29 March 2016

GM Karjakin's Life Story

If you've been watching the 2016 Candidates Tournament on Agon's official site, Worldchess.com, then you've undoubtedly seen the cartoons with the short bios for the eight players.

A few weeks ago I featured one of them in GM Svidler's Headwear. Now here are excerpts from the cartoon for GM Karjakin, The Winner and New Challenger (for the World Championship).

The drawing on the bottom could be captioned 'Last Man Standing', which pretty much sums up the dog-eat-dog atmosphere surrounding the Candidates event, where only one player gets the big prize.

28 March 2016

The Winner and New Challenger

Congratulations to GM Sergey Karjakin who today won the 2016 Candidates Tournament in Moscow. In the last round he defeated the only other participant who still had a chance of winning the event, GM Fabiano Caruana, to become the undisputed winner.

GM Karjakin at the rd.14 press conference

In November, Karjakin will play World Champion Magnus Carlsen, thereby joining an elite list of players who have earned the right to a title match. What's their current record against each other? According to Chessgames.com, in classical games Magnus Carlsen beat Sergey Karjakin 3 to 1, with 15 draws.

As for this blog, I'll suspend the Monday-Monday series on PGN Files for Book Reviews, and will instead develop a Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (TMER; last seen in TMERs: Kasparov Wrapup) for Karjakin.

27 March 2016

Two American Champions

In this ongoing series of Top eBay Chess Items by Price, I only look at items sold since the previous post, usually two weeks earlier. In this post I'll make an exception, because there was nothing else that was especially compelling and because the auction was under my price cutoff when it sold.

The item pictured below was titled '1961 B&W Chess Photo of Lisa Lane & Bobby Fischer (Will be signed by Lisa Lane)' and sold for US $382.50 after five bids from two bidders. On top of 'Will be signed by Lisa Lane', the seller could have added 'Is being sold by Lisa Lane'.

The description said,

I am Lisa Lane and you are bidding on my '1961 Original 9" x 13" Black & White Photo' of Lisa Lane playing chess against Bobby Fischer, replaying the games of Russians Tal and Botvinnik. This photo is a one of a kind and is from my personal collection. I will autograph it for you with a Black Sharpie.

I was born April 25, 1938 in Philadelphia, PA and began playing chess at local coffeehouses when I was 19 years old and winning all the time. After being coached by master Attilio Di Camillo, I won the women's championship of Philadelphia in 1958 and took my first U.S Women's Chess Championship in 1959 when I was 21 years old. I held this title until 1962, losing it to Gisela Kahn Gresser. I had an Elo rating of 2002, a low expert rating, from the United States Chess Federation as of the end of 1961. In 1963, I opened my very own chess club, The Queen's Pawn Chess Emporium in New York City and in 1966 I shared the U.S. Women's Chess Champion title with Gisela Gresser.

It's hard for me to believe that I've never had a post about Lisa Lane. That lapse has now been rectified, with a short bio as a bonus.

25 March 2016

Moscow Candidates Round 4

Two weeks ago on Flickr Friday, we had Psychedelic Logo. Here is another photo from the same Flickr 'Pro'.

Round 4 © Flickr user Andreas Kontokanis under Creative Commons.

From left to right, the players are Svidler - Aronian, Caruana - Topalov, Karjakin - Anand, and Nakamura - Giri. GM Karjakin won; the other games were drawn.

24 March 2016

Bombs Away

Between the tragic Brussels bombings and the exciting 11th round of the Candidates tournament, I had no time for blogging today. I searched my chess photo archive for the word 'bomb' and found this.

The caption said,

A wonderful RARE Columbia Pictures publicity photograph showing Stanley Kubrick Playing a CHESS Game on the Set of "Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" (1964). This 8 1/2 x 11 1/2 B&W image was professionally created in Europe on Premium Gloss Resin Coated Paper & was found in the archives of a large private collection in Paris, France.

'Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb'? I wish it were so easy.

22 March 2016

Kali Yuga


11 September 2001, New York
11 March 2004, Madrid
7 July 2005, London
13 November 2015, Paris
Today, Brussels

And there were so many more...

21 March 2016

PGN Files for Book Reviews

In a recent post I created a PGN Download Directory for storing some of the PGN files I've created through the years. Which files should I add to it?

