16 February 2018

Another AI Engine

This edition of Video Friday ties together two recent posts: The Lineage of AlphaZero (January 2018) and AlphaGo Netflix (ditto).

Interview with Rhys Rustad-Elliott, creator of the chess engine "Shallow Blue" (9:21) • 'Published on Feb 7, 2018'

The clip's description explains,

On February 2nd, Hart House Chess Club hosted a very interesting event on Chess, Computers and AI, featuring the screening of the award-winning documentary "AlphaGo", followed by an elite lecture by our guest speaker, Rhys Rustad-Elliott (sophomore at [University of Toronto] in Computer Science). Rhys, originally from Vancouver, had an interest in Computer Science and Software Engineering since elementary school, when he started toying around with simple programs in Python. Nowadays, he’s interested in a wide variety of Computer Science related topics and recently finished work on his chess engine, Shallow Blue (a play on words of Deep Blue).

For more about the lecture, see Rhys Rustad-Elliot introduces “Shallow Blue” and reflects on “Alpha Go”, Computers and AI (harthousechess.com).

15 February 2018

Bobby Speaks from the Grave

During the recent Carlsen - Nakamura match, Fischer Random 2018 (frchess.com), the setting received considerable attention.

Fischer: 'The *Old* Chess Is Dead'
(chess960frc.blogspot.com; February 2010)

The photo is a screen capture from the start of the live commentary for the match, where we learned,

IM Anna Rudolf: 'The two players are part of an art performance, an exhibition of fine art photography by Dag Alveng, Norwegian photographer. The photos are representing the tombs of former World Chess Champions.' • GM Yasser Seirawan: 'We say standing on the shoulders of giants. Here they'll be crossing their graveyards. There you see the two players, the black and white chairs, how appropriate.' • IM Rudolf: 'In front of the tomb of Bobby Fischer. [...] If you look at the table, this beautiful white table, it is exactly the same marble as the tomb of Bobby Fischer.'

Standing behind Magnus Carlsen is Erna Solberg, the Prime Minister of Norway, who made the ceremonial first move for GM Carlsen. For the rest of the commentary, see Nakamura-Carlsen 960 Fischer Random Match, Day 1 | Part 1 (twitch.tv/chess).

13 February 2018

Chess Mardi Gras

Today being Mardi Gras, and me having no concrete ideas and little time for a more profound post, let's just celebrate the day. Seen on eBay: 'Chess sports carnival parade car in France original 1950s photo postcard'.

The description added only,

Size: approx. 3.5" x 5.5" ( 9 x 14 cm).

The back of the card said,

Carnaval de Nice
Le Nain Jaune
Const: J-B. Pissarello

That's Nice, France, where Le Nain Jaune means 'The Yellow Dwarf'. As for 'Const', I'm not sure what it means -- maybe 'constructeur' of the float? For another take on the same topic, see Chess Carnaval (March 2012).

12 February 2018

Interview Videos : Grischuk

Starting with Interview Videos : Aronian, where...

I calculated that, at the rate of one player per week, I have just enough time to review the eight players who will be starting the 2018 Berlin Candidates Tournament in March.

...and last seen in Interview Videos : Ding Liren; continuing alphabetically, next up is GM Grischuk. The popular Russian grandmaster qualified via the FIDE Grand Prix (not to be confused with the non-FIDE Grand Tour).

Paris Grand Chess Tour: Alexander Grischuk On Blitz Time Controls (4:32) • 'Published on Jun 23, 2017'

The description said,

An interview with Alexander Grischuk, who is only a point behind Magnus Carlsen going into the blitz segment at the Paris Grand Chess Tour.

For more about the tournament, see Paris GCT | Grand Chess Tour (grandchesstour.org).

11 February 2018

'She Is Very Serious'

As far as I can tell, this is the first daguerreotype seen on Top eBay Chess Items by Price. One eBay post last year, Morphy CDV (September 2016), as well as its follow-up Brady CDVs (ditto), touched the subject, but took it no further.

The item pictured below (which I've brightened considerably) was titled 'Rare Victorian Framed Daguerreotype - Named Man & Woman Playing Chess - 1840s'. It sold for GBP 495.00 ('approximately US $683.45' according to eBay) 'Buy It Now'.

