30 April 2021

USCF Awards 1988-89

Continuing with the most recent post in my current Friday series, USCF Awards 1986-87 (April 2021), let's increment that title to start a new two year cycle. The article quoted in its entirety below, 'America's Chess Community Puts Its Best Foot Forward' by Don Maddox, Chess Life Editor, appeared in the December 1988 issue of CL.

During the U.S. Open each year, the U.S. Chess Federation holds an awards luncheon, to honor members who have made significant contributions to chess. This year in Boston, the tradition was extended.

A quiet hour was set aside on August 13 to consider the enormous gifts of time and labor, received by U.S. Chess from a cadre of dedicated and generous supporters. This year, in recognition of a lifetime of service to chess, former USCF Executive Director Gerry Dullea and Policy Board member Helen Warren were elected Life Voting Members and Delegates-at-Large.

Former USCF President Tim Redman presented the Koltanowski Gold Medal to Fidelty International President Sid Samole for financial support of chess, including contributions to the U.S. Open and the U.S. Championship. Redman also presented the U.S. Chess Distinguished Service Award to Gerry Dullea. for his contributions as Executive Director of the USCF. Other individual awards were presented to David Welsh and Fred Townsend (Special Service) and Harry Lyman (Meritorious Service).

Edgar McCormick of New Jersey received a rousing round of applause as he accepted a commemorative chess set for participating in his 35th U.S. Open.

John McCrary, the Chairman of the USCF Hall of Fame Committee, announced the induction of Hermann Helms and Arpad Elo earlier this year into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame and Museum. Tne Hall of Fame Committee was recognized as the USCF Committee of the Year. Leisure LINC, Inc., then presented the Hall of Fame with a plaque commemorating GM Arthur Bisguier's historic telecommunications simul, played July 23-24 with 48 players around the country. Three cities were honored as 1988 Chess Communities of the Year: Albuquerque, New Mexico Southfield, Michigan; and Memphis, Tennessee. All three were instrumental in this year's record-shattering scholastic championships.

In his keynote address, William Hall, coach of the New York City District 4 Royal Knights, reviewed, the remarkable history of his successful chess team and issued an invitation to U.S. Chess scholastic players to join District 4 on two scheduled return trips to the Soviet Union in 1989.

In USCF elections, David Saponara of Southern California joined the Policy Board, and several new Regional Vice Presidents assumed their posts: I -- Warren Pinches (MA); II -- Alan Kantor (NY); III -- David Mehler (MD); IV A.J. Goldsby (FL); V -- Gary Kitts (MI); VI -- Tim,Just (IL); VIII -- Mercon Weeks (A); X -- Dennis Glasscock (OK); XI -- Andy Lazarus (N.CA).

In a 6-1 vote, the USCF Policy Board reappointed Don Schultz as FIDE Delegate, unanimously affirming its confidence in his integrity and commending him for faithfully carrying out Policy Board directions. This decision was made in face of rising controversy concerning his alleged role in recent FIDE decisions.

After a thorough executive search and interview process, the Policy Board voted unanimously to appoint Al Lawrence the new USCF Executive Director, a position he had been filling in an interim capacity since March 31, 1988.

That account squares perfectly with the list of 1988 award winners carried each year in the USCF's yearbook. I could have stopped the long excerpt after the mention of 'Communities of the Year' (aka 'Cities of the Year'), but there are a few points worth making on this blog. Undoubtedly the most important is the mention of another M.Weeks, Vice President for region VIII (Mid-South). His state is listed as '(A)'. According to Mercon Weeks Obituary (tributes.com)...

Mercon was born on May 12, 1931 and passed away on Wednesday, April 14, 2010. Mercon was a resident of Mobile, Alabama.

...that state should be listed as '(AL)'. While I was looking for that clarification, I also found Homer Mercon Weeks (1899-1986; geni.com)...

Born: Buffalo, New York; Died: Lufkin, Texas; 'Chess Grand Master, Champion of Southern United States (1940), Champion of Panama, Champion of Cuba and Caribbean'.

...Hmmm. I wonder if he played Capablanca. Someone once told me that all USA Weeks are related, but I'd never heard of Mercon or Homer Mercon before writing this post.

Moving on to 1989, the following full excerpt, titled 'Harmony Prevails at USCF Awards Luncheon' and also by Don Maddox, appeared in the November 1989 CL.

Disagreement is no stranger to the annual U.S. Chess Federation Delegates' meetings. But in Chicago on Saturday, August 12, those of us at the annual Awards Luncheon took a two-hour break from the debates. As USCF President Harold Winston and Executive Director Al Lawrence recognized some of USCF's finest, we readily agreed on how much we owed to those being honored. USCF's fiftieth anniversary cake reminded us of how far we've come together.

Winston recognized two long-serving U.S. Chess volunteers with USCF's highest individual honor, the Distinguished Service Award. Receiving the DSA for a lifetime of dedication and achievement were former USCF Secretary, Treasurer and Vice President Myron Lieberman of Tempe, Arizona; and current FIDE Executive Council member Don Schultz of Highland Beach, Florida.

Lawrence presented Gold Koltanowski Awards, USCF's highest recognition of financial contributions to American chess, to two firms who have given much to chess over the years. Indeed, both corporations have come to our rescue when crucial programs were threatened by lack of funding.

Novag Industries, along with its president Peter Auge, was honored for contributions that include funding the 1988 and 1989 Novag Grand Prix of Chess, a year-long nationwide competition whose goal is to develop more interest in chess. The 1989 Novag Grand Prix offers a $30,000 prize fund. Novag Industries is respected worldwide for its excellence in the field of computer chess and its sponsorship of the Royal Game.

The Software Toolworks, of Chatsworth, California, along with its president Les Crane, received the 1989 Gold Koltanowski award for contributions including sponsorship of The Software Toolworks 1989 U.S. Invitational Championship, The Software Toolworks American Open, and the 1988 U.S. Championship. The Software Toolworks -- a generous supporter of California chess as well as nationwide programs -- produces Chessmaster 2100, the world's leading chess software program.

Outstanding Career Achievement awards were presented to Glenn Petersen, Peter Lahde, Larry Paxton, and Alina Markowski. The Meritorious Service Award was presented to Spencer Matthews of Converse College, South Carolina.

Winston recognized four cities as 1989 Chess Cities of the Year: Knoxville, Tennessee; Tempe, Arizona; Peoria, Illinois; and Seattle, Washington.

After accepting an award for the Scholastic Chess Committee as USCF Committee of the Year, Committee Chairman Mike Nolan announced the 1989 National Scholar Chessplayer Awards: 1st ($ 1,000 scholarship); Doug Enwright; 2nd ($450 scholarship), Eric Troy 3rd ($ 100 each), Ilya Gurevich, Matt Hastings, and Randy Schlegemann.

Ken Marshall reviewed The 1989 Chess Journalist Awards, introducing the other two judges, Roger Blaine and Mike Nolan. The CJA Award winners are listed [elsewhere].

Then, Hall of Fame Committee Chairman John McCrary announced the induction of chess journalist and player Al Horowitz into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame and Museum. Horowitz, one of America's most prolific chess writers, was cited for his career as a player and'for his editing of Chess Review from 1933 until 1969. Horowitz was U.S. Open Champion in 1936, 1938, and 1943.

Finally, there were three special award winners on this special 50th Anniversary occasion. First was the official "Dean of American Chess" George Koltanowski who was regrettably unable to attend because of his wife's illness. The heartfelt well wishes of USCF members everywhere go out to George and his wife, Leah. Second, former USCF President Marshall Rohland; and finally, founding USCF Director Arpad Elo, who is also the creator of our international rating system.

