31 January 2022

TCEC S22 Underway; CCC16 Blitz Nears Final

The previous report on the world's two foremost engine-vs-engine competitions was Stockfish Wins Both TCEC FRC4 and CCC16 Bullet Events (January 2022). Here's a summary of Stockfish's margins of victory:-

TCEC: In the FRC4 Final, Stockfish beat LCZero +13-9=28. The site is currently performing 'S22 - QL L4 L3 Testing'. • CCC: In the 'CCC16 Bullet Final', Stockfish beat Dragon +480-124=1016 out of 1620 games. The site is currently running its 'CCC16 Blitz Main' event with 12 engines.

The TCEC has launched its next season, eight months after the start of the previous season, reported at the time in TCEC S21 Starts; CCC 'Eco Mini-Matches' (May 2021). The CCC is approaching another final match.

TCEC: For more about FRC4, see a pair of posts on my Chess960 (FRC) blog:-

After extensive testing, the TCEC Season 22 Qualification League ('S22 QL') is underway with 14 engines. For more info, see TCEC Leagues Season 22 (wiki.chessdom.org).

CCC: Six engines qualified from the 'CCC16 Blitz Main' event into the semifinal event, which has just ended. Stockfish, Dragon, and Lc0 finished 1-2-3, well ahead of the other engines. If 'CCC16 Blitz' follows the pattern of the previous tournament, 'CCC16 Bullet', Stockfish and Dragon will meet in the Blitz Final, just as they did in the Bullet version.

[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]

28 January 2022

Life in Google's World

I finished my previous post, Google, Again! (January 2022), saying,

Given (1) that Google is nagging me to use new services, (2) that I need to reconsider the use of 'matched content', (3) that I need to decide if I want to continue to run such large ads, and (4) that there are other Google issues to be addressed (not mentioned here), I'm going to tackle Google issues over the next few posts.

For bullet (1), the 'new services' are:-

(a) 'Let Google place ads for you', and (b) 'Let Google choose the best ad sizes for you'

It turns out that (a) can be applied independently to my five different resources: one site (m-w.com) and four blogs (including this one). As for (b), it applies to all five resources at the same time under a global parameter called:-

Ad units: Ad size optimization setting; Let Google optimize your ad units on mobile

That means it affects only mobile ads. On top of these considerations, m-w.com uses two separate styles that have to be considered separately: one style for 'The World Chess Championship' and one for 'Chess for All Ages'. I decided not to make any changes for now, except to turn on '(a) "Let Google place ads for you"' for this blog. So far, I haven't noticed any changes.

For bullets (2) and (3), there is nothing urgent, so I moved on to (4). The top 'other issue' is shown in the following screenshot from the index page on my World Chess Championship site (linked in the sidebar).

That blue bar at the top of the page with the Google logo to the left is apparently related to a feature called 'Site translation' further down the page. The bar appears every time the page is opened or refreshed, whether or not 'Site translation' has been invoked. In this screenshot, I've asked for a translation into French.

The language used in the blue bar is Dutch -- probably because I live in a Flemish region of Belgium -- and I can't change it. It has a mouseover message that I don't understand and that I can't translate easily. The irony!

I first noticed the bar last year and wondered if the page would be better off without it. I don't know how it got there and I don't even know what it's called. More effort is required.

That makes lots of questions without many answers. And that's life in Google's world.

27 January 2022

A Second Year of Yahoos

At the end of last month we had two Yahoo posts (see the note at the end of this post for an explanation of 'Yahoos'):-

At the end of that 2021 post I pledged,

I could go on and on, but I'll stop the stats here and promise to be back at the end of the month to start a new year of Yahoos.

So here we are. I'll start with the usual count of news sources, shown below.

In January, we had 10 sources with at least two chess stories, plus 44 sources with a single story. That makes 86 stories total.

Of the 101 stories returned by Google, the other 15 were repeated from previous months. I said in the December 2021 post that I would look at those some day and I haven't forgotten.

The sources with two or more stories are dominated by the usual names: Chess.com, Chessbase News, Chess24. There are also a few newcomers on the list.

