29 February 2016

Instructional Videos : Topalov

After the previous episode -- Instructional Videos : Svidler -- in this series of presentations by the participants in the 2016 Candidates tournament (starts next week!), the last episode is a game by GM Veselin Topalov. It was against his favorite opponent (remember Toiletgate?), GM Kramnik.

Corus 2008 | Press conf Topalov r9, I of II (9:59) • 'Uploaded on Jan 22, 2008'

For the second part, see Corus 2008 | Press conf Topalov r9, II of II. For the complete game, see Veselin Topalov vs Vladimir Kramnik; Corus 2008 on Chessgames.com.

28 February 2016

The Value of Art

Here on Top eBay Chess Items by Price, as soon as one mystery is solved, another mystery takes its place. In the previous post, As Seen on 'Mad Men', I discovered why the Austin Enterprises chess sets are so popular. In this current post, I can't explain why an unknown artist sold for nearly five times the price of a known artist.

Left: Unknown artist, $2827
Right: August Herman Knoop, $590

The painting on the left, titled 'LARGE! ANTIQUE OIL PAINTING ON CANVAS "THE CHESS PLAYERS" ca 1700-1800', sold for US $2827 after 42 bids from 12 bidders. The description said,

You are looking at the large, beautiful oil painting representing a baroque scene with tree ladies playing chess in the garden and a gallant man watching their play. The original frame didn't remain until these days. The painting is in decorated wood gold frame and it's good in it. Unsigned. Large size amazing work demands attention on hall wall. Good artistic quality and vibrant colors. • 62.9" x 43.3" x 2.7"

The painting on the right (believe me, it shows a chess game), titled 'August Herman Knoop oil painting German chess players from museum', sold for around $590, 'Best offer accepted'. Its description said,

This is well done painting on panel by the well known listed German artist: August Herman Knoop, 19th century. It has a brass name plate on front : A. Knoop. Depicts gentlemen playing chess identified on back as well : M.H, GOLDEN GATE PARK SAN FRANCISCO, GERMAN, SECOND HALF 19th CENTURY, THE CHESS PLAYERS, GIFT OF MISS SARAH M. SPOONER 1918, ARTIST AUGUST KNOOP • Art: 5 7/8" x 7 1/2"; Ornate gold frame (has some damage, please see pictures) : 15 x 17 x 3 1/2"

Did the bidders recognize the artist in the first painting? Or is the frame more valuable? Or are the paintings valued by the square inch? Is it the 'tree ladies'? Or something else? I wish I knew.

26 February 2016

And the Award for Best Chess Actor Goes to...

You've seen the movie: Grandmaster Maurice Ashley plays NYC trash talker - The Tim Ferriss Experiment (youtube.com; GM Ashley's channel; 1.199.609 views and counting):-

I was schooled by the best hustlers back in the day! This was actually in Washington Square Park where the late great Vinnie Livermore used to beat my ass at that same table!

You've read the reviews: Watch a Trash-Talking Chess Player Realize He Is Playing a Grandmaster (time.com), Maurice Ashley - trash talk chess in NYC park (chessbase.com),... Now here's the Flickr Friday photo!

Grandmaster Maurice Ashley vs. Washington Square street chess hustler © Flickr user Katexic Publications under Creative Commons.

Just one more reason why Ashley belongs in the chess hall fame: 2016 Inductees to U.S and World Chess Halls of Fame Announced.

25 February 2016

1966 Olympiad, USSR & USA

While I was looking for the photos shown in The Real Bobby Fischer? I found the following photo. The eBay description said,

This is an authentic vintage photograph that shows chess players who participated in the 1966 Chess Olympiad in Havana, Cuba. The photo was taken at the Havana Hilton Hotel in which the Olympiad was held.

I'm not sure if it's been published before.

Front row, left to right: (USSR) Stein, Korchnoi, Polugaevsky, Spassky, Petrosian, Bondarevsky, (USA) D.Byrne, R.Byrne, Benko, Rossolimo, Fischer

The USSR and the USA finished first and second overall. For more about the event, see 17th Chess Olympiad: Havana 1966 (olimpbase.org).

23 February 2016

The Real Bobby Fischer?

The chain of events started with a Video Friday post, Revisionist Chess History (October 2015; 'Tobey Maguire as Chess Player Bobby Fischer in "Pawn Sacrifice"'), where Maguire said, 'It seems [Fischer] was paranoid, delusional.' I traced this thought to The Ponterotto Connection (November 2015), where I ran into a dead end, because 'I haven't seen the movie yet and I don't know if I'll have the opportunity to see it soon.'

