31 August 2012

An Arbiter's Photos

For this current edition of Flickr Friday, I could have chosen a more interesting photo -- life scene 1338, chess knight on board, for example -- but this morning I just happened to discover the site of the same photographer, Greek Chess photos ('photos from a Greek chess arbiter'). I took that as a sign.

Cups of World Junior Chess Championships © Flickr user karpidis under Creative Commons.

Karpidis, who gives his real name as Andreas Kontokanis, is somewhat unusual for Flickr photographers who upload dozens (or even hundreds) of portraits at the same time in that he takes the time to identify his subjects by name. For more of his work, see Girls play chess.

30 August 2012

Answers About Ask

A few weeks ago, in It's All About Answers, I noted,

The New York Times Co. has agreed to sell its troubled online information service, About.com, to rival Answers.com for $270 million

Let's follow the evolution of that story since the initial report. Barry Diller's IAC offers $300 million for About.com:

IAC wants to combine About.com with Ask.com, which has undergone a strategy shift over the last two years from generic search engine to a question-and-answer style service. The idea would be to leverage the content served up on About.com to answer questions users pose on Ask.com. [reuters.com]

Why About.com May Be Worth $300 Million to Barry Diller:

We understand why the Times Company wants to get rid of the property. After a few years of revenue increases, Google went and changed its algorithm causing About to lose the clicks that once brought them over $100 million. Following these search changes, however, the company reported a 67 percent drop in revenue for the site earlier this year, after laying off a bunch of its staff about a year ago. It's about time for About to go. But, what does Diller want with it for all that money? Some theories:
* Diller knows how to make money from a site like About.com.
* A question and answer empire.
* It's actually a bargain.
* Diller has the money. [theatlanticwire.com]

It’s Ask.com and Answers.com Looking to Grab About.com:

It’s not the first time these two have circled the same website names. In 2007, Answers reached a deal for Lexico Publishing Group the company behind Dictionary.com, Thesaurus.com and Reference.com for $100 million. But that deal fell apart and in May 2008, Diller’s media giant swooped in with its own deal for the company. [wsj.com]

Barclays Sees Synergies In Potential IAC-About.com Deal:

[Barclays’ Mark May] notes that About.com generated $25 million in the second quarter. While that number was down year-over-year, it improved sequentially "as the business appears to have at least stabilized following the Google (GOOG) changes in 2011." He concludes: "Assuming modest growth and a 40% margin, we forecast $108mn in revenue and $43mn in EBITDA for About in CY13. A $300mn purchase price would equate to 7.0x CY13 EBITDA as compared to IAC’s current 6.6x." [blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily]

Times Co. Sells About.com for $300 Million:

IAC won out over Answers.com, which two weeks ago reached a preliminary agreement to buy the unit for $270 million. IAC is the owner of Ask.com, so the deal will fortify its presence in how-to web search. The deal is expected to close in several weeks, and the Times Co. will use the cash for "general corporate purposes," the company said. [wsj.com; comments]

Deal for About.com Fits Diller’s Strategy:

IAC is known for snapping up businesses that generate cash and fit nicely into the existing portfolio of brands. The About Group, owner of About.com, a popular advice site, checks each box here. While group’s profit shrank last year after Google tweaked its search algorithm, it still posted $41 million in profit. About.com also complements IAC’s Ask.com, a question-and-answers site that it purchased in 2005. [dealbook.nytimes.com]

Ask.com CEO Discusses About.com Acquisition:

(Q:) You've said that Ask.com has had its eyes on About.com for a long time. How did you finally come to the decision to buy it? (A:) For us it was about how do we get an answer to content that we can put on Ask that helps you get the whole picture of the story? When we do that, users love us and we have a lot of users. What we don't have is a lot of users who are coming back to us frequently. Our problem is getting people to come back more often, and it became very clear that content was the way to do that. High-quality content, not crap content farm stuff. We started then to look around for high-quality content, and of all the commercial content on the Web, About content is the best. It made a ton of sense to say, "Let's use this content on About and drive that back to Ask while using Ask's users to do the same for About's great stuff." [adweek.com]

If About.com is worth $300 million, what is Wikipedia worth?