For 'PhilBoxing.com', the 'Phil' stands for Philippines and the 'Boxing' includes other sports. The site has a staff writer who specializes in chess articles centered on news from the Philippines. For 'Reuters', the stories were both about the Australian Open -- tennis, not chess. For 'Big Think', both articles are worth recording for posterity:-

I went back to the list of all Google News articles recorded in 2021, and discovered that Bigthink.com was missing completely. Wikipedia's page, Big Think, which is not much longer than a a stub, starts,

Big Think is a multimedia web portal founded in 2007 by Victoria Brown and Peter Hopkins. The website is a collection of interviews, presentations, and roundtable discussions with experts from a wide range of fields.

The 'Chess boom' article has a chart showing growth at Chess.com over the last two years. After dipping during the summer of 2021, activity has been increasing for the last few months. This might simply be the traditional annual cycle for chess -- peaks in the winter, troughs in the summer -- or it might be something else. The current year will confirm or break the trend.

What was the most popular chess topic in January? I would have guessed the Tata tournament, but Google returned only two articles for the month. More popular were stories related to the boom theme, specifically chess as a business. Here's a sample:-

Looks like the boom is being managed by competent hands. What a contrast with the evolution of the Fischer boom in the 1970s.

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

Correspondence Forums in the 2000s

While working on a follow-up post to Correspondence Chess in the 2020s (February 2021; 'meaningless ratings and meaningless titles'), I discovered a discussion group for the ICCF: International Correspondence Chess Federation (facebook.com). A number of points caught my attention, e.g. this chart...


WC40/ct/2, WCCC40CT 2

'WC40' stands for World Championship no.40, 'CT' stands for Candidates Tournament. The note at the bottom says, 'The winner and the runner-up qualify to a WCCC Final.'

As the crosstable shows, with 11 games remaining, all finished games have ended in draws. By comparison, the first of the two CTs in this cycle has had three decisive games with 13 still to finish. Sounds like a lottery, doesn't it? Who will be the lucky winner of a game and earn the right to play for the World Championship? Two threads on the Facebook forum addressed a related question:-

The ICCF used to have other forums. I still have a browser bookmark for The Correspondence Chess Message Board (TCCMB). Nowadays the link returns only 'The system has failed to log you in.'

Archive.org on the forum host, pub11.bravenet.com/forum/..., returns results that stop in 2007. Two of the last threads in one of the last archived TCCMB indices include the term 'ICCF Forum' in their titles, but the URL of that forum is a mystery. All of the links in the archived index return empty pages. If there's a way to display the individual posts, no tricks come to mind. Maybe I'll discover the address of 'ICCF Forum' for a future post.

How to make correspondence chess interesting again? The ICCF could (1) ban engines, (2) use AI deep learning techniques to detect cheating, and (3) ban cheaters for life -- three strikes and you're out. If nothing else, it would light up the forums while people insist on the impossibility of all three of those actions.

23 January 2022

FIDE's Social Initiatives 2021

For this month's edition of The Sociology of Chess (November 2016), my first idea was to feature 2021: In Memoriam of Passed Members of our Chess Family (youtube.com) on the 'FIDE chess' channel. The description said,

A video in remembrance of all those members of the chess family who passed away during the year 2021.

Then I realized I didn't have much to add about the subject, except to expand on the comments and to add a few personal memories of people I knew. I decided to look for something else.

A search for the keyword 'Memoriam' on the same channel returned another video that I had overlooked, although it was published on the same day as the 'Memoriam' video. I don't understand why it was returned for the keyword, but I'll take it.


FIDE's Social Initiatives in 2021 (3:44) • '[Published on] Dec 29, 2021'

The description for this video said,

A video devoted to FIDE’s social initiatives, one of the areas where our organization made more progress over the past few months.

This video demands to have the captions transcribed. I'll come back to that if I find the time.

21 January 2022

Google, Again!

