31 December 2021

30 December 2021

Year-end Yahoos

In last month's Yahoos post, World Championship Yahoos 2021 (November 2021; see the note at the end of this current post for an explanation of 'Yahoos'), I noted four developments that demanded a follow-up.

No.1: 'Google News still returned 100 stories, but I noticed that many were published well before the month of November.'

December had 101 stories, of which 21 were published before the month started. The oldest was -- just as in November -- the phony April Fools' story 'Official Rules Of Chess Updated, Draws Removed' (chess.com). The second oldest was:-

It turns out that this was also the second oldest story in November. Google tracks clicks from its results on news searches, so it seems that it is now presenting results from previous months that earned more clicks.

No.2: 'Another unusual feature of the month was the precipitous drop in stories from Chess.com, which has been averaging around 40 stories a month for the last six months. Is this an anomaly -or- a harbinger of future Yahoo activity?'

The chart to the left shows a count of sources for December. Chess.com had 25 stories, against 23 stories for November.

A fair comparison with previous months requires including the older stories that I excluded in 'No.1'. I'm guessing that Chess.com has a large number of older stories that I've excluded.

That guess would be a good basis for a follow-up post. At the same time I could look at the type of older stories that Google is flagging, which would indicate what chess topics are most interesting for chess fans.

No.3: 'In each of the last few World Championship matches, I've discovered at least one professional, non-chess journalist who provided an outsider's view of the match. Will the Guardian continue the trend? '

Short answer: No, not really. • Long answer: See the post on my World Championship Blog, 2021 Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi, the First Week (December 2021).

No.4: 'All might not be rosy around the chess boom brought on by the events of the last two years. I noticed two stories about chess games that aren't played on chess boards. [...] I'll wait for December Yahoos...'

A corollary question is: How much interest in the recent World Championship was added by the 2020-21 chess boom? Looking at the six sources from the chart above might give a hint. Of the 25 Chess.com stories, only one had anything to do with the Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi match in Dubai:-

Of the six stories from Chessbase News, none were about the match. Of the three stories from World Chess, who organized recent title matches, all three had something to with the match. The most recent was:-

In that article, the Carlsen - Nepo match earned the title 'Disappointment of the Year'. World Chess explained,

Expectations of a huge fight. Fantastic excitement. Analysts around the world prophesied hard times for Magnus in the face of the Russian fighter, Ian-2021. [...] Sadly, at the end of the brightest victory in the sixth and already one can safely say the historic game, Magnus’s advantage began to grow. The match ended early with the victory of the champion, which certainly led to serious criticism of the Ian team.

Of the three sources with two stories each, only one story was about the match:-

Of the other 40 sources with a single story, two stories were about the match. Either the news sources weren't interested in writing stories about the match -or- Google detected little interest in those stories.

My conclusion? The official World Championship has been with us since 1886. Only in 1972 did it fuel an increased interest in chess. No drama = no interest.

People are attracted to the game for other reasons. Let's focus on those other reasons.

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

27 December 2021

TCEC/CCC 2021-H2 Summary

Since December 2018, Monday posts on this blog have been about chess engines (*). The last Monday post of the year means a summary of all Monday posts during the past six months. For the previous summary, see TCEC/CCC 2021-H1 Summary (June 2021), where I wrote,

The first column lists the fortnightly posts on the current status; the second column lists off-week posts on related topics that I wanted to explore in more depth. The last, blank space on the right is a space filler for this current post.

That explanation also works for the current post.

TCEC/CCC Off-week
2021-07-19:
TCEC Prepares S21 Sufi; CCC in Romantic Mode
2021-07-26:
Stockfish vs. ChessBase
2021-08-02:
TCEC S21 Sufi Underway; CCC Still Romancing
2021-08-09:
Breaking the BDG
2021-08-16:
TCEC Stockfish Wins S21; CCC Romance Continues
2021-08-23:
Talkchess Is/Isn't Talking
2021-08-30:
TCEC VSOB 21, CCC Blitz 2021 : Both Underway
 
