26 August 2014

Art for the Sake of Chess

Seen on Wired.com: The Weird, Totally Charming Hobbies That Unite People by Doug Bierend.

Whether it's diving, chess, or cosplay, our passions can bring us together in unique ways. If you're into it, it's more than likely that there's a club for it. In Hobby Buddies, Swiss photographers Ursula Sprecher and Andi Cortellini create playful portraits of people joined by their innumerable pastimes.

Here's the image illustrating the chess buddies.


Children's Chess - Ursula Sprecher & Andi Cortellini

Who arranged the small pieces like that?

Each shot is carefully staged and arranged to be visually engaging yet representative of the subjects' particular passion. Some photos have an air of fantasy, like the chess club surrounded by a giant chessboard and game pieces.

Adding to the 'air of fantasy': none of the children are smiling. Have they forgotten the first rule of chess? To have fun! The Wired.com piece includes a link to another chess-related article that I hadn't seen before: Making Chess cool for kids using Star Wars LEGO.

Design does not happen in a vacuum. Chess has a particularly long and colorful history of design experimentation.

That's because chess does not happen in a vacuum. Unless you're a blindfold wizard, you need pieces to play.

25 August 2014

Kasparov's Campaign on Video

In my previous post on Kasparov's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (TMER), Transition from 1970s to 2010s, I assembled a list of Chessbase.com articles covering Kasparov's unsuccessful campaign for the FIDE Presidency. For this current post I did the same for Youtube video clips.

The two resources together -- Chessbase and Youtube -- provide a good overview of his whereabouts during the ten month election campaign.

24 August 2014

Chess Chaperones

In previous centuries, what did young lovers do when they were together? According to this current edition of Top eBay Chess Items by Price, they played chess. At least, that is, while parents were sitting next to them.

The image below was titled 'Large Original 19th Century Oil Painting of Lovers Playing Chess on a Train' and subtitled 'James Stephenson Craig (exb.1840-1870) Royal Academy'. It sold for GBP 413.99 ('approximately US $686.00' according to eBay) after receiving 17 bids from 11 bidders.

The description added,

This is a large and very charming original 19th century oil on canvas of a Victorian couple chaperoning their daughter and her young suitor, by the listed Scottish artist, James Stephenson Craig (exb.1840-1870). The four figures in the painting sit in the first class carriage of a 19th century steam train as it travels along the Scottish coast. Whilst the parents read, the young couple bide their time with 'A Game of Strategy’. This lovely work is signed with initials to the lower left.

A very popular painter of gently suggestive Victorian romantic scenes, James Stephenson Craig exhibited three works at the Royal Academy, seven at the British Institution, and twelve at the Suffolk Street Gallery of the Society of British Artists.

Measurement (canvas only): 80cm x 65cm (31½” x 25½”)
Medium: Oil on canvas
Provenance: Fine Private Collection of Home Counti's Estate
Condition: Very good. Framed, professionally cleaned, relined and restored. Ready to hang.

I was surprised to learn that chess chaperoning is a 21st century occupation, as in 'Sign up to chaperone chess club sessions'. No fooling around at chess club!

22 August 2014

Chess Set circa 1540

Ever wonder what chess pieces looked like in the 16th century?


Paris Bordone 1500-1571 [Detail] © Flickr user jean louis mazieres under Creative Commons.

Follow the link to see the full painting (the largest size shows the set particularly well) where the description says,

Paris Bordone. 1500-1571. Venice. Two chess players. [circa] 1540. Berlin Gemäldegalerie.

I suppose that the 'White on right' rule wasn't in effect at that time and that the pieces on e1 and e3 are kings. More pieces are visible in the bottom right corner of the detail.

21 August 2014

'Of the following, I'd rather play...'

On the left is a poll seen on Slashdot.org: Of the following, I'd rather play..., currently showing 16857 total votes, 273 comments.

