31 December 2023

28 December 2023

Yahoos Set a New Low

So many problems, so little time. In last month's Yahoos post, Missing Yahoos (November 2023; see the footnote below for an explanation of 'Yahoos'), I wrote,

For the first time in the Yahoo series, Google News stopped including the names of all sources in its list of top stories, identifying those sources only with an icon, often unreadable. I had to add the names of many sources manually. [...] If this continues -- which it probably will -- I'll have to abandon the monthly Yahoo post.

Once again, this time for the month of December, the text names of many news sources were missing. I decided to quantify this.

The chart on the left is similar to those seen in past posts for the Yahoos series. The difference is that it counts the number of stories by all sources, not just sources with two or more stories. The numbers in the left column total to 99, which is the number of chess stories returned by Google News this month.

Of those 99 stories, 74 lacked the text name of the source of the story. Assuming that ˜30 of the stories were from Chess.com, that leaves 44 stories requiring further research to determine the source.

At this point I might have taken a deep breath and done the research, but there was a further complication. At the top of Google's list was a group of stories wuth the group headline 'Chinese chess champion stripped of title after cheating'. Chinese chess? No, I'm not interested. I'm sure it's a great game, but it's not the object of this blog.

On top of that, the stories were as disgusting as you'll find. Sample headline: 'Chinese chess champ banned for year after pooping in bathtub; rumoured to have used anal beads'. I counted all such stories and came to 27. That's 27 stories out of 99 ready to be flushed. The Google AI news bots obviously need toilet training.

The reference to 'anal beads' takes us back to a recurring story involving Western chess. It was last seen in the Yahoo series a few months ago: This Month Features a Bottom Yahoo (September 2023).

Of the other 72 stories, some were worth exploring. I might come back to these another time, but then again, I might not.

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

25 December 2023

Foxy Christmas Chess

Merry Christmas to one and all! Last year's Christmas post was Not the Dickens Christmas Story (December 2022). This year Christmas falls on a Monday, which happens to coincide with a new series last seen in Chessman Comics (December 2023).

'Santa Claus plays chess with foxes.'
AI Comic Factory

For more chess-playing foxes, see A Chess Christmas Carol (December 2023). We'll also be seeing our furry friends in future posts for the same series.

24 December 2023

Don't Burn It

All booms eventually run their course. Once covid confinement and the Netflix series have been forgotten, what to do with that wooden chess set gathering dust in the closet?

Turning a Chess Board into Wall Hooks (1:00) • '[Published on] Dec 6, 2023'

And on that melancholy note we close the book on the long-running series that started with The Sociology of Chess (November 2016). That makes more than seven years and over a hundred posts on a subject that I still don't understand.

18 December 2023

Chessman Comics

A new Monday series, where last week's post was Fischer vs. Carlsen (December 2023), reminded me of an idea that has long been on the back burner. The following composite image is from two eBay auctions that took place in October 2001. I've always wanted to learn more about the two comics and now is the time.

The descriptions for the two auctions said,

Left: 'Chessman #1 comic was the brainchild of IM John Watson and inventor of Chessman and artist for this issue, Chris [Christine] Hendrickson. 20 pages. Autographed (for me personally) by Chris Hendickson. Magazine/comic is very clean and is in very good to fine condition with no markings. Only two issues of Chessman exist, #1 & #2 (see my other auctions for #2). Only 100 copies were produced.'

Right: 'The Incredible Adventures of CHESSMAN presents "Treachery in Transylvania!" Comic. Brainchild of IM John Watson & artist Chris Hendrickson who invented Chessman and did art work in first issue. Comic, issued in 1982, has 44(!) pages chock full of chess adventures and great artwork. Chessman #1 comic had a printing of only 100 copies; I do not know what the printing was, however, on this issue. ONLY TWO ISSUES EXIST, #1 & #2 Bonus: autograph (I obtained personally) of Chris Hendrickson is on the copyright page after: "Special thanks to Chris Hendrickson for permission to use character Chessman" '

The October 1979 issue of Chess Life (p.577) included a three page comic titled, 'Chessman: The Cosmic Chessplayer' by Watson and Hendrickson. For another blog looking at 'Chessman', see John Watson and Chessman Comics (zanchess.wordpress.com; February 2015), including links to other resources. For more about Chessman's author, see John L. Watson (wikipedia.org); the entry is now somewhat dated.

17 December 2023

Alice++ Again

The previous Flickr post, AI Chess Comics (November 2023), mentioned, '"Alice" is a recurring theme in chess art.' How does that relate to the next Flickr image?

Floating chess © Flickr user Jaci XIV under Creative Commons.

The description said,

Created for: Digitalmania Group
After: Vladimir Kush
Created for the Magnificent Manipulated Masterpieces
172st MMM "Chess game" Challenge

That leads in a couple of new directions. The first direction is a forum for a Flickr group, New challenge 172 ~ Chess game | Magnificent Manipulated Masterpieces (flickr.com/groups), which starts,

For our December challenge, we chose the theme CHESS GAME. This game, which in itself challenges our mind, stimulates our creativity and provides us with pleasant entertainment. From children to the elderly, from kings to soldiers, this game has served as inspiration. Your entry could be realistic, surrealist, abstract, it could be a collage, mail art etc.

The introduction uses the 'Floating chess' image, after which there have been added original works of chess art (currently 22).

The second direction leads to CHESS - Giclee on Canvas (kushfineart.com), which features a well known chess image for sale. Its description starts,

In Lewis Carroll’s classic tale, Alice journeys to Wonderland? Where straight streams run across the land and living fences separate the space between the streams into equal squares. “In my opinion, Wonderland strikingly resembles a chessboard,” said Alice. “This whole world is chess! This is one huge match!”

Once again, '"Alice" is a recurring theme in chess art'. I'm sure it won't be the last time.

11 December 2023

Fischer vs. Carlsen

At the end of last week's Monday post, Elon Musk and Squirrels (December 2023), I asked,

Will this be the start of another Monday series? That depends on whether I can figure out how to make AI comic generation do what I want it to do, rather than what it wants to do.

While I've learned a few tricks in the week since that post, the whole process is still too much like herding cats. For this post, I used the tool to see how well it drew World Champions, both past and present.

'Bobby Fischer plays chess with Magnus Carlsen.'
AI Comic Factory

That's clearly Fischer in the upper left panel. In the lower right it looks like Carlsen on the left and Fischer on the right. The two other panels might be the same or they might be Carlsen on both sides. I made several attempts at generating the composite image and could almost hear the AI software complaining that 'all young Caucasian males look the same'.

As for the other World Champions, the AI likenesses were generally acceptable, although sometimes barely. I'll look at that in another post, maybe on my World Championship blog.

10 December 2023

'Timeless Pursuit of Checkmate'

Well known images and well known facts combine to give a high level introduction to chess history. It's a pity there are number of small inaccuracies, including an illegal move.

Evolution of the Game of Chess (4:40) • '[Published on] Dec 7, 2023'

The description of the video also promises high level.

Let's explore key moments and pivotal rule changes that shaped the game we love today. Let's unravel the rich tapestry of chess, where intellect meets strategy in a timeless pursuit of checkmate.

If there were no more than this, I might have featured a different video this month, but the inclusion of hashtag #chesshistory (youtube.com; '1.3K videos, 355 channels') promises much future exploration. How is the order of the videos in the hashtag, most of which have less than 1000 views, determined?

07 December 2023

December 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover'

Last month's post about U.S. chess magazines 50 and 25 years ago, November 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' (November 2023), had an arty portrait on the right. This month's post has a different sort of art.

Left: 'The World's Top 60; FIDE Annual Rating List; Reflects all performances through July 1, 1973'
Right: '"No Cheating", James Todd, 1998'

Chess Life & Review (50 Years Ago)

Professor Elo's latest calculations. See [inside] for the complete list.

'Inside' had a two and a half page alphabetical list of rated players. The introduction said,

The following list, approved by the FIDE Congress at Helsinki. Finland, in September 1973, is the official list by which FIDE categories of international tournaments are determined. The list is revised annually, the next will be approved in June 1974. We thank Professor Arpad Eto for providing a copy for Chess Life & Review.

