29 June 2010

No News Is Normal for Chess

In contrast to How I Spent My Summer Vacation, I did *not* spend my vacation reading chess news. Being cut off from the Web just about guarantees that chess news will be slim to nonexistent. I did indulge myself by buying a real newspaper (the International Herald Tribune) to read real news -- the BP environmental disaster, the crisis in Kyrgyzstan, the World Cup, that sort of thing -- while sitting beside the swimming pool and taking in the morning sun. One day I saw a column by Dylan Loeb McClain, 11 Tournaments Over 2 Weeks Create a Competitive Logjam I think it was, but I succumbed to vacation laziness and didn't even bother clipping it to play through the game later.

Now that I'm back in the non-vacation world, catching up on the usual chess news sources and the chess blogs, one item I haven't seen mentioned is All Entries Received for the Chess Journalist Awards 2010 (CJA). Since he's the only entry, Dan Heisman looks like a shoo-in for 'Chess Journalist of the Year'. As for blogs, there is one entry in the humor category and three in best blog. My money is on Michael Goeller's Kenilworthian, but he won in a recent year and the judges might give the award to someone else. The awards are usually announced around mid-August.

28 June 2010

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

I spent my summer vacation getting up to speed on a new laptop. At least that's how I spent part of it. The old laptop had served me faithfully for almost seven years, although in recent months it spent more time paging than it did processing.

The last time I upgraded it took three days from the time I got the new machine until the time I got rid of the old. That time was spent connecting the two machines on the home LAN, transferring files, installing software, and smoothing wrinkles. This time I spent three days just connecting the two machines. The biggest hurdle was the jump from Windows XP to Windows 7. Backward compatibility was once Microsoft's strong point, but those days are long gone.

After transferring files, I discovered that a large chunk of my favorite software no longer worked on Win7: 'cannot start or run due to incompatibity [sic] with 64-bit versions of Windows'. Before leaving on vacation, I downloaded at least one replacement for every tool that no longer worked, then spent my free time (there's not much of that with a 20-month-old toddler running around) installing and testing the software.

Since I had no access to the Web -- otherwise it wouldn't be a vacation -- I wasn't able to test a replacement for FTP. When I returned home, I solved that by adding the FireFTP extension to Firefox. Here's a test on a drawing made by our 9-year-old vacation neighbor.

The FTP process was simple, and except for the smudges, which are probably my own fault, the image looks good. As for smoothing wrinkles, I'm still working on those and there is no end in sight. Microsoft's 'incompatibity' caught me with some major gotchas.

In future posts I'll discuss various adventures with my new chess software.

11 June 2010

Chess Frieze

Nestled in the heart of London...

Frieze with Chess Piece Motifs © Flickr user stevecadman under Creative Commons.

...'Frieze with Chess Piece Motifs (1963) by Alan Collins, Warwick Lane, the City of London.'

10 June 2010

How Much Is a Vintage Chess Computer Worth?

In the previous post on Top eBay Chess Items by Price, I featured an Elegant Classical Chess Clock. In this post, I'll mention a couple of 'vintage' chess computers.

The model pictured on the left, listed as a 'Fidelity Chess Challenger 1 CC1 Electronic Computer'. It sold Buy-It-Now for US $500.00. The description said,

Up for sale is an ultra rare Fidelity Electronics Chess Challenger 1 Chess Computer.

* The very first Chess Computer Available to Consumers!
* Only 150-300 are still in working condition!
* Model: Chess Challenger 1
* Manufacturer: Fidelity Electronics
* Year: 1977 (sometime before June)
* Est. ELO rating: N/A
* Levels of play: 1
* Type: Board with keypad / calculator
* CPU: 8080AF NEC 2MHz (clone of the Intel CPU)
* Programmer: Ron C. Nelson
* Powered by: AC – adapter connected directly to computer – non-removable
* Serial number: 21478

Comes with power supply and chess pieces.

More information on the model can be found at Fidelity Chess Challenger CC1 (ChessComputerUK.com).


If you think $500 is a lot for a vintage chess computer, a different make and model sold for almost three times that price. A 'Tasc R30 chess computer with SB 30 smartboard' received 8 bids, where the winning bid was GBP 1,040.00 (approximately US $1,494.38 according to eBay). Its description read,

This is a rare opportunity to purchase possibly the best chess computer ever made. I bought this chess computer in 1998 from the British chess shop in London; it has only been used on a few occasions. It is in excellent condition and perfect working order although the original boxes and user’s manual are tatty.

The Tasc R30 computer unit has what probably is the largest LCD display you can find on a dedicated chess computer and it displays a great deal of information including: clocks (digital or analogue), graphic board (diagram window), list of moves and status of analysis. It can use hash tables, selective search and brute force models. You can even turn off the LEDs on the board, change the side of the clock (white = left, white = right), turn the speaker off or set the sound level to soft, select how the pieces will show up on the list of moves (characters or letters). The auto take back features make it very easy to take back moves all the way to the start of a game. Also, you can set it so that when you place all the pieces in their starting position you will start a new game.

