30 June 2011

A Capablanca Simul

I haven't mentioned it in a while, but the items featured in my series on Top eBay Chess Items by Price are drawn from the auctions in the fortnight preceding each post. That coincides with the time that eBay allows for searches on closed auctions. That means if I post every two weeks, I see all of the most recent auctions; if I leave on vacation and miss a fortnight, those items disappear off my radar.

It's been a month since my previous post Audemars Piguet & Class-parov, so all of the auctions in the two weeks following that post are gone. That might not be a problem, because the most recent fortnight resulted in slim pickings indeed. The only item that interested me was titled 'Original 1931 CAPABLANCA CHESS NY City Photo Signed'. It sold as 'Best Offer' at US $600.

The description said, 'Old 1931 Original Photo of the Cuban Chess World Champion J. Raul Capablanca, in New York City playing with 200 players on real time.' A couple of scans showing the back of the photo revealed Capablanca's signature and the date 22 February 1931. Capablanca is standing directly in front of the second board from the left.


If I hadn't missed the two weeks near the beginning of June, I might have used an eBay auction mentioned at the end of Edward Winter's Chess Explorations (62) on Chessbase.com. The auction was titled 'Chess program signed by many world champions and others; Russia v the World chess match (Moscow, 2002)', received 40 bids from 15 different bidders, and sold for $1,675.01. That Winter article on Chessbase.com also showed a better scan of the signature page from the book I featured in Wereldkampioenschap Schaken 1948.

28 June 2011

Improve Your Chess Game

In my most recent post, Moving on after Vacation, I decided to convert more material left over from my six years with About.com. A year ago, in What's Popular, What's Not, I determined which of the converted pages were the most visited. Here is an update showing the 25 most popular pages, in descending order of interest, out of the ~150 I have already converted.

The dominant theme here is chess improvement, with a few history pieces thrown in for balance. I've often said that a player who is really interested in chess will also be interested in chess history. • For an excellent blog devoted to the topic of improvement, see The Chess Improver, by GM Nigel Davies; recommended for players of all levels.


Later: This was used in 4th of July Chess Improvement Blog Carnival!!. It's not really the sort of thing I like to submit to a blog carnival, but I was on vacation in June and didn't have a lot to choose from.

27 June 2011

Moving on after Vacation

Returning to chess blogging after my annual vacation is always a challenge. Besides dozens of other tasks competing for my time, my mind just isn't tuned into chess or into blogging and needs a good jump start. My first task is always to make a plan for the first two weeks of posts, where the main difficulty is to decide on the very first post. Last year I wrote a post on How I Spent My Summer Vacation, but this year I don't have such an obvious topic.

My Capablanca series (see Moving on from Capablanca) ended just before my vacation started, so one idea is to continue converting my About.com articles, last seen in About Face to Fischer (and Larsen). My recent analysis of general interest in my online chess resources (see My 1000th CFAA Post) shows that the resource is trending in the right direction. I still have a list of pages to be converted on Where to Go From Here?, which gives me a good starting point for the next series of conversions.

That solves the vacation re-entry problem: I have a first post *and* I have a new series.

10 June 2011

Chess & Iphoneography

There were a couple of new iPhone chess photos loaded on Flickr during the last fortnight. The quality still leaves something to be desired, but I expect they will only get better.

Chess. De @panteritabernal. #642drawings © Flickr user Marco Colin under Creative Commons.

Tags: iphoneography, instagram.

09 June 2011

No Pawns for Dave Matthews

Some months ago, in Wiener Werkstaette Postcards, I mentioned that a set of five posters for the Dave Matthews Band (DMB) sold for US $700. What do these posters look like? Like this...

...It appears that DMB posters in general are prized by collectors. For more, see Dave Matthews posters on Google Images.

07 June 2011

A 'Master Game' Lookalike

After a comment to my post on Eight Years of the Master Game informed me that I had made a mistake on the winner of the 1982 event, I went off in search of the source of my error. It turned out that there was a second event in 1982 using the Master Game format. Its two preliminary groups were double round robins and the final match was won by reigning World Champion Karpov. It was the first competition to be called 'FIDE World Cup' and was played in addition to the event behind the seventh Master Game season, won by GM Lobron.

It seems that I was already mistaken in my first post on the subject -- BBC: The Master Game (May 2010) -- which featured links to the final match won by Karpov over Spassky, and which repeated the phrase 'in the style of the BBC "Mastergame" series'. If I had been more alert I would have realized that 'in the style of' meant a knock-off, not the original. My error was compounded when I only located PGN game scores for the World Cup, not realizing that there were more scores for the Master Game.