I have a copy of the list on my own domain. For background, see FIDE Historical Ratings 1971-74 (January 2008; 'The 1974 file is missing almost all women.'). For the list itself, see FIDE historical ratings (m-w.com). The file, 1973.zip, lists women, although they are missing on the CL&R pages.

Chess Life (25 Years Ago)

You won't find "No Cheating" in "The Art of Chess Calendar" (2999A, $10.95). However, if you like the work of James Todd, it doesn't matter where you come across his efforts -- in the USCF catalog (page C21) or on the cover of Chess Life, or at his website: jtstudio.com

The web site, JT Studio, is still active. Todd's work has been seen before on the 1996 side of May 1971 & 1996 'On the Cover' (May 2021; 'James Todd - What Price Victory'). The calendar and catalog references in the introduction relate to an insert distributed with the October 1998 CL. The text promoting the calendar said,

The Art of Chess Calendar • This 16 month calendar is filled with stunning chess artworks. James Todd, who has won numerous awards including Artist of the Year in 1992 by the St. Lotus Ad Assoc., is one of the most talented chess artists we've ever seen. The imagination and detail inherent in all Todd's works are sure to impress and please you with each new month of the coming year.

The lead story inside the December 1998 CL was a report by GM John Fedorowicz on the 1998 Olympiad.

04 December 2023

Elon Musk and Squirrels

What do you get when you cross I Want To Go Squirrel Hunting (September 2023), with AI Chess Comics (November 2023)? Something like this...

'Elon Musk plays chess with a squirrel.'
AI Comic Factory

...Will this be the start of another Monday series? That depends on whether I can figure out how to make AI comic generation do what I want it to do, rather than what it wants to do.

03 December 2023

Fischer - Spassky Top Items by Price

After so many years of following Top eBay Chess Items by Price (March 2010), I've learned that eBay auctions follow seasonal trends. For example, the months preceeding the year-end holidays generally have more items than the months following the holidays

This year is no exception and my short list for this post had a dozen items, any one of which could have been featured for the post. By coincidence, the three most expensive items on the list were all related to the 1972 Fischer - Spassky match. Two of those items are pictured below.

Top photo: The item was titled '1972 Chess Championship Spassky vs Fischer Board Position Postcard'. It was listed at US $1,499.99 and sold 'Best offer accepted'. This appears to have been close to the listed price. The description said,

For sale is the complete 1972 World Chess Championship - Boris Spassky vs Bobby Fischer - Final Position Postcards for all games 1-21. Incredible rare set to find even just one of the cards and this is the whole match! You may never see anything like this again! All are postcards printed in Reykjavik with stamps commemorating the match on the front.

The cards show the final position for all games in chronological order; see, for example, the game 2 forfeit by Fischer (top row, second from left) which shows the start position where no moves have been played. Fischer had the White pieces in the game.

While philatelic items related to the 1972 match are common on eBay, they usually fall well under the range for the 'Top Items by Price' series. I had to go back to Fischer - Spassky Autographs (April 2010) for a previous example.

Bottom photo: The item was titled 'Iceland chess - World Chess Championship 1972 - green ticket to games 1-24'. It sold for US $945.35 after five bids from three bidders. Its 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. Very rare admission ticket to games 1-24, ticket is no. 135. Size aprox 17,5 x 6,5 cm.

For a previous post on the same subject, see Fischer - Spassky Tickets (August 2022). I wonder what the green ticket cost in 1972.

The third Fischer - Spassky item, not pictured above, was related to the items in a post from the beginning of this year, Signed by Fischer, Spassky, and Petursson (January 2023). The latest auction had the same price and the same description as the earlier auctions.

30 November 2023

Missing Yahoos

Another month ending means another post about top stories in the chess world, aka Yahoos (see the footnote for details). You might notice something unusual about the chart showing the top sources, so I'll come back to that after giving the usual statistics.

For November, Google News returned exactly 100 stories. Eight sources accounted for two or more stories, as shown in the chart on the left. Taken together, those eight sources accounted for a total of 47 stories, leaving 53 sources with a single story.

Once more Chess.com@ [sic] accounted for more stories than the other top sources taken together. ChessBase regained its no.2 position after dropping to no.3 last month, only the second time this year that it has failed at achieve no.2.

Back to the *unusual* 'Chess.com@ [sic]', what's that '@' at the end of the name? The same '@' appears at the end of the names of three other sources listed in the chart and there were 20 '@' sources out of the 61 total.

For the first time in the Yahoo series, Google News stopped including the names of all sources in its list of top stories, identifying those sources only with an icon, often unreadable. I had to add the names of many sources manually and appended a '@' to those sources I added myself.

If this continues -- which it probably will -- I'll have to abandon the monthly Yahoo post. The extra time to add the names is manageable, but I'm not comfortable with the possibility of introducing errors into the process of preparing the post.

Google News also started adding the names of some journalists to its link for the story. Of the seven journalists who were identified, the only name I recognized was Sagar Shah of ChessBase. I fully expect that we will see more journalists named next month.

Because of the extra effort needed for the '@' sources, I've run out of time for this post. I'll come back later for a discussion of the 100 stories.

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


Later: Earlier I wrote, 'Google News also started adding the names of some journalists to its link for the story'. Two of the stories were about the same subject:-

In the time between my original post and this update, that first story changed both its headline ('The cheat's gambit: Grandmaster Nakamura accused of cheating by Kramnik regarding 46-game blitz chess streak on Chess.com') and its dateline (2023-11-28). The next story hasn't changed in over 50 years and was prompted by the death of Henry Kissinger the day before my post.

A post from last year, According to Darrach, Day by Day (July 2022), placed the call in the overall chronology of the match. The following news story is more recent.

  • 2023-11-27: Fremd student recognized for applying machine learning techniques to chess (dailyherald.com ['suburban Chicago']; Madhu Krishnamurthy) • 'Aditya Gupta, a senior at Fremd High School in Palatine, recently received the Chessable Research Award for applying machine learning techniques to chess. Earlier this year, he was among five high school students in the nation to receive the 2023 Scholar-Chessplayer Award from the U.S. Chess Federation.'

For the 2023 Chessable announcement, see:-

For last year's announcement, see:-

In Journal of Chess Research (May 2014), I documented a similar effort from ten years ago. It's great to see that Chessable made it happen.

26 November 2023

World Chess Championship for Prisoners

This month's post in the series on The Sociology of Chess (November 2016) offers a few surprises:-

  • 1st surprise: There is an 'Intercontinental Online Chess Championship for Prisoners'.
  • 2nd surprise: The tournament is sponsored by FIDE.
  • 3rd surprise: The most recent tournament was the third such event.

4th surprise: The event was broadcast online. Here is the video covering the final round.

3rd FIDE Intercontinental Online Chess Championship for Prisoners - Final (2:15:47) • 'Streamed live on Oct 13, 2023'

The description explains,

The 3rd Intercontinental Online Chess Championship for Prisoners will be broadcast on the FIDE Youtube channel with live commentary by WGM Almira Skripchenko, IM Michael Rahal, and WGM Keti Tsatsalashvili. They will be joined by special guests – FIDE officials, government officers, members of the penitentiary administration and policymakers, who will share the best practices of introducing chess to inmates, as well as former convicts who will be talking about their own experiences and the positive impact of the game on prisoners.

At 12:40 into the video, we learn that the event is 'Running on Chess.com'. The responsible FIDE site is Chess For Freedom Project (chessforfreedom.fide.com), where there are videos for previous rounds. Under 'News' we learn:-

  • 2023-10-13: Mongolia and India win Intercontinental Championship for Prisoners (ditto) • 'Teams of India and Mongolia became the champions of the third Intercontinental Online Chess Championship for Prisoners, the event organized by FIDE and the Cook County (Chicago, IL, USA) Sheriff’s Office, after winning the final matches in youth and women’s sections of the biggest-ever chess event among correctional facilities.

Unlike most tournament reports, the men's event received only second billing in the article:-

The team of Pune prison (India) clinched the title in the men’s tournament of the Intercontinental Online Championship for Prisoners 2023 after beating El Salvador in the final.

You might expect that the games are not the level of quality you normally find for championship events. The commentator and the video broadcaster do a good job of keeping things interesting. Congratulations to the winners and to everyone else who made it happen!

