29 October 2021

Carlsen's TMER 2019-21, Lichess

For the past few months I've been working on an update to my page on Magnus Carlsen's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (TMER; 2000-) Last week's post, Carlsen's TMER 2019-21, the Tours (October 2021), looked at two series of online events:-

Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour (2020), and
Meltwater Champions Chess Tour (2021)

A day later, on my chess960 blog, I looked at GM Carlsen's Online Chess960 (October 2021). It turned out that all of those games were played on Lichess. While I was looking at the chess960 events, I discovered that Carlsen has played thousands of games using the traditional start position, most of them bullet, on the Lichess server. I'll use this current post to take a second look.

The following chart shows Lichess events that are recorded on the TMER. The first entry ('LiChess Meetup') was already added on the previous update to the TMER; the other entries are currently marked 'In preparation'.

The two events dated 2020-09 were organized by the St.Louis chess club, as was the 2020-06 Clutch Chess International (uschesschamps.com). Announcements for the two Katara events can be found at:-

As for the four events dated 2021-02/-04, they appear to have been picked up randomly by TWIC. A few years earlier we find the first two 'Titled Arena' events, both played by Carlsen under names other than 'DrNykterstein':-

Later we find Carlsen playing under yet another name. Earlier this year someone calculated a tentative count of his tournament wins:-

  • 2021-02-23: Alireza wins a 13th Titled Arena 'GM Alireza Firouzja won his 13th Titled Arena on Saturday, bringing him almost even with the record 14 won by GM Magnus Carlsen. (NB: Upon further review, it seems Magnus has actually won 15 Titled Arenas.)'

Since Carlsen also played a few such events which he didn't win, it would take some effort to locate all of the 'Titled Arena' events he played. Given that they were bullet tournaments lasting only a few hours, I could probably just summarize them for now; idem for the bullet matches.

28 October 2021

Yahoos at the Grand Swiss

Another month, another 100 stories added to the expanding collection of Yahoos. Last month we had The Yahoo Database Reveals a Lawsuit (September 2021). This month we have the news sources shown in the following chart.

The sources follow the usual pattern. Chess.com dominates, followed by six sources with two or more stories each, mostly chess sites, leaving 36 sources with a single story. CNN, already seen in Speculative Yahoos (June 2021), is arguably the most mainstream of the multi-story sources. Two of its three stories were the sort of feature story that might pop up on any source in a random month:-

The third CNN story was recent news related to a high-level World Championship qualifying event:-

Undoubtedly the story of the month, it was echoed in corresponding stories from chess news sites, including Chess.com's Peter Doggers:-

Hiding among all of the other sources was a living, breathing Yahoo:-

The story was originally from Nextshark.com. The site's About NextShark page says,

NextShark is a leading source covering Asian and Asian American news including business, culture, entertainment, politics, tech and lifestyle.

Following the story about the recent U.S. championships were links to four other stories from Nextshark.com, all about violence against Asian-Americans in different settings. Will chess tournaments become the next target?

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

25 October 2021

TCEC Cup 9, CCC C960 Blitz Final : Both Underway

Every two weeks I look at the world's two major engine-vs-engine competitions, which just run and run and run some more. The title of the previous report, TCEC Testing Cup 9; CCC C960 Blitz Semifinal (October 2021), tells most of the story at that time. Let's add a few more details to the summary of that report:-

TCEC: The site is currently performing 'Cup 9 Testing'. I expect the tournament will be well underway by my next report in two weeks. Since the TCEC cup events proceed quickly, it might even be finished. • CCC: In the 'Chess960 Blitz Championship', Stockfish, Dragon, and Lc0 finished 1-2-3. Three more engines also qualified into the 'Chess960 Blitz Semifinals'.

Jumping ahead two weeks, here is the current status.

TCEC: The site's 'Cup 9' has reached the semifinal round, with Stockfish, ScorpioNN, KomodoDragon, and LCZero all qualifying for that stage. The Stockfish - ScorpioNN semifinal match started with a long sequence of draws. It's possible, even likely, that a single game will determine the winner.

CCC: In the 'Chess960 Blitz Semifinals', Stockfish finished a point ahead of Dragon as both engines qualified for the final match. Only one game of their 40-game minimatch was decisive, with Stockfish winning. Lc0 lost three games to each of the two engines, winning none. The other three engines were far behind. In the final match, Stockfish has a non-trivial lead over Dragon. Less than ten games have been decisive after hundreds of games played.

