29 October 2020

Queen's Gambit Mania

Of the 100 chess stories that appear at the end of every month on Google News, three or four on the same topic will signal strong interest in that topic from the mainstream press. What to say of 15 stories on the same topic? That's what I'm seeing this month for the Netflix production of 'The Queen's Gambit'. On top of that, I'm seeing a special Google box titled 'View Full Coverage' that I've never seen before. It looks like this:-


It leads to a 'Full Coverage' page that goes on and on and on. Where to start? How about the Netflix trailer.

The Queen's Gambit | Official Trailer | Netflix (2:31) • '[Published on] Sep 24, 2020'

The trailer has almost 1.4 million views and 2500 comments, although as far as I know, this is normal for Netflix. Its description says,

When winning takes everything, what are you left with? The Queen's Gambit follows a young chess prodigy's rise from an orphanage to the world stage. But genius comes with a cost. A riveting adaptation of Walter Tevis' groundbreaking novel comes to Netflix on October 23rd, starring Anya Taylor-Joy.

This week I opened Netflix to add the program to my personal list. I was half expecting not to find it. A few years ago the company offered a Magnus Carlsen documentary that I've never been able to find. That led me to believe that their catalog in the USA is not the same as their catalog in Europe. This time I was more fortunate. At the top of my Netflix home screen, 'The Queen's Gambit' was the main offering.

I also flipped through my chess books, looking for the paperback copy of the Tevis' novel that I read sometime back in the 1980s. The name 'Beth Harmon' has stuck in my memory ever since. Between the Netflix program and the book, not to mention Google's 'Full Coverage', I'll be busy for a while.

Good timing, too, as Belgium is expected to go back into coronavirus lockdown this weekend. Maybe I'll get another blog post or two out of 'The Queen's Gambit'.

26 October 2020

Stockfish Wins TCEC S19; CCC15 Still Halted

Two weeks ago, in my fortnightly report on the world's foremost engine vs. engine competitions, the title of that post gave the entire story: TCEC S19 Sufi 75% Finished; CCC15 Still Halted. To summarize the situation at that time:-

TCEC: After 75 games of the 100 game match, Stockfish leads LCZero by +11-7=57. • CCC: Still no news on the technical problems affecting the GPU engines, which I first reported four weeks ago.

Once again, the title of this report gives the most important info on the current situation. Should I stop writing the reports and just post the titles? Fortunately, there's still a bit more to be said this time.

TCEC: In the previous post, I calculated,

Extrapolating to 100 games gives a final score of +15-9=76. The most recent 25 games went +6-3=16 for Stockfish.

The last 25 games finished +7-2=16 for a final score of +18-9=73 for Stockfish. The match was technically decided after 93 games. What's next? The TCEC '!commands' announce,

!next • Now GPU (Lc0, Allie, Stoof, Scorpio) !VSOB ~4d , Cup7 testing, Cup7 ~1week, StockfishClassical-LCZero Sufi Bonus 3 ~4d (might be earlier or later), FRC2 testing and FRC2 ~1.5 weeks. Then S20 QL+L4+L3, L2+L1, DivP, Sufi

VSOB stands for 'Viewer Submitted Openings Bonus', last seen on this blog in VSOB PGN (January 2020). The current event is titled 'GPU VSOB 1' and still has a couple of days to run.

CCC: The previous post, 'CCC15 Still Halted', gave a *running* commentary:-

The report from two weeks ago mentioned the site was running matches for 'CCRL Ratings Standardization'. Now it is running 'CCRL Calibration'.

And now the site is running 'Bullet Chess Is Fun'. What happens next? Who knows. A recent comment on the site's Discord resource informed, 'Since no one has said anything, the GPUs are back', but that was a week ago and has not been confirmed elsewhere.

