23 May 2017

Early Goichberg Tournaments

Running through two recent posts Early N.Y. Scholastic Championships and Early U.S. High School Championships was a common thread: Bill Goichberg and the Continental Chess Association (CCA). The chronologically first of the tournaments mentioned in those posts was the 'Greater New York High School and Junior High School Championships', April 1966. The following overview of Tournament Life Announcements (TLAs) from 1965 shows the earliest Goichberg tournaments listed in Chess Life (CL).


From various issues of Chess Life 1965

In 1969, Goichberg ran for USCF Vice-President, a position held for the three previous years by Isaac Kashdan. His candidate statement in the June 1969 issue of CL summarized his early career.

William Goichberg: I believe I have the experience to serve our Federation well as a national officer. Currently I am Director of the Continental Chess Association, USCF's most active affiliate. Previously, I was USCF rating statistician for 3 1/2 years, during the latter part of which I also wrote many articles for CHESS LIFE.

I have organized and directed over 100 USCF-rated events in seven states, with a total of more than 10,000 entrants; these have brought in over 1500 new USCF members. Among these has been the largest tournament ever held in the U.S. (1966-7 Greater N. Y. Scholastic Champions, 614 players), the largest rated tournament (same, 486 players), the largest single-section tournament (1969 National High School Championship, 370 players), and the largest open tournament (1968 Atlantic Open, 329 players). Of the fourteen largest rated tournaments ever held in this country, I have directed ten.

The success of these events has not been limited to one area, but includes the largest non-holiday open ever held in New Jersey, Connecticut, and D.C., and the largest open ever in Delaware and upstate New York. This activity has given me a thorough understanding of the elements of successful chess promotion -- of organizers' problems and players' needs.

He lost the election to Frank Skoff, but it was not his last run for USCF office and he would one day become USCF President. As for the CCA, the earliest tournament reference I can find is the TLA for the August 1968 Eastern Open in Washington DC.

Bobby Fischer usually gets full credit for the so-called Fischer boom in the 1970s, because his fame triggered the excitement. Tireless organizers like Bill Goichberg had already seeded interest among U.S players and were able to harness the newfound fascination for chess.

22 May 2017

Korchnoi's Career 1946-1977, One Table

The previous post, Korchnoi's Career 1946-1977, Cross References, documented a new table with Korchnoi's second-tier events, those which were not on the original overview of his tournament and match record. I ended the post saying,

The TMER page is somewhat messy, but that should improve when I merge the two tables. Before I do that I need to look at a half-dozen events on the TMER which have no corresponding L&O codes.

Two of those events were errors that I had introduced and four were events with no games in L&O:-

1948 USSR Junior Chp., Tallinn
1957 Armenian Chp. (hors concours)
1964 Leningrad Chp.
1970 Match vs Bronstein (training match)

Merging the two tables left one last set of cross references to be noted:-

L&O also has nearly 50 pages of crosstables covering major events. These could be flagged in the TMER.

I'll take care of that on my next post, which should be a wrapup for this stage of the series on 'Korchnoi's Career'.

[]

L&O: Levy & O'Connell, 'Korchnoi's Chess Games' (Oxford University Press 1979)
TMER: Viktor Korchnoi's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (1946-2015)

21 May 2017

An Education in Hustling

From The Prisoner Firefighters Battling California’s Wildfires (thenation.com),

Three clips from a new film exploring the seemingly ordinary landscapes touched by our prison system.

The three clips treat subjects ranging from the heroic to the mundane: fighting wildfires, playing chess, sending a package.


How Prison Taught This Man How to Play Chess (3:34) • 'When Nahshon Thomas was incarcerated in the 1980s, he didn’t know much about chess. But he met a guy who told him that he would never beat him at the game.'

The description continued,

He didn’t like to hear that, but he decided to learn from him. Now that he’s out, he teaches chess and plays for money in New York’s Washington Square Park. "If you see any black man out here hustlin’, trying to sell something," Thomas says, "he’s been to jail."

