26 May 2022

2022 CJA Awards Announcement

It's that time of year again, when the Chess Journalists of America (CJA) open their annual award season. Last year I featured the CJA in four posts:-

The following chart shows the award categories as listed in the last two May issues of Chess Life. Seven categories and their corresponding awards for 2022 are shown below on the right. Next to them, on the left, is the related announcement from 2021.

2021 2022

If you're interested in specific awards for 2022, you should see the list of awards on ChessJournalism.org ('We promote the highest standards of ethics in chess journalism, represent United States chess journalists in appropriate national and international bodies, and influence policies affecting the promotion of chess.'), where you'll also find instructions for submitting your own entries.

I noticed a few changes from 2021 to 2022. There are three new awards:-

  • Best Weekly Video Program
  • Best Documentary
  • Best Tournament/Match Coverage

Several awards have been redefined. The three awards for 'Junior (Under 18)' have been extended to 'Junior (Under 20)'. The last award in the list, 'Best Photography', has been restricted to 'Best Photograph'.

Although I'm not a member of the CJA, I always look forward to seeing the winners and their work. Good luck!

23 May 2022

TCEC Cup 10 Underway; Stockfish Wins CCC17 Bullet

Two weeks ago, in the previous post on the two foremost, ongoing engine vs. engine competitions, I ranked the three leading engines and asked a question: TCEC/CCC: Stockfish no.1; Dragon, LCZero - Who's Better? (May 2022). To summarize that post:-

TCEC: LCZero beat KomodoDragon +24-15=61 in the S22 Subfi to claim bragging rights as the no.2 engine in the world. The site is currently running a 'VVLTC Bonus'. • CCC: In the 'CCC17 Bullet Challenger', Dragon is only a few games from clinching victory over Lc0. Barring a catastrophe for Dragon, the 'CCC17 Bullet Finals' will see Stockfish vs. Dragon.

At the time, it was a toss-up between Dragon and LCZero. Bragging rights are only valid until the next match. Has anything changed in the meantime?

TCEC: The 'VVLTC Bonus' consisted of four-game mini-matches featuring the top three engines: Stockfish, LCZero, and KomodoDragon. Stockfish and LCZero drew their match, while both finished 'plus-one' against KomodoDragon.

Sometime later the site launched the 'Cup 10' event, using a 32-engine knockout format. The four engines that reached the semifinal stage included the three that competed in the 'VVLTC Bonus' plus an engine named 'Revenge'. An !command informs that Revenge 'is the renamed upgrade to Pedone'.

CCC: In the 'CCC17 Bullet Challenger' Dragon beat Lc0, 844.5-775.5 (1620 games). Then in the 'CCC17 Bullet Finals' Stockfish beat Dragon, 993.0-627.0 (also 1620 games). Unfortunately, I didn't have time to work out the W-L-D scores for either match.

The site is currently preparing the 'CCC17 Blitz Qualification' event, the first stage in the next multi-stage competition. Last month I prepared an summary of the The CCC16 Season (April 2022). The CCC17 season is following the same overall structure -- first a rapid event, then a bullet event, then a blitz event.

Back to the question 'Dragon, LCZero - Who's Better?' In the TCEC 'VVLTC Bonus' the answer was LCZero is better. In the 'CCC17 Bullet Challenger', Dragon was better. In the TCEC 'Cup 10', Stockfish will probably beat one of them in the semifinal match, then beat the other in the final match, proving only that the drawing for the brackets plays a role for the ranking after no.1.

[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]

22 May 2022

Stretching Your Legs in 1912

Q: What is the doctor doing to the man that he's holding in his left hand?


LOWELL, Orson. Life Magazine, Doctors' Number, Nov. 21, 1912 © Flickr user Halloween HJB under Creative Commons.

A: He's stretching the man's leg. • The small print under the illustration says,

A Game of Patients

The two men kneeling on the right of the chessboard are praying to the nurse. The man behind them is standing on his stretched leg. What does it all mean?

For more about the artist, see Wikipedia's Orson Lowell. The page informs,

Orson Byron Lowell (1871–1956) was an American artist and illustrator of covers and interiors for magazines. Born in Wyoming, Iowa, Lowell was the son of landscapist Milton H. Lowell. [...] By 1907, he became known for his cartoons with a social message published in the humor magazine Life.

