27 May 2016

'Is Really Good Sales Now'

Must be giant chess sets week. First we had Top eBay Giant Chess Sets by Price. That same day I received a message from Chinese manufacturer CNchess.com with an entire category of 'Giant Garden Outdoor Chess Sets'. Today while creating the short list for Flickr Friday, I found five photos featuring more of the same. The one I liked best, subtitled 'In the heart of the village Bad Ragaz, Switzerland', is shown below.

New Game - New Chance © Flickr user Kecko under Creative Commons.

Back to CNchess.com, their message said,

GC-8 Garden Chess Set with Colored Box • If you buy above 1000 sets GC-8 king tall 8" garden chess set and we can print your design on the colored box. This garden set is really good sales now.

Now all I have to do is round up another 999 interested parties.

26 May 2016


It turns out that the cautionary tale from my previous post, Caveat eBay Chess Autographs, is not unusual. While researching the matter I encountered many statements like 'over 80% of autographs on eBay are fake'. There is plenty of advice on how to avoid fakes. Here are two from the same eBay seller:-

Chess autograph collectors have the additional resource that I mentioned in the 'Caveat' post: Chessautographs.com. Here's an example of the sort of info found on the site.

1982 Interpolis (Program)

That display is split into three parts. First there's a list of the players shown on the item; it can be sorted in different ways by clicking on the column headers. Then there's an image list of the individual autographs on the item. Then there's the item itself.

All of this can be accessed top-down in different ways: by autographed item, by player, or by annual rating list. Want to find the Bobby Fischer autographs? Click 'Chessplayers', click 'Fischer', and voila! The five Fischer autographs currently in the collection are shown along with Fischer's Wikipedia page (or change that to get his Chessgames.com page). I wish I'd had that resource when I bought the eBay item that had all the players' signatures in the 1979 Riga Interzonal except the one I was most interested in: Mikhail Tal's.

24 May 2016

Caveat eBay Chess Autographs

Remember Echoes of a Postcard (April 2016), where I noted that an eBay auction for chess autographs was similar, but not identical, to an item featured on Chesshistory.com nearly ten years ago? About a month later I received a comment explaining the difference.

The document in your article is clearly not genuine. I own the original postcard which you can see here:


The seller now has two other fake documents for sale on eBay. Fortunately no one has bought them yet.

Without publishing the comment, I contacted the sender to find out more about the 'fake'. He replied,

At first I would give [the seller] the benefit of the doubt. When you don't have the option to compare the documents with the originals, you could be fooled. The buyer of the Bad Kissingen 1928 document thought they were real enough, because he gave positive feedback on eBay after having paid $900.

My correspondent also sent the following composite image...

...and remarked,

The best evidence that my Bad Kissingen postcard was copied can be seen on the second 'L' on the Marshall autograph. Marshall allowed himself to end his signature with a rather frivolous curl. The person who made the copy thought that curl belonged to the Reti signature. And he drew it in another color, as you can see.

Yes, indeed. The eBay item is almost certainly a copy of the document shown on Chesshistory.com / Chessautographs.com. Add the 'Echoes' post to the list:-

Caveat eBay?

23 May 2016

Karjakin's Early Team Events

While researching the last two posts in this series -- Karjakin's Early Corus Encounters with Carlsen & Karjakin & Carlsen's World Championship Careers -- I was impressed by the number of team events in which Karjakin participated. Here's a list I assembled from early TWIC references.

2002-08: TWIC 408, 7) World Youth Olympiad 2002 [Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Team Ukraine]

2003-05: TWIC 445, 16) Forthcoming Events and Links [Saint-Petersburg vs. Paris; (1)]

2003-12: TWIC 476, 18) Russia vs Ukraine Internet Blitz [Team Ukraine]

2004-10: TWIC 518, 8) Bilbao International Chess Festival [1st People vs Computers World Chess Team Championship]

2004-10: TWIC 521, 2) 36th Chess Olympiad [Calvia (Majorca); Karjakin (top scorer with 92.9% on board 6, second reserve)]

2005-08: TWIC 561, 2) 15th European Team Championship [Team Ukraine]

2005-08: TWIC 564, 3) 49th Spanish Teams Honours Division [Team C.A. Magic Merida]

