12 February 2016

Giant Chess Pieces in Mandalay

Just like It's All About Pattern Recognition and Petrosian's 'Dining Room', this photo was tagged by the Flickr robot, this time for 'chess'.

Taxi to Mandalay Hill © Flickr user geoff dude under Creative Commons.

As for the photographer, he tagged the photo 'Mandalay, Myanmar'. Wikipedia informs,

Mandalay is the economic hub of Upper Burma and considered the centre of Burmese culture. A continuing influx of Chinese immigrants, mostly from Yunnan, in the past twenty years, has reshaped the city's ethnic makeup and increased commerce with China. • Mandalay

You say 'Myanmar'; Wikipedia says 'Burma'; and Kipling (author of a well known poem titled 'Mandalay') says, 'Never the twain shall meet'.

11 February 2016

No More Yahoos?

First, Yahoo shut down its comic section -- I think it was around the beginning of the year. I used to spend about five minutes a day reading my favorites and saving the occasional comic that had something to do with chess. Over the years it amounted to several dozen saved comics, many of them having to do with politics (usually someone playing chess vs. someone playing checkers). The last non-political comic I have on file is shown below.

In the Bleachers, 22 March 2015

Then Yahoo shut down its news carrousel. I'm not even sure if 'carrousel' is the right word for the technique. The last example I used on this blog was shown in Chess Is Awesome (September 2015). While the Yahoo news page still exists, it looks like I'll be limited to the basic Yahoo attention-grabbing lead shown in Thousands of Comments (January 2016).

Then I learned that Yahoo had shut down its game section: Yahoo Games Has Passed Away at Just 17 (wired.com).

Yahoo Games, the once-hopping online game hub best known for its simulacrum of classic board and card games, is shutting down. The news was buried amidst major changes for the company: As we reported Tuesday [see link], Yahoo will lay off roughly 15 percent of the company, downsize across the board, and shutter many offerings, including its TV efforts.

Why did the company shut down the games?

Its decline was inevitable as the niche it filled moved to the mobile market, and as Yahoo itself became less central to the modern internet. Now, Yahoo Games is largely forgotten.

Many years ago I reviewed the chess area of Yahoo Games in General Game Sites (October 2003; archive.org -> chess.about.com); 'A trio of well known sites offers you 24/7 chess play plus many other games'. A few months later I compared it to its peers in Online Chess Play Sites V (January 2004; ditto); 'The fifth in a series of online play articles compares 11 sites'.

At that time I gave Yahoo chess three stars out of four, calculated that it attracted 44% of online chess players (this was a few years before the advent of Chess.com), and noted, 'Good starter site'. I received more comments about the Yahoo review than about any of the ten other online chess play sites, most of the comments disagreeing with my assessment and giving thumbs-down to Yahoo. I haven't been back to the site since the time I did that survey, but I'm still somewhat downhearted to hear of its demise. Where do mobile players go to play chess now?

09 February 2016

Black and White Passion

I ended my recent post on the FIDE rating list, Still There After All These Years, with the intention of a follow-up post.

It's an introduction to the photographer listed beneath the photo, Catherine Jaeg. I'll come back to her in another post.

Open almost any issue of Europe Echecs (EE) from the mid to late 1980s and you'll find photos by Catherine Jaeg. One of my favorites is shown below.

Europe Echecs, January 1988 p.13

I translate the caption as '"Ready to Rumble", GMs Dolmatov and Azmaiparashvili, Kasparov's seconds'. The photo is from an EE report on the Kasparov - Karpov Title Match, Seville 1987.

Jaeg was listed on the EE masthead as one of the 'Collaborateurs' starting November 1984, and as a member of the 'Comité de Redaction' (editorial team) starting September 1985. She continued to be listed until July 1990. That same year she published a collection of her photos in a book titled 'black & white -- PASSION -- en noir et blanc' (Broodcoorens, 1990; Bookfinder.com: ISBN 9090041125). Bessel Kok and his wife at that time, Pierrette Broodthaers, were listed as editors (both were also involved with Kasparov's GMA).

Today she is an artist and serves as President of the Salon Dessin et Peinture √† l’eau, Paris. A biography (in French) and sample of her work (nothing to do with chess) can found on Exposition des oeuvres de Catherine JAEG (2007).

