23 January 2022

FIDE's Social Initiatives 2021

For this month's edition of The Sociology of Chess (November 2016), my first idea was to feature 2021: In Memoriam of Passed Members of our Chess Family (youtube.com) on the 'FIDE chess' channel. The description said,

A video in remembrance of all those members of the chess family who passed away during the year 2021.

Then I realized I didn't have much to add about the subject, except to expand on the comments and to add a few personal memories of people I knew. I decided to look for something else.

A search for the keyword 'Memoriam' on the same channel returned another video that I had overlooked, although it was published on the same day as the 'Memoriam' video. I don't understand why it was returned for the keyword, but I'll take it.

FIDE's Social Initiatives in 2021 (3:44) • '[Published on] Dec 29, 2021'

The description for this video said,

A video devoted to FIDE’s social initiatives, one of the areas where our organization made more progress over the past few months.

This video demands to have the captions transcribed. I'll come back to that if I find the time.

21 January 2022

Google, Again!

Nag, nag, nag. Google is good at many things, but one area where it outshines is nagging. Don't try to argue with it, because it knows that it knows more than you do. Case in point: since June 2020, I've been receiving emails with subject 'Let Google place ads for you', a total of eight so far. Since March 2021, I've been receiving other emails with subject 'Let Google choose the best ad sizes for you', just two so far, but I'm expecting more. I've managed to ignore all of these messages until now, but a few months ago I received a more urgent email:-

Subject: Matched content units will only show ads starting 1st March 2022
Date: 24 Nov 2021
From: Google AdSense

'Starting 1st March 2022, Matched content units will only show ads, and be renamed to "Multiplex ads". We originally launched Matched content as a recommendation service to help you promote your content to your site's visitors. It also came with the option to show ads alongside the links to your content.

'Due to decreasing usage of the content promotion service, and positive customer feedback and performance results from an ads-only Matched content ad format, we've decided to turn down the content promotion service and convert all existing Matched content units to only show ads.'

If 'matched content' doesn't mean anything to you, five years ago I worked on a series of posts to implement it on my site:-

That's another area where Google outshines : pushing you to implement one of its services, then pulling the service a few years later. Another case in point:-

  • 2019-02-07: Google+ Sunsets • Re 'I don't know when Google Plus will close, but Google doesn't waste time when it takes action.'

Last year I noticed that some of the ads displayed by Google were ginormous. Here's a screenshot from one of my most popular pages...

Top 10 Myths About Chess (m-w.com)

...The ginormous ad ('Play for Free') in the top part of the page takes up nearly 50% of the screen's display. The bottom part of the page shows an example of 'matched content', which is even larger.

Given (1) that Google is nagging me to use new services, (2) that I need to reconsider the use of 'matched content', (3) that I need to decide if I want to continue to run such large ads, and (4) that there are other Google issues to be addressed (not mentioned here), I'm going to tackle Google issues over the next few posts. The update for Magnus Carlsen's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (TMER), last seen in Carlsen's TMER 2019-21, Checkpoint (December 2021), will have to wait.

18 January 2022

FIDE Rating List - Women

A day after my recent post on ratings, FIDE Rating List - January 2022 (January 2022), FIDE published Manifesto: The Year of the Woman in Chess (fide.com). What do the FIDE rating lists (FRLs) tell us about women in chess?

First, they tell us which FIDE registered players are women. In fact, they tell us twice. There is one field in the lists called 'Sex', which is set to 'M' or 'F'. There is another field called 'Flag', which includes 'w' if the player is female. I checked the content of the two fields and they match. Where 'Sex = F', 'Flag = *w*', and vice versa. There are undoubtedly legacy reasons for maintaining two fields, but I imagine it's a headache for FRL administration.

Second, the rating lists tell us which women have titles. There are two relevant fields in the list, 'Titl' and 'Wtitl', the first for all players, the second for women only. The following table shows the distribution of the two titles over all players, both men and women.

The first two columns in the table show various combinations of the two fields; the rest of the columns give a count. For example, the first row counts the number of players who have no title.

The second row counts the number of players who have a 'CM' title (Candidate Master) and no women's title; this includes 11 women. The third row counts players who have both a 'CM' title and a 'WFM' (Women's FIDE Master), and so on.

The pecking order of the titles is 'GM', 'IM', 'FM', 'CM'. The same is true for women's titles.

The titles are (largely) internally consistent. Two players marked 'M' have 'WCM' titles and one player has a 'WH' title, but these are the only inconsistencies I can see.

It would probably be revealing to see the rating ranges -- maximum rating, minimum rating -- for all titles. I recall having done that in the past, so I would first have to locate that post.

Lurking on the horizon is another angle to this discussion. Wikipedia defines Non-binary gender as:-

An umbrella term for gender identities that are neither male nor female -- identities that are outside the gender binary.

I wonder if FIDE has discussed this issue internally. I also wonder what other international sports organizations -- the IOC or FIFA -- are doing about it. It's certain to arise in the not-too-distant future.

