29 November 2022

Disappearing Yahoos

Last month's Yahoos post, Chess960 Mania (October 2022; see the footnote for an explanation of Yahoos), raised a number of questions of vital interest to the global chess community:-

The Niemann lawsuit; the NYT puzzles; AICF pest control; will Google's 'Full Coverage' become a mainstay of chess news? There's plenty to look forward to in next month's Yahoos post.

First let's look at the numbers. Of the 100 chess stories returned by Google, 75 were for the current month, 25 for previous months.

Of the 48 different sources for the 75 current month stories, there were six sources that accounted for two stories or more. They are shown in the chart on the left.

Chess.com once again acccounted for the most stories, more than the combined total of the other five sources on the chart. For the third time in four months, Chessbase.com was runner-up, although its name changed to echo its domain name.

Now let's look at the questions from last month's Yahoos post. I promise that the discussion will be brief.

The Niemann lawsuit: Nada. Nothing. Disappeared.

The NYT puzzles: Ditto.

AICF pest control: Ditto.

Google's 'Full Coverage': Ditto.

So much for that. I'm still digesting the stories that Google did highlight, but have to run now. I'll be back later.

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


Later: We saw Google's 'Full Coverage' in two recent Yahoos posts:-

  • Cheating Mania (September 2022).
  • 'Chess960 Mania' (October 2022), linked in the first paragraph of the original post above.

Cheating mania continued into November. Of the 75 chess stories flagged by Google, seven focused on aspects of cheating. My favorite was this one; it has a great lead and its storyline just keeps getting better:-

Of the two chess960 stories in November, my favorite was this one, although with a caveat:-

The caveat? Chess960 doesn't at all diminish the engine's advantage. The machines will still crush the best players in the world. Instead, it curbs their use in preparing for a specific opening : if you don't know what the start position will be, you can't prepare for it. Despite that clarification, kudos to Popular Science for introducing chess960 to a wider public.

Of the other stories I could mention, the one that gives the most mileage is this one:-

It's packed with recommendations for different categories:-

Film & Television, YouTube & Twitch, Books & Literature, [...]

While 'Everything You Need To Know' is maybe a stretch, 'A Great Number of Things You Need To Know', isn't. See anything missing? Add a comment. There are already some excellent suggestions.

28 November 2022

TCEC S23, CCC19 Rapid : Stockfish Wins Both

The previous report on the globe's top engine vs. engine ongoing tournaments was TCEC S23 Sufi, CCC19 Rapid : Nearing the Finish (November 2022). Here's a summary of that report.

TCEC: After 83 games in the S23 Sufi ('Superfinal'), Stockfish leads LCZero +19-6=58. It needs only 2.5 more points to clinch its sixth straight Sufi. • CCC: In the 'CCC19 Rapid Semifinal', Stockfish, Lc0, and Dragon (1-2-3 in that order) -- are in the lead for the 'Challenger' (2-3) and 'Final' (1-?) matches.

Stockfish won both events by significant margins. The rest of this post gives a few details.

TCEC: Stockfish beat LCZero +27-10=63 to win its sixth straight Superfinal (Sufi). The site is currently conducting a 100 game 'Subfinal', where LCzero has already clinched victory over KomodoDragon. Plans for season 24 (S24) are already available on the site's Wiki.

(Blue links are available pages; red links are TBD.)

CCC: In the 'CCC19 Rapid Semifinal', Stockfish, Lc0, and Dragon finished 1-2-3, with the other three engines as distant also-rans. LC0 beat Dragon by three points in the 200-game 'Challenger' match and is currently trailing Stockfish in the 200-game 'Final' match. The really dumb money is on LC0. The only unknown is the margin of victory.

What's next for the site? My guess is 'CCC19 Bullet', but the !next command says 'Bonus Events!'. We'll find out soon enough.

[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]

27 November 2022

Top Players Talk Top Chess

Podcasts have become an important component in understanding The Sociology of Chess (November 2016). Earlier this year in the series we had Women in Chess Podcasts (April 2022) and here we have top players talking about top-level chess.

C-Squared Podcast #10 | Global Chess Championship, Fischer Random & more with Vidit & Ganguly (44:29) • 'Streamed live on Nov 11, 2022'

'C-Squared' stands for the surnames of the two hosts, GM Fabiano Caruana and Romanian GM Cristian Chirila. The video's description wasn't much longer than its title and said,

After a busy week of chess, commentary, and more, we reunite in St. Louis immediately after the Fall Chess Classic to discuss LIVE.

