26 June 2016

Fritz and Chesster

Continuing with Chess Software for Children, in that post I identified a couple of packages worth a further look.

Two products -- both of them engines embedded into instructional material -- came up repeatedly:
• Chessmaster, specifically the Josh Waitzkin version
• Fritz (chess), 'Fritz and Chesster'

Taking Fritz first (because I like the tonguetwisting sound of 'Fritz first'), I discovered a Youtube video featuring the product.

Let's Play: Learn to Play Chess with Fritz & Chesster for the PC: Part 1: Gameplay and Commentary (42:24) • 'Published on Jan 28, 2015'

There is a second clip from the same channel (where I also discovered the meaning of 'rhotacism'):-

I haven't watched either video to the end and will do so ASAP. The 'Software for Children' post linked to an Amazon product page for Viva Media:-

It turns out there are other Amazon pages for related products.

As you might expect from chess software bearing the name 'Fritz', there is a Chessbase connection: Chess For Kids: online and free.

Among the most popular programs by ChessBase, is the series designed to teach chess to children, "Fritz and Chesster". Until now it was only available on CD from the shop, but now you can enjoy the fun and games approach for free on the web. The colorful cartoons, with cute mini-games to teach the moves, can now be accessed from any browser, even on a mobile device.

'Fritz and Chesster' product pages for Chessbase.com can be found at Part 1, Part 2, Part 3: Chess for winners, and Part 1 Version 3. Most of these pages, along with links for the product in other languages, are listed on the index page Training / Fritz & Chesster. Maybe I'll try the French version on my French speaking granddaughters.

24 June 2016

Another Figment

The description said only, 'FIGMENT Baltimore 2016, Patterson Park', and there were no tags.

Large, Soft Chess © Flickr user Katie under Creative Commons.

Large, soft, and cuddly? If, like me, you've never heard of FIGMENT, the Facebook page, Figment Baltimore informs,

FIGMENT is a free, family friendly participatory art festival that happens once a year on various dates in many cities around the world!

In fact, I have heard of it -- right here on Flickr Friday -- Mobius Chess, FIGMENT Boston.

23 June 2016

Chess on Belgian News

Thursday, 16 June 2016, RTL Belgium, News at 19:00.

Les 10 meilleurs joueurs d'échec au monde sont réunis à Louvain
'The 10 best chess players in the world are gathered at Leuven'

The report begins, 'Back to Belgium with an unusual gathering in Flemish Brabant -- the 10 best chess players in the world.' Even more unusual is to see anything about chess on Belgian news. A Chessbase.com report Grand Chess Tour 2016 with two new events (February 2016) started,

Last year it was three events, in Norway, Saint Louis and London. This year Norway drops out and is replaced by two rapid+blitz events, in Paris and Brussels.

Later the report quoted a press release,

The 2016 Grand Chess Tour season will include rapid and blitz tournaments in Paris and Brussels-Leuven in addition to the Sinquefield Cup and London Chess Classic.

So where was the event held? In Brussels or in Brussels-Leuven? Short answer: neither. Long answer: in Leuven (wikipedia.org).

[Leuven (Dutch) / Louvain (French)] is the capital of the province of Flemish Brabant in Belgium. It is located about 25 kilometres (16 miles) east of Brussels. [...] It is the 10th largest municipality in Belgium and the fourth in Flanders.

Most non-Belgians would say, 'Where the heck is Leuven?', but everyone knows where the capital of Europe is.

21 June 2016

Two More Autographs

As long as I'm on the subject of autographs, as in ChessAutographs.com (May 2016) and My Two Encounters with Korchnoi (June 2016), I'd like to feature one more. In 'Two Encounters' I wrote,

The occasion was the 2nd SWIFT International Tournament (1986) -- Karpov, Korchnoi, Timman, Miles, eight other players -- and I was invited to the opening ceremony at the Sheraton Hotel next to Place Rogier in downtown Brussels.

