Oct 14 2009

ChessCube SA Open 2009 Report


In July 2009, ChessCube and CHESSA announced the first FIDE rated online matches. These were matches were played in the 2009 SA Open between players based in Melbourne, Australia and players based in Cape Town, South Africa. GM Amon Simutowe won the tournament.

ChessCube has recently released a report on the event for FIDE. The report summarises the key challenges and lessons from this chess world first, with the aim of encouraging increased online participation in chess tournaments. FIDE’s support for this venture, and in particular in rating these matches, demonstrates exciting possibilities in the world of chess.

This report and the player agreement are available for download. Click on the following links to download pdf versions of the report and player agreement. ChessCube SA Open 2009 Report (pdf). ChessCube SA Open 2009 Player Agreement for online matches (pdf).

Jul 20 2009

Playing tournaments online


As you probably know by now, the ChessCube SA Open 2009 implemented a world-first by allowing players at a venue in Melbourne , Australia to compete in the main tournament held in Cape Town, South Africa. This was accomplished by playing the games between these opponents online using ChessCube’s server.

Each round the players in South Africa were transported to ChessCube’s offices where they played under the supervision of FIDE Arbiter Simbarashe Murimi. Players were given the option to use a normal board in conjunction with the computer, or the computer alone. Except for one game, all players chose to still use the normal board as well.

Round 1: Arbiter “Simba” and player Leon Smit

Round 1: Arbiter “Simba” and player Leon Smit

On the Australian side GM Gawain Jones, IM Puchen Wang and IM Mirko Rujevic were playing under the watchful eye of International Arbiter Gary Bekker. Because of the eight hour time difference the games in Melbourne usually started in the early morning hours – about 2:30 AM local time! However, despite these conditions the players were always on time and in a cheerful mood, ready to battle for the full point.

The players down under…

The players down under…

The tournament saw the world’s first Grandmaster clash online in a Round 8 encounter between GM Dimitri Komarov and GM Gawain Jones. Unfortunately for such a noteworthy occasion the game ended much too soon when the players agreed to a draw after only 11 moves: 1. d4  Nf6 2. Nf3  g6 3. c4  Bg7 4. Nc3  O-O 5. e4  d6 6. Be2  e5 7. O-O  Nc6 8. d5  Ne7 9. b4  c6 10. Nd2  a5 11. bxa5  Qxa5  1/2-1/2

The result might be understandable from a psychological point of view, but it did not go down well with the numerous online spectators who were hoping for an exciting game between the tournaments strongest players.

The eventual winner of the event, GM Amon Simutowe, also played two games online. He looked right at home in the online environment and left with two draws against his strong opponents. After the games he commented that it went much better than he had expected and that he enjoyed the games. He also said that ChessCube was very easy to use and that he really liked the site, “technically it was a home run”.

Winner of the event – GM Amon Simutowe

Winner of the event – GM Amon Simutowe

One of the most exciting games was played in the penultimate round when FM Charles de Villiers took on GM Gawain Jones. The game proceeded as follows:

1. d4  Nf6 2. c4  g6 3. Nc3  Bg7 4. e4  d6 5. f4  O-O 6. Nf3  Na6 7. e5  Nd7 8. c5  c6 9. Bxa6  bxa6 10. Be3  Rb8 11. O-O  Rxb2 12. Qa4  Nb8 13. Qa3  Rb7 14. cxd6  exd6 15. Ne4  d5 16. Nd6  Qe7 17. Bf2  Rb6 18. Bh4  f6 19. Rae1  Be6 20. Re3  Qd7 21. exf6  Bxf6 22. Bxf6  Rxf6 23. Ne5  Qd8 24. Ng4  Bxg4 25. Re8+  Qxe8 26. Nxe8  Re6 27. h3  Rxe8 28. hxg4  Re2 29. Rf3  Rb1+ 30. Kh2  Rbb2 31. Re3  Rxg2+ 32. Kh1  Rge2 33. Rxe2  Rxe2 34. Qd6  Re8 35. Qc7  a5 36. f5  gxf5 37. gxf5  Rf8 38. f6  Rxf6 39. Qxb8+  Kg7 40. Qxa7+  Kg6 41. Qxa5

White should have an easy win

White should have an easy win

At this point White should have an easy win, but somehow black managed to fight on and get away with a draw.

