19 March 2023

Karpov and Kasparov Play Chess in Iceland

Last month's Flickr favorite, Catsparov Chess (February 2023), confirmed a trend:-

Am I just a sucker for AI generated chess images? It appears I am.

And here we go again, even when dealing with an historical absurdity on multiple counts...

Upper left: DALL-E 2023-03-10 21.34.47 © Flickr user fdecomite under Creative Commons.

The description, which was a continuation of that cryptic title, said,

Karpov vs Kasparov play chess for the World Championship in Iceland, oil painting in the style of brothers van Eyck.

Wikipedia's page Jan van Eyck (wikipedia.org; 'before 1390 – 1441, was a painter active in Bruges [now Flemish Belgium]') informs,

He had a sister Margareta, and at least two brothers, Hubert (died 1426), with whom he probably served his apprenticeship and Lambert (active between 1431 and 1442), both also painters, but the order of their births has not been established.

If 'Flickr user fdecomite' rings a bell, then you have an excellent memory. I featured his/her work in two previous Flickr posts, of which the last was Chess Needle (January 2009).

17 March 2023

Ding Liren's Climb to a Title Match

We interrupt this series on 'Cheating @ Chess.com' to follow an important detour. The Chess.com series was previously seen in Cheating for all Ages (March 2023), where I wrote,

I'll start with a summary of past posts on this blog that dealt with various aspects of cheating. Posts marked '(*)' featured Chess.com.

Why take a detour when I was just getting started? I realized this week that the 2023 Nepomniachtchi - Ding Liren Title Match (m-w.com; FIDE: 'due to take place in Astana, Kazakhstan, from April 7th to May 1st'), starts in less than a month. In past matches I've used a few posts to learn something about World Champion Carlsen's challenger for a particular match. Because of Carlsen's withdrawal from the cycle, in this match both players are taking the role of challenger. Here are a few earlier posts that give the background to this unusual situation:-

GM Nepomniachtchi was Carlsen's challenger in the previous title match, 2021 Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi (m-w.com; Dubai, XI-XII, 2021). In the months before the match, I created a series of posts about his career:-

The post titled 'Nepo at the World Cup' included a 'chart adapted from one of my pages [that] shows the World Championship events in which GM Nepomniachtchi has so far participated'. For this current post I did the same for Ding Liren. The codes in red delineate the different cycles.

Index of players (A-G), with links to the different events

Both Nepomniachtchi and Ding Liren began their climb to the World Championship in the same event, the 2011 World Cup; Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. Nepo qualified from the 2010 European Championship, where he finished first, and was eliminated in the third round of the World Cup by Gata Kamsky. Ding, who is two years younger than Nepo, was a nominee of then FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and was eliminated in the first round by Wesley So.

13 March 2023


In the previous off-week engine post, Chessify vs. Chessbase Engine Cloud (February 2023), I noted,

Since the beginning of the year, the off-week engine posts -- meaning those weeks that I'm not tracking TCEC/CCC -- have been looking at the Chessify engine cloud.

While the Chessbase service deserves a deeper look, I'm going to switch my attention to another, similar service that I can use immediately without installing expensive software that I don't really need. The following screen capture shows the home page for 'Next Chess Move [NCM]: The strongest online chess calculator'.


The intoduction at the top of that page explains,

Drag pieces to configure the board and press 'Calculate Next Move'. I'll tell you what the computer player does.

Last year we briefly saw the same site in the post Stockfish Breaks All the Barriers (April 2022; 'NCM Stockfish Dev Builds). At that time I neglected to delve into the real purpose of the site.

The function to 'Calculate Next Move' begs to be used on something other than the traditional start position that appears there by default. I went back to one of the games that I'm using to try Chessify, as described in the recent post Chessify Progress Report (January 2023).

I chose a game that has progressed to a Queen and Pawn (Q+P) endgame where I have an extra Pawn. It's a difficult endgame and during the Chessify trial I've learned a lot from offline resources about Q+P endgames in general. I've steadily improved the position of my King and Queen to their maximum potential, but am now facing a decision on how to proceed. There are several possible plans, but the Chessify engines insist that all variations lead to a draw.

Back to NCM, I used the FEN function, shown below the chessboard, to enter the FEN string from the current position of my Q+P endgame. I then unleashed both Stockfish 15.1 and LCZero 0.29.0 -- separately, of course -- on that position.

My first impression was that NCM is somewhat tedious to operate. 'Calculate Next Move' thinks for about five seconds, then returns a single move that (1) needs an action to apply it to the current position, followed by (2) another action to change the 'Active Color', i.e. the side to move, before it's ready to calculate the following move. None of the remaining moves in the 'Principal Variation' (PV) are shown.

Despite that repetitive procedure, the short test worked well and I'm ready for a more extensive test on a real game (where engines are permitted). The top of the right column on the NCM home page informs,

NCM Pro $19/year • Get stronger moves from NCM's 16 CPU core and RTX 2080 GPU dedicated servers. Free trial includes ten minutes of calculation time. Paid members get unlimited calculations.

The link for 'See Details' points to Next Chess Move: About NCM Pro, where more is explained. As soon as I finish one of my Chessify test games, I'll start the NCM free trial on a new game.

The major downside to the service is obvious. It's a magnet for online chess cheaters.

12 March 2023

I Should Just Focus on the Chess

Tired of people talking about the success of Chess.com? I can't sympathize, because I don't think I'll ever get enough. A couple of months ago the featured video of the month was The Rise of Chess.com (January 2023). Consider this a follow-up post.

This Company RULES Over ENTIRE CHESS MARKET | Case Study (11:49) • '[Published on] Feb 24, 2023'

The description said only,

We have revised the payment plan for this cohort. Under this new plan, the base price is now 30,000 + GST, and the rest from your first month's salary IF you get placed through the cohort. If you do not get placed/don't apply for placements, we don't charge you the salary fee.

I had no idea what that meant, so I decided to find out. The Youtube channel, Aevy TV ('We take complex educational topics and make it super fun for you so you never forget.'), pointed to AevyTV Video Editing Cohort (aevytv.com), which said, 'The Best PLACEMENT FRIENDLY Video Editing coHORT money can buy'.

A popup on that page said, 'Glad to see you here! How can I help you?' plus 'Start chat'. I accepted the chat with the intention of starting a dialog on the topic: 'I don't know. How *can* you help me? Who are you?'. The invitation 'Start chat' led to a page Share on WhatsApp (whatsapp.com) which announced,

Aevy Ventures Private Limited • Continue to Chat

'Continue to Chat' informed,

Looks like you don't have WhatsApp installed! • Download or use WhatsApp Web

'Use WhatsApp Web' went to a page of instructions plus a QR code. [...] No thanks. I just wanted to chat so I'll skip it. In retrospect, I doubt that it would help to enjoy the very interesting video, so I'll just ignore it for now. I can always come back to it later if necessary.

That's life on the web. You land on a promising page that immediately tries to sell you something -or- tries to sign you up for a newsletter -or- wants you to download some software. That's before you even decide if the page was worth visiting in the first place.

As for the video, 'This Company Rules', I'll continue with it another time. It appears to be worth the persistence.

10 March 2023

Cheating for all Ages

For the last few weeks I've been running a weekly series on Chess.com's Game Review Tools (February 2023). I'll continue with Chess.com, but change the focus. That post mentioned,

[Chess.com] has a good reputation for vigorously enforcing its no-engine policy, even if it leads to controversial decisions.

I'll start with a summary of past posts on this blog that dealt with various aspects of cheating. It's a real mixed bag. Posts marked '(*)' featured Chess.com.

Recent months have seen heavy media interest in the so-called Niemann affair. The entire discussion gets a '(*)' because Chess.com played a leading role.

