22 October 2020

More Chess Sightseeing

The previous Flickr photo post, Keres' Last Move, already spawned one additional post with Soviet Era Chess Photos. A second additional post, based on the following composite photo, is also demanding to be explored.

Google image search on 'site:tripadvisor.com chess'

The 'Keres' Last Move' post mentioned 'Picture of Monument to Paul Keres, Narva (tripadvisor.com)', and it turns out there are thousands of other chess photos on the site. Most of them feature giant chess sets like the ones shown in the composite. For example, the photo in the top left is titled 'Giant chess game; we've had so much fun here with the kids', and shows the Los Abrigados Resort and Spa, Sedona, Arizona.

The page returned by the image search has the usual tags at the top of the page -- phrases like 'giant chess board', 'bali', 'vancouver mall', 'montego bay' -- aggregating related photos togther. On top of that is a feature I'd never seen before: a 'Popular topics' box, with three related tags for further exploration. The second such box is shown above, second from right in the top row, including tags 'Chess piece', 'Salzburg', and 'Max Euweplein'.

Clicking through those tags returns photos based only on that key phrase, i.e. not necessarily 'site:tripadvisor.com' and not necessarily 'chess'. How were these tags chosen? The phrase 'Max Euweplein' makes sense, because the giant chess set in the middle of the square ('plein' is Dutch for a place like a town 'square') is the most notable feature there, but what about 'Salzburg'? Those photos are mostly beautiful wide angle shots of that picturesque town in Austria. Adding 'chess' as a search term reveals the connection -- another giant chess set. The 'Salzburg' tag added to my original search must be a further example of AI in action.

A few years ago I featured another inspiration for chess tourism in Chess Sightseeing (March 2014). The next time I take a trip somewhere, I'll check Google images before I leave; just add destination to the site search for chess.

20 October 2020

Soviet Era Chess Photos

For the previous post featuring a Flickr photo, Keres' Last Move, I went with the photo that offered the best story. On my short list there was another series of photos, shown in the composite below, that risked offering too many stories.

Photo top left: 1971 USSR Chess Championship © Flickr user Boris Galatiknova under Creative Commons.

That composite shows all but one of the photos that were available at that time from that Flickr user, indicating that the Flickr page is for a new user. Since then, several more photos have been added. Is this the start of a major new source of Soviet era chess photos? Time will tell.

For more about the event in the linked photo, see 1971 USSR Chess Championship (wikipedia.org). It starts,

The 1971 Soviet Chess Championship, held from 15 September to 18 October 1971 in Leningrad, was the 39th edition of the USSR Chess Championship. The tournament was won by Vladimir Savon, [a] little-known International Master.

The other thumbnails in the composite photo are from different years, events, and settings. Two of them show GM Mikhail Tal.


Later: The individual photo linked under my composite is one of the photos used on the Wikipedia page. Both photos have the same width and height. Coincidence?

19 October 2020

Parsing Engine Names

In last week's post on engine competitions, TCEC S19 Sufi 75% Finished; CCC15 Still Halted, I wrote,

For the record, the full names of the two [TCEC S19 Sufi] engines are:-
- Stockfish 202009282242_nn-baeb9ef2d183
- LCZero v0.26.3-rc1_T60.SV.JH.92-190
In a future post, I'll try to parse those names.

Under 'Main seasons', Wikipedia TCEC page has a list of all finalists including the full name/version of the engines in the finals.

Top Chess Engine Championship (wikipedia.org)

Stockfish has competed in every TCEC final since S11. The following table shows a naming evolution from DDMMYY to YYMMDD, to adding a version, to YYYYMMDD + version, to NNUE plus some sort of a version probably taken from the contents of the file ('nn-baeb...'):-

S11: Stockfish 260318
S12: Stockfish 180614
S13: Stockfish 18102108
S14: Stockfish 190203
S15: Stockfish 19050918
S16: Stockfish 19092522
S17: Stockfish 20200407
S18: Stockfish 202006170741
S19: Stockfish 202009282242_nn-baeb9ef2d183

Leela has competed in every TCEC final since S14 (except S16). The following table shows an evolution based on incorporating codes into the version:-

S14: LCZero v0.20.2-32930
S15: LCZero v0.21.1-nT40.T8.610
S16: %
S17: LCZero v0.24-sv-t60-3010
S18: LCZero v0.25.1-svjio-t60-3972-mlh
S19: LCZero v0.26.3-rc1_T60.SV.JH.92-190

For an explanation of the T40/T60 codes, see Leela Evolution (February 2020). For an explanation of the other codes, see [TBD]...

18 October 2020

Keres' Last Move

The title of this Flickr photo said only 'Chess player', so I used the photo's description as its title. This reminded me of Two More Chess Statue/Sculptures (October 2016), where I wrote that I was 'always on the lookout for chess statues (aka sculptures)'.

A sculpture of a chess player in Narva © Flickr user Aigred under Creative Commons.

A semi-official page, Statue of Paul Keres, Estonia (visitestonia.com), settles on the word 'statue' and informs,

The statue was installed for the 100th birthday of Paul Keres [...] The statue depicts the game between Keres and Walter Browne in Vancouver in 1975. It mistakenly shows Keres playing with White pieces.

