16 January 2017

Mixed 'Matched Content'

After last week's post on 101 Pages with 'Matched Content', I decided I didn't like the combination of Google's matched links and Google's ad at the bottom of each page. The visual impact is captured below in the top part of the composite diagram. What to do?

In the parameters for its matched content, Google offers the possibility of including ads in place of internal links. The most obvious solution was to activate that option and eliminate the standalone ad. I did this on one page to take a look at it. It took some time for the change to ripple through Google's system, but the result is shown in the bottom part of the diagram.

It turns out that Google always replaces three matched links with ads, and those three are always in the same position. Each link includes the name of the destination domain, and ads are marked 'Ad' to the left of that name.

In my example, one ad is in English ('Highest Dividends'), one is in Dutch ('Paardenverzekering'), and one is in French ('Jouez à ...'), but such is life in bilingual Belgium. I decided that this treatment looked better than the previous iteration and applied the same change to the other 100 pages that had matched content.

15 January 2017

Chess as an Institution

After the long yearend holiday break, let's return to The Sociology of Chess (November 2016), last seen in FIDE's Social Commissions. I spent part of my holiday watching a series of lectures on the Youtube UCBerkeley channel, titled Sociology 101 (that link is a playlist). The lecturer is Ann Swidler (wikipedia.org), and the syllabus can be found at Introduction to Sociology (PDF).

On top of learning a tremendous amount about sociology, I was further rewarded for the time spent by discovering a long discussion of chess in the third lecture. It reminded me of a quote, 'Chess is the Drosophila of Cognitive Science', that I covered in a previous post, The Drosophila of Unattributed Quotes (February 2010).

Sociology 101 - Lecture 3 (50:28) • 'Published on Sep 5, 2012 : Introduction to Sociology'

The lecture starts with a continuation of the second, previous lecture, which is summarized in an overhead slide...

The Individual and Society
- Dual nature of the self
- Paradox of modern individualism

...It then moves to a new topic, 'Institutions and Identities', with another overhead slide...

The Mystery of Institutions
- Created by human beings
- Constrain and regulate human activity

- Appear enduring, permanent, fixed
- Can be gradually transformed

...The chess portion is the first detailed discussion in the next slide...

Components of Institutions
- Rules or Recipes that define the institution (cognitive)
- Sanctions -- rewards and punishments -- that enforce the rules (regulative)
- Purposes that justify (and guide) institutional choices
- Moral codes (normative)

...where I'll quote Prof. Swidler's accompanying remarks.

I'm going to take a couple of institutions and talk about how these things work. First, rules are recipes that define the institution, the cognitive, cultural element. I'm going to talk about something -- I don't know if it is an institution -- but it helps you see the way human beings create things that have rules and then treat the rules as permanent. Think about something like chess (or any game: it could be football, basketball, bridge, ... [describes the physical aspects of chess]). It's obviously some medieval-type game originally. There are a set of rules that make chess 'chess'.

You don't have to play chess. If you're five years old, you can say 'I want to move the big piece to that far corner and I'm going to do it'. You can do that. You can throw the pieces on the floor when you don't win, but then it's not chess. Or you could use the pieces and play checkers [describes checkers]. When you constitute something as 'chess' you do it by creating a set of rules about what chess *is* and that's what makes it chess.

After a talk about 'marriage' as an institution -- 'You constitute something as marriage' -- Prof. Swidler returns to chess.

If you play chess, there is actually a group somewhere that regulates the rules about chess is. You can't play official chess if you don't play according to the rules. Even if you played it informally, certain rules would determine that the thing actually was chess. Again, it's humanly created, but the rules make it what it is.

If someone walked in -- this is the cultural cognitive part -- and said, 'That's not chess, it's mah jongg!', you would say, 'No, it's not mah jongg; there are no tiles. This is chess; we're playing chess.' The person who actually thought it was mah jongg wouldn't just have an opinion that it was mah jongg, he'd be wrong. It's not mah jongg (or bridge, or golf); it's *chess*. And that is a cultural cognitive definition. You don't have to care about chess; you don't have to love chess; you don't have to 'believe' in chess; it's just chess.

Let me make one more point. Chess not only creates rules about what playing chess is and what the board should look like, what pieces [there are] so you can't suddenly say I want to have 45 pieces, and have every square on the board filled, for example. It wouldn't be chess.

It also creates certain 'roles'. You could even say it creates certain 'people', if you want to think of the chess pieces as people. To constitute chess, you also create pieces that have certain moves they can make. You constitute Kings and Queens [describes the moves] and Knights [ditto]. To constitute chess is also to constitute a bunch of social roles.