2005-09: TWIC 567, 2) European Club Cup [Team NAO]

2005-10: TWIC 575, 2) World Team Championship [Beer-Sheva, Israel; Team Ukraine]

2006-04: TWIC 595, 5) Top 16 French League [Team NAO; final stages 4-7 May 2006; (2)]

2006-05: TWIC 604, 2) Chess Olympiad [Team Ukraine]

2006-08: TWIC 617, 4) NK Hoteles Chess Tournament [A team of 'Experience' and a team of 'Rising Stars']

2006-09: TWIC 626, 4) Spanish Teams [November 2006 (Final); Team Linex Magic]

2007-05: TWIC 653, 3) Russian Team Championships [Sochi; Team Tomsk 400]

Other references:
(1) 'Distant chess' in St Petersburg and Paris (chessbase.com; May 2003)
(2) NAO Is No More (this blog; October 2006)

There are undoubtedly team events missing from the list, but it's a start for future investigation. The Olympiad record would make a useful follow-up topic.

22 May 2016

Top eBay Giant Chess Sets by Price

The previous episode of Top eBay Chess Items by Price, which I titled Chess Builders, was about Mother's Day. I rejected featuring a giant plastic chess set, because 'I just couldn't picture Mom playing chess outside in her garden'.

For this episode I had two more giant sets -- a sign of the season? -- and not wanting to choose between them, I decided on a composite post featuring all of the top sets from recent months. The results are shown below.

Following are the titles and selling prices of the six sets. The King in the first set listed is more than four feet tall, nearly twice as tall as the King in the last few sets.

  • Giant Plastic Chess Set with a 49" King - Garden Chess Set - Outdoor Chess Set • US $939
  • MegaChess Giant Plastic Chess Set with a 37" King • US $789
  • Giant Plastic Chess Set with a 37" King - Garden Chess Set - Outdoor Chess Set • US $649
  • MegaChess Giant Plastic Chess Set with 25" King with a Nylon Chessboard • US $529
  • Giant Plastic Chess Set with a 25" King with Nylon Chess Board Outdoor Chess Set • US $440
  • Giant Plastic Chess Set with a 25" King • US $400

Although the last two sets have the same photo, one is with 'nylon chess board', the other without. While browsing these closed listings, eBay informs me that there are more than a half-dozen giant sets currently on offer.

20 May 2016

We Will Be Agog!

From the World Chess YouTube channel...

Making of the World Chess Candidates Tournament (6:15) • 'A short film about the 2016 World Chess Candidates Tournament that took place in Moscow in March of 2016.'

...Good things to know: (Pretty woman talking) 'Chess is a game for the strong, a game for winners, a game for those who rule the world.' • (Ditto) 'I see chess as first and foremost a strong and courageous handsome man.' • (Voiceover) 'The whole world will be agog as Karjakin attempts to dethrone Carlsen in the World Chess Championship final.'

19 May 2016

My Name in Bytes!

After establishing that I'm Not a Chess Historian, what else could Giga Alert tell me? In the past, the service has mainly alerted me to the existence of my own resources, like this blog, but lately it has been showing more originality. Take the following table, for example.

Chess Links and Websites

There I am at no.91, mark-weeks.com, sandwiched between book publisher everymanchess.com and long defunct whychess.ru. I have an Alexa number of 613604 (no. 613.604 of all websites in the world?) and 178 incoming links (it's more than that). My real interest in the list is centered on the top-10 sites. I am very surprised to find lichess.org and chess24.com at no.2 and no.3, just ahead of the old stalwart chessbase.com.

Also interesting was to find my name on ChessScotland.com: Caorle 1972. That was a zonal tournament and the site has details that might be useful for my zonal pages.

I've done some work to validate chess960 and wasn't surprised to find my name on Some hard questions for chess philosophers and the elite (chess959.com). The main page of the blog is titled Chess959 – Thinking starts at move 1, 'No Memorization Required!', and also deserves a closer look.

Most of the Giga references are to pages like CHESSSPY & FLOOTSIE! in the press (chessspy.com, for one of my blog posts), or Still Thrills: The Drama of Chess (academia.edu, for a WCC page). The most surprising reference was to a wiki-style page: Chessprogramming - Mark Weeks. My name in bytes, indeed.