31 January 2017

'White Always Mates'

A couple of recent news reports -- John Hurt, diverse actor of screen and stage, dies at 77 – video obituary (theguardian.com) and George Orwell's '1984' Has Become a Bestseller Again (biography.com) -- reminded me that I had a relevant image somewhere in my digital collection. I found it without too much trouble.

John Hurt, Movie: Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)

What's the chess connection? I located a digital copy of the book, downloaded it, and searched for the word 'chess'. The first reference was almost inconsequential, but reminded me of the central themes of the book, which I first read when I was 12-13 years old, and which was one of the first influences I can recall that really made me think.

It was the lonely hour of fifteen. Winston could not now remember how he had come to be in the cafe at such a time. The place was almost empty. A tinny music was trickling from the telescreens. The three men sat in their corner almost motionless, never speaking. Uncommanded, the waiter brought fresh glasses of gin. There was a chessboard on the table beside them, with the pieces set out but no game started. And then, for perhaps half a minute in all, something happened to the telescreens. The tune that they were playing changed, and the tone of the music changed too. There came into it -- but it was something hard to describe. It was a peculiar, cracked, braying, jeering note: in his mind Winston called it a yellow note. And then a voice from the telescreen was singing:

Under the spreading chestnut tree
I sold you and you sold me:
There lie they, and here lie we
Under the spreading chestnut tree.

The three men never stirred. But when Winston glanced again at Rutherford's ruinous face, he saw that his eyes were full of tears. And for the first time he noticed, with a kind of inward shudder, and yet not knowing at what he shuddered, that both Aaronson and Rutherford had broken noses.

A little later all three were re-arrested. It appeared that they had engaged in fresh conspiracies from the very moment of their release.

On top of two more fleeting references that show Orwell's familiarity with the game...

The physical difficulty of meeting was enormous. It was like trying to make a move at chess when you were already mated. Whichever way you turned, the telescreen faced you.


A person growing up with Newspeak as his sole language would no more know that equal had once had the secondary meaning of 'politically equal', or that free had once meant 'intellectually free', than for instance, a person who had never heard of chess would be aware of the secondary meanings attaching to Queen and Rook.

...the longest chess reference was almost certainly the inspiration for the scene in the movie.

A waiter, again unbidden, brought the chessboard and the current issue of The Times, with the page turned down at the chess problem. Then, seeing that Winston's glass was empty, he brought the gin bottle and filled it. There was no need to give orders. They knew his habits. The chessboard was always waiting for him, his corner table was always reserved; even when the place was full he had it to himself, since nobody cared to be seen sitting too close to him. He never even bothered to count his drinks. At irregular intervals they presented him with a dirty slip of paper which they said was the bill, but he had the impression that they always undercharged him. It would have made no difference if it had been the other way about. He had always plenty of money nowadays. He even had a job, a sinecure, more highly-paid than his old job had been.

The music from the telescreen stopped and a voice took over. Winston raised his head to listen. No bulletins from the front, however. It was merely a brief announcement from the Ministry of Plenty. In the preceding quarter, it appeared, the Tenth ThreeYear Plan's quota for bootlaces had been overfulfilled by 98 per cent. He examined the chess problem and set out the pieces. It was a tricky ending, involving a couple of knights. 'White to play and mate in two moves.' Winston looked up at the portrait of Big Brother. White always mates, he thought with a sort of cloudy mysticism. Always, without exception, it is so arranged. In no chess problem since the beginning of the world has black ever won. Did it not symbolize the eternal, unvarying triumph of Good over Evil? The huge face gazed back at him, full of calm power. White always mates.

Is 'White always mates' really symbolic of the 'unvarying triumph of Good over Evil?' I can't believe that Orwell was so optimistic. Perhaps it's meant to be ironic.


Later: For more about the film, see the IMDB's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984). NB: '1984' is both the name of the movie and the year it was released.