41… Kf5 42. Qc7  Rh6+ 43. Kg2  Ke4 44. Qe5+  Kd3 45. Kf2  Rh1 46. Qe3+  Kc4 47. Kg2  Rb1 48. Qe2+  Kc3 49. Qe3+  Kc4 50. Kf2  Rb2+ 51. Kf3  Rxa2 52. Kf4  Ra8 53. Qe7  Kxd4 54. Qb4+  Kd3 55. Qb6  Ra4+ 56. Ke5  Re4+ 57. Kd6  Rc4 58. Qb1+  Kd2 59. Qxh7  d4 60. Qh2+  Kc3 61. Qe5  Kb3 62. Qe4  Kc3 63. Qe1+  Kc2 64. Qe2+  Kc3 65. Qe1+  Kc2 66. Qe2+  Kb3 67. Qd3+  Kb4 68. Qb1+  Kc3 69. Qa1+  Kd2 70. Qb2+  Ke3 71. Qb6  Rc2 72. Ke5  c5 73. Qh6+  Kd3 74. Qg6+  Kc3 75. Qg1  Kc4 76. Qg8+  Kc3 77. Qg1  Kb2 78. Ke4  Rc3 79. Qf2+  Kb3 80. Qf7+  Kb2 81. Qf2+  Ka3 82. Qd2  Kb3 83. Qd1+  Kb2 84. Qe2+  Kb3 85. Qb5+  Ka2 86. Qa6+  Kb1 87. Qb5+  Kc1 88. Qf1+  Kd2 89. Qf2+  Kd1 90. Qf1+  Kc2 91. Qe2+  Kc1  1/2-1/2

In the end it was not to be for Charles and he had to be satisfied with a draw. Nevertheless it was an excellent game to watch, with most online spectators being present for hours while the game was taking place.

Round 10: FM Charles de Villiers almost causing an upset

Round 10: FM Charles de Villiers almost causing an upset

All in all most players seemed to enjoy the new experience very much, with most of them having their first chance to play against a titled player. Feedback was positive and will be reported soon!

Jul 17 2009

Amon Simutowe wins SA Chess Open 2009


Amon Simutowe wins SA Chess Open 2009, and is the first FIDE Grandmaster in sub-Saharan Africa

It was a week of firsts for the 2009 SA Chess Open. Amon Simutowe, a 27 year old Zambian chess player, won the 2009 SA Chess Open on 11 July, and became the first FIDE Grandmaster in sub-Saharan Africa in the same week. The SA Open was also the first FIDE rated tournament to include online matches.

The SA Open 2009, sponsored by ChessCube, was the strongest SA Open ever, with 5 International Masters and 3 Grandmasters competing. For chess players, the tournament also featured FIDE rated online matches with three participants joining in from Australia.

Simutowe at ChessCube

Simutowe competes at ChessCube

Although Grandmaster Gawain Jones led the tournament for several rounds, playing all of his matches online using ChessCube’s live chess platform, it was the 27 year old Zambian Amon Simutowe who took home the title.

“The SA Open 2009 demonstrated that online matches are viable and such participants will become increasingly common in over the board tournaments,” says Mark Levitt, CEO and founder of ChessCube. “It was very encouraging to see the enthusiastic participation of the players in this chess tournament world first.”

Chess is truly a sport that brings people from around the world together. Grandmaster Simutowe has travelled to over 40 countries playing chess, and the SA Open 2009 saw participants from over 14 countries converge on Cape Town to compete. Although ChessCube is based out of South Africa, it boasts users from over 200 countries. While chess has always enabled top players to travel the world to play matches, the Internet now allows players from anywhere on the globe to play each other online.

ChessCube is proud to have been a proponent of this exciting new development in chess tournaments.

Jul 15 2009

SA Open 2009: winners and results


The SA Open 2009 came to a close on Saturday 11 July. Amon Simutowe of Zambia won the SA Open, and also became a FIDE Grandmaster in the same week.

All results can be found on the SA Open 2009 website, and the top 30 players are listed below:

===    =======    =====    ==============
1    1    ZAM    SIMUTOWE, A
2    2    ENG    JONES, G
3    3    NZL    WANG, P
4    3    UKR    KOMAROV, D
5    3    RSA    VAN DER NAT,
6    6    RSA    MOSETHLE, KK
7    6    ZIM    MAKOTO, R
8    6    RSA    VAN RENSBURG
9    6    ZAM    SIMUTOWE, M
10    6    ZIM    MOYO, L
11    6    GER    LOCHTE, T
12    6    RSA    STEENKAMP, J
13    6    HUN    KISS, P
14    6    ZAM    PHIRI, R
15    6    RSA    MEYER, GC
16    16    RSA    MABUSELA, JM
17    16    RSA    WEIDEMAN, HJ
18    16    RSA    DOLE, A
19    16    RSA    DE VILLIERS,
20    16    RSA    SOLOMONS, DM
21    16    RSA    MEINTJES, JC
22    16    AUS    RUJEVIC, M
23    16    ZIM    CHIMBAMU, E
24    16    RSA    REDFORD, SJ
25    16    RSA    KLAASEN, CJ
26    16    RSA    DAVIES, JS
27    27    RSA    MATHE, LD
28    27    RSA    WILLENBERG,
29    27    RSA    NELSON, WJH
30    27    MAW    MBEDZA, R

Congratulations to all the participants. We will be posting pictures and feedback from the event.