Narva is the town of Keres' birth. Another page, A Chess master from Narva - Picture of Monument to Paul Keres, Narva (tripadvisor.com), calls the work a 'monument' and offers another half-dozen photos including one of a memorial plaque that says,

This chessboard depicts the Grandmaster's last game.

Was it the last position of the last game? The page Walter Shawn Browne vs Paul Keres, 1975 (chessgames.com), gives one more move before White resigns. A comment on the same page says,

The monument to Paul Keres in Narva, Estonia, depicts the position after move 43...Rd1+. The last move of his career.

In another Flickr post featuring Keres, The Last Flickr Friday (May 2018, Flickr tag: Tallinn), I wrote, '[The photo] appears to be an exterior wall plaque, perhaps on the house where Keres lived.' The Keres bio on Chessgames.com says,

Paul Keres was born in Narva, Estonia, where he would reside his entire life.

Paul Keres, 1916-1975.

15 October 2020

2020 CJA Awards - Part 2

Compared to last year's post on this blog, 2019 CJA Awards - Part 2 (August 2019), the 2020 Awards are being highlighted nearly two months later than usual. Just like last year, I'll focus on the awards that are my personal favorites:-

  • Chess Journalist of the Year
  • Best Chess Book
  • Best Chess Art
  • Best Chess Blog

'Chess Journalist of the Year' went to John Hartmann, Chess Life/CLO Editor, who was the only nominee in the category. Along with the big one, Hartmann won four other awards, among them 'Best Interview' ('GM Aagard On The Candidates') and 'Best Tournament Report' ('Aagard on the Candidates')

'Best Chess Book' had two winners: 'Best Book - Instruction' ('In the Zone: Winning Streaks' by Cyrus Lakdawala) and 'Best Book - Other' ('The Best I Saw in Chess' by Stuart Rachels). A third award was 'Best Self Published' ('Humor in Chess', Ralph Bowman and Dewain Barber, editors).

Last year I noted that 'Best Chess Art' had been split into two categories. This year both categories were won by Chess Life (CL) covers: 'Chess Art' ('Scholastic Nationals' by James Oses, CL August 2019) and 'Single Chess Magazine Cover' ('Pal Benko' by Patrick Morales-Lee & Frankie Butler, CL November 2019).

Last but not least: 'Best Blog' ('Learning from Each Game' by Ray Linville), currently known as Learning with Each Game (chess.com/blog). Linville, the John Hartmann of the chess blogosphere, walked away with three other awards, which I presume were individual posts on his blog.

For a full list of CJA winners, see CJA Awards 2020 (chessjournalism.org). The main reason this current post is appearing 'two months later than usual' was a move of the CJA site from one server to another. Unfortunately, a casualty of the move was all of the content formerly available on the site. That content is still available at the Wayback Machine - chessjournalism.org (archive.org).

Congratulations to all winners!

12 October 2020

TCEC S19 Sufi 75% Finished; CCC15 Still Halted

Two weeks have passed since our last look at the world's foremost engine vs. engine competitions. Although the title of that post, TCEC S19 Preparing Sufi; CCC15 Still Halted (September 2020), told the whole story, let's start with the usual summary.

TCEC: In Premier Division (DivP), Stockfish and LCZero finished 1st/2nd to qualify into the S19 Superfinal. • CCC: There is no news on the technical problems affecting the GPU engines.

The keywords in the title of that post -- TCEC Sufi & CCC Halted -- are just as relevant for this current post.

TCEC: After 75 games of the 100 game match, Stockfish leads LCZero by +11-7=57. Extrapolating to 100 games gives a final score of +15-9=76. The most recent 25 games went +6-3=16 for Stockfish. For the record, the full names of the two engines are:-

  • Stockfish 202009282242_nn-baeb9ef2d183
  • LCZero v0.26.3-rc1_T60.SV.JH.92-190

In a future post, I'll try to parse those names.

CCC: There is still no news on the technical problems affecting the GPU engines, which I first reported four weeks ago. The report from two weeks ago mentioned the site was running matches for 'CCRL Ratings Standardization'. Now it is running 'CCRL Calibration'.

Last year the site also ran into technical problems, which I reported in TCEC S16 L1; CCC10 GPU Blues Continue (August 2019). It took about three weeks to resolve those problems.

[For further information from the various stakeholders in the engine-to-engine events, see the tab 'TCEC/CCC Links' at the top of this page. • NB: Leela = LC0 = LCzero]

11 October 2020

An Existential Crisis?

After this introduction...

Hello and welcome to week seven of chess month in which our team shines a light on two player games. Today we're looking at all the fun you can have with a chess board -- so this should be a short video!

...you might guess that anything can happen. And that's also what you'd expect from a Youtube channel that calls itself 'Shut Up & Sit Down'. Did he say 'chess tickles'?

Nine Easy Ways to Make Chess Fun (13:58) • '[Published on] Sep 23, 2020'

The 'Nine Easy Ways' are chess variants, including bughouse. Why variants?

If we can just put down the worthy analogies for a second, and if we can make an effort to cut through the choking cultural fog that billows off of the chess set and makes it quite hard to judge, as a game we're left with an uncomfortable truth, which is simply that playing chess is a bummer.

With nearly 100.000 views, the video attracted over 500 comments, many of them discussing other chess variants or board games. Coming on top of GM Kramnik's Nine Chess Variants (September 2020), we might conclude that chess is facing some sort of an existential crisis -- another casualty of the coronavirus.