Azmaiparashvili is a Cheating Scumbag

I’m writing this blog out of rage for the injustice that was just suffered by Grandmaster Anton Kovalyov.

Anton just forfeited from the FIDE World Cup after an incident involving his clothing choices, despite having worn the same clothing for the first two rounds without issue. Below is a brief snippet of his post game statement:

“The issue were not the shorts but how I was treated. I came to the game and was approached by the arbiter asking me to change (first time). I told him that I don’t have pants with me, and then I noticed that I was playing black instead of white, which came as a surprise for me and asked him to check that. He and the other arbiters checked and confirmed to me that I’m playing with black, we talked a little and everything was fine. Then came Zurab, he was very agressive, yelling at me and using the racial slur “gypsy” to insult me, apart from mentioning several times that I will be punished by FIDE. I told him that I had asked before at the previous world cup if what I was wearing was OK and I was told by somebody from the organization that yes. Zurab, in a prepotent way, said he doesn’t care, he’s the organizer now. At this point I was really angry but tried not to do anything stupid, and asked him why he was so rude to me, and he said because I’m a gypsy.”

This is what happens when you allow well known cheaters and unethical people to have such major involvement in your chess events. They end up using racial slurs to intimidate and harass the players.

If you go to the following link, which is titled “cheating in chess”, you can read about how Azmaiparashvili created a tournament out of thin air in order to reach the chess elite. He gained 50 ELO points in a fabricated tournament with 3 other players. The tournament was a sextuple round robin, in which everyone faced everyone else 6 times. Azmaiparashvili finished with 16/18, and another player rated 2400, Rolando Kutirov, finished with 11.5/18, enough to get his GM title. Meanwhile the two 2500+ rated GM’s, Kurajica and Rashkovsky, finished with 4.5 and 4 points out of 18.

Here’s a link to the crosstable and the fabricated games.

Here is a quote from Veselin Topalov, for why he withdrew from the Grand Prix cycle in 2017.

“The last degradation of the FIDE happened during the Opening Ceremony of the World Blitz and Rapid Championship 2017 in Qatar. The person appointed by FIDE to open the Championship was no other than Zurab Azmaiparashvili, ECU President with a large record of unethical and even criminal acts during his career. These unethical acts he committed both as a player and as a FIDE official include buying an entire tournament in Strumica 95, and the case of sexual harassment in Mexico in 2007.”

So to sum it all up, we have a guy who is well known by everyone to be a massive cheater, was thrown out of a hotel in 2007 for sexual harassment, and has committed many other unethical acts during his career in chess, and yet somehow he is named as an official for the FIDE World Cup?

There is nothing less surprising than hearing that he called Kovalyov a gypsy on multiple occasions, because this is how Azmaiparashvili behaves. He says and does whatever he wants without any repercussion. He made up a tournament to reach the world elite and later went on to become FIDE Vice President.

What should happen now? This is a difficult question, but one in which I believe in my answer.

The top players in the world should band together and refuse to play until Azmaiparashvili is removed from his role as organizer and is forced to leave the premises. I admit it’s very unlikely that this will occur, as the elite chess community has a rich history of turning a blind eye to the corruption and greed that is so evident at the top of the FIDE food chain. It’s understandable, they love chess and FIDE does provide them generous sums of money to play at the highest level. Is it really worth it to risk your reputation and career for something like this? While I think that the answer is yes, I’m not going to hold it against everyone for staying quiet and continuing to play chess under the auspices of known cheaters and bullies.

I also hope that organizers around the world show Kovalyov some love and give him invites to a few major tournaments. When one of the top players in the world is treated in such an unfair manner by a top FIDE official, the chess community should band together to make sure that this player knows that we don’t think that what happened was okay. Good for Anton for not debasing himself and playing in a tournament where he was treated in such a manner. He could have won a lot of money, but his dignity was worth more to him.

Meanwhile Azmaiparashvili should be asked to resign from any official role he has in the chess world. This guy has been a cheater for decades now, it’s getting boring already. Just go away and keep getting crushed by me online.

Should We Talk About the Differences Between Men and Women?

This morning I woke up to about 15 messages on Facebook messenger. They were sent to me by one of the top chess players in the world, who I have never truly met, and never really spoken to, but who was frustrated with the tone of the discussion that followed from my last blog post. This player is well known to be extremely gracious and friendly, so it is important to make it clear that the messages were very civil and polite, but that at the same time something that was bothering him.

