Archive for the ‘Polls’ Category

Summer time

July 4th, 2016 13 comments

Last week’s question was: ‘At the chess Olympiad, do you think it is fair that England, Scotland and other British teams are allowed to compete individually?’

I must admit I expected a big vote for ‘No’ but I was wrong. 67% of you are fine with the present situation. Maybe you are traditionalists, or British, or both?


Today Glasgow is grey and rain-sodden, but this is summertime, and traditionally the next couple of months are a busy time for chess tournaments. So: How many tournaments will you play this summer?

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The United Kingdom

June 28th, 2016 21 comments

Last week’s question: ‘Was it right of Nakamura to claim the full point in the game against Topalov?’ 69% said Yes, and 23% No. The only surprise to me is that ‘No’ received so many votes. In competitive blitz, illegal moves lose. And push-a-pawn-to-the-8th-and press-the-clock is a blatantly illegal move.

Clearly some feel that the rule is too harsh, but for blatantly illegal moves, it seems fair to me. I have more sympathy for what I might call ‘accidental illegal moves’. Example: you move a piece, press the clock, then the piece topples over because it was not placed exactly flat and steady on its base. This has been given as a loss in blitz. The innocent party has been disadvantaged, so a penalty is due. But a time penalty seems fairer than a default, for what seems to me to be clumsiness rather than intentional rule-breaking.


You may have noticed that last week the UK voted to leave the European Union. And many believe this makes it more likely that the UK might split up into its constituent countries. But in chess, and various other sports, the UK is already split, and competes as various teams. Why? Tradition or inertia. This is the way it has been, so it continues. For example, in September, Andrew, Colin and I will play for Scotland at the Olympiad in Baku.

At the chess Olympiad, do you think it is fair that England, Scotland and other British teams are allowed to compete individually?

I am aware that ‘national chess teams’ would not make the top million important Brexit-related topics, but we will keep this a chess blog.

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June 20th, 2016 36 comments

Last week’s question was: ‘Who was the best player never to become World Champion?’ Our clear winner was Korchnoi, ahead of Rubinstein and Keres. Was it an impossible question? Probably. How can we compare players from different eras? Not well, but luckily there is no harm done if we get it ‘wrong’. For what it’s worth, I voted for Korchnoi. Ask me again next week and I’d probably vote for Rubinstein.


Nakamura took first place in the combined rapid and blitz event in Paris at the start of the Grand Chess Tour. In the blitz tournament Topalov was beating Nakamura with Black in an endgame, but then made the mistake of not promoting his pawn as it went to the first row. Nakamura claimed the point, the players shook hands and life went on. No dispute, as the video shows.

However, the Internet has a life of its own and over the last week there has been absolutely no focus on Topalov, a former World Champion, not abiding by the simple rules, but lots of focus on whether or not it was sporting of Nakamura to claim the full point. The punishment seems excessive.

People are arguing that it can be compared to being punished going 61 km/h in a 60-zone in the same way as going 120. I have personally received a £50 fine for gently rolling across a traffic light on my bicycle, going 5 km/h while the lights were green for pedestrians, of which there were none. The same fine for going through a red light, speeding, in a car. So, I understand why that would be painful. But traffic is not sport.

Nor is it a morality play. In the 1990s I played a lot of blitz tournaments in Copenhagen, every Friday night. Whenever people promoted a pawn and failed to put in a piece, I would point out that I could claim the point, and then I would play on. This happened maybe ten times, before I made the mistake myself. Obviously my opponent claimed the point instantly. It taught me an important lesson.

To me sportsmanship is to play by the rules. There are rules about how to behave, not to disturb the opponent, putting the pieces fully on the right square, which hand to push the clock with. And so on. There are also rules for illegal moves. In blitz it means you lose. Even if you take the king instead of claiming a win. I personally dislike this rule, but on behalf of John Shaw, I have been asked if we can do something about outlawing knight forks first…

Or maybe you disagree?

Q: Was it right of Nakamura to claim the full point in the game against Topalov?

1) Yes. Nakamura was of course lucky, but playing according to the rules is sportsmanship.

2) No. The rule is excessive and the sporting decision would be to press back the clock and continue the game.


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Who was the best player never to become World Champion?