After receiving a special gift from the Illinois Chess Federation (two bronze replicas of the famous Chicago Art Institute lions) from Helen Warren, Elo treated the assembly to a brief expression of thanks, including an impassioned plea to put aside our differences and take advantage of new opportunities for the advancement of chess in America -- "Keep up the good work, and leave the acrimony and spitefulness behind you." Words of simple wisdom from a man.who has dedicated his life to the betterment of chess everywhere.

Here we find a number of divergences from the official yearbook record. Starting with 'Spencer Matthews of Converse College, South Carolina', winner of the Meritorious Service Award, his award is not listed in the yearbooks. An article in the Google cache, 'Californian captures chess crown' (goupstate.com; 17 July 1989), informs,

The pressure of the U.S. Women’s Chess Championship weighed from beginning to end on Alexey Rudolph. She relaxed last night, after 11 grueling days, as the champion. [...] Spencer Mathews Jr., a psychology professor at Converse and coordinator for the Spartanburg Chess Club’s tournament committee, said Spartanburg showed the world it supports the arts by holding the tournament. For example, he said, "Chess Life" magazine will publish an article about the tournament. [NB: Exact reference?]

Going back a couple of posts to USCF Awards 1984-85 (April 2021), I wondered,

The criteria for a 'Distinguished Service Award' (1985: 'the USCF's highest volunteer honor') as distinct from a 'Meritorious Service Award' is still not clear to me.

Now it's clear. A 'Distinguished Service Award' shined a spotlight on an individual who supported chess through multiple examples of service over many years. A 'Meritorious Service Award' shined a spotlight on a single, notable example of service. For the Koltanowski Award, the yearbook record says,

1989; Gold: Novag Industries, Les Crane

That could be stated more accurately as, e.g.

1989; Gold: Peter Auge (Novag Industries); Les Crane (Software Toolworks)

Another small discrepancy: along with the 'four cities as 1989 Chess Cities of the Year', Lexington, Kentucky is listed in the yearbook. Finally, the three 'special award winners -- Koltanowski (1979, 1986), Rohland (1981), Elo (1979, 1988) -- had all previously received a 'Distinguished Service Award' (the first year I've indicated after each name). A second year after a name indicates a Hall of Fame induction. Where do you go from there when handing out awards?

Next stop in the saga of USCF Awards: 1990-91, except I haven't found a 1990 list published in CL. If I continue to come up empty-handed, I'll look at the yearbooks.

29 April 2021

Guardian Yahoos

'Yahoos' is ('Yahoos' are?) the code word on this blog for chess in the mainstream press. Since the beginning of the year I've been summarizing the results of a month's worth of Google News, last seen in The Yahoos' Database Flags Cheating (March 2021).

The summary starts with a small chart like the one shown on the left. It shows all sources that had at least two stories reported by Google News. In April, I counted 101 stories from 51 sources, of which nine sources had more than two stories.

Just as in the three previous months, Chess.com topped the list -- this time with more stories than the next eight sources combined. Of their 32 stories, exactly 1/4 were about the recently concluded Candidates tournament. See yesterday's post on my World Chess Championship Blog, Yekaterinburg Candidates - Fourth Week, (April 2021; WCCB) for round-by-round reporting from Chess.com.

Number two on the list, Chessbase News, also figured in my WCCB post. Of the seven stories from that source, I expected to see a number of reports on the Candidates. There was only a single report, a peripheral story about Wang Hao's retirement after the event ended.

Number three, The Guardian, is the best showing I've seen by a non-chess source. Three of their five stories were by the incomparable Leonard Barden, perhaps the greatest chess journalist of all time:-

When I saw the first headline ('Guildford meet match in Euro Club Cup'), I thought it was a football/soccer report using a chess metaphor. After reading further, I finally understood:-

Guildford’s grandmaster quintet, led by the UK’s No 1, Michael Adams, were effectively England under a different name, plus a Bulgarian reserve.

As for the two non-Barden Guardian stories, they were in effect non-chess stories. Where the first headline says ‘mental chess’, read ‘blindfold chess’:-

The last source in my chart, The Standard, isn't immediately identifiable, unlike the other sources. It turns out it's the 'Standard Group PLC', aka standardmedia.co.ke operating out of Kenya. The two stories are both classified as 'Sports / Unique-sports'. I like that on all counts.

26 April 2021

TCEC 'VSOB'; CCC 'ECO Mega-Matches'

Let's see; where were we the last time I looked at the two world class, ongoing chess engine events? To summarize my previous post, TCEC 'Swiss 1', CCC 'Bots: Top Players...' Both Underway (April 2021):-

TCEC: 'Swiss 1' is still running and should finish later this week. LCZero and KomodoDragon are currently tied for 1st/2nd. What's next? The site's '!s21' command says, 'TCEC S21 [...] estimated to start mid/late April'. • CCC: Chess.com Streamer Bots (April 2021) finished roughly in the order predicted by their estimated ratings. The site is currently running a similar event called 'Chess.com Bots: Top Players, Personalities, Streamers' with 20 bots participating. The '!next' command says that a 'Komodo personalities match' is waiting in the wings.

TCEC: KomodoDragon won 'Swiss 1' with 15.5 points out of 22 games. That was a half point ahead of Stockfish and LCZero, which finished two points ahead of the best of the 35 other engines. The results of one engine were shown in red, with strikes through most of its values -- 'Koivisto 4.29' with 10.0 points in a tie for places 29-34 -- apparently brought to the woodshed after three crashes. The event's wiki page, TCEC Swiss 1 (wiki.chessdom.org), gives no further information.

After 'Swiss 1', the site conducted tests : 'Koivisto Testing', 'Booot Testing', and is currently conducting 'QL L4 L3 Testing' ['L' here means 'League', as in S21 League]. The '!next' command says, 'Now !VSOB 20 Stockfish-LCZero and QL/L4/L3 testing, will switch between these occasionally...' For the previous post mentioning VSOB (Viewer Submitted Openings Bonus), see Stockfish Wins TCEC S19; CCC15 Still Halted (October 2020). For the next post mentioning VSOB, that sounds like a good topic for an off-week post.

CCC: Referring to the summary for the previous post (above), it turns out that 'Chess.com Bots: Top Players, Personalities, ...' and 'Komodo personalities match' were one and the same. I discussed their evolution in the previous off-week post, Komodo Personalities, (April 2021), and have nothing to add here. They came, they played, they left ... they're bots.

The site is currently running 'Eco Mega-Match 2 (part 2)'. This follows, you guessed it, 'Eco Mega-Match 2 (part 1)'. Part 2 should finish this week. What can we expect after that? The '!next' command says,

Rating events with Igel, Rubi, Stoof and more. Eco-mini-matches with Leela, Dragon, SF Classic.

I'll look at available info for the ECO Mega-Matches when I look at VSOB. This follows the principle that opposites attract.

[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 April 2021

World Autism Awareness Day

It's been almost exactly four years since my previous post on autism, Chess, Autism, and Youtube (April 2017). I started that post saying,

April is National Autism Awareness Month.

The four words in italics led to a link for a page with the same name on autism-society.org. The link still works, but the page is now titled Autism Acceptance Month; 'Awareness' has morphed into 'Acceptance', and the word 'National' has disappeared. That tells me the world is making progress on this complex and difficult subject.

