30 June 2013

2013 USCF Executive Board Election

Every two years the USCF holds elections for its Executive Board (EB), where the 2011 edition was covered on this blog in Odd Man Out. In 2013, there are six candidates for four positions, two of which are for three year terms, and two for two year terms. (I've lost track of why the terms are staggered and couldn't find out the reason in time to write this post.)

The six candidates are Mike Atkins, Randy Bauer, Ruth Haring, Beatriz Marinello, Tim Redman, and Chuck Unruh. All of them appear to be well qualified to serve on the EB. Which should I vote for?

The election has attracted more interest than in previous years and I received four different mailings on the subject. The first was from Tim Redman, followed by one from Bill Goichberg and two (duplicates bearing different dates) cosigned by Garry Kasparov and Rex Sinquefield.

Goichberg recommended a team of Atkins, Bauer, Haring, and Unruh. For reasons I won't repeat here, but which can be found on his web site Checkmate.us, he recommended against Marinello and Redman. Somewhat curiously -- whether by design or coincidence I have no way of knowing -- the Kasparov / Sinquefield team made the same recommendations as Goichberg.

Since I have no particular reason for preferring any of the six candidates, I will simply follow the recommendations of the three heavyweight insiders. Both Marinello and Redman currently perform valuable service to chess in their current functions and I expect they will continue to do so even if not elected.


Ruth Haring's candidate statement in the May 2013 issue of Chess Life, was illustrated with the following graphic.

She wrote,

As we look forward to the future it is important that we address membership retention. Existing scholastic programs see constant turnover and we see in our membership data, a membership decline beginning around the age of 11.

Scholastic retention is one of the most urgent and least understood puzzles facing the organization (see chart). USCF needs to focus in on this phenomenon to better understand the dynamics in play and develop strategies to convert scholastic members to lifelong members.

This well known phenomenon would be worth a follow-up post.

28 June 2013

R2-D2 and the Troopers

The caption said, 'The Troopers learn chess... sort of...'

Bring it On! © Flickr user Jim Bauer under Creative Commons.

Some of the comments: 'Love the reflection in the board'; 'Chess with attitude, I see R2 standing behind his Pawns!'; 'My money is on the troopers'; 'I'm with R2! Shorties to the back!'...

27 June 2013

Chess Psychology/Philosophy

In my previous post, Post-vacation Recap, I mentioned, 'While on vacation I received an Amazon Kindle as a Father's Day gift and spent some time reading Rowson's "Seven Deadly Chess Sins".' I chose this book because I had heard so many good things about it and had read its successor 'Chess for Zebras' (referenced in The Adorjan Series to Date).

In his musings Rowson mentions so many other books that I thought it would be useful to list them. It turns out that it's not necessary because the book contains that rarest of chess book features -- a bibliography!

'Chess books with a predominant psychological or philosophical perspective' (*)

Where had I seen a similar list? In a 2007 post on 'Psychology in Chess', where I linked to a Chessville.com article. Since that site is now defunct, here's a link to the same article on Archive.org: 'My Chess Psychology Bookshelf' by Rick Kennedy.


(*) I know! I should have transcribed the list to text format, but there are only so many hours in one's life...

25 June 2013

Post-vacation Recap

Returning to blogging after annual vacation is always a challenge. The first problem is to recall what I was working on before the vacation started, and the second is to catch up on chess news. Last year I solved the problems with an inventory of pre-vacation posts (Now, Where Was I?) and a survey of TWIC (Catching Up with Chess News).

Two years ago I did an inventory (Moving on after Vacation) which was the inspiration for a new series. The year before that I reported on How I Spent My Summer Vacation, because it was tangentially related to chess blogging, and I also surveyed the news (No News Is Normal for Chess).

The bag of post-vacation tricks is normally light and this year it's even lighter. I summarized my current focus of interest just before leaving (The Adorjan Series to Date), and continued my long-running About.com series yesterday (More Carlsen Games), although it no longer has much to do with About.com. Since I had a good wifi connection for the entire vacation, I'm caught up on chess news, even if I haven't digested it. While on vacation I received an Amazon Kindle as a Father's Day gift and spent some time reading Rowson's "Seven Deadly Chess Sins".

