27 April 2023

World Championship Yahoos 2023

Less than a year and a half after World Championship Yahoos 2021 (November 2021), we once again find the World Chess Championship dominating the chess news. For the most recent post on my blog devoted to the subject, see yesterday's 2023 Nepomniachtchi - Ding Liren, Third Week (April 2023). Before we get to the same subject on the blog that you're reading now, let's have the vital statistics.

This month we had 102 Yahoos (see the footnote for an explanation of the curious term 'Yahoos'), with nine news sources accounting for two or more Yahoos each. Those nine are shown in the chart on the left and account for a total of 48 stories. That leaves 54 sources with a single story.

As usual, Chess.com accounted for the greatest number of stories, with nearly a third of Google News total output. ChessBase was a distant, although respectable second, accounting for eight stories. The chart shows only seven ChessBase stories, because 'ChessBase India' was counted as a Yahoo with a single story.

Of the 54 sources with a single story, only three of the stories were about the World Championship. The most unusual of the three was:-

  • 2023-03-31: The World Chess Championship Could Be Muted For A Decade (forbes.com) • 'Basketball star Damian Lillard recently sparked conversation by saying NBA championships are over-hyped and a poor measure of a player’s legacy in the league. It was a "love of the game" perspective pushing back against the commercial value of a postseason that lasts about two months. Lillard said the regular season "journey" has been diminished.

    In the chess world, the International Chess Federation (FIDE) World Chess Championship is about to become somewhat inconsequential because the world’s undisputed best player decided to vacate his title, despite showing no signs of slowing down with chess in general.'

There's much more to be said about the 'World Championship Yahoos', but I'm running late and have run out of time. I'll come back to it later.

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

***

Later: Of the nine sources listed on this month's top Yahoos, one I couldn't remember seeing before is 'EL PAÍS' [El Pais]. The three stories Google News highlighted were:-

As it turned out, this was just my memory playing tricks on me. See last year's Candidate and Olympiad Yahoos (July 2022), and its follow-up Was Fischer Avaricious? (August 2022), for an earlier story featured on this blog. For more from the Spanish journalist, see Articles written by Leontxo García (elpais.com). And for more about the journalist himself, see Leontxo García (wikipedia.org). It starts,

Leontxo García Olasagasti (born February 12, 1956, in Irún, Guipúzcoa) is a Spanish lecturer, presenter, commentator and journalist specialized in chess.

As for the 'monkey with a hand grenade' remark, let's hope it's the last time we hear this sort of veiled threat. In the story, the speaker of the remark is identified as Andrei Filatov.

25 April 2023

1976 Haifa Olympiad Artwork

In a recent post for the long running series 'Top eBay Chess Items', the one titled Poster Perfect Chess Art (March 2023), I gave myself a couple of follow-up actions:-

Vasarely produced other chess related works. Cataloging them would make a good rainy day project. Add to that catalog the 1976 series of Olympiad posters.

I searched my database of chess images, most of them taken from eBay, and discovered that there were ten different posters for the 1976 Olympiad. All ten are shown below in alphabetical order by artist. The thumbnails aren't particularly good, but they show clearly the underlying artwork.


Top row: Yaacov Agam, Otmar Alt, Arman, Samuel Bak, Moshe Castel • Bottom row: Jean David, Allan Davie, Raffi Kaiser, Carl Korab, Victor Vasarely

Just like the images I found, their descriptions were of varying quality. Copied here is the description from an Agam poster listed on eBay in 2000:-

To celebrate the Chess Olympiad for Men and Women held in Haifa, Israel in October-November 1976, a series of 10 images were created by 10 different internationally known artists. Artist Yaacov Agam was one of the artists selected and this poster is his.

Mr. Agam is one of the most esteemed, perhaps the most esteemed, living artist. The image is a serigraph poster (only the posters by artists Agam, Arman, and Vasarely among the 10 in the series were done as serigraphs). The image size of the poster is 27" high by 17" wide; the full paper size is 35" by 22". The image and the poster are very unique and assumed to be quite rare.

I carried out this exercise with the hope of locating a web site with high quality images of all ten posters/prints. After a brief search, I ended up empty handed. Maybe something will turn up later.

24 April 2023

The Komodo Baton

Whenever I need an idea for an off-week engine post, seen previously in OpenBench Interlude (April 2023), I turn to Talkchess.com. The last time this happened was Talkchess Talks Top Engines (January 2023). Nestled in the news about 'Top Engines' was a Talkchess discussion identified as:-

2022-12-19: Dragon 3.2 Released at KomodoChess.com [lkaufman] • Talkchess user 'lkaufman' is GM Larry Kaufman.

