30 September 2012

A Commemorative Rook

Since the advent of the Internet, the cable, radio, and telephone chess matches of yesteryear have been relegated to the domain of chess history, from which their souvenirs occasionally appear shortlisted for Top eBay Chess Items by Price. The item on the left, titled 'Antique Chess Piece Commons v US Representatives Telegraph Match Trophy 1897', received 32 bids from 14 bidders, with a winning bid of GBP 411.41 ('approximately US $664.34). The price doubled during the last five minutes of the auction.

The inscription on the Rook reads, 'Chess match by cable between House of Commons London and House of Representatives Washington played over the lines of the Anglo American Telegraph Co. London and Western Union Telegraph Co. New York 1897. Contractors The Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Co. London'.

The item description informed,

An extremely rare antique 19th century Victorian white metal souvenir chess piece in the form of a Rook commemorating the historic match between the British House of Commons & the US House of Representatives in 1897, the match being played over two days by cable transmission the result of which was a draw.

This souvenir Rook was made by the brothers Carlo & Alphonso Guilianio, sons of Carlo Guiliano (1832-1895), the acclaimed Victorian era Italian Jeweller and bears their hallmark to the base. The elder Guiliano moved to London in 1860 and set up his own workshop in 1861. In 1874 he established a retail business, where he was patronised by Queen Victoria. By the time the chess piece shown here was made, Guiliano's sons, Carlo Joseph and Arthur Alphonse had taken over the business, which continued to trade until 1914.

As several examples of this piece are known, it seems likely that one was presented to each participant as a memento of the match. The last one of these that we are aware of came up for sale in Christie's South Kensington a few years back selling for £4375.00 hammer excluding commission.

OVERALL CONDITION: Very Good - We would remind bidders that this item is antique & pre-owned with associated light surface wear, we have left as we found it with untouched or polished patina straight out of a private estate collection here in Scotland - as shown above. Size (approx.) 3" high

Two information links included in the description were History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications : Cable Chess Matches and Collecting: Bonhams Auctions Rare Collector Chess Sets.

28 September 2012

The Game of Warriors

'Che Guevara playing chess?' Yup, Che Guevara playing chess.

Che Guevara playing chess? © Flickr user Julio Martinez under Creative Commons.

'Bocanegra, Benito Juarez, Harry Potter (or young Diego Rivera), Che Guevara (or Castro).' Nope, Che Guevara (not Castro). The same image of Che was used on a stamp / souvenir sheet issued by Turkmenistan in 1997.

27 September 2012

TMTNW, My Version

In The Match That Never Was, I mentioned,

The Fischer - Karpov match brought back memories. I once constructed 24 unfinished games in an attempt to recreate the same match, which I called TMTNW.

A correspondent asked if I would make the games public. They were created around 1989-1990, I haven't looked at them since, and I'm afraid they wouldn't stand up to analysis. It would also be a pity to see them start showing up in databases as real games between the two players. No, it's better that the games remain unpublished. For the record, here are the first four moves in each imaginary game (I assigned White to Karpov in the first game):-

01 (AK-RF) 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c5 4.Nc3 cxd4
02 (RF-AK) 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4 Nf6
03 (AK-RF) 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 c5
04 (RF-AK) 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5
05 (AK-RF) 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6
06 (RF-AK) 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6
07 (AK-RF) 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 O-O
08 (RF-AK) 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 b6 4.Nc3 Bb7
09 (AK-RF) 1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 Nc6 3.Nc3 g6 4.g3 Bg7
10 (RF-AK) 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.Bd3 Nc6
11 (AK-RF) 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6
12 (RF-AK) 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 d5 4.Nc3 Be7
13 (AK-RF) 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.Nf3 Bg4
14 (RF-AK) 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4
15 (AK-RF) 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7
16 (RF-AK) 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6
17 (AK-RF) 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 b6
18 (RF-AK) 1.e4 c6 2.d3 d5 3.Nd2 g6 4.Ngf3 Bg7
19 (AK-RF) 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 c5
20 (RF-AK) 1.c4 c5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.g3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5
21 (AK-RF) 1.c4 g6 2.Nc3 Bg7 3.d4 Nf6 4.e4 O-O
22 (RF-AK) 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6
23 (AK-RF) 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6
24 (RF-AK) 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6

At the time I worked on this I had both 'Bobby Fischer's Chess Games' by Robert Wade and Kevin O'Connell (Doubleday, 1972) and 'Karpov’s Collected Games' by David Levy (RHM Press, 1975), so it was easy to compare the repertoires of the two players. The job might be tougher today with the same collections available in electronic format.