For more about that tournament, see 2022 Fall Chess Classic (uschesschamps.com). The page explains,

The 2022 Fall Chess Classic is the third installment of the Chess Classics featuring international chess professionals. The Fall Chess Classic is comprised of two, 10-player Round Robin tournaments. Over the course of 10 days, these competitors will battle for more than $36,000 in prize money and gain valuable experience in top-level events.

The two Indian GMs -- Surya Shekhar Ganguly (seated second from the left) and Santosh Gujrathi Vidit (third) -- played in the A-section, while host Chirila (fourth, operating the equipment) played in the B-section. The discussion starts with the Fall Classic, then moves to the FIDE World Rapid and Blitz 2022 (fide.com), travel requirements, and more. At about 10:00, discussion of the Chess.com Global Championship 2022 (chess.com) kicks in, then at 25:40 moves to the Fischer Random (Chess960) World Championship. I've recently posted about both events on my other blogs:-

Even though I was more than a little familiar with both events, I learned much more from the podcast. I'll be watching for further episodes on the channel C-Squared Podcast (youtube.com).

25 November 2022

Wayback to Smartchess

Earlier this month on my 'World Chess Championship Blog', I posted Smartchess Interviews Karpov (November 2022). I noted,

A footnote to the interview mentioned that it first appeared on Smartchess Online in September 1997. I tried to find the original interview via the Wayback Machine, but failed. Smartchess.com appears to have been built using techniques that are incompatible with Wayback assumptions.

It turned out that the Wayback obstacle is easily overcome. Don't try to open its links in new tabs, then everything works. Starting with the web.archive.org link given in the 'Interviews Karpov' post, I followed...

'SmartChess Online' -> 'Back Issues of SmartChess Online' -> The SmartChess Archive for 'September 1997' -> 'Publisher's Message' -> 'Ron Henley's Mail Bag'

...and was rewarded with the press photo pictured below.

"Best Wishes!" - D.T.

For more on this blog from the chess-playing 45th U.S. president, see Donald Trump, Chess Master (October 2022). As for the Smartchess Karpov interview in September 1997, a page '"Karpov On The Net" by FIDE World Champion GM Anatoly Karpov' presented 'Two From Biel [1997]', two games annotated by Karpov. Another page, '"In Conversation With..." by Rachel Landry', who was Karpov's interviewer, had a different interviewee:-

GM Gabriel Schwartzman is a University of Florida student with a perfect grade point average, a successful businessman, a respected chess journalist and commentator, a licensed chess coach, the 1996 U.S. Open Champion and, as if all that isn't enough, he can checkmate you in six languages! At the age of twenty, Gabriel is a seasoned veteran of chess. He began playing at two years old and at seventeen, he was awarded the title of International Grandmaster.

Other columnists in the same issue were GM Walter Browne, GM Gabriel Schwartzman, GM Michael Rohde, NM Irina Krush, GM Ron Henley, NM David Koval, GM Alexei Shirov, GM Andras Adorjan, and FM Asa Hoffmann. That makes a lot of chess history to sort through.

The first issue of 'SmartChess Online' was dated August 1997 and the last was dated August/September 2003, a total of 45 issues. At some time in 2005, the site started redirecting to ClassicalGames.com. My 'Interviews Karpov' post had a second follow-up:-

In his interview with Smartchess, Karpov mentioned a couple of video series he was developing for Smartchess's 'WWW Chess Superstore'. I've featured two of these in posts on my main blog [...] How many more of these videos are still available on Youtube?

I started to look into that question, but ran out of time. The first problem is how to catalog them.

24 November 2022

Steamin' Niemann

It's been over two and a half months since I posted Chess Players Behaving Very, Very Badly (September 2022), aka the Niemann affair. In that time it's been the focus of two Yahoos posts ('mainstream news stories about chess'):-

  • 2022-09-29: Cheating Mania
  • 2022-10-27: Chess960 Mania • 'In last month's Cheating Mania, I observed, "Of the [78] Google News stories, 17 were about cheating." The cheating story continued bigtime in October. Of the 83 stories, 10 were about cheating.'

