SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
FIGHTING TOOTH AND NAIL…
The FIDE election news these past days has had little in the way of substance or interest for those keen on some surprising come from behind counter-attack from the Karpov campaign. Most have given up expecting a miracle from Karpov at this point…Instead, we have been treated to low-calory hors d’oeuvres like the Cyprus chess federation apparently not yet making up its mind on whom to support (Karpov or Ilyumzhinov) or the UAE’s chess federation deciding to vote differently from the Arab chess-world (more than 90% of the Arab chess-world supports Ilyumzhinov).
Apparently Ilyumzhinov has excellent contacts in the UAE, but Karpov was able to convince the president of the very small chess federation to put their faith in him. This seems to buck a disturbing trend that saw Kirsan showing up at the same place where Karpov was campaigning and stealing his thunder (and votes!)
The cynic has undoubtedly noticed that the vote has cost Karpov 320,000 dollars! If he wins in September ( and it is a BIG if, a holy miracle will be needed at this point), Karpov will have to fork over the money for the regional development of chess over the 4 year period of his presidency. So far–according to news releases– Ilyumzhinov has made campaign promises amounting to more than 1.5 million dollars; Karpov has promised at least 4 million dollars. Ilyumzhinov leads in official votes by something like 4 to 1.
In the meantime, the newly elected executive of the Canadian Chess Federation (all of whom are actually old farts from previous CFC /OCA executives–some even going back 25 years or so) prefers to keep its head buried in the sand and pretend not to notice that everyone is waiting for them to make up their minds. Karpov or Ilyumzhinov? Not such a difficult choice, really, since neither Canada nor Canadian chess gains anything which ever way it votes.
No one is going to try to pay even one dime for Canada’s vote…mostly because the CFC used to be for decades considered an honest and incorruptible organization–and today few foreigners know or realize how much chess in Canada has strayed ! Even so, Canadian chess icons such as myself and Mr. Phil Haley (himself FIDE rep from 1993 to 2001) have already publically called upon the CFC to support Karpov many months ago…
Some in the Canadian chess community are embarrassed by the current ambiguous position of the CFC, and especially of the awkward declaration by Canadian FIDE representative Hal Bond at the recently concluded annual meeting of the CFC that he is in ”a position of conflict of interest” and that he would prefer not to publically declare a preference!
Seriously: why did Mr. Bond even want to stand for election (of the FIDE rep position) if this is indeed the case? The Canadian FIDE rep should not have a conflict of interest, if only for the sake of appearances! What does Canada have to be afraid of? (Or perhaps, we should really ask what Mr. Bond is afraid of?). Ten years ago the CFC would have not tolerated any such opportunistic and/or polemical stand as that displayed by Mr. Bond. But then again, in those times the CFC was considered by most as relatively honest and incorruptible…
ANOTHER CELEBRITY PLAYS CHESS!
”I love chess…”
Indian born star Sonal Sehgal (b. July 13, 1981)
A self-confessed board game freak, Sonal carries her games with her. “I love chess” Sonal is quoted to have said this past week. She often plays chess on the movie set. ”John (Abraham) and I used to play during our breaks. The very first time that we played chess, John didn’t put much heart into it and as a result he lost. He was shocked by the result but it didn’t take him long to get even. From there on, it’s he who emerged triumphant.”
Sonal Sehgal is a television actress who shot to fame by playing the role of a terrorist, ‘Sanjana’, in the television serial, ‘Saara Akash’. Then followed another serial, ‘Hotel Kingston’, where she proved her histrionics. Besides that, she was also seen in a small role in Balaji Telefilms show “Kasauti Zindagi Kay”. Before pursuing her career as an actress, Sehgal had assisted ad filmmaker and director Pradeep Sarkar who recently made his film debut with Parineeta. To start with as an actress, she did a couple of music videos like ‘Ghunghat’ (for the ghazal singer Pankaj Udhas). One thing led to another and she got a couple of advertisements. While she came to Mumbai for a commercial, she was offered ‘Saara Akaash’. (WIKI)
HOW ABOUT A GAME OF CHESS?
CHESS ON YONGE STREET
I remember walking down Yonge Street in Toronto during the ’80s, right beside Sam The Record Man, and watching a small crowd kibitz the games being played. I even met Vlad Dobrich there once! The city removed the chess tables some years back….
