New in Chess (2015/2)

New In Chess (2015-2)

Bobby Fischer graced the cover of the last New in Chess so it is apropos that a bearded Hikaru Nakamura is this issue’s focus. Having broken the 2800-barrier and the top-five echelon, Nakamura has started 2015 with three straight tournament wins. The issue does not cover the U.S. Championship, but his feats in Gibraltar and Zurich are profiled.

Nakamura stated some time ago that he felt he was the strongest competitor to Magnus Carlsen (despite an abysmal record). Many mocked him for self-ingratiation, but it turns out that he has foiled his naysayers once again. During the U.S. Championship, he moved up to #2 on the Live Rating List and now sits at #3. Nakamura is looking to qualify for the World Championship cycle via the FIDE Grand Prix.

Speaking of World Champions, there is an interesting article on what past champions have done in the year after winning the title. It’s a good read. The current champion was profiled after successfully competing and winning the prestigious Tata Steel Masters in Wijk aan Zee. The tournament feature a number of potential challengers to Carlsen including his nemesis Fabiano Caruana. Great games such as Carlsen-Caruana, So-Van Wely, Radjabov-Liren.

2015 Wijk aan Zee

There was also an interesting interview with Carlsen in a rather unique format. The interview questions flowed into the article. Carlsen made some candid comments on his play at Tata Steel, his competition, chess history and about China’s Wei Yi. This question emerged when asked how many of the other players he followed. Here is what he had to say about the Chinese prodigy.

I think Wei Yi has 2675 and I think that is exactly what I had at his age. And then you can talk about inflation and so on (another smile). I won’t do that. Yes, he is a spectacular talent. It’s hard to to tell still whether he’ll be just a world class player or one of the best, but he’s really good and he’s a well-rounded player, not just a tactician.

Nigel Short has a way of ruffling feathers and seems to relish the opportunity. It remains to be seen what the response will be. In his “Viva La Difference” he discusses the men-women disparity in chess skill. Much has been made of the relative disparity of women in top level chess. There have been many reasons with some as crude as Jan Hein Donner’s “Women cannot play chess…” to the notions about low numbers.

During the U.S. Women’s Championship there were a couple of notions mentioned by women players. One stated that women are more unstable in handling emotion and the other mentioned the lack of patience and thus the tendency for more mistakes. Is this true? It has been purported scientifically that women and men have different psychological make-ups. Do these differences account for something in chess?

No one doubts Hou Yifan’s 2650-2700 strength, but why have active women lagged far behind in chess prowess? Photo by Anastasia Karlovich.

Apart from that, the notion that fewer women play at the highest levels because they are fewer in number has been deemed a dubious notion. Fewer numbers do not explain why the women who DO play do not excel at the highest level. In fact, Judit Polgar (considered the greatest ever) played at a time where even fewer women playing. What did she do that other women have not been able to do?

Short poses the question of why women suddenly lose interest in chess. He seems to cast some aspersions on Susan Polgar and her retirement as an example. It is not certain why this hyperbole (which included discrediting her simul record) was needed when Judit was a more suitable subject. It is nevertheless an important subject and one that attracts various viewpoints.

2015 Wijk aan Zee

Fascinating article “The Eyes of Viktor Korchnoi” recounts the presence of the legendary player who has been debilitated by two strokes. Despite being unable to move freely and confined to a wheelchair, Viktor Korchnoi was at the Zurich Chess Challenge watching intently the games of the the current crop of elite players. Korchnoi can be credited with giving French star Maxime Vachier-Lagrave his nickname, “the player with the two names”. He actually mustered up enough strength to play Wolfgang Uhlmann a couple of games. The article ended with a powerful climax.

And this man, at 84, who is partially paralysed after two strokes, emerges with a defeat as Black and a victory as White. From time to time, he turns a little to look at the clock and it is clear that, although his faculties have been reduced to the minimum, the thousands of games and the millions of moves registered in this memory continue to be played out independently, almost automatically. And as we realized this, Leontxo and I looked at each other in astonishment, thinking the same thing: the very last corner of his brain to fade would be chess.

