26 March 2015

Soltis's Sites

First we had Down Memory Lane with Andy Soltis, in the March 2015 Chess Life. Then we had JP/Moon/Fischer, based on Archive.org. Now we'll have GM Soltis continuing,

You probably know the names of some of the departed: Chessville, Chess21, The Chess Oracle, Chess Dominion, Chess Chronicle, Chess Check, Wolffchess, Worldchessrating. and both Chessplanet.com and Planetchess.com.

Are those sites really 'departed'? Let's ask Archive.org for help once more.

Nine out of ten isn't too shabby. But wait, there's more: What's happened to Wolffchess.com?; '(7 years ago) We have ALL of Wolffchess.com's content on Chess.com in ...' That makes ten out of ten. All present and accounted for, Andy!

24 March 2015

More FIDE Reports from Tromso

What? More documents from the August 2014 FIDE General Assembly in Tromso? So says a recent news item from FIDE, 2014 Tromso Commissions Reports (March 2015), making these reports almost eight months old! No one has ever accused FIDE of moving too quickly and this reminds us why. According to my post FIDE's 'Chess in Schools' 2014 (CIS; December 2014),

Documents from the CIS commission have been released at three separate occasions: at the announcement for the General Assembly in Tromso (GA, coinciding with the Olympiad), at the minutes of the GA in August, and at the Presidential Board (PB) in November.

This makes four occasions, doesn't it? After looking at the documents and comparing them with my CIS post plus another post from the end of last year, FIDE's 'Principles of Chess Journalism', I determined that the new set of documents have already been released and are now (mostly) 'approved'.

While I was reviewing the March 2015 reports, I looked at a few commissions to which I had never paid much attention. What, for example, is the difference between the 'Social Action Commission' and the 'Social Project Commission'? According to FIDE's Handbook > A. Administrative Subjects > 02. Non-Elected Commissions,

2.10: Social Projects Commission (SPC) shall promote chess as a powerful tool for prevention, including areas such as: drug prevention, disease control and prison chess.

and

2.11: Social Action Commission (SAC) shall promote the use of chess as an aid for persons at risk from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and other mental illnesses particularly among seniors. Overall this Commission should deal with issues related to brain aging.

Sounds like the subjects could have been handled with a single commission, but what do I know? There is undoubtedly political infighting involved.

Another unclear topic is the 'Central Board of Commission’s [sic] report'. According to the FIDE > Minutes overview, the 'CBC' report appears to be a follow-up of actions presented at the October 2013 Executive Board, making it a commission to overview other commisssions, a higher level meta-commission. FIDE might not be fast, but the group is trying to be transparent.

23 March 2015

Komodo - Stockfish Superfinal Openings

In my recent post about TCEC Season 7 I noted,

The last round 'Superfinal' between Komodo and Stockfish was a 64-game match where the adversaries played both White and Black on 32 hand picked openings. [...] The Superfinal finished in Komodo's favor +7-4=53, with White winning all decisive games.

What openings were used and how did they fare? The following tables are sorted by result and ECO code.

+2-0=0

B30: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bb5 g6 5.h3 Bg7 6.e5 Ng8 7.Bxc6 dxc6 8.d3 Nh6
D85: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Be3 c5 8.Qd2 O-O

+1-0=1

A11: 1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 c6 3.Bg2 Bg4 4.c4 e6 5.cxd5 exd5 6.O-O Nf6 7.d3 Be7 8.Nc3 O-O
A21: 1.c4 g6 2.g3 Bg7 3.Bg2 e5 4.Nc3 d6 5.d3 f5 6.e4 Nc6 7.Nge2 Nh6 8.O-O O-O
A46: 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bg5 h6 4.Bh4 g5 5.Bg3 Ne4 6.Nbd2 Nxg3 7.hxg3 Bg7 8.c3 d6
B46: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 e6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 a6 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Qd2 Qc7 8.O-O-O Bb4
C02: 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Qb6 6.a3 c4 7.Be2 Bd7 8.Nbd2 Na5
D38: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.Bg5 Nbd7 6.e3 c5 7.cxd5 exd5 8.Qc2 Qa5
D72: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 d5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.e4 Nb6 7.Ne2 c5 8.d5 e6

