21 September 2018

Google Search Coverage

I ended last week's post, Google Search Console ('to catch up on the many Google notices I've received since the beginning of the year'), on hold:-

The 'Performance' page for the old HTTP version of my site confirmed a large drop in search traffic since 2018-08-17. This should have been balanced by a corresponding increase in search traffic for the new HTTPS version, but Google told me 'Oops, you don't have access to this property'. After procuring the access, I received the message 'Processing data, please check again in a few days'.

A few days later, I received another email from Google:-

To: Owner of https://www.mark-weeks.com/ • Google systems confirm that on Sep 13, 2018 we started collecting Google Search impressions for your website in Search Console. This means that pages from your website are now appearing in Google search results for some queries. Here’s how you can monitor your site’s performance in search using Search Console.

The message pointed to a console resource called 'Coverage' that showed me how many of my pages were included in Google's search engine results. Here are the current charts for both the old and new versions of the site.

The rectangles at the top of each display say 'Error' (in red), 'Valid with warnings', 'Valid' (both white), and 'Excluded' (gray). Why are some pages on the old HTTP version marked 'Valid'? More importantly, why are other pages on the new HTTPS version marked 'Excluded'? The 'Excluded' pages fall into two categories:-

  • 'Duplicate without user-selected canonical'
  • 'Crawled - currently not indexed'

The Google help page, Index Coverage Status report (support.google.com), explains,

Duplicate page without canonical tag: This page has duplicates, none of which is marked canonical. We think this page is not the canonical one. You should explicitly mark the canonical for this page. (We're working on a tool to show you which page was selected as canonical, but we're not quite there yet.)


Crawled - currently not indexed: The page was crawled by Google, but not indexed. It may or may not be indexed in the future; no need to resubmit this URL for crawling.

What does 'canonical' mean? From Consolidate duplicate URLs:-

If you have a single page accessible by multiple URLs, or different pages with similar content (for example, a page with both a mobile and a desktop version), Google sees these as duplicate versions of the same page. Google will choose one URL as the canonical version and crawl that, and all other URLs will be considered duplicate URLs and crawled less often.

For my site this refers to small pages that show some aspect of a position, like a chess trap, where all of the pages are structured similarly. The pages marked 'Crawled - not indexed' are of the same type. It's not really a problem, although my obsession with a topic that has nothing to do with chess might be a problem. In my next post I'll move on to another topic.

20 September 2018

Chess and Impressionism

After my first idea for today's post ran into trouble when I ran out of time (a follow-up to last week's A Remarkable Tool, if you're curious), I flipped back to last year's Chess and Art Movements (December 2017; 'chess cubism'), where I wrote,

With so many recognized art periods, there is plenty of source material here. I'll come back to the subject the next time I'm looking for an idea for my daily post.

When it comes to art movements, impressionism is one of the best known.

Google image search on 'chess impressionism'
[Call the rows 'A' to 'C' (from top to bottom) and number the images in each row '1' to '6' (from left to right).]

That's an interesting collage of images, but they don't all seem to be about chess. Take A4, for example, which leads to From Man Ray’s chess set to DalĂ­’s Arabian nights, subtitled, '11 fascinating works for under £100,000 -- offered across three different sales of Impressionist & Modern Art during 20th Century at Christie’s London'. The A4 image ('1. Touched by the finger of Bonnard') happens to be the first image on that page. Further down is '10. Surrealist chess', also shown in B2, a Man Ray chess set in a double image, with the chess set on the left:-

Chess became a passion and a ritual for Man Ray after his rooftop encounter with chess fanatic Marcel Duchamp in New York in 1924. The pair, who were great friends, would often play throughout the night, believing that games allowed them to explore the repressed desires of the unconscious. Man Ray designed his first chess set in 1920, with found objects from his studio. [...] Man Ray perceived the chessboard as a surrealist object.

What about the C2 image -- what does a photo of Mikhail Tal have to do with impressionism? The title of the source page explains, Tal Memorial in Museum of Russian Impressionism (gamesmaven.io/chessdailynews), where the Tal Memorial is a world-class chess tournament.

