17 April 2018

Caruana's TWIC Debut

In the recent post, Carlsen's Next Challenger, I ended with an action:-

There's much more to be said about the next challenger to World Champion Carlsen. I'll explore [Fabiano] Caruana's early career in a short series of posts.

I don't know why I used the phrase 'short series'. As with any young star, there are so many different angles to be investigated that a diligent researcher could make a career out of it. First, here are some useful links for future reference:-

The Wikipedia page gives some basic information about Caruana, including his citizenship:-

Fabiano Luigi Caruana (born July 30, 1992) is an Italian-American chess grandmaster. A chess prodigy, he became a grandmaster at the age of 14 years, 11 months and 20 days -- the youngest grandmaster in the history of both Italy and the United States at the time. [...] Caruana possesses dual citizenship of both Italy and the United States, so he has the option of FIDE affiliation with either the Italian Chess Federation or the United States Chess Federation. Caruana played for Italy from 2005 to 2015. On May 12, 2015 the USCF announced that he would be changing federations, to play for the USA.

Wikipedia's coverage of Caruana's career starts in 2007:-

In July, Caruana won the "First Saturday" GM tournament in Budapest with 7 points out of 9 games. He obtained his final GM norm and at age 14 years, 11 months and 20 days, became the youngest grandmaster of both the United States and Italy.

For earlier events, I turned to Mark Crowther's The Week in Chess (TWIC). The first mention I found was from 2001, when Caruana was nine years old.


The Week in Chess 365 (5 November 2001)

There were no games by Caruana in TWIC365. I found the first games in TWIC383 and TWIC409, although Caruana was not mentioned in the related tournament reports. Both games are missing from Chessgames.com, as are his other games in TWIC409.

[Event "US Amateur Team East"]
[Site "Parsipanny USA"]
[Date "2002.02.16"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Milovanovic,Dragan"]
[Black "Caruana,F"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[BlackElo "2032"]
[EventDate "2002.02.16"]
[ECO "A48"]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.e3 Bg7 4.Bd3 O-O 5.O-O d5 6.Nbd2 Nbd7 7.c3 b6 8. e4 dxe4 9.Nxe4 Bb7 10.Re1 Re8 11.Bf4 Rc8 12.Qa4 a6 13.Rad1 b5 14.Qc2 Nd5 15.Bg3 c6 16.h4 c5 17.dxc5 Nxc5 18.Nxc5 Rxc5 19.Qb1 Qb6 20.h5 Bxc3 21.hxg6 hxg6 22.bxc3 Nxc3 23.Qb4 Nxd1 24.Rxd1 Bxf3 25.gxf3 Rd8 26.Be2 Rxd1+ 27.Bxd1 Rc1 28.Qd2 Qc5 29.Kg2 a5 30.Bf4 Rc4 31.Be3 Qd6 32.Bb3 Rh4 33.Qxa5 Qd7 34.Kf1 Qd3+ 35.Kg2 Qd7 1/2-1/2

[Event "New York State-ch"]
[Site "Kerhonkson USA"]
[Date "2002.08.31"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Simon,Jerry C"]
[Black "Caruana,F"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[BlackElo "2040"]
[EventDate "2002.08.31"]
[ECO "D90"]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.Qb3 Nxc3 7.bxc3 O-O 8.Ba3 Nd7 9.Rd1 b6 10.e3 Bb7 11.Be2 Re8 12.O-O e6 13.c4 Qc8 14. Rfe1 e5 15.c5 bxc5 16.dxc5 Bc6 17.Bc4 Re7 18.e4 Rb8 19.Qe3 Nf6 20.Nd2 Rd7 21.f3 Qd8 22.Qe2 Nh5 23.g3 Qg5 24.Nf1 Nf4 1/2-1/2

In the second half of 2002, mentions of Caruana in TWIC began to accelerate. Following are excerpts from the next five.

The Week in Chess 405 (12 August 2002)

9) US Open • The US Open took place July 27th - August 4th 2002 in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Gennadi Zaitshik and Eugeniy Najer finished on 8/9. No games available.

Final Round 9 Standings:
1 Zaitshik, Gennadi GM 2578 8.0 46.5
[...]
50 Caruana, Fabiano 2024 6.5 34.0
525 players

The Week in Chess 420 (25 November 2002)

9) World Youth Chess Championships • The 2002 World Youth Chess Championships took place in Heraklio, Greece, November 15th-24th 2002. 802 young chessplayers (categories under 18, 16, 14, 12, 10 for boys and girls) from 71 countries played including some of the strongest junior chessplayers of the world. I give the games from sections with significant numbers of rated players. [...]