It's possible that the saga will figure in this month's Yahoos post, scheduled for next week, but there's a hitch : in October Niemann sued his tormentors and everyone has gone quiet. For the background to the lawsuit, here's a video.

Hans Niemann's $100 Million* Suit Against Magnus Carlsen ft. GothamChess (19:33) • '[Published on] Nov 15, 2022'

Instead of copying the description of the video, I looked up the the meaning of the abbreviation 'ft.' used in its title. In short, I haven't a clue. Google suggested Financial Times, fort, and foot/feet (a quaint unit of measure used in some developed countries), but I'm pretty sure it's none of those. GothamChess made an appearance in the video and received a shoutout in the description:-

Thanks for the assist from @GothamChess !

I'm sure the meaning of 'ft.' will come to me five minutes after publishing this post. In the meantime, here's a list of Youtube.com resources that discuss the lawsuit. (The Youtube channels are given in parentheses.)

  • 2022-10-22: Niemann Sues Carlsen, Chess.com and Nakamura. Law Professor David Franklin joins to Assess the Case (Perpetual Chess Podcast w/ Ben Johnson) • 'With the bombshell news that GM Hans Niemann is suing Magnus Carlsen, Chess.com, and Hikaru Nakamura, we brought in a legal expert to help us make sense of the case. I am joined by Professor David Franklin. David is a Constitutional Law Professor and an appellate lawyer, who is also a chess enthusiast who had already been following the Carlsen/Niemann story closely.'
  • 2022-10-31: $100 Million case: No defamation for Magnus Carlsen? A case analysis by a former trial attorney. (Legal Vignettes: Stories From the Life of a Lawyer) • 'How will the Missouri federal court look at some of the legal issues in the $100 million dollar filed by Hans Niemann against World Chess champion Magnus Carlsen, Chess.com, Daniel Rensch and popular chess Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura? I've spent my life as a lawyer, a lot of it in federal court conducting trials. I took a look at some of the issues in this case, in particular, the issues involving defamation and jurisdiction. The law regarding defamation in Missouri is such that Niemann could have a pretty tough time with his case.'
  • 2022-11-15: Hans Niemann's $100 Million* Suit Against Magnus Carlsen ft. GothamChess (LegalEagle) • 'Did he pull this out of his butt?'

The first video is a sober discussion of the merits of the lawsuit. The second is an in-the-weeds discussion of defamation, useful for anyone publishing content online (like me). The third is for completeness, i.e. the same video embedded above. The following screen shot is from the third video.

'Mate in 143 moves'


Later: Two more videos surfaced after I wrote this post, both from the second Youtube channel listed above: 'Legal Vignettes: Stories From the Life of a Lawyer'.

I wouldn't be surprised to learn that a majority of chess players have a keen interest in legal matters. Is there any way to verify this?

21 November 2022

Stockfish vs. ChessBase Settlement

I've been following the 'Fat Fritz' story on this blog for over three years -- four years if you count the 'Deus X [DeusX]' posts linked in the first post listed here:-

Interest in the subject is high, and that last 'In Court' post is currently at no.5 in 'Popular Posts (last 12 months)' at the bottom of all pages on the blog. A few days ago Stockfish announced, ChessBase GmbH and the Stockfish team reach an agreement and end their legal dispute (stockfishchess.org). The press release said,

We are pleased to announce that we have found an agreement that strengthens the Stockfish project in its aim to deliver the world’s number #1 chess engine as Free Software and that allows ChessBase to distribute our software in the future.

Some Stockfish fans are going to be unhappy with the settlement, especially since ChessBase escaped monetary compensation to the Stockfish team. Given the already heavy blow to its reputation, I doubt that ChessBase would agree damages were light.

20 November 2022

To CC or Not to CC

The short list for this month's featured Flickr photo had two items. One was a little too naughty (not 'For All Ages') and the other was a little too uninspiring. The last time something similar happened I came up with Shallow, Green Chess Photos (December 2021). What to do this time?

Fortunately I had an idea left over from 'The Hand that Guides the [blank]' (October 2021). The Flickr photo behind that post was included in 29 groups, all begging to be explored.

One of the groups had the title 'deviantART Deviants', which is related to a recent, popular post on this blog Fischer Busted (November 2022; inspired by Deviantart.com). Since Flickr lets you search a group by keyword (guess which one I chose), I quickly developed the following composite image.