A brief survey of recent Talkchess threads for this current post revealed:-

  • 2023-03-17: KomodoChess and Chess.com [lkaufman] • 'Five years ago, Chess.com purchased a stake in KomodoChess along with rights to use our software. Now the merger is complete; Chess.com has bought out KomodoChess entirely. Chess.com will now run the website, pay for further development of Komodo, and for the most part take over the responsibilities of both myself and Mark Lefler. Mark and I will remain as paid consultants thru 2025, but Chess.com will make the decisions. Dietrich Kappe remains onboard as the NN trainer.'

GM Kaufman listed a number of reasons for his personal decision. One of them was:-

Komodo Dragon and Stockfish have effectively "solved" standard chess in the sense that with long time limits and large thread counts, they are both probably invincible if allowed to choose their own openings or at least get to choose from near-optimal openings.

Don't expect the former World Senior Champion to ride off into the sunset. He promises,

I hope that I am still able to make some significant contributions to the further development of Komodo Dragon. I remain interested in and involved with computer chess.

His Talkchess signature says, 'Komodo rules!'. The same could be said for him.

The first response to Kaufman's announcement informed, 'You have Andrew Grant on the team now -- he's employed by Chess.com, and I suspect he'll be able to increase the standard of play.' Is this the passing of the baton to the new generation of engine developers? By a not-so-curious coincidence, Andrew Grant also figured in the previous 'OpenBench Interlude' post.

23 April 2023

World Championship Social Media 2023

The last time this blog's long running series on The Sociology of Chess (November 2016) coincided with a World Championship match was World Championship Social Media 2021 (November 2021). In that post I documented six social media accounts operated by FIDE. Nearly 18 months later, the official site FIDE World Championship 2023, Astana (worldchampionship.fide.com), lists four accounts in the following order:-

All four were present and accounted for in 2021, with a small change to the YouTube URL. The two accounts no longer listed on the official FIDE site are Flickr and VK.com. The Flickr photos are all marked 'All rights reserved' and VK.com is a Russian language site, so most of us can live without them. I've already mentioned the Youtube channel in 2023 Nepo - Ding, Opening Press Conference (April 2023), where I wrote,

I'm watching the first game on the same Youtube channel that provided this video -- FIDE chess (youtube.com) -- and during the first hour of the game the production was less than impressive: [list of problems]

I continued watching the games on the same channel and am happy to issue a correction to that statement. After the intial teething problems, the broadcasts have been smooth and nearly faultless. GM Irina Krush is a refreshing change from the women commentators whose main contribution is to giggle throughout the broadcast. Former World Champion Vishy Anand was a fountain of first-hand chess knowledge and history during the first four games where he presided. His replacement, GM Daniil Dubov, does not have the same experience and too often interrupts his partner with 'Yes, but...', but, yes, he knows his chess and his analyses are worthy of the occasion.

The main drawback to the FIDE broadcasts is the chat stream. There are some notable exceptions to the many cringeworthy comments, but how to eliminate the dross? Better might be a small group of knowledegable people who have been identified and vetted beforehand. Online anonymity does not make for intelligent dialog.

'All rights reserved'

International Chess Federation (FIDE)’s albums | Flickr

18 April 2023

April 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover'

Continuing last month's 'On the Cover', March 1973 & 1998 (March 2023), let's again follow the wheel of chess history as it was recorded in U.S. chess mazines 50 and 25 years ago. This month we find 'USA all the way'.


Left: '?'
Right: 'Imagine! ... Inside: 1998 USCF Yearbook'

Chess Life & Review (50 Years Ago)

Grandmaster Robert Byrne, who won the 1972 U.S. Championship by out-scoring Reshevsky and Kavalek in a playoff this February. This is the first time Byrne has won this title. Story and games [inside].

The story inside started,

Grandmaster Robert Byrne of Ossining, New York, is the new U.S. Chess Champion. He scored 3-1 by notching one victory and one draw each against Grandmasters Samuel Reshevsky and Lubomir Kavalek in a play-off at Chicago's LaSalle Hotel February 3-11.

For the CL report on the main tournament, see July 1972 & 1997 'On the Cover' (July 2022). For Byrne's progress in that World Championship cycle, see

In the semifinal match, 'Leningrad, IV-V, 1974', Karpov beat Spassky +4-1=6. He then beat Korchnoi +3-2=19 in the final match to earn the right to challenge Fischer in the cycle's title match.