[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; Dragon = KomodoDragon]

24 October 2021

The Sociology of OTB Chess

Whenever I feature a video in this series on The Sociology of Chess (November 2016, approaching its 5th anniversary), which is most times, I try to pick a video that appeared no earlier than a month ago. I'll make an exception here, because it's a two part video and I only became aware of it after the second part was published.


All About Over-the-Board Chess | A Grandmaster's Guide (31:58) • '[Published on] Jun 15, 2021'

The 'Grandmaster' in the title of the video is GM Daniel Naroditsky. The description says,

In this video, I take you through the process of starting your foray into over-the-board chess. I demystify commonly confusing topics such as how to find your local chess club, how to register for a tournament, and how to find a comprehensive listing of tournaments. This is not an exhaustive video, but I hope that it clears up some of the confusion associated with over-the-board chess!

For easy access, here are links to the Youtube pages for both videos:-

The description of the second part says,

In this second part of my OTB guide, I take you through the process of playing your first over-the-board tournament. I talk about how to find your board, what a tournament looks like, and I cover all aspects of over-the-board etiquette, including how to make moves, touch-move rules, how to offer draws and resign, how to settle disputes, and much, much more!

Part 1 currently has close to 200 comments; part 2 close to 500. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that GM Naroditsky has combed through those comments looking for material that will go into part 3. What a great initiative by the multi-talented GM! (He's also a columnist for Chess Life.)

22 October 2021

Carlsen's TMER 2019-21, the Tours

The entire content of last week's post, Carlsen's TMER 2019-21, 'Online = Y' (October 2021), was its own summary:-

After adding the face-to-face (aka offline, aka OTB) events to [the Carlsen TMER], I tackled the online events. The results are documented in the second TMER section titled 'In preparation'.

'The Carlsen TMER' refers to Magnus Carlsen's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (2000-). For this current post, I returned to Carlsen's Prelim Events 2019-21 (August 2021), where I started to explore two series of events: the 'Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour', and the 'Meltwater Champions Chess Tour'. For basic info about the results of individual events, I discovered that Chessgames.com had the most compact, albeit detailed pages. Following are links to individual pages for each event.

Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour

Meltwater Champions Chess Tour

The following image shows the section of the TMER that covers the first tour (individual events are coded 'MC-CT').

GM Carlsen's 'Result' for each event (5th column) is indicated, but his 'Score' (6th) is missing. Although it doesn't make much sense to enter overall WLD totals for a sequence of knockout matches, especially where the games were played at varying time controls, something should be present in those fields.

18 October 2021

CCC Changes the Guard

Back in the middle of the summer, in a fortnightly status post on the two main engine competitions, TCEC S21 Sufi Underway; CCC Still Romancing (August 2021), I observed,

The [CCC] 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.

The Discord announcement, signed 'ChessErik' and dated July 2021, pointed to Computer Chess Admin (Developer, Engine Master for CCC) (docs.google.com), which started,

Love computers and chess engines? Chess.com is looking for someone to take over the management of the Computer Chess Championship [CCC] server administration.

The key requirements on that Google Forms page, which has since been marked '>>> Role Has Been Filled <<<', are shown in the following image.

The job spec pointed to two other Chess.com admin pages. The first was How Chess.com's 100-Person Virtual Team Works Together (chess.com; signed 'erik'), a living document. When it originally appeared in August 2017, it announced, 'This month we finally hit 100 team members', but an update dated January 2021, corrected that to:-

We hit 100 team members in 2017. At the start of 2021 we have 250+ team members, and it still feels like a close family!].

The second Chess.com admin page was About Chess.com (first published September 2010, updated frequently). It starts,

Chess.com is #1 in online chess... But who are we? Where did Chess.com come from? Where are we going? • The Beginning: Chess.com started in 2005 when two friends -- Jay and Erik (that's me!) -- decided the world needed a better chess website. We met 10 years earlier in college, where I first became addicted to chess — and Jay was the chess club president. We became friends through our shared passion for the game. [...]

The 'About' page lists Chess.com staff, including the 'CCC Tournament Director; Since August 2021'. I couldn't find an announcement about who was hired for the position, so I'll stop here.

17 October 2021

'The Hand that Guides the [blank]'

My first thought for a title was 'The Hand that Guides the Pieces', but I don't think the player(s) should be lumped together with the chess pieces. My second thought was 'The Hand that Guides the Players', but are the pieces really players? Then I thought of 'The Hand that Guides the Actors' or 'Action'. I'll leave the '[blank]' for now. Maybe I'll think of something more appropriate before I finish the post.


