Friday, May 27, 2022

Once More Upon a Time

Mobina Alinasab – Antoaneta Stefanova
3rd Online Women’s Speed Chess Championship; Qualifier 2 Knockout; Final match game 14; time control: 1 minute plus 1 second per move;, May 27, 2022
8/3kb2p/5p2/2p2p2/2Pp1P2/r2Np1P1/P1R1P2P/4K3 w - - 5 35

Position after 34. ... Ke6-d7?

It took 14 games for 11th Women’s World Chess Champion Antoaneta Stefanova to win her Final match against Iranian Woman International Master Mobina Alinasab, thus qualifying for the Main Event of the 3rd Online Women’s Speed Chess Championship. In fact, Alinasab was still safe in the position in the diagram, because thanks to Black’s loss of time by ... Ke6-d7 (she should have played ... Ke6-d6, defending the c-Pawn), White is just in time to hold everything together. 35. Kd1! Kc6 36. Kc1 Bd8 37. Kb2 Ra4 38. Kb3 Ra7 39. Kb2 Rb7+ 40. Kc1 Ba5 41. Rb2 Ra7

42. Rc2? This loses the game and the match. Here Alinasab misses her way toward salvation: 42. Kb1! Bb4! 43. a4! (43. Nxb4+?? cxb4 44. Rxb4 d3−+) 43. ... Rxa4 44. Ra2 Rxa2 45. Kxa2 with a clear draw. 42. ... Bc3!−+ (Δ ... Ra7-a4) 43. Kb1 Rb7+ 44. Kc1 Ra7 45. Kb1 Ra4 46. Nb2 Bxb2 47. Kxb2 Rb4+ 48. Kc1 Kb6 49. h3 h5 50. a3 Ra4 51. Kb2 Kc6 52. Kb3 Ra8 53. a4 Rb8+ 54. Ka3 Rb1 55. a5 Ra1+ 56. Kb3 Rxa5 57. Rc1 Ra8 58. Rg1 Rg8 59. Kc2 Kb6 60. Kb3 Kc6 61. Kc2 h4 62. g4 fxg4 0 : 1.

The Great Humanity

Commuters crowd on to an underground train in 广州 (Guǎngzhōu), China. Photo: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

Waiting for Godot

A minor Ukrainian Grandmaster, Andrey Vadimovich Baryshpolets, has advanced his candidacy to the post of FIDE President, in an attempt, whether seriously or not, to set a challenge to incumbent Arkady Vladimirovich Dvorkovich. On the wings of enthusiasm Danish Grandmaster Peter Heine Nielsen, also known as the coach of 16th World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen, announced that he will run as Baryshpolets’ Deputy. The apparent naïvety of their electoral programme is in itself a manifesto for captatio benevolentiae, if not for change. So, the question arises, who would Carlsen vote for?

Of course, Edna, take all the fabric you want and all the time you need!

Thursday, May 26, 2022

In a Matter of Seconds

Divya Deshmukh – Olga Olehivna Babiy
3rd Online Women’s Speed Chess Championship; Qualifier 2 Swiss; time control: 3 minutes plus 1 second per move;, May 26, 2022
r2r2k1/1n3ppn/p2p4/P2Pp1P1/1pN5/5P1B/1PP2K2/2RR4 w - - 1 32

Position after 31. ... Nf6-h7

32. g6! fxg6. 32. ... Ng5 33. gxf7+ Kxf7 34. Bg4 also leaves White with the better game. 33. Be6+ Kf8. Clearly not 33. ... Kh8?? because of 34. Rh1! with the threat of 35. Rxh7+ Kxh7 36. Rh1#. 34. Rg1 Nf6 35. Rxg6. Stronger seems 35. Nb6 (defending d5), as after 35. ... Rab8 36. Rxg6 Nc5 White can play 37. Bf5 retaining a strong attack.

35. ... Ne8? This loses outright. Black could still hold on to a four Rooks ending a Pawn down by 35. ... Nc5! 36. Nb6 Nxe6 37. dxe6 (37. Nxa8 Nf4!=) 37. ... Rab8 38. Rcg1 Ke7 39. Rxg7+ Kxe6 40. Ra7 Nd5 41. Nxd5 Kxd5 42. Rxa6 Rbc8 with a drawish outlook. 36. Rh1! Threatening Nc4-e3-f5 followed by Rh1-h8#. 36. ... Nc5 37. Nb6 Ra7 (37. ... Rab8 38. Rh8+ Ke7 39. b3+−) 38. Rh8+ Ke7 39. Nc8+ Rxc8 40. Bxc8 Rc7 41. Bf5 Na4? No doubt, this is a way as another to surrender a lost cause. 42. Re6+ Kf7 43. Bg6# 1 : 0.

