21 October 2014

Cascading Translations

We lost our Internet connection for close to a day -- and thanks to 'bundling', our TV connection as well -- which meant that I had some spare time to spend on something besides writing my daily blog post. On a whim I opened my copy of 'The Art of the Middle Game' by Keres and Kotov (Dover 1989), turned to the last chapter on 'The Art of Analysis' by Keres, and, with the help of an engine, started looking at Keres' analysis.

Although I intended to turn that exercise into a blog post, a curious inconsistency caught my attention. The chapter on 'Art of Analysis', at 63 pages the longest chapter in the book, has nothing to do with the middlegame. It's about the endgame. More specifically, it's about analyzing adjourned positions, which used to occur at move 40, usually after the heat of the middlegame had passed. So what's going on here?

The copyright page of the Dover book, 'Translated by H. Golombek', tells us that it was first published by Penguin Books in 1964. The same page carries a 'Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication' record (CIP; see Cataloging in Publication Program for more) that tells us the book is a translation of 'Konsten att vinna i schack'. Google translates that Swedish title as 'The trick to winning in chess', but translates other pages where the title occurs as 'The art of winning in chess'. I prefer 'The art of...'.

Other sources tell us that 'Konsten...' was published by Prisma in 1961, translated from the original Russian by Bengt Hörberg and Lars Warne. I wasn't able to determine the Russian title of the book, and suspect that it might be a collection of four separate essays, two by Keres and two by Kotov. Did Golombek work from the Russian, as he usually did, or from the Swedish?

One more point: the last section of the Dover book is an 'Index of Middle-Game Themes', with about 25 entries. Only the entry on 'Zugzwang' points to the chapter on 'The Art of Analysis'; zugzwang is most often found in endgames.

In his 'Editorial Forward', Golombek explains his choice of the last chapter:-

Keres, adopting as always a practical point of view, has taken the subject of analysis of adjourned games, so revealing how a master's mind works and how a chess player should set about the task of analyzing any given position.

Now that I know the connection with the middlegame, I can move on to Keres' remarks.

20 October 2014

TMERs: Carlsen - Anand PGN Master

A couple of weeks ago, in TMERs: Carlsen - Anand Index, I mentioned, 'Next step: Add the games to the TMER PGN master files'. To download those ZIP files, see the links in the 'Carlsen - Anand Index' post.

(*) TMER = Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record

19 October 2014

Quest for Logic

If my least favorite posts on Top eBay Chess Items by Price are about books -- like the previous post on Antonius van der Linde -- then my most favorite are about paintings. The auction for the painting shown below was titled 'Head Chess surrealism landscape fantasy original oil painting 30 x 36" Mag Raven', and fetched US $1000 after a single bid.

The description added,

This is one of my finest paintings from fantastic realism collection.
• Title: "Quest for logic"
• Size: 30 x 36", 0.75" thick. (76x71.5cm, 2cm thick)
• Technique: original oil painting on canvas.
• Painting is varnished.
• Canvas is gallery wrapped, no visible stitches on the edges. All sides are painted to match the colors of the painting. You can hang it on the wall without the frame.
• Painting is signed by artist and has certificate of authenticity with its unique number. All my artwork is catalogued.

Along with that information about the painting was a note from the artist.

My name is Mag Raven. I am a full time artist. My artwork can be found in collections all over the world. I use glazing, old masters technique (like Rembrandt or Caravaggio) so the colors of my paintings look deep and vivid.

My major inspiration is art of Zdzislaw Beksinski from his Fantastic Realism period. I love his style, ideas and expression. I also find my inspiration in old ruins, rocks, bones and cemeteries, simply things what remind of death but they can last for thousands of years. I've been painting since I could crawl. My parents knew that when I get quiet it means only one thing, that I'm painting, probably on the walls of our apartment. Lack of paper wouldn't stop me!

For more about the artist, see her eBay page mederena.

17 October 2014

'A Rook Lighthouse For Bobby' (*)

Through the years, this Flickr Friday series has featured a number of images where everyday objects look like chess pieces, but I can't remember an image where a piece became the everyday object.


Rook lighthouse © Flickr user Guido Veltmaat under Creative Commons.

The artist added,

Chess series nr.3 • A commons edit from flickr.com/photos/matthieuk where the mid-part of the tower is replaced by my Rook macro. Rocks are partly altered, water and sky replaced with fragments of own pictures.

(*) After I Like Trains - A Rook House for Bobby.

16 October 2014

A:'Playing Checkers' vs. B:'Playing Chess'

While writing my previous post, Geopolitical Yahoos, I started to wonder about the phrase 'A is playing checkers while B is playing chess'. Who are the the most popular choices for A and B? A Google search on '"playing checkers" "playing chess"' (PC/PC) brings up many sporting and political references, especially the Obama vs. Putin relationship. The same search on images brings up a number of Obama vs. Putin cartoons where the American is invariably playing checkers, the Russian playing chess.

