28 February 2020

FIDE's Media and Fair Play Commissions 2019

Continuing with last week's post on FIDE Commissions 2020, there are three more commissions I want to follow up. All were identified in another recent post, Spectating the 90th FIDE Congress?, along with references to the previous post on each:-

  • 2019-01-10: FIDE's Journalist Commission 2018
  • 2019-01-17: FIDE's 'Anti-Cheating' / 'Fair Play' Commission 2018
  • 2019-01-24: FIDE's Ethics Commission 2018

Taking them in order, in FIDE's Journalist Commission 2018 (January 2019), I summarized,

The future of the CCJ [Commission of Chess Journalists] is not clear. [...] Later this year, when I report on the 90th Congress, perhaps there will be nothing to say on the topic.

And so it is -- the commission has disappeared into the sunset. It leaves a legacy with 09. Media Regulations (handbook.fide.com), which now might never be maintained. As for FIDE's 'Anti-Cheating' / 'Fair Play' Commission 2018 (January 2019), I noted in that post,

One of the most important FIDE commissions guiding chess in the 21st century is undoubtedly the group responsible for overseeing the increasing use of computers to cheat.

The 'Spectating' post mentioned 'Annex 5.9 Fair Play Commission report (FPL)'. The report's introduction says, 'Activities in which the Commission was engaged for 2019 including any major achievements'.

On top of being unsigned and undated, the report doesn't mention the name of its issuing commission. It doesn't even use the term 'Fair Play' anywhere in the document. It starts with a section headed 'The investigation of ongoing cases', then lists four cases without any further details (just 'confidential Excel file is attached'). The last section, titled 'Feedback on what can be done differently to improve the effectiveness of the commission in its service to FIDE', says,

The very urgent question on screening tool is not yet solved yet. Financial and organisational question with prof. Kenneth Reagan [sic: 'Regan'] are not settled yet. So de facto the statistical analysis as such is not yet considered as reliable proof and thus more evidence are needed, for example, confession (as in Rausis case). Such a situation puts the work of the whole Commission on the edge.

I'll interpret that last phrase as 'on the edge' of the cliff. It looks like we can't expect much from this commission in the future. Good thing they didn't waste resources creating a web site.

I'll leave the Ethics Commission for another post.

27 February 2020

Echoes of Past Yahoos

This month's first echo goes back to May Amazon Yahoos Crumble (May 2019), where I documented an emerging trend:-

An unwanted -- let's call it creepy -- coupling of my Yahoo habits with my Amazon habits.

The latest Yahoo ad is pictured below. Half blank, it's simpler than previous ads of the same type.


'Ad         Amazon.com'

The link behind the ad led to Amazon 'Movies & TV': Queen Of Katwe, subtitled 'Madina Nalwanga (Actor), David Oyelowo (Actor), Mira Nair (Director)'. Curiously, when I bookmarked that link, I got a much longer text for the link -- everything you wanted to know about the film (without mentioning Disney):-

Amazon.com: Queen Of Katwe: Madina Nalwanga, David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong'o, Martin Kabanza, Taryn Kyaze, Ivan Jacobo, Nicolas Levesque, Ronald Ssemaganda, Ethan Nazario Lubega, Nikita Waligwa, Mira Nair, Screenplay by William Wheeler, Based On The Book By Tim Crothers: Movies & TV

The Katwe story is a minor recurring theme on this blog, last seen in Every Story Has a Beginning (April 2019). What triggered the ad? While writing last weekend's post, FIDE's Social Commission 2019, I took a brief look at A Knight Without a Castle: A Story of Resilience and Hope, a recent book by Robert Katende. The author was a major character in the Katwe story and was played in the movie by David Oyelowo. • The Katwe connection: Amazon => Yahoo => Amazon; QED.

[I haven't seen the Katwe movie yet. I recorded the French version early last year, but my wife erased it before I got the chance to see it. I resisted the temptation to erase one of her recordings. Marital harmony often hinges on ceding the last word.]

Tragically, the Katwe story figured in one of the topics I selected for a possible post on 'Mainstream Stories 2020-02'. The story was:-

This month's second echo goes back to last month's Not Mainstream Stories 2020-01 (January 2020):-

The third echo is also from Iran and goes back to Under the FIDE Flag (December 2019). To summarize the relevant headlines from that post:-

2019-12-27: Iran’s Alireza Firouzja, 16, bypasses ban on playing Israelis (theguardian.com; Leonard Barden) • 2019-12-29: Iranian Chess Player Who Refused To Play For His Country Wins Silver Medal At World Championship (rferl.org)

The latest story from February was:-

  • 2020-02-21: Alireza Firouzja wins first major title at age of 16 (theguardian.com; Leonard Barden; NB: URL doesn't match headline?!) • 'The chess world’s rising star Alireza Firouzja, aged 16 and exiled from Iran, won his first major trophy last night when he defeated India’s Vidit Gujrathi, 2-0 in a speed play-off in the Prague Masters.'

