Saturday, September 21, 2013

Avoid These 3 Business Errors (They Weaken The Strongest Brands)

In business, every move you make speaks volumes about your brand. At its core, a brand is a promise. Never let customers lose trust in that promise.
During my career so far, I’ve seen people repeat the same counter-productive business moves. These mistakes give your competition a leg up and make you look like a novice.
Lean in, because you never want to make these errors:
1. Don’t Be A Copycat
It’s great to take good ideas and build on them, adapt them or simplify them. But if you flat-out copy what your competition does, it tells customers you don’t know what you’re doing.
Your customers aren’t stupid. They notice these things.
Copying also makes your customers question the authenticity of your brand. If you’re a true leader in your industry, let your passion and expertise speak for itself.
I was struck by this powerful sound-bite from Susan Waldman’s Washington Post column:
“Become the leader in serving your purpose—not a follower in serving someone else’s.”
Ironically, the biggest danger of copycat marketing is the risk of perpetuating failed tactics. The competitor you’re copying may be experimenting at your expense. They’ll be learning from their mistakes, but you won’t be.
2. Never Give Your Competition Publicity
Almost all publicity is good publicity. Or, as Oscar Wilde put it:
“The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”
And the best kind of publicity is free publicity. Think about it: You invest time and money on creating precious mindshare for your brand. So why would you want to give that away for free to your competitors?
This is another example of telling your customer that you don’t know what you’re doing.
In their book, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, Al Ries and Jack Trout say it’s not important to be the first in the market, but it is important to be first in the mind of consumers (Law #3: The law of the mind).
When you spend time talking about a competitor, you’re donating your mindshare to them. Don’t do it.
3. Stop Using Outdated, In-Your-Face Tactics
I love the schoolyard taunt, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” It’s a cliché that still holds true today.
What you say about your competitor will never hurt them. Why? Because you’re the “competitor’s competitor.” So everyone knows you’re biased!
If you’re a true leader in your industry, let your business prowess speak for itself.
Bashing your competitors also says you’re defeated and you’ve resorted to bullying. Not a good look.
What Should You Do? Cultivate Brand Authenticity!
Think about it: The most credible voice for your brand is your customers. Focus your attention on giving them the stage.
What I’ve always tried to master is enchanting my customers. I’ve found that what most enchants a customer is the authenticity of your brand.
But you’ll kill any chance to be authentic if you make any of those three mistakes.
The Bottom Line
Your competition will always try different tactics to beat you. The worst thing you can do is to get distracted or intimidated by it—and let them win.
Let them be the ones making these mistakes—not you.
What lessons would you add? Weigh in with a comment below…
By Annalisa Camarillo (@lisaanna73)
Image credit: Florent Darrault (cc:by-sa)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Checkmates: how artists fell in love with chess

Knights, monarchs and pseudo-sacrifice – it's no wonder artists from Marcel Duchamp to Tracey Emin have been fascinated by chess, as a new exhibition shows
The Art of Chess, Saatchi GalleryView larger picture
Detail of Yayoi Kusama's Pumpkin Chess in The Art of Chess. Photograph: Saatchi Gallery. Click for full image
The Art of Chess, which opens at London's Saatchi Gallery on Saturday, features chess sets designed by artists such as Tracey Emin andMaurizio Cattelan. The American artist Paul McCarthy has made a chess set from stuff he found in his kitchen. Tim Noble and Sue Webster have made one out of dead animals, with a tree stump as a chess board.
  1. The Art of Chess
  2. Saatchi Gallery,
  4. London
  5. SW3 4RY
  1. Starts 8 September
  2. Until 3 October
  3. Venue website
Why does this particular game have such a strong appeal for artists? The second-greatest artist of the 20th century, Marcel Duchamp, officially retired from art to become a competitive chess player, the first greatest,Picasso, preferred bullfighting). Duchamp wrote a book about chess endgames. He can be seen playing chess in René Clair's film Entr'acte.
It is not just artists who adore chess. Samuel Beckett's play Endgametakes its title from the same chess problems that fascinated Duchamp.Satyajit Ray's film The Chess Players uses chess to dramatise a moment in history on the eve of the Indian Mutiny in the 19th century. This is a game that pervades world culture.
Chess originates in India where a version of it was being played before the 6th century AD; within a few hundred years it spread to Europe. It is a game that creates an imaginative world, with powerful "characters": this must be why artists were inspired to create designer chess sets long before modern times. In the British Museum you can see ornately carved chess pieces from 7th century Samarkand as well as the famousmedieval Lewis Chessmen.
Let's not forget the magical wizard chess game in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, either.
The modern chess sets in The Art of Chess are just the latest examples of this great game's perennial appeal to the imagination that has inspired everyone from medieval craftsmen to Yayoi Kusama.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Boy wonder Wei Yi shows grandmasters the Chinese way at World Cup