28 August 2012

When and What to Exchange

The diagram shows a position from one of my recent games. I had just picked up a loose Pawn with 52...Rxa5, to which my opponent replied 53.Ba2. Now I had to formulate a plan to guide me over the next few moves.

Besides Black's extra Pawn, the most striking characteristic of the position is the roster of minor pieces. White has the Bishop pair, but the light squared Bishop is hampered by the Pawns on d5 & e4, which are in turn blockaded by Black's Pawn and Knight. The Knight on e5 is a more effective piece than the light squared Bishop.

Black's obvious plan is to advance the c-Pawn, against which White will fight tooth and nail on the light squares c4 and c2. The question is what roster of the remaining pieces is most advantageous to Black, and what roster is least advantageous. That is the question on which I spent my time.

White to move

Black can start initiating trades with 53...Qb5, which forces a Queen exchange with 54.Qxb5 Rxb5. Then after 55.Rb1, Black can't play 55...Rxb1+, because after 56.Bxb1, comes 57.Bxe5 Bxe5 with opposite colored Bishops, when a draw is certain. This gave me one roster to avoid: Black has to keep some other material on the board besides those mismatched Bishops.

Another continuation I looked at was 53...Qa7 54.Bb1 Ra1 55.Qb5 Qa6 56.Qxa6 Rxa6, exchanging Queens but leaving the Rooks and minor pieces. Note that this variation is not forcing, but just an example that leads to one likely roster of material. A similar example variation is 53...Qa7 54.Bb3 Qb8 55.Rb1 Rb5 56.Qd1 c4 57.Bc2 Rxb1 58.Qxb1, leaving the Queens and minor pieces, when 58...Qa7 avoids the Queen trade.

Which is better for Black -- Queens or Rooks -- with the minor pieces? I decided I didn't understand the position well enough to make this decision, so I played to avoid all exchanges, leaving all pieces on the board. The game continued 53...Qa4 54.Bb1 Qb3. With every move I gained a better understanding of the position and adhered to my strategy of avoiding exchanges. The same material was still present when White resigned ten moves later, facing significant material loss.

One aspect of the position I did understand -- White can't trade the dark squared Bishop for the Knight. In that event, Black's Queen and Bishop cooperate on the weakened dark squares to make serious trouble for the White King.

A rule of thumb tells us to trade pieces when ahead in material. While it might be true in the majority of positions, it isn't necessarily true for all. One case where it fails is with opposite colored Bishops on the board.

27 August 2012

One Thing Leads to Another

I ended last week's post on the topic of cross checking my About.com material (see Invisible Pages?), by mentioning 'a few other links that didn't look quite right'. A little investigation showed that these were mostly links that had been 'commented out' when I converted the page, i.e. I left the link in the source, but it didn't display on the page when rendered in a browser.

A few of those hidden links led to pages that had been converted afterwards, so I removed the comment brackets to allow them to display. Some of the other hidden links pointed to a useful resource that I had never converted. I dragged it out of archive, released it as Chess Middle Games - Puzzles, and added it to my page on Learn to Play Chess. Many of the puzzles are based on the examples of Fred Reinfeld, 10 New Puzzle Sets (also a new page), and Yuri Averbakh, Middle game - Double attacks (one of the pages with commented links), so I cross referenced those two pages with the puzzles.

There are already a zillion chess puzzles on the web, but a few more won't hurt. I don't intend to add any more to them.

26 August 2012

Missing Video Fridays

I missed a few episodes of Video Friday while I was on vacation earlier this summer. Since each episode features one video from new YouTube offerings over the previous fortnight, I went back to fill in the gap, mostly for my own instruction.

For the first missing fortnight, I posted Karpov on Fischer, dated 15 June 2012 and covering the first half of June. By coincidence, it's from the same series as the most recent episode, Karpov - Henley on Karpov - Kamsky. Karpov and Henley combine to make a great instructional team.

For the next missing fortnight, every clip that caught my attention also touched on a theme that I had already covered. Every clip except 'Who Is No.1?', which I dated 29 June 2012. No.1 here isn't Magnus Carlsen.

For the last missing fortnight, I could have featured two more Karpov / Henley videos. Instead I chose The Biggest Open in the World, dated 13 July 2012. Is the World Open really the biggest?