30 January 2017

Korchnoi's TMER 1976-2000

Before continuing last week's post, Korchnoi's Career 1945-1977 (on Paper), I had to do a little clean-up on Viktor Korchnoi's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (1946-1977; TMER). When I started the project, I used two different PGN files to get an overview of his career during the period 1976-2000:-

  • Korchnoi's Events 1977-1996 • 'I chose one of the files, extracted all games from 1977 and afterwards (2130 games, including many duplicates), and loaded the PGN headers into a database. The file I chose had no information in the PGN '[Event]' tag, so I was forced to work with the '[Site]' tag. This tag had never been standardized and I found over 730 different combinations of year/site, covering the period 1977-1996.' (1 August 2016)

  • Korchnoi's Events 1976-2000 • 'The original PGN file I used for that 1977-1996 post appears to have been from the 1990s UPITT collection and was named KORCH2PG.ZIP. [...] I found a second ZIP file in my own archive, originally from GM Khalifman's GMchess.com site. [...] The original file contained 3832 Korchnoi games, of which 2282 were from the years 1976 to 2001.' (22 August 2016)

That left two tables covering the period 1976-2000, which was one too many. I combined them into a single table and updated the TMER accordingly. While the result is far from perfect, it's still better than what I had before. Next step: Order the events chronologically on this portion of the TMER.

29 January 2017

Chess and Social Realism

Getting back to The Sociology of Chess (November 2016), that initial post announced,

For the next few posts in the series, I'll present other images as I take the time to explore the subject.

Then, as so often happens, I got sidetracked with other topics like the previous post Chess as an Institution. Let's have another image, this one by an artist who often used gatherings of chess players to explore 'social realism'.

Louis Wolchonok, 'Chess Players'

Google tells us,

Louis Wolchonok, Artist
Born: 1898, New York City
Died: 1973, New York City
Education: Académie Julian
Books: Design for Artists and Craftsmen, more

The eBay auction for the painting said,

"CHESS PLAYERS", circa 1950-60, BY LOUIS WOLCHONOK (1898-1973); watercolor on paper, 15 1/2" x 12 1/2" and 21 1/2" x 18 3/4" in its museum mat - unframed. Signed, lower right.

A fabulous partially abstract piece by one of the more interesting painters of the 20th cent., Louis Wolchonok. He is one of the few artists who was as vibrant and as contemporary in the 1950s and 60s as he was as a WPA Social Realist.

Wolchonok was born in New York and studied at the Cooper Union, the National Academy, City College, the Academie Julian in Paris, and the Brooklyn Museum School. He was a member of the Society of American Etchers and the New York Sketch Club and exhibited at the Whitney; the National Academy; the PA Academy; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Los Angeles Museum; and the Tate. Wolchonok taught for years at the New York YMCA and is included in nearly all important 20th century collections.

A few months ago, in 'Just Like You and Me' (October 2016), I featured Albert Pels, another WPA artist (Works Progress Administration; see that post for more). Is the interest of the two artists in chess a coincidence?

27 January 2017

Gelfand @ Gibraltar

From the 'Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival' Youtube channel.

Long story short: Interview with Boris Gelfand (18:08) • 'Tania Sachdev in conversation with six-time World Championship Candidate Boris Gelfand at the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Tournament 2017.'

Early in the clip, the interviewer mentions an 'amazing, award winning' documentary; it's here: Album 61 (youtube.com; 1:09:36). See also Album 61 - An intimate award-winning documentary (chessbase.com; August 2015). • For details about the 'six-time World Championship Candidate', see my page World Chess Championship : Index of players.

26 January 2017

Fischer and Hochberg

The Chess Life (CL) half of the January 1967 'On the Cover' post featured Bobby Fischer.

'Fischer wins U.S. Championship (Ho-Hum)' by Burt Hochberg [...] Maybe it wasn't so 'Ho-Hum' after all. This was the eighth and last time that Fischer participated in the U.S. Championship.

Hochberg's long article included an explanation of Fischer's objection to the format of the event. I'll copy it here along with some of his observations about the U.S. chess scene in the mid-1960s.

The next U.S. Championship was played in July 1968, again at New York. In Fischer's absence, Larry Evans won, a half-point ahead of Robert Byrne. Samuel Reshevsky was third and Pal Benko fourth, confirming these players as the next tier in American chess, after Fischer.

The January 1967 CL was Hochberg's first issue as solo editor. He made a brief appearance in a recent post, Shaping Chess History (September 2016), where I noted,

[CL contributor Al] Lawrence went on to write about four of the 17 editors listed on the left: Montgomery Major (1946-1957), Fred Wren (1958-1960), Frank Brady (1961), and Burt Hochberg (1967-1979).

Of the 17 CL editors to date, he served the longest in that position, nearly 13 years, although current editor Daniel Lucas might overtake him in a few years. The second paragraph of the above clipping promises further details concerning Fischer's participation in the U.S Championship, but it must have been dropped. I started a list of Hochberg's columns, From the Editor's File, which I'll copy here, because I have nothing else to do with it.

