31 October 2016

Korchnoi's Events 2006-07 (and TCEC 2016)

I added two more years to Korchnoi's Events 2004-05, and loaded the result into Viktor Korchnoi's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (1946-2007). Even though Korchnoi turned 75 years old in 2006, there are more of his games on file for that year than in any year after 1997.

In June 2007, Korchnoi played in the National Open at Las Vegas. There are several eyewitness records of his participation in this tournament; see, for example, Strange Coincidence - Nine Years in the making - Korchnoi and Ali (June 2016).


As for the TCEC engine tournament, last reported four weeks ago in Carlsen, TCEC, Karjakin, Korchnoi, the most recent post on facebook.com/tcec.chess, October 30 at 9:13am, informs,

After two preliminary rounds, qualifications, candidates stage and a rapid, it is time for the TCEC Season 9 Superfinal. The Superfinal is scheduled to start in the period 5-7 November 2016. [...]

I'll check back on this in a week.

30 October 2016

Another Dollhouse Chess Table

In this fortnightly series on Top eBay Chess Items by Price, we've already seen a couple of dollhouse items in Baffled by 'Wot Not' (June 2015). In that post the two chess tables-plus-set each sold for over $500. The item pictured below was titled 'Two Victorian Chess Players in the Parlour Doll House Miniature Set' and sold for $360 Buy-It-Now. Why the difference in price?

The description said,

These two fine gentlemen are hand-made of polymer clay. They sit about 5 inches high and are 1/12 scale dolls perfect for the parlour of your doll house. They are engaged in a game of chess with a hand-made chess set (two pieces are missing). The pieces are hand-turned of wood with a tiny nub on the bottom of each - so they need a dab of wax to stay in place. The wood table with inlaid chess board is Jia Yi brand, but the legs need to be reglued. The gentlemen have tea to hand on a side table and their parlour is furnished with a plant and a world globe on a stand. Exquisite!

Is the price difference a function of scale? See, for example, Smallhousemodels.com Scales-guide.

28 October 2016

Two More Chess Statue/Sculptures

Always on the lookout for chess statues (aka sculptures), I had two choices for this current edition of Flickr Friday. I chose the one shown below.

A game of chess © Flickr user Luke McKernan under Creative Commons.

The description said,

Sculpture by Amanda Barton of King Godred Crovan and his son King Olaf, playing chess with a set of Lewis chessmen, Ramsey, Isle of Man.

For more about the statue, see Viking kings move chess encounter to Ramsey courthouse (iomtoday.co.im). The photo I didn't use, The King and Queen of Rainier Beach (flickr.com; SDOT Photos), also had an informative description,

Located at the corner of Rainier Ave. S. at 51st Ave. S. and Barton Place S. artist Peter Reiquam’s The King and Queen of Rainier Beach is an iconic sculpture inspired by Seattle Police Detective, Denise “Cookie” Bouldin and the chess clubs she has organized throughout the Rainier Beach community for over a decade.

For previous posts on chess statues, see Calgary's "Winter" (March 2013), Giant Knights (August 2013), and The Travelling Chess Statue (July 2015).

27 October 2016


Before Fide.com, there was Worldfide.com. The earliest traces of that early FIDE web domain returned by Archive.com date to end-1999. An early example of the home page (see the screenshot on the left) is nearly complete except for a large ad near the top of the page.

The Worldfide domain was active until mid-2001, when it started linking to the Fide domain, eventually redirecting. A post on my World Championship blog, FIDE Internet Qualifiers 2001 (October 2014), uses archived Fide.com links starting 2001-07-02.

What was the FIDE news at the end of 1999? A list of newsworthy events is to the left of the photo of 'The World Champion'99 -- GM Alexander Khalifman', who won the 1999 FIDE Knockout Matches at Las Vegas in August of that year. The other news was:-

  • European Team Championship 1999, Batumi, Georgia
  • Celebration of the FIDE 75th anniversary (Paris, 19-20 November 1999)
  • Title applications
  • Welcome to Paris!
  • Grand Opening of the Children's Chess Olympiad
  • 70th FIDE Congress (1-7 October 1999. Doha, Qatar)
  • New Rating List (July 1999)
  • Lausanne, 24 June 1999 ('In line with the decision of the 69th FIDE Congress in Elista, we are presenting the first publication of Rapid Ratings.')

