05 May 2024

1976 U.S. Junior (Closed)

In this monthly series on Top eBay Chess Items by Price (March 2010), the sellers often label their items as 'Rare' or 'Amazing'. More often than not, a more appropriate label would be 'Commonplace' or 'Banal'.

The item pictured below was titled 'Amazing Chess History - 8 Autographs'. I won't argue with the adjective here, although 'Rare' or 'One of a Kind' would be equally appropriate. The autographed photo sold for 'US $450.00 Best offer accepted'. Despite eBay's usual obfuscation of the actual selling price, the stated price appears to be close to the actual price.

Left to right: Tisdall, Regan, Seirawan, Henley, Diesen, Fedorowicz, Rohde, DeFirmian.

The description said,

Amazing photo of the 1976 US Junior Chess Championship. Signed by all eight players. This is an amazing piece of chess history. It is signed by six Grandmasters and two International Masters. [...; full names, titles, and ratings for all players] This is NOT something you will see again.

A link titled 'I want to know more!' led to "Fed" Up With Chess? / John's First Visit (memphischessclub.blogspot.com; May 2012). The blog post started,

What a wonderful season the summer of 1976 was in the Bluff City. The United States was preparing to celebrate the bicentennial in July, but before that national event the Memphis Chess Club was presenting the city's chess players a miraculous moment, the 11th U.S. Junior Invitational Championship Chess Tournament; this Memphis event would be repeated only once more in 1978, and in both events, John Fedorowicz participated.

'Fed' was and still is a nickname for Fedorowicz. The September 1976 issue of Chess Life & Review carried a report on the tournament. Titled 'U.S. Junior Invitational Championship' by Carol Little, ITD, it started,

The 11th Annual U.S. Junior Invitational Championship, held in Memphis, Tennessee, June 20-26. was won by Mark Diesen of Potomac, Maryland. and Michael Rohde of South Orange, New Jersey. They each had a score of 5 points and were declared Co-Champions.

This did present a problem for the USCF: Who was going to represent the U.S. in the Netherlands later this year? After a long-distance call to the New Windsor office, an equitable solution was agreed upon by both players, and Mark Diesen will go to Holland as the U.S representative to the World Junior Championship.

The 1976 U.S. Junior Championship was the first national tournament to be held in the Mid-South since the Western Open Championship, the forerunner of the U.S. Open, was held in Memphis in 1914.

The Wikipedia page John Fedorowicz (wikipedia.org) says, 'co-winner of the 1977 U.S. Junior Championship (with Kenneth Regan) and outright winner in 1978'. Somewhat curiously, the same page carries no link to a separate page on the series of U.S. Junior championships.

25 April 2024

Candidate Yahoos

This month's Yahoos post (see footnote) is going to be short. I'm leaving on vacation and must catch a plane in a few hours. Of the 99 chess stories returned by Google News for the month of April, 27 were about the just concluded Candidates tournament (CT; for the latest post on my World Championship blog, see Toronto Candidates - Third Week; April 2024).

The first three of those CT stories were grouped under a header titled 'Gukesh at world chess championships'. The first of those three stories was:-

  • 2024-04-24: Dommaraju Gukesh Wins The Candidates’ Tournament (nytimes.com; Dylan Loeb McClain) • Alternately titled: 'The Next Winner of the World Chess Championship Could Be the Youngest Ever'; Subtitled: 'Dommaraju Gukesh, a 17-year-old grandmaster from India, is the youngest player ever to win the Candidates Tournament.' • 'Dommaraju Gukesh, a 17-year-old Indian grandmaster, made history on Sunday: He won the Candidates Tournament in Toronto, held to select the challenger for the World Chess Championship in the classical time control. With that achievement, he became the youngest player ever to qualify for the title match.'

I admit: this isn't much of a post, but I'll try to make up for it when I return from vacation. For the previous Yahoos post, see Real Yahoos (Sort Of) Spotted Again (March 2024).

[Yahoos (mainstream news stories about chess) are derived from Google News top-100 (or so) stories from the past month.]

22 April 2024

Vikings as AI Stereotypes

Although it might have seemed that last week's Monday post, The Circular Chess Boards of the Druids (April 2024; 'Druids play chess'), was more about non sequiturs than anything else, there was a common thread tying it to previous Monday posts: four weeks in a row on a religious theme. This current post looks to be breaking that series, unless of course there is something religious about Vikings.

'Vikings play chess'
AI Comic Factory

Before we get to the Viking part, let's remember a quirk I observed about the AI Comic part a couple of weeks ago in The '3D Render' Style (April 2024). I closed the post saying,

A recurring theme in the experiments is that the software reduces a text phrase ('Buddhists' in this example) to a stereotype, then develops its images based on that stereotype. I'll have more examples of this phenomenon in future Monday posts.

So here we are. There's no denying that, in the image above, the 'Vikings' look similar -- fierce, brawny men, all with long hair and long beards, wearing some kind of a horned skull cap. If you asked people to pick a Viking out of a police lineup, I bet most of them would pick any person looking like our AI Vikings. Getting back to real Vikings, in Vikings (wikipedia.org), Wikipedia starts,

Vikings were seafaring people originally from Scandinavia (present-day Denmark, Norway, and Sweden), who from the late 8th to the late 11th centuries raided, pirated, traded, and settled throughout parts of Europe.

This is preceded by a note that explains,

For the North Germanic ethnic group from which most Vikings originated, see Norsemen.

What about their religion? The same Wikipedia article explains,

For most of the period, they followed the Old Norse religion, but later became Christians.