Boys Under 10
Safarli Eltaj AZE 2210 9,5
Ding Liren CHN 0 9,5
[...]
Caruana Fabiano USA 2102 8
[...]

The Week in Chess 432 (17 February 2003)

9) First Saturday February • There were two 11 player IM groups and two FM events in Budapest as part of First Saturday February. David Berczes won the IMA event, Laszlo Gonda the IMB. ------------------------------------------------------ FSIMA Feb Budapest (HUN), 1-13 ii 2003 cat. II (2288) ------------------------------------------------------ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 ------------------------------------------------------ 1. Berczes, David 2261 * 0 = 1 1 1 = = 1 1 0 6.5 [...] 10. Caruana, Fabiano f 2134 0 = 1 0 = 0 0 0 1 * = 3.5 11. Schneider, Attila m 2302 1 = 0 0 = = 0 0 0 = * 3.0 ------------------------------------------------------

The Week in Chess 448 (9 June 2003)

10) 59th New York Masters • Jaan Ehlvest won the 59th New York Masters on 3rd June 2003. News John Fernandez. ----------------------------------------------------- 59th New York Masters Action (USA), 3 vi 2003 ----------------------------------------------------- 1. Ehlvest, Jaan EST g 2587 +11 + 4 + 6 = 3 3.5 [...] 14. Caruana, Fabiano USA f 2165 - 5 - 9 -13 = 0.5 15. Rosenberg, Evan USA 2155 --- --- --- =11 0.5

The Week in Chess 464 (29 September 2003)

8) Marshall CC v Mechanic's Institute • John Fernandez reports: On Sunday, September 28th, two world famous chess clubs, the Marshall Chess Club and the Mechanics' Institute Chess Club squared off despite being being separated by 2600 miles (4150km), in what will hopefully be the first in a series of distance matches between the famous New York City and San Francisco clubs.

This match pitted four of New York's best players under the age of 16 versus four of Northern California's best and brightest. The games were played at a Game 90 + 30 second increment over the Internet Chess Club [ICC].

In four very exciting games, the Marshall Chess Club won the match with the score of 3 wins to 1 loss. [...] On board three, FM Fabiano Caruana chose the Two Knights variation of the Caro Kann Defense versus Drake Wang. In a shocking blunder, Wang hung mate in one on move 9, although it must be admitted that his position was probably already quite critical. [...]

On top of the World Youth Championships and the strong USA-style opens, two recurring events would prove to be important to Caruana's evolution as a chess player: the First Saturday tournaments in Budapest and the New York Masters.

16 April 2018

Stockfish Wins TCEC Season 11

In last week's post, Back to the Future with Chess Engines, I wrote,

A total of 63 of the 100 games have been played, with the current score in favor of Stockfish +14-1=48 (38.0/63 = 60.3%). Extrapolating this over the remaining games indicates that Stockfish will reach the requisite 50.5 points after 84 games, and that the final score will be +22-2=76 (60.0/100).

A few days later Chessdom.com confirmed, Stockfish convincingly wins TCEC Season 11:-

Stockfish is the winner of the Top Chess Engine Championship (TCEC) Season 11. The open source engine by Marco Costalba, Joona Kiiski, Gary Linscott and a huge community of contributors, defeated last year’s champion Houdini and crowned itself the new Grand Champion of the competition.

This is the third title for Stockfish, after the victories in Season 6 and Season 9. However, this time Stockfish created history by winning the title in a one of a kind landslide victory. After 85 games Stockfish had the necessary 50.5 points (18 victories, 65 draws, and only two losses), with 15 games to spare the title was in the hands of the open source engine.

Yesterday the last game was played and the results were posted pronto in TCEC Season 11 final standings (chessdom.com):-

Final standings of TCEC Season 11. The top six engines enter the Premier Division of Season 12, the next six engines enter the First division, etc. The fourth division of Season 12 will be entirely invitational.

1. Stockfish – Grand Champion of TCEC S11
2. Houdini – silver medal
3. Komodo – bronze medal
4. Fire
[30 engines]

At the same time, the organizers announced TCEC Season 12 – participants and information (ditto):-

The Top Chess Engine Championship Season 12 is going to start in the second half of April 2018, a few hours after the last game of the Stockfish – Houdini S11 match. It will once again be a division system with 32 engines of relative strength 3000+ ELO, all taking place on a high end 44 cores machine in search of ever stronger and better chess.