Chess Life (25 Years Ago)

The Chess In The Schools IMAGINE! tournament was a great success for the kids of New York City, primarily due to the support given by Yoko Ono, shown on our cover with her son, Sean. Brian Killigrew is the photographer and writer. Based in New York city, his work has been featured in newspapers and magazines around the world. A chess neophyte, he will work for chess lessons. E-mail him at ***@aol.com.

FIDE GMA PCA WCC World Champion Garry Kasparov is back in the news, having announced that he will defend his title in October, against either Kramnik or Anand. See [inside] for details and prognostications.

The 'Imagine' tournament report was incorporated into the 20-page USCF Yearbook. The top quarter of each yearbook page had a running story with details of the event plus a photo or two. The story by Brian Killigrew started,

Imagine a 94 ft. blue whale, the largest mammal on earth. Two hundred New York City school children stare, some nervous, some downright scared. A brave nine-year-old moves his hand tentatively, then pulls it back. He steadies himself, then pushes a pawn to e4.

You are at the Chess-in-the-Schools (CIS) First Annual Imagine Tournament held on January 15, 1998, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. In the museum's Hall of Ocean Life, 209 students, from 41 schools, are here to do battle for team and individual honors in a four round swiss, game 30 tournament.

The accompanying photo was captioned,

Overhead view of 1st Annual Imagine Tournament held in the Hall of Ocean Life. Above, right corner, is a small part of the 94 foot blue whale. • All photos by Brian Killigrew

As for 'First Annual' / '1st Annual', that will take more effort to research. I'll try to tackle that some other time.

In the first paragraph, did I say, 'USA all the way'? The second part of the introduction to the April 1998 'On the Cover' mentioned news of Kasparov's non-FIDE World Championship title; see also the letter from Karpov. I'll come back to that later, probably on my World Championship blog.

17 April 2023

TCEC S24 Sufi, CCC20 Rapid - Both Underway

The previous post in our fortnightly look at the two most important engine vs. engine competitions was TCEC S24 DivP Finishing; Stockfish Wins CCC20 Blitz Final (April 2023). Here's a summary of that post:-

TCEC: DivP is a few games away from its finish. Stockfish is a point ahead of LCZero, which has a big lead over KomodoDragon. For this season the organizers have organized the new 'DivP Playoff': 'The top four of DivP face each other to determine who goes to SuFi 24.' • CCC: Stockfish beat Lc0 by 293.0-207.0, making Stockfish the winner of the 'CCC20 Blitz Final'. The site is currently conducting another OpenBench event. Next: 'CCC20 Rapid Newcomers'.

TCEC: The previous post also noted some drama in determining the 'top four of DivP':-

Ethereal is currently in fourth place, a point ahead of Berserk. The two engines are scheduled to meet in one of the last games of DivP, so anything is possible.

Berserk won the game with the White pieces, achieving the same score as Ethereal and advancing to the 'DivP Playoff' on superior tiebreak. Stockfish won the playoff with an undefeated score; LCZero finished second to qualify into the S24 Superfinal (aka Sufi).

After 40 games in the 100-game Sufi, LCZero has a slim one point lead. At the same point in the S23 Sufi, with the same engines playing, Stockfish had a five point lead. Has there been a fundamental change in the relative strength of the two engines or is this a fluke? The event has another ten days to run.

CCC: The 15-engine OpenBench event, titled 'OpenBench Interlude #8 - All Hands', was won by Berserk, ahead of Ethereal and Rubi. The first stage of the 'CCC20 Rapid' event, renamed from 'Newcomers' to 'Entry League', was followed by 'Qualifier #1' and 'Qualifier #2'. All three stages had 12 engines, with the first two stages qualifying six engines into the following stage. Three engines will qualify from 'Qualifier #2' into the 12-engine 'Main' stage. 'Qualifier #2' is nearing the end of the second of its four rounds.

[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]

16 April 2023

Only on Sunday

What have we here? Strictly speaking, it's not really a chess photo, but we use what we are given.


Left: Chess Club Inside! Ring Da Bell! © Flickr user Rob Larsen under Creative Commons.
Right: Sign on the door, enlarged.

The sign underneath say, 'Only Sundays 1430-1730!'. Where? The tags said, 'Amsterdam graffiti'. Where else...