2021-09-13:
TCEC VSOB 21, CCC Blitz 2021 : Both Still Underway
2021-09-20:
TCEC VSOB Opening Tools
2021-09-27:
TCEC VSOB 21, CCC C960 Blitz Championship : Both Underway
2021-10-04:
TCEC/CCC Link Maintenance
2021-10-11:
TCEC Testing Cup 9; CCC C960 Blitz Semifinal
2021-10-18:
CCC Changes the Guard
2021-10-25:
TCEC Cup 9, CCC C960 Blitz Final : Both Underway
2021-11-01:
Evaluating the Evaluations
2021-11-08:
TCEC Swiss 2, CCC16 Rapid : Both Underway
2021-11-15:
Talkchess Is Talking Again
2021-11-22:
TCEC Swiss 2, CCC16 Rapid : Still Underway
2021-11-29:
Engines Forced to Play Like Us
2021-12-06:
TCEC Swiss 2 in Final Round; Stockfish Wins CCC16 Rapid
2021-12-13:
Komodo Dragon
2021-12-20:
KomodoDragon Wins TCEC Swiss 2; CCC16 Bullet Semifinals Underway
 

At the end of the '2021-H1 Summary', I noted,

The CCC hasn't run a structured, multi-phase competition in more than three months. What will the next six months bring for the CCC?

See the post dated '2021-10-18' for an answer to that question. As for the TCEC, the season become longer this year:-

  • 2020-04-27: Leela Beat Stockfish in TCEC S17 & CCC13 Finals
  • 2020-07-20: Stockfish Wins TCEC S18
  • 2020-10-26: Stockfish Wins TCEC S19
  • 2021-02-01: Stockfish Wins TCEC S20
  • 2021-08-16: Stockfish Wins TCEC S21

The organizers have been adding more competitions, like the Swiss and VSOB events, to the regular season. Computer chess appears to be more popular than ever.

(*) With a few early exceptions, the Monday posts have been about chess engines since Catching Up with Engine Competitions (October 2018).

26 December 2021

A Trio of World Championship Video Makers

A couple of weeks ago, for my monthly post featuring a Youtube video, A Flood of World Championship Videos (December 2021; on the 2021 Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi title match), I finished with an action:-

Now I have some time to spend making sense of that flood. Where to start?

I decided that this month's post on The Sociology of Chess (November 2016), would be a great place to start. How to proceed?

I discovered that three important chess sites had produced videos about the match -- FIDE, Chess.com, and Chess24.com -- so I created the following table linking to the different clips.

  : FIDE : Chess.com : Chess24.com :
  : EN RU PC AR : CHR RR ? : HHS PG DK DH HL :
OC : EN   PC   :       :     DK     :
g.01 : EN RU PC AR : CHR   ? : HHS PG DK     :
g.02 : EN RU PC AR : CHR RR ? : HHS PG DK DH HL :
g.03 : EN RU PC AR : CHR RR ? : HHS PG DK DH HL :
g.04 : EN RU PC AR : CHR RR ? : HHS PG DK DH HL :
g.05 : EN RU PC AR : CHR RR ? : HHS PG DK DH HL :
g.06 : EN RU PC AR : CHR RR ? : HHS PG DK DH HL :
g.07 : EN RU PC AR : CHR RR ? : HHS PG DK DH HL :
g.08 : EN RU PC AR : CHR RR ? : HHS PG DK DH HL :
g.09 : EN RU PC AR : CHR RR ? : HHS PG DK DH HL :
g.10 : EN RU PC AR : CHR RR ? : HHS PG DK DH HL :
g.11 : EN RU PC AR : CHR RR ? : HHS PG DK DH   :
CC : EN       :       :           :

The codes are cryptic, but there is only so much info you can place on a blog where the posts are limited in width. Following is a legend for the codes used in the table..