[For further information from the various stakeholders in the engine-to-engine events, see the tab 'TCEC/CCC Links' at the top of this page. • NB: Leela = LC0 = LCzero]

25 October 2020

Wild Rabbit, Meet Black Bear

What do chess and cognac have in common? Well, Maurice Ashley for one.

Hennessy Presents: Maurice Ashley & The Black Bear School (2:00) • '[Published on] Sep 14, 2020'

The video description said,

Maurice Ashley gives us a look into his mind -- one that knows infinite possibilities, one that’s been shaped as much by his opponents as himself, and one that crowned him the world's first Black Chess Grandmaster in history. Never Stop, Never Settle.

Sounds like it might be a good choice for this month's edition of The Sociology of Chess (November 2016). Except the description went on to say,

This video is not intended to be seen by persons under the legal alcohol drinking/buying age nor in countries with restrictions on advertising on alcoholic beverages. Do not share it with people under the legal alcohol drinking age and/or purchasing age in their country of residence.

Oh! It's not For All Ages. So stop trying to click on the image above. It's not a video; it's a photo of a video. If you really want to see the video, go here: Hennessy Spotlights Living Legend and International Chess Grandmaster Maurice Ashley In Latest Chapter of Award-Winning "Wild Rabbit" Advertising Campaign (prnewswire.com). The press release starts,

Hennessy, the world's best-selling Cognac, is proud to announce the next chapter of its award-winning Wild Rabbit advertising campaign with "Maurice and The Black Bear School." Narrated by hip-hop legend Nas, new creative debuted last night celebrating Maurice Ashley, who by force of will, relentless determination and mental mastery, earned the outstanding title of International Chess Grandmaster.

The press release says nothing about 'restrictions on advertising on alcoholic beverages'. Nor does it embed the video.

22 October 2020

More Chess Sightseeing

The previous Flickr photo post, Keres' Last Move, already spawned one additional post with Soviet Era Chess Photos. A second additional post, based on the following composite photo, is also demanding to be explored.

Google image search on 'site:tripadvisor.com chess'

The 'Keres' Last Move' post mentioned 'Picture of Monument to Paul Keres, Narva (tripadvisor.com)', and it turns out there are thousands of other chess photos on the site. Most of them feature giant chess sets like the ones shown in the composite. For example, the photo in the top left is titled 'Giant chess game; we've had so much fun here with the kids', and shows the Los Abrigados Resort and Spa, Sedona, Arizona.

The page returned by the image search has the usual tags at the top of the page -- phrases like 'giant chess board', 'bali', 'vancouver mall', 'montego bay' -- aggregating related photos togther. On top of that is a feature I'd never seen before: a 'Popular topics' box, with three related tags for further exploration. The second such box is shown above, second from right in the top row, including tags 'Chess piece', 'Salzburg', and 'Max Euweplein'.

Clicking through those tags returns photos based only on that key phrase, i.e. not necessarily 'site:tripadvisor.com' and not necessarily 'chess'. How were these tags chosen? The phrase 'Max Euweplein' makes sense, because the giant chess set in the middle of the square ('plein' is Dutch for a place like a town 'square') is the most notable feature there, but what about 'Salzburg'? Those photos are mostly beautiful wide angle shots of that picturesque town in Austria. Adding 'chess' as a search term reveals the connection -- another giant chess set. The 'Salzburg' tag added to my original search must be a further example of AI in action.

A few years ago I featured another inspiration for chess tourism in Chess Sightseeing (March 2014). The next time I take a trip somewhere, I'll check Google images before I leave; just add destination to the site search for chess.

20 October 2020

Soviet Era Chess Photos

For the previous post featuring a Flickr photo, Keres' Last Move, I went with the photo that offered the best story. On my short list there was another series of photos, shown in the composite below, that risked offering too many stories.

Photo top left: 1971 USSR Chess Championship © Flickr user Boris Galatiknova under Creative Commons.

That composite shows all but one of the photos that were available at that time from that Flickr user, indicating that the Flickr page is for a new user. Since then, several more photos have been added. Is this the start of a major new source of Soviet era chess photos? Time will tell.