Nag, nag, nag. Google is good at many things, but one area where it outshines is nagging. Don't try to argue with it, because it knows that it knows more than you do. Case in point: since June 2020, I've been receiving emails with subject 'Let Google place ads for you', a total of eight so far. Since March 2021, I've been receiving other emails with subject 'Let Google choose the best ad sizes for you', just two so far, but I'm expecting more. I've managed to ignore all of these messages until now, but a few months ago I received a more urgent email:-

Subject: Matched content units will only show ads starting 1st March 2022
Date: 24 Nov 2021
From: Google AdSense

'Starting 1st March 2022, Matched content units will only show ads, and be renamed to "Multiplex ads". We originally launched Matched content as a recommendation service to help you promote your content to your site's visitors. It also came with the option to show ads alongside the links to your content.

'Due to decreasing usage of the content promotion service, and positive customer feedback and performance results from an ads-only Matched content ad format, we've decided to turn down the content promotion service and convert all existing Matched content units to only show ads.'

If 'matched content' doesn't mean anything to you, five years ago I worked on a series of posts to implement it on my site:-

That's another area where Google outshines : pushing you to implement one of its services, then pulling the service a few years later. Another case in point:-

  • 2019-02-07: Google+ Sunsets • Re 'I don't know when Google Plus will close, but Google doesn't waste time when it takes action.'

Last year I noticed that some of the ads displayed by Google were ginormous. Here's a screenshot from one of my most popular pages...


Top 10 Myths About Chess (m-w.com)

...The ginormous ad ('Play for Free') in the top part of the page takes up nearly 50% of the screen's display. The bottom part of the page shows an example of 'matched content', which is even larger.

Given (1) that Google is nagging me to use new services, (2) that I need to reconsider the use of 'matched content', (3) that I need to decide if I want to continue to run such large ads, and (4) that there are other Google issues to be addressed (not mentioned here), I'm going to tackle Google issues over the next few posts. The update for Magnus Carlsen's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (TMER), last seen in Carlsen's TMER 2019-21, Checkpoint (December 2021), will have to wait.

18 January 2022

FIDE Rating List - Women

A day after my recent post on ratings, FIDE Rating List - January 2022 (January 2022), FIDE published Manifesto: The Year of the Woman in Chess (fide.com). What do the FIDE rating lists (FRLs) tell us about women in chess?

First, they tell us which FIDE registered players are women. In fact, they tell us twice. There is one field in the lists called 'Sex', which is set to 'M' or 'F'. There is another field called 'Flag', which includes 'w' if the player is female. I checked the content of the two fields and they match. Where 'Sex = F', 'Flag = *w*', and vice versa. There are undoubtedly legacy reasons for maintaining two fields, but I imagine it's a headache for FRL administration.

Second, the rating lists tell us which women have titles. There are two relevant fields in the list, 'Titl' and 'Wtitl', the first for all players, the second for women only. The following table shows the distribution of the two titles over all players, both men and women.

The first two columns in the table show various combinations of the two fields; the rest of the columns give a count. For example, the first row counts the number of players who have no title.

The second row counts the number of players who have a 'CM' title (Candidate Master) and no women's title; this includes 11 women. The third row counts players who have both a 'CM' title and a 'WFM' (Women's FIDE Master), and so on.

The pecking order of the titles is 'GM', 'IM', 'FM', 'CM'. The same is true for women's titles.

The titles are (largely) internally consistent. Two players marked 'M' have 'WCM' titles and one player has a 'WH' title, but these are the only inconsistencies I can see.

It would probably be revealing to see the rating ranges -- maximum rating, minimum rating -- for all titles. I recall having done that in the past, so I would first have to locate that post.

Lurking on the horizon is another angle to this discussion. Wikipedia defines Non-binary gender as:-

An umbrella term for gender identities that are neither male nor female -- identities that are outside the gender binary.

I wonder if FIDE has discussed this issue internally. I also wonder what other international sports organizations -- the IOC or FIFA -- are doing about it. It's certain to arise in the not-too-distant future.

17 January 2022

Stockfish Wins Both TCEC FRC4 and CCC16 Bullet Events

Two weeks ago, in the previous post on the two foremost, ongoing, engine vs. engine competitions, TCEC FRC4 Semifinals, CCC16 Bullet Finals : Both Underway (January 2022), both tournaments were close to declaring a winner. Here's a summary of that post:-

TCEC: The FRC4 'Final League' is currently underway. Stockfish is leading at the halfway point, but the point spreads separating the top three engines are close. The top two engines qualify into the Final. • CCC: Stockfish and Dragon qualified from the 'CCC 16 Bullet Semifinals' into the Final. Stockfish holds a commanding lead and is close to clinching the event.