25 September 2012

83rd FIDE Congress

Have you ever wanted to be a fly on the wall at a FIDE General Assembly? How about at a FIDE Executive Board meeting? If you answered, 'Yes', to either of those questions, then don't miss the Youtube videos listed at 2012 FIDE Congress Meetings. The clips are the work of Sevan Muradian, last seen on this blog a year ago in 82nd FIDE Congress.

Depending on your specific interests in organized international chess, there are lots of subjects of potential interest in this footage. As for me, I'm curious about the CNC, which still holds a prominent place in the main banner on Fide.com, and which was last seen here, also a year ago, in No Nose for FIDE News. What is the relationship between CNC and Agon, the new standard bearer for the FIDE World Championship?

It turns out that the CNC presentation to the 83rd Congress was given by one Dmitry Levitansky and can be found at around 16:00 into Muradian's clip titled 'General Assembly Part 7'. Here's how he is introduced by FIDE Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos.

I'd like to explain that the beginning of the original contract with CNC was that CNC, among other things, had the right to organize events and find sponsorship. This part we gave later to Agon when we signed the contract with Agon. So the agreement with CNC has changed on this part and there is here Mr. Levitansky from CNC to inform the assembly about the project they are preparing at this moment.

To find out more about the 2012 General Assembly, see FIDE General Assembly (Fide.com) and Results of the General Assembly (Chessvibes.com).

24 September 2012

Hobgoblins and Small Minds

'A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.'
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Last week, while working on The Last Refuge, I discovered that the pages titled 'Years in Review' (see Chess History for links to the first article in each set of seven) were not structured like the other pages in my About.com material. This week, while working on those 'Review' pages, I discovered more inconsistencies. This problem of inconsistency is turning out to be the most time consuming bullet in Monday, Monday.

23 September 2012

William W. Corasick

I'm under the weather today, so the post I intended to write will have to wait. Since I don't like skipping a day without writing, what to do? I finally decided to search my database of chess images to find one that had 'sick' in the description. Only four different images popped up, and the following is the only one that matched the way I'm feeling.

The description said,

CHESS PLAYER - MODERNIST PAINTING BY LISTED ARTIST WILLIAM W. CORASICK • William W. Corasick, born 1907, exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the National Academy. He had several one man exhibitions. Corasick also studied at The Barnes Foundation, where the influence of the modern masters is evident in his work.

Strange that the painting has nothing to do with being sick.

21 September 2012

Brooklyn Castle

I could be the last chess blogger still standing who hasn't done a post on Brooklyn's I.S. 318, so it's high time I jumped on the bandwagon.

Brooklyn Castle Official Trailer #1 (2012) - Chess Documentary Movie HD (2:30) • 'Amidst financial crises and unprecedented public school budget cuts, Brooklyn Castle takes an intimate look at the challenges and triumphs facing members of a junior high school's champion chess team.'

On top of being featured in its own documentary, the school has been written up in major New York periodicals. • At a Brooklyn School, the Cool Crowd Pushes the King Around (nytimes.com) • I.S. 318's Crowning Achievement (wsj.com) • Mike checks IS 318 chess champs, tells them he is 'really impressed' (nydailynews.com); that's Mayor 'Mike' Bloomberg. • IS 318 Chess Team (is318chessteam.com); the official site?