A link on the left sidebar -- 'FIDE Official Info: Press Releases, FIDE Officers, ...' -- mentions 'FIDE Commerce: Get To Know Us'. Following the link, we learn

FIDE Commerce PLC • At the initiative of FIDE and The World Chess Foundation a new commercial company known as FIDE COMMERCE PLC was registered in the United Kingdom in March 1999, with the World Chess Foundation as a major shareholder. For many years, the World Chess Federation (FIDE) had existed on the subsidies and donations of private investors, and the game of chess, being among the largest mass participation sport in the world at the moment, stayed at the lowest level of its commercial development and attraction of finances.

Of that organization there is more to be said.

25 October 2016

'Alekhine in Soviet Land'

Of the different topics introduced in Albrecht Buschke's Chess Life history columns (see last week's post 'Alekhine's Early Chess Career' for an introduction), the longest series of columns was 'V. Alekhine in Soviet Land' (30 columns). The first of those columns is shown below, split into five parts to keep it compact.

Chess Life 1951-03-05
(Click image for larger version)

Buschke wrote his columns about 30+ years after the events they covered, which today would be equivalent to a chess historian writing about the first Kasparov - Karpov World Championship matches. The second half of the 20th century's second decade was a tumultuous period. Alekhine (born 31 October 1892) was 21 years old when the first World War (WWI, 1914-1918) broke out and 24 when the Russian revolution (1917) occurred. In normal times those would have been among his most productive chess years, but those were not normal times.

Now that more than 65 years have passed since Buschke's columns first appeared, how much of his material has passed into chess lore? I noted a number of topics in that first 'Soviet Land' column and performed the obvious web searches. Buschke wrote,

In Russia, there was only one chess magazine, the "Shakhmatnyi Vestnik", Moscow, in existence in 1914, then in its second year, and it stopped publication with the double number for October 1916, which was probably published considerably after this date, possibly even after the February revolution of 1917.

We mentioned already in a previous installment [CL 1950-07-05] that this last issue of "Shakhmatnyi Vestnik" contains the news item about Alekhine's hospitalization in Tarnopol, his unique chess activities from his bedside, and the blindfold game with Feldt, later also published by Alekhine in "My Best Games of Chess (1908-1923)" as game no.48 and properly dated as "played in a blindfold exhibition at the military hospital in Tarnopol, September 1916."

Alekhine himself had published this blindfold game before in his pamphlet "Das Schachleben in Sowjet-Russland", which appeared some time in 1921 as one of the numerous publications of the German chess book publisher Bernhard Kagan, but is neither reliable nor complete.

There is a wealth of reference material in those few paragraphs. First, from Di Felice's 'Chess Periodicals, 1836-2008':-

2414. Shakhmatnyp Vestnik [Moskva] (1913–1916) Vol.1, no.1 (Jan 1, 1913)–Vol.4, no.19/20 (Oct 1/15, 1916). Fortnightly. • Editor: S.P. Simson. • Editorial staff: O.S. Bernstein, L.B. Zalkind, K.I. Isakov, D.N. Pavlov, V.N. Platov, A.S. Seleznev. • Publisher: Alexey A. Alekhine; printed by Tip. Ryabushinsky. Moskva. Russia. 23 cm. Magazine. General. Russian.

We saw Alexey Alekhine last month in Alekhine's Brother (September 2016), who undoubtedly had non-public information about his famous younger brother. For the Tarnopol story, here is an excerpt from Andre Schulz of Chessbase, 'The Big Book of World Chess Championships; 46 Title Fights – from Steinitz to Carlsen':-

Alekhine joined the Red Cross, took part in the war as a Red Cross helper and was wounded in 1916, receiving severe contusions to his back. He spent several months confined to his bed in a convent hospital in Tarnopol.

That excerpt, plus several paragraphs surrounding it, can be found in John Watson Book Review #115: Kings of Chess (theweekinchess.com). For the Feldt game and related stories, see Alexander Alekhine vs M von Feldt; Tarnopol 1916 (chessgames.com).

As for 'Das Schachleben in Sowjet-Russland' ('Chess Life in Soviet Russia'), here's an excerpt from 'Timman's Titans: My World Chess Champions' by Jan Timman:-

Right after the Revolution, [Alekhine] had been in danger in Russia as he was of noble birth. There is a classic story. A sentence of death had been pronounced on him, which had to be signed by five judges. One of the judges refused to sign, out of respect for Alekhine's successes on the chessboard. This meant he was saved for the time being. Not much later, he decided to leave his motherland, and his roving life began.