Another recent, recurring topic has been the controversy surrounding the 1997 match Kasparov vs. IBM's Deep Blue (m-w.com). It provided some precedent for the Niemann affair.

The rest of the posts are listed in unfiltered, reverse chronological order.

The list needs a lot more work. I'll fill in some of the blanks as I continue with the Chess.com series.

09 March 2023

March 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover'

Another month means another look at U.S. chess 50 and 25 years ago. The tags for last month's post, February 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' (February 2023) -- 'Books/Mags, Photos, USchess, WCC' -- apply equally well to this month.

Left: '?'
Right: 'Karpov Reigns Supreme as FIDE World Champion!'

Chess Life & Review (50 Years Ago)

I. A. (Al) Horowitz, who died in January. Tributes to this irreplaceable man begin [inside]. Photo courtesy of New York Times [NYT].

The tributes started with five pages headed,

I. A. Horowitz
November 15, 1907 — January 18, 1973

The first tribute was by USCF Executive Director Ed Edmondson. It started,

The 1930's were glorious years for USA chess. Young masters were on the rise; they played exciting, stimulating games in tournaments such as the U.S. Open and the U.S. Championship; our teams swept to victory in four consecutive Chess Olympiads; and, in 1933, a great new American chess magazine was born.

It was a time for living legends. Just look at our line-up in the Chess Olympiad (World Team Championship), Stockholm 1937: Reshevsky, Fine, Kashdan, Marshall, and Horowitz. Giants, every one. But to me, a high school student then just beginning to explore the delights of tournament chess, none loomed larger than I. A. (Al) Horowitz. He was everywhere -- at the Olympiads, the U.S. Opens, the U.S. Championships; crisscrossing the nation (with occasional stops in my home town of Rochester) on one simultaneous exhibition tour after another; and coming into my home every month as editor of CHESS REVIEW.

Other tributes were by GMs William Lombardy, Isaac Kashdan, and Arnold Denker; CL&R's Jack Straley Battell and Burt Hochberg; and the NYT's John Devlin. The first photo showed Horowitz playing Petrosian in the USSR-USA match, Moscow 1955.

Chess Life (25 Years Ago)

The issue's introduction, titled 'On the Cover' of course, was a natural continuation of the intro to the February 1998 issue of CL, copied verbatim in last month's post. See that post for links to the WCC events mentioned below.

Elizabeth Karnazes shot the cover photo of Anatoly Karpov just after he successfully defended his FIDE World Championship title in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Karpov will be appearing at the National Open in Las Vegas, March 28-29, to give a 30-board simultaneous exhibition. If you can get to Las Vegas a day early, organizer Al Losoff will be auctioning off one board to the highest bidder. Details [inside].

The rumor mills are working overtime. It is rumored that Garry Kasparov will finally defend his PCA World Championship title in the closing months of 1998. The challenger will come from a group of grandmasters selected by Kasparov. Karpov will not be invited. So much for a unification match.

And FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has announced plans to make the knockout world championship an annual affair. Las Vegas is high on the list of possible sites for 1998.

Every one of those paragraphs would make a good start for a follow-up post, but there is only so much time for chess.

06 March 2023

TCEC S24 L1, CCC20 Blitz Semifinals: Final Week

For the previous fortnightly post on the two most important, ongoing engine vs. engine competitions the keyword was 'Underway': Stockfish Wins TCEC Swiss 4; TCEC S24 L2 & CCC20 Blitz Underway (February 2023). Here's a summary of that post:-

TCEC: Stockfish won 'Swiss 4', a point ahead of KomodoDragon and LCZero. The site then started S24 League 2 (see diagram for S24 stages). • CCC: The 'CCC20 Blitz Newcomers' and 'Qualifier #1' events have finished and 'Qualifier #2' is underway. The next stage, 'CCC20 Blitz Main', will have 12 engines with three coming from 'Qualifier #2'.

The keyword is still 'Underway', although both competitions have advanced considerably. Both are reaching the stages that determine the three best engines to close their respective seasons.

TCEC: S24 League 1 is underway with Koivisto leading by a significant margin. Berserk is in a tie for second place. Both engines featured in the recent post Chessify's Other Engines (February 2023). L1 will run for another week.

Between L2 &nd L1, the TCEC conducted the 'L2 Igel Gauntlet', with Igel playing against 11 other engines. The TCEC S24 Wiki page explained in two parts the reason for the event. The first part said:-

Tournament Director's decision regarding Booot: It came to the attention of the author of Igel that Booot was finally ready, after many setbacks its author had experienced due to the war in his country [Ukraine]. Igel author in a gentleman gesture then offered Booot to take its place in League 2, and this offer was accepted by TD-decision.

And for the second part:-

Tournament Director's decision regarding Igel: The many Booot crashes distort League 2 results. To alleviate this problem, Igel will be placed back after this League's play and play a 2 rounds gauntlet with reverse games against the other 11 League 2 engines. After removing Booot's results this will give the final table and promotions for League 2.

That was a great show of sportsmanship by all concerned with good calls by the TCEC TD.

CCC: Of the 12 engines that competed in 'CCC20 Blitz Main', six qualified into the 'CCC20 Blitz Semifinals', which is underway. With less than 10% of the games completed, Stockfish already leads by a comfortable margin ahead of Dragon and Lc0, which are ahead of the three other engines. The event will finish within a week, when the second and third engines will compete in a 'Challenger Match' to determine who will face the winner of the Semifinals in the Final match.

[For further information from the various stakeholders in the engine-to-engine events, see the tab 'TCEC/CCC Links' at the top of this page. • NB: Leela = LC0 = LCzero; Dragon = KomodoDragon]

05 March 2023

Poster Perfect Chess Art

This month's initial list of Top eBay Chess Items by Price (March 2010) was top heavy with chess sets. I had to scroll way down the list to find an example of chess art, so scroll I did.

The item pictured below was titled, 'Victor Vasarely L’échiquier chess board signed print (1969)', where L’échiquier is French for 'chess board'. It sold 'Best offer accepted' after one bid for GBP 380.00 ('approximately US $455.13', according to eBay).

The description repeated the title and said,

This print was has been seen by an auctioneer and [sic; who(?)] proved the authenticity. Print is framed in its original frame. • Print: 35 / 138 • Height: 53cm • Width: 47cm

Other sources say the work was created in the 1930s. It was also used as one of a series of posters for the 22nd Chess Olympiad, 1976, Haifa, Israel. In the same eBay series, we've seen Victor Vasarely once before: Vasarely Set, Board, or Both? (November 2019). There I ended saying,

Why did I decide to feature this set for this post? Vasarely produced other chess related works. Cataloging them would make a good rainy day project.

Add to that catalog the 1976 series of Olympiad posters.

03 March 2023

Chess.com's Game Review Tools Support

In two recent posts I overviewed two important tools available on Chess.com:-

Chess.com has detailed help available under 'Member Support and FAQs' (support.chess.com). The help pages listed here lead to others:-

As I said in the 'Tools PGN' post, there is much to explore here...

02 March 2023

Schizophrenic Yahoos

This month's Yahoos post has a schizophrenic foundation, in multiple senses of the word. Which word? Take your pick. (See also the footnote for an explanation of Yahoos.)

Unlike every previous Yahoo post on this blog -- e.g. last month's First Yahoos of 2023 (January 2023) -- the summary of top Yahoos in February was constructed from data on two different days. That deserves an explanation.

I started writing this post using the data shown in the left half of the chart. On that day, at that time, Google News returned 99 stories, of which five were from the previous month, January. All five stories were also returned for the list behind January's 'First Yahoos of 2023'. There was nothing earlier. Then I realized that only 28 days had passed since the January post. Since Google generally returns stories covering the past 30 days, I had some overlap with the previous post. I decided to wait two days and rewrite the post.

