Reports | January 02, 2010 21:47

Christmas Trivia Quiz - Comments, answers & winners

On December 24, 25 and 26 we were running our Big ChessVibes Christmas 2009 Trivia Quiz. Today we give you all answers to the thirty questions. And we have three winners!

As we expected, the trivia quiz wasn't easy. In a lot of cases, the answers couldn't be found online, or only after spending quite some time surfing the internet. The winning team at René Olthof's 50th birthday party scored about 70%, but because our readers had more than three days to collect the answers, it's no surprise that some of them did better than that. According to the jury the winners are:

Prize giving

NIC Yearbook NIC Magazine ICC
The first prize, a 1-year subscription to New in Chess Yearbook, was won by Joseph Dellaposta from Australia, who scored 92.6%. The second prize: 1-year subscription to New in Chess Magazine, was won by Christian Sánchez from Argentina, who scored 91.8% The third prize, a 1-year subscription to Internet Chess Club (ICC), was won by Jurgen Looijestijn from The Netherlands, who scored 89.4%.

Congratulations to the winners!

Comments from participants

    "The quiz is challenging and time consuming."

    "Thank you and Rene Olthof for a fun contest. I am afraid I don't know much about music albums."

    "I really enjoyed the quiz, with some answers being very hard to find (and some even impossible for me, seeing that I left some blanks...). Hope you will continue this quiz for the following years to come!"

    "Great job on this one - I liked the olympiad logo question especially. Devilishly hard until you find a research strategy. Keep up the good work in 2010!"

    "What a fine quiz bringing me hours of joy. Searching the internet and looking up things in my chess library broadened my knowledge of the chess world and trivia. However you totally spoiled my wife's Christmas as I was only busy solving the quiz and not paying attention to her or our kids."

    "It was a wonderful christmas and enjoyed a great deal with such spicy tough questions."

    The Big Christmas 2009 Trivia Quiz - All questions & answers

    1. In this quiz we call Wilhelm Steinitz the first World Champion, and Viswanathan Anand the sixteenth. We don't count the FIDE World Champions Khalifman, Ponomariov and Kasimdzhanov.
    1A Which number has Garry Kasparov? - Number 13
    1B How many World Champions are still alive? - Seven
    1C True or not true: every deceased World Champion won the last game he played? - Not true

    2. Of all chess players, Paul Keres beat the most World Champions. How many did he beat? - Nine - from Capablanca to Fischer

    3. Where were they born? - Answers:

    Pal Benkö Amiens (FRA)
    Robert Fischer Chicago (USA)
    Emanuel Lasker Barlinek (POL)
    Alisa Maric New York (USA)
    Cecil Purdy Port Said (EGY)
    Yasser Seirawan Damascus (SYR)
    Wilhelm Steinitz Prague (CZE)
    Jan Timman Amsterdam (NED)
    William Watson Bagdad (IRQ)
    Natalia Zhukova Dresden (GER)

    4. This questions is about five important chess cities: Dortmund, Hastings, Linares, Reggio Emilia and Beverwijk/Wijk aan Zee.
    4A The five winners of the first editions of these tournaments are mentioned, but which winner belongs to which tournament? Philip Bakker - Beverwijk/Wijk aan Zee, Jaan Eslon - Linares, Otto Marthaler - Reggio Emilia, Fritz Sämisch - Dortmund, Frederick Yates - Hastings.
    4B Hastings is traditionally held in the winter, but in 1895, 1919, 1922 and 1995 there was a summer edition. Name three of the four winners. The four names are Pillsbury (1895), Capablanca (1919), Alekhine (1922), Atalik (1995)

    True or not true?
    4C Boris Spassky won in Dortmund at least once - False
    4D Boris Spassky won in Hastings at least once - True
    4E Boris Spassky won in Linares at least once - True
    4F Boris Spassky won in Reggio Emilia at least once - False
    4G Boris Spassky won in Beverwijk/Wijk aan Zee at least once - True

    5. Vladimir Kramnik played a total of eight matches in different World Championship cycles.
    5A Name his opponents.
    1. Yudasin (Wijk aan Zee) 4.5-2.5
    2. Kamsky (New York) 1.5-4.5
    3. Gelfand (Sanghi Nagar) 3.5-4.5
    4. Shirov (Cazorla) 3.5-5.5
    5. Kasparov (London) 8.5-6.5
    6. Leko (Brissago) 7-7
    7. Topalov (Elista) 6-6
    8. Anand (Bonn) 4.5-6.5

    5B If we count only the classical games (not rapid or blitz), what would be his score? (How many matches did he win, if only classical games would count, how many did he lose and how many ended in a tie?)
    Won 2
    Tie 2
    Lost 4

    6. Of which Chess Olympiads are the following logos?

    6A - Dubai 1986 6B - Dubrovnik 1950
    6C - Havana 1966 6D - Manila 1992
    6E - Moscow 1994 6F - Thessaloniki 1984 / 1988
    6G - Yerevan 1996 6H - Buenos Aires 1978

    7. A question about the FIDE rating list, invented by Hungarian Professor Arpad Elo.
    7A Six players have occupied the number one spot. Name them all.
    1: Fischer (1970)
    2: Karpov (1976)
    3: Kasparov (1984)
    4: Kramnik (1996) ex aequo
    5: Topalov (2006)
    6: Anand (2007)

    (In the meantime we have a 7th player, Magnus Carlsen!)

