30 April 2010

Chess Maze

The light squares are a lot easier to follow than the dark squares.

Chessboard Maze © Flickr user Seb Przd under Creative Commons.

Follow the Flickr.com link for the largest size (under the 'ALL SIZES' tab), the solution, and a few more chess mazes.

29 April 2010

ANRI on eBay

For the next episode of Top eBay Chess Items by Price (see Fischer - Spassky Autographs for the previous episode), I counted only 12 items out of the top 100 that actually received a bid. A 12% success rate isn't impressive and more than likely means that the top priced items are overpriced.

Three of those 12 items were ANRI chess sets, and two of those three are shown on the left. ANRI (www.anri.com) is an Italian woodcarving company located in Val Gardena, a valley in the Dolomite region of northern Italy. According to Wikipedia, 'The woodcarving industry has flourished in Gherdëina [Val Gardena in the local language] since the 17th century.'

The first set, shown in a green case, received 48 bids and sold for US$ 2321. Its description said,

You are bidding on a rare ANRI Ferrandiz chess set. This set is hand painted ANRI Toriart. The Kings are approx. 4", and the Pawns approx. 2 1/2". The characters are painted in the traditional Ferrandiz style with childlike figurines displayed in vibrant pastels and soft metallic touches. The beauty of this set is a testament to Ferrandiz’s talents and ANRI’s renowned ingenuity. It will make a fantastic gift for any ANRI or Ferrandiz collector. This set was made in Italy around 1970.

The second set, not pictured, sold 'Buy It Now' for US$ 1138.

This is an Anri Ferrandiz Toriart Chess set -- still brand new in its wooden chest -- never removed and in perfect condition! There were two versions made of this chess set: the natural unpainted set we offer here or a hand-painted version. As Carl Luckey states in his guide "The Art of Ferrandiz", the Toriart chess set is perhaps the rarest and most difficult to find.

The third set, shown in a wood case, received 8 bids and sold for US$ 710.

Up for auction is a VERY RARE ANRI WOOD CARVED FIGURAL CHESS SET. I want to say I have sold hundreds of ANRI items over the years this is the nicest item from ANRI i have ever owned. The set is a complete 32 piece set with box, trays and game board. Pieces are in great condition when I opened the box they still had tissue paper covering them. Pieces are hand carved and painted very well made great detail work.

Ebay listed more than 20 ANRI items over the two week period, most of them in the familiar Renaissance style and not made of wood.

27 April 2010

Notable Blog Widgets

Over the last the few months I've bookmarked a gaggle of widgets for Blogger.com. What to do with them? Write a blog post, of course.

If you haven't discovered it yet, that last link, for the Official Google Blog, is a good way of keeping up with all things Google. The last few posts under Label: Blog Tools have been slightly off-topic for blogs. This post should compensate for that mismatch.

26 April 2010

What's Popular, What's Not

In Apples to Apples I convinced myself to add more Ex-About.com Material from my archive of old material. What specifically should I add? Why not look at the stats on current material and see which of the active pages receive the most hits?

The first thing I discovered was that the image galleries, as a group, receive more visits than other pages. The six galleries I have today rank in order of popularity as follows.

Of the other pages, these are the 30 most visited.

The least popular pages, not counting individual pieces of multi-page series (like a Year in Review), are these.

Conclusion: Images are popular, chess politics aren't. Anything to do with improvement gets attention. Now that I've done this exercise, I'll continue with the Every Move Explained series, which had three pages in the top-30: 1844 Romantic Game, 1960 Leipzig - Letelier vs. Fischer, and 1961 Bled - Petrosian vs. Pachman.

23 April 2010

Guys and Gals

Guy: 'Does it make sense?' • Gal: 'Can you just explain one more time?'

Scatterbrain - Chess (1:33) • 'This sketch is only about chess.'

Guy: 'This is your Rook or some people call it a castle.' • Gal: 'Like a castle, like a chapel, where you might have your wedding?' • Guy: 'Umm, sure...'

22 April 2010

20 April 2010

Update on Historical Ratings at Olimpbase

Last summer, in FIDE Historical Ratings on Olimpbase, I noted that Olimpbase has a keen interest in historical ratings. The site reports now that they

have done quite a big job so now the Elo ratings site is more or less completed (some details to be corrected/added but in general names are standardized and rating lists are complete). A lot of work but effect is satisfactory. Please send suggestions/corrections if any.