The data shown in the right half of the chart is from the second attempt writing this current post. This time Google returned 101 stories. Six news sources accounted for two or more stories, with a total of 55 stories among them. Since there were no stories from before February to be excluded, that left 46 sources with a single story.

Starting more than a year ago, Google has consistently returned a small selection of stories that are more than a month old. I documented this in Old Yahoos Don't Always Die (February 2022). In February 2023, the 'Old Yahoos' were gone. Will this continue next month?

Having two sources of data revealed some new aspects of Google News inner workings. Only two days later, three news sources have disappeared from the chart on the left, the earlier source of data. The two different lists also allow an analysis of how stories age under Google's selection algorithm, an idea too intricate for this current post. It's also worth noting how ChessBase is coded differently -- 'ChessBase' on the left, 'en.chessbase.com' on the right.

Around the middle of last year I started to wonder if Google News uses some sort of paid placement for news stories. I won't go into the details here, but in some months, the Yahoos exhibited peculiar behavior. This month I noticed a message that I had never seen before. It appeared before the list of Google's results:-

How these stories are ranked • These news articles are ranked based on their quality, originality of content, freshness of content, and where permitted based on your settings, your previous activity and purchases within Google News, and activity in other Google products. Google may have a license agreement with some of these publishers, but it has no impact on the ranking of results. • Learn more...

The phrase 'no impact on the ranking of results' says nothing about the number of results from a specific news source, a 'publisher' in Google's vocabulary. The link behind 'Learn more...' led to Google News consumer information - Google News Help (support.google.com). I'll try to come back to this topic in another post, but first I have to look at some of the news stories flagged by Google. That is, after all, the purpose of the Yahoo series. Watch this space...

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


Later: Re 'three news sources have disappeared from the chart on the left', none of the stories published by those sources was particularly compelling, so no need to take that thought any further. One new source appeared on the right: 'Yahoo News'. In fact, the real Yahoo accounted for three different stories. The first was:-

  • 2023-03-01: Russian chess stars quit Europe for Asia in ‘historic’ move (sports.yahoo.com; Independent; Reuters) • 'Chess powerhouse Russia has joined the Asian Chess Federation following an ACF vote that allows Russian players to keep competing at an international level despite the war in Ukraine and the sanctions that it has prompted.'

There were a handful of stories on the same topic from other sources, making the federation transfer the news story of the month. I already covered it on my World Championship blog in Zone 1.6 (Russia) Becomes Zone 3.8 (March 2023), and will probably continue to follow it there. Two other Yahoo stories returned by Google News were:-

The first story 'speaks for itself', to use a chess cliché popular in recent months. The second story was echoed by another handful of stories with titles like 'Chess.com Hits #1 in iOS App Store' (chess.com) and 'Server Trouble and the End of Mittens?' (ditto).

Of the other stories worth mentioning, one appeared four times. I'll reference its original version:-

The lead sentence started, 'Here’s something else chess players need to keep in check...'. (Groan, cough, cough.)

27 February 2023

Chessify vs. Chessbase Engine Cloud

Since the beginning of the year, the off-week engine posts -- meaning those weeks that I'm not tracking TCEC/CCC -- have been looking at the Chessify engine cloud. The most recent post in the series was Chessify's Other Engines (February 2023). Are there any alternatives?

Chessify answered that question in Why the Cloud Servers for Chess Engines [Are] Worth it & What Options You Have (chessify.me/blog):-

Main options for cloud chess engines • Where can you find these servers to run the engines on? Not many platforms offer such a service. The two main options are ChessBase Public Cloud and Chessify Cloud, the comparison of which is presented below to help you make the right decision if you’re looking for powerful chess analysis. Here's a comparison table between the two cloud services with detailed descriptions presented further. [...; 'Pros/Cons']

I'll take a closer look at the Chessbase service in another post.

26 February 2023

'Purposeful' Chess Talk

For this month's post on The Sociology of Chess (November 2016), I had a couple of recent, related videos on my short list. How were they related? They were both about the current wave of the game's popularity. Let's take the longer video first.

Why More People Don't Play Chess (24:31) • '[Published on] Feb 5, 2023'

The video's description said,

Thank you for dropping by for a more casual, laid back, chess talk type of video where I discuss why more people don't play chess, my personal opinions and reasons. I also give sound advice to all of you folks, that will hopefully be helpful to not only get you back on track of playing chess but also keep you on track!

In a nutshell, more people don't play chess because they don't like losing. Judging by the quality of the comments, the videomaker (channel 'Al Su Chess') has a keen group of followers. He says, 'I find it humbling that people find my channel purposeful'.

The second video was Review: Why I stopped playing Chess.com (youtube.com; channel 'CatGoneCrazy'). Here the description said,

This is a video review of Chess.com the website and app for playing and learning chess.

I noted two points worth repeating. Neither explains why he stopped playing:-

3:45 - 'I'm a professional games journalist.'
5:55 - 'Chess.com Review Score: 5/5'

The two videos haven't yet received 1000 views, but to paraphrase last month's sociology post, Not a Squeaking Wheel (January 2023), popularity isn't always an indicator of quality. Nor is it an indicator of purpose.

24 February 2023

Chess.com's Game Review Tools PGN

Last week, in Chess.com's Game Review Tools (February 2023), I developed the chart shown on the left (see that post for a larger version of the chart as well as the codes used to identify the different boxes). Because all names in computerdom eventually reduce to an acronym, let's use GRT to mean 'Game Review Tools'.

Since you're reading this post, you're probably interested in analyzing your games and you're undoubtedly aware that chess games are nearly always recorded in a format called 'Portable Game Notation' (PGN). It follows that the different boxes in the GRT chart offer downloads in PGN format.

Specifically, the boxes coded '02, 03a, 03b, 05a, 05b' all have a download, aka 'Share', option. Are the downloads all the same? No, they aren't, but the differences between them aren't enormous and the rest of this post is to discuss their similarities and the differences.

A Chess.com pop-up window like the one shown below appears when you click a 'Share' option. This particular example is from the GRT window coded '03b' in the previous post.

Along with the link for the URL of the game analysis, the pop-up offers functions for posting it to various social media platforms, plus functions for saving the current game in other formats like 'Image', etc. The lower portion of the pop-up, with the background in White, is specific to the PGN function.

The first PGN box, titled 'FEN' is a character string that describes the essential elements of the current position in text format. It is recognized by most chess software. This particular example is for the chess960 start position 'NRKQRBBN'. Its initial castling option are, of course, all available and are shown by the characters 'EBeb'.

Just below the 'FEN' string, to the right of the 'PGN' title, is a series of icons for tailoring the format of the PGN. They are:-

  • Annotation
  • Computer Analysis

  • Highlights
  • Comments, and
  • PGN Timestamps.

The first two icons are selected by a circle, indicating that they are mutually exclusive. The last three icons, which apply to the 'Annotation' icon, are selected by a square, indicating that they can be combined. I haven't tried all of the icons, but they are related to info/data visible via various GRT windows.

The chart box coded '02' has only the icon for 'PGN Timestamps' (default = 'no'). An example of the PGN output -- only moves, without variations or notes-- was shown near the end of the most recent post on my chess960 blog Chess.com Pinpoints a Tactical Error (February 2023). The other PGN functions are added as the 'Review' (chart box '03a') and 'Analysis' ('03b') tabs are invoked from '02'.

The PGN produced by the two chart boxes coded '05a' and '05b' is similar to '03a' and '03b'. The biggest differences are in the many tags (e.g. '[Event "Let's Play! - Chess960"') that make up the PGN header section. There are smaller differences in the moves themselves, but these aren't worth mentioning for now. Maybe later, maybe not; there is already much to explore here...