The discussion returns to marriage and the role of 'husband'. The previous slide, 'Components of Institutions', under 'Rules or Recipes that define the institution' included a couple of sub-bullets that summarize the chess discussion.

  • Rules that make it what it is (what makes chess)
  • Roles defined by the rules (e.g. Pawn, Knight, Bishop, etc.)

One Youtube commenter wrote, 'It's pretty confusing toward the end when she talks about chess.' For me, it was pretty helpful.

13 January 2017

Sourcing a Chess Talk

The description of this Youtube video gives only excerpts from the Wikipedia pages on Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer. What more can we add?

The speaker is introduced as 'BBC Journalist John Eidinow' and the clip's first subtitle adds, 'John Eidinow, co-author "Bobby Fischer Goes to War". Neither Eidinow nor the book has a Wikipedia page, but the book is well known to chess players as Bobby Fischer Goes to War: How A Lone American Star Defeated the Soviet Chess Machine (amazon.com) by David Edmonds and John Eidinow.

Bobby Fischer and the Most Notorious Chess Match of All Time (46:54) • Dated 29 March 2004: 'Published on Jan 12, 2017'

The talk starts with a discussion of a first book by Edmonds and Eidinow, Wittgenstein's Poker (wikipedia.org; the title refers to a fireplace poker, not the game of poker):-

'Wittgenstein's Poker: The Story of a Ten-Minute Argument Between Two Great Philosophers' is a 2001 book by BBC journalists David Edmonds and John Eidinow about events in the history of philosophy involving Sir Karl Popper and Ludwig Wittgenstein, leading to a confrontation at the Cambridge University Moral Sciences Club in 1946.

The clip is on Youtube channel 'The Film Archives', which has a related channel, 'The Book Archive'; both use the same logo, a white 'T' in a purple square. The clip carries the logo 'Book TV C-SPAN2' and a further subtitle 'Washington, DC; Politics and Prose'. From Wikipedia's Book TV:-

Book TV is the name given to weekend programming on the American cable network C-SPAN2 airing from 8 a.m. Eastern Time Saturday morning to 8 a.m. Eastern Time Monday morning each week. The 48-hour block of programming is focused on non-fiction books and authors, featuring programs in the format of interviews with authors as well as live coverage of book events from around the country.

I once wrote a brief review of the book -- Bobby Fischer Goes to War (archive.org -> chess.about.com; May 2004) -- and was happy to rediscover it through this clip. By coincidence I gave the book the same rating, 4 1/2 stars out of 5, as the average of the 110 Amazon.com customer reviews.

12 January 2017

Chess Ethics and the Suspensions of Federations

The final topic I want to cover from Spectating the 87th FIDE Congress (December 2016), is

87. Ethics Commission report to General Assembly.

Last year, in Ethics in Chess Politics - Stories (November 2015), it took me considerable time to understand the main cases tackled by the Ethics Commission:-

  • 'Case 5/2014: Complaint of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov against Ignatius Leong and Garry Kasparov regarding agreements' and 'Case 7/2014: Complaint of the Philippines and Kenya Chess Federations against Kirsan Ilyumzhinov'

  • 'Case 8/2014: Complaint by Kirsan Ilyumzhinov against Garry Kasparov regarding an unsigned / proposed agreement for the support of the Salvadorian Chess Federation' and 'Case 10/2014: Complaint of Garry Kasparov against Margaret Murphy, Darcy Lima and Bharat Singh regarding alleged irregularities in Electoral Commission'

  • 'Case 13/2014: Complaint of European Chess Federation against S Danailov, V Sakotic and S Stoisavljenic' and 'Case 14/2014: Complaint of Montenegro Chess Federation against V Sakotic and S Stoisavljenic'

  • 'Case 4/2015: Complaint by K Georgiev, S Stoichkov and M Stoynev against Bulgarian Chess Federation' and 'Case 5/2015: Complaint by Bulgarian Chess Federation against Z Azmaiparashvili and T Tsorbatzoglou'

  • 'Case 3/2015: Complaint by Michaela Sandu against Natalia Zhukova and 14 other players'

This year the relevant facts are available in a new FIDE subdomain: ethics.fide.com. One further evolution worth noting is an attachment to the report of the Ethics Commission:-

Recommendation for the suspension of the Bulgarian Chess Federation (BCF) as federation member of FIDE.