Photo upper left corner: Chess © Flickr user Peter X. Eriksson under Creative Commons. ('All rights reserved ')

Most photos on Flickr are subject to straightforward copyright. Instead of a 'Creative Commons' mention, the photo I linked above goes to Change Your Photo's License in Flickr (flickrhelp.com). The page starts,

When you take a photo, you are the rightful owner of the content. Licensing gives you control of how others can use your photos. Our goal is to help you understand how to change your photo licenses and to understand the difference between each type.

While I was working on this post, I noticed that the photo behind the 'Hand that Guides' was no longer marked 'Creative Commons' (CC). It was now 'All rights reserved'. On top of that, the name of the photographer/artist had changed from 'lolo ramingo' to 'Polette D'Arnu'. That's one of the reasons I record the name and license at the time I write the post -- to identify a change -- although this is the first time I've noticed it happening.

I don't know what my legal liability is in this case. Am I required to honor the current status of the artwork -or- is the artist required to honor the previous CC status? I'll look deeper into this if it ever becomes an issue.

18 November 2022

'A Clock Without Hands'

A week ago, in Fischer Busted (November 2022), I promised, 'We're nearing the end of this blog's 'Fischer Friday' series'. I'll end the series with a post on 1975 Fischer forfeits to Karpov (m-w.com). The drawing below -- by artist Greg Spalenka -- is from the 29 July 1985 issue of Sports Illustrated (SI). See the post Fischer: 'I'm not seeing people' (June 2017; '1985-07-29: Bobby Fischer') for a link.

SI caption: 'Karpov's futile wait for Fischer is symbolized by the clock without hands.'


This post being the last of the 'Fischer Friday' series, let's have a summary of the posts since the previous summary, which was here:-

And now for the new summary...

17 November 2022

Speculative Sponsor

FTX : Where have we heard that acronym before? If you've been following the financial news for the last couple of weeks, then you've undoubtedly seen a headline like Sam Bankman-Fried steps down as FTX CEO as his crypto exchange files for bankruptcy (cnbc.com). The article's summarizing bullets explained,

Sam Bankman-Fried’s cryptocurrency exchange FTX has filed for bankruptcy. Alameda Research and approximately 130 additional affiliated companies are part of the voluntary proceedings.

What's that got to do with chess? FTX figured in a couple of posts on this blog around the middle of last year:-

  • 2021-05-30: Crypto Chess • 'FTX Crypto Cup: The world’s FIRST bitcoin chess tournament (championschesstour.com); "The FTX Crypto Cup is organised by Play Magnus Group, a global leader in the chess industry, and FTX, a leading cryptocurrency exchange."'
  • 2021-06-29: Speculative Yahoos • 'Goldmoney, Superbet, FTX Crypto. Are those flashes in the chess world -or- names that we will encounter again? '

Below is a screen capture from Neck-and-neck in FTX final as below-par Carlsen ends [Wesley] So’s hot streak (chess24.com; FTX Crypto Cup; May 2021). That's Bankman-Fried in the top-right photo, presumably chatting with the Chess24 commentators pictured beneath him.

The photo caption said,

FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried broke the record for surviving against the 10-year-old app version of Carlsen in the Celebrity Charity Chess Challenge [CCCC].

For more about the (2022?) event, see CCCC - Sam Bankman-Fried - Meltwater Champions Chess Tour 2022 (chess24.com; 'Charity of Choice: FTX Foundation'):-

Sam Bankman-Fried is the founder and CEO of FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange. He also manages $2.5 billion of assets through Alameda Research, a quantitative cryptocurrency trading firm he founded in October 2017.

I doubt we'll be seeing any more linkage between Bankman-Fried/FTX and chess.

14 November 2022

TCEC S23 Sufi, CCC19 Rapid : Nearing the Finish

Continuing with this blog's fortnightly coverage of the world's two foremost, ongoing engine vs. engine competitions, the previous post was TCEC S23 Sufi, CCC19 Rapid : Both Underway (October 2022). To summarize that post:-

TCEC: In S23 DivP Stockfish won all of its mini-matches, finishing three points ahead of LCzero and KomodoDragon; LCZero had tiebreak superior to KomodoDragon. The 100-game Sufi has seen five games finish, with Stockfish having a one point lead over LCZero. • CCC: In the 'CCC19 Blitz Final' 300-game match, Stockfish beat Dragon by 60 points. Eight engines competed in each of the 'CCC19 Rapid' Newcomers, Qualifier #1, and Qualifier #2 stages. The next stage should be the 'Main' event.