'Humor magazine Life'? That doesn't sound like the Life magazine I knew as a youngster. Another Wikipedia page, Life (magazine), informs,

Life was an American magazine published weekly from 1883 to 1972, as an intermittent "special" until 1978, and as a monthly from 1978 until 2000. During its golden age from 1936 to 1972, Life was a wide-ranging weekly general-interest magazine known for the quality of its photography. Life was independently published for its first 53 years until 1936 as a general-interest and light entertainment magazine, heavy on illustrations, jokes, and social commentary. It featured some of the most notable writers, editors, illustrators and cartoonists of its time...

Is there an archive of pre-1936 Life somewhere?

20 May 2022

Bobby Fischer Day by Day

I might as well make it official. After last Friday's post, Fischer's Storage Locker and eBay (May 2022), this is the fourth consecutive Friday featuring the 11th World Champion. Let's just call it 'Fischer Friday' and continue the series until at least the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Fischer - Spassky Title Match (m-w.com). That will be end-June or begin-July, depending on how you assign the start of the match.

In the meantime, here's a site that offers newspaper clippings in chronological order: Bobby Fischer 1972. That link is for January 1972. Follow the 'Prev/Next' arrows for previous/subsequent months.

16 May 2022

25 Years Ago in Chess History

First up in A Year of Anniversaries (May 2022) is a match that marked the moment when the machines took the upper hand in chess.

25 years: Kasparov vs. IBM's Deep Blue • 1st match: Philadelphia, II, 1996; 2nd match: New York, V, 1997

A report on the match was one of several segments in a recent CNN 10 show, A Historic Chess Match (youtube.com), where it was preceded by the multiple choice question...

'Chaturanga is believed to be an early version of chess, originating in what place?' • Choose one: 'Persia, China, India, or Egypt.'

...(Raises hand and waves wildly, 'I know, I know!'). The segment incorporated 'an original CNN report from 1997'. Here is that report in standalone format.


In 1997, an IBM computer beats world chess champion... (2:19) • '[Published on] May 13, 2022'; the clip displays 'May 11, 1997; New York'.

The description said,

"He can't believe it", were the words the commentators had for a speechless Garry Kasparov, a world chess champion, after he lost to IBM's computer named Deep Blue. Watch how CNN covered the historic event 25 years ago.

At 50 seconds into the 1997 clip, then World Champion Kasparov started accusations that the match was not all that it appeared to be. When I was with About.com, I wrote a couple of articles exploring Kasparov's suspicions. Here they are on Archive.org:-

  • Feature: 'Game Over' : Did IBM Cheat Kasparov? (June 2005); subtitled, 'The film failed to ask the tough questions. The conspiracy theory is still open to speculation.'
  • Review: Game Over - Kasparov and the Machine (ditto); 'Directed by Vikram Jayanti. • Documentary about the 1997 man - machine chess match between World Champion Garry Kasparov and IBM's Deep Blue'

For more about the documentary, see Wikipedia's Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine (wikipedia.org).

15 May 2022

Controversial NFTs

Last month's Yahoos post, Yahoos of War and NFTs (April 2022), was the first post on this blog to mention NFTs [Non-Fungible Tokens]. I noted,

Although NFTs specific to chess have been seen before in the chess world, the involvement of Chess.com adds weight to their importance. Is this the stuff of fad or future? We'll find out soon enough.

On this month's short list for featured video, I had one clip about the Chess.com NFTs. Not to be confused with the now-definct Chessvibes.com, last seen on this blog in A Big Hole in Chessvibes (May 2013), the video's source was Youtube's Chess Vibes channel.


New Chess.com Feature: NFT's! What is Treasure Chess? Chess NFT Marketplace Tips (10:21) • '[Published on] Apr 22, 2022'

The description said simply,

Check it out yourself: Treasure.chess.com

My biggest takeaway from the video was after reading the comments. NFTs are even more controversial than I had imagined. Sound investments or scams? There are plenty of opinions on both sides.