For more about the event in the linked photo, see 1971 USSR Chess Championship (wikipedia.org). It starts,

The 1971 Soviet Chess Championship, held from 15 September to 18 October 1971 in Leningrad, was the 39th edition of the USSR Chess Championship. The tournament was won by Vladimir Savon, [a] little-known International Master.

The other thumbnails in the composite photo are from different years, events, and settings. Two of them show GM Mikhail Tal.


Later: The individual photo linked under my composite is one of the photos used on the Wikipedia page. Both photos have the same width and height. Coincidence?


Even later: No, it's not a coincidence. Another Wikipedia page, 1985 USSR Chess Championship (wikipedia.org), uses another photo from the Boris Galatiknova collection on Flickr, 52nd USSR Chess Championship 1985 (flickr.com). The previous photo, '1971 USSR Chess Championship', and this photo, '1985 USSR Chess Championship', were both uploaded to Wikipedia by the same Wikipedia user, Scoopbh. As far as I know, Soviet era photos are not covered by international copyright laws, so this activity is perfectly legitimate. What is the source of these scanned photos?

19 October 2020

Parsing Engine Names

In last week's post on engine competitions, TCEC S19 Sufi 75% Finished; CCC15 Still Halted, I wrote,

For the record, the full names of the two [TCEC S19 Sufi] engines are:-
- Stockfish 202009282242_nn-baeb9ef2d183
- LCZero v0.26.3-rc1_T60.SV.JH.92-190
In a future post, I'll try to parse those names.

Under 'Main seasons', Wikipedia TCEC page has a list of all finalists including the full name/version of the engines in the finals.

Top Chess Engine Championship (wikipedia.org)

Stockfish has competed in every TCEC final since S11. The following table shows a naming evolution from DDMMYY to YYMMDD, to adding a version, to YYYYMMDD + version, to NNUE plus some sort of a version probably taken from the contents of the file ('nn-baeb...'):-

S11: Stockfish 260318
S12: Stockfish 180614
S13: Stockfish 18102108
S14: Stockfish 190203
S15: Stockfish 19050918
S16: Stockfish 19092522
S17: Stockfish 20200407
S18: Stockfish 202006170741
S19: Stockfish 202009282242_nn-baeb9ef2d183

Leela has competed in every TCEC final since S14 (except S16). The following table shows an evolution based on incorporating codes into the version:-

S14: LCZero v0.20.2-32930
S15: LCZero v0.21.1-nT40.T8.610
S16: %
S17: LCZero v0.24-sv-t60-3010
S18: LCZero v0.25.1-svjio-t60-3972-mlh
S19: LCZero v0.26.3-rc1_T60.SV.JH.92-190

For an explanation of the T40/T60 codes, see Leela Evolution (February 2020). For an explanation of the other codes, see [TBD]...

18 October 2020

Keres' Last Move

The title of this Flickr photo said only 'Chess player', so I used the photo's description as its title. This reminded me of Two More Chess Statue/Sculptures (October 2016), where I wrote that I was 'always on the lookout for chess statues (aka sculptures)'.

A sculpture of a chess player in Narva © Flickr user Aigred under Creative Commons.

A semi-official page, Statue of Paul Keres, Estonia (visitestonia.com), settles on the word 'statue' and informs,

The statue was installed for the 100th birthday of Paul Keres [...] The statue depicts the game between Keres and Walter Browne in Vancouver in 1975. It mistakenly shows Keres playing with White pieces.

Narva is the town of Keres' birth. Another page, A Chess master from Narva - Picture of Monument to Paul Keres, Narva (tripadvisor.com), calls the work a 'monument' and offers another half-dozen photos including one of a memorial plaque that says,

This chessboard depicts the Grandmaster's last game.

