31 August 2021

National Yahoos

Last month's Yahoo post, Three Times Yahoos (July 2021; see the footnote for an explanation of Yahoos), was as much about chess news sources as it was about news stories. This month's post is all about news sources.

Let's start off with the usual look at the sources. Just like last month, and the month before, and the month before that, Chess.com heads the list (yawn!), followed this month by a dozen sources with at least two stories each. That leaves 31 sources with a single story.

The feature that struck me most about this month's list was the number of news sources that I didn't recognize : Insidethegames.biz, Inquirer.net, VnExpress International, and Sportskeeda. I decided to focus this post on those sources.

Insidethegames.biz: Wikipedia's Inside the Games starts, 'An Olympic news website edited by the British sports journalist Duncan Mackay.' All four stories were about the European Individual Championship. Here's one:-

Inquirer.net: 'Philippine news for Filipinos'. Thr most recognizable of the three stories was:-

VnExpress International: VN = Vietnam, as in:-

Sportskeeda: Wikipedia's Sportskeeda says, 'An Indian sports and esports news website, founded in 2009.' The two stories were only peripherally about chess, e.g.:-

That makes four news sources from four different countries where the English language is widely used. There's one more source which has been well known to keen chess fans since the mid-2010s.

World Chess (worldchess.com): This resource, aka news source, was first seen on my World Chess Championship blog in 2015 FIDE Congress : Whither the World Championship? (December 2015), and last seen on this blog in The World Was Watching (July 2019). The most interesting August Yahoo was:-

The youngster's name was Abrahim Djumanazarov of Uzbekistan. The greatest female player of all time knows a thing or two about prodigies.

[Yahoos (mainstream news stories about chess) are derived from Google News top-100 (or so) stories from the past month.]

30 August 2021

TCEC VSOB 21, CCC Blitz 2021 : Both Underway

What's new since the previous post about the world's two most visible, ongoing, engine vs. engine chess events, TCEC Stockfish Wins S21; CCC Romance Continues (August 2021)? Before I answer that question, let's have a summary of that previous post:-

TCEC: Stockfish beat LCZero in the S21 Sufi by a score of +19-7=74 (56.0-44.0). After the Sufi, the TCEC ran a series of bonus matches and is currently running a three-engine 'VVLTC Bonus'. • CCC: The site continues to run thematic events based on romantic openings: two dubious openings in two weeks.

The report on the current situation will be almost as short as that summary.

TCEC: After the 'VVLTC Bonus', the site ran an event called 'LCZeroCPU vs DivP'. Translating one level of jargon, that means the CPU version of LCZero, which normally runs on GPUs, against the engines that competed in the S21 Premier Division, the qualifying event for the S21 Sufi. To translate the next level of jargon -- CPU, GPU, S21, Sufi -- you're on your own. Seven of the eight DivP engines competed; missing was AllieStein. LCZeroCPU lost all but one of the eight-game mini-matches, achieving +2-1=5 against Ethereal.

The site is currently running 'S21 - Viewer Submitted Openings Bonus', aka 'VSOB 21'. The schedule says it will run for at least another month. For my previous post on the subject, see VSOB 20; ECO_FULL (May 2021).

CCC: The site is currently running 'CCC Blitz Championship 2021'. This is the first serious event since I reported on TCEC FRC3, CCC Rapid 2021 : Both Finals Underway (March 2021). The 'Info' tab for the event lists the 16 engines participating followed by the rules for the 'CCC Rapid 2021' event. Maybe I'll learn more for the next post, but the odds are not in my favor.

[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]

27 August 2021

Carlsen's Prelim Events 2019-21

I closed the previous post in this series, Carlsen's Online Events 2019-21 (August 2021), saying,

Also worth noting are the 10 'Prelim' events played on chess24.com. I could say more about [these], but I'll save that for another time.

The following table is an extract of the same info shown in the 'Online Events' post. Here we see only the 'Prelim' events and the eventual final event, into which GM Carlsen qualified each time. The 'Ct' is the number of games that Carlsen played in the event.

Site: chess24.com

Behind each of those 20 events is a story. Since we arrived at this point by following TWIC data ('The Week in Chess' by Mark Crowther), let's continue with TWIC's stories. Crowther introduces each edition of TWIC with a summary of the top tournaments, explaining how they fit into the overall chess scene at that moment in time. Any event in which Carlsen participates is automatically a top tournament, meaning we have potentially 2 x 20 TWIC stories to choose from.

For this post, I'll look briefly at two TWIC stories. The first event on the list was played a month into the worldwide lockdowns provoked by covid-19.

