01 December 2022

December 1972 & 1997 'On the Cover'

For the last time this year, here's our monthly look at American chess magazines from 50 and 25 years ago. For the previous post, see November 1972 & 1997 'On the Cover' (November 2022).

Left: '?'
Right: 'Another Title for Arthur Bisguier'

Chess Life & Review (50 Years Ago)

U.S. Armed Forces Champion Lt. (j.g.) Zacarias S. Chavez (right) with one of his prizes. At left is Cmdr. L. Randall Rogers, who directed the tournament. Story [inside]. (ALNS Photo.)

The story inside was titled '13th Armed Forces Championship Won By Lt. Chavez'. It started,

Lieutenant (j.g.) Zacarias S. Chavez of the U.S. Naval Coast Guard has won the 13th U.S. Armed Forces Championship. The tournament was held in the Hall of Flags at the American Legion's Washington office building. Lt. Chavez's score was 9-1 in the individual championship. Seaman Joseph Bradford was second, Electronic Technician (Radar) Charles Lawton was third, and Lt. (j.g.) Scott Liddell was fourth.

Completing the domination of this event by the Sea Services, their team scored 30 1/2 points to take team event and the Emery Team Trophy, presented in honor of Thomas Emery. Honorary Chair- man of the American Chess Foundation. Last year's winner, the Air Force, was second with 28 1/2.

The anonymous report ended,

The tournament is sponsored by the American Chess Foundation in cooperation with the U. S. Chess Federation, the American Legion, the U.S.O., and the U.S. Department of Defense. The tournament director was Commander L. Randall Rogers, a Navy chaplain.

Aside from occasional mentions about other Armed Forces championships, there's not much about Zacarias Chavez on the web. Google Books offers an excerpt from 'The Steward and the Captain's Daughter' by Ray L. Burdeos (p.92):-

But there were always those few "die-hard" chess players who would hang around the locker room and enjoy more of the challenges of the game. And we pride ourselves on having a highly rated Filipino chess player, a coastie, by the name of Zacarias Chavez.

The player placing second has numerous mentions, for example, The chess games of Joseph Bradford (chessgames.com), where in a brief bio we learn,

He was awarded the IM title in 2007. Bradford won the 1978 U.S. Open Championship.

For the previous 'On the Cover' featuring the U.S. Armed Forces championship, see January 1969 'On the Cover' (January 2019). As for Emery, see Thomas Emery (June 2017) and More About Thomas Emery (ditto).

Chess Life (25 Years Ago)

It started in 1947 when he captained the 1946 CCNY team to the Pan-American Championship. That's when he got his first cover (Chess Review, February 1947). And he hasn't stopped. Two U.S. Junior Open titles (1948, 1949), a U.S. Championship (1954), four U.S. Opens (1950, 1956, 1957 with Fischer, 1959), numerous National Open titles (1970 with Evans, 1974, 1978, 1984 equal with Walter Browne) one U.S. Class (1985 with Benjamin, Brian Hartman), one World Open (1979, seven-way tie), and now, two U.S. Senior titles (1989, 1997) -- all of which explains why Grandmaster Arthur Bisguier has made the cover of either Chess Review, Chess Life & Review, or Chess Life, at least once in each decade.

From 1947 to 1997. The amazing thing is, the older he gets, the better-looking he gets ...

For more related to that last sentence, see GM Bisguier, Catalog Model (April 2017).

29 November 2022

Disappearing Yahoos

Last month's Yahoos post, Chess960 Mania (October 2022; see the footnote for an explanation of Yahoos), raised a number of questions of vital interest to the global chess community:-

The Niemann lawsuit; the NYT puzzles; AICF pest control; will Google's 'Full Coverage' become a mainstay of chess news? There's plenty to look forward to in next month's Yahoos post.

First let's look at the numbers. Of the 100 chess stories returned by Google, 75 were for the current month, 25 for previous months.