FIDE:-

  • EN - Live commentary in English by GM Viswanathan Anand and GM Anna Muzychuk; OC/CC - Opening and closing ceremonies
  • RU - Live commentary in Russian by GM Sergei Shipov and WGM Dina Belenkaya
  • PC - Press Conference
  • AR - Recap by GM Alejandro Ramirez

Chess.com:-

  • CHR - Live commentary by GM Fabiano Caruana, GM Robert Hess, and IM Daniel Rensch
  • RR - Rapid replay
  • ? - I don't know what these short videos should be called, but they're worth mentioning

Chess24.com:-

  • HHS - Live commentary by GM David Howell, IM Jovanka Houska, and Norwegian journalist Kaja Snare
  • PG - Live commentary by GM Judit Polgar and GM Anish Giri
  • DK - Recap by GM Daniel King
  • DH - 'Play of the Day with GM David Howell'
  • HL - Highlights

I watched a few of the videos and was impressed with what I saw. There was a tremendous amount of chess talent commenting on the match, including two top GMs who themselves faced GM Carlsen in previous title matches. After the competence of the commentators, the most important factor in a commentary team is to have good chemistry between the various personalities.

Don't overlook the 'NBC Recap' videos, which I documented on my World Championship blog. To find them, start with the post 2021 Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi, Wrapup (December 2021), and follow the links back for each of the three weeks, e.g. 'First Week', etc.

24 December 2021

Merry Christmas 2021!

Fifteen years of Christmas blog posts with a chess theme...

...To see the original posts, start with Ghosts of Christmas Past (25 December 2020) and follow the links backward in time. Hey, wait a minute! If there are 15 years of Christmas, how come there are 16 photos? Because the year 2011 snuck in there twice; I don't remember why. And as always, please drive carefully!

20 December 2021

KomodoDragon Wins TCEC Swiss 2; CCC16 Bullet Semifinals Underway

This is the last post of the year covering the world's two foremost, ongoing engine vs. engine competitions. Following the usual format of posts in this series, here's a summary of the previous post, TCEC Swiss 2 in Final Round; Stockfish Wins CCC16 Rapid (December 2021):-

TCEC: The 'Swiss 2' event is now in the last of 11 rounds. KomodoDragon is a half point ahead of Stockfish and LCZero. The tournament will finish in a couple of days, to be followed by 'FRC4', a chess960 event. • CCC: The site is currently running the 'CCC 16 Bullet' tournament, which is in the 'Qualification' stage.

Following is the current situation.

TCEC: KomodoDragon won 'Swiss 2', a point ahead of the two engines mentioned in the summary. The runners-up in 2nd/3rd places finished 1.5 points ahead of the next group, which placed 4th through 7th.

The site is currently conducting 'FRC4 Testing', preparation for the next event, which has been running for over a week. For more about FRC4 (chess960), see TCEC FRC 4 (wiki.chessdom.org). The number of engines has increased by 50%, but the extended testing period suggests that not all engines are fully compliant with C960/FRC rules. For posts in this series about the previous FRC event, see:-

CCC: In the 'CCC 16 Bullet Qualification' event, Berserk and two other (tied) engines were promoted into the 12-engine 'Main' event. Berserk was also one of six engines to qualify into the semifinals. Stockfish, Dragon, and Lc0 -- in that order -- are well ahead of the other engines for the two-engine final event.

The emerging star of both brief reports on the TCEC / CCC is KomodoDragon / Dragon. For more about this return from obscurity by the faded star Komodo, see last week's post Komodo Dragon (December 2021).

[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]

19 December 2021

Shallow, Green Chess Photos

My short list for this month's featured Flickr photo was as short as a short list can be without being empty : one photo. On top of that, the photo was by the same photographer behind a recent 'photo' -- in fact a collage -- that I featured in 'The Hand that Guides the [blank]' (October 2021). The newer photo was also interesting, but not as unusual as 'Hand that Guides'.

What to do? I went back to Chess in the Pink (April 2018), where I explored the '15 little colored boxes' at the top of Flickr search results. This time I looked at the four more complex little boxes to the right of the colored boxes. These are labeled 'Black and white', 'Shallow depth of field', 'Minimalist', and 'Patterns'.