The wifi connection let me continue with three ongoing, aleatory series -- Flickr Friday (last seen in Aus dem Schachbuch), Video Friday ('There's No Place Like Home'), and eBay top items ('A Holy Grail to Cookie Jar Collectors') -- so those will continue without interrruption, as will my supplementary blogs on chess960 and the World Championship (see the sidebar for links).

Thanks to this little recap, I'm starting to have a clearer picture about where I'm going with this blog over the next few weeks. On top of that I'd like to tackle an idea that has been germinating for some time: a survey of Youtube's many analytical videos.

24 June 2013

More Carlsen Games

It turned out that the actions I identified in Comparing Carlsen's Early PGN were not as easy as I expected them to be. I found 653 games on NorBase, which included only two events played after 2007. In Carlsen's earliest events (2000-2002), I identified a dozen new games, including an entire tournament.

The main complication, which I still haven't addressed adequately, were the many discrepancies between the header info for games already on file and the games on NorBase. I'll add those early games plus the games from Carlsen's recent events -- London, Norway, and Moscow -- to Magnus Carlsen's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (2000-) the next time I work on the collection.

23 June 2013

'A Holy Grail to Cookie Jar Collectors'

For this fortnight's edition of Top eBay Chess Items by Price, I was surprised to find the same chess set discovered in my most recent Video Friday post, 'There's No Place Like Home'. The item, titled 'WIZARD OF OZ ~ CHESS SET~STAR JARS ~ # 2 of 300 ~ NEW ~ Salt & Pepper & COOKIE JAR', sold for US $1600 after receiving three bids from two bidders.

The description said,

Up for Auction is an EXTREMELY HARD TO FIND WIZARD OF OZ CHESS SET AND SALT AND PEPPER SHAKERS. MADE BY STAR JARS. This is # 2 of 300. The hight of the pieces range from 1 1/2" to 4 1/2". The cookie jar is about 18" X 18" not sure. Did not want to take out of the inner wrappings. Only taken out of box for picture. This all is in excellent condition. Sold as is.

By coincidence, a smilar chess set was listed three times during the month of June starting at $3800. Unsold each time, its description said,

Complete sets are SUPER SUPER RARE This is a magnificent set. Truly Rare. Only 300 of these were ever made worldwide and this number is 67/300 This set is made by Star Jars no longer in existance. Very very Rarely do you see this piece, This set is in excellent condition with no chips, no hairlines, no damage at all, it includes all the characters which are actually 32 salt and pepper shakers as the chess pieces, the cookie jar itself is extremely heavy 30-40 pounds. An absolute must have for the serious Wizard Of Oz Collector, Salt & Pepper Collector or Cookie Jar Collector. This set is in excellent condition.

The seller added some information about the origin of the set.

In 1993, Peter Gemmi founded Star Jars. Gemmi came from the Fine Arts Industry, and brought a wealth of information to the fledgling company by utilizing his expertise in collectibles. Peter, knowing that the major Hollywood Studios were apt to give licenses to companies that could create and enhance their licensed characters, set forth on a mission to discover a product that would utilize his Art Gallery background. Knowing that most licenses were taken, Peter decided that no manufacturer had secured the licenses for "upscale" limited edition numbered cookie jars.

In fact, early on in 1993 before Peter had chosen a name for the company, he was quite sure that having the license to Star Wars characters from Lucas Films would be pivotal for launching the new company. With that in mind, Peter choose Star Jars in order to impress Lucas Films. Though the initial attempt to win the license from Lucas failed, eventually Star Jars was given rights to Star Wars.

Star Jars first success came via Turner Entertainment, holders of the license for the Wizard of Oz. Treasure Craft was chosen as the company to manufacture the eleven piece series, which quickly became the industry standard for excellence. In 1995, the Tin Man was the first jar to be distributed.

By an even more extraordinary coincidence, a third set sold during the month 'Best offer accepted' for an unspecified price less than US $800.

I have up for auction what I believe to be a very rare cookie jar. It is a holy grail to cookie jar collectors. I have owned this since it was new and have never seen another and we travel alot around the country. I took lots of pictures for you to get a good look. Its a really great jar. The shakers measure from 1 1/2" tall to the tallest which is 4" tall. The jar measures 16 1/2" by 16 1/2" and 3 1/2" deep. It is marked on the back as you can see, and its a low number....31 out of 300.