Of the 48 different sources for the 75 current month stories, there were six sources that accounted for two stories or more. They are shown in the chart on the left.

Chess.com once again acccounted for the most stories, more than the combined total of the other five sources on the chart. For the third time in four months, Chessbase.com was runner-up, although its name changed to echo its domain name.

Now let's look at the questions from last month's Yahoos post. I promise that the discussion will be brief.

The Niemann lawsuit: Nada. Nothing. Disappeared.

The NYT puzzles: Ditto.

AICF pest control: Ditto.

Google's 'Full Coverage': Ditto.

So much for that. I'm still digesting the stories that Google did highlight, but have to run now. I'll be back later.

[Yahoos (mainstream news stories about chess) are derived from Google News top-100 (or so) stories from the past month.]


Later: We saw Google's 'Full Coverage' in two recent Yahoos posts:-

  • Cheating Mania (September 2022).
  • 'Chess960 Mania' (October 2022), linked in the first paragraph of the original post above.

Cheating mania continued into November. Of the 75 chess stories flagged by Google, seven focused on aspects of cheating. My favorite was this one; it has a great lead and its storyline just keeps getting better:-

Of the two chess960 stories in November, my favorite was this one, although with a caveat:-

The caveat? Chess960 doesn't at all diminish the engine's advantage. The machines will still crush the best players in the world. Instead, it curbs their use in preparing for a specific opening : if you don't know what the start position will be, you can't prepare for it. Despite that clarification, kudos to Popular Science for introducing chess960 to a wider public.

Of the other stories I could mention, the one that gives the most mileage is this one:-

It's packed with recommendations for different categories:-

Film & Television, YouTube & Twitch, Books & Literature, [...]

While 'Everything You Need To Know' is maybe a stretch, 'A Great Number of Things You Need To Know', isn't. See anything missing? Add a comment. There are already some excellent suggestions.

28 November 2022

TCEC S23, CCC19 Rapid : Stockfish Wins Both

The previous report on the globe's top engine vs. engine ongoing tournaments was TCEC S23 Sufi, CCC19 Rapid : Nearing the Finish (November 2022). Here's a summary of that report.

TCEC: After 83 games in the S23 Sufi ('Superfinal'), Stockfish leads LCZero +19-6=58. It needs only 2.5 more points to clinch its sixth straight Sufi. • CCC: In the 'CCC19 Rapid Semifinal', Stockfish, Lc0, and Dragon (1-2-3 in that order) -- are in the lead for the 'Challenger' (2-3) and 'Final' (1-?) matches.

Stockfish won both events by significant margins. The rest of this post gives a few details.

TCEC: Stockfish beat LCZero +27-10=63 to win its sixth straight Superfinal (Sufi). The site is currently conducting a 100 game 'Subfinal', where LCzero has already clinched victory over KomodoDragon. Plans for season 24 (S24) are already available on the site's Wiki.

(Blue links are available pages; red links are TBD.)

CCC: In the 'CCC19 Rapid Semifinal', Stockfish, Lc0, and Dragon finished 1-2-3, with the other three engines as distant also-rans. LC0 beat Dragon by three points in the 200-game 'Challenger' match and is currently trailing Stockfish in the 200-game 'Final' match. The really dumb money is on LC0. The only unknown is the margin of victory.

What's next for the site? My guess is 'CCC19 Bullet', but the !next command says 'Bonus Events!'. We'll find out soon enough.

[For further information from the various stakeholders in the engine-to-engine events, see the tab 'TCEC/CCC Links' at the top of this page. • NB: Leela = LC0 = LCzero; Dragon = KomodoDragon]

27 November 2022

Top Players Talk Top Chess

Podcasts have become an important component in understanding The Sociology of Chess (November 2016). Earlier this year in the series we had Women in Chess Podcasts (April 2022) and here we have top players talking about top-level chess.

