19 August 2014

Borrowing a Chess Book

After posting about Chess Books in the Internet Archive, I downloaded a few titles to my Kindle and have spent so much time reading them that I've neglected to prepare today's post for this blog. What to do now?

One title I noticed available for 'Borrow' was "Chess in Literature", edited by Marcello Truzzi (Equinox Books / Avon, 1974). Curious to see its content, I've bid for the book once or twice on eBay, only to be outbid. Here was my chance to take a look at it.

I checked the book out -- it's 'Borrow' after all -- and opened it on my laptop using Archive.org's built-in reader. (It would be better to get it on my Kindle, but I don't know how to do that, assuming it's even possible.) The following image shows the book's contents.

Starting with Franklin's 'Morals of Chess', I'm sure that many of these selections are available elsewhere on the Internet, but what about 'The Chess-Player' by Anonymous (p.322)? A search on the story's first sentence, 'Those whose interest in records of the supernatural', locates several copies, apparently authored by 'Temple Bar'.

At the end of Truzzi's book (p.421) is a list of additional titles.

A Final Word. As with any such collection, numerous pieces that were considered for inclusion had to be omitted for reasons of space and cost. Those who enjoyed this collection might wish to seek out a few of these, the best of which include:
  • Woody Allen, "The Gossage-Vardebedian Papers" (1971)
  • Poul Anderson, "The White King's War" (1969)
  • Robert Benchley, "How to Watch a Chess Match" (1922)
  • E.M. Forster, "Chess at Cracow" (1932)
  • John P. Marquand, "The End Game" (1944)
  • Alfred Noyes, "Checkmate" (1924)
  • Kurt Vonnegut, "All the King's Horses" (1951)

While I was working my way back-and-forth through the book, I received many, sporadic 'disconnected' messages and finally saw this:-

Connection error: The BookReader cannot reach Open Library. This might mean that you are offline or that Open Library is down. Please check your Internet connection and refresh this page or try again later.

Looks like I have to end the post here. Now how do I return the book I borrowed?

18 August 2014

Kasparov TMER: Transition from 1970s to 2010s

My final action from Kasparov TMER: Last updated 2014-08-11,

Merge the new PGN into the master file [OK] and compare the index with the results recorded in Kasparov's book [NO].

is half done. The PGN is now available from Garry Kasparov's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (1973-). As for Kasparov TMER: Next Steps,

Kasparov's run for FIDE President has seen him travelling to many countries, often giving exhibitions. Where are those documented?

I started to document them on Chessbase.com posts on Kasparov -- 2013-05 to 2014-08. This follows the same format I used last year in Kasparov at 50. Although Kasparov lost the election (see FIDE Election: Four More Years) he played many exhibitions during his campaign. These should also be noted in the TMER.

17 August 2014

The Scholastic Chess Facilitators Crisis

Last month Slashdot.org started a discussion titled How to Fix the Shortage of K-5 Scholastic Chess Facilitators.

The good news, writes Michael Thomas, is that wired kids are learning chess at an unprecedented rate. [...] But the bad news, laments Thomas, is there is so much demand for scholastic chess that there are not enough experienced chess facilitators to go around.

Who is Michael Thomas? He is the author of a piece on Sas.com -- that's the company that produces 'Business Analytics' software -- titled, Solving the scholastic chess facilitation puzzle

Young digital natives are learning chess at an unprecedented rate. [...] Chess is a gateway to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education. We grown-ups must optimize the chess-to-STEM pipeline, but how?

Thomas offers three solutions (these are quotes):-

  • Brain implants.
  • Internet of Things (IoT) approach. [...] To digitally thing-ify the chess pieces
  • Augmented Reality (AR) approach.

Brain implants? 'A chess facilitator brain implant would be wired between perception and cognition. You would just look at the board and know if it is checkmate.' When I first read this I was certain the article was a joke, but it is dated 11 July, not 1 April. Moreover, the author's bio page (which he probably wrote himself) says,

Michael Thomas, Software Architect in the SAS R&D Technology Office. He is the author of three books, several papers for SAS Global Forum and a recent article in SASCOM magazine, “Using virtual reality to understand big data.” He is also a long time member of the SAS Chess Club.

It links to another Thomas article, Scholastic chess: A gateway to STEM education, which starts,

For a lot of North Carolina chess families, this past weekend was action-packed. It was the 40th North Carolina K-12 Chess Championship, a three day event hosted by Chess Achieves and sponsored by SAS.

Except for a few wild claims, like 'openings that this weekend's more advanced players deployed date back to the 14th century', the piece wants to be taken seriously. 'Solving the puzzle' must be equally serious, so let's get back to Slashdot on 'How to Fix the Shortage of Scholastic Chess Facilitators'. The 128 comments might not be numbered at Yahoo levels, as in my post from last year The Graffiti Wall - Is Chess a Sport?, but they are collectively at a different level of thoughtfulness. Some examples (more quotes):-

  • What will we as a society do with an unprecedented crisis such as this looming?
  • Every minute playing chess would be better spent learning about algorithms, computer programming, or biology.
  • The issue is with schools cutting extra-curriculum activities, because the teachers want to get paid, and the schools can't afford it.
  • Do we really need to promote chess playing to a group of imaginative, energetic children who have just barely grasped the concept of role-taking [...] Did they do something to earn this sort of punishment?
  • I am a full-time chess coach for K-5 kids. [...] This solution is addressing a problem that doesn't actually exist.
  • So are you saying [...] that you need more people to stop the children from throttling each other when they lose?