1967-01: Dr. Eliot Hearst; chess as 'mental savagery'; 'Vital statistics' (chess anniversaries, a monthly recurring feature)
1967-02: Fischer game from the Havana Olympiad; chess master's style vs. music composer's style
1967-03: Letter from reader complaining about lateness; photo of game between violinist Louis Persinger and David Oistrakh, with Yehudi Menuhin looking on
1967-04: Southern California chess hall of fame; 'Vital statistics' errors in print
1967-05: Chess temperaments
1967-06: Miro Radojcic; more on chess and music
1967-07: Cautions to chess players (1849); more on music
1967-08: Fischer and the World Championship

I started the list looking for Fischer, so I'll end the list with Fischer, although the columns continued. Wikipedia currently has a stub page, Burt Hochberg, but there is much more that could be said about him.


Later: After posting the above I found some time to continue the list.

1967-09: MacHack; nursery rhymes
1967-10: U.S. Student team; annotating an incomprehensible game
1967-11: Questionnaire; 'How to Behave at a Chess Match' (for chess wives)
1967-12: Steinitz affliction; 'not a joke' letter

The feature was dropped from subsequent issues. The 'Questionnaire' in the November issue was 'to give you the kind of magazine you want'. I suppose 'Editor's File' didn't make the cut.

24 January 2017

'Mystery Painting' Still a Mystery

Start with a random image, say 'Mystery Painting' (from this blog) in the upper left of the composite image below. Locate its detail page on a Google Image search, using something like site:chessforallages... Mystery Painting. Click 'search by image' to get various views of the same random image; NB:

  • 'Find other sizes of this image'
  • 'Best guess for this image'
  • 'Visually similar images'
  • 'Pages that include matching images'

Locate pages with the same image...

UL: Mystery Painting (December 2007)
UR: The Collector : Dating Sets Using Artwork (worldchess.com; by Jon Crumiller; January 2016)
LL: Beauty will save : Chess art-science-sport (viola.bz)
LR: Raymond Keene, 'Chess: An Illustrated History' (Simon and Schuster, 1990, p.23)

...The image on the upper right is an excellent copy, the best I could find. It is the same as the background for the title of the page, which informs,

The next painting, circa 1880, is by P H Andreis, a Belgian artist. Looking closely at the chess set, it is readily identifiable [as a] French Régence pattern chess set. The Régence pattern was very popular in France and surrounding countries in the 19th and 20th centuries.

End of story? Have we identified the mystery painting? No, not quite, because an image search on 'chess artist andreis' finds the painting shown on the lower left. Here the piece is identified as

de ANDREIS, Alex (1880–1929); Cavaliers Playing Chess

Not only is the artist's name different, the painting shows the same composition by a different artist. For example, the pieces in the leftmost corner of the chessboard are noticeably different.

Both images in the top row show less of the painting than the lower left because they have been cropped. I found another example of the painting in a book by GM Keene, showing nearly the full painting as a background object.

So the 'Mystery Painting', although probably by an artist named Andreis, remains a mystery. And we now have two versions of it.

23 January 2017

Korchnoi's Career 1945-1977 on Paper

After that month-long digression for the Google portion of Engines, (Google), Korchnoi (December 2016), let's return to the Korchnoi portion. I last worked on it for Korchnoi's Events 2008-15 (November 2016), where I left Viktor Korchnoi's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (TMER; 1946-2015) in an unfinished state. The TMER consists of four sections:-

To continue, I decided to look at the games from 'Korchnoi's Chess Games' by Levy & O'Connell (Oxford University Press, 1979, 308 pages). The book has 288 pages of partially annotated game scores in chronological order, followed by 46 pages of crosstables. The games are cross-referenced by an index of openings and an index of opponents. A sample from the first page of opponents is shown in the following image.

I scanned the nine page index of opponents, ran the scans through an OCR converter, and loaded the results into a database. According to a preliminary analysis, the book has 1663 games played against 486 opponents. I'll delve further into this record for my next post.

22 January 2017

Which Is the Original?

'Hmm, that looks familiar', I thought when I saw the painting below. It was one of very few items that popped up for this current edition of Top eBay Chess Items by Price. Titled '19thC The Chess Game, Antique O/C Genre Oil Painting, Original Frame, NR', it sold for US $1525 after 59 bids from 23 bidders. But where had I seen it before?

The description started,

If you recognize this painting from a previous listing, you are correct. We sold it and when it was pulled to be shipped, it was accidentally damaged by us. We had two small tears professionally in-painted and have re-listed this auction once again with no reserve!