All of those italicized terms lead to more Wikipedia articles, but I'll stop here. In my next Monday post, I'll delve into more AI stereotypes.

21 April 2024

No Hunk-o'-Junk Here

For this month's Flickr Favorite post, I had a number of good choices. One choice was another in the series of J-L. Mazieres chess images last seen in More Lessons in Art Appreciation (April 2021). The new Mazieres Flickr page is Lucas de Leyde [aka van Leyden]. 1489-1533. Leyden Jeu d'échecs. (flickr.com), where the title continues,

Berlin Gemaldegalerie. The game of chess symbolizes both the struggle for power and the war of the sexes.

The choice I finally made, shown here, is another of those AI generated chess images of which I'm so fond. When I first saw it, I thought it might even be a photo of a real chess set.

victorian era technical illustration of steampunk style chess pieces... © Flickr user Hongse sishen under Creative Commons.

The full title is:-

victorian era technical illustration of steampunk style chess pieces on intricate chess board with complex brass and ivory fittings with exotic colorful mineral crystals, measurement dials and meters [...]

That reads very much like a prompt for an AI generator. It was continued in the description with:-

[...], glass magnifying lenses emitting ethereal light & electrical sparks --ar 16:9 --style raw --v 6.0 @Jerry

The Flickr user's name looked to be written in Chinese characters. Google confirmed it to be 'Chinese (Traditional)', then transliterated it to 'Hongse sishen', translated as 'red death'. Note the word 'death' is also a component of the photographer's name in the image's URL.

The last time we saw 'steampunk' on this blog was Hunk-o'-Junk Chess (January 2016; 'Before: Random Pipe Fittings • After: Steampunk Chess Set'). As far as I can tell, steampunk and AI are polar opposites.

19 April 2024

CFAA's CMP : Blogs

After two posts on my experience with Google's CMP -- CFAA's CMP Earnings and Visitors (both April 2024; CMP = Consent Management Platform for ads) -- I decided,

I don't mind losing the ad revenue. [...] This latest chart, however, shows that the CMP change is making visitors stay away. [...] It looks like Google's Adsense will have to go.

That will take some time to do, but in the meantime I have another decision to make. My Google account's CMP and associated ads also appear on my blogs. The following chart shows the impact of the blogs' ads on total earnings.

google.com/adsense : full year 2023

The first line shows earnings from m-w.com/aboutcom (the 'Chess for All Ages' site), the second line from m-w.com/chess (the 'World Chess Championship' site), and the third line from this blog that you're reading (CFAA). The last two lines are for my other chess blogs.

The first line says that over 90% of earnings are coming from the CFAA site. Of course, I knew that already, but it always helps to quantify relationships.

Re the three blogs, although their 'earnings' are negligible, I've never done them for the money. They're more of a hobby than anything else. If they get visitors, that's great; if they don't, there's no harm done. Through the years that I've been keeping them up-to-date, the daily numbers of visitors have fluctuated substantially and depend on a number of factors over which I have little control.

Bottom line: I'll keep Adsense on the blogs. That will help me stay up-to-date with online ad technology and trends. The online space evolves so quickly that what is true today is no longer true tomorrow and vice versa.

15 April 2024

The Circular Chess Boards of the Druids

A week ago I posted The '3D Render' Style (April 2024; aka 'Buddhists play chess'). There I started,

Let's continue with the religious theme. Three weeks in a row make a trend.

Four Weeks in a row make a wedding photo of my three brothers and me. And following the principles espoused by Non sequiturs 'R' Us, that brings us to the subject of Druids.

'Druids play chess'
AI Comic Factory

What exactly is a Druid? In Druid (wikipedia.org), Wikipedia starts by saying,

A druid was a member of the high-ranking priestly class in ancient Celtic cultures. Druids were religious leaders as well as legal authorities, adjudicators, lorekeepers, medical professionals and political advisors. Druids left no written accounts.

Following the link for 'Celtic cultures' brings us to Wikipedia's page on Celts. First we learn an important distinction:-

This article is about the ancient and medieval peoples of Europe. For Celts of the present day, see Celts (modern).

The article 'about the ancient and medieval peoples' starts,

The Celts or Celtic peoples were a collection of Indo-European peoples in Europe and Anatolia, identified by their use of Celtic languages and other cultural similarities. Major Celtic groups included the Gauls; the Celtiberians and Gallaeci of Iberia; the Britons, Picts, and Gaels of Britain and Ireland; the Boii [central Europe]; and the Galatians [Turkey].

So my Belgian friends [Gauls] are somehow related to Turks. That I did not know...

14 April 2024

Playing Chess with Your Brain (*)

While I was preparing last month's Yahoos post, Real Yahoos (Sort Of) Spotted Again (March 2024; 'Yahoos = mainstream news stories about chess'), the top story -- which was not mentioned in the post -- would have been the Neuralink news. What's Neuralink? The following video, from Youtube's Guardian News channel, explains.

'Like using the force': Neuralink patient demonstrates how he plays chess using brain-chip (1:32) • '[Published on] Mar 21, 2024'

The video's description said,

Noland Arbaugh, a 29-year-old quadriplegic who has a Neuralink brain-chip, demonstrates during a livestream how he is able to control his laptop cursor with his mind to play chess. Arbaugh received the implant in January, after the startup founded by Elon Musk was granted federal approval to test the device in humans. Following the approval from regulators, Reuters reported that US Food and Drug Administration inspectors found problems with recordkeeping and quality controls for animal experiments at the company.

I don't know why that last sentence was added, because it wasn't mentioned in the clip. User beware?

(*) Irony intended.