The outcome of those events is the subject of this week's post.

TCEC: Stockfish and LCZero tied for 1st/2nd in the FRC4 'Final League', a point ahead of KomodoDragon. Stockfish beat LCZero +13-9=28 in the Final. A note mentioned,

!bookfrc • Final League and the Final will use unbalanced books [...] On the edge between draw and white win.

For more info, see TCEC FRC 4, under 'FRC Book Generation'. On the same page, a note under 'Polls' mentions, 'During League A, 112 lost FRC games from the Season 6 FRC Special Event was found and added to the database.' I couldn't find the lost games, but I didn't look very long.

After FRC4, the site ran an event called 'S22 - DFRC Sanity Check'. What's DFRC?

!dfrc • Double Fischer random chess: The same as Fischer random chess, except the White and Black starting positions do not mirror each other. Double FRC has 921,600 (960*960) possible starting positions.
https://tcec-chess.com/misc/dfrc/frc_openings.pgn

I should have more to say about 'unbalanced books' and DFRC when I tackle FRC4 on my chess960 blog. The site is currently performing 'S22 - QL L4 L3 Testing', where 'L' stands for 'League'.

CCC: In the 'CCC 16 Bullet Final', Stockfish beat Dragon 988.0-632.0 out of 1620 games. I didn't have time to work out the WLD stats; maybe later. [Later: +480-124=1016; Stockfish won six games w/ Black; Dragon none.]

After the CCC16 Bullet tournament finished, the site ran a 'No Black Castling' bonus event. Like the TCEC DFRC event, this is theoretically interesting and deserves further discussion.

The site is currently running its 'CCC 16 Blitz Main' event with 12 engines, three of which appear to have earned their participation via a qualification event. The 'Info' tabs for both events say, 'top 2 promote to Main', but it's titled 'CCC 16 Rapid Qualification' (not 'Blitz'). Communication has never been the CCC's strong point.

[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]

16 January 2022

Chess Photos : 'All rights reserved'

In last month's Flickr post, Shallow, Green Chess Photos (December 2021), I wrote,

My short list for this month's featured Flickr photo was as short as a short list can be without being empty : one photo.

This month I was reminded that a short list can be even shorter : zero photos. Not wanting to beat the 'Shallow, Green' idea to death -- I might need to do that next month -- I decided to concentrate on chess albums. One set of albums...

...was chock-a-block filled with a topical theme dear to my heart, the World Championship. The screen capture below shows the world federation's most recent albums. The second thumbnail from the left, top row, is titled 'Closing Ceremony - FIDE World Championship'.

Here are a few more album collections, listed in alphabetical order:-

I easily located several more chess album collections, mostly dealing with big tournaments. I won't list them all; I wouldn't want anyone to feel left out.

I imagine that all of the photos in these albums are marked '© All rights reserved'. That's why they never appear on my short lists. Would it hurt any of the expert photographers who took the photos to license a few under 'Creative Commons'? That would allow other content creators (like me) to share the photos with a larger public.

13 January 2022

FIDE Rating List - January 2022

It's become a new year ritual. Here's the sequence...

1) Locate last year's post. A year ago it was FIDE Rating List - January 2021 (8 January 2021).

2) Access FIDE Ratings Download (fide.com) and download the file that is described something like this:-

STANDARD
TXT format (14 Jan 2022, Sz: 8.33 MB)

3) Load the file into the database that stretches back to 1971 and compare it to recent years:-

2022: >377K players; >228K marked inactive
2021: >362K players; >174K marked inactive
2020: >354K players; >181K marked inactive
[...]

4) Produce a sequence of queries to derive the following charts. It shows one new federation since January 2021, plus two views of increases in the number of players per federation. The chart on the right is restricted to federations with 100 players or more at the start of 2021.