If you were expecting more 'AI generated chess images', last seen in Karpov and Kasparov Play Chess in Iceland (March 2023), Flickr offered alby editorial photo of an intelligent man playing chess against pigeon (flickr.com). This reminded me too much of the well-known insult 'like playing chess with a pigeon'. Was that the intention?

14 April 2023

Ding Liren's 2022 Candidates

This next post in the series on Ding Liren, last seen in Ding Liren's 2010-11 TWIC-ipedia (April 2023), coincides with the start of the title match that I'm following on my World Chess Championship Blog, last seen in 2023 Nepomniachtchi - Ding Liren, First Week (April 2023). Two days after I wrote that 'First Week' post, Ding evened the match score in the fourth game.

I featured a Ding interview in the runup to the 2018 Candidates Tournament, Berlin. The post was cleverly titled Interview Videos : Ding Liren (February 2018), and started with some advice:-

NB: Ding Liren is a soft spoken guy. Turn up the volume on your speakers!

The following video, by ChessBase India, discusses Ding's performance in last year's 2022 Candidates Tournament, Madrid.


The Ding Liren Interview | Candidates 2022 (45:43) • '[Published on] Jul 6, 2022'

The video's description explained,

Ding Liren had a very tough start at the Candidates 2022. He lost his first game and then a series of seven draws ensued. It was not looking like he would be able to achieve anything special at the Candidates when the Chinese GM started scoring one win after another. Before you knew it, Ding was on 8.0/14 and had taken the sole second spot in the tournament. We discussed the critical moments of all of his games from the tournament.

Some interesting segments in the video start at:-

  • 32:00 Ding Liren - Nakamura, the game that eventually allowed Ding to qualify for the title match
  • 43:40 'No man ever walks into the same river because the man is not the same man and the river is not the same river.'

The more than 100 comments to the video were favorable to both the interviewer, Sagar Shah, and the interviewee, Ding Liren. A few months later, we learned, Ding Liren gets official invitation to take part in FIDE World Championship match 2023 (October 2022).

10 April 2023

OpenBench Interlude

In last week's TCEC/CCC post, TCEC S24 DivP Finishing; Stockfish Wins CCC20 Blitz Final (April 2023), I ended saying,

In previous posts, I've mentioned OpenBench several times in passing. It's high time I devoted an off-week post to the concept. Maybe next week...

This being next week and if not today, maybe never, let's first look at those passing references:-

What can we learn from the TCEC/CCC !commands? The TCEC's '!openbench', points to chess.grantnet.us, while the CCC says nothing.

The Grantnet.us page is largely incomprehensible, although it points to Discord.com and Github.com resources. Those are also incomprehensible. I assume that chess engine developers have access to a Rosetta stone that de-mystifies all of the above, which is all that really matters to the rest of us. The Wikipedia page Chess engine (wikipedia.org), says,

In 2019, Ethereal author Andrew Grant started the distributed computing testing framework OpenBench, based upon Stockfish's testing framework, and it is now the most widely-used testing framework for chess engines.

Wikipedia adds '[citation needed]' to the 'most widely-used' statement, but Wikipedia says that about nearly everything that doesn't have a footnote. The wiki at OpenBench (chessprogramming.org; 'last edited on 15 April 2021'), explains,

An open source chess engine testing framework authored by Andrew Grant, written in Python and licensed under the GNU GPL. It is inspired [by] Fishtest and makes use of distributed computing, allowing anyone to contribute CPU time to further improve the development of open source chess engines.

We're nearly two years down the road from that 'last edited' date. Maybe the next update will explain the purpose of the CCC competitions that are limited to OpenBench engines. The 'OpenBench Interlude #8' event mentioned in last week's TCEC/CCC post was won by no.1 Berserk, ahead of no.2 Ethereal, no.3 Rubi, and 12 other engines.

09 April 2023

2023 Nepo - Ding, Opening Press Conference

Today is the first game of the 2023 Nepomniachtchi - Ding Liren; Astana (Kazakhstan). This video is from the earlier press conference.


FIDE World Championship Match - Press Conference (44:26) • '[Published on] Apr 8, 2023'

There is almost no description for the video, so I'll have to fall back on the comments. A comment translated from the Russian language said,

There were two personalities who did not know English: the [Russian] translator and Ding. Trouble.

I can't comment on the Russian translator, but other comments said similar. As for Ding, I thought that, given the circumstances, he handled himself well enough. He just needs to warm up. Another comment said,

The microphone quality is embarrassing (or post production sound editing is really bad). Did nobody notice this before uploading? Also, maybe put in the description where/when to watch the games? I'm stunned that FIDE is doing such a poor job of promoting this match.

