31 October 2023

Yahoos Masquerading as Yahoos

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

29 October 2023

An 'Amazing Chess Club'?

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

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

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

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

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

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

15 October 2023

White Rhino vs. Dogman

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

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

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

  • london bridge city
  • gillie and marc

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

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

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

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

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

08 October 2023

Everyone's Favorite World Champion?

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

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

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

The description of the video says,

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

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

05 October 2023

'Mystery Painting' in Denmark

Last month I received the following email:-

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

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

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

I replied,

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

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

03 October 2023

October 1973 & 1998 'On the Cover'

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

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

Chess Life & Review (50 Years Ago)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chess Life (25 Years Ago)

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

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

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

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

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

01 October 2023

NYC Central Park Chess Hustler

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

a small carved or molded figure : statuette

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

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

The description explained,

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

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

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

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


Produced by Veronese
under supervision of the artist.


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