Blind moves © Flickr user lolo ramingo under Creative Commons.

Among the usual tags:-

composition, collage, concept, digital, chess, ...

...was 'Northcote'. What's that? The artist has two more works about chess:-

I 'faved' the second of those last month, when it lost in the final cut to the Flickr favorite featured in The Battle of Braine-l'Alleud (September 2021). Neither of those images used 'Northcote' as a tag.

The image I faved had Akira Tanaka (fr.wikipedia.org; b.1918 Osaka - d.1982 Paris, 'un artiste-peintre japonais') as a tag. Perhaps James Northcote (en.wikipedia.org; b.1746 - d.1831 London; 'a British painter') was another inspiration? Yes, that's it: see File: Chess Players by James Northcote (wikimedia.org).

Another lead for further caissart research are the 29 groups in which the image finds itself. That might serve as an inspiration for me at another time.

15 October 2021

Carlsen's TMER 2019-21, 'Online = Y'

After adding the face-to-face (aka offline, aka OTB) events to Magnus Carlsen's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (TMER; 2000-) -- see the post Carlsen's TMER 2019-21, 'Online = N' (October 2021) -- I tackled the online events. The results are documented in the second TMER section titled 'In preparation'.

11 October 2021

TCEC Testing Cup 9; CCC C960 Blitz Semifinal

What's happening in the world of top-class engine vs. engine competitions? I'll summarize the previous post TCEC VSOB 21, CCC C960 Blitz Championship : Both Underway (September 2021), as follows:-

TCEC: 'VSOB 21' will finally have run for more than five weeks. What's next? 'Cup9'... • CCC: The site is running a 'Chess960 Blitz Championship' with 12 engines in a multi-round all-play-all format.

Fast forward two weeks. Let's take a snapshot of the current status.

TCEC: 'VSOB 21' eventually finished after 616 games, the same number that was scheduled two weeks ago. When I looked at the schedule last week, it had been extended to 720 games, which was apparently (mercifully) reduced afterward. If I can't think of a better idea for an off-week post, I'll take a look at the 616 games. The '!cup9' plan now says,

ETA = expected soon, apologies for the delay! The plan to increase the number of participants from 32 to all participants in the Leagues has been postponed. This change would need elaborate preparatory testing (GUI brackets and byes).

The site is currently performing 'Cup 9 Testing'. For more info on the upcoming event, see TCEC Cup 9 (wiki.chessdom.org). It says:-

This page 'TCEC Cup 9' is used for engine registration, to see which engines and updates have been requested, announced and received. Deadline for updates is 15 October.

I expect the tournament will be well underway by my next report in two weeks. Since the TCEC cup events proceed quickly, it might even be finished.

CCC: In the 'Chess960 Blitz Championship', each engine played 16 games against each of the other 11 engines, for 176 games total. Stockfish, Dragon, and Lc0 finished 1-2-3. Three more engines also qualified into the 'Chess960 Blitz Semifinals'. Along the way, Stockfish dropped only one full point, to Lc0.

In the semifinal, the 600 scheduled games finish within a week. At 15 games per round, the event will go 40 rounds, or 20 double rounds. I'll reserve any discussion of the games for my 'Chess960 (FRC)' blog, listed on the sidebar. Is this the first CCC chess960 event? A scan of past reports on this blog revealed nothing else, but I haven't been following the CCC since it started in 2017.

[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]

10 October 2021

U.S. Chess HOF Induction at The Muny

First, let's have some definitions: HOF = U.S. Chess Hall of Fame; The Muny (wikipedia.org):-

The St. Louis Municipal Opera Theatre (commonly known as The Muny) is an amphitheatre located in St. Louis, Missouri. The theatre seats 11,000 people with about 1,500 free seats in the last nine rows that are available on a first come, first served basis

If that sounds like the recipe for a class act, it is.


2021 U.S. Chess Championships: Opening Ceremony & HOF Inductions (1:27:57) • 'Streamed live on Oct 6, 2021'

The description of the video explained,

Live from The Muny in Forest Park, GM Maurice Ashley hosts the Opening Ceremony and drawing of lots for the 2021 U.S. & U.S. Women's Chess Championships. Plus, Dr. Jeanne & Rex Sinquefield are inducted into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame.