Was it the last position of the last game? The page Walter Shawn Browne vs Paul Keres, 1975 (chessgames.com), gives one more move before White resigns. A comment on the same page says,

The monument to Paul Keres in Narva, Estonia, depicts the position after move 43...Rd1+. The last move of his career.

In another Flickr post featuring Keres, The Last Flickr Friday (May 2018, Flickr tag: Tallinn), I wrote, '[The photo] appears to be an exterior wall plaque, perhaps on the house where Keres lived.' The Keres bio on Chessgames.com says,

Paul Keres was born in Narva, Estonia, where he would reside his entire life.

Paul Keres, 1916-1975.

15 October 2020

2020 CJA Awards - Part 2

Compared to last year's post on this blog, 2019 CJA Awards - Part 2 (August 2019), the 2020 Awards are being highlighted nearly two months later than usual. Just like last year, I'll focus on the awards that are my personal favorites:-

  • Chess Journalist of the Year
  • Best Chess Book
  • Best Chess Art
  • Best Chess Blog

'Chess Journalist of the Year' went to John Hartmann, Chess Life/CLO Editor, who was the only nominee in the category. Along with the big one, Hartmann won four other awards, among them 'Best Interview' ('GM Aagard On The Candidates') and 'Best Tournament Report' ('Aagard on the Candidates')

'Best Chess Book' had two winners: 'Best Book - Instruction' ('In the Zone: Winning Streaks' by Cyrus Lakdawala) and 'Best Book - Other' ('The Best I Saw in Chess' by Stuart Rachels). A third award was 'Best Self Published' ('Humor in Chess', Ralph Bowman and Dewain Barber, editors).

Last year I noted that 'Best Chess Art' had been split into two categories. This year both categories were won by Chess Life (CL) covers: 'Chess Art' ('Scholastic Nationals' by James Oses, CL August 2019) and 'Single Chess Magazine Cover' ('Pal Benko' by Patrick Morales-Lee & Frankie Butler, CL November 2019).

Last but not least: 'Best Blog' ('Learning from Each Game' by Ray Linville), currently known as Learning with Each Game (chess.com/blog). Linville, the John Hartmann of the chess blogosphere, walked away with three other awards, which I presume were individual posts on his blog.

For a full list of CJA winners, see CJA Awards 2020 (chessjournalism.org). The main reason this current post is appearing 'two months later than usual' was a move of the CJA site from one server to another. Unfortunately, a casualty of the move was all of the content formerly available on the site. That content is still available at the Wayback Machine - chessjournalism.org (archive.org).

Congratulations to all winners!

12 October 2020

TCEC S19 Sufi 75% Finished; CCC15 Still Halted

Two weeks have passed since our last look at the world's foremost engine vs. engine competitions. Although the title of that post, TCEC S19 Preparing Sufi; CCC15 Still Halted (September 2020), told the whole story, let's start with the usual summary.

TCEC: In Premier Division (DivP), Stockfish and LCZero finished 1st/2nd to qualify into the S19 Superfinal. • CCC: There is no news on the technical problems affecting the GPU engines.

The keywords in the title of that post -- TCEC Sufi & CCC Halted -- are just as relevant for this current post.

TCEC: After 75 games of the 100 game match, Stockfish leads LCZero by +11-7=57. Extrapolating to 100 games gives a final score of +15-9=76. The most recent 25 games went +6-3=16 for Stockfish. For the record, the full names of the two engines are:-

  • Stockfish 202009282242_nn-baeb9ef2d183
  • LCZero v0.26.3-rc1_T60.SV.JH.92-190

In a future post, I'll try to parse those names.

CCC: There is still no news on the technical problems affecting the GPU engines, which I first reported four weeks ago. The report from two weeks ago mentioned the site was running matches for 'CCRL Ratings Standardization'. Now it is running 'CCRL Calibration'.

Last year the site also ran into technical problems, which I reported in TCEC S16 L1; CCC10 GPU Blues Continue (August 2019). It took about three weeks to resolve those problems.