Sure, Edna, you are far more breathtaking and enthralling than Fay Wray as Ann Darrow

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Journey Round the World

Vantika Agrawal – Annamária Marjanovics
3rd Online Women’s Speed Chess Championship; Qualifier 1 Knockout; Final match game 17; time control: 1 minute plus 1 second per move;, May 25, 2022
r3rnk1/1p1bq1bn/p2p1pp1/2pPp3/P1P1P1PN/2N1B2Q/1P2BP2/R3K2R w KQ - 4 23

Position after 22. ... Bc8-d7

By virtue of her win against Hungarian Woman Grandmaster Annamária Marjanovics, Indian Woman Grandmaster Vantika Agrawal claimed first place in the Qualifier 1 as well as a spot in the forthcoming Main Event of the 3rd Online Women’s Speed Chess Championship. The conclusion of the last game of the Final well summarises the story in a few lines: 23. Nxg6! Qf7 (23. ... Nxg6 24. Qxh7+ Kf7 25. Bh6 Qf8 26. g5!+−) 24. Nxf8 Nxf8 25. Kd2! Qg6 26. Rag1 b5 27. cxb5 axb5 28. axb5 Reb8

29. Qh5! Qxh5 30. gxh5 Kh7 31. h6 Bh8 32. Rg3 Ng6 33. Rhg1 Rg8 34. Bg4 Bxg4 35. Rxg4 Ne7 36. Rxg8 Nxg8 37. Kc2 Nxh6 38. Bxh6 Kxh6 39. Rg3 Bg7 40. Rh3+ Kg6 41. Rg3+ Kf7 42. Rh3 Rb8 43. Kd3 Bf8 44. Kc4 Ra8 45. b3 Rb8 46. Na4 Be7 47. b6 Bd8 48. Kb5 Ke8 49. Rh8+ Kd7 50. Rh7+ Kc8

51. Kc6. Black is in zugzwang. 51. ... Ra8 52. b7+ 1 : 0.

Lost in Transition

Divya Deshmukh – Annamária Marjanovics
3rd Online Women’s Speed Chess Championship; Qualifier 1 Knockout; Semifinal match game 3; time control: 3 minutes plus 1 second per move;, May 25, 2022
King’s Indian Attack A08

