31 July 2016

Morphy Stereoview

After a short break from blogging, I'll resume with the series on Top eBay Chess Items by Price. Although Morphy items are not uncommon on eBay, this is the first time I've used one on 'Top eBay Items'. My last significant post on Morphy was Paul Morphy, 1837-1884 (July 2012).

The item pictured below was titled 'Chess Champion Paul Morphy Stereoview Personal, Note on Reverse, c1858' and sold for US $710.00 after ten bids from four bidders.

The description repeated the title and added

By the Edinburgh Stereoscope Company, New York Office Blind Stamp. Note on the back of the view appears to be printed

The blind stamp is the oval marking on the left of the stereo image. In fact, it says 'Edinburgh Stereographic Com, Broadway, NY'. For another post about a Morphy stereoview, see Morphy, Loewenthal, Young Man, and Lady (November 2011).


Follow-up: Chess Stereoviews (October 2016).

14 July 2016

More on Chess and Alzheimer's

A recent article in Yahoo Finance, The financial and emotional toll of America’s Alzheimer’s problem, started with two stunning statistics,

One-third of individuals over age 85 have Alzheimer’s disease and 1 in 9 over age 65 have the memory-crippling disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. This is a startling demographic story as the American population ages.

It reminded me of a blog post from last year, It's All About Money (August 2015), that focused on the claims of miracle properties chess has in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. My own take on the subject was,

No one knows what effect chess might have on Alzheimer's disease.

The Yahoo Finance article continued,

"Alzheimer's disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and the only cause of death among the top 10 that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed," [Ruth Drew, Director of Family and Information Services at the Alzheimer’s Association] added.

The italics are mine. It was a revelation to me.

12 July 2016

Chess Champion Trading Cards

In Mystery Card Series, I wrote,

The card shown on the left [Korchnoi] is one of a series. How many different cards were produced? When and why were they produced?

In my image archive I located 12 cards in addition to the Korchnoi card. These are shown below (along with my image reference).

The players on the cards are a mixture of historical World Champions, current (circa 1981) World Champions & top contenders, and Yugoslav Champions. They are identified as:-

1st row: Karpov, Ljubojevic, Gligoric, Capablanca
2nd: Alekhine, Steinitz, Spassky, Ivkov
3rd: Lazarevic, Velimirovic, Nemet, Ivanovic

That last card is titled 'Chess Champions'. The four players in the last row are less well known than the others, but are important enough to have Wikipedia pages:-

I've enlarged the header of the Milunka Lazarevic card to show the various symbols used on the cards. As for the card series, one description mentioned,

Edition: "Enigmatsko drustvo CVOR" Bjelovar, 1981. This is very limited edition which covers just 380 different sports cards, among them 13 chess cards

The most comprehensive description I found was,

A very rare Svijet Sporta card from Yugoslavia in 1980-1981. 'Svijet Sporta' translates to 'Sports World' in English. The card is from Bosnia / Croatia / Serbia which was formerly known as Yugoslavia and has a bio of the athlete in the Bosnian / Croatian / Serbian language on the back.

This card certainly was inspired by the Sportscaster cards that were sold around the world judging by the color band and logos at the top of the card. The card is slightly smaller than a Sportscaster card and as far as scarcity it does not compare.

Cards were un-numbered from 1-54 and the rest are numbered 55 to 385, this was a 385 card set released in subscription form just like Sportscasters in 1980 and 1981. Higher numbered cards are supposed to be short printed but all cards from this set are extremely rare in comparison to any other subscription cards.

Copyright: 1981 Svijet Sporta (Enigmatsko udruzenje, Cvor Bjelovar); Measures: 5 7/8 x 3 15/16 inches (15 x 10 cm)

The 'Mystery Card Series' is no longer a mystery.

11 July 2016

Korchnoi's Matches 1946-1977

What, no matches? Because my first release of Viktor Korchnoi's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (1946-1977) was missing basic information about his matches, I went back to the post on Korchnoi's Career 1946-1977 and added the 14 matches listed there. Ten of those matches were played in four consecutive Candidates events, where Korchnoi reached the final match three times.

NB: For the 1977-78 cycle, the Korchnoi TMER is missing the final Candidates match (vs.Spassky) and the title match (vs.Karpov). I'll add those as I tackle Korchnoi's post-1978 record.

10 July 2016

Chessmaster : Waitzkin Version

In the anchor post, Chess Software for Children, after Fritz and Chesster the second package mentioned is 'Chessmaster: Grandmaster Edition' (aka GME edition, aka 11th edition). Although I called it 'the Josh Waitzkin version', the American IM first appeared in an earlier edition. Here's an example from GME minus 1.