13 May 2022

Fischer's Storage Locker and eBay

Early in October 2005, an auction related to Bobby Fischer appeared on eBay's site. The auction essentials were:-

Item name: Bobby Fischer's chess book collection and other items
Item number: 8702434554
End date: Oct-13-05 00:51:04 PDT

The description said,

Bobby Fischer's chess book collection and other items • Rescued from a So. Cal. flea market about 6 years ago, here are Bobby Fischer's personal items from the infamous storage locker which was sold for lack of rent payment. It is a unique opportunity for someone in the international chess community to perserve the legacy of who many feel is the most talented chess player of all time.

I have tried many times in the last few years to reach Bobby (I did meet him when we were both younger) to return these items to him, but I feel his latest stand on America would not allow him to do this.

What is being offered is:
- The original manuscript and galley prints of Bobby's best selling book, "My 60 Most Memorable Games" (originally titled, "My Life in Chess") This covers an entire table top (see picture) and contains numerous notes and corrections which should make fascinating study for years to come.
- A ceramic plaque given to Bobby, Bahia Blanca, 3/11/71
- About 20 meticulously crafted "crib" notes for tournament preparation:-
[...]

The built-in counter showed '0001' when I saw the auction, suggesting that I was one of the first people -- perhaps the very first -- to see it. The auction mentioned an additional Excel file, so I sent a message to the seller via eBay's internal messaging system, requsting a copy. He replied,

Here it is. I'm still working on listing all the paperbacks and hard bound books, but it will give you a better idea of what is there. If I finish this week, I'll send you an update. Thanks for your interest. LAAF (Note: The first worksheet is a general index, and each finished worksheet is for a specific box.)

Shown below is a screen capture of the first worksheet. The first column shows box numbers; the last column shows box weights. The box numbers colored green are detailed on a separate worksheet.

I was the About.com chess guide at the time and opened a thread on the related forum. The forum and thread disappeared long ago. If I remember correctly, the eBay auction was cancelled after a few days. Some of the items went on display a few years later.

There are several stories here. The first is the 'infamous [Bekins] storage locker'. The second, perhaps fictional, is the Southern California flea market. The other stories are about the items included in the auction, which were not the total contents of the storage locker. For more about the contents, see A Memorable Life: A Glimpse into the Complex Mind of Bobby Fischer (worldchesshof.org; PDF).

09 May 2022

TCEC/CCC: Stockfish no.1; Dragon, LCZero - Who's Better?

The previous fortnightly report on the world's leading engine vs. engine competitions was TCEC S22, the Fish Again; CCC17 Bullet Top-3 (April 2022). Here's a summary of that post:-

TCEC: In the S22 Sufi, Stockfish beat KomodoDragon +28-9=63, confirming its status as the world's top engine. The site is running the S22 Subfi between KomodoDragon and LCZero. • CCC: In the 'CCC17 Bullet Semifinals', the leaders are Stockfish, Dragon, and Lc0, well ahead of the other three engines.

Fast forward two weeks... What's the current status?

TCEC: LCZero beat KomodoDragon +24-15=61 in the S22 Subfi to claim bragging rights as the no.2 engine in the world. That was followed by 'S22 - 4x time odds'. The !command provides a nutshell explanation:-

Stockfish vs Stockfish 25%: kind of simulate what effect 4x has, actual 120min+12s (Sufi) vs 30min+3s (QL..L2, Cup, FRC and DFRC) would be too long, so using only 30min+3s vs 7.5min+0.75s, !sufibook, about 2 days

Long-TC Stockfish beat Short-TC Stockfish +33-10=57, proving that a longer time control is an advantage (but we knew that already). The site is currently running a 'VVLTC Bonus'. For an explanation of the acronym VVLTC, see TCEC Stockfish Wins S21; CCC Romance Continues (August 2021).

CCC: In the 'CCC17 Bullet Semifinals', Stockfish, Dragon, and Lc0 finished 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, with each engine comfortably established in its position. The other three engines finished with minus scores. In the 'CCC17 Bullet Challenger', Dragon is only a few games from clinching victory over Lc0. Barring a catastrophe for Dragon, the 'CCC17 Bullet Finals' will see Stockfish vs. Dragon. Does anyone believe that Stockfish will lose?