19 November 2023

AI Chess Comics

I was starting to wonder if we were ever going to see more 'AI generated chess images' in the monthly featured Flickr post. The previous post featuring such images was Karpov and Kasparov Play Chess in Iceland (March 2023). Forget chess images; a giant leap forward is 'AI generated chess comics'.

Alice and the Chess Queen 5 © Flickr user Joerg Kantel under Creative Commons.

The series of six composite images -- OK, comics, of which this is no.5 -- had two tags:-

  • 'Alice', and
  • 'AI Comic Factory'

'Alice' is a recurring theme in chess art. See, for example, There's Something About Alice (October 2010). To understand 'AI Comic Factory', it helps to have visited the home page AI Comic Factory (aicomicfactory.com; 'AI Comic Book Generator Online Free'). There we learn,

Create stunning comics without drawing skills using our cutting-edge AI Comic Generator. Bring Your comic dreams to life with AI creativity.

With that in mind, the description for the the image makes more sense:-

AI Comic Factory • Style: Franco-Belgian

Prompt 1: The chess queen and little girl Alice running a red-white bricked road through a beautiful landscape with a river and a village in the background.

Prompt 2: Human-sized middle-aged chess queen, made from ivory, full body, wearing a red crown. little girl Alice, blue eyes, long blonde hair with pigtails, blue coat, white apron.

You sometimes hear it said, 'Everyone has a book in them'. Maybe there's a comic as well.

16 November 2023

November 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover'

Last month's 'On the Cover' -- see October 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' (October 2023) -- was a mixture of U.S. and world events from 50 and 25 years ago. This month is focused on the most prestigious of the U.S. championships, the U.S Closed and the U.S. Open.

By some odd coincidence, if a 25 year separation in time can be called a coincidence, the venues for both events had special meaning for their long, respective histories. See details below.

Left: '?'
Right: 'Hawaiian Portrait of a GM'

Chess Life & Review (50 Years Ago)

U.S. Co-Champions Lubomir Kavalek (standing) and John Grefe. Story and games [inside].

The story inside was titled 'Kavalek and Grefe Tie in U.S. Championship' by Burt Hochberg. It started,

The 22nd United States Championship, the most prestigious invitational event in the country, was held in El Paso, Texas, September 9-27.

That simple sentence hardly does justice to the true significance of the event -- for the first time ever, the U.S. Championship tournament was not held in New York State (in fact, only once was it held outside of New York City: South Fallsburg, N.Y., 1948). The energy and dedication exhibited by the El Paso Jaycees and the El Paso Chess Club fully justified the opinion held by the USCF. administration that it was both possible and desirable to cultivate organizational interest in this event outside of New York.

The Jaycees, the El Paso Chess Club and its President, Dr. Fred Sorensen, are to be heartily congratulated, not only for their fine and important accomplishment but also for proving that such a significant tournament, which almost "belonged" to New York City, could be successfully held elsewhere. It's a good portent for the future of the U.S. Championship.

And what about the winners? The report continued,

Another significant property of this tournament was the excellent performances of four of the six newcomers to the championship. Lubomir Kavalek, in his second try, was considered the favorite, along with Walter Browne. [...] Kavalek, now on his way to U.S. citizenship, can be justly proud of his result, tying for first without a loss. [...]

But the real surprise was the great performance of John Grefe of California, who had to beat Benko in the last round (and did) to be sure of a tie for first place. Playing sharply and accurately, with an excellent command of the opening repertoire and dynamic sure-footedness in the middle game, Grefe won eight games, more than anyone else, and lost only to Kavalek.

At the time, Grefe was untitled internationally. This was the first U.S. (Closed) Championship since Fischer won the World Championship in 1972.

Chess Life (25 Years Ago)

Winning two major events back-to-back is not an easy task, but Boris Gulko from Fair Lawn, New Jersey, was more than up to the challenge. And so was Steven Seward, a portraitist from Cleveland, Ohio.

Winning the Saitek U.S. Masters outright, and tying with Judit Polgar in the Cardoza U.S. Open, is what prompted Boris to hint that he might change his name to Boris Hawaiivich. See [inside].

As we go to press, we must report that the World Championship Tournament, originally slated for Las Vegas, November 29 through December 27, has been postponed as a result of an agreement reached by Anatoly Karpov and FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. Karpov had threatened to file for an injunction to halt the event, as he believed that holding the event every year was in direct violation of the agreement he signed last year with FIDE - which also called for the World Champion to be entered into the second round rather than the finals.

By delaying the event until January, Karpov will have held his title for a full year before entering into the knockout tournament. And technically, it will be the "second" year of a two-year cycle. The two had originally agreed to an early January date, but that was in conflict with Wijk aan Zee. The new dates are still being negotiated.

And finally, the U.S. has taken second place in the World Chess Olympiad, held in Elista, Kalmykia. The event ended October 12, 1998, with the Russian A team taking the gold by scoring an uncharacteristic 3.5-0.5 victory over the Netherlands in the final round to surge past the U.S., which could only tie China in the final round.

There is much to unpack here. (1) Gulko in Hawaii: Gulko Wins Hawaii Event As a Prologue to the Open (nytimes.com; Robert Byrne). (2) World Championship in Las Vegas: for the previous news, see the link in the first paragraph for last month's 'On the Cover', i.e. 'October 1973 & 1998' ('FIDE World Championship tournament [...] Las Vegas will be the venue'). (3) Olympiad news: see next month's CL.

The report inside was titled 'Judit Polgar and Boris Gulko Split Cardoza U.S. Open Honors' by Jerry Hanken. It started,

It was a warm, breezy evening on the Kona Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. The bright colors of Hawaiian clothing and the sweet smell of the flowers woven into leis around the necks of many of the 306 participants gave a deceptive air of laid-back relaxation to one of the most pleasant of U.S. Opens.

Deceptive, because the last round of the 99th U.S. Open Chess Championship was about to begin. This was the real money round, and no quick draws were anticipated. Yes, it is true that money was not the major attraction of this restful nine days in what is arguably the prettiest state of the 50, but there were ten grandmasters, all professional players, and each wanted a part of the $22,000 prize fund put up by the Hawaii Chess Federation and the USCF.

Theoretically, all ten had a crack at a good payday. Add that to the swimming, surfing, sunning, and volcano watching and other joys of the Big Island, and the potential for a vacation with pay (something grandmasters just don't get) loomed large.

For GM Gulko's previous cover appearance, see January 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' (January 2023; 'World Team Championship; U.S. Snags Silver in Lucerne 1997'). With the 1998 Olympiad on the horizon, we might see him again next month.

12 November 2023

Real Magnus Dissects AI Magnus

Of the dozen videos on this month's short list for featured video, a third of them were from Youtube's Chess.com channel. All of them would have been a good selection for the post, but this video edged out the others. I liked the idea behind it : indirectly getting Magnus to talk about himself.

Can AI Replace Magnus Carlsen? (5:51) • '[Published on] Nov 10, 2023'

The question posed by the title -- 'Can AI Replace...' -- doesn't refer to playing chess; it refers to talking about himself. The description explained,

We asked the Opera AI to respond as Magnus Carlsen, and then asked the REAL Magnus Carlsen if those answers were correct. How well does Artificial Intelligence REALLY know Magnus? You be the judge!

Good idea, good execution. Kudos to Chess.com for bringing the idea to reality.

As is seen so often in the monthly featured video, a large part of what makes an enjoyable video is in the comments. Ex: 'Magnus "I have no rivals" Carlsen' -or- 'This kind of interview should be done with other grandmasters as well ... Anand, Anish, Nakamura.' -or- 'Glad to see Magnus combed his hair for the interview.'

05 November 2023

Chess Rookie Card

We've seen sports cards several times in the series on Top eBay Chess Items by Price (March 2010), most recently in the post Cards for Chess Champions (June 2019). All of the auctions have been for very old cards like the 1888 Steinitz and Zukertort cards in that 'Chess Champions' series.

The item pictured below was titled 'Hikaru Nakamura #390 American Chess Equipment Ultimate Card Auto'. It sold for around $500, 'Best offer accepted'.