The list of speakers is a good start on a Who's Who of U.S. chess.

0:00:40 GM Maurice Ashley, Master of Ceremonies
0:02:10 Mike Isaacson, Artistic Director and Executive Producer, The Muny
0:05:35 Shannon Bailey, Chief Curator, Hall of Fame
0:09:25 Randy Bauer, Vice President USchess
0:15:20 GM Garry Kasparov
0:24:50 Sunil Weeramantry, Vice President for Scholastic Chess, U.S. Chess Trust
0:31:00 Jeanne Sinquefield, Co-founder St. Louis Chess Club
0:46:30 Rex Sinquefield, Co-founder St. Louis Chess Club
0:53:00 Video, St. Louis Chess Club
1:06:10 Randy Sinquefield (son), President, Spectrum Studios
1:10:30 Tony Rich, Executive Director, St. Louis Chess Club
1:13:00 Drawing of pairing numbers

Great ceremony, great video. U.S. chess is in great hands.

08 October 2021

Carlsen's TMER 2019-21, 'Online = *'

In last week's post, Carlsen's TMER 2019-21, 'Online = N' (October 2021), I finished by saying,

Even though the TMER page is currently one of the messiest pieces I have posted on one of my resources, I uploaded it anyway. I'll come back to it as soon as I can.

The 'TMER page' means Magnus Carlsen's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (2000-). Using material from TWIC ('The Week in Chess' by Mark Crowther), I documented two recent online series -- the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour (2020) and the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour (2020-21) -- in an extension to Carlsen's Prelim Events 2019-21 (August 2021).

Then I added relevant explanations to the TMER page itself and uploaded a new version. The 'In preparation' section is a big improvement over the previous version, but there is still much more to be done. Watch this space...

05 October 2021

October 1971 & 1996 'On the Cover'

In last month's post in this ongoing series, September 1971 & 1996 'On the Cover' (September 2021), the World Championship received a full cover 50 years ago and important coverage 25 years ago. In this month's post it's USA all the way.


Left: '?'
Right: 'We are the champions! Anjelina Belakovskaya and Alex Yermolinsky Claim National Titles!'

Chess Life & Review (50 Years Ago)

Walter Browne (left) and Larry Evans concentrating at the U.S. Open in Ventura, Cal. The two grandmasters scored 10-2 to share the title and prize money. See [inside] for a brief preliminary report. Photos by Burt Hochberg.

That preliminary report, titled 'Browne, Evans Top Record U.S. Open', started,

The 72nd U.S. Open, held in Ventura, California, in August, was the largest and strongest ever held. With eight international grandmasters, three international masters and a large group of masters, totaling some four hundred players, the event was unquestionably the most successful and interesting of the annual series.

Grandmasters Walter Browne of Australia and the U.S. and Larry Evans of Reno, Nevada, tied with 10 out of 12. According to tradition, the two players became co-champions, though Browne had the better tie-breaking points. The young (22) and fast-rising Browne overcame an arduous schedule of opponents, defeating front-runner William Lombardy in the decisive final round to knock the New York grandmaster into a multiple tie for 3-6 place. [...] This is the first time Browne has at least tied for first in a U.S. Open.

GM Evans has been seen many times in the 'On the Cover' series, most recently for May 1971 & 1996 'On the Cover' (May 2021), after winning two strong open tournaments. GM Browne, who was just starting his rise to chess stardom, was last seen in July 1966 'On the Cover' (July 2016), for winning 'the first annual invitational United States Junior Chess Championship'. That might well have been the first CL/CR cover appearance in his career.

Chess Life (25 Years Ago)

The 'On the Cover' introduction was a full page story with color group photos of the participants in both events. The first paragraph covered the men's (unrestricted) event:-

Alex Yermolinsky of Euclid, Ohio, won the 1996 Interplay U.S. Championship, held July 12-29, at New Jersey's Parsippany Hilton. He shared that title with Alexander Shabalov in 1993. His 9-4 score was a point better than that of Gregory Kaidanov and Boris Gulko, but it was not a runaway contest. Alex was tied with Kaidanov, going into the last round. While Yermolinsky defeated Dmitry Gurevich, Kaidanov had his hopes dashed when he lost an exciting game to Lev Alburt.