Hans Ree’s article “Packing My Library” is an interesting ode to those of us who grew up studying chess books instead of DVDs by ChessBase. The idea that one can look through their chess library and trace their evolution as a chess player is one that many of us have experienced. Take a look at these books and you’ll see cryptic notes and addendum with home analysis. We all know the person in our chess circles who has thousands of books, but what happens in the 21st century when you have to part with some (or all) of them!


  • NIC’s Café
  • A Year in the Life
  • The Master
  • Interview
  • Fair & Square
  • Vive la Différence
  • Parimarjan’s Chess Gym
  • Round about Midnight
  • Maximize Your Tactics
  • Packing My Library
  • When the Going Gets Fast…
  • The Eyes of Viktor Kortchnoi
  • Fair & Square
  • Sadler on Books
  • The Nakamura Show
  • Just Checking



  1. Sup Chessdrummers, im at the Buffalo Public Library and saw this post, well from an Ultramodern point of view it would be interesting to see if Nakamura could Return the title to the U.S. since Bobby held it in 72! Not sure what he means by strongest competitor to Carlsen though, doesnt really make much sense to an Ultramodernist, but maybe this will be clarified later! As as as Short on women in chess, well hes a traditionalist so i guess such statements should be expected! lol

    1. WoW! im over at the Frank E. Merriweather Library now in Buffalo, N.Y. and i see this post! Unbelievable, this guy is something with all theses wild statements! I remember COMPETING with theses same gms on the ICC for 10 years there in the bullet chess and they thought i was playin ktazy knight moves but i won a bunch of games from them anyways! hahahaha, unreal.

  2. You always have to expect strong push back anytime you espouse a controversial position that cannot be proven.

    1. You can read the article at ChessBase since they have gotten permission to reprint. I subscribe to New in Chess and wrote about the article in my review before it broke into the mainstream.

      I don’t believe he said anything that hasn’t been said before and no one is questioning that there are biological differences between men and women. That is a scientific fact. However, as it relates to chess, many are simply uncomfortable with relating the biological differences of the brain to the ability to play chess.

      Women are not as strong as men in chess. That is a fact, but the question is why? Is is the biological difference? Is it men’s relative obsession with sports and gaming? Is it men’s natural affinity toward war-like and confrontational activities? Is it numbers? While many people mention the latter, I frankly don’t believe numbers have anything to do with it.

      I concur with Judit Polgar in that her dedication and hard work is the reason she ascended. Many women (for whatever reason) do not put in the type of effort needed to excel in chess. That is also very clear. In fact, MOST players do not put in that type of effort. Some of it many because socioeconomic reasons. It is hard for most people to justify spending so much time on chess when the returns are so dismal.

      One experiment would be to take 100 boys and 100 girls and teach them chess at the same time and give them the same exposure. Perhaps one will find that more boys will stick to chess than girls purely because of social reasons. Why are boys so much more likely to stick to games and sporting activities. Some say girls move onto other things as they mature. There are so many factors however and it would be difficult to do a controlled study without involving other variables.

  3. Besides the needless reference to Susan and Paul, I think it’s an interesting thought-provoking article written explicitly to incite debates from women who will never give and take on the issue of gender inequality. I just wonder what motivated him to write on such conflict-ridden topic.

    1. Actually I had been planning to write such an article for months. It is a popular topic that comes up often. In fact, a couple of women players spoke on it during the U.S. Championships and it was not flattering for women. I have collected a number of sources and will begin writing it.

  4. Daaim whether or not your position on this subject is backed by scientific facts, you have to be prepared for the worse. This issue is analogous to saying statistically speaking black chess players are not hardwire to play chess at the level that white chess players are capable of. IMO, it’s almost impossible to orate on such topic and not ruffle some feathers.

    1. Well… Nigel doesn’t care about upsetting anyone.

      There are people who still believe we are not hardwired to play chess at the same level. They could use statistics to prove their case in chess and we would not have an exception as the women have with Judit Polgar. Our highest player was 2535. They believe is a racial defect and not due to social economic conditions. Black adults are generally on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder and do not have time to dedicate to a field unless it is going to provide an immediate return on the time spent. Imagine being able to study chess for hours and hours without having to worry about money to pay bills.

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