Thanks to a post on a well known chess blog, Toby Maguire as Bobby Fischer (January 2016; kevinspraggettonchess.wordpress.com), I discovered that the film was available on Youtube and was able to watch it once before it was removed, presumably for copyright reasons. The film was much as I expected -- great entertainment, but weak on chess history and heavy on the 'Fischer as madman' theme. I wanted to do a longer review, but this will have to wait until I get another chance to see it.

The film reminded me of another controversial work about Fischer, the much-maligned 'Bobby Fischer vs. the Rest of the World' by Brad Darrach. I first discussed Darrach in Odds and Ends (December 2010), and returned to him more recently in That's Definitely Bobby! (September 2015). Re-reading his book was a pleasure and this time I took copious notes. It's not as much about the 1972 Fischer - Spassky title match, as it is about convincing Fischer to play the match.

While I was studying the book I was reminded of the many press photos that appeared in the news before, during, and after the 1972 match. I gathered as many of these as I could find and started to sort them. I found close to 100, of which 30 are shown in the following composite photo.

Many of these are duplicates -- for example the last photos in the third and fourth rows -- but they provide an overview of the key events around the match. How to pull all of this info together: the Maguire film, the Darrach book, and the press photos?

22 February 2016

Instructional Videos : Svidler

Last week I squeezed in two videos by players in the upcoming Candidates tournament, Instructional Videos : Karjakin and Nakamura. Now we come to one of my favorite chess presenters, Peter Svidler.

Corus 2007: Press conference Svidler round 11 (Part I) (7:38) • 'Uploaded on Jan 26, 2007'

For the rest of GM Svidler's analysis, see Part II and Part III. To play through the complete game, see Peter Svidler vs Veselin Topalov; Corus 2007 on Chessgames.com.

21 February 2016

Polgar Global Chess Festival, Budapest

A few months ago in this 'Chess in School' series, I featured Judit Polgar's Chess Palace. Some of the concepts in that video can be seen in this more recent report from Chess.com.

2015 Global Chess Festival with Judit Polgar (7:11) • 'A report on the 2015 Polgar Chess Day held 17 October 2015 in Budapest.'

The description informs, 'In order of appearance: Lawrence Trent, Judit Polgar, Miklos Sesztak, Kata Karacsonyi, Sofia Polgar, Benjamin Gledura and Rustam Kasimdzhanov.' Former FIDE World Champion Kasimdzhanov: 'It's amazing. I've never seen anything like this before.'

By coincidence, the most famous of the three Polgar sisters appeared recently in The 'Queen of Chess' who defeated Kasparov (BBC News). 'In 2002, Judit Polgar became the first woman to beat then world champion Garry Kasparov. Judit Polgar spoke to Witness about their rivalry and that historic moment in the sport of chess.'

19 February 2016

Instructional Videos : Nakamura

For this edition of Video Friday I chose a clip featuring GM Nakamura talking about his tiebreak games against GM Vachier-Lagrave in the 2016 Gibraltar Open. By coincidence, the American GM is up next in the series of clips featuring each of the eight players in the forthcoming Candidates Tournament -- last seen in Instructional Videos : Karjakin -- so this post serves double duty.

Hikaru Nakamura Amazingly Wins Gibraltar Masters Chess Open 2016 (20:08) • 'Post game Review and Analysis'

If you would rather see a younger Nakamura struggling with the same wooden demo board used by Karjakin and the others, see Nakamura shows his win against Vachier-Lagrave, 2011 Tata, rd.10, part 1 and part 2.

18 February 2016

Tag Maintenance

If you want to make sure that no one reads a certain post, just put the word 'maintenance' in the title, as in Blog Maintenance (January 2015). Why write about the topic at all? Because a blog is a personal diary as well as a public forum.

Tag: Blog Carnival • First I deleted the tag for carnivals; the relevant posts are easily found via a standard search tool. I use tags to group posts that are not easily identified as belonging together and this doesn't apply to blog carnivals. On top of that, the concept has fallen out of fashion and I doubt that we will see future carnivals for chess blogs.

Tag: Downloads • Then I looked at the posts under this tag, which covers both downloads for this blog and downloads from the web. After starting to collect downloads for this blog -- PGN Downloads (February 2011; could be my most-visited post) -- I never developed the idea. The six ZIP files available today are downloaded regularly, which tells me that there is some interest in providing more of the same. I'll pursue this in another post.

16 February 2016

ACP Survey 2016

Yesterday the Association of Chess Professionals (ACP; chessprofessionals.org) issued an ACP Grand Survey 2016.

ACP is proud to present the ACP Grand Survey 2016 - the most detailed opinion poll related to the professional chess ever released. Everybody is invited to participate, whereas the answers of the ACP members will serve us as the very important indication for our further actions.

