30 September 2014

McFarland Chess Books

For today's blog post, I wavered between two topics: a follow-up to a recent post -or- a note on McFarland chess books. By coincidence, in today's post I received the latest McFarland chess catalog and took that as guidance, since it's only the second time I have received their catalog.

I already have a number of McFarland books that I have acquired through the years. I set out to count them and discovered six, along with a few that I have collected in PDF format.

McFarland chess books generally have three characteristics: 1) they are authoritative; 2) they are printed using high quality production techniques; and 3) they are expensive. Unfortunately, 'authoritative' doesn't necessarily mean 'good' and I have been disappointed with one or two. The table below lists the books I have, along with a number of stars to show how highly I value each one.

  Gaige, Chess Personalia
  Gelo, Chess World Championships
  Graham, Women in Chess
  Landsberger, William Steinitz
  Soltis, Soviet Chess, 1917-1991
  Soltis & McCormick, United States Chess Championship, 1845-1996

My PDF versions are all by the same author, Gino Di Felice.

  Di Felice, Chess Periodicals, 1836-2008; Chess Results (two volumes)

After acquiring the books listed above, I told myself that I would never buy another hardcopy version. The cost / benefit ratio is just too erratic. Then, this past Father's Day, I received another McFarland book as a gift. I intended to review it for this post, but I'm at a loss what to say. In a word, it's excellent.

  Forster, The Zurich Chess Club, 1809-2009

I hope to come back to this subject soon. First I have to figure out why I like the book on the Zurich Chess Club so much.

29 September 2014

TMERs: Carlsen - Anand PGN

Continuing with TMERs: Back to Carlsen - Anand, I collected the PGN for all games played by both players since the last time I updated their respective TMER (Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record). The events and number of games -- using TWIC header data -- are shown below.


Top: Carlsen / Bottom: Anand

Carlsen's table doesn't show 'WCh 2013', because it's already recorded on his TMER (see 'Back to C - A' for the link). The two players have met five times since the Chennai match with a score of +1-1=3. The single game at slow time control was drawn. Next step: Add this index data to the TMERs.

28 September 2014

The First USCF Chessathon

In Chessathons and SuperNationals, I quoted former USCF Executive Director Al Lawrence, 'From 1992-1996, five annual U.S. Chessathons pitted the best players in the world against school kids in a giant exhibition that made national and international news.' Lawrence announced the first Chessathon in the August 1992 Chess Life (CL).

Last year in this column we set a goal of 64.000 members by June 30 -- the end of USCF's then-new, 1992 fiscal year. As of 30 April 1992, the U.S. Chess Federation already has a paid membership of 63.418 -- the highest ever in our 53-year history! [...] In ten months, total paid membership is up more than 10%. Scholastic membership has soared by 97%! USCF's junior publication, the bi-monthly School Mates, has seen its circulation rocket by 79% to more than 13.400.

THE U.S. CHESS FESTIVAL -- NEW INITIATIVES: In July the U.S. Chess Federation will stage what may be the biggest promotional event in its history -- the U.S. Chessathon. Thousands of children, many of them sponsored by corporate America, will play in a simultaneous exhibition on Saturday, 18 July, in New York City's Central Park to raise money for chess charities. Hundreds of volunteers will help.

The first page of CL's five-page feature in the November 1992 issue is shown below.

The lead paragraph started,

The U.S. Chess Festival was probably the most ambitious project ever undertaken by the USCF. Thousands of staff hours went into the planning of the various activities held 11-24 July. Spearheaded by Assistant Director Daniel Edelman and Executive Director Al Lawrence, the festivities began with the Game/10 and Game/15 Championships, which were held at Hunter College in Manhattan.

The caption under the large photo said,

Judit Polgar poses with U.S. Congressman Ben Gilman. At right, USCF Accountant Art Griggs distributes free literature during the Chessathon. At far right, Judit takes on the Raging Brooks from Adam Clayton Powell JHS.

CL's cover pictured the three Polgar sisters along with the caption, "We'll Take Manhattan..."

ON THE COVER: The Polgars -- sisters Zsuzsa, Sofia, and Judit -- took Manhattan by storm during the USCF's Chessathon. It was a media blitzkrieg which resulted in almost constant public exposure for the USCF and its scholastic programs.

Other events included the Third Harvard Cup, Man vs. Machine, tournament ('Man' won 18-7) and the category 12 Samuel Reshevsky Memorial, won by GM Julio Granda Zuniga, a half point ahead of Judit Polgar, who turned 16 during the event. Online reports from the early-1990s are unusual, but I found one on rec.games.chess:- [1992-07] Chessathon.