The Tasc SmartBoard is a tournament size wooden chessboard. It is handcrafted in walnut with inlaid squares. Matching wooden pieces of Staunton model complete this beautiful and practical set. Advanced electronics in the board as well as the pieces identify each piece and register its position on the board. Piece recognition guarantees maximum reliability in play, as well as maximum freedom in analysing and setting up positions. It has a LED placed exactly at each of the four corners of each square. It provides the highest comfort by lighting all four LEDs to indicate a square.

* Computer name: TASC R30
* Manufacturer: TASC B.V. Rotterdam, The Netherlands
* Dates from: 1995
* Dimensions: 21 x 16 x 7.3 cm
* Power supply: 10 Volt (1 Amp.)
* Processor: ARM2, 30 MHz.
* Memory: 128 KB RAM 256 KB ROM, 512 KB hash tables
* Programmer: Johan de Koning
* Rating: Strong club players (Elo 2356)
* Language: English, German or Dutch
* Version: 2.50 (26-Feb-95)
* Board name: SmartBoard (SB30)
* Dimensions: 42 x 42 x 2.2 cm
* Board-square: 36 cm
* Field-square: 4.5 cm
* LEDs: 81
* King’s height: 7.5 cm

I'll report an any other computer chess models that I find on future eBay lists of chess treasures.

08 June 2010

Election Links

Following up Three Elections, here are important links for the FIDE and ECU elections. I'll add others as they become known.



According to Fide.com's Nominations for Presidential Ticket and Continental Presidents, 'The General Assembly in Khanty-Mansiysk shall be held from Wednesday, September 29 to Saturday, October 2'.

07 June 2010

Where to Go From Here?

With one eye on What's Popular, What's Not, and the other eye on mark-weeks.com/aboutcom (Welcome to 'Chess for All Ages' : Index of Feature Articles : 2002-03 • 2004-05 • 2006-08), I developed a list of pages to copy from archive to my About.com work. Rounding out the Every Move Explained series, there remains to be done:-

As for other pages, these look promising:-

Another series to consider started with:-

The single article that I've converted from this series -- Sicilian Defense - 2...e6 Variations -- was at the top of the list in 'What's Popular, What's Not', but that might be a fluke. I'll convert one more to see if it has a similar success (2010-08-16, w/ separate index).

On 1 November 2008, I noted that for the embedded links to web.archive.org, my last working link was from 2 February 2008. Now the last working link is from 16 June 2008. That almost brings me up to the end of my time with About.com. Thanks, Archive.org!


Later: To keep track of which pages have been converted, I added links to the relevant post (plus the conversion date) whenever I converted a new page.

04 June 2010

Players at the 2010 U.S. Chess Championship

For more from the same source, see GoSpectrumStudios's Channel.

2010 Chess Championship (2:03) • 'Player Introduction Montage'

Here's something else you don't see for every U.S. championship: 2010 U.S. Chess Champion Crowned in St. Louis. A press release!

03 June 2010

World Championship Interest

The diagram shown below is a follow-up to the diagram I used in Searching for Amand - Topalon. It shows the number of page views (PVs) I received on my World Chess Championship site (see link on the sidebar to the right) for the months of April and May 2010, the period encompassing the recent Anand - Topalov match.

The numbers on the horizontal axis represent specific days during the two months: '1' = 1 April, '31' = 1 May, and '61' = 31 May. The two spikes are on 24 April and 11 May, the days corresponding to the first and last games of the match.

Between those two days, why was there more interest on some days than on others? For example, 30 April had twice as many PVs as 2 May. I have no idea why that is.

01 June 2010

Three Elections

FIDE: A lot has happened since my first post on the FIDE Presidential election: Russian Federation to Decide FIDE Election?. I'll defer to various reports from NYTimes.com to document the events since then.

I don't have a personal preference between Karpov and Ilyumzhinov. Both candidates have too many skeletons in the closet and, as I mentioned in that first post, I expect the choice to be made de facto by the Russian chess federation. Neither man can be expected to lead the world organization for four years without the support of his home federation, the most important national chess federation on the planet.

Complicating that decision, the Russian federation appears to be virtually leaderless, a temporary phenomenon that should sort itself out in short order. As for my previous belief that the choice of the Russian federation would not be transparent, the opposite has occurred: there is too much transparency. This isn't a soap opera; it's an election for the most important political position in chess.

One idea whose time has come is to set term limits on the FIDE President. The President-for-Life coronation is a prerequisite for stagnation and corruption.

ECU: Of the four candidates for the presidency of the European Chess Union (in order of declared candidacy)...

...I initially favored Danailov. He has many good ideas about how to promote chess and he gets things done. Unfortunately, his chronic lack of diplomacy is a serious handicap. This was confirmed in a recent report by Chessdom.com: Precedent in chess history, chess moves copyright violation goes in court : Danailov shares details about the case. How can a candidate for the highest chess office in Europe, who will also serve as the Continental President for FIDE, sue the most important commercial chess organization in his biggest constituency? A better choice is Ali Nihat Yazici. He also has many good ideas, he gets things done, and he knows how to get his way without using brass knuckles.

USCF: This is easy. There are three candidates for two open positions on the Executive Board. One of the candidates is unsuitable. My votes will go for the other two.