You can find the site at History of Elo ratings 1971-2001.

Adsense and Sensibility

Returning to the chart I used in yesterday's post on Google Adsense (shown below; see Apples to Apples for an explanation of the data in the chart), I had the idea to check Google's numbers against the statistics from my own server log for mark-weeks.com (see Log Wallowing for an introduction).

It turns out that Google's numbers compare fairly well. For the months of February and March, Google reported slightly higher numbers than my server did on my World Chess Championship pages (100-105% of my numbers). The web juggernaut also reported lower figures on my Ex-About.com Material pages (85-90% of mine).

There are several possible explanations for the differences. The exact time period covered by the two sets of statistics is certainly different and different browsers undoubtedly handle cached pages in different ways. For the larger difference in the Ex-About.com Material, I'm not absolutely certain that all of my pages have a link to Adsense.

All in all, I'm satisfied with the comparison. I had reason to believe that Google might be underreporting the numbers, but that's not the case. If I'm disappointed in any of Google's stats, it's my own responsibility.

19 April 2010

Apples to Apples

Vacations are a good time for unpressured reflection on one's current concerns related to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. As I mentioned in Post-Vacation Roadmap, while on vacation I decided to continue with Rescued Material from About.com, which I had stopped for a few months to see if there was any real interest in it.

How to measure 'real interest'? One way is to check the stats and compare them with my other chess resources. I use Google Adsense on my pages, not so much for the little money that it brings in, but as an easy way of tracking page views.

The following table shows Adsense statistics for my chess resources for March 2010. In order to compare the stats easily, I've adjusted the stats using the most popular resource as a baseline. That means for every 1000 page views on m-w.com/chess, there were 295 on m-w.com/aboutcom, 219 on chessforallages.blogspot.com, and so forth.

The following table links to each resource and gives its full name.

I didn't expect the Ex-About.com Material to rank ahead of the Chess for All Ages Blog, but so it does. It tells me that there is some interest in those pages and that it is worth adding more from my archive of old material.

16 April 2010

Bigger than 8x8?

'Maybe the world is bigger than eight by eight squares.'

April 12th, 2010 © Flickr user Mr Jan under Creative Commons.

Tags: 2010YIP (2010: A Year in Pictures).

15 April 2010

Fischer - Spassky Autographs

Just like the first two posts in this series on Top eBay Chess Items by Price (the second was Peter Ganine and Star Trek), the top selling items over the past two weeks were chess sets. To find other items of interest, I had to go well down the list (of which the great majority did not sell) to the neighborhood of three figures (items selling for less than $1000), where used chess computers etc. are regular inhabitants.

The item pictured below, billed as a 'Genuine 1972 Robert Fischer Autograph', received 3 bids and sold for US $355.05.

The cover is a common souvenir from the 1972 Fischer - Spassky Title Match, often seen offered on eBay for a few dollars. The two signatures make this one special. The description of the item said,

1972 World Chess Championships event cover with an authentic (handwritten) autographs of Robert Fischer as well as Boris Spassky. Older Fischer autograph pieces are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain. Autographs are guaranteed genuine, a guarantee will be issued and included. Excellent condition.

How does the final price compare with a Fischer autograph -or- with a Spassky autograph alone?

13 April 2010

Mikhail Tal in Italy

I've mentioned eBay seller bulkcover several times on this blog (for example World Championship Etiquette) and was delighted to receive the following message from him, referring to the photograph below.

Subject: Mikhail Tal in Italy, late 1950s early 60s
Date: Sun, 4 Apr 2010 04:48:35

I have a question, probably you know what event it is and/or who are these people? (of course I know which is Mikhail Tal!) Photo is made Fotografia Ferruzzi in Venezia Ntr. 66299/9. In the 2nd row, there is a gap between the standing people, and one man by unknown reason is retouched away (censored! by Soviets? by Italian? PI)

Here is the image:

Thanks a lot, J.D. (eBayer bulkcover)

After admitting I couldn't help, I received a follow-up message with detailed info about the photo.

Bulkcover: 'I have posted the question also to Chess Society of Italy and received their reply with comments (will be in bold), I think the comments by the man who was there! (not on the picture) are very interesting:'

The Italian Chess Federation sent to me your e-mail. I am a Venetian chessplayer interested in Chess History: I wrote with Adriano Chicco the book "Storia degli scacchi in Italia" (The History of Chess in Italy).