The issue was simply that he felt there are obvious differences between men and women, yet anytime someone took the step of speaking about these differences, they would be immediately branded a sexist, and therefore it stifled any intellectual discussion on the topic. Because I have always held this player in the highest regard, I felt that it would be a great idea to try to write about this topic.

Let’s start with something that I think we all agree on. When you take large populations of people that have some kind of clear difference between them, regardless of what that difference may be, it’s likely that these people as a whole, won’t be identical in all aspects of life. This can be for many reasons, such as their upbringing, how the world reacts to them, or in some cases maybe there may be genetic differences.

One of the problems I see when people try to have a public discussion about these differences, is that in almost every case in which someone publicly states that “X and Y groups of people are different in Z way”, the person making this comment falls under the category of X, and then attributes the most socially desirable traits to X, the less socially desirable traits to Y, and they are often doing so without the necessary background to make such claims.

For example, Chess Grandmaster Nigel Short once claimed that men are “hardwired” to be better at chess than women and said the following:

“I don’t have the slightest problem in acknowledging that my wife possesses a much higher degree of emotional intelligence than I do,” he said. “Likewise, she doesn’t feel embarrassed in asking me to maneuver the car out of our narrow garage. One is not better than the other, we just have different skills.”

“It would be wonderful to see more girls playing chess, and at a higher level, but rather than fretting about inequality, perhaps we should just gracefully accept it as a fact.”

The reason that the above was troubling is because Nigel who is a man and a world class expert in chess, is putting down the ability of women to play chess well. To make up for that slight, he is then comparing that to the fact that one woman, his wife, has better emotional intelligence than he does.

My sister, 2 time U.S. Women’s Chess Champion Jenn Shahade has this to say:

“The obsession with gender difference in fields like chess is repetitive, negative and self perpetuating. Unless you have some mind blowing new point to make, I’d rather hear your thoughts on Hou Yifan’s games in Biel or a book you recently enjoyed by a woman.”

So why is James Damore also receiving criticism? It’s because he is doing a similar thing. I took a look at his manifesto and to me it reads clearly as someone who is painting women in a less positive light, and using this to explain why Google should be less focused on including women in their workforce. He is sneaky about how he does it, and he is careful to include many disclaimers along the way, but there’s a reason women are upset and it’s because it comes off as derogatory. One part in particular that seems offensive would be when he describes women as being more neurotic than men:

“Women, on average, have more neuroticism (higher anxiety, lower stress tolerance). This may contribute to the higher levels of anxiety women report on Googlegeist and to the lower number of women in high stress jobs.”

Also Google seems to be doing just fine with the practices they’ve been using. Maybe if a company like Google, which is one of the biggest and most well known companies in the world, is championing diversity to this degree, there’s some merit behind it?

So how can we talk about the differences between two large groups of people in a constructive way? My advice: Just don’t do it

Let’s be honest, have we ever really gained anything from having this discussion? Has it ever been great for our population to discuss how men are more logical thinkers and women are more emotional thinkers? Every woman is different and every man is different. There is always a danger that when we stereotype people, that those who hold power will use these stereotypes to keep other people out of power. You see it time and time again in politics with the laughable idea that “women are too emotional”. I find that this is a problem because:

  1. It’s created a negative connotation of emotional women, and emotion in general. Therefore some politically motivated women may feel the need to behave as unemotionally as possible, which may end up making them less likable. Emotion is a normal part of being a human being and showing natural emotions should be celebrated, not derided.
  2. Given our current president, it’s hard to take this idea seriously.

On a much more serious note, completely fabricated “natural” differences between races were used as justification for evils such as slavery or the holocaust.

So yes, I believe there are clear and obvious dangers when trying to have discussions about these topics. I know that intellectually this is a bit of a cop out. It should be possible to responsibly discuss the differences between men and women without coming under fire. But another important question to ask is “Is a discussion of this topic productive?”. If the answer is that it’s actually a detrimental discussion to have, that could lead to harmful consequences, I believe that it is reasonable to discourage the entire line of thought, and to fight back against those who engage in this type of discussion.

There is almost no example you can look back upon and say “stereotyping these people really helped us”, while at the same time it’s clear that stereotyping people has led to some of the gravest injustice and evil throughout human history. I think it’s a mistake to ignore this.

 

Can we stop listening to liars please?