The 'In the Pink' post mentioned a total 359,886 chess photos in the Flickr database. Three and a half years later there are now 572,616 photos. As you might expect with chess photos, of the four more complex options 'Black and white' returns the greatest number of photos, but I found 'Patterns' to be the most interesting. Here's an example.


flickr.com/search/?text=chess&styles=pattern

The 'little boxes' are check boxes that can be combined to return, for example, pink patterned photos. 'Advanced' options add another set of choices, like 'Orientation': horizontal, vertical, etc. I usually use photos licensed under 'Creative commons' (CC). These number around one-sixth of the total photos. Now if I need a shallow, green, landscape (or panoramic), CC photo, I know how to get one. (NB: There are seven such photos, but none of them have anything to with chess. Go figure.)

17 December 2021

Carlsen's TMER 2019-21, Checkpoint

It's been more than four months since I started to update Magnus Carlsen's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (TMER; 2000-), and I'm still not close to making the final update. In the first post listed below (08-06), I wrote,

My deadline for updating the TMER will be the start of the 2021 Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi title match.

The match finished a week ago; so much for arbitrary deadlines. That first post listed the work I did in 2018 for the previous update. At that time there were a total of six posts, compared to 16 so far in 2021. Why the big difference? I see three reasons: 1) The current update covers a span of three years instead of two years in 2018; 2) The covid-provoked move to online events in 2020 inspired a number of new tournament formats that are more complicated to document; 3) I'm getting slower. Here's the list of posts:-

Reviewing the three posts on Chess24 banter blitz -- 09-17, 11-19, 12-03 -- the events can be covered on the TMER in four entries: Match with Peter Svidler, Banter Blitz Cup 2019, Banter Series 2020, and Banter Blitz against Chess24 users (x16). That answers the question in the last post (12-03):-

The 16 sessions with Premium members plus 11 matches against titled players probably adds up to something like 300 Banter Blitz games to date. How much of that should go into the TMER?

As for the three posts on the two tours -- 08-27, 10-22, 12-10 -- all events in each tour deserve an entry: Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour 2020 (x5 events), Meltwater Champions Chess Tour 2020-21 (x7, played through the cutoff point for the TMER update). The Preliminary and Final stages for each event can be combined into a single entry.

The single post on the Lichess events -- 10-29 -- might not be sufficient to proceed with the TMER. I already have an earlier event on the TMER missing all details ('2018-02 LiChess Meetup Stjernen 2018') plus nine newer entries. The post mentions '15 Titled Arenas'. I closed the post saying,

Since Carlsen also played a few such ['Titled Arena'] 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.

Two of the bullet matches were against Alireza Firouzja. Since he is currently a person of interest involving Carlsen's future plans -- for background see the post 2021 Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi, the Third Week (December 2021), on my World Chess Championship blog -- those matches take on additional importance. His name came up in four separate posts in the TMER series : 08-27, 09-17, 10-29, 12-03.

Looks like I'm still a long way from updating the Carlsen TMER. What a chess player!

13 December 2021

Komodo Dragon

Not too long ago, the top-three elite chess engines were Stockfish, Komodo, and Houdini. Then Leela, incorporating AlphaZero's AI technology, joined the select group. Komodo fell behind and Houdini retired. Stockfish added an important AI component and Komodo added a similar component, becoming Dragon. Now the top three elite engines are Stockfish, Leela, and Dragon.

After I learned that Talkchess Is Talking Again (November 2021), I set out to discover what I had missed during the months after the forum went dark, plus the months before that when I hadn't been following it regularly. I was particularly taken by a series of announcements from GM Larry Kaufman, each of which generated many comments:-

I had noticed in recent posts on this blog that Komodo Dragon had been regularly finishing among the leaders in both the TCEC and the CCC. Following are several of those posts.

2021-10-25: TCEC Cup 9, CCC C960 Blitz Final : Both Underway • 'The [TCEC] 'Cup 9' has reached the semifinal round, with Stockfish, ScorpioNN, KomodoDragon, and LCZero all qualifying for that stage.' • 'In the [CCC] '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.'

