19 June 2018

Chess Lions in Leuven

The month of June means the end of spring, the beginning of summer, and the Grand Chess Tour in Belgium. According to my report from two years ago, Chess on Belgian News (June 2016), the recent rapid/blitz tournament was the third running of the Belgian leg of the event, formally dubbed 'Your Next Move'.

Photos: Massimo Marchetti (lafamily.eu)

The large posters in the right image were placed outside the elegant Leuven City Hall. The black poster reads,

The World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF) celebrates one of the world's oldest and best-loved games through vibrant, engaging exhibitions and creative programming. A not-for-profit, collecting institution situated in the heart of Saint Louis, Missouri, the WCHOF houses both the U.S. and World Chess Halls of Fame, which honor the accomplishments of the game's finest players and contributors.

The organization presents exhibitions that explore the history of the game, as well as its remarkable impact on arts and culture. These unique shows and programs are designed to appeal to both the chess novice and expert, defying expectations and enhancing knowledge of the game. Along with those of its sister organization, the Saint Louis Chess Club, the WCHOF's activities have distinguished Saint Louis as a national and international chess destination.

Mind. Art. Experience. 4652 Maryland Avenue, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA (314) 367-WCHF (9243) | worldchesshof.org

The white poster reads,

ART of CHESS 2018

Grand Chess Tour: Art of Chess 2018 is the second edition of a traveling exhibition that fulfills the global mission of the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF) by bringing artwork and artifacts to many of the stops of the Grand Chess Tour. This show includes highlights from the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF) as well as loans from Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield, Purling London, and the organizers of the events in the Grand Chess Tour. The permanent collection of the WCHOF contains trophies, photographs, score sheets, periodicals, chess sets, and other artifacts related to significant players and events from chess history. The exhibition is inspired by the WCHOF's mission and its 2018 shows.

Among the highlights of this exhibition is an exquisite Hungarian chess set adorned with pearls, amethyst, and jade. Also on view is an enlarged version of the 2013 Sinquefield Cup chess set, created by Frank Camaratta as a gift for the founders of the Saint Louis Chess Club, Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield. These are supplemented by photography from last year's Grand Chess Tour and the trophies for several of the competitions, spotlighting the historic nature of these events.

Images from left to right: [top of the poster] Magnus Carlsen Winner of the 2017 Grand Chess Tour, 2017, Photo by Lennart Ootes; • Sinquefield Cup Imperial Chessmen, 2018, Photo by Michael DeFilippo; • Fabiano Caruana After Winning the 2018 Candidates Tournament, Photo by Nick Dunaevsky, March 28, 2018. • Collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame, (c) Nick Dunaevsky, official photographer of World Chess.

Wesley So won this year's Leuven YNM event. Details can be found on 2018 Your Next Move (grandchesstour.org).

18 June 2018

Where's Leela?

Where was I on the Leela series? My previous post, The Lineage of Leela (11 June 2018), was a filler. I spent my time on that post browsing the Leela forum, trying to understand more about the Leela technology. In the post before that, Understanding Leela (04 June 2018), I promised,

There are also many technical threads that discuss different configurations for the Leela client or that delve into the structure of the network(s). Let's look at those another time.'

The top of the main project page, LCZero, currently has an undated message that says,

Net has been replaced with a new bootstrap net with 50 move rule normalization and learnable batch normalization beta bias. It will likely be weaker to start but will hopefully grow stronger quickly.

What does that mean? Maybe I'd better retrace my steps, because it looks like I missed something. I'll start by looking at the links on LCZero's left sidebar (in order).

*** Getting Started: This goes to

Home · glinscott/leela-chess Wiki · GitHub

That page says, 'A.O. edited this page 11 days ago · 26 revisions; Moved to https://github.com/LeelaChessZero/lc0/wiki'

Welcome to the Leela Chess Zero wiki!

That page looks like the instructions I followed for Installing Leela (21 May 2018), so at least I'm on familiar ground.

*** Forum: This also looks familiar. The link goes to:-

LCZero - Google Groups

The top of that page says, 'This forum is for all the discussion about LCZero - https://github.com/glinscott/leela-chess'. That github.com page says,

GitHub - glinscott/leela-chess: **MOVED TO https://github.com/LeelaChessZero/leela-chess ** A chess adaption of GCP's Leela Zero

Following that link leads to:-

GitHub - LeelaChessZero/lczero: A chess adaption of GCP's Leela Zero

Note that the 'leela-chess' has redirected to 'lczero'. The main github.com page is:-

LCZero · GitHub

*** Github: This leads to the same page that I just looked at: github.com/LeelaChessZero/.

*** Networks: After more internal links -- 'Matches', 'Active Users', etc. -- there is another external link...

*** LCZero Chat: Here under #dev-log, I found the same message that is on LCZero's main page: 'Net has been replaced with a new bootstrap net [...]'. Signed, Chad - 10/06/2018.