[For further information from the various stakeholders in the engine-to-engine events, see the tab 'TCEC/CCC Links' at the top of this page. • NB: Leela = LC0 = LCzero]

11 October 2020

An Existential Crisis?

After this introduction...

Hello and welcome to week seven of chess month in which our team shines a light on two player games. Today we're looking at all the fun you can have with a chess board -- so this should be a short video!

...you might guess that anything can happen. And that's also what you'd expect from a Youtube channel that calls itself 'Shut Up & Sit Down'. Did he say 'chess tickles'?

Nine Easy Ways to Make Chess Fun (13:58) • '[Published on] Sep 23, 2020'

The 'Nine Easy Ways' are chess variants, including bughouse. Why variants?

If we can just put down the worthy analogies for a second, and if we can make an effort to cut through the choking cultural fog that billows off of the chess set and makes it quite hard to judge, as a game we're left with an uncomfortable truth, which is simply that playing chess is a bummer.

With nearly 100.000 views, the video attracted over 500 comments, many of them discussing other chess variants or board games. Coming on top of GM Kramnik's Nine Chess Variants (September 2020), we might conclude that chess is facing some sort of an existential crisis -- another casualty of the coronavirus.

08 October 2020

The Th??e of Chess

In last week's post, October 1970 & 1995 'On the Cover' (October 2020), with artist Samuel Bak represented on the October 1995 Chess Life, I mentioned,

The two page feature on Samuel Bak included five color photos of the artist's chess paintings, a list of four concurrent exhibitions, and an appreciation by Bernard Pucker, whose gallery had set up a permanent exhibition.

If you happen to have a scanned copy of that issue of CL, available from the resource I promoted last year in US Chess CL Archive (November 2019), the two page Bak feature looks like the following image.

The thin white line down the center of the image separates the left page from the right page, where both pages were folded sloppily for the scanning process. You would probably never guess that the title of the article is 'The Theme of Chess'. In my post on the 'CL Archive' I mentioned,

Unfortunately, the document scans aren't first rate -- many pages are skewed and/or clipped on the side of the magazine fold, and the text is often too light, making it difficult to read -- but who's complaining?

Ten months later I'm complaining (just a little bit). Luckily I have paper copies of CL going back to 1992, so I have access to good copies of all articles from that time on. Pity the poor researcher who needs to read the text hidden by the page fold. Why go to the trouble of scanning hundreds of magazines, tens-of-thousands of pages without some quality standards?

[NB: While I was checking how far back my paper copies started, I noticed that the January 1992 cover of CL also featured Samuel Bak. The three page spread inside the magazine included nine works not repeated in the October 1995 CL.]

06 October 2020

Armenian Gin Fizzle

One of the most maddening aspects of internet and web technology is how resources appear and disappear from one day to the next. 'Here today, gone tomorrow', as they say. When future chess historians look for the page captured in the following image, originally published 27 September 2020, what will they find?

'Armenia Eagles Win 2020 PRO Chess League'

The first paragraph informed,

On Sunday the Armenia Eagles won the 2020 PRO Chess League by defeating the Saint Louis Arch Bishops 9.5-6.5. The Eagles won $20,000 for their victory while the Arch Bishops earned $10,000.

Later we learned,

It was 36-year-old GM Tigran L. Petrosian—the only player of the four who played in three consecutive league seasons—who became the Man of the Match. The namesake of Armenia's world champion in the 1960s scored a stunning 3.5/4 against four players who are rated at least 100 higher than him in standard chess.

For the record, 'Armenia's world champion in the 1960s' was Tigran V. Petrosian (1929-1984). What did his 2020 namesake -- shown in a white shirt in the photo above -- have to say about his stellar PRO Chess League performance?