    7B Which five players have had, at least once, a published rating of over 2800? Kasparov, Kramnik, Anand, Topalov, Carlsen
    7C Which two Dutch grandmasters were ever in the top 10? Timman and Van Wely

    8. What do the following artists have in common?

    [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"199","attributes":{"class":"media-image","typeof":"foaf:Image","height":"188","width":"250","style":""}}]] [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"200","attributes":{"class":"media-image","typeof":"foaf:Image","height":"188","width":"250","style":""}}]]
    Muddy Waters Howlin' Wolf
    [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"201","attributes":{"class":"media-image","typeof":"foaf:Image","height":"188","width":"250","style":""}}]] [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"202","attributes":{"class":"media-image","typeof":"foaf:Image","height":"188","width":"250","style":""}}]]
    Chuck Berry Bo Diddley

    Chess Records / The Chess Box

    9A Two of the sixteen World Champions never played at an Olympiad. Name them. Steinitz and Lasker
    9B Reigning World Champions have lost only 9 games out of a total of 23 appearances ever by a reigning World Champion at an Olympiad. Four World Champions lost two - name all four. Alekhine, Euwe, Botvinnik and Kasparov

    10A Openings and variations are often named after countries, cities or other geographical terms. One of the following, however, isn't. Which? Bled, Cheliabinsk, Donau, Kecskemet, Kemeri, Saragossa, Siesta, Steenwijk, Wilkes-Barre. Siesta - that's a sanatorium in Budapest
    10B Another favourite source for nomenclature are the names of chess players. Which of the following names is not a chess player? Bogoljubow, Petroff, Kalashnikov, Makogonov, Panov, Smyslov, Sveshnikov, Taimanov, Urusoff, Veresov. Kalashnikov - that's a weapon
    10C Some names are not well known. Which of the following variations or systems is not named after a chess player? Brentano, Canal, Cordel, Cozio, Damiano, Dilworth, Döry, Knorre, Muzio, Pin. Pin - Bb4 pins Nc3

    11. The World Junior Chess Championship has been organized since 1951.
    11A Of the following ten players, five won the title once, and five never. Which of these names won the title? Aronian, Bielicki, Carlsen, Fischer, Hübner, Ivkov, Kaplan, Leko, Spassky, Timman. Aronian, Bielicki, Ivkov, Kaplan and Spassky
    11B Four of the sixteen World Champions also won the World Junior title. Which four?
    Boris Spassky (Antwerp 1955)
    Anatoly Karpov (Stockholm 1969)
    Garry Kasparov (Dortmund 1980)
    Viswanathan Anand (Baguio 1987)

    12. Where do they live? - Answers:

    Viswanathan Anand Collado Mediano
    Levon Aronian Berlin
    Fabiano Caruana Budapest
    Vladimir Kramnik Paris
    Joel Lautier Moscow
    Yasser Seirawan Amsterdam
    Alexei Shirov Riga
    Nigel Short Athens
    Veselin Topalov Salamanca

    13. Thirteen games in the match between Anand and Kasparov in 1995 ended in a draw. How often was Kasparov the one who offered a draw?
    13A zero
    13B two
    13C eleven
    13D all thirteen

    13E There are only three players who played more than one classical game against Kasparov and have a plus score. Name all three players. Kramnik, Lautier and Gulko (Some participants mentioned Konstantin Lerner, but as far as we know he only played one game against Kasparov.)

    14 Three photos. One of them is a former World Champ, the other a former FIDE President and the third a former World Junior Champ. Name these three famous players.

    14A - Nona Gaprindashvili 14B - Fridrik Olafsson 14C - Oscar Panno

    15 Four album covers. Name the albums and artists!

    15A - Peter Hammill - Fools Mate 15B- B.Andersson, B.Ulvaeus, T.Rice -
    Chess, the musical
    15C - Van der Graaf Generator - Pawn Hearts 15D - The Enid - Six Pieces

    16 IM Christoph Wisnewski wrote a monograph about 1...Nc6, the Nimzovich Opening, for Everyman. Last year a book about opening traps was published by the same publisher, this time written by Christoph Scheerer. ‘Previously Wisnewski’, according to Everyman. This question is about players whose name was changed significantly during their chess career. Connect the old names to the correct new names. - Answers:

    Jocha Adorjan
    Kopelovich Afek
    Fleischmann Forgacs
    Grünfeld Gereben
    Kardinaal Van Laatum
    Weinstein Kasparov
    Nenashev Graf
    Foerder Porath

    17. A question about the World Senior Chess Championship.
    17A From what age are you allowed to participate in this event? 60
    17B Which player won the title three times? Janis Klovans
    17C Of the following names, six players won the title at least once, and six didn't. Which players won the title?
    Yuri Averbakh, Jacob Murey, Ewfim Geller, Jusefs Petkevich, Larry Kaufman, Lajos Portisch, Viktor Korchnoi, Vassily Smyslov, Bent Larsen, Boris Spassky, Henrique Mecking, Mark Taimanov. - Ewfim Geller, Jusefs Petkevich, Larry Kaufman, Viktor Korchnoi, Vassily Smyslov and Mark Taimanov