That last announcement included 'TCEC Season 12 rules changes'. The most important was:-

The reduced time controls and number of games will allow for four seasons per year and leave time for an extra event (hint: NN engines).'

Four seasons per year is almost guaranteed to reduce human interest in the competition, but the introduction of 'NN engines' (Neural Network, aka AI engines) might bring many people back. The final score in the TCEC superfinal match was +20-2=78. A 59-41% margin of victory indicates that Stockfish is about 65 Elo points ahead of Houdini.

15 April 2018

Chess and Community Service

After two posts featuring videos on the recent Candidates tournament in Berlin (the latest was Berlin Candidates - Background), the ongoing series about The Sociology of Chess (November 2016) returns to the theme of community service.


A simple plan for the brilliance of chess (2:38) • 'Published on Mar 30, 2018'

Found on Youtube's WPRI channel ('the source for Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts local news, weather, community, and sports'), the description of the video said,

A local man who fought his way out of poverty wants to give something back to the community.

The related page with a transcript of the broadcast is at A simple plan for the brilliance of chess (wpri.com). It starts,

FALL RIVER, MA. (WPRI) - The game of chess can conjure up its own set of stereotypes. James Medeiros, who struggled with "a lot of horror" as a teenager, doesn't seem to fit any of them. "I just love this game," he said, while contemplating a move on a three-thousand pound chess table. "I don't think I ran into this game as a coincidence. I believe I ran into it for a reason and here I am." He made the move with his bishop, and he also made the table that sits firmly in the Bennie Costa Plaza housing complex in Fall River. Before Medeiros carved chess pieces and built colorful chess tables, he was a mental health worker in a psychiatric hospital.

For another example in this series of chess and community service, see 'Chess Behind Bars' (October 2017).

13 April 2018

Interview Videos : Carlsen's Next Challenger

For the third consecutive edition of Video Friday, I picked a video involving Fabiano Caruana. Last month we had Game and Mistake of the Day and Berlin Candidates - Final Press Conference, and here we have the genial new challenger on the day after his tournament win.


Fabiano Caruana on winning the 2018 Candidates' Tournament (20:31) • 'Published on Mar 30, 2018'

The description of the clip (on YouTube's ChesscomNews channel) says,

A day after winning the FIDE Candidates' Tournament, Fabiano Caruana sat down with Chess.com and told about his preparation, the tournament itself and about his upcoming match with Magnus Carlsen.

GM Caruana talks about his training camp, opening preparation, the critical rounds 2-4, the pressure of leading the tournament, his best & worst games of the event, recovering from a loss, his second (Rustam Kasimdzhanov), the tournament organization, the tiebreak rules, and the forthcoming title match with World Champion Carlsen (chances 'about 50-50'). The sweatshirt he's wearing is publicity for the 'chess capital of the USA': St.Louis.

12 April 2018

Carlsen's Next Challenger

It's been two weeks already, but the news is far from becoming old. On one of my other blogs, in Berlin Candidates - Third Week, I wrote,

Yesterday the 2018 Berlin Candidates Tournament finished with a clear winner, no tiebreaks necessary. Congratulations to Fabiano Caruana on earning the right to challenge World Champion Magnus Carlsen next November in a title match.

Two years ago, after Sergey Karjakin won the 2016 Moscow Candidate's Tournament, I worked on a series of posts to learn more about him:-

Now I'd like to do something similar for GM Caruana. Since he's an English-speaking Westerner, his career has been covered more closely by the Western press than Karjakin's career at a similar point.

On this blog, the first post about him appears to have been The Class of 1990 (October 2009):-

I created the following chart, showing the FIDE ratings [the young stars] attained at equivalent ages. It's a little rough because the rating updates don't coincide with birthdays, but I think it gives a good idea of how the players progressed.

On my World Chess Championship blog, the first non-trivial post was Gelfand and His Colleagues (November 2012):-

Q: And what about Caruana? • A: I played with him last at Wijk aan Zee, and it was after this that he made his big leap forward, so it is not easy for me to summarise him today. It seems to me that he also has incredible concentration. He is calculating variations the whole time, like a kind of computer, with a sort of enhanced processor. No, I really have no idea. He has great confidence, you can feel it. [...]

Of course, there's much more to be said about the next challenger to World Champion Carlsen. I'll explore Caruana's early career in a short series of posts.

