Sunday, 6 November 2016

Hundreds of millions online

Hey, what a surprise! As mentioned in comments yesterday, the Financial Times have been talking to Ilya Merenzon.

And what has Ilya Merenzon told them?

Same nonsense Ilya Merenzon usually tells people.

Except this time, the hundreds of millions of us are online.

How does he get away with it?

I guess he gets away with it because the journalists he talks to don't know any better. (Though you'd think they ought to ask themselves, you know, hundreds of millions? Really?)

But shouldn't writers for the Financial Times know better? Isn't knowing better what the Financial Times is for?

Apparently not. It's not the first time.

[Thanks to Matt Fletcher]


Anonymous said...


The contest consists of 12 games, with every move avidly followed and analyzed by a global audience of hundreds of millions of chess fans.

Anonymous said...

FIDE Minutes from Baku should be published tomorrow (Tuesday), 8 weeks after close of meeting. Maybe they will say more about any grilling Merenzon got about Agon's failures.

Anonymous said...

Hurray for Yahoo! ?

They only say "millions"...

Organizers of the World Chess Championship sued on Monday to block a trio of website operators from distributing footage of the Nov. 11-30 match in New York, which is expected to draw millions of online viewers.

Though their interposition that move data is "footage" or "streaming" is a bit rich. No idea why an injunction would be granted, as even if there is a case to be made, it's hard to see how the plaintiff's interests would be irremediably harmed, while OTOH there would almost certainly be harm to the defendants from an injunction (if they ended victorious).

Anonymous said...

Reuters update has comments from a defendant.

It seems to get the details more correct.

ejh said...

Heh, Daniel Freeman. Personally, wouldn't be the site I would choose to defend against accusations of using other people's content.

Anonymous said...

Right on schedule, FIDE Minutes have appeared.

The Agon presentation is #94.

Again it's a flashy presentation, with lower amount of substance.

Probably Kramnik having a "National Sponsor" for GP is notable.

The Christmas market (starting Nov 15) in the Seaport is supposed to be a draw for FIDE WC. How many people pay $75 as walk-ups though?

Starting on page 62 it actually(!) addresses market size!

Big 5 have 340000 paying subscribers (and of course Agon looks to steal them...), and there are (DRUM ROLL PLEASE) 4.4 million loyal followers of top chess events!

Anonymous said...

Other Annex notes:

Annex 65 (Women's Commission), Margaret Murphy notes that all-girl classes do well in her experience. As was predicted many moons ago in different guises (US civil rights era), "segregation" (if you want to call it that) will come back at the request of those who its removal was supposed to benefit. Though, I'm not sure that "all-boy" classes will be allowed to exist (though again some educators will anecdotally declare their superiority).

Technical Commission (67): was 3-2-1 scoring (for win-draw-loss in 3.2) really suggested for school events?! It's always hard to parse modern thinking, but I'd guess giving players a point even for losing is some sort of esteem builder?

Disabled Commission (70) asks for allowances with respect to anti-cheating rules (no mention of the case of the blind player in Norway, though it's not exactly relevant).

The Events Commission has been debating a dress code since 2013, but now its the Marketing Group (72) that mentions it in passing. The necessity of a new and modern website for FIDE was presented by Mr. Geoffrey Borg, who said that this is a priority for the next future. Related to chess image, an appropriate dress code in major chess events would be helpful in delivering attractive video content.

FIDE Online Arena (73) is up to 3959 people with one rated game over 3 years, and 2279 current payers. Italy is actually #1, India #2 and USA #3 in numbers. England makes the top 10 list.

Chess in Schools (74) was unhappy about the slashed budget. They also replaced commission members who "have done nothing" since Tromso.

Anonymous said...

The Pairings Commission (75) wants to reduce the acceptable error ratio to 0.2%?! Excuse me, why isn't the acceptable error rate essentially zero?

The Qualification Commission (78) considers stripping any title for any cheating, but this was not approved. The "Nigalidze loophole" (that the GA needed to approve QC changes regarding revocation, but didn't due to lack of quorum in Tromso) appears to be fixed, though it's not totally clear. It seems that transgender players are not "eligible to play in any event restricted to either sex", though FIDE Statutes explicitly prohibit men's only events already.

