October 15, 2008

What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?

The forum is the proper meeting place for all players who want to leave a message to the community of PlayChess.de. You are welcome to join the various categories, post a new message or reply to an existing one.
There is a link at the bottom of your home page (first column, third line) Forum discussions which opens the page with all recent posts, or older posts with a reply within the last three days.
Click a thread. Following the original message, you can find a "table of contents" with all associated messages. Most recent posts have a yellow icon.
You may visit the lobby where all categories (conferences) are mentioned. Unfortunately there is no link to the lobby from the "Reading new or recent messages" page (Hello Thomas, how do you do today?) but at the bottom of a specific thread you can find a drop down menu that redirects to the forum's lobby home page. You need to select a category in order to post a new message. There is a "post" link on top of the page.


From my experience I suggest that all messages should be short and compact so that they can be easily read. Avoid empty lines between paragraphs.
I also suggest that you click "enter" every second line, so that the readers do not have to scroll the page horizontally to read your message.
When you "reply with quote" to a message, make sure that you edit the original text, leaving only the significant point that you want to reply to. The "Message" box cuts lines short (only 50 characters) and your reply might become too long, which is sometimes uncomfortable for the reader to follow.

Posted by Michalis Kaloumenos at 09:06 AM | Comments (3)

October 11, 2008

The BanzayFish scandal - Scene III (The avatars of the tortoise)

I borrowed the title after a short essay by the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges about the Zeno’s paradox Achilles and the tortoise. Here in Playchess.de we observe a different kind of paradox that requires our attention. There are handles supposed to belong to strong female Dutch players who show a bad attitude against their opponents. Many years ago these handles belonged to different persons. So they say in their comments that accompany moves played. It is simple logic for me to conclude that some of their confessions are true, some are not, OR all of their confessions are lies. It is not logical to conclude that they always speak the truth. The truth is some times blinding. There are two methods to face a situation like this. Either one tries to figure out what is true and what is a lie, or believes (make-believe) what one likes as true. In other words “So it is (if you think so)” Così è (Se Vi Pare), Luigi Pirandello

If the script is recited in chronological order then Scene III should not follow Scene II. I want to provide some answers following the Blindness test of the previous article. I do not give the links to all of the games, but all underlined text opens a new window with the games's history.

Scene III

You still play the leading role, you play chess in Playchess.de and you read your opponent’s comments. You make a detailed investigation in the games' history of the handles anne_t, BanzayFish and ZorMaster.


This handle was created in March 2001 and joined an A class tournament. Its owner called herself Anne, preferred the French flag instead of the Dutch and gave a lot of information about herself to her opponents.
By September 2001, she moved from Delft to Leiden for medical studies. She wanted to become an orthopedic. From A class, Ann was soon denoted to C class. Suddenly her chess skills improved radically and a speedy race to the top of the charts begun.
Autumn 2002, one of her opponents knew that her real name is Arline.
Spring 2004, the young Ann or Arline, or Arline-Michelle was a 3rd year student in the above university. She informed an opponent that her father was an IM and she is of Russian origin.
January 2005, she said that she is the sister of BanzayFish.
Spring of 2005 a big change occured: Language became aggressive against opponents and identity details were confusing until they finally became clear: The handle user claimed a female FIDE title but you don’t know yet who she is. She preferred to refer to her national rating instead the ELO rating (given here approximately). You think that is logical for young players who play locally but very strange for a supposed WIM. Her name is still Anne but look at this e-mail address! Split personality? I don't think so!
By the end of 2006, there is a game where she claimed to be WIM Elisabeth (this is not the real name of course). The game is heavily commented and to your surprise it has a strange mistake. A part of this game took place during the Hoogeveen Essent open tournament of 2006. WIM Elisabeth (I mean anne_t, sorry) said that she had 1.5 points in 4 games (which is the correct score as of 23Oct2006) and later mentioned that her final score was 6/9 which is not correct. 4/9 is the correct score. Such a bad memory is not a characteristic for WIMs.
BTW, WIM Elisabeth was born in 1984. anne_t repeats so many times (of course before spring 2005) that she was born in 1982.