+0-0=2

A18: 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.e4 d5 4.e5 d4 5.exf6 dxc3 6.bxc3 Qxf6 7.d4 b6 8.Nf3 Bb7
A20: 1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.O-O Be7 7.d4 e4 8.Ne5 f5
A28: 1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.e4 Bc5 5.Nxe5 Nxe5 6.d4 Bb4 7.dxe5 Nxe4 8.Qd4 Nxc3
A34: 1.c4 c5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.g3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Bg2 Nc7 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.O-O e5 8.a3 f6
A48: 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.c3 Bg7 4.Bf4 d6 5.h3 O-O 6.e3 Nbd7 7.Be2 Qe8 8.O-O e5
A50: 1.c4 Nf6 2.d4 c6 3.Bf4 d5 4.e3 e6 5.Nc3 Be7 6.Nf3 Nbd7 7.c5 Nh5 8.Bd3 O-O
A53: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 d6 3.Nc3 Nbd7 4.Nf3 c6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 g5 7.Bg3 Nh5 8.e3 Bg7
A90: 1.d4 e6 2.c4 f5 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2 c6 5.Nf3 d5 6.Nbd2 Bd6 7.Ne5 O-O 8.O-O b6
B03: 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.c4 Nb6 4.d4 d6 5.f4 dxe5 6.fxe5 Nc6 7.Be3 Bf5 8.Nc3 e6
B14: 1.e4 c6 2.c4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.cxd5 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nxd5 6.Nf3 e6 7.d4 Bb4 8.Bd2 O-O
B32: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5 5.Nb5 d6 6.N1c3 a6 7.Na3 b5 8.Nd5 Nce7
B40: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.g3 Nc6 4.Bg2 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.O-O Be7 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bd7
B99: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Be7 8.Qf3 Qc7
C00: 1.e4 e6 2.Qe2 c5 3.g3 Nc6 4.Nf3 Be7 5.Bg2 d5 6.d3 Nf6 7.O-O b6 8.e5 Nd7
C11: 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Be3 Be7 8.Qd2 b6
C45: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.c4 Nb6
C47: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.g3 d5 5.exd5 Nxd5 6.Bg2 Nxc3 7.bxc3 Be7 8.O-O O-O
C88: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.a4 Bb7
D00: 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.Qd2 Ne4 6.Nxe4 dxe4 7.Ne5 Nd7 8.Nxd7 Qxd7
E08: 1.c4 Nf6 2.g3 e6 3.Bg2 d5 4.Nf3 Be7 5.O-O O-O 6.d4 Nbd7 7.Qc2 c6 8.Rd1 b6
E12: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.Nc3 Bb7 5.a3 d5 6.cxd5 Nxd5 7.e3 g6 8.Bb5+ c6
E18: 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 b6 4.Bg2 Bb7 5.d4 Be7 6.Nc3 Ne4 7.Bd2 d5 8.cxd5 exd5
E32: 1.d4 e6 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 O-O 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.Qxc3 b6 7.Bg5 Bb7 8.f3 d6

The result for the Gruenfeld (D85) is disconcerting. Perhaps it is worth a closer look.

22 March 2015

Mephisto Portorose 68030

One of the first posts in this series on Top eBay Chess Items by Price was How Much Is a Vintage Chess Computer Worth?, which featured a Fidelity Chess Challenger that sold for US $500. As I recently learned in Chess Collectors' Corner - What's Hot?, it was one of this blog's top eBay posts from 2010.

Five years later, the computer niche is just as popular -- maybe more so. Four figure US$ prices aren't uncommon, as I showed already two years ago in Top Computer Chess Items by Price. The item pictured below, titled 'Mephisto Portorose 68030 World Champion Chess Computer', subtitled 'One of the Rarest Chess Computers Ever Produced!', sold for $3977 after 42 bids from 15 bidders.

The description added,

This is, without a doubt, one of the rarest chess computers ever produced. [...] Produced in the late 1980s by Mephisto, the leaders in Chess Computers, The Portorose 68030 had an incredible 2236 ELO rating, which at the time was unheard of in the world of chess computers, and retailed for $15,000 USD. That's not a typo. In 1990, this computer sold for $15,000 US Dollars! The average price of a car in 1990 was only $9,700, to show you how rare and exclusive this computer was.

This is NOT a sold-at-retail-chess computer. You couldn't buy it in stores. This is a LIMITED EDITION COMPUTER offered by Mephisto to commemorate [Richard] Lang's World Championship-winning software. It features state-of-the-art technology for its time, including dedicated boards with upgraded processors, advanced cooling, and memory, similar to the hardware used in the Computer World Chess championship tournaments. [...] Less than 50 were originally produced!

According to my page World Chess Championship : Computer Chess, Lang won five consecutive World Microcomputer Chess Championships (WMCCC), 1986 to 1990. The 'Portorose 68030' machine must be related to the Mephisto version that won the 9th WMCCC - 1989 Portoroz.

20 March 2015

Street Art Spectators

Compare this photo with round two of the 2014 Candidates Tournament as shown in An Empty Arena. Maybe FIDE should consider decorating playing halls the way this one is decorated.