As for the real chess images in the Google collage, A1 is found on The Progressive Era : Art. Unfortunately, neither the artist nor the work is identified and my attempts to identify them turned up nothing.

A2 is the first of four images from Pinterest, a resource which used to be nearly worthless for instructional value, where links only led to pages with dozens, sometimes hundreds, of poorly identified images. The A2 image (also seen in B3) leads to The Chess Players - Sir John Lavery 1929 Impressionism Tate Gallery, London, UK.

A3 leads to an even more informative page: Alexandru Ciucurencu (Romanian, Post-Impressionism, 1903–1977). Here the work is identifed as 'The Chess Players', oil on cardboard, 61x91 cm, Brukenthal National Museum, Sibiu, Romania.

I could continue to walk through more of the images returned by Google, but I'll stop here. I'll try to return to 'A Remarkable Tool' in another post.

18 September 2018

Karpov Talks Carlsen - Caruana

With only 50 days remaining before the start of the 2018 Carlsen - Caruana World Championship match, I'd like to start running a weekly post about the match. This video appeared on my short list for the most recent monthly post about new chess clips on Youtube -- Things That Chess Players Don't Say -- but I passed on it because of its many technical flaws. Having said that, when a former World Champion and one of the greatest players of all time talks about chess, I'm willing to give it a second try.

Live Stream: Anatoly Karpov on Magnus Carlsen vs Fabiano Caruana (51:49) • 'Streamed live on Aug 18, 2018'

The description said,

Big news: Anatoly Karpov is in the iChess studio, recording his very own Master Method course! Be sure to subscribe to our channel and follow us on social media to get the latest news and updates as the course gets developed and brought to release very soon.

Karpov is joined by his long-time friend Grandmaster Ron Henley. Aside from being a strong player in his own right, Ron acted as second, analyst and trainer for Karpov in many of his matches in the 1990s. Ron also trained 7-time US Women’s Champion, GM Irina Krush.

Karpov, like most of us, is looking forward to the World Chess Championship match later this year between current champ Magnus Carlsen, and the challenger, Fabiano Caruana. In this stream, Karpov will be looking at games from both players and seeing how their play styles contrast from each other, giving us an interesting preview of what we can look forward to in November.

For the two games presented by GM Karpov, both won by Black, see:-

on Chessgames.com.

17 September 2018

Carlsen's Chess.com Events 2017-18

Continuing with Carlsen's Events 2017-18, in that post:-

[I discovered] 556 games by the reigning World Champion. [...] The corresponding TWIC search for the 2015-16 update located *only* 282 Carlsen games. Why the large increase? It appears that many of the games played in 2017-18 were for Chess.com online events. The world's leading website for chess started organizing events at the highest level in 2016.

The following chart lists Chess.com events where Carlsen participated.

The year/month shown in the first column is when the event started, because a multi-stage online event can take many months to reach its final stage. Although the table lists 13 events, one was not an online event (IoM Masters) and the other 12 reduce to four separate competitions:-

  • 2016.10 chess.com Blitz Final
  • 2017.02 PRO League (2017)
  • 2017.10 chess.com Speed matches
  • 2018.01 PRO League (2018)

Those four events include 209 games.

16 September 2018

Things That Chess Players Don't Say

'Why are you upset? It's just a chess game!'

Things you should NEVER say to a chess player (5:49) • 'Published on Aug 16, 2018'

In case you had any doubts, the description informs,

This is a parody video. Please don't take it seriously. It does not reflect the actual opinion of the authors ... most of the time

See also Things beginner chess players say, from the same channel. While neither of the videos is really funny, they both ring true and some of us will recognize ourselves.

14 September 2018

Google Search Console

Over the past month, I've been spending some time each week to bring my web site in line with current trends -- see Verifying HTTPS and Image Directory Thumbnails. In the 'Verifying' post, I wrote,

One casualty of the migration was Google Adsense. The ads are missing, e.g. on the index page for the World Chess Championship, and the browser warns of mixed content. The code that calls an ad currently uses 'HTTP'. If I want the ads back I'll need to change the code on all pages, but it might be better to replace Adsense with something else in that space.