Lawrence wasn't exaggerating when he called the Chessathon 'the biggest promotional event in [USCF] history', but he did undercount the number of them. Instead of '1992-1996, five annual U.S. Chessathons', the events continued into the 2000s.

26 September 2014

'Check, Please'

'Chess, America, I love it! It's my game. That's because Bernie Mac's a thinking man. Unfortunately, I'm playing by myself again. No one to play with.'


The Bernie Mac Shows (21:53) • '02e16: Chess Wars'

IMDB: The Bernie Mac Show: Season 2, Episode 16; Chess Wars (9 Apr. 2003).

25 September 2014

Suzanne de Wilde (1944-2014)

Suzy, my wife's best friend and a frequent dinner guest, was the long-term partner of Olivier Verroken (1955-2006). She loved telling stories and always sent postcards when she left on vacation, but there will be no more stories or cards. RIP, Suzy.

23 September 2014

A Pulitzer Poem

Before I leave Endless Discovery, I have one more post related to Chess Books in the Internet Archive. Another Flickr entry, Image from page 1434 of "Men and women of America; a biographical dictionary of contemporaries" (1910), was a photo of a gentleman who could easily have been an early 20th century chess player. The accompanying description included, 'Text Appearing After Image: Joseph Pulitzer'. So Joseph Pulitzer -- of Pulitzer Prize fame -- had something to do with chess?

Indeed he did, but only indirectly. The biographical entry after Joseph's [follow Flickr's 'View Book Page' to see the image in context] was for his nephew Walter Pulitzer, whose own entry is shown on the left.

Pulitzer was featured in three entries for Edward Winter's Chesshistory.com, September 2013 (C.N. 8319-8321), where some confusion about Pulitzer's year of birth is documented. Some sources give 1874, others give 1878 (also shown here). As Winter calculated, 'This would mean that Pulitzer was only 16 years old when Chess Harmonies was published.'

If that biographical entry were the only connection with the Internet Archive, I wouldn't mention it, but there's more. Another Flickr entry, Image from page 47 of "The literary digest" (1890), explains, 'Composed for THE Literary Digest, and Dedicated to Its Brilliant Chess-Editor and His Very Clever Corps of Solvers, By Walter Pulitzer, author of Chess Harmonies.'

Walter Pulitzer is mentioned twice on The Literary Digest page, once for the 'New Year's Problem' and once for a poem.

Love and Chess.
By Walter Pulitzer.
From The American Chess Magazine.

I.
Come, glance o'er my shoulder with me,
As on the night silently steals.
And take in the charm of this scene,
Which the mystic fire-glow reveals.

II.
The dearest of fair, dimpled maids.
Ensconced in a chair à l'Antique :
A table that stands just in front ;
A lover this side that can speak.

III.
Yet, now he speaks not —- while his love
Doth play with the folds of her dress.
The cause of this strange state of things?-
They're playing together at Chess !

IV.
Yes, grave is his strong, handsome face,
But she -— with a rose in her hair --
Is pouting and fretting and shows
Quite a pretty, indiff'rent air !

V.
Ah ! weighty the battle he fights.
Or "battles" I rather should say :
The conquest of love -— which is life ;
The clash of these crowns -- which is play.

VI.
"You feel not much interest ?" he asks,
While idly she moves with her Rook,
Which causes a blush, and "Perhaps,"
She sighs, as she gives him a look !

VII.
He muses -— and then exclaims "Check !"
"Oh ! dear," she says, "what have I done?
And then he peers into her eyes
That are love-lit, and asks ; "Have I won?

VIII.
"My monarch is lost," murmurs she,
As sweetly she hangs her fair head ;
He catches her hand -— whispers low :
"Then let me your King be instead ?"

IX.
Come, glance o'er my shoulder with me.
As on the night silently steals,
And sip of the bliss of this scene.
Which the mystic fire-glow reveals!

In fact, Pulitzer is mentioned many times in this particular volume of The Literary Digest (vol. XVI, covering the first half of 1898), and not only in the chess column. I could say more, but I'll leave it for a possible future edition of the 'Endless Discovery'.

22 September 2014

TMERs: Back to Carlsen - Anand

After compiling four partial records of Kasparov's travels during his bid for the FIDE presidency --

-- I should have enough data to put together a near-complete record and to identify exhibition games. As much as I would like to merge those partial records immediately, a forthcoming World Championship match in November demands attention. In preparation, I'd like to update the TMERs for the two players:-

First Carlsen - Anand, then Kasparov.