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Plagiarism Chronicle

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Since we've been talking so much about cheating chessplayers, why not a bit about cheating chess writers? It's not news that the internet has made plagiarism much easier, as well as more profitable. Photos and articles can be copy-pasted, perhaps slightly changed, perhaps not. Often they are translated into other languages, reducing the chance of the theft being noticed. I've certainly seen my own writing and photos pop up all over the place over the years.

Usually these are relatively small sites that aren't run for profit and/or aren't in direct competition with the copyright holders. Sometimes they are amateurs who aren't aware what they are doing is illegal. (One, not an amateur, insisted that using photos he found on the web wasn't stealing because he "found them on Google.") Or they think they can use what they like as long as they include attribution.

Then you have blatant, commercially motivated plagiarism, which is what we have before us today. Thanks to Petrel for sending in a detailed analysis of an article by someone named Frank Kolasinski for something called Chess Chronicle, which appears to be a subscription-based online magazine. The offending article (from a free sample issue) seems to be mostly lifted - entire paragraphs, verbatim sentences - from various online sources, largely ChessBase.com articles by Jeff Sonas and me and including Dennis Monokroussos's blog. I wonder if Kolasinski's closing New Year's wishes were equally original and sincere.

Of course the author is responsible, and that he is listed on the masthead as "Game Editor" does not speak well of the publication. As when these things happen in the mainstream print media, the editors are also deserving of criticism, but it is their reaction to this by which they will be judged. I well understand that chess journalism is mostly semi-professional, especially online, and I include myself in that description. So I don't expect the editors to have the New Yorker fact-checking team. (Hikaru's role with them is mostly editing the Yugo-English analysis articles.) That I recognize in the magazine and site at least three uncredited photos is a lesser matter. As is that the interview with Botvinnik has been freely available online since 2003, although at least that is from the same editor and author.

Repackaging and/or translation and republication are hardly rare or wrong. One assumes that Russian and Serbo-Croat chessplayers might recognize some of the annotations, for example, but bringing material to a new audience is almost as good as new material. But straightforward plagiarism as perpetrated by Kolasinski, passing someone else's hard work off as your own (for profit or not), is pathetic, as well as illegal.

I'm not going to bother to collect every issue of this magazine to look for my writing and photos or to google for those of others. Just like I don't bother with the Colombian website that translates my articles into Spanish and sells them. Life is too short. (It took around 10 seconds to find that Kolasinski's articles in their other two sample issues also plagiarize heavily from ChessBase and other sites. Google cuts both ways, doesn't it? Malcolm Pein at London Chess Centre is far less forgiving about this stuff, I should add, and TWIC has also been victimized.) Caveat emptor.

Btw, I see several friends are involved with the project or have contributed to it. I wish them success and also luck in cleaning up their house. [Update: Executive editor Abdul Karim posted below and later called me to apologize, which I much appreciate. As was obvious, the editors were unaware of Kolasinski's plagiarism and they will work to remove the material.]


my fine review of "Chess Bitch" there is only taken from my own biased views

Yah, I don't want to tar everyone involved with the same brush. I'm well aware that the chess world is a relatively unprofessional environment, so I'm not attacking the editors. How they react to this, on the other hand, is their test.

Petrel, who sent in the report, also sent it to their editors. They replied with some BS about forgetting to include his list of sources, as if somehow that is what was missing instead of a few hundred quotation marks and attributions. Plus, in many cases he added and slightly altered phrases to pass them off as his own. A clearer case (cases) of plagiarism is hard to imagine.

Mig why not send them a bill for your work. I believe you have a right to send him a bill. When he does not pay the bill, then you have him for non-payment. or he might even incriminate himself in response to the bill.

Personally I believe that too much intellectual property is stiffling the world. my opinion is that the idea of intellectual property has gone too far.

I am not talking about what your situation is. but there are other abuses of the system. I also believe the concept of ownership of land is helping to destroy the world. When I meditate on the situation I come to realize that the American Indians had a much better concept. There is also much truth in the statement by many South Americans saying now that Capitalism is destroying the world. think about it and compare it with the concepts of the American Indians.