    18.There are many couples of two chess players in the chess world. Create the correct couples! - Answers:

    Men Women
    Suat Atalik Ekaterina Polovnikova
    Juan Manuel Bellon Lopez Pia Cramling
    Pascal Charbonneau Irina Krush
    Glenn Flear Christine Leroy
    Laurent Fressinet Almira Skripchenko
    Daniel Fridman Anna Zatonskih
    Robert Fontaine Kateryna Lahno
    Jonathan Grant Ketevan Arakhamia
    Alexander Grischuk Natalia Zhukova
    Boris Gulko Anna Akhsharumova
    Gilberto Hernandez Claudia Amura
    Lars Bo Hansen Evgenia Peicheva
    Alexander Ivanov Esther Epstein
    Sergey Karjakin Katerina Dolzhikova
    Yona Kosashvili Sofia Polgar
    Vadim Malakhatko Anna Zozulia
    Mohamed al-Modiahki Zhu Chen
    Sergei Movsesian Petra Krupkova
    John Nunn Petra Fink
    Georgy Orlov Elena Akhmilovskaya
    Yasser Seirawan Yvette Nagel
    Bartosz Socko Monika Bobrowska
    Alex Yermolinsky Camilla Baginskaite

    19. For a long time Peter Svidler thought the Marshall Gambit of the Ruy Lopez to be dubious, but eventually he started playing the move 8...d5 himself. Who inspired him?
    19A Michael Adams
    19B John Nunn
    19C Jimi Hendrix, whose full name was James Marshall Hendrix
    19D Billy Joel

    20A Who are the two men in the left picture?
    20B Which chess player is chosen for the sculpture on the right?

    Left: with sigaret - Emanuel Lasker; with cigar - Berthold Lasker. Right: Max Euwe

    Rider Hotel, Cambridge Springs

    21. Many of you have probably heard of the Interzonal tournament that was held in 1973 in Petropolis, but do you also know in which country that city is located?
    21A Combine the following 'chess cities' with the correct countries in 2009. - Answers:

    Abazzia Croatia
    Barmen Germany
    Breslau Poland
    Bugojno Bosnia & Herzegovina
    Cambridge Springs United States
    Merano Italy
    Petropolis Brazil
    Semmering Austria

    The Luzhin DefenceA question about the above cities. True or not true?
    21B Abazzia - here the famous theme tournament was held in 1912, where the Evans Gambit was the obligatory opening. False - it was the King's Gambit
    21C Barmen - this tournament (1905) had an official tournament song. True
    21D Breslau - birth place of Adolf Anderssen. True
    21E Bugojno - the main sponsor of these five tournaments was a stitching-machine factory. False - it was a typewriter factory
    21F Cambridge Springs - the Rider Hotel, where the famous 1904 tournament took place, burnt down completely during the Bay of Pigs incident in 1961. False - the hotel burnt down alright, however not in 1961 but in 1931
    21G Merano - the location of Nabokov's The Luzhin Defence True
    21H Petropolis - Stefan Zweig, author of Die Schachnovelle, died here in 1942. True
    21I Semmering - the 1937 World Championship match between Vera Menchik and Sonja Graf took place here, in the Panhans Hotel. True

    Marcel Duchamp22. Of all chess players, Marcel Duchamp is by far the most famous for activities outside the chess world. Besides playing chess, the following persons have another career, in art, science, politics or a different kind of sports. Make the correct connections! - Answers:

    Utut Adianto member of parliament
    Simen Agdestein soccer player
    Nona Gaprindashvili chairman national Olympic committee
    Alexander Grischuk poker player
    Robert Hübner papyrologist
    Bozidar Ivanovic minister
    Cenek Kottnauer water polo player
    Kenneth Rogoff economist at the IMF
    Mark Taimanov pianist
    Sir George Thomas badminton & tennis player
    Milan Vidmar electro technician

    Grave Alekhine23. Where were they buried? - Answers:

    Alexander Alekhine Paris
    Marcel Duchamp Rouen
    Max Euwe Amsterdam
    Bobby Fischer Selfoss
    Emanuel Lasker New York
    Geza Maroczy Budapest
    Paul Morphy New Orleans
    Aaron Nimzovich Copenhagen
    Rudolf Spielmann Solna
    Wilhelm Steinitz New York

    fischer24. In January 2009, at 15 years, 7 months and 1 day Anish Giri became the youngest Grandmaster in the world. Well, on that day he scored his 3rd GM norm; he received the title officially a bit later.
    24A Who was the youngest GM before Giri, and who became the youngest GM after him? Before: Hou Yifan. After: Ray Robson.
    24B Traditionally the list of youngest GMs in history starts with Bobby Fischer, who became a GM in 1958, when he was 15 years, 6 months and 1 day old. However, this list of youngest grandmasters ever (so not the youngest GM at a certain moment in the world, but youngest ever) contains ten names, and one of them is Fischer. Give this list of ten names in the correct order.
    1950 - 1: David Bronstein (26)
    1952 - 2: Tigran Petrosian (22?)
    1955 - 3: Boris Spassky (18)
    1958 - 4: Robert Fischer (15-6-1)
    1991 - 5: Judit Polgar (15-4-28)
    1994 - 6: Peter Leko (14-4-22)
    1997 - 7: Etienne Bacrot (14-2-0)
    1997 - 8: Ruslan Ponomariov (14-0-17)
    1999 - 9: Bu Xiangzhi (13-10-13)
    2002 - 10: Sergey Karjakin (12-7-0)