With the Berlin chess publisher Bernhard Kagan, Alekhine published a thin book called Das Schachleben In Sowjet-Russland. Grandmaster/journalist Savielly Tartakower wrote a brief introductory word, which starts as follows: 'As the wild animals in the Arion sage [saga?], so the Bolshevik rulers also tolerated the magic of chess.' These were sardonic words as an introduction to Alekhine's negative discourse on Soviet chess.

The first sentence of the book reads: 'Chess life in Petrograd and Moscow, which already left a lot to be desired at the beginning of the war, experienced its definitive downfall after he October Revolution.'

As with so much in chess history, one thing leads to another. Two other versions of the 'death sentence' story are in the Andre Schulz book mentioned earlier. The allusion to 'wild animals in the Arion [saga]' is explained in another Chessbase article, this time in German: Der Zauber des Arion, which Google Translate gives as 'The Magic of Arion'. I could also go on about Alekhine's books of his 'Best Games' or Buschke's further reference to 'Russian chess historian M.S.Kogan' and his book of 'sketches'. But I have to stop somewhere and that point is now.

24 October 2016

Korchnoi's Events 2004-05

Continuing with Korchnoi's Events 2002-03, I added another two years of Korchnoi's career to Viktor Korchnoi's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (1946-2005). Yearend 2004 saw the first (and only) tournament game between former World Champion challenger Korchnoi and future World Champion Magnus Carlsen; see Viktor Korchnoi vs Magnus Carlsen; SmartFish Chess Masters (2004) (chessgames.com), subtitled '"Father Time and Baby New Year" (game of the day Jan-01-07)'.

The comments to the game indicate that Carlsen should have drawn...

Dec-29-04: The official site says Magnus lost on time because he had missed out a line in his scoresheet by mistake and therefore thought he had already made 40 moves. Korchnoi agreed that the final position couldn't be won.

...and mention previous instances of the same:-

Dec-30-04: Lajos Portisch had the same mistake once against a FIDE-master, because of the scoresheet: that paper's rows were so dense that the 8-time-world championship candidate wrote one move into two gaps! His opponent did the same so the grandmaster was outfoxed by this devilish trick and lost on time after 39 moves.

Jan-05-05: Another infamous time loss because of the score-sheet was : J Mason vs Tarrasch, 1895.

The year-over-year record shows that GM Korchnoi was playing fewer events each year:-

  • 2003: 12 events
  • 2004: 10 events
  • 2005: 7 events

According to a previous post, Korchnoi's Events 1998-99 / 2014-15, he still had ten years of chess in his future.

23 October 2016

Chess and Social Trends

This blog's association with Chess Club Live (CCL) has been running for 4 1/2 years now. It started with one of those messages in the rare category that I call 'big things in small packages'.

Subject: New message from Michael Chukwuma Mkpadi
Sent: April 26, 2012

I like your chess articles. I run the Facebook page www.facebook.com/chessclublive and the website www.chessclublive. I would love to have your permission to post your articles by RSS as I know our fans would love them.

Regards, Michael, Chess Club Live
Twitter: @ChessClubLive
Wiki: http://wiki.chessclublive.com/

I acknowledged the relationship in a previous post, Chess Club Live (August 2013; 'it's high time I collected those posts into a separate category to give credit where credit is due'). For the past few years I've been including the series of Chess in School posts in that category, Posts with label CCL, but it's now time to change direction.

I offloaded that series of posts into a new category -- Posts with label CIS -- in preparation for a new series where I'm going to look at the sociology of chess. It's a big subject and I won't be surprised if it also runs for more than a year or two.

CCL is a modern phenomenon made possible by the success of social media. While it's had its ups and downs -- squabbles over copyright, surreptitious injections of inappropriate material, heated discussions over the boundaries of the envelope -- the primary direction has been straight up. The following chart shows that it reaches many tens of thousands of people every day.

Chess Club Live (Facebook)

CCL currently accounts for about half of the traffic to this blog -- I know this because the RSS feed breaks from time to time. I'm looking forward to delve further into its mysteries and into the overall sociology that surrounds chess as a global cultural phenomenon.

21 October 2016

No Controversy Here

In the previous edition of Video Friday, Animating a Controversy,

I had the choice between two topics that were exceptionally popular over the past fortnight: the flap over the Women's World Championship -or- the 'Queen of Katwe'. Since Disney's story of Phiona Mutesi will likely be with us for some time, let's go with the other topic.

The flap died down after a week or so, while the 'Queen of Katwe' is still gathering steam. For this edition I had a number of good Katwe clips from which to choose, including interviews with two of the movie's principals.

