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Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is pleased to announce the complete casts for its 2016 Festival Season. The season features OTSL’s signature combination of compelling new operas and masterpieces by beloved composers, including Giacomo Puccini’s eternally popular La bohème, Richard Strauss’s moving comedy Ariadne on Naxos, Giuseppe Verdi’s magnificent and murderous Macbeth, and the highly anticipated world premiere of Jack Perla and Rajiv Joseph’s Shalimar the Clown, based on the much-admired novel by Salman Rushdie. The season also includes the second annual Center Stage concert, showcasing the talents of OTSL’s young artists. The company’s 2016 Festival Season begins Saturday, May 21 and continues through Sunday, June 26. 

Sean Panikkar

Casting highlights include the return of former OTSL Gerdine Young Artist Hae Ji Chang in her principal role debut as Mimì alongside Cardiff Singer of the World finalist Lauren Michelle as Musetta in La bohème. Significant debuts include Roland Wood in the title role of the company’s first-ever production ofMacbeth, Marjorie Owens and AJ Glueckert as Ariadne and Bacchus inAriadne on Naxos, and Andriana Chuchman (Boonyi Kaul / India Ophuls) and Katharine Goeldner (Peggy Ophuls) in the world premiere of Shalimar the Clown. Returning favorites include Sean Panikkar in the title role in Shalimar the Clown, Gregory Dahl as the American ambassador Max Ophuls, Julie Makerov as Lady Macbeth, and Levi Hernandez  as the Music Master inAriadne on Naxos. As always, many returning artists are alumni of Opera Theatre’s young artist programs, including So Young Park (Zerbinetta) and Cecelia Hall (Composer) in Ariadne, Aubrey Allicock (Bulbul Fakh) and Jenni Bank (Firdaus Noman) in Shalimar, and Bradley Smoak (Colline) in La bohème. The season also features 38 members of OTSL’s current young artist programs – including 30 Gerdine Young Artists and 8 Richard Gaddes Festival Artists.

Season conductors include OTSL’s acclaimed Music Director Stephen Lord, as well as debuts by Emanuele Andrizzi, Rory Macdonald, and Jayce Ogren. All four directors for the new season return after recent triumphant productions at OTSL: Artistic Director James Robinson (who last directedEmmeline in 2015), Ron Daniels (who directed Il tabarro and Pagliacci in 2013), Lee Blakeley (who directed the American premiere of Richard the Lionheart in 2015), and Seán Curran (whose critically acclaimed production ofThe Pirates of Penzance was named “Operetta of the Year” by Opera Now in 2013).

All main season productions at Opera Theatre are accompanied by members of the St. Louis Symphony and are performed in English, with projected supertitles. Concerts and special events, such as Center Stage, feature music sung in its original language. Performances are presented in the Virginia Jackson Browning Theatre of the Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Webster University. Productions are performed in rotating repertory, making it easy for audiences to enjoy all four productions of the festival in a single weekend.

Subscriptions to the 2016 season are currently available, starting at $82 for a two-opera Wednesday or Saturday matinee series and $170 for a four-opera evening or matinee series. Special packages are available for K-12 educators, audiences under 45 years of age, and audiences travelling from out of town. Single tickets go on sale February 27, 2016, with prices starting at $25. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit or call the box office at (314) 961-0644.


Huang Ruo

Also at a press event yesterday in New York, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis General Director Timothy O’Leary announced details for the continuation of the company’s groundbreaking New Works, Bold Voices series — including the 2018 world premiere of An American Soldier, a full length opera by critically acclaimed composer Huang Ruo and Tony Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang. The opera will be the fourth world premiere in the series, which emphasizes the creation of American works, the telling of compelling modern stories, and themes of common humanity in today’s world.  The opera originally premiered in a 60-minute version in 2014 as part of Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative.  It will be expanded into a full-length work for its premiere in St. Louis.

Previously announced world premieres in Opera Theatre’s New Works, Bold Voices series include 2013’s Champion, 2014’s “27,” and the upcoming world premiere of Shalimar the Clown, based on the novel by Salman Rushdie.   An American Soldier tells the story of the tragic death of Chinese-American Army Private Danny Chen, who took his own life while stationed in a guard tower at a base in Kandahar province, Afghanistan.  Based on the ensuing courts-martial of Chen’s fellow soldiers, An American Soldier addresses issues of patriotism, cultural identity, belonging, and otherness.  Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Artistic Director James Robinson, who previously collaborated with Huang Ruo on the American premiere of Dr. Sun Yat-sen at The Santa Fe Opera, will direct.