It's easy to presume that the following video, on YouTube's FIDE chess channel, was scheduled to coincide with Autism Awareness/Acceptance Month. The welcome is by Dana Reizniece-Ozola, FIDE Managing Director; the introduction is by Anastasia Sorokina, FIDE Vice President.

Chess for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder | FIDE Seminar (1:40:40) • '[Published on] Apr 2, 2021'

The description of the video says,

The first FIDE Introductory Seminar "Chess for children with an autism spectrum disorder. How chess can help children who have autism" took place on March 29 and was attended by 130 representatives of chess federations and chess academies from all over the Globe.

For more about the seminar, see How can chess help children with autism? (fide.com; 'All the presentations are also available for download'). It starts,

The question [in the title], particularly relevant today on World Autism Awareness Day, was answered by a group of five lecturers during the first FIDE Introductory Seminar "Chess for children with an autism spectrum disorder. How chess can help children with autism” held on March 29.

So the seminar took place on World Autism Awareness Day. Got it!

23 April 2021

USCF Awards 1986-87

Last week I looked at USCF Awards 1984-85 (April 2021), comparing reports from that time period against the official, ongoing record. Two years at a time turns out to be manageable, so in this post I'll continue with the next two years in the sequence.

The 1986 awards were reported in the November 1986 Chess Life, 'Chess Achievers Feted At Awards Luncheon, Koltanowski Delivers Keynote Address' by Jennie L. Simon, Assistant Editor, Chess Life.

SOMERSET, N. J., Aug. 9 -- Outstanding contributors to chess in the United States were honored here at the annual USCF awards luncheon. After USCF President E. Steven Doyle's welcome, the guests tucked into an Italian buffet which had the crowning thematic touch of a tiered, black-and-white chess cake.

But the real centerpiece of the event was the awards presentation. E. Steven Doyle opened the ceremony by announcing the winners of the inaugural USCF Outstanding Career Achievement Award. Bob Dudley of Pennsylvania, Robert Erkes of Maryland, Helen Hinshaw and Allen Hinshaw of Virginia, and George Mirijanian of Massachusetts each received this honor for their long-time devotion to the royal game.

The Lincoln Chess Foundation (Nebraska), Ben Munson (Iowa), and Sunil Weeramantry (New York) were awarded the USCF Meritorious Service Award. Fred Gruenberg (Illinois), Richard O'Keeffe (Virginia), Norman Peacor (Massachusetts), and Ron Warnicke (Arizona) were winners of the USCF Special Service Award. Retiring Policy Board member Jerome Hanken received a Certificate of Governance Award for 1983-86.

The National Grandmaster title was conferred upon Donald Byrne and Edward Lasker, while the cities of Charlotte, North Carolina and Somerset, New Jersey received Chess City of the Year honors. Charlotte was a winner because of its outstanding scholastic chess program, and Somerset divided the honors for hosting both the U.S. Amateur Team East and the U.S. Open in the same year.

Five Koltanowski Medals were also given. This award honors the 1986 luncheon keynoter George Koltanowski, and his pioneering efforts to promote and to finance chess in the United States. The gold medal (for financial contributions of national significance) went to NCR Corporation for its 1985 contribution of $25,000 to Shelby Lyman's World Championship series on PBS. Silver medals (regional contributions) were awarded to Faneuil Adams, Jr., for his work in the New York schools; The Prudential Insurance Company of America; The Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States; and Paul Arnold Associates, Inc. These last three were recognized for their support of the U.S. Open and the 1986 Tournament of High School Champions.

That 1986 report matches the official record except for one item: the official record lists Glenn Meachum as having received a 'Meritorious Service Award'. A web search revealed nothing else about the man [Meachum]. A 2008 obituary for 'Glenn Raymond Meacham Jr., 64, of Toms River, N.J.' [Meacham], mentioned,

Born in San Francisco, he was a self-employed artist. He was the 1963 California State Chess champion; he once played Bobby Fischer.

Another discrepancy in the 1986 awards is the mention of a 'National Grandmaster title' for D.Byrne and Ed.Lasker. A few years ago I posted Fischer's IM/GM Titles (November 2014), where I noted, 'There are FIDE grandmasters and, once upon a time, there were USCF grandmasters. Fischer was both.' That was in 1957/-58. The tradition continued for at least another 30 years, although based on different criteria.

Missing from the 1986 report is any mention of the 'U.S. Chess Hall of Fame'. That year saw the first inductees and the 1987 report (below) shows that later inductees were included in the awards ceremony. For the record, the original 1986 inductees were Paul Morphy, Robert Fischer, Reuben Fine, Frank Marshall, Isaac Kashdan, George Koltanowski, Harry Pillsbury, Sammy Reshevsky.

The 1987 awards were reported in the November 1987 Chess Life, 'America's Chess Best Honored At Luncheon' by Larry Parr, Editor, Chess Life.

NEW WINDSOR, N.Y., Aug. 20 -- The tradition is that the U.S. Chess Federation honors its own at an annual awards luncheon held each year during the U.S. Open. And the 1987 U.S. Open in Portland, Oregon, proved no exception.

As America's chess people enjoyed a multi-course luncheon this last August 8th in the downtown Portland Hilton, they put aside for a time divisive debate to take note of those who do this country's chess chores. Keynote speaker GM Arthur Dake set the tone for the ceremonies by providing a mellow remembrance of things past -- of the "glory days" of American chess in the 1930s and of his own chess youth in Portland. "Did you know," he asked the audience, "that I learned the moves at the local YMCA, which in those days was just across the street from this great modern hotel?' The year was 1927, and Dake was 17 years old. Three years later, after the most meteoric rise in American chess history, he would be playing third board on the U.S. Olympiad team, which was then the world's top squad.

GM Dake also spoke about the people who provide chesspiayers with the opportunity to practice their art -- those get-go organizers who keep the pieces moving. And immediate past president E. Steven Doyle was among those who presented several different awards to the best in American chess. To Leroy Dubeck of New Jersey went the Distinguished Service Award, the highest individual honor bestowed by the USCF; to Alan and Phyllis Benjamin of New York went Career Service Awards; and to chief tournament organizer Dr. Ralph Hall and to the Oregon Chess Federation went the former USCF president's "special thanks for showing us all how it is done." Finally, two remarkable towns got in on the act when Steve Doyle presented Chess City of the Year honors to Terre Haute, Indiana, and Chess Community of the Year honors to Pulaski, Virginia.

Former USCF president Tim Redman presented the 1987 Koltanowski Award (gold medal) to Frank P. Samford and family for financial contributions of national significance to chess. Mr. Samford and his family have endowed a series of chess fellowships for outstanding young players. Those who would like to know more about this program can consult the January 1987 issue of Chess Life.

Policy Board member-at-large Helen Warren presented Special Service Awards to Don Maddox of New Jersey and to Jules Stein of Illinois; and GM Arnold Denker handed Vivek Rao the first-place trophy for his victory in the third Arnold Denker National Tournament of High School Champions, which was held from August 3 to 8 during the U.S. Open.

USCF executive director Dr. Gerard J. Dullea spoke in warm terms of the services of retiring Policy Board member Myron "The Rock" Lieberman, who served as secretary, treasurer and vice president over the past nine years. The former vice president received a Certificate of Governance Award.

Now and Back Then • Harold Winston, the recently elected President of the USCF, and Robert McCrary, the chairman of the USCF Hall of Fame Committee, dealt with now and back then. President Winston presented the annual awards given by the Chess Journalists of America (for an account of these awards, see elsewhere in the U.S. Open Gazette), and Mr. McCrary announced the induction of Wilhelm Steinitz (1836-1900) and Sam Loyd (1841-1911) into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame and Museum. Steinitz, the first official world champion, moved to the United States in 1883 and became a citizen in 1888. He spent the peak years of his career playing as an American. Sam Loyd composed and published hundreds of chess problems. He contributed greatly to the early popularity of chess in this country.

