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?

20 January 2023

Crowther's 'Chess on the Net'

Last week in The Evolution of Chess.net (January 2023), I used Archive.org to outline the evolution of the online play site Chess.net. I assume that most chess sites from the late 1990s and early 2000s can be tracked in the same way. How can we identify those sites?

One excellent resource is Mark Crowther's 'Chess on the Net', published in 2002. The following image shows the front and back covers of the book.

White letters on a yellow background don't allow easy reading, so here's the blurb from the back cover.

• Reviews of the hottest chess sites
• Advice on where to play on the web
• How to use the web to improve your practical play.

Whether it's playing against humans, playing against computers, learning from Grandmasters or simply finding out the latest chess results and gossip, chess on the internet has become a massive business over the past few years. In this revolutionary book, distinguished chess webmaster Mark Crowther explains to the reader how to get the maximum out of the web. Crowther casts his expert eye over the every-increasing number of chess sites available to the surfer.

Mark Crowther shot to fame in the chess world with his groundbreaking online chess magazine The Week in Chess (TWIC), which began as early as 1993 and is still one of the most popular chess news sites on the web. The experience and expertise he has gained from being editor of TWIC makes him an ideal choice as the author of this book, his first for Everyman.

The seven chapters++ are listed below.

1 - An introduction to the net
2 - Essential knowledge
3 - Playing on the net
4 - News and events
5 - Commercial chess sites
6 - General chess interest
7 - Index of chess sites

The seventh chapter, 'Index of chess sites' holds the key to finding early chess sites. I didn't count the number of sites listed on the 21 pages of the chapter, but it must be well over 500. I'll be using the book for future posts in this series.

17 January 2023

FIDE Rating List - Active Players

A week ago, in FIDE Rating List - January 2023 (FRL), I displayed some preliminary numbers from the current FIDE ratings. The numbers received some attention in Federations with the largest increase in number of players : chess (reddit.com), enough to propel the FRL post to no.3 in the list of 'Popular Posts (Last 12 months)' at the bottom of each page on this blog.

At the end of the FRL post I reminded myself of an outstanding action. A year ago I wrote,

2022: The count of inactive players in 2022 increased three times more than the count of active players. Looks like I should revisit the subject of inactive players.

In this year's FRL post I asked,

2023: This year the inactive numbers stabilized somewhat, but the count of active players increased only [3000] over the count of inactive players. How does this vary over the nearly 200 different federations?

I looked at the subject two years ago in FIDE Rating List - Inactive Players (January 2021). Now I'll go a little deeper.

The chart on the left shows some numbers for the largest federations. Let's first have some context.

There are currently 198 different federations with players on the January 2023 FRL. Of those, 134 federations have 100 or more total players ('Tot' on the chart), 60 have 1000 or more, and 24 have 4000 or more, all of which are listed on the chart.

Why 24 federations? Because that's the number I can capture easily from the database query I used to create the chart.

For each federation, the 'A' column shows the count of active players and the 'I' column shows the count of inactive players. The 'PctAct' column shows the percentage of active players over the total number of players. Using the numbers I gave in the previous post...

2023: >405K players; >253K marked inactive

...that leaves 152K active players or 37.5% of the total number of players on the FRL. That's the same ballpark figure shown near the middle of the chart.

In the previous post, India ('IND') showed the largest increase in total number of players from 2022 to 2023. In the current chart, the country is third from the bottom in percentage of active players. This might be due to a high 'churn rate' in Indian chess -or- it might be a consequence of the 2020-22 covid crisis. I wouldn't judge without going deeper into the numbers.

The two countries at the bottom of the current chart are Russia and Ukraine. The current conflict is almost certainly the cause of the low activity, although for different reasons in each country. That brings me to another action from the previous post:-

One idea is to look at the doubling of players under the FIDE flag ('FID'), as calculated on the right [chart]. This must be a consequence of the war in Ukraine, but should be confirmed.

Now I have two reasons to prepare a third post this year.

16 January 2023

Chessify Progress Report

A month ago, in Chessify Setup (December 2022), I wrote,

I set up a Chessify account, received some free time on their service, and started a new game on the LSS server, where engine use is generally allowed. I'll report on my progress in a future post.