The previous eBay listing was in November 2016, when the same item sold for US $360 after 38 bids from 17 bidders. The description for both listings said,

Hand painted on stretched canvas, this original 19th century oil painting measures 14” by 17”. It depicts two gentlemen playing a game of chess. The man on the left has a smug look on his face and the man on the right knows he is about to lose the game. The style of the table and the large pewter covered pitcher suggests that this unsigned painting is German. In our black-light photographs you can see two small in-painted restorations to one of the man's hands and under the table. This circa 1880s oil painting comes in its original 17 ½” by 20 ½” painted frame, which has some edge wear.

The 'Top eBay Chess Items' post covering that period was Chess Sculpture at Auction (November 2016; 'sold for US $10.000 after five bids at live auction'), and I'm sure I didn't look at items in the $360 range. Where had I seen the painting before?

After a little searching, I found nearly the same painting in an earlier 'Top eBay Chess Items' post, Who's Really Winning? (March 2012; 'finally selling for US $742'). The frame was different (you'll have to accept my word on that) and there was much more on the wall behind the players, but it was the same composition as the current painting. I like the latest version better.

20 January 2017

A Lonely Knight

Who hasn't been there?

Losin' You © Flickr user Oliver Symens under Creative Commons.

The description said,

Feel free to use this image for any commercial or non-commercial purposes as long as you provide an attribution link to symensphotographie.me.

Done. Among tags like 'Funny', 'Lonely', 'Sad', and 'Love Sick', was 'Conceptual'. What does it mean? From Wikipedia:-

Conceptual photography is a type of photography that illustrates an idea. There have been illustrative photographs made since the medium's invention, for example in the earliest staged photographs, such as Hippolyte Bayard's 'Self Portrait as a Drowned Man' (1840). However, the term 'Conceptual Photography' derives from 'Conceptual Art' a movement of the late 1960s. Today the term is used to describe either a methodology or a genre. • Conceptual photography

I'm not sure that really explains anything. Maybe it would help if I understood what 'conceptual art' meant.

19 January 2017

The Lower Rating Band

After counting the number of players on the FIDE Rating List - January 2017, what more can I say about it? First, let's list the national federations that had the largest increase in number of players. While I'm at it, let's just do the same sort of chart that I used in last year's post, FRL - January 2016. That's the top half of the table shown below,

Left: Increase in players; Right: New federations

The 'new federations' include a couple that had their codes changed, Lebanon and Singapore.


FIDE Online Arena (FOA) Titles

FOA, which stands for 'FIDE Online Arena', is a column on the January 2017 FRL that must have been introduced in the past year. The bottom half of the table shows the values stored for FOA, which are obviously titles corresponding to the traditional GM, IM, etc.

Left: Rating ranges for FOA titles; Right: Count of FOA titles by federation

The FOA home page, FIDE Online Arena (aka arena.myfide.net), explains,

FIDE titles for the Lower Rating Band • In order to support the players' private online gaming and the active local chess communities, the top players of which have not reached the traditional Master level, FIDE announces the new Arena titles for the average amateur performance between 1100 and 2000 Elo points. These titles can be achieved online by the members of FIDE Online Arena, and obtained by direct Paypal payment without any application from the player's National Federation.

The titles of Arena Grand Master, Arena International Master, Arena FIDE master and Arena Candidate Master are the same for men and women, they are registered on the player's profile card on FIDE website, and are recognised to be used also for over the board tournament participation.

A page with the same name, FIDE Titles for the Lower Rating Band, leads to FIDE's 'Handbook :: B. Permanent Commissions', FIDE Titles for the Lower Rating Band. As for the statement that the titles 'are recognised to be used also for over the board tournament participation', what does that mean exactly? The 'Lower Rating Band' could be the name of a rock group.

16 January 2017

Mixed 'Matched Content'

After last week's post on 101 Pages with 'Matched Content', I decided I didn't like the combination of Google's matched links and Google's ad at the bottom of each page. The visual impact is captured below in the top part of the composite diagram. What to do?

In the parameters for its matched content, Google offers the possibility of including ads in place of internal links. The most obvious solution was to activate that option and eliminate the standalone ad. I did this on one page to take a look at it. It took some time for the change to ripple through Google's system, but the result is shown in the bottom part of the diagram.

It turns out that Google always replaces three matched links with ads, and those three are always in the same position. Each link includes the name of the destination domain, and ads are marked 'Ad' to the left of that name.

In my example, one ad is in English ('Highest Dividends'), one is in Dutch ('Paardenverzekering'), and one is in French ('Jouez à ...'), but such is life in bilingual Belgium. I decided that this treatment looked better than the previous iteration and applied the same change to the other 100 pages that had matched content.