Composer Huang Ruo has been lauded by The New Yorker as “one of the world’s leading young composers” and by The New York Times for his “distinctive style.”  His diverse compositional work spans from orchestra, chamber music, opera, theater, and dance to cross-genre, sound installation, multi-media, experimental improvisation, folk rock, and film. His opera Paradise Interrupted received its world premiere at the Spoleto Festival USA in 2015. Another performance of the opera is coming up at Lincoln Center Festival in 2016 before going on tour to Asia and Europe.  His opera Dr. Sun Yat-sen will receive its Canadian premiere in 2017 at the Vancouver Opera.  He was also recently named the composer-in-residence for the Concertgebouw Amsterdam and National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan.

David Henry Hwang

Librettist David Henry Hwang is one of America’s leading playwrights, acclaimed by TIME as “the first important dramatist of American public life since Arthur Miller.”  His many plays include M. Butterfly (which earned him his first Tony nomination and award), Golden Child, Yellow Face, Chinglish, and Kung Fu.  Named America’s most-produced living opera librettist by Opera News, he has written four works with composer Philip Glass, and collaborated on projects with Osvaldo Golijov, Phil Collins, Elton John, and Unsuk Chin. In 2014, he became the director of Columbia University’s School of the Arts’ M.F.A. program in playwriting.

“We are thrilled to be working with Huang Ruo and David Henry Hwang on this project,” said Timothy O’Leary, General Director of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.  “As artists, they embody the kind of probing, meaningful work we aim to advance through Opera Theatre’s New Works, Bold Voices series. It’s an honor to be collaborating with them, and with our friends at the Washington National Opera, who commissioned and premiered the first version of An American Soldier.  Through the moving story of Private Danny Chen and his family, this is a work that addresses the very question of what it means to be an American.”

Operas from the New Works, Bold Voices series have already established themselves as significant new additions to the American operatic repertoire, earning strong reviews during their premieres in St. Louis and continuing on to important subsequent productions.  Terence Blanchard and Michael Cristofer’s Champion receives its West Coast premiere in a co-production with SFJAZZ and Opera Parallel in February 2016.  Its East Coast premiere will be announced in March 2016. Similarly, Ricky Ian Gordon and Royce Vavrek’s “27” opens at Pittsburgh Opera in February 2016 and will make its New York debut in October 2016.

The world premiere of An American Soldier is made possible by theFred M. Saigh Endowment at Opera Theatre and with leadership gifts from the Whitaker Foundation, the Berges Family Foundation, and the Ferring Family Foundation.  The opera will receive its world premiere during Opera Theatre of Saint Louis’s 2018 Festival Season, opening June 3, 2018.  Details about additional performance dates and casting will be forthcoming. V

Via Press Release



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Tech City News travelled to Amsterdam to explore what the city has to offer as a hub for tech start-ups. In our video from the visit, we speak to the top names from the Amsterdam tech space and find out what’s going on in the burgeoning technology scene. Turns out it’s an ideal place to set up and scale-up a technology company.

Success stories

In the video, made in partnership with the City of Amsterdam, Spaces and Osborne Clarke, we speak with former European commissioner for the digital economy Neelie Kroes, who has now returned to the Netherlands to lead the Startup Delta programme. We also catch up with two of the city’s tech unicorns, Adyen and to find out what they think makes Amsterdam so special. Blippar acquired Dutch augmented reality company Layar in 2014 and we get Dirk Groten, the firm’s CTO, on camera to talk about his experiences.

We also have a chat with Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten, CEO and founder of media and events company The Next Web, which has made an impressive global impact.

Why Amsterdam?

With the likes of Netflix, Uber and Tesla choosing Amsterdam as their European base, it’s becoming increasingly hard to ignore the city as a serious global tech hub. In fact, Amsterdam was built on commerce, which peaked during the Dutch Golden Age when the first stock exchange opened and the port was one of the busiest in the world.

With a relatively small population of 17 million, the Netherlands seems to have always looked to build its prospects internationally and welcomed the skilled foreigners arriving on its shores. This has created an open and tolerant society where more than nine in 10 people speak English and a large proportion speak another language too.