For more, see Prison permeates everything in its path (nsnews.com; 'Documentary explores the soul-wrenching business of incarceration at DOXA [Documentary Film Festival, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada]'):-

U.S. President Barack Obama made headlines last year when he tweeted: "We could eliminate tuition at every public college and university in America with the $80 billion we spend each year on incarcerations."

Makes you wonder, doesn't it? Add this topic to the ongoing series on The Sociology of Chess (November 2016), even though we're straying from the original thought.

19 May 2017

Adding Prestige to the Game

Rex Sinquefield introduces this Forbes clip saying,

Our top 10 or 20 players in the world don't have to do anything but play chess and they can earn a very good living -- $250.000 a year and up -- all of them can do that, just by playing chess. That's a big change. The emphasis to get money into chess was something started by Bobby Fischer. It's ironic because he didn't personally care about money at all. He wanted to get money into chess because he thought it added prestige to the game. He was right.

In our modern world, prestige is measured by money.


Checkmate: Earning A Living In Competitive Chess (2:36) • 'While some chess players can earn big bucks playing the game, many grandmasters are turning to coaching, lecturing and commentary to make a living in the sport.'

The video is an introduction to a Forbes.com story, Making A Living In Chess Is Tough - But The Internet Is Making It Easier (5 May 2017). A few days later, another Forbes article, How St. Louis Helped Kickstart An American Chess Renaissance (9 May 2017), started with another video, St. Louis: America's Premier Chess Destination, which was again introduced by Sinquefield. According to an earlier Forbes story, In The Esports Era, Chess Is Alive And Thriving (October 2016), Sinquefield is a 'Forbes Opinion writer'; see Contributor: Rex Sinquefield (forbes.com; 'I focus on pro-growth, free market tax reform solutions in states') for a summary of his opinions.

A year ago, I posted on The Money Game (May 2016), where Daniel Roberts of Yahoo Finance interviewed Maurice Ashley. There we learned that GM Carlsen is the only chess player earning a seven-figure income from chess. The other players have to be content with six figures. Can money replace the Elo rating system?

18 May 2017

Renewing the CNC

Remember FIDE's Longest Running Joke (February 2014), aka CNC, aka Chess News Corporation? No? Neither does anyone else.

I don't know what drives me to do it, but once a week (during my weekly news round) I stop by the CNC site to see what's new or what's changed. There's never anything new or changed, but it's some kind of a ritual I go through. Earlier this year I noticed that the CNC web site had disappeared and I recorded the event in the top screen capture. The fine print on the page said,

Chessnc.com expired on 02/16/2017 and is pending renewal or deletion.
Backorder Domain / Renew Now

I didn't know why anyone would want to backorder or renew the domain, but I continued to check the site once a week, just in case. This week, the site appeared again, along with the same photo seen in 'Running Joke', a photo from early 2012.

I recorded the latest incarnation in the bottom screen capture. Here the fine print said,

When Mr. Ilyumzhinov defeated his own record by becoming the president of the World Chess Federation (FIDE) again in 2009, he started working on ways how to promote chess and attract sponsors. That is when the idea to market chess through a partnership with a small start-up company called Chess Network Company (CEC) was born. In the past, FIDE was mostly focused on events once at a time and the world championship cycle was inconsistent. These constant changes made it difficult for FIDE to attract sponsorships. This was about to change with CNC getting involved, and at the FIDE Congress in October 2009 the partnership was made official.

CNC was tasked to create a legacy on which to build and keep the interest for chess worldwide, even after the events and tournaments ended. They would promote chess by increasing the media interest, making new chess brands and products and distributing chess news in internet.

CNC would not be given all marketing rights immediately but would work in full cooperation with FIDE. CNC will be creating and contracting chess events with the aim to get people more engaged and involved. With the chess in the core, CNC would be organizing promotional activities with the educational component in all of them, hosting celebrities and local leaders to attend and complement chess competitions.

With their extensive experience in marketing, CNC editorial team would be following chess tournaments, matches and games and all other chess-related events. The results will be presented in the media in an interesting and creative way with a goal to attract both chess and no-chess audience. In addition, CNC will be responsible for production and distribution of editorials including interviews with organizers of chess events, players and future talents. They will be bringing stories, photographs and interesting facts about chess, creating BrainGym puzzle and much more.