This post is that report. I had White in the first LSS game, and after 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5, decided to play a move that I have always wanted to try: 3.f3, known for some obscure reason as the 'Fantasy Variation'. After six moves, my opponent disappeared, apparently having quit LSS. I started a new game, chose the highest rated opponent I could find, and received White again. My opponent turned out to be a specialist in a little-played variant of the Ruy Lopez, and had played 15 games with it on LSS. This gave me the chance to use Chessify to analyze the moves of his previous games. We have reached move 10 and I expect to follow his previous games for another few moves.

The two LSS games have given me sufficient opportunity to make an initial evaluation of Chessify. Following is a screen capture showing the user interface (GUI) after 1.e4.

The tool fits well with my method of analyzing correspondence games. I normally use three PGN copies of each game. I use one copy for my notes (the foreground copy). For the traditional start position, the opening notes include references to theory. I use another copy for engine analysis (the background copy) and I use a third copy for the moves actually played in the game (the official copy). Chessify replaces the copy for engine analysis.

I tried to keep a copy of the PGN within Chessify to carry over from one analysis session to another. That would be important if I were playing two or more games at the same time. I quickly realized that I didn't understand how it worked and decided to use the 'Import FEN' feature instead. That means I set up the current position of interest at the beginning of a session by copying the FEN string from the software that manages the foreground copy (SCID), and analyze from that point. I'll come back to Chessify PGN functionality if and when I need it.

Over the past month I've noted a few issues. The first arose from the email that confirmed my signup. It said,

Click the button below to verify your email address and receive 200 coins for free to try Chessify's up to 1,000,000 KN/s speed servers.

I never received any coins. A message at the top of the GUI always says, 'Coins : 0'. I also clicked on a free trial offer and received the message:-

Your free trial is on! Until November 23, you will have free access to all our features.

This was on December 21, well after the trial supposedly ended, and I still have no idea what 'free access' involves. Another problem is with network latency. I sometimes clicked 'Analyze' or 'Stop' engine evaluation and waited up to a minute for a response. Not sure if there was a problem, I then clicked a second time and triggered some buggy behavior that required a GUI reset to eliminate. I have other examples of some bugginess, but for now I'll just attribute it to the learning curve. A few other items worth mentioning are:-

  • No online help
  • No copying engine analysis to clipboard
  • No chess960 support

None of the issues I've mentioned are blocking problems. I can live with all of them because I really like the functionality provided by the service.

I also considered subscribing; the info is here: Chessify Subscription Plans and Coins. The difference between the 'Free' plan and the 'Amateur' plan is currently about 80 USD per year. As much as I would like to subscribe, I don't see much functional difference between the two plans.

I'll continue to evaluate the service and perhaps learn why it's worth a subscription. If I discover anything important that I've overlooked to date, I'll come back with another post.

15 January 2023

The Rise of Chess.com

I never had a farm in Africa, but I once wrote a page titled The Rise of Internet Chess (m-w.com), subtitled 'The Internet -- meaning technologies that link networks together -- has been very good to chess', dated May 2007. A few years after I wrote the page, another chess fan asked if I could update it.

I thought about the request a little bit -- which is as much as I think about anything -- and realized that a follow-up to the page would necessarily be titled 'The Rise of Chess.com'. Why necessarily? Partly because the site started around the same time as my 'Internet Chess' page ended and partly because the site has defined online chess since it first appeared.

Any history of Chess.com would be a big undertaking and I'm glad I never took the idea seriously. Here's a recent video that does the job as well as I can imagine.

The History of Chess.com | Celebrating 100 Million Members! (1:25:25) • '[Published on] Dec 16, 2022'

The description says,

Chess.com is celebrating 100 million members! In recognition of this milestone, we collected questions from the community across social media, and our CEO Erik Allebest and CCO Danny Rensch answered as many as they could in a deep dive on the full history of Chess.com!

At the same time I noted that video, I noted two other videos that complement it. Here are links to all three, including the Youtube channels where they reside.

Congratulations to CEO Erik and CCO Danny on a fantastic achievement. A few months into its existence I remember seeing that Chess.com had reached 300.000 members. At the time I thought that must be some kind of an upper bound. Who could have known?

13 January 2023

The Evolution of Chess.net

A few weeks ago, in Wayback to Chess.net (December 2022), I ended with a question about the site Chess.net:-

Does 'chess trainer Roman' have anything to do with the 'ROboMAN' mentioned by Karpov? I'll try to find out in a follow-up post.