Asked about his secret, Petrosian didn't have a particularly child-friendly first reply when he (jokingly?) revealed that he had been drinking gin during the match. But he continued: "I'm a retired chess player, but I like blitz and rapid. Usually, I'm not playing bad in this kind of stuff, so I am happy that I could help my team."

The last trace of that page in Google's cache was 1 October 2020. On that same day, we learned, Saint Louis Arch Bishops 2020 PRO Chess League Champions; Armenia Eagles Disqualified (chess.com):-

The Saint Louis Arch Bishops are the winners of the 2020 PRO Chess League championship. The Armenia Eagles have been disqualified from the 2020 season due to fair play violations. After a thorough investigation, Chess.com's Fair Play team determined that GM Tigran L. Petrosian, who played for the Armenia Eagles, violated fair play regulations during games in both the semifinal and final matches that took place on September 25 and 27, respectively.

To learn the fate of Petrosian, his team, and the three teams previously placed 2nd-4th for the 2020 season, see that linked article. The year 2020 now has another reason to be remembered as a bad year.

05 October 2020

Stockfish NNUE - Three Early Threads

Continuing with Stockfish NNUE Dev (September 2020), I closed the post saying,

Long story short : NNUE gets to the essence of handcrafted evaluation functions. [...] I'll come back to the subject after I've had some time to orient myself. I hope the time will be well spent.

First, here's a Discord search term for locating the discussion on a specific day. This particular expression goes to early discussions of Stockfish NNUE development:-

in: #general-nnue-dev during: 2020-06-06

Those discussions lead to a Talkchess thread that started a week earlier: Stockfish NN release - NNUE (talkchess.com).

So a year [ago] somebody ported Shogi NN called NNUE (efficiently updateable neural network backwards) to SF10 as a proof of concept. He released the binaries and instructions after I asked him a few days ago.

Another discussion leads to the Stockfish Fishcooking forum, also from end-May: Time for NN eval?:-

Talkchess.com: 'Stockfish NN release - NNUE'; Maybe we should try to take a look at this?

To go back even further, it helps to be familiar with Hisayori Noda (chessprogramming.org):-

Hisayori Noda, a Japanese mathematician, computer scientist, and computer Shogi and chess programmer, who introduced NNUE to Stockfish, yielding in Stockfish NNUE.

The Chessprogramming wiki also gives a diagram of NNUE's architecture for evaluation, aka HalfKP.

Source: Stockfish NNUE (chessprogramming.org)

So there we have it: a specific NN architecture, a record of its early training & validation on chess positions, its integration into Stockfish, and samples of its early games against other engines. It's extraordinary how quickly the NNUE concept evolved.


Later: After I wrote the post, I spent some time trying to decipher the title of the chart, 'NNUE HalfKP 256x2-32-32', which refers to the structure of the four layers shown in the chart. The number 41024 is explained in the link to Chessprogramming.org under the chart:-

41024 = 64 * 641.
64 comes from the number of the cells where King may exist.

641 = 64 * 5 * 2 + 1.
64 here comes from the number of the cells where a piece other than King may exist.
5 is the number of piece types other than King.
2 is the number of colors, White and Black.
1 is a captured piece.

As for 'HalfKP', I found an explanation in the Stockfish Discord group (11 June):-

KP is combination of own King - piece position [plus] combination of opponent King - piece position. • HalfKP is combination of own King - piece position only.

This leads to questions that I wasn't able to answer. The Chessprogramming chart shows both 'Side to move' and 'Side not to move'. Since both Kings are on distinct squares, are both Kings included in the 64*641 array? If so, why call it 'HalfKP'? If not, where is the opposing King in the 64*5*2 array? I hope this will become clearer as I increase my understanding of NNUE.

Another question regards the big 64*641 array. Why not use a smaller '769 = 64 * 6 * 2 + 1' array? Is there some advantage to isolating the King in a higher level array where all cells but one are zero? The most important factor in creating the network is the large number of training positions that have known evaluations attached to them.

