Since Friday March 4th the global growth of chess audience is in check. AGON’s new policy will prevent the natural spread of information, possibly harming the interest of chess fans around the world, professional players, and the game of chess itself.
Chessdom CEO Anton Mihailov was the first to bring the issue to the public domain via an open statement that you can read here. That provoked AGON to finally open communication, but instead of constructive dialogue it quickly deterioriated to monopoly desires and legal threats.
AGON do not seem happy that the audience is aware of the unprecedented and disproportionate conditions they are signing upon entering the official website. Thus, AGON is going after “the messenger” who brought the news. In a letter to Chessdom, and in particular to Anton Mihailov, Ilya Merenzon clearly stated, “be advised that we are going forward with legal action”. Merenzon also implied a lawsuit in Moscow/Russia by writing “Russian law provides both civil and criminal protection against trade secret infringement”.
At that point Chessdom started receiving AGON’s lawyers communication with request that we reverse the open statement by Chessdom CEO Anton Mihailov, specifically with the note that “other websites might feel they can do the same”. But perhaps AGON spoke before reading carefully the lines which we reiterate here:
“The Candidates will have live coverage on Chessdom. Not the one that will allow you to bully journalists with lawyers, but the kind that will bring the daily LIVE chess fun for the fans.”
And bullying you can do only if we post moves from the Candidates. You cannot prevent us to do live blogging about the events, you cannot prevent us to comment, nor you can stop our free journalistic practices.
AGON, we will not visit the official WorldChess website, we will not sign your click wrap agreement, we will not support your last minute assault on free journalism.
For nine years we have worked in hostile environment trying to spread the love for chess. This is yet another chapter and again Chessdom will remain independent.
Welcome to the live blog of the first day of the Candidates Tournament 2016!
We have very hot topics for the day. With the 800+ emails we received, there has been a substantial information that deserves attention. As the global chess community is the basis of this sport, your opinion matters. Keep on sending us emails through the contact form on the website, comments in the Facebook form below this article, or via the Chessdom Twitter account.
What we want to start with is the bizarre extent of AGON’s policy. Yesterday night an important English chess forum http://www.ecforum.org.uk/ was threatened by an AGON employee. The message for the forum reads, “I am standing with the lawyer for Agon […] simply stated, posting moves during the games is not allowed”.
The assault on free speech by AGON has gone out of hand. There is no sport or event that prevents people to properly discuss it. However, the Norwegian blog Matt and Patt comments that AGON plans to extend his ban today and will persecute even Facebook and Twitter users.
It is clear that AGON have underestimated the needs and wants of the general chess audience, as well as their critical thinking potential. But they have also underestimated the potential technical consequences of their monopoly-like policy attempt. We still remember the high “tidal waves” of users in 2013 FWCC, where a few minutes before a game in a 5 second interval were registered 100 000+ hits on the live games.
The Candidates is a smaller event, but the “tidal wave” potential is not small. Two very plausible scenarios are:
1) People decline signing the agreement and entering the WorldChess site and AGON loses audience or
2) People enter the WorldChess website, it crashes, and AGON loses credibility
Whatever the case, AGON will be required to release full detailed statistics on the Candidates official website. This time not only by the advertisers and sponsors, but also by the global chess community.
Update: @theworldchess has reported that at 11:49 CET there was a DDOS attack on the official website that lasted 5 minutes. They claim that this is “Clear attempt to stop Candidates broadcast”. The computer experts at Chessdom very much doubt that this is the case because of the random time, also the low link popularity of the official website reduces the random attack probability to practically zero. What @theworldchess thinks is an attack is most probably undetected technical issues.
Yesterday we reported on multiple journalists that could not get their accreditation. It turns out that people who have received their accreditation also got into problems. Coincidence or not, the first website in Russia to translate the full position of Chessdom, Kavkaz-Chess.ru, was not allowed to enter the Candidates tournament premises. FM Salim Fazulyanov reports on Twitter, “We were not allowed at the press conference, as we have not passed the test of the FSO (Federal State Security)”. He also added, “I cannot say more details, but yesterday we were requested all documentation for a check, while today we were not allowed to enter. We have been accredited for a week now, but they declined entrance today. At least they could have warned us earlier.” More on Twitter
The games on the official website have started, but all you can see now is Bad Gateway 502 error. We leave you with the comment of Senior International Master Michael Freeman on Twitter, “Predictable and embarrassing”
The massive failure of the WorldChess site provoked the “tidal wave” in question to partially hit Chessdom as well. Of course we are not prepared for such high and unexpected traffic, some outages are possible. Still, we will broadcast with analysis the moves from the fantastic Women World Championship here and other events as well, as the ChessArena.com servers are prepared to hold high traffic every day of the thousands of fans who play friendly chess games and enjoy the website.
Practically no websites are following AGON’s policy – you can see the games commented, with all moves, and whatever else you wish.
Another interesting point is that AGON wants to prosecute Twitter accounts, but they initiate the uncontrolled spread of moves themselves. By publishing moves on the @theworldchess account, they open the door to a number of uncontrolled copy-paste Twitter bots.
After an hour and a half of play, only Hikaru Nakamura has some advantage vs Fabiano Caruana. Converting it into a full point still requires a lot of work. Vishy Anand is the other player with very secure position for white playing for only two scores – draw or win.
Meanwhile in the Women World Championship it is getting interesting as Hou Yifan plays a novelty, compared to her game against Koneru. You can follow the games live here
Multiple users reported brand new message from the @theworldchess website, “Maximum number of users reached”. That proves one more time the Bad Gateway 502 is not an attack, rather bad preparation from AGON.
We cannot confirm this as we are not going to visit the official website and sign the click wrap agreement. By the number of emails we are receiving, this is most probably the fact.
Predictions turned out to be true. Yet, they were not very difficult to guess at all.
Despite pressure by Nakamura, Caruana holds and achieves draw in the US battle in round 1 of the Candidates tournament. Other games are in progress, with Vishy Anand having the best chance to score.
The Russian battle Karjakin – Svidler also ends in a draw. Meanwhile Anand weakens the pressure, but still has better position.
Beautiful game by Anand, he wins and takes the lead the the Candidates Tournament 2016!