24 August 2012

Karpov - Henley on Karpov - Kamsky

A few days ago I posted about Queen against Rook in the endgame: Mighty Queen, Lowly Rook This video shows the power of Queen against Rook in the middlegame through some nice tactics.

Karpov analyzes 1996 World Chess Championship with Kamsky (15:52) • 'Karpov's Best Games Vol 4'

Near the end of the clip we find, 'Motivate GM Ron W. Henley to release more of his collection by LIKING, COMMENTING, SHARING and by reading more about this video in the ARTICLE': Karpov Analyzes 1996 World Chess Championship Match With Kamsky. Henley was Karpov's second during the match. Here they look at game nine.

23 August 2012

2012's Best Chess Blog, Chess Journalist, Chess Art

A month ago I listed the Entries for 2012 CJA Best Blog, where CJA = Chess Journalists of America, so it's only fitting that I note the winner. The full list of winners in all categories is on the CJA site at Prize List for 2012 CJA Awards, where we find that best blog is GM Kosteniuk's Chessblog.com (and not her Chess Queen Blog as I guessed in the 'Entries' post). The popular GM acknowledged her selection in Our Chess Blog Wins Chess Journalists' of America Award 2012, along with a list of her favorite posts.

Last year, in The Last Shall Be Least, I noted that there was no award given for 'Chess Journalist of the Year'. This year the award went to Chess Life's Mike Klein. An example of his work is featured in this month's CL: 'Two Weeks of Theater' by FM Mike Klein. Here's the lead paragraph:-

Sports movies insist on an underdog for drama. But at the 2012 U.S. Championship and U.S. Women’s Championship, the top four players produced the kind of tension that even a screenwriter could appreciate. The two weeks of theater, held from May 7-20 at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, ended with GM Hikaru Nakamura overcoming the late points lead of GM Gata Kamsky to win his third title. IM Irina Krush, only seconds away from an extension of the tiebreaker with IM Anna Zatonskih, slipped past her rival in a messy affair to capture the women’s crown for the fourth time.

For more about the winner, see USchess.org's Interview with Mike Klein, Chess Journalist of the Year.

The last category I like to recognize each year is 'Best Chess Art'. In 2012 the award went to 'Winding Down' by Caroline Kaye. After a little research I discovered that this was the cover for the April 2012 Chess Life, pictured on the left. During the same research I noticed that Kaye was also credited for the cover of the March 2012 CL, a photo of GM Gregory Kaidanov, winner of the 2011 Eastern Open.

Congratulations to all of the 2012 CJA award winners!

21 August 2012

Mighty Queen, Lowly Rook

A friend sent me a game that reached the position shown in the diagram and asked me what I thought about it. My first reaction was that White has winning chances, but after some analysis it appears to be a solid draw. Once the Black King moves out of checking range, the Black Queen has no problem creating constant threats to win a Pawn or worse. The Queen's movements on the diagonals allow it to switch rapidly from one section of the board to another while the Rook remains huddled close to its Pawns. The Queen dominates the Rook in a way that the Rook can't match when faced with a minor piece alone.

White to move

I started to wonder what theory said about the position. Averbakh (see Averbakh's Convekta for a previous post on his work) only looks at Rook and two Pawns vs. Queen. He divides the positions into those with doubled Pawns, disconnected Pawns, and connected Pawns. In the first two cases, the side with the Rook looks to sacrifice one of the Pawns, leaving a theoretically drawn fortress. The third case breaks down into positions where the weaker King is either separated from its Pawns or close to them. In positions like the diagram, the White King behind its two Pawns has good drawing chances.

I also looked at positions like the diagram where I added a White Pawn on the e-file, i.e. Rook and four Pawns vs. Queen. Here the Queen also manages to hold the position. I tried to invent positions where the Queen finally loses, but they are not easy to find.

20 August 2012

Invisible Pages?

Continuing with Monday, Monday, I built a database of all pages in my About.com material (aka Welcome to 'Chess for All Ages', because it was named after this blog) along with their links to other pages. I checked that all pages were linked from another page, fixed a few technical inconsistencies that didn't affect page displays, and found two unlinked pages. It turned out I had documented both on this blog:-

While I was doing this, I noticed a few other links that didn't look quite right. I'll come back to these ASAP.