2021-11-08: TCEC Swiss 2, CCC16 Rapid : Both Underway • 'In the [TCEC 'Cup 9'] semifinal round, Stockfish beat ScorpioNN +1-0=21, and LCZero beat KomodoDragon +1-0=27. In the final round, Stockfish beat LCZero +1-0=3. In the consolation match ('Bronze') for 3rd/4th place, KomodoDragon beat ScorpioNN +2-0=2.' • 'In the [CCC 'Chess960 Blitz Championship'] final match Stockfish beat Dragon +10-1=589.'

2021-12-06: TCEC Swiss 2 in Final Round; Stockfish Wins CCC16 Rapid • 'The [TCEC] 'Swiss 2' event is now in the last of 11 rounds. KomodoDragon is a half point ahead of Stockfish and LCZero, which are a full point ahead of the next engine.' • 'Stockfish won the final match of the 'CCC 16 Rapid', beating Lc0 by a score of +80-32=188. In a 'Runners-up' match, Lc0 beat Dragon by a score of +60-41=199. Dragon had finished third in the 'Rapid Semifinals', well ahead of three other engines.'

Getting back to the Talkchess threads, this is how GM Kaufman introduced 'Komodo Dragon 2.5 released':-

KomodoChess has just released Dragon 2.5 at KomodoChess.com. Normally we would call this 2.1, but it is probably the largest upgrade we have had between versions in many years, with the exception of the NNUE idea first implemented in Dragon 1. It could easily be Dragon 3, but it's only been four months since Dragon 2 and we can't use that name this soon contractually.

It has a larger, "smarter", better trained net, and noticeably more search depth due to search enhancements. Estimated elo gains in standard mode over Dragon 2 range from 50 at long time controls on four threads to 60 at CCRL blitz (2' + 1") on four threads to 72 at CCRL blitz on one thread. In MCTS mode gains are even larger by about ten elo.

All this is based on direct matches of 3400 games or more with a normal opening book. Gains are even larger with unbalanced books, and especially large in Fischerandom (chess960), where on one thread at blitz Dragon 2.5 beat Dragon 2 by a full hundred elo in a 3400 game match! It also defeated Stockfish 14 in a 650 game bullet (half minute plus half second inc) FRC match by 11 elo (132 wins, 112 losses, 406 draws).

The main new feature is a major improvement to the Skill levels. There are now 35, up from 25, and they now consider node count, depth, and eval randomizing in a much more logical, gradual way than in prior versions. The levels should much better simulate the play of a human at that level playing a game with enough time to think thruout the game. The intent is that each level should be a fair match at Rapid (15' + 10") chess with a human of the same FIDE rating as the Skill level set with two zeroes added.

The rest of the post discussed issues related to calculating ratings for the various 'Skill levels'. The feature is related to an earlier post on this blog: Komodo Personalities (April 2021).

It's a positive development for all concerned to have another engine challenging the dominance of Stockfish and Leela. I'm especially interested to see how Dragon performs in the forthcoming TCEC FRC4 (chess960) event. To close this post, I'll repeat the standard footnote to my fortnighly posts on the TCEC/CCC series...

[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]

12 December 2021

A Flood of World Championship Videos

The 2021 Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi World Championship match at Dubai finished a couple of days ago, so when I started compiling a short list for this month's featured video, I received a flood -- no, make that a tsunami -- of ideas for the short list. Here's something you don't see every day.


Harry Mack Improvises Rap About The World Chess Championship (2:40) • '[Published on] Nov 27, 2021'

The description starts,

Harry Mack may just be the best freestyle rapper in the world, and Chess.com was honored to have him rap the story of the World Chess Championship. Listen to these incredible bars he spits about the great like Emanuel Lasker, Garry Kasparov, and OF COURSE Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi.

Now I have some time to spend making sense of that flood. Where to start?

10 December 2021

Carlsen's TMER 2019-21, Chess24 'Classical' Games

In this ongoing series to update Magnus Carlsen's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (TMER; 2000-), we've seen two posts on the Chess24 Banter Blitz events. I arrived at the first via TWIC data and at the second via Carlsen's Chess24 account:-

Both posts cover the same territory and confirm each other. In that second post I noted, 'There are 570 blitz games and 66 'classical' games listed [on Carlsen's Chess24 account]'. What can be said about the 66 'classical' games?