TWIC 1328, 20th April 2020, Magnus Carlsen Invitational 2020 • Invitational is an online tournament hosted by Chess24 which takes place April 18th to May 3rd 2020. With over the board chess suspended for the foreseeable future due to the coronavirus crisis this is a welcome new event. The concept is one similar to one Carlsen advocated in 2018 for the World Championship - a number of rapid games in one day rather than a single classical game.

The format is a Match Round Robin of 8 players meeting each other once over four 15 minute + 10 seconds a move games; if this mini-match is tied 2-2 there will be a single decisive Armageddon game. The top 4 will play in a knockout final stage to decide the winner. The prize fund is $250,000 and a star studded field will compete alongside Carlsen.

The second event on the list was played a month later.

TWIC 1333, 25th May 2020, Lindores Abbey Rapid Challenge 2020 • The Lindores Abbey Rapid Challenge online chess tournament takes place on Chess24, 19th May to 6th June 2020. The event is part of the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour and the winner will qualify for the finals in August.

There are two phases, a 12 player all-play-all followed by a mini-match knockout system for the top 8 finishers. Players: Carlsen, Ding Liren, Nakamura, Grischuk, Aronian, Duda, Dubov, Wei Yi, Wesley So, Yu Yangyi, Karjakin and Firouzja.

Two stories down, 18 to go. I'll need all of them when I start to update Magnus Carlsen's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (TMER; 2000-).


Later: Re 'Two stories down, 18 to go', here are eight more, plus a bonus story about the first series final. I've flagged meta-info about the series in italics. [NB: In the chart displayed on the original post, I missed one event discused in TWIC1337 & TWIC1339. I've included it below.] Let's start with the third event of the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour:-

THE WEEK IN CHESS 1337 22nd June 2020, Chessable Masters 2020 • The Chessable Masters takes place 20th June to 5th July 2020. This is part of the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour. The event follows on from the Lindores Abbey Challenge and has a very similar format -- the only tweak is the group stage where the players are split into two groups of 6 rather than play in one group of 12. This means an extra day of play before the knockout phase with groups A and B alternating for the first four days to produce 4 qualifiers each. The field is again very strong with the top 6 in the world competing along with previous finalists Dubov and Nakamura.

The fourth event:-

THE WEEK IN CHESS 1342 27th July 2020, Legends of Chess 2020 • The Legends of Chess is the final online qualifier for the Magnus Carlsen tour final in August and takes place July 21st to August 5th 2020. The event has returned to the Match Round Robin format they used in the first Magnus Carlsen Invitational. That is there are 10 players and they play a one day match against each of their rivals for a point in the standing.

The Legends name has been translated into inviting former world chess champions Viswanthan Anand, Vladimir Kramnik, former championship challengers Peter Leko and Boris Gelfand along with 8 time Russian Champion Peter Svidler and Vasyl Ivanchuk. Magnus Carlsen, Anish Giri, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Ding Liren qualified as the top four finishers in the Chessable Masters.

Play starts at 3pm BST. 21st-29th July is the Match Round Robin stage from which four players qualify for the semi-finals which take place after the only rest day (July 30th) July 31st-August 2nd. The final then takes place August 3rd-5th. The time control is a rapid 15 minutes plus 10 seconds a move. The venue is the chess24 Playzone.

The final of the series also deserves a special mention:-

THE WEEK IN CHESS 1346 24th August 2020, Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour Final 2020 • Magnus Carlsen won his tour final against Hikaru Nakamura but it was an extremely close contest settled by an Armageddon tie-break that could have gone either way. Nakamura showed that his online skills are pretty much undimmed and Carlsen clearly was very frustrated with the problems he set him.

Already Chess24 have announced another longer tour starting in November and running well into 2021. I've said many times that we're not getting back to normal any time soon and we will be reliant on chess online to keep us going.

The format of the final itself proved to be quite brutal with rapid and blitz taking it out of the players in the long term. The seven set final was supposed to be long enough to produce a clear winner, instead it felt rather unfair to whoever lost because it had been impossible to separate the two players.

I thought in general Chess24 got it mostly right in the formats they chose, some people didn't like things like Rook vs Rook in the Armageddon (you could simply de clare this drawn after a couple of ply if you really wanted) -- but the whole idea of Armageddon is clock based and its aim is to break a tie, not to be particularly edifying or even satisfactory -- we've had years of experience of ghastly goings on in these finishes yet they're still used. It had to end and end it did in Carlsen's favour.


The Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour Final took place Sunday 9th to Thursday 20th August 2020. Magnus Carlsen won the final of the event by the closest possible margin against Hikaru Nakamura. On a thrilling final day Carlsen won an Armageddon tie-break. Before that Nakamura came from behind in the rapid and Carlsen had to win the second blitz game to stay in the event. Because Carlsen had the best record in the events he got to choose the colours in the final Armageddon game, he chose black and draw odds and did indeed draw quite comfortably.