Iran's loss is the world's gain. As for Leonard Barden, recently retired, he would make another worthy story from February, but that requires an entire post.

24 February 2020

Leela Evolution

In the previous post, TCEC S17 L1 & CCC12 Bonus Series Ongoing, I mentioned a 'smaller net T59 10x128'. In my posts I sometimes include quotes that reference T40 etc., without explaining what the code means.

A similar question is What are the T40 and T60 in reference to Leela Chess Zero (Lc0) chess engine? (quora.com; October 2019; see also 'Related Questions'). Here's their explanation:-

T40 and T60 stand for iterations of the neural network [NN] that were trained from scratch. The Lc0 chess engine can work with either T40 or T60. T40 is the older NN architecture and T60 will supersede it.

The Lc0 NN is a Convolutional NN [CNN] with multiple layers called blocks. T40 was 20x256 (20 blocks, 256 filters); T60 is 320x24 (24 blocks, 320 filters).

Having more blocks and filters make the network deeper and wider and increase the possibility of it storing or leaning more chess knowledge and hopefully will let it play stronger chess. Training a much bigger network may fail because not enough computation may be available to fully take advantage of the bigger network. Many tests were done to make the best guess and assure success.

A chronology from the keepers of the candle is on What is Lc0? (for non programmers) (github.com/LeelaChessZero). Along with 'J Nets' (jhorthos), and 'Other Nets' (Leelenstein++), the page explains 'T Nets':-

  • The previous generation, that is no longer being trained, is called T40.
  • T50 is a set of small, lightweight nets that are used to test different training methods before applying those training methods to T60.
  • The current (Dec 6, 2019) generation that is being trained is called T60.

The same resource, in Project History, also mentions jhorthos ('edited this page on 12 May 2019') and gives an evolution of the 'T Nets'. The page currently stops at T53. The switch T40 to T60 was announced on the Lczero blog in End of era (blog.lczero.org; July 2019):-

The era of test40 [T40] has finished, that training of test40 has been stopped. Instead we've just started to train test60 [T60]. What's new there (relative to test40): [...]

As the second-to-last post, it was also nearly the end of that blog. Too bad! Tnn, T-Nets, testnn; it's really all the same thing.

23 February 2020

FIDE's Social Commission 2019?

Let's combine Spectating the 90th FIDE Congress? (which starts in a few days) with the ongoing series on The Sociology of Chess (November 2016) and see what we get. In my previous report, FIDE's Social Commissions 2018 (December 2018), I speculated,

As I noted in a recent post, FIDE Commissions 2018, the two commissions (SAC & SPC) appear to have been merged sometime after the 89th Congress. Nothing is mentioned in the 'List of Decisions of Q4 2018 Presidential Board (November 2018)', and I could find no confirmation anywhere else. I hope that their work will continue in some form or other. They provide a ready answer to the question asked by many outside the chess community: 'What use is chess in the grand scheme of everyday life?'

Just a few days ago, in FIDE Commissions 2020, I discovered,

Three commissions have apparently been silent. [...] As for the Social Commission (SC), I suppose we'll find out more during the 90th Congress.

Have we gone from two social commissions to one social commission to zero social commissions? For SC, FIDE's 'Commissions' page lists...

  • Chairman: Zarnicki, Pablo
  • Honorary Chairperson: Marinello, Beatriz
  • Secretary: Klerides, Paris

...plus four councillors and 11 members. WIM Marinello was formerly the chairperson of the Social Action Commission (SAC), the more visible of the two previous social commissions. In the absence of anything substantive to discuss, let's revisit FIDE's main social media pages:-

The first two pages, which parallel each other, are far more informative than the last time I looked at them. As for LinkedIn, I no longer spend much time there and the FIDE page doesn't convince me to reverse that habit, although it did mention some business news, like the Coca-Cola partnership, that the other two pages didn't mention.

21 February 2020

FIDE Commissions 2020

Continuing with Spectating the 90th FIDE Congress?, one of the follow-up points was to take another look at FIDE commissions. The last time I did this, in December 2018, FIDE's new management had just reorganized the commissions. I spent some time understanding the structural changes, as shown in the following chart (plus a few changes marked in red):-


2018-12-20: FIDE Commissions 2018

The various codes in the chart are explained in the post linked via the caption. The analysis holds up fairly well, except for the three commissions marked '[?]' in red. At the end of 2018 there were 22 commissions listed. The three marked in red are missing from the current directory of Commissions, which is captured in the next chart showing the 19 active commissions:-


FIDE Commissions 2020

As for the notes to the right of the chart, the '*' indicates the commission has its own website, which can be found via the FIDE home page. The annexes were released by FIDE in January and are explained in the 'Spectating the 90th?' post.