June 13th, 2016 46 comments

Last week’s poll question was about football/soccer – ‘Who will win Euro 2016?’ Germany dominated the early voting and held the lead to the finish, despite a late surge for ‘Other’. It seems many of you believe in the Gary Lineker quote: ‘Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.’ But which ‘other’ team are those voters betting on? Croatia? Austria? Surely not Wales?


This week’s poll question was suggested by Vassilis. Who was the best player never to become World Champion? A few of the likely candidates are Rubinstein, Nimzowitsch, Pillsbury, Tarrasch, Keres, Bronstein and Korchnoi. I suggest excluding all players who are still active. For example, Caruana might be a clever answer, but he still has a chance to win it, so let’s not count him. Also, let’s exclude the pre-Steinitz era, as the likes of Philidor and Morphy could not win a title that did not officially exist yet.

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Questions for the poll?

June 6th, 2016 55 comments

Last week’s poll proved what we suspected: you are mainly chess players, not board game players.


One of the best things we ever did in Quality Chess was to start this blog. We had no real plans for it, and just did it because our website manager asked if we wanted one. The communication with people who know of our work is truly inspiring. I think one of the reasons is that it is quite rare we use the blog to promote our books. It feels bad, but at times I think we have to do it…

I really like the polls and the discussions. I want to know what other people think. I do not become a better writer and publisher from listening to my own thoughts. Some results have been truly surprising. Some not.

I was wondering: is there anything you think we should put on the poll? Any wacky (or sensible) question about chess you would like debated? If so, let us know and in time we might use it!

This week we will go non-chess for the poll. It’s football/soccer: Who will win Euro 2016?

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Other board games

May 31st, 2016 13 comments

Last week’s question was: ‘Are you interested in chess variants?’ By far the most common answer was ‘no’, you only play classical chess over-the-board. Even the second-most-common answer was ‘correspondence chess’, so the true chess variants are still very much a minority pursuit.

I am with the majority, as over-the-board chess is the only one for me. Late in 1994, I did start a handful of correspondence games, but after taking ill at the end of that year, I forgot all about them. It was years later before I remembered them, and I found out I had effectively ‘lost on time’ (belated apologies to my opponents).


Continuing my idle curiosity about your likes and dislikes – Do you also play other board games, or just chess?

There are so many board games that I will not even attempt to give options. Just a straight choice between ‘only chess’ and ‘I play other board games’. You can name your other board games in comments, but I am betting on a win for ‘only chess’. But if you play other versions of chess, such as Shogi, then I would count that as a different board game.

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Chess variants

May 23rd, 2016 18 comments

Last week’s question was ‘What is most important for you in a World Championship cycle?’ Over three-quarters of you voted for ‘that the best player wins’. Fair enough, but I suspect the ‘entertainment’ option would have gained more votes if we still had the old classical system of first-to-win-6-games, and matches lasting for six months.



This week I am curious about a topic we at Quality Chess rarely touch in our books – chess variants. We usually focus on ‘normal’ classical chess with the traditional starting position. But there are other chess worlds out there, such as Fischer Random, odds-giving (removing some material from one side, to even up a mismatch in playing strength), chess-boxing, correspondence, problem solving, and many more. Are you interested in chess variants? Unlike our previous polls, when you vote, you can click more than one option, as it’s perfectly possible to be interested in more than one variant.

I will take ‘interested in’ to mean as either a spectator or a competitor. And since we have in the office a World Champion solver in GM Colin McNab, I should admit that ‘solving’ and ‘correspondence chess’ are not really ‘chess variants’, but I am using the term broadly and carelessly, just to distinguish from over-the-board chess.

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World Championship priority…

May 16th, 2016 8 comments

Last week’s poll question was about trying to claim a draw in a blitz game. It was a simple question and had an overwhelming answer from the readers. ‘Play on’. Some of you correctly guessed the reason for asking the question was to settle an argument in the office. Playing with Black was a friend of ours from Edinburgh. The draw claimant with White – let’s call him “Andrew” – believed he should get a draw because of his overwhelming position. Jacob, Colin and I disagreed. We are grateful for your help in showing “Andrew” how wrong he was.


This week’s question is more serious, and was suggested by a conversation between various people on the blog. What is most important for you in a World Championship cycle? That the best player wins the World Championship. Or that we get the most entertaining cycle?

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