30 July 2023

Gotham Gets Gaga

This latest post on The Sociology of Chess (November 2016), echoes this month's featured video Gotham Gets Giddy (July 2023), including the title. That's not really fair, because the entire clip is a reasoned summary of the current chess boom by one of its main beneficiaries.

Chess is surging in popularity among all ages. Here's why. (7:19) • '[Published on] Jul 2, 2023'

The description of the video explains,

Chess is a centuries-old game that’s enjoying new popularity with young people. The renewed interest has created demand for more online content, and international chess master and commentator Levy Rozman is one of those providing it. He joins John Yang for our Weekend Spotlight to discuss the game’s big boom.

IM Rozman uses the opportunity to promote his forthcoming book, 'How to Win at Chess: The Ultimate Guide for Beginners and Beyond'. The book's Amazon page, How to Win at Chess: Rozman, Levy, says,

Levy Rozman, more popularly known as GothamChess, is an online chess streamer who earned the International Master title in 2018. A former scholastic chess coach, he is passionate about chess accessibility, and has donated $100,000 in scholarship funds for chess programs in education. He currently boasts the biggest chess channel on YouTube, where he focuses on creating fun and educational content.

Why 'Gaga'? Why not!

27 July 2023

Blocks of Yahoos

The month of July 2023 is coming to an end, meaning that it's time for a roundup of the month's chess news, aka Yahoos. For a more precise definition of Yahoos, see the footnote below.

I always start a post with a summary of the sources that reported the month's news, as shown in the chart on the left. This month we had nine sources with two or more stories, topped as usual by Chess.com.

Second was Chessbase, with double the count for the two sources tied for third. Last month Chessbase was missing from the list of sources with more than one story. In that post, Three Yahoo Surprises (June 2023), I wrote,

The first surprise is the no.2 position held by FIDE. Last month, in Youtube Yahoos (May 2023), Chessbase was no.2, a ranking it has held or shared every month since last year's post Cheating Mania (September 2022), where the New York Times was no.2 and Chessbase was no.3.

That post was split in two parts, which led to an error. In the second part I admitted,

I made a couple of mistakes when I prepared the discussion [in the first part]. At the top of its results, Google News returned blocks of stories on two specific chess topics that I failed to include in my counts. As an example, both blocks included a story by CNN.

For this current post Google News again 'returned blocks of stories on two specific chess topics' [note to self: find out what Google calls these sections]. Before I look at those, let's have the usual statistics.

This month Google News returned 103 stories from 51 sources. Of those, 42 sources had a single story. The two blocks of stories accounted for three stories each. I selected a single report from each of the two blocks of stories.

'Iranian chess player gets Spanish citizenship' (three stories; no other stories among the other 97 returned by Google News)

  • 2023-07-27: Iranian chess player Sara Khadem who competed without hijab granted Spanish nationality (cnn.com) • 'An Iranian chess player, who competed in an international tournament without wearing a hijab, has been granted Spanish nationality, Spain’s Minister of Justice announced on Tuesday. Sara Khadem, also known as Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, competed in the FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan, in December 2022.'

For the original hijab story, see First Yahoos of 2023 (January 2023). This CNN story was one of the three stories from CNN. The other two were featured in last month's 'Yahoo Surprises', due to an overlap in the reporting periods for June and July.

'Queen's Gambit Chess on Netflix' (three stories; no other stories...)

  • 2023-07-25: Rook No Further, The Queen's Gambit Chess Is Now on Netflix Games (cnet.com) • 'Almost three years after the premiere of the popular Netflix show The Queen's Gambit, the streaming giant released The Queen's Gambit Chess, a game based on the series, on Tuesday. You can play this game for free and without ads or paywalls with a Netflix subscription (starting at $7, £7 or AU$7 a month) on Android and iOS devices.'

Those two stories make a good start for the month's news, but there's more. I'll come back to the rest later.

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


Later: Let's first have a word about a couple of newcomers to the list of news sources. About Android Police (androidpolice.com), says,

Android Police started in 2010 as a resource for Android news and reviews, but has since expanded to be one of the most authoritative and trustworthy technology sites on the internet. And we’ve done that without losing the signature intelligence, humor, and integrity you’ve come to expect from us.

One of its stories was about the same 'Queen's Gambit Chess' we saw in the first part ('Relive the Netflix show as you hone your chess skills'). Dexerto (dexerto.media; 'The World’s Largest Esports & Influencer Media Group'), says,

DEXERTO is an award-winning media company at the forefront of gaming culture and esports. Engage with our network of esports, gaming and influencer brands attracting over 100 million fans each month, supported by a group of exclusive gaming publisher partners.