08 February 2016

Instructional Videos : Giri

In the previous episode of this series featuring players in the 2016 Candidates tournament (starts next month!), I used a game from the 2016 Tata tournament, Instructional Videos : Caruana. In this current episode I'll flip back to a historical Tata tournament for another clip showing Tata's infamous wooden demo board (follow the Caruana link for other players using the same board.).

Anish Giri shows his win against Magnus Carlsen (13:55) • 'An unsuccessful opening idea followed by a blunder left the world's number one player Magnus Carlsen with nothing in round 3 of the [2011] Tata Steel Chess Tournament.'

The Youtube description continued, 'For the first time in many years [Carlsen] lost against someone younger than him: the talented Dutch GM Anish Giri, who promoted from the B group last year.' To follow the complete game, see Magnus Carlsen vs Anish Giri; Tata Steel 2011 on Chessgames.com. As far as I know, GM Giri's family name is pronounced with a hard 'g' and rhymes with 'weary'.

07 February 2016

Connecting Children with Chess

From the same Youtube channel that brought us Five Time Winner at Wijk aan Zee, here's a clip featuring Janton van Apeldoorn, founder Chessity, 'a company that develops software that teaches children how to play chess'.

Tata Steel Chess 2016 - Chessity (5:39) • 'Published on Jan 31, 2016'

Q: 'Why do you promote the product at the Tata Steel tournament?' • A: 'Tata developed and created a platform for chess. What they have done the last three years is going to all kinds of places in Holland. They connect chess for all the ages, also children. You have seen in the Spoorwegmuseum [Railway Museum] how big it was there -- thousands of visitors and also a lot of children. That platform is an incredible, powerful tool for children to meet with chess.'

In my next post for the 'Chess in School' series, I'll look at chess software for children, in the same spirit as I did for Chess Curriculum (December 2015).

05 February 2016

Five Time Winner at Wijk aan Zee

After winning the 2016 Tata tournament at Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, the World Champion discussed the event with Press Chief Tom Bottema (left) and Tournament Director Jeroen van den Berg (right).

Tata Steel Chess 2016 - Final Press Conference - Magnus Carlsen (16:52) • 'Published on Jan 31, 2016'

For more videos from the Tata Chess organizers, see Youtube channel Tata Steel Chess.

04 February 2016

Seven Portieljes

This blog's most recent post about 'Top eBay Chess Items', The Kitten Theme, featured a painting by Gerard Portielje (Belgian, 1856-1929) and noted,

A search on 'chess Portielje' brings up two other works by the same artist.

Afterwards I noticed another painting and started to wonder how many different chess paintings there are by Portielje. Using the following image as a starting point...

Google image search on 'chess Portielje'

...I numbered the rows from top to bottom as 1 to 3 with the paintings from left to right in each row identified as A, B, etc.. The 'Kitten Theme' painting (first row, second from the left) is thereby identified as 1B.

That identification scheme reveals the following pairs of chess paintings: 1A & 1C are the same, 1D & 2B ditto (although certain details like the cabinet on the right of the painting are not identical), 1E & 1F ditto; plus two unpaired paintings: 2A and 2F.

2C and 3C show the same painting, but it's not a chess scene. The other Google images are either not by Portielje or not about chess.

That makes six different paintings on the first Google search page. I found a seventh on the second search page, which leads to valsur 274753.html - Valerij SURKOV, showing four Portielje images (among many others by other artists): 1A/1C, 1D, 2B, plus the new painting.

I wouldn't be surprised to find more.


Later: I found a second Valerij SURKOV collection of chess paintings: valsur 337769.html - Valerij SURKOV. This page also has four Portielje images -- 2A, *, 1E/1F, and 2F -- where '*' is a painting not identified above. Change the title of this post to 'Eight Portieljes'!

I also searched my collection of ~10.000 chess images (most of them from eBay) for Portielje. In addition to 'Kitten Theme' (1B), I found several variations of 1E/1F, the best of which had the accompanying text:-

The title is 'The Chess Players'. This print was issued by the Denver Post, December 7, 1902 (printed in the lower left corner). [...] This was printed by the American Colortype Company as a supplement to the Denver Post newspaper.

Another variation mentioned, 'Originally this print appeared as a supplement to the CHICAGO TRIBUNE on 2/2/1902'.