15 January 2017

Chess as an Institution

After the long yearend holiday break, let's return to The Sociology of Chess (November 2016), last seen in FIDE's Social Commissions. I spent part of my holiday watching a series of lectures on the Youtube UCBerkeley channel, titled Sociology 101 (that link is a playlist). The lecturer is Ann Swidler (wikipedia.org), and the syllabus can be found at Introduction to Sociology (PDF).

On top of learning a tremendous amount about sociology, I was further rewarded for the time spent by discovering a long discussion of chess in the third lecture. It reminded me of a quote, 'Chess is the Drosophila of Cognitive Science', that I covered in a previous post, The Drosophila of Unattributed Quotes (February 2010).

Sociology 101 - Lecture 3 (50:28) • 'Published on Sep 5, 2012 : Introduction to Sociology'

The lecture starts with a continuation of the second, previous lecture, which is summarized in an overhead slide...

The Individual and Society
- Dual nature of the self
- Paradox of modern individualism

...It then moves to a new topic, 'Institutions and Identities', with another overhead slide...

The Mystery of Institutions
- Created by human beings
- Constrain and regulate human activity

- Appear enduring, permanent, fixed
- Can be gradually transformed

...The chess portion is the first detailed discussion in the next slide...

Components of Institutions
- Rules or Recipes that define the institution (cognitive)
- Sanctions -- rewards and punishments -- that enforce the rules (regulative)
- Purposes that justify (and guide) institutional choices
- Moral codes (normative)

...where I'll quote Prof. Swidler's accompanying remarks.

I'm going to take a couple of institutions and talk about how these things work. First, rules are recipes that define the institution, the cognitive, cultural element. I'm going to talk about something -- I don't know if it is an institution -- but it helps you see the way human beings create things that have rules and then treat the rules as permanent. Think about something like chess (or any game: it could be football, basketball, bridge, ... [describes the physical aspects of chess]). It's obviously some medieval-type game originally. There are a set of rules that make chess 'chess'.

You don't have to play chess. If you're five years old, you can say 'I want to move the big piece to that far corner and I'm going to do it'. You can do that. You can throw the pieces on the floor when you don't win, but then it's not chess. Or you could use the pieces and play checkers [describes checkers]. When you constitute something as 'chess' you do it by creating a set of rules about what chess *is* and that's what makes it chess.

After a talk about 'marriage' as an institution -- 'You constitute something as marriage' -- Prof. Swidler returns to chess.

If you play chess, there is actually a group somewhere that regulates the rules about chess is. You can't play official chess if you don't play according to the rules. Even if you played it informally, certain rules would determine that the thing actually was chess. Again, it's humanly created, but the rules make it what it is.

If someone walked in -- this is the cultural cognitive part -- and said, 'That's not chess, it's mah jongg!', you would say, 'No, it's not mah jongg; there are no tiles. This is chess; we're playing chess.' The person who actually thought it was mah jongg wouldn't just have an opinion that it was mah jongg, he'd be wrong. It's not mah jongg (or bridge, or golf); it's *chess*. And that is a cultural cognitive definition. You don't have to care about chess; you don't have to love chess; you don't have to 'believe' in chess; it's just chess.

Let me make one more point. Chess not only creates rules about what playing chess is and what the board should look like, what pieces [there are] so you can't suddenly say I want to have 45 pieces, and have every square on the board filled, for example. It wouldn't be chess.

It also creates certain 'roles'. You could even say it creates certain 'people', if you want to think of the chess pieces as people. To constitute chess, you also create pieces that have certain moves they can make. You constitute Kings and Queens [describes the moves] and Knights [ditto]. To constitute chess is also to constitute a bunch of social roles.

The discussion returns to marriage and the role of 'husband'. The previous slide, 'Components of Institutions', under 'Rules or Recipes that define the institution' included a couple of sub-bullets that summarize the chess discussion.

  • Rules that make it what it is (what makes chess)
  • Roles defined by the rules (e.g. Pawn, Knight, Bishop, etc.)

One Youtube commenter wrote, 'It's pretty confusing toward the end when she talks about chess.' For me, it was pretty helpful.

13 January 2017

Sourcing a Chess Talk

The description of this Youtube video gives only excerpts from the Wikipedia pages on Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer. What more can we add?