19 August 2012

Monks Making Merry

In this ongoing series based on Top eBay Chess Items by Price, I could easily do a mini-series on topics like Fischer Memorabilia in the previous post. Instead I'll keep that as an option for the future and will revert to a single item for this current post.

The image pictured below was titled 'BROTHERS ENJOYING A GAME OF CHESS - Original Art Oil Painting' and sold for US $600 on a single bid. The word 'brothers' in this instance means friars or monks and the 'enjoying' probably has more to do with the white wine than with the chess game.

The description said,

Impressive oil on canvas showing monks engaged in a game of chess with a wine glass in hand. Humorous painting with several funny details in the background. It is signed Oswal(?) and is probably Dutch and from the 1950´s. Unfortunately I have no further information on this great painting.

Even on the original eBay image I couldn't find the 'several funny details in the background'.

17 August 2012

Temporary Exhibitions : Fischer - Spassky 1972

Just the other day I was telling my wife that you never see any good photos from Þjóðminjasafn Íslands and, whatdaya know, for this edition of Flickr Friday I happened to find one. Plugging that term into Google not only works, the first result is thjodminjasafn.is, which gives a good idea how to pronounce it and informs that it means The National Museum of Iceland.

Reykjavik Þjóðminjasafn Íslands © Flickr user larfi under Creative Commons.

For a little more about the exhibit, see Temporary Exhibitions : Match of the Century, which happens to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the match.

16 August 2012

A Greater Degree of Risk

The chess of GM Svetozar Gligoric has been featured numerous times on this blog -- see, for example, BBC: The Master Game 1981, Three Fischer Games Uncensored, and, on my chess960 blog, Shall We Play Chess960?. It's only fitting that I followup a tribute to him on my World Championship blog, Fortunate with His Temperament, with a matching post here.

Gligoric was one of the early adopters of the King's Indian Defense, and the chapter on that opening in his game collection, I Play against Pieces, is one of the longest of the approximately 25 chapters, each treating a separate opening. He introduced the KID chapter with the following anecdote.

My achievements brought me the FIDE grandmaster title as early as 1951, but the real truth, lurking behind all the results, was that at that time I felt slight creative fatigue and was inwardly seeking to enrich my play because it seemed to me that it had become rather dull and insufficiently aggressive.

Among other things, at that time I was also attracted by the King's Indian Defence and the impressive victories of certain Soviet grandmasters in this system, but I hesitated for several years and didn't dare to change my calm, more 'classical' opening repertoire. I had secret doubts about the very correctness of such a double-edged opening, where Black is a 'bit late' in striking at White's mighty centre.

My creative indecisiveness was broken at the start of the Interzonal tournament in Saltsjobaden 1952. Unlike the first Interzonal tournament in 1948, I came to this one as a renowned grandmaster with higher ambitions, so one can imagine how disappointed I was with myself when in the first round, with Black against Stahlberg in a Queen's Gambit Orthodox Defence, I lost a passive, seemingly simple drawn position. It was then that I decided that in the future I would rather play with a greater degree of risk than lose another game like that.

My next game as Black, in the third round, was the start of my association with the King's Indian Defence which was to last for two and a half decades' In the game, given below, my victory [vs. Geller] in a sharp battle against one of the leading Soviet grandmasters (a success I hadn't achieved since defeating Smyslov in Warsaw 1947!), was all the encouragement I needed to make the drawbacks of my opening play fade away.

Along with the 20 complete games featured in that chapter, the book's last chapter 'My Theoretical Contributions to the Openings' offers even more material.

This defence was my principal and constant weapon as Black for a quarter of a century, during the best period of my chess career between 1952 and 1977, and so it is only natural that I contributed a good number of new ideas and theoretical novelties here.

Perhaps GM Gligoric's most important contributions were from the 25 years when he wrote his Game of the Month column. Have these ever been collected into a book?

14 August 2012

Allergic to Chess Players?

One good turn deserves another. A friend of many years, Alan Lasser -- also of 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Ng8 (Weissman's Defense) and 1.d4 d5 2.Qd3 (the Bad Opening) fame -- gave this blog a mention in the latest issue of his 'Game of the Week' Connecticut newsletter.