A new series, the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, started a few months later.

THE WEEK IN CHESS 1359 23rd November 2020, Champions Chess Tour Skilling Open 2020 • The Skilling Open takes place on Chess24 Sun 22nd Nov to Mon 30th Nov 2020 with play starting at 17:00 each day. This is the first event of the new Champions Chess Tour that takes place over the next year. The event is a 16 player rapid tournament in two phases. An all-play-all which will reduce the field to 8 players followed by series of knockout matches.

Players: Magnus Carlsen, Ding Liren, Wesley So, Vidit Gujrathi, Peter Svidler, Teimour Radjabov, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Hikaru Nakamura, Le Quang Liem Sergey Karjakin, Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Levon Aronian, Anish Giri, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, David Anton Guijarro and Alireza Firouzja.

Second event:-

THE WEEK IN CHESS 1364 28th December 2020, Airthings Masters 2020 • The Airthings Masters is the second event of the online Champions Chess Tour and takes place 26th December 2020 to 3rd January 2021. The event is one of three "Majors" on the tour which means the winner will qualify for the tour final.

Players: Magnus Carlsen, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Hikaru Nakamura, Alexander Grischuk, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Levon Aronian, Daniil Dubov, Teimour Radjabov, Wesley So, Anish Giri, Pentala Harikrishna and David Anton Guijarro. An initial 12 player all-play-all qualifies the leading players for the final 8 player knockout phase.

Third event:-

THE WEEK IN CHESS 1370 8th February 2021, Champions Chess Tour Opera Euro Rapid 2021 • The Opera Euro Rapid takes place Sat 6th Feb to Sun 14th Feb 2021. The online event hosted by Chess24 is part of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour. This is a regular tour tournament so there are only points and prizes available, not a place in the tour final. 16 players start the event competing in a three day Round Robin which will reduce the field to 8. Then in the knockout phase three rounds of mini-matches will produce a winner.

Players: Magnus Carlsen, Ding Liren, Hikaru Nakamura, Leinier Dominguez Perez, Alexander Grischuk, Levon Aronian, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Daniil Dubov, Teimour Radjabov, Wesley So, Anish Giri, Santosh Gujrathi Vidit, Sam Shankland and Matthias Bluebaum.

Fourth event:-

THE WEEK IN CHESS 1375 15th March 2021, Magnus Carlsen Invitational 2021 • The Magnus Carlsen Invitational is the second major on the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour. This online event takes place on Chess24 13th-24th March. The format has been tweaked for this major, the field has been increased from 12 to 16, in the first major 8 of the 12 players made it through to the second phase and this lead to a lot of caution being rewarded.

Players: Magnus Carlsen, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Levon Aronian, Anish Giri, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Wesley So, Teimour Radjabov, Alireza Firouzja, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Sergey Karjakin, Hikaru Nakamura, Daniil Dubov, Jorden van Foreest, David Anton Plus two qualifiers Alan Pichot and Nils Grandelius.

Fifth event:-

THE WEEK IN CHESS 1381 26th April 2021, New in Chess Classic 2021 • The New In Chess Classic is the fifth event of the Champions Chess Tour the online rapid series hosted by Chess24. The event takes place 24th April to May 2nd. The rounds start later than any event so far to try and avoid a clash with the Candidates, they start at 6pm BST.

Players: Magnus Carlsen, Hikaru Nakamura, Leinier Dominguez Perez, Levon Aronian, Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Teimour Radjabov, Quang Liem Le, Wesley So, Sergey Karjakin, Alireza Firouzja, Santosh Gujrathi Vidit, Gawain C B Jones, Aryan Tari, Johan-Sebastian Christiansen and R Praggnanandhaa.

Sixth event:-

THE WEEK IN CHESS 1385 24th May 2021, FTX Crypto Cup 2021 • The FTX Crypto Cup is part of the online Champions Chess Tour and takes place 23rd to 31st May 2021. This is the last Major - that is an event where the winner qualifies directly for the tour final in late September - although there are 3 more standard events and the leading players in the tour standings will qualify for the finals too. The top 10 players in the world all compete making this the strongest event on the tour so far. 16 players in the preliminaries will play a round robin to produce 8 qualifiers for the second knockout stage.

Players: Magnus Carlsen, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Liren Ding, Hikaru Nakamura, Alexander Grischuk, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Levon Aronian, Fabiano Caruana, Daniil Dubov, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Teimour Radjabov, Peter Svidler, Wesley So, Anish Giri, Alireza Firouzja and Alan Pichot.