The YouTube clips were made available by SearchBucket, and although most of the World Cup games are missing, there are many other historical chess videos in his channel worth watching.

Group A: Slim Bouaziz, Anatoly Karpov, John Nunn, Yasser Seirawan

Group B: Eric Lobron, Boris Spassky, Jan Timman, Eugenio Torre


Apologies for the error on the Eight Years post.


Later: After I discovered that YouTube had removed the videos linked by this post, I rewrote it using a new set of links: A 'Master Game' Lookalike, Second Attempt.

06 June 2011

Moving on from Capablanca

Just as I did for the original series on Capablanca's Games 'To be studied very carefully', I'll list the posts in the Capablanca series that I just completed. The following table links to the first posts for each of the five games. Posts marked '(*)' are introductions to the subsequent games.

Capablanca was a marvellous player with a keen sense of positional balance. I could easily spend all of my chess blog time analyzing his games and would undoubtedly become a better player for the effort, but it's time to move on.

03 June 2011

More TV Chess

The clip's description sets the scene at the beginning of game three for the London Docklands Trophy:-

Nigel desperately needs a win after losing the first two games to the World Champion. Very original play by both players. Kasparov unusually plays the Reti and Short answers with the Chigorin Defense. Live commentary by Grandmaster Ray Keene.

The show used a different presentation style than that seen on the series I last covered in BBC: The Master Game 1981.

Kasparov vs Short - Speed Chess Challenge (Part 1) (12:28) • 'Live at the Hippodrome, 1987.'

To play through the complete game, see...

Garry Kasparov vs Nigel Short, London 1987

...on Chessgames.com.

02 June 2011

Audemars Piguet & Class-parov

In this continuing series on Top eBay Chess Items by Price, I once featured a watch (Time Is on My Side) and I've often featured chess sets (the most recent was Political Chess), but I've never featured a watch plus a chess set. An item described as 'AUDEMARS PIGUET - RARE KASPAROV CHESS SET / WATCH PRESENTATION BOX' received 1 bid and sold for GBP 999.99 ('approximately US $1,640.18'). Note that the description says 'chess set' and 'watch presentation box'. The watch itself was not included in the auction.

Audemars Piguet • Kasparov Presentation Box & 18K Gold Watch

The photo above is *not* from the eBay auction. It's from Info Request of Kasparov Audemars (WatchProSite.com), where you can also find a few scans of the box and watch as shown in the original catalog. It's not obvious from the photo, but the watch face features a number of circular chessboard patterns and two dials, so you can track two different time zones. The only price I could find on the web was an offer of the watch for $17K.

Kasparov has (or had, I'm not sure if it's still in effect) a long commercial relationship with Audemars Piguet of Switzerland. From KASPAROV v DEEP BLUE by Jason Luchan (ChessScotland.com, June 1997):-

Thursday May 1 - Opening Press Conference: After the press conference was over, I heard some details about the prematch negotiations which had taken place the prior day. Four hours of the five hour meeting were devoted to a discussion of the controversial new clock that Kasparov wanted to use for the match. Per the match rules, Kasparov was permitted to choose the chess clock.

Under Kasparov's direction, the Audemars Piguet company of Switzerland developed a special digital clock with an LCD display. (Audemars Piguet also made Kasparov's wristwatch.) Kasparov wanted to use the clock's time delay feature for the last minute of each time control. IBM refused to yield on this point because Deep Blue was not programmed to play with a time delay. So the clock was in, but time delay was out.

The clock itself was elegant, but somewhat awkward for use in a chess match. Arbiter Carol Jarecki told me the clock looks "like an old RCA radio." It was easily the biggest chess clock I have ever seen. To operate properly, the clock had to be connected to a laptop computer sitting on top of the arbiter's desk; the only way to start or stop the clock was with the laptop. There was some uncertainty how the clock would perform in its competitive debut.

For a picture of the clock, see Chess Notes, July 2006 (ChessHistory.com, C.N. 4444):-

4444. Front-page headline news: How often has chess been the main front-page story in a newspaper? Here is one instance, from the Journal de Genève et Gazette de Lausanne of 10 April 1997: [photo of top half of front page showing top half of clock] The news report concerned Kasparov’s involvement with the Swiss company Audemars Piguet in the development of a clock for use in his upcoming match against Deep Blue.

For more about the clock used in that milestone match, see the Google Books copy of Deep Blue: An Artificial Intelligence Milestone by Monty (Monroe) Newborn and use search to find the references.