One of its two stories was about PogChamps, a frequent visitor to the series about Yahoos:-

If, like me, you're more interested in world class chess than in millennial zeitgeist, FIDE's stories are worth more than a quick glance.

  • 2023-07-01: The rise of China as a chess power • 'China's ascent as a global chess powerhouse has been nothing short of extraordinary. From its humble beginnings, China has now emerged as a dominant force in the chess world. The unfolding of China's path to chess dominance is something which should be looked at carefully and studied.'
  • 2023-07-24: All eyes on Baku as the chess elite descends on Azerbaijan for the World Cup • 'The event will feature an unprecedented prize fund of 2.5 million US dollars. For the first time, the top three players from both the Open and the Women's section will qualify for the Candidates tournaments.'

One more story, this one with a romantic twist, is worth mentioning.

  • 2023-07-26: Hikaru Nakamura Finds His Queen, Marries Atousa Pourkashiyan (chess.com; TarjeiJS) • 'GM Hikaru Nakamura has had great success on the chess board recently, but everything appears to work out off the board as well. The world number-two confirmed to Chess.com that he married WGM Atousa Pourkashiyan.'

Later in the same story we learn:-

35-year-old Pourkashiyan is a seven-time Iranian women's champion. She made her debut for the Iranian national team as a 11-year-old in 2000, and has played a total of nine Olympiads, six of them on board one. She moved to the U.S. just a few years ago and officially changed federations to represent the U.S. last December. Her current FIDE rating is 2305, making her the eighth highest-rated woman in the country.

Congratulations to the chess newlyweds!

23 July 2023

Chess as a Symbol

Chess as a symbol of war, chess as a symbol of peace. Two photos on the short list for this month's featured Flickr photo used a chess game to convey opposing messages.

Top: Chess match USSR (Russia) vs USA © Flickr user Ted under Creative Commons
Bottom: Cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev and Astronaut Woody Hoburg play chess © Flickr user NASA Johnson under Creative Commons

The top photo, which had 16 views and one fave (mine), carried no other information beyond a link to an album titled, 2023 National Museum of the United States Air Force. The bottom photo, which had 6054 views and 22 faves (the most recent was mine) had a description that said,

From left, Expedition 69 Commander Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos and Flight Engineer Woody Hoburg of NASA each contemplate their next move during an orbital game of chess inside the International Space Station's [ISS] cupola. The orbital lab was soaring 259 miles above the Colombia - Venezuela border at the time of this photograph.

Chess as a symbol of war was widespread during the 1972 Fischer - Spassky Title Match (m-w.com). See, for example, last year's post, Cold Warriors of Chess (August 2022; 'Before the match started, [media] focus was on aspects of the cold war between two nuclear superpowers, the USA and the USSR.').

Chess as a symbol of peace has been seen before on this blog using the same Flickr source; see At the Cosmonaut Hotel (April 2020). I frequently use the phrase, 'Chess is a game of war'. Maybe I also need to say, 'Chess is a game of peace'.

20 July 2023

July 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover'

A month after June 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' (June 2023; 'the winners of super strong U.S. Swiss-system tournaments'), which players were featured on the covers of CL&R/CL 50 and 25 years ago? For the first time in a year -- June 1972 & 1997 'On the Cover' (June 2022; Spassky and Kasparov) -- we find two foreign-born GMs dominating both covers.

Left: '?'
Right: 'Karpov at the National Open'

Chess Life & Review (50 Years Ago)

Lubomir Kavalek, also known as Lubosh, won a tournament at Lanzarote, Spain, but at Las Palmas... He tells the whole story [inside]. Photo by Burt Hochberg.

The story inside was '25 Games in a Chess Paradise' by Lubosh Kavalek. It started,

Since the Candidate Match between Larsen and Uhlmann in 1971, the Chess Federation of Gran Canaria, Spain, has made great progress. Last year they organized their first international tournament. and a fighting tournament it was. The winner. Portisch, had nine outright wins.

This year the organizers decided to have a very strong tournament. And it was strong enough -- category 11 according to the Elo rating system adopted by the FIDE. But it could have been even stronger: at the last moment Bent Larsen cabled from Copenhagen that for "personal reasons" he could not take part, and Arturo Pomar became ill. So Hans Ree from Holland and Bernard Huguet from France replaced those two.

That Las Palmas tournament, held in April 1973, was won by Soviet GMs Leonid Stein and Tigran Petrosian. A follow-up tournament, also in the Canary Islands, was held soon thereafter. Kavalek explained,

Ricardo Calvo won the prize for the best attacking combination against me. And because Ricardo made two points more than the norm for international master and because he needed that average in at least 25 games, the Federation in Las Palmas and its president, Mr. Betancourt, decided to organize another tournament in Lanzarote.