Medical Commission (79) gives the explanation of why no doping tests at Moscow Candidates - accredited labs had been suspended.

Anti-Cheating (80) specifically noted that the wording of Olympiad rules were not drafted by them. Head of Ethics expressed his opinion for harsher sentences. Complaints about lack of time/money (no meetings in 16 months, no web tool) also were made.

Verification (82) kicked the ball around in circles, concluding to look at things further (I think). Treasurer complained about lack of his own authority, and voting blocs on PB.

Social Action (84) mentioned dementia and Alzheimer's (low interest myself, but maybe blog readers care). Social Projects (83) had a report about prison chess experiences.

Rules (86) has added some anti-Nakamura type rules to touching pieces (4.2.2) and 2-handed castling (7.7).

Journalists (89) pondered about anti-cheating on their work, and had some ideas about marketing, etc.

Rivello continues to try to revamp FIDE by the Constitutional Commission (90), and they also had to decide the Croatian delegate. They also addressed the late inclusion of Wilkinson's (Jamaica) motion to remove the FIDE president. The kerfuffle with the lack of Anti-Cheating being a Commission in Tromso continues to be pain also (including saying the "Guidelines" should be removed from FIDE website, and removed from the Handbook). In the final section, the competence of the PB to make various rules changes was mentioned.

Anonymous said...

Live ratings (92) will be "revolutionary" like so many other things in FIDE.

As for the actual Minutes, Kirsan again says that Chess will/should be in the Olympics, talked about chess in schools, and his USA difficulties. Then Wilkinson (Jamaica) made his motion, and numerous Kirsan supporters spoke up (probably the only reason Makro allowed the intervention to begin with). Kirsan's own defense invoked Richard Gere and Chuck Norris. He did mention his SportAccord resignation (actually IMSA). Freeman noted the bank freezing (mentioned in first Americas continental report, though Wilkinson seemed unaware of it in the second report), and this was due to Kirsan's status. Makro talked about solidarity, blah blah. More debate occurred about whether the debate should be taking place, but Makro allowed it.

Rivello (Constitutional) eventually ended the discussion with his statutory comments regarding the agenda. Strange, as said that Strydom (Ethics) did this. IMO, Rivello is the more likely.

Pein complained about Chess in Schools funding, and said FIDE is not functioning properly. Danailov asked about CAS costs and ITWebia (Mastrokoukos), and the answer to the latter is puzzling (he cost twice as much when employed by FIDE?). All the usual suspects jumped in to defend Mastrokoukos. MindGames/SportAccord were considered to be dropped (Gelfer), as they are in the red on net. A debate about what Danailov owes to FIDE over CAS costs then ensued, with Makro again baiting Danailov about Bulgarian troubles.

The Siegel proposal was completely changed from its first instance (remove 25000 euro limit) to its final version (increase to 30000 it seems).

The Kosovo asterisk caused some debate (unsure why, but I guess Rio didn't have it). Rivello explained to Pein that this was a sort of risk-avoidance (to avoid conflicts) by many international organizations.

ASEAN/Leong caused a bit of debate, with his place on the ASEAN Ethics commission being against the FIDE Ethics decision (Kasparov/Leong) I think. No idea how his CAS appeal is going.

Live ratings ( caused more debate than the internal meeting did (where everyone liked it, of course). More testing will be done.

Day 2: Makro introduces a statement that attending GA is first priority for delegates, and allowances will be withheld if they do not show up.

Merenzon (4.2) reports. VIP area in NY will be big revenue stream. Says that things worked "fine" in Moscow, though Karjakin complained about noise from the VIP box parties there. Claims that "US Southern Court" agrees with them over move transmission, and that they worked with a "top US law firm" (their original firm was Russian?). Says Carlsen is a huge supported of pay-model, and chess will never go back to free. More people play chess than golf or tennis (in USA). Unclear how participation implies spectator interest... Bond (Canada) brought up Moscow noise, and Pein about move transmission. Merenzon says even in Russia they will definitely have a judgment against 3 websites and will send all the legal work to everyone that is in the Congress, so that they can use the same legal framework. Claims that sponsors are "confirmed" for GP (again Pein inquiry), but no details as usual. Says Berlin was phenomenonal in publicity (though it lost money), and getting chess on TV (only in Norway?) was great. Ncube returned to move transmission, comparing to football, Merenzon essentially said some nonsense about lawyers. Azmai was critical about GP plans.