I'm watching the first game on the same Youtube channel that provided this video -- FIDE chess (youtube.com) -- and during the first hour of the game the production was less than impressive: audio problems, loss of the video feed, no player clocks visible, confusion between the live game and the commentators' analysis. I'll give the Kazakhs a second chance, but an alternative is How To Watch FIDE World Chess Championship Game 1 (chess.com).

07 April 2023

Ding Liren's 2010-11 TWIC-ipedia

This is the fourth post in a short series to learn more about GM Ding Liren's chess career. In the previous post, Ding Liren's Rise to the GM title (March 2023), I wrote,

The year 2009 was the Chinese GM's breakthrough year. What about 2010 and after? I'll look at that in the next post.

The following chart starts where the chart from 'Rise to the GM title' ended: 'October 2009, he became China's 30th grandmaster'.


Ding Liren (wikipedia.org)

My first thought when seeing the absence of events from 2010-11 was that the GM might have been pursuing his studies. He was 17 years old at the start of 2010. Then I searched issues of TWIC ('The Week in Chess' by Mark Crowther) in the range 800-899, which nearly covers the two missing years. I came up with the following list. The date and the name of each event are from the corresponding issue of TWIC.

  • 2010-05-03 TWIC 808 : IX Asian Continental Chess Championship
  • 2010-06-07 TWIC 813 : Chinese Championships
  • 2010-06-21 TWIC 815 : 1st Danzhou Tournament
  • 2010-09-06 TWIC 826 : 1st Campomanes Memorial Cup Open
  • 2011-02-21 TWIC 850 : 10th Aeroflot Open
  • 2011-03-21 TWIC 854 : Chinese World Teams Selection Tournament
  • 2011-04-04 TWIC 856 : FIDE Zonal 3.5
  • 2011-04-11 TWIC 857 : Chinese Championships 2011
  • 2011-05-30 TWIC 864 : 2nd Danzhou GM
  • 2011-06-30 TWIC 867 : 1st Chinese Celebrity Rapid
  • 2011-07-11 TWIC 870 : 1st ch-CHN Rapid 2011
  • 2011-09-05 TWIC 878 : FIDE World Cup 2011
  • 2011-10-10 TWIC 883 : 1st Qin Huangdao Open

Of the 13 events, most of them important, only two are mentioned in Wikipedia. Why is this? I suspect the reason is something like that given by Crowther in 'TWIC 854 : Chinese World Teams Selection Tournament' (italics mine):-

The Chinese held an 8 player double round robin event to select a player for their squad for the World Team Championships later in the year. Yu Yangyi won the tournament. I couldn't find any games but Chinese isn't a strong point of mine.

Note that the list doesn't include team events, of which I counted five. I'm not suggesting that Wikipedia should present an exhaustive account of Ding Liren's career, but there must be some acceptable compromise between nothing and everything.

04 April 2023

Breaking the 3600 Barrier

The post from a couple of days ago, Baffling eBay (April 2023), was post no.3600 on this blog. That means it's time for another 'Breaking the Barrier' post, last seen in Breaking the 3500 Barrier (October 2022). In that '3500' post I wrote

If I ever do a 'Breaking 3600' post, I now have two CCRL rating lists to consult, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

I am now standing in front of that bridge -- OK, sitting in front of it -- and I see that there are four CCRL rating lists. Shown below are the top five engines from three of the lists. Note that the third list is over three years old.


www.computerchess.org.uk/ccrl

Stockfish is the top engine on each of the lists, with a 3749 'Blitz' rating, and a 3536 '40/15', i.e. 'Rapid', rating. In the '3500' post I commented on the 200 point difference between the 'Blitz' and 'Rapid' ratings and am just as clueless now as I was then. In the same post I commented on the claim 'Carlsen breaks 2900 barrier':-

Given that Chess24.com is a defacto Magnus Carlsen fan club and that the record involved a '2900 Tour Rating' -- whatever that is -- the whole thing looks suspicious. TBD: Review for 'Breaking the 3600 Barrier'.

GM Carlsen's FIDE rating page Carlsen, Magnus (ratings.fide.com), shows him going over 2900 for both blitz and rapid ratings, but not for the standard rating. His current FIDE standard rating is 2853, making him the only player currently over 2800. GMs Nepomniachtchi and Ding Liren, the two players who will soon be playing for the title of World Champion, are rated no.2 and no.3 on the FIDE list at just under 2800.