Both the S23 Sufi and the CCC19 Rapid are nearing the finish. Both events should know the overall winner by our next fortnightly report. The smart money is on Stockfish to win both.

TCEC: After 83 games in the S23 Sufi ('Superfinal'), Stockfish leads LCZero +19-6=58. It needs only 2.5 more points to clinch its sixth straight Sufi.

CCC: Of the four engines promoting from 'CCC19 Rapid Qualifier #2' to the 'Main' stage, a three-way tie for fourth place was decided by a tiebreak match. Revenge thereby joined Minic as a second engine promoting from 'Qualifier #1' through 'Qualifier #2' to 'Main', in which ten engines competed for six places promoting to the 'Semifinal' stage.

Revenge promoted into the 'Semifinal', where it is currently in last place. The usual suspects -- Stockfish, Lc0, and Dragon (1-2-3 in that order) -- are in the lead for the 'Challenger' (2-3) and 'Final' (1-?) matches.

[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]

13 November 2022

Who? Where? When?

The description tells us 'What' and 'Why'.

How chess is made || These workers make money by making chess sets (10:02) • '[Published on] Nov 4, 2022'

The description said,

In this video make money by making chess sets and how its made chase [sic] set. Best way to earn money.

The comments mention India, but the description links to a Facebook page that says 'Karachi, Pakistan'. The whole thing reminds me of Making a Statement with Chess Pieces (January 2009)

11 November 2022

Fischer Busted

We're nearing the end of this blog's 'Fischer Friday' series, last seen in Fashionable Fischer (November 2022). This current post has nothing to do with Fischer's 1972 or 1992 matches, and takes its title from an old post Korchnoi Busted (May 2012).

I found the photo on Bobby Fischer by florijanmedjugorje (deviantart.com), and compressed its description to:-

Bobby Fischer visited Yugoslavia in 1961 and posed for Mostar based sculptor Florijan Mickovic in Rudolf Matutinovic atelier in Zagreb, Croatia. Fischer received it in New York from Svetozar Gligoric, Serbian chess grandmaster. Published in year 2005 in Florijan Mickovic monography. • Photographer: Pavao Cajzek

Both sculptors have pages on Wikipedia:-

  • Florijan Mickovic (wikipedia.org) • 'Mickovic (1935-2021) was a Bosnian Croat sculptor living and working in Mostar and Medugorje.'
  • Rudolf Matutinovic (ditto) • 'Matutinovic (1927-2014) was a Croatian sculptor.'

On a normal day, I wouldn't post a single, random photo found on the web, but there's never anything normal about Fischer. That same day I was re-reading the article 'A Half Dozen Unsolved Bobby Fischer Mysteries' by IM John Donaldson. The article is related to a recent post 2022 CJA Awards - Part 3 (October 2022):-

Honorable Mention; Best Story of the Year; 'The Fischer Project'; John Donaldson (author), Ian Spanier (photographer); Chess Life, July 2021

'Unsolved Bobby Fischer Mysteries' was a coda to the 'The Fischer Project'. The last of the six mysteries was:-

6. MISSING SCULPTURE OF BOBBY FISCHER • Bobby posed for the Yugoslav sculptor Florijan Mickovic not long after finishing second at Bled 1961. Two years later Svetozar Gligoric accompanied the finished bust to New York. When Fischer moved to Los Angeles in 1968, he brought it with him. Sometime later the sculpture was put into the ill-fated storage locker.

Fortunately, there was (at least temporarily) a happy ending for this Fischer treasure. When it was put up for auction in early 1999 Bob Ellsworth was able buy it back. Soon after Harry Sneider’s son Rob took it to Budapest, where it was reunited with Bobby. What happened after this is unclear as Fischer did not take it with him to Iceland. It’s possible it ended up with Pal Benko or Janos Rigo and presently resides with one of their families.

Having a photo of the bust helps to identify it. The photo is much larger on the Deviantart page.

08 November 2022

Election Special 2022

In a post that was titled Election Special (November 2016), but should have been titled 'Election Special 2016', I wrote,

With the USA voting today, it seems that everywhere I look someone is running an 'election special'. Why shouldn't I?

That was six years ago, when my special was a 'Google Image search on "chess hillary trump"'. I neglected to do similar two years ago, but the search I would have used then still works on today's election day in the USA.