Anonymous said...

Gelfer got a little feedback about the question of whether the ACC Guidelines should be just scrapped (as Rivello suggests, due to lack of quorum) and start anew, or use them as, well, guidelines... Both with CONS and ACC discussions. This was actually notable to me, as before it seemed that Makro and everyone wanted to just call the Guidelines "Regulations" and use them (during the Sandu affair IIRC)?

Ethics was the next biggie, with the Bulgarian situation (refusal to accept Ethics regarding Georgiev). Strydom seems to have followed a specific protocol to ensure that Danailov could not gripe that Ethics was enforcing its own decisions without the GA.

Hou Yifan will be a World Cup presidential nominee. On Iran: Mr. Makropoulos advised that Tehran was interested in bidding and recommended that it be awarded to Tehran should the offer be acceptable. The General Assembly awarded the organizati on of the Women’s World Championship to Tehran, Iran, February 2017, provided the terms of the offer are acceptable.

5.20.16, FIDE extended the deadline for Agon to find a Blitz/Rapid organizer for 2017.

Filatov was rejected. The Chinese made a proposal (unseen before?) to change the Women's cycle. The GA ratified the EB decision to authorize the PB to address it. (Yeah, bureaucracy!)

Azmai gripes about the Cadet/Youth split (6.3.2), and says FIDE is losing money (relatively).

Interesting discussion on 6.4.3 (World Senior), Makro saying that only organizing *countries* are important, and not the individual persons.

Legal matters (9.4), Danailov lost his case at CAS rather easily, but won't pay. The Leong case seems to be infinitely delayed in the final decision (June 26 was the hearing IIRC).

Po said...

There are two (2) annexes missing, Annex 87 and 88.

87. Ethics Commission report to General Assembly.
88. Minutes of WCOC.

Given their importance, this is a definite omission.

Po said...

Annex 2A: The World Rapid and Blitz Championship share of the prize fund was not collected. The Presidential Board accepted the explanation of the sponsor who informed us that they made a
substantial loss on the event. However, they want to organize a further edition and have agreed
to pay at that time their obligation of the 2015 event as well.

What? Then why is Agon having problems finding a 2017 sponsor for this event? It seems this "explanation" is rather nonsensical. If organizers lose money they don't have to pay FIDE? If they promise to hold another event and pay then??!

Also, is the 525000 budgeted euros under "Sponsorship" for 2017 the Agon money (500K euros/year and 5% increase) that is owed starting on March 31? I wouldn't count on that, and neither with 125K for "Special Projects" for that matter.

The expectation of 300K euros for WC2016 seems low on the face of it, considering that the Agon deal (3.2) explicitly said a 2 million minimum (listed at 25% overage, though 20% in the WCC regs with two 5% extras) and Merenzon had already said it was secured back in 2015. But maybe reality is a better model for the Treasurer, and he split the difference between the ostensible 500K and the likely reality of closer to 200K.

With regard to Chess in Schools, it is actually being reduced from 80K to 40K (2016) to 28K (2017). Not sure what Pein was talking about.

Po said...

Another major point (4.2 in Minutes) is this.

Mr. Makropoulos informed the General Assembly that as appeared in the EB minutes, he has sent a letter where he was asking Agon to establish a corporate structure in one of the following jurisdictions: European Union, United Kingdom, United States or Canada. Because of issues of transparency FIDE would have preferred if they have established this corporate structure in one of these areas. His letter has been approved. Mr. Merenzon said in the next few months they will register Agon in United Kingdom and all financial and ownership details about the company will be public.

A. said...

For rapid/blitz, FIDE/Agon have "interested organizers" who appear eager to follow up on what was a substantial losing proposition the first time, and didn't pay their debts that time around? They sure can pick them...

On Chess In Schools, has it ever been clarified why this is an international (FIDE) expense rather than a national one? Certainly there is some role for a larger body, but most impact will be local. It seems to me like it has turned into a political football where the interested parties are always trying to get someone else to underwrite their initiatives.

Pretty funny IMO that FIDE demands Agon be in EU/USA/UK/Canada, when they themselves are seated in Switzerland (while Agon's main deals have been with the non-EU Norway)...