If you follow this blog, you know I like reading comments about chess from non-chess sources -- as in, for example, a recent post based on another article from Slashdot, The Scholastic Chess Facilitators Crisis -- because they tell me something about public perceptions and attitudes toward chess. I'll come back to the comments in a moment.

First, in case you've overlooked the point of this present post, here is the same chart in descending order of votes:-

  • Chess: 4580 votes / 27%
  • Poker: 3631 votes / 21%
  • Falken's Maze: 2520 votes / 14%
  • Hearts: 2021 votes / 11%
  • Black Jack: 1363 votes / 8%
  • Gin Rummy: 1240 votes / 7%
  • Bridge: 928 votes / 5%
  • Checkers: 574 votes / 3%

Checkers gets no respect. And what's Falken's Maze? Back to the comments...

vasilevich: '12 x 12 Tictactoe is about of the same complexity as Chess = ~10^60 positions'

bzipitidoo: 'Go is only another game in the same class as Chess and Checkers. D&D, why not mention that?'

MtViewGuy: 'Some say Go requires more intelligence to play than Chess.'

Anonymous Coward: 'How is Poker more social than Chess? You can become a diva and socialite if you become a grand master.'

...etc. etc. Chess divas and socialites? Name one!

19 August 2014

Borrowing a Chess Book

After posting about Chess Books in the Internet Archive, I downloaded a few titles to my Kindle and have spent so much time reading them that I've neglected to prepare today's post for this blog. What to do now?

One title I noticed available for 'Borrow' was "Chess in Literature", edited by Marcello Truzzi (Equinox Books / Avon, 1974). Curious to see its content, I've bid for the book once or twice on eBay, only to be outbid. Here was my chance to take a look at it.

I checked the book out -- it's 'Borrow' after all -- and opened it on my laptop using Archive.org's built-in reader. (It would be better to get it on my Kindle, but I don't know how to do that, assuming it's even possible.) The following image shows the book's contents.

Starting with Franklin's 'Morals of Chess', I'm sure that many of these selections are available elsewhere on the Internet, but what about 'The Chess-Player' by Anonymous (p.322)? A search on the story's first sentence, 'Those whose interest in records of the supernatural', locates several copies, apparently authored by 'Temple Bar'.

At the end of Truzzi's book (p.421) is a list of additional titles.

A Final Word. As with any such collection, numerous pieces that were considered for inclusion had to be omitted for reasons of space and cost. Those who enjoyed this collection might wish to seek out a few of these, the best of which include:
  • Woody Allen, "The Gossage-Vardebedian Papers" (1971)
  • Poul Anderson, "The White King's War" (1969)
  • Robert Benchley, "How to Watch a Chess Match" (1922)
  • E.M. Forster, "Chess at Cracow" (1932)
  • John P. Marquand, "The End Game" (1944)
  • Alfred Noyes, "Checkmate" (1924)
  • Kurt Vonnegut, "All the King's Horses" (1951)

While I was working my way back-and-forth through the book, I received many, sporadic 'disconnected' messages and finally saw this:-

Connection error: The BookReader cannot reach Open Library. This might mean that you are offline or that Open Library is down. Please check your Internet connection and refresh this page or try again later.

Looks like I have to end the post here. Now how do I return the book I borrowed?

18 August 2014

Kasparov TMER: Transition from 1970s to 2010s

My final action from Kasparov TMER: Last updated 2014-08-11,

Merge the new PGN into the master file [OK] and compare the index with the results recorded in Kasparov's book [NO].

is half done. The PGN is now available from Garry Kasparov's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (1973-). As for Kasparov TMER: Next Steps,

Kasparov's run for FIDE President has seen him travelling to many countries, often giving exhibitions. Where are those documented?

I started to document them on Chessbase.com posts on Kasparov -- 2013-05 to 2014-08. This follows the same format I used last year in Kasparov at 50. Although Kasparov lost the election (see FIDE Election: Four More Years) he played many exhibitions during his campaign. These should also be noted in the TMER.