Google Image search on 'chess trump biden'

The composite image is for the second page of search results. Of the 20 images shown on the first page of results, 14 were for the 'Edition 2020 Battle for the White House Chess Set'. The same set is shown above in the upper left corner and accounts for a total of six images on the composite.

The best story behind an image is probably Trump claims 'something is wrong' with Joe Biden and compares himself to a chess grandmaster (independent.co.uk; 'President claims it would be "impossible to have a fair election" if 51 million mail-in ballots are sent out'). It's the story behind the image in the top row, third from the left.

The 74-year-old Mr Trump compared himself to a world-class chess player, contending Mr Biden lacks the mental capacity at 77 to stand up to the world's harshest leaders, like Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea's Kim Jong Un.

For another look at chess and the Donald, see A Chess Allegory (November 2016; "'I am ashamed to be the same species as this man', MacEnulty recalled [the woman] saying").

07 November 2022

'Studying with Modern Engines'

The September 2022 Chess Life had a topical article, 'But Does It Actually Work?; Sadler and Doknjas on improving by studying with modern engines' by IM John Watson. The master book author and reviewer discussed two books:-

  • Sadler, Matthew. The Silicon Road to Chess Improvement. New in Chess, 2022.
  • Doknjas, Joshua. The AI Revolution in Chess. Everyman Chess, 2002. [sic; 2022?]

The article is available online at Watson Book Review: Sadler, Doknjas, and Modern Engines (uschess.org). Watson explains,

To grossly oversimplify, the older-style engines (like Stockfish Classical, with what he calls 'hand-crafted evaluations') have continuously improved and are generally superior in calculating outrageously deep and ingenious tactics. Nevertheless, the neural network engines like Leela Zero with self-learnt evaluations can play a more profound and effective strategic ('positional') game, which tends to outperform the calculating monsters.

What can be learned from these engines, especially the NNUE engines? Watson again:-

These books convince me that engine study can lead to improvement, but generally in fairly narrow and specific contexts. First, by finding exact orders, well-timed maneuvers, and successful plans in the opening, as is practiced by every leading player in the world. More generally, in discovering typical maneuvers in certain structures and better evaluation of contrasting strategies -- for example, certain pawn sacrifices or flank attacks.

What does that say for chess960? The opening is different for every game and the phrase 'typical maneuvers' is meaningless. Perhaps it's better to ignore the engines completely.

06 November 2022

Chess in the Artist's Studio

The first Sunday of the month means a new post in the long-running series Top eBay Chess Items by Price (March 2010). The priority generally goes to artwork, where -- if you don't count The Spanish Forger Liked Chess (September 2022) -- the previous post was A Wizard or a God? (August 2022).

This month I had three interesting paintings to choose from, so I went with the one I liked most. Titled, 'Henri Dillon (1851-1909) signed French oil on canvas - chess game interior', it sold for GBP 1,850.00 ('Approximately US $2,086.80' according to eBay) after 27 bids from 12 bidders.

The description said,

Henri Patrice Dillon (1851-1909)

A very beautiful and atmospheric oil by Henri Patrice Dillon the French painter who was born in San Francisco but moved to France to paint. This work shows too men in an intense game of chess in a smoky interior -- one of the men is puffing on a pipe and the smoke has filled the whole room. In the background a woman watches. The walls are adorned with sculptures and paintings.

Title: "The Chess Game" • Signature: Signed lower right • Medium: Oil on original canvas • Size: c. 18 x 22 inches unframed • Condition: Unlined original canvas -- some old repairs and retouchings

As for 'an intense game of chess', the fellow on the right appears to be sleeping. The setting looks like an artist's studio. The start of the artist's French Wikipédia page, Henri Patrice Dillon (fr.wikipedia.org), translates to:-

Henri Patrice Dillon, known as "H. P. Dillon", born November 28, 1850 in San Francisco, and died May 16, 1909 in Paris, was a French painter, illustrator and lithographer of Irish origin, who made a career in the Paris of la Belle Époque.

As for the other two 'interesting paintings' for the month, I tried to find them elsewhere on the web, but failed. This is usually a straightforward process and I'm sure I've seen one of the paintings, by Rodolfo Tarallo, several times before. Has something changed?