The following image shows a series of screen captures that track the evolution of the site from 1996 through 2022. The first six images show the landing page and home page at three points in time. The last six images show only the home page, the landing page having disappeared.

The years associated with those images tell a story.

1996: Top row (two images on left)

Chess.net is a FREE interactive chess server that allows people from around the world to play chess over the Internet. In order to play on chess.net, you can download a free trial offer of our chess.net for Windows 95 software. (coming soon for other platforms) [...]

January 1997 • Sneak peek: new chess.net faculty pages! The chess.net faculty includes some of the world's top Grandmasters. Over the next few weeks we'll be adding feature pages from our faculty, including training tips, stories, photos, puzzles, and more. For a sneak peek of this new feature, see the following:- // Grandmaster Roman Dzindzichashvili • The February column from Chess.net's headmaster is an article on how to use tournament play to energize your chess training and add focus to your studies. // World Champion Anatoly Karpov • This round-up page for all of chess.net's features on Senior Faculty member Anatoly Karpov has links to his exhibition games, comments on Chess.net, and games from the Las Palmas tournament. [...]

1998: Top row (two images on right)

[Six languages] • Welcome to chess.net - The Leader in Internet Chess Technology. Play, chat, and watch chess games with members from around the world. Shop in our online store. We carry the world's best-selling chess videotapes, from World Champion Anatoly Karpov and International Grandmaster Roman Dzindzichashvili, as well as chess software and other merchandise.

2001: Second row (two images on left)

[The same screen captures were shown in 'Wayback to Chess.net'.] 'Only the English version is available at the moment...' [i.e. language support has disappeared.]

2004: Second row (third image)

New Site Design • The NEW Chess.net website has been launched! Tell us what you think.

NB: The current incarnation of what we know as Chess.com [*not* the same site as Chess.net] appeared in 2007. It would eventually upset the business models of many online chess play sites.

2009-02-07: Second row (last image)

Top 3 Great Reasons to Join Chess.net Now: [...] • Special offer for Chess.net users returning after 1 year away // after 60 days away

2009-02-28: Bottom row (first image)

Hi, my name is Roman Dzindzichashvili! I am one of the founders of Chess.net. I started Chess.net back in 1993. As a free service it grew with over 500,000 registered users. You were one of them, and I'd like you back! Chess.net values your membership and in order to get you back, we are offering you a full year of membership for a fraction of the cost. [...]

2010 & 2011: Bottom row (second & third images)

[More of the same]

2022: Bottom row (last image)

'2 player; 1 game in play' [Game over?]

The last image shows the site as it looks today.

10 January 2023

FIDE Rating List - January 2023

A new year means a look at the first FIDE rating list of the year. Let's follow the same cookbook instructions used last year.

1) Identify last year's post: FIDE Rating List - January 2022 (13 January 2022)

2) Identify the source of the FIDE data: FIDE Ratings Download (ratings.fide.com).

TXT format (06 Jan 2023, Sz: 8.98 MB)

3) Compare some basic counts over the past few years.

2023: >405K players; >253K marked inactive
2022: >377K players; >228K marked inactive
2021: >362K players; >174K marked inactive
2020: >354K players; >181K marked inactive

4) Analyze changes in players per federation. The upper chart shows six new federations (Chad, Comoros Islands, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines). No federation had a name change.

The lower charts show federations with the largest increase in number of players (left) and the largest percentage increase (right; for federations with at least 100 players at the start of 2022). Note that Mexico ('MEX') is on both charts.

5) Identify ideas for a followup post. Last year's post was FIDE Rating List - Women (January 2022). One idea is to look at the doubling of players under the FIDE flag ('FID'), as calculated on the right. This must be a consequence of the war in Ukraine, but should be confirmed. Last year I wrote,

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

This year the inactive numbers stabilized somewhat, but the count of active players increased only 3K over the count of inactive players. How does this vary over the nearly 200 different federations?

09 January 2023

TCEC Cup 11 Underway; CCC19 Bullet in Semifinals

In this blog's ongoing series covering the world's top-two ongoing engine vs. engine tournaments, the last post of 2022 was TCEC More Interludes; CCC19 Bullet Underway (December 2022). Following is a summary of that post.