Entertainment.ie talks to Queen of Katwe director, Mira Nair (7:47) • '...about the production of the Disney true life tale.'

The other interview on my short list was also from Entertainment.ie: David Oyelowo talks chess and Queen of Katwe. What role does David Oyelowo play? In its page on the film Queen of Katwe, Wikipedia informs,

[10-year-old Phiona's (Madina Nalwanga)] world changes one day when she meets Robert Katende (David Oyelowo) at a missionary program.

See also the Queen of Katwe - Official Trailer from Disney Movie Trailers.

20 October 2016

Front Page News

How does chess manage to become front page news? With a little bit of luck and a lot of perseverance.

On several occasions I've repeated stories from Alan Lasser’s Game of the Week newsletter (GOTW; a little over 100 subscribers; last seen here in A $20.000 Endgame, October 2014), but this one is the best so far. The GOTW issue of 1 October announced,

I became the 2016 Rhode Island State Champion last weekend. It was somewhat flukey of course. The tournament was under-promoted, they didn’t bother putting the ad in Chess Life and I didn’t see it on the web until ten days before the event. Maybe that was the reason that the eleven player Open section contained only two players who were actually from Rhode Island.

After congratulating Alan, I received some more info.

The Norwich Club [Connecticut] was the first to use me for publicity, it only took them a week to include in their emails, "the 2016 Rhode Island Champion plays here". When I pointed this out to Dan Smith at Westerly, he got it together to call the local newspaper. The interview didn't go all that well. It seemed at the time like the reporter cared neither for the message nor the messenger, that she was laughing inside at the crazy chess players, as if she had just seen the Fischer movie.

We expected that if the news was printed at all, it would be a small article in the back section of the paper, just in front of the classifieds. We were all shocked to see a reasonable portrayal of the club on the front page. The world seemed upside down. When was the last time chess players were on the front page? Not since Robert J, I reckon.

So much for 'a small article in the back section of the paper'.

The online version of the article is available at Westerly Man Is State's Chess King. It starts, 'Age checkmated youth in the 2016 Rhode Island State Chess Championship this year. The new state champion, Al Lasser, 65, of Westerly said he was the "underdog" against opponents less than one quarter his age. "The average age of my opponents was 15 -- they were either masters or nationally ranked in the top 100 list for their age," he said. "One of my opponents in the tournament was eight years old and there was an 11-year old who beat me."'

In his message to me, Alan continued,

As you can tell from the grin in my face; I thought me winning the title was the funniest joke in the world, and I was in on it!

He thinks that there is a crucial part to the back story.

The reporter asked "why is chess fun?" I was dumbfounded. I didn't know the answer to this very simple question and knew the reporter wasn't going to publicize the chess club if we couldn't say it was fun or why it was fun. I thought I must know the answer but I just couldn't remember it.

As I lay awake in bed that night, haunted by the spectre of failure, finally I recalled that the appeal was biological and dashed off an email to explain the fight-or-flight adrenaline rush. I think that saved the day for us.

A couple of years ago I posted about GM Kasparov's #WhyILoveChess, and followed it with my own answer, Endless Discovery (both September 2014). It's a question that every keen chess player should be able to answer.

Small state + small city + small tournament + small newspaper = big result, plus the newspaper article is packed with human interest. Every state chess champion deserves to have his or her story told.

18 October 2016

'Alekhine's Early Chess Career'

Last month, in Buschke in Chess Life, I mentioned a 'series of Albrecht Buschke history columns titled "Alekhine's Early Chess Career"'. Buschke started writing for CL a few months earlier, where the first column was a historical calendar:-

  • 1949-08-20: Memorable Chess Dates (2 issues of CL)

This was followed by a series that took over a column previously written by 'Guilherme Groesser', a pseudonym used by CL's editor, Montgomery Major.

  • 1949-09-05: Chess Life Abroad : Moscow - Budapest match (more++; 8 issues of CL)

The last of those columns coincided with the first for 'Alekhine's Early Chess Career', subtitled 'Additional Data':-

  • 1949-12-20: I. Mannheim 1914

That first column is reproduced below (split into three pieces to keep the image compact).

Chess Life 1949-12-20

The objective of that column was to introduce two previously unknown Alekhine games. The objective of Buschke's next two columns was to show examples of 'a remarkable "lack of sportsmanship" on the part of Alekhine':-

  • 1950-01-05: 'The Unknown Alekhine' by Reinfeld : Nenarokov match & Tenner game
  • 1950-01-20: (cont.) Alekhine - Nimzovich 1914

After this early meandering, Buschke found his stride, writing over 50 columns on the early Alekhine. These covered various themes that often continued over multiple issues of CL (which was usually only four pages at the time, published twice a month).