17 January 2022

Stockfish Wins Both TCEC FRC4 and CCC16 Bullet Events

Two weeks ago, in the previous post on the two foremost, ongoing, engine vs. engine competitions, TCEC FRC4 Semifinals, CCC16 Bullet Finals : Both Underway (January 2022), both tournaments were close to declaring a winner. Here's a summary of that post:-

TCEC: The FRC4 'Final League' is currently underway. Stockfish is leading at the halfway point, but the point spreads separating the top three engines are close. The top two engines qualify into the Final. • CCC: Stockfish and Dragon qualified from the 'CCC 16 Bullet Semifinals' into the Final. Stockfish holds a commanding lead and is close to clinching the event.

The outcome of those events is the subject of this week's post.

TCEC: Stockfish and LCZero tied for 1st/2nd in the FRC4 'Final League', a point ahead of KomodoDragon. Stockfish beat LCZero +13-9=28 in the Final. A note mentioned,

!bookfrc • Final League and the Final will use unbalanced books [...] On the edge between draw and white win.

For more info, see TCEC FRC 4, under 'FRC Book Generation'. On the same page, a note under 'Polls' mentions, 'During League A, 112 lost FRC games from the Season 6 FRC Special Event was found and added to the database.' I couldn't find the lost games, but I didn't look very long.

After FRC4, the site ran an event called 'S22 - DFRC Sanity Check'. What's DFRC?

!dfrc • Double Fischer random chess: The same as Fischer random chess, except the White and Black starting positions do not mirror each other. Double FRC has 921,600 (960*960) possible starting positions.

I should have more to say about 'unbalanced books' and DFRC when I tackle FRC4 on my chess960 blog. The site is currently performing 'S22 - QL L4 L3 Testing', where 'L' stands for 'League'.

CCC: In the 'CCC 16 Bullet Final', Stockfish beat Dragon 988.0-632.0 out of 1620 games. I didn't have time to work out the WLD stats; maybe later. [Later: +480-124=1016; Stockfish won six games w/ Black; Dragon none.]

After CCC16 finished, the site ran a 'No Black Castling' bonus event. Like the TCEC DFRC event, this is theoretically interesting and deserves further discussion.

The site is currently running its 'CCC 16 Blitz Main' event with 12 engines, three of which appear to have earned their participation via a qualification event The 'Info' tabs for both events say, 'top 2 promote to Main', but it's titled 'CCC 16 Rapid Qualification' (not 'Blitz'). Communication has never been the CCC's strong point.

[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]

16 January 2022

Chess Photos : 'All rights reserved'

In last month's Flickr post, Shallow, Green Chess Photos (December 2021), I wrote,

My short list for this month's featured Flickr photo was as short as a short list can be without being empty : one photo.

This month I was reminded that a short list can be even shorter : zero photos. Not wanting to beat the 'Shallow, Green' idea to death -- I might need to do that next month -- I decided to concentrate on chess albums. One set of albums...

...was chock-a-block filled with a topical theme dear to my heart, the World Championship. The screen capture below shows the world federation's most recent albums. The second thumbnail from the left, top row, is titled 'Closing Ceremony - FIDE World Championship'.

Here are a few more album collections, listed in alphabetical order:-

I easily located several more chess album collections, mostly dealing with big tournaments. I won't list them all; I wouldn't want anyone to feel left out.

I imagine that all of the photos in these albums are marked '© All rights reserved'. That's why they never appear on my short lists. Would it hurt any of the expert photographers who took the photos to license a few under 'Creative Commons'? That would allow other content creators (like me) to share the photos with a larger public.

13 January 2022

FIDE Rating List - January 2022

It's become a new year ritual. Here's the sequence...

1) Locate last year's post. A year ago it was FIDE Rating List - January 2021 (8 January 2021).

2) Access FIDE Ratings Download (fide.com) and download the file that is described something like this:-

TXT format (14 Jan 2022, Sz: 8.33 MB)

3) Load the file into the database that stretches back to 1971 and compare it to recent years:-

2022: >377K players; >228K marked inactive
2021: >362K players; >174K marked inactive
2020: >354K players; >181K marked inactive

4) Produce a sequence of queries to derive the following charts. It shows one new federation since January 2021, plus two views of increases in the number of players per federation. The chart on the right is restricted to federations with 100 players or more at the start of 2021.

5) Create some additional posts (optional), then hibernate until the following year. Last year I wrote one additional post:-

...The numbers under point '(3)' above show that the count of inactive players in 2022 increased three times more than the count of active players. Looks like I should revisit the subject of inactive players.

10 January 2022


Later this year I hope to upgrade my chess engine hardware and software. It's been almost twelve years since I upgraded the hardware and seven years for the software (all documented on this blog), so the change is long overdue. I keep up with software developments and know what I want, but I don't pay much attention to hardware. It evolves so rapidly.

I spent a couple of hours browsing Talkchess.com to find out what the experts have been saying. Cores, hyperthreading (HT), and GPUs provoke frequent discussions. A year ago I looked at Engine Scaling (January 2021), an important subject that won't disappear anytime soon.

One site that was often used as a reference is Ipman Chess (ipmanchess.yolasite.com), especially the page AMD - Intel Chess Bench. (ditto). It's packed with data and looks like any time there would be well spent. I'll come back to the subject when I have more to say.