With internet penetration at 94%, it’s no wonder the country sees itself as a great testbed for new digital technology services, as well as a great launchpad for companies hoping to reach 500 million more people across Europe.

Amsterdam’s city centre population stands at almost 800,000, less than one tenth the size of London, meaning short and relaxing commutes, particularly if you opt for the Dutch vehicle of choice: the bike.

While Londoners work some of the developed world’s longest hours and have among the longest journeys to work, the Dutch regularly top the tables for having the best work-life balance in the OECD. That may be one of the reasons why the country  is consistently featured on ‘happiest countries’ indexes.

For more …

To learn more about the tech scene in Amsterdam, check out the next issue of our print magazine, due out later this month. Subscribe now for your free copy.

The City of Amsterdam’s official foreign investment agency Amsterdam inbusiness is available to help foreign companies considering expanding to the city. It provides investment and business climate information and once companies decide to set up in Amsterdam, it provides a soft landing service and helps firms get plugged into the ecosystem very quickly. It is free of charge and operates on a confidential basis. Visit the City of Amsterdam site for more information.


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Although it’s an electronics brand, Samsung, with the help of its European agency 72andSunny Amsterdam, has joined the ranks of major athletics advertisers (and beer) in turning out inspirational sports-themed ads. Notably, Samsung did beautiful spots touting its sponsorship of the World Surf League.

Now, Samsung celebrates its partnership with the 2016 Youth Olympics at Lillehammer, putting powerful teen athletes at the forefront. In a new ad, a wide range of talented athletes including cross-country skiers, ice skaters, ski jumpers and hockey players prepare to compete, as we hear, via a voiceover, the voices in their heads. The film, also out of 72andSunny, is at first full of questions and self-doubt (“Maybe this is the end … maybe I should just give up”) as we see gruelling scenes of training, accidents and sweat, but gradually it becomes more motivated (“Maybe this will be what pushes me”) as the spot builds up to its climax of a terrifying-looking ski jump. If this doesn’t inspire teens to take up sport, we don’t know what will.

The Lillehammer Youth Olympics runs from Feb. 12 to 21 and includes 70 medal competitions as well as cultural events.

Other advertisers have focused on the young, to powerful effect. Back in 2014, for example, Dicks Sporting Goods and Anomaly launched the “Sports Matter” campaign, which also helped financially-strapped youth teams.

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Kreuzberg Paso Robles

From left, Alexander Ruckendorfer, Chris Tarcon and James Whitaker stand inside their new coffee shop in downtown Paso Robles. Photo by Heather Young

Coffee house closed Sunday, reopens Feb. 12

–Owners of San Luis Obispo based Kreuzberg Coffee Company James Whitaker, Chris Tarcon and Alexander Ruckendorfer purchased Amsterdam Coffee House at 725 13th St. at the end of 2015 and took over ownership on Jan. 1. They have closed the coffee shop temporarily for a remodel and will re-open the locale as a branch of Kreuzberg later this week. The coffee shop closed Sunday at 3 p.m. and will reopen on Friday. On Saturday, Feb. 13 a grand opening celebration will be held with free drip coffee and cookies served.

Whitaker said they planned the closure to impact business the least number days as possible. They will change the interior and at the same time bring over a number of menu items from their San Luis Obispo coffee house. The interior will more closely resemble the other coffee shop they own.

Kreuzberg Paso Robles

A cappuccino at Kreuzberg is a work of art. Owner James Whitaker said that the secret to a perfect cappuccino is getting the milk hot enough to bring out the most sweetness, but not so hot that it becomes bitter. The drink is then paired with a small cookie. Photo by Heather Young

The trio owns Kreuzberg Coffee Company, which roasts the coffee beans Amsterdam Coffee House had been using for the last year. The coffee company also sells its beans to coffee shops around the county. The three started the roastery, which is located inside Kreuzberg Coffee House in downtown San Luis Obispo, in 2014.

Whitaker and Tarcon started the first coffee shop in 2010 as an experiment in a building that was slated to be torn down for the city’s Chinatown development. Whitaker said they took out a month-to-month lease to see what would happen, not expecting it to last this long. After 10 months on Monterey Street, they moved to their current location at 685 Higuera St., in a large store front that used to house a Chinese restaurant.

The two were inspired by the time they spent in Germany in coffee shops. Whitaker lived in Germany for two years and Tarcon went to visit. The two spent their days, and nights, at coffee shops around Germany, especially in Kreuzberg, a neighborhood in Berlin.

“You see incredibly hip concepts [there], you want to take these concepts to your hometown because they don’t have it,” Whitaker said. “They become cultural hubs,” Tarcon said.

In Germany, both Tarcon and Whitaker were working as freelance web designers so would set up shop, so to speak, in a coffee shop eating breakfast and lunch there while enjoying coffee. “Sometimes we’d find ourselves at one cafe all day and all night,” Tarcon said.

Whitaker added that the business models they saw in Germany were coffee shops that would become night clubs, or that would offer something else in the evening.

After the started their first business in SLO, Whitaker and Tarcon then opened Batch, a small store front making custom ice cream sandwiches with fresh made cookies and ice cream, across from Big Sky Café at 1108 Broad St. A small Batch will be put into the Paso Robles coffee shop with window service at the door to the left of the main entrance. The owners said Batch won’t be open right away, but they hope to have it up and running by spring. The duo also owns Bowl’d, which make acai bowls and smoothies, at 1028 Chorro St.

With all of their businesses in downtown SLO, Whitaker said they’d been looking to open a second coffee shop somewhere else, so when the previous owners of Amsterdam approached them about buying the business, the timing was right.

“We’ve been fans of Amsterdam,” Whitaker said, adding that the location in downtown Paso Robles is perfect. The coffee shop will be open daily from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Whitaker said it is a bit of change from previous hours when the business opened at 6 a.m.

“We may change it based on customer demands and events,” Whitaker said, adding that they want to have open mic nights and live music at sometime in the future.

Kreuzberg Paso Robles

This is what Kreuzberg, formerly Amsterdam Coffee House, will look like when work is complete at the end of this week. Design by Chris Tarcon

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Crime Netherlands

Almere gunshot victim dies, police quiet on motive

Police investigation on Hendrik Marsmanstraat in Almere after a shooting on Dec 15th, 2015 (Photo: @robert19_68/Twitter)

The victim of the shooting incident on Hendrik Marsmanstraat in Almere on Tuesday morning passed away. The only information the police released so far is that the victim is a 56-year-old man from Almere who did not have a criminal record. The motive for the shooting remains unclear.

The police responded to reports of the soothing around 6:55 a.m. on Tuesday. At the scene they found a severely wounded man. He was rushed to the hospital in critical condition, where he died of his injuries.

A few minutes after the shooting the police received a report of a burning car on Wodananstraat. The police launched an investigation into whether these two incidents are related, but haven’t reported any findings so far.

A shooting followed by the discovery of a burnt-out getaway car is the method used in many of the gang-related assassinations in Amsterdam over the past few years.

The shooting incident caused much unrest in the Literatuurwijk. Local residents are shocked that something like this happened in their neighborhood. “It is a very quiet neighborhood and many children play here”, Dofl Vergeer said to Dichtbij shortly after the shooting. “I can’t even imagine what might have happened if kids happened to be nearby during the shooting. These days you hear more and more about these kinds of horrible things. Just look a the two dead found in that house in Lelystad on Sunday. Society is becoming harder and harder.”

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Every employee at Rai Amsterdam will soon be creating content. CMW looks at the company’s latest initiative.

Congress and exhibition venue and organiser RAI Amsterdam is telling more stories than ever thanks to a new staff initiative – giving employees the space and means to make and distribute their own content. “Everyone will be involved in content marketing within three years,” says Yvonne Nassar, head of marketing innovation. She says the event business has always been about connecting and ‘inspiring’ people and while this used to primarily involve physical meetings, a digital layer also has a key role to play today.

For RAI Amsterdam, which organises over 25 consumer and trade exhibitions itself and facilitates hundreds of other events as a venue, digital content has considerably changed its global outlook. “Instead of lasting a day or week, events often continue throughout the year online,” explains Nassar. “This has made their impact much greater.

We can connect people before, during, and after an event, using content for matchmaking.” Amsterdam competes with other cities such as Paris, London, Frankfurt and Barcelona, trading in particular on the compactness of the city, which it hopes enables it to make an event more visible, and according to Nassar, “expand its impact on visitors”. One good example of the latter was the ERS Congress last September, which drew 23,000 respiratory specialists to Amsterdam to discuss respiratory disease.

As part of the event’s mandate, the organisers wanted to provide visibility for the ‘Healthy Lungs for Life’ campaign in the city as well. So in co-operation with Amsterdam Marketing, people were able to have their lungs tested on Dam Square. “There were also specific bicycle and walking routes which showed where to find the cleanest air in the city,” adds Nassar.

These related activities were concentrated within the marketing and communication departments of RAI Amsterdam, but for a company with content in its DNA, this was no longer going to be sufficient. According to Nassar, digitisation demands a broader involvement. “We mainly use social media in a reactive way, which means we listen to what people have to say,” says Nassar.

“We want to expand this concept (which Nassar refers to as ‘webcare’) through a more proactive approach.” To this end the RAI is now appointing a number of ‘content connectors’ within the company, tasked with supporting the departments and employees in their marketing and communication needs. This, she claims, will also give the company a more distinct identity. In the long term nearly everyone within the company will be involved in content.

Several years ago, RAI’s executive chef Rientz Mulder and his right hand man Paul Conijn were looking to create more commitment among temporary staff: the hundreds of kitchen employees who are present during large events. They also wanted to highlight their field among other RAI employees. So they created an open environment, in this case a new Facebook page ‘Basement Chefs’, where they share stories and photos from the kitchen.

“They have done so well that we want to integrate this within our external communication to clients,” says Nassar. “These efforts have to be given the space and freedom to grow.” Other developments include a focus on internal social media, for which employees can take advantage of an iMovie video production course, and are offered job-related training.

The barrier to using social media actively was further lowered when the intranet was implemented as a social network some two years ago. Previously all content was developed by the corporate communication department. Now they manage the content, while employees can place their own messages and respond to them directly. Many companies have a good vision on future challenges but are unable to translate it to their own business. At the RAI, the ability to turn even modest attributes into a positive showcase for its services, is being understood.

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The deployment of biomass for production of power, heat, transportation fuels, renewable feedstock and materials has become one of the most complex, promising, politicized and debated options we have at our disposal to combat climate change and to create a sustainable energy system.

State-of-the-art analysis strongly confirms the necessity of large scale biomass deployment to meet the maximum GMT change of 2 – 1,5°C. The Paris Agreement fortunately led to global consensus for deep GHG emission reduction. The IPCC made clear in its 5th assessment report, that all key mitigation options need to deliver in the coming 4 decades on a vast scale, and that 250-300 EJ may need to come from biomass to make that possible. With those targets, the need for negative emissions is deemed necessary on a large scale.

Furthermore, biomass is the only tangible alternative for delivering carbon neutral carbon for liquid transport fuels for aviation, shipping, heavy road transport and shares of demand for passenger vehicles. Overall, sustainable biomass may deliver 30-40% of total global GHG mitigation efforts with the combined displacement of fossil fuels, CO2 removal and storage and increased carbon storage via vegetation, reforestation and restoration of marginal and degraded lands.

Fossil energy imports of the EU amount to some 400 billion Euro/yr, oil gas import dependency has risen to over 90% and will increase even further in the coming decades. Biomass offers the opportunity to cover a quarter of the EU’s energy use by 2050 within its borders, ensuring that a large part of the energy import bill is transformed to further investment and growth in industry, agriculture and forestry, implying sustainable jobs in particular in rural regions. Similar argumentation holds for many other world regions as well.

A sustainable biobased economy first and foremost depends on availability and supply of sustainable and affordable biomass resources. Today, we clearly understand that it is paramount that unsustainable displacement of food and loss of forest cover can be well avoided by means of higher resource efficiency in agriculture, livestock management and by restoration of degraded lands. This is possible on the scale required and can provide major synergies between sustainable biobased economy and sustainable, resource efficient food production. Achieving this synergy is one of the most important objectives for the coming decade, via large scale demonstrations, new integral policy and sustainability frameworks, that not only cover biomass value chains, but also the larger land and natural resource base and rural economy of the regions where the biomass is sourced.

Modernization and improved efficiency of conventional agriculture is essential in itself. Doing so changes the perspective on bioenergy from hedging problems to achieving synergies with better agriculture. Certification of biomass value chains sets the pace for conventional agriculture in that sense, which is a very positive development. The required land use strategies can also provide an answer to adapt to the impacts of climate change, by means of prevention of soil erosion, improving water retention functions, abating salinity problems, and more resilient agriculture. In total, this provides a ‘’heavy’ agenda; the combined effort of science, energy and chemical industries, civil society, policy and -key for the biobased economy the agriculture and forestry sectors, is needed. Building this sustainable biobased economy takes decades and steady, gradual development of markets, infrastructure and technologies. Such a long term perspective is essential to steadily push down costs and to walk down the learning curves that are very much there to exploit.

We need to deliver. Let’s keep that in mind while we all enjoy an excellent and inspiring event that brings the best and and brightest of the biobased community together.

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Posted Feb. 9, 2016 at 1:19 PM


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Watching his rival Fabiano Caruana losing in the last round of the Tata Steel Chess tournament, the world chess champion Magnus Carlsen had to wait a few moments before he could celebrate yet another first place.

What does Carlsen have in common with sport superstars Lionel Messi, Jaromir Jagr or Stephen Curry? They all seem unstoppable. Everybody knows they are going to score, but not many are able to prevent it.

Carlsen went undefeated in the first major tournament of the year that ended in Wijk aan Zee at the end of January. It was his fifth victory in the traditional Dutch tournament, a record he now shares with the former world champion Vishy Anand.

The tournament started in the 1930s and 78 tournaments have been played since under different names and in different locations. In 1967 we played the last time in Beverwijk, in a movie theater, and the winner was Boris Spassky. Next year the event moved a few kilometers towards the sea to Wijk aan Zee. Lately, some rounds were played in the Rijksmuseum and the NEMO Science Center in Amsterdam, in the International Press Center in the Hague and in a railway museum in Utrecht.


The Tata Steel tournament must be one of Carlsen’s favorite events. Here he played his signature game against Sipke Ernst in 2004 that earned him the moniker “Mozart of Chess” by The Washington Post. The Norwegian grandmaster now won the last three times he played there. This year, he combined patience, grit, gamble, endurance, high technique, creative attacks and calm defenses to score five wins.


His last win against the world’s top-rated woman Hou Yifan came in a pawn endgame that the Chinese GM should have drawn, but it was not as easy as one may have thought. She would have to find a precise defense during the battle of the squares.


Magnus Carlsen – Hou Yifan

Wijk aan Zee 2016


This was a critical position and the game continued: 45…h5? Hou played this blunder rather quickly, allowing the white king to sneak to the square b6. 46.Kb4 Kc8 47.Ka5 Kc7 48.h4 Kb8 49.Kb6 Kc8 50.b4 Kb8 51.b5 cxb5 52.axb5 axb5 53.Kxb5 Kc7 54.c3 and Hou resigned. She is in zugzwang and has to surrender the square b6. White wins the pawn d5 after 54…Kd7 55.Kb6 Kc8 56.c6.

Instead of the faulty 45…h5?, Hou Yifan could have blocked the entrance to the square b6 with 45…a5! 46.b4. The only way to open the queenside. [46.h4 h5 47.b4 will transpose]


It seems that Black now has two ways to make a draw but only one solves it with precise play.
A. 46…axb4+?!
This comes deceptively close to a draw, but White can continue playing.
47.Kxb4 Kd8!
Black’s defense is based on a stalemate and zugzwang.
Here again 47…h5? loses to 48.Ka5 Kc7 49.h4 Kc8 50.Kb6 Kb8 51.a5 Ka8 52.a6 Kb8 53.axb7 wins.
48.Ka5 [48.Kc3 Ke7 49.a5 Kd7=] 48…Kc7 49.h4 h5 50.c3 Unfortunately, White has to move his c-pawn to make progress. White wins with the pawn on c2.
One square makes a difference: 50…Kb8? 51.Kb6 Kc8 52.a5 Kb8 53.a6 bxa6 54.Kxa6 and White wins the c6 pawn.
51.Kb6 Kb8 52.a5 Ka8!
After 52…Kc8? 53.Ka7 Kc7 54.a6 wins.
After 53.a6 Kb8! 54.axb7 d4 55.cxd4 stalemates, but not 55.Kxc6? dxc3 56.Kb6 c2 57.c6 c1Q Black wins. Even after some magic, Black is not out of the woods:
53…Ka7 54.Kd6 Ka6 55.Ke5 Kb5! 56.Kxf5 Kc4! 57.Kg6 Kxc3 58.f5 d4 59.f6 d3 60.f7 d2 61.f8Q d1Q 62.Qh8+ Kc4 63.Qxh5 and I am sure Magnus would still try to win it from here.

