Pinkamena (1535) vs V. Khoroshun (1703). Chess Fight Night.

I always love it when little kids can play chess well. At first, I thought that she played the opening a little inaccurately, but when she won the knight on e4 I was thinking, "Holy Crap!".  Her opponent paused because he realized that he was getting his butt kicked by a little girl, and then she proceeded to play very well afterward. Good for her!


Ilya Smirin: Chess commentator sacked for sexist comments during match - BBC News

All chess players - men and women - can become grandmasters, which is the highest title a chess player can attain, if they have a rating of 2,500 and above.* The very top female chess players have this title.

The woman grandmaster title is only for women and requires a lower rating of 2,300.

The commentators were discussing whether Zhu Jiner could become grandmaster, when Mr Smirin said: "She's a woman grandmaster or what?... Why she wants to be like men grandmaster in this case?"

Mr Smirin went on to appear to admit that he had privately said "chess is maybe not for women".

Fellow commentator Fiona Steil-Antoni said to him: "You're saying, you know, 'chess is maybe not for women'," and Mr Smirin replied: "I didn't say it openly... in private, private conversation."

And he also seemed to admit saying another female player - Grandmaster Aleksandra Goryachkin - had been "playing like a man".

"That's true," said Mr Smirin, when questioned about his apparent comments. "She played in Russia super final. Small minus she made, but it was very strong tournament. She also had like 2,600 plus rating."

Challenging him again, Ms Steil-Antoni asked: "What does that have to do with playing like a man, only men can play well?"

"No, no," Mr Smirin responded. "But she's playing in style, positional style... But OK, I'm always curious, why can women play among men but men cannot play with women in women tournaments? Interesting question."

* Reaching a rating of 2500 is not the only requirement for becoming a Grandmaster.

Chess is dominated by men, maybe because it is a highly competitive (and egotistical) game.  Men tend to prefer competition whereas women tend to prefer cooperation.


The most incriminating evidence against Hans Niemann

I understood what she was saying, but her French accent made it difficult.  Closed captioning is helpful, but it is done by a computer and often yields incorrect words in the speech recognition.

The bottom line is that not even the top players, playing at their best, perform at the same level as the top chess computer engines.   An average Grandmasters would match computers roughly 50% of the time, which is how Hans Nieman plays most of the time.  However, he has several games that are 100%, which is unheard of, and a few others that were in the 90s.

I was on Hans Nieman's side, viewing him as an up-and-coming 19-year-old.  He is either occasionally playing like a genius or is occasionally cheating.  It would make sense that he would not cheat all the time because that would be too obvious.  

I hope that this is not true.  

It is possible to play a perfect game if your opponent plays a bad game because it makes the choices more obvious.  Against really terrible opponents I played perfect games according to the computer, but I didn't have to think very hard.

Yesterday, I studied one of Han's better games because it is very instructive.  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCJ0uIAlreA)  The youtube chess personality stated that he didn't think that Hans was cheating, because the moves were the kind that a good player could find.  This may be true, but if a player has too many aberrant results then it looks suspicious.

In this long video, Hikaru Nakamura gave his opinion on the first video, comparing the results to his own games:

This is a shorter video doing an analysis that is worth watching:

Classic difficult chess problem. White to play and win


MAGNUS CARLSEN: "I Believe Hans Niemann CHEATED"

Good video.  

I don't believe that Hans cheated.  There is very little evidence for it.  Hans is a rising star and had the best game of his career and Magnus didn't.  If I can lose to players rated 200 (or in my case 500) points below me then so can Magnus.  

Shit happens.  Twenty years ago I got a draw against Grandmaster Igor Ivanov.  About the same time, I watched a B player friend of mine beat Grandmaster Susan Polgar in a speed tournament.

P.S.  The Babe Ruth story is misunderstood. He was pointing to people he knew in the stands, but the myth remains.