TCEC: Stockfish won the VVLTC, then drew the two-game SVVLTC with LCZero. KomodoDragon placed first in the top-3 section of 'Noomen Extra 2'; Ethereal placed first in the next-11 section. LCZero then won the second chess324 tournament, a half point ahead of Stockfish. The site is currently conducting '4k Testing'. • CCC: After the 'CCC19 Rapid Final', there were so many CCC exhibition events that it's useful to list them; of 18 recent events, 10 were exhibitions. The site is currently running the 'CCC19 Bullet' event and has updated the event's 'Info' tab to explain its different stages. The 'CCC19 Bullet Newcomers' and 'Qualifier #1' events have finished, and 'Qualifier #2' is underway.

What's the situation two weeks later at the start of 2023? Glad you asked...

TCEC: Engine ice4 won the S23 4k tournament ahead of 4ku and three other engines; see the 'TCEC More Interludes' post for an explanation of '4k'. The site then launched into 'Cup 11', which is currently in the Round-of-16 stage; see TCEC Cup 11 (wiki.chessdom.org), for more info on the event. See also Stockfish Wins TCEC Cup 10; TCEC Swiss 3, CCC17 Blitz both Underway (June 2022; on this blog) for the previous event.

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', where more than a third of the games have been played. Stockfish has a significant lead over Dragon and Lc0, which have an even bigger lead over the other three engines.

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

08 January 2023

Signed by Fischer, Spassky, and Petursson

On this blog's long-running series Top eBay Chess Items by Price (March 2010), it's inevitable that themes repeat. A few months ago we had 'To Sam, With Thanks' (October 2022), where one of the items was:-

A first edition of 'My 60 Memorable Games' signed by Bobby Fischer to his friend Saemi Rock, a.k.a. Saemundur Palsson, friend and bodyguard in 1972.

For this post we have a pair of related items, shown below. Both had the same title: 'World Chess Championship 1972 - original print signed by Bobby Fischer', and both sold for the same amount: US $2490.00.

Both items had almost the same description. The item on the top said,

Exceptional memorabilia from the World Chess Championship in Reykjavik, Iceland 1972.  An original printing by Halldor Petursson signed by the cartoonist Halldor Petursson, World Champion Bobby Fischer and World Champion Boris Spassky. This printing is number 18 from a series of cartoons he made for the match. Those same drawings were printed as postcards and were published in the local newspaper in Iceland in 1972.

These printings were printed in limited issue, three sets were signed by these individuals, probably only 4-5. Bobby Fischer got one set, Boris Spassky got the second set and the third set was given to Bobby's friend and bodyguard, Saemi Rock, a.k.a. Saemundur Palsson and this printing if from his collection.

A written COA from Saemi Rock will be posted with item. Size of this original print is 25,5 x 33,5 cm.

The item on the bottom was described as number 16 in the series. That numbering is not consistent with the details shown on my post Halldor Petursson Cartoons (February 2008), where the top item is listed as no.17, and the bottom item as no.15.

06 January 2023

Wayback to Yourmove.com

A couple of recent posts on this blog have mentioned the 1990s web site Yourmove.com:-

Both citations quoted the same source:-

Statement by Anatoly Karpov: [...] I would also like to mention that I am a frequent guest lecturer at the superb Internet Chess Academy (www.yourmove.com) created by the talented young GM Gabriel Schwartzman.

The site is partially available via Archive.org, shown in the following screen captures.

https://web.archive.org/web/*/yourmove.com [starts 1998]

Top: circa 1998 • Bottom: circa 2000

The top capture misses a photo, but includes another endorsement by GM Karpov. It says,

"GM Gabriel Schwartzman's Internet Chess Academy brings chess instruction into the 21st century. I thoroughly recommend his course." - Anatoly Karpov, FIDE World Chess Champion

The bottom capture includes a photo, but misses the endorsement by Karpov. The September 1997 edition of 'SmartChess Online' carried two more endorsements of GM Schwartzman's site:-

What's on the Web? • We'd all like to improve our chess playing but how many of us can really afford to hire a personal coach? Would you like to be trained by a Grandmaster for a fraction of the cost? Then run, don't walk to Gabriel Schwartzman's Internet Chess Academy. With the help of the Internet and through his own innovation, Gabriel has made available to everyone what was once available only to the most fortunate player. Now in its second year, the Internet Chess Academy reaches hundreds of students at every level in over forty countries worldwide via e-mail. Twice a week, Gabriel sends his students a chess puzzle that he has carefully chosen. The challenge: find the best move in the position and send it back to qualify for monthly prizes (from a prize fund worth more than $1,000). [...]