First I looked at the book reviews indexed in Chess Product Reviews (May 2009) of which there are nearly 50, mainly from the years 2004-2008. Of the reviews that have a corresponding PGN file, about a dozen were for opening books with titles like 'Beating the Unorthodox Repertoire Explained'. I don't know how much value these books have ten years after they were written, but it can't be high. I'll skip those for now.

Three titles still looked to be as interesting today as they were when I reviewed them. Here are links to the corresponding reviews along with the introductory blurb.

  • Test Your Chess • Book review of 'Test Your Chess with Daniel King'. Match wits with the world's greatest players of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

  • Najdorf: Life and Games • Book review of 'Najdorf: Life and Games' by Tomasz Lissowski, Adrian Mikhalchishin and Miguel Najdorf. 'Miguel Najdorf’s chess career spanned more than six decades. It included two World Championship Candidates tournaments and 15 Olympiads -- where he represented his native Poland and later Argentina' [from the back cover]

  • Chess for Tigers • Book review of 'Chess for Tigers' by Simon Webb.

I'll come back to these files in future posts.

20 March 2016

Armenian Candidates

For this next post in the 'Chess in School' (CIS) series, I should return to the subject of chess software for children, introduced in Connecting Children with Chess (February 2016). Instead I'll digress once more, this time because of the ongoing 2016 Candidates Tournament in Moscow.

What's the connection between CIS and the Moscow Candidates? It's a country: Armenia. A few years ago I featured a video about Chess as a Compulsory Subject (March 2012), which explained, 'Armenian schools are introducing chess as a compulsory subject'. Wikipedia's Chess in Armenia informs,

Teaching of chess in schools • In 2011, the Ministry of Education of Armenia made chess part of the primary school curriculum along with such standards as math and history for children over the age of 6. Chess is compulsory for second, third and fourth graders. Over $1.5 million was spent on the program. The inclusion of chess in schools was generally received positively by the public, but some parents claimed that their children's school program was already complicated and overloaded. Grandmaster Smbat Lputian argues that "bringing chess into schools is the best way to build the future."

See also Armenia makes chess compulsory in schools (theguardian.com; November 2011). Fast forward to March 2016. The Chess Federation of Armenia tells us, The President of Armenia, president of the Armenian Chess Federation Serzh Sargsyan attended the official ceremony of opening of the FIDE Candidates Tournament (chessfed.am):-

The opening speeches were delivered by the Russian Deputy Prime-Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, President of the Russian Chess Federation Andrey Filatov, and Dmitry Peskov, Chairman of the RCF Board of Trustees and press spokesman for the President of Russia. In his speech FIDE president thanked President Sargsyan for his great efforts in organizing the event. President of the RCF Andrey Filatov also thanked President Sargsyan and Armenian Chess Federation for such a wonderful present to all chess fans round the world.

The opening ceremony was dedicated to the 25th anniversary of Armenia’s independence. Along with other eight acclaimed contenders, the leader of the Armenian chess game Levon Aronian will also participate at the tournament, which will take place in the capital of the Russian Federation on March 10-29.

I'll extract a few talking points from that:-

  • 'The President of Armenia, [also] president of the Armenian Chess Federation, Serzh Sargsyan'
  • 'thanked President Sargsyan for his great efforts in organizing the event'
  • 'leader of the Armenian chess game Levon Aronian'

The following photo is from the same announcement.

President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan with GM Levon Aronian

Now you know why GM Aronian was nominated by the organizers to play in the event. After the eighth round (with six still to be played) Aronian is tied for the lead with GM Karjakin.

18 March 2016

Not-So-Candid Camera

Did he really say, 'J'adoube'?

Hikaru Nakamura - He touched the King (3:49) • 'Chess [2016 Candidates] game Aronian vs Nakamura in nutshell.'

For one of GM Nakamura's better days, see Instructional Videos : Nakamura.


Later: For the complete game, see Levon Aronian vs Hikaru Nakamura; World Championship Candidates (2016) on Chessgames.com. The pundits there say that the touch-move incident occurred at Black's 74th move. During the press conference just after the game, which Nakamura did not attend, Aronian said that the position was already a win for White.