Seventh event:-

THE WEEK IN CHESS 1390 28th June 2021, Goldmoney Asian Rapid 2021 • The Goldmoney Asian Rapid takes place Sat 26th Jun to Sun 4th Jul 2021. This is the latest event of the Champions Chess Tour and features a number of Asian qualifiers and invitees. Goldmoney is an online company that facilitates the purchase of precious metals.

Players: Magnus Carlsen, Wesley So, Anish Giri, Levon Aronian, Alireza Firouzja, Vidit Gujrathi, Ding Liren, Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Vladimir Artemiev, Saleh Salem, Hou Yifan, Arjun Erigaisi, Adhiban Baskaran, Gukesh D, Daniil Dubov and Peter Svidler. Play starts significantly earlier than most of the events on the tour so far, 12pm BST.

More events in the series were played after the cutoff point for this edition of the TMER. For more information, see Meltwater Champions Chess Tour 2021.

24 August 2021

2021 CJA Awards - Part 1

After the previous posts on the 2021 CJA Awards Announcement (May 2021) and the 2021 CJA Award Entries (July 2021), it's time to close the series with a look at the winners. Last year (see the 'Announcement' post for links to the 2020 posts), I split the discussion between a look at the award process and a look at the awards themselves. I'll do the same this year, although for a different reason.

The CJA -- 'Chess Journalists of America', if you haven't heard of the group before -- has a list of winners on their own site: 2021 CJA Award Winners (chessjournalism.org). The list includes a link to download a structured (CSV) version of the file. Most people interested in the CSV version would use it to create a spreadsheet, but I used it to create a database. The database allows me to look at the awards in different ways, as shown in the three charts below.

The chart in the upper left ('Category') corresponds to the categories shown in the 'Announcement' post. The chart in the lower left ('Award') shows the various types of award scattered across the categories. The three blank awards are Cramer Awards for an entry under 'Best State...'.

The chart on the right ('Org') counts which chess publications -- the CJA title is 'Media/Publisher/Source' -- won one or more awards. The 14 blank 'Orgs' are a mixed bag, e.g. writers who work independently. The well known Dan Heisman is listed three times with a blank org: 2 x Winner, and 1 x Honorable Mention.

I trust that the numbers in the three charts add up the same, 81 awards total. I'll come back to the subject in another post to look at my favorite awards.

23 August 2021

Talkchess Is/Isn't Talking

A month ago, in a post titled Stockfish vs. ChessBase (July 2021), I noted,

Talkchess.com is currrently returning '403 Forbidden; You don't have permission to access...' messages, so I'll come back to that forum another time.

I went back to the Talkchess forum once a week while preparing my weekly TCEC/CCC post and had the same message every time. For this post I decided to look into it more deeply. Talkchess is useful because it's the GOTO site for informed commentary on all aspects of computer chess. Other sites and forums might have more detailed info on a particular topic, but Talkchess is where the engine experts hang out to discuss with other experts.

The first obstacle was how to go deeper. The '403 Forbidden' message prevented me from looking at previous messages on the forum where someone might have already discussed and maybe solved the problem. Thanks to the Google search 'site' keyword and the Google cache, I was able to access a smattering of relevant information.

Suddenly, while I was preparing this post, the 403 messages stopped and I started receiving original pages from the site. Then, just as suddenly, the 403 messages reappeared and I was once again in the dark. The following links are a mixture of Google cache and Talkchess.com.

Forbidden (talkchess.com; May 2020) • 'Why can we not reach talkchess.com from Germany? I get this message : "Forbidden; You don't have permission to access /forum3/viewforum.php on this server."

Polish users cut off from TalkChess (ditto; July 2020) • 'I have a friend in Poland who is not able to access CCC. I remember that there was some European access problem a while back. Maybe it did not get fixed for Poland.'

And so on. It appears to be Talkchess policy that certain users are blocked. I couldn't find an explanation of why that is.

The recommended workaround was to use a VPN. Among other solutions, this is available in the Opera browser. I haven't tried this, because I ran out of time for working on this post. Maybe I'll tackle it later if I really, really need Talkchess. I can live without it for now.

[NB: Even when the original pages are visible, they seem to be lacking a corresponding CSS file to render them more readable. While it would be nice to have the CSS, too, I'd rather address one problem at a time.]

22 August 2021

Chess Isn't Rigged!

For this month's edition in the long-running series on The Sociology of Chess (November 2016), let's revisit a recent post, Three Times Yahoos (July 2021). One of those 'Times' was the the New York Times (NYT). I wrote,

'Dark Side of Chess' by Ivan Nechepurenko and Misha Friedman, accounted for two Google references. [...] The 'dark side' -- focusing on Sergei Karjakin and Abhimanyu Mishra -- is a long exposé about how young chess talents *really* earn their GM titles.