The speaker is introduced as 'BBC Journalist John Eidinow' and the clip's first subtitle adds, 'John Eidinow, co-author "Bobby Fischer Goes to War". Neither Eidinow nor the book has a Wikipedia page, but the book is well known to chess players as Bobby Fischer Goes to War: How A Lone American Star Defeated the Soviet Chess Machine (amazon.com) by David Edmonds and John Eidinow.

Bobby Fischer and the Most Notorious Chess Match of All Time (46:54) • Dated 29 March 2004: 'Published on Jan 12, 2017'

The talk starts with a discussion of a first book by Edmonds and Eidinow, Wittgenstein's Poker (wikipedia.org; the title refers to a fireplace poker, not the game of poker):-

'Wittgenstein's Poker: The Story of a Ten-Minute Argument Between Two Great Philosophers' is a 2001 book by BBC journalists David Edmonds and John Eidinow about events in the history of philosophy involving Sir Karl Popper and Ludwig Wittgenstein, leading to a confrontation at the Cambridge University Moral Sciences Club in 1946.

The clip is on Youtube channel 'The Film Archives', which has a related channel, 'The Book Archive'; both use the same logo, a white 'T' in a purple square. The clip carries the logo 'Book TV C-SPAN2' and a further subtitle 'Washington, DC; Politics and Prose'. From Wikipedia's Book TV:-

Book TV is the name given to weekend programming on the American cable network C-SPAN2 airing from 8 a.m. Eastern Time Saturday morning to 8 a.m. Eastern Time Monday morning each week. The 48-hour block of programming is focused on non-fiction books and authors, featuring programs in the format of interviews with authors as well as live coverage of book events from around the country.

I once wrote a brief review of the book -- Bobby Fischer Goes to War (archive.org -> chess.about.com; May 2004) -- and was happy to rediscover it through this clip. By coincidence I gave the book the same rating, 4 1/2 stars out of 5, as the average of the 110 Amazon.com customer reviews.

12 January 2017

Chess Ethics and the Suspensions of Federations

The final topic I want to cover from Spectating the 87th FIDE Congress (December 2016), is

87. Ethics Commission report to General Assembly.

Last year, in Ethics in Chess Politics - Stories (November 2015), it took me considerable time to understand the main cases tackled by the Ethics Commission:-

  • 'Case 5/2014: Complaint of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov against Ignatius Leong and Garry Kasparov regarding agreements' and 'Case 7/2014: Complaint of the Philippines and Kenya Chess Federations against Kirsan Ilyumzhinov'

  • 'Case 8/2014: Complaint by Kirsan Ilyumzhinov against Garry Kasparov regarding an unsigned / proposed agreement for the support of the Salvadorian Chess Federation' and 'Case 10/2014: Complaint of Garry Kasparov against Margaret Murphy, Darcy Lima and Bharat Singh regarding alleged irregularities in Electoral Commission'

  • 'Case 13/2014: Complaint of European Chess Federation against S Danailov, V Sakotic and S Stoisavljenic' and 'Case 14/2014: Complaint of Montenegro Chess Federation against V Sakotic and S Stoisavljenic'

  • 'Case 4/2015: Complaint by K Georgiev, S Stoichkov and M Stoynev against Bulgarian Chess Federation' and 'Case 5/2015: Complaint by Bulgarian Chess Federation against Z Azmaiparashvili and T Tsorbatzoglou'

  • 'Case 3/2015: Complaint by Michaela Sandu against Natalia Zhukova and 14 other players'

This year the relevant facts are available in a new FIDE subdomain: ethics.fide.com. One further evolution worth noting is an attachment to the report of the Ethics Commission:-

Recommendation for the suspension of the Bulgarian Chess Federation (BCF) as federation member of FIDE.

This marks the second time that FIDE has suspended a member federation for ethical reasons. The first, also in 2016, was ASEAN; according to its constitution,

founded on 28 May 2000, Vung Tau City, Vietnam [...] founding member-federations were the national chess federations of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam

This suspension stemmed from Case 5/2014 ('Complaint of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov against Ignatius Leong and Garry Kasparov'). Will these suspensions have the desired effect? We should find out at the next FIDE Congress.

10 January 2017

The Battle for No.1

No.1 chess web site that is. One of the advantages of blogging about all sorts of chess topics that interest no one is being witness to the history of those same uninteresting topics. Take, for example, Google's opinion on the top chess web site. Almost ten years ago, in Wikipedia Chess the New Google No.1 (February 2007), I observed,

Today, for the first time I can remember, the Wikipedia Chess entry is appearing at no.1 in the results. The previous no.1 was Jon Edwards' site, Chess is Fun, now appearing at no.3. Going back a few years, I remember that the USCF's USchess.org held the no.1 position for quite a while.