The second paragraph covered the women's event:-

Anjelina Belakovskaya of Brooklyn, New York, also won by a full point margin. This is the first time she has won the Interplay U.S. Women's Championship outright, having shared the title last year with Sharon Burtman. Anna Gulko was second with a 6-3 score. Irina Levitina placed third -- and announced her retirement from chess. She is an active master bridge player, and will be representing the U.S. in upcoming international competitions.

Not to be forgotten were the sponsors of the event.

Interplay Productions, of Irvine, California, was our title sponsor, making it possible to offer a total of $90,000 in prize money for the two championships. Interplay produces much of the world's finest gaming software, including Battle Chess and the new Brainstorm line of products. Co-sponsors were the Parsippany Hilton, which provided the site and refreshments for the players, Organizer E. Steven Doyle, the New Jersey State Chess Federation, and USCF.

Later in the report, special mention was made of a special sponsor.

SILENT MOMENT • Joel Benjamin, who has played in 15 consecutive championships, was asked to say a few words about the late Craig Crenshaw, who passed away on March 22. Dr. Crenshaw, 79, was the sponsor of the Crenshaw Awards, an integral part of the championship. Dr. Crenshaw, retired physicist, was the chief scientist of the Army Materiel Command from 1962 until his retirement in 1974.

In the series I ran on USCF Awards 1979-92 (May 2021), I expected to find a USCF award to Dr. Crenshaw, but came up empty-handed. A search of the web revealed nothing either, although I didn't exhaust the possibilities. See also Obituary for Craig M. Crenshaw (Aged 79; newspapers.com), where his chess accomplishments merited a paragraph.

04 October 2021

TCEC/CCC Link Maintenance

Not having any better ideas for an off-week post on engines, I decided to update the page TCEC/CCC Links; see the tab at the top of this page (and every other page on this blog). The main changes were a few new links to Discord and to other posts on this blog.

03 October 2021

'Not a Shadow Box'

Once in a while on Top eBay Chess Items by Price (March 2010), I'm not sure what I'm looking at exactly. Consider the item pictured below. It was titled 'Chess (technically untitled) Assemblage, Sculpture Set Designer Art' and sold for US $1495, 'Best offer accepted'. That price is an upper limit, meaning that we don't really know what it sold for, although it most definitely was a top item.

Back to the question: 'What is it?' The item description started,

This is not a shadow box but a miniature set design by a prominent European/Dutch artist and set designer, Peter Gabrielse. This assemblage, or what we might have called a shadow box from our school days, was created by the artist, Peter Gabrielse from Holland (The Netherlands). In Dutch they are called Kijkkasten, or box sculptures. Sometimes they are referred to as peep boxes.

I know enough Dutch to understand that 'kijkkasten' is the plural of 'kijkkast', but that doesn't help much. The word 'kijkkast', literally 'watchbox' -- where watch is a verb, not a noun -- translates to many things of which the most banal is 'TV set'. That clearly is not the item in the photo, so we need to continue with its description:-

Gabrielse was born in 1937 and is still living doing his creations. He is a well known set designer of 30 years experience working for theater and TV in Europe. He decided to make these assemblages with themes. This is obviously of chess.

A quck look at the artist's site, Peter Gabrielse : Architecture / interiors in miniature, gives more examples of his work, although it doesn't help provide a term to describe them. Note that the table at the bottom center of the box holds a miniature chess set and the figures at the bottom right are chess pieces. Along with much speculation about the symbolism in the art, the item description tells us the piece is heavier than it looks and gives us an idea of its size:-

The rough hewn wooden frame is about 20" by 18" and the open part is almost a foot square. It was listed [sic; listed where?] as about five inches deep.

The wire to the left of the box is for a light at the back of the box. The best word to describe the piece might be 'diorama', but that doesn't seem completely correct either. 'Not this, not that.' Where have I heard that before?

01 October 2021

Carlsen's TMER 2019-21, 'Online = N'

In a previous post, Carlsen's TMER 2019-21 (September 2021), I added a preliminary table to Magnus Carlsen's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (TMER; 2000-), and wrote,

I'll use the new table to add missing data to the many blank fields, then merge it into the main table.

I started by adding data to the events marked 'Online = N', and ended up with many questions for further investigation.. The transition to online events has paralleled significant format changes to the non-online events, all of which could use an explanation on the TMER page. Take, for example, the Armageddon games in the 2019 and 2020 events held at Stavanger, Norway. All I could do for now was to note the need for an explanation.

Even though the TMER page is currently one of the messiest pieces I have posted on one of my resources, I uploaded it anyway. I'll come back to it as soon as I can.