Recently James Damore, was fired for a memo he wrote while working at Google. I didn’t read it as I really don’t have time to read more pseudo science about the differences between men and women from random guys. The content of his memo is not the purpose of this blog.

The point of this blog is to expose James Damore is a liar. And not only is he a liar, but he’s the type of liar who lies for sport about extremely minor things.

On his resume he listed himself as a FIDE Master of chess, which is a lie. FIDE is the International governing body of chess, and FIDE Master is the third highest title you can achieve. Based on his easy to find playing history, James is not even remotely close to this title. I admit that he’s probably not the first person in history to lie on his resume, but what he did next is astounding.

He hosted an AMA on Reddit, which is short for “ask me anything”. In that AMA he received the following question:

reddit1

Since his lie was now exposed, he could have done a number of things. For example:

  1. He could have ignored the question completely. This would be a normal response given that there are hundreds of people asking him questions and he can’t reply to all of them. If he did this I would have just chalked the whole thing up to him lying on his resume.
  2. He could admit that he told a lie. (Liars don’t usually do this)

What did Damore do instead? He doubled down on his lie!

reddit2

His response includes even more lies and complete fabrications. Literally not a single thing in his reply makes any sense. I don’t want to bog this down with chess details, but 2300, not 2200, has always been the requirement get the FIDE Master title and you can easily check the records of any player online (you can download old rating lists here). There is no such thing as “FIDE membership elapsing”. Anyone who played even a single rated FIDE tournament can easily be looked up online.

Think hard about what type of person would do this. Think about the type of character this person would possess?  He’s decided consciously: “I lied about this and now someone is calling me out on it, let me think of a further lie that may satisfy them”.

This is the behavior of a lying narcissist who is used to getting whatever they want in life, and is also used to there being no consequences for his actions. Given the fact that no one seems to care that he’s a liar but instead is more concerned on his uneducated opinion of the differences between men and women, he’s being proven correct.

When someone is willing to tell a blatant and calculated lie about something so inconsequential, what are they going to do when they have the chance to lie about something with real importance? Of course they are going to lie, because that’s what liars do. They lie, and lie and lie again, if they think it will help them.

As a community we need to do better at this. People weren’t asking Richard Nixon for ethics advice or his various opinions on things after he resigned in disgrace. If you think about the people in your life that you respect and look up to, none of them will just lie to you about petty bullshit. But James decided he would. And because of that, his voice is no longer relevant. He has shown himself to have a low moral character and shouldn’t be taken seriously about anything.

I’m 38 Years Old and I’ve Never Had a Drink

I am sure this will be one of my most unpopular blog posts ever. Even though it’s widely agreed upon that alcohol tastes disgusting the first time you try it, almost everyone you know drinks, and drinks regularly. In fact some people would say that it’s impossible to truly have fun without drinking alcohol. I’ve never understood any of this.

They say that alcohol is an acquired taste, but why exactly is this a taste I want to acquire? Nearly everything about drinking seems illogical to me:

  • It’s one of the leading causes of death in the United States (1 in 4000 people die because of alcohol every year! That’s an insanely high number)
  • We all know at least one person who is generally pleasant but turns into a raving asshole as soon as they drink. Let’s be honest, we probably all know at least a dozen.
  • We almost all know at least one person who is dead because of alcohol (or drugs). I know plenty more than one. I mean these people are dead and if they never drank alcohol they would be alive. That’s a pretty big deal!

Now it’s obvious that alcohol has plenty of positives as well. People don’t do something for hundreds and even thousands of years, unless it feels good and makes them happy. And most drinkers you know are probably doing so responsibly and safely. But I also think that the very idea of abstaining from alcohol is absent in today’s culture, and it shouldn’t be. It’s just an absolute given that all kids will go from sober to drinkers once they get into college or turn 21.

Let me make one thing clear: I don’t think there is anything wrong with the fact that you drink alcohol. That’s not why I’m writing this. I’m writing this because there are a lot weird misconceptions around alcohol and how you “have to drink it”. For example:

  • People will think you’re weird if you don’t drink: No they won’t. If they do, and I haven’t encountered this yet, then they aren’t worth your time anyway. Anyone who seriously judges you because you don’t drink something, is a ridiculous human being.
  • You won’t be able to have fun if you don’t drink: Also not true. I went the first 20 years of my life scared to dance. I absolutely refused to do it. Eventually I started dancing and I had to learn to do it without drinking. I think that so many people start drinking at such a young age, that they never had to learn to do certain things while sober.
  • You won’t be able to have fun with your friends if they are drinking and you aren’t: Also not true. Drunk people can be fun, sober people can be fun, this isn’t really rocket science. I’ve had lots of amazing nights while being the only sober one in the group.