17 March 2016

The Grownup Way

In a post on my World Championship blog, Moscow Candidates - First Week, I noted a resource that has received the chess world's full attention since it was published less than a week ago: Official Agon Statement on DDOS Attack and Legal Action (worldchess.com). The Agon statement says,

Chess24, InternetChessClub, Chessgames and Chessbomb have all received, or are about to receive, injunctions from Agon Ltd, demanding that they immediately desist on live broadcasting the moves from the games at the Candidates.

Here's how professional sports organizations do the same: Why Facebook, Amazon, and Google all want to stream NFL games (finance.yahoo.com).

15 March 2016

GM Svidler's Headwear

Watching the official broadcast for the Moscow Candidates tournament, I thought the player cartoons were wonderful the first time, interesting the second time, then I quickly became tired of their endless recycling. Same for the ads. I saw the Peter Svidler cartoon twice today and wasn't even present for the entire broadcast. Here's a screen capture...

...What is GM Svidler wearing on his head? In 2007, it's obviously Mexican; in 2011/2014, it must be Siberian; in 2013, there's nothing on his head (Is he playing polo? Croquet? Something else? 'With mallets toward none'?); in 2015, it must be Azerbaijani (Is that some kind of a fur hat?).

A big thanks to the cartoonist!

Legend (links to my site): 2007 World Championship, Mexico City; 2011 World Cup, Khanty-Mansiysk (Siberia); 2013 Candidates Tournament, London; 2014 Candidates Tournament, Khanty-Mansiysk; 2015 World Cup, Baku (Azerbaijan); 2016 Candidates Tournament, Moscow.

14 March 2016

PGN Download Directory

Continuing with PGN Downloads (2016), I created a new directory m-w.com/cfaa/download and copied six existing files to that directory. The six files are documented in the following posts:-

For now I have two copies of each file: the original and the new copy. I'll address that situation in a future post.

13 March 2016

The Value of Jewelry

Here on Top eBay Chess Items by Price, I can't remember having a post about jewelry, while a search for the term on this blog returns 'No Results'. In my previous post, The Value of Art, I had to admit,

I can't explain why an unknown artist sold for nearly five times the price of a known artist.

In this post I have to admit that I don't understand the price at all. The item below was titled, 'RARE Vintage 1930s/40s Bakelite CHESS PIECES Heraldic Design NECKLACE'. It sold for USD $1496.25 with the further explanation 'Was: $1995.00, Buy It Now, 25% off'. Why is the necklace worth that much and why was it marked 'Buy It Now, 25% off'? I simply don't know.

The description started,

For sale here is rare and wonderful vintage 1930s/40s hand-carved and painted Bakelite 'Chess Pieces' heraldic design necklace with rhinestones and seed pearls. Super rare and desirable necklace! Guaranteed genuine vintage 1930s Bakelite necklace, not a reproduction or re-make from old parts. Measures 20" total length, and the pendants are each about 1-3/4" by 1-1/8" wide. Excellent vintage condition with some wear and tarnish to some of the metal parts as shown

The rest of the description provided details about the seller's expertise and said, 'I'm on the list of advisers for both the second and third editions of Warman's Jewelry by the late great Christie Romero.' It looks like I would have to study that reference to understand the price. I'll save that for another time.

11 March 2016

Psychedelic Logo?

The first round of the 2016 Candidates Tournament takes place in Moscow today, so it's only fitting that this epsiode of Flickr Friday features a photo from the event.

Last minute preparations © Flickr user Andreas Kontokanis under Creative Commons.

The photographer, perhaps better known on Flickr as 'karpidis', must be one of that site's most prolific chess photographers: Andreas Kontokanis's [chess] photos (9,344 results). As for the focus of the photo, the official site says, 'Logo and branding for World Chess Candidates Tournament branding unveiled. It’s psychedelic.' (moscow2016.fide.com). Ya think?

10 March 2016

Fischer Wirephotos II

By a coincidence that wasn't planned, I posted Fischer Wirephotos I the day before Fischer's 73rd birthday and this post falls the day after.