It turns out that all but one of those games were played during the first two events of the 'Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour' (MC-CT; 2020). I documented that competition in another post in the TMER series:-

There were five separate events making up the MC-CT. Where is the Carlsen profile for the games from the last three events? Same question for the second tour, 'Meltwater Champions Chess Tour' (MW-CT; 2020-21).

The 'Tours' post has links to Chessgames.com pages for all events in the two tours. The Chessgames.com pages have links to everything you might want to know about the two tours. Here's an example from the first event of MC-CT 2020, the 'Magnus Carlsen Invitational'.


Source: Magnus Carlsen Invitational 2020 (chessgames.com)

Even with all of that info available, I wasn't able to answer the simple question 'Where is the Carlsen profile?'. I'll have to live without it.

Chess24 considers that rapid games, those with a 15 minute time control, are 'classical' games. This is another example of how the word 'classical' has been overused in chess, rendering it meaningless. Instead of controls classified as bullet, blitz, rapid, long -- why not use the actual time control?; 1 minute, 5 minutes, 15 minutes, 120 minutes (or whatever). And where does 3 minutes fit in?

06 December 2021

TCEC Swiss 2 in Final Round; Stockfish Wins CCC16 Rapid

In the previous fortnightly report on this blog, two ongoing, continuous, world class engine vs. engine competitions were both conducting long events lasting several weeks. I can summarize that post, TCEC Swiss 2, CCC16 Rapid : Still Underway (November 2021), in a few sentences:-

TCEC: The 'Swiss 2' event is now in the sixth of 11 rounds, the mid-point for the tournament. Stockfish is a half point ahead of the pack. • CCC: With less than 50 games remaining in the 300-game final match of the 'CCC 16 Rapid', Stockfish is close to clinching victory over Lc0.

Following is the current status.

TCEC: The 'Swiss 2' event is now in the last of 11 rounds. KomodoDragon is a half point ahead of Stockfish and LCZero, which are a full point ahead of the next engine. The tournament will finish in a couple of days, to be followed by 'FRC4', a chess960 event.

CCC: Stockfish won the final match of the 'CCC 16 Rapid', beating Lc0 by a score of +80-32=188. In a 'Runners-up' match, Lc0 beat Dragon by a score of +60-41=199. Dragon had finished third in the 'Rapid Semifinals', well ahead of three other engines.

The site is currently running the 'CCC 16 Bullet' tournament, which is in the 'Qualification' stage. The 'Info' tab says, 'CCC 16 Rapid', but the eight engines competing in the 'Bullet Qualification' stage are the same engines that competed in the 'Rapid Qualification'. Are the rules of the 'Bullet' identical to those of the 'Rapid'? I summarized the rules of the 'Rapid' a month ago in TCEC Swiss 2, CCC16 Rapid : Both Underway (November 2021).

[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]

05 December 2021

Not to Be Confused with Hermes

After nearly ten years of the series on Top eBay Chess Items by Price (March 2010), in the post Endorsements for Asuncion (January 2020), I was able to write,

I can't remember another article of clothing. The item pictured below, titled 'Magnus Carlsen's 2018 World Chess Championship Jacket', sold for US $4450 after 35 bids from 11 bidders.

It took less than two years for another post on clothing, pictured below and titled 'Exceptionally RARE Hermes Scarf - Echecs - 1939 - Charles Pittner - Vintage - WW2'. The scarf sold for GBP 575.00 ('Approximately US $760.15') on one bid equal to the starting price.

The four small chessboards near the corners of the scarf show the basic moves of four different pieces. The description started,

Amazing vintage and exceptionally rare Hermes Paris silk scarf carré 'Jeu d'Echecs' by Charles Pittner. Issued only once in 1939 and one of the earliest Hermes scarf designs. The first ever scarf being issued in 1937. A very hard to find and rare design. The scarf dates to WW2 & simply impossible to find. Very sought after by Hermès collectors and given an 'R' exceptionally rare rating, in the Hermes scarf guides, 'Carrés d’Art IV'.