5) Create some additional posts (optional), then hibernate until the following year. Last year I wrote one additional post:-

...The numbers under point '(3)' above show that the count of inactive players in 2022 increased three times more than the count of active players. Looks like I should revisit the subject of inactive players.

10 January 2022

Ipmanchess

Later this year I hope to upgrade my chess engine hardware and software. It's been almost twelve years since I upgraded the hardware and seven years for the software (all documented on this blog), so the change is long overdue. I keep up with software developments and know what I want, but I don't pay much attention to hardware. It evolves so rapidly.

I spent a couple of hours browsing Talkchess.com to find out what the experts have been saying. Cores, hyperthreading (HT), and GPUs provoke frequent discussions. A year ago I looked at Engine Scaling (January 2021), an important subject that won't disappear anytime soon.

One site that was often used as a reference is Ipman Chess (ipmanchess.yolasite.com), especially the page AMD - Intel Chess Bench. (ditto). It's packed with data and looks like any time there would be well spent. I'll come back to the subject when I have more to say.

09 January 2022

The Careers of the Champion and the Challenger

While I was working on two of last month's posts -- A Flood of World Championship Videos (December 2021) and A Trio of World Championship Video Makers (ditto) -- I noted a few related videos from Chess24.com that didn' t fit the pattern for my two posts. All of them were about the careers of the protagonists in the recent 2021 Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi title match. Here's the first in the series.


Who are Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi? (3:51) • '[Published on] Nov 28, 2021'

The description of the clip said,

We take a look at our our competitors as they compete in what could be the biggest match of their career.

Another couple of videos were about the challenger:-

It turned out that similar videos released during the match were reruns from a series published in March, all titled 'The Magnus Carlsen Story':-

Good thing I had these videos to fall back on, because there was little else published after the match ended. My short list was short indeed, but the Chess24 videos listed above are sure to be long lived.

06 January 2022

A Year of Yahoos

This post should not be confused with Year-end Yahoos (December 2021), my Yahoos' post covering the last month of 2021. For an explanation of 'Yahoos', see the note at the end of this post.

The charts below show some basic data across the 12 Yahoo posts for 2021. I recorded a total of 1133 stories for the entire year. For some reason, the number of news stories for January 2021 was less than later months. Starting in November, Google News changed its algorithm for selecting results of a news search; see the November and December (above) posts for details.


Left: Number of stories returned by Google News on the date of the monthly post.
Right: Top news sources over the 12 months of the year.

The chart on the right shows sources that had five or more stories for the year, a total of 21 different sources out of the 367 recorded for the year. The following table gives a count of sources that had five or fewer stories for the year.

5 stories, 4 sources
4 stories, 9 sources
3 stories, 10 sources
2 stories, 43 sources
1 story, 284 sources

It's no surprise that Chess.com was the top source for the year. It was the top source for each of the 12 months, always by a wide margin. It's also no surprise that the next three sources -- Chessbase, USchess, and Chess24 -- are chess sites with active, well respected news departments. As for 5th and 6th -- the Guardian and the Financial Times -- they are both associated with Leonard Barden.

Last on the chart is the original 'Yahoo News', although its count is misleading. There were four different Yahoo sources in 2021, including three stories from 'Yahoo Finance', for a total of 10 real Yahoos. A similar narrative holds for 'Fox News', listed above with five stories. There were five other Fox sources, each with a single story : 'Fox 28 Spokane' is one example.

I could go on about other statistics -- 78 stories with 'Carlsen' in the title vs. 20 with 'Nepomniachtchi'. Along with these there were 26 'Kasparov' stories, seven 'Netflix', and even two 'Fischer' stories, etc. etc.

The 188 stories without 'chess' in the title make me wonder how Google News chooses its chess stories. One example was titled 'Framingham Council asks administration to review transferring management of Pearl Street Garage'. Hint: It was dated the same day I recorded the results of the news search and mentioned,

"It’s a chess piece that’s been on the table for a long time," said Stefanini. "...This simple move is the first piece in a series of moves to advance the vitality of the downtown area."

I could go on and on, but I'll stop the stats here and promise to be back at the end of the month to start a new year of Yahoos. Will 'PogChamps' in 2022 beat its record of 26 stories in 2021? Only time will tell.