    kiev 197825. The grandmaster tournament Kiev 1978 was won by Alexander Beliavsky, who, despite losses against the number 2 and 3, won the tournament with a 2-point margin. However, the tournament became famous because of something else: the tournament book. What was so special about this book?
    Shortly before the tournament Lev Alburt, member of the Burevestnik-Europacup team, fled to the West in West-Germany. He became a persona non grata in the USSR and therefore his name can nowhere be found in the tournament book.

    player26. We know the player in the picture as a strong grandmaster. In Iceland, however, he's mainly known as the founder and president of the only Icelandic bank that didn't collapse in 2008. What's his name (and the name of the bank)?
    Margeir Petursson

    ton timman27. In the picture we see Ton Timman playing against his more famous brother Jan. Below you'll find duos; eight of these duos are siblings, eight are not. Which eight duos are siblings?

    Espen/Simen Agdestein John/Paul Littlewood
    Georgy/Viacheslav Agzamov Turkan/Zeinab Mamedjarova
    Daniel/Rafael Fridman Alisa/Mirjana Maric
    Krum/Kiril Georgiev Predrag/Nebojsa Nikolic
    Ilya/Dmitry Gurevich Boris/Ruslan Ponomariov
    Mikhail/Vladimir Gurevich Nigel/Philip Short
    Csaba/Jozsef Horvath Igor/Alexander Zaitsev
    Edward/Emanuel Lasker Andrei/Sergei Zhigalko

    28. In this video you can see one of the most successful table tennis players today (red shirt). But what is his name?
    28A Bu Xiangzhi
    28B Ni Hua
    28C Wang Hao
    28D Wang Yue

    olympiad29. There are not many players who represented three different federations at Olympiads. From the following list of players, pick the two players who do not belong to this small group: Alexander Beliavsky, Erich Eliskases, Boris Gelfand, Mikhail Gurevich, Viktor Korchnoi, Zdenko Kozul, Ivan Sokolov.

    Alexander Beliavsky (URS-UKR-SLO)
    Erich Eliskases (AUT-GER-ARG)
    Boris Gelfand (URS-BLR-ISR)
    Mikhail Gurevich (BEL-TUR)
    Viktor Kortchnoi (URS-SUI)

    Zdenko Kozul (YUG-BIH-CRO)
    Ivan Sokolov (YUG-BIH-NED)

    journalism30. Chess journalism - which names belong to which media? - Answers:

    Leonard Barden Columnist The Guardian
    Frederic Friedel Editor Chessbase (English)
    Leontxo Garcia Columnist El País
    Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam Editor New in Chess Magazine
    Mark Gluhovsky Editor 64
    Dirk Poldauf Editor Schach
    John Saunders Editor British Chess Magazine
    Jennifer Shahade Editor Chess Life Online
    Yuri Vasiliev Photographer Sport-Express
    Nadja Woisin Editor Chessbase (Spanish)

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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


Bootvis's picture

Wow, such high scores! Congratulations to the winners.

asdfa's picture

Indeed, good luck to them

pb's picture

I guess Alexander Huzman makes #5 on that list, +1 -0 =1 in two classical games, and then two losses in a clock simul match that can't really count as classical chess :-)

pb's picture

"13E There are only three players who played more than one classical game against Kasparov and have a plus score. Name all three players. Kramnik, Lautier and Gulko (Some participants mentioned Konstantin Lerner, but as far as we know he only played one game against Kasparov.)"

This answer is incorrect since Radjabov played in all four classical games against Kasparov (Linares 2003 and 2004), the result being one win and three draws.

Peter Doggers's picture

@Nescio It's good that you mention this question, because it almost deserves a separate post at ChessVibes. The thing is: it's about the difference between youngest GM ever and youngest GM in the world. Bronstein tops the (chronological) list because he was the first youngest GM ever (and logically the youngest in the world too, when he became a GM). Later, Petrosian got the title at a younger age, and so he was the youngest ever. Then Spassky, and only then Fischer. I think by now you can figure out why Carlsen isn't on this list. ;-) The list Chessbase has been using, and we have borrowed from them a few times, is in fact a (wrong) combination of youngest GMs ever and youngest GMs in the world. As soon as Ilya Nyzhnyk becomes a GM, we'll straighten it out!

Nescio Nomen's picture

The list of the youngest grandmasters ever, question 24B, doesn't seem right. Haven't you forgotten Magnus Carlsen? Moreover, there should be more younger grandmasters than Bronstein(26), don't you think?

Peter Doggers's picture

@pb You're completely right, Radjabov and Huzman belong in that list.