On his 'More GMHikaru' Youtube channel, GM Hikaru Nakamura read the entire NYT article, interspersed with his own comments on the Nechepurenko / Friedman insinuations. When it comes to chess, the not-so-genial GM generally knows what he is talking about and isn't afraid to point out where a writer got it wrong.

Chess Drama - It's About the Cheque, Mate (48:25) • '[Published on] Jul 14, 2021'

Nearly two weeks after that dissection, GM Nakamura, a five-time U.S. champion, tackled the same subject on his 'GMHikaru' channel in Yes, Top Level Classical Chess Is Rigged (Youtube.com). Why two Youtube channels? I don't know and it's of no concern to me. For a previous Nakamura effort using the same read-and-comment format, see How Much Do the Artisans Get? (July 2021).

P.S. Don't be misled by the video's 'Chess Is Rigged' title. It doesn't mean exactly what it says.

20 August 2021

Carlsen's Online Events 2019-21

In my previous post about GM Carlsen's games that were played during the last three years, Carlsen's Events 2019-21 (August 2021), I wrote,

A total of 1455 Carlsen games (in 95 TWIC files). Those games were spread across 77 different events, of which 34 were played face-to-face and 43 online. Here is an overview of the 34 events played in the traditional way. [...] I'll discuss the online events in my next post.'

Here is a list of the 43 online events, in chronological order.

The online games were played on three sites, listed below. The numbers in parentheses are the count of games and the count of events on that site.

  • chess24.com (679/31)
  • lichess.org (321/10)
  • chess.com (82/2)

The last time I conducted this exercise, Carlsen's online games were played exclusively on Chess.com; see Carlsen's Chess.com Events 2017-18 (September 2018), for details. Also worth noting are the 10 'Prelim' events played on chess24.com. I could say more about these observations, but I'll save that for another time.

16 August 2021

TCEC Stockfish Wins S21; CCC Romance Continues

Let's summarize the previous fortnightly report, titled TCEC S21 Sufi Underway; CCC Still Romancing (August 2021), on the world's two elite, ongoing engine vs. engine competitions:-

TCEC: The S21 Sufi [aka Superfinal, aka Final] is currently at 72 games played. Stockfish leads LCZero by a score of +13-6=53. • CCC: The site continues to run multi-engine, multi-round-robin blitz/bullet tournaments based on thematic 'romantic openings'. It is seeking additional help; more info, including a job spec and application, is available online.

Since that report from two weeks ago, the TCEC event finished, while the CCC events morphed. Here is the current status.

TCEC: Stockfish beat LCZero in the S21 Sufi by a score of +19-7=74 (56.0-44.0). This is even better than the +18-8=74 score predicted in the previous post, 'S21 Sufi Underway'. If my calculations are correct, Stockfish clinched the win after 92 games, then finished +3-0=5 in the remaining games. Before the Sufi started, in TCEC Prepares S21 Sufi; CCC in Romantic Mode (July 2021), I noted,

The S21 Sufi will mark the fifth consecutive Sufi match between the same two engines. [...; The S20 Sufi] was Stockfish's third straight victory over LCZero.

Now we can talk about Stockfish's fourth straight victory. After the Sufi, the TCEC ran a series of bonus matches and is currently running a three-engine 'VVLTC Bonus', where the actonym stands for 'Very Very Long Time Control', i.e. PGN tag '[TimeControl "21600+60"]'. That's in seconds, which translates to 360 minutes (6 hours) per side for the game plus one minute per move.

CCC: The site continues to run thematic events based on romantic openings. The following list shows the openings used since my previous post two weeks ago, when the first on the list was then underway, and the last is now underway.

Calabrese Countergambit (1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 f5)
Traxler Counterattack (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 Bc5)

That makes two dubious openings in two weeks. I struggle for words, so I'll say no more...

[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]

15 August 2021

Live Chess in Trafalgar Square

For this month's Flickr favorite, we have a composite image from Chessfest photos on Flickr.

Top photo: ChessFest © Flickr user Steve Elliott under Creative Commons.

What's ChessFest? For more about the event, see ChessFest: Trafalgar Square, 18th July (chess-fest.com). The page explains,

Chess in Schools and Communities (CSC), a charity that uses chess to help children's educational and social development, is pleased to announce ChessFest, a three-day programme of events to encourage everyone to get ‘on board’ with the great game of chess. ChessFest will take place from 16th-18th July at locations in central London, drawing on the chess theme of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice Through the Looking Glass”, and culminating in a day of chess activities open to the public at Trafalgar Square on Sunday 18th July.

CSC CEO Malcolm Pein, in Malcolm Pein on...ChessFest 2021 (chessable.com), wrote,

ChessFest came to London town last Sunday with a day of chess based entertainment and fun for all the family. The festival was for every chess player, from expert, to those who may come to learn. The outdoor event took over Trafalgar Square for the day, with free chess lessons, simultaneous displays by Michael Adams and Gawain Jones, giant chess sets and over 100 tables for people to play on.