The first row on this composite image is the same as the last row on 'Wirephotos I'. The first new photo here (second row, first image) shows Fischer arriving for the 14th game of the 1972 match with Spassky. The last image in the last row was publicity for Fischer's appearance on the Merv Griffin show in December 1972.

At the time I assembled the composite image I didn't notice the duplicate photos of Fischer with Mayor John Lindsay (flanking the four Bob Hope photos). The original was taken on 22 September for New York City's 'Bobby Fischer Day' and made available for end-1972 retrospectives.

08 March 2016

Fischer Wirephotos I

Or should that be 'Fischer Wire Photos'? Whatever you call them, Wikipedia Wirephoto says,

Wirephoto or telephotography is the sending of pictures by telegraph or telephone. Western Union transmitted its first halftone photograph in 1921. AT&T followed in 1924, and RCA sent a Radiophoto in 1926. The Associated Press began its Wirephoto service in 1935 and held a trademark on the term AP Wirephoto between 1963 and 2004.

A few weeks ago, in The Real Bobby Fischer?, I collected 'close to 100' Fischer photos, most of them wirephotos. After posting, I changed the file name of each photo to the date on the caption attached to the photo, sorted them chronologically, and eliminated the duplicates. The first 30 are shown below, although the dates of the wirephotos don't always match the dates on which they were originally taken.

The photos start with Fischer's pre-match training sessions, including a tennis tournament he played in early June 1972. The sequences showing Spassky without Fischer are from the period where the world was waiting to see if Fischer would actually show up in Iceland. My composite image ends with a photo of Spassky taken at the time of the 12th game, which would have been mid-match had the event run to its full 24 games. Some famous photos are missing, e.g. the photo of Fischer exiting the aircraft at Reykjavik airport, which gives me hints for future directions.

My favorite photos are the third through fifth in the second row. They were taken on the night of 29th June, a period covered in Darrach's second chapter ('A Night at the Airport', see 'Real Bobby Fischer' for background). Frank Brady's 'Profile of a Prodigy' (Dover 1973) covered the same hours in a single, long paragraph (p.225).

07 March 2016

Instructional Videos : the Candidates

We started this series of Instructional Videos with the current World Champion, GM Carlsen, then worked through each of the eight candidates for a title match later this year: Anand, Aronian, Caruana, Giri, Karjakin, Nakamura, Svidler, and Topalov. To round out the series I'll add one more world class player, whom I'll call 'the missing candidate'.

Corus 2007: Press conference Kramnik, Part I (9:14) • 'Uploaded on Jan 19, 2007'

For the rest of GM Kramnik's analysis, see Part II and Part III. To play through the complete game, see Vladimir Kramnik vs Viswanathan Anand; Corus 2007 on Chessgames.com.

06 March 2016

CIS Conference, Brussels 2016

After seeing the announcement for the Chess in School Conference Brussels 2016 (chessdom.com), I sent an email to the contact listed for the Educational Committee of the European Parliament asking if the public was allowed to attend. I never received a response, so I was pleased to learn later that the proceedings had been filmed. The quality of the video is mediocre, but it's better than nothing.

Live video (1:07:48) • 'Streamed live on Feb 24, 2016'

The cast of characters is available in a pair of posts from Chessdom: Pre-Conference Press Release and Post-Conference Summary (including part 2 of the live video). See also Brussels Chess in Schools Conference (fide.com), with photos linking names and faces.

04 March 2016

No Comment TV

Not too long ago here on Video Friday, we had No Comment when Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti banned chess. For this post, we have 'No Comment TV'.

Russia: Icy water chess tournament (0:53) • 'Russian winter swimmers found a new way to build up their stamina and concentration - by playing chess in icy water.'

The video's description continued,

In a lake in Russia's Ural mountain region swimmers plunged into water of around 5 degrees Celsius for a chess game that tested their mental and physical strengths. No Comment is brought to you by Euronews, the most watched news channel in Europe.

If you're metric-challenged, five degrees Celsius is around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. However you measure it, it's cold.

03 March 2016

PGN Downloads (2016)

What can I say about chess copyrights that hasn't already been said? Just about everyone knows that the moves of a chess game can't be copyrighted, but any notes to that game are automatically protected. Five years ago, in PGN Downloads (February 2011), I noted,

Many players don't realize it, but the list of games in a book is copyrighted material.