10 April 2018

April 1968 'On the Cover'

Last month's post, March 1968 'On the Cover', was the start of the fifth year of the ongoing series. That makes this current post the 50th to feature covers from the top two American chess magazines of 50 years ago.


Left: 'Hans Berliner, World Correspondence Chess Champion' (Photo by W.A.Graham)
Right: 'At the Brooklyn Museum'

Chess Life

'The World Correspondence Chess Champion' by Hans Berliner, World Correspondence Champion • On January 31, 1968 play in the [5th] Individual World Correspondence Chess Championship officially came to an end. After almost three years of combat, 17 competitors from nine different countries ceased play in the round-robin contest, and the ten games still remaining unfinished were submitted for adjudication.

I have a page showing a crosstable of the event: World Chess Championship : 5th ICCF Correspondence Finals. Berliner scored +12-0=4 to finish three points ahead of the runner-up. When Berliner died in January last year, I took a snapshot of his Chess Hall of Fame entry in Hans Berliner (1929-2017). The one page Chess Life (CL) article by Berliner quoted above was followed by the first of a short series of CL articles titled 'The Lure of Correspondence Chess' by Hans Berliner. That first article featured the game Yakov Estrin vs Hans Berliner; 5th CC World Ch Final 1965 (chessgames.com), one of the best known games in correspondence chess.

Chess Review

The Brooklyn Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art are collaborating in displaying one of the most important collections of chessmen and boards in existence. "Chess: East and West, Past and Present" will be on view at the Brooklyn Museum, April 2 to October 1. The sets have been loaned to the Brooklyn Museum by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, mostly from the Gustavus A. Pfeiffer Collection. New Yorker Pfeiffer was a devoted collector of chessmen, keenly interested in the game, its meaning and history.

This marked the second consecutive month that Chess Review featured a chess set on its cover. For more about the Pfeiffer collection, see Chess: East and West, Past and Present. A Selection from the Gustavus A. Pfeiffer Collection (metmuseum.org).

09 April 2018

Back to the Future with Chess Engines

I last looked at the TCEC Season 11 two weeks ago in Two Championship Qualifying Events, where I noted,'Stockfish and Houdini are headed for the final stage, barring a catastrophic breakdown of either engine.'

A few days later Chessdom.com announced, TCEC Superfinal Stockfish – Houdini starts at 17:30 CET. The announcement included the logo shown on the left, where the top left corner says, 'Chessdom - partner; Chess Arena - sponsor', and the small print at the bottom points to tcec.chessdom.com. The tournament can be followed on that subdomain at TCEC - Live Mode. The announcement confirmed,

Stockfish, the open source engine by Marco Costalba, Joona Kiiski, Gary Linscott and a huge community of contributors, has convincingly won TCEC Premier Division. Stockfish collected 61,0/84 points to secure the gold medal and the right to challenge the current champion Houdini for the TCEC Grand Champion title.

As I write this, the two engines have been slugging it out for a week and a half. A total of 63 of the 100 games have been played, with the current score in favor of Stockfish +14-1=48 (38.0/63 = 60.3%). Extrapolating this over the remaining games indicates that Stockfish will reach the requisite 50.5 points after 84 games, and that the final score will be +22-2=76 (60.0/100).

What happens after that? The TCEC announcement informs, 'As TCEC is now a continuous divisions system, Season 12 is going to start right after the Superfinal.' [NB: The trend in chess events these days is that the word 'Superfinal' is used in place of 'Final'. When did this trend start?]

As for this blog, I'm going to continue the series of posts last mentioned in:-

Since then I've looked at chess engines from a generation ago in:-

  • 2018-02-08: Kasparov vs. Hsu • 'Deep Blue (Computer) vs Garry Kasparov; IBM Man-Machine (1997), New York, NY USA'

and from the modern era in:-

  • 2018-03-08: Stockfish in a Straitjacket? • 'Houdini won TCEC Season 10 at the same time that AlphaZero appeared on the scene. [Houdini, Komodo, and Stockfish] are the top three chess engines in the world, of roughly equal strength, but AlphaZero had apparently crushed [Stockfish] in a match.'

Are the AI chess engines like AlphaZero destined to overcome the traditional, hand-crafted engines like Stockfish? Or is it all a smoke-and-mirrors show?

08 April 2018

Morphy Stereoview, London

For this edition of Top eBay Chess Items by Price, the item pictured below was the least expensive on the short list for the previous fortnight, but the most interesting for me, because it ties in to a previous post. Titled 'Rare c.1850s stereoview US/New Orleans Chess Prodigy Paul Morphy', it sold for US $425, Buy-It-Now.