The theme of ChessFest was Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There. Lewis Carroll’s book is loosely based around a chess game in which Alice advances down the board to become a new queen and it is 150 years since publication.

IM Pein also tweeted, 'We have to do ChessFest 2022!'. If anyone can make it happen, he can. For another chess event in the same location, see Giant Chess in Trafalgar Square (September 2009).

13 August 2021

Carlsen's Events 2019-21

In my previous post on GM Carlsen's recent record, Carlsen's TWIC Data 2019-21 (August 2021), I noted,

A preliminary scan of the TWIC files published since that last entry found 1453 Carlsen games in 94 TWIC files. That count is not definitive because the latest TWIC file doesn't have Carlsen's final games from the '2021 World Cup; Sochi (Russia)'.

It turned out that two of those games were for 'Carlsen,H', presumably Carlsen's father. Adding the four final games from the '2021 World Cup', gives a total of 1455 Carlsen games (in 95 TWIC files). Those games were spread across 77 different events, of which 34 were played face-to-face and 43 online. Here is an overview of the 34 events played in the traditional way.

I'll discuss the online events in my next post.

10 August 2021

Breaking the 3300 Barrier

It's been a little more than seven months since I posted Breaking the 3200 Barrier (December 2020), which appeared a little more than seven months after Breaking the 3100 Barrier (May 2020). Right on schedule, post no.3300 on this blog was TCEC S21 Sufi Underway; CCC Still Romancing (August 2021).

For the corresponding trivia about ratings, I'll return to the '3100 Barrier' post, where I featured a video titled 'The Strongest Computer Chess Engines Over Time'. Here is a screen capture from that video.

The ratings of the top three engines on the chart are:-

  • 3307 Stockfish
  • 3275 Komodo
  • 3250 Rybka

The bottom right of the screen says, '2014', but the running timeline (which is partially obscured by the video status bar) is at year-end 2012. How can I resolve this discrepancy?

09 August 2021

Breaking the BDG

In the most recent TCEC/CCC post, TCEC S21 Sufi Underway; CCC Still Romancing (August 2021), I noted,

CCC: The site continues to run multi-engine, multi-round-robin blitz/bullet tournaments based on thematic 'romantic openings'.

One of the romantic openings was the:-

Blackmar-Diemer Gambit (1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3)

I've played the BDG in both OTB and correspondence events and know something about it. It's fun to play, although White struggles to get compensation for the Pawn. I once wrote a post about it, although you wouldn't guess the subject from the title: Naming the Opening Variations (October 2014).

A few months ago I worked out the procedure for downloading CCC PGN files for a particular event and documented it in a post: CCC PGN IV (May 2021). I downloaded the CCC BDG file, loaded it into SCID, and analyzed the games. The following chart shows that there were 528 games played using the forced opening and that all but one continued 3...Nf6. The stats at that point aren't good for White, who scores only 37.4% with 58% of the games ending in draws. The rest of the chart shows what the stats say is the best line for both sides: 4.f3 Bf5 5.g4 Bg6 6.g5 Nd5.

I asked Stockfish to analyze the position after 6...Nd5. It told me that Black has a small advantage after 7.Nxe4, a larger advantage after 7.Bg2, and an even larger advantage after 7.fxe4. In the 2014 post, 'Naming the Variations', this line was called the 'Kampars Gambit'; the only move given was 7.fxe4. If I ever wander into this line again, I'll try 7.Bg2.

It looks like the engines are breaking the romantic openings. They are also busting the old analysis. Should anyone be surprised?

08 August 2021

Pawn Power in Youtube Videos

Kudos to Youtube's Netflix channel for publishing this video on International Chess Day. It would be even more impressive without the obvious errors: a chart of the relative value of the pieces switches the Bishop and the Rook (1:00); the survival rate chart (1:10) labels the ranks and files correctly, but shows the wrong colors for all the squares; and the 'Stonewall Formation' is only marginally recognizable (4:15).

Why The Most Important Chess Piece Isn’t The One You Think | The Queen’s Gambit (7:09) • '[Published on] Jul 20, 2021'

The biggest quibble is about the title of the clip. Its description says,

The King is often called the "most important piece" in chess, but there’s one piece everyone might be overlooking.

No one is overlooking anything. The King is the 'most important chess piece'...period...full stop. Lose it and you lose the game. Lose a Pawn and, as another chart shows (6:00), you're still in the game.

A better title would be 'Why The *Least* Important Chess Piece Isn’t The One You Think'. In fact, there is no least important piece, and the video does a good job of explaining the many strengths of the Pawn. For more chess videos from the Netflix channel, see Netflix search?query=chess.