Jens Kristiansen's picture

René: You write about The Chess Café New Years Quizz:
"The likely reason why it stopped is that true chess researchers on the Internet can find almost anything nowadays..."
In my impression (I participated quite a few times) it was the other way around. Some of the question were really hard nuts, and you needed to have access to quite a substantial library to solve them. Some of the answers you simply could not find on the net, the opposite I believe is the case with your quizz (not that this in any way disqualiffies it). Well, at The Chess Café you were also given some three-four weeks to find the answers,and many of us at least had some good time dusting off our libraries in (often wain) search for them.
The winners were most of the years some clever scandinavians (swedes, danes and fins). Some of them I know personally and I can testify on that they are ´true chess scholars with huge private chess libraries.
The Chess Café Quizz was in a way an unofficial "Chess Scholar World Championship", and some of us still misses it. And I suppose the Americans are still eager to see some of their own folks winning it - just for once :):
But it would be nice if ChessVibes in some way could take up the tradition. Perhaps in another formate and perhaps not that difficult, maybe it is fine just to have a few days to find the answer like you did this year.
But in that case you better soon start working on the questions for the next quizz :).

Thomas's picture

@Peter Doggers: Regarding Nyzhnyk's GM norm (have to practice spelling that name!? :) ), some sources give it as his second norm, others as his final norm. Can you comment on this confusion? Somewhere I read that his first norm was too long ago and has "expired" in the meantime, this would really be hard to believe ... .

@Rene Olthof: I also enjoyed your quiz. But I could only answer some questions (partly), didn't make an effort to tackle the rest and was patiently or not-too-patiently waiting for the solutions to be published!

Jens Kristiansen's picture

No, Thomas, nowadays chess-norms (GM-,IM, FM- aso.) never "expire".
About this Nyzhnyk: I just looked it up, he is now 13 years and some 3-4 months, so he will not take Karjakins record (12 years and 8 months).
But I believe he made his first GM-norm at the age of 11, and that is quite likely also a kind of record.

Castro's picture

The "GM" title apears from the old (since the 19th century) need to distinguish some elite among many masters. Of course at that times there was no FIDE involved.
From 1901, that urge grew more and more.
At San Sebastian 1912, Capablanca was not even a "master", but leave it as one.
In 1914, the Tzar made that famous GM proclamation about Tarrash, Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine and Marshal, but it was only famous because he was the Tzar, it was no "official" title (by the way, some similar "proclamations" could be produced at many other of those times. For instance, what to say about Rubinstein, Maroczy, Bernstein, Blackburne, to name just a few, and from the 1914 living ones?).
Now, I'd like someone better informed than myself to satisfy two curiosities of mine:
- The ancient "master" title. Exactely what achievement(s) were required?
- What were the exact criteria for the 1950 "official" FIDE GM titles, and who were the "Magnificent 27"?

val's picture

@ Castro: Capablanca at San Sebastian 1911.

Besides I believe altogether we have 15 undisputable, universally recognized world champions: Steinitz, Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine, Euwe,Botvinnik, Smyslov, Tal, Petrosian, Spassky, Fischer, Karpov, Kasparov, Kramnik, Anand. Six of them are still alive, namely Smyslov, Spassky, Karpov, Kasparov, Kramnik and Anand.

Jens Kristiansen's picture

@René:I fail to see the contradiction between "knowledge" and "expertise or scholarship".
About these "chess scholars" who dominated the Chess Café Quizz: They are not professors employed at some chess institutes (which does not exist at all). They are plain, common people who just happen to have had a lifelong devotion to and passion for the game in all its aspects, and there are more of these people than you think.They rarely make any income on this passion, on the contrary: Some of them spend substantial amounts on their chess collections of different kinds.
I found it great that these "scholar"s for once got to the fore and into the limelight via the Chess Café Quizz..
Ok, René (and ChessVibes in general: Would you consider (dare?) making another quizz next new year?

Pravitel's picture
Dude's picture

OK, but the Kalashnikov variation is obviously not named after him, so related to nomenclature Kalashnikov is clearly the right answer.

Jens Kristiansen's picture

Yes, that was truely a great trivia quizz. Chesscafè.com had one for many years, and that was really a TOUGH one. But last year it just stopped without any further explanation .It is nice to see Chessvibes taking over.
I did not participate myself, but I had anyhow some good time pondering over the questions.
One good, friendly advice: Give us a little more time to solve the quizz next year, please.

Arne Moll's picture

@7C: Wasn't Piket in the top 10 once too, somewhere around 1995 I seem to remember?

René Olthof's picture

Wow, two participants with a score over 90.0 percent. That's really impressive.

Remember these were (selected) questions from my Dutch Championship Chess Trivia 2009 which I organised to celebrate my 50th birthday. The questions were designed to be answered LIVE - without access to digital or paper sources!

Jens Kristiansen mentioned the Trivia Quiz on Chess Cafe in an earlier reaction. The likely reason why it stopped is that true chess researchers on the Internet can find almost anything nowadays - especially since the answers must be verifiable.
It took me about six months to collect the questions, edit them, shape them and create enough variety and humour.

I am glad that so many people wrote in with the message that they liked the questions and puzzles. And also that my research has apparently held out the close scrutiny by the many participants.
One or two answers are dodgy (Kramnik played in Las Vegas 1999, which was part of a world championship cycle, but was 'excluded' in the text of question 1), dubious or perhaps even plainly wrong, but overall I believe this quiz was a great success.