Josh Waitzkin Learn Chess Part 1 (1:18) • 'Chessmaster 10th edition'

Another, longer Youtube clip from the latest edition can be found at ChessMaster GME: Waitzkin J. vs Larry Christiansen. These video examples indicate that the software isn't specifically directed at children, while the Amazon comments page, Customer Reviews: Chessmaster: Grandmaster Edition, confirms that the software is indeed 'For All Ages'.

A few years ago, Chess.com's Erik Allebest wrote an upbeat review titled, Chessmaster: Grandmaster Edition - The Art of Extending a Franchise. It ended,

Conclusion: Overall I think Chessmaster is an AMAZINGLY good deal at $29 for the PC version. The total number of features is stunning. Sure, some of them are repackaged from the previous 10 versions, but there is some cool new stuff as well. [...] If you don’t own any chess software and you want to get in the game, BUY THIS. It is a no-brainer. If you already own the 10th edition, then I say buy it anyway unless you have to choose between food and new chess software.

The software's product page, Chessmaster: Grandmaster Edition (chessmaster.uk.ubi.com), says 'Supported OS: Windows Vista/XP (only)', but other sources indicate that it works on more recent versions of Windows. To be certain, I would carefully study the Amazon reviews before spending my money on it.

08 July 2016

A Second Life for Chess

With 1031 views and 125 faves after less than a week on Flickr, what is going on here? First clue: subtitled 'Location: The Outer Garden'; second clue: 'This photo is in 106 groups'; third clue: groups with names like 'SL pictures that touch us' and 'SL LOVE'. It's the latest in a long series of Flickr chess photos for Second Life, already seen on this blog in This One's for Alexandra.

Floating chess pieces © Flickr user Leonorah Beverly under Creative Commons.

What's Second Life? That's easily answered, thanks to Wikipedia:-

Second Life is an online virtual world, developed by Linden Lab, based in San Francisco, and launched on June 23, 2003. By 2013 Second Life had approximately 1 million regular users, according to Linden Lab, which owns Second Life. In many ways, Second Life is similar to MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games); however, Linden Lab is emphatic that their creation is not a game: "There is no manufactured conflict, no set objective". • Second Life

What's the chess connection? That's not so easily answered. Here's Wikipedia again:-

A wide variety of recreational activities, both competitive and non-competitive, take place on the Second Life Grid, including both traditional sports and video game-like scenarios.

See, for example, Second Life Chess Community on lichess.org; the linked Youtube video is useful for understanding the attraction. Another chess connection is art. See, for example, New Second Life Art Installation Takes Chess to Giant & Surreal Heights:-

Oberon Onmura of Second Life Arts and Entertainment [SLANE] has a write-up of "All Rules Disrupted ... The Chess Revolution", an intriguing new installation by avatar artist Shellina Winkler, a giant-sized play on chess themes which evoke comparisons to 20th century surrealists.

As for The Outer Garden (secondlife.com), I'm not enough of a romantic to get it. I'll stick with Flickr photos like Search: chess second life.

07 July 2016

2016 CJA Award Entries

Tracking the Chess Journalists of America (CJA) is one of the things I do with this blog to have a few fun, easy posts each year. Chess stories, chess history, chess art -- what's not to like? A couple of months ago I mentioned the 2016 CJA Awards Announcement (May 2016), and some time afterwards the group announced its 2016 CJA Awards : Entries Received.

This year the CJA has assembled the best collection of award nominations that I can remember seeing since I started paying attention in 2003 (or thereabouts). In addition to the usual nominations from the USCF's Chess Life, the megasite Chess.com has started nominating articles published on its own pages. The category 'Best Tournament Report', for example, has 14 entries, including two for the 2016 U.S. Championship.

'Best Chess Blog' gets the usual short shrift and the only entry is identified by a single underscore ('_'). Fortunately, the corresponding link works and it leads to 'Chess Book Reviews', which is on track to win for the Nth time in recent years. As for another of my favorite categories, 'Best Chess Art', I collected all of the entries and created the composite image shown below.

Top row (left to right):-
* 'The Chess Game', Yael Maimon
* 'GM Walter Browne', Scotty Phillips
* 'Going Deep', Frankie Butler
Bottom row:-
* 'Chess Christmas Tree', Ben Papernick
* 'Mate in 3 (Yes, but is it art?)', Gary Venn
* 'Leader of the Pack', Jim Hollingsworth

I know that I would have trouble selecting a favorite for the 2016 award, and I look forward to seeing which entry the judges will choose. I'll come back next month for a wrapup.

05 July 2016

July 1966 'On the Cover'

Fifty years ago the U.S. chess community was just as interested in the World Championship as it is today. After the January 1966 'On the Cover', at least one of the two main chess magazines featured the 1966 Petrosian - Spassky Title Match on its monthly cover (*). In July they returned to U.S. events.