One other point worth mentioning: the acronym 'crep' is sometimes mentioned as an enhancement. It refers to 'castling rights, en passant', which are also attributes of many chess positions.

04 October 2020

French or Italian?

Of all the auction items featured in this blog's long running series on Top eBay Chess Items by Price (March 2010), my favorites involve artwork. According to my informal selection rules, I should pick an item from the previous month, i.e. September 2020, but the item shown below ended on 1 October and none of the alternatives on my short list were particularly interesting. I'm also hoping that the rest of October will offer other items for the next eBay post.

Titled '19th century large French / Italian oil canvas - elegant figures playing chess' the painting sold for GBP 820.00, 'Approximately US $1,060.63' according to eBay. It attracted 28 bids from 16 bidders.

The item description repeated the title and added,

A lovely large French or Italian oil on canvas depicting elegant figures playing a game of chess in an interior. The work is very well painted and in good condition. The work is not signed so we have no idea who painted it but its a quality piece.

Title: "The Chess Game" • Signature: No visible signature • Provenance: Private UK collection • Medium: Oil on canvas • Size: c. 23 x 16 inches unframed; 29 x 22 inches framed • Condition: Very nice for age - ready to hang

I closed the previous eBay post on artwork, Georgian Player, Regency Set (May 2020), questioning the 'four figure price for a portrait by an unsigned, unknown artist'. I could ask the same question for any painting. I could also ask what features of the painting point to 'French or Italian'.

01 October 2020

October 1970 & 1995 'On the Cover'

It's that time of the month again, when we look at the covers of U.S. chess magazines from 50 and 25 years ago. At first sight it's not obvious, but both of this month's covers have an element in common: Boston.

Left: 'Bent Larsen, Winner of U.S. Open in Boston. Pal Benko was second and Robert Byrne third. Details next month.'
Right: 'The Theme of Chess; Red Wing, 1990; Samuel Bak'

Chess Life & Review (50 Years Ago)

Let's skip ahead to the November 1970 issue of CL&R for the tournament report: 'Larsen Wins 71st U.S. Open - 303 Players Set New Record, by George Koltanowski, Tournament Director'.

A new record of 303 entries was set in the latest edition of the United States Open Championship, held in Boston, Massachusetts, August 9-22, 1970. The way the U.S. Chess Federation is growing, one can expect to see thousands participating in the U.S. Open in future years. The tournament was successful, too, in terms of strength -- there were 5 international grandmasters, 20 national masters, over 40 Experts among participants from all over the world.

Koltanowski wrote unusual tournament reports. For the 1970 U.S. Open, he gave more column space to the organization of the tournament than to the winners. Half of his report consisted of anecdotes about GM Kavalek, who finished in a tie for places 8-18.

A few month's earlier, in July 1970 & 1995 'On the Cover' (July 2020), Larsen also appeared on CL's cover. For his previous appearances, start with December 1968 'On the Cover' (December 2018).

Chess Life (25 Years Ago)

The two page feature on Samuel Bak included five color photos of the artist's chess paintings, a list of four concurrent exhibitions, and an appreciation by Bernard Pucker, whose gallery had set up a permanent exhibition. The appreciation started,

Each painting by Samuel Bak can be viewed and experienced as a short story; as a chapter in the history of modern times; or as an exploration of the essential questions which inform the meaning of human existence. [...] For the past three years, Bak has re-discovered the theme of Chess which first entered his artistic vocabulary in 1946. While in the Landsberg Displaced Person Camp, he created a watercolor featuring Chess imagery as a gift for his new stepfather.

As for the lead paragraph in this current post -- 'element in common' -- what does Boston have to do with Bak? For starters, the Pucker Gallery is located in Boston. On top of that, the page Samuel Bak (puckergallery.com), tells us that the artist resides in Weston, Massachusetts, which happens to be a town just west of Boston. For another post about Samuel Bak on this blog, see Bak to Basics (January 2016).