27 February 2023

Chessify vs. Chessbase Engine Cloud

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

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

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

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

26 February 2023

'Purposeful' Chess Talk

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


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

The video's description said,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

24 February 2023

Chess.com's Game Review Tools PGN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Annotation
  • Computer Analysis

  • Highlights
  • Comments, and
  • PGN Timestamps.

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

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

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

20 February 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

19 February 2023

Catsparov Chess

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

Am I just a sucker for AI generated chess images?

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


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

The Flickr description said,

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

The Thinkingheads.com description said,

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

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

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

17 February 2023

Chess.com's Game Review Tools

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


(Expand for more readable view)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13 February 2023

Chessify's Other Engines

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

TCEC:-

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

CCC:-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

TCEC:-

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

CCC:-

  • !rubinnue • [i.e. Rubi NNUE]
    http://talkchess.com/forum3/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=75016

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

12 February 2023

'The Von Niemann Probe'

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


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

The description starts,

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

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

10 February 2023

The Final Years of Insidechess.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

09 February 2023

Of Grammar, Silver Spoons, and eBay Prices

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

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

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

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

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

My 'Chess Collectable' post also reported,

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

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

06 February 2023

TCEC Swiss 4 Underway; CCC Mystery Matches

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

05 February 2023

A New Category of Chess Collectable

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ROBERT J. FISCHER • CHESS IN ICELAND • F.I.D.E. • WORLD CHAMPION 1972

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

03 February 2023

Wayback to Insidechess.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

02 February 2023

February 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover'

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


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

Chess Life & Review (50 Years Ago)

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

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

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

The tournament attracted many spectators. The same article informed,

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

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

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

Chess Life (25 Years Ago)

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

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

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

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

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