20 February 2023

Stockfish Wins TCEC Swiss 4; TCEC S24 L2 & CCC20 Blitz Underway

Another fortnight means another report on the world's top two ongoing engine vs. engine competitions. Let's first summarize the previous report, TCEC Swiss 4 Underway; CCC Mystery Matches (February 2023):-

TCEC: The site started 'Swiss 4'. Of the 11 'double rounds', the event is currently in the eighth. Stockfish leads a half-point ahead of Ethereal and KomodoDragon, which are ahead of 39 other engines. • CCC: After the 'CCC19 Bullet Final' match, the site held a number of exhibition events, including a series of matches with the header 'Stockfish Thread Dominance...'. As for plans, !next says, 'CCC20 Blitz : Newcomers'.

For this present report, both sites have started their seasonal flagship tournaments.

TCEC: Stockfish won 'Swiss 4', a point ahead of KomodoDragon and LCZero, which were a point ahead of Ethereal, which was a point ahead of the other engines. Stockfish also won 'Swiss 3'.

The site then started S24 League 2. The following diagram, which is a portion of TCEC's official chart, shows the sequence of individual events comprising the season.

For the complete diagram, see
TCEC Leagues Season 24 (wiki.chessdom.org)

The incoming dashed arrows indicate participants qualified from a previous TCEC event. For the equivalent point in S23 see TCEC S23 Leagues Underway; CCC Rudderless? (August 2022). The TCEC has eliminated the 'Qualification League', last seen in S23 QL.

CCC: The 'CCC20 Blitz Newcomers' and 'Qualifier #1' events have finished and 'Qualifier #2' is underway. All three stages had ten engines; the first two stages had five engines qualifying into the next stage. For the equivalent post on the previous event, TCEC More Interludes; CCC19 Bullet Underway (December 2022), I noted,

The site is currently running the 'CCC19 Bullet' event. For the first time in longer than I can remember, the site has updated the event's 'Info' tab to explain its different stages. Even more amazing, the info appears to be accurate and well thought out.

Copy that for 'CCC20 Blitz'. The first difference in the format is that 'CCC19 Bullet' had only four of ten engines qualifying into the next stage. The next stage, 'CCC20 Blitz Main', will have 12 engines with three coming from 'Qualifier #2' ('CCC19 Bullet Main' had four qualifying).

[For further information from the various stakeholders in the engine-to-engine events, see the tab 'TCEC/CCC Links' at the top of this page. • NB: Leela = LC0 = LCzero; Dragon = KomodoDragon]

19 February 2023

Catsparov Chess

Alternate title: 'The Eyes Have It'. In last month's Flickr favorite, DALL-E Chess Revisited (January 2023), I wondered,

Am I just a sucker for AI generated chess images?

It appears I am. On the left is another AI image; on the right is the real deal.

Left: Cat Chess © Flickr user FolsomNatural under Creative Commons.
Right: Book Garry Kasparov as a Keynote Speaker (thinkingheads.com)

The Flickr description said,

Why cats play chess. Image created from artificial intelligence app MidJourney. Enjoy!

The Thinkingheads.com description said,

Garry Kasparov was the youngest ever World Chess Champion. In 2005, he announced his retirement from competitive chess after twenty years as the No 1 ranked player in the World. [...] Kasparov’s book, Winter is Coming, combines his unique background and insight with insider knowledge and a strategic view of history and current events to examine the threats the free world is facing today.

That 'Book Garry' page uses the same video that I once featured in Kasparov Talks at Google (June 2017). We can guess that this was one of his best performances as a speaker.

Along with being a sucker for AI generated images, I must have some weird compulsion to twist names around in different ways. Another example is Audemars Piguet & Class-parov (June 2011).

17 February 2023

Chess.com's Game Review Tools

At the risk of immediately losing some visitors to this post, I'm going to continue a recent post from my chess960 blog, The Fascinating World of Chess960 (January 2023). There I wrote,

[Chess.com] has a good reputation for vigorously enforcing its no-engine policy, even if it leads to controversial decisions. [...] I switched to Chess.com in May 2022, playing one or (maximum) two games of correspondence chess at a time. [...] So far I've played about a dozen games on Chess.com, never once tempted to use an engine. [...] That's the background for a series of posts that I plan to write for my games on Chess.com. There are several aspects to be covered, e.g. Game review tools.

So here we are. The Chess.com game review tools appear to be the same for both traditional chess and chess960. Good thing, too, because the navigation of the tools is so unintuitive that I wouldn't want to learn two different methods.

I spent some time finding my way around the tools and decided to document my understanding in the infographic shown below. I'm sure it will help me in further explorations and it might help others trying to do the same.

The starting point for a game review is the archive, The Best Chess Games of [Me, Myself, and I] (chess.com). In the following examples, 'Me, Myself, and I' means my bemweeks account on Chess.com.

[NB: This seems like the right place to interject a big nota bene. Everything I say in this post describes how I understand the tools *now*. The tools might change tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, and it is nearly certain that a year from now they will be different. On top of that, I might have overlooked something obvious that renders my remarks wrong. If I make a mistake, I'll correct it here. If something changes later, I probably won't document it here.]

The window on the top left of the graphic ('01') shows the archive of my games. Selecting a game from the list opens a new window for that game ('02'). The game window has two large buttons for further analysis. The green button on the left opens a 'Review' tab on an 'Analysis' window ('03a') and the gray button next to it opens an 'Analysis' tab on the same window ('03b'). The two new tabs are part of the same display, allowing an easy switch between the two.

(Expand for more readable view)

The game I'm using for the example is the first chess960 correspondence game I lost on Chess.com last year. I used the game review tools for the first time in an attempt to discover where I had gone wrong. A discussion of that game's ins-and-outs is better left for my chess960 blog.

The 'Analysis' tab ('03b') has a link called Saved Analysis (chess.com). It leads to a 'Saved Analysis' window ('04') where individual games can be selected. Selecting a game opens a 'Review' tab on another 'Analysis' window ('05a'), that looks similar to ('03a'). It also offers an 'Analysis' tab ('05b'), which displays the notes I made as the game was being played -- recall that this was a correspondence game.

The '03' and the '05' windows have competely different URLs. I haven't used them enough to determine if they offer different functionality. That will be the subject of another post, along with a comparison of windows '02', '03a', and '05a'.

Most (all?) of the game windows offer the option of downloading the PGN for the game. Window '02' has two options, 'Share' and 'Download', which appear to be identical. The downloaded PGN has the game score only, without variations.

Window '03a' has only a 'Share' option. The downloaded PGN includes variations incorporating the same notes already mentioned in '05b'.

Window '03b' also has a 'Share' option only. Its behavior is somewhat peculiar. When '03b' is first opened, it displays the moves of the game under review. If it is opened a second time, after switching to '03a' for example, it displays the notes to the game as in '05b'. The PGN behaves similarly. When the tab is first opened, it offers only the game score; when opened a second time, it offers all of the notes.

Confusing? Sorry about that. The functionality described above was probably developed at different times, perhaps by different people, without paying much attention to the interface that already existed. Better too much than too little some people might say.

13 February 2023

Chessify's Other Engines

Continuing with Chessify Progress Report (January 2023), the site mentions four other engines after stalwarts Stockfish and LCZero: Asmfish, Berserk, Koivisto, Sugar AI (and Sugar AI ICCF). I asked the TCEC and CCC '!commands' to tell me more about these engines.