The 1987 report also matches the official record except for one item: the official record lists Charles Pashayan as having received a 'Meritorious Service Award' in 1987. Were these awards often made after the fact? Here the record is clearer than it was for Glenn Meachum/Meacham in 1986. Pashayan Jr. is on record as the sponsor of the 1986 'H.J. Res. 545' Joint Resolution Recognizing Bobby Fisher As The Official World Chess Champion. 'Fisher'? No wonder it died in committee.

Next stop in the saga of USCF Awards: 1988-89.

19 April 2021

Komodo Personalities

In last week's post, TCEC 'Swiss 1', CCC 'Bots: Top Players...' Both Underway (April 2021), I mentioned 'personalities' twice:-

The [CCC] is currently running a similar event called 'Chess.com Bots: Top Players, Personalities, Streamers' with 20 bots participating. [...] The '!next' command says that a 'Komodo personalities match' is waiting in the wings.

This led to an obvious question -- what are 'Komodo personalities'? The concept seemed to be another angle on my post from two weeks ago, Chess.com Streamer Bots (April 2021), but this needed confirmation. While I was looking into 'Komodo personalities', I realized that I lacked an overview of Komodo's evolution, so I created the following chart from the Chessprogramming wiki.

Adapted from Komodo (chessprogramming.org)

A glaring omission in that chart is a mention about Chess.com's acquisition of Komodo. This is especially relevant because the CCC is also owned and operated by Chess.com: Chess.com Acquires Komodo; Launches New 'Monte Carlo' Version Similar To AlphaZero (chess.com; May 2018):-

PRESS RELEASE: Chess.com acquires the Komodo chess engine and launches Komodo Monte Carlo with a probability search similar to AlphaZero. [...] The acquisition of Komodo comes with the release of an exciting new version of the engine called Komodo Monte Carlo, where moves are chosen by win probability and not traditional evaluation. [...] The latest version, Komodo 12...

Now I had the overview I needed to understand the development of 'Komodo personalities'. It turns out that the function was already available in the first release of Komodo. This first reference is from May 2010: Vorstellung der SWCR TOP 20 Engines (nk-qy.info; German language; Komodo 1.2). It gives instructions on 'How to modify the personality of Komodo. [...] All comment lines begin with the '#' character...', apparently from a README file. This second reference is from September 2010: Komodo 1.0 Personality: Kinghunter (rybkaforum.net). Here are a few excerpts from that discussion:-

I set out to make a fun, dynamic personality for Komodo 1.0 that would be fun to play against and perhaps play some interesting engine games. [...] We need to convince Don Dailey and Larry Kaufman to include the personality system in the newer versions of Komodo! They removed the Komodo personalities because they expected people to use them to try to find a setting stronger than default, when people didn't do that, they removed them. But what people want is using them to create fun or interesting personalities, and who cares if they're weaker than default, the point is style.

When were the personalities re-introduced into Komodo? According to the official site, just last year: Komodo 13 Chess Engine (komodochess.com):-

February 2020 Komodo mastermind GM Larry Kaufman introduces Komodo 13 • We have just released Komodo 13, an upgrade of 13.2.5 [...] Komodo 13.3 introduces a new feature, "Personalities", with playing styles modified to simulate different types of human players.

Now the timeline makes sense:-

  • Chess.com acquired Komodo 2018-05;
  • Functionality for Komodo personalities released 2020-02;
  • Chess.com engine bots introduced later in 2020;
  • Bots appeared in Chess.com's CCC tournaments early 2021.
Is there more to the story than this? Maybe, maybe not. If there is, I'm sure we'll find out soon enough.

18 April 2021

More Lessons in Art Appreciation

Jamais quatre sans cinq? Two months ago, in Forcing Me to Think (February 2021), we saw a Flickr photo by J-L. Mazieres of a chess painting. That was already the fourth time I've used an image from M. Mazieres' Flickr channel. On a short list of a half dozen Flickr favorites for this current post, the image shown below was once again the best of the lot.

Modern Art : Profane Art and Present-day Art © Flickr user jean louis mazieres under Creative Commons.

That makes five images from the same channel. The description said,

Louis Robert Carrier Belleuse 1848-1913; Joueurs d'échecs (Chess players) 1879; Besançon Musée des Beaux Arts

That was followed by a link to Wikipédia's Louis-Robert Carrier-Belleuse (fr.wikipedia.org), where we learn that there were several artists in the Carrier-Belleuse family. The Wikipedia link was followed by a long passage first in French, then in English. Once again, just as in 'Forcing Me to Think', I've used the title of the English passage as the title for the artwork itself. Once again, I'm not sure why that passage was used in the description. As for the quality of the image, the photographer explained in a comment (translating from the French),

It was impossible for me to photograph the painting without these reflections, despite all my efforts to render the shadows and the lights. I made an average choice, between the players and their environment.

How he did that is also a mystery to me. There are multiple lessons in art appreciation here, but I'm not the right person to appreciate them.

16 April 2021

USCF Awards 1984-85

In a series of posts over the last few weeks, of which the most recent was More Early USCF Awards (April 2021), I've been looking into the first USCF Awards. So far I've covered those granted from 1979 to 1983. As I wrote in that previous post,

The awards provide a guide to the individuals, as well as the organizations behind them, who helped build U.S. chess.

The 1984 awards were reported in the December 1984 Chess Life, 'Honoring Those Who Serve Chess' by Tim Redman and Gerry Dullea. Here is a full transcript:-

Each year at the Awards Luncheon in the midst of the U.S. Open and the annual business meetings. the USCF leadership and other interested members set aside all differences and competitions, pausing to honor those who have made outstanding contributions of various sorts to U.S Chess. As usual, the Fort Worth luncheon recognized different kinds of contributions.

Denis Barry was presented a Special Service Award for his work in developing the U.S Amateur Team Championship. This tournament began modestly in 1971 and has been nurtured by Barry to an annual extravaganza drawing nearly 800 players. In 1984. a Western Division began in California. the beginning of the embodiment of Barry's dream to see the nation swept away at least once a year with the pleasure of playing team chess for little more than fun and glory.

Distinguished Service Awards go each year to members who have made major and multiple contributions to the growth and welfare of our Federation. This year. all the recipients are worthy for their own accomplishments, but also for recognizing that it is the duty of a leader to train a worthy successor. These three have passed many torches of wisdom, knowledge, and leadership, assuring a new generation to carry on their work.

Lynne Babcock has been a kind of godmother to Texas and national chess since she entered by the back door -- driving her son David to tournaments. When Houston needed a chess club, she created one -- in her own home. When Texas needed an editor -- or any other help -- she was tnere until she could find someone else to take her place so she could spend her energies elsewhere. She was the principal organizer of the Houston International [1975?] and a major force behind the U.S. Open in Fort Worth. When we needed a membership drive in the '70s, it was Lynne who built it.

Pearle Mann has been similarly influential in Midwestern chess. Her playground chess program in Milwaukee has introduced thousands of youngsters to chess over the years -- and gave George Koltanowski his first job in the United States. For years, she organized and directed the Western Open and the North Central Open, providing not only great tournaments but also a veritable college for tournament directors that educated a generation of our TDs. A national tournament director and international arbiter, Pearle served also on the last successful Rulebook Committee and has represented USCF in the World Chess Federation as our zonal president.