3320 Mark Hebden v Keith Arkell, British championship 2013. Two old rivals met in a tight contest. How did White (to play) score the point? Photograph: Graphic
Wei Yi, aged 14, stole the early show in the current World Cup at Tromso when he knocked out two eminent grandmasters and gave China its best prospect yet. The boy is already the youngest GM in the world and the fourth youngest of all time.
Beijing has long hankered to match its dominance in women's chess with a similar rise in the men's game but until now its best GMs have stalled at the top 20-50 level. Now China will pour financial and technical resources into ensuring that the fast improving Wei Yi fulfils his potential.
More generally the early World Cup games showed that Russia and Ukraine possess elite GM strength in depth which other nations can only dream of. The round of the last 32 had 17 GMs from Russia/Ukraine and five of these reached Saturday's quarter-finals.
Vladimir Malakhov, 32, who abandoned a career in nuclear physics to become a chess pro, will remember Tromso with horror. He was short of time but crushing the No2 seed, Fabiano Caruana, and could have mated by a queen-rook crossboard checking sequence so simple that it is taught to children as 'The Lawnmower'. Malakhov missed it. Two moves on he could have won Caruana's queen for nothing by a couple of obvious checks. Malakhov missed that, too.
The quarter-finals this weekend will offer free and live online coverage at, where a single page shows all four games, Houdini computer analysis and live video commentary by Nigel Short.
The US champion, Gata Kamsky, played a fine attack below, though his 18 f5! sacrifice was good for only a draw until Black weakened by 23...Kg7? (Qb6) and 26...Bd6? (Be7). White's final rook offer leads to gxh5 31 Rf6+ Kg7 32 Rg6+ Kh7 33 Qg7 mate or Kxh5 31 Qg7! Rh8 32 Qxg6+ Kh4 33 Rf5 and mates.
Gata Kamsky v Shak Mamedyarov
e4 c5 Nf3 e6 d4 cxd4 Nxd4 Nc6 Nc3 Qc7 f4 d6 Be3 Nf6 8Qf3 a6 Bd3 Be7 10 O-O O-O 11 Kh1 Bd7 12 Rae1 b5 13 a3 Rab8 14Nxc6 Bxc6 15 Qh3 Rfd8 16 Bd2 d5 17 e5 Ne4 18 f5! Nxd2 19 fxe6 Ne420 exf7+ Kh8 21 Nxd5 Bxd5 22 Rxe4 g6 23 Ref4 Kg7? 24 e6 Rf8 25 Qe3 Bc5 26 Qe1 Bd6? 27 Rh4 Be7 28 Qe3 h5 29 Qd4+ Kh6 30 Rxh5+! 1-0
One of the fastest wins, where Black's 18...Rad8? (Bxf3!) allowed the decisive 21 Bd5!
Pavel Eljanov v Sergey Karjakin
Nf3 Nf6 c4 b6 g3 c5 Bg2 Bb7 O-O g6 Nc3 Bg7 d4 cxd4 8Qxd4 d6 b3 Nbd7 10 Bb2 O-O 11 Rfd1 Ne4 12 Qe3 Nxc3 13 Bxc3 Bxc314 Qxc3 Qc7 15 Qe3 Nf6 16 Rd4 h5 17 Qh6 Qc5 18 Rad1 Rad8? 19Ng5! e5 20 Bxb7 exd4 21 Bd5! 1-0
3320 1 Nd6+ Kg5 2 Nf7+ Kf5 3 g4 mate.