As for the VR plans: The cameras will be placed between the players [so the match could be seen through the player’s eyes]. Hopefully this isn't literally true?! The typo of "owe the live broadcast" (wanting "own") is also funny, as is "paper view" instead of pay-per-view.

And again the Merenzon magic wishing facility: 5 sponsors for GP up to now, expect (all) 24 as soon as cities are announced. And Makro has another revolution afoot for chess: He said that Agon has many bright ideas, in the last five months they are working very hard and also FIDE is working with them for no money, they are helping them a lot and he believes that together they are heading in the right direction. If they can succeed to bring in the market there will be revolution in chess. On the other hand, Makro himself was very sceptical about GP ideas, but figured they could always fall back on the old structure.

So: the GA *unanimously* accepted the recommendation of Ethics Commission in respect of the Bulgarian Federation. So even Danailov didn't object?

The FIDE Women's GP blurb (5.20.6) fails to mention that a fifth event (Khanty in Nov) has been added, in lieu of the delayed WWC knockout. The World Team (5.20.10/13) in 2017 has now been moved to June, where instead of the GP it now conflicts with GCT and Norway Chess.

A reporting glitch: was Annex 61 approved (Ecuador changes zones) or not?

Another important one (9.1): The Chinese Organisers have not paid the players after the last IMSA Mind Games. It was explained to the organizer, who is a high official in SportAccord, and to the Chinese Chess Association that this is a big embarrassment but Mr. Borg is still yet to push for the money to be received. Another poor choice of friends...

Exetron said...

"1972 Fischer–Spassky Match - the TV moment
The Match was the quintessence of the Cold War, the struggle between the West and the East. Hence the Match captivated the world and became not only one of the key sporting events of the century. It was also one of the top TV moments ever."

That's from the Agon presentation. Anyone have any actual viewer numbers? Has it ever been rebroadcast (as with many other "great TV moments" sporting or otherwise), or do shots from it appear in media today? In some ways, the most famous game to popular culture is Game 3 (Fischer's win after the default), which was played in the ping-pong room away from the cameras.

Is "Virtual Reality" technology really "wide-spread" as the "new reality" for 2016 proclaims? And is "All TV" really moving toward pay-per-view (I could believe the great majority, but *all*)?

The loyal followers at 4.4 million. Well, isn't tennis or golf at least 10x this (and another 10x beyond that for the big events), and perhaps snooker or darts is a closer comparison?

All in all, Merenzon just doesn't understand the *actual* chess market IMO. He thinks it's a lot like him, when in reality, the chess economy is still more oriented to old-fashioned books (and newer DVDs), and live chess just isn't that saleable.

Suppose that he gets his injunction. Is the average chess24 or chessgames user going to say: "Oh well, I guess I'll have to plop out $15 to get the game commentary live?" More likely, they will just watch a recap afterwards (and maybe follow the moves on some widget during the game).

Anonymous said...

There is also this is Asian report (Annex 64): 5. Review of Competition Regulations
Mr. Hisham Al-Taher proposed that players should wear national uniforms and that players not in uniform cannot play. Continental Assembly supported the proposal to be incorporated in the regulations as a dress code.

AngusF said...

Michael Stanton of EG Capital Advisors at the Press Conference for the 2016 World Championship (about 50 minutes in, answering a question on why his company is providing sponsorship):
"There are 600 million people in the world who currently play chess and... FIDE is working very hard to try to increase that number to 1 billion."

Ocho said...

Chess in Media note (sorry if this is wrong place):

It's about interstate sales tax on Internet purchases in USA.

Another Move in the Marketplace Fairness Chess Game (June 22, 2016)

An Internet retailer has filed suit against the State of Alabama, claiming its new rule requiring that all retailers selling more than $250,000 in goods annually must collect sales tax...

Anonymous said...

Here is a link to the Agon case. If you get a PACER account, I think you get 150 free pages for every 3 months.,_Inc_et_al_v_Chessgames_Services_LLC_et_al

They managed to have a typographical error, deficient pleading, the wrong county listed, faulty issuance of summons, ...

This is the first time I have heard of the parent "Cymanco Services Limited" of World Chess Events Limited.

Anonymous said...

Seems that Merenzon's imaginary sponsors that were to be announced 3 weeks before the event have not appeared.