This handle was created in October 2001. BanzayFish is a killer fish who attacks his opponent and does not care if he dies by this attack. Its owner didn’t like to chat but always replied politely. Here he says that he is “brandnew” in chess. You check the ranking lists of 2001 and discover that WIM Marta (the player that BanzayFish is supposed to be today) had ELO 2193. You quickly discover that this user’s name is Maarten and leaves in Delft or Oegstgeest or Tilburg, but he is a student in Delft University! Airplane constructions!
May 2005, you discover a very instructive game. A member of Playchess.de suspected that BanzayFish, zmaster and anne_t have something in common! October 2005, an opponent complained for being accused for computer usage and mentioned that aadje also accused him.
June 2006, this is the first time that you observe a reference to WIM Marta. But this player here had played before with BanzayFish and remembered Maarten. He was surprised that his old pal is transformed to a WIM. Notice that BanzayFish does not react when called Ma(r)arten, and the opponent checks personal info after move 19!
You ask yourself why a strong chess player use a second hand nickname. Would you accept to play another person's handle. Of course not! She should have created a new account on her own. It’s free anyway! Then you understand that this was the old pal Maarten (if it was Maarten in the first place) who pretended to be WIM Marta.


This handle was created also in October 2001. The user’s name was also Anne.
Six months later, the user’s name was Marlieke.
October 2002, ZorMaster told her opponent that she is “in the Medical faculcy now and in time a Mdr.” You think that the user of this handle has a lot of common things with the user anne_t. But it is no way the well known Dutch player Kerstine who was 13 years old in 2002.
January 2003, you find another game with a lot of information. This time the ZorMaster had not finished school yet (last year though) and expected her university studies next year. You also discover that ZorMaster’s dad was an IM(2312 ELO), zor was a Turkish chess site and she played chess there. Two months later she defined herself among the Dutch top female juniors with 2135 ELO. A month later she became a WIM.
May 2003. She claims 2403 ELO. What a progress indeed! In this game you discover her titles. You check this information with your ChessBase software and you find that the championship references fits to WIM Elisabeth’s junior achievements.
October 2006, this is the first time that ZorMaster uses the real name of Kerstine. She gives a lot of information about herself to her opponents and talks a lot, in contrast of the character of the handle the previous years.
April 2007, and another player confesses to ZorMaster that zmaster accused him of cheating. ZorMaster defends zmaster. (Of course!)
ZorMaster knows everything about Kerstine. Suddenly you discover that she explains how information about Kerstine can be easily found: “google Kerstine and all the info u want to know is there.”

A final comment. There is another member who faced anne_t and suspected that he knows her with another chessname. Bravo PLUTARCO! With a handle like this you sure know all about Vitae Parallelae.

Posted by Michalis Kaloumenos at 12:03 AM | Comments (9)

October 04, 2008

The BanzayFish scandal - Scene II (Blindness)

You probably know that the final edition of a movie that reaches the theatres has nothing to do with the original script. There are always new ideas from the writer, the director and sometimes the actors that alter the content, the scene sequence and the characters. In our case, I must add Scene-II in the middle of Scene-I, after the end of the Internet game between you and BanzayFish and before the local club simul with Marta. There is no variation this time. You (only you) play the leading role.