The story about Hans claiming ahead of time that he was going to win a tournament is interesting. Over 20 years ago I was running a Utah championship tournament when a teenager told me that he was going to beat everybody to prove that he was the best player. I thought that this was a very cocky statement to make, but to my surprise, this is exactly what he did.


My Chess Tactics


The one-move chess problems on my website were constructed deliberately to be the "vocabulary" of chess tactics.  I have long felt that learning chess is a bit like learning a new language.  In these problems, you can find every motif like pins, forks, skewers, removing the defender, and mates.

I attribute the 1, 2, and 3 move problems by themselves to raising my rating from 1800 to 1900.   Since I played a great deal of speed chess, my goal was to be able to see the tactical motifs as quickly as possible.  Because I did these problems repeatedly, I got some criticism from one of my friends who said that I wasn't doing tactical problems, but I was memorizing them.  This was partly true.  My counter was that I could not memorize all the problems, but I could memorize the tactical themes.  When I do the problem now, the tactical themes become quickly apparent.  Likewise, I see tactics quickly in speed chess games.

A bit of history...

When I moved to Utah in 1993, I was around a 2000-rated player.  

However, at that time the ratings seemed to work differently in Utah.  Salt Lake City and the Wasatch mountain range are hundreds of miles from the nearest major metropolitan areas.  It felt like the pool of rated chess players was isolated from other players by distance.  When I started playing in tournaments in Utah, I saw my rating decline to 1800.  Also, those players who would go to out-of-state tournaments, such as in Vegas, reported doing very well against similarly rated players from California.

I think that whatever difference there may have been balanced out some over time.  There was nationwide rating inflation that happened in the 80s which my rating benefited from.  This was due to the USCF tinkering with the rating system in the 80s and then reversing course in the 90s causing a noticeable rating deflation.

I constructed my online tactical problems around 1995 to 1998.  

I don't remember exactly when I started studying the following materials:

Sharpen Your Tactics
Chess Pocket Training Book:  300 most important positions
Practical Chess Exercises
The 1000 problems on the Shredder iPhone app.

I spent 10 minutes every night for a year without fail studying the Chess Pocket Training Book, and then afterward had one of my greatest chess tournament results ever.  This was 20 years ago.

So I attribute these materials to raising my rating from 1900 to 2000.  Once again, I did a great deal of repetition.  The goal has always been to make hard things intuitive.  For me, this feels like learning a language.

Did Hans Niemann Cheat: The Evidence! with IM Ken Regan

INSANE Chess Cheating Scandal Update


5 hours ago (edited)
At this point I'm going for the "should you believe your spouse if they're convicted of murder" ethical dilemma and choosing to believe Hans is innocent. Just because if he really did cheat, then he's getting what he deserves, but if he didn't then this is absolutely horrible for him. I'd rather give a guilty man clemency then an innocent man a death sentence.

John Coffey
0 seconds ago
I think that it is a really big stretch to say that Hans was cheating. It is too hard to pull off and not get caught. 

If I can lose to players rated 200 points below me then why can't Magnus? What is the point of playing if you are not allowed to win?  

Computer analysis shows that Magnus did not play a perfect game. Neither did Hans Neimann. As long as there are mistakes on the board then in theory either side can win.


Hans Niemann

I feel that this latest controversy over Grandmaster Hans Niemann beating Magnus Carlsen is overblown. Niemann is a 19 year old rising star, and if I can lose to people rated 200 points below me then so can Magnus.

Yet Magnus insinuated that he was cheated, and then Hikaru Nakamura came out and said it out loud, and then suddenly the whole Internet jumped on this bandwagon. Then chess.com suspended Niemann's account even though this is not an online tournament.

I think that it would be very hard to cheat in a live tournament and not get caught. They also have safeguards to prevent this.

What is the point of playing if you are not allowed to win?

I believe Niemann when he says that he has done nothing but study chess 12 hours a day for the last two years.

Best wishes,

John Coffey