There are two small issues. First the Winkie shaker, the tip of the spear got broke off an hour ago when I was packing them back in after photographing. I have the tip taped to the shaker so I dont lose it, and on the inside lip of the edge is a teeny shallow chip. It is maybe the size of a pencil lead that has been sharpened. It is a very heavy jar.

So the chess board is really a cookie jar and the pieces are really salt and pepper shakers. Did I get that right?

21 June 2013

'There's No Place Like Home'

Rene: 'Show me something weird.'

Storage Wars: Rene and Casey's Wizard of Oz Chess Set (1:51) • 'In this scene from the episode "There's No Place Like Homeland", Rene and Casey find some valuable items in their locker, and stumble upon an old Wizard of Oz set'

Casey: 'Maybe I'll finally learn how to play chess!'

14 June 2013

Aus dem Schachbuch

Ever wonder what do to with your old chess books? Here's one idea.

Aufbruch - Departure © Flickr user Ines Seidel under Creative Commons.

The Flickr page points to a blog post titled Aus dem Schachbuch, which explains,

Ein Buch über Schach bricht auf. Jahrelang hat es Sätze gelagert: “Die Seele des Schachspiels sind die Bauern” oder “Die Schönheit des Schachspiels liegt in den Ideen”. Die Seele des Schachbuchs begibt sich in neue Formen.

An English version of the same page translates,

A book about chess breaks open. For years it has been storing sentences: “The soul of chess are the pawns.” Or “The beauty of chess dwells in the ideas.” Now the soul of this book dwells in new shapes.

The photos seem to be of a Keres book from the Sportverlag opening series, popular in the 1960s.

09 June 2013

Cronica de Ajedrez

The reason you don't see many bound magazine sets on Top eBay Chess Items by Price is because the accompanying images are usually uninteresting. Par for the course are photos of tattered, fake-marble covers and a battered spine. Those obligatory images were present on an item titled 'Cronica de ajedrez revista mensual Habana Cuba 1911 Chess Magazine Complete', along with a few more photos, shown in the composite image below. The bound magazines sold for US $885.00 after receiving five bids from three different bidders.

Left to right, top to bottom: Single cover, Capablanca, Em.Lasker, Capablanca

The description said,

Cronica de ajedrez : revista mensual de ajedrez. Haban, Cuba : [s.n.], 1911 May-October. • Chess Magazine. 24 cm. 146pp. Bound in marbled covers, broken and deformed; however, the content is unharmed and not bend. (6) numbers: Año I, Num. I; May,1911 - Año I, Num. 6; October, 1911. Each number conserves their original paper wraps. Damp stain in the lower inner section, otherwise in very good condition. Ilustrated with drawings, photographs and tables.

The seller added,

About the magazines. According to Gino Di Felice (Chess Periodicals: An Annotated International Bibliography, 1836-2008. Macfarland: USA, 2010) there´s no more known published numbers of this magazine. He cites Kononklije Bibliotheek as a public library that owns the 6 numbers, along with the Miami University (Worldcat) are the only public libraries that have the magazines. Very rare and unique chess magazine.

My copy of Di Felice's book (p.69) says,

752. Crónica de Ajedrez : Revista Mensual de Ajedrez (1911–?) No.1 (May 1911)–?. Monthly. Publisher [s.n.]. La Habana. Cuba. 24 cm. Magazine. General. Spanish. Source KB. Availability Koninklijke Bibliotheek—No.1 (May 1911)–no.6 (Oct 1911), call number 60 A 63.

I'm not sure where the seller's 'Miami University (Worldcat)' reference is from and will investigate further as soon as I can.

07 June 2013

Kasparov Circa 2000

Voice-over in English, subtitles in Greek...

Garry Kasparov: The Chess Player (56:19) • 'A film by Joel Calmettes: Garry Kasparov "The Chess Player"'

Wikipédia (FR), Joël Calmettes: '2000 : Garry Kasparov, le joueur d'échecs, 57' (Arte, France 3, RTBF)'.