On Chappelle's Show, when that was still around, there was a satirical segment about Wu Tang Financial, which included the line: "You need to diversify yo' bonds, nigga!" Kind of a cheap laugh, yeah, but funny.
Anyway this isn't a joke: WuChess, a new hip-hop-meeta-chess site from the Wu crowd. As TechCrunch points out, the site charges money to use. Is that a problem? Maybe not. Lots of the big chess sites charge: Playchess.com and the Internet Chess Club among them. FICS (Free Internet Chess Club) doesn't charge, which is what I use... but seriously, it's not ridiculous to charge for a chess site.
The tough part won't be the fee, but in trying to replicate the thrill and electricity of chess in the park. That's going to be tough without the hustling, money, and everyone all shuffling about, but hey, still a cool idea. Another thing that's key to hip-hop chess, in my opinion: not saying "check" and actually attempting to take the king, which never happens online or in any legitimately sanctioned chess. And courtesy of Valleywag, here's a hip-hop chess video.
Ok, promise this will be the last chess post for awhile...
Just looking at the other stuff written by Gene Milener, the Microsoftie who's commented here on matters related to chess. I see he has a book on what can be learned about regular chess by playing Chess 960, a variation of chess (first proposed by Bobby Fischer) whereby the positioning of the pieces is different each time you play the game. The idea is that by introducing some variation into the starting positions, games won't fall into such predictable patterns.
Stepping outside of chess is a good way to learn about regular chess. I've always thought that I learned more about English grammar from studying French than I ever did from studying English. Before learning how to conjugate the subjunctive tense in French, I don't think I even realized that we had a subjunctive in English.
Via MR, a fantastically in-depth Chessbase.com piece on how to think about reducing the number of draws in pro-level chess (there are a lot, for all kinds reason). As he notes, most proposals to reduce the number have been off-the-board rule changes, which is obvious, since changing the rules of the game aren't really feasible. It's chess after all.
There are variants to chess, which may have some efficacy in reducing draws, but usually they're too different from the beautiful game to be taken seriously. Anyway Gene Milener proposes Chess-3, a variant that remains true to the game, but with enough changes to reduce the level of draws:
Chess-like games can avoid high draw rates by having more piece power than chess has. The chess-3 answer to the challenge is to add power to a few pieces directly. This produces a nice corollary dividend in that the casual exchange rate is reduced, thus indirectly adding power by retaining it on the board. Yet another indirect anti-draw dividend is more imbalances, which Jeremy Silman emphasized are needed for decisive outcomes.
I'm glad that in my great "feed cull of 2008" I didn't stop reading the NYT chess blog Gambits. How else would I keep up with the controversy at the US Chess Federation re: Susan Polgar and her husband Paul Truong:
The lawsuit and the recall petition stem from a report last year by Brian Mottershead, a former systems administrator at the federation, that Mr. Truong posted inflammatory remarks on the Internet in the names of other members of the federation for more than two years. Four of the seven members of the federation’s board have asked Mr. Truong to resign.
Also, via Gambit, a cool website of Bobby Fischer pictures.
The latest chess column in the New York Times discusses the utter dominance of the machine these days:
Deep Blue made history in 1997 by defeating Garry Kasparov in a six-game match. A decade later, no human would dare take on a chess program at even strength. The premier chess engine, Rybka, is estimated at 3100, or 300 points higher than any player.
Rybka is exploring this dominant relationship with handicap matches against grandmasters. After narrowly losing a match at pawn handicap, I agreed to participate in an experiment. Every draw would count as a win for me. After we split four games, Rybka streaked to a 6-2 rout.
A game Sunday between Nigel Short of England and Ivan Cheparinov of Bulgaria in the B section of the Corus tournament in the Netherlands ended in a forfeit win for Short after Cheparinov refused to shake Short’s hand at the start of the game. According to a report on Chessbase.com, Short immediately complained to the tournament’s referee who consulted the World Chess Federation’s rules and decided that Cheparinov’s conduct merited that he forfeit the game. It was an unprecedented decision, which was appealed and later reversed.
The man was a nut, but a nut who could flat out dominate the game. There's an active discussion about him over at Chessgames.com, as well as a library of some his most important games. Fittingly, he was 64.
I have to say, my favorite fact about Bobby Fischer was that as a young kid, he taught himself Russian so that he could read copies of the Russian chess manuscripts, which were publishing the best analysis at the time. At least that's the story. It may be apocryphal, though it's been repeated many times. Sort makes you want to crack open a copy of Šahovski Informator.
Readers of this site know that I've been hoping someone would develop a YouTube for chess, a repository to store your games and allow them to be embedded and shared on blogs. Well, it looks like we're getting a little closer to this reality, though we're not there yet. Via TechCrunch, I came across Chess.com, a social networking site for chess players. On the site you can compare notes, upload your games, work out chess problems with other members and blog. And yes, you can upload your game and embed it into your blog. So that's pretty awesome. The problem is that it's a walled garden. There doesn't seem to be a way to embed games on a blog that's not on Chess.com. That's lame. If I play a game of chess online, and I want to share the moves with you, I want to put it right here on the 'Wart, not on some Chess.com/blog/thestalwart/ etc....
As soon as the site fixes this, it's going to be awesome, and one that I'll be able to recommend.
For those who think that newspapers should be run purely as a business (as I do), there's probably no economic justification for having a chess columnist. But I still think it's cool that the New York Times has one. Now, the paper even has a new chess blog called (what else?) Gambit.
As the chessosphere expands, it's vital that someone do my YouTube for chess idea stat. Chessplayers need a good way to share and comment on each others' games.