Wikipedia Chess has been climbing the top-10 for many months and it was just a question of time before it came in at no.1. Although it may bounce in and out of the top position over the near term, I expect it will eventually occupy that spot for years to come.

I should know better than to be so categorical, because a few months later another powerhouse chess site burst onto the scene. Chess.com was introduced in May 2007, and within a year it had supplanted Wikipedia Chess as the top web site. I recorded this change peripherally in My 15 Minutes of Fame? (February 2008).

Let it be known to all interested parties that on or about 9:00 AM GMT on Friday, 15 February 2008, chess.about.com, aka About Chess, reached no.4 on a Google search for 'chess'.

The associated image, a snapshot of top Google search results, showed positions no.1-2-3 as

  • Chess.com
  • Wikipedia Chess
  • Chess is Fun

A week later I wrote another post about Chess.com as no.1: Google Redirects on Chess.com (February 2008)

For the last week or so, Google has been displaying Chess.com, the no.1 entry on a search for 'chess', in a format that I've seen used elsewhere, but never for a chess site.

And so the ranking continued -- no.1 Chess.com, no.2 Wikipedia Chess -- until mid-November 2016, when I noticed that the two sites had switched positions.

Don't be fooled by that Chess.com ad in the first spot. It's a paid placement. Wikipedia Chess is sitting at no.1, followed by Chess.com at no.2. The switch was short lived. The next time I looked, the two sites were back to their historical order with Chess.com at no.1.

Yesterday I noticed that Wikipedia Chess was again at no.1, followed by Chess.com at no.2. It appears that both sites are in a close battle for top ranking among chess web sites. What will Google's ultimate decision be?

09 January 2017

101 Pages with 'Matched Content'

In for a penny, in for a pound? After adding Google's 'Matched Content' to 25 pages last week, I added the same function to another 75 pages, making 101 pages in total. Until now, the only matched pages I've seen have been from my About.com CFAA content, but the following example (a TMER page) shows one matched page from my World Championship site, i.e. the 2015 World Cup.

Magnus Carlsen's TMER (2000-)
TMER = Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record

It appears that all pages which can be linked via matched content have at least one image associated with the link to that page. That means pages without images, like the Carlsen TMER itself, would never show up as matched content.

Note also the link to Chess Tactics Illustrated ('French postcards illustrate basic tactical themes in chess'). This is an example of an image gallery, all of which use an architecture unlike the basic About.com pages.

I should also mention pages like Chess Openings - Initial Position ('Repertoire recommendations'). These have more Google functionality -- ads plus matched content -- than they have their own content, which is not at all what I want. TBA?

08 January 2017

Alekhine 1913

In the weeks following Christmas, the short list for Top eBay Chess Items by Price always gets shorter. I was happy to find an item that fits in with another ongoing series, recently seen in

Titled 'Original vintage photo chess tournament Scheveningen 1913: Aljechin winner', the item shown below sold for US $345 after one bid. I've constructed a composite image from portions of the original photo to show its highlights.

The description added,

Cardboard-mounted black and white photo of the tournament in Scheveningen 1913. • Size of the photo: 22.5 x 16.5 cm; sheet size: 35.5 x cm. • Participants of the tournament: Aljechin, Janowski, Olland, Yates, Breyer, Ed. Lasker, Mieses, Englund, etc. • The photo is slightly faded, bumped and has usage traces. • The cardboard is dusty, stained and has strong edge defects, see images.

In the top portion of my composite image, Alekhine is seated to the left. At first I thought his opponent might be Frederick Yates, but all photos of Yates show him wearing glasses. The fellow sitting behind Alekhine's opponent, partially obscured by the curious rectangle, is more likely Yates. For more about the tournament, see Scheveningen 1913 (chessgames.com).

06 January 2017

How Not to Set Up a Chess Board

When is a chess game not a chess game?...

The Elector Johann Friedrich of Saxony Playing Chess with a Spanish Gentleman (Anthonis Mor version) © Flickr user the lost gallery under Creative Commons.

...When it's a checkers game played with chess pieces. For more about the painting, which has a checkered story, see Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen: The Chess Players (updateslive.blogspot.com; includes a close-up of the board). On this blog, see: Why Y'All Playing Checkers with a Chess Set? (December 2007), and Matisse Was a Checker Player (October 2008).