Dr. George van Dyke Tiers has been at the center of Minnesota and national chess for decades. Among his proudest accomplishments is his influence in bringing four U.S. Junior Open Championships to Minnesota. Just as important, he is also responsible for creating an atmosphere in which these tournaments and dozens of others could flourish. He has held state federation office many, many times, including the task of editing the state journal. He has invented a chess clock and cheerfully argued almost every issue imaginable with everyone -- all for the love and improvement of chess. He has an impressive record of service as regional vice president of USCF, as well as a long list of committee services. And he, like the other Distinguished Servers, has taught and encouraged others to carry on his work.

The final set of awards were the Koltanowski Medals, given in appreciation of major financial support of chess. The Silver Medal, for supporting regional chess, went this year to the Massachusetts Chess Association. A model state association in many ways, MACA was honored in particular for its vigorous support of scholastic chess, including a scholarship program and the donation of chess sets and other needs to schools throughout the state.

A Gold Medal went to the anonymous patron of the 1984 U S. Championship and Zonal in Berkeley. This man's generosity provided us a first-class event, and it is no accident that spectators were more numerous than ever before.

The other Koltanowski Gold went to Jose Cuchi. Since arriving on the chess scene only a few years ago, Cuchi has been a major influence. Unlike many organizers who sometimes lose money on tournaments, Cuchi often plans to lose, whether through modest prizes in events with no entry fees or through the spectacular New York International, which lured top players from around the world to compete against our own best masters. In his brief remarks at the luncheon, Cuchi commented that he would continue his "foolishness" simply because he loves chess.

To all of these great chess supporters, to the winners of the past and future, and to those whose selfless service to chess might never be recognized with such a special award, we say congratulations and -- most important -- thank you!

I noticed a few divergences from the lists of awards that have published in later references. The official record, repeated year after year, says,

Koltanowski Awards; 1984; Gold: Jose Cuchi; Silver: M. Vacheron

There is no mention of an 'anonymous patron', or of the Massachusetts Chess Association (MACA). I was also unable to identify 'M. Vacheron' in connection with either of those two missing winners (or with anything else). In addition to that, Denis Barry is not mentioned for a 'Special Service Award' in 1984, although he received a 'Distinguished Service Award' in 1985 (see the next transcript). Finally, there is mention in the official record of a 'Chess City of the Year' for both 1983 and 1984, although neither has been mentioned in the earlier sources I've looked at:-

1983; Pasadena, California
1984; New York, New York

The 1985 awards were reported in the November 1985 Chess Life, 'Awards Luncheon : U.S. Chess Honors Its Own' by Dr. Gerard J. Dullea, USCF Executive Director:-

On Saturday, August 10th, the USCF held its annual Awards Luncheon. Amid the dining and the convivial reunion of chess organizers from all over the nation, several outstanding contributors to American chess were honored in special ways. Those who received the Distinguished Service Award, the USCF's highest volunteer honor, were:

Denis J. Barry: His accomplishments include the development of the Westfield (New Jersey) Chess Club, the 1972 U.S. Open in Atlantic City, major contributions to the National Chess League (NCL), and a central role in revising the TD Certification program while he chaired that committee. For the next year, he will chair "Telechess," a revamped NCL with both "Professional" and "Amateur" divisions. Most of all, Barry is identified with the U.S. Amateur Team Championship, which he has nurtured from a tiny event to an annual giant, which is due to expand to four regional tournaments in 1986.

Harold J. Dondis: His byline has appeared on the chess column of the Boston Globe for over 20 years. Less visibly, he has been an officer of, and legal counsel for, both the Massachusetts Chess Association and the USCF. Dondis was central in establishing the U.S. Chess Trust, the articles of which he wrote 'personally.

Tim Redman: He has served the federation in countless ways as a Policy Board member from 1978 to 1984 and, notably, as president from 1981 to 1984. Redman has helped to reestablish the USCF's leadership position in FIDE, to develop financial support for chess, to encourage the sprightlier Chess Life that we all enjoy, and to give advice in dozens of other areas. A leading authority on the rules of chess, he serves on FIDE's Rules Commission.

Kolty Medals for Mettle • Two Koltanowski Medals were announced for generous financial contributions to chess:

Frank Normali: The owner of the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, will receive a gold medal for his support of the first-ever U.S. Masters Open in 1984 and of the 1985 U.S. Championship, scheduled foi this coming October.

R. W. Twombly: This Texan.will receive a silver medal for his continued support of the Chess Trust's Kolty Chess for Youth Program, which provides equipment and literature to elementary schools which have chess-teaching programs

Efforts Well Rewarded • Special Service Awards were presented to two men who have made lasting marks on the USCF:

Judge Lackland Bloom: Judge Bloom was centrally responsible for USCF bylaw changes which democratized the Federation, eliminated proxy voting at USCF meetings, and brought its governance structure into conformity with the Illinois not-for-profit law, which presently guides USCF actions.

Martin E. Morrison: He was a key figure in Northern California chess who moved through the ranks, eventually becoming USCF Secretary, Technical Director, and Executive Director. His innovations include the Paul Masson Classic, the Chess Journalists of America, and USCF's TD Certification program and tournament clearinghouse system. Morrison also chaired the FIDE Rules Commission and edited the first two editions of The Official Rules of Chess.

The Policy Board voted a Meritorious Service Award to Dr. Joseph Wagner of Los angeles. Dr. Wagner graciously hosted various USCF events, served emergency stints as Federation physician, raised funds to assure televised coverage in the Los Angeles area of the world championship, and generously donated to the USCF all royalties from his Chessprints.

The Chess City of the Year Award went to Foxboro, Massachusetts. Thanks to that enthusiastic organizer, Dr. Joel Altman, many segments of this community pulled together to host the first match between the champions of the United States and England.

All of these award recipients deserve the thanks of the entire Federation for outstanding service to chess.

Unlike the report on the 1984 awards, that report on the 1985 awards matches the official record. This is the first recorded mention of a 'Meritorious Service Award', although we saw the term used in both 1979 and 1980; see my post The First USCF Awards (April 2021) for those years. The criteria for a 'Distinguished Service Award' (1985: 'the USCF's highest volunteer honor') as distinct from a 'Meritorious Service Award' is still not clear to me. The next post in the series might shed some light on this.

12 April 2021

TCEC 'Swiss 1', CCC 'Bots: Top Players...' Both Underway

The title of this post about the world's top two engine vs. engine platforms echoes the title of the previous post from two weeks ago, TCEC 'Swiss 1', CCC 'Streamer Bots Battle' Both Underway (March 2021). The situation at that time can be summarized as:-

TCEC: In the 'FRC 3' final, KomodoDragon beat Stockfish. After FRC3, the site started its first Swiss tournament, 'Swiss 1', with 38 engines. • CCC: Stockfish won the Rapid 2021 final match, beating Lc0. The site is now running 'Chess.com Bots: Streamers Battle' with 16 bots participating.

Neither site has revealed a reason why it is running these types of competition. My guess is that TCEC wants a format where all participating engines remain in the tournament from start to finish, while CCC wants to publicize its bot collection. This assumes that there are indeed reasons.

TCEC: 'Swiss 1' is still running and should finish later this week. LCZero and KomodoDragon are currently tied for 1st/2nd, 0.5 points ahead of Stockfish, which is 1.5 points ahead of the rest of the field.