  • !asmfish • asmFish, a port of Stockfish in x86-64 assembly by Mohammed Li, optional using AVX2 and BMI2 instructions, assembled with FASM to run under Windows or UNIX/Linux, first released in June 2016. See also
    https://www.chessprogramming.org/AsmFish and
  • !berserk • Berserk is a UCI-compatible chess engine by Jay Honnold (Zombywafflez), written in C. Initially 2020 a Java project, first release in Feb 2021 under GPL v3.0. First TCEC appearance S21 QL. See
  • !koivisto • Koivisto is a UCI-compatible open source chess engine by Kim Kåhre and Finn Eggers, written in C++. It was first released in September 2020 under GPL v3.0. First TCEC appearance S20 QL. See
    koivisto-chess.com and
  • Sugar • %


  • !asmfish • stockfish ported to assembly ... it's insanely fast!
  • Berserk • %
  • Koivisto • %
  • Sugar • %

Explaining things is not the CCC's strong point. Since Sugar struck out in both !command searches, I went a little deeper. SugaR ICCF chess engine has been added to Chessify (chessify.me; undated).

Not too long ago, Berserk generated some buzz in the engine community. On this blog's series of engine status posts I found the first significant reference in TCEC S22 L3 and CCC16 Blitz Final Both Underway (February 2022). Specifically:-

Since the previous report, '[TCEC] S22 Underway', both QL and L4 have finished and L3 is underway. Young 'Berserk', which finished 9th-10th in S21 QL, won S22 QL and L4 and is currently third among 12 engines in L3.

I decided to give Berserk a try, hoping for results that counter Stockfish's annoying tendency to evaluate many unbalanced positions as 0.00. After the 'Chessify Progress' post, the site opened a Discord server Welcome to the Official Chessify discord! (discord.com). One recent conversation went:-

2023-02-06: GenieGP: ASMFish hasn't existed for a few years now and I was wondering why it was still part of the site? As for SugaR, its development was stopped a year ago, so recently. ShashChess (another Stockfish derivative) could replace it, right? These are my ideas and thanks to you. • tavetius: We can consider adding ShashChess, but we can't remove SugaR and ASMFish, because we have users who use them??

The Discord server is a good source of whys and wherefores concerning the Chessify features. I'll try to keep an eye on it.


Later: A week or so after I posted this, Chessify added a fifth engine: RubiChess. Using the '!commands' again, here is some further info.


  • !rubichess • RubiChess started in 2016 as a C++ hobby project by Andreas Matthies (rubichess). First TCEC appearance S15. See


  • !rubinnue • [i.e. Rubi NNUE]

The CCC link is worth a read: RubiChess NNUE player implemented (talkchess.com; September 2020) And the engine is worth a try.

12 February 2023

'The Von Niemann Probe'

We saw this story last month in First Yahoos of 2023 (January 2023): 'This Chess-Cheating Wearable Aims to Investigate the Accusations Against Grandmaster Hans Neimann (hackster.io)'. Now here's the related video.

We Built the Alleged Hans Niemann Chess Cheating Device (and You Can Too!) (21:58) • '[Published on] Jan 28, 2023'

The description starts,

An AVR-based Bluetooth telegraphing shoe insole that lets you play chess in the way Hans Niemann has been accused! This project is our contribution to the ongoing investigation into the Hans Niemann / Magnus Carlsen cheating scandal and tests the feasibility of creating and using an over-the-board chess cheating aid. Check out the Von Niemann Probe's documentation...

'The Von Niemann Probe' : gotta love it! Although not really 'For All Ages', this video's makers discuss the sensitive bits tastefully. Rated no worse than 'PG'.

10 February 2023

The Final Years of Insidechess.com

My previous post on early chess web sites was Wayback to Insidechess.com (February 2023). There I made an initial observation about the Wayback record:-

The first entry for a working site is Inside Chess Online (January 1999). It links to the Latest Issue (Volume 12, Issue 2, March 1999), with further links to three (out of a dozen) articles from the issue.

There are at least four layers of the past that apply to Insidechess.com:-

Chess history: e.g. 1998-99 World Chess Council ... and more (m-w.com); my own account of the period covered by the following resources.

Inside Chess (magazine): e.g. Inside Chess Magazine 1999 (Archive.org 1999-11-04) • 'GM Yasser Seirawan, Publisher // Editor in Chief Michael Franett'; 'Vol.12, Issue 1 - February' [...] 'Vol.12, Issue 10 - November'.

Insidechess.com (web site): e.g. 24 January, 1999 Inside Chess Online (Archive.org 1999-01-25), starting with 'Adams - Seirawan match, Game 4' and including 'See the most recent Inside Chess issue'. This links to In this issue of Inside Chess Magazine (Archive.org 1999-02-25) • 'Volume 12, Issue 2 (March 1999) Latest Issue' [...] 'Publisher's Message by GM Yasser Seirawan; We ring in the New Year with a mixed bag of messages for this month's issue. I would like to give an overview of the chess world's affairs and make some brave predictions for the year to come. [...]'. • NB: The history of the web site can be reconstructed only partially, according to specific pages retained (haphazardly?) by the next resource.

Insidechess.com (Archive.org): e.g. https://web.archive.org/web/19980501000000*/http://www.insidechess.com/; Here there is a five year gap -- 2002 through 2006 -- where the site's home page was not saved.

A few months into 1999, we find In this issue of Inside Chess Magazine (Archive.org 1999-05-07); 'Volume 12, Issue 5 (June 1999)', with the following news:-

Publisher's Message by GM Yasser Seirawan [] When we started Inside Chess in 1988, our hope, among other things, was to fill a niche in the chess world for timely and informative news. Now, in our twelfth year of publication, we can look back with satisfaction and feel we have had some measure of success in accomplishing that goal.

Obviously, there have been many changes in and outside of the chess world since 1988. [...] In the year 2000, we've decided to greet the new millennium with an online-only edition. [...] Following this June issue, we will publish seven more print issues, ending with a final January 2000 issue.'

The last Archive.org capture of 2001 is Inside Chess Online (2001-07-22); the page is dated '19 July 2001'. It includes a link to 'Masterpiece Games third quarter financial statements', itself a list of links where the first is Masterpiece Games Inc. : The Company and its Directors. It starts,

Masterpiece Games Incorporated, (MPA) is a Vancouver BC based holding company whose shares are traded on the Canadian Venture Exchange (CDNX). MPA emerged as its own publicly traded company as the result of a spin-off from Grandmaster Technologies, Inc. (GMT) on August 22, 1997.

MPA has two assets International Chess Enterprises, Inc. (ICE) a Seattle, WA based company that sells chess products, and a substantial ownership position in Master Games Inc., a privately held Austin, Texas based company.

The Archive.org capture for 2007-05-16 informs, 'Coming Soon! This site is under construction.' For 2008-04-27 it says, 'Redirecting to...' Chesscafe.com.

I once featured an early version of that site in Chesscafe.com 2015 (June 2015), so what more can be said? Plenty, it turns out.


Plenty there might be, but not now. It's time to close the topic of early chess web sites and move on to something else. Following is a list of posts for the current series.

That brings us to this current post, where we ended with an earlier series.

So much chess history, all of it fading away on transient digital media.

09 February 2023

Of Grammar, Silver Spoons, and eBay Prices

My latest eBay post, A New Category of Chess Collectable (February 2023), needs a second look. A small question has been bothering me since I posted it : is the title correct? When I wrote the post, I first used the word 'collectible', then wondered if that was correct. After a little research, I determined that the right word was 'collectable', and changed it. Here's what Collectible or Collectable (grammarbook.com; 'The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation') has to say about it.

A Matter of Noun vs. Adjective [...] A collectible is a noun meaning specific item that is acquired for a hobby, a display, or a potential investment that may increase in value. [...] A collectable is an adjective that refers to things that can be collected. [...] In British English, both words (noun and adjective) are spelled with an "a" (collectable).

Since the title refers to a noun, 'collectible' is the right word for Americans, therefore correctable. Since the Brits invented the language, 'collectable' is acceptable. I'll leave it alone.