Please send in more comments or questions about the answers if you like.
And Arne, Piket was never in the top 10, although he was seeded between 11 and 20 for a long, long time! That was one of the trick questions I had prepared for the Dutch experts in my LIVE quiz.

Jens Kristiansen's picture

On the GM-title: The official GM-title was for the first time awarded by the FIDE GA in 1950 to 27 chosen players, of whom the youngest was Bronstein.
The oldest, by the way, was Mieses (85). Those were the days.

René Olthof's picture

I fully agree. The point I wanted to make about the 'scholar' level of the Chess Cafe quiz was that over the years it has become impossible to ask 'normal' trivia questions, because that information is readily available digitally and as a consequence had to revert to questions which no 'normal' chess aficionado can relate to. Just a mock example: on which square did the U13 Arhus city junior champion sacrifice his queen in 1997? Or: There are three versions of book X printed in 1854. In the version known as the Golden Book, what is the size of the diagrams on the left pages? Well, you get the picture.
In order that the questions are tough and hard but 'doable' it is imperative that the time the participants get to solve the questions is (very) limited AND that the questions are smart and intelligent.
In that way it remains open for 'ordinary' chess folk and not just for specialised chess folk.
I rather ask: How many times did Kramnik wins the traditional Dortmund tournament (experts may know the answer without looking it up: nine times) than What is the second name (patronymicum) of the second of Leko when he first played in Dortmund? That's information that no sensible person has readily available.

I have looked at all Chess Cafe quizzes. In the beginning my success rate without looking things up would be 20 to 30 percent. In the final quiz I literally knew zero answers and most of the time I did not even understand the question! Zip, nada, nothing. It had become a niche rather than a mainstream activity.

Striking the balance is the key. So if you look at question 1 I introduce a definition of World Champion for this quiz and then a few questions of varying difficulty. People with some chess trivia knowledge can answer at least one question.
The same with the Olympiad logo's. On the Moscow poster the onion shaped towers of the basilica from the Red Square is clearly visible - a huge clue. On the Buenos Aires 1978 poster, however, there is basically no clue - that one is extremely tough.

This is my point of view.
Other views are of course perfectly legitimate as well!

Thomas's picture

I thought so, Jens ... it was just an Internet rumor I passed on, and I cannot remember the source. Maybe I can resolve the confusion around Nyzhnyk myself, this is from Wikipedia:

"He was born September 27, 1996 in Vinnytsia (Ukraine) and gained world-wide attention when he won Group B of the 2007 Moscow Open at the age of 10. He attained a nearly flawless score of 8½/9 and his performance rating was 2633, that of a Grandmaster [but apparently it didn't count as a GM norm, not enough foreign opponents?]. ... In April 2008, Nyzhnyk won the Nabokov Memorial in Kyiv, Ukraine, with 8½/11, and scored his first GM norm. ... in December 2008, he placed 12th in the Ukrainian championship, with a performance rating of 2594, barely under the 2600 performance required for another GM norm. In December 2009 he won the Schaakfestival Groningen tournament in the Netherlands with a performance rating of 2741. [not (yet) mentioned at Wiki, but obviously this was also ("more than") a GM norm]."

So as of today, he is 13 years, 3 months and 7 days. He would have to hurry up to "beat" Carlsen who became GM at the age of 13 years, 4 months and 27 days - or another one of his earlier results has to be accepted as a GM norm after all, could this be the case?

BTW, Carlsen is presumably not on the list in question 24B because Karjakin (also *1990) became GM before him, and was generally a bit ahead of him when both were young teenagers - this changed only later on.

Arne Moll's picture

@Rene, regarding the Piket 'trick question': are you sure it is a trick? I remember various articles highlghting his brief entry into the top 10, and here's an article from 1996 in which Gert Ligterink also mentions it. Was Ligterink mistaken? It seems unlikely, but I assume you checked it thoroughly. (For what it's worth, if he wasn't in the top 10, the Dutch wikipedia on Piket is also wrong.)

By the way, somehow I always thought the first grandmasters were the participants of the 1907 Ostend tournament, including Chigorin, Tarrasch and Marshall. Is this a mistake?

pb's picture

Piket seems to have peaked at 2670 in January 1995. Bareev had 2675 as #10 then, so he was close but apparently not more than close:

Jens Kristiansen's picture

@ Arne: Before 1950 there have been several attempts at awarding the Grand Master title to certain players. The czar also tried in Skt. Peterborg 1914. You may read about it all in excellent article on "GMs" and "Chess" at the english Wikipedia.
@ René: I believe we agree on most matters regarding the construction of chess trivia quizzes. But I still think you are too harsh in your criticism of the Chess Café Quizz. By the way, you can still find and read these quizzes (and the answers to them) at the ChessCafé-site in the archive under "The Skittles Room", so anyone can judge for themself. Your "mock examples" I find very little illustrative, rather they are bad parodies.
In the very last edition in 2007 there were 166 contestants (a record number) - a "niche" for "chess schollars"? Over the year the contestants (including me) forwarded a lot of comments expressing how joyfull and enlightening the search for the answers was.
One crucial item to discuss is: Should it always be possible to find to answers on the net? It could be it is the case with your quizz, René, but definitely not with Chess Café´s. There are people who are very clever at finding informations on the net, but does not know much about chess - and the other way around. Who should benefit from their skills in the quizz?