How about adding 'Obama' to the PC/PC image search. Are there any insights to be gained there? The top composite image below shows the first page of Google results. The first of the thumbnails (top left corner) shows Obama caddying for Putin, followed by two Obama/Putin cartoons. Other images show Obama playing chess against John McCain, chess(?) against the Republicans, checkers against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, and chess against Hillary Clinton.

Obama 'chess vs. checkers'

Putin 'chess vs. checkers'

The bottom composite image is the same PC/PC search, this time substituting 'Putin' for 'Obama'. Many of the thumbnails are the same, but there is a smaller variety of other chess opponents. My favorite is in the middle of the bottom row, showing Putin in a simul against Obama who is sitting next to European leaders David Cameron, Angela Merkel, and François Hollande.

The thumbnail showing Putin stroking his chin (Top: left of the second row; Bottom: upper right corner) depicts another chess cliché often attributed to Obama vs. Putin, called the 'pigeon quote':-

[Negotiating, discussing, arguing, etc.] with [fill in the blank] is like playing chess with a pigeon. The pigeon knocks over all the pieces, craps on the board, and then struts around like it won the game.

The origin of the analogy is uncertain, although it definitely predates Obama vs. Putin. Expanding the thumbnails in any of these Google image searches leads to more 'Related images', many of them having something to do with chess.

Then there are the other games. The third row of the Obama results, with two views of the same image featuring an American flag, leads to a page that says, 'When it comes to diplomacy, Russia is playing chess, Syria is playing checkers and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is playing tiddlywinks.'

14 October 2014

Geopolitical Yahoos

Right up there with 'World's largest cave', 'State bans plastic bags', and 'Son finds dad's Corvette' -- Seen on Yahoo!...

Kasparov: Putin is 'the most dangerous man' in the world
and a bigger threat to the U.S. than the Islamic State


Putin dismisses critic Kasparov's political skills

Noteworthy Kasparov remarks included a twist on the 'A is playing checkers while B is playing chess' cliché:-

Kasparov believes that Putin is calling the world's bluff. "He is playing poker while everyone else is playing chess."

There was also a generous serving of Garry's favorite food, sour grapes:-

Just last month Kasparov lost his bid for the presidency of the International Chess Federation, to Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, a controversial billionaire who had ties to Saddam Hussein, Moammar Gadhafi and Bashar Assad. [...] "Of course it was", Kasparov answered when asked if the election was rigged.

The Kasparov interview garnered more than 4100 comments, which seem to run about two-thirds against the 13th World Champion. Here are a few comments that actually mention chess:-

He is willing to say anything and everything to slander Putin. I would say it is a waste his talent and effort. He used to be a good chess player.

America certainly doesn't need anybody else duping or influences us into accomplishing their war agendas like chess pawns.

Yes, Mr. K. Chess players DO abide by set rules. WORLD players do not. They make the rules as they go along.

Kasparov used to be a good chess player... Big money changed his game.

Just because you can play chess well does not mean you can understand international politics. Obviously Kasparov thinks he's the smartest guy in the room because he has figured out a board game. He's taking the image of politics being a "chess game" far too literally.

Did I say, 'two-thirds against the 13th World Champion'? On second reading it looks more like nine-tenths against. As for Putin, he complimented his chess-playing adversary:-

He's not made a very good politician, but he's a great chess player.

Of the more than 800 comments to Putin's remarks, they were more favorable to Kasparov. For example:-

Kasparov understands strategy. His experience playing chess has introduced him to every possible move that one person can do to gain power. Putin does not move without a plan, a strategy to gain and hold on to more power.

Putin made sure that Kasparov did not become President of FIDE, the international chess federation. He put in a nutty supporter of his by influencing the voting delegates probably by giving bribes.

You don't get to be the chess champion of the world for as many years as Kasparov was without having an amazing brain! Putin knows this. This is why he attacks Kasparov personally hoping that by doing so he will sway public opinion.

Kasparov is Putin's gadfly. If Putin thought Kasparov was inconsequential he wouldn't swat at him. Putin slams the rest of the world leaders at political chess. Kasparov is the only real challenger in his league.

So why doesn't Putin the Magnificent challenge him to a chess match? Putin has won every single contest in his life. Just ask him.

I agree with the person who said, 'Its a no brainer. Of course Putin is more dangerous to U.S. than IS; Russia has thousands more nuclear weapons than IS.' It's not at all clear that Kasparov's diplomatic skills are better developed than his political skills. • Previously Seen on Yahoo!: Alice and 'The Cat in the Hat'.

13 October 2014

TMERs: Anand Interim Update

While preparing the PGN update mentioned in TMERs: Carlsen - Anand Index (*), I noticed some inconsistencies left over from last year's Anand's TMER 1983-2013. I eliminated those and will continue with the 'Carlsen - Anand Index' the next time I tackle this project.

(*) TMER = Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record