C-Squared Podcast #10 | Global Chess Championship, Fischer Random & more with Vidit & Ganguly (44:29) • 'Streamed live on Nov 11, 2022'

'C-Squared' stands for the surnames of the two hosts, GM Fabiano Caruana and Romanian GM Cristian Chirila. The video's description wasn't much longer than its title and said,

After a busy week of chess, commentary, and more, we reunite in St. Louis immediately after the Fall Chess Classic to discuss LIVE.

For more about that tournament, see 2022 Fall Chess Classic (uschesschamps.com). The page explains,

The 2022 Fall Chess Classic is the third installment of the Chess Classics featuring international chess professionals. The Fall Chess Classic is comprised of two, 10-player Round Robin tournaments. Over the course of 10 days, these competitors will battle for more than $36,000 in prize money and gain valuable experience in top-level events.

The two Indian GMs -- Surya Shekhar Ganguly (seated second from the left) and Santosh Gujrathi Vidit (third) -- played in the A-section, while host Chirila (fourth, operating the equipment) played in the B-section. The discussion starts with the Fall Classic, then moves to the FIDE World Rapid and Blitz 2022 (fide.com), travel requirements, and more. At about 10:00, discussion of the Chess.com Global Championship 2022 (chess.com) kicks in, then at 25:40 moves to the Fischer Random (Chess960) World Championship. I've recently posted about both events on my other blogs:-

Even though I was more than a little familiar with both events, I learned much more from the podcast. I'll be watching for further episodes on the channel C-Squared Podcast (youtube.com).

25 November 2022

Wayback to Smartchess

Earlier this month on my 'World Chess Championship Blog', I posted Smartchess Interviews Karpov (November 2022). I noted,

A footnote to the interview mentioned that it first appeared on Smartchess Online in September 1997. I tried to find the original interview via the Wayback Machine, but failed. Smartchess.com appears to have been built using techniques that are incompatible with Wayback assumptions.

It turned out that the Wayback obstacle is easily overcome. Don't try to open its links in new tabs, then everything works. Starting with the web.archive.org link given in the 'Interviews Karpov' post, I followed...

'SmartChess Online' -> 'Back Issues of SmartChess Online' -> The SmartChess Archive for 'September 1997' -> 'Publisher's Message' -> 'Ron Henley's Mail Bag'

...and was rewarded with the press photo pictured below.

"Best Wishes!" - D.T.

For more on this blog from the chess-playing 45th U.S. president, see Donald Trump, Chess Master (October 2022). As for the Smartchess Karpov interview in September 1997, a page '"Karpov On The Net" by FIDE World Champion GM Anatoly Karpov' presented 'Two From Biel [1997]', two games annotated by Karpov. Another page, '"In Conversation With..." by Rachel Landry', who was Karpov's interviewer, had a different interviewee:-

GM Gabriel Schwartzman is a University of Florida student with a perfect grade point average, a successful businessman, a respected chess journalist and commentator, a licensed chess coach, the 1996 U.S. Open Champion and, as if all that isn't enough, he can checkmate you in six languages! At the age of twenty, Gabriel is a seasoned veteran of chess. He began playing at two years old and at seventeen, he was awarded the title of International Grandmaster.

Other columnists in the same issue were GM Walter Browne, GM Gabriel Schwartzman, GM Michael Rohde, NM Irina Krush, GM Ron Henley, NM David Koval, GM Alexei Shirov, GM Andras Adorjan, and FM Asa Hoffmann. That makes a lot of chess history to sort through.

The first issue of 'SmartChess Online' was dated August 1997 and the last was dated August/September 2003, a total of 45 issues. At some time in 2005, the site started redirecting to ClassicalGames.com. My 'Interviews Karpov' post had a second follow-up:-

In his interview with Smartchess, Karpov mentioned a couple of video series he was developing for Smartchess's 'WWW Chess Superstore'. I've featured two of these in posts on my main blog [...] How many more of these videos are still available on Youtube?

I started to look into that question, but ran out of time. The first problem is how to catalog them.