06 August 2021

Carlsen's TWIC Data 2019-21

On my World Championship Blog, I used the most recent post, TWIC Documents Chess History (August 2021), to bring my TWIC files up to date. An important reason behind that was a project for this current blog:-

Along with the games from the World Cups, I'll need TWIC data to document [...] GM Carlsen's record since the last World Championship match; see posts starting Carlsen's Events 2017-18 (September 2018).

Here's a record of that series of posts, which I'll use as a template for the 2019-21 exercise:-

The objective will be to update my page that overviews Magnus Carlsen's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (TMER; 2000-); Last updated 2018-11-26, where the last entry is currently:-

'2018-08; 6th Sinquefield Cup 2018; Saint Louis USA; 1-3/10; +2-0=7; B8H-STLO; 9/9'

A preliminary scan of the TWIC files published since that last entry found 1453 Carlsen games in 94 TWIC files. That count is not definitive because the latest TWIC file doesn't have Carlsen's final games from the 2021 World Cup; Sochi (Russia).

My deadline for updating the TMER will be the start of the 2021 Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi title match, currently scheduled for 24 November - 16 December 2021, in Dubai. With more than 1450 games to process, I'll need all the time I can get.

05 August 2021

August 1971 & 1996 'On the Cover'

Last month's 'On the Cover' composite photo, covering the months July 1971 & 1996 (July 2021), showed a World Championship encounter on the left and an important U.S. tournament on the right. A month later, the focus was switched.

Left: ?
Right: 'Karpov wants to keep his FIDE crown!; Kamsky wants the title, the glory and a shot at Kasparov!'

Chess Life & Review (50 Years Ago)

Clarence Kalenian of Philadelphia, winner of the U.S. Amateur Championship, May 29-31. • Photo by the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Showing the U.S. Amateur Champion on the cover was a CL tradition at the time. Last year we had the same in August 1970 & 1995 'On the Cover' (August 2020). Inside the August 1971 CL&R, the 'Chess Life, Here & There' story started,

The 21st Annual United States Amateur Championship, played May 29-31 at Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin Hotel, drew an astounding 312 players -- 62 more than ever before. The host city may point with pride not only to the turnout, but to the fine performances of its local players, topped by Clarence Kalenian, the new U.S. Amateur Champion; Al Quindry, the second place finisher; and Steven Hokanson, the Group Two Champion.

Kalenian scored a 6-0 sweep of the 174-player Group One tournament. marking the third straight year this tournament has been won with a perfect score. Ranked 13th with a 2059 rating, he defeated Harry Judy (1886), Dom Sciarretta (1871), Martin Kabat (1703), Herbert Jacklyn (1675), Joseph Bradford (2076), and Luis Busquets (2079) finally to achieve the top spot after being a serious contender several previous years, most notably in 1967 when he led the field before losing in the last round to tournament winner Ron Lohrman.

We also saw the 1967 U.S. Amateur in the post August 1967 'On the Cover' (August 2017).

Chess Life (25 Years Ago)

The long-awaited struggle begins! Dan Kisner sets the mood (on paper) for the 20-game match between current FIDE World Champion Anatoly Karpov, and the American challenger for that title, Gata Kamsky.

The table of contents listed an article 'Kamsky Squares Off Against Karpov' by Gabriel Schwartzman, while the actual article was titled 'Let the Games Begin!' without a byline. It started,

After many false starts, postponed deadlines, extended deadlines, and last minute negotiations, we finally have a match! And if the first few games are any indication of what is to come, this will be QUITE a match for the FIDE World Championship.

The site is the Elista House of Children Recreation. In Elista, Kalmykia. FIDE President Kirsan Iljuinzhinov is also President of the Kalmyk Republic, which is part of Russia. The country is located on the northwest shore of the Caspian Sea, with the Lower Volga River serving as a northern boundary.

Although match terms were still being ironed out on the morning of June 6, the first game began at 4:00 pm the same day. The time control Is 40 moves in two hours. with a second time control of 16 moves in one hour, completing the session. If an adjournment is necessary, play will begin the next day at 2:00 pm with three successive time controls of 16 moves in one hour. The chief arbiter is Geurt Gijssen of the Netherlands.

The article included full annotations for the first four games, after which Karpov led by a score of +2-1=1. For the full score of the match, see my page 1996 Karpov - Kamsky FIDE Title Match; Elista, VI-VII, 1996 (m-w.com). The long Schwartzman article was followed by a short Arnold Denker article titled 'Why Kamsky Can't Lose'. Here it is in its entirety:-

What most people fail to understand is that [a] World Championship chess match is very much like a boxing match. In both instances age and physical condition play the leading part in determining the final result. It was true when Capa beat Lasker. It was also true when Alekhine beat Capa, and it was also so when Alekhine lost his first match to Euwe. It is even more true today with the tremendous proliferation of chess knowledge.