[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]

08 May 2022

Chess in the 'Heart of Israel'

After the last two posts reminding us of the horrors of war -- 'Does Not Ship to Belgium' (March 2022) and eBay 'Stands with Ukraine' (April 2022) -- the long running series Top eBay Chess Items by Price (March 2010) returns to its spiritual roots. By that I mean art, last seen in Surrealism Does Not Apply (February 2022).

The painting pictured below was titled 'Vintage 1950s-60s Oil Painting BACIA GORDON Mid Century Modern ISRAEL Children Chess'. Working from the available information, I calculate that it sold for $400, 'Best offer accepted'.

The description consisted of a number of keyword/attribute pairs, sometimes inconsistent. For example,

Title: Children Playing Chess - Hadera; Subject: Children Playing Chess - Israel • Production Technique: Oil Painting; Material: Canvas; Framing: Framed • Size: Large; Item Length: 28 in; Item Height: 22 in • Region of Origin: Unknown; Culture: Israel • Time Period Produced: 1950-1959; Year of Production: 1960

[Wikipedia's page, Hadera, informs, 'Hadera is a city located in the Haifa District of Israel, in the northern Sharon region, approximately 45 kilometers (28 miles) from the major cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa.'] Another keyword in the description, 'Seller Notes', warns,

Vintage painting, oil on board. It appears to have been painted while framed. There are a few smears of paint on the inner frame as though the brush touched it while painting. The frame has some wear. It has not been treated with love and care! Lots of smudges, scrapes and marks. Great decor by a prolific, collectable artist. (1904-1977). Painting itself only has minor age wear.

There's a domain dedicated to Bacia Gordon's work, The Artwork of Bacia Gordon (ingatheringofexiles.com). Its welcome starts,

After Bacia Gordon’s passing in 1977, a large collection of her work was shipped to Israel. The idea of bringing Bacia’s collection to Israel was Rivka Guber’s. Since the paintings reflect the history of Lachish region -- people and landscapes, Mrs. Guber wanted this collection to be in the Lachish region. In those days the regional library was called “SHEKEL” which is a combination of three municipalities: Qiryat-Gat, Lachish and Shafir. The library of Qiryat-Gat was the central library. The three participants decided that the central library should be in charge of the collection.

The site's 'More About Bacia' page offers a biography, critical appreciations, and excerpts of her remarks from 'program notes to her many exhibits'. The page starts,

Bacia Gordon (1904-1977) came to the United States from Poland and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago. She traveled widely the United States, Mexico, Europe, and Israel. She was a member of, and has exhibited with Artists Equity, Jewish Arts Club, the Renaissance Society of the University of Chicago, The Chicago Art Institute, and in Migdal Ashkalon, Israel. She was also a member of the Chicago Society of Artists. Her work is represented in many private collections in New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Cleveland, St. Paul, Rockford, Milwaukee, and Chicago. Mrs. Gordon spent much time in Israel in the 1950s and 1960s, and most of the works in this web site reflect her stay there.

One of her remarks: 'I have been privileged as few tourists have been, to come close to the heart of Israel.'

06 May 2022

The Fischer Patent

On my chess960 blog (see the sidebar for a link) I'm fond of using the phrase 'Fischer's greatest invention' to describe Chess960/FRC. I'm certain that 99.9% of competent chess players would have a different opinion. Here's one serious alternative.


Chess Patents (m-w.com)
'Patent no. 4884255: Digital Chess ('Fischer') Clock'

More info can be found on US4884255A - Digital chess clock - Google Patents (patents.google.com). For example:-

Abstract: A game timing apparatus and method for simultaneously timing events for two players is disclosed. The method involves presetting a pair of clocks for respective initial time periods, starting one of the clocks to time a first player's move, simultaneously stopping one clock and starting the other, and incrementing or decrementing each of the clocks by a time interval once for each move or a group of moves. [...]

For any skeptics who doubt that Fischer was capable of obtaining this patent, note the additional info against it:-

  • 1988-08-05: Application filed by Fischer Robert J
  • 1989-11-28: Application granted

I'd never encountered Google Patents before. What's new in chess inventions since I created the 'Chess Patents' page in 2007?