Andersson. Ljubojevic, Ribli, Saidy and I gratefully accepted the invitation. Another six players were local. Spanish Champion Visier, Calvo, and Menveille came from the Spanish mainland. The Frenchman Huguet was so delighted with the great chess interest here that he moved here from France.

Kavalek tied for first with Ulf Andersson in the second tournament. For Kavalek's previous appearance on a cover in this series, see July 1972 & 1997 'On the Cover' (July 2022); for his previous solo cover appearance, see September 1970 & 1995 'On the Cover' (September 2020).

Chess Life (25 Years Ago)

It wasn't all work for FIDE World Champion Anatoly Karpov while he was in Las Vegas for the National Open. He found the time to attend a Siegfried and Roy performance. As it turns out, Siegfried and Roy are great chess enthusiasts. When they pointed out Karpov's presence, Anatoly received a standing ovation from the audience! • Cover photograph courtesy of Fred Gruenberg.

Although Karpov is still a familiar name to chess players, Siegfried & Roy might be less well known today. According to the page Siegfried & Roy (wikipedia.org),

Siegfried Fischbacher (June 13, 1939 – January 13, 2021) and Roy Horn (born Uwe Ludwig Horn; October 3, 1944 – May 8, 2020) were German-American magicians and entertainers who performed together as Siegfried & Roy. They were best known for their use of white lions and white tigers in their acts.

Karpov's presence in Las Vegas was explained in the story '1998 National Open, Part II: "A Really Big Shew"' by Jerry Hanken. A sidebar to the story, titled 'Karpov Speaks', started,

The highlight of the weekend, apart from the play itself, was undoubtedly the luncheon between rounds 5 and 6, at which FIDE World Champion Anatoly Karpov addressed more than 200 players. Anatoly had signed books and other chess items for a line of people which seemed to get longer by the minute. He was very gracious and patient with it all, and when we finally had to go in to the luncheon, many approached him at his table during the meal and he continued to sign everything from chessboards to napkins!

When Al Losoff introduced the world champion after dessert, we expected a few minutes at most of offhand remarks. We got a lot more! Karpov spoke for 20 minutes, and thanks to my good friend Tim Hanks of Litton Industries, we got a tape of this delightful speech, which was punctuated by frequent hearty laughs and sustained, deafening applause at the end.

Just a few months ago, Karpov appeared in the series for March 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover' (March 2023; 'Karpov Reigns Supreme as FIDE World Champion!'). His appearance in Las Vegas was undoubtedly related to his friendship with GM Ron Henley. For more about that era, see Wayback to Smartchess (November 2022).

18 July 2023

2023 CJA Award Entries

When I posted 2023 CJA Awards Announcement (May 2023), I wrote,

Since I'm gradually winding down by blogging activity, I don't know if I'll post [about the CJA] so many times this year, but I'll certainly do what I can.

Both out of curiosity and force of habit, I tried to look at the list of 2023 CJA (Chess Journalists of America) entries after it became available. The following image is a screen capture of the page I found.

2023 CJA Award Entries (chessjournalism.org)

To see the entries for a particular award, click on a category, then click on the award. All entries for the award are then displayed. The image shows the four awards under the category 'Book Awards', i.e. 'Best Book of The Year' (sic), which has four awards: 'Overall', 'Other', 'Instructional', and 'Self Published'. The 'Overall' award lists 14 entries, each with a link to a separate page.

To collect all of the entries across all of the categories would require clicking on each award, then performing a copy/paste on the entries for that award. You might expect there would be an option to download the list of all entries in all awards, but no such luck.

The data behind the page is embedded on the page's HTML, so it should be possible to extract the entries using straightforward text tools. That would require more work than I have time for right now. I might come back to it later, but I wouldn't bet any money on that happening soon. The winners will be announced next month.

16 July 2023

Gotham Gets Giddy

This month's short list for featured video had more clips than any month since November 2022, when the so-called Niemann affair was reaching its peak interest. This video, from Youtube channel Athletic Interest, was my favorite among many excellent choices.

How Chess Broke YouTube (10:28) • '[Published on] Jul 13, 2023'

What's Athletic Interest? The description for the clip explains,

Athletic Interest is a video essay series that investigates business stories from the world of sports.

