02 December 2016

World Championship Closing Ceremony

Ever since the 2016 Carlsen - Karjakin match started, I've been wondering who would represent FIDE at the award ceremony. In November 2015, FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was barred from entering the U.S. for "materially assisting and acting for or on behalf of the government of Syria", and I haven't seen any other FIDE officials at the match except those who have some responsibility in running it.

Closing Ceremony (30:50) • 'Published on Nov 30, 2016'

Joining hostess Kaja Snare on stage were Agon CEO Ilya Merenzon, FIDE Treasurer Adrian Siegel, Phosagro CEO Andrey Guryev (a sponsor), and Chief Arbiter Takis Nikolopoulos. Merenzon awarded the runner-up medal to Sergey Karjakin, after which Siegel awarded the winner's medal to Magnus Carlsen; Guryev then awarded the champion's trophy.

I was happy to find the video on the WorldChess Youtube channel. Except for the title 'Closing Ceremony', the clip has no keywords or other identifying information -- not even the names Carlsen or Karjakin. Ditto for the official copy of the clip I used yesterday in World Championship Sizzle; it's here: Final press conference.

01 December 2016

World Championship Sizzle

My previous post, World Championship Fizzle, about the last match game at standard time control, contained more than a glimmer of hope for the rapid / blitz tiebreaks.

I watched the press conference, where the players said that they understood spectators might have been disappointed by the short, bloodless draw. They also pointed out that there will be considerable compensation in having the tiebreaks. [...] After the game 12 fizzle, the tiebreaks promise plenty of sizzle.

Sizzle they did. After two draws in the four game rapidplay mini-match, including a narrow escape by Sergey Karjakin in the second game, Magnus Carlsen won the last two games to retain the title of World Chess Champion. The post-game press conference is available in entirety on Youtube.

Magnus Carlsen Vs Sergey Karjakin - Rapid - Press Conference (31:32) • 'Published on Nov 30, 2016'

I picked out two key points that were especially revealing. Early in the press conference, GM Carlsen explained the quick draw in game 12.

As for the tiebreaks, I pretty much knew this was going to happen when we made a draw in the 11th game. [...] I felt good coming today. I had a few days of rest, days to prepare.

He later expanded on this in reply to a question from Chess.com's Peter Doggers.

It was an advantage for me that I didn't have to think about game 12 and he did. [...] I thought that playing four games instead of one seemed like a very good idea. Besides that, it was refreshing to play a bit faster after all these weeks.

In other words, before the game even started, Carlsen had planned the game 12 fizzle to give himself a head start in preparing for the tiebreaks. Later on, Agon's CEO Ilya Merenzon offered 'some numbers'.

90% of people followed the match on smartphones. Over 10.000.000 people from pretty much all countries in the world followed the championship live on the official website. Over 10.000 people attended the championship live. Over 400 media organizations were accredited here. Total media value of coverage was over $25.000.000.

Congratulations to GM Carlsen on winning the title for a third time. Congratulations to GM Karjakin for being a true world-class competitor. I hope that we see both players in World Championship competitions -- at any level -- for many years to come.

29 November 2016

World Championship Fizzle

For the first time in the 2016 Carlsen - Karjakin World Championship match I was all set to watch a game in its entirety. And what a game it promised to be: the last of the games at standard time control with the score tied at 5.5 for each player! After getting agreement from my wife, we had an early dinner (the games start at 20:00 our time), did the dishes, and I headed up to my attic office just in time to see the first moves on my second PC. It was another Berlin Defense -- not the sort of opening that makes for exciting games -- but I knew that Magnus can whip up complications in any opening if he so desires.

At one point I must have spent too much time looking at some new email on my first PC, because when I turned my attention back to the game, the Chess24 chat squad was already announcing that a draw had been agreed. Huh? A few moments later the official result was appended to the move list. Half an hour to play the last game of the match! I turned off the second PC, set up the first to analyze a position I was interested in, and headed down to the living room to rejoin my wife. She was watching a movie starring Cameron Diaz and Kate Upton, so the evening wasn't an entire loss.

Good thing I didn't realize that dream to travel to New York and watch the match live. With my luck, I would have arrived just in time for the 12th game. This morning I watched the press conference, where the players said that they understood spectators might have been disappointed by the short, bloodless draw. They also pointed out that there will be considerable compensation in having the tiebreaks, but I doubt I'll have the opportunity to watch.