What's next? The site's '!s21' command says, 'TCEC S21 will include Leagues Season, Cup 9, FRC 4 and Swiss 2. Estimated to start mid/late April'. Using my post TCEC S20 Underway; CCC Less Uncertain (December 2020) as the basis of a calculation, S20 [TCEC season 20] has been running for nearly five months.

CCC: In last week's off-week post, I looked into Chess.com Streamer Bots (April 2021) to find out what they are. The event was won by the 'Eric (2600)' bot, the highest rated of the 16 bots. I'm not sure what determines the bot's 2600 rating which is apparently based on the real world rating of its namesake, GM Eric Hansen. The bots finished roughly in the order predicted by their estimated ratings.

The site is currently running a similar event called 'Chess.com Bots: Top Players, Personalities, Streamers' with 20 bots participating. How much longer will it run? The schedule says that the game currently being played -- 'no.1705: Anna [IM/WGM Anna Rudolf] vs. Danny [IM Danny Rensch]' -- starts 'in 4 days'. The '!next' command says that a 'Komodo personalities match' is waiting in the wings.

[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 April 2021

Light Up Your Path to Improvement

The last time -- in fact, the only time -- that I featured a Kickstarter idea for a video post was No Strings Attached (March 2020). That product turned out to be a bust. The product in this video might well be positioned for a boom: the current chess boom.

Introducing ChessUp (3:37) • '[Published on] Mar 18, 2021'

The description says,

ChessUp is a smart chess board with a built in AI assistant.

At first glance it looks like yet another electronic chess set that lights up all possible moves on its board. That in itself isn't a new idea, let alone a revolutionary idea. The new idea here is that the suggested moves are adjusted according to the human player's strength.

Newcomers need help identifying legal moves. Beginners need help avoiding blunders like overlooking mate-in-one. Club players need help seeing a move that eventually leads to a devastating fork. At least that's how I understand the product.

For the developer's home page, see Bryght Labs (bryghtlabs.com; 'An incredible, connected chess board with a built-in chess instructor that lights up all possible moves according to strength.') For a review of the product, see ChessUp | Level Up Your Chess Game - Kickstarter Critique (youtube.com).

[I hope I don't really need to say it, but I have no personal interest in the product, financial or otherwise -- except maybe an interest in following its evolution.]

09 April 2021

More Early USCF Awards

Last week's post, The First USCF Awards (April 2021), covered the first two years of the awards, 1979-1980. I ended the post saying,

Are there other divergences between the announcements of the early awards and the official record? I'll continue to research this in another post.

If that were the only reason for researching the early USCF Awards, I wouldn't bother and I doubt that anyone else would either. More importantly, the awards provide a guide to the individuals, as well as the organizations behind them, who helped build U.S. chess. The announcements of the early awards were often accompanied by a short explanation for making a particular award.

Let's continue with the awards for 1981. From the February 1982 Chess Life:-

Four Win Koltanowski Medals • Fred Cramer was named the 1981 winner of the gold Koltanowski medal at the U.S. Open banquet in Palo Alto. The gold medal, given each year for significant contribution to national and international chess, is along with the Distinguished Service Award, the highest honor paid by the federation to an individual. Cramer, of Mequon, Wis., is a former USCF president (1960-1963) and a former U.S. representative to FIDE (1965-1975). He was cited for his outstanding chess philanthropy, gifts in excess of six figures during his long chess career.

Three silver medalists were named for outstanding contribution to chess on the local and regional level. These winners are Al Hansen of Hillsboro, California, treasurer of the Koltanowski Youth Foundation, cited for his contribution to youth chess; Fred Gruenberg of Chicago, cited for both his support of master chess, and for his "put the fun back into chess" tournaments; and Howard Gaba of Hazel Park, Mich., cited for his continuing sponsorship of the Motor City Open.

Nominations for next year's Koltanowski medals should be sent by June 1 to the Koltanowski Committee, care of the USCF office. The committee consists of George and Leah Koltanowski, Tim Redman, Gerry Dullea and previous winners.

From the December 1981 Chess Life:-

Distinguished Service Awards • At the awards luncheon midway through the U.S. Open, it was my pleasure to announce this year's winners of the Distinguished Service Award, one of USCF's highest honors. The three recipients were chosen by the Policy Board from among our dedicated and deserving members.

John W. Collins has been teacher and inspiration to generations of aspiring players. A former New York state champion, he gave up his playing career and dedicated himself to training youngsters. including Bobby Fischer and other grandmasters. He continues his work with "The Collins Kids." his regular students, strengthened with other young stars for annual matches with an Icelandic all-star team.

Marshall R. Rohland is one of the quiet men, a diplomat among the politicians. everyone's "dear confrere." He served USCF an unprecedented 11 years as national secretary (1956-1966) and three as president (1966-1969). A pillar of chess and chess organization in Milwaukee and nationally, he is always there, always reliable.

Frank Skoff founded the Gompers Park Chess Club, one of the most important in Chicago. and worked through various leadership roles to the presidency of USCF (1972-1975). He had the longest tenure of of any editor of the Illinois Chess Bulletin and is internationally regarded as a chess historian. Twice he captained the U.S. student team, and he led Fischer's support team in Iceland. [...]

The report was signed 'G.D.', aka Gerard J. [Gerry] Dullea. The award reports for 1982 were also signed by Dullea, who was the USCF Executive Director at the time. From the December 1982 Chess Life:-

Hayes, Leopoldi Receive Koltanowski Medals • Two USCF members were awarded Koltanowski medals this year. Rea Hayes of Cincinnati, Ohio, received a gold modal in recognition of the gift of his extraordinary chess library to USCF. This collection will be the nucleus of USCF's research library and will be of benefit to the whole membership in years to come. Hayes, winner of the first U.S. Senior Open in 1981. has already sent many magazines and important tournament books to New Windsor. He will send another portion of his library each year until it is entirely transferred. Any leftovers are to be willed to USCF for the good of the membership.

The silver medal, for significant contribution to regional chess, went to Nobert Leopoldi of Chicago. This award was principally in recognition of his company's sponsorship of this spring's Cloverline International, the strongest international tournament in this country an the past decade.

The Koltanowski medal and the Distinguished Service Award are the highest honors conferred by the Federation on individual members. The 1982 winners were announced by President Tim Redman at the awards luncheon at St. Paul.

Also from the December 1982 Chess Life:-

Three Receive Distinguished Service Awards • Three dedicated and deserving USCF members received the Distinguished Service Award at the special luncheon midway through the U.S. Open. These winners were chosen by the Policy Board from among many worthy nominees.

Fred Cramer of Mequon, Wisconsin - A former USCF president (1960-1963), Cramer has continued to serve USCF in a variety of roles, with particular emphasis on financial affairs and life memberships. He is chairman of the Finance Committee, and he was centrally instrumental in establishing proper reserves for life members. Winner of a gold Koltanowski medal in 1981, he is the first recipient of both of USCF's highest honors.

Lina Grumette of Los Angeles, California - Lina's concern for chess is so deep that she has made part of her home into the Chess Set, a second home for many Los Angeles players and one of the most active clubs in the country. Grandmaster tournaments, futurities, national women's and junior championships have all happened because of her. She has even turned chess into a rehabilitation tool for drug addicts.

Gary H. Sperling of Staten Island, New York - As USCF president (1978-1981) and immediate past president, Sperling faced the unexpected task of leading the USCF through a time of transition and crisis. To this task he gave countless hours of his time and talents in legal, financial, managerial and promotional areas, among others. He also represented the USCF to FIDE during this period.