Etc. etc. Another comment was 'the [Thomas] article is written tongue in cheek'. Maybe my first impression was right after all.

15 August 2014

DGT at the Olympiad

Youtube had two channels producing high quality videos for the just concluded Olympiad in Tromsø, Norway:-

With so many good clips to choose from, I decided to use one that explained a key component of the broadcast infrastructure.


Official Chess Olympiad Show: DGT, interview with Albert Vasse (3:32) • 'Susan [Polgar] interviews the man who introduced DGT to the chess world, Albert Vasse.'

Vasse: 'DGT started in 1993. The first DGT clocks were produced in 1994. Then, of course, you're very busy with your first product. As soon as that was stable we thought, here we are, we have technology on one side, we have chess on the other side. Where do those two come together? Very soon the electronic boards popped up as a subject where a lot could be done.'

14 August 2014

Chess Books in the Internet Archive

My most recent Flickr Friday post, Lasker Seen Darkly, reminded me of a world that I had never explored properly: books in the Internet Archive. Taking one of the Flickr images at random, say Image from page 534 of "The standard Hoyle" (1909), leads to the page in the book where the image is found, e.g. The Standard Hoyle (Archive.org), from which the entire book is available. The book can then be browsed using a comfortable viewer that allows for different formats like one page, two pages, and many pages.

While Hoyle's 64-page entry for chess isn't particularly interesting to an experienced player, the viewer links to a catalog entry for the book, The standard Hoyle (Openlibrary.org). That's where the fun starts. The search box on 'chess' ('Show only eBooks') returns a list which looks something like the following image.

Books tagged:-

  • 'Read', can be browsed using the same software that we just saw for Hoyle, and eventually downloaded as a PDF (or similar)

  • 'Borrow', can also be browsed, but only downloaded into 'Adobe Digital Editions' (whatever that is)

  • 'Daisy', meaning 'This DAISY file is protected. It can only be opened on a specialized device with a key issued by the Library of Congress.'

'Daisy' is the most frequent tag, although there are plenty of books marked 'Read' or 'Borrow'. Note that copyrights aren't the only factor behind the tag. Many books marked 'Read' (and downloadable) are still under copyright. A couple of out-of-copyright books that I looked at the last time I visited a real library are now available through this service:-

A couple of authors who occasionally show up in searches on chess -- Stella Chess and Victoria Chess -- are also available. Now I can explore what they write about without buying the books.

12 August 2014

FIDE Election: Four More Years

As was widely predicted in the days going into the FIDE election and as Fide.com reported on the day of the election, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov re-elected as FIDE President.

FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was reelected by a wide margin with 110 votes against Garry Kasparov’s 61. In his speech after the elections, Kirsan showed gratitude to all his supporters and personally thanked his opponent Garry Kasparov for raising the image of chess in the world. FIDE President invited the team of the 13th World Champion to join the FIDE team and help in development of chess.

Although I endorsed Kasparov a few months ago in FIDE Election: Time for a Change, I wasn't at all optimistic about his chances. Shortly after my lukewarm endorsement, GM Spraggett posted War of Words.

My friend, and one of the game’s best respected and most popular Spanish journalist/TV-commentator Leontxo Garcia, has recently gotten himself into a war of words as a result of a Chessbase article that he penned while travelling with Kasparov on his recent trip to Mexico. [...]

Now the powerful president of FIDE AMERICA, Jorge Vega, is spear-heading a call by not less than two other South American chess federation presidents (Darcy Lima of Brazil and Milton Iturry of Peru) for ChessBase to not just remove Leontxo’s Chessbase article, but to publish an apology to all concerned.

Why was this Kasparov's problem? Let's go back to November 2013 and re-read an interview posted by Chessdom.com: Jorge Vega, Continental President for Americas, about upcoming elections.

Jorge Vega: Going forward and making analysis I think Mr Kasparov will do better than Karpov in 2010. He will lose Africa but will do better there. He will lose by five or ten votes. Karpov was also defeated there. Also in Asia he will lose but with lower margin. The difference will be seven to ten or 12 votes in favour of Mr Ilyumzhinov.

In Europe he will have a problem. Of course, Karpov was better candidate for Europe than Kasparov himself. He will win European votes but not with the advantage that Karpov had in 2010.

In America, he will be sharply defeated. This is enough to lose an election. Perhaps, he will get 65 votes. The best should be 70. I believe the figure will be within this range.

On the continent where Kasparov was in the most trouble, he managed to alienate the decision makers even further. That's not how successful politicians win elections.

Lukewarm congratulations to Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and his entourage. On every occasion they have proven themselves to be better politicians than the opposition.

11 August 2014

Kasparov TMER: Last updated 2014-08-11

I added Kasparov TMER: New Early Events to the index file Garry Kasparov's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (1973-); Last updated 2014-06-02, making today, 2014-08-11, the current update. TBD: Merge the new PGN into the master file -- after aligning the PGN headers with their source, Kasparov on Garry Kasparov, Part I: 1973-1985 -- and compare the index with the results recorded in Kasparov's book.

The current exercise started end-June with Kasparov TMER: Early Years, and eliminated much of the blue (i.e. dubious data) for early events on the index. There is still so much blue on the subsequent years (1978+), that a similar exercise would be useful for the rest of Kasparov's book.