Why is it that I’ve never had alcohol? I honestly don’t know. I did have a few sips when I was fifteen and the fact that I didn’t like the taste probably helped. If it tasted like donuts I’d probably be too drunk right now to write this blog.

360-Glazed-Donut-750ML1

I also think I’ve always been pretty immune to peer pressure. The fact that everyone else does something almost never has any affect on me if it seems that it would be undesirable to do that thing.

Throughout my life, including my childhood and teenage years, I have seen the most vile and disgusting behavior from drunk people (but who hasn’t)? A man almost died in my bathroom from alcohol poisoning when I was 12 years old.

At the closing ceremony at the recent U.S. Chess Championship, in no surprise, a few people got unbelievably drunk. At this ceremony there are also some extremely young girls, who just played in the U.S. Women’s Chess Championship. One of them in particular was complaining to me about how drunk some people were, how they were behaving, and how it was scary. What’s weird is despite this normal reaction that most children have around very drunk people, society still finds a way to get them to start drinking. Young kids find drunk adults to be completely ridiculous.

Another secret benefit to never drinking: It will save you a ton of money over your lifetime. When I was 22 years old, living in Brooklyn and didn’t make a ton of money, I would hear adults with regular full time jobs complaining about how little money they had. Meanwhile I would see them routinely drop $50 in a single night on alcohol. To me, $50 was the amount of money you’d spend on a super special occasion. For them it was Tuesday night. You have to understand that for someone who didn’t drink at all, and therefore spent $0 on it, this seemed completely insane. I just wanted to yell at them “of course you have money problems, you spend all your money on alcohol and drugs!”

I had lots of friends who made a ton of money playing poker. I also had a lot of these same friends who lost all the money that they made. In nearly every case alcohol and drugs were involved.

I have fun pretty much all the time, so it’s hard to even imagine what personal benefit there could be to alcohol or drugs. But I’m sure that if you have a different personality than I do, there may be lots of reasons why you in particular should drink alcohol.  I’m not saying that no one should ever drink. What I’m saying is that more young people should think more critically and independently about their decision to try drinking in the first place.

I know a lot of kids read my blog, so I’m going to make this conclusion pretty clear for them:

You do not have to drink or do drugs to be popular. Literally no one important cares. You can go your entire life without ever trying it and you won’t be missing out on something important or special. If you do decide to drink, you’ll probably be completely fine too, but you increase the chance of some terrible alcohol related thing happening to you. 

Sexist Reading Lists

I’ve gotta be honest: I’ve enjoyed books by Tim Ferris, Ryan Holiday and all these other modern day “self help gurus” or “lifehackers”, which is what they’re being called by the Internet. I mainly enjoyed reading them because they fit into my way of living and so it was reaffirming, since the general tone of the books celebrated the type of life I’ve always lived.

But I noticed something while looking at a list of “reading recommendations” suggested by a CrossFit coach. This reading list was more of a spiritual reading list from a well known Track and Field coach, Stu McMillan. On this list he gives his “best books of 2016“, in which he starts by going into painstaking details of the four different types of reading. Then he lists a grand total of 31 books and it doesn’t take long to notice a pattern:

Every single one of these books was written by men

On the top of this page McMillan is shown with three of his athletes, all of whom are women, and many of the athletes he trains are women. Yet somehow of the 31 books he recommends, he can’t find a single book in 2016 that’s worth reading that was written by a woman. Think about how crazy that is: 31 to 0! These are not books about some kind of athletic endeavor that is heavily filled with men, they are mostly spiritual self help books. Apparently only men are capable of giving good spiritual advice.

After noticing this I wondered how common this was, so now I specifically check the male/female ratio on any of these lists. After seeing enough of them it’s become clear to me that whenever one of these “self help gurus” gives you one of these giant reading lists, I can tell you before looking at it that it’s going to be approximately 90% of stuff written by men.