American Indian, Chief Seattle, wrote to President Franklin Pierce in 1854.

I wrote about my own experience with chess pirates at my blog recently:

What you say about the time factor is absolutely true: it hardly seems worth it to pursue them when you have new and original content to generate....

I think part of the problem is that there is a whole generation of people now who grew up seeing the internet as a repository of free content (includng music) and they don't know otherwise or hardly think it matters. There is an incredible amount of willfull ignorance in the world when it comes to intellectual property.

Ironically, I only learned about Chess Chronicle when fingering Smallville on ICC. It is listed as a favorite site. I will boycott the site until things change.

On another topic . . . Corus

It appears that Adams and Anand have respectively the "easiest" remaining schedule. Does anyone give Adams a shot to win it with so many rounds against the tailenders?

With Karjakin doing so well . . . I was wondering if anyone thought Nakamura would perform as well. He did beat Karj convincingly in a head to head multi game match not to far back.

Indians? What the...? I have to say that although Chief Seattle certainly had some beautiful ideas about the (perhaps mis)concept of "property", the stupid cracker who decided to come waltzing across Indian territory back in the day is about as likely to leave as not. And the rez these days isn't known as the friendliest place to visit either (not that I don't want to hang out). So I think that Mssr. Seattle might have missed a few points. Not that I really care. Mostly, I'm just proud of Mig. Not for getting his stuff ripped off and being a good sport about it. But because he spelled "plagiarism" correctly. No easy task.

Think of it this way Mig, since we’re all waxing philosophical on the matter: perhaps plagiarism is the information age’s new “sincerest form of flattery”. To put it another way… hey, at least your stuff is good enough to steal.

I don't know about the issue above, I suppose it will be resolved, if necessary, in a friendly atmosphere. I do know that we, the chess players, have a copycating tendency, arising from copycating "other people's non-copyrighted moves and analysis" all the time...

I didn't check Jeff Sonas's (mentioned in the text above) revolutionary-based website for a long time.

I did now, and some players I know something about, have a lot of wrong info posted, including myself. Maybe I'll write to (certainly not sue) him someday.

I suppose his FIDE elo lists, or the algorythm is corrupted somewhere. Earlier I tried to collect all FIDE elo lists ever published, it seems the only reliable resource is with Chess Informant, published in the "Chess is Chess" CD. But, there is no exportable version, "only" useful elo list scans.

These were my the "four Is".

On another look, it seems that Mr. Sonas is using his own formula for elo calculation, combined with existing FIDE elo lists data and various tournament game sources!?

Too complicated for me.

Don, don't forget that Anand lost against a tailender!

I don’t agree with Mig’s comment “Btw, I see several friends are involved with the project or have contributed to it. I wish them success and also luck in cleaning up their house.”

Everyone has the right to agree or disagree, it’s a free country, isn’t?

As far as “something called” (Mig says) Chess Chronicle and specially “Chess at Large” goes, we were unaware of it, we have contacted Mr. Frank Kolasinski, and he did realize that.
We are thankful to Petrel to bring this in our attention.

But highly disappointed on MIG’s Journalism also, I have known him since so many years; you could have dropped me a line, to just to ask if I was aware of this before you start tearing off some one cloth!!

I’d highly appreciate if you guy don not involve any other writer/contributor or Editor in this.

Once again thank you Petrel!


Sorry, but I was not knowledgable about the project, Karim, and had no interest in seeing this covered up quietly. What would I have said? Or should I have sent a bill, as Tommy suggested above? I didn't want to spend time tracking down anyone and everyone related to the project, especially since Petrel had already sent his report to your publications's public address and received a laughable response. (Something absurd about the editors having forgotten to list his sources. Worse than no answer at all, I'm sure you'll agree. This implies that the editors were aware of the plagiarism, which I strongly doubt.)

Plagiarism is absolutely unacceptable and while I don't hold the editors entirely responsible, their/your reaction to this is what matters now. What does "and he did realize that" mean? Ignoring months of systematic plagiarism involving every major online chess publication is not the way to be a part of this community. Issuing an apology to those victimized, removing the offending material, spelling out whether or not the plagiarist will continue to "work" for you, this is what is required. (And it's still not guaranteed to avoid legal action seeking compensation, though at this point that is not something I'm interested in personally. But he stole from many places and I speak only for myself.)