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

04 January 2022

January 1972 & 1997 'On the Cover'

Many of the recent posts in this blog's monthly 'On the Cover' series -- where the previous post was December 1971 & 1996 'On the Cover' (December 2021) -- featured World Championships of yesteryear. This month, both sides of our de-facto time capsule feature aspects of art important to the royal game: chess composition and chess sets.


Left: 'Announcing the Third International Endgame and Problem Composing Contest of the United States'
Right: 'From Scrap Iron to Art - ABANA'

Chess Life & Review (50 Years Ago)

Four new original compositions by Pal Benko illustrate "1972" and delineate the competition categories: endgame studies, 2-movers, 3-or more-movers, help-mates. See [inside] for contest rules [and] for solutions.

The rules appeared in the 'Benko's Bafflers' column.

We take great pride in announcing the third in our regular series (every two years) of tourneys for endgames and problems. The contests are informal and are open to composers anywhere in the world.

The '$600 prize fund', looking skimpy by today's standards, was partitioned like this:-

Category 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
1 Endgame Studies $75 $50 $35 $20 $10
2 Two-move Direct mates [...]

Anyone as clueless as I am about chess composition might be interested in certain details of the contest. For example:-

In addition to the above prizes, the best composition in each class by a US composer will earn $25 credit which may be applied to merchandise offered in the USCF catalogue.

Restriction: All submissions must be original compositions never before published. [...]

Compositions will be judged by internationally known judges, whose names will be announced in forthcoming issues. No material will be returned. If a composer does not hear about his composition within two years, or if it is not published within that time, the ownership of the composition reverts to the composer, as specified in FIDE regulations.

The composition is sponsored by the Piatigorsky Foundation in cooperation with the U. S. Chess Federation. The second contest is. of course, over. Awards will be announced soon.

The second contest was introduced two years ago in January 1970 & 1995 'On the Cover' (January 2020); 'Announcing the Second International Endgame and Problem Composing Contest of the United States'.

Chess Life (25 Years Ago)

ABANA -- Artist Blacksmiths Association of North America -- held their annual convention in Alfred, New York, this past June, and created art from iron, silk from a sow's ear. Chess Collectors International [CCI] eat your collective hearts out! • Cover photograph by Mark Sampson

[Embedded photo:] Charles Orlando, a master forger, is one of the many blacksmiths that worked on crafting the ABANA sets and tables. Mr. Orlando's chapter crafted one of the chess tables.

The two page cover story, 'The ABANA Chess Set' by Jim Robbar, started,

The "Artist Blacksmiths Association of North America" (ABANA) was formed in Lumpkin, Georgia during a hammer-in with 20 people that were interested in preserving and sharing information about blacksmithing. From these humble beginnings in March 1973, ABANA has grown to 4,000 plus members around the world.

Today there are over 50 chapters of ABANA, some as far away as Australia. International conference's are hosted biannually in North America. This past June 1996 the "New York State Designer Blacksmiths" hosted the 1996 ABANA conference. Almost 1200 blacksmiths and their families attended the conference that was held at Alfred State College campus in Alfred, New York. Demonstrators also covered the globe at this year's conference.

The story went on to explain how chess fit into the narrative.

With each conference an attempt is made to have a large share of chapters participate in forging a choreographed piece that can form a larger unit. For 1996, chess was chosen as the theme.

With the number of chapters, we quickly figured that two complete sets could be easily made. As chairman of the auction, I also facilitated the completion of the chess sets.

Decisions were made by committee as to what sizes would be used for the chess sets and boards. Lots of phone calls started the chapters working. A local ceramic tile company was contacted to make the black and white marble board. Each square was 3x3 inches with a 2-inch black marble border.

The story included more than two dozen photos illustrating various details of the two sets. What happened to them? The article mentioned, 'Each set was bought by an ABANA family during the Friday night auction.' Maybe the CCI knows more about their current whereabouts.

03 January 2022

TCEC FRC4 Semifinals, CCC16 Bullet Finals : Both Underway

The new year marks three years since I first started following the TCEC and the CCC regularly. To find that initial report, see last week's post TCEC/CCC 2021-H2 Summary (December 2021), and follow the summaries back to '2019 Q1-Q3 Summary'.