Let’s start with Tim Ferris. This guy is a genius at self marketing and definitely has a lot of interesting things to say. But somehow on his podcast, he managed to have 27 male guests in a row? Admittedly he’s doing a better job of including women lately, but 27 in a row is pretty blatantly informing your audience that “men are just more interesting than women”.

Then if you take a look at his massive reading list, tell me how long it takes you to find five books written by women. Honestly I’m not even sure that there are five out of the hundreds of books on the list, but I gave up at some point.

Then you can check Ryan Holiday, who has written a best selling book on “stoicism”. I felt pretty confident before I looked that 90% of his recommendations would be books written by men, and of course I wasn’t surprised. When I did finally find books that he recommended which were written by women, here’s what he said:

“It was wonderful to read these two provocative books of essays by two incredibly wise and compassionate women.”

Try to find a description of any of his 95%+ book recommendations that were written by men, where he feels the need to immediately point out that the authors were men.

Let’s take a look at it the other way around. What about Oprah Winfrey? Oprah has a much larger fan base of women who follow her compared to someone like Ferris and Holiday. Does that mean she will present nearly all female authors? In her 51 recommended books in 2017, 27 were written by women, 24 were written by men, a fairly even distribution.

Do I think Tim Ferris and Ryan Holiday are terrible people? Of course not. In fact I can imagine myself mindlessly doing the same things in their situation, without even realizing it.

What does all of this mean? While this is something that struck me as incredible, it may be just a normal part of everyday life for women, one in which I never noticed until recently because it doesn’t affect me. I hope that the people I mentioned above, and anyone else who has interest in inspiring women, working with women, or simply demonstrating to men that they believe women have valuable things to contribute, works harder to fix these disparities in the future.

 

 

 

I’m 38 Years Old and I’ve Never Had a Job

I never have and never will have a job. Maybe it’s because I’m unbelievably lazy, or maybe because from the time I was young I put an extremely high value on my time, but ever since I graduated high school it was clear that I thought about things a lot differently than most people.

Before I go on I need to preface this by saying that I was in a much more fortunate position than most. My parents had plenty of money and were extremely supportive. If I was ever broke I knew I wouldn’t be begging for change on the streets. I could go on about the different types of privilege I have and have had, but that’s probably a completely separate blog, and I understand that not everyone will be able to follow my path.

Most people in high school have some vision of what they want to be. I had no vision. I never was once able to even imagine having a job. The idea of being a teacher, lawyer, or any person who had to show up somewhere in the morning and stay at that place all day never once entered my head. I’m not sure how my impressionable young brain managed to dodge the constant messages that society sends that tell you that “you are supposed to get a job and become a productive member of society”, but somehow it did. I literally never once, including when I was in college, envisioned myself doing anything in the professional world. I knew it was something people did, but the whole concept didn’t make sense to me.

For some reason I went to college for two years and even did pretty well, but eventually realized it was a waste of time and I dropped out to move to New York to “follow my dreams” and play chess. This was the one time in my life when I really had to worry about money. My favorite memory is winning a chess tournament for $200 and being so excited that I could finally afford to splurge and buy a $20 Carvel Ice Cream Cake. Eventually I got some jobs teaching chess, and I worked about 8 hours a week, making $40-$60 an hour (for a 19 year old in 1997, that was a lot of money). That was all I needed, so I had no desire or incentive to look for more lessons.

This last sentence is the key to everything. While most people who could be capable of earning that money would look for more and more opportunities to give chess lessons, I had absolutely no interest. I wanted to work a little bit, make a little bit of money, and then go on doing whatever the hell I wanted the rest of the time. I’ve noticed that this quality is extremely rare, and I feel pretty fortunate that it has been my approach in life.

One of the main goals of moving to New York was to work hard to win something called the “Samford Fellowship”. This is a Scholarship given to the “most promising young chessplayer in the United States”, in which they pay you a bunch of money (about $32,000 a year for two years) to just play chess all the time. Miraculously I won the Fellowship, and my lifestyle of never having a job was completely safe for the next two years.

Sometime while I had the Fellowship, when I should have been studying chess 24/7, I got into poker. I spent a decent amount of time playing, and while I wasn’t THAT good, I was building the skills that would put me ahead of the curve once Online Poker took off. I spent the first year or so of the Online Poker Boom being a small winner, but nothing too spectacular. However after a little bit something clicked, and it got to the point where I could basically print money.