This means that three commissions have apparently been silent. In fact, the Constitutional Commission (CON) has been exceptionally busy; from 2019 3rd Quarter FIDE Presidential Board Meeting (fide.com; September 2019):-

The most important point of this Presidential Board meeting was probably the reform of the FIDE Statutes. Roberto Rivello was given the task to chair a group of experts charged to prepare a proposal of full reform of the current Statutes, drafting a juridically correct and comprehensive text that the Constitutional Commission proposed to call "FIDE Charter".

"FIDE needs this reform, not only because the current FIDE Statutes were written many decades ago and the role of international sports federations is completely different today, as it is our society. But mainly because we need to move in the direction of a more modern, transparent, democratic and efficient institution, and the main rules of our organisation have a fundamental role to play in making this possible.", explained Roberto.

The proposed charter was distributed with the other annexes in January. As for the Social Commission (SC) and the Verification Commission (VER), I suppose we'll find out more during the 90th Congress.

17 February 2020

TCEC S17 L1 & CCC12 Bonus Series Ongoing

Two weeks ago, the previous report on the two ongoing, world-class engine vs. engine competitions that I've been following for more than a year was TCEC S17 L1 Underway; CCC12 Bonus Series. To summarize the situation at that time:-

TCEC: S17 L2 finished with 8 of the 16 engines qualifying into L1, which was underway. • CCC: CCC12 was won by Lc0, which beat Leelenstein in the final match. After the event ended, the CCC ran a series of bonus matches.

The situation at the time of that report was much the same as the current situation.

TCEC: L1 is still underway and has reached the second of its two double round robins. Ethereal has a small but clear lead over the other 15 engines. Another six engines are all within two points of each other in the competition for the other three qualifying spots into the next stage.

CCC: The site continues with bonus events -- another half-dozen events have been played since that previous report. The current event is 'Trillion-Node Throwdown II', a match between Lc0 and Stockfish. I couldn't find any trace of 'Throwdown I'.

The event played before 'Throwdown II' was called 'Lc0-T59 Madness', a four-engine event with Lc0, Lc0 CPU, and two other CPU engines. The result is shown in the following crosstable.

The technical info for the four engines at the bottom of the chart indicates that the same version of Lc0 was running on both a GPU configuration and a CPU config. A recent forum post, Leela CPU becomes Top 5 engine (talkchess.com), explains,

As smaller net T59 10x128 become stronger and stronger, Lc0 without graphic cards will also be a top-5 engine.

That means 'a top-5 CPU engine', which means the AI/NN engines running only on CPUs can compete equally with the non-AI/NN engines on their own turf. Is this another significant milestone for the AI/NN engines?

[For further information from the various stakeholders in the engine-to-engine events, see the tab 'TCEC/CCC Links' at the top of this page. • NB: Leela = LC0 = LCzero]

16 February 2020

Old Adversaries

This year will see the 25th anniversary of the second (and last) PCA title match, 1995 Kasparov - Anand, New York.


Left: Tata 2020 - Round 7 © Flickr user Frans Peeters under Creative CommonsRight: DLD Munich 20 © Flickr user Hubert Burda Media under Creative Commons.

The fellow on the left recently celebrated his 50th birthday: Anand: 'I Hope People Get To Know Me A Bit Better' (chess.com; 11 December 2019). A month later, the fellow on the right was participating in a conference:-

Garry Kasparov (Avast) playing multiple games of chess at the DLD Munich conference 2020, Europe’s big innovation conference, Alte Kongresshalle, Munich, 19 January 2020.

Their stories never get old.

14 February 2020

Kiss a Frog

Subtitled: 'I Heart FIDE'. Today I intended to continue with last week's post, Spectating the 90th FIDE Congress?, but this being Valentine's Day, there are more important themes in the air.


Google search on 'chess heart'

Like much of the chess world, I'm often critical of FIDE officials, so I'll take advantage of the day by sending some positive vibes their way. That wasn't so hard, was it!

10 February 2020

Stockfish vs. Leela Explained

A year and a half ago I featured a Kingscrusher video in A Leela Surprise in the Nimzo Indian (August 2018). Since then the double master -- chess player and video maker -- has continued to produce chess videos at an astonishing rate. He also has a couple of playlists to keep track of his videos about two leading chess engines:-

The first six videos on both lists are currently identical, so if you're looking for informed commentary on Stockfish vs. Leela, Kingscrusher's Youtube channel is the place to visit.