For a moment let us look carefully at both of these gladiators. In one corner we have a very determined, hungry young man in the prime of life, who will stop at nothing to reach his goal. In the other corner we see a complacent Karpov, grown soft and pudgy from living the good life these past twenty years. You may also recall that in his match with Kasparov in 1984, he became so ill in the later stages that Campomanes felt it necessary to stop the match. It is now twelve years later. Why should it get any better?

Denker was an amateur boxer. The 'complacent', 'soft and pudgy' Karpov won by a score of +6-3=9.

02 August 2021

TCEC S21 Sufi Underway; CCC Still Romancing

For the previous report on this blog concerning two world class, ongoing engine vs. engine tournaments, see TCEC Prepares S21 Sufi; CCC in Romantic Mode (July 2021). Here is a summary of that post:-

TCEC: The top two Premier Division ('DivP') finishers, Stockfish and LCZero, will meet in the S21 Superfinal ('Sufi'). This will mark the fifth consecutive Sufi match between the same two engines. • CCC: The site continues to feature offbeat openings.

For the current report, continue reading.

TCEC: The S21 Sufi is currently at 72 games played. Stockfish leads LCZero by a score of +13-6=53. Extrapolating this to the full 100 games projects a win for Stockfish by +18-8=74, which has already won the three previous Sufis against the same opponent. The match should finish during the next week.

CCC: The site continues to run multi-engine, multi-round-robin blitz/bullet tournaments based on thematic 'romantic openings'. Here is a list of thematic events seen since the last post, when the first in the list was then underway. The last in the list is now underway. The initial forced moves for the event are in parentheses.

Urusov Gambit Accepted (1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d4 exd4)
Blackmar-Diemer Gambit (1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3)
Stafford Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 Nc6)
Calabrese Countergambit (1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 f5)

The site is seeking additional help; see CCC Looking for New Server Admin and Developer! (chess.com). More info, including a job spec and application, is available via the site's Discord platform.

[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]

01 August 2021

eBay Deja Vu

I've been doing the series on Top eBay Chess Items by Price (March 2010) for so long that I sometimes can't remember if I'm about to repeat an item that was featured years earlier. A case in point is the painting pictured below. I had the distinct feeling that I'd seen the item before, but a couple of searches on my blog returned nothing.

Adding to the tricks on my memory was the discovery that the painting was listed on eBay as having been sold twice in July by the same seller -- once mid-month and once end-month -- without any mention of difficulties arising from the first sale, like non-payment. The title of both auctions was '19thC Antique Juan Gonzales 18thC Palace Interior, Chess Game Oil Painting, NR'.

The first time the painting was listed it sold for US $730 after 16 bids from 9 bidders; the second time it sold for US $660 after 27 bids from 14 bidders. The winning bid on the first auction was submitted three seconds before the auction ended and it was the only bid by the winning bidder. The second auction started a day after the first auction ended. The description of both auctions said,

This auction is for a 19th century, Victorian oil painting by the Spanish/Peruvian artist, Juan Antonio Gonzales (1842-1914). It depicts a detailed, 18th century palace room with a Cardinal and several aristocrats enjoying a game of chess. This opulent, marble room is decorated with statues, architectural accents and paintings. Signed in the lower left-hand corner Juan Antonio Gonzales this original oil painting is in very good condition.

The canvas has been professionally re-lined and, under the blacklight, we did find a couple of small, invisibly in-painted restorations. Executed on 19” by 27” stretched canvas, this 19th century painting comes in an antique, 21” by 20½” frame, which has been repainted gold and does have some edge wear.

Even after discovering that the painting had been listed twice, I couldn't shake the feeling that I'd seen it before, especially the distinctive white bust over the fireplace behind the players. A search on the artist's name ('Gonzalez' also works) revealed several copies of the work. The most important listing was Juan Antonio Gonzales, Peruvian, 1822-1914 (christies.com). It said,

Property from a Massachusetts estate • A competative [sic] game of chess • Price realised USD 4,375 • Estimate USD 1,500 - USD 2,000 • Closed: 17 Dec 2010

If the phrase 'original oil painting' in the eBay description was accurate, the painting must have been the same as in the Christie's auction. Someone lost money on the eBay auction.

Back to the first paragraph and my concern about repeating a featured item, I don't have that problem with the item in the March 2010 post, an Alcoa chess set from Austin Enterprises. I see that same chess set every time I look at 'Top eBay Chess Items'. For this post, I found 21 of the Alcoa sets sold in the last three months.