Jens Kristiansen's picture

One more thing: It was great in connection with the quizz to see Kramniks match record published. Especially when you remember how some journalist before the match against Anand hailed Kramnik as an "eminent match player".
Ha! In fact he has in matches only beaten Judasjin know who...

Remco Gerlich's picture

According to,%20Jeroen.html , Piket's highest placing was #11, in Jan 1995. And the list before that (where he was #19) was the only other one in which he was in the top-20.

Arne Moll's picture

Couldn't be clearer, Remco, thanks! It must be some form of mass delusion then, see for instance this article in Trouw, published during the time Piket quit chess, in which menion is made of his top 10 (or top 6 in fact) position as well.

@Jens, thanks; I often forget to combine such basic words in Wikipedia! Anyway, seems to me like the word 'grandmaster' in this question is a bit ambigious. Well, that's probably why I'm so bad at quizzes or questionnaires: I always think there's more behind a question when there isn't, and less when there's more!

Thomas's picture

About the GM title, a quick summary of the Wikipedia article:
- Before 1950, the title was "informally" awarded by various perons and institutions (Ostend tournament organizers, Tsar Nicholas, Soviet federation).
- From 1950 onwards FIDE started awarding GM titles and gradually established formal requirements for the title. Initially the title was meant for serious WCh candidates, later "title inflation" occurred: nowadays a player with a rating greater than 2500 and some 2600+ TPRs is not, at least not yet a serious WCh candidate!

On Kramnik's match reputation: Maybe other criteria but the bare score have to be included, such as
- specific preparation for a nominally superior opponent (Kasparov). Recently - postdating the journalist's remarks, the same can be said about Anand against Kramnik [leaving out 'nominally superior']
- winning on demand to come back from behind (Leko, Topalov)
This may say more specifically about match play than Fischer's 6-0 victories, where he was simply the far better player!?
And I would say in the Topalov-Kramnik match Kramnik won three classical games, Topalov won two, and Danailov won one game "on behalf of ...".

Thomas's picture

@Castro: Actually it seems dubious whether Tsar Nicholas II really made such a proclamation - see comment by acirce in the parallel discussion on Dailydirt:
Concerning your questions: I think there were no specific requirements for a "master" title, like there is no clear definition of "expert" in chess or any other field (only the US Chess Federation defines expert as ELO greater than 2000, and the title is lost again if your rating drops below this level). The second question is answered in the Wikipedia article:

René Olthof's picture

I agree with you that there is more to a match record than just the final score. I in no way want to diminish his excellent results in matches and anywhere else in the chess world, but his bizarre record begs for exploitation in a quiz like this.
Regarding Carlsen and 24B: the only reason why Carlsen is not on the list is simply that he never was the Youngest Grandmaster Ever. If you want to be part of that list you'll have to beat Karjakin. Not Carlsen.
If Nyzhnyk will beat Carlsen (within 50 days) he will force Carlsen one place below in the list of Youngest Grandmaster at any given moment. From Judit Polgar in 1991 onwards that list has slightly over 20 names. The current 'title' holder is Ray Robson, because the younger Peruvian guy Cori has scored enough IGM-norms but his rating is not high enough yet to apply successfully for the title IGM.

René Olthof's picture

Interesting discussion.
In my comments to the Chess Cafe Quiz I primarily wanted to give an explanation why it ceased to exist in 2008.
It's a grave misunderstanding that I 'criticise' this Quiz. I am a great admirer, it's just not how I look at quizzes. They should test knowledge, not expertise or scholarship or the ability to search (quickly) on the Internet. That's why I greatly prefer LIVE-quizzes where this more or less can be done.

Thomas's picture

@Rene and Jens (to whom my comment about Kramnik's matches was primarily directed): I reacted because there is quite a bit of anti-Kramnik propaganda on the Web - recently silenced by his successes and change of playing style. Not that I would include either of you (or NewInChess as print media goes) in that "club"!
Assessing Kramnik's matches, I will discard the first three ones - everyone has to start learning at some stage, in the long run Carlsen's loss against Aronian (in a very close candidates match) also won't be held against him. From the other five matches, which ones were bizarre?
- not the one against Kasparov, unless one says that "the wrong person was winning" (discarding the quite convincing result). And personally I don't believe in the "ancient" tradition of automatic rematches.
- not the one against Leko: draw odds were common before rapid and blitz tiebreaks were "invented", Kasparov also benefitted in one of his matches against Karpov.
- the match against Topalov was bizarre, but here I would blame mostly his opponent and Topa's team.
- We are left with the match against Shirov, "won" by Kramnik despite the score of 3.5-5.5 . Again I wouldn't blame Kramnik personally, hard to say who can be blamed: "circumstances" or "society"???

pb's picture

"in the long run Carlsen’s loss against Aronian (in a very close candidates match) also won’t be held against him"

Carlsen lost first in blitz tiebreak as lowest seeded against the top seeded player, and was still only 16 and not top 20, so the result was never much to hold against him, it was more a case of him performing above expectations.