Scene II

When the Internet game was over you were very angry, but your conscience instructed you to try and forget the incident, as if BanzayFish never addressed insults against you. But BanzayFish did not forget. She was angrier than you, insisted that you cheated her with computers, and decided to act further. She sent a message to you, using the messaging system of playchess.de, did not hesitate to append her e-mail address (very irritating, don't you think?), with a content of only two words: "pathetic guy". Then she made an Internet search and found your name as a member of your local chess club and posted a comment to your chess club web site, repeating her accusations. She signed the post as WIM Marta (full name of course).
You discovered the post a week later after a phone call from one of your friends. You reacted with honor. You knew that playchess.de games in pgn format include the comments that accompany players' moves and uploaded a collection of BanzayFish games to your own web site, so that anybody can see that BanzayFish (or WIM Marta as you believed) has a very dirty mouth. You posted the link answering Marta's accusations. Another week passed and Marta, still angry against you, posted another message, this time threatening that she is going to denounce your bad sportsmanship to the National Chess Federation of your country. An official complaint is really frightening, isn't it?
And you, my friend, instead of asking yourself why a strong and well known chess player pays so much attention to an Internet game, you bonded the handle BanzayFish and the real player WIM Marta. You never thought of the possibility that BanzayFish and the real WIM Marta are two totally different persons in no way connected to each other.


Allow me to start with the final conclusion. Our little virtual chess club is blind (totally blind, unforgivably blind) compared to the real world of OTB chess, where real chess players meet in open tournaments and play each other on real chessboards with real pieces, real clocks and real score sheets. They have the chance to meet, talk, have fun and drink a couple of beers together. What do we have? The distance that separates us is a thick dark colored curtain that does not allow us to have real contact with each other. Technology offers e-mail, instant messaging system and video conference but all these cannot be compared even with a simple handshake.
FM Sotiris Logothetis who more than his title is a GFM (this means Great Friend of Mine) doubted in the first place that WIM Marta uses the handle BanzayFish. This piece of information (with details that are not mentioned here) was the key that unlocked Thomas's own doubts and started a week long Internet research that has just ended.
I asked Sotiris what are the differences between Internet and OTB chess. He said that apart of game psychology (click for the must-read Anand’s interview) and a chance of post-analyzing a game together, the most important difference is responsibility. When you play OTB you are responsible of yourself. I don't need to explain that, right? Responsibility is not required to play chess from home. You may pretend to be your wildest fantasy and even make believe all opponents that you are somebody else.
When I realized what was going on in our site, I asked myself what kind of person could do such a thing. Suddenly I remembered what IM Nikos Kalesis told me one night: "I don’t believe that chess isolates people. On the contrary, chess attracts lonely people and offers them a chance of socialization!" (By the way, Nikos is the trainer of the Greek National chess team of blind people).
What kind of person is this BanzayFish? How many cues are left behind that may lead to a character profile? Fortunately too many. But when we played against BanzayFish and ZorMaster and other handles as well, we never considered the possibility that something goes wrong, because of this thick dark colored curtain that separates us. We must admit that we are blind. We don't remember what we can't see! Take the blindness test and then check your game history. Perhaps you can find some cues…

So, a cheater accused many players for cheating. Some of these players could be real cheaters and they really used computers. There are many cheaters out there, isn't it? Who cheated whom with a cheat-cheat here and a cheat-cheat there? Here a cheat, there a cheat, everywhere a cheat-cheat. Who deserves the best cheater Academy award? "And cheaters, wherever you are out there…" I hail you with the same three little English words that Al Pacino used in the crowded Baird school auditorium, in the final scene of the film "Scent of a woman". (Remember that the hero Frank Slade was a blind person)

Blindness test

Memory may cure blindness. One of those handles was “anne_t”. I remembered that I played against her 5 years ago and I annotated our game. Click here for the annotation. What do you observe? What goes wrong here? You don’t have to read the whole annotation. You don’t even have to scroll down the page. The critical information lies in the comment after 2.Nc3

Well, any comments? Please, no sharp language, no real Dutch names.

Posted by Michalis Kaloumenos at 06:12 PM | Comments (13)

October 01, 2008

The BanzayFish scandal - Scene I (Introduction)

I like fiction and drama, I enjoy a good thriller movie (especially when gun fighting is limited), I have spent a lot of hours playing Sherlock Holmes last week, I got inspired from your comments to the previous article I wrote and I decided to recite you the story of BanzayFish as if it is a movie script. My files are overloaded with e-mails and links and all little things that I discovered and my mind is full of emotions and ideas mixed with sarcasm (?!). I am not going to reveal everything I know right from the beginning. Be patient. You waited for 12 years before you see another World Championship Match; I am not going to torture you for such a long time.
Here we go!