  • 1950-02-05: II. The Quadrangular Tournament, St. Petersburg 1913?
  • 1950-02-20: III. The Match with Levitsky, 1913 (9 issues of CL)
  • 1950-07-05: IV. The Moscow Championship Tournament 1916 (15 issues)
  • 1951-03-05: V. Alekhine in Soviet Land (30 issues)
  • 1952-07-20: VI. Stockholm 1912 ('slightly out of sequence')

Part IV ('The Moscow Championship', which wasn't!) uncovered another of Alekhine's indiscretions: the 'Five Queens' game. Some years later, Chess Review called it the 'Chess Hoax of the Century'; see February 1965 'On the Cover' (February 2015). An extensive discussion of Buschke's discovery is in Tim Krabbé's Alekhine's 5 Queen game (timkr.home.xs4all.nl). For the game itself, see Alexander Alekhine vs NN (1915) "The Harem" (chessgames.com). Buschke's final column was about the 'Chess Olympics of 1920':-

  • 1952-11-20: V. Alekhine in Soviet Land

Although the column mentioned 'following installments', there were none.

17 October 2016

Korchnoi's Events 2002-03

Take Korchnoi's Events 2000-01 and add two more years. What have you got? For now, let's call it Viktor Korchnoi's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (TMER; 1946-2003). While I was working on this, I realized that many of the previous events said only 'Match', without any mention of the opponent. Here's a list:-

1982 -- Match vs. Timman, 6 gms; Hilversum (Netherlands)
1991 -- Match vs. Morovic, 6 gms; Santiago (Chile)
1993 -- Match vs. Piket, 8 gms; Nijmegen (Netherlands)
1995 -- Match vs. Greenfeld, 3 gms; Beer-Sheva (Israel)
1995 -- Match vs. Xie, Jun 4 gms; Wenzhou (China)
1996 -- Match vs. Brunner, 6 gms; Bern/Zurich (Switzerland)
1996 -- Match vs. Hernandez, 8 gms; Merida (Mexico)
1997 -- Match vs. Bacrot, 6 gms; Albert (France)
1998 03 Match vs. Miton, 6 gms; Krynica POL
1999 03 Match vs. Spassky, 10 gms; St Petersburg RUS
2001 01 Match vs. Ponomariov, 8 gms; Donetsk UKR
2003 01 Match vs. Sadvakasov, 8 gms; Astana KAZ
2003 11 Match vs. Navara, 2 gms; Prague CZE

The same info is now on the Korchnoi TMER as well.

16 October 2016

'Just Like You and Me'

In this fortnightly series on Top eBay Chess Items by Price, a live auction usually involves a painting. We saw this a few months ago in Not Your Typical Black Knight (July 2016), and we're seeing this again in the latest item.

Titled 'ALBERT PELS (AMERICAN, NY, 1910-1998), OIL ON CANVAS, THE CHESS GAME, ... Lot 261', the item pictured below sold for US $700.00 after 15 bids on a starting price of $250. The auction apparently lasted 30 seconds.

To see the details of a closed auction on eBay, you have to follow the page returned by eBay search and click on 'See original listing'. Clicking for this auction I received the message

We had trouble finding some information about this item. Please come back to try again in a few minutes.

but the message persisted. The abbreviated description on the search page added only 'Seller's Estimate: USD 500 - 800' and repeated the auction title plus 'SIGNED. 16 X 20"'.

Who was Albert Pels? Tumblr.com has a page Albert Pels '1910-1988; Born May 7, 1910, Cincinnati, Ohio; The Paintings of Albert Pels' [NB: d.1988 looks to be correct] with dozens of examples of his work. One section informs,

1937-40 WPA Artist, NYC. Paid $24 a week plus supplies, Albert had to turn in a painting every week. Plus several mural projects in the East and Midwest.

Wikipedia explains that WPA stood for Works Progress Administration:-

The Works Progress Administration (renamed in 1939 as the Work Projects Administration; WPA) was the largest and most ambitious American New Deal agency, employing millions of unemployed people (mostly unskilled men) to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads. In a much smaller but more famous project, Federal Project Number One, the WPA employed musicians, artists, writers, actors and directors in large arts, drama, media, and literacy projects.