If the year in that excerpt was 2016 instead of 2009, it would read the same. I marked the official transition from CNC to its successor Agon in a post on my World Championship Blog, 2013 FIDE Executive Board : Whither the World Championship? (December 2013), a transition which started five years ago. So why the renewed interest in the moribund CNC site? I think it's related to the latest event in the Ilyumzhinov saga, He Didn't Resign (April 2017), but I'm sure we'll find out in due time. In the meantime, I'll keep checking the CNC site.

16 May 2017

Smythe, Not Smith

From the Bain Collection [loc.gov/pictures/collection/ggbain; LOC = Library of Congress]:-

The George Grantham Bain Collection represents the photographic files of one of America's earliest news picture agencies. The collection richly documents sports events, theater, celebrities, crime, strikes, disasters, political activities including the woman suffrage campaign, conventions and public celebrations.

The collection has only a few images featuring chess, although a wider net on loc.gov brings a few hundred.


J.H. Smythe Jr. & Whitaker

Whitaker is better known as Norman T. Whitaker [Wikipedia]:-

(1890–1975), an American International Master of chess, a lawyer, a civil servant, and a chess author. He was convicted of several crimes, was disbarred from the practice of law, and served several terms in prison. His most infamous criminal escapade was a confidence trick involving the Lindbergh kidnapping in 1932.

What about J.H. Smythe Jr.? Another photo from the Bain Collection, J.H. Smythe & Son, is captioned,

Reverend John Henry Smythe, Sr. with his son, chess expert John Henry Smythe Jr.

Smythe Jr. has a page on Chessgames.com, John Henry Smythe ('Number of games in database: 1; Years covered: 1901'),

(1883-1956), born in Philadelphia, USA. He learned the rules of chess at the age of 16. Smythe Jr. attended Philadelphia University and was the elected chess club president for three years.

That one game was a draw against Em.Lasker at a simul. Most of the discussion on Smythe's CG page was to determine his date of death, a project related to "Undeceased" CG players over 100 years old by Zanchess.

15 May 2017

Korchnoi's Career 1946-1977, Cross References

I ended my previous post, Korchnoi's Career 1946-1977, New Events, with an action:-

The next step will be to merge that table [of 70 'new' events] into the 101 events classified as 'Already on TMER'. (*)

In preparation for the merge, I added the months given by Levy & O'Connell in 'Korchnoi's Chess Games' (L&O) to most of the 70 new events. I also added codes used by L&O to the 101 events classified as 'Already on TMER'. This allows me to cross-reference the different sources of data going into the 1946-1977 portion of the TMER. L&O also has nearly 50 pages of crosstables covering major events. These could be flagged in the TMER.

The TMER page is somewhat messy, but that should improve when I merge the two tables. Before I do that I need to look at a half-dozen events on the TMER which have no corresponding L&O codes.

(*) TMER = Viktor Korchnoi's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (1946-2015).

14 May 2017

A Mother's Day Chess Plaque

You might expect this fortnightly series on Top eBay Chess Items by Price to fall on Mother's Day once every two years, but due to the vagaries of blogging -- like a vacation once in a while -- adherence to a calendar cycle isn't that strict. Last year we had Chess Builders (May 2016), and I could just as easily go two consecutive years without observing Mom's special day.

Titled '~1930 CHESS MEDAL / PLAQUE YOUNG GIRL / WOMAN WITH CHESS 147 x 79 mm SIGN.CA4?', the item pictured below sold for US $327.55 after three bids from three bidders. It was one of a very few chess items that would make an appropriate Mother's Day gift.

The description repeated the title and added,

Size / Weight / Material:
147.0 mm x 79.0 mm x 6.0 mm / 232.0 gr / BRONZE

Condition: EXCELLENT; min. sign of use

Since the only identification on the piece is 'SIGN.CA4?' (in the upper left corner), and since I have no idea how to start figuring out what that means, I'll stop here. 'Happy Mother's Day!' to all mothers reading this post.

