21 February 2018

Berlin Candidates - Kickoff

A few weeks ago FIDE issued the 2018 FIDE Candidates' Tournament Pairings, including dates and times for the 14 rounds ('Round 1 on 10.03.2018 at 15.00'). I'll use this week's post to summarize available info about the event, just as I did two years ago in Moscow Candidates - Kickoff (March 2016).

I give the 'Official site' a question mark ('?'), because it's inconceivable to me that such a poorly designed page will be the main repository for daily information about the event. Perhaps I should follow the lead from a post on my main blog, World Championship Social Media (December 2016), and rely instead on other sources. Here, for example, is the organizer's Facebook page:-

As for other recent Candidates tournaments, I developed a table with links to Chessgames.com showing how the eight players have fared against each other and against World Champion Magnus Carlsen. The links behind the players' names go to ratings.fide.com/card.

  Aro Car Din Gri Kar Kra Mam So   : Car
Aronian xx * * * * * * * : *
Caruana xx * * * * * * : *
Ding Liren xx * * * * * : *
Grischuk xx * * * * : *
Karjakin xx * * * : *
Kramnik xx * * : *
Mamedyarov xx * : *
So, Wesley xx : *
Carlsen : xx

The action starts on the second Saturday in March. This is not an event where the players finishing 1-2-3 get a place on the winners' podium. The only real prize is a ticket for one player to the title match, Carlsen - TBA; London, XI, 2018.

14 February 2018

C28 Zonal Links

My previous post, C28 Zonal Rating Reports, promised,
The next (and last) step is to add all of these links to the page Zonals : Links (and Other References).

The results are here: Zonals : Links (and Other References). Note the first appearance on the page for European zone '1.3 Nordic Championship'.

07 February 2018

C28 Zonal Rating Reports

Going down the list of Small Projects for 2018 (December 2017), the next project is to continue where I left off with C28 Zonal Qualification Paths (November 2017), i.e. needing 'two more steps that were done for the previous cycle'. The first of those two steps was to collect the links from ratings.fide.com, as in C27 Zonal Rating Reports (January 2016).

The database of FIDE rating reports is a wonderful resource that stores all of the work FIDE produces to calculate ratings. The page linked here is the list of players for each event. Attached to this, under the heading 'More Info', is additional data about the event, like time control and arbiters. For many events the database also points to a crosstable and PGN file.

Here is a list of continental and zonal events that played a role in the current World Championship cycle (C28). The titles are taken directly from the rating reports:-

There are two events listed on the index of all World Chess Championship Zonals that are missing here -- '0.0 ACP' and '1.7 Baltic Zonals' -- because these don't fit the pattern used for the other events. The next (and last) step is to add all of these links to the page Zonals : Links (and Other References). That page has similar links to all cycles since 2001 (C20).

31 January 2018

Catching up with PGN

Continuing with Small Projects for 2018 (December 2017), I tackled the backlog of PGN files mentioned in that post:-
I have two technical problems to address. [...] The second is a replacement for my old PGN normalization software, which was forcibly retired last summer. I added two recent events without including the corresponding PGN.

A few weeks ago I switched to PGN-extract, and performed a small, successful trial on the 23rd World Computer Championship. Now I used the software to add the PGN files for all rounds of the 2017 World Cup, and for the last leg of the 2017 Grand Prix.

The trial went well for the PGN-extract software, but I discovered an unfortunate error in my processing of forfeit games. This happened in both round 1 (Onischuk - Zherebukh) and round 3 (Rodshtein - Kovalyov; the infamous 'shorts' incident). While it was easy to fix once I had identified it, the same error may have crept into previous knockout events. I'll have to come back to this another time.

24 January 2018

2018 Candidates Schedule

Sometimes it takes a lot of work to write one simple sentence. Take, for example, a recent post on my main blog, Interview Videos : Aronian, where I wrote, 'I have just enough time to review the eight players who will be starting the 2018 Berlin Candidates Tournament in March.' To calculate this, I had to know the date of round one of the upcoming tournament. First stop: FIDE Calendar 2018, where I learned,
Candidates Tournament 2018; Berlin, Germany; 10-Mar-2018; 28-Mar-2018

That pointed to a page Candidates Tournament 2018, where the only additional information on the page was a link to 'REGULATIONS', i.e. Rules & Regulations for the Candidates Tournament of the FIDE World Championship cycle 2016-2018. The associated PDF, which has been available since last spring, gives a day-by-day tentative schedule:-

Arrivals: 1 day
Opening Ceremony & Players Meeting: [etc.]
Round 1
Round 2
Round 3
Free day
[...]
Free day
Round 13
Round 14
Tiebreaks / Closing ceremony
Departures
TOTAL: 22 days

The FIDE Calendar says the event starts 10 March and lasts 19 days. I guess that day count includes round one through any tiebreaks. So round one starts 10 March. Is there any way to confirm this? My own page, 2018 Candidates Tournament (created November 2017), points to FIDE World Chess Berlin Candidates Tournament 2018 (worldchess.com/berlin). Is that the official site? I captured the current look of the page in the following image.