1. e4 e6 2. d3 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. Ngf3 Be7 5. g3 0-0 6. Bg2 c5 7. 0-0 Nc6 8. Re1 Qc7 9. Qe2 b5 10. e5 Nd7 11. Nf1 a5 12. h4 Ba6 (12. ... Nd4 13. Nxd4 cxd4 14. Bf4 Ra6 15. Nh2 Rc6 16. Rac1 Ba6? 17. Bxd5! exd5? 18. e6! Qd8 19. exd7 Re6 20. Qg4 f5 21. Qh5 Qxd7 22. Nf3 g6 23. Qh6 Bf6 24. Rxe6 Qxe6 25. Be5! Bxe5 26. Re1 f4 27. Rxe5 Qd7 28. h5 fxg3 29. hxg6 gxf2+ 30. Kxf2 hxg6 31. Qxg6+ Qg7 32. Rg5 Rf7 1 : 0 R. J. Fischer – U. Geller, 4th International Tournament, Netanya 1968) 13. h5 (13. N1h2 b4 14. h5 Rfc8 15. h6 g6 16. Bf4 Qd8 17. Ng4 a4 18. Qd2 c4 19. dxc4 Bxc4 20. Bg5 a3 21. b3 Ba6 22. Rac1 Na7 23. Bxe7 Qxe7 24. Ng5 Nb5? 25. Bxd5! Rd8 26. Bxa8 Nxe5 27. Qxd8+ Qxd8 28. Rxe5 Nc3 29. Bf3 f5 30. Nxe6 Qd2 1 : 0 D. I. Bronstein – O’Kelly de Galway, 25th “Hoogovens” International Tournament, Beverwijk 1963) 13. ... h6 14. Bf4 Rfc8. Another continuation is 14. ... Rfe8 15. Ne3 Qd8 16. Ng4 Bf8 17. c3 a4 18. Rac1 Ra7 19. Ngh2 b4 20. c4 dxc4 21. dxc4 Nd4 22. Nxd4 cxd4 23. Nf3 Nc5?! (23. ... d3! 24. Qxd3 Nc5 appears to promise Black better compensation) 24. Nxd4 Rd7 25. Be3 b3 26. a3 Qc7 27. f4 Red8 28. Red1 Bb7 29. Nb5 Qc8 30. Rxd7 Qxd7 31. Bxb7 Qxb7 32. Bd4 Qe4? (⌓ 32. ... Qc6) 33. Qxe4 Nxe4 34. c5 Nxg3 35. Kf2 Nf5 36. c6 Ne7 37. c7 Rd5 38. Rc5 Nc8 39. Rxd5 exd5 40. Na7 Bxa3 41. Nxc8 1 : 0 Carmaciu – Georgescu, 59th Romanian Team Chess Championship, Călimănești 2014. 15. Ne3 Qd8 16. Ng4 (16. Bh3 Nb6 17. Ng4 Bf8 18. c3 Nd7 19. Rac1 a4 20. Qd2 Kh7 21. Bf1 Na5 22. d4 Nc4 23. Bd3+ Kh8 24. Qe2 Be7 25. Nh4 a3 26. b4 cxb4 27. cxb4 Bg5 28. Bxg5 Qxg5 29. f4 Qe7 30. f5 Qg5 31. fxe6 fxe6 32. Ng6+ Kg8 33. Nf4 Nf8 34.Bb1 Ra7 35. Kg2 Rf7 36. Nf2 Rcc7 37. N2d3 Bc8 38. Rf1 Rce7 39. Rf3 Rc7 40. Rcf1 Ra7 41. Nc5 Qg4 42. Qd3 Rae7 43. R1f2 Bd7 44. Nb7 Re8 45. Qe2 Bc6 46. Nc5 Ree7 47. Bg6 Be8 48. Bxf7+ Bxf7 49. Nxd5 exd5 50. Rxf7 Rxf7 51. Qxg4 Ne3+ 52. Kh3 Rxf2 53. Qc8 Rxa2 54. e6 Ra1 55. g4 Rh1+ 56. Kg3 Re1 57. Nd7 a2 58. Nxf8 g5 59. Ng6 Kg7 60. Qd7+ Kf6 61. Qf7# 1 : 0 Davies – L. B. Hansen, Silvan Cup, Græsted 1990) 16. ... Bf8 17. Qd2 Kh7?! Probably there is still nothing irreversible about this move, but the King does not stand well here. A recent game continued 17. ... b4 18. Bf1 Nb6 19. c3 Rab8 20. Qc2 bxc3 21. bxc3 Nd7 22. Rab1 Rxb1 23. Rxb1 Rb8 24. Rxb8 Qxb8 25. Qb3 Qc7 26. Qb1 a4 27. Qc1 Qb8 28. c4 dxc4 29. dxc4 Nd4 30. Nxd4 cxd4 31. Qd1 Nc5 32. Qxd4 Qb1 33. Bxh6 gxh6 34. Nf6+ Kh8 35. Qd8 Kg7 36. Ne8+ Kg8 ½ : ½ Campos Gambuti – Serarols Mabras, 1st Torneo Magistral Norma Maestro Internacional, Alicante 2021. 18. c3 b4 19. c4 Nb6 20. Qc2. Threatening 21. Bxh6! gxh6?? 22. Nf6+ Kh8 23. d4 and Black must give up her Queen to avoid mate. 20. ... Kh8! A rethought Kingdom. 21. Rad1 Qe8? This is a grave tactical error which should lose. Possibly best was 21. ... Be7! 22. Qc1 Qf8∞ with unclear complications.

22. Qc1? 22. Bxh6! suggests itself, for after 22. ... gxh6 23. Nf6 White threatens both Nf6xe8 and d3-d4. 22. ... Kh7? But Black misses her luck, and even exposing herself to a potential Knight fork on f6. 22. ... Nd4! at once was called for. 23. Bxh6! Nd4. If 23. ... f5 then 24. Bxg7! Bxg7 25. Nf6+ Bxf6 26. exf6 Qxh5 27. Rxe6 with irresistible attack. 24. b3 Nxf3+ 25. Bxf3 Bb7. Or 25. ... Nd7 26. Bg5 similarly to the game. 26. Qf4 Nd7 27. Bg5 Rab8

28. h6! g6 29. cxd5 Bxd5. After 29. ... exd5 30. e6! fxe6 31. Nf6+ Nxf6 32. Qxf6 White wins either the e-Pawn or the d-Pawn (32. ... Rc6 33. Bxd5) with overwhelming effect. 30. Bxd5 exd5 31. Re3. 31. e6! fxe6 32. Re3 was also very strong. 31. ... Qe6 32. Rf3 Kg8

33. h7+! Kh8 (33. ... Kg7 34. Qxf7+! Qxf7 35. Rxf7+ Kh8 36. e6+−) 34. Qxf7 Qxf7 35. Rxf7 Nb6 36. Bf6+ 1 : 0. For mate follows after 36. ... Bg7 37. Bxg7+ Kxh7 38. Nf6#.

