Coffee, Iran, DeepMind & other nonsense
The first Friday of December! How are you today? I don’t know about you, but I am feeling great! When I woke up and looked out the window, I saw a sign of things to come: snow! Brought back all sorts of distant memories…
Life is only as good as your mindset
Iran calls FIDE’s bluff !?
This week, between December 1 and December 6, FIDE is holding one of its scheduled online Congresses. No big deal — these meetings are generally a bore — but this time around there could be some excitement.
The hottest item on the agenda will be about Iran and the recent history of Iranian players boycotting Israeli opponents.
As explained here on this blog on November 16 of this year – LINK – the FIDE leadership has given Iran an ultimatum (deadline this week) to stop this boycott business or face the possibility of being suspended from FIDE competitions.
Of course, this is a purely political boycott. And there is no way that Iran would ever allow itself to be bullied by FIDE.
However, FIDE has boxed itself into a corner — with Dvorkovich’s approval, the English grandmaster Nigel Short has been allowed to pursue overseeing the long over due implementation of FIDE’s own anti-discrimination rules. Iran is , supposedly, to be made an example of…
Iran has sent a letter to FIDE with their side of the story. It is quite a cold shower for FIDE, and especially Nigel Short.
Throwing the gauntlet back into FIDE’s face, denying the accusations and daring the Dvorkovich leadership to go ahead and suspend a nation with almost 50,000 rated chess players.
Iran has also accused Nigel Short of trying to interfere in Iranian internal politics, and of FIDE employing double standards.
Now it is up to Dvorkovich to decide how to proceed. Suspending Iran will open a pandora’s box, especially given how Dvorkovich was very willing to accept millions from the unashamedly racist and brutally repressive Saudi Arabia regime in 2018, soon after he first came into power at FIDE.
- Will FIDE be willing to apply the same standards to Saudi Arabia that it will apply to Iran?
- What about Armenia and Azerbaijan? These two countries openly boycott each other.
- What about most of the Arab states not recognizing Israel?
My own views of the situation are clear and have been expressed time and again here on this blog. FIDE should simply follow the IOC’s Code of Ethics and suspend any country that engages in any political boycott.
HOWEVER, FIDE has a long and financially rewarding history of turning a blind eye whenever it is to its own benefit. Rules or no rules. Code of Ethics or no Code of Ethics.
The case I mention above regarding Saudi Arabia saw FIDE reap between 3 and 5 million dollars accepting a Saudi Arabia bid which FIDE’s own anti-discrimination rules prohibit.
In any case, Dvorkovich is stuck between a rock and hard place. He will no doubt try to delay taking a decision on Iran until he is no longer in the FIDE presidency, but he risks alienating Nigel Short. In the end, I expect FIDE to take the easiest way out…Nigel will have to wait for when he becomes FIDE president to make a real difference.
DeepMind continues to give AI a bad name?
If you remember several years ago the hullabuloo about machine learning and finding ever new ways to crush chess players, then the name DeepMind will be familiar to you.
In the years since, however, DeepMind has not been able to do anything ground breaking. Apparently it is easier to win games than solve real world problems.
HOWEVER, this past week DeepMind is back in the news with some sort of self-proclaimed scientific break thru. For a day or two MSM carried the story, but now it seems that the scientific community is beginning to sense more showmanship than science.
I think that Kasparov had the best take on it.
Trying to cash in on a good thing…
The incredible commercial success of NetFix’s Queen’s Gambit has seen millions of ordinary TV viewers rush out and buy chess sets.
Many have drawn an analogy between today and when Bobby Fischer won the World Championship back in the summer of 1972. Much talk of a chess boom and all that…
Could be. My wife and I saw the entire 7 episodes of the series last week and we really liked it. My wife even admitted that she was thinking of getting back into chess…
But I have to say that I feel a bit surprised of some of my chess colleagues who have tried to unashamedly profit from the series’ success. Without naming names, several reputed people even claim to be the person on whom Beth Harmon is based. We should all know that Beth is 100% fictious. Drugs and all.
If that is not bad enough, a number of Twitch starletts have even morphed their online images more closely to Beth’s features…
As I see it, for all of the series’ success, there is little way that the chess community will share the sunshine. There is a pandemic going on and over the board chess is not what it used to be. Big city chess clubs have closed down operations, including most school chess clubs.
Any new player who will have been inspired to take up chess because of the Queen’s Gambit will probably not be able to find either a club or a tournament to play in. He/she will be limited to playing with family or with close friends.
But most remarkable, I think, is that the online chess world will likely not see any real spike in interest. Let me explain why.
The traditional model that online chess platforms keep wanting to sell us can be expressed above. That a fair percentage of the world of over the board chess players — this includes from FIDE activities, chess clubs, chess in schools programs, chess cafés and so on — participate in the online chess world at some point or other, and this flow is then complemented by a fair percentage of online players then spilling back into the over the board world.
HOWEVER, from what I can see, most – if not all – players who play online first learn the game in the over the board world, and so the more likely model is this:
That is, there is little or no spill over from the online world into the over the board world. The online world is comprised almost totally by players who at one time or other had previously played over the board chess.
Given the current pandemic, the new chess players who have bought chess sets, inspired by Beth’s example, and who now want to play the game will find it a real challenge to actually learn the game properly.
Until they do master the rudiments — and then discover that they like it enough to want to learn more and become better players — the online world is not going to hear from them any time soon. The Queen’s Gambit will not contribute to any online spike this year.
To be continued…