12 May 2017

The Prodigal Chess Player

The Flickr description said,

Section of the Prodigal Son window in St. Mary's parish church, Feltwell, Norfolk [England]. This is the eponymous son gambling away his money - he's just lost his shirt.

Prodigal: 'characterized by profuse or wasteful expenditure; recklessly spendthrift' • Merriam-Webster


Chess, Feltwell © Flickr user Steve Day under Creative Commons.

The parable of the Prodigal Son starts,

Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. [...]" • Luke 15:11-32, The Parable of the Lost Son (biblegateway.com; New International Version)

Games aren't mentioned in the passage, so how did chess get stuck with the bum rap? It isn't normally associated with 'wild living'. That distinction is normally reserved for any game that involves dice.

11 May 2017

Early U.S. High School Championships

While researching Early N.Y. Scholastic Championships (April 2017), where the first was in 1967, I noted,

I couldn't find the 1969 event and I imagine that it was pushed aside by the first 'National High School Championship'.

As usual with chess history, one thing led to another and I soon found myself researching early U.S. national high school championships. Shown here are the first five winners.


Top row: John Watson (1969), Robert Newbold (1970)
Bottom row: Larry Christiansen (1971), Craig Barnes (1972)

Where's the fifth? In 1973, Larry Christiansen, a future three-time U.S champion, repeated his 1971 success. References for all five events are shown in the following table, which uses the same codes as in the 'N.Y. Scholastic' post.

Event Date Announced Reported Rated
National High School Championship 1969-04 CL69B082
CL69B083 (note)
CL69E173 (cover)
CL69F234 (teams)
CL69F241 (article)
CL69G301
2nd Annual National High School Championship 1970-04 CL70C172 CL70F293 (cover)
CL70F310 (article)
CL70G408
3rd Annual... 1971-04 CL71C174 CL71F289 (cover)
CL71G394 (article)
CL71G397
4th Annual... 1972-04 CL72C198 CL72G438 CL72I568
5th U.S. Scholastic Championships 1973-05 CL73C176 CL73H447 CL73F298 (note on rating lists)

Along with Christiansen, John Watson is well known in the current chess scene, primarily as an author. What about the other two early champions?

The Chessgames.com page on Robert Newbold, shows the last game in 1977. This must have been from the 1977 San Francisco tournament (the 'Bagby' event, according to 'Chess Results, 1975-1977' by Gino Di Felice), which Newbold won. Amazon.com has an author's page for Robert C. Newbold, with four books on project management. The chess programming subdomain on Wikispaces.com has a page on Craig Barnes, showing activity in the 1970s and 80s.

For a list of national high school champions through 2013, see Scholastic Champions (chessmaniac.com) by Bill Wall.

09 May 2017

The Game of (Belgian) Kings

The eBay description for this photo said, 'Prince Philippe playing chess with father, King Baudouin', but I knew better.


25 July 1990 - Chateau de Ciergnon
(Photo: Van Parys Media, Brussels)

From Wikipedia's Baudouin of Belgium:-

The fifth King of the Belgians, following his father's abdication, from 1951 until his death in 1993. [...] Because he had no children with his wife, Fabiola de Mora, the crown passed to his younger brother, Albert II (formerly Prince of Li├Ęge), following his death.

From Wikipedia's Albert II of Belgium:-

The sixth King of the Belgians from 1993 until his abdication in 2013. [...] He was succeeded by his son Philippe on 21 July 2013.

If we change that eBay description to, 'Prince Philippe playing chess with uncle, King Baudouin', everything works.

08 May 2017

Korchnoi's Career 1946-1977, New Events

The last time I did an update to Viktor Korchnoi's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (TMER; 1946-2015) was for:-

Since then, I've done a series of posts to identify other events from Korchnoi's Career 1946-1977, based on 'Korchnoi's Chess Games' by Levy & O'Connell:-

In those last six posts, I isolated a total of 208 events. Those I classified as:-

  25 Unidentified
  12 Errors (fixed)
  70 Not on TMER
101 Already on TMER

For the 70 events classified as 'Not on TMER', I copied all data from the six posts and used it to create a new table for the TMER. The next step will be to merge that table into the 101 events classified as 'Already on TMER'.