Magnus Carlsen and Vishy Anand start world title mind games

Chess 3323
3323: Hikaru Nakamura v Levon Aronian, Sinquefield Cup 2013. The world No2 as Black can play either Qc6 or Qb5. Which was his losing blunder and why?
The Vishy Anand v Magnus Carlsen world title match is still almost two months away but its mind games are already in full swing.
Two defining parameters are the venue, Anand's home city Chennai, and the match length of 12 games, half that of the historic Bobby Fischer v Boris Spassky series of 1972. Carlsen is a hot favourite, 2-5 on in the betting market, but he fears the Indian climate and food. So the match contract has a clause, well-known in the 24-game matches of half a century ago but long since discarded, that either player can ask for a two-day sickness break.
A few weeks ago the Norwegian team, including Carlsen's personal cook, visited Chennai to inspect the venue and facilities. Anand was pointedly absent and has gone into purdah while he prepares, communicating with interviewers only by email.
Carlsen got a warm welcome including one from 2000 screaming girl fans, but the Indians had also prepared a trap, one used by the Soviet Union in the 1930s and by England in the 1970s for top foreign grandmasters. The world No1 was asked to play a simultaneous match against 20 children, who all turned out to be national champions and world youth prizewinners. India is a top nation in junior chess, as were the USSR and England in the old days, and Carlsen won only 10 games, conceding six draws and four defeats.
Generally, though, Indian expectations for the result are low. The respected GM commentator Praveen Thipsay wrote last week that Anand's best results are in attack and against opponents with logical and strategic styles. He does worse against street fighters like Carlsen and Garry Kasparov who are at home in unclear, tactically driven positions.
A new analysis claims that Anand's chances, based on his 90-point inferior rating, are less than 10% but that only around four of the 12 games will have a decisive result. This suggests that Anand's strategy will be a high draw count with the hope that he can sneak a vital win by a home-brewed opening bomb or a Carlsen blunder. If they reach 6-6 and speed tie-breaks, Anand's chances improve because he used to be the world's best at rapid chess.
Carlsen is well aware of the danger and is likely to accentuate one of his own favourite techniques, very long games which he wins by stamina against a tired opponent.
Before the current Sinquefield Cup in St Louis Carlsen visited the local Webster University, which boasts the world's best college chess team. However, he spent his time there playing soccer and basketball, demonstrating his physical fitness and having it all recorded in photos which Anand would be sure to see on the internet. The subliminal message was that Carlsen, 21 years the younger, will be happy to grind on for 80, 100, even 150 moves when they meet at Chennai.
The Sinquefield Cup, Carlsen's last warm-up before his title challenge, has its final two rounds this weekend. You can watch it free and live online starting 7pm Saturday and 5pm Sunday.
3323 If Qc6 Nakamura would have offered a draw. The game went 1...Qb5?? 2 Qxb5 axb5 3 Nd7 winning rook for knight since if Rfe8 4 Nf6+.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Ferguson reveals secrets of success

September 11, 2013
By Richard Jolly

Former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has outlined eight key principles that underpinned his successful managerial career.

Freedom of Trafford for Fergie
Greatest Managers: Sir Alex Ferguson

Ferguson, who retired in the summer after winning 49 trophies, revealed the theories behind his management in interviews with the Harvard Business School.

Ferguson’s blueprint is published in October’s Harvard Business Review, and his eight core beliefs are:

1. Start with the foundation

Ferguson: “From the moment I got to Manchester United, I thought of only one thing: building a football club. I wanted to build right from the bottom.”

2. Dare to rebuild your team

Ferguson: “I believe that the cycle of a successful team lasts maybe four years and then some change is needed. So we tried to visualise the team three or four years ahead and make decisions accordingly. Because I was at United for such a long time, I could afford to plan ahead.”

3. Set high standards and hold everyone to them

Ferguson: “Everything we did was about maintaining the standards we had set as a football club -- this applied to all my team building, my team preparation, motivational talks and tactical talks. I expected even more from the star players [than the rest].”

4. Never, ever cede control

Ferguson: “I wasn't going to allow anyone to be stronger than I was. If the day came that the manager of Manchester United was controlled by the players -- if the players decided how the training should be, what days they should have off, what the discipline should be and what the tactics should be -- then Manchester United would not be the Manchester United we know. “

5. Match the message to the moment

Ferguson: “No one likes to be criticised. Most respond to encouragement. At the same time, you need to point out mistakes. You play different roles at different times. Sometimes you have to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a father.”

5. Prepare to win

Ferguson: “Winning is in my nature. There is no other option for me. I am a risk taker and you can see that in how we played in the late stages of matches. All my teams had perseverance -- they never gave in. It's a fantastic characteristic to have.”

7. Rely on the power of observation

Ferguson: “My presence and ability to supervise were always there and what you can pick up by watching is incredibly valuable. Sometimes I could even tell that a player was injured when he thought he was fine.”

8. Never stop adapting.

Ferguson: “When I started, there were no agents and, although games were televised, the media did not elevate players to the level of film stars and constantly look for new stories about them. Players have led more sheltered lives, so they are much more fragile than players were 25 years ago.”

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Michael Adams victorious in Dortmund