20 September 2012

The Dirt Bites the Dust

An obscure anniversary received no attention this week, as Mig Greengard's The Daily Dirt Chess Blog passed the one year mark without a single new post. Once a front runner for best blog in the chess blogosphere, its last post, Svidler's Black Attack, was dated 17 September 2011. Like nearly all of The Dirt's posts, the last one attracted hundreds of comments, 886 as of today. Ignoring a few comments from spammers, most were from the same knowledgeable chess fans who had stuck with The Dirt for years, making it the beacon for chess discourse that it was.

The only activity on the home page now is a feed from Chessninja's corner of the twittersphere. As any hardcore follower of chess news will likely agree, tweets are no replacement for posts, just as snacks are no replacement for meals. So what happened? One of the next to last posts, Just Like Starting Over, gave a few clues. Aging blog software, based on Movable Type, had something to do with it:-

Can I tell you how much I'm not looking forward to doing a new install and moving all the content over? MySQL or not, it's going to be a nightmare.

But an even bigger role might have been played by 'The Manuscript':-

This is the book I've been writing for the author trio of Garry Kasparov, Max Levchin, and Peter Thiel on the financial crisis and the technological stagnation of the US and global economy. It started out as a manifesto on innovation and our publisher, WW Norton, convinced us to be more ambitious and to expand the scope to history, economics, politics, and social factors. It's been a huge amount of research and work, plus wrangling three very smart, very busy people for input.

Amazon.com's page, The Blueprint: Reviving Innovation, Rediscovering Risk, and Rescuing the Free Market • Garry Kasparov, Max Levchin, Peter Thiel, gives the publication date as 12 March 2013, but I've seen earlier dates on Amazon. I found one other page, also from a year ago, Max Levchin And Peter Thiel: Innovation In The World Today Is Between 'Dire Straits And Dead' (Techcrunch.com), that mentioned the book was 'expected to be published in March 2012'. That page is worth visiting for the video discussion with Levchin and Thiel, sans Kasparov.

If innovation really is dead, then Twitter is the number one suspect for its untimely demise. I'd much rather have The Dirt and its legions of loyal followers.

18 September 2012

The Match That Never Was

Here's a photo that I bet you've never seen before, unless you happen to be a follower of Chess Club Live (CCL) on Facebook.com.

You can find the original CCL photo on 'Imagine Karpov and Fischer had sat at the board...', along with over a hundred comments. If you look carefully at the board in the photo, you'll see a Sicilian Najdorf, 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6, where Karpov has just played 6.Be2, a line in which he was a specialist and which Fischer had encountered many times as Black. CCL has also fabricated a game using the same opening, 'I got the distinct impression Fischer was busted', displayed as a screen snapshot. Here's the PGN:-

[Event "The Match That Never Was"]
[Site "Chess Club Live, Facebook.com"]
[Date "1975.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "A.Karpov"]
[Black "R.Fischer"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.f4 Qc7 9.f5 Bc4 10.a4 Nbd7 11.Be3 Be7 12.a5 O-O 13.O-O b5 14.axb6 Nxb6 15.Kh1 Rfc8 16.Bxb6 Qxb6 17.Bxc4 Rxc4 18.Ra2 1/2-1/2

I doubt that Fischer would have accepted a draw on the 18th move, but who knows, because the whole exercise is just for fun. CCL has other imaginary matches in mind -- 'If you could using a Time Machine which two chess players alive or in history would you match up to play and why?' -- where another one of the first is 'Chess Time Machine presents Garry Kasparov vs Bobby Fischer'.

The Fischer - Karpov match brought back memories. I once constructed 24 unfinished games in an attempt to recreate the same match, which I called TMTNW (the title of this post gives the meaning of the acronym). I'll come back to it for a future post.


Later: Tales of another Fischer - Karpov encounter, this one from Chessbase.com:-

That first article informed,

[Chessbase] will present a hitherto secret game played between Fischer and Anatoly Karpov. In 1976, a year after receiving the title by default, Karpov met with Fischer in the Philippines (see Russians vs. Fischer, compiled by Dmitry Plisetsky and Sergey Voronkov, Chess World Ltd. 1994; 366-367), hoping to arrange an unofficial world championship match. Fischer was interested, but the USSR Sports Committee would have none of it and the proposal came to nought. In the wake of the failed negotiations, however, Fischer and Karpov played a number of informal games before returning to their respective countries.