Jul 10 2009

SA Open: two rounds to go


There are only two rounds left of the SA Chess Open 2009, and it looks to be a fiercely contested title. In the top three, after 9 rounds, we have A Simutowe from Zambia, G Jones from England (and playing from Australia) and P Wang from New Zealand (also an online participant).

The last two rounds will be played this evening and on Saturday at Wynberg Boys’ High School in Cape Town, with the closing ceremony at 6pm on Saturday at the same venue.

If you’re in the area, you should stop by to watch! All online games are broadcast on a big screen at the venue.

Watch this space for a round-up, and feedback from the players in this very unique tournament.

Jul 8 2009

News Release: World First: SA Chess Open includes Internet play


Cape Town. For immediate release.
ChessCube (www.ChessCube.com), a South African Internet Chess Company, is the sponsor of the 2009 SA Open, being held in Cape Town. The event has attracted players from all over the world, but a new twist is that three remote players have participated via the Internet from a venue in Melbourne, Australia.  Mark Levitt, the CEO of ChessCube, says, “ChessCube has worked closely with FIDE (the World Chess Federation), to construct a series of rules and procedures to be followed, so that for the first time in chess history, Internet games would be officially rated.”

ChessCube is an online chess service with over 600,000 registered users. The Internet initiative began in Cape Town South Africa in mid-2007 and has expanded to an international operation. North American and Indian players are the largest among 200 countries served by ChessCube’s US-based servers.

FIDE is recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as the supreme body responsible for the organization of global and continental chess.  It defines the rules of chess, both for playing individual games and the conduct of international competitions.

FIDE calculates the ratings of players. These ratings are used to awards titles such as International Master and International Grandmaster. It also awards the International Arbiter title, which signifies that the recipient is competent and trusted to oversee top-class competitions.

The SA Open’s R90,000 ($12,000) prize fund has attracted a number of players to Cape Town, including Grandmasters and International Masters from around Africa and the world, including players from 11 countries to make this the strongest SA Open ever.

In addition, International Grandmaster Gawain Jones from the UK, International Master Puchen Wang from New Zealand and International Master Mirko Rujevic from Australia, are located at a venue in Melbourne, Australia, under the watchful eye of World Chess Federation International Arbiter Gary Bekker (AUS).

“Originally ChessCube was planning to have a venue in the UK, or Europe”, said Levitt. “That would mean that the players would be in a relatively similar time zone. But the enthusiasm of the players from Australia won out, and despite the difficulty of playing chess from 2.30 am to 7.30am, the players from ‘down under’ have adapted to the grueling schedule.”

The initial photos coming out of Australia showed bleary eyed and tired looking contestants – but with a shift in sleeping patterns, the players seem to have adapted to the unusual times by the later rounds. Possibly this is the first example of jetlag via the Internet?

In South Africa, 300 contestants are playing at the Wynberg Boys’ High School hall. In order to manage the technical complexities  of the online games, the three local players are driven to the high tech ChessCube Headquarters at Century City in Cape Town, where World Chess Federation International Arbiter Simbarashe Murimi from Zimbabwe is overseeing the Cape Town Internet contestants.

“The local players have enthusiastically adopted playing their esteemed Australian opponents via the Internet,” said Levitt. “Only one player so far has hinted at the possibility that the remote opponent may be cheating by using software.  But on hearing that the Australian group are being chaperoned by an experienced hawk-eyed FIDE arbiter, the assertions were quickly dropped. The secret to creating an official FIDE presence in this event was to ensure that both sides had official FIDE authority”.

This form of multi-venue event, using the Internet to connect land-based venues, may be the answer to expensive air travel. Chess is probably the only Olympic sports that can take advantage of the Internet for participation. In the current downturn, the cost of living and high cost of travel has made an impact on International sports participation in general. Africa is probably the region with the most expensive air travel. It typically costs more to travel from one African country to another than to travel to a European destination. An African chess administrator recently lamented that it is cheaper to hold the all-African-chess events in Paris than in Africa!

“ChessCube is planning to expand this form of chess participation in 2010”, said Levitt. “We are planning a multi-country team event – where all the participants compete at a home venue under the guidance of one arbiter per venue!”

An added benefit of this form of competition is that spectators can watch the events from anywhere in the world.  All online matches may be watched by logging on to www.chesscube.com. The tournament continues at Wynberg Boys’ High School.

About ChessCube
ChessCube (www.chesscube.com) was launched in June 2007 from Cape Town headquarters. It has since grown to a community of over 600,000 avid chess players, and continues to grow. ChessCube is an innovative, and award-winning, live chess platform. Mark Levitt, founder and CEO of ChessCube, is four times South African Chess Champion, and many of ChessCube’s board members are avid, strong chess players themselves. ChessCube’s investors include Vinny Lingham of Lingham Capital.

For more information, please contact Mark Levitt ([email protected]) or Sarah Blake ([email protected]).