”Besides the canopy, chess tables were added to the sidewalk along Gould. The corner became a mecca for chess players partly due to the reputation of Josef Smolij. The Polish native earned himself a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s fastest chess player, often destroying hopefuls who paid fifty cents to take him on within fifteen minutes. After being fired from a machinist job because he wasn’t allowed to set up a board next to his post, Smolij set up his board on the streets of downtown. His initial hangout was Allan Gardens, where he quickly drew crowds entertained by his skill and antics. As a 1978 profile in The Canadian noted:
”Seldom does he lose (maybe once a week, more likely once every two weeks) and with each gambit and eventual checkmate that occurs, he unleashes a barrage of Polish-accented bravado that infuriates his opponent and entertains those who have stopped to watch. When the opposition makes a particularly bad blunder, Smolij lets him have it. “In Russia,” he will boldly state, “they send you to Siberia for that one. Yes, is true. Player scared to make bad moof [sic] in Russia.”
Joe “Kill as you Go!” Smolij at work, hustling bystanders for a couple of dollars on a one minute game of chess at the corner of Yonge and Gould Streets in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo taken in 1979 with the Olympus XA camera, using Kodak Tri-X 35 mm film.
Smolij moved from Allan Gardens to Yonge Street after police noticed the crowds he drew and assumed that so many people couldn’t be fascinated by chess—the man with the massive grey beard had to be a drug front! By the early 1980s, Smolij set up his board every night from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. on Gould Street, ready to take on anyone, though inflation caused his games to rise to a dollar.
The games provided his sole source of income, which scarcely fazed Smolij, whose motto was “I am poor in the pocket but rich in the mind.” He failed to miss a single game of street chess from April 1978 until February 1985, when he was admitted to Wellesley Hospital suffering from severe gall stones and hyperthermia. Some brain damage resulted, but he scarcely lost his ability to speed through chess matches.
After spending several years in a city nursing home, Smolij was reunited with a sister he hadn’t seen since World War II and moved to Berlin in 1992 to live with her. Chess matches continued on at Yonge and Gould, which was named Hacksel Place in honour of another enthusiast, until 2003.”
Here is David Cohen’s entry on Joe (http://web.ncf.ca/bw998/CanadianChess/History/CanadianChessBiographiesS.html#SMOLIJ
• Played Canadian Championship 1959
• Played speed chess every night, all night, in Toronto at the chess tables on Gould Street, corner Yonge Street, from about 1977 through 1985 for $0.50/game (later $1/game)
• Famous opening: Smash-Crash Gambit (Greco Counter-Gambit/Latvian Gambit); adopted by IM David Levy in his loss against Chess 4.7, match, Toronto, 1978 after Smolij and Levy played blitz chess the night before
• Famous claims: World’s fastest chess player; 50,000 chess games played
• Famous quotes: “I’m poor in the pocketbook but rich in the mind.”; “Kill as you go!”; “Show no mercy!”
• Character in Canadian edition of ‘Kicking Tomorrow’ by Daniel Richler based on Smolij as a tribute
Sources: Montreal Gazette, 1978.1.28 Sat.,p.12-13; Toronto Star, 1982.10.10 Sun.,p.A3; 1983.11.14 Mon.,p.B11; 1984.05.12 Sat.,p.A4; 1985.03.13 Wed.,p.A6; 1985.09.14 Sat.,p.A6.‘Chess 4.7 versus David Levy – The Computer Beats a Chess Master’, by J.R. Douglas, BYTE, 1978.12, p.84-90. Frances Sendbuehler, Master’s thesis, University of Montreal, 1995
”Dorks Stage Adorable Human Chess Match in Brooklyn”http://www.asylum.com/2010/08/06/dorks-stage-adorable-human-chess-match-in-brooklyn/
”The white knight’s horse lost its balls. The guy playing one of the pawns is wearing an open button-down top and no undershirt. One of the rooks has had too much to drink beforehand and is staggering into another player’s square.
These and more images were taken from what we can safely describe as the First Annual Human Chess-to-the-Death Match in Greenpoint. Organizers Santo Tolone and Douglas Paulson probably got tired of waiting for all the park hobos to finish their games of plastic chess and decided to take matters into their own hands, staging a two-hour battle with their friends playing the part of the pieces.
32 nerds came to Dougherty Park for the School of the Future’s random event, which saw two-time Milano Chess Invitational champ Tolone lose in a stunning upset to the Flux Factory’s Paulson.
The exact moves will be debated by chess scholars for decades, although their bizarre language is indecipherable to us. All we can tell you is there were “dance moves, cussing, war cries, face-painting,” breaks for drinking and schmoozing, and eventually, someone cranked up a stereo system and the whole board broke into a dance party.
According to the Brooklyn Paper, the only rag brave/geeky enough to cover the event in person, the event’s highlight was its first kill, Paulson’s pawn to Tolone’s knight, with an announcer drolly intoning, “Let’s take this moment to reflect on the history of feudalism” as an undertaker character literally tossed the defeated knight from the makeshift board. Take that, dork.”
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS