Greetings from the other side

by ChessBase
8/14/2005 – Over a year ago we staged an interesting move-a-week match between visitors and the Uzbek GM Saidali Yuldashev. The event was covered in Uzbekistan TV. Three participants won copies of Fritz with personal dedication by GM Yuldashev. These have long been delivered, as explained in this illustrated report by organiser Jamshid Begmatov.

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Hello everybody!

It’s been a year since we finished our game against the Uzbek GM Saidali Yuldashev and promised to award prizes (Fritz programs) to three most active participants of the game. Many people have asked ChessBase and me personally who the winners were, and many, especially the prize winners, were surprised why it was taking so long to announce the winners and send them the prizes.

I apologize for this big delay caused by several reasons: first, my laptop where I had all my databases, games and contacts was stolen and never found; second, I changed my job, which took a mammoth amount of energy and effort – now I am working at the European Commission’s office in Tashkent; third, I had a problem getting in touch with one of the winners for he had moved to a different location (I express my special thanks to John McCumiskey of the Sacramento Chess Club for his help in this matter); and finally, I took a very long business and training trip to Australia and Indonesia via Malaysia. In the meantime all the prizes have been sent to the lucky winners

Although not very much chess-related, I want to tell you about my experiences in Melbourne and East Java, Indonesia.

There are many reasons why Melbourne has won the ‘World’s Most Livable City’ award in the last five years. Its neatness, perfect infrastructure, excellent business opportunities, all kinds of entertainment and sports facilities, and, especially, its unbelievably nice people, make Melbourne a paradise on Earth.

Rialto is one of tallest towers in the world, and the tallest in the Northern Hemisphere, as Aussies like to say.

From Rialto observation deck you see the whole of Melbourne as the palm of your hand. Here the Yarra River and downtown Melbourne.

Every year the leafy Melbourne suburb of Albert Park is transformed into a thrilling motor racing circuit to test the greatest Formula One drivers in the world.

‘Aussie Rules Football’, or just ‘Footy’ is the home-grown football code in Australia.

A game in action

You can see and listen to combos performing South American traditional music in the streets of Melbourne.

As you drive out of the city, you can see kangaroos all around, and koalas and cockatoos on the trees.

And of course the ocean… Aussies call it Southern Ocean, but for me, a man who studied Geography at a Soviet school, it is just part of the Pacific.

I fell so much in love with Melbourne it was very difficult to leave it, and I left it with a big hope to come back one day. My next destination was East Java, a province of Indonesia extremely rich of exotic culture and traditions.

A booming city of over three million, Surabaya is the second largest city of Indonesia, offering many hotels, shopping and entertainment centres.

Ninety km south of Surabaya lies Malang, one of the most attractive towns in East Java. This is how we were welcomed at the Politeknik Negeri Malang, the school we were having our training course at.

Across the Strait Madura, half an hour by ferry from Surabaya is the island of Madura, famous for its unique culture of Karapan Sapi -- bull races held each year after the harvest season. Madura is also part of East Java but has its own traditions and even a different language.

Delicious Indonesian food is something one should experience…

… and should try to learn to cook. That’s yours truly cooking Martabak at one of Malang’s numerous restaurants.

Chess is extremely popular in Indonesia. You see many small groups of players in the streets. People here are very friendly and welcoming, so you can easily join them for a game or two, and so I did. First I easily beat 5 or 6 players, but they decided they should restore the honour of the nation and called a guy selling juice nearby. It wasn’t until I got beaten 4 times in a row that I realized he was just too strong for me – he turned out to be a National Master and former champion of Malang.

Finally, to wrap up my hard working days in Indonesia, I went to Probolinggo, a beautiful resort in on the Sea of Java.

While Probolinggo is a posh resort, you see a very big gap between the rich and the poor. This man was selling very nice wooden bikes, which I am sure required a lot of artistic skill to make. But he offered me to buy them for 10,000 rupees, roughly one US dollar each.

For another US dollar you can have this man to perform a traditional dance exclusively for you – he has everything he needs: a sophisticated and startling tape-recorder-amplifier-loudspeaker-battery-pack-in-one device and the dancing skill.

Oh, I think now you cannot wait to see who the lucky prize winners are. Courtesy of ChessBase, we have awarded three prizes to most active players of our game:

One prize goes to Tashkent, home of the very idea of such a game, to a 75-year-old literature professor and keen chess player Ozod Sharafiddinov. Professor’s message: "I am glad we have been able to offer this opportunity to play a grandmaster to an unlimited number of players throughout the world. And we all should be grateful to ChessBase for helping organize this. I encourage other grandmasters to play such games with the masses."

Another goes to Edmonton, Canada, to Wayne Mendryk, who made many valuable contributions to our game and provided deep analyses of many positions. Wayne’s message: "Thanks for all of your work relating to the game with GM Yuldashev. It is greatly appreciated and for awarding me this wonderful prize that I will always cherish."

And finally, Alonzo McCaulley of Rancho Cordova, California, USA, who also provided many insightful analyses and valuable comments throughout the game. On the picture you see Alonzo and his wife Unrika. And his message is: " I am still amazed that you found me. Thank you so much for inviting the ChessBase audience to participate in that game. I thoroughly enjoyed it then and now. I look forward to getting the autographed prize so I can show it to friends at the chess club."

Here are the prizes signed for winners by GM Saidali Yuldashev. It reads: "With best wishes and thanks for a wonderful game. GM Saidali Yuldashev."

Your opponent Grandmaster Saidali Yuldashev signing the prizes for the winners.

And this is how every game of chess should end – shaking hands, Saidali and your obedient servant on behalf of the ChessBase audience, Jamshid Begmatov.

The ChessBase-Uzbek TV match

Let's play chess with the Uzbeks
02.11.2003 Once a year the Uzbekistan Chess Federation and the state-owned TV station organise a chess match between a leading national grandmaster and the TV audience. The moves are exchanged on a weekly TV special. Now the organisers have invited visitors to participate. Jamshid Begmatov tells us how.

A chess set from Uzbekistan
08.11.2003 The game between grandmaster Saidali Yuldashev and the Uzbek TV audience, assisted by visitors, is being received with great enthusiasm. People are already talking about a match between the Uzbekistan and ChessBase audiences. A delighted woodcarver from Tashkent (picture) is even making a special gift for ChessBase.

A message from India
16.11.2003 visitors are participating in a game between grandmaster Saidali Yuldashev and the Uzbek TV audience. And the messages are pouring in. "Hi uncle Jam," wrote a seven-year-old from India, "the only joy in my life is chess. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to play a real grandmaster!" Jamshid Begmatov reports.

Chess moves in Iraq
23.11.2003 Last week the game between grandmaster Saidali Yuldashev and the Uzbek TV audience, assisted by visitors to this site, brought a moving letter from a child in India. This time two British soldiers in Iraq sent in a move and a picture. Isn't it amazing what a game of chess can do? Here are the details...

Just saying no, and a simul in a pool
30.11.2003 Last week we got a message from British soldiers, this time from a former drug addict who kicked the habit with chess. The game between the reigning Uzbek champion Saidali Yuldashev and the TV audience is growing in popularity, especially here at You will never guess the percentage of Uzbek votes versus ChessBase votes. Find out here...

Wedding beauties and chess in Samarkand
07.12.2003 The game between the Uzbek champion Saidali Yuldashev and the TV audience + is entering a critical phase. The GM said that he had not expected such precise play from his opponent. Meanwhile young Khourshid from Samarkand has taken his bride, and our trusty reporter Jamshid Begmatov sent us pictures of the festive event.

Top 10 reasons to play 1.h3
13.12.2003 Toqatni tagi rohat – under patience lies bliss, but in the TV match Uzbekistan + ChessBase vs GM Saidali Yuldashev there is a novelty in the air. Jamshid Begmatov recapitulates the rules of this TV + Internet match, and also quotes many interesting messages he has received. One introduces us to the virtues of an unusual opening.

A dollar a game on Tamerlane square
20.12.2003 In the TV game Uzbekistan + ChessBase vs GM Saidali Yuldashev the latter has unleashed an eagerly awaited novelty. The organisers report that the Grandmaster is receiving his first marriage proposals (even before the novelty!). Sorry, ladies, Saidali is already taken and has three children. So, please, let's concentrate on the game.

Crossing the mountains to meet the girls
04.01.2004 Today our roving reporter Jamshid Begmatov traverses the treacherous Kamchik mountain pass to visit two young girls who are the Uzbekistan champions in their age groups. Meanwhile GM Saidali Yuldashev seems definitely to be gaining the upper hand against the Uzbek TV audience + ChessBase visitors. Here's our pictorial report.

Sick leave in Tashkent
12.01.2004 The message told of influenza and high temperature, our reporter in Uzbekistan just got off a few lines with the moves – and a large bunch of emails he had received from chess fans all over the world. While he battles the flu bug, the game between GM Yuldashev and the Uzbek TV audience + ChessBase continues. Here's our sick-leave report...

Saved by the flu – literally
18.01.2004 Normally influenza viruses bring pain and exhaustion to the afflicted, with no mitigating circumstances. Except in this one case, where they saved the life Jamshid Begmatov, the moderator of our chess game against Uzbek GM Yuldashev, who was prevented from taking an ill-fated plane trip by a flu. Here's the harrowing story.

The king in an iron grip
01.02.2004 After a week of absence (GMs occasionally do play in tournaments) Saidali Yuldashev has returned to Tashkent to take up the game against Uzbek TV audience and the ChessBase public. Unfortunately our king is in a cage, so that most people think we are fighting for a draw, while some are more optimistic. There's a lot of excellent analysis in Jamshid Begmatov's weekly report.

Bad girls go to Laguna Beach
10.02.2004 What are these chess players doing? They are playing a game against an Uzbek grandmaster. While Saidali Yuldashev sits in freezing Tashkent, some of his opponents are enjoying a beach-side think in sunny California. For our TV match Jamshid Begmatov has received a beautiful photo report from the opposite side of the globe.

Game over, ChessBase and Uzbekistan draw
24.02.2004 The match between GM Saidali Yuldashev and the Uzbek TV audience, heavily assisted by visitors from all over the world, has ended in a draw. Jamshid Begmatov has interviewed the GM and takes a pictorial look back at an eventful game. We are waiting for your final comments and have prizes for the best submissions.

Jamshid Begmatov

I was born in 1974 in Andizhan, easternmost city of Uzbekistan, into a family of university teachers. Nothing significant happened during my school years except, maybe, that I learnt to smoke, drink beer and vodka, and others useless things. But undoubtedly, one positive thing I gained from school is the knowledge that then allowed me to enter university, in the English Language Faculty. However, after completing the first year, I came to a conclusion that there was nothing left for me to study at this faculty, and I decided to change my field of study. In 1992 I entered the University of Istanbul, International Economy. Then, in 1994, for reasons unknown to me, almost all Uzbek students studying in Turkey were drawn back to Uzbekistan and placed in different local universities. So I had to transfer to Tashkent University of Economics, International Economic Relations, from which I graduated in 1997.

How do you think heavy rain can drastically change someone's life? That's exactly what happened to me in 1997 summer. I just went out to have an evening walk in the fresh air when it suddenly started raining. Well, that was a lucky evening, because there was a pretty girl walking by near me and she had an umbrella. I politely asked her to share her umbrella as I was getting wet through to my bones. She agreed. I'm sure you can guess the end of the story. Today she is my wife, and we have two nice children, both boys! My elder son is five and is already learning to play chess.

After graduation I tried several jobs as a civil servant, wasn't quite happy though. Then I just accidentally happened to participate in the Soros Foundation's competition for English-Uzbek translation of a university textbook on Sociology, which I won. I translated several books since, including Economics, Financial Management, Economics Teacher's Guide etc. At the present I work as an interpreter for Cambridge Education Consultants project in Tashkent. However, I view myself as an economist and since last year I'm conducting my PhD research in Economics. My thesis is "Economic Globalization and Its Impact on Free Trade Issues in Uzbekistan". In the meantime my dream of being an economist came true. Currently I am working at the European Commission's office in Tashkent as Economic Analyst.

As a chess player I am not that strong, but I really love this game. My Elo rating is 2150 (according to Fritz 6). As I have no human opponents available when I have time, I love playing correspondence chess via email. Currently I have a number of opponents throughout the world and would be delighted to play some email games with ChessBase readers too.

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