chess tips and skills as you ride in bumper cars and the Ferris wheel. Polish up your chess strategy and tactics, opening, middle game and endgame and use what youve learned to win. Youll have lots of fun while you learn more about the serious business of playing and winning chess!

Maybe interesting to add, that we have a special software made for kids to learning chess in a playful and fun way. It has been awarded with the "German Computer Games Award"

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Guess the child prodigy - Chessbase News

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September 23rd, 2020 at 7:55 am

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Blitz Tournament of the Americas: Bringing Cultures and Communities Together Through Chess –

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The Blitz Tournament of the Americas, organizedby theMechanics Institute in partnership withKmadaChess and Chess SinFronteras, was held onSaturday, Aug. 15. The free eventaimed toshowcase the talents of titled men and women players from across the Americas,bringing our diverse communities together andbuilding new partnerships.

Through these collaborative partnerships and word of mouth,the 9-round open Blitz (G/3+2) battleregistered 91 playersand represented15 different countries,including 9 Grandmasters, 13 International Mastersand 20 titled women.

The tournament wasstreamed"> by the Mechanics Instituteon Twitch, as well as several other streamersfromparticipating countries, including WIM Ivette Garcia Morales and GM Josh Friedel.It was a phenomenal event in its simplicity of message and the strength of the participating players: When it comes to efforts to unite people through chess, chess players are generous with their time and come out in full force.

CubanGM Juan Carlos Obregon Rivero won with a score of 8/9.GM Conrad Holt took second place with a score of 7.5/9,whileIM Andrew Hong and FM Kyron Griffithtied for thirdwith 7/9.CubanWGM Lisandra Teresa Ordaz Valdesfinished asthe topfemalewith 6/9, andPerusAnn Lindsay Chumpitaz Carbajalalso posted an excellent performancewith 5.5/9.

Threeplayers remained with perfect scoresafter three rounds,includingObregon Rivero,ColumbianGM Andres Gallegoand two-time U.S. Champion GM Patrick Wolff. Wolff is a Mechanics Institute Trustee who is not an active chess player, but hedefinitely showedhe has the fire and skill to match up against some of the very best. He faced off against Holt in roundfourand delivered this win against a very strong blitz player.

Obregon Riverobeat Wolffin roundfive,setting up this round 6 matchupwithGallegabetween the onlytwoplayers leftunbeaten.

Afterhis loss to Wolff,Holt went on a tear with three consecutive victories, setting upthiseighth-roundmatchupwith Obregon Rivero.

Heading into the final round, Obregon Rivero needed only adrawto win the event, though hehadto get passedyoung phenom IM ChristopherYoo, whoseamazing tactical abilityin blitzcould posea danger to any player in the world. But the GM closed the show like a champion, taking the final roundand winning in clear first place.

Girl power wasdefinitely presentin this event, as women and girls made up more than 20% of the field.Here is a nice win fromValdesagainst IM Abhimanyu Mishra.

The Blitz Tournament of the Americas showed how passion and love for the game can bring out the best in people. Players came out not for prizes or titles, but for competition, for the opportunity to play new players and make new connections. It wasan event people could follow from their homes and enjoy, knowing that it was all done in the spirit of giving.

We would like to thank the teamsfromKmadaChess andChess SinFronterasfor their collaboration and partnership for this historic free event, as well asall the players for being generous with their time, all the streamers who helped promote the event, and the chess community at-large for rallying together during the pandemic to keep chess going.

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September 23rd, 2020 at 7:55 am

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Int’l online chess event to mark 74th birthday of PM Hasina – Dhaka Tribune

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The event, featuring 75 players from 15 countries, will begin Thursday and end Saturday, two days before the birthday of the Premier

South Asian Chess Council, in collaboration with Golden Sporting Club and Canadian University of Bangladesh, is going to organize Joytu Sheikh Hasina International Online Chess Tournament to mark the 74th birthday of the Bangladesh Prime Minister.

The three-day event, featuring 75 participants from 15 countries, will begin Thursday and end Saturday, two days before the birthday of the Premier.

Bangladesh Chess Federation will be providing technical and logistic support.

A total of 12 Grandmasters confirmed their participation so far.

Three Bangladeshi GMs out of five Ziaur Rahman, Enamul Hossain Razib and Reefat bin Sattar will be taking part, while Niaz Murshed and Abdullah al Rakib have been ruled out due to health and personal reasons.

BCF general secretary Syed Shahabuddin Shamim informed that this will be the first international chess competition of such format hosted by Bangladesh.

He said, Some clubs arranged online tournaments before but this is different. Here neutral pairings of the participants will be ensured. Three international arbiters, one each from Bangladesh, Iran and Philippines will conduct the games.

Shamim also said Indian GM Surya Shekhar Ganguly is enlisted as the top-ranked player of the event.

Along with 49 from the host country, other participants are from Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Maldives, Afghanistan, Iran, Russia, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore.