07 May 2017

Applying Chess Skills to Life

In this series on the 'Sociology of Chess', I last covered the FIDE angle in FIDE's Social Commissions (December 2016). One of the two commissions recently issued FIDE Social Action Commission's Report (SAC; March 2017), 'How Chess Can Help Transform Communities Across the World' by Beatriz Marinello, Chair of Social Action Chess Commission. Here is a summary of its main points.

'Why does learning and playing chess make a positive impact in people’s lives?' • Two theories of learning are mentioned in the report. The first was developed by Jean Piaget.

In the 1960s educators and researchers began studying the benefits of learning and practicing chess. At that time, Jean Piaget, a Swiss clinical psychologist, who created the theory of cognitive development was the biggest influence in education and learning. His theory explains how a child constructs a mental model of the world. Jean Piaget disagreed with the idea that intelligence was a fixed trait, and regarded cognitive development as a process which occurs due to biological maturation and interaction with the environment. [...] With the game of chess, naturally, the question is: At what age can children learn chess? [...]

The second was developed by Howard Gardner.

In 1983 American developmental psychologist Howard Gardner presented the theory of Multiple Intelligences. According to Gardner, intelligence is broken down into nine different types, also called the nine domains of intelligence. [...]

I featured Gardner's work a few years ago in Chess and Spatial Intelligence (February 2014). Until this point, the SAC report is a summary of 'Chess in School' theoretical underpinnings, but the report continues.

The progression began from the need to understand how learning a game like chess can have educational value to using chess as a tool for social improvement and enhance people’s lives.

'How can the social aspects of chess transform lives across the world?' • The report presents two mission statements. The first is a statement of objectives.

The FIDE Social Action Commission (SAC) was created at the 83rd FIDE Congress General Assembly [2012] in Istanbul, Turkey. Our mission is to promote the use of chess as an equalizer, especially in the areas of women's equality and making chess accessible to children in at risk communities throughout the world; bridging the gap between the social and economic differences that impact people across the world. The Social Action Commission also promotes the use of chess as an aid for persons at risk from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and other mental illnesses particularly among seniors.

The second is a description of methods.

Mission: The main focus of the Social Action Commission programs and projects is to understand the different ways in which to implement chess projects for social enhancement and positive impact in the communities. Our approach has been proven successful. Our Commission has been facilitating FIDE Trainers and Organizers Seminars. We understand that our goal requires the support of the local communities and empower people to work towards the mission of developing and growing chess. The Social Action Commission is involving families and communities; not only children, this provides holistic development and involvement.

The commission's main success today is the 'Smart Girl' chess program, presented in a series of photos.. The report concludes,

We are not just offering chess sets and chess programs, we are offering opportunities to at risk communities through chess and providing guidance on how to apply these chess skills to life in a way that can empower.

Excepting the Alzheimer's angle -- see More on Chess and Alzheimer's (July 2016) for my last post on that subject -- who can argue with empowerment through chess?

05 May 2017

Excerpts from 'Pawn Sacrifice'

The last time I posted about the movie 'Pawn Sacrifice' on this blog was The Real Bobby Fischer? (February 2016).

The film was much as I expected -- great entertainment, but weak on chess history and heavy on the 'Fischer as madman' theme. I wanted to do a longer review, but this will have to wait until I get another chance to see it.

I still haven't had another chance, but Youtube channel Movieclips has provided some excerpts from the film. Here's the last one.


Pawn Sacrifice (2014) - The Greatest Chess Game Ever Played Scene (10/10) | Movieclips (3:26) • 'Even Spassky (Liev Schreiber) is dazzled by Bobby's (Tobey Maguire) unprecedented chess techniques that win him the 1972 World Chess Championship.'

The game appears to be game six of the 1972 title match; see Robert James Fischer vs Boris Spassky; World Championship Match (1972) on Chessgames.com for the full game. The first nine excerpts are on a Movieclips playlist, Pawn Sacrifice (2014) - Movie.