I was fifteen years old when in 1957 the Riga team was invited by Earl Gian Carlo dal Verme, to play some matches in Italy. All results were published in an article written by master Giovanni Ferrantes in "L'Italia Scacchistica" (November 1957, p. 250-251), the Italian Chess Review of which he was the editor.

I was the only one person who was seeing all games of the match played in Venice the 4th and 5th of November 1957 and I have some other photos. I have 12 games played during the tournée in Italy, but I am also very much interested to all games played in Italy by Riga chessplayers. The match was played in Hotel Bonvecchiati (100 meters from San Marco Square!) and the original photo was published by L'Italia Scacchistica in December 1957 (p. 289).

Sitting: Gian Carlo dal Verme (Italian FIDE Delegate), Zifgrid Solmanis (Chairman of the Riga delegation), im Eugenio Szabados (president of Italian Chess Federation), Alexander Alexandrov, m Giuseppe Stalda (he was also a famous correspondence player).

Standing: Aivars Gipslis, m Giorgio Miliani (son of master Luigi Miliani, first President of FSI, the Italian Chess Federation and one of FIDE founders), cm Alfredo Gattoni, Michail Tal (In 1981 in Meran, during the world championship match Karpov - Korchnoi, I spoke with him about his stay in Venice and he remembered the boy sitting near his table during the match!), m Gino Fletzer, Janis Kliavins (we were together in last senior championships), Valdemars Mednis (the man missing in your photo. Probably he emigrated to the West? Perhaps he was the American grandmaster?), international arbiter Paolo Szabados (son of Eugenio and arbiter of the match).

I send some other photos and the games I have. I remember that the game Tal - Szabados was a Sicilian, but I don't have the moves and the game Gipslis - Fletzer was an open Spanish, Moskva attack (Qe2, Rd1 etc). If you may found other games I will be very interested. Thank you in advance!

Cordialissimi saluti, Antonio Rosino

(Also I have spoken to Jorge Niegovich in Argentina, he is in opinion that the man standing at very right is Francesco Scafarelli)

Is the missing person indeed future-GM Edmar Mednis? If so, why is he missing?

12 April 2010

Post-Vacation Roadmap

The time pressure that I mentioned in Top eBay Chess Items by Price -- 'For the next month or so, my time for blogging is going to be extremely limited' -- hasn't abated, so I'm going to continue with my program of blogging lite. That means heavy reliance (1) on a fixed schedule and (2) on ready-to-post ideas like 'Top eBay Items' (most recent: Peter Ganine and Star Trek).

As for the fixed schedule, on Mondays I'll suspend World Championship Opening Preparation (last post was the Summary) and return to Rescued Material from About.com, last seen in Year End Pause on Old Material: 'It's time to let the search engines do their job'. On Fridays, I'll continue to alternate between Photo Friday (most recent: Alice in Lumberland) and Video Friday ('Chess Is a Commie Game').

Since Wednesdays are reserved for my World Chess Championship Blog (Highest priority: 2010 Anand - Topalov, including a response to a provocative comment against Holding Your Breath; next priority: More Zonal Clippings), and weekends are reserved for Chess960 (FRC) Blog (Highest priority: the Krabbé points mentioned in Chess960 @ Chessville.com, together with an idea I had while on vacation: 'Chess Island'), that leaves Tuesdays and Thursdays open. The first post when I have nothing more urgent on one of those days will be a follow-up to Log Wallowing.

Now that I know where I'm going, all I have to do is get there.

02 April 2010

'Chess Is a Commie Game'

'The Russians force that there game on the kids in kindergarten, instead of learnin' em handball.'

All In The Family - Archie Says... (0:58) • 'Look at him, gawkin' over his checkers game.'

01 April 2010

Good Blogs Gone

An advantage of following blogs on Blogger.com is that the list of blogs is automatically available under your profile. My blog list, for example, is here: Blogger: User Profile: Mark Weeks. This reference makes it easy to remove blogs which are no longer available or haven't been updated in a long time. You still have to step through the links, but that's done easily enough. For the record, here are a few former favorites that I deleted or considered deleting.

To make up for those, I added several new blogs that came to my attention in the last few weeks.