The description said,

This is a very rare genuine framed daguerreotype of an elderly couple playing chess at a table, dating from the 1840's. The daguerreotype is in its original gilt edged frame and appears to have been a gift from a Miss Anson to a friend of her Uncle Henry and Mrs P[...?] Ward with the additional comment "She is very serious".

The frame has obviously not been opened up at the back for many years but must have been re-papered at a later date and it is in good condition. There is some oxidisation around the edge of the image and a few specks that are under the glass as well as a few light scratches in the top right hand corner which aren't visible unless caught in the correct light. The image measures 9 cm x 6 cm in a 15 cm x 12.5 cm frame. A wonderful antique daguerreotype that would grace any collection.

The comment written on the back of the item is given in the description as 'She is very serious'. The last word looks to me to be something else, starting 'sel...', but I can't guess what word. She certainly looks very serious.

09 February 2018

Likable, Likeable Chess Players

This photo looked vaguely familiar, but where? After searching this blog for 'statue' and 'sculpture', I found the post Distant Cousins? (September 2011); same statue, completely different angle.

Chess Players © Flickr user F Delventhal under Creative Commons.

There was no further description on the photo and it wasn't immediately clear how to untangle the associated tags:-

Cartagena, CartagenadeIndias, Edgardo, Carmona, statue, estatua, San, Pedro, Claver, Square, Plaza

The 'Cousins' post locates the artwork in Cartagena, Colombia and other versions of the photo inform that it is in the square next to the 'Cathedral de San Pedro Claver'. As for Edgardo Carmona, in Iron Sculptures in Downtown Fort Myers (March 2016), the blog 'My Fort Myers Beach, My Florida' informs,

In his sculptures, Colombian artist Edgardo Carmona showcases "likable characters that make Cartagena, Colombia, what it is." The sculptures, all carved from rustic iron, depict characters and scenes from Mr. Carmona’s hometown, where he was born in 1950.

The sculpture even includes a rustic iron chess clock. These are serious players.

08 February 2018

Kasparov vs. Hsu

In last week's Video Friday post, GK's Four Most Memorable Games, one of the four games was 'Deep Blue (Computer) vs Garry Kasparov; IBM Man-Machine (1997), New York, NY USA, rd 6'. By coincidence, I've been reading Kasparov's recent book, Deep Thinking, where he spends several chapters discussing that fateful match. Besides the 1997 match, the former World Champion also discusses earlier encounters with the Deep Thought / Deep Blue team.

When it comes to his own activities, Kasparov is never an impartial witness and is sometimes misleading. In search of objectivity, we can compare Feng-hsiung Hsu's account of the same meetings in his own book, 'Behind Deep Blue'. I featured the book last year in Deep Blue 'On the Cover' (June 2017).

In preparation for a future post or two, I created a cross reference covering the two books. The references for Kasparov's book use the Kindle's location ('loc') attribute.

Hsu: Kasparov:
1989-10 Deep Thought, New York p.130 (PDF) loc.1634
1996-02 Deep Blue, Philadelphia p.188 loc.2063
1997-05 Deep Blue, New York p.235 loc.2424 (A)
1991-03 Hanover p.? loc.1794 (B)
1993-02 Copenhagen p.155 loc.1966 (C)
1995-05 Hong Kong p.171 loc.2051 (D)

(A) The reference here is to when discussions began. See also loc.2595 (Ch.9 'The Board Is in Flames!'); loc.3124 (Ch.10 'The Holy Grail'); and loc.3381 (game 6).

(B) Hsu doesn't mention this event. Kasparov says that the event had 6 GMs and an IM, and that Deep Thought finished with 2.5 points out of seven games. A previous post on this blog, Deep Thought/Blue in the Early 1990s (July 2015), says, '1991-03-19: DT2 in Hannover (w/ link), "Deep Thought 2 vs. 7 German GMs" at Cebit in Hannover'; also GK simul.

(C) Organized by IBM Denmark.

(D) See World Computer Chess Championship : 8th WCCC - 1995 Hong Kong.

Kasparov's book also gives details about his games/matches against other chess computers. I should compare this to my page Garry Kasparov's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (1973-; 'Last updated 2014-08-11').