'Jeu d'Echecs' or sometimes referred to as simply 'Echecs' or 'Le Leçon d'Echecs' literally translated as 'Game of Chess'. The scarf pictures a chess board on a mauve/lilac background. Just fabulous.

This was followed by some technical details.

Scarf name - None. One of several designs which do not show scarf name on the face of the design • Hermès Paris • Designer signature – None • Copyright Hermès - None as scarf dated 1939 & pre copyright • Vintage caretag - No longer attached • Size - approx 90 cm / 36 inches • 100% silk • Weight - approx 72 grams • Not a sale scarf • No box.

The description finished with some background information.

The scarf has been worn and washed but is in very good vintage condition overall for its 82 years of age. During WW2 silk was requisitioned for parachutes so scarves made during these years were often in alternative fabrics or whatever was available at the time. Silk, wool, cotton or a combination of the above. This scarf is in silk jersey. The silk is very fluid, soft & supple and drapes beautifully.

For more about the company making the scarves, see Hermès (wikipedia.org); 'Not to be confused with Hermes [...] a French luxury goods manufacturer established in 1837'.

03 December 2021

Carlsen's TMER 2019-21, Banter Blitz

The previous post in the series on Magnus Carlsen's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (TMER; m-w.com) was Carlsen's TMER 2019-21, Chess24 Profile (November 2021).

It turns out there's a gold mine of TMER material under [Carlsen's MagzyBogues profile], material which I haven't sorted out yet.

The stats section of the profile ('Rated games') counts 547 games, but there are 570 blitz games and 66 'classical' games listed. Because I was most interested in Banter Blitz, I downloaded the blitz index, loaded it into a database, and examined the content.

GM Carlsen's first Banter Blitz (24-Feb-19) was the six game match with Peter Svidler that I mentioned in Not the 'Under the Weather' Channel (November 2021). His second was announced a few weeks later.

  • 2019-03-07: Magnus Carlsen plays Banter Blitz (chess24.com) • 'Yes, you read that right! This Friday none other than Magnus Carlsen will be streaming his blitz games live here on Chess24 [...] For the first time ever Magnus Carlsen is now going to play Banter Blitz against Chess24 users.'

This became a regular feature for Chess24 fans. For example,

  • 2019-07-16: Magnus Carlsen’s 5th Banter Blitz session (ditto) • 'Magnus Carlsen will be back to play more blitz against Chess24 Premium users [...] We’ve compiled all the Banter Blitz games so far into one "tournament" with four "rounds"'

The four rounds referred to the first four Banter Blitz sessions. That tournament now shows 16 rounds, where the last round was played earlier this year (27-Mar-21). Later in 2019 the site announced a tournament, the Banter Blitz Cup.

  • 2019-09-20: Magnus Carlsen tops Banter Blitz Cup billing (ditto) • 'World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen will be the top seed for the 128-player $50,000 Banter Blitz Cup that’s set to start in a week’s time.'
  • 2019-09-25: Banter Blitz Cup Schedule (ditto) • 'World Champion Magnus Carlsen takes on 21-year-old Argentine Grandmaster Alan Pichot in Round 1 of the $50,000 Banter Blitz Cup, with the full pairings tree now published.'

That second page links to videos for the individual matches. Carlsen reached the final (played 15-Apr-20), where he lost to GM Alireza Firouzja 8.5-7.5. A few months later, Chess24 announced another tournament:-

  • 2020-08-31: The chess24 Banter Series, a new Banter Blitz Cup! (ditto) • 'There will be a 16-player final phase, with eight players invited and the remaining participants determined by a series of eight qualifying tournaments that will be played in the first weeks of September.'
  • 2020-09-21: Carlsen & co. in Banter Series Finals action (ditto) • 'World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen and 7 more of the world’s Top 10 players are in action this week as the Chess24 Banter Series Finals begin Monday and end in a final on Sunday. All players must stream their thoughts live as they play in this 16-player knockout, which includes 8 qualifiers who battled their way through mini-knockouts over the last three weeks.' [Member comment: 'Where is Alireza?!']