The 1983 announcement, also by Executive Director Dullea, combined both award categories into a single report. From the December 1983 Chess Life:-

Those We Honor • Each year, U.S. Chess honors a select few of the many people who have made outstanding contributions of various kinds to the good of chess in this country. This year's awards luncheon during the U.S. Open was the best-attended ever.

The Silver Koltanowski Medal was awarded to the Western Chess Group -- Stephen Jones, Don Richardson, John Rykowski, and Ralph Slottow. They were the primary underwriters of the Kasparov - Korchnoi [1983 Pasadena] match we had all hoped to see.

Three outstanding people received the Distinguished Service Award:

Arnold Denker: grandmaster, former U.S. champion and Olympic standout, frequent FIDE counselor and now zonal president, former state president, longtime delegate, and supporter of countless worthy chess projects.

Bill Goichberg: master player and grandmaster organizer, national tournament director, founder of the World Open, the national scholastic championships, and hundreds of tournaments from the little league variety to international title events, former Policy Board member, and major contributor to contemporary tournament direction theory.

Van Vandenburg: keystone of chess organization in Michigan for nearly forty years, state president and editor.

The same issue of Chess Life mentioned a few new awards at the end of an article titled 'Secretary's Report from Pasadena' by Robert A. Karch:-

Hyman S. Rogosin of Los Angeles, California, was nominated for a special service award for his work in the promotion of chess in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II. John R. Barto of Great Falls, Montana, was commended for more than fifty years of dedicated service in the promotion of chess.

The most active committee award was jointly awarded to the Scholastic Chess and to the Club Development committees.

The source that I'm following for these awards, the 2013 USCF Yearbook, mentioned six winners of that year's Special Service Award, of which Rogosin was one:-

Special Service Award; 1983; Hal Bogner, Arnold Denker [NB: also listed under Distinguished Service Award for the same year], Thad Rogers, Hyman Rogosin, Eric Schiller, Don Schultz

The other person mentioned, John Barto, was never listed for any award. Also gone missing is the other award mentioned, 'the most active committee award'. The first two committee awards are listed in the yearbook as:-

Committee of the Year; 1982; Computer Committee
Committee of the Year; 1988; Hall of Fame Committee

I don't see the purpose of making USCF awards to USCF committees, especially since there are so few committees. Maybe I'll learn more about this as I continue to look into the early awards.

05 April 2021

Chess.com Streamer Bots

I ended last week's post, TCEC 'Swiss 1', CCC 'Streamer Bots Battle' Both Underway (March 2021), saying,

CCC: [...] The site is now running something called 'Chess.com Bots: Streamers Battle' with 16 bots participating. I couldn't find any info about the event except the names of the 16 bots, starting with the strongest: Eric, Aman, etc. Until now I've managed to avoid paying attention to the 'Chess.com Streamer Bots'. I'll make amends by featuring them in the next off-week engine post.

This being the 'next off-week engine post', I'm stuck with my promises. The 'Chess.com Bots' are the personalities against whom you're invited to play when you land on the Chess.com page to Play Chess Online Against the Computer. The various bots are shown on the left of the following chart.

The bots are offered in eight categories...

Adaptive: ('Adaptive bots play stronger moves when you have the advantage and weaker moves when you are behind'), e.g. 'Jimmy' (rated 600), the bot chosen by default and shown at the top of the image on the left; Beginner:, e.g. 'Martin' (250); Intermediate:, e.g. 'Emir' (1000); Advanced:, e.g. 'Antonio' (1500); Master:, e.g. 'Noam ' (2200); Streamers:, e.g. 'xQc' (1200); Top Players:, e.g. 'Danya' (2650) - Daniel Naroditsky; and Personalities:, e.g. 'Danny' (2500) - Danny Rensch

...plus a simple Engine: for unimaginative players like me. The image in the middle shows the Streamers, of which there are currently 17. The image on the right shows the streamer I selected at random, 'Neeko' (rated 800). Her description says,

Neeko is an American TikTok icon, Twitch streamer, and content creator for 100 Thieves. Can you defeat this PogChamps 3 participant?

'TikTok' I understand, thanks to my granddaughters; 'Twitch' and 'PogChamps' I understand, thanks to Chess.com and this blog; '100 Thieves' I'm clueless, but could get up to speed thanks to Google.

For more about Neeko-Bot, see Neeko-Bot - Chess Profile. She/it finished 15th out of 16 in the 'CCC Streamers Bots Battle'. As for the story behind the introduction of the bots and streamer bots, looks like there's another blog post in the pipeline.

04 April 2021

Lasker, Buschke, Euwe, and Keres

This edition of Top eBay Chess Items by Price (March 2010), pulls together a number of topics related to chess history. The item pictured below was titled 'Dr Emanuel Lasker grandmaster chess champion signed 1940 chess book'. It sold for 'Best offer accepted', which was something less than US $599.99. I don't know why eBay obfuscates the final price, but so it does.

The description of the item said,

This is a small page book "The Community of the Future" published by Dr. Albrecht Buschke but written by Emanuel Lasker. In the writing it has a few of the best chess matches. The book was put out and signed by Lasker in 1940 to help pay for Lasker's bills. There are a few water marks and pages are wavy. This was purchased in the 1970's from dealer Fred Wilson books.

That description is inaccurate to the point of being misleading. (The seller specializes in autographs.) Shown in the image is a copyright page and a preface, attached to each other with staple holes between the pages. A second image showed two more pages, also attached with staple holes: a back page (to the left) and a cover (to the right). The cover said,

The 14 Games Played in the Match between Paul Keres and Dr. Max Euwe (Holland, 1939/40) with notes from various sources -- Original annotations to two games by Dr. Emanuel Lasker (Chess Champion of the World 1894 - 1921) Price: 75 cents

Under the signature, which might be a facsimile, the copyright page said, 'Copyright 1940 by Dr. Emanuel Lasker'. The preface said,

I am very happy to be able to submit to the public this edition of the 14 games of the recently finished match between Dr. Max Euwe and Paul Keres in a more elaborate form than promised in the announcements. Dr. Lasker who promised, on my suggestion, in the last of his 15 lectures on chess delivered in New York, during the winter 1939/40, to annotate the ninth game especially for this edition, was so impressed by the fifth game of the series that he contributed his notes also to this game, thus enabling me to publish this booklet with notes by the veteran ex-champion of the world to two (instead of one) of the most thrilling games of the match between the youngest ex-champion of the world and the youngest candidate for the championship.

In some of the later games I was able to employ notes by the dean of chess masters and writers on chess: Jacques Mieses who just celebrated his 75th anniversary.

In this company of famous annotators I did not feel myself expert enough to publish any notes of my own to the games, so I checked carefully the notes I found in some of the less easily accessible European sources, giving always credit to the sources whence the notes are taken.

New York, April 16th, 1940.
Dr. Albrecht Buschke

The back page showed the final moves from the last game of the match. That was above an advertisement for:-

"The Community of the Future"; A new book by Dr. Emanuel Lasker; Price: $2.50; Order from Dr. Albrecht Buschke

A few years ago I posted more examples of Buschke's work, of which the most notable were:-

For more about the match, see Euwe - Keres 1939/40 Match (chessgames.com).

02 April 2021

The First USCF Awards

In last week's post, U.S. Chess Service Awards (March 2021), I signed off saying,

Since it's not immediately obvious what differentiates the first three awards -- Distinguished, Meritorious, and Special -- I'll look at those in another post.