Where's Leela? The main Github page has moved, but the rest remains as before. The chat looks to be a preliminary source of technical discussion to the forum.

17 June 2018

Impossible Backgrounds

Starting with last month's post, The Chess Waste Land, I moved the Featured Flickr Photo series from a fortnightly to a monthly schedule. This gave me plenty of images on my short list from which to choose. I chose the following.

The world of chess © Flickr user jaci XIII under Creative Commons.

The description for this image mentioned,

After: Rafal Olbinski. Chess photo is wallpaper.

Out of curiosity, I fed the image to the images.google.com service I discussed in Search Your Own Images. It told me, 'Best guess for this image: 3d chess'. One of the links for the image went to 4 Games Like 3D Chess for Linux (topbestalternatives.com), where there is a well known image of chess pieces on a sphere similar to the featured photo above.

In fact, further inspection of the two images convinced me that they were essentially the same. The other image is red instead of blue, but the same pieces are all on the same squares of the sphere. That must be the wallpaper mentioned in the description. Feeding the red image into images.google.com told me 'Best guess for this image: impossible backgrounds'. Can't argue with that.

15 June 2018

Search Your Own Images

In last week's post, An NN for Chess Images?, I used a photo from my archive and wondered,

Could a network recognize that this is not a photo? Or (without being told) that it shows dogs. My first step should probably be to make some sort of survey of what software and services are available.

First stop: images.google.com. This simple tool allows search on an image via a number of input paths. The most straightforward are:-

  • Copy and paste the URL for an image, and
  • Upload an image.

Both of these are accessed by clicking the camera icon in the search box on images.google.com. I fed it the link for the painting/photo used in 'NN for Chess Images', and it gave me three results. Two of these ('Best guess for this image') were pages about Dalmatian dogs (well done, Google!) and the third was a link to the home page for this blog, where the original post is still displayed because it is among the most recent.

The results also included a dozen thumbnails for 'Visually similar images'. None of the thumbnails showed a Dalmatian, but all of them had the same sort of pink background shown in my original photo. (Remember Chess in the Pink, April 2018?) Unfortunately, I can't give a link to the Google results, because it is based on some sort of encryption technique that probably includes details about its origin (i.e. me).

After that little experiment, I fed Google image search the link to the image used in 'Mystery Painting' on eBay (June 2017). This is a painting that pops up occasionally in different places, but where I have been unable to determine its origin. This time the Google results could find nothing more interesting about the image than that it showed a 'picture frame'. Under 'Visually similar images', the dozen thumbnails displayed different paintings in picture frames.

Given a similar image used in my original Mystery Painting (December 2007), Google determined that it showed 'edelen middeleeuwen', which another Google service translates from Dutch to 'nobles middle ages', which I translate to 'nobles from the Middle Age'. Along with a couple of links to Dutch-language pages, the thumbnails showed one more copy of my original image.

The Google image search clearly has limitations on its usefulness. As a final test I used an image which has been sitting in my 'Junk' directory for over a year, not because the image is junk, but because I didn't know what to do with it.

After I uploaded the image, Google declared, 'Best guess for this image: donald trump chess', where the first link (from 'About results'!) was Does Donald Trump play chess? (quora.com). About half of the thumbnails were variations on my uploaded image; the other half were people playing chess, including two showing Garry Kasparov. The Trump image is obviously photoshopped, where a Star Trek 3D chess set has been pasted over whatever Trump was holding in his hands.

According to a database I constructed, my collection of images (mostly) from eBay has about 20.000 examples. Since uploading a small percentage of these one-by-one would be an exercise in tedium, I'll have to find a better solution.

14 June 2018

2018 USCF USChess Executive Board Election

Has it really been three years since I last posted about U.S. chess politics? So it seems: 2015 USCF Executive Board Election (July 2015). In 2016, there were two candidates for two positions, so I didn't bother voting. In 2017, there were eight candidates for four positions. I intended to vote, but something went wrong:-

Subject: US Chess Executive Board Ballot Mailing
Sent: Saturday, July 1, 2017

Dear US Chess Voting Member, Due to an error by our mailing agent, your Executive Board Election Ballot was not mailed to you at the scheduled time. Your ballot has now been mailed to you as of Friday, June 30 via overnight or expedited mail (depending on your location). The deadline for receipt of your marked ballot is Tuesday, July 18, by 3 p.m. CDT. Full instructions for marking and returning your ballot are included in the envelope being sent to you. Our apologies for any inconvenience.