Jens Kristiansen's picture

@ Thomas: Of course I acknowledge Kramnik as a great master.It is just that I experiencedsome a little bit exaggerated hype on his merits from some supporters and journalists before the match in 2008.
Kramniks main feat was that he beat the "monster" (you know who). Apart from that his career is not extraordinary compared to some other 5-6 comtemporary world class players.
And it is indeed a pity that Garry did not get a chance for a revenge match. But that is another story...

chris's picture

Some random thoughts on revenge matches.

Revenge matches mean that a reigning champion has to lose twice to lose the title, which is clearly unfair (& in addition to having the odds of the draw).

If you think revenge matches seem reasonable (as opposed to being interesting), then why shouldn't the challenger get a second chance if he loses or draws against the world champion in the first match ? & when Smyslov & Tal lost their revenge matches, why didn't they get a revenge revenge match. After all they had both been world champions.

The revenge match idea seems to have been invented to profit Alekhine, Botvinnik, who never won a match in his 13 years as champion, & Karpov (though he never succeeded in winning the title back from Garry). Capablanca didn't give a revenge match to Lasker, so I can't see why people whine about Alekhine not giving him one.

René Olthof's picture

Regarding chess trivia (instant) knowledge means facts that you know without referring to digital or paper sources - that's my primary target.
That's why my quiz was LIVE - no additional external support - and plain questions.

The (former) Chess Cafe targets at knowing how and where to find information. It was more like a Chess History Quiz.
Asking plain questions in an Internet quiz (category: when did Euwe win the Dutch Championship for the first time?) is rather futile - you are testing nothing, because everybody can look it up in seconds.
Asking the same question in a live quiz is a totally different story. In such a situation EVERY question is potentially difficult.

My questions were conceived for a LIVE quiz with team of 4 as participants.

In order to exploit the great amount of work in a useful manner Peter Doggers at one point suggested to turn my quiz into a Christmas quiz for Chess Vibes.
I agreed immediately, because much more people can enjoy the questions this way. However, from the QUIZ point of view several questions were not exactly suitable for an Internet QUIZ. Never mind, many people liked what they were given as a puzzle, so everybody happy!

If we do another quiz next year solely for the Internet, it will obviously have an effect on the questions. However, I don't believe in turning it into a Chess Cafe type of quiz. Instead I prefer a tight time schedule like Peter already introduced this year.
On of the big obstacles is keeping the quiz international. There shouldn't be too many questions on the 'local/national' level. That's why top tournaments and (world) championships are a better playing field.
You can have a question about somebody like Relfsson in such a quiz, but preferably only one. Otherwise it becomes too specialised. Striing this balance right is quite difficult. Furthermore, there must also be surprise and humour. Participants should be thinking: 'what the hell is this question about?"

@Thomas: I didn't call Kramnik's matches bizarre but his match record.
Kramnik is considered as an excellent match player with a style extremely suited for match play. If you look at the results he won 2, drew 2 and lost 4 - that's bizarre. And people don't realize this, therefore it was an excellent topic for the quiz.

The 6-0 crushes by Fischer against Taimanov and Larsen also give a completely wrong picture of these matches. Of course Fischer deserved to win both, but on many occasions he was in trouble and Fischer was the first to acknowledge that the system almost forced T and L sometimes to take unwarranted risks, because a draw would bring defeat closer.
However, such nuances and considerations don't count in something like a trivia quiz. There it's just 6-0; 6-0!

Thomas's picture

@Jens: While I get your point and generally agree, I wonder about 5-6 other names. Currently (of course this is a snapshot) the top5 are a class apart, and among those Aronian and Carlsen lag behind in career length and haven't yet been close to becoming world champion - obviously not their fault. Who else could be part of the "long-term top7" on equal ground with Kramnik, Anand and Topalov? I would say all of Ivanchuk, Shirov and Morozevich weren't consistent enough.

And - if we are talking about whole careers - his overall even score against Kasparov (not only the WCh match) distinguishes Kramnik from the rest of his generation. On the other end of the scale, we have those who managed to draw almost half of their games against the monster - scores from include all formats:
Morozevich =5-6
Shirov =15-17
No longer an issue today after Garry's retirement, but still part of the long-term picture.

BTW, it seems that Radjabov has "only" an equal score against Kasparov after all (+1=5-1) as he lost one game in the 2002 Moscow FIDE Grand Prix, or was this a rapid event?

Thomas's picture

And the reason why people may not realize Kramnik's poor or modest match score could be that the two draws still meant "mission accomplished", and the one against Topalov was played with a handicap.

pb's picture

"he lost one game in the 2002 Moscow FIDE Grand Prix, or was this a rapid event?"


René Olthof's picture

Yes, Kramnik's ties meant 'mission accomplished' - that's of paramount importance

Exactly, that's why I was wrong-footed.
More or less the same occurred with (K)huzman, who lost twice to Kasparov, but in a clock simul event, so his overall score is +1=1-2, but in 'regular' games it's +1=1-0

This is the type of question which is hard to check. I put considerable effort in it, but nevertheless got it wrong twice.
Otherwise it seems my research holds up quite nicely. That's a rewarding thought!

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