The description said,

2001 Hikaru Nakamura #329 GM USA American Chess Equipment Ultimate Chess Card Auto - NM - Rare. This is an extremely rare American Chess Equipment card. The card is hand-numbered and signed by Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura.'

I suppose that the difference between the numbers in the title (#390) and in the description (#329) is due to an earlier auction being copied. 'Auto' undoubtedly means 'Autographed' and 'NM' probably means 'Near Mint'. The back of the card says,

International Master born in Hirakata City, Japan, on December 9,1987. He moved to the US at the age of two and played his first tournament at the age of seven. Within three years, Hikaru achieved the title of National Master at the age of 10 years and 79 days, becoming the youngest American to do so and setting a record that still stands today. Hikaru earned the FIDE International Master title in February 2001. Among his many successes in 2001 are victories in the National High School Championship and the U.S. Junior Invitational Championship. Hikaru resides in White Plains, N.Y.

Following that info is a game score for:-

Stripunsky - Nakamura, Land of the Sky Open, Asheville NC, 1999.

That game is not among the ten games currently listed for Alexander Stripunsky vs. Hikaru Nakamura (chessgames.com; covering 1998 - 2012). The bottom of the card back says,

Photo by Paul Truong • 12/15/01
American Chess Equipment / Ultimate Chess Card

The web site is still active at American Chess Equipment (amchesseq.com; 'One-stop-shop for scholastic chess products'). That page informs,

SERVING THE CHESS COMMUNITY SINCE 1982 • American Chess Equipment (ACE) is excited to team up with the WE Games brand to bring you the best in chess. We are honored to be trusted by thousands of chess organizations across the US for over 30 years.

I found an archived page from 2002 American Chess Equipment : The Ultimate Chess Card (archive.org -> amchesseq.com), that listed four cards -- Seirawan, Denker, Krush, Nakamura -- and further informed,

This new product, The Ultimate Chess Card was created to allow you to collect and enjoy finding out about your favorite chess players. The series will soon contain all the stars of the chess world and many of the most famous games in chess history. Some of the cards will be Signature Limited Edition Collector Cards (Rookie cards) that have been personally signed by the chess star. These cards will increase in value over the years since there will only be 999 numbered cards produced. Other cards by the same chess star will contain facts and figures about the chess personality.

The four cards, plus a card for GM Susan Polgar, appear to have been sold until early 2005. As for the original price, another page informed,

To protect our wholesale customers, this price list is protected by a password system.

The price was certainly far less than the '$500 Best offer accepted' given for the auction. A web search on 'Ultimate Chess Card' leads nowhere.

31 October 2023

Yahoos Masquerading as Yahoos

Masquerading? Yes, it's Halloween today. The end of another month means another post about chess news being reported in the mainstream press, aka Yahoos (see the footnote for more info). Before looking at the stories, let's have the usual statistics.

This month Google News returned exactly 100 stories. One story was almost a year old -- at least according to the date assigned by Google -- an anomaly not seen before in this series of posts on Yahoos.

Looking at the story, an announcement for a tournament in Florida, there is no mention of a year. The story may very well have been reused from 2022 for 2023, perhaps leading to an error in Google News.

Of the other 99 stories, news sources with more than one story are listed in the chart above. Just like every other month, Chess.com tops the list, this time with fewer stories than the other eight sources combined. The last time this happened was World Championship Yahoos 2023 (April 2023).

The eight top news sources taken together accounted for 54 stories, leaving 45 stories from sources with a single story. Another statistic worth noting: real Yahoo sources taken together -- like Yahoo Entertainment, Yahoo News, etc. -- accounted for four stories, making them top Yahoo stories in disguise. I'll come back to them later when I have the time to sift through all of the stories.

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


Later: Re 'real Yahoo sources taken together [...] accounted for four stories', I discovered that only one of the stories was really about chess (e.g. 'geopolitical chess game' is not a chess story) and the one story was a minor article about 'high schools chess teams' [sic]. Wondering if I had previously overlooked combining different Yahoo sources, I looked at the three previous monthly Yahoo posts, and discovered only one Yahoo sourced story. It was a press release that exists in two different versions:-

Getting back to the chart in the first section of this post, there is one new name: 'English Chess Federation'. The more compelling of the two stories is:-

  • 2023-10-31: ECF Manager for Accessible Chess (englishchess.org.uk) • 'to support chess colleagues with various forms of impairment, be it blindness/visual impairment, deafness, wheelchair bound, special needs-related, or other impairments.'

Of the other top seven sources, let's look at a handful of Chess.com offerings, all of which are more about chess culture than about chess play. The site has a such a large team of chess journalists that I'll follow my usual practice of identifying the author of a story:-

Of other stories from other sources, one in particular enhances the above list:-

Before I close this post, here are a few more stories that I found noteworthy:-

If you're looking for news about chess events, the story of the month was the FIDE Grand Swiss on the Isle of Man. Since it was ongoing as of the date of this post, I'll wait and include it in next month's post about Yahoos.

29 October 2023

An 'Amazing Chess Club'?

You might think that in the seven years I've been running a monthly series on The Sociology of Chess (November 2016), there would have been several posts about chess clubs. I went back nearly five years and couldn't find a single example. This video, from ChessBase India, might well be the first.

The Most Amazing Chess Club You Will See | A Special Guided Tour (10:19) • '[Published on] Sep 17, 2023'

Where is the 'Most Amazing Chess Club' located? The description of the video informs,

Ilya Merenzon, the CEO of World Chess, gives us a special tour of the club in Berlin. Take a look around how everything in the club is designed for chess players and lovers.

Ilya Merenzon has been seen more than once on both of my main chess blogs. Here are the most recent posts:-

The club, located at Unter den Linden 26-30, Berlin, has a web site at World Chess Club Berlin (worldchessclubberlin.com): 'Open from Tuesday to Sunday. [...] The club does not require a membership.'

15 October 2023

White Rhino vs. Dogman

The yellow plaque near the bottom of this month's Flickr photo says, 'The White Rhino Was Thinking Ahead With Dogman's Encouragement'. The rest is unreadable even in the largest Flickr version of the photo. What more can we learn about it?

Rhino playing chess © Flickr user Matt Brown under Creative Commons.

The photo had no description, but the tags were helpful:-

  • london bridge city
  • gillie and marc

From this we can locate a few pages explaining the exhibition. The first page, Astounding Animal Statues By Gillie And Marc Near London Bridge (londonist.com) uses the same photo as seen on Flickr. It explains,

Rarely a month goes by without a new sculpture or three from Gillie and Marc. The prolific duo have, just in the past couple of years, given us the chimps of London Bridge, the Wild Table of Love in Paternoster Square, and a pride of lions near Waterloo (and more besides). Now they're back with the most eye-opening outdoor show yet. [...] Track down the rhino playing chess, the giraffe slurping noodles, or a gang of African wild animals on a bicycle made for 10. Familiar Gillie and Marc characters Rabbitwoman and Dogman also make regular appearances.

The second page, A Wild Life for Wildlife in London (gillieandmarc.art), tells us that the exhibition runs '19 September 2023 - 18 September 2024'. The description of the sculpture, with a photo taken from a different angle, starts,

Are you ready to join the game? • The air is buzzing with concentration. Dogman and the white rhino are head to head in a very close game of chess.

This blog has long been interested in chess sculptures / statues. For the previous post in the series, see Fischer Busted (November 2022). Use the search box for older posts.

08 October 2023

Everyone's Favorite World Champion?

If Magnus Carlsen is everyone's favorite living World Champion, who is second favorite? Let's have a vote.

How many for Kasparov? [Silence] • How many for Karpov? [More silence] • How many for Spassky? [Polite applause] • How many for Anand? [The crowd goes wild. Maybe he is really the favorite?]

Five-time World Chess Champion Shows Off His CRAZY Trophy Room (5:42) • '[Published on] Sep 28, 2023'

The description of the video says,

We recently caught up with the man, myth and legend Viswanathan Anand to give us a house tour and Tania Sachdev got a VERY special treat, a room only a FEW have stepped into, Vishy's trophy room!

Given that he has a few World Champion medals, a few chess Oscars, and a few Padma awards, how does he stay so unpretentious? For more about the Padma awards, here's a quick jump to the 'Awards' section of his Wikipedia page: Viswanathan Anand.