06 February 2018

FIDE Is More Than a Rating System

During the first few years I started this blog all posts about chess ratings were for FIDE ratings and nearly all posts about FIDE were about their rating system. These days, some posts about rating are for non-FIDE ratings and most posts about FIDE have nothing to do with ratings. To reflect this shift in focus, I split the 'FIDE/Ratings' label (aka category) into separate labels for 'FIDE' and 'Ratings'. The before/after numbers looked like this:-

210 FIDE/Ratings

195 FIDE
  91 Ratings

The difference in the count between 'FIDE/Ratings' and 'FIDE' is due entirely to a series I ran last year: Early U.S. Ratings : A Summary and an Exercise (October 2017). I hope to continue that topic later this year

05 February 2018

Interview Videos : Ding Liren

[NB: Ding Liren is a soft spoken guy. Turn up the volume on your speakers!]

FIDE Press Officer Anastasiya Karlovich opens the interview saying, 'Ding Liren is here with us, the first player who is in the final, the first player who qualified from the World Cup to the Candidates. How do you feel about it?' The occasion was the 2017 World Cup; Tbilisi (Georgia), IX, 2017, after Ding Liren beat Wesley So to qualify for the final match.

FIDE World Chess Cup Interview with Ding Liren (7:03) • 'Published on Sep 23, 2017'

The description of the clip was brief:-

FIDE World Chess Cup interview with Ding Liren after semifinal tie-breaks.

For the games of the match, see Ding Liren - Wesley So (2017) on Chessgames.com ('Lifetime Record: Ding Liren beat Wesley So 3 to 2, with 17 draws'). For the previous interview in this series, see Interview Videos : Caruana.

04 February 2018

The Chess Family

Chess aficionados sometimes overlook or forget that their favorite game is just one member of a great family. The next video in this series on The Sociology of Chess (November 2016) serves as a useful reminder.

A World of Chess: Its Development & Variations through Centuries & Civilizations (10:57) • 'Published on Jan 31, 2018'

A discussion of Western chess starts around 6:30 into the clip. The video's description says,

A World of Chess by Jean-Louis Cazaux and Rick Knowlton, McFarland Publishing. • A vast and comprehensive view of the many forms chess has taken over the past fifteen centuries. Deeply researched, with over 400 illustrations and clear, concise delivery of game rules and information on the broad issues of chess history.

Two sites -- more like a page and a site -- are given in the description:-

For more on the same Youtube channel, see AncientChess.

02 February 2018

GK's Four Most Memorable Games

Here's Garry Kasparov doing what he does best -- playing chess. The way he explains the dynamics of a position is both entertaining and instructive.

Chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov Replays His Four Most Memorable Games | The New Yorker (9:36) • 'Published on Jan 19, 2018'

The description, from The New Yorker channel, said,

Grandmaster Garry Kasparov, considered by many to be the greatest chess player of all time, replays some of his most unforgettable games. He relives both the happiest and the most painful moments of his career.

Thanks to Chessgames.com, here are the four games in the order presented:-

Near the end of the video, Kasparov sums up his approach to chess: 'You have to make tough decisions, and you have to be able to resist pressure and survive after psychological blows and losses.'

01 February 2018

February 1968 'On the Cover'

In contrast to two stories of the moment seen in last month's January 1968 'On the Cover', this month 50 years ago the two leading American chess periodicals featured a contest looking forward in time and a story looking back in time.

Left: 'Announcing the First International Endgame and Problem Composing Contest of the United States'
Right: 'Former USCF President'

Chess Life

The problems above were composed especially for this important occasion by Pal Benko. Each diagram contains two separate and distinct problems in the shape of a letter of the alphabet, corresponding to the initials of the new contest. Each solution is confined to the area of the problem and does not interfere with the other position within the same diagram. Each problem is a mate in three. Every piece is necessary.

The prize fund, sponsored by the Piatigorsky Foundation, was $500. According to Inflation Calculator, that would be the equivalent of around $3500 today. Nine of the 32 pages inside the magazine were used to cover 'The Fischer Affair', in which Bobby Fischer quit the 1967 Sousse Interzonal while he was leading the tournament.

Chess Review

We regret to announce the death of Jerry Spann, popular former President of the United States Chess Federation and representative of the U.S. in the FIDE meetings.

Last year the Oklahoma Chess Monthly (ocfchess.org) published a two-part series on Spann, written by Tom Braunlich:-

'This month [August 2017] is the 60th anniversary of this businessman from Oklahoma becoming USCF President, an organization he has widely been credited with rescuing from failure.'