All things considered, I was happy with the results of the migration to HTTPS. What will Google force me to do next to keep the site operational?

Before fixing the Adsense problem, I decided to catch up on the many Google notices I've received since the beginning of the year, at least a half-dozen significant emails from Google. The company is very good at communicating with its 'publishers' (the Google term for web sites that display ads), but the information is more for commercial sites than for hobbyist sites like mine.

At the beginning of the year I received an email titled 'Introducing the new Search Console [for m-w.com]'. It said,

Search Console is introducing a redesigned product to help you manage your presence on Google Search. The new Search Console was rebuilt from the ground up to provide the tools and insights that site owners and SEOs have been asking for. You can now confirm which of your pages are indexed and get information on how to fix indexing errors. You can also monitor your performance on Google Search with 16-months of data (to enable year-over-year comparisons).

There is far more information available through the Google Search Console than I can possibly use. The 'Performance' page for the old HTTP version of my site confirmed a large drop in search traffic since 2018-08-17.

This should have been balanced by a corresponding increase in search traffic for the new HTTPS version, but Google told me 'Oops, you don't have access to this property'. After procuring the access, I received the message 'Processing data, please check again in a few days'. Aye aye, sir! [To be continued]

13 September 2018

A Remarkable Tool

In my previous post, An Important Seven-piece Endgame, I discussed endgames of the type R+2P:R+P as given in 'Rook Endings' by Levenfish and Smyslov. I ended the discussion with:-

Despite the supposed simplicity of the other examples, I discovered a number of inaccuracies in their analysis. I'll discuss one or two of them in a future post.

Unlike the era of Levenfish and Smyslov (L&S), these endgames are now completely transparent thanks to the use of tablebases (TB). Consider the position in the top diagram below (Furman - Kopaev, event/year not specified). The TB gives 1.g5 as the only move, which is also the first move that L&S give. They write,

A strong move, opening up the White King's path to h5. It also makes it more difficult for Black's Pawn to advance.

Both sources agree that White has a won game and give 1...h5 as the best continuation for Black. L&S first examine 2.Rh6, where White wins the h-Pawn by force: 2...Rb2+ 3.Kg3 Rb3+ 4.Kf2 Rb2+ 5.Ke1 Ke3 6.Kd1 Kd3 7.Kc1 Rh2 8.Rxh5. The poor positions of the White Rook and King allow Black to draw with 8...Kc3 9.Kd1 Kd3 10.Ke1 Ke3 11.Kf1 Kf3 12.Kg1 Rg2+ 13.Kh1 Kf2 forcing perpetual check. (To follow the analysis in this post on Lichess, use the link below the diagrams.)

Lichess: 8/7p/5R2/8/4k1PP/1r6/6K1/8 w - - 0 1

The bottom diagram shows the position after the correct move 2.gxh6 (e.p.), followed by 2...Rb7 3.Kg3 Ke5. L&S now give the incorrect 4.Rg6, followed by 4...Kf5 5.Rg5+ Kf6 6.Kg4 Ra7 7.Kh5 Rf7 8.Rg6+ Ke7. Here Black can draw with 8...Kf5 9.Rg7 Kf6.

After 8...Ke7, L&S duplicate their error by giving 9.Rg7 Kf8, where 9...Kf6 leads to the same position (and the same draw) after 9...Kf6 in the previous paragraph. Instead of 9.Rg7, the continuation 9.Ra6 Rf8 10.h7 would win.

Back to the bottom diagram, instead of a draw with 4.Rg6, the TB says White should play 4.Rf8 Rh7 5.Kg4 Rxh6 6.Kg5, with mate in 64(!). This allows two conclusions: (1) the TB is a remarkable tool, and (2) not all Rook & a-/h-Pawn endings are drawn.