Another recent issue pictured the garment shown on the left ('I am allergic to chess players') and wondered,

I have noticed that this T-shirt is available at some retail online outlets. Could it be a natural reaction to some of those really awful shirts being sold by the USCF?

In a personal email Alan asked me, 'Who or what is responsible? What is the story behind it?' I would add to that, 'Who would wear such a thing?', and admit cluelessness. Does anybody know? And what are those 'really awful shirts being sold by the USCF'?

More editions of Alan's newsletter can be found on the web using the appropriate search tools and keywords.

13 August 2012

Monday, Monday

Last week's piece on Chess in the Balkans Circa 2006 looks to be the last conversion of my About.com material for a long time. The journey started in 2008 with All My Material ... Gone Forever ... Not! and ends, at least for now, with Been There, But Haven't Done That.

The remaining work listed in 'Haven't Done That' presents special challenges that I don't want to address now. I can always come back to it in the future, but I would rather take a close look at what I've done with the intention of pulling everything together a little tighter. I've been converting it in dribs and drabs for almost four years, without ever checking how it hangs together.

Here's what I intend to do over the next few weeks:-

  • Take an inventory of the existing material. Are all articles present and accounted for on the index pages?
  • Are the links -- both internal and external -- in good working order?
  • Is the existing material consistent in structure and appearance?
  • Are there errors being reported on the server log files?

After that, I have a few odds and ends on other sites -- Chess History on the Web : Support material on Tripod.com is one example -- that could be brought into the same environment as the About.com material. Looks like my Chess for All Ages Monday posts will continue on the same theme for a while.

12 August 2012

It's All About Answers

Even though it's been four years since I stopped writing for About.com (see Bye, Bye, About.com!), I still follow the company's roller coaster fortunes. A few days ago a piece which appeared on news.yahoo.com, Source: NYTimes to sell About to Answers for $270M, caught my attention.

The New York Times Co. has agreed to sell its troubled online information service, About.com, to rival Answers.com for $270 million, or two-thirds what the Times paid for it in 2005, according to a person familiar with the matter.

I learned a lot during my six-year stint and definitely got more out of the gig than I put into it. Don't misunderstand me -- I worked hard to create my content, but it was an all-around new experience for me. I was a software geek, not a media maven.

The company changed dramatically when the New York Times took over. I think it was around March or April of 2005. Where previously the 'Guides' were pretty much left alone to take care of their sites, the Times installed a layered hierarchy with editors watching closely over 50-60 Guides each. I knew all about corporate hierarchies from my previous stint as Corporate Information Systems Officer at the headquarters for a large multinational telecommunications company. I also knew that freewheeling About.com was in for trouble when the people who had been in positions of responsibility before the buyout started to leave in droves.

Almost immediately, I developed a dislike of contact with the new management. My first editor told me that his eyes glazed over when he read my piece about downloading game scores. My second editor -- I think it was an interim position while they they were searching for a full timer (the games and hobby channel was not the place to be for an ambitious editor) -- tried to create an affinity by telling me that her grandfather collected chess sets. I survived two reviews by the editors, but by the third time around they realized that (1) I was not a trained journalist, and (2) I had little interest in SEO (search engine optimization), which they trumpeted to the world as the core competence linking together the diverse topics. The boot came a few months later.

What happens to About.com next? I have no idea, but I'll continue to follow the company with interest.

10 August 2012

1993 Kasparov - Short Pre-match

Good luck picking this clip up on any search. Absolutely no information is given on YouTube about its content. From BBC's Channel Four News:-

chess (8:42) • 'no description available'

'Our correspondent Robert Parker has been speaking to the two players'...

09 August 2012

India's First Grandmaster

From the Chess Times (1/88):-

'A dream fulfilled' was everybody's saying at the penultimate round of the Sakthi Finance International Grandmasters Chess Tournament at Coimbatore on 27 December 1987. The Indian Chess Fraternity was jubilant when the news was flashed, 'Anand has become India's First Grandmaster'.

Later the article mentions, 'There were three contenders [for first GM]: Anand, Thipsay and Barua'.

