02 February 2023

February 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover'

In last month's edition of 'On the Cover', January 1973 & 1998 (January 2023), we saw Karpov on the left and USchess on the right. This month the roles are switched.

Left: '?'
Right: 'Anand cuts through FIDE knock-out to challenge Karpov'

Chess Life & Review (50 Years Ago)

1972 American Open Champion Larry Remlinger, left, with Carl L. Budd, President of the Santa Monica Bay Chess Club and author of the tournament story [inside]. Between them is first prize: a $1,000 bill. Photo copyright N. Goldstein.

'8th American Open'

The new American Open Champion for 1972 is Larry Remlinger of Long Beach, California. But he is not the only champion that emerged from this tournament, for the American Open itself is the new champion of the world, inasmuch as it hosted the greatest number of players entered in a tournament conducted in a single section. There was an amazing total of 428 players who reported to play on Thanksgiving Day morning. This figure eclipsed the previous record of 402 players, held by the U.S. Open in Ventura, California in 1971.

The tournament attracted many spectators.

One of these spectators was none other than the new World Champion, Bobby Fischer. He made his appearance without fanfare during the last round. However, he no sooner entered the room than he was enveloped in a swarm of autograph seekers and camera buffs. I'm sure that Bobby would have enjoyed chatting with some of his friends who were present, and to have watched and studied some of the games. But this was not to be. His appearance at a chess tournament has the same effect as the arrival of a great movie star at a Hollywood premiere. Such is the burden that accompanies fame! Bobby endured the accolades of his admirers for about twenty minutes and then departed.

Starting with the July 1993 issue, Chess Life ran a nine-part series of articles by Remlinger titled 'Searching for a Title'. He earned the IM title in December 1993.

Also worth noting are the eight pages given to 1972 San Antonio, starting with IM David Levy's report titled 'Church's Fried Chicken Inc.; First International Chess Tournament', and ending with an interview of Karpov. Levy's report started, 'Not since New York 1924 has there been such a strong tournament in the USA.' Had everyone already forgotten the 1966 Piatigorsky Cup, seen in September 1966 'On the Cover' (September 2016)?

Chess Life (25 Years Ago)

Yes, Anatoly Karpov defeated Viswanathan Anand for the FIDE World Championship, winning both playoff games on January 9th, 1998. No, there wasn't enough time to change the cover. Yes, Karpov will be on the March cover. Yes, the FIDE World Champion will be playing at the U.S. Amateur Team Championship - East in Parsippany, New Jersey. Yes, the FIDE World Champion will be appearing at the National Open in Las Vegas.

Viswanathan Anand lost to Gata Kamsky in 1994, and lost the opportunity to play Karpov in the last FIDE Championship. Anand beat Kamsky in order to challenge Garry Kasparov for the PCA World Championship in 1995. Anand lost and Kasparov made the cover with New York City Mayor Guiliani.

Anand defeated Pedrag Nikolic (Bosnia), 2-0; he defeated Alexander Khalifman (Russia) in tiebreak games; he defeated Zoltan Almasi (Hungary), 2-0; he defeated Alexei Shirov (Spain), 1 1/2-1/2; he defeated Boris Gelfand, 1 1/2-1/2; and he defeated Michael Adams (England) in the sudden death blitz game [after eight straight draws], in order to face the reigning FIDE Champion, Anatoly Karpov.

He deserves a cover, as does his wife, and his second GM Elizbar Ubilava. Photo by Elizabeth Karnazes. And she will be providing next month's cover, as well as a photographic essay of the final match, to accompany a report by Larry Christiansen.

For more about the events, see FIDE Knockout Matches; Groningen, XII, 1997 (m-w.com) and Karpov - Anand FIDE Title Match; Lausanne, I, 1998 (ditto).

31 January 2023

First Yahoos of 2023

The first Yahoos post of the New Year marks also the start of the third full year of Yahoos. (For an explanation of Yahoos, see the footnote to this post.) Let's start with the usual overview of news sources reporting in the current month.

This month we had 92 stories from the current month and 6 stories repeating from previous months, making 98 stories total. In 2022, only two of the 12 monthly posts had more stories in the current month.

Eight news sources, shown in the chart on the left, had more than two stories in the month, accounting for 44 stories total. That leaves 48 sources with a single story.

Just as in every post for the past two years, Chess.com accounted for the lion's share of the stories, with ChessBase a distant, although respectable, second. The other six sources had two stories each, just enough to make this month's honor role. The stories for two of those sources -- 'Evanston RoundTable' and 'Paducah Sun' -- were about regional high school championships.

As for an overview of the biggest chess stories, I'll continue this post as soon as I can. A year ago I wrote a couple of posts summarizing previous months:-

That second post, in February, took a look at a new trend in Yahoos, when Google News started repeating previous month stories in the current month. It might be worth taking a 2023 look at both ideas.