Since 'everybody is invited to participate', I took 15 minutes to answer the ~50 questions (something like that; I didn't take notes). Many of the questions were about topics that I had never considered, so I'm not sure taking the survey a second time would produce the same responses. I was a bit disappointed that I didn't receive an email confirmation with a record of my answers, but that's life.

The survey is a good initiative and I hope the ACP receives a decent and representative response (closes on 15 March 2016).

15 February 2016

Instructional Videos : Karjakin

Continuing with the eight players in next month's Candidates tournament, alphabetical order dictates the successor to Instructional Videos : Giri. Here we see GM Karjakin demonstrating a win against the man that each of the candidates hopes to challenge.

Tata Steel Chess 2012 - Analysis (17:13) • 'Sergey Karjakin shows his game against Carlsen round 9'

To follow the complete game, see Magnus Carlsen vs Sergey Karjakin; Tata Steel (2012) on Chessgames.com.

14 February 2016

As Seen on 'Mad Men'

The very first post in the series on Top eBay Chess Items by Price (March 2010) featured a chess set by 'Austin Enterprises for Aluminum Company of America (i.e. Alcoa)' along with the remark 'I noticed six [auctions] for aluminum chess sets by Austin Enterprises'. A few months later I posted on the theme in the same series -- Austin and Eames (January 2011) -- and asked, 'What's with all of these auctions for Austin Enterprises chess sets?'

I finally know why.

The composite image above shows the first six auctions (there were three more) returned by an eBay search on 'chess alcoa', i.e. sets sold over the past three months. The first auction was titled 'Vintage MCM 1962 Austin Enterprises ALCOA Aluminum Chess Board Set w/ Carry Case' and sold for US $1360 after five bids. The description said,

1962 Austin Enterprises ALCOA Aluminum Chess Board Set • With Wooden Carry/Display Case, Slide-off Plexiglass Cover • Vintage, Mid-Century Modern • Very RARE to Find, especially with Original Felt Board • Highly Collectible Item for any Chess Aficionado • Very Good to Excellent Vintage Condition • No Missing or Broken Pieces • A few minor blemishes on board's felt, barely visible • Some light scratches/scuffs on plexiglass • Board = 19 1/8" squared • Carry Case = 30 3/4" long, 6" tall, 2 1/4" wide • Pieces = 3 3/4" to 5" tall • Total Wt. 14 lbs. 8 oz.

In 1962, the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA) launched a marketing program to advance the selling of their aluminum products. Since everyone was obsessed with space in 1962, ALCOA figured what better marketing strategy than to make a really incredible, "space age" chess set. Each piece is cut from a formed bar of aluminum. From the face, the black and white pieces look the same, but the uncut sides of the black pieces are anodized black

That's the most detailed description I've seen about the set, but it doesn't explain its popularity. Moving to the second auction, it was titled '1962 Austin Enterprises / Alcoa Aluminum Chess Set "As Seen on Mad Men"'.

Mystery explained: Mad Men [Wikipedia]. In which season, on which episode was the set shown?

12 February 2016

Giant Chess Pieces in Mandalay

Just like It's All About Pattern Recognition and Petrosian's 'Dining Room', this photo was tagged by the Flickr robot, this time for 'chess'.

Taxi to Mandalay Hill © Flickr user geoff dude under Creative Commons.

As for the photographer, he tagged the photo 'Mandalay, Myanmar'. Wikipedia informs,

Mandalay is the economic hub of Upper Burma and considered the centre of Burmese culture. A continuing influx of Chinese immigrants, mostly from Yunnan, in the past twenty years, has reshaped the city's ethnic makeup and increased commerce with China. • Mandalay

You say 'Myanmar'; Wikipedia says 'Burma'; and Rudyard Kipling (author of a well known poem titled 'Mandalay') says, 'Never the twain shall meet'.

11 February 2016

No More Yahoos?

First, Yahoo shut down its comic section -- I think it was around the beginning of the year. I used to spend about five minutes a day reading my favorites and saving the occasional comic that had something to do with chess. Over the years it amounted to several dozen saved comics, many of them having to do with politics (usually someone playing chess vs. someone playing checkers). The last non-political comic I have on file is shown below.

In the Bleachers, 22 March 2015

Then Yahoo shut down its news carrousel. I'm not even sure if 'carrousel' is the right word for the technique. The last example I used on this blog was shown in Chess Is Awesome (September 2015). While the Yahoo news page still exists, it looks like I'll be limited to the basic Yahoo attention-grabbing lead shown in Thousands of Comments (January 2016).