B. 46…Ke7!
Hoping that the white pawns can block the queenside entrance for the white king. It is amazing to see the black pieces placed on the right squares – a strange coincidence.
47.bxa5 A critical position. The defense is based on the resistance equilibrium: Black has only one move to hold a draw.
A position with a mutual zugzwang. White to move: draw; Black to move: White wins.
After 47…Kd8? 48.Kd4 Ke7 49.Ke5 White wins.
Two other examples show how Black has to find the only one correct square for his king:
1a. 48.Kd3 Ke7!= (48…Ke6? 49.Kd4 Kf6 50.Kc3 Ke6 51.Kb4 Kd7 52.a6 bxa6 53.Ka5+-) ;
1b. 48.Kd4 Ke6! =
48…Kc7 49.Kb3 Kc8 [or 49...Kd8] 50.Kc3 Kd7! Draw.

The analysis of the game Carlsen-Hou Yifan brought us to the wonderful world of zugzwangs, stalemates and critical, correspondence or conjured squares in the pawn endgames. The 1932 book L’Opposition et les Cases conjuguées sont réconciliées (Opposition and Sister squares are reconciled) by the dadaist Marcel Duchamp and chess composer Vitaly Halberstadt, dealing with a mysterious connection between empty squares, came to mind. Basically, it is a king dance: the white king steps on one square and it triggers only one correct response of the black king. The book is not very practical, but it is nice to look at.


For the French writer Pierre Cabanne the problems presented in the book are rare, almost utopian. “It is an artist’s book for chessplayers and a chess book for the artists,” wrote the Austrian writer Ernst Strouhal, who published several books on Duchamp and chess.

In 1958, the Czech IM Emil Richter tried to make the idea more useful and came up with the more general Theory of Resistance Equilibrium. Perhaps an awkward name, but here is what he meant in short: “In a position in which one side makes a good move, the other side has to find only one correct answer – otherwise the balance is broken.” It is mostly prevalent in the pawn endgames, as in Carlsen’s game or Duchamp’s work, but Richter intended to extend it to other pieces. He never got to do it, finished only the one volume about the pawn endgames and his theory was forgotten.

Richter was a strong player in the 1940s, chess composer and good teacher. His best student was GM Vlastimil Jansa, who in turn became a coach of the Czech champion David Navara. Another example how chess knowledge is passed from generation to generation.


Navara won the Fair Play Prize in the Master group awarded in memory of the late Vugar Gashimov. He could have also won the prize for the most entertaining play, if there was any. Winning or losing, he fought bravely in every game, often being lured by chess artistry. “Too much talent,” Bobby Fischer once told me about grandmasters playing this way. Navara’s best game was against Caruana. Here is the final part:

Navara,David – Caruana,Fabiano

Wijk aan Zee 2016


White threatens to create a passed pawn on the queenside, making the black bishop vulnerable. Caruana makes White’s task easier by leaving the sixth rank with the rook.
49…Rxg3? 50.a5! bxa5 51.c5 Kd8?
After 51…Rg6 52.h5 Rf6 53.c6 Rd6 54.cxd7 (54.c7 Bc8) 54…Rxd7 55.Rxa5 Navara would have winning chances since the white h-pawn still remains on the board.
A wonderful quiet move, paving the way for the king by not allowing a check on the sixth rank. Caruana hoped he could survive giving up the bishop after 52.c6 Bxc6 (52…Bc8 53.h5) 53.Bxc6 and somehow exchange the last white pawn. Perhaps easier said than done, but anyway Navara had a study-like finish in mind.
52…f4 53.Kd6 Bc8 54.c6 Rg5
After 54…Rd3 55.Rxg7 Rxd5+ 56.Kxd5 the black king is still in trouble.
And that’s how a true chess artist finishes his game, mating with a pawn after 55…Bh3 56.Ra8+ Bc8 57.c7 mate.
Black resigned.

It was a setback for Caruana, but he was still able to chase Carlsen until he lost to Evgeny Tomashevsky in the last round. The American GM shared the second place with the Chinese GM Ding Liren.

Next month, Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura will represent the United States in the Candidates tournament in Moscow for the right to challenge Carlsen for the world title.

Nakamura meantime continued to pursue his hobby: collecting first prizes in major open tournaments. Early this month he shared first place with the French GM Maxime Vachiere-Lagrave at the popular Tradewise Gibraltar Masters, but won the tie-brake 3-2. Anna Muzychuk, the sister of the Women’s world champion Mariya, won the best women’s prize.