Malcolm Pein hails a brilliant tournament win for England's number one

The England number one, Michael Adams, neatly channelled his last-round game against Vladimir Kramnik to a draw and secured the half point he needed to win the Dortmund Sparkassen tournament with an unbeaten 7/9. This was one of Adams’s finest career moments and the most outstanding tournament performance by an English player in recent memory. Adams ended half a point ahead of Kramnik, for whom Dortmund is almost a second home. The 14th world champion has won the event no less than 10 times, but he was denied by Adams, who pulled out a string of victories over elite players.
M. Adams - V. Kramnik
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.c3 Nf6 4.e5 Nd5 5.d4 cxd4 6.cxd4 Bg7 7.Qb3 Nb6 8.a4! d6 (8...a5 9.d5 threatening Be3) 9.a5 Be6 (9...N6d7 10.Ng5 e6 11.a6! with all kinds of nasty tricks: 11...bxa6 12.Qf3; 11...Nxa6 12.Bxa6 bxa6 13.Qf3; 11...Qb6 12.Qxb6 axb6 13.Na3 bxa6 14.Nb5) 10.Qb5+ Bd7 11.Qb3 Be6 12.Qb5+ Bd7 13.Qb3 (White has some initiative after 13.Qd3 Nd5 14.Qb3 Bc6 15.Bc4 e6 16.0–0 0–0 17.Bg5 but a draw secured first prize) 13...Be6 14.Qb5+ Bd7 draw
At the British Championships, David Howell took a half-point lead over the field by defeating Peter Wells to reach 5.5/6. His round three win was over a former British winner:
C. Ward - D. Howell
Nimzo Indian
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 0–0 5.e4 d6 6.e5 dxe5 7.dxe5 Ng4 8.a3 Bxc3+ 9.Qxc3 Nc6 10.Nf3 f6 11.exf6 Nxf6 12.Be3 e5 13.Rd1 Qe8 14.Be2 Bg4 15.h3 Bxf3 16.Bxf3 Nd4 17.Rxd4 exd4 18.Qxd4 c6 19.0–0 Qe7 20.b4 Rfd8 21.Qc5 (21.Qc3!?) 21...Qxc5 22.Bxc5 Rd3 23.b5 Nd7 24.Bb4 a5! 25.bxa6 Rxa6 26.c5 Rdxa3! (The c5 pawn will fall and the endgame is a technical win) 27.Be2 R3a4 28.Bc3?! Ra8 29.Rd1 Nxc5 0–1
J. Friedland - T. Thorpe
1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.Bg5 Nbd7?! 6.Be2 0–0 7.Qd2 Re8? 8.h3 b6??
White to play and win
9.e5 dxe5 10.dxe5 Nh5 11.g4 Bb7 (The knight is trapped) 12.gxh5 Nxe5 13.Qe3 Bxf3 14.Bxf3 Nc4 15.Qc1 Ne5 16.Bg2 Rb8 17.0–0 gxh5 18.Rd1 Qc8 19.Nd5 1–0

Kramnik crowned king

Vladimir Kramnik wins the FIDE World Cup final at Tromso

Vladimir Kramnik won the FIDE World Cup, completing victory over Dmitry Andreikin with a draw in the fourth game of the final at Tromso. Kramnik prevailed 2.5-1.5.
Kramnik only played the World Cup because he was forced to by FIDE. He had already qualified for the 2014 WCC Candidates on rating.
Under the circumstances, and given that the knockout system with no rest days is entirely unsuited to a relative veteran, one might have expected a lack of motivation, but Kramnik demonstrated that he is a class above much of the world’s elite.
Position after 34.gxf5; one possibility is 34...Nc5 with a mighty passed pawn and Nd3 to follow
D. Andreikin - V. Kramnik
Symmetrical English
1.c4 c5 2.g3 g6 3.Bg2 Bg7 4.Nc3 Nc6 5.a3 b6 6.d3 Bb7 7.Bd2 Nf6 8.Nh3 (Leaving the g2–b7 diagonal open so that b2–b4 may be played in one move) 8...0–0 9.0–0 e6 10.b4 d6 11.b5 Na5 12.e4 d5 13.cxd5 exd5 14.e5 Ne8 15.f4 Nc7 16.Rb1 f6 17.exf6 Qxf6 (Black is at least equal with a pawn centre and activity. Only the Na5 is a problem) 18.Ne2 Rae8 19.g4!? d4 20.Ng3 Bxg2 21.Kxg2 Nd5 22.f5 Qe5 23.Nf4 c4 24.Qf3 Ne3+ 25.Bxe3 dxe3 26.d4?! Qd6!? 27.Ne4?! Qxd4 28.Ng5 e2(28...Qd2+ 29.Qe2 gxf5 is also winning and 29.Ne2 gxf5 30.Rbd1 fxg4! 31.Qxg4 Rxf1 32.Rxd2 exd2 33.Ne6 Rf7 is easy to calculate for a computer. Kramnik’s move is the human choice, simplifying while retaining the advantage) 29.Nxe2 Qd2 30.Ne4 Qc2 31.N4g3 Nb3 32.Rbd1 Kh8 33.Qf2 gxf5 34.gxf5 draw (See board above).
A terrible blunder produced this miniature from the 14th Karpov Poikovsky in Siberia. I have said it before and I’ll say it again; loose pieces drop off!
I. Cheparinov – E. Inarkiev
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Bb7 5.Bg2 c5 6.0–0 cxd4 7.Qxd4 Nc6 8.Qf4 d6 9.Rd1 Be7 10.b3 Qc7 11.Nc3 a6 12.Ba3 Ne5 13.Ng5 Bxg2 14.Kxg2 0–0 15.Nge4 Nxe4 16.Nxe4 Ng6 17.Qf3 ??
Black to play and win