Carlsen again reached the final, this time with a different result.

  • 2020-09-30: Carlsen plays Bongcloud to win Banter Series (ditto) • 'World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen won after starting 1.f3, 2.Kf2 -- the notoriously bad "Bongcloud" opening -- on his way to beating Wesley So 5.5-3.5 to claim the $12,000 top prize in the Chess24 Banter Series.'

Carlsen did not use the MagzyBogues account to play the event. The results of all games are available in Banter Series - Events by chess24.

The gold mine I mentioned at the beginning of the post is as much for the streamed commentary as for the games. The 16 sessions with Premium members plus 11 matches against titled players probably adds up to something like 300 Banter Blitz games to date. How much of that should go into the TMER?

02 December 2021

December 1971 & 1996 'On the Cover'

In this month's look at American chess magazines from 50 and 25 years ago, the left half continues the story from last month's post, November 1971 & 1996 'On the Cover' (November 2021), where the cover said, 'In training for the match with Petrosian, Fischer and his second, Larry Evans, analyze in the pool'. The right half introduces an early web resource that demands more research.


Left: '?'
Right: 'Gabriel Schwartzman Wins 1996 U.S. Open'

Chess Life & Review (50 Years Ago)

The lobby of the Teatro San Martin in Buenos Aires. Crowds of enthusiasts who could not get in to see Fischer and Petrosian watched the games on giant demonstration boards. Photo by La Prensa.

A two column article 'Irresistible Force 6 1/2 - Immovable Object 2 1/2' by CL Editor Burt Hochberg started,

The final score of the Fischer-Petrosian match is not wide of the predicted mark. Very few, if any, of Fischer's supporters expected yet another shutout-Petrosian, as everyone knows, is the defensive player's defensive player, the consummate master of obfuscation. Fischer would have had to work hard to overcome the ex-world champion's bulldog stubbornness and would have had to call up vast reserves of sitzfleisch to avoid premature attacks -- just the kind of thing Petrosian tries to provoke with his do-nothing openings. Yet a victory for Fischer was predicted even by the Russians. Petrosian is 42, mind. and Fischer only 28. And Fischer was hot. riding a 19-game winning streak.

Hochberg, a talented chess writer, also gave a brief summary of the match. Here's his account of the sixth game.

Game Six. Petrosian tried his provoking tactics with his patented Nichevo (*) Attack, but Fischer, who knows how to make something out of nothing, gradually improved his position until Petrosian cracked and prematurely opened the Queenside. Fischer's ensuing endgame maneuvering reduced Petrosian to helplessness.

A footnote for the '(*)' explained, 'Nichevo: Russian -- nothing'. The article ended,

A single obstacle now remains between Fischer and the crown he longs to wear -- Boris Vasilievich Spassky. That match, which promises to he the most exciting and meaningful such encounter in chess history, will be played in late spring or early summer in a country not yet decided upon.

Yes, indeed. The 'On the Cover' series for 2022, which starts next month, promises to be full of news about the 1972 match.

Chess Life (25 Years Ago)

Bill Hook's dramatic photograph captures 19-year-old Gabriel Schwartzman during a reflective moment at the U.S. Open. The goatee, by the way, was necessitated by a shaving accident. It disappeared as soon as he won the U.S. Open.

A five page article on the 1996 U.S. Open by Macon Shibut started with a detailed account of the last round circumstances leading to Schwartzman's tournament win. The leader's list looked like this:-

1st: Gabriel Schwartzman, 10.5; 2nd-3rd: Alex Yermolinsky, Gregory Serper, 10.0, 4th-7th: Alex Wojtkiewicz, Alexander Ivanov, Angelo Young, Jonathan Schroer, 9.5

GM Schwartzman had two 'Your First Move' articles in the same issue: one under the heading 'Chess Academy' with an ad for a magazine of the same name; the other under the heading 'Chess Chat'. For more about him, see Wikipedia's Gabriel Schwartzman. It mentions, 'He started the world's first interactive chess school in 1996, the Internet Chess Academy.' I should say more in this post, but the subject requires more research than I have time for. Maybe later.