26 May 2022

2022 CJA Awards Announcement

It's that time of year again, when the Chess Journalists of America (CJA) open their annual award season. Last year I featured the CJA in four posts:-

The following chart shows the award categories as listed in the last two May issues of Chess Life. Seven categories and their corresponding awards for 2022 are shown below on the right. Next to them, on the left, is the related announcement from 2021.

2021 2022

If you're interested in specific awards for 2022, you should see the list of awards on ChessJournalism.org ('We promote the highest standards of ethics in chess journalism, represent United States chess journalists in appropriate national and international bodies, and influence policies affecting the promotion of chess.'), where you'll also find instructions for submitting your own entries.

I noticed a few changes from 2021 to 2022. There are three new awards:-

  • Best Weekly Video Program
  • Best Documentary
  • Best Tournament/Match Coverage

Several awards have been redefined. The three awards for 'Junior (Under 18)' have been extended to 'Junior (Under 20)'. The last award in the list, 'Best Photography', has been restricted to 'Best Photograph'.

Although I'm not a member of the CJA, I always look forward to seeing the winners and their work. Good luck!

23 May 2022

TCEC Cup 10 Underway; Stockfish Wins CCC17 Bullet

Two weeks ago, in the previous post on the two foremost, ongoing engine vs. engine competitions, I ranked the three leading engines and asked a question: TCEC/CCC: Stockfish no.1; Dragon, LCZero - Who's Better? (May 2022). To summarize that post:-

TCEC: LCZero beat KomodoDragon +24-15=61 in the S22 Subfi to claim bragging rights as the no.2 engine in the world. The site is currently running a 'VVLTC Bonus'. • CCC: In the 'CCC17 Bullet Challenger', Dragon is only a few games from clinching victory over Lc0. Barring a catastrophe for Dragon, the 'CCC17 Bullet Finals' will see Stockfish vs. Dragon.

At the time, it was a toss-up between Dragon and LCZero. Bragging rights are only valid until the next match. Has anything changed in the meantime?

TCEC: The 'VVLTC Bonus' consisted of four-game mini-matches featuring the top three engines: Stockfish, LCZero, and KomodoDragon. Stockfish and LCZero drew their match, while both finished 'plus-one' against KomodoDragon.

Sometime later the site launched the 'Cup 10' event, using a 32-engine knockout format. The four engines that reached the semifinal stage included the three that competed in the 'VVLTC Bonus' plus an engine named 'Revenge'. An !command informs that Revenge 'is the renamed upgrade to Pedone'.

CCC: In the 'CCC17 Bullet Challenger' Dragon beat Lc0, 844.5-775.5 (1620 games). Then in the 'CCC17 Bullet Finals' Stockfish beat Dragon, 993.0-627.0 (also 1620 games). Unfortunately, I didn't have time to work out the W-L-D scores for either match.

The site is currently preparing the 'CCC17 Blitz Qualification' event, the first stage in the next multi-stage competition. Last month I prepared an summary of the The CCC16 Season (April 2022). The CCC17 season is following the same overall structure -- first a rapid event, then a bullet event, then a blitz event.

Back to the question 'Dragon, LCZero - Who's Better?' In the TCEC 'VVLTC Bonus' the answer was LCZero is better. In the 'CCC17 Bullet Challenger', Dragon was better. In the TCEC 'Cup 10', Stockfish will probably beat one of them in the semifinal match, then beat the other in the final match, proving only that the drawing for the brackets plays a role for the ranking after no.1.

[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; Dragon = KomodoDragon]

22 May 2022

Stretching Your Legs in 1912

Q: What is the doctor doing to the man that he's holding in his left hand?

LOWELL, Orson. Life Magazine, Doctors' Number, Nov. 21, 1912 © Flickr user Halloween HJB under Creative Commons.

A: He's stretching the man's leg. • The small print under the illustration says,

A Game of Patients

The two men kneeling on the right of the chessboard are praying to the nurse. The man behind them is standing on his stretched leg. What does it all mean?

For more about the artist, see Wikipedia's Orson Lowell. The page informs,

Orson Byron Lowell (1871–1956) was an American artist and illustrator of covers and interiors for magazines. Born in Wyoming, Iowa, Lowell was the son of landscapist Milton H. Lowell. [...] By 1907, he became known for his cartoons with a social message published in the humor magazine Life.

'Humor magazine Life'? That doesn't sound like the Life magazine I knew as a youngster. Another Wikipedia page, Life (magazine), informs,

Life was an American magazine published weekly from 1883 to 1972, as an intermittent "special" until 1978, and as a monthly from 1978 until 2000. During its golden age from 1936 to 1972, Life was a wide-ranging weekly general-interest magazine known for the quality of its photography. Life was independently published for its first 53 years until 1936 as a general-interest and light entertainment magazine, heavy on illustrations, jokes, and social commentary. It featured some of the most notable writers, editors, illustrators and cartoonists of its time...

Is there an archive of pre-1936 Life somewhere?

20 May 2022

Bobby Fischer Day by Day

I might as well make it official. After last Friday's post, Fischer's Storage Locker and eBay (May 2022), this is the fourth consecutive Friday featuring the 11th World Champion. Let's just call it 'Fischer Friday' and continue the series until at least the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Fischer - Spassky Title Match (m-w.com). That will be end-June or begin-July, depending on how you assign the start of the match.