Street chess © Flickr user Jaya Ramchandani under Creative Commons.

There isn't much info about where this photo was taken. The tags say only 'IFTTT' and 'Instagram'. Wikipedia tells us that the acronym IFTTT

is a web-based service that allows users to create chains of simple conditional statements, called "recipes", which are triggered based on changes to other web services such as Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, and Craigslist. IFTTT is an abbreviation of "If This Then That" (pronounced like "gift" without the "g"). An example "recipe" might consist of sending an e-mail message if the IFTTT user tweets using a certain hashtag.

A link with the photo points to an Instagram page, which helps to tie the two tags together. As for the venue, other photos from the same photographer indicate Kerala and the Maldive Islands, which is accurate enough for me.

19 March 2015

JP/Moon/Fischer

Let's go once again Down Memory Lane with Andy Soltis, where I quoted GM Soltis from the March 2015 Chess Life (CL) saying,

More chess literature is available today than ever before, thanks to the Internet. and yet more chess literature is being lost today -- on the Internet. The vanishing content appeared on websites that are now dead.

One of his most familiar examples was a controversial site by a controversial ex-World Champion.

Other doomed sites were personal blogs. even Fischer got into the act, on a Japanese site where he posted copies of personal documents, such as his book contracts. (It shows he got a $2,000 advance for Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess.) But the site died soon after Bobby did. some sites devoted to Fischer have also vanished.

By coincidence, I had been looking at this site just a few weeks earlier, while preparing a post on Fischer's Seiko Connection. The Archive.org address is home.att.ne.jp/moon/fischer/, where the entry for 2007-12-22 brings up a working index page. Unfortunately, the individual links lead mostly to other pages that contain only scanned images. Since the images are missing, the real content is minimal.

A big advantage to having a working index is that the page's text opens up new avenues for search. With that page as a guide I finally located an archive page with the two images used in the 'Seiko Connection' post. They are on a page under the Archive.org copy of geocities.jp/bobbby_a (note the 'bbb' in Bobby). Somewhat curiously, there is another *live* site at geocities.jp/bobbby_b/ (those three 'b's again), with an identical index page, but the links lead only to error messages.

Getting back to GM Soltis, the document he mentions was titled, '"Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess" contract dated October 21, 1965.(13 pages)'. It turns out there is a fully functional copy of jp/moon/fischer (who is Moon?) at crashrecovery.org/..., with a working link that returns the entire BFTC contract. Some of the last links on that page go to crashrecovery.org/bobbby_a, giving the distinct impression that someone is trying very hard to keep *Bobbby's* site alive. Why bother? Other than the connection with its historical chess personality, the tasteless, offensive site has little of real interest to anyone other than a psychiatrist.

As long as we're discussing the dead site of the 11th World Champion, let's look at the dead site of the 13th's. Near the end of his column GM Soltis wrote,

You have to wonder about the demise of KasparovChess. It was the best chess site on the web when Garry Kasparov launched it 15 years ago. In addition to showcasing his own views and analysis, it provided an outlet for articles by unknowns. [...] Kasparov predicted a bright future for his site. "Frankly speaking, KasparovChess has no competitors at the moment, as this is a really new form of entertainment in the world of chess," he said. With solid financial backing and Kasparov’s expertise, his prediction should have panned out. But KasparovChess began shutting down in late 2002 after it ran out of cash.

When asked about kasparovchess.com, Archive.org says only, 'Sorry. This URL has been excluded from the Wayback Machine.' On my page World Chess Championship : 2002-04 Unification, I have a few copies of kc.com articles (used with permission), but phrases from these articles lead only to my copies. Looks like kc.com is gone forever. Sorry, Andy, it was indeed a great site!

17 March 2015

Chess Collectors' Corner - What's Not?

Let's continue with Chess Collectors' Corner - What's Hot?, where I looked at five years of Top eBay Chess Items by Price and answered the question,

There is tremendous interest in certain 'Top eBay Items', and wondered, 'Which ones?'

In contrast to those dozen-or-so items, some posts in the eBay series get very few views. For each of the five years I identified two posts with the lowest number of views since the post was created. The following composite image shows the focus of those unloved posts.

Top row: (left to right)

Bottom row:

Why are these posts so unloved? I imagine that they don't strike any chords in web searches. Either people don't often look for those types of items -or- the keywords in the posts don't resonate with the terms that people use in searches.

Popularity, of course, is always relative. The two posts from 2014 have received more than double the number of views of the posts from 2010, even though the earlier posts have been sitting on the blog for around four years longer. Or maybe there's just a steady interest in, say, 'Chess and the Killer Klowns'.