Where to start? The beginning is often an excellent place. Thanks to the US Chess CL Archive (November 2019), we have a documented record of early awards. The first service awards were made in 1979, and they began at the same time as the Koltanowski awards, which I listed in The USCF Awards (May 2015). From the October 1979 Chess Life:-

Kolty Awards • The first Koltanowski medals, for outstanding contributions to or support of chess, have been awarded to three long-time patrons of American chess. Bill Church. sponsor of the San Antonio 1972 tournament, the Grand Prix. and the Master Tours; Jacqueline Piatigorsky, whose support of American chess dates back to the Piatigorsky Challenge Cup tournaments of the 1950s and early 1960s; and Louis Statham, originator of the famous Lone Pine tournaments, were presented with the medals at the U.S. Open in Chicago.

As for the 'Distinguished Service Award', the first year it was awarded it carried the name 'Meritorious Service Award'. From the same issue of Chess Life:-

Awards for Meritorious Service • Four long-time USCF supporters have been honored with the first Meritorious Service Awards, presented for unique and outstanding service to the USCF. Arpad Elo, creator of the USCF rating system, and George Koltanowski, a past USCF President whose service to American chess spans more than three decades, were guests of honor at a special banquet during the U.S. Open in Chicago. Burt Hochberg. departing editor of Chess Life & Review. and George Cunningham, USCF Treasurer and volunteer Interim Director of the USCF business office, also received the awards at the Chicago gathering. [...]

From this we learn that the awards were announced at the annual U.S. Open, a tradition which has held until now. Let's skip ahead to 1980, the second year of the awards. Here we get a divergence from the official record as published in subsequent USCF Yearbooks. The 2013 Yearbook, the version I initially used to compile the list, said,

Koltanowski award; 1980 Gold: Thomas Emery, Lessing Rosenwald

The January 1981 Chess Life had the following report by Tim Redman, USCF Vice President at that time. Although it confirms the award to Thomas Emery, it doesn't mention Lessing Rosenwald. It also mentions silver medals for Richard Fauber and Harry Lyman.

Winners of Koltanowski Medals, Service Awards Announced • This year's winners of the coveted gold and silver Koltanowski medals Were announced at the U S Open banquet in Atlanta. The gold medal, for significant contribution to national and international chess, was awarded posthumously to Thomas Emery. Emery was the principal benefactor of the American Chess Foundation, and he was chosen not only on his own merits. but in order to highlight the achievement of the foundation its officers and board of directors. The ACF in many ways Over the years has significantly aided the advancement of chess in this country.

Thomas Emery, of New York City, was a wealthy man with a passion for chess. He was a friend ol many of this country's finest players. including Frank Marshall, Al Horowitz and Arthur Bisguier A member of the Marine Corps during World War I. Emery had an enduring interest in armed forces chess. He sponsored the first Armed Forces Championship in 1960 and continued to sponsor the event until his death.

I had a long post about Emery, adapted from the June 1957 issue of Chess Review, in Thomas Emery (June 2017). Continuing with the January 1981 Chess Life:-

The silver Koltanowski medals, for significant contribution to local and regional chess, were awarded to Richard Fauber, of California, and Harry Lyman, of Massachusetts. Fauber was cited for his support for master tournaments in the San Francisco Bay area, while Lyman's medal was awarded for his contributions to chess in another bay area -- Boston's. He was specifically commended for his help for the New England Chess Association, the Boylston Chess Club and Junior and scholastic chess in Massachusetts.

Nominations for next year's Koltanowski medals should be sent before June 1 to the Koltanowski Committee, in care of the USCF office. The committee consists of George and Leah Koltanowski, Tim Redman, Gerry Dullea and previous winners.

The report went on to cover the 1980 Distinguished Service Awards, but said nothing about a Meritorious Service Award, which the 2013 Yearbook assigned to Robert Tanner.

The winners of this year's Distinguished Service Awards were also announced at the Atlanta banquet by USCF Executive Director Gerry Dullea. Chosen by the Policy Board, these men are honored for a lifetime of service to USCF. They are Ed Edmondson, Isaac Kashdan and Paul Webb. None of them needs any introduction to our readership. [...]

Perhaps it was true in 1981 that 'None of them needs any introduction', but in 2021, we could use some help. As for Tanner, the only significant contemporary mention I could find was in the November 1980 Chess Life. It started,

Chess in the Desert • The hard work and dedication of USCF Regional Vice President Robert B. Tanner makes the first Salt Lake City Futurity a huge success.

The first subsequent Meritorious Service Award listed by the 2013 Yearbook was made in 1985, after which it was made annually. Are there other divergences between the announcements of the early awards and the official record? I'll continue to research this in another post.

01 April 2021

April 1971 & 1996 'On the Cover'

I introduced last month's post, March 1971 & 1996 'On the Cover' (March 2021), saying, 'The spotlight returns to U.S. chess.' This month the underlying theme is art, both written and visual.

Left: ?
Right: 'Yearbook Issue; Harvard Cup Results; PanAm Intercollegiate; Karpov Meets Mickey Mouse; Interplay U.S. Championship'

Chess Life & Review (50 Years Ago)

Yugoslavia's No. 1 player, Grandmaster Svetozar Gligoric, who has been touring the U. S. during March and April. See Miro Radojcic's affectionate tribute to his friend in "Observation Point". Photo by Milos Petronic, Belgrade.

The following excerpt gives a feeling for the tone of Radojcic's two page essay.

At Peace With Himself • I thought his trip to the United States would be a good occasion to write about him. Then suddenly I discovered how difficult it is to write about one's friend. The first thing that comes to mind is some kind of platitude -- "He's a very nice guy." But the trouble is that he -- Svetozar Gligoric, or Gliga as we always call him -- really is a nice guy. So nice in fact that exactly for this reason, in days gone by, he often got on my nerves. [...]

I believe that whatever his merits and short-comings he holds a record unique in contemporary chess: for about a quarter of a century he has been Number One in his country. This is certainly no mean achievement, Yugoslavia being one of the three strongest powers in the chess world. I really wonder whether there is a player on this earth who has played in more tournaments throughout these years, ever since he first came to fame as an unknown 22-year-old, when he was invited in 1947 to play in a strong Moscow tournament, winning it rather sensationally two full points ahead of the big favorites Smyslov and Boleslavsky.

Gliga's photographer, IA Milos Petronic, was the father of IM Jovan Petronic. See Chess Photo Album 1972 by Milos Petronic (youtube.com) for more photos.

Chess Life (25 Years Ago)

"'Enter the Arena' is one of a series of chess designs which I created on a Macintosh, using Adobe Photoshop. For this piece -- which is meant to express the truly compelling nature of chess -- a photo of a chess board was scanned and brought into Photoshop. I then worked on the colors to make them as deep and as rich as I could, and that one board, distorted, and that one board, distorted in various ways, became the basic elements that make up the design." -- Phil Lipsky

And we Enter the Arena of competitive chess this month with our Yearbook issue, highlighting the achievements of all of our national champions, and their predecessors.

Phil Lipsky is a freelance graphic designer who also teaches computer design (Photoshop). He is based in New York City and for the past five years, created designs and promotional pieces for his own clients, as well as doing on-site work for design firms and ad agencies. Phil sums it up quite nicely: "The combinations of creativity and intellect, imagination and logic, necessary in both chess and computer design, is what makes both so exciting and enjoyable for me."

The five topics listed on the 1996 CL cover could each be featured in a separate post. A few years ago I covered one of them in Karpov at Disney (October 2015). That post mentioned five Karpov/Disney events. The article in the April 1996 CL, written by Belgian francophone Luc Winants (then an IM, now a GM), and including an interview with Karpov, covered the December 1995 event.