BCF and South Asian Chess Federation president IGP Benazir Ahmed will inaugurate the event from the CUB premises via zoom.

To reveal the details, a press conference was held at Hotel Westin in Dhaka Tuesday in the presence of Chowdhury Nafeez Sarafat, chairman of CUB, and BCF vice president.

Prize money $6,000 will be distributed to the winners while the top three Bangladesh performers will get $1,500 as special prize.

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Int'l online chess event to mark 74th birthday of PM Hasina - Dhaka Tribune

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September 23rd, 2020 at 7:55 am

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Road To The PCL Finals: China Pandas –

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The PRO Chess League finalsstart on Friday, so it's high time to take a closer look at the four teams that will be fighting for the title. Today: the China Pandas.

The PRO Chess League finals will take place on September 25-27 on with commentary Below are the four teams and their lineups.

Lineups PRO Chess League Finals

We are providing a closer look at all four teams and their roads to the finals.In this article, the focus is on the China Pandas.

The Pandas had no fewer than 10 players who played for their team this season. By far the most active was GM Wei Yi, who played 36 games and scored 24.5 points. GM Li Chao was good for 11 points from 19 games.

The other two players who will be in the finals, GMs Ding Liren and GM Yu Yangyi, scored 6/8 and 8/12 respectively.

As the top GMs were not always available, the Pandas struggled somewhat in the regular season this year. The team started with two losses, including their match with one of the other finalists: the Armenia Eagles.

The Pandas lost one more time, in the fifth round, but a total of six wins was just enough to finish in fourth place and make it to the playoffs.

With stronger lineups later than at the start, the Pandas started to get rolling and won in weeks three and four. Against the Hungary Hunters, they had three 2700 GMs who definitely helped in scoring an important 10.5-7.5 win as the Hunters would eventually finish in fifth place.

Li defeated GM Gabor Papp in a nice game. As it turned out, the king walk to g3 was still theory!

The China Pandas started their playoffs with a 9.5-6.5 win against the California Unicorns on March 4. Five days later, they eliminated the Germany Bears, champions of the Central Division, with the exact same score.

The best-performing player for the Pandas was Yu, who made 3.5/4. Here's his win vs. GM Arik Braun that ended in checkmate.

We're seeing the China Pandas in the semifinals for the third time. In their first season in 2018, the Chinese players reached the final but dramatically lost to the Armenia Eagles in a tiebreak. The two teams met again in the match for third place last year when the Pandas took small revenge.

While Wei has by far the most experience this season, Yu and Li bring a lot of PRO Chess League history as both have played in all three seasons that the Pandas have participated in. Together, the two have played a total of 123 games in 2018-2020!

The PRO Chess League finals will take place on September 25-27 on For the semifinals on Friday, Sept. 25, the Pandas face the favorites: the Saint Louis Arch Bishops. Incidentally, these teams have never played before.

The other semifinal is played between theArmenia Eagles and the Canada Chessbrahs. The two losing teams will then face each other on Saturday, Sept. 26, for a fight for third place, while the big final is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 27.

Like in the regular season, time control for all games will be 10 minutes plus a two-second increment.Every player on a team will play every player on the other team for a total of 16 games. The four finalists will be competing for a $40,000 prize fund with $20,000 going to the winner. All matches will be streamed live with expert commentary

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September 23rd, 2020 at 7:55 am

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CHESS Health Selected by Next Step Community, an Addiction Recovery Program Located in Terre Haute, Indiana – PR Web

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (PRWEB) September 22, 2020

CHESS Health, the leading provider of comprehensive addiction management technology, announced today that Next Step Community has chosen to implement CHESSs eRecovery solution, a comprehensive care management platform for substance use disorder which includes the evidence-based Connections App.

Next Step Community will use the Connections App to offer valuable functionality for the entire treatment and recovery journey, including:

The stress and forced isolation created by COVID-19 has had a huge impact on those struggling with Substance Use Disorder in the state of Indiana, said Dana Simons, executive director of Next Step Community. When we found the CHESS Connections App, we knew it was the perfect solution to enable our clients and alumni to achieve long-lasting recovery by offering support in the palm of their hands. The App offers a safe, supportive online community to those in rural areas where there are no services available.

Everyone at CHESS Health is excited to work with Next Step Community to address substance use disorder in the Wabash Valley community, said Hans Morefield, chief executive officer of CHESS Health. We love working with innovative, outcome-focused programs like Next Step that share our belief in the importance of creating and maintaining connections for recovery.