Despite the lack of resolve by the players, the mainstream press continued to show the same level of interest seen in More World Championship Hubbub. Here is another composite of Yahoo News stories.

This time all four stories are filed under the Sports section.

2016-11-22: Lightning strikes at the World Chess Championship as Magnus Carlsen loses Game 8 (businessinsider.com) • 'After seven straight draws, we've finally witnessed a decisive result at the World Chess Championship. Sergey Karjakin of Russia, the challenger, claimed the first full-point on Monday against titleholder Magnus Carlsen of Norway.'

2016-11-23: The World's Best Chess Player Beat Bill Gates in 9 Moves. Here Are 3 Business Lessons (inc.com) • '1. Know who [sic] you're dealing with. 2. The devil is in the details. 3. It's important to fail.' • As derived from 9 Lessons to Learn from Bill Gates’ 9 Move Loss to Magnus Carlsen (chessimprover.com; January 2014). • My own contribution, Carlsen vs. Gates, The Aftermath (January 2014), might also be titled '8 Quips to Learn from Bill Gates'.

2016-11-26: Chess grandmasters on track for possible ‘Armageddon’ at world championship • 'The situation looked dire for reigning world chess champion Magnus Carlsen on Tuesday when a slew of uncharacteristic errors allowed his opponent, Sergey Karjakin, to break a seven-game tie at the World Chess Championship. [...] On Thursday, Carlsen recovered by winning Game 10 to even the score at 5-5.'

2016-11-28: Game 12 of the World Chess Championship was nothing like what chess fans were hoping for from Magnus Carlsen (businessinsider.com) • 'Chess is a game of strategy, and reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsen was nothing if not strategic in Game 12 of his match against Russia's Sergey Karjakin on Monday. With the score tied at 5.5-5.5, the title-holder from Norway, with white, invited Karjakin to play the Berlin Defense, and the challenger obliged. The Berlin yet again lived up to its drawish reputation, and after a mere 30 moves and roughly 45 minutes of play, the men shook hands.' • The first substory -- 'The Strange Politics of the World Chess Championship' -- is even more interesting than the main story. It led to World Chess Has a Big Problem; While grandmasters earn millions, the sport still can’t shake ties to tyrants and a leader under U.S. sanctions (bloomberg.com).

That's not too shabby -- full reports on games 8, 10, & 12; a taste of Magnus folklore; and a basket of chess politics. After the game 12 fizzle, the tiebreaks promise plenty of sizzle.

28 November 2016

TCEC Season 9 Superfinal Week 3

One week ago, I left TCEC Season 9 Superfinal Week 2 with Stockfish leading Houdini by a score of +7-2=31. During the intervening week another 29 games have been played with a cumulative score of +5-3=21, again in favor of Stockfish. That makes an overall score of

+ 7-2=31 after week two
+ 5-3=21 week three

Five wins for Houdini is a better score than I had extrapolated after the first few days of play. How does it manage to prevail against an opponent who consistently calculates variations more deeply? The following chart shows the evaluation during the course of the game for four of the five wins, Houdini playing White each time.

The beginning of each game shows a similar pattern. After the mandatory book moves have been played, Houdini gives a higher evaluation to the position than does Stockfish. After more moves have been played, Stockfish's evaluation eventually catches up to Houdini's, then surpasses it as Stockfish realizes the game is lost.

Is Houdini's evaluation of an opening position more accurate than Stockfish's? To help answer that question, I would compare the results of the same openings with Stockfish playing White, but that will have to wait for another time. It's worth noting that Stockfish also won G65, i.e. playing the White side of G66. Perhaps that provides an additional clue to its evaluation of openings.

Houdini won another game not shown here, game 58 (G58). The opening of that game followed the same pattern as the other four games, but something strange happened in the middlegame. At around move 65, in a position where the center was blocked, Houdini (White) calculated that it had an advantage of a third of a Pawn, while Stockfish evaluated the position at 0.00 (dead even). The engines maintained their evaluations for another 30 moves, after which Houdini's dropped to a slight advantage for its opponent. After another 15 moves, Houdini's evaluation climbed to a half-Pawn advantage for itself, then continued to climb with Stockfish still showing 0.00. A few moves later, both engines gave a winning advantage for White. On move 144, the game was declared a win for Houdini.

It's well known that engines often have a problem evaluating blocked positions. Was this a contributing factor to the other four wins for Houdini?