Posting a note here saying I should have been quieter about having my work stolen is not a move in the right direction. If someone breaks into my house and steals my television I don't drop them a line. This is your time to step up, accept some responsibility, do what is required both legally and morally, and get this behind you. Best of luck!

Like I said, we and I was unaware of it.

I requested you in the past to use your work and I could have asked you again, you do know that.

I will remove the published material soon.

And hope this will resolve the issue!
Cheers! [don’t take it wrong  ]
Sincerely yours

Thanks Karim, and for calling. I've also added an update to the main piece. See you in San Diego.

Chesscafe had a similar experience as victim of plagiarism a year or two ago, which their owner Hanon W. Russell wrote a lengthy editorial about. Being an attorney himself, Mr. Russell did pursue the perpetrators with legal threats (my memory is fuzzy, but I think the slimeballs were based in Canada and were unknown to the chess community). They sent him an email similar in tone to what Petrel got from Chess Chronicle; and of course, they made a point of ignoring his requests for their real name(s), physical address(es), etc. Still, I recall he said the the specific articles he had complained about did soon disappear from the suspect site (without any explanation or mea culpa, of course). His editorial had a triumphant tone as I recall, though it sounds like those particular crooks just went on doing what they were doing to all the other victims they made a habit of stealing from.

I have to agree, Karim's first response was a slap in Mig's face this, after they stole from him!! A joke. But great reply Mig, I know he is your friend and all but you put him right in his place.
"I will remove the published materials SOON". This implies they haven't removed it even after Patrel had wrote to them and after reading Mig's articles. And they got the cahooney to call out on Mig??? Even though I am glad it is resolved but people especially this editor has to realize that it is not Mig's job to find who is stealing his work, but the editor's job especially AFTER someone had wrote to them about it.

Visit Snopes.Com for the truth on the Chief Seattle speech. Lifted from a movie script. The old guy never saw a buffalo or a railroad.

haha disappointed in Mig's journalism... what the?? He spoke the truth and thats what Journalism is all about. Karim instead of taking a negative tone towards Mig, you should have pleaded for forgiveness in your first post. To take this tone with Mig especially after Patrel had wrote to you about the plagiarism is disguting! Lol it makes me really mad.

Mig, great job of exposing the plagiarism and the incompetence of the editors involved for non action even until now (as evident from "We will remove the articles SOON"). And honestly, even his apology was lame considering Patrel had already made them aware of this!

Big deal guys --

Don't flatter yourselves that you have such a unique chess journalism style and that it is SOOO recognizable, that anyone would be able to tell instantly that you were ROBBED.

All these blogs are basically glorified scoresheets and crosstables. They're like reading the sports page or the stock quotes.

I don't think the "cheaters" are paying their mortgages with your pearls of reporting. They are probably trying to enjoy a chess persona -- for whatever it's worth ...


That's not the point. The point is that they DID steal it and we weren't paid for our work. If it's so easy to do, and I'm the first to say it's not heavy lifting or rocket science, then let them do it. Simple enough.

All reporting is glorified presentation of facts. That doesn't mean some people aren't better at it than others.

"We are Sad and We are Sorry"

Publishing a periodical such as Chess Chronicle requires three essential ingredients: integrity, timeliness and expertise. Without one of these, such a publication is worthless. Thus, it is essential that we make this statement to our subscribers and to the world at large.

It has been brought to our attention by “Petrel” that our regular column, “Chess at Large” has not been the original work of the person, Frank Kolasinski, listed as the writer; that, indeed, the purported author of the column has plagiarized from several other sources of internet chess news. We thank “Petrel” for the information (s)he has supplied us and apologize, both to our subscribers and the chess world at large, on two accounts:

1 – for publishing the plagiarized material;

2 – for not having caught the plagiarisms ourselves.

