Sunday, July 7, 2013

Teams Chess and Magazines

I've been away for a few days and when I arrived home I found a New in Chess magazine waiting for me. I haven't bought these magazine's for a long time, and had forgotten how much content they contain. I was browsing a bit, and reading quite a bit which is something that NiC magazine has over Informator style publications. I like the tournament reports, the interviews and editorial style pieces. In fact, I enjoy the written word much more than the symbols that all chess players eventually get used to, and even start using as language (after that it's "plus-minus"). It's good to read what top players were thinking during the games they analyse and their reasons for choosing moves and plans.

New in Chess magazine with excellent quality material
The current issue of New in Chess Magazine has tournament  reports from the Zug Grand Prix, the Alekhine Memorial, the Norway Chess Spectacular and the US Championships. All of these were great events, and all of them had great online live coverage which makes magazine reports seem somehow obsolete. However, the NiC reports bring an extra dimension with great game analysis and GM reports bringing inside information about the events. Besides these reports, the current magazine has interviews with GM's Topalov and Hammer, an historical article on Carlos Torre and interesting commentary articles by GM's Short and Ree. I guess that the New in Chess editorial team realise that live chess with Houdini style immediate analysis is giving many players all they need of chess analysis. So instead the magazine is filled with expert commentary, ideas, photo's and the emphasis is on quality of material.
Carlos Torre Repetto
The article by Nigel Short I found very interesting, and somewhat frustrating. Short's double page article contains no actual chess moves, but it tells his story of recent adventures in club chess. Nigel does a great job of describing the tension that team chess can generate, the bonds that can develop by playing regularly for a team, and some issues that only team chess can bring up, such as board orders and not knowing which players the opposing team will have playing on a given date. These were issues that I grew up with in the UK, and I've experienced the joys of winning games for my team and the misery of losing games that cost us matches (the worst being when you turn a winning position into a losing one, which feels a million times worse when the rest of your team are looking over your shoulder!).

So why did I find Nigel's article frustrating? Nothing to do with the article, which helped bring back some memories of team matches I've played. Rather it is because here in Melbourne, team chess seems to have died away again. When I first arrived here, there was a dwindling teams competition which finally died out for a couple of years. I then helped to rejuvenate it, and for the past couple of years there has been a teams event. However, we have heard nothing so far this year from Chess Victoria about a teams event. I'm beginning to think that the State body aren't the best organisation for running such an event, and a separate league organisation would be better. This was my original idea when I first hatched the plan over 2 years ago, but CV President, Leonid Sandler said it would be better under CV auspices. However, Chess Victoria is a voluntary run organisation that has its hands full with the events they currently organise, let alone taking on the burden of other tournaments. There's just too few people with too little time. A sad fact.
GM Nigel Short (second left) with Iranian Bronze medal winning team from the  2006 Asian games (from chessbase)
What I think we need is a dedicated league which perhaps can be incorporated into Chess Victoria, but which is a separate entity and responsible for the organisation of team chess across the city and even the state. It would be good if the chess clubs around Victoria became involved in the league administration, but a small and dedicated committee is needed, at least to start with. If the league grows, then so can the organisation. The feedback I received from the team's events was mostly all positive, so there are plenty of people who want this form of chess. It just takes a bit of work to organise. So should I try to organise a league, perhaps for 2014? Would anyone be prepared to help?

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