First Coffee of the Year!
How are you today? Suddenly the year 2018 has become history and a completely new year is now upon us. Untouched, virgin, a fresh start for everyone and everything. Here is to making the most of it! Good luck!
A moment for those who passed away in 2018
I can not remember another year so many chess playing acquaitances or friends of mine who died. GM’s Aloyzas Kveinys, Anatoly Lein and Evgeny Vasiukov. I did not know Vasiukov as well as either Kveinys or Lein (both of whom I played on numerous occasions), but Evgeny leaves the biggest legacy of incredible games. I know by heart atleast a dozen of his Spanish masterpieces (!) and that somehow makes me feel that I knew him better than actual fact.
Then there were the untimely passings of Ruth Haring and Eric Schiller, both towards the end of 2018. Since Eric’s death I have been adding to my collection of Schiller books. I think I have about 25 of his 200-plus book titles.
And Ruth, what to say? I first met her at the US Open in Columbus, Ohio back in 1977. In those days there were not a lot of strong women players playing the Open ciruit in the US, but she was definitely one of the very best.
Already at Columbus she had hitched up with Peter Biyiasis, a fellow Canadian who later moved to the US and even changed his nationality so that he could be with her.
Then Ruth disappeared from active chess for what seemed forever so that she could raise her family. I was very happy when she came back to the game (as an organizer/politician) and I wrote several blog articles about the wonderful contributions she was making.
Ruth died very suddenly. I know that Nigel Short took her death quite badly, disappearing from his Twitter for a couple of days. She was a big part of his election campaign running up to the October FIDE vote.
I will miss all of these individuals who passed away last year.
The year 2018 may have marked the official end of the Kirsan-epoch presidency (or should I write Kirsan EPIC-presidency?), but apparently not the end of Kirsan’s involvement with FIDE.
Readers will recall that Makropoulos, in his last days as interim-president, tried to use the FIDE Ethics Commission to eliminate both Kirsan and Dvorkovich.
He failed to do so with the latter, though he did manage to get the Ethics Commission to give a long ban to Kirsan. It was , of course, an entirely political move, in both cases.
Kirsan has recently indicated, now that the ban has been revoked (read the Kirsan article linked to above for details), that it is not entirely out of the question that he might return to FIDE in some undefined capacity.
I think this would be a good idea. The present FIDE administration has dozens of inexperienced appointees. Remember that before Kirsan came along, the chess world was in such a state of chaos…Kirsan (despite many critics) managed to help stabilize numerous aspects of FIDE.
We will just have to wait and see what, and if, Dvorkovich bites.
Tumblr embarrasses itself, and AI
For good or for bad, the new owners of Yahoo’s assets – which includes Tumblr – have decided that porn no longer has a niche on its servers.
Little headsup/warning was given to the tens of millions of accounts that enjoyed the laissez-faire policy that had made Tumblr one of the most visited platforms on the net, as they frantically tried to move their content to other permissive web sites.
However, there was just so much smut on Tumblr that the AI algorithms used to clean house have made a laughing stock of their programmers, failing to identify and remove tens of thousands of accounts that are still pretty hard core. Infact, many completely inoffensive accounts were removed in the initial purge.
Despite their best efforts, today Tumblr continues to be a top porn and smut site…just google some sort of fetish or what not and don’t forget to add the word tumblr to the search and you will be surprised how much still is on the Tumblr servers.
How would you grade Dvorkovich so far?
Although Dvorkovich has been in office for only 3 months, and it might be deemed by some a bit unfair to grade his performance at this point, I will try.
I feel that Dvorkovich is doing a better job than Makropoulos’ efforts when he served as interim President. A thorough house cleaning was very much needed.
HOWEVER, I would grade Dvorkovich only a B- (b-minus). Apart from mishandling the Saudi Arabia question (to be fair, FIDE should have never accepted the initial Riyadh bid back in 2017), then ignoring any and all anti-discrimination regulations and statutes (FIDE and/or IOC), much of what Dvorkovich has done is cosmetic, superficial and lacking substance. For example:
FIFA? Where are you? Dvorkovich has had since June to do something and nothing is on the table at this point.
Transparency? This is a joke, no?! The FIDE president wants everybody on the Presidential Board to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Dvorkovich is not effective with social media, he seems to use it reluctantly, and much that appears on the FIDE website first appears on other sites, sometimes several days before. And when it does appear on the FIDE website, it is often lacking important information, details or satisfactory explanation.
The Commissions? Despite what was said during the election campaign, there have been numerous appointments based on personal contacts and friendships, instead of professional skill-sets and experience. Much less a transparent selection process. And again, much seems to be merely cosmetic.
While I do understand the need to quickly get the commissions up and running, a promise should be a promise, and not just an election slogan. And there should be more substance and less PR flash and glitter.
For example – Anand and Kramnik have recently been appointed in some sort of advisory capacity to Dvorkovich and nobody can understand what exactly they can ‘advise’ Dvorkovich on. (The Berlin Defence!?) Perhaps neither Anand nor Kramnik have any idea.
In any case, does the FIFA president appoint Ronaldo or Messi to similar positions? Or in tennis, is Federer doing something?
No, of course not! Chess legends like Anand and Kramnik are more useful as some sort of goodwill ambassadors, or some honorary capacity, to promote the game.
Besides, why would they really want to get involved in FIDE politics? Just to please Dvorkovich?
To be continued…