It was – and is, after all – our responsibility to make sure that our subscribers receive the best chess magazine possible, which means that all three of the essential ingredients mentioned in the first paragraph of this apology and explanation must be integral parts of our lives, as publishers of Chess Chronicle. If we publish plagiarism, the fault is ours, as well as that of the plagiarizer. We are not babes in the woods and we must be aware of what is going on in the chess world, including what is being published by other sources on the internet.

Having said this – and with no wish to minimize our own culpability – we ask you to understand that none of the responsible editors was aware of the wrongdoing. We should have been aware of what was going on – and we will make it a high priority to monitor other internet sources of chess news from now on, to make sure that similar crimes are not committed in our name. We thought we were acting in good faith, because Kolasinski was writing a weekly column for the Athol Daily News, in Massachussetts, and had a similar column, with the same name -- Chess at Large -- in Chess Horizons. So much for taking “the obvious” for granted.

We ask that no one view our other contributors with a tainted eye and that our subscribers have faith that we will make every effort to protect their interest in having original material presented to them at all times.

Finally, merely saying, “Thank you!” to “Petrel” is not enough. While we can’t reward her/him opulently, we hope a lifetime subscription to Chess Chronicle will show that we truly are grateful for the assistance rendered us.

The Chess Chronicle Team

Judge not lest you be judged --

I've read many BlackBelts where I've wondered how much "original" analysis can possibly be there, and how many dozens of hours of labor can possibly have gone into those analyses, especially in BlackBelt.

It seems many of those games are put through Fritz or Shredder or such, and then a few phrases tossed in every ten moves or so -- "Difficult position!" "Wild fireworks!" Not so much in White Belt which is more prosey, but in Black Belt.

How about it? Are you above the quick snip and paste when you are away at those tournaments and you have to whip out an issue in a day or less because you're already a week behind schedule? Is it enough to just "credit" Fritz at the top of the game and be done with it? It seems simple enough, as you said...

What we're talking about is writing fluff under pressure and passing it off for a few cents, so you can get on to the next issue -- that's what you find in a daily or a weekly -- right?


Actually if I'm busy I prefer to delay an issue by a few days instead of putting out hasty crap. If you want to send me some examples of what you're talking about I'd be interested to see them. I'm always happy to get feedback and I don't get much of it for BB.

There are certainly be a few supplemental annotated games with light notes and/or just variations on occasion, usually from a tournament report, but they would only rarely be included in the text of an issue, only added into the game file and replay page. And I try not to use hackneyed phrases like you describe. I just read over the last four issues and didn't find many such useless exclamations. Almost every text note was a full sentence and had a point. The ones I found were after tactical shots that were pretty and required no explanation. ("Sweet. It's over now." was one.)

I'm not much of a fan of narrative game analysis. I pick a few instructive moments. The newsletters are didactic and I don't stress about missing a possible superior line here or there. It's about producing instructive material for real players with real comprehension gaps based on real games. Cursorily annotating complete games just to better follow what happened is more for news coverage. Again, BB will often have a few games with just light stuff, but only after a game or two that have received serious thought. This happens when I go through a handful of games from an event and make quick notes. Then I pick the ones that I think have the most instructional value and seriously annotate them. The others I toss in as a "why not" but rarely bother with diagrams and formatting. The exception is when there is a cute tactic in an otherwise uninteresting game.

Other than those key moments, as selected, not to say there might not be others, the implication is that BB readers are competent enough to learn from the variations themselves. I don't think every alternative line needs a note. This is why WB gets a lot more writing. At a certain point you learn a lot more from looking over variations and doing some work yourself than you do from hearing explanations, most of which you've heard before by the time you're 1800+. Trust me, it's a lot easier to pad an issue with text than it is with good variations!

Occasionally, if nothing really stands out, I'll go quantity over depth and include a whole bunch of games with lighter notes. But I've looked at every single line. Computers still suck at analysis for human purposes. They suggest wildly improbable lines, or something that works out to a plus but would require a few perfect amazing moves that would be tough for any human to find. Not practical advice, or educational.