About CHESS Health CHESS Health is the developer of the leading, evidence-based telehealth platform supporting the entire addiction management life cycle. The platform facilitates digital handoffs for getting more patients into treatment (eIntervention); improves outcomes through digital CBT (eTherapy) and reduces relapse and supports long term recovery (eRecovery). For providers, the CHESS platform grows patient volume through more successful referrals, improves treatment delivery, and improves treatment outcomes, including reduced relapse. Health plans and governments also benefit from more individuals in treatment and better outcomes; with the CHESS platform, they also gain analytic insights into provider performance. CHESS Health has received recognition from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP), the Journal of Substance Abuse and the Surgeon General. For more information, visit

About Next Step Next Step is a faith-based program in Terre Haute, Indiana for those who are serious about overcoming their addiction to drugs and alcohol. Next Step provides both residential programs and outpatient services such as substance abuse groups, AA meetings, peer coaching, case management, life skills training and mental health services. Our goal is to help those who are serious about managing their substance use disorder regain an independent, substance-free lifestyle. Learn more at

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CHESS Health Selected by Next Step Community, an Addiction Recovery Program Located in Terre Haute, Indiana - PR Web

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September 23rd, 2020 at 7:55 am

Posted in Chess

The True Story Behind Critical Thinking, Movie Based in Miami – Miami New Times

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The movie Critical Thinking was more than two decades in the making by the time the cast and crew began filming in Miami in 2018. After reading a 1997 article about the Miami Jackson High School chess team in the Miami Herald's now-extinct Tropic magazine,producer Carla Berkowitz bought the rights to the story and spent years trying to make a movie about the unlikely pack of high school students who became one of the winningest teams in the nation.

Berkowitz ultimately linked up with actor and director JohnLeguizamo and co-producer Scott Rosenfelt to make the film a reality. But by time Critical Thinking was ready for release, COVID-19 had changed life in Hollywood and beyond. Movie theaters shuttered, and film festivals were canceled or closed to U.S. residents. So Critical Thinking wound up being quietly released to select theaters on September 4 andmade available for direct download on platforms including Amazon Video, Apple TV, and iTunes.

The film's release won't be completely devoid of fanfare, however.Tonight, Berkowitz and actor Corwin Tuggles, part of the ensemble cast of chess players, will appear at the New York Latino Film Festival for a sold-out, socially distanced screening of Critical Thinking followed by a Q&A.

"It's at a drive-in in the Bronx behind Yankee Stadium," Berkowitz tells New Times. "That is the only festival we're actually able to attend."

So far, the film has garnered mostly positive reviews from critics, and it has a 93 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Many have noted the diverse cast of Black and Latino actors, some of whom are more established and some who are making their big-screen debuts. Tuggles, who has appeared in episodes of Broad City and Orange Is the New Black, stars alongside Bumblebee's Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Spanish-language film actor Jeffry Batista, TV actor William Hochman, and Pose star Angel Bismark Curiel.

The characters in the movie are based on former students at Miami Jackson who took a chess classcalled Critical Thinking that wastaught bycoach Mario Martinez. The real-life chess players have stayed in touch with Berkowitz for the past 23 years and consulted on the film.

"It's avery inclusive movie and that has always been my goal. The lives of these boys and the coach were represented in an elegant and accurate way that they deserve," Berkowitz says.

Producer Carla Berkowitz with the five real-life Miami Jackson chess players.

Photo courtesy of Carla Berkowitz

The movie's release came just days before theAcademy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced new diversity rules for the Oscars, requiring films to include actors in underrepresented groups. Berkowitz says she applauds the change, noting that an Oscar nomination is a privilege, not a right.

"It's like a shakedown, but in a good way," she says. "I feel like it's a very good start in just waking the world up that no one's gonna watch your movie if you're not going to start including people of every race, color, gender, and ability."

Although some reviewers found the characters in Critical Thinkingto be clichs of low-income people of color, Berkowitz points out that the movie is almost entirely based on actual people and events, right down to the chess matches. The real-life players helped reconstruct their old games move by move so that moviegoers particularly those who play chess would see an accurate depiction of tournament play.

"It was very important to me that no one said, 'Oh, that doesn't happen in chess,' 'That's fake,' 'That's movie magic,'" Berkowitz says.

The real-life chess players saw a screener of the movie at Berkowitz's home months ago, pre-COVID, but Berkowitz says she wanted to experience Critical Thinking on the big screen. Because movie theaters in Broward reopened in August, she drove up to Tamarac two weeks ago and watched the film as she'd always planned to.

"Iwas crying," she says. "To hear thesound design that I was a part of, and to actually be able to hear it in surround sound."

Nevertheless, she says, those watching at home are "enjoying it a lot, but not seeing it with popcorn."

Besides, her true audience was always the Jackson chess players themselves Oelmy "Ito" Paniagua, Gil Luna, Rodelay Medina, Sedrick Roundtree, and Marcel Martinez.

"I'mvery happy for them and for me, in the sense that I was able to follow through on a promise to them that was really kind of a crazy promise," Berkowitz says. "Watching them watch other people play them was, I think, the highlight of my life."

Jessica Lipscomb is news editor of Miami New Times and an enthusiastic Florida Woman. Born and raised in Orlando, she has been a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists.

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The True Story Behind Critical Thinking, Movie Based in Miami - Miami New Times

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September 23rd, 2020 at 7:55 am

Posted in Chess

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