03 May 2022

May 1972 & 1997 'On the Cover'

A few days ago, in A Year of Anniversaries (May 2022), I noted that the year 2022 will commemorate historic chess events from 50 and 25 years ago. Our two American chess magazines from those time periods were still a few months away from covering those events extensively. Nevertheless there was plenty of other news to report.


Left: 'Browne / Levy / Gligoric'
Right: 'Karpov and Kennedy - Together in Cyberspace'

Chess Life & Review (50 Years Ago)

In the center, Svetozar Gligoric, winner of the Statham Tournament in Lone Pine, California, Flanking him are Walter Browne, left, and Louis Levy, right, co-winners of the National Open in Sparks, Nevada. The National Open story is [inside]; the Lone Pine story will appear next month.

[The cover explanation referred to small copies of the three photos on the same page as the table of contents. On the cover pictured above, Gligoric is beneath the other two.]

We last saw GM Gligoric 'On the Cover' -- with the same photo -- in the April 1971 & 1996 post (April 2021). GM Browne was last seen a few months ago in the post for February 1972 & 1997 (February 2022). As for Levy, see Louis Levy (prabook.com; 'Prabook is a registered trademark of World Biographical Encyclopedia, Inc.').

The CL&R cover description mentioned two tournaments: the National Open and Lone Pine. The first event was covered in a May CL&R article titled 'The National Open' by George Koltanowski. His report started,

The 1972 edition of the annual National Open Tournament, held in Sparks, Nevada, attracted 134 players, and Was a hard-fought battle for the top places right down to the wire. Walter S. Browne, a grandmaster whose official nationality is Australian, and Master Louis Levy of New Jersey shared the title with seven points out of eight. Walter defeated visiting Yugoslav star Svetozar Gligoric in the seventh round in a titanic game lasting 84 moves.

The second event was covered the following month in the June CL&R. Going back a year to the May 1971 & 1996 'On the Cover (May 2021), there was no article on the first Lone Pine tournament. Discussing Koltanowski's report on the 1971 National Open, I noted,

As for Lone Pine, Koltanowski mentioned, 'The Lone Pine event may have hurt, but only slightly.' The paragraph about the cover and the two (unfavorable?) mentions by Koltanowski are the only references I could find to the first Lone Pine event in the decade long series. Why was it overlooked?

A year later the oversight was corrected in a two page report by Isaac Kashdan titled 'Statham Tournament at Lone Pine'. It started,

Hastings. England: Palma de Majorca, Spain; Skopje and Vincovci. Yugoslavia; Wijk aan Zee, Holland; Mar del Plata, Argentina; Natanya, Israel; and Reggio Emilia, Italy. What do all these have in common? Chess players will recognize them as small towns around the world which sponsor chess tournaments on a regular basis.

Add to these Lone Pine, California. The second in an unusual series of tournaments was held there from March 12 to 18 this year. Remember the name. It will prove to be one of tae great centers of American chess, at least once a year.

Chess came to Lone Pine when Louis D. Statham established his residence there, moving from an estate in Beverly Hills. He learned chess several years ago, after semi-retiring from an active business career. He is involved in correspondence chess, with dozens of games going on regularly. But there was no one to play with in Lone Pine. Statham wanted the residents to see what the game was all about, and he thought that some of our prominent chess masters might enjoy playing where they could breathe fresh air, away from the usual hotel atmosphere.

The annual event's stature continued to increase in the following years.

Chess Life (25 Years Ago)

Karpov and Kennedy and Chess.net • "One secret to becoming a champion is to associate with strong players. Inevitably their ideas will rub off on you. Through the Internet and Chess.net, average players have a chance to do just that. Talented young players who might never find a capable mentor, now can find some of the best in the world." - World Champion Anatoly Karpov

In his inaugural address, President Clinton made reference to getting the Internet into schools. The next day, World Champion Anatoly Karpov and John Fanning of Chess.net met for almost an hour with Senator Edward Kennedy to discuss the role of chess and education for students throughout the world.

Chess.net is an Internet-based project that combines a free chess server with an online chess school. GM Karpov, 45, is one of the owners, and regularly gives exhibitions there, as well as providing commentary on major events.

Chess.net intends to continue working with teachers and legislators to see how chess can help smooth the transition to the Internet. They also plan to add more programs specifically for scholastic use, and have produced a "Teacher's Guide to Chess on the Internet," which is available free for download from the www.chess.net site, by e-mail by writing to web-master@chess.net.