In The 'flavor' of life in 91 paintings Cincinnati.com informs,

CPS [Cincinnati Public Schools] got a donation of 91 paintings from Cincinnati native Albert Pels. The work will be spread among the district's 55 schools. [...] "It was incredible," said [Isidore] Rudnick, Cincinnati Public Schools' Fine Arts Curriculum Manager. The work "captures the spirit, flavor and imagination of everyday life -- people just like you and me." The paintings are a posthumous donation from Cincinnati native Albert Pels, who grew up in the city and studied at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. In the early 1930s, he moved to New York on a scholarship for the Art Student’s League. Albert died in 1988, but his son, Richard Pels, sent the art to CPS.

I like that: chess players 'just like you and me'.

14 October 2016

Olympiad Veterans

Who said chess was a young man's game?

First photo: Eugenio Torre © Flickr user Andreas Kontokanis
Other photos by the same photographer: GMs Beliavsky, Bareev, and Kramnik.
(Under Creative Commons)


There's just a smidgen of gray in Kramnik's hair.

13 October 2016

Another Chess-playing Dylan (*)

How many Nobel laureates in literature can you name? Of the 100+ laureates since 1901, maybe a dozen? Add another name to the list: Bob Dylan Awarded Nobel Prize in Literature (nytimes.com). And how many Nobel laureates are known to be chess players? At least one.

Google image search on 'chess bob dylan'

Many of these photos are from the same setting, as explained in Game of Chess | Bob Dylan: See Rare Photos From 1964-65 Turning Point (rollingstone.com):-

[Photos] © Daniel Kramer/courtesy of TASCHEN • A game of chess with Victor Maymudes at Bernard's Cafe Espresso, a favorite hangout spot in Woodstock, 1964. One of many unpublished outtakes from the day that produced Kramer's classic photograph of Dylan at the chessboard.

I once tried to read a book of poetry by Dylan -- Tarantula (wikipedia.org) -- but I found it incomprehensible. It needs music to make it work.

(*) With apologies to Dylan Loeb McClain, as in No News Is Normal for Chess (June 2010).

11 October 2016

Chess Stereoviews

After posting about the Morphy Stereoview (July 2016), I started to wonder how many stereoscopic images related to chess. Of course I can't answer that question definitively, but I can determine if the number is a little or a lot.

I gathered all of the 'stereo' images I've collected from eBay (which is a marvelous source for unexplored areas related to any subject, chess included) and counted close to 100. Some of them are duplicates, but the dozen shown below are all unique.

The image second from the left in the bottom row is the same shown in 'Morphy Stereoview'. The rightmost image in the top row was used in Morphy, Loewenthal, Young Man, and Lady (November 2011). Wikipedia's page on Stereoscopy explains,

Stereoscopy (also called stereoscopics) is a technique for creating or enhancing the illusion of depth in an image by means of stereopsis for binocular vision. Any stereoscopic image is called a stereogram. Originally, stereogram referred to a pair of stereo images which could be viewed using a stereoscope.

Most stereoscopic methods present two offset images separately to the left and right eye of the viewer. These two-dimensional images are then combined in the brain to give the perception of 3D depth. This technique is distinguished from 3D displays that display an image in three full dimensions, allowing the observer to increase information about the 3-dimensional objects being displayed by head and eye movements.

Now that I've gathered these images, I'll try to use them as the basis for another post.

10 October 2016

Korchnoi's Events 2000-01

In last Monday's post Carlsen, TCEC, Karjakin, Korchnoi, I decided to 'keep busy on Mondays with the Korchnoi TMER'. That meant continuing with Korchnoi's Events 1998-99 by adding the two following years. While updating Viktor Korchnoi's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (TMER, 1946-1977), I noticed that I had not ordered events for the years 1998-99 by month, so I added that field as well.

The year 2001 saw two tournaments in Korchnoi's honor:-

Both TWIC stories were signed Mark Crowther (of course!).

09 October 2016

'Chess in School' Summarized

It's time to wrap up the longest running series on this blog:-

I quickly discovered that CIS was Multilevel, Political, Lucrative, Quantifiable, Sociable, Mantric, and Experimental. Those initial posts, a mini-series of their own, were listed in an intermediate summary:-

By Individual, I meant that I was 'going to switch gears and look at some of the best known personalities in the field'. In fact I only looked at one and then launched into all sorts of related areas...

...That last post led to another mini-series eventually summarized in:-

After another detour...

...the mini-series continued, then culminated a few months later in:-

After more bouncing around related subjects...