Although the word 'spoon' was a new word for this blog, the category is known to chess collectors. From The Fischer Chess Spoon Story (ascasonline.org; 'An article on ASCAS: Association of Small Collectors of Antique Silver website'), a story from the '2001 National Spoon Convention in Colorado Springs':-

The pictured spoon is a heavy 5.75" art deco style sterling spoon made about 1972. Sterling spoons were not hot collectibles during that time period so it is rather unusual to have a sterling spoon commemorating any event.

My 'Chess Collectable' post also reported,

BREAKING NEWS: The [eBay] item page I'm looking at does *not* list a price. In the past, items that sold 'Best offer accepted' showed the asking price with a bar through the price. [...]

Of the 12 items on my short list for the post, seven were 'Best offer accepted'; all seven showed no price. The other five -- 'Best offer', '11 bids', 'Buy it now', etc. -- showed a price. Was this a glitch -or- has eBay hidden another important piece of info from its public? We should be able to answer by the time of the next eBay post.

06 February 2023

TCEC Swiss 4 Underway; CCC Mystery Matches

The action never stops in the low-stakes world of engine vs. engine chess competitions. Our previous fortnightly post mentioned two winners: LCZero Wins TCEC Cup 11; Stockfish Wins CCC19 Bullet (January 2023; 'For the first time in a long while, an engine other than Stockfish won a TCEC or CCC event'). Here's a summary of that post:-

TCEC: In the 'Cup 11' Final match, LCZero and Stockfish tied the regulation games +1-1=10, then LCZero won the second pair of tiebreak games. In the Bronze match for 'Cup 11' third place, KomodoDragon and Ethereal tied +0-0=12; KomodoDragon won the second pair of tiebreak games. • CCC: In the 'CCC19 Bullet Challenger' match, Dragon beat Lc0 527.0-473.0, and in the Final match Stockfish beat Dragon 616.0-384.0.

Since the action never stops, what's the current situation?

TCEC: After 'Cup 11', the site organized 'Swiss 4'; see TCEC Swiss 4 for the rules. Of the 11 'double rounds', the event is currently in the eighth. Stockfish is leading by a half-point ahead of Ethereal and KomodoDragon, which are ahead of 39 other engines. The event should run for another week. For a summary of the previous Swiss, see Stockfish Wins TCEC Swiss 3 and CCC17 Blitz (July 2022).

CCC: After the 'CCC19 Bullet Final' match, the site held a series of exhibition events. The most important was probably the 'CCC19 Bullet Alt Final' match, where Stockfish beat Lc0 301.0-199.0 in a 500 game match. Extrapolating this to the 1000 games played in the 'Final' match, shows that Lc0 performed somewhat better than Dragon.

After this, the CCC conducted a series of events under the header 'Stockfish Thread Dominance'. The first was titled, 'Stockfish Thread Dominance: Weiss'. What were these mysterious matches? The 'Info' tab for the Weiss match misleadingly says, 'Format: CCC19 Bullet (1|1) will consist of the following Events...', and the PGN for the individual games offers nothing informative beyond 'TimeControl "60+1"', i.e. a one minute (bullet) game with one second per move increment, aka '(1|1)'. Stockfish won 73.5-26.5.

The only real info I could find was from end-January: Does this count as anything groundbreaking? (reddit.com) The post showed a screenshot of the result of 'Stockfish Thread Dominance: Dragon', where Dragon beat Stockfish 70.0-30.0, and continued, 'Obviously Stockfish has lost individual games but a whole match? And it looked pretty one-sided.' The most informative comment to the question answered,

That is why the event was called "Stockfish thread dominance", because it was Stockfish with just 1 thread playing against a bunch of different engines, each one stronger than the last, and giving the opponents the full 250 threads available, essentially giving them 250 times more computing power.

Stockfish vs Weiss: Stockfish won by a landslide (0, 0, 9, 35, 6)
Stockfish vs Black Marlin: Stockfish won by a landslide (0, 0, 2, 41, 7)
[...; eight matches total]

The numbers in parentheses, which always add up to 50, weren't explained. There were nine such events listed in the CCC archive.

As I was writing this post, the site had just finished 'OpenBench Interlude #7 - Top 6'. As for plans:-

!next • Actual last Stockfish dominance match: SF Dev 256-thread vs SF Dev 1-thread [not mentioned in the Reddit thread]. Then we are onto 'CCC20 Blitz : Newcomers'.

For this blog's reports on the three main stages of CCC19 -- Blitz, Rapid, Bullet -- see:-

From this we can deduce that each stage runs for about a month and a half.

[For further information from the various stakeholders in the engine-to-engine events, see the tab 'TCEC/CCC Links' at the top of this page. • NB: Leela = LC0 = LCzero; Dragon = KomodoDragon]

05 February 2023

A New Category of Chess Collectable

It's hard to believe, but in the nearly 17 years that I've been writing this blog and the nearly 13 years that I've been posting for the series titled Top eBay Chess Items by Price (March 2010), an important word has never once appeared on the blog. That new word is >>> [new_word] <<<.

The item on the left was titled 'World Chess Championship 1972 - Rare Silver Spoon'. It sold 'Best offer accepted' for...

[BREAKING NEWS: The item page I'm looking at does *not* list a price. In the past, items that sold 'Best offer accepted' showed the asking price with a bar through the price. Then I would go back to the full list of items to determine the selling price, which was somewhere between the prices of the item listed above and the item listed below. See, for example, Cold Painted Cats (December 2022).]

...In the list of top items, the spoon is shown with a price of $274.99, sandwiched between one item that sold for $299.99 and another that sold for $259.99. Is the missing price on the item page an error or is it a new eBay tactic to confuse the buyer? I'll come back to this question later.

First, let's return to the main theme of the post. That new word is >>> spoon <<<. The description said,

Memorabilia from the World Chess Championship in Reykjavik, Iceland 1972 where Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky played for the World Chess Championship title. A silver spoon made by goldsmith Jens Gudjonsson, "The Crowning Spoon", numbered 212. Issued for the Icelandic Chess Federation in 1972. Length: approx 14,5 cm., weight 45 grams of 0.925 sterling silver.

I would have loved to use 'The Crowning Spoon' as the title for this post, but I couldn't spoil the suspense. Written on the spoon, top to bottom, is:-


So much excitement for one post - a new word and a new eBay tactic. My heart is pounding!

03 February 2023

Wayback to Insidechess.com

The most recent post on my World Championship blog, Hooked on 1994-95 Sanghi Nagar (February 2023), mentioned,

[Ravi Sanghi] was responsible for the creation of an attractive Hindu temple perched dramatically on a nearby hill, and his impressive home could be seen on another distant hill. Mimi [Bill Hook's wife] later interviewed Mr. Sanghi, and her article subsequently appeared in Inside Chess.

The reference to Inside Chess fits in well with my current series on early web sites -- last seen in Hurst's 'Chess on the Web' (January 2023) -- because the site was already on my short list for future posts. The first entry in Archive.org for Insidechess.com is dated end-1998 and returns Welcome to Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 Option Pack. That must signal the initial setup of the site.

The first entry for a working site is Inside Chess Online (January 1999). It links to the Latest Issue (Volume 12, Issue 2, March 1999), with further links to three (out of a dozen) articles from the issue. One of those articles starts,

Publisher's Message by GM Yasser Seirawan • We ring in the New Year with a mixed bag of messages for this month's issue. I would like to give an overview of the chess world's affairs and make some brave predictions for the year to come. [...]

The 'Latest Issue' also links to Index Inside Chess Covers 1999, which lists four issues (Volume 12, 1 to 4), none of which are available. The index informs.

Inside Chess Magazine started out as a bi-weekly magazine in January 1988 and became a monthly in January 1998. It has established itself as a premier chess periodical with a worldwide circulation and an international content and appeal. Inside Chess Magazine is published in 12 issues each year.