That pretty much precludes anyone who respects copyright from creating a file containing the PGN game scores from such-and-such a chess book. Or does it? In 'PGN Downloads (2011)' I offered a few files to test the waters, but I've never been entirely comfortable with the scenario.

Recently I was re-reading the Associated Press Stylebook (I have the 39th edition, June 2004), where the last section is 'Copyright Guidelines'. The AP says,

While copyright generally prohibits the use of another's protected expression, the doctrine of "fair use" permits, in certain circumstances, the use of copyright material without its author's permission.

To determine whether a particular use is fair, courts are required to evaluate and balance such factors as:
(1) the purpose of the use;
(2) the nature of the copyright work that is used;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyright work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential value of the copyright work.

I had never considered 'fair use' in the context of a file of PGN games, but there is an excellent match. Going through each of the AP's four bullets, '(1) the purpose' of a PGN file is

  • to read a chess book with the help of a PGN reader,
  • to apply a chess engine to the notes in a book
  • to produce statistics on the games in a book

As for '(2) the nature of the copyright work', I believe that for books this means fiction vs. nonfiction, where chess books are nearly always nonfiction. The stylebook says later,

Fair use is more likely to be found if the copyrighted work is informational rather than fictional.

As for '(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used', I am currently preparing a PGN file for Walter Browne's 'Stress of Chess'. Its list of 101 games takes a little more than two pages in a book with 463 pages. That is probably typical for a chess book and amounts to less than 0.5% of the material in the book.

The last bullet, '(4) the effect of the use upon the potential value', is the easiest. A PGN file containing only the original moves of the games in a book -- no variations or notes! -- considerably enhances the value of the book. In my opinion, it should be produced together with a book and distributed digitally by the publisher when the book is first published.

I took away one more general point from the AP's discussion of copyright:-

Proper attribution cannot transform an infringing use into a fair one.

With this discussion in mind, I can return to the subject of Tag Maintenance, specifically 'Tag: Downloads'.

01 March 2016

March 1966 'On the Cover'

This 'On the Cover' series is now two years old! See March 1964 'On the Cover' for the first post.

Left: 'A Third Crown for Benko'
Right: 'Will He Win Again?'

Chess Life

International Grandmaster Pal Benko of New York City firmly established himself as "King of the Opens" by scoring a brilliant 7.5-0.5 to capture the second annual Stardust National Open Chess Championship at the Stardust Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, February 27 through March 4. His National Open title, added to the American Open crown captured last November and the U.S. Open championship shared with William Lombardy in August, gives Grandmaster Benko first claim to the Triple Crown of Chess. Considering the many surprises and difficulties of Open competition, it is very doubtful that his National Open score and his achievement of winning or sharing in all three major Open titles will ever again be matched. • Report by E.B.Edmondson, USCF President

Chess Review

Only a year ago, a long reign was still being predicted for the new World Champion Tigran Petrosyan. In his cautious approach to chess competitions, he was, perhaps, not so impressive; but he was very impressive in his unparalleled ability to foresee danger on the chessboard and to avoid any risk of losing. After his match with Botvinnik, Petrosyan seemed to be virtually invincible if he wanted to be. Even Botvinnik, in spite of his iron will and energy, was exhausted by the durability of his younger rival. For Petrosyan was able, each time he needed to ensure his safety, to drain off the possibilities on the board and to make Botvinnik's ambitions look futile. • 'Game of the Month' by Svetozar Gligorich (Korchnoy - Petrosyan, 1965 Moscow - Leningrad match; 'Korchnoy' won both games of their mini-match)

In the January 1966 'On the Cover', the National Open was featured on the CL cover and Benko was featured on the CR cover. Although CL gave the dates of the National Open as 27 February - 4 March, the tournament report was already available in March. It makes you wonder when CL issues were sent to be printed.

In the February 1966 'On the Cover', Petrosian was featured on the CL cover. What can I say about CR's green cover? It was also the color of choice for the CR side of the December 1965 'On the Cover'. An article in the March CR, titled 'Petrosyan in Pictures', had a three page photo spread from the same shoot as the cover photo. Why CR chose a photo where 'Petrosyan' covered his face is anyone's guess.