05 October 2023

'Mystery Painting' in Denmark

Last month I received the following email:-

With reference to your "Chess for all Ages" blog post and your interesting comments regarding the painting "French Cavalier Men Playing Chess", at the end of your post you write:-
"The main mystery remaining now is -- where is the original painting?"
Well, I think it may be in my possession. [See image below.] It measures 90x80 centimerers (35x31 inches) in the frame. And is oil on canvas. Signed bottom right "V YDE".

Short [provenance] is that the father of my wife's mother (1915-1994) was interested in artwork and bought the painting in Germany. Thereby the painting ended in Denmark. - [signed] P.W.

The quote leads to my post 'Mystery Painting' on eBay (June 2017), which has links to two previous posts on the same painting.

I replied,

Thanks very much for your message. In fact, your copy of the painting differs significantly from the 'Taber Prang' version, which I have already concluded is close to the original. In particular, look at the face of the player on the right. I suspect that your version is itself a copy of the original. I can't help but wonder why this painting has survived in so many different versions.

A Google Lens search on P.W.'s version currently returns images attributed to P.H. Andreis, C.W. Towin, and H. Gerard, plus a book review for Chess in Art – Peter Herel Raabenstein (artplugged.co.uk). The book attributes the painting to 'P.H. Andreis 1800-1899'.

03 October 2023

October 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover'

In last month's post about American chess magazines of 50 and 25 years ago -- September 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' (September 2023) -- the 1973 side was about the World Championship and the 1998 side was about important American tournaments. For this month's post, the roles are reversed.

Left: '?'
Right: 'Hall of Fame Inducts Milan Vukcevich'

Chess Life & Review (50 Years Ago)

U.S. Open Champion Norman Weinstein of Massachusetts with his trophy. See [inside] for a complete list of winners. Chicago Tribune photo.

The article inside, titled 'Record U.S. Open in Chicago: Norman Weinstein Wins on Tiebreak' (unsigned), started,

Twenty-two-year-old Norman Weinstein of Allston, Massachusetts, won the title of United States Open Champion by scoring ten points out of a possible twelve in the 778-player tournament held at the LaSalle Hotel in Chicago. August 12-24. He drew his final game with Illinois Champion Craig Chellstorp in 14 moves.

Weinstein, a former Massachusetts Champion who tied for second place in last year's Open, holds a master's degree in mathematics from Brandeis University, but is now a fulltime chessplayer. Four other players also scored ten points, but Weinstein had by far the toughest opposition, facing six of the seven top-ranked players in the tournament. His title was won on tiebreaking points over Grandmaster Walter Browne, International Master Duncan Suttles, Greg DeFotis and Ruben Rodriguez.

Browne, a former representative of Australia, has recently been living in New York as a U.S. citizen, and has just moved to California. [continues with brief discussions of Suttles, DeFotis, and Rodriguez]

Winner Weinstein has his own profile at IM Norman Weinstein (chess.com). In the list of class winners, after 'Expert' and 'Class A', a 'Premier' class had one 'Yasser Seirawan, Washington' as co-winner.

Chess Life (25 Years Ago)

One of the highlights of the U.S. Open each year is the Awards Luncheon where the newest members of the Hall of Fame are inducted. This year, Milan Vukcevich, the 1998 inductee [for problem composition], also served as the keynote speaker. He and his wife Michelle grace this month's cover. The text of his speech begins [inside]. Cover photograph by Jami L. Anson.

The Kasparov - Shirov World Chess Council (WCC) championship match will not take place in 1998, if indeed it takes place at all. Lack of sponsorship is the stated reason. One quirk, as a result of the terms of the "qualifying" round, is that Kramnik -- who lost to Shirov -- received $200,000. As we go to press, Kasparov is leading Jan Timman in a training match (Euro-Tel), 2.5-0.5, and will probably receive the winner's share of the purse, which is $65,000. Timman would then receive $35,000. And Shirov, by advancing to the title match, receives nothing for beating Kramnik. His reward was to be a percentage of the championship match prize fund. At present, though, he appears to be the unfortunate loser -- without having even pushed a pawn.

Chess Life readers, however, will be the real winners; beginning with next month's issue, Alexei Shirov will author a series of articles for USCF members. Shirov will also be in the country in time to participate in the FIDE World Championship tournament, which begins November 29 and ends December 27. Las Vegas will be the venue; early rounds will take place at various Mirage Resort properties. The final rounds (after most of the 100 participants have been eliminated) will be at the Mirage Resort's newest and most elegant hotel, the Bellagio Casino.

Complete details are a bit sketchy as we go to press, but as plans line up, you can check it out on our website: www.uschess.org/news/world98.html. There is also a toll-free number you can call for airline and hotel package information [inside].

With almost everything here relevant to the World Championship, there is much to expand on. Let's start with a link for Milan Vukcevich (worldchesshof.org; HOF = Hall of Fame). I'll try to come back to the rest in the not-too-distant future.

01 October 2023

NYC Central Park Chess Hustler

Here on Top eBay Chess Items by Price (March 2010), we often see an auction item described as a 'figurine'. Does that category include both people and animals? According to one dictionary source, Figurine Definition & Meaning (merriam-webster.com), the word means,

a small carved or molded figure : statuette

and has synonyms that can stand for people or animals. A recent example in 'Top eBay Items' on this blog was Dachshunds Play Chess (August 2023), while we have to go back a few years to find people, as in Tolkien Says 'Dwarves' (July 2019).

The item pictured below was titled 'Rare Guillermo Forchino Figurine of Chess Players on Park Bench in Central Park'. It sold for something less than US $785, 'Best offer accepted'.

The description explained,

Rare Figurine Retired from Production! The Comic Art of Guillermo Forchino. Figurine Statue (Park Benches of the World), Central Park, New York. Chess Players fighting it out.

This Park Bench is hand-crafted & hand painted and individually number 89 of production. The measurements of this figurine are 13" long x 8" high x 6" wide and weighs 6 pounds. It does not have original box but will be packaged with the lots of care. There are a lot of details in this figurine and you can see the chess board pieces and checkmate is unavoidable for player on left.

A tag attached to the figurine provided some additional info:-

The Comic Art of Guillermo Forchino
(c) 2009 Forchino licensed to VM&M b.v.
Haarlem, The Netherlands


Produced by Veronese
under supervision of the artist.


Nearly fifteen years later, that website lives on at Forchino.com. There's even a page for the auction item, New York, Central Park bench (forchino.com), that comes with a story. It turns out that the player on the right is a hustler.

28 September 2023

This Month Features a Bottom Yahoo

So you thought you had seen the last of the Hans Niemann controversy? Not even close. Last month's Yahoos post, Top Yahoos: Niemann, WRTC, and Pragg (August 2023), mentioned,

That [Niemann] page had four stories under 'Top news', four Twitter tweets, and 44 stories from a variety of other sources.

This month we had only eight Niemann stories, but that's still a lot of stories compared to the hottest chess story in an average month. Before we look at the details, let's cover the month's stats.

This month Google News returned 99 stories. As the chart on the left shows, there were 10 sources with more than one story and they accounted for 53 stories. That leaves 46 sources with a single story.

The month saw the usual no.1 & no.2 sources, and this is also not the first time we've seen a top place for the no.3 source, USchess.org. The three 'Times' Yahoos -- Times of India, Financial Times, and The New York Times -- are often seen among the top sources, for example, in Three Times Yahoos (July 2021).

Back to the infamous Hans Niemann, the 99 stories started with a group of eight stories under the heading 'Chess grandmaster Hans Niemann denies using sex toy to cheat'. Of the eight stories, the first was:-

The next news sources, respectable organizations like Forbes, CNN, and People, were mostly focused on the 'vibrating sex toy' angle of the story. Two, already in the title, identified the toy as 'anal beads'. Should we classify this under human interest? How about bottom fishing?

Removing those eight stories from consideration leaves 91 other stories on more uplifting chess topics. I'll come back to those another day.