From this we can infer that the earlier Mimi Hook article on Sanghi Nagar does not exist online. Since I had never seen a copy of Inside Chess, I was happy to find Inside Chess Magazine 19 Issues : Yasser Serawan (archive.org). The description starts,

"Inside Chess" was a bi-weekly American chess magazine started in 1988 by GM Yasser Serawan. It ceased publication in 1990 [sic; 2000]. I have 19 of its old issues which I have scanned and I share here. [...]

The full set of issues is available on disk, e.g. Inside Chess 1988 - 2000 (niggemann.com; Schachversand): 'CD/DVD-box, ChessCafe, 1. edition 2013'. For a review see Inside Chess on DVD: you take the good, you take the bad... (chessbookreviews.wordpress.com).

02 February 2023

February 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover'

In last month's edition of 'On the Cover', January 1973 & 1998 (January 2023), we saw Karpov on the left and USchess on the right. This month the roles are switched.

Left: '?'
Right: 'Anand cuts through FIDE knock-out to challenge Karpov'

Chess Life & Review (50 Years Ago)

1972 American Open Champion Larry Remlinger, left, with Carl L. Budd, President of the Santa Monica Bay Chess Club and author of the tournament story [inside]. Between them is first prize: a $1,000 bill. Photo copyright N. Goldstein.

Carl Budd's article was titled '8th American Open'. It started,

The new American Open Champion for 1972 is Larry Remlinger of Long Beach, California. But he is not the only champion that emerged from this tournament, for the American Open itself is the new champion of the world, inasmuch as it hosted the greatest number of players entered in a tournament conducted in a single section. There was an amazing total of 428 players who reported to play on Thanksgiving Day morning. This figure eclipsed the previous record of 402 players, held by the U.S. Open in Ventura, California in 1971.

The tournament attracted many spectators. The same article informed,

One of these spectators was none other than the new World Champion, Bobby Fischer. He made his appearance without fanfare during the last round. However, he no sooner entered the room than he was enveloped in a swarm of autograph seekers and camera buffs. I'm sure that Bobby would have enjoyed chatting with some of his friends who were present, and to have watched and studied some of the games. But this was not to be. His appearance at a chess tournament has the same effect as the arrival of a great movie star at a Hollywood premiere. Such is the burden that accompanies fame! Bobby endured the accolades of his admirers for about twenty minutes and then departed.

Starting with the July 1993 issue, Chess Life ran a nine-part series of articles by Remlinger titled 'Searching for a Title'. He earned the IM title in December 1993.

Also worth noting are the eight pages given to 1972 San Antonio, starting with IM David Levy's report titled 'Church's Fried Chicken Inc.; First International Chess Tournament', and ending with an interview of Karpov. Levy's report started, 'Not since New York 1924 has there been such a strong tournament in the USA.' Had everyone already forgotten the 1966 Piatigorsky Cup, seen in September 1966 'On the Cover' (September 2016)?

Chess Life (25 Years Ago)

Yes, Anatoly Karpov defeated Viswanathan Anand for the FIDE World Championship, winning both playoff games on January 9th, 1998. No, there wasn't enough time to change the cover. Yes, Karpov will be on the March cover. Yes, the FIDE World Champion will be playing at the U.S. Amateur Team Championship - East in Parsippany, New Jersey. Yes, the FIDE World Champion will be appearing at the National Open in Las Vegas.

Viswanathan Anand lost to Gata Kamsky in 1994, and lost the opportunity to play Karpov in the last FIDE Championship. Anand beat Kamsky in order to challenge Garry Kasparov for the PCA World Championship in 1995. Anand lost and Kasparov made the cover with New York City Mayor Guiliani.

Anand defeated Pedrag Nikolic (Bosnia), 2-0; he defeated Alexander Khalifman (Russia) in tiebreak games; he defeated Zoltan Almasi (Hungary), 2-0; he defeated Alexei Shirov (Spain), 1 1/2-1/2; he defeated Boris Gelfand, 1 1/2-1/2; and he defeated Michael Adams (England) in the sudden death blitz game [after eight straight draws], in order to face the reigning FIDE Champion, Anatoly Karpov.

He deserves a cover, as does his wife, and his second GM Elizbar Ubilava. Photo by Elizabeth Karnazes. And she will be providing next month's cover, as well as a photographic essay of the final match, to accompany a report by Larry Christiansen.

For more about the events, see FIDE Knockout Matches; Groningen, XII, 1997 (m-w.com) and Karpov - Anand FIDE Title Match; Lausanne, I, 1998 (ditto).

31 January 2023

First Yahoos of 2023

The first Yahoos post of the New Year marks also the start of the third full year of Yahoos. (For an explanation of Yahoos, see the footnote to this post.) Let's start with the usual overview of news sources reporting in the current month.

This month we had 92 stories from the current month and 6 stories repeating from previous months, making 98 stories total. In 2022, only two of the 12 monthly posts had more stories in the current month.

Eight news sources, shown in the chart on the left, had more than two stories in the month, accounting for 44 stories total. That leaves 48 sources with a single story.

Just as in every post for the past two years, Chess.com accounted for the lion's share of the stories, with ChessBase a distant, although respectable, second. The other six sources had two stories each, just enough to make this month's honor role. The stories for two of those sources -- 'Evanston RoundTable' and 'Paducah Sun' -- were about regional high school championships.

As for an overview of the biggest chess stories, I'll continue this post as soon as I can. A year ago I wrote a couple of posts summarizing previous months:-

That second post, in February, took a look at a new trend in Yahoos, when Google News started repeating previous month stories in the current month. It might be worth taking a 2023 look at both ideas.

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


Later: If I could retitle this post I would use 'Deja Deja Vu Yahoos', echoing last month's Deja Vu Yahoos (December 2022). Three themes from that post continued in January:-

  • The hijab story
  • The Hans Niemann lawsuit
  • 'A fabulous month for Chess.com'

On the hijab story, I noted 'none of the nine news sources was a chess site'. In retrospect that was probably a consequence of the story occurring at the end of the old year.

Another story, also inspired by clothing, made the news during the month.

  • 2023-01-10: Iranian Chess Arbiter Clashes With FIDE Over Human Rights Attire (chess.com; Peter Doggers) • 'The Iranian international arbiter Shohreh Bayat was reprimanded by the International Chess Federation (FIDE) for wearing pro-human rights clothing at the 2022 Fischer Random World Chess Championship in Reykjavik. While FIDE considered it "unprofessional," Bayat pointed out that a dress code for arbiters does not exist.' • Q: What was the infraction? A: 'A T-shirt with the slogan "Women, Life, Freedom".'

For the last several months of 2022, stories about the Niemann lawsuit were swinging between the farcical and the serious. In January they swung between the farcical and the ridiculous.

For Chess.com, the hits just kept on coming.

One of Chess.com's hits was a sucker punch. In fact, the first story here wasn't returned by Google News, but it helps to understand the second story.

Out with the old? Somehow I doubt it. Those stories are all going to continue in 2023. In with the new? Here's one story worth watching.

  • 2023-01-30: Russian Chess Federation moves to Asia (chessbase.com) • 'The Russian Chess Federation has advised the European Chess Union that they have applied for membership of the Asian Chess Federation, and that they intend to withdraw from the ECU as soon as they have been admitted.'
  • 2023-01-30: Statement of the European Chess Union (europechess.org) • 'Hereby expresses its position on the possible transfer of the Russian Chess Federation (RCF) to the Asian Chess Federation (ACF)' [...] 'Zones can only be amended by International Chess Federation (FIDE) and only FIDE can decide matters concerning its own regulations.'

There were other January stories that I would have liked to pursue, but I have to stop somewhere. Maybe they will still be topical in February.