This marks the second time that FIDE has suspended a member federation for ethical reasons. The first, also in 2016, was ASEAN; according to its constitution,

founded on 28 May 2000, Vung Tau City, Vietnam [...] founding member-federations were the national chess federations of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam

This suspension stemmed from Case 5/2014 ('Complaint of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov against Ignatius Leong and Garry Kasparov'). Will these suspensions have the desired effect? We should find out at the next FIDE Congress.

10 January 2017

The Battle for No.1

No.1 chess web site that is. One of the advantages of blogging about all sorts of chess topics that interest no one is being witness to the history of those same uninteresting topics. Take, for example, Google's opinion on the top chess web site. Almost ten years ago, in Wikipedia Chess the New Google No.1 (February 2007), I observed,

Today, for the first time I can remember, the Wikipedia Chess entry is appearing at no.1 in the results. The previous no.1 was Jon Edwards' site, Chess is Fun, now appearing at no.3. Going back a few years, I remember that the USCF's USchess.org held the no.1 position for quite a while.

Wikipedia Chess has been climbing the top-10 for many months and it was just a question of time before it came in at no.1. Although it may bounce in and out of the top position over the near term, I expect it will eventually occupy that spot for years to come.

I should know better than to be so categorical, because a few months later another powerhouse chess site burst onto the scene. Chess.com was introduced in May 2007, and within a year it had supplanted Wikipedia Chess as the top web site. I recorded this change peripherally in My 15 Minutes of Fame? (February 2008).

Let it be known to all interested parties that on or about 9:00 AM GMT on Friday, 15 February 2008, chess.about.com, aka About Chess, reached no.4 on a Google search for 'chess'.

The associated image, a snapshot of top Google search results, showed positions no.1-2-3 as

  • Chess.com
  • Wikipedia Chess
  • Chess is Fun

A week later I wrote another post about Chess.com as no.1: Google Redirects on Chess.com (February 2008)

For the last week or so, Google has been displaying Chess.com, the no.1 entry on a search for 'chess', in a format that I've seen used elsewhere, but never for a chess site.

And so the ranking continued -- no.1 Chess.com, no.2 Wikipedia Chess -- until mid-November 2016, when I noticed that the two sites had switched positions.

Don't be fooled by that Chess.com ad in the first spot. It's a paid placement. Wikipedia Chess is sitting at no.1, followed by Chess.com at no.2. The switch was short lived. The next time I looked, the two sites were back to their historical order with Chess.com at no.1.

Yesterday I noticed that Wikipedia Chess was again at no.1, followed by Chess.com at no.2. It appears that both sites are in a close battle for top ranking among chess web sites. What will Google's ultimate decision be?

09 January 2017

101 Pages with 'Matched Content'

In for a penny, in for a pound? After adding Google's 'Matched Content' to 25 pages last week, I added the same function to another 75 pages, making 101 pages in total. Until now, the only matched pages I've seen have been from my About.com CFAA content, but the following example (a TMER page) shows one matched page from my World Championship site, i.e. the 2015 World Cup.

Magnus Carlsen's TMER (2000-)
TMER = Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record

It appears that all pages which can be linked via matched content have at least one image associated with the link to that page. That means pages without images, like the Carlsen TMER itself, would never show up as matched content.

Note also the link to Chess Tactics Illustrated ('French postcards illustrate basic tactical themes in chess'). This is an example of an image gallery, all of which use an architecture unlike the basic About.com pages.

I should also mention pages like Chess Openings - Initial Position ('Repertoire recommendations'). These have more Google functionality -- ads plus matched content -- than they have their own content, which is not at all what I want. TBA?

08 January 2017

Alekhine 1913

In the weeks following Christmas, the short list for Top eBay Chess Items by Price always gets shorter. I was happy to find an item that fits in with another ongoing series, recently seen in

Titled 'Original vintage photo chess tournament Scheveningen 1913: Aljechin winner', the item shown below sold for US $345 after one bid. I've constructed a composite image from portions of the original photo to show its highlights.

The description added,

Cardboard-mounted black and white photo of the tournament in Scheveningen 1913. • Size of the photo: 22.5 x 16.5 cm; sheet size: 35.5 x cm. • Participants of the tournament: Aljechin, Janowski, Olland, Yates, Breyer, Ed. Lasker, Mieses, Englund, etc. • The photo is slightly faded, bumped and has usage traces. • The cardboard is dusty, stained and has strong edge defects, see images.

In the top portion of my composite image, Alekhine is seated to the left. At first I thought his opponent might be Frederick Yates, but all photos of Yates show him wearing glasses. The fellow sitting behind Alekhine's opponent, partially obscured by the curious rectangle, is more likely Yates. For more about the tournament, see Scheveningen 1913 (chessgames.com).