09 February 2020

Retro Engine Chess

This Youtube channel explains,

Perifractic's Retro Recipes is all about keeping our childhood memories alive: In new episodes most Saturdays you can bathe in the warm glow of nostalgia as Ladyfractic and I cook up retro computing projects, 8-bit computer restorations, retro gaming, how tos & more. I do a lot of Commodore 64 stuff but also grew up with the Amiga, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad & Apple II so it's all born from a love of all these beautiful vintage machines, yet always served with a side of fun!

In the middle they could have cut about 15 minutes of the chess moves. Once you've seen a few of Interplay's Battle Chess animations, they lose their novelty, but the commentary before and after the games is worth the price of admission.


Can an 80s computer beat a new one at Chess?! Amiga vs Mac - 1987 vs 2020 (28:45) • '[Published on] Feb 8, 2020'

The video's description says,

What happens when you try to use 1987's Commodore Amiga 500 artificial intelligence to beat a 2019 MacBook at chess?

The more than 400 comments testify to the popularity of the concept -- 'Difference between an 80's Amiga and a Mac? In 10 years the Commodore will still be working.' • 'Chess... A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.' • 'Never in my life did I think I'd be sitting watching and enjoying someone play computer chess.' -- Albin's Counter Gambit anyone?

07 February 2020

Spectating the 90th FIDE Congress?

Well over a year ago, in Spectating the 89th FIDE Congress (December 2018), I wrote,

I was starting to wonder whether the recent change in top-level FIDE management meant that FIDE communication with the outside world would cease. [...] Now I can do a series of posts like I did last year, when I covered the following topics...

Copy that to February 2020, when we now have 2020 FIDE Extraordinary General Assembly Agenda and Executive Board Agenda:-

FIDE publishes the Agendas for the 2020 FIDE Extraordinary General Assembly and Executive Board, scheduled to be held in Abu Dhabi, UAE, 28-29 February 2020.

This will coincide with the 90th FIDE Congress (fide.com/calendar):-

90th FIDE Congress • Place: Abu Dhabi, UAE • Start: 26-Feb-2020 • End: 01-Mar-2020

There is another Congress scheduled for later this year, i.e. 91st FIDE Congress (ditto):-

91st FIDE Congress • Place: Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia • Start: 29-Jul-2020 • End: 05-Aug-2020

The two FIDE agendas reference annexes from other FIDE bodies. These will let me do a series of posts on the topics that interest me the most. After the 'Spectating the 89th' post, I looked at the following:-

I also did a post on my World Championship blog:-

Although the annexes attached to the agendas are pre-'90th Congress', they are all we have to document FIDE's activities in 2019. Will there be other documents issued from the 90th Congress? If so, how long afterwards?

04 February 2020

February 1970 & 1995 'On the Cover'

Was the lag time in the USCF's flagship publication shorter 50 years ago than it was 25 years ago? So it would seem. The 1969 U.S. Championship was held in December 1969; the 1994 Championship was held in October 1994. Both events were reported in February of the following year.


Left: 'Champion Sammy Reshevsky' (Photo: Bert Hochberg)
Right: 'Gulko Wins Interplay U.S. Championship'

Chess Life & Review (50 Years Ago)

Sammy Reshevsky became U. S. Champion for the sixth time. Asked later about his ambitions should he play in the Interzonal later this year, he said, "Maybe I'll be World Champion when I'm 60!" Referring to his form in this tournament, Reshevsky told me [CL&R Editor Hochberg] he thought he had played as well as he ever did. He is the only participant to go undefeated; in fact, he never had a lost position. And when you consider that the competition included five grandmasters and three international masters, that ain't hay, my friends.

For the results of that Interzonal, see 1970 Palma de Mallorca Interzonal Tournament. A few paragraphs later, the Hochberg report continued,

Since this championship, as it is every three years, is the FIDE zonal from which the top three players go to the Interzonal late in 1970, Addison qualifies by finishing second. We are happy and proud to see Bill Addison in the Interzonal and we wish him great success.

Pal Benko has never done better than third place in a U. S. Championship. Always a shrewd strategist with a strong interest in chess psychology, Benko seems to be changing his style somewhat in the last two or three years.

It signed off,

The question will of course be asked: "Why didn't Bobby Fischer play?" The answer to this question, in the form of a letter from Fischer to USCF. Executive Director E. B. Edmondson, will be published next month, along with Mr. Edmondson's reply.