Once again my philosophy reigned supreme. The large majority of poker players who I talked and played with spent maybe 6-12 hours per day, every day, playing poker. They wanted to make the absolute maximum amount of money. I on the other hand was very careful with how much I played. I allowed myself to work 2.5-3 hours per day, and this was pretty much my regular schedule throughout my entire poker career. Once those 3 hours hit, regardless of whether I was up a ton of money, or getting completely crushed, I would stop.

My poker friends warned me “Hey Greg, you realize this isn’t going to last forever, people are going to get better, the government might crack down, etc etc blah blah”. While I had my doubts, my friends were all completely right, as the days when I could make money with minimal effort eventually dissapeared. I could have easily made 3-4x as much money as I did by simply playing poker all the time during those golden years. However during that time I also used my free time to do the following:

  1. I created a weekly chess tournament in New York City called the New York Masters, which became well known around the world.
  2. I created the U.S. Chess League, which has recently morphed into the PRO Chess League, in which many of the top players in the world competed this year
  3. I created the U.S. Chess School, which has run 40 camps in ten years to some of the top talents in United States Chess

There are probably lots of other little things I did during that time that I would have never done if I just played poker all the time. Maybe I would have more money in that case, but would my life be better? I strongly suspect the answer is no, especially since I easily have more than enough money now. My life would honestly not change if I had twice as much money as I do now, nor would it change if I had half as much money as I do now.

A fundamental question I often asked myself was: “Would it be a big deal if you lost half your money overnight?”, meaning, would it drastically affect my lifestyle. The answer was usually “no”. When the answer to that question is no, and it would take me years of inactivity for that money to slowly dwindle away, it became hard for me to see why I should work more than I wanted to. In fact it required serious discipline on my part to work the 2.5-3 hours per day that I did, and I probably only went 2 years where I was able to stay consistent with that. Near the end of online poker I was working an hour here, taking a day or two off there, and so on. But none of this mattered because it was obvious that I didn’t need to work. I was also in an extremely enviable position because at any time I could just decide to become a professional chess teacher, charge pretty high rates, and get plenty of work. *Note to parents* If your kid is really good at chess and not that interested in school, you should realize that being a professional chess player is actually an amazing job, and that your extremely young child has more immediately marketable skills than nearly anyone her age.

Eventually Online Poker ended (meaning that it became very difficult to play in the United States), and I originally planned to keep playing by using some kind of VPN setup. I had already planned a month long trip to Europe (something that’s really easy to do when you work whenever you want to), and during my month of traveling I managed to score a few chess lessons back in Philadelphia (don’t worry, just about 4-6 hours worth per week) and decided that I’d just not play poker for a bit. I figured I could probably go 3-5 years without working at all, and be completely fine, so why worry about it.

Another key point needs to be made about the idea of “going 3-5 years without working at all”. I hear a lot of people talk about how one million dollars isn’t nearly enough to retire on. These people are all idiots. If you have a million dollars or even anywhere close to it, and you have no children, you are unbelievably filthy rich. The idea that you will literally never earn any more money for the rest of your life, simply because you are “retired” or don’t have a regular job, is ridiculous. You’ll make some money here and there, enough to keep you afloat as you sit around watching your million dollars in index funds grow slightly every year. In fact if you invest it all and it makes 4% per year, that’s $40,000 right there. Then if you do maybe a few part time odd jobs that you enjoy, you have easily made enough money, without waking up for someone else at 7 AM every single weekday. Even if you lose 5% of your money per year, you’re going to be fine for a very long time. Maybe once your net worth gets down to $200,000 or $300,000, you can start worrying about what to do, but unless you are extremely irresponsible or experience some catastrophe, that’s going to take a very very long time. In the meantime just chill out, have fun, travel, enjoy life, don’t throw all your money away like an idiot, and you probably will never really have to work again.

There are so many people I know who are so much richer than they realize. Yet they complain about their jobs, they go to work every single day, every year for five to ten years. These people could easily just quit right now, never work a regular job again for almost a decade, and be totally fine. In those five to ten years they will almost certainly come up with some less restrictive way to make a bit of money. If not then whatever, you had a nice five year vacation, and if you’re really desperate you can go back to work again.

The idea that a million dollars isn’t insanely rich is a disease that causes people to stay at jobs, doing things they don’t enjoy, because they constantly need more and more money. The endless obsession with having more and more never ends. When I got my bank account to $10,000 for the first time, I was like “wow, I’m probably never going to have to work again”. It turns out I was right.