24 November 2022

Steamin' Niemann

It's been over two and a half months since I posted Chess Players Behaving Very, Very Badly (September 2022), aka the Niemann affair. In that time it's been the focus of two Yahoos posts ('mainstream news stories about chess'):-

  • 2022-09-29: Cheating Mania
  • 2022-10-27: Chess960 Mania • 'In last month's Cheating Mania, I observed, "Of the [78] Google News stories, 17 were about cheating." The cheating story continued bigtime in October. Of the 83 stories, 10 were about cheating.'

It's possible that the saga will figure in this month's Yahoos post, scheduled for next week, but there's a hitch : in October Niemann sued his tormentors and everyone has gone quiet. For the background to the lawsuit, here's a video.

Hans Niemann's $100 Million* Suit Against Magnus Carlsen ft. GothamChess (19:33) • '[Published on] Nov 15, 2022'

Instead of copying the description of the video, I looked up the the meaning of the abbreviation 'ft.' used in its title. In short, I haven't a clue. Google suggested Financial Times, fort, and foot/feet (a quaint unit of measure used in some developed countries), but I'm pretty sure it's none of those. GothamChess made an appearance in the video and received a shoutout in the description:-

Thanks for the assist from @GothamChess !

I'm sure the meaning of 'ft.' will come to me five minutes after publishing this post. In the meantime, here's a list of Youtube.com resources that discuss the lawsuit. (The Youtube channels are given in parentheses.)

  • 2022-10-22: Niemann Sues Carlsen, Chess.com and Nakamura. Law Professor David Franklin joins to Assess the Case (Perpetual Chess Podcast w/ Ben Johnson) • 'With the bombshell news that GM Hans Niemann is suing Magnus Carlsen, Chess.com, and Hikaru Nakamura, we brought in a legal expert to help us make sense of the case. I am joined by Professor David Franklin. David is a Constitutional Law Professor and an appellate lawyer, who is also a chess enthusiast who had already been following the Carlsen/Niemann story closely.'
  • 2022-10-31: $100 Million case: No defamation for Magnus Carlsen? A case analysis by a former trial attorney. (Legal Vignettes: Stories From the Life of a Lawyer) • 'How will the Missouri federal court look at some of the legal issues in the $100 million dollar filed by Hans Niemann against World Chess champion Magnus Carlsen, Chess.com, Daniel Rensch and popular chess Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura? I've spent my life as a lawyer, a lot of it in federal court conducting trials. I took a look at some of the issues in this case, in particular, the issues involving defamation and jurisdiction. The law regarding defamation in Missouri is such that Niemann could have a pretty tough time with his case.'
  • 2022-11-15: Hans Niemann's $100 Million* Suit Against Magnus Carlsen ft. GothamChess (LegalEagle) • 'Did he pull this out of his butt?'

The first video is a sober discussion of the merits of the lawsuit. The second is an in-the-weeds discussion of defamation, useful for anyone publishing content online (like me). The third is for completeness, i.e. the same video embedded above. The following screen shot is from the third video.

'Mate in 143 moves'

21 November 2022

Stockfish vs. ChessBase Settlement

I've been following the 'Fat Fritz' story on this blog for over three years -- four years if you count the 'Deus X [DeusX]' posts linked in the first post listed here:-

Interest in the subject is high, and that last 'In Court' post is currently at no.5 in 'Popular Posts (last 12 months)' at the bottom of all pages on the blog. A few days ago Stockfish announced, ChessBase GmbH and the Stockfish team reach an agreement and end their legal dispute (stockfishchess.org). The press release said,

We are pleased to announce that we have found an agreement that strengthens the Stockfish project in its aim to deliver the world’s number #1 chess engine as Free Software and that allows ChessBase to distribute our software in the future.

Some Stockfish fans are going to be unhappy with the settlement, especially since ChessBase escaped monetary compensation to the Stockfish team. Given the already heavy blow to its reputation, I doubt that ChessBase would agree damages were light.