That wasn't the final answer. Even though he didn't play, the tournament was the first step in Fischer's climb to the World Championship. For more about that story, see World Championship Zonals 1969-1972.

Chess Life (25 Years Ago)

The 1994 Interplay U.S. Chess Championship was held in Key West. Florida, between October 9 and October 27. The event was dedicated to the memory of Nina Denker, and sponsored by Interplay, manufacturer of the popular Battle Chess 4000.

Standing, left to right: Press Secretary Bill Cornwall, Tournament Director Carol Jarecki, Teresa Schultz, Organizer Don Schultz. • Standing, middle row: Alexander Ivanov, Dmitry Gurevich, Alexander Shabalov, Gregory Kaidanov, Georgi Orlov, Alexey Yermolinsky. • Seated: Nick deFirmian, Joel Benjamin, Larry Christiansen, Boris Gulko, Ben Finegold, Walter Browne, Yasser Seirawan. • In the front: A. J Steigman, who did a wonderful job working the wall boards.

In the lower right photo, USCF Executive Director Al Lawrence (l.) receives the $30,000 sponsorship check from Interplay's Marketing Production Manager Jerry Luttrell.

Cyberchess took another step towards world domination when WChess triumphed at the fourth Harvard Cup (lower left). Photographer Kevin Dyke caught the essence of the man-versus-machine conflict.

Not mentioned in the group photo: Boris Kreiman, who is second from the right in the players identified as 'Standing, middle row' (green t-shirt). The tournament also served as a zonal event; see World Championship Zonals 1995-1997 for a crosstable.

03 February 2020

TCEC S17 L1 Underway; CCC12 Bonus Series

Since the previous report two weeks ago, TCEC S17 L2, CCC12 Rd.3 Underway, what has happened with the world's leading engine-vs-engine competitions? First here's a summary of the previous report:-

TCEC: The QL [Qualification League] stage finished with half of the engines qualifying into the next stage, L2 [League 2]. L2 is currently underway. • CCC: CCC12 rounds 1 & 2 have finished, and the last of four matches for rd.3 is currently underway.

Following is a summary of the past two weeks plus the current status.

TCEC: L2 finished with 8 of the 16 engines qualifying into L1 [League 1], which is underway. Between L2 & L1, more events of the type I documented in my previous post, TCEC PCT Handicap Events, were played, specifically:-

S17 - Stockfish 3pct vs CPU L1 Test 1 [through 'Test 4']

In L1, only a handful of games have been played by each engine. The 16-engine CPU tournament will finish end-February. The top four engines will eventually compete in a playoff along with qualifying GPU engines for a total of four places in the Premier Division.

CCC: CCC12 was won by Lc0, which beat Leelenstein +26-9=166 in the final match. Stockfish beat Scorpio +51-9=140 in the consolation match. Lc0 eliminated Stockfish in the semifinal match +29-15=156. The following chart shows the results of the last three rounds.

After the event ended, the CCC ran a series of bonus matches including a round robin using 'No-Castling' rules. The current tournament, a six-engine affair titled 'A February Event', ends in a few days.

What are CCC's plans for the next season? The info command !ccc13 says, 'see !schedule'; the !schedule command says, 'see !next'; and the !next command says, 'The next event will be "A February Event"', bringing us full circle to the current tournament...

[For further information from the various stakeholders in the engine-to-engine events, see the tab 'TCEC/CCC Links' at the top of this page. • NB: Leela = LC0 = LCzero]

02 February 2020

'Your Source for Inspiration'

Chess pieces swirling around a player's head might seem like an obvious artistic theme, but in the decade of Top eBay Chess Items by Price (March 2010), I couldn't find another example. The only artwork I found was Chess on Your Mind? (September 2009), which was itself originally from DeviantArt.com.

The painting shown below was titled 'Ricardo Maya painting abstract modernist pretty woman cubism surrealism chess'. Originally listed for US $650.00, it sold for US $552.50, 'Best offer accepted'.

The description said,

Original Ricardo Maya Acrylic painting on canvas board. I purchased this artist direct. I am selling off my collection of his paintings, all painted over a span of years. Signed. Good condition. Measurements: Painting image size 12 by 16 inches, framed 14 by 18 inches.

A page Ricardo Maya (saatchiart.com) explains,

I'm a Cuban Painter. Now I live and work in Granada, Nicaragua. I try in own characteristic art work shows an invitation to introspection in human psychology, using the face as a focus of emotion and the body as a map of life. The pictorial composition, technique and style combine to create from abstract, figurative and ethnic, to urban and traditional where man is your source for inspiration.

That same page has many more examples of the artist's work.