Left: 'U.S. Junior Champion Walter Browne'
Right: 'The Chicago 2000'

Chess Life

Walter Browne, a 17-year-old senior at Brooklyn's Erasmus High School, scored a thrilling come-from-behind victory in the first annual invitational United States Junior Chess Championship. Browne scored 5-2 in the eight-player round robin held at the Henry Hudson Hotel in New York City June 20-26. • See also Name that Player.

Chess Review

Robert Byrne won the Chicago 2000 Tournament at the Edgewater Beach Hotel. He scored 5 points in 6 rounds, conceding draws to Edgar T. McCormick and Paul Tautvaisas. Called by Frank Skoff of the sponsoring Chicago Chess Foundation "The Poor Man's Piatigorsky," the tournament admitted only those with master or expert ratings (of any time since 1960). Hence the 2000 in the title: it does not refer to the near end of the Century.

The Second Piatigorsky Cup, which started in July 1966, will appear in next month's 'On the Cover'.


(*) Previous months: Feb (CL), Mar (CR), Apr (CL), May (CL&CR), Jun (CR).

04 July 2016

Korchnoi's TMER 1946-1977

Continuing with the scan from Korchnoi's Career 1946-1977, I ran the image of the scanned page through an OCR filter and used it to create a new page Viktor Korchnoi's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (1946-1977). The OCR process introduced some errors and there is still much info to add, so for now I won't add the new page to my index page for Chess History.

03 July 2016

Not Your Typical Black Knight

The last time we saw a live auction here on Top eBay Chess Items by Price was Chess Builders (May 2016). The current item was titled 'YVONNE PÈNE DU BOIS, American, b. 1913, "Chess Player"' and sold for US $450.00 after three bids at live auction.

The description repeated the title and added,

Seller's Estimate: USD 300 - 500. Signed lower left "Yvonne Pene Du Bois 1948". Titled verso. Oil on canvas, 16" x 14". Framed 26" x 24".

The woman in the painting is holding a Black Queen above the outstretched jaws of a Black Knight, which is unlike any chess Knight I've ever seen. There might be plenty of symbolism in the image, but I don't want to go there. A Wikipedia page, William Pène du Bois informs,

His father Guy Pène du Bois was a noted art critic and a painter known for landscapes and portraits. His older sister Yvonne (born 1913, later Yvonne Pène du Bois McKenney) would become a painter and their cousin Raoul Pene Du Bois would become a noted costume and scenic designer.

An Asheville Art Museum page, Yvonne Pene du Bois offers a brief biography,

Yvonne Pene du Bois (1913-1997) was born on Staten Island. She is the daughter of Guy Pene du Bois. She studied at the Art Students League. Du Bois lives in New York City. She is known for her cityscapes and her images of people.

For more about the family, see LIFE magazine's 'The Du Bois Family' (29 Apr 1940). For more about the Black Knight, you're on your own.

01 July 2016

World Champion Blitz

There I was trying to make a choice for this edition of Video Friday. Most of the clips on my short list were from the Belgian leg of the Grand Chess Tour, which took place a couple of weeks ago. While I was reviewing these, my four-year-old granddaughter wandered into my office, made a comment about the clutter, climbed onto my lap, and asked what I was doing. I told her I was trying to choose a video from Youtube -- she knows all about it from watching 'Dora' clips -- and she pointed at this one.

Kramnik vs Carlsen - YourNextMove Grand Chess Tour Blitz - Round 5 (26:49) • 'The Your Next Move Grand Chess Tour is being held in the Historic Town Hall of Leuven, Belgium from 17-20 June.'

The description continued,

The second stage of the 2016 Grand Chess Tour (Paris, Leuven, Saint Louis, London), it sees Viswanathan Anand join Paris winner Hikaru Nakamura, World Champion Magnus Carlsen and seven more of the world's top players to compete for a $150,000 prize fund.

9 rounds of rapid chess (25 minutes + 10 seconds a move) are played on the first 2 days, with wins worth 2 points. 18 rounds of blitz (5 + 2) follow on the final 2 days, with wins worth 1 point. The event is sponsored by Your Next Move, a non-profit organisation promoting chess as an educational tool.

While I was explaining to my granddaughter who the players were, she noticed the water bottles on the chess table, declared that she was thirsty, and wandered out. It's a great choice for a video, but I discovered while writing this post that the original is Your Next Move Grand Chess Tour: Blitz Round 5 - Kramnik vs. Carlsen, from Chess24. The embedded video above isn't even an extract from a long clip; it's a straight copy of the original and will probably disappear when the copyright violation is signaled.

At one point IM Malcolm Pein appears in front of the camera and is identified as the 'Grand Chess Tour Director'. For more from him, see a post on my World Championship blog, Dailymotion Chess. For more about the tournament (in French), see Chess on Belgian News.