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


Later: If I could retitle this post I would use 'Deja Deja Vu Yahoos', echoing last month's Deja Vu Yahoos (December 2022). Three themes from that post continued in January:-

  • The hijab story
  • The Hans Niemann lawsuit
  • 'A fabulous month for Chess.com'

On the hijab story, I noted 'none of the nine news sources was a chess site'. In retrospect that was probably a consequence of the story occurring at the end of the old year.

Another story, also inspired by clothing, made the news during the month.

  • 2023-01-10: Iranian Chess Arbiter Clashes With FIDE Over Human Rights Attire (chess.com; Peter Doggers) • 'The Iranian international arbiter Shohreh Bayat was reprimanded by the International Chess Federation (FIDE) for wearing pro-human rights clothing at the 2022 Fischer Random World Chess Championship in Reykjavik. While FIDE considered it "unprofessional," Bayat pointed out that a dress code for arbiters does not exist.' • Q: What was the infraction? A: 'A T-shirt with the slogan "Women, Life, Freedom".'

For the last several months of 2022, stories about the Niemann lawsuit were swinging between the farcical and the serious. In January they swung between the farcical and the ridiculous.

For Chess.com, the hits just kept on coming.

One of Chess.com's hits was a sucker punch. In fact, the first story here wasn't returned by Google News, but it helps to understand the second story.

Out with the old? Somehow I doubt it. Those stories are all going to continue in 2023. In with the new? Here's one story worth watching.

  • 2023-01-30: Russian Chess Federation moves to Asia (chessbase.com) • 'The Russian Chess Federation has advised the European Chess Union that they have applied for membership of the Asian Chess Federation, and that they intend to withdraw from the ECU as soon as they have been admitted.'
  • 2023-01-30: Statement of the European Chess Union (europechess.org) • 'Hereby expresses its position on the possible transfer of the Russian Chess Federation (RCF) to the Asian Chess Federation (ACF)' [...] 'Zones can only be amended by International Chess Federation (FIDE) and only FIDE can decide matters concerning its own regulations.'

There were other January stories that I would have liked to pursue, but I have to stop somewhere. Maybe they will still be topical in February.

30 January 2023

Talkchess Talks Top Engines

In last week's post, LCZero Wins TCEC Cup 11; Stockfish Wins CCC19 Bullet (January 2023), I opened,

For the first time in a long while, an engine other than Stockfish won a TCEC or CCC event.

This was also flagged in a Talkchess thread.

  • 2023-01-14: Lc0 wins TCEC Cup 11 Final (talkchess.com) • 'When was the last time Stockfish lost a final? Stockfish is getting weaker and weaker. [...] Or maybe the opponents get stronger.'

Or maybe it's a typical example showing that rating is just a statistical measure of strength. As I reported in the 'LCZero Wins' post,

In the Final match, LCZero and Stockfish tied the regulation games +1-1=10, then LCZero won the second pair of tiebreak games.

Statistically speaking, a lower rated player will win a certain percentage of games. If such a game, according to the rules, turns out to be a decisive game, then the match is over. The same scenario holds for any competition where tiebreak plays a role, e.g. tennis. Sporting results aren't predetermined and that's why they are fun to watch.

As long as I'm on the subject of the Talkchess forum, last seen on this blog in Talkchess Talks Current Topics (September 2022), let's look at some other news reported recently in the forum.

  • 2022-12-04: Stockfish 15.1 is ready • 'Stockfish 15.1 was released after 8 months after Stockfish 15. According to the regression tests Elo difference between Stockfish 15.1 and Stockfish 15 isn't so much [...]'

  • 2022-12-19: Dragon 3.2 Released at KomodoChess.com [lkaufman] • 'KomodoChess.com has released Dragon 3.2, an upgrade of 3.1 which won the 2022 World Computer Chess Championship after a tiebreaking match with Lc0. It has a newer net, search improvements, and speedups compared to Dragon 3.1, which make it about ten elo stronger with normal openings (at CCRL blitz [time control], one to eight threads), also ten elo stronger at FRC (chess960), and twenty elo stronger with "unbalanced human openings".'

Talkchess user 'lkaufman' is GM Larry Kaufman, aka Dr. Komodo, who also featured in the 'Current Topics' post. When he talks about Dragon, everyone listens.

All three Talkchess threads mentioned in this current post go on for many pages. All are worth exploring in more depth.

29 January 2023

Not a Squeaking Wheel

While it's true that in the mechanical world the squeaking wheel gets the oil and in the online world the loudest 'influencers' get the most views, it's often their softer-spoken brethren who end up making the biggest difference. That's this month's thought to introduce the latest post in this blog's long-running series about The Sociology of Chess (November 2016).

How Playing Chess Benefits Your Social Skills - Chess4Life Spotlight Podcast (23:07) • '[Published on] Dec 30, 2022'

The description of this video said,

Judit Sztaray has been around chess most of her life, but it wasn't until her daughters' interest in chess grew that it became an integral part of her life. Although she says she's not a strong chess player, that doesn't stop her from actively participating in chess events like the Pan-Am and using the game for its benefits.