The description said,

For sale is an exceedingly scarce photographic stereoview of US/New Orleans chess prodigy, Paul Morphy, playing Hungarian champion and President of the St. James Chess Club, Johann Löwenthal.

Stereoview was made by the London Stereoscope Company in circa 1858, and bears the company's blind stamp in the lower left hand corner. Some wear and fading, but the image is otherwise clear and in good condition. It bears the story of Morphy's ascent from the Louisiana backwoods as a young teen to the top of the chess ranks. Morphy is widely considered to be the best player of his era and the unofficial world champion. He defeated (usually very easily) most of the major players in Europe, and is considered by some to be the greatest prodigy of all time. This is a photo of his 1858 match versus Löwenthal, which he won handily. Scarce.

More accurately, the company's stamp in the corner said 'The London Stereoscopic Company, 54 Cheapside'. As for 'Morphy's ascent from the Louisiana backwoods', I'll transcribe the back of the card in full, not because it adds to the Morphy record, but because it doesn't appear to have been transcribed before.

Mr. Paul Morphy, the Great American Chess Player -and- M. Löwenthal, President of the St. James's Chess Club

Paul Morphy was born in New Orleans, on the 22nd of June, 1837, his Mother was of French and his Father of Spanish origin; Paul's earlier years were passed at the Jefferson Academy in the place of his birth ; in 1850 he became a student at St Joseph's College, Spring Hill, near Mobile, Alabama; he graduated from this institution in high standing in 1854, but remained another year as resident graduate, since that time he has devoted himself to the study of the law.

Paul's parents were fond of chess, and he was initiated by them at the age of ten. In May 1850, M. Lowenthal the distinguished Hungarian passed through New Orleans; on the 22nd and 25th of that month he played with Paul, (at that time not 13 years of age,) in the presence of a large number of amateurs, the first game was drawn, the second and third were won by the invincible young Philidor.

It was with great prestige that Paul Murphy arrived in New York on the 5th of October, to take part in the first Congress of the American Chess Association, and he overthrew, either in the grand tournament or in side play, one after another of those men who had long been looked up to as the magnates of the American Chess world; since then Mr Morphy has visited England and added widely to his fame by the conquest of Messrs. Lowenthal and Boden, defeating the former (in a match for £100 a side) at the rate of 3 games to 1, and the latter in the proportion of 5 to 1.

At Birmingham on the 27th August, 1858, Mr. Morphy contested 8 games, without the aid of chess board or men. against 8 members of the British Chess Association. with the unparalleled result of his having won 6„ drawn 1, and lost 1 of the 8 played, a performance which Lord Lyttelton pronounced the most wonderful thing he had ever witnessed. At a grand banquet given to Mr. Morphy in Paris, a marble bust of him was crowned with laurels amidst the loudest acclamations. On April 25th, 1859, Mr. Morphy played simultaneously 5 of the most renowned players of the St. James's Chess Club; the game at the 1st table was won by Mr. Morphy, at the 2nd it was drawn, at the 3rd it was won by Mr. Barnes, at the 4th it was won by Mr. Morphy, at the 5th it was drawn.

The stereoview establishes the place of the scenes shown in an earlier post, Morphy, Loewenthal, Young Man, and Lady (November 2011), to London.

06 April 2018

Chess by the Campfire

All photos subtitled 'Victoria Range. Grampians National Park. Victoria. [Australia]'


Photo top left: Campfire and Moon © Flickr user Ed Dunens under Creative Commons.

Campfire and moon and chess game in progress. Other photos: 'Pondering', 'The Move', and 'The Reply'.

01 April 2018

Berlin Candidates - Background

When it comes to this blog's series on The Sociology of Chess (November 2016), the World Championship gets special mention. Just after starting the series I featured World Championship Sociology (ditto) and World Championship Social Media (December 2016). A couple of weeks ago, for the 2018 Berlin Candidates Tournament, we had The Capablanca Cocktail. One theme stands out from these examples: I like background. Here's a video with plenty of it.


Vlog #30: Candidates Tournament (9:22) • 'Published on Mar 30, 2018'

Shown in the initial frame above are Lennart Ootes (also mentioned in the 'Cocktail' post), vlogger Fiona Steil-Antoni (wikipedia.org), and photographer David Llada (chessdom.com; recent interview).