30 January 2023

Talkchess Talks Top Engines

In last week's post, LCZero Wins TCEC Cup 11; Stockfish Wins CCC19 Bullet (January 2023), I opened,

For the first time in a long while, an engine other than Stockfish won a TCEC or CCC event.

This was also flagged in a Talkchess thread.

  • 2023-01-14: Lc0 wins TCEC Cup 11 Final (talkchess.com) • 'When was the last time Stockfish lost a final? Stockfish is getting weaker and weaker. [...] Or maybe the opponents get stronger.'

Or maybe it's a typical example showing that rating is just a statistical measure of strength. As I reported in the 'LCZero Wins' post,

In the Final match, LCZero and Stockfish tied the regulation games +1-1=10, then LCZero won the second pair of tiebreak games.

Statistically speaking, a lower rated player will win a certain percentage of games. If such a game, according to the rules, turns out to be a decisive game, then the match is over. The same scenario holds for any competition where tiebreak plays a role, e.g. tennis. Sporting results aren't predetermined and that's why they are fun to watch.

As long as I'm on the subject of the Talkchess forum, last seen on this blog in Talkchess Talks Current Topics (September 2022), let's look at some other news reported recently in the forum.

  • 2022-12-04: Stockfish 15.1 is ready • 'Stockfish 15.1 was released after 8 months after Stockfish 15. According to the regression tests Elo difference between Stockfish 15.1 and Stockfish 15 isn't so much [...]'

  • 2022-12-19: Dragon 3.2 Released at KomodoChess.com [lkaufman] • 'KomodoChess.com has released Dragon 3.2, an upgrade of 3.1 which won the 2022 World Computer Chess Championship after a tiebreaking match with Lc0. It has a newer net, search improvements, and speedups compared to Dragon 3.1, which make it about ten elo stronger with normal openings (at CCRL blitz [time control], one to eight threads), also ten elo stronger at FRC (chess960), and twenty elo stronger with "unbalanced human openings".'

Talkchess user 'lkaufman' is GM Larry Kaufman, aka Dr. Komodo, who also featured in the 'Current Topics' post. When he talks about Dragon, everyone listens.

All three Talkchess threads mentioned in this current post go on for many pages. All are worth exploring in more depth.

29 January 2023

Not a Squeaking Wheel

While it's true that in the mechanical world the squeaking wheel gets the oil and in the online world the loudest 'influencers' get the most views, it's often their softer-spoken brethren who end up making the biggest difference. That's this month's thought to introduce the latest post in this blog's long-running series about The Sociology of Chess (November 2016).

How Playing Chess Benefits Your Social Skills - Chess4Life Spotlight Podcast (23:07) • '[Published on] Dec 30, 2022'

The description of this video said,

Judit Sztaray has been around chess most of her life, but it wasn't until her daughters' interest in chess grew that it became an integral part of her life. Although she says she's not a strong chess player, that doesn't stop her from actively participating in chess events like the Pan-Am and using the game for its benefits.

One of those benefits of chess is the social aspects of the game. Elliott Neff and Judit Sztaray discuss how big of an impact playing chess can make on communities and building friendships with people.

This month was the second time a video from Youtube's Chess4Life channel made the short list for the month's featured video, but lost out to an entity ranked higher in the chess pecking order. The first such video was:-

It lost out first to featured video Chess Players with Class (September 2022; 'How Vishy [Anand] is changing the Landscape of Chess in India'), and later to sociology video 'The Root of All Evil'? (ditto; 'Who Has Won The Most Money In Chess History?'). For more about the objectives behind the Youtube channel, see Chess4life | Chess Academy and Club Licensing (chess4life.com).

27 January 2023

Hurst's 'Chess on the Web'

In last week's post, Crowther's 'Chess on the Net' (January 2023), I originally intended to write about Mark Crowther's 'Chess on the Web', then realized that I had mixed two different works. The first book in the genre was Sarah Hurst's 'Chess on the Web'. This was followed a few years later by Crowther's 'Chess on the Net', which was followed by Hurst's second edition of 'Chess on the Web'.

The covers of both editions of Hurst's book are shown below. Co-authors listed on the second edition are Richard Palliser and Graham Brown.

Left: 1999 - ISBN 9780713485776 • Right: 2003 - ISBN 9780713486025

The back cover of the 1999 edition said,

A modern meeting ground for people of all ages and from all walks of life. the internet offers an exciting opportunity to play chess worldwide. Chess on the Web is the definitive guide to internet chess resources from game-play to news, software to history.

Sarah Hurst is the editor of the BCF newsletter Chessmoves. and her previous works include A Shrimp Learned to Whistle, Winning Business Strategies on the Internet (Haymarket) plus a wealth of excellent interviews and articles about chess. A fluent Russian speaker she was also the co-translator of the Moscow 1935 International.

Unfortunately, I don't have at hand a copy of either edition, so I can't go much farther. If I decide to continue this series of posts on early chess web sites, I'll have to get a copy. I've already mentioned Sarah Hurst on this blog in Russian to English Translators (May 2009).

23 January 2023

LCZero Wins TCEC Cup 11; Stockfish Wins CCC19 Bullet

Yes, you read that title correctly. For the first time in a long while, an engine other than Stockfish won a TCEC or CCC event. For the previous fortnightly report on the continuous competitions conducted by the world's leading engine vs. engine operators, see TCEC Cup 11 Underway; CCC19 Bullet in Semifinals (January 2023). Here's a summary:-

TCEC: Engine ice4 won the S23 4k tournament ahead of 4ku and three other engines. The site then launched into 'Cup 11', which is currently in the Round-of-16 stage • CCC: Four engines promoted from 'CCC19 Bullet Qualifier #2', and joined eight other seeded engines in the 'Main' event. The top six engines then qualified into the 'Semifinals'.

Let's summarize the recent deciding events on both sites.

TCEC: In the 'Cup 11' Semifinal matches, Stockfish beat KomodoDragon +3-1=6 and LCZero beat Ethereal +3-1=5. In the Final match, LCZero and Stockfish tied the regulation games +1-1=10, then LCZero won the second pair of tiebreak games. In the previous TCEC cup event, Stockfish Wins TCEC Cup 10; TCEC Swiss 3, CCC17 Blitz both Underway (June 2022), the roles were more familiar: 'Stockfish beat LCZero +4-2=4 in a semifinal match, then beat KomodoDragon +2-1=9 in the final match.'. In the Bronze match for 'Cup 11' third place, KomodoDragon and Ethereal tied +0-0=12; KomodoDragon won the second pair of tiebreak games.

The site then ran a couple of minor S24 events: 'Viewer Submitted Openings Bonus 23' (VSOB), followed by 'Swiss 4 Testing'. For the previous mention of VSOB on this blog, see TCEC S23 Paused; 'CCC19 Blitz Main' Underway (September 2022).

CCC: In the 'CCC19 Bullet Semifinals', Stockfish finished well ahead of Dragon which finished comfortably ahead of Lc0. Ethereal finished fourth with a negative score.

In the 'Challenger' match (CCC: 'for the privilege or misfortune to play against Stockfish'), Dragon beat Lc0 527.0-473.0, and in the Final match Stockfish beat Dragon 616.0-384.0. I don't see a quick way to get the W-L-D scores for these matches and would have to calculate them from the PGN. Maybe later...

[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 January 2023

DALL-E Chess Revisited

Hmmm. I'm starting to detect a trend here. Just a few months ago we had Donald Trump, Chess Master (October 2022; 'In the world of AI, Trump plays chess'). Now we have this.

Upper left corner: DALL-E : An oil painting by Vinci of a humanoid robot playing chess © Flickr user Marc Frant under Creative Commons.

The image had no additional description, but this info was useful:-

This photo is in 1 album : AI generated images 2023-01

We saw 'DALL-E' once before in The Plural of Pingu Is Pingus (July 2022). Am I just a sucker for AI generated chess images?