Not only did they not play, they never met in the Philippines, although there was a Philippine connection.

17 September 2012

The Last Refuge

'Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.'
- Oscar Wilde

With that quote in mind, I set out to tackle the next bullet in Monday, Monday:-

  • Is the existing material consistent in structure and appearance?

I already had an idea what to look for, applied the necessary changes to about 300 files, and, while I was doing that, found a few other inconsistencies. I'll tackle those in my next update.

16 September 2012

A Bidding War Over Alekhine

A few days ago, in Quote Alekhine Unquote, I was concerned that 'this week is turning into some kind of a blog maintenance week'. Instead it's become Alekhine week. The 'Quote Unquote' post pointed to a few other posts about Alekhine, and now, for this latest edition of Top eBay Chess Items by Price, I'm featuring an item that was titled 'Alexander ALEKHINE vintage original photo - simul 1943'. Pictured below, the photo auction was a battle between two bidders who made 46 bids between them. From a starting price of US $39, the item eventually sold for $796.

The description added,

Original vintage photo (14 x 9 cm = 5.5 x 3.5") of the chess world champion Alexander ALEKHINE. This photo was taken during his simul held in Kromeriz (Czechoslovakia) during World War II in 1943.

To keep Alekhine at a viewable size, I've cropped out several rows of spectators on the left. He is standing farthest to the left in the group at the center of the tables.

14 September 2012

The Fridge as King?

I'm not sure about the King, but the Knights are ironing boards. Of that I'm certain, at least for one side.

The Art of Chess @ Saatchi Gallery © Flickr user H A P P Y F A M O U S A R T I S T S under Creative Commons.

Shown is 'Rachel Whiteread: Modern Chess Set, 2005'; the full photo set is The Art of Chess @ Saatchi Gallery. For more about the exhibit, see The Art of Chess (saatchi-gallery.co.uk):-

This collaboration with RS&A brings together 16 chess sets designed by some of the world's leading contemporary artists in celebration of the 'game of kings' and its continued relevance to the creative arts.

For details about the artists and detailed photos of each chess set, see RS&A Ltd (r-s-a.co.uk).

13 September 2012

Quote Alekhine Unquote

Looks like this week is turning into some kind of a blog maintenance week. First I had External Links (to the Supply Ship), with link maintenance on my About.com material. Then I had Quote Capablanca Unquote, with some formatting maintenance on an early analytical series based on Capablanca's annotations.

Today I subjected a similar series on Alekhine's annotations to the same treatment as Capablanca, where the posts are listed in Index to Alekhine's Annotated Brilliancies. While I was doing this I was reminded that Alekhine was not always as accurate an analyst as one might think, and added a correction for a key variation to Alekhine - Koltanowski, London 1932.

The time I spent working on the Alekhine material was not all routine maintenance. I also found a couple of posts that reinforced the 'disruption of balance' theme I discussed a few days ago in Rubinstein - Alekhine, Dresden 1926, Revisited. The first post was A Lesson in Chess Logic, where Alekhine himself explained his thinking on this important concept.

The advantage won [by Alekhine] results from the repeated movements of the same pieces. [...] But the possibility of like maneuvers in the opening phase is solely attributable, I must reiterate, to the fact that the opponent has adopted faulty tactics, which must from the first be refuted by an energetic demonstration. It is clear, on the contrary, that in face of correct development, similar anomalous treatment would be disastrous.

I must have been working on the idea subconsciously, because a month later, in Alekhine - Steiner, Bradley Beach 1929, I managed to formulate a personal undertanding.

Having looked at so many of Alekhine's annotated brilliancies, I am starting to see a pattern. Inaccurate opening play by Alekhine's opponent followed by a less than obvious move or two by Alekhine to hinder development, and suddenly the opponent is in real trouble.