AngusF said...

Er, further to my earlier post, the video has changed and Michael Stanton is now speaking from 31 minutes in.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the IMSA non-payment (9.1), Nigel was tweeting about this in June.

3 months after the IMSA event in Huai'an, the players have not been paid. Another financial scandal for IMSA & FIDE President @Ilyumzhinov

Anonymous said...

Unclear if there will be a Presidential Board meeting in NYC, given that Ilyumzhinov and seemingly Makro are not around (though maybe Gelfer just speaks English better for all I know).

Anonymous said...

Upped the ante!!

Billions to tune in for match-up between baby-faced chess giants

The article only quotes Merenzon (of Agony) on the 600 million.

And here are your expectations:
Tens of millions of fans are expected to follow live online, free of charge through the website and affiliate partners.

Anonymous said...

Seems to have eaten the post about "Billions" of chess fans as spam. Maybe it's an intelligent service?

Anonymous said...

Oh wait, sorry, I posted that in the other thread, of course.

ejh said...

No, it was in fact the spam filter!

Anonymous said...

Now if Google would report that "Trompowsky Attack" was it's most popular search...

Anonymous said...

Cymanco, the parent of World Chess, is listed in the Panama Papers as being owned by European Food Supplies Corporation, which is Ukraine based.

Laar said...

Agon's lawyer previously wrote an opinion where he argues that time-sensitivity is not that important in the hot news doctrine, and that free-riding is the ultimate test.

There is no particular reason why free-riding needs to be limited to time-sensitive information, other than the historical happenstance that that was one of the features of the INS facts.

As far as timing goes, the real requirement seems to be that the copyist grabbed the material at the point where the profit is to be reaped. I can think of various situations in which that test would be met under other than real-time dissemination conditions.

Whereas in the instant case, he tried to emphasize that Agon's "rights" ended when the game terminated (is this when the profit can no longer be reaped?). On the other hand, in the Barclays/Fly case there actually was copyrighted material at stake (being used as "fair use" in reporting), while I don't think that is the argument here.

Anonymous said...

Chessdom (who is an Agon affiliate) agrees, more than a billion expected!

The 12 round match will take place between 11-30 November and is expected to attract a global online and TV audience of more than 1 billion fans.

Laar said...

More spam eating. It took my post about Agon's lawyer's past with hot news. Maybe because of a PDF link?

ejh said...

Fished out now. I'm afraid I have no idea why it does that!

Anonymous said...

Cymanco, the parent of World Chess, is listed in the Panama Papers as being owned by European Food Supplies Corporation, which is Ukraine based.

That may well be a red herring. The context I seem to get for Cymanco is that it's a "rent a Company Secretary" organisation. It's based in Cyprus and owned, it would appear, by Ukrainians.

The real revelation would be if it was possible to show that Agon was owned or financed by Kirsan or that he was a beneficiary in some manner.

Trying to take legal action in American courts does at least flush out some of these ownership and control issues.


Laar said...

As stated in the FIDE Minutes (4.2), they have actually requested Agon to take up a corporate presence in a more transparent location (UK/EU/USA/Canada): Mr. Merenzon said in the next few months they will register Agon in United Kingdom and all financial and ownership details about the company will be public.

Regarding chess fandom size, Susan Polgar tweets after Game 3: The #CarlsenKarjakin global interest is remarkable. I have over 701,000 twitter impressions in past 24 hrs following the twitter commentary!

ejh said...

Ha, "impressions".

NewMath said...

Susan Polgar ‏@SusanPolgar 4h 4 hours ago Missouri, USA

Huge interest #CarlsenKarjakin gm4:
780+K twitter impression + 450+K Facebook post reach + = 1.5+ mil

Amazing she reaches only about 0.25% of worldwide chess fans.

Name/URL said...

More spam eating. Maybe because the text was in Russian? It quoted Agon on 1.8 billion English speakers knowing about the match because of the media.

ejh said...

It wasn't in spam

Name/URL said...

OK, I tracked it down again.

"According to the Agon, to date, more than 1.8 billion English-speaking people know about the game Carlsen-Karjakin from the media."

Agon sued for $4.5 million in the injunction, which at $15 a go, means they think chess24 and chessgames have 300K watching?!