While I was writing this, Houdini also won game 70. Although it's putting up a better fight than I had anticipated, I don't expect the overall match result will change in the 30 games left to be played. At a rate of four games per day, we'll find out in another week.

27 November 2016

Chess Sculpture at Auction

Here on Top eBay Chess Items by Price, we don't see many sculptures. We see plenty of smaller three-dimensional artwork -- for example, The Artist and the Artwork (April 2015; Anton Chotka), Another Capodimonte Figurine (May 2015), and Soviet Propaganda Porcelain (August 2016), during the last two years alone -- but sculptures are more common in the Flickr Friday series, most recently last month in Two More Chess Statue/Sculptures (October 2016).

When I saw the item pictured below, titled 'ANNE CHU : A Chess Player', I was sure it was a sculpture. When I read the description which mentioned 'oil on wood', I wasn't so sure any more. Whatever it is, it sold for US $10.000 after five bids at live auction, making it one of the most expensive items to be featured on 'Top eBay Chess Items'. The starting price of $8.000, followed by four bids at $500 increments, indicated that this was no ordinary auction.

The dsecription said,

ANNE CHU, A Chess Player • Estimate 10,000 - 15,000 USD • 58 by 72 by 50 in.; 147.3 by 182.9 by 127 cm. • oil on wood.

CONDITION REPORT: This work in very good and sound condition overall. All assemblage elements appear to be present and stable. There is evidence of a minor repair to the middle finger and the index finger of the left element, which were re-affixed, only visible upon close inspection.

PROVENANCE: Victoria Miro Gallery, London; Acquired from the above by the present owner • EXHIBITED: London, Victoria Miro Gallery, Anne Chu, May - June 2001.

The details about 'minor repair' convinced me again that the piece was indeed a sculpture. As for the observation of 'no ordinary auction', the seller was Sotheby’s. The company's feedback page says,

Sotheby’s has been a leader in the world of auctions for over 270 years. Now we’re offering the same legendary history, expertise, and property in an immersive environment where the eBay audience can learn about, experience, and buy art.

I couldn't remember seeing Sotheby’s on eBay. The seller's feedback listing was a modest 'sothebys (23); 90.9% positive feedback', with the earliest item going back about 18 months. The relatively low feedback rating seems to be related to shipping costs and communication problems.

Anne Chu, the artist, has a Wikipedia page and died earlier this year: New York Artist Anne Chu Has Died at 57 (artnet.com; 27 July 2016). A Google image search confirms that she was primarily a sculptor.

I've observed often in the past that total eBay listings increase as we enter the year-end holiday season. There were easily another half-dozen auctions I could have featured, but this one was head-and-shoulders above the others.

25 November 2016

World Championship Back to the Future

Let's travel in time back to an early view of the venue for the 2016 Carlsen - Karjakin World Championship match: FULTON FISH MARKET • CITY OF NEW YORK • DEPARTMENT OF MARKETS ('Taken on May 29, 2011').

Manhattan Waterfront Greenway © Flickr user The City Project under Creative Commons.

The description links to New York Architecture Images - Fulton Fish Market, which says,

South Street Seaport • As commerce moved north and west during the mid-19th century, the city's first seaport was transformed into a food supply center (the Fulton Fish Market opened in 1835). From the late 19th century through the mid 20th century, the area was largely abandoned, surviving only as a wholesale fish district and yachting dock.

In the 1960s interest in the seaport was revived as the building industry returned to lower Manhattan. After a twenty-year debate over the future of the area, Thompson and Rouse & Company redeveloped the seaport according to a formula used at Boston's Quincy Market and Baltimore's Harbor Place.

That's the Brooklyn Bridge in the background.

24 November 2016

Magnus, the Movie

My previous post, More World Championship Hubbub, had a couple of links to reviews about the full length documentary (78 minutes) by Benjamin Ree. Here's a trailer for the film.

Magnus Official Trailer 1 (2016) - Documentary (2:10) • 'Directed by: Benjamin Ree. From child prodigy to chess genius.'

And here are a couple of links to two of the web's most indispensable movie sites.

Rotten Tomatoes currently has 13 professional reviews, 11 of them positive. Although there are no audience reviews, the two on IMDb both give it six stars out of ten.


One of the comments on the original Youtube page said, 'He looks like the twins from Teen Wolf.'

Source: Ethan and Aiden | Teen Wolf Wiki

For more Magnus lookalikes, see Magnus Looks Like That Guy? (December 2013).