...I ended with a look at a critical U.K. study:-

There's much more to be covered here and if I ever come back to the subject, the unfinished 'best known personalities in the field' offers plenty of direction. Although I have a better idea now what 'Chess in School' means than I did three years ago when I started the subject, I feel that I've just scratched the surface.

07 October 2016

Animating a Controversy

For this edition of Video Friday, I had the choice between two topics that were exceptionally popular over the past fortnight: the flap over the Women's World Championship -or- the 'Queen of Katwe'. Several years ago I posted about The Queen of Katwe (January 2011), and since Disney's story of Phiona Mutesi will likely be with us for some time, let's go with the other topic.

Female chess players boycott World Championship in Iran over having to wear hijabs - TomoNews (1:10) • 'ATHENS, GREECE - Top female chess players are threatening to boycott the 2017 World Championships after the World Chess Federation (FIDE) announced that the event would be held in Iran, which has in turn stated that women would be required to wear hijabs.'

The description continued,

The FIDE said that competitors would face arrest if they did not comply at the upcoming event slated for February 2017 in Tehran, Iran. The organization urged players to respect "cultural differences."

What's TomoNews?

Welcome to TomoNews, where we animate the most entertaining news on the internets. Come here for an animated look at viral headlines, US news, celebrity gossip, salacious scandals, dumb criminals and much more! Subscribe now for daily news animations that will knock your socks off.

Unfortunately, this video doesn't treat the subject seriously -- the comments are proof of that -- and it deserves another look.

06 October 2016

Stats for Bored People

I could have titled this post New Stats for M-W.com, but since that title was already used (October 2015), I had to think of something else. The problem started when my web site went missing for a week -- see Site Available Again (August 2016) for the details -- then ended up migrated to a different host. Although outwardly exactly the same as before, inwardly it was much changed.

Take its statistics package, for example. Like everyone else who runs a web site, I like to know what visitors are looking at -- what's hot and what's not, as they say. I look at the overall stats once a day to make sure that everything is working correctly and to identify any anomalies as quickly as possible. After watching the stats for a while, I get used to certain recurring patterns in the numbers and know intuitively when something is off.

Near the end of last month I noticed a 50% jump in 'Visits' on one day and wondered what the cause of it might have been. The best place to get details is the server log, where actions are recorded for all files delivered to fulfill specific requests. I have database software to analyze the logs on the previous host, but did the logs on the new host use the same format? Thanks to a standard known as the Common Log Format (wikipedia.org), they turned out to be almost the same. The biggest difference was that where the logs were previously stored monthly, they are now stored daily.

I downloaded the log file for the day in question, loaded it into my database, and did some preliminary analyses. I quickly discovered that the spike in activity was traffic to the index page of my World Chess Championship site. It came from a domain called RandomWebSite.com. From the name I could guess the purpose of the site, but when I tried to access it, I received the message 'Server not found'. A search on the domain name returned top results like TheUselessWeb.com and Pointless.com. Another top result pointed to Random Website Machine, which explained,

Great for:
- Bored People: At least it's not Candy Crush!
- Web Designers: Looking for some inspiration? Or just some fresh ideas? Start here!
- Network Technicians: Need to test DNS servers? Make sure you aren't getting cached data, by loading totally fresh, random websites.

Since I doubt that anyone is coming to my site for tips on web design or testing DNS servers, that leaves bored people. My stats for September also showed that RandomWebSite.com was my top external referrer for the entire month. I hope those visitors found everything they expected!


In the unlikely event that anyone has randomly arrived at this post and read this far, here's a graphic from the new stats package.

It shows the number of visits (pages, hits, bandwidth) to my domain during every hour over a 24-hour day. The numbers include bored people.

04 October 2016

October 1966 'On the Cover'

Fifty years ago, both of the main American chess magazines reported the latest results of their respective flagship open tournaments.

Left: 'U.S.Open Co-Champions' - Photos by Beth Cassidy
Right: 'New Golden Knights Face'

Chess Life

As reported in our September issue, Robert Byrne and Pal Benko each scored 11-2 to tie for first in the 1966 U.S.Open, which attracted an amazing turnout of 201 players to Seattle, August 14-26.

Chess Review

Jack P. Witeczek of Detroit, Michigan, won the 12th annual Golden Knights postal chess championship and the 1st annual U.S.Open postal championship, actually some months ago as reported then in the Postal Chess Dept. [June 1966]

For the USCF's U.S.Open, we have to go back more than a year to August 1965 'On the Cover': 'Fifty years ago Pal Benko received a double billing for placing first in two strong open tournaments' (CL: 'Benko, Lombardy Tie in U.S.Open'; CR: Eastern Open). If we go back another year, we see that the year 1966 gave Benko a hat trick; October 1964 'On the Cover': 'Grandmaster Pal Benko of New York won the United States Open'.

