Bits and Pieces: Chess News
(1) While I'm not a fan of GM Maurice Ashley's handling of master prizes at the upcoming HB tournament in Minnesota (see 1 and 2), his contributions to American chess have been substantial on many fronts, including and perhaps especially scholastic chess. As useful as any teacher can be, however, his or her time and energies are limited; accordingly, Ashley is trying to multiply himself by teaching teachers. Here's the link, which I recommend visiting sooner rather than later, as the NY Times tends to be quick in removing articles' freebie status.
(2) Chess's equivalent to the Energizer Bunny is at it again: yesterday's TWIC news summary reports that Viktor Korchnoi won the Beer Sheva Rapid, a 13-round robin event with 8 other GMs, with a dominating 10.5/13, leaving him 2.5 points clear of the field! UNBELIEVABLE. To slightly adapt a famous line from "When Harry met Sally," I'll have what he's having.
(3) The status of the world chess championship title may be in somewhat of a shambles, but one elite prize, the Chess Oscar, awarded to "the best chess player of the past year," continues to be presented on schedule each year. The 2004 award, as determined by 445 voters (including 74 GMs), went to Indian superstar Viswanathan Anand, with Garry Kasparov, Peter Leko, Vladimir Kramnik and Rustam Kasimdzhanov rounding out the top 5.
It's a well-known but minor award, not even carrying a cash prize, as far as I know. In light of the difficulties in organizing a fair world championship that's equitable to all the relevant parties, however, perhaps it would be best to create some sort of system like that in tennis: a year-long tour, grand slam events, and a meaningful player of the year award. Such a system would give the players something to strive for, create a busier schedule for the top guys (and gal!), generate a consistent media buzz (maybe), and do so without the organizational headaches that seem endemic to top matches.
One can hope!