Getting back to the 'CCRL Blitz Rating List' there are currently 17 engines rated over 3600. Based on that same list, it looks like we're already good for a 'Breaking 3700' post seven months (or so) from now, which should have at least two engines.

03 April 2023

TCEC S24 DivP Finishing; Stockfish Wins CCC20 Blitz Final

In the previous fortnightly post, TCEC S24 DivP, CCC20 Blitz Final : Both Underway (March 2023), the intrepid sponsors of the chess world's leading engine vs. engine competitions, the TCEC and the CCC, were both conducting important contests. Here's a summary of that post:-

TCEC: With two rounds completed in the eight round Premier Division (DivP), KomodoDragon, LCZero, and Stockfish are significantly ahead of the other five engines. • CCC: Lc0 beat Dragon by 32 points in the 500-game 'Challenger Match', and is currently trailing Stockfish by 16 points after a sixth of the 500-game 'Final Match' has been played.

The TCEC is still running S24 DivP, but the CCC is moving on. Here's the current status of both platforms:-

TCEC: DivP is a few games away from its finish. Stockfish is a point ahead of LCZero, which has a big lead over KomodoDragon. That means Stockfish will meet LCZero in the final match (aka Superfinal, aka Sufi), right? No, wrong.

That's the way TCEC organized its flagship league event through S23; see TCEC S23 Sufi, CCC19 Rapid : Nearing the Finish (November 2022), for the previous season. For this season the organizers have organized the new 'DivP Playoff':-

!divpplayoff • The top 4 of DivP face each other to determine who goes to SuFi 24.

Ethereal is currently in fourth place, a point ahead of Berserk. The two engines are scheduled to meet in one of the last games of DivP, so anything is possible.

CCC: In the previous post, 'S24 DivP, CCC20 Blitz Final', I also calculated,

Lc0 is currently trailing Stockfish by 16 points after a sixth of the 500-game 'Final Match' has been played. This extrapolates to a difference of nearly 100 points when the match will have finished.

The final score was Stockfish over Lc0 by 293.0-207.0, making Stockfish the winner of the 'CCC20 Blitz Final'. The site is currently conducting another OpenBench event...

!now • OpenBench Interlude #8 -- All engines except Laser [Crashing :( ] and 4ku [Too weak :( ]

...then plans...

!next • CCC20 Rapid: Newcomers

In previous posts, I've mentioned OpenBench several times in passing. It's high time I devoted an off-week post to the concept. Maybe next week...

[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]

02 April 2023

Baffling eBay

This blog's long running series, Top eBay Chess Items by Price (March 2010), is a teenager now. In last month's post, Poster Perfect Chess Art (March 2023), I wrote,

This month's initial list was top heavy with chess sets. I had to scroll way down the list to find an example of chess art, so scroll I did.

Copy that and scroll again. The item pictured below was titled, 'George Hall Neale 1863-1940 Antique British Oil Painting "A GAME OF CHESS" c1900'. It sold for 'GBP 285.00; Approximately US $352.39; Best offer accepted'. I'm baffled why that price had a bar through it. As far as I can see from the item's placement in the list of all sold items, that was -- more or less -- the selling price.

The description said,

Manor House Interior - A Game of Chess; By George Hall Neale; 1863-1940 • A large painting in the Victorian manner by this well collected artist who's painted many famous dignitaries in and around the Liverpool area in the early part of the 20th Century. His work became somewhat more impressionist in later years after studying at Acadmeie Julien in Paris. • Age - c1900

Size - 23 by 31 inches approx including frame, canvas 16 by 24 inches approx. • Medium - Oils on canvas • Frame - Antique gold coloured frame, some knocks, offered free with the painting. • Condition - We would be happy to hang this one as found though there is some light varnish browning in places. Some thinner paint areas and some old spots of restoration. The white coloured linen and hair of the couple playing chess appear to have been re-inforced at some point in the past. • Signature - Lower right.

For more works by the artist, see Neale, George Hall (artuk.org; '1863–1940; British, English '). According to that page, his portraits can be seen in dozens of museums, gallerys, and other institutions.

I'm also baffled why the price was so so low for an artist whose work is frequently estimated at GBP in four figures for auctions. The 'Condition' section of the description hints that the painting has been badly restored. The eBay images were very dark, so I had to lighten one of them for this post.