The 20-page report covers interesting websites, how to play chess on the Internet, and sample lesson plans to using Internet chess to discuss international news and cultures in the classroom.

John Fanning, CEO of Chess.net, explained why they are committed to chess education as well as entertainment. "I'm a father, and I have the same concerns as any parent. Most of the computer/video games our young children are exposed to are riddled with violence, mindless and base. If our children can instead experience the intellectual challenges and excitement of chess, learn deep thinking, focus, and patience, we may help to accomplish something great." - Duif Calvin

Jumping ahead 25 years to the present, everyone knows about the extraordinary success of Chess.com. Has the story of the earlier Chess.net been recorded? That might make a good post some other time.

02 May 2022

Thirtysomething Fritz

Toward the end of last year, Chessbase.com started a series titled 'Thirty years! Happy Birthday Fritz' written by Mr. Chessbase himself, Frederic Friedel. The first article in the series explained,

It was 1991. For five years ChessBase had been vigorously selling its professional database program, which most ambitious chess players, all the way up to the World Champion, were using to study the game. It could show you the latest opening trends, their success in present-day tournaments, or the performance of your opponents in these openings. It could give you examples of important endings, and show you how very strong players handled them.

What the database program couldn't do was to play a game against you, or advise you on the quality of individual moves. Why not, our company thought. A plan was born!

Here is the series of six articles:-

  • 2021-11-05: Part 1 • 'In November 1991, ChessBase launched its first chess playing program for PCs.'
  • 2021-11-09: Part 2 • 1992-2001, 'Kasparov and Fritz; Fritz vs. Deep Blue'
  • 2021-11-13: Part 3 • 'In 2003 there was a gigantic man - machine match in New York. Garry Kasparov faced "X3D Fritz"'
  • 2021-11-23: Part 4 • 2004-2005; 'AI Accoona ToolBar vs Rustam Kasimdzhinov'
  • 2021-12-09: Part 5 • 2002 Kramnik vs. Deep Fritz, Bahrain; 'Brains in Bahrain';
  • 2022-01-10: Part 6 • 2006 Kramnik vs. Deep Fritz, Bonn; 'First half of the match'

In fact, that last part was numbered 6.1 and promised, 'Part two of the epic man vs machine match in Bonn will follow shortly.' At the time I decided not to highlight the series until part 6.2 was available. Nearly four months later, it looks like something happened along the way. For an earlier, related post on this blog, see Searching for Fritz (June 2015; 'I looked for early mentions of a name that has been nearly synonymous with 'chess engine' for more than 20 years: Fritz.')

01 May 2022

A Year of Anniversaries

This year we'll be seeing some big chess anniversaries:-

Those links are to my own pages, showing that I have at least passing familiarity with the subjects. Starting with Kasparov - Deep Blue this month, I expect we'll see the pundits out in force to remind us of the importance of each of those historical matches.

On a more personal note, I'll see a couple of significant anniversaries myself:-

  • 70 years prowling the third stone from the sun
  • 50 years playing correspondence chess
  • 25 years documenting the World Chess Championship (m-w.com; WCC site)
  • 16 years blogging

That last item might seem out of place, but the blogging anniversary is today. The number 16 -- which, as every computer person knows, is 10000 base 2 -- is just as significant to computers as 100 base 10 is to humans. Through the years I've noted the anniversary of the blog on several occasions:-

This might well be the last blog anniversary. A few years ago I announced, The End of Daily Blogging (September 2019). As the following table shows, the number of posts last month was about half of what it was the year that I made that announcement.

Posts in April (count):-
- 2018 April (19)
- 2019 April (22)
- 2020 April (12)
- 2021 April (15)
- 2022 April (11)

The previous tally of personal milestones across my own web resources was 2500 / 20 / 500 (August 2017). Later this year I'll be closing down the WCC site, probably after the next title match -- 'C30' using my method of counting the WCC cycles since FIDE took over. Will he play or won't he play? Carlsen that is. I'm as curious as the next person to find out. After that, it's time to put the whole thing to sleep. We will always have Wikipedia, won't we!