We will have the replay feature as soon as it becomes available.

Images by Alina L’Ami


Lionel Messi, Stephen Curry, Marcel Duchamp, Magnus Carlsen, Bobby Fischer, Vishy Anand, Boris Spassky, Fabiano Caruana, Jaromir Jagr, David Navara, Maxime Vachier Lagrave, Hou Yifan, Vugar Gashimov, Ding Liren, Anna Muzychuk, Vitaly Halberstadt, Mariya Muzuchuk, Emil Richter, Vlastimil Jansa, Pierre Cabanne, Hikaru Makamura, Evgeny Tomashevsky, Ernst Strouhal

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A series of marches took place across Europe on February 6 under the banner of Pegida – an ‘anti-Islamisation’ street movement. Events took place in Dresden, Dublin, Calais, Amsterdam and Prague.

In a rain-drenched Birmingham a group of a few hundred people travelled in near silence from the main train station to an anonymous industrial estate. The march was billed as an opportunity for people to show their peaceful opposition to the ‘Islamisation’ of Britain.

Respectability was a major theme. At a press launch, Pegida UK’s leaders encouraged protesters to bring their families and promised that there would be no chanting or alcohol and that attendees would not be covering their faces. Before the event a message was sent out urging members of the far-right BNP and National Front to stay away.

This is part of a wider momentum away from the behaviour most readily associated with movements of this kind. The rhetoric and behaviour seen in Birmingham seemed a world away from stereotypical authoritarian fascism. But Pegida doesn’t necessarily represent anything new. Its UK activists claim to be anti-fascist but this is an organisation that sits comfortably on the extreme right. It seems to have drawn significant inspiration from the international counter jihad movement.

The extreme right has attempted to reinvent itself before. It has scrubbed conspiracy theory and biological racism from its literature and focused on the idea of protecting cultures. Groups such as the British National Party and the French Front National, have previously attempted to reposition themselves as champions of human rights, for example the ‘populist nationalism’ of the BNP.

Dropping explicit fascist tropes has given some groups an even greater freedom to carve out new territory. The counter-jihad movement has emerged as a loose international network of activists built around the narrative of Islam being at war with the West.

Key activists include the US-based bloggers Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, as well as the Norwegian blogger Fjordman (infamous for his appearance in Anders Breivik’s manifesto) and Danish activist Anders Gravers. All of them share the belief that Islam and the West are at war.

The movement also includes think-tanks, such as the David Horowitz Freedom Centre, and organisations such as Stop Islamisation of Europe, The American Freedom Defence Initiative and the International Civil Liberties Alliance.

Fabricating war

For the counter jihad movement, Islam is not a religion but a totalitarian political ideology that is completely incompatible with Western values. Muslim immigration, particularly to Europe, is framed as being part of a plot to impose Sharia law. European leaders are represented as either blind to, or complicit in the attempted take over.

The leadership of Pegida UK marching in Birmingham all have strong ties to this international counter jihad movement. Tommy Robinson, co-ordinator of Pegida UK and former leader of the far-right group the English Defence League, has enjoyed the support of various counter jihad figures and in 2013 invited both Spencer and Geller to address an EDL rally in the UK – although the government blocked them from entering the country.

Deputy leader, Anne Marie Waters attempted to host a cartoon contest similar to one held in Garland, Texas in 2015 May, which had encouraged people to draw the prophet Muhammad. The Texas event was attacked by two American Muslims, who wounded a security guard before they were shot and killed. The London contest was abandoned over security concerns.

Pegida UK claims to have moved on from the disorder that characterised the EDL. That the UK march passed off peacefully seemingly strengthens this claim. It is also important to remember that Pegida UK is a broad church, not a monolith, and that many of those on Saturday’s Pegida UK demonstration were driven by genuine fears over immigration and violent Islamist extremism.

However, despite its claims to moderation, Pegida UK as an organisation is entirely consistent with emerging trends in an extreme right which is seeking to distance itself from explicitly fascist rhetoric.

The Pegida UK leadership is firmly connected to an international movement that believes the West is under existential threat from a homogenised and totalitarian Islam. Pegida UK can claim to be committed to human rights but those rights appear to be selective. They do not extend to Muslims, be they migrants or citizens.

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