Snip and paste from where? Is anyone else out there producing analyzed games for amateurs each week? And I hope you're not confusing even fluff with plagiarism. Being a hack is not being a criminal. I have stolen from myself once or twice, however, by pirating stuff from a few of the old KasparovChess newsletters I did back when we hardly had any subscribers. But it's good material and I don't think many people have complete collections of both so I only felt a little guilty.

That said, of course there isn't total consistency. I don't want to come off sounding like I always strive for and achieve perfection. Some issues I'll have more time or better material or less vodka and there will be either a qualitative or quantitative difference, or both. I blame the players. And if that doesn't work, I blame the readers.

Well Mig, it seems that Karim gave you a nice apology. I am sure there venture has taken a big credibility hit, and he has learned his lesson about editing. Time to move on I think. I read a couple of anotated games on their free issue, and it included some nice GM analyis. Hopefully they have righted the ship.

To: Publishing Companies, book stores, all Professional and amateur chess players, world chess society.
From: Chess coach and the author - George Renko

With a sincere regret I have to inform the world chess community about the recent incident of an outright plagiarism. In 2006 the Russian publishing house “Astrel – AST – Tranzitkniga” has published the book “Encyclopedia of Chess Combinations” by the author N.M. Kalinichenko. This book is the exact copy of my chess training CD "Intensive Course Tactics", that was released several years earlier by the German company ChessBase. For the past twenty years, whenever I had some free time from my full-time job, during evenings and weekends I have been gathering the material and developing an original classification of chess combinations for my CDs. And now the main chess work of my life is stolen and published under somebody else’s name.
It is especially regretful to see that a renowned chess master, an author of many great books on chess theory, has stained his name with plagiarism.

George Renko

>Thanks a lot for the info! This matter is even more complex we thought at first :((( But we'll try to investigate this issue and will inform you on the results of course.

> --- Natalia Kovaleva
> wrote:
> >
> > Thanks a lot for the info.
> > I can tell you that we were unaware of the program INTENSIVE
> > We bought the EXCLUSIVE rights for the material from Nikolai
> Kalinichenko.
> > In the contract he stated that he had all rights to the
> and the material itself also belonged to him.
> > We suspect that Nikolai Kalinichenko has violated the contract
> and sold the rights to the same material twice.
> >

Mon, 16 Jan 2006 17:58:35 +0000 (GMT)
Re: Intensive Course Tactics and Encyclopedia of Chess Combinations

Steve- Get ready for a gunfight between Convekta and Chessbase.

It appears these two CDs are mostly identical. The organisation came from a book on Combinations by Kalinichenko with over 4000 puzzles. Convekta owns the right to this book. What happens now is to find out if Renko or Kalenchinko violated copyright, and if Chessbase/Convekta owes profits/stops sales to the other.

Renko claims to have 'invented' the organisation in the first text on the CD. And the book by Kalenchinko was published in 2004.

Convekta representative writes: Thanks a lot for the info.I can tell you that we were unaware of the program INTENSIVE COURSE TACTICS.We bought the EXCLUSIVE rights for the material from Nikolai Kalinichenko.In the contract he stated that he had all rights to the material and the material itself also belonged to him.

Organisational similarities of both CDs (and book) from reviews:
# of Tactic puzzles = 4000+ (all similar in nature)
Direct Hit Methods:
1. Checkmate
2. Double Attack
3. Simultaneous Attack
4. Discovered Attack
5. Discovered..with Check
6. Discovered Check
7. Mill
8. Double Check
Support Methods

This is my Question: What do you think happened, and who do you think is right?
No comment. Sorry.

-- Steve Lopez

Yahoo groups: Chess Reviews
above statement sent by Natalia on
Sat, 21 Jan 2006 08:29:29 -0800 (PST)
Re: [chessreviews] Re: Intensive Tactics vs. ECC

Both Chessbase and Convekta were notified in writing Jan 2006. A letter to a writer at Chess Cafe was also sent and is posted above.

Renko's Intensive Course Tactics is in book form called Chess Combination Encyclopedia by Kalinichinko reviewed here Sep 2004:

When did Intensive Course Tactics get published? Earliest mention is also 2001.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on January 22, 2006 5:35 PM.

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