The second endorsement was structured as an interview.

In Conversation With ... • GM Gabriel Schwartzman is a University of Florida student with a perfect grade point average, a successful businessman, a respected chess journalist and commentator, a licensed chess coach, the 1996 U.S. Open Champion and, as if all that isn't enough, he can checkmate you in six languages! At the age of twenty, Gabriel is a seasoned veteran of chess. He began playing at two years old and at seventeen, he was awarded the title of International Grandmaster. As the founder of the highly popular Internet Chess Academy, Gabriel reaches hundreds of students via e-mail in over forty countries world wide. The training method used at the ICA was developed by his father and is the same method that he has used to achieve his goals.

(Q:) At the age of 2, before most children learn to speak, you began to play chess. Tell us about your unique childhood? What sacrifices did you have to make in your early life to achieve your goals?

(A:) Well, I became good at this quite early - at four I had my first official tournament, and at eight I already started traveling the world, as I was being invited to competitions all over Europe and the United States. I must admit that I liked it a lot, because I got to do something very special, which none of my peers had the opportunity to, especially in a communist country [Romania]. But, there was very much work involved, and yes, a lot of sacrifices. I probably didn't get to play as much as other kids, but as Kasparov once replied to a similar question, "It was definitely worth it!" [...]

We've already seen GM Schwartzman several times on this blog. The most notable mention was December 1971 & 1996 'On the Cover' (December 2021), where he appeared on the cover of Chess Life. What became of the Internet Chess Academy? I'll try to answer that question in another post.

05 January 2023

Chess at Trump Tower

While I was researching the latest post on my World Championship blog, 1994 Sanghi-Nagar (January 2023), I rediscovered a photo published in Chess Life, September 1994. The photo was one of several ('Photographs by Bill Hook and Kevin Dyke') that illustrated the tournament report by GM Patrick Wolff titled, 'Kamsky Crushes Kramnik, Advances to Semi Final in Spain'.

The Wolff article started,

The Intel World Chess Championship Quarterfinal Matches, organized under the auspices of the Professional Chess Association, and held at Trump Tower in New York City from June 7-18, was without doubt the most important chess event in America since the World Chess Championship between Kasparov and Karpov in 1990. Four matches were played, featuring the seven qualifiers from the Groningen qualifying tournament held in Holland in December 1993, plus GM Nigel Short of England, the loser of the World Championship match held in London in September-October 1993.

For the results of the matches, see my page 1994-95 PCA Candidates Matches (m-w.com). There I noted,

Quarterfinal matches; New York, VI, 1994 • The Intel World Chess Championship Quarterfinal Matches were organized by the PCA and held at the Trump Tower in New York City. The matches were opened by Donald Trump, an American real estate and casino developer.

Donald Trump is no stranger to chess. For another recent example, see Wayback to Smartchess (November 2022; '"Best Wishes!" - D.T.').

03 January 2023

January 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover'

Once again, we change the calendar for the monthly post on American chess from 50 and 25 years ago. For last month's post, see December 1972 & 1997 'On the Cover' (December 2022).

Left: 'Churchie • Karpov, Portisch, Petrosian'
Right: 'World Team Championship; U.S. Snags Silver in Lucerne 1997'

Chess Life & Review (50 Years Ago)

The three winners of Church's Fried Chicken International Tournament, San Antonio 1972: Anatoly Karpov (left), Tigran Petrosian, (right), and Lajos Portisch. The other guy on the cover is a registered trademark of Church's Fried Chicken, Inc. See [inside] for tournament results. Photos by Burt Hochberg.

After introducing the winners, the tournament report inside only listed the final results of the 16 players. The introduction started,

Church's Fried Chicken. Inc. First International Chess Tournament ended December 11 in a triple tie for 1st. Anatoly Karpov, the most promising of the USSR's young grandmasters, won 7 games and lost only one (to Portisch) to add the San Antonio tournament to his recent string of important successes. Veteran former World Champion Petrosian, with 6 wins and no losses, achieved his greatest tournament success in about ten years to tie for top honors. Hungarian GM Portisch, after scoring only 4 1/2 points in the first 8 rounds, scored 6 points in the last 7 rounds to tie with Karpov and Petrosian with 10 1/2 points. Full reports on this significant event will appear in forthcoming issues.