To find the previous year when Benko did not win the U.S.Open, we have to go back to September 1963. CL reported, 'Lombardy Wins U.S. Open Championship' (on tiebreak over Robert Byrne). Benko tied for 3rd-4th with S.Gligoric, who spent time in the U.S. after the 1963 (1st) Piatigorsky Cup. The full 1963 crosstable was printed in the November CL.

For CR's Golden Knights, we can go back to November 1965 'On the Cover': 'Raymond E.A. Doe has won the 11th annual Golden Knights Postal Chess Championship. He began play in the tournament in 1957.' That post included a link to Wikipedia's 'Golden Knights (chess)', which gives Witeczek's name as 'J.Whiteczak'.

I learned in a recent post, Shaping Chess History, that for the months June through November 1966, CL had an interim team editorship. The October masthead said, 'Editors: Lt. Colonel E.B.Edmondson and Wm.Goichberg'. In June 1966, Edmondson was USCF President (replaced by Marshall Rohland in August 1966) while Goichberg was 'Rating Statistician'.

03 October 2016

Carlsen, TCEC, Karjakin, Korchnoi

After finishing Carlsen's TMER 2000-2016 (*), what little Monday project should I tackle now? My first idea was season nine of the Top Chess Engines Competition (TCEC), currently underway. I last looked at TCEC season eight in Chess Engine Summary (January 2016), and the current season started some months later: TCEC Season 9 officially announced (chessdom.com; April 2016).

Where is the competition now? Stage 3 finished on 8 September, with Stockfish and Houdini qualifying into the superfinal. The crosstable is shown below and a readable version is available on the TCEC Archive (click on a season, stage, and a game to see the corresponding crosstable).

Crosstable for TCEC Season 9 - Stage 3

The TCEC is currently featuring a side event -- TCEC rapid starts September 9th (chessdom.com) -- which looks like it has another three weeks (or so) to go. According to that page,

TCEC Superfinal: The Superfinal of TCEC will start right after the rapid section. It will be a 100 games match between Stockfish and Houdini.

That match will likely overlap the 2016 Carlsen - Karjakin World Championship title match, where game one is scheduled for 11 November, and tiebreaks for 30 November. That's a lot of great chess coming in November. In the meantime I'll keep busy on Mondays with the Korchnoi TMER, last seen in Korchnoi's Events 1998-99 / 2014-15 (August 2016).

(*) TMER = Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record

02 October 2016

Skeleton, Marriage, Chess Watch

Here on Top eBay Chess Items by Price, it's been a few years since we last saw a watch with a chess theme. Two others were Time Is on My Side (July 2010; Tissot watch) and From Pocket to Wrist Watch (April 2013; Doxa watch).

The item pîctured below was titled 'Mens/Ladies Skeleton Vintage Watch by OMEGA Factory with CHESS from 1920's', and subtitled 'Quality Gold-Filled Engraved & Skeletonized Movement'. The winning bid was US $910 after receiving 12 bids from nine bidders.

The description included a 'History of Omega Watches'. About the item on auction it said,

This is a MARRIAGE watch. A marriage watch is the term used for a new, modern case that has been used to house a vintage pocket watch movement. [...] I am happy to offer for sale this beautiful amazing large skeletonized dress marriage watch that dates to ca 1920s and decorated of the HIGHEST QUALITY ENGRAVING with CHESS. It was made by the "Omega Factory" in Switzerland. [...]

This gorgeous, men's watch is a very handsome specimen and features a 60 minute outer track borders, black enameled Roman numerals and original blue steel Plume-style hands. The dial is made in the form of a CHESSBOARD. [...] It is fitted on a new 22mm black alligator style high quality genuine leather strap with fold-over ends and matching gold steel buckle, ready to be worn and enjoyed or made the new "prize" of your wristwatch collection.

Diameter (with crown): 57.00 mm
Diameter (without crown): 52.00 mm
Watch crystal diameter: 45.00 mm
Thickness: 19.00 mm

What's a skeleton watch? From Bare Bones: 10 Standout Skeleton Watches (watchtime.com; 'USA's No.1 Watch Magazine'):-

In skeleton watches, the watchmaker strips the watch's dial and/or movement to their bare essentials, revealing as much of the watch's interior as possible.

Of the many photos showing the watch, I chose the one that best illustrated its size.