Most of the channel's recent videos are about football ('soccer' if you're American), but other popular sports get occasional coverage. As for the chess video, its seven segments have the following titles:-

00:00 The Incredible Economics of Chess
01:14 The History - Maniacs, Murder and Marketing
03:28 The Boom - Netflix, YouTube & More
05:08 The Secret Behind the Rise
06:52 The Player - Magnus Inc.
08:17 The Company
10:04 The Power of Content

The video starts, 'This might be the most interesting Instagram ad ever' and just gets better and better. In case you're wondering about its sources of info, 'Big thanks to @GothamChess for the amazing insights and collaboration on this video!'

09 July 2023

Posters for 'Blade Runner'

My routine for preparing the monthly post in the series Top eBay Chess Items by Price (March 2010) always starts with preparing a short list of chess items sold in the previous month. Once in a while the same item -- or similar items -- appears twice on the short list. There is often a side story associated with this and the last time it happened was eBay Deja Vu (August 2021).

The composite image below shows two items from two different auctions. Both items were based on the title 'Blade Runner poster Laurent Durieux Variant The Final Chess Game'. For the specifics of the two auctions, see below.

Top row: Posters for 'Blade Runner' ('A Ridley Scott Film')
Bottom row: Detail from upper right poster

The item shown in the upper left was titled 'Blade Runner poster Laurent Durieux Aluminum Variant The Final Chess Game #/100'. It sold for around $450.00, 'Best offer accepted'. The description said,

The Final Chess Game - Aluminum Print by Laurent Durieux • 2mm thick aluminum panel • 24 x 36 inches • Limited edition of 100

The item shown in the upper right was titled 'Blade Runner poster Laurent Durieux Variant The Final Chess Game #/325'. It sold for around $400.00 'Best offer accepted'. Its description said,

The Final Chess Game - Variant by Laurent Durieux - Bottleneck Gallery • Screen print • 24 x 36 inches • Hand-numbered edition of 325

The descriptions for both items also included the phrase 'Please note, this item is a preorder that will ship when received. Item will ship properly in a sturdy tube with kraft paper.' You might guess from all of this that the items were offered by the same seller, but different seller names were attached to the two auctions. Both auctions also included the same info under 'Item specifics':-

Condition; New: A brand-new, unused, unopened, undamaged item (including handmade items). • Year of Production; 2023

Did either of these posters have anything to do with posters for the original 1982 movie? I have no answer for that question. For a previous post in the series on 'Top eBay Chess Items' on the same topic, see More Birds from Blade Runner (March 2013).

03 July 2023

TCEC/CCC 2023-H1 Summary

Six months have passed since the previous summary of the fortnightly TCEC/CCC posts on this blog. That post was appropriately titled TCEC/CCC 2022-H2 Summary (January 2023). Here are the latest six months of posts that covered the first half of 2023.

TCEC/CCC Off-week
2023-01-09: TCEC Cup 11 Underway; CCC19 Bullet in Semifinals 2023-01-16: Chessify Progress Report
2023-01-23: LCZero Wins TCEC Cup 11; Stockfish Wins CCC19 Bullet 2023-01-30: Talkchess Talks Top Engines
2023-02-06: TCEC Swiss 4 Underway; CCC Mystery Matches 2023-02-13: Chessify's Other Engines
2023-02-20: Stockfish Wins TCEC Swiss 4; TCEC S24 L2 & CCC20 Blitz Underway 2023-02-27: Chessify vs. Chessbase Engine Cloud
2023-03-06: TCEC S24 L1, CCC20 Blitz Semifinals: Final Week 2023-03-13: NextChessMove.com
2023-03-20: TCEC S24 DivP, CCC20 Blitz Final : Both Underway 2023-03-27: Chessify Resources
2023-04-03: TCEC S24 DivP Finishing; Stockfish Wins CCC20 Blitz Final 2023-04-10: OpenBench Interlude
2023-04-17: TCEC S24 Sufi, CCC20 Rapid - Both Underway 2023-04-24: The Komodo Baton
2023-05-15: Stockfish Wins TCEC S24; Engine Mysteries 2023-05-22: An 'Advice-taking' Chess Machine
2023-05-29: TCEC FRC6, CCC20 Rapid Finals; Both Underway 2023-06-05: The CCC's Mystery Engine
2023-06-12: TCEC FRC6, CCC20 Rapid; Stockfish Wins Both 2023-06-19: Chessify Coins and Combos
2023-06-26: Stockfish Wins TCEC DFRC2; CCC20 Bullet Underway  

The last cell in the table represents this current post. In the previous post, 'TCEC DFRC2, CCC20 Bullet', I wrote,

What goes around doesn't always come around. Sometimes it stops. The TCEC is starting S25; the CCC is coming to the end of CCC20. I'm almost certain this current post will be the last in the series on this blog.

Make that the next-to-last post. This summary is the last post.