One of those benefits of chess is the social aspects of the game. Elliott Neff and Judit Sztaray discuss how big of an impact playing chess can make on communities and building friendships with people.

This month was the second time a video from Youtube's Chess4Life channel made the short list for the month's featured video, but lost out to an entity ranked higher in the chess pecking order. The first such video was:-

It lost out first to featured video Chess Players with Class (September 2022; 'How Vishy [Anand] is changing the Landscape of Chess in India'), and later to sociology video 'The Root of All Evil'? (ditto; 'Who Has Won The Most Money In Chess History?'). For more about the objectives behind the Youtube channel, see Chess4life | Chess Academy and Club Licensing (chess4life.com).

27 January 2023

Hurst's 'Chess on the Web'

In last week's post, Crowther's 'Chess on the Net' (January 2023), I originally intended to write about Mark Crowther's 'Chess on the Web', then realized that I had mixed two different works. The first book in the genre was Sarah Hurst's 'Chess on the Web'. This was followed a few years later by Crowther's 'Chess on the Net', which was followed by Hurst's second edition of 'Chess on the Web'.

The covers of both editions of Hurst's book are shown below. Co-authors listed on the second edition are Richard Palliser and Graham Brown.

Left: 1999 - ISBN 9780713485776 • Right: 2003 - ISBN 9780713486025

The back cover of the 1999 edition said,

A modern meeting ground for people of all ages and from all walks of life. the internet offers an exciting opportunity to play chess worldwide. Chess on the Web is the definitive guide to internet chess resources from game-play to news, software to history.

Sarah Hurst is the editor of the BCF newsletter Chessmoves. and her previous works include A Shrimp Learned to Whistle, Winning Business Strategies on the Internet (Haymarket) plus a wealth of excellent interviews and articles about chess. A fluent Russian speaker she was also the co-translator of the Moscow 1935 International.

Unfortunately, I don't have at hand a copy of either edition, so I can't go much farther. If I decide to continue this series of posts on early chess web sites, I'll have to get a copy. I've already mentioned Sarah Hurst on this blog in Russian to English Translators (May 2009).

23 January 2023

LCZero Wins TCEC Cup 11; Stockfish Wins CCC19 Bullet

Yes, you read that title correctly. For the first time in a long while, an engine other than Stockfish won a TCEC or CCC event. For the previous fortnightly report on the continuous competitions conducted by the world's leading engine vs. engine operators, see TCEC Cup 11 Underway; CCC19 Bullet in Semifinals (January 2023). Here's a summary:-

TCEC: Engine ice4 won the S23 4k tournament ahead of 4ku and three other engines. The site then launched into 'Cup 11', which is currently in the Round-of-16 stage • CCC: Four engines promoted from 'CCC19 Bullet Qualifier #2', and joined eight other seeded engines in the 'Main' event. The top six engines then qualified into the 'Semifinals'.

Let's summarize the recent deciding events on both sites.

TCEC: In the 'Cup 11' Semifinal matches, Stockfish beat KomodoDragon +3-1=6 and LCZero beat Ethereal +3-1=5. In the Final match, LCZero and Stockfish tied the regulation games +1-1=10, then LCZero won the second pair of tiebreak games. In the previous TCEC cup event, Stockfish Wins TCEC Cup 10; TCEC Swiss 3, CCC17 Blitz both Underway (June 2022), the roles were more familiar: 'Stockfish beat LCZero +4-2=4 in a semifinal match, then beat KomodoDragon +2-1=9 in the final match.'. In the Bronze match for 'Cup 11' third place, KomodoDragon and Ethereal tied +0-0=12; KomodoDragon won the second pair of tiebreak games.

The site then ran a couple of minor S24 events: 'Viewer Submitted Openings Bonus 23' (VSOB), followed by 'Swiss 4 Testing'. For the previous mention of VSOB on this blog, see TCEC S23 Paused; 'CCC19 Blitz Main' Underway (September 2022).

CCC: In the 'CCC19 Bullet Semifinals', Stockfish finished well ahead of Dragon which finished comfortably ahead of Lc0. Ethereal finished fourth with a negative score.

In the 'Challenger' match (CCC: 'for the privilege or misfortune to play against Stockfish'), Dragon beat Lc0 527.0-473.0, and in the Final match Stockfish beat Dragon 616.0-384.0. I don't see a quick way to get the W-L-D scores for these matches and would have to calculate them from the PGN. Maybe later...

[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; Dragon = KomodoDragon]

22 January 2023

DALL-E Chess Revisited

Hmmm. I'm starting to detect a trend here. Just a few months ago we had Donald Trump, Chess Master (October 2022; 'In the world of AI, Trump plays chess'). Now we have this.

Upper left corner: DALL-E : An oil painting by Vinci of a humanoid robot playing chess © Flickr user Marc Frant under Creative Commons.

The image had no additional description, but this info was useful:-

This photo is in 1 album : AI generated images 2023-01

We saw 'DALL-E' once before in The Plural of Pingu Is Pingus (July 2022). Am I just a sucker for AI generated chess images?