05 January 2017

FIDE Rating List - January 2017

A new year means it's time to look at the January release of the FIDE rating list. Last year I made two posts out of it:-

Once again, FIDE's download page (see last year's post for a link) offers six different lists and once again I chose to download the 'STANDARD rating list'. The January 2016 list had over 231K players and this year's list has over 265K. I'll look at the new list in another post.


The close of the old year brought news of another rating system for the new year. Shown in this video is 'Michael Khordarkovsky, Spokesperson, The Grand Chess Tour', who is perhaps better known as 'Michael Khodarkovsky, President, Kasparov Chess Foundation'.

Universal Rating System (URS™) - New Chess Rating System (9:30) • '18 December 2016; For Immediate Release; Grand Chess Tour Introduces Innovative Universal Rating System'

The description continued,

The Grand Chess Tour (GCT) is pleased to announce that the selection of the 2017 GCT Tour wildcards will be based on a new rating system. This new system will be known as the Universal Rating System (URS™). The first URS™ list will be officially published on 1 January 2017 and will be accompanied by the launch of the official website explaining the methodology.

Someone really likes the trademark symbol ('TM'™)! For the rest of the press release, which is signed 'Graham Jurgensen, Technical Director, Grand Chess Tour', see Grand Chess Tour Introduces Innovative Universal Rating System. According to the release, the first official list should be available by now, and I'll also look at in another post.

03 January 2017

January 1967 'On the Cover'

After the December 1966 'On the Cover', we open new volumes of our two American chess magazines from 50 years ago.

Left: 'U.S. Championship Committee Chairman Maurice Kasper with Robert J. Fischer, champion for the eighth time, as pairings for the 1966-1967 event were being announced. -- Photo by Beth Cassidy'
Right: 'Armed Forces Champion'

Chess Life

Fischer wins U.S. Championship (Ho-Hum) by Burt Hochberg • By defeating Samuel Reshevsky in the 10th round, Robert J. Fischer was assured of undisputed 1st place in the 1966-67 Unied States Championship. This is the eighth time Fischer has won the title, and he did it comfortably by two full points, not having lost a single game.

Maybe it wasn't so 'Ho-Hum' after all. This was the eighth and last time that Fischer participated in the U.S. Championship.

Chess Review

SP4 CHESTER T. WOZNEY • The new winner of the Thomas Emery Trophy for the Armed Forces Chess Championship also receives President Johnson's congratulations (on color photo) presented by White House Army Aide, Major Hugh G. Robinson (left) at the American Chess Foundation awards dinner in the Sheraton-Carlton Hotel, Washington, D.C. George E. Reedy (seated, and see page 357, December issue), formerly Press Secretary to President Johnson presided at the dinner. The new Champion, actually of Parma, Ohio, came from the Eighth Army, Korea, to compete in the week-long seventh annual title tournament in the American Legion's Hall of Flags in [Washington].

That CR writeup was illustrated by a photo from the previous event. The photo's caption explained,

One year ago, Major Hugh G. Robinson (left: and see "On the Cover" below) presented President Johnson's congratulations to an Air Force man, David M. Lees of Connally AFB, Texas. G. Randle Grimes of Atlantic City, New Jersey, American Chess Foundation Vice-president, presented the sterling silver Air Force trophy.

Going back a year (as in January 1966 'On the Cover', where the CR cover featured Pal Benko), the January 1966 coverage of the Armed Forces event used the same Robinson/Lees photo. As for George E. Reedy, the December 1966 CR showed him in another photo captioned,

GEORGE REEDY • Former press secretary to President Johnson, now President of Struthers Research and Development Corporation, MC-ed the American Chess Foundation's Thomas Emery Awards dinner.

'Thomas Emery Trophy', 'Thomas Emery Awards dinner' -- who was Thomas Emery and what was his connection to the American Chess Foundation?

02 January 2017

Google's 'Matched Content'

In last week's post, Engines, (Google), Korchnoi, I tried Google's 'Matched Content' on my most popular page:-

The results have been satisfactory, so I added the same functionality to the 25 next most popular pages, starting with these 10:-

Below is an example of 'Matched Content' on one of the other 15 pages, which happens to be the most popular index page. The pages that Google suggests are entirely appropriate to the context of the index page.

'From Beginner to Advanced Beginner'

Learn to Play Chess

Note that there are eight images/links in this example. Google also offers the possibility of substituting ads for one (or more?) of these links. I'll keep this turned off for now.

01 January 2017

Happy 2017!


Has it really been ten years since I first wished 'Happy New Year!' (1 January 2007) on this blog?