The previous fortnightly post in the long running series was KomodoDragon Wins TCEC Swiss 2; CCC16 Bullet Semifinals Underway (December 2021). Following is a summary:-

TCEC: KomodoDragon won 'Swiss 2', a point ahead of Stockfish and LCZero. The site is currently conducting 'FRC4 Testing'. • CCC: In the 'CCC16 Bullet Qualification' event, Berserk and two other 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 are well ahead of the other engines for the two-engine final event.

TCEC: FRC4 (chess960) started with 23 engines in four 'Leagues' (A, B, C, D). The top two engines in each League promoted to two 'Semileagues', The top two engines in each Semileague, promoted to a 'Final League', which is currently underway. Stockfish is leading at the halfway point, but the point spreads separating the top three engines are close. The top two engines will qualify into the Final.

When it finishes, I'll cover the event in more detail on my chess960 blog. See the right navigation bar for a link.

CCC: Stockfish and Dragon qualified from the 'CCC 16 Bullet Semifinals' into the Finals. The score in their semifinal mini-match was +30-6=72 in favor of Stockfish, who holds a commanding lead in the final and is close to clinching the event.

[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]

02 January 2022

Vintage Chess Clocks

Chess clocks have to be pretty unusual to be featured here on Top eBay Chess Items by Price (March 2010). The last time we saw one was Not for Blitz or Bullet (May 2021), where I wrote,

Chess clocks frequently appear on the initial short list for 'Top eBay Chess Items', but rarely make the final cut. Although important as a chess accessory, there's not much to add about them.

For more posts featuring clocks, follow the link in 'Not for Blitz or Bullet' back to 'Double Dutch Clocks'. Repeat until no more links.

For this first eBay post of the New Year there was nothing particularly inspiring on the short list, so let's have another post on clocks. The composite image below shows the first items for 'Top eBay Chess Clocks by Price' over the past three months.

Although the basic info for the eight items is readable (barely), I'll copy the most important info to this post. • Top row, left to right:-

  • Vintage Allan Troy Chess Clock-Swiss made Heuer Chess Clock Looping PG; $5,000.00; Best offer accepted
  • Vintage Allan Troy Chess Clock-Jerger "Blitz" chess clock The Queen's Gambit PG; $610.00; Best offer accepted
  • Vintage Heuer Chess Clock Timer in Very Good Condition; $650.00; Best offer accepted
  • Black Bakelite JANTAR USSR vintage Chess Tournament Clock; $550.00; or Best Offer

Bottom row, left to right:-

  • Black Bakelite JANTAR USSR vintage Chess Tournament Clock; $550.00; Best offer accepted
  • Jantar Amber Vintage USSR Russian Tournament Wooden Chess Clock 1963; $545.00; Best offer accepted
  • Legendary Russian Chess Tournament Mechanical Clock Timer made in USSR in 1954; $510.00; Best offer accepted
  • US Electric Schachuhr Chess Clock Timer "Sessions" from the 50-er Works; $517.43; Buy It Now

As with so much of eBay, all is not what it appears to be, especially the final price. A year ago I discussed the type of sale involving the first two items, 'Vintage Allan Troy...', in a post titled 'A Private Party Deal' (January 2021).

Half of the items are for Jantar clocks. The last item in the top row and the first two items in the bottom row are all from the same seller. The model of the third item in the bottom row isn't identified, but the photo also shows a Jantar clock. Its description said,

Legendary vintage Russian Chess Tournament Mechanical Clock Timer made in USSR in the 1954. Bakelite case, manual winding. The chess clock was made in 1954 at the third Moscow watch factory. The main products of the watch factory [were] military watch devices and equipment, but they also produced civil clocks, for example, like this fine specimen. The chess clock was made at the height of the popularity of chess and it [was a] direct participant of many great chess battles.

The clock is in full working condition. The mechanism has been recently serviced to ensure it winds and sets smoothly while keeping great, accurate time. Dimensions of item 260 x 153 x 64 mm (10,23" x 6,02" x 2,51").

All of these items were sold in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Coincidence?