04 November 2022

Fashionable Fischer

Last week's post in the 'Fischer Friday' series, 'To Sam, With Thanks' (October 2022), featured an eBay item,

Signed by Bobby Fischer to his friend Saemi Rock, a.k.a. Saemundur Palsson, friend and bodyguard in 1972.

Palsson is seen frequently in 'Bobby Fischer vs. the Rest of the World' by Brad Darrach. The previous post where I quoted the author was October 1972 & 1997 'On the Cover' (October 2022), about a day where Darrach and his LIFE colleague, photographer Harry Benson, spent with the soon-to-be World Champion.

According to Darrach (p.125), Fischer first met Palsson on the 4th of July, the day the American arrived in Iceland. After an anecdotal account of their meeting, Darrach wrote,

And that's how Bobby Fischer, cast up like Robinson Crusoe on a desert island, found his man Friday -- the smiling, cunning, tireless Nordic aborigine, loyal as a tapeworm, who from that moment enveloped him in a private atmosphere as a baby is wrapped in a bunting. Bobby has an affinity for men like "Saemi" (pronounced Symie) Palsson, for soft, agreeable, motherly men who allow him to feel all-powerful.

Here's another excerpt from Darrach (p.128), constructing more dialog from the same day. It touches on a subject important to Fischer: men's fashion.

"I would be very honored," [Palsson] said, "if you would come to my house for dinner sometime."

"Yeah, yeah." Bobby was in high spirits now. When they started off again he wanted the truck to go faster, but Palsson had a good thing going and didn't want to spoil it. "With that valuable cargo," he explained later, "I wanted full control of the machine. So I told him a Land Rover couldn't go any faster than seventy or eighty kilometers an hour."

On the way back, Bobby asked about tailors -- who were the best ones and how much would it cost him to have a suit made up? "I want something mod. Not too mod but a little, y'know?"

Palsson promised to check out a British tailor who had set up shop in Reykjavik.

"But I don't want him using my name in ads or anything, unnastan'?"

Palsson understood.

By the time the Land Rover stopped in front of Bobby's house it was almost 6 A.M. With somebody to boss around, Bobby had already begun to act more confident. He felt he had put down a root in Iceland; maybe the place wasn't as bad as he had thought.

The next day the two men met again (p.139):-

[Fred] Cramer's car crunched to a stop in front of Bobby's house at 10 P.M. Bobby was dressed and had company.

Saemundur Palsson, out of uniform, had arrived about an hour earlier with his seven-year-old son, Asgeir. Palsson noticed that Bobby was keyed up and restless. "D'ja call the tailor?" he wanted to know right away. Palsson said the tailor had agreed to open his shop any night that suited Bobby. "Not bad," Bobby answered.

Squeezing close to his father, Asgeir sat staring at Bobby with big scared eyes. Whenever Bobby looked back, he stuffed his head in his father's armpit.

"Asgeir!" Palsson protested in Icelandic. "Why are you so shy? Mr. Fischer won't hurt you. He's a very nice man."

Asgeir said something to his father's armpit.

"Aw!" said Palsson, and explained to Bobby, "He is shy because you are so famous."

Flattered, Bobby noticed the child. "Hey, Oscar," he said, "ya want some apple juice?"

Palsson translated. Asgeir blushed and nodded.

Bobby got the juice and Asgeir sat drinking shyly. He had a broad rosy face and enormous brown eyes set far apart, like a lamb's. Bobby decided he liked him and Palsson insisted that Asgeir liked Bobby too. "Yeah," Bobby said, "I get along good with kids."

There's a well known photo from two months later showing Bobby in a suit, 'not too mod but a little'. It is placed in chronological sequence in Fischer Wirephotos II (March 2016; first photo, fourth row; see also the second photo). My guess is that the suit was purchased in Iceland.

The suggested caption said,

NXP1751250-9/17/72-NEW YORK: World chess champion Bobby Fischer manages a big smile as he walks from a plane to a limousine following his arrival at Kennedy airport from Iceland 9/17. UPI we/al

Another Fischer photo showing the same suit is on Facebook: 'Fischer and Quinteros forged a strong friendship from 1971' (facebook.com). The fellow behind Quinteros is a fuller view of the person that I've cropped out out of the photo pictured above. Who was he?