For some reason totally out of character, I had the foresight to bring along a copy of Jan Timman's book 'Art of Chess Analysis'. I must have known that Timman would be playing in the tournament and would be at the opening ceremony. During the cocktail portion of the reception, I asked the Dutch GM if he would autograph the book, which he did without saying a word.

As Timman was there with his wife, I asked her if she would also sign the book. She declined, I insisted, she declined again, and I asked once more. I was probably lucky that the GM didn't just tell me to get lost, but the third time she signed it. A scanned copy of the two signatures is shown below, Timman's above his wife's.

Later I discovered a photo of the couple in the January 1986 edition of Europe Echecs. It accompanied a report on the Timman - Tal tiebreak match for the 1985 Montpellier Candidates Tournament, so I suppose the photo was taken at that time. The photographer was the same Catherine Jaeg that I featured earlier this year in Black and White Passion (February 2016). I found another photo of the couple in a post on Alexandra Kosteniuk's blog: RIP Hans Suri and Lucio Barvas (June 2013), 'Hans Suri in 1985 sitting next to Jan Timman and Timman's wife.'

Please don't get the impression that I'm an autograph collector. Along with the Korchnoi and Timman(x2) signatures, I have Karpov's autograph on 'Chess at the Top 1979-1984', which I procured at the same SWIFT tournament. His third title match against Kasparov was due to start in a few months, so I said politely, 'I hope you win against Kasparov'. He answered, 'So do I.' And that was that. No more autographs.

20 June 2016

Korchnoi's Career

In the two weeks since Viktor Korchnoi died, nearly every post on this blog has been inspired by him.

That's not to overlook two posts from my other chess blog.

Having just finished a short TMER series (Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record) for GM Karjakin's Early Career, I'd like to do the same for Korchnoi. I started a similar task in 2002, so the first action is to wipe the dust off the old files and see what I have exactly.

19 June 2016

Botvinnik's Pioneer

Here on Top eBay Chess Items by Price we sometimes see signed manuscripts and we sometimes see chess computers, but we've never seen a signed manuscript about a chess computer. The item shown below (pages 1 & 5) was titled 'Botvinnik's Manuscript: About new working algorithm of the chess "Pioneer", 1988'. It sold for US $400 after a single bid.

That's Botvinnik's signature in the lower right corner of the last page. The description added little information.

The manuscript is dedicated to the creation of the "Pioneer" chess program. Five pages.

The page Pioneer (chessprogramming.wikispaces.com) informs,

Pioneer was a Soviet Artificial Intelligence project headed by Mikhail Botvinnik with the aim to develop a chess program to model a chess master's mind, also used as general purpose planning tool to solve economical problems in the Soviet Union. [...] The name Pioneer was chosen in 1977, when the program was invited to play the WCCC 1977 in Toronto. However, Pioneer was never completed in a way that it could play a game of chess in public under tournament conditions.

The page also mentions,

Controversy: Botvinnik published abilities of Pioneer and its successor CC Sapiens on selected positions, but they never played a complete game of chess in public. For his publication Three Positions, Botvinnik was heavily criticized by Hans Berliner and his old chess rival David Bronstein.

Could this manuscript change the public perception of Botvinnik's Pioneer? Given that the project was terminated in 1990, I doubt it.

17 June 2016

'When We Were Kings' (*)

Yesterday's post, Korchnoi's Complaints, featured some of the bizarre events surrounding the 1978 Karpov - Korchnoi title match. Today's post features contemporary AP news footage from the same event.

Karpov vs Korchnoi (14:02) • 'The 1978 World Chess Championship'

The match principals are all there, as are visual reminders of the many stories that percolate through various historical accounts of the match. There is some confusion about the match score -- (10:40) 'Korchnoi seemed safe when he went into a 4-1 lead' -- and the clip ends with the match unfinished. The last story is about Karpov's official car crashing into a pine tree one night, but 'Karpov wasn't in the car'.

Last words: 'Chess may be a game that even young children can excel at, but when you're playing for the world title, it's quite clearly a man's game. Baguio has proved it.'

(*) When we were Kings Index: 'A series of posts dedicated to chess in the 1970s' from the Streatham & Brixton blog.