Those blue buttons in the bottom left say, 'Select Broadcast Plan' and 'Buy Ticket', but I couldn't find any information about who is playing or the schedule. After endless screens about broadcasting details, the last piece of info on the page says, 'Read full regulations' and points to a PDF titled 'Regulations for the 2016-2017 FIDE World Chess Grand-Prix Series'. Grand Prix? It looks like this page is a copy/paste from another page. Fortunately, that 'Buy Ticket' button points to FIDE World Chess Candidates Tournament Tickets & Event Dates (ticketmaster.de), which says,

10 Mar 2018; FIDE World Chess Candidates Tournament | Round 1; Sat 15:00; Kühlhaus Berlin
[...]
27 Mar 2018; FIDE World Chess Candidates Tournament | Round 14; Tue 15:00; Kühlhaus Berlin

A 'Find tickets' button for round one lists prices in three ticket categories: white, silver, and gold. With the tournament starting in a little more than six weeks, I still have time to make travel arrangements.

17 January 2018

23rd World Computer Championship

One of my Small Projects for 2018 (December 2017), was to update my page on the World Computer championship. Besides catching up with the ICGA, it gave me the chance to try out the PGN-extract software on a real PGN file. I noticed two differences with the previous software:-
  • a space between the move number and White's move (e.g. '1. e4' instead of '1.e4')
  • some lines start with a move instead of a move number (e.g. '1.d4 [...] 8. // O-O [...]' instead of '1.d4 [...] // 8.O-O [...]', where '//' indicates a new line)

Both of these are matters of taste and are probably not dictated by the SAN standard (which I don't remember ever reading anyway). On the positive side, the PGN-extract software does its most important job admirably : checking the validity of the moves in a PGN file. It also allowed me to remove comments from the file in the same step as the checking, which was a separate step with the previous software.

I created the PGN file & crosstable, combined the two into a ZIP file, loaded the result to my site, and updated the index page, World Chess Championship : Computer Chess. For the post on the previous ICGA championship, see 22nd World Computer Championship (August 2016).

One small question I had during the process was whether to continue listing Don Dailey as a developer for the winning program, Komodo. According to the Wikipedia page, Don Dailey, he died in November 2013. Since the Komodo site, komodochess.com, is titled 'Komodo chess engine by Don Dailey, Larry Kaufman & Mark Lefler', I decided to use that as a guideline. For details about the 23rd WCCC, see the ICGA site:-

The ICGA is going through some soul-searching about its stewardship of the WCCC. For specifics, see:-

That last link, by 'David Levy – ICGA President', includes a capsule history of the WCCC, e.g.:-

It came to pass that the first WCCC took place in Stockholm, at the Birger Jarl Hotel, in the summer of 1974. The British entrepreneur publisher Robert Maxwell donated a medal for the first World Champion, which was won by the Soviet program Kaissa, developed by Mikhail Donskoy, Vladimir Arlazarov and Anatoly Uskov.

It remains to be seen whether the current ICGA initiative is a fresh start or 'too little, too late'. Although a comment to the Levy article acknowledges the existential challenge of the TCEC, the ICGA plans future chess events:-

It's also worth noting the group's Facebook page: ICGA - Home.

10 January 2018

PGN-extract

Continuing with Small Projects for 2018 and 'a replacement for my old PGN normalization software, which was forcibly retired last summer', I had to look no further than PGN-extract ('A Portable Game Notation Manipulator for Chess Games'). Although its output is not completely what I was looking for, it does the more important job of checking the validity of PGN files. I'll test drive it for some of the other 'Small Projects' before adopting it definitively. An overview of its functionality is available on the page PGN-extract Help file.

I also spent some time poking around the chess software on GitHub.com. The projects go beyond the basic support needed for my World Championship site and would better be addressed on my main chess blog.