Obviously, Edna, as in any drama worthy of its name, Pawns (like them) are far more numerous than Queens (like you)

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Paper Moon

To quote Stephen Spender, “History is the ship carrying living memories to the future”.

A Stopover in Venice

Cast Auditions

Srishti Pandey – Antoaneta Stefanova
3rd Online Women’s Speed Chess Championship; Qualifier 1 Swiss; time control: 3 minutes plus 1 second per move;, May 24, 2022
2br1r1k/5qpp/ppn5/2p2p1P/2PnpN2/PP4Q1/1B3PP1/3RRBK1 w - - 0 29

Position after 28. ... a7-a6?!

29. b4! White’s gamble to dismantle the defence of the d4-Knight will prove successful, even though, perhaps, from an objective viewpoint, she ought to have played 29. Ng6+! Kg8 30. Nxf8 Qxh5 31. Nxh7 Kxh7 32. b4± with the better game. 29. ... cxb4?? A disastrous mistake, which loses material. After the correct 29. ... Rfe8 30. h6 Rd6!∞ the situation was far from clear. 30. axb4 Nc2 31. h6! N2d4 32. b5 axb5 33. cxb5 g5. Drama of desperation. 34. bxc6 gxf4 35. Rxd4! Not the only winning move, but a very elegant one. 35. ... fxg3

36. Rxd8+? Obviously, this is a big misstep which could cost dearly. Now 36. Rd3+! was the consistent corollary of White’s Queen sacrifice, whereupon there would have followed 36. ... Kg8 37. Rxg3+ Qg6 38. Bc4+ Rf7 39. Rxg6+ hxg6 40. Bxf7+ Kxf7 41. c7 with an easy win. 1 : 0. Yet Black’s resignation is a major blunder! With 36. ... Kg8! the game would go on for long, probably without a winner.

Well, Edna, ultimately, it is all a matter of choosing between the metaphor of “the eye of a needle” and the metaphor of “bare life”

Photo composition © Brenda (@iampeteena)

Monday, May 23, 2022

Eternal Bloom

Letizia and Viola received as a gift the Spring in the Glass by Mado Flynn (glass bowl decorated with real flowers embedded in epoxy resin).

Sliding Doors

A school of dance and a yoga studio are almost the same, but not exactly the same, as the latter will ask you to leave your ego at the door... with your shoes.


Also this year, four-time Women’s World Chess Champion 侯逸凡 (Hóu Yìfán) will be the top seed at the 3rd Online Women’s Speed Chess Championship, which is set to start on Tuesday, May 24, 2022 with two Qualifiers, and whose $65,000 Main Event will be held online at from June 13 to July 27, 2022. For further details and information, click here.

Of course, Edna, for sheer vanity’s sake, you will be there incognito, just looking like Greta Garbo disguised as Salinger

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Long live the chains?

An invitational conference, titled Long live the chains? The authoritarianism of the present and the future of “freedom”, organised by the cooperative Generazioni Future and the “Commissione Du.Pre (Dubbio e Precauzione)” (“Doubt and Precaution Commission”), is called in Venice, Italy for Tuesday, May 24, 2022 9.30 A.M. with interventions, among others, by Giorgio Agamben, Massimo Cacciari, Ugo Mattei, and Moni Ovadia. For further details and information, click here.

The School of the Heart

Yes, Edna, it’s like saying that sometimes mankind’s destiny depends upon what clothes people would take off to hang them up on the clothesline

Photo composition © nata luna sans (@natalunasans)

Saturday, May 21, 2022

The Clothesline

A detail from Peace by Russian-born, London-based artist Helga Stentzel, whose art — especially her creatures created with hung-up clothes — was the subject of a pictorial article by Alice Fisher for The Guardian of May 21, 2022. Photo © Helga Stentzel.