The storyboard

We have a correspondence chess site where players use nicknames to login. Users have a choice either to keep their personal data hidden or to show to the other members their name and chess title, if any. Now this handle, BanzayFish as well as another handle, ZorMaster, do not hide their data. The first one belongs to a strong titled woman player, who for the purposes of the script has the name Marta, the other one belongs to a young lady, numero uno in her category whom we may call Kerstine.
It is important to distinguish between the handles and real persons. We all know that, don’t we? The parents who have young children and believe that their children are mature enough to use Internet without supervision, always instruct them not to trust their e-friends, because these virtual friends might not be what they say they are. You get the picture, right? Why do you neglect to follow this advice when you play chess here in Playchess.de, huh?
This is the reason why I have reserved the leading role of my scenario for you, pour vous, für Sie, per voi, para usted, para você, voor joo …

Scene I

You played an Internet game against BanzayFish, you knew that Marta was a very strong player, it is a challenge to play known and strong players, you read theory and game bases again and again so that you get out of the opening phase with an equal position. Then in move 23, she accompanied her move with an insult and an accusation that you cheat with a computer. Her words were so sharp that you got angry, you sent a complaint to Thomas but you received no reply (you should know that Thomas works eight days a week, because he has a family to feed and a greedy server that sucks all his money). You were angry for a week, then you calmed down and then…
Your local chess club invited Marta for a theory seminar and a simul with all club members. (I am going to read your thoughts in the comment section, so I jump directly to the big event.)
You meet Marta for the first time. After the appropriate introduction of the special guest the seminar begins. You are impressed. She speaks slowly, she expresses with clarity and you didn’t miss her thoughts even when she dived deeply into a position without moving the pieces on the big chessboard behind her. She was gentle and answered all the questions from the audience, even the more stupid ones.
During the simul you can’t take your eyes off her. As she walks from board to board you observe her pose, her face, her look, and at the same time you think of the insults she addressed to you during your Internet game. You followed the same opening but she chose a different variation. You wanted to remind her of your virtual match but you didn’t try. When the simul was over, you had a chance to speak to her, but in the end you hesitated. You returned home with doubts and questions left unanswered.

Scene I – variation

Now the leading character is not you, but him. (I prefer a male character for the purpose of the variation) He is a young man, his parents were divorced when he was fourteen, he recently failed a university exam or his employer asked him impolitely to be more productive, he is eager to conquer the world and feels cheated because the struggle is harder than he thought. Well, this lad is a very good chess player although not in a national level. He always returns to chess and finds happiness, because chess is the only activity that keeps his mind in discipline and harmony, so he played chess almost everywhere, (the park, local club, Internet) and anytime (work breaks, afternoon, before he goes to bed). Now he is the one who played a game against BanzayFish and faced the sharp insults, he also played against Marta at the local club’s simul exhibition. He made the same observation as you did, but he could not control his anger during the game. Perhaps earlier he visited a coffee shop (sorry, in my mind the story takes place somewhere in the Netherlands) and that was the main reason for his confusion. When everything was over he approached her and then…
You understand that he need not do something crazy to get busted and find himself in an uncomfortable situation in front of an impatient police officer who asks and asks and asks. Just addressing to her the same insults that he read one night on his computer screen is enough to get him into trouble.
Ask yourselves what happened when Marta denied that she plays Internet chess, that she ever e-met him, that she wrote such dirty words to him?

Do you get the picture?

This is the beginning of “the BanzayFish scandal”. Just the beginning…

Many thanks to the playchess.de member who inspired Scene I :-)

Posted by Michalis Kaloumenos at 11:04 PM | Comments (3)

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