All of the North American players, except Duncan Suttles of Canada in 6th-7th place, finished in the bottom half of the tournament. Played just a few months after the 1972 Fischer - Spassky title match (m-w.com; 'Reykjavik, VII-VIII, 1972'), the 1972 San Antonio tournament will always have a guaranteed place listed among Strong American Chess Tournaments (August 2016).

Despite all the fuss about 1972 Fischer - Spassky, the match did not usher in a golden era of American chess tournaments. The next event on the list of 'Strong American Tournaments' was 1982 Chicago.

The January 1973 CL&R featured interviews of Fischer, Spassky, and Gudmundur Thorarinsson, president of the Icelandic Chess Federation. The issue also included the last four games of the Fischer - Spassky match, annotated by Robert Byrne. Between the two articles was a 'Keres Annotates' column titled 'Two Karpov Wins'. GM Keres, a three-time champion of the USSR who finished 5th at 1972 San Antonio, wrote,

Karpov has a solid grounding in opening play, due partly to his second, Furman, wbo is considered one of the best in this field in the USSR. His general style of play is rather cairn. centered on positional considerations and somehow recalling Capablanca's attitudes towards the game. His technique is reasonable, but of course a player of only 21 still has some things to learn in this area. It seems to me that in five years Karpov will be able to replace any current leading Soviet grandmaster, provided he continues to make normal progress.

We know now that Karpov would become World Champion in 1975, after Fischer declined to defend the title. One positive outcome of the boom for American chess was a new generation of American players attracted to the royal game during the peak interest in Fischer. Their rise to the top of U.S. rating lists was undoubtedly one of the reasons behind the next part of this 'On the Cover' post.

Chess Life (25 Years Ago)

A gold cover would have been much nicer than silver. But silver is better than bronze (see the February 1997 cover). And it would have been a gold cover if not for a miraculous finish by the Russians at the World Team Championship, held in Lucerne, Switzerland. Our team played hard and well, garnering three board prizes along with second place.

GM Larry Christiansen's eight-page tournament report, 'World Team Championship', cast doubts on the legitimacy of the Russian victory. Last year we saw the February 1997 cover in February 1972 & 1997 'On the Cover' (February 2022). There we find the same six players shown on the January 1998 CL cover: GMs Yermolinsky, Benjamin, Gulko, De Firmian, Kaidanov, and Christiansen. The numbers 2, 4, and 6 were all home-grown American talent. The others emigrated from the USSR in the 1980s.

02 January 2023

TCEC/CCC 2022-H2 Summary

The previous six month summary, TCEC/CCC 2022-H1 Summary (June 2022), asked,

'Dragon, LCZero - Who's Better?'. One week it's Dragon; next week it's LCZero. What answers will the next six months bring?

Here's a summary of the second half of 2022.

TCEC/CCC Off-week
Stockfish Wins TCEC Swiss 3 and CCC17 Blitz
Stockfish vs. ChessBase in Court
Stockfish Wins TCEC FRC5, Leads CCC18 Rapid Semifinal
GM Sadler Tweets About TCEC
Stockfish Wins TCEC DFRC1, Leads CCC18 Rapid Final
Interviews with Dragon's Developers
TCEC S23 Leagues Underway; CCC Rudderless?
Chess324 Is a Thing
TCEC S23 L1, CCC19 Blitz - Both Underway
Talkchess Talks Current Topics
TCEC S23 Paused; 'CCC19 Blitz Main' Underway
Breaking the 3500 Barrier
TCEC S23 DivP, CCC19 Blitz Final : 'Well' Underway
'One Move In, One Move Out'
TCEC S23 Sufi, CCC19 Rapid : Both Underway
'Studying with Modern Engines'
TCEC S23 Sufi, CCC19 Rapid : Nearing the Finish
Stockfish vs. ChessBase Settlement
TCEC S23, CCC19 Rapid : Stockfish Wins Both
TCEC Article PDFs
TCEC/CCC Interludes
Chessify Setup
TCEC More Interludes; CCC19 Bullet Underway

Stockfish won everything in sight, including its legal dispute with ChessBase. As for unofficial no.2, it seemed to me that LCZero did slightly better overall than Dragon, but this needs to be confirmed with data.

The usual question after preparing a six month summary is, 'Should I continue with the weekly engine posts?' The answer this time is, 'Yes, to resolve the Dragon vs. LCZero question.'