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


Later: After the recurring Niemann nonsense, there weren't many compelling chess stories in September. Here are a couple that echoed recent posts about India on this blog. The previous post, Everyone's Favorite World Champion? (October 2023; Viswanathan Anand), might have been overshadowed by this story:-

  • 2023-09-01: Gukesh Ends Anand's 37-Year Reign As India's Official Number 1 (chess.com; Leon_Watson) • 'For 37 years, Indian chess has had one unwavering constant: the legendary GM Viswanathan Anand is king. With the release of FIDE's latest official rating list on Friday, that has now changed. There is a new kid on the block. GM Gukesh D, the 17-year-old prodigy from Anand's home city of Chennai, had already overtaken his mentor in the live ratings, but after September's list was finalized on Friday it became official.'

That 'Favorite World Champion' post was about this month's featured video. Last month's featured video, 'Let Others Say You're a Champion' (September 2023, about another top Indian talent, was anticipated by this story:-

  • 2023-09-05: I have the potential to become world champion: Praggnanandhaa (indiatimes.com) • 'For a long time Viswanathan Anand was the lone Indian presence in the chess World Championship cycle. With R Praggnanandhaa making the cut for the Candidates by finishing runner-up in the World Cup it will be an Indian Generation Next player at the highest level of world chess now.'

And as long as the theme for this month's Yahoo post is India, here's a story that taught me something I wasn't aware of:-

  • 2023-09-03: Here's why this place in Kerala is called the Chess Village of India (indiatimes.com) • 'Marottichal is a small village in the lush green landscapes of Kerala, India. This unusual village, with its scenic beauty and surroundings, might not seem like a hub for chess enthusiasts. However, it has created a unique identity for itself as a chess haven over the years.'

Remember Schachdorf Strobeck? If not, see Ströbeck (wikipedia.org).

24 September 2023

How (Not?) To Impress the Opposite Sex

In this long series on The Sociology of Chess (November 2016), I was sure I had done a post on cheating. I looked two years back into the series and found nothing. So here we are.

Six months ago, in Cheating for all Ages (March 2023), I put together a summary of previous blog posts about cheating. As happens with many summaries, it soon needed to be updated, but that will have to wait for another time. The most recent post on the subject was Top Yahoos: Niemann, WRTC, and Pragg (August 2023), where the Niemann angle was the latest news in what is without a doubt the most famous scandal with roots in cheating.

Chess.com Reacts To The Craziest Emails From Cheaters (15:18) • '[Published on] Sep 5, 2023'

This particular video is both entertaining and instructive. The description said,

Chess.com's Head of Community Kassa Korley and Chief Chess Officer Danny Rensch sit down to read some of the most hilarious, and crazy requests we've received from cheaters looking to be unbanned.

What particularly struck me was the number of alleged chess cheaters who blamed their fall from grace on a misguided attempt to impress a woman. Really, guys? Do women use the same dubious tactic to impress men? I somehow doubt it.


Later: Not long after I wrote this post, an article related to the topic appeared: Narratives on Cheating in Online Chess (chessable.com; Alexey Root). It started,

This is a guest post written by Raul Sanchez Garcia. Raul is a lecturer on motor learning and the theory of play at the Sports Science school of the Polytechnic University of Madrid. [...] He is currently conducting a qualitative study on cheating in online chess, which he describes in this post.

The 'guest post' started,

In the wake of the pandemic, online chess has experienced a remarkable surge in popularity, welcoming diverse participants to the game. [...] Amidst this evolution, a pressing concern has arisen -- the pervasive issue of cheating.

The post seeks volunteers to participate in the study, with a mid-December deadline for participation. It ends with eight references to other academic papers relevant to the topic.

22 September 2023

CFAA's CMP : Wrapup

For the past month I've been running a series on actions provoked by Google's Adsense. Here are the relevant posts:-

In that last post, I wondered,

What happens if a visitor to my site doesn't grant consent? No ad is shown. Since I routinely use two different devices, I'll grant consent on one and withhold it on the other. That way I'll be able to monitor both sides of Google's consent management.

It turns out that wasn't a useful strategy. I automatically delete cookies when I close a browser. The consent appears to be stored in a cookie, so I routinely lose the consent cookie and have to go through the process each time I access my own site. [NB: Confirm this.] In that same post, I also wondered,

What's next? I need to improve my own privacy policy to answer the questions that Google says I'm answering. To do that, I'll summarize the current series and point to that summary.

The most important question is 'How can I change my choice of consent?'. Since Google is constantly tinkering with its software, I'll describe the procedure as it is today. After going through the consent procedure, the following image attaches to the left side of a page on my site.

That's what it looks like near the bottom of the page. To re-open the consent procedure, click on the blue text. Near the top of the page, the image collapse into the icon displayed in the upper left (a check mark on a shield). Clicking the icon expands to the image shown above. This procedure is sure to change in the future, but I'll try to keep up with it.

As for CMP on my blogs, I'll follow Google directives for them. All of the blogs are managed using Google's services. For the moment, ads aren't being displayed on this current blog or on my two other chess blogs (WCCB, C960; accessible via my Blogger.com profile). The non-chess blog is showing ads. Since ad revenue is near zero on all of the blogs taken together, I really don't care if no ads are displayed.


Later: On my page, World Chess Championship : Site map, under the first section, titled 'Privacy statement', I added a link to this blog post. That statement applies equally to another large portion of my domain, the pages accessed via Welcome to 'Chess for All Ages'.

One other non-trivial change is worth mentioning. The old version of the 'Site map' ended with:-

For more information on Internet and Web privacy, see www.truste.org.

That site now returns the message, 'can’t connect to the server at www.truste.org'. What happened to it? A Google search points to TrustArc (wikipedia.org), which starts,

TrustArc Inc. (formerly TRUSTe) is a privacy compliance technology company based in Walnut Creek, California. The company provides software and services to help corporations update their privacy management processes so they comply with government laws and best practices. Their privacy seal or certification of compliance can be used as a marketing tool.

Archive.org stops showing the truste.org domain at the end of 2017. Whatever the reason for the name change, with comply/compliance we're all talking the same language. When a powerful government talks, nobody walks. They run. Even Google runs.

21 September 2023

I Want To Go Squirrel Hunting

In last month's Yahoos post (aka 'chess in the mainstream news'), Top Yahoos: Niemann, WRTC, and Pragg (August 2023), I mentioned,

Two of the stories in Niemann's main block were repeated in the top news, while the third story, not repeated, was the off-the-wall Elon Musk nonsense that I covered last year in It's Not Polytopia (March 2022).

A few days earlier, that same Elon Musk story had appeared as a real Yahoo (appearing in the news feed from Yahoo.com) on its own. These days real Yahoos are so unusual -- the previous sighting was How Many for Carlsen? For Niemann? (December 2022) -- that I felt compelled to record it on this blog.

The title says,

Business • Benzinga // Elon Musk Thinks Chess Is 'Too Simple' -- 'Understandable When All We Had To Play With Were Squirrels And Rocks, But Now We Have ...'

The missing word behind the '...' is 'Computers', as in 'But Now We Have Computers'. After the title we learn,

Tesla Inc. and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is known for his innovation and tendency to question conventions. Last year, he publicly stated his disinterest in the classic board game chess. ... // 3 min read

Here the missing text behind '...' is:-

Musk, who played chess during his childhood, has distanced himself from the strategic game, citing six reasons he finds it "too simple" for his liking. In March 2022, he posted on X, formerly Twitter, "Chess is a simple game. Understandable when all we had to play with were squirrels and rocks, but now we have computers."

Why is Benzinga (followed by Yahoo) picking up on on a remark from almost a year and a half ago? Maybe it was just a slow news day. For the full Yahoo, see Elon Musk Thinks Chess Is 'Too Simple' -- 'Understandable When All We Had' [etc. etc.] (finance.yahoo.com).

The best part of a real Yahoo is the comments section and this particular story earned 551 comments. Those comments plus the six bullets in the story explaining Musk's dislike for chess (e.g. No 1: 'Limited 8-by-8 grid') would be worth another post on the topic, but I can't tackle that just now. This morning I spotted a red squirrel in the back yard and I have a burning desire to throw rocks at it. [NB: No animals were or will be harmed in the making of this post.]