07 August 2012

Vacation Reading: FIDE Statutes

FIDE has issued a set of changes to its statutes: Proposed New Statutes with changes marked, to be ratified during the forthcoming Olympiad.

FIDE Statutes: GENS UNA SUMUS • The moral strength of FIDE is manifested by the discipline of its members. Statutes of the World Chess Federation - Fédération Internationale des Echecs - FIDE, founded 20 July, 1924, Paris, France. These statutes were approved by the General Assembly on ? September, 2012 in Istanbul, Turkey.

The documents, which aren't easy to read because of the many highlighted changes, nevertheless provide an insight into FIDE's structure. From Final FIDE Statutes 110712 (i.e. 2012-07-11, meaning it has gone through several iterations):-

01 - Status, principles and aims and revenues of FIDE
02 - Membership
03 - FIDE officials and organisations organs
04 - The General Assembly
05 - The Executive Board
06 - Continental Associations - Rights and Obligations
07 - The Presidential Board
08 - The Commissions and Committees, or the delegates, of FIDE
• Ethics Commission (ETH)
• Constitutional Commission (CON)
• Verification Commission (VER)
• Electoral Commission (ELE)
09 - The President and Deputy President, Vice Presidents and Continental Presidents (GA '95)
10 - Other officials and organizations The General Secretary, Treasurer, Executive Director, Vice Presidents, Honorary Vice Presidents and Auditor of FIDE
11 - The Zonal Presidents
12 - Removal from Office
13 - Final Settlement of Disputes at the Court of Arbitration for Sport
14 - Doping and Drug Use
15 - Final Matters

From Commissions:-

02 Standing Orders Non-Elected Commissions (moved from Statutes Chapter 8)
1 - Membership and proceedings
1.1 -Membership
1.2 - Proceedings
2 - Aims of the Commissions
2.1 - Technical Commission (TEC)
2.2 - Arbiters Commission (ARB)
2.3 - Qualification Commission (QC)
2.4 - Chess in Schools Commission (SCH CIS)
2.5 - Event’s Commission (EVE)
2.6 - Trainer’s Commission (TRG)
2.7 - Development CACDEC Commission (DEV)
2.8 - Medical Commission (MED)
2.9 - Commission for Women’s Chess (WOM)
2.10 - Commission for Social Projects (SOC)
3.0 - Commission for World Championships and Olympiad (WCO)

B - Special Projects:
1 - Appointment
2 - Proceedings
3 - Objectives
3.1 - Chess Art and exhibition
3.2 - Chess for the Disabled
3.3 - Computer and Internet Chess
3.4 - International Organisations
3.5 - Chess Composition
3.6 - Chess Media

Also available:- Final Electoral Regulations 210712, Financial Regulations amendments, and Official Languages.

06 August 2012

Chess in the Balkans Circa 2006

Looking once again at Been There, But Haven't Done That, three out of the next four articles are glossary oriented. Since I don't believe there's a real need for yet another web-based chess glossary, I'll research the subject before I commit to converting them. Skipping over those means that Chess in the Balkans is next to be converted. It can be found on my index page for Chess History articles.

05 August 2012

Fischer Memorabilia

We're into the summer doldrums on Top eBay Chess Items by Price. Since my previous post, Red and Yellow Speed Wheels Included, the only unusual items that hadn't been covered in previous posts were a 'Lego Castle Giant Chess Set' that sold for US $500 and a gold coin 'ARMENIA GOLD 8.6 gr. 22kt COIN 2006 37th Chess Olympiad' that sold for US $750. I just couldn't whip up the enthusiasm to feature another chess set and last year I posted about a different Olympiad gold coin in Real Olympiad Gold.

What to do? While I was scrolling through eBay's closed listings, I noticed there were a large number of Fischer items. Why not do a post on those? The results are pictured below in descending order of price using the same software I mentioned in The Longest Sidebar. It's a great tool for capturing long web pages.

Since the items are reduced to a size rendering the text nearly unreadable, I'll step through them. The top line shows autographed postal covers. The first item on the line includes a signed cover from the 1972 match, a coin set, and a couple of tickets to the match. The lot sold for $2945, probably because of the gold coin and the cover. The coins are not the same type mentioned in Gold for Fischer - Spassky. Here they show Fischer wearing laurel, a curious tradition I once documented in Where's Smyslov?.