Eighty years after Alekhine's heyday we seldom see this sort of opening inaccuracy with world class players, because modern masters understand equilibrium and initiative better than Alekhine's typical opponent and because opening theory is so much better developed. One further avenue for research occurred to me: how does the 'disruption' theme treat the marginal areas of theory, ala Secrets of Opening Surprises? The 'surprises' are often inconsequential moves like a2-a3 and ...h6 that preserve the status quo of the position as much as possible, strong on defense and weak on attack. What would Alekhine have said about these lines?

11 September 2012

Quote Capablanca Unquote

While looking for a certain Capablanca game, I happened to find one of the posts in a series from this blog, Index to Capablanca's Games 'To be studied very carefully'. In fact, it was one of the earliest series I did, written during the first year of this blog. While I thought that, despite the passage of time, the post held up well enough, I was annoyed with the quoting style I used at that time. This was to embed Capablanca's remarks in the main paragraph, rather than set them apart in a block quote. That embedding technique makes for long paragraphs, which are difficult to parse visually on a computer screen.

I checked my stats and discovered that these old posts get a fair number of visits. There's no reason why they should be difficult to read, especially since the subject matter -- the discussion of a single chess position -- is already daunting. I went through the list of Capablanca's games and improved the quoting. I'll do the same for other early series as soon as I can.

10 September 2012

External Links (to the Supply Ship)

Continuing with Monday, Monday, the current bullet is

  • Are the links -- both internal and external -- in good working order?

Last week I checked External Links (to the Mother Ship), and this week I checked links to Archive.org, where I initially found most of the material that was eventually converted. The remaining links to Archive.org are mainly to pages that I decided not to convert. The goal in today's exercise was to identify links to pages that had in fact been converted. While doing this I found a few other inconsistencies and corrected those as well. Next week I'll tackle structure.

  • Is the existing material consistent in structure and appearance?

I'm not sure how to go about doing this, so I'll first work on analyzing page structures using a database.

09 September 2012

Rubinstein - Alekhine, Dresden 1926, Revisited

Over on my chess960 blog, I've been occupied with the notion of Disruption of Balance.

As I understand it, 'illegitimate disruption of balance' refers to a (usually subtle) violation by one side or the other of the positional principles underpinning chess. [...] Briefly summarized, it gives the opponent of the offending party a 'heads up' to look for an atypical response that also violates positional principles, fighting fire with fire, so to speak.

Since the two examples in that post were both by Alekhine, I started flipping through his classic 'My Best Games of Chess 1924-1937' (McKay 1972), looking for more examples. After a few minutes, I had ten candidates, because they were easy to spot : Alekhine criticizes an early move of his opponent, then comments favorably on his own response a few moves later. One of the first games I found was...

Akiba Rubinstein vs Alexander Alekhine; It Dresden 1926

...given here with a link to Chessgames.com. The position where 'disruption of balance' occurred is shown in the following diagram. It so happens that I discussed this game in my first series on this blog, Alekhine's Annotated Brilliancies

Dresden 1926
Alekhine, Alexander

Rubinstein, Akiba
After 3...b6

White played 4.h3. In Rubinstein - Alekhine, Dresden 1926, I've already incorporated Alekhine's analysis, so I'll copy it here.

It was certainly not necessary to prevent 4...Nh5 at this moment. The weakening of the square g3 gave me the idea of a quite unusual but, as the following proves, very effective system of development.
The game continued 4...Bb7 5.Nbd2 Bd6. Alekhine again:
After this, White has the unpleasant choice between (1) the exchange, which strengthens Black's position in the middle; (2) 6.e3 which would spoil, after 6...Bxf4 his Pawn position; and; (3) 6.Bg5 after which Black would secure the advantage of the pair of Bishops by 6...h6. Rubinstein chose the 6.Bxd6 exchange.

In my 'Disruption' post, I noted,

'Disruption of balance' means that one side purposely provokes the other by breaking the equilibrium. This is usually by some kind of a premature attack, although I imagine that premature defense can be just as unbalancing.

Rubinstein's 4.h3 is indeed an example of premature defense. The second of my two examples in the 'Disruption' post was also Alekhine vs. Rubinstein, that game from The Hague 1921, and also after an early passive move by Rubinstein. It's hard to believe that Rubinstein was not familiar with the notion of equilibrium in chess. Perhaps he was more cautious than I realized.