Whatever went wrong the first time became a double blunder, because I never received the second ballot either. I was reminded of this when I received the following postcard earlier this week.

The card says,

Garry and Rex have teamed up to make a difference for American Chess by organizing and supporting premier chess events. Today they have issued this joint statement: "We are pleased with our partnership with US Chess. To keep the positive momentum for Chess, We recommend and endorse the executive board members and candidates with track records of positive achievements."


REX SINQUEFIELD, Chairman Chess Club & Scholastic Center of Saint Louis • Sponsor of 5 U.S. Championships; Sponsor of 5 U.S. Women's Championships; USA Olympiad Team Sponsor; Young Stars [smudge]; Sponsor Chess in the Schools, Chess in Education; Sponsor World Chess Hall of Fame; Sponsor U.S. Chess Hall of Fame

GARRY KASPAROV, Chairman Kasparov Chess Foundation • Former World Champion; USA Olympiad Team Sponsor; Women's World Team Sponsor; All-Girls National Sponsor; Young Stars -- Team USA; Sponsor Chess in the Schools, Chess in Education; Sponsor of Regional Scholastic Championships Greater NY, Greater Chicago, Greater Mid-Atlantic

This year there are four candidates for two positions. I don't follow U.S. chess politics closely enough to know why the two recommended candidates have better 'track records of positive achievements' than the other two candidates, but what's good enough for Rex Sinquefield and Garry Kasparov is good enough for me. With an American player competing for the World Championship in November, U.S. chess needs the strongest leadership possible.

Will I receive a ballot this time?


Later: Oops! Looks like I goofed. When I copied the title from the 2015 EB post to this post, I forgot that the U.S. chess federation had since changed its name from USCF to USChess. Strike one!

12 June 2018

USchess in Podcasts

Starting with the April 2018 issue, Chess Life (CL) has a new online feature, 'Cover Stories with Chess Life'. These are presented as a podcast interview with the author conducted by CL's editor, Daniel Lucas. The first talk was with FM Mike Klein of Chess.com, who wrote the cover story introduced on the left ('cover art by Paul Dickinson'). That first podcast, plus the two podcasts conducted for the May and June issues of CL (with Al Lawrence and GM Ian Rogers), can be found on Podcast Archives (uschess.org).

I'm a big fan of podcasts, and after The Week in Podcasts (February 2018), this is the second time this year I've posted about them. Maybe that's because I also like listening to the radio while I'm doing something else. Having said that, I have a couple of problems with the podcast format in general.

The first problem is that podcasts require concentration. I can't concentrate on a second task -- like writing a blog post -- while I'm listening to a podcast.

Driving also requires some concentration, as does manual work like painting a room, but listening to music at the same time takes no concentration. Listening to a talk show or a news program occasionally requires concentration ('Wait a moment. What did they just say?'), but my focus can shift rapidly because the primary task, like driving, doesn't always require full concentration.

I simply can't do two simultaneous tasks that both require near-full concentration. Why not just concentrate on the podcast? Because listening to a podcast is not like watching a video. Unlike a video, a podcast doesn't engage my eyes, which means that my visual attention is constantly wandering to something else. A transcript might be useful.

The second problem is that podcasts are difficult to quote, although here I have the same problem with videos. If I want to introduce a short quote from an audio source into a blog post, I have to listen to the audio and write what I think I'm hearing, then iterate the process several times to make sure the quote is accurate.

What if I could automatically create a transcript of the quote and then verify it's correctness? I know the technology exists, but what tools are available? For more about the technology, see Wikipedia's Natural-language processing:-

Natural-language processing (NLP) is an area of computer science and artificial intelligence concerned with the interactions between computers and human (natural) languages, in particular how to program computers to process and analyze large amounts of natural language data.

For more about available speech-to-text tools, I'll have to make a survey and actually try some of them.

11 June 2018

The Lineage of Leela

And AlphaGo Master begat AlphaGo Zero, and AlphaGo Zero begat AlphaZero, and AlphaZero begat Leela -- at least according to The Lineage of AlphaZero (January 2018) and Understanding Leela (June 2018). And behind all of this begetting was David Silver of Google's DeepMind.

Deepmind AlphaZero - Mastering Games Without Human Knowledge (42:29) • 'Published on Jan 29, 2018'

From Youtube's 'The Artificial Intelligence Channel'

2017 NIPS Keynote by DeepMind's David Silver. Dr. Silver leads the reinforcement learning research group at DeepMind and is lead researcher on AlphaGo. He graduated from Cambridge University in 1997 with the Addison-Wesley award. • Recorded: December 6th, 2017

If you're as out of the loop as I am, you might like to know that NIPS is shorthand for 'Conference and Workshop on Neural Information Processing Systems'.