19 May 2024

Shoreditch Street Art

The title of this month's Flickr featured photo says 'graffiti', but it looks more like 'street art' to me. Don't ask me what the difference is; I just know it when I see it. The last time we saw 'graffiti' on this blog was Only on Sunday (April 2023; yes, that's definitely graffiti). The last time we saw 'street art' was No Monkey Business Here (July 2017; Description: 'Street art in London').

Tris graffiti, Shoreditch © Flickr user duncan cumming under Creative Commons.

The decsription on this photo said,

Game on! This is the first piece in a chess battle between Tris and Core246. Two years later it's still in progress.

The Wikipedia page Shoreditch (wikipedia.org), says,

Shoreditch lies just north-east of the border with the City of London and is considered to be a part of London's East End.

By some curious coincidence, the full description in 'Monkey Business' says, 'Street art in London, Shoreditch'. Or maybe it's not a coincidence. The 'People also ask' section of a Google search on 'Shoreditch' informs,

Q: 'What is Shoreditch famous for?' • A: 'Shoreditch is famous for its street art, which can be seen all over the area. The area is also known for its trendy bars and restaurants, as well as its thriving creative scene.'

The Flickr user credited with this month's photo maintains an album titled 'Shoreditch graffiti & street art', currently with more than 32.000 photos. Too bad there's no search on the album. It might be both informative and entertaining to browse more chess street art.

14 May 2024

May 1974 & 1999 'On the Cover'

Last month's post about American chess magazines of 50 and 25 years ago, April 1974 & 1999 'On the Cover' (April 2024), was all about American chess. This month we're reminded that there are always important chess events happening in the rest of the world.

Left: '?'
Right: 'Maurice Ashley - Our Newest Grandmaster'

Chess Life & Review (50 Years Ago)

Anatoly Karpov (left) and Tigran Petrosian, winners of their quarterfinal candidates matches. See [inside] for Spassky's assessment of his match opponent in the current semi-finals, and for Szabo's penetrating review of Petrosian's victory.

For the report on the two other quarterfinal matches, see March 1974 & 1999 'On the Cover' (March 2024). For the crosstables of all four matches, see 1973-75 Candidates Matches (m-w.com).

Chess Life (25 Years Ago)

Maurice Ashley, Grandmaster
Grandmaster Maurice Ashley.
Sounds good either way

Technically, until the next meeting of the FIDE Qualifications Committee, I [CL Editor Glenn Petersen] suppose we should say "Grandmaster-Elect" Maurice Ashley. But that's a technicality I'm willing to ignore. Although there are many who are strong enough to achieve the aim (but lack opportunities; see [inside]), few are more deserving than Mr. Ashley.

And not just for what he has accomplished over the board, is he deserving. As a coach, as a role model for young people, as a chess teacher, chess author, chess announcer -- indeed, as an enthusiastic spokesman in almost all areas of chess promotion, Maurice has made his presence notable. Certainly, as the first Black Grandmaster in the world, his place in history is assured. However, there will be no mere 15 minutes of fame for this young man. As he continues to climb mountains (see Brian Killigrew's interview [inside]), and to set standards for generations of youngsters to come, we predict Mr. Ashley 's moment in the sun will be lifelong. • Cover photo by Brian Killigrew

I'm guessing we'll see GM Ashley on the right side of many future 'On the Cover' posts.

12 May 2024

A THR 'Exclusive'

THR = 'The Hollywood Reporter', which is also the name of the Youtube channel responsible for the following clip.

Emma Stone, Nathan Fielder and A24 to Produce Ben Mezrich Chess Scandal Story | THR News (1:06) • '[Published on] May 2, 2024'

The description said,

Emma Stone and Nathan Fielder are set to team up once again. If deals close, the duo would partner with A24 on 'Checkmate,' a hot feature package centered on a book proposal by Ben Mezrich, the author whose books were adapted into films such 'The Social Network' and 'Dumb Money.' Fielder is attached to direct, while Stone will produce along with her husband and partner Dave McCary via the duo's Fruit Tree banner.

The description continued, 'To learn more about this story:' Emma Stone, Nathan Fielder Reteam with A24 for Ben Mezrich’s Carlsen - Niemann Chess Scandal Story (Exclusive) (hollywoodreporter.com; May 2024; subtitled, 'The indie upstart seems to have outwitted streamers and studios to win 'Checkmate' with a seven-figure deal that left competitors' head-spinning.')

The last time we saw the Niemann affair on this blog was This Month Features a Bottom Yahoo (September 2023). Let's hope the movie treats chess and chess masters better than Tobey Maguire's 'Pawn Sacrifice', last seen in Excerpts from 'Pawn Sacrifice' (May 2017).

Why hasn't anyone done a movie on the 2006 Kramnik - Topalov Unification Match (m-w.com), aka Toiletgate? I'm guessing it's because the players were Russian and Bulgarian, not the sort of nationalities that inspire massive Hollywood interest.

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.