07 September 2012

Video History of the World Chess Championship

After 1993 Kasparov - Short Pre-match and Karpov - Henley on Karpov - Kamsky (1996 FIDE), this is my third consecutive clip for Video Friday covering the World Championship.

History of the World Chess Championship (10:40) • 'Opening video from the World Chess Championship 2012 in the Engineering Building of the State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia.'

Too much of a good thing? Never!

06 September 2012

A Contest With No Prize

Here's a game I just made up when I realized I had no time for a meatier post. The following image is a screen shot of page two from a Google image search on 'chess' plus one other word.

What is the other word?

04 September 2012

Where Do You Draw the Line?

August must have been Chess IP month. At the beginning of the month we had C.N. 7743: A reminder, from Chesshistory.com:-

A reminder should hardly be necessary, but readers are requested not to help themselves to whatever they please on the Chess Notes pages. [...] Nor does Chess Notes exist to offer a free scanning service for photographs (some of which we have acquired at considerable expense) to individuals who lack the relevant archive resources of their own. Finally, it is regrettable that discoveries and other information presented in Chess Notes (including valued contributions from correspondents) are often re-posted by people in a way which suggests that they themselves unearthed the material. Attention to these elementary points of fair play will be much appreciated.

A few weeks later we had Lubomir Kavalek on Huffingtonpost.com in Heavy Lifting, where 'lifting' is used in the same sense as shoplifting:-

Plagiarism was in the news lately and chess has its own champions. They use other people's material without attribution and present it as their own. To put it less elegantly, the offenders blatantly, unscrupulously and dishonestly steal work from other authors.

Kavalek's comments were picked up and expanded upon in ChessCentral's Blog, Piracy and Plagiarism in Chess:-

In the role of publisher, ChessCentral has produced many fine print books and e-books found in our catalog. Unfortunately, each passing year exposes more web sites that choose to sell, share or give away our copyright protected property, our books and articles.

Although I'm not in the same class as those three heavyweights, I've also had my material appropriated. I commented on it in 2007, An Amazing Coincidence, and 2008, Look What Google Dragged In. I have found so many other examples that I am no longer surprised. That second post touched on the role of Wikipedia in lowering the bar on protection of intellectual property (IP), a point I made again in a post earlier this year on The Wikipedia Blackout.

The Google book project was another massive effort which trampled on existing norms around IP. Google's attitude appears to have been 'let's just do it until someone says no', an approach they have used in many of their ground-breaking services, often with success. The publishing industry screamed, 'No!', and the service is severely crippled.

In contrast to Wikipedia and Google, both of which provide services that far outweigh their initial, willful ignoring of other's IP, sites like Pirate Bay, Megaupload, and even WikiLeaks wouldn't exist if you removed all traces of copyrighted material. The operators of these sites simply sneer at any suggestion that they might be doing something wrong, knowing that they have legions of fanatical users who will defend them to the last download. You can be sure of a vitriolic argument any time the right to copy indiscriminately is challenged.

But where do you draw the line? Although I always attribute material I use from elsewhere, I sometimes exceed 'fair use' in the quantity of text that I reproduce. I also use photos without permission, but again, always attributed. When I worked for the commercial site About.com, I adhered to their rules and avoided this. In the noncommercial blogosphere, the right to reuse is taken for granted.

For a particularly egregious example of copyright infringement beyond 'fair use', look at susanpolgar.blogspot.com, the 'Susan Polgar Chess Daily News and Information : Bringing you updated, timely, fair, and objective chess daily news and information from around the globe'. Most of the material on Polgar's blog is lifted from other sources, usually with attribution to the domain of the source, but not to the specific page. The former Women's World Champion has been doing this for years and I never seen a single condemnation from Chesshistory.com, GM Kavalek, ChessCentral, or any other publisher of digital material. I suppose that, like me, everyone is glad to have this defacto digital archive, which is useful for historical chess research of the recent past.