17 September 2023

News from Number 10

Among other stories, last month's Yahoos post (aka 'chess news in the mainstream press'), Top Yahoos: Niemann, WRTC, and Pragg (August 2023), offered this:-

  • 2023-08-08: Rishi Sunak to announce £500,000 government funding boost for English chess (ft.com)

The story is a prelude to this month's Flickr photo.

The Prime Minister hosts young chess champions © Flickr user Number 10 under Creative Commons.

The description of the photo explained,

22 Aug 2023. London, United Kingdom. The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, together with the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Lucy Frazer, hosts young chess champions Bodhana Sivanandan, aged 8, and Shreyas Royal, aged 14, in 10 Downing Street. Picture by Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street

For the related photo album, see The Prime Minister hosts young chess champions (flickr.com). For background to the story, see The future of English chess (chessbase.com) by Malcolm Pein.

In an earlier Flickr Favorite post, No.1 Chess Bod (April 2013), we saw No 11 Downing Street. If you came to this post looking for another example of AI chess art, like last month's Chess Sets Are the Real Deal (August 2023), you'll find one here: A turtle playing chess with a Bishop, in the style of Paul Cézanne (flickr.com).

Cézanne? I knew Cézanne. Paul Cézanne was a friend of mine. Believe me, dear visitor, this is no Cézanne. Use search to find a few more dubious AI chess photos by the same Flickr user.

15 September 2023

CFAA's Consent Management

For the current Friday series, I closed the previous post, Adsense and CFAA's CMP (September 2023; CMP = Google's Consent Management Platform), in a holding pattern:-

After adding the logo, my GDPR message was accepted. As I was preparing this post for publishing, the message still wasn't showing on my pages, so maybe I did something wrong. I'll come back to it for next Friday's post.

I had indeed done something wrong. I was watching the top level page for my domain which doesn't display an ad. The Adsense code to display an ad is the trigger for the consent message. When I accessed a page with an ad, I saw the following popup message.

The message is the tip of an iceberg. The text reads like this:-

mark-weeks.com asks for your consent to use your personal data to:

* Personalised ads and content, ad and content measurement, audience insights and product development devices [sic; the phrase needs verbs]
* Store and/or access information on a device

Learn more

Your personal data will be processed and information from your device (cookies, unique identifiers, and other device data) may be stored by, accessed by and shared with third party vendors, or used specifically by this site or app.

Some vendors may process your personal data on the basis of legitimate interest, which you can object to by managing your options below. Look for a link at the bottom of this page or in our privacy policy where you can withdraw consent.

[Do not consent] [Consent]

Manage options

I looked at all of the hidden text and discovered a few important points.

  • 'Learn more' expands to a series of four questions. The first question is 'How can I change my choice?'. The answer says, 'View our privacy policy to learn more' and points to my page World Chess Championship : Site map. The first section there is a 'Privacy Statement', but this is the first I learned that this page has to explain 'How can I change my choice?'. I need to address that.

The answers to two other questions discuss 'legitimate interest', which seems to be some sort of legal override of the whole consent process. Back to the popup message:-

  • The mention of 'third party vendors' expands to a single question: 'What third party vendors can access my data?'. The answer is a list of (currently) 203 vendors. By any reckoning, that's a lot of vendors.

The last line of the popup message is the most important.

  • 'Manage options' opens another section of the popup that starts, 'You can choose your data preferences. This site or app wants your permission to do the following: [...]'. The first 16 consents are for 'TCF vendors' (referring to 'the IAB Europe Transparency and Consent Framework') followed by a single consent for the 'Site or app' (that means my site). This is followed by 'Vendor preferences', where each of the 203 vendors presents a cookie policy, a link to its privacy policy, and perhaps a statement of 'legitimate interest'.

What happens if a visitor to my site doesn't grant consent? No ad is shown. Since I routinely use two different devices, I'll grant consent on one and withhold it on the other. That way I'll be able to monitor both sides of Google's consent management.

What's next? I need to improve my own privacy policy to answer the questions that Google says I'm answering. To do that, I'll summarize the current series and point to that summary.

12 September 2023

September 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover'

The left side of last month's 'On the Cover' post, August 1973 & 1998 (August 2023) featured Robert Byrne, 'who finished 3rd at the Leningrad Interzonal and thus qualified for the Candidates' Matches'. This month features the winner of the second Interzonal for that cycle. It was the first World Chess Championship cycle to have more than one Interzonal.

Left: '?'
Right: '1998 U.S. CHESSathon' • 'Interplay Junior Championship ... Junior Open ... Cadet Championship ... National Scholastics ... U.S. Amateur Championships ... World Open ... it all begins [inside]!'

Chess Life & Review (50 Years Ago)

Henrique Mecking, winner of the Interzonal in Petropolis, Brazil, in a typical pose. Bulletin [inside], full story next month. Photo by Burt Hochberg.

The bulletin '[inside]' said,

Twenty-one-year-old Henrique Mecking of Brazil triumphed on his home territory, winning the second of the two 1973 Interzonals with an undefeated score of 12.0-5.0. Pre-tournament favorite Lajos Portisch of Hungary suffered a disastrous last-round loss to Soviet Grandmaster Lev Polugaevsky, creating a three-way tie for 2nd-4th places among Yefim Geller, Portisch and Polugaevsky with scores of 11.5-5.5. Since only the top three may advance to the Candidates Matches, a playoff match among the three tied players is necessary to eliminate one of them. The date and site of this playoff is not known at this writing.

Here are the final scores from Petropolis. [...] Bronstein replaced Leonid Stein, who died suddenly a few weeks before the tournament.

For more about the two Interzonals, see:-

The footnote saying, 'Bronstein replaced Stein', doesn't square with related info on my other pages. More research needed...

Chess Life (25 Years Ago)

It almost didn't happen. Having made the decision to not hold a CHESSathon this year, the USCF office was dragged, kicking and screaming, into an organizational nightmare, when one very determined USCF Past President, Denis Barry, decided that there would be a CHESSathon!

Executive Director Mike Cavallo gave Denis the green light, and with less than three months lead time, Denis was able to find a site, secure the cooperation of an entire city (Newark, New Jersey), find local sponsors ("Just One," a division of the Office of the Mayor of Newark, Public Service Electric and Gas [PSE&G]), a state sponsor (New Jersey State Chess Federation) AND he was to convince the majority of the employees of the USCF business office to once again, donate their time and experience to make the CHESSathon a reality.

But that's only the beginning of the story. The rest of it appears [inside]. Our cover shot, from the sixth floor of the PSE&G building, overlooks the PSE&G Plaza, and was taken by Brian Killigrew.

This is the first issue that most youth members, coaches, and parents will receive as the new school year begins. Make the most of it! Our three National Scholastics, the Cadet, the Junior, the Junior Open, the CHESSathon, a bright piece on college chess and scholarships, Chess-in-the-Schools, our youth team in England -- it's all in this issue. Just what the doctor ordered to convince an edgy school board, a doubtful principal, or a curious PTA, to get a chess program started or expanded.

By any standard, that's a long explanation of the month's cover. It raises a number of points that deserve a deeper look, but I've run out of time for now.


Later: If ever there was an issue of Chess Life (CL) devoted to scholastic chess, it was for September 1998. The table of contents looked like this:-

p.36 College Chess by Tim Redman
p.38 National High School by Steve Immitt
p.40 National Junior High
p.42 National Elementary
p.44 U.S. Cadet Championship by Anthony Crawley
p.46 U.S. Junior Open Championship by Karl Heck
p.48 U.S. Interplay Junior Championship by Steve Immitt
p.50 Intercontinental Youth Team Tournament by Beatriz Marinello
p.52 Chess in the Schools by Brian Killigrew
p.53 Chess Profiles: David MacEnulty by Brian Killigrew
p.56 CHESSathon 1998
p.58 U.S. Amateur Championships
p.64 Goldin is Golden at the World Open by Jerry Hanken
p.69 Donny Ariel by Nick Conticello
p.71 U.S. Amateur Playoffs
p.72 Dahlia vs. PBS by Shay Bushinsky
p.73 Alexei Shirov visits N.Y. by Irina Krush

The first 11 stories were about scholastic chess. The next two stories, the U.S. Amateur and the World Open, would have been lead stories in most other issues of CL. Following are some highlights.