The second and third covers on the top line are from the 1971 Candidate matches against Taimanov and Larsen, respectively. The Taimanov cover received 40 bids and sold for $897. The Larsen cover received fewer bids and likewise sold for somewhat less. The seller noted against both covers that they were 'also autographed by two other unknown persons', the same signatures appearing on both covers. One of the signatures appears to be Larsen's. Could the other be Taimanov's? If so, what were the circumstances surrounding the signing?

The second line shows more Fischer autographs. The most unusual is the second (middle) item. It was signed by all of the competitors at the 1962 Curacao Candidate tournament, received 12 bids, and sold for $667.89. The description mentioned,


The last line shows a number of press photos. They all sold for a little over $100. A few other photos that I cropped out sold for a little under $100. That appears to be the current approximate value of a genuine Fischer photo.

Incidentally, if you search for 'Fischer Memorabilia' elsewhere on the web, you'll find all sorts of people who have nothing to do with chess.

03 August 2012

Bishop, Bishop, Burning Bright

Yesterday this blog featured a lowbrow post, After Fishey vs. Spasstic, so it's only fitting that today I make up for it with a highbrow post, or at least a post less lowbrow. These judgements are, after all, completely subjective and relative.

Chess (in 'Wise Words' set) © Flickr user Veronique (Image Focus Australia) under Creative Commons.

The text of what appears to be a poem is a quote from 'A Liberal Education' by Thomas Henry Huxley. I've italicized it in this longer excerpt.

Suppose it were perfectly certain that the life and fortune of every one of us would, one day or other, depend upon his winning or losing a game at chess. Don’t you think that we should all consider it to be a primary duty to learn at least the names and the moves of the pieces; to have a notion of a gambit, and a keen eye for all the means of giving and getting out of check? Do you not think that we should look with a disapprobation amounting to scorn upon the father who allowed his son, or the state which allowed its members, to grow up without knowing a pawn from a knight?

Yet, it is a very plain and elementary truth that the life, the fortune, and the happiness of every one of us, and, more or less, of those who are connected with us, do depend upon our knowing something of the rules of a game infinitely more difficult and complicated than chess. It is a game which has been played for untold ages, every man and woman of us being one of the two players in a game of his or her own. The chess-board is the world, the pieces are the phenomena of the universe, the rules of the game are what we call the laws of Nature. The player on the other side is hidden from us. We know that his play is always fair, just and patient. But also we know, to our cost, that he never overlooks a mistake, or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance. To the man who plays well, the highest stakes are paid, with that sort of overflowing generosity with which the strong shows delight in strength. And one who plays ill is checkmated--without haste, but without remorse.

My metaphor will remind some of you of the famous picture in which Retzsch has depicted Satan playing at chess with man for his soul. Substitute for the mocking fiend in that picture a calm, strong angel who is playing for love, as we say, and would rather lose than win--and I should accept it as an image of human life.

The chess metaphor must be well known, because there are dozens of copies of it scattered around the web. Since I can't recall seeing it before, I guess I'll have to limit certain of my lowbrow activities. Sigh!

02 August 2012

After Fishey vs. Spasstic

This blog being 'For All Ages', at least nominally, I've taken the lowbrow path before (see Highbrow or Lowbrow for an example), but never too far. In this anniversary year of the Fischer - Spassky matches -- 40 years since the first, 20 years since the second -- I couldn't help but reproduce the image shown below. The introduction to the 'strip' said,

Where will the next confrontation of superpowers take place? The Golan Heights? Berlin? Guantanamo? Conidering the rush of global events, it will probably be at the Manhattan Chess Club. Anticipating that fact, the world practices and plays chess, and thus do we open on an exhibition, pitting the renowned Bobby Fishey against 40 players, including our own favorite little chess piece, who has been placed in the match by the ever-hopeful Ralphie Towzer.

Annie (unaware that the entire room is contemplating her chest): 'A chess club has such a dignified air of concentration, Ralphie.'

Little Annie Fanny

Playboy, August 1973

Her winning maneuver gives an entirely new angle to the 'touch move' rule.