Roof of the World

A woman exercises on the roof of a building at a residential compound amid the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown as China continues to enforce its zero-COVID policy in 上海 (Shànghǎi). However, plans have been set out for the return of a more normal life from June 1 and the end of a painful COVID-19 lockdown that has lasted more than six weeks, heavily bruising China's economy. Photo: Alex Plavevski/EPA.

In any case, Edna, the only way to ascend to the holy heights of your sanctuary is to keep both feet well planted in the ground

Friday, May 20, 2022

Ties that Bind

To the voice of Fabio Milana

Giorgio Agamben, Quodlibet, April 15, 2022

In the history of poetry, music and any arts, there are seemingly modest events, which nevertheless mark for those who come across them a watershed that peremptorily separates a before and an after. One of these inapparent events is the recording, under the column “The Poets”, of two CDs out of the market, which contain, according to what is written in the booklet accompanying them, “pieces composed and/or performed by Fabio Milana”. The poets, to whom Fabio’s voice seems to lend its chant, are in order, besides some anonymous: Horace, Sulpicia, Chrétien de Troyes, Francis of Assisi, Cecco Angiolieri, Dante, Jacopone, Petrarca, Villon, Lorenzo de’ Medici, Goethe, Leopardi, Manzoni, Emily Dickinson, Pascoli, Rebora, Jahier, Saba, Montale, Ungaretti, Penna, Antonia Pozzi, Simone Weil, Pasolini, Brecht, Elsa Morante, Franco Loi, Franca Grisoni, Luzi, Fortini. Hence, one might think that these are poetic verses set to music by someone usually called, with an unlovable word, a songwriter. It is not so. Fabio did not stupendously set the verses of his most beloved poets to music. He did something different, which we do not know whether to place in poetry or music, but that rather has its place in the difficult intersection between the two.
Dante defines the poet’s works as “to tie words together” and poetry as a thing “harmonised by musical ties” (Convivio I,VII,14). Therefore, with a singular etymological figure, he derives the word “author” by a “verb which signifies more or less to tie words together, that is auieo”. This verb is exemplary, because in its form is it itself “figure of a tie” and hence summarises in itself the activity of poets, “who have tied together their words with musical art”. Anyone who appreciates it carefully, “in its first form will observe that it displays its own meaning, for it is made up only of the ties of words, that is, of the five vowels alone, which are the soul and tie of every word, and is composed of them in a different order, so as to portray the image of a tie. For beginning with A it turns back to U, goes straight through to I and E, then turns back and comes to O, so that it truly portrays this image: A, E, I, O, U, which is the figure of a tie” (IV,VI,3-5).
The “music” that “turns and comes back” here in question is internal to poetry, and it is this intimate harmony that makes it capable to receive possibly a chant (ad quandam odam recipienda armonizata estDe vulgari eloquentia II,X,2). Dante calls this internal tie of poetry coniugatio and, as far as regards the triple intertwisted rhyme of the Comedy, “cantilena”. It is on this “cantilena”, on this internal tie of poetry that Fabio concentrates all his skill. His chant, so full of pauses and refreshes, which rises and falls, so vibrant with harmonics that it sometimes even appears diphonic is, however, somehow, a diction and a canonical reading, such that, after listening to it, we can no longer read or recite those poems as we used to read them before. Leopardi’s “frail leaf”, Montale’s “eel”, Caproni’s “prayer” — we believed we loved and understood them — but not anymore. Only now, following Fabio’s voice, we do begin to understand and love them.
In the spring of 1942, archaeologist Ludwig Curtius attended a concert by Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli at the Teatro Adriano in Rome. “The marvelous faculty of Benedetti”, he writes, “is the cantilena (die Kantilene). Not only the singing tone of legato, no, rather a modeling of the single sounds; as if each time it went upward like a sculptor into the wax through the most subdued turgidities until reaching its obstinate language and then again sinking back from its height to slight, almost slippery passages. Each sonorous syllable has its own special nuance, almost its own fragrance, no note renounces its transfiguration and whilst the phrase flows in ever-new intensifications and attenuations from pianissimo to piano and forte and then back again at the stupendous completeness of a Lied, suddenly the singing of a poem sounds, reflecting all the youthful purity of this artist...”.
It is this cantilena, which incessantly breaks off and returns to itself, it is this intimate singing tone of the musical tie that Fabio let happen in his voice, before discreetly disappearing into the poetic canon that he delivered back to us as if it were the first and last time.

(English translation by I, Robot)

Koloman Moser, Early spring. Illustration to a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke, 1901. Courtesy of WikiArt.