Then I learned that Yahoo had shut down its game section: Yahoo Games Has Passed Away at Just 17 (wired.com).

Yahoo Games, the once-hopping online game hub best known for its simulacrum of classic board and card games, is shutting down. The news was buried amidst major changes for the company: As we reported Tuesday [see link], Yahoo will lay off roughly 15 percent of the company, downsize across the board, and shutter many offerings, including its TV efforts.

Why did the company shut down the games?

Its decline was inevitable as the niche it filled moved to the mobile market, and as Yahoo itself became less central to the modern internet. Now, Yahoo Games is largely forgotten.

Many years ago I reviewed the chess area of Yahoo Games in General Game Sites (October 2003; archive.org -> chess.about.com); 'A trio of well known sites offers you 24/7 chess play plus many other games'. A few months later I compared it to its peers in Online Chess Play Sites V (January 2004; ditto); 'The fifth in a series of online play articles compares 11 sites'.

At that time I gave Yahoo chess three stars out of four, calculated that it attracted 44% of online chess players (this was a few years before the advent of Chess.com), and noted, 'Good starter site'. I received more comments about the Yahoo review than about any of the ten other online chess play sites, most of the comments disagreeing with my assessment and giving thumbs-down to Yahoo. I haven't been back to the site since the time I did that survey, but I'm still somewhat downhearted to hear of its demise. Where do mobile players go to play chess now?

09 February 2016

Black and White Passion

I ended my recent post on the FIDE rating list, Still There After All These Years, with the intention of a follow-up post.

It's an introduction to the photographer listed beneath the photo, Catherine Jaeg. I'll come back to her in another post.

Open almost any issue of Europe Echecs (EE) from the mid to late 1980s and you'll find photos by Catherine Jaeg. One of my favorites is shown below.

Europe Echecs, January 1988 p.13

I translate the caption as '"Ready to Rumble", GMs Dolmatov and Azmaiparashvili, Kasparov's seconds'. The photo is from an EE report on the Kasparov - Karpov Title Match, Seville 1987.

Jaeg was listed on the EE masthead as one of the 'Collaborateurs' starting November 1984, and as a member of the 'Comité de Redaction' (editorial team) starting September 1985. She continued to be listed until July 1990. That same year she published a collection of her photos in a book titled 'black & white -- PASSION -- en noir et blanc' (Broodcoorens, 1990; Bookfinder.com: ISBN 9090041125). Bessel Kok and his wife at that time, Pierrette Broodthaers, were listed as editors (both were also involved with Kasparov's GMA).

Today she is an artist and serves as President of the Salon Dessin et Peinture √† l’eau, Paris. A biography (in French) and sample of her work (nothing to do with chess) can found on Exposition des oeuvres de Catherine JAEG (2007).

08 February 2016

Instructional Videos : Giri

In the previous episode of this series featuring players in the 2016 Candidates tournament (starts next month!), I used a game from the 2016 Tata tournament, Instructional Videos : Caruana. In this current episode I'll flip back to a historical Tata tournament for another clip showing Tata's infamous wooden demo board (follow the Caruana link for other players using the same board.).

Anish Giri shows his win against Magnus Carlsen (13:55) • 'An unsuccessful opening idea followed by a blunder left the world's number one player Magnus Carlsen with nothing in round 3 of the [2011] Tata Steel Chess Tournament.'

The Youtube description continued, 'For the first time in many years [Carlsen] lost against someone younger than him: the talented Dutch GM Anish Giri, who promoted from the B group last year.' To follow the complete game, see Magnus Carlsen vs Anish Giri; Tata Steel 2011 on Chessgames.com. As far as I know, GM Giri's family name is pronounced with a hard 'g' and rhymes with 'weary'.

07 February 2016

Connecting Children with Chess

From the same Youtube channel that brought us Five Time Winner at Wijk aan Zee, here's a clip featuring Janton van Apeldoorn, founder Chessity, 'a company that develops software that teaches children how to play chess'.

Tata Steel Chess 2016 - Chessity (5:39) • 'Published on Jan 31, 2016'

Q: 'Why do you promote the product at the Tata Steel tournament?' • A: 'Tata developed and created a platform for chess. What they have done the last three years is going to all kinds of places in Holland. They connect chess for all the ages, also children. You have seen in the Spoorwegmuseum [Railway Museum] how big it was there -- thousands of visitors and also a lot of children. That platform is an incredible, powerful tool for children to meet with chess.'

In my next post for the 'Chess in School' series, I'll look at chess software for children, in the same spirit as I did for Chess Curriculum (December 2015).