 

 

 

The Top 10 Reasons You Should be Watching the PRO Chess League

In just a few days, on January 11, the biggest chess event that I’ve ever been a part of is starting on Chess.com.

The PRO Chess League is a worldwide team competition, played online between teams of four, with a rapid time control. It’s hard for me to even begin to describe what a spectacle this event is going to be, but I’m going to try my best.

Here are the top ten reasons you should be watching the PRO Chess League every week:

  1. We have 5 of the top 7 players in the World playing in the league! World Champion Magnus Carlsen (Norway Gnomes), #2 GM Fabiano Caruana (Montreal Chessbrahs), #4 GM Wesley So (St. Louis Arch Bishops) #5 GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Marseille Migraines), and #7 GM Hikaru Nakamura (Miami Champions), are all playing. Other big names are #13 GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (San Jose Hackers), #21 GM Leinier Dominguez Perez (Miami Champions) and #29 GM Li Chao (Montreal Chessbrahs). Overall we have 143 Grandmasters’s signed up on various teams thus far!
  2. There are 48 teams from 5 continents competing. We have 20 teams from the United States, 16 European teams, 4 Indian teams, 3 African teams, 2 Canadian teams, 2 South American teams and 2 Asian teams. You can see all of the teams and their rosters here.
  3. Every Wednesday throughout the January-March, we will have games running from around 11 AM ET all the way until midnight.
  4. We have four – 12 team divisions, each of which start at different times (approx 11 AM ET, 2:30PM ET, 6:30PM ET, 9:30PM ET). For each of these divisions there will be a separate dedicated live broadcast with high level commentary that covers all of the games. The hosts include stars such as GM Simon Williams, IM Anna Rudolf, GM Max Dlugy, IM Lawrence Trent, GM Max Dlugy, GM Irina Krush, GM Alex Yermolinsky, IM David Pruess, GM Jesse Kraai, GM Dejan Bojkov and WIM Fiona Steil-Antoni.
  5. The league follows a similar format as typical American sports leagues. There is a seven week regular season, after which half of the teams qualify for the playoffs. The playoffs are then single elimination contests until we reach the Championship Weekend. The Championship Weekend will take place on March 25/26, and will include the Final Four teams. The Semifinals are scheduled for Saturday March 25 and the Championship Match concludes on March 26. You can see the full schedule here.
  6. The league is going to be ultra competitive. We have instituted a rating cap of 2500 FIDE each match, so that there will be as many competitive teams as possible. I am looking at these rosters and while there are quite a few teams that stand out as being very strong, I have no idea how it’s going to play out as this is a brand new type of event that has never been seen in the history of chess.
  7. Each match uses an all play all format. This is super exciting because each team will bring four players to the match, and they will all play everyone on the other team. So instead of seeing someone like Magnus Carlsen or Wesley So playing the same top GMs every game, you’ll also get to see what happens when they play someone a bit lower rated. You’ll also see some lower ranked players getting the chance to score big upsets every week.
  8. Chess.com is taking Cheating and Fair Play very seriously. A lot of how the league is handling cheating is done behind the scenes and without my knowledge, but anyone who is playing especially well on Chess.com will be susceptible to increased supervision requirements such as requiring a proctor to oversee their games and to include a webcam for remote supervision from our staff. Note however that none of these requirements will be made public. Also Chess.com has one of the most robust anti-cheating teams I’ve ever seen, with high level statisticians and mathematicians working around the clock to detect anomalies.
  9. It’s great for local chess communities all over the world. It’s true that Magnus Carlsen is on a team, along with over a hundred other Grandmasters, but that’s not the only purpose of the PRO Chess League. We want to bring high level chess competition to places that may not have the high density of Grandmasters that are available in other cities. We love that we have teams that will be full of GM’s each week, and also teams that are filled with more local stars. Maybe those teams won’t be able to win it all, but it gives their local fans a chance to see their heroes go head to head against some of the best players in the world.
  10. This event is going to revolutionize chess. I’ve never felt that any event has the chance to change the game of chess more than this one. It’s going to be fun, action packed, and an all day spectacle every single week. When we created the rules for this league I asked myself “What is the most exciting possible event that we could create that would also encourage the top players in the world to play?”. I think we’ve come up with a good answer in the PRO Chess League. Everything about this event is built to grab your attention and never let it go.