Hikaru Nakamura had his photo in the three related stories that started with the 'National High School' championship, as did his brother Asuka. The brothers appeared together in the first photo for 'CHESSathon 1998'. The younger Nakamura, a future GM and U.S. champion, had his own CL cover a few months ago in May 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' (May 2023).

Jennifer Shahade was honored as 'Player of the Month' and had her photo at the top of the story for the 'U.S. Junior Open Championship'. From that tournament report:-

The 17-year-old Shahade became the first woman ever to win the U.S. Junior Open in its 53-year history, on July 19 in Ithaca, New York, by scoring 5.5-0.5 in the tournament's Open section. Shahade (2200), the tournament's highest-rated player, won her title the hard way, by facing four of the top five players below her in the standings.

Shahade's brother Gregory (Greg) was also mentioned in 'Player of the Month' and had his photo in the report 'U.S. Interplay Junior Championship'. He finished in the middle of the ten-player event.

Irina Krush, on top of writing the story 'Alexei Shirov visits N.Y.', was pictured in 'Intercontinental Youth Team Tournament', where she led the '14 and under' team that finished well ahead of the three other national teams. For another angle on the Shirov visit, see last year's post Shirov's SmartChess Videos (December 2022).

Cover photographer Brian Killigrew has been mentioned in two previous 'On the Cover' posts this year. His credits for the two 'Chess in the Schools' stories in this issue were for 'Photos and Text'. I expect we'll be seeing more of him in future 'On the Cover' posts.

10 September 2023

'Let Others Say You're a Champion'

At the recently concluded Chess World Cup 2023 (wikipedia.org), India's Praggnanandhaa, who turned 18-years old during the tournament, was runner-up. He lost to former World Champion Magnus Carlsen in the final round.

Praggnanandhaa Asks: How To Handle Tension in a Game? | Chess World Cup (6:58) • '[Published on] Aug 24, 2023'

The description of the video said,

Chess prodigy and grandmaster, Praggnanandhaa, attended the Inner Engineering Program at the Isha Yoga Center in 2022, and asked Sadhguru a question about handling tension during a tight game. Watch Sadhguru's answer.

The description also mentioned, 'Official YouTube Channel of Sadhguru' and explained,

Considered among India’s 50 most influential people, Sadhguru is a yogi, mystic, bestselling author, and poet. Absolute clarity of perception places him in a unique space, not only in matters spiritual but in business, environmental and international affairs, and opens a new door on all that he touches.

As of today, the channel has '11.5M subscribers' and the video has had '1,155,698 views' with close to 1200 comments. Sample comment:-

The last few sentences are extraordinary: "Give attention to the game. Don't think that you are a champion. Just think you're a great chess player. Let others say you're a champion."

He's a champion.

08 September 2023

Adsense and CFAA's CMP

Last Friday's post, Adsense and the CMP (September 2023), established a plan:-

Google's permanent page on the subject [...] sets a deadline: 'Beginning January 16, 2024, publishers and developers using Google AdSense, Ad Manager, or AdMob will be required to use a Consent Management Platform (CMP) [...]'. The page contains a list of 'Google-certified CMPs' that currently has 50 names with a link for each name. Only one of the 50 names was even vaguely familiar to me, 'Google consent management solutions', so no prize for guessing which one I chose to investigate further. [...] That leads to the next stage of the adventure, which I'll cover in the next Friday post.

That 'next Friday post' is today's post. When I signed into Adsense to continue the adventure, I received a new notification on CMPs, shown below.

Since I had already started to create a GDPR consent message for the previous post, I chose the second option and CONFIRMed. Now I was nagged a second time with the message:-

Notifications: Remember to publish your GDPR message using a Google-certified CMP to continue showing AdSense ads on your site in the EEA and the UK. If you don't publish it by January 16, 2024, we'll publish one for you.

This was the first time I knew that Google would 'publish one' for me. If I had known that earlier, I probably would have gone that route. Instead, I accessed my stored message and published it. I received an error message:-

Your message is almost ready to publish. You need to add a logo to publish your message.

My domain has two main sites (linked near the top of the right sidebar), both with a different logo. The CFAA portion of the site generates the most Adsense revenue, so I used the following logo. It's based on the logo for the CFAA pages, but respecting Google's CMP requirements.

After adding the logo, my GDPR message was accepted. As I was preparing this post for publishing, the message still wasn't showing on my pages, so maybe I did something wrong. I'll come back to it for next Friday's post.

03 September 2023

1963 and 1966 Piatigorsky Cups

In last month's post, Dachshunds Play Chess (August 2023), the latest for the long-running series Top eBay Chess Items by Price (March 2010), I wrote,

After so many years of Top eBay Chess Items, I sometimes can't be sure whether I've already featured an item or not.

This month I was sure that I had featured the item(s) pictured below, but when? It turned out that half of the current auction appeared in Mrs. Piatigorsky's Autograph Collection (April 2017).

The current auction was titled, 'Piatigorsky Cup Signed Programs - 1963 & 1966 - Chess - Bobby Fischer - Photos!'. The winning bid was US $2026 after nine bids from five bidders on a starting price of $1000.

The description proclaimed, 'This is a rare find for chess enthusiasts!', and continued,

Two signed programs from the prestigious Piatigorsky Cup in 1963 and 1966. The programs feature photos of legendary players including Bobby Fischer, and are in their original condition as printed in the United States. These programs are a piece of chess history, perfect for collectors and fans alike.

The first edition programs also include special attributes such as signatures from Bobby Fischer, Boris Spassky, Tigran Petrosian, Jan Hein Donner, Borislav Ivkov, Jordan Bent Larsen, Miguel Najdorf, Lajos Portisch, Samuel Reshevsky, Wolfgang Unzicker, Isaac Kashdan, Harry Borochow, Pal Benko, Svetozar Gligoric, Paul Keres, Fridrik Olafsson, and Oscar Panno.

This includes a copy of some unpublished photos from the tournaments!

Starting with Fischer, the first ten names were players in the 1966 tournament. The last five played in the 1963 tournament along with Petrosian, Najdorf, and Reshevsky, who played in both. Kashdan served as tournament director in both, 'assisted by' Borochow (plus George Goehler and Jack Moskowitz) in both. The name 'Jordan Bent Larsen', given in the program as 'Jorden Bent Larsen', should have been 'Jørgen Bent Larsen'.

Crosstables for both tournaments are in Piatigorsky Cup (wikipedia.org). Viktor Korchnoi was listed as 'Reserve' on the list of players for the 1963 program. The 'unpublished photos' mentioned in the description were all from 1966.

01 September 2023

Adsense and the CMP

In last week's Friday post, Adsense and the GDPR (August 2023), I wrote,

Ads are related to cookies. It's been eight years since the last time I looked at the European cookie monster. [...] Since then, the European Union has introduced the GDPR, which stands for General Data Protection Regulation (wikipedia.org). The CMP requirements are a response to the GDPR. What does that entail for small web sites like mine? I'll look at that in the next post.

A few months ago Google introduced a new requirement.

The two phrases in italics link to two more explanatory pages -- from blog.google and iabeurope.eu -- but first let's make sure we understand the acronyms:-

  • EEA : European Economic Area (wikipedia.org)
  • UK : United Kingdom (aka Britain)
  • IAB : Interactive Advertising Bureau

Google's permanent page on the subject is New Google consent management requirements for serving ads in the EEA and UK (for publishers; support.google.com). It sets a deadline:-

Beginning January 16, 2024, publishers and developers using Google AdSense, Ad Manager, or AdMob will be required to use a Consent Management Platform (CMP) that has been certified by Google and has integrated with the IAB's Transparency and Consent Framework (TCF) when serving ads to users in the EEA or the UK.

The page contains a list of 'Google-certified CMPs' that currently has 50 names with a link for each name. Only one of the 50 names was even vaguely familiar to me, 'Google consent management solutions', so no prize for guessing which one I chose to investigate further. Its link went to a page titled, About Privacy & Messaging (support.google.com). The 'Get started' message instructed,

To access your Privacy & Messaging page, sign in to your AdSense account and click Privacy & Messaging in the AdSense sidebar.

That leads to the next stage of the adventure, which I'll cover in the next Friday post.