In the meantime, here's a site that offers newspaper clippings in chronological order: Bobby Fischer 1972. That link is for January 1972. Follow the 'Prev/Next' arrows for previous/subsequent months.

16 May 2022

25 Years Ago in Chess History

First up in A Year of Anniversaries (May 2022) is a match that marked the moment when the machines took the upper hand in chess.

25 years: Kasparov vs. IBM's Deep Blue • 1st match: Philadelphia, II, 1996; 2nd match: New York, V, 1997

A report on the match was one of several segments in a recent CNN 10 show, A Historic Chess Match (youtube.com), where it was preceded by the multiple choice question...

'Chaturanga is believed to be an early version of chess, originating in what place?' • Choose one: 'Persia, China, India, or Egypt.'

...(Raises hand and waves wildly, 'I know, I know!'). The segment incorporated 'an original CNN report from 1997'. Here is that report in standalone format.

In 1997, an IBM computer beats world chess champion... (2:19) • '[Published on] May 13, 2022'; the clip displays 'May 11, 1997; New York'.

The description said,

"He can't believe it", were the words the commentators had for a speechless Garry Kasparov, a world chess champion, after he lost to IBM's computer named Deep Blue. Watch how CNN covered the historic event 25 years ago.

At 50 seconds into the 1997 clip, then World Champion Kasparov started accusations that the match was not all that it appeared to be. When I was with About.com, I wrote a couple of articles exploring Kasparov's suspicions. Here they are on Archive.org:-

  • Feature: 'Game Over' : Did IBM Cheat Kasparov? (June 2005); subtitled, 'The film failed to ask the tough questions. The conspiracy theory is still open to speculation.'
  • Review: Game Over - Kasparov and the Machine (ditto); 'Directed by Vikram Jayanti. • Documentary about the 1997 man - machine chess match between World Champion Garry Kasparov and IBM's Deep Blue'

For more about the documentary, see Wikipedia's Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine (wikipedia.org).

15 May 2022

Controversial NFTs

Last month's Yahoos post, Yahoos of War and NFTs (April 2022), was the first post on this blog to mention NFTs [Non-Fungible Tokens]. I noted,

Although NFTs specific to chess have been seen before in the chess world, the involvement of Chess.com adds weight to their importance. Is this the stuff of fad or future? We'll find out soon enough.

On this month's short list for featured video, I had one clip about the Chess.com NFTs. Not to be confused with the now-definct Chessvibes.com, last seen on this blog in A Big Hole in Chessvibes (May 2013), the video's source was Youtube's Chess Vibes channel.

New Chess.com Feature: NFT's! What is Treasure Chess? Chess NFT Marketplace Tips (10:21) • '[Published on] Apr 22, 2022'

The description said simply,

Check it out yourself: Treasure.chess.com

My biggest takeaway from the video was after reading the comments. NFTs are even more controversial than I had imagined. Sound investments or scams? There are plenty of opinions on both sides.

13 May 2022

Fischer's Storage Locker and eBay

Early in October 2005, an auction related to Bobby Fischer appeared on eBay's site. The auction essentials were:-

Item name: Bobby Fischer's chess book collection and other items
Item number: 8702434554
End date: Oct-13-05 00:51:04 PDT

The description said,

Bobby Fischer's chess book collection and other items • Rescued from a So. Cal. flea market about 6 years ago, here are Bobby Fischer's personal items from the infamous storage locker which was sold for lack of rent payment. It is a unique opportunity for someone in the international chess community to perserve the legacy of who many feel is the most talented chess player of all time.

I have tried many times in the last few years to reach Bobby (I did meet him when we were both younger) to return these items to him, but I feel his latest stand on America would not allow him to do this.

What is being offered is:
- The original manuscript and galley prints of Bobby's best selling book, "My 60 Most Memorable Games" (originally titled, "My Life in Chess") This covers an entire table top (see picture) and contains numerous notes and corrections which should make fascinating study for years to come.
- A ceramic plaque given to Bobby, Bahia Blanca, 3/11/71
- About 20 meticulously crafted "crib" notes for tournament preparation:-

The built-in counter showed '0001' when I saw the auction, suggesting that I was one of the first people -- perhaps the very first -- to see it. The auction mentioned an additional Excel file, so I sent a message to the seller via eBay's internal messaging system, requsting a copy. He replied,

Here it is. I'm still working on listing all the paperbacks and hard bound books, but it will give you a better idea of what is there. If I finish this week, I'll send you an update. Thanks for your interest. LAAF (Note: The first worksheet is a general index, and each finished worksheet is for a specific box.)

Shown below is a screen capture of the first worksheet. The first column shows box numbers; the last column shows box weights. The box numbers colored green are detailed on a separate worksheet.

I was the About.com chess guide at the time and opened a thread on the related forum. The forum and thread disappeared long ago. If I remember correctly, the eBay auction was cancelled after a few days. Some of the items went on display a few years later.

There are several stories here. The first is the 'infamous [Bekins] storage locker'. The second, perhaps fictional, is the Southern California flea market. The other stories are about the items included in the auction, which were not the total contents of the storage locker. For more about the contents, see A Memorable Life: A Glimpse into the Complex Mind of Bobby Fischer (worldchesshof.org; PDF).