Another example of an unclear line between fair use and not-so-fair use came to light in the announcement this past week that The Week in Chess and the London Chess Centre end their 14 year sponsorship agreement:-

It has been frustrating to see the London Chess Centre and myself get relatively little benefit from the production of the magazine while various commercial services have used it as a starting point for their paid for products.

A good summary of TWIC's tremendous value can be found in That was The Week in Chess that was, on Steve Giddins' Chess Blog:-

Virtually every serious chessplayer, from Garry Kasparov downwards, has begun his Tuesday morning by downloading the latest TWIC and updating his personal database with the latest instalment of games. In many cases, the number of games runs into the thousands. Every chess magazine editor I know of uses TWIC to compile his magazine's round-up of the main national and international results.

The irony here is that TWIC has its greatest value when used for further reference. What use is an end product of thousands of games plus dozens of crosstables unless it's part of a larger database? To bring this discussion full circle, the same note from Chesshistory.com that I referenced earlier mentioned,

We wonder too when a certain Canadian grandmaster will remove from his website our copyrighted material, including the 2,000-word article A Catastrophic Encyclopedia.

The original article is A Catastrophic Encyclopedia by Edward Winter, and the offending material is A Brutal book review, dated 2011 by Spraggett on Chess. The rebuttal from GM Spraggett appeared in a post asking TWIC in its final days?:-

A well-known website dealing with the history of chess, its players and lesser known facts feels it has a right to copyright material, photos and interviews that it finds in old newspapers and magazines. Does it have any right to do this? Does it have the right to demand that I not display such photos and interviews because it says it has a copyright? I think not. I hold the view that until these and related issues are settled in a more internet-global context, we -- as consumers -- are free to do as we please with most of the chess-related universe that we find for free on the 'net'.

This is the Pirate Bay / Megaupload / WikiLeaks justification reduced to the dimensions of the chess world. Even on this small scale, where do you draw the line? The risk is that, like TWIC, the creators of all that wonderful material will cease to create.

03 September 2012

External Links (to the Mother Ship)

Continuing with Monday, Monday, after working on internal links in Invisible Pages? and One Thing Leads to Another, I switched to external links, i.e. links that lead offsite. There appears to be plenty of cleanup required here, starting with links to original articles on chess.about.com, which are now long gone.

It turned out that most of the About.com links were either 'For Further Info', meaning no one ever clicks on them, or commented out, meaning no one ever sees them. I fixed all links to point to Archive.org and removed the comments where they appeared. Next stop: Look at all links that lead to Archive.org.

02 September 2012

Hands and Heads Not from Wood

For this edition of Top eBay Chess Items by Price, I could have continued with Fischer Memorabilia. A signed scoresheet Fischer vs. Porat (Porath) from the 1968 Nethanya tournament in Israel received 37 bids from nine bidders, finally selling for US $905.

Why didn't I feature it? The scoresheet appears to have been a carbon copy, where the original was in German algebraic notation from Porat's hand. The auction writeup claimed that it was from the 'CHESS OLYMPIC TURNIR' (it wasn't even an Olympiad) and that it was 'EXTERIMLY RARE' (which is entirely subjective). Maybe it received so many bids because Porat misspelled Fischer's name ('Fisher') on the scoresheet's header.

Instead I chose the item pictured below. Its title was 'Antique Vienna Judaica Chryselephantine Carved Wood Jewish Figures Chess Players' and it sold for US $3795 in an unspecified manner, perhaps Buy-It-Now.

The description said,

Antique and more than probably unique carved wood figures depicting Jewish "Chess Players" (Schachspieler) made after a work of the 19th century famous Jewish artist Isidor Kaufmann. This set is from an absolute HIGH quality and absolute in very good condition as depicted. Look at the pictures, these will tell much more than my description. Engraved that this is made after the famous Jewish artist "Isidor Kaufmann" and there is also an engraved title in Hebrew. The persons are each about 3 ½" (9,5cm) tall. An absolute must for collectors of Judaic or antique carved wood pieces from an absolute very high quality. The hands and heads are not from wood.

In a previous post, Isidor Kaufmann, I featured another work of chess art by the mentioned artist.