An equally well known photo is on the same Facebook group: 'During a championship match in Reykjavik, Iceland, Bobby Fischer went to a tailor to buy two suits' (ditto; further link to nytimes.com). Fischer is sitting next to a photo of Rudolph Valentino. Some people think Fischer looks like Valentino.

03 November 2022

'Ram Mates Ewe'?

Yes, that's what the ad said. Pictured below, it appeared inside the November 1997 issue of Chess Life that I discussed a few days ago in November 1972 & 1997 'On the Cover' (November 2022).

Center of ad: 'Hereford to field eight. • Ewe to tractor seven. • Ram mates ewe.'

The two page ad started,

Introducing Chessmaster 5500, the latest in the award-winning software line for the chess-obsessed. Thanks to patented Illustrated Voice Analysis, Chessmaster 5500 doesn't just play you, it talks with you. Get detailed tips and advice from the Chessmaster himself.

Hear International Master Josh Waitzkin analyze his favorite games. And watch the Chessmaster ponder thousands of potential moves in the new Visual Thinking Window. Interactive tutorials and difficulty settings that range from beginner to expert make Chessmaster an excellent mentor and worthy opponent for any skill level.

What does the Farmville (wikipedia.org) imagery have to do with chess? Beats me. The ad continued,

Instant access to Chessmaster Live. By linking to Chessmaster Live through Chessmaster 5500 you can play others from around the globe 24 hours a day. Compete in on-line tournaments. Improve your game with brain-teasers, tips and advice columns from Grandmasters. Even challenge and chat with friends.

With thousands of games played daily, Chessmaster Live is the most popular chess community on the Internet. For more information and the name of your local retailer, call [phone]. • MINDSCAPE.

The bottom of the ad gave a domain for 'Chessmaster Live': www.chessmaster.com. The Wayback Machine's first capture of the domain is for January 1999, Title: 'Chessmaster' (archive.org). The page started,

The newest version of the world's finest and best loved chess program, Chessmaster 6000 is the complete computerized chess resource for all age groups and skill levels. With exciting new features that explore the human side of the game and complement the richest feature set available, all players will experience computer chess in an entirely new way.

Yesterday's post on my World Chess Championship blog, Smartchess Interviews Karpov (November 2022), also stemmed from the latest 'On the Cover' post and also relied on the Wayback Machine. When did Internet and Web technology start to impact chess literature? I'll look at this in another post.

01 November 2022

November 1972 & 1997 'On the Cover'

How quickly we tend to forget. Last month, in October 1972 & 1997 'On the Cover' (October 2022), we saw Bobby Fischer on the cover as 'The World Champion!!'. This month his historic feat already risks sliding into the back pages of CL&R.

Left: '?'
Right: 'Herculean Labors'

Chess Life & Review (50 Years Ago)

Grandmaster Walter Browne, left, after winning the 1972 U.S. Open in Atlantic City. N.J. USCF Executive Director Ed Edmondson is at right. Crosstable [inside]. Photo by Col. Paul L. Webb.

The last time we saw GM Browne 'On the Cover' was the 1972 portion of the May 1972 & 1997 post (May 2022), where he was a co-winner at Lone Pine. The November 1972 issue was his third cover appearance that year, two more than Fischer.

'Crosstable [inside]' was the bulk of the 2-1/2 page U.S. Open tournament report, along with a list of winners. The written report was a six-paragraph box titled, 'The Open: Kolty Komments', including everything you needed to know about the site's air conditioning.

More on the Fischer - Spassky match followed the Koltanowski report. I've already mentioned Anthony Saidy's write-up, 'A Tale of Two Titans - Ten Weeks That Shook the Chess World', in Hatchet Job (June 2022). Saidy was followed by GM Robert Byrne's analysis of games 12 and 13 (out of 21 games played).

Chess Life (25 Years Ago)

Thank you, Frank Elley, for never throwing anything away. Including the slide of the artwork by Jack Jones.

Which you received in 1983. Sent to you by McLean & Friends, Atlanta, Georgia, [phone].

This work, done as a sample for Chess Life, doesn't quite represent the era of Hercules, but it is a fine tribute to our Weekend Warriors who did battle over the Labor Day weekend, vying for state and regional championships.

The related five-page article, also titled 'Herculean Labors', covered Labor Day tournaments from eight states. An article by Rachel Landry featured an interview with then FIDE World Champion Anatoly Karpov, plus his relationship with GM Ron Henley and Smartchess Online. Is this worth a follow-up?