05 February 2016

Five Time Winner at Wijk aan Zee

After winning the 2016 Tata tournament at Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, the World Champion discussed the event with Press Chief Tom Bottema (left) and Tournament Director Jeroen van den Berg (right).

Tata Steel Chess 2016 - Final Press Conference - Magnus Carlsen (16:52) • 'Published on Jan 31, 2016'

For more videos from the Tata Chess organizers, see Youtube channel Tata Steel Chess.

04 February 2016

Seven Portieljes

This blog's most recent post about 'Top eBay Chess Items', The Kitten Theme, featured a painting by Gerard Portielje (Belgian, 1856-1929) and noted,

A search on 'chess Portielje' brings up two other works by the same artist.

Afterwards I noticed another painting and started to wonder how many different chess paintings there are by Portielje. Using the following image as a starting point...

Google image search on 'chess Portielje'

...I numbered the rows from top to bottom as 1 to 3 with the paintings from left to right in each row identified as A, B, etc.. The 'Kitten Theme' painting (first row, second from the left) is thereby identified as 1B.

That identification scheme reveals the following pairs of chess paintings: 1A & 1C are the same, 1D & 2B ditto (although certain details like the cabinet on the right of the painting are not identical), 1E & 1F ditto; plus two unpaired paintings: 2A and 2F.

2C and 3C show the same painting, but it's not a chess scene. The other Google images are either not by Portielje or not about chess.

That makes six different paintings on the first Google search page. I found a seventh on the second search page, which leads to valsur 274753.html - Valerij SURKOV, showing four Portielje images (among many others by other artists): 1A/1C, 1D, 2B, plus the new painting.

I wouldn't be surprised to find more.


Later: I found a second Valerij SURKOV collection of chess paintings: valsur 337769.html - Valerij SURKOV. This page also has four Portielje images -- 2A, *, 1E/1F, and 2F -- where '*' is a painting not identified above. Change the title of this post to 'Eight Portieljes'!

I also searched my collection of ~10.000 chess images (most of them from eBay) for Portielje. In addition to 'Kitten Theme' (1B), I found several variations of 1E/1F, the best of which had the accompanying text:-

The title is 'The Chess Players'. This print was issued by the Denver Post, December 7, 1902 (printed in the lower left corner). [...] This was printed by the American Colortype Company as a supplement to the Denver Post newspaper.

Another variation mentioned, 'Originally this print appeared as a supplement to the CHICAGO TRIBUNE on 2/2/1902'.

02 February 2016

February 1966 'On the Cover'

Fifty years ago, chess photo credits were more haphazard than they are today. I imagine the photo on the left was taken during the 1963 Piatigorsky Cup in Los Angeles.

The issue of Chess Life had only 20 pages with surprisingly little content. Five of the pages showed only crosstables and game scores for non-U.S. tournaments.

Left: World Champion Petrosian
Right: 'WHAT AGAIN! (Photo by Robert Parent)'

Chess Life

Tigran Petrosian, who won the world chess championship by defeating Mikhail Botvinnik in 1963 by a score of 12.5-9.5, will defend his title against Boris Spassky in a 24-game match that will begin on April 11.

Chess Review

Robert J. Fischer stretched his record for winning the United States Championship to seven straight times at the Henry Hudson Hotel in New York city, December 12 to 30, 1965. As this tournament, directed by E.T.McCormick, was also the U.S. Zonal tournament, Fischer, along with Robert Byrne and Samuel Reshevsky who tied for second place, qualified to compete in the Interzonal Tournament later this year...

On my zonal pages, World Chess Championship Zonals, I've adopted the practice of numbering the World Championship cycles. The events mentioned here would have been in cycles no.6 and no.7.

01 February 2016

Instructional Videos : Caruana

The three previous videos in this series on the players in the forthcoming 2016 Candidates tournament (see the previous post Instructional Videos : Aronian and follow the links back) have all shown analysis from recent editions of the Corus/Tata Wijk aan Zee tournaments. The current video is from the 2016 Tata event that finished yesterday. GM Caruana finished tied for 2nd/3rd, one point behind GM Carlsen. In this clip Caruana discusses his game against the World Champion with broadcast host GM Seirawan.

Tata Steel Tournament 2016 ! Fabiano Caruana Post Game Analysis After Round 2 (22:05) • 'American GM Fabiano Caruana giving analysis of his game against World Champion Magnus Carlsen, Wijk Aan Zee 2016.'

Which do I prefer : the click of wooden pieces on a wooden demo board as in the Aronian discussion or the click of a mouse as in the Caruana discussion? It's hard to say. To follow the complete game, see Magnus Carlsen vs Fabiano Caruana; Tata Steel 2016 on Chessgames.com.