04 May 2017

2017 CJA Awards Announcement

It's that time of year again, when the Chess Journalists of America (CJA) announce their annual award categories. For at least the third year running, the list of categories was published in the May Chess Life (CL) and not on the CJA's web site. Last year I posted three times on the CJA Awards...

...and I expect to do the same this year. A comparison of the categories for 2016 and 2017 reveals a few changes...

2016 2017

...mainly under 'News and Features'. The CJA's home page, at chessjournalism.org, lists a number of other significant announcements:-

  • 2016-10-10: President's Report • 2016 CJA Annual Meeting – President’s View, 'along with a collection of photos'
  • 2017-02-06: New CJA Webmaster Named by President • 'Bethany Carson is webmaster-elect'
  • 2017-03-15: Glenn Petersen retires • 'Dean of American Chess Editors'

One curiosity I noticed was in the President's Report:-

The [2016] awards were then read and I gave a brief comment about each category. The lengthiest of these dealt with the award for Best Tournament Report, which had a record 15 entries. There were questions about whether the voting would work for such a large category and I discussed having checked with one of our judges, who is a mathematician and who assured me that the scoring for such a large category would work fine.

That category, 'Best Tournament Report', is missing from the list of 2017 categories. Considering that the main purpose of the awards is to generate revenue for the CJA -- '$15 for the first entry (this includes membership or renewal to CJA) and an $8 fee for each subsequent entry' -- why eliminate the most successful income producer? Whatever the reason, I'm looking forward to the 2017 award entries.

While I'm on the subject of awards, the May 2017 CL also brought the news that 'GM Andy Soltis is the 2017 Chess Educator of the Year'. Soltis has won numerous CJA awards in the past.

02 May 2017

May 1967 'On the Cover'

Fifty years ago, the two most important American chess magazines each featured a pillar of U.S. chess: the U.S. Open and Bobby Fischer.


Left: 'Site of 1967 U.S. Open'
Right: 'Monaco Grand Prix'

Chess Life

No, Kolti, not the eighteen million dollar Atlanta Stadium; but the Atlanta American Motor Hotel, which is part of the modern Atlanta skyline at the top et the photo. However, the Tournament Committee states the stadium will be filled the first three days of our tournament as the Braves meet the San Francisco Giants. Hotel space is at a premium whenever the Braves meet the Giants, so PLEASE MAKE YOUR RESERVATIONS NOW.

'Kolti' would have been IM George Koltanowski. As we saw two years ago, the Chess Life half of the May 1965 'On the Cover' featured the 1965 U.S. Open, San Juan, Puerto Rico, with TD George Koltanowski. In other, related news, the Giants won the first two games of the three day series, but the Braves won the third game.

Chess Review

Robert J. (Bobby) Fischer of Brooklyn, the chess champion of the United States, may not have broken the bank at Monte Carlo but did carry off 5,000 francs, which we are told equals $1,015, along with a trophy presented by Prince Rainier and Princess Grace, for his score of 7-2 in the tournament at Monte Carlo. The tournament had many curious points. Fischer swept to a 5-0 score and looked to be staging a runaway but then drew with Vassily Smyslov and Aleksandar Matanovich and, in a close last round, backed into his victory by losing to Yefim Geller while Smyslov took a "great-grand-master" draw in ten moves with Svetozar Gligorich.

The crosstable of the event was shown on the Chess Life half of last month's April 1967 'On the Cover'.

01 May 2017

Korchnoi's Career 1946-1977, Unidentified Events

After Korchnoi's Career 1946-1977, Short Events -- 'where Levy & O'Connell (L&O) showed only two or three games played by Korchnoi in a particular event' -- I tackled 'events' where L&O have only a single game. I found 36 games in this category. Of these,

  • 1/2 were games with no event given
  • 1/3 were errors either in L&O's index of players or in the scanning process; I corrected these
  • the rest were events where only a single game is in L&O

That last group of games/events could be included on Viktor Korchnoi's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (TMER; 1946-2015). Next step: Starting with Korchnoi's Career 1946-1977, Long Events (March 2017), add all of the newly identified events to the TMER.