18 July 2018

A Bad Day for Spassky

On my main blog, in a post titled Chess-books and Chess-players, I rediscovered the chess books offered by the Internet Archive's Open Library. In one of the books I looked at, Chess panorama By William Lombardy (openlibrary.org), in a chapter titled 'The Last Round', I found a long anecdote about a famous failure that occurred in the 1958 Soviet Championship, a zonal (p.179).

For a crosstable of the tournament, see 1957-1960 Zonal Cycle (C04, Z04). To play through the moves of the game, see Boris Spassky vs Mikhail Tal; USSR Championship (1958), Riga URS (chessgames.com).

The 'Chess Panorama' excerpt mentions the book 'Spassky's 100 Best Games' by Bruce Cafferty. That should of course be Bernard Cafferty, who also mentioned other last round incidents of the same genre. I'll cover those in another post.

04 July 2018

2018 FIDE Election Tickets

A couple of months ago, in 2018 FIDE Chess Politics, I wrote,
The situation is changing so rapidly that anything I say is bound to be wrong even before I press 'POST'. [...] In the meantime, let's settle for an overview of the election process. [...] I'll come back to the subject at the beginning of summer.

Earlier today, in Tickets for FIDE Presidential elections 2018 (fide.com), FIDE announced,

FIDE has received, within the specified deadline of 3 July 2018, 17:00 (Athens time), the following three (3) Presidential Tickets of Arkady Dvorkovich, Georgios Makropoulos and Nigel Short for the upcoming FIDE elections 2018 (listed alphabetically):

Arkady Dvorkovich – President
Bachar Kouatly – Deputy President
Sewa Enyonam Fumey – General Secretary
Mahir Mammedov – Vice President
Julio Granda Zuniga – Vice President
Zhu Chen – Treasurer

Georgios Makropoulos – President
Malcolm Pein – Deputy President
Sundar Damal Villivalam – General Secretary
Martha Fierro – Vice President
Chitalu Chilufya – Vice President
Adrian M. Siegel – Treasurer

Nigel Short – President
Lukasz Marek Turlej – Deputy President
Ruth Haring – General Secretary
Olalekan Adeyemi – Vice President
Paul Spiller – Vice President
Panu Laine – Treasurer

What happened to current FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov? Last week, in e.g. Arkady Dvorkovich is RCF’s candidate for FIDE President (chessdom.com), we learned,

24 ballots were received by the RCF Secretariat by 6 p.m. (Moscow time) on June 27th. 22 RCF Supervisory Board members voted in favour of Arkady Dvorkovich and 2 in favour of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.

RCF stands for Russian Chess Federation, and the group voted overwhelmingly Ilyumzhinov out, Dvorkovich in. I can't imagine that anyone outside of Ilyumzhinov's inner circle is sorry to see him go. After nearly 23 years at the helm of FIDE, the quirky Kalmyk has consistently demonstrated that his strongest quality is unpredictability.

As for the three confirmed candidates, they are all damaged goods. Dvorkovich is a puppet of the Putin regime; Makropoulos has been a controversial figure in FIDE for even longer than Ilyumzhinov and has been in bad health; Short has never shown any political acumen and specializes in insulting people. I imagine the election will be decided the same way all FIDE elections are decided, with palm grease.

Of special interest is the upcoming World Championship. With Ilyumzhinov out of the picture, what is organizer Agon's outlook? I'll be watching to see how the three candidates treat all aspects of the Carlsen - Caruana match. Both players are tremendously popular and should deliver positive publicity to world chess. Will the three candidates build on that or will they destroy it?

28 June 2018

Garry Kasparov Face Recognition

Does the general public recognize the names of World Chess Champions? For Garry Kasparov, I have anecdotal evidence that, 'Yes!', they do. For Magnus Carlsen, I'm not so sure. How about recognizing their faces? I can't answer that question easily, but I can run their photographs through the sort of AI software I discussed last week on my main blog in Analyze Your Own Images. If AI doesn't recognize them, then non-artificial intelligence probably won't either.

The software I used is available through Vision API - Image Content Analysis (cloud.google.com/vision). I used another Google service, image search, to locate a studio portrait of GM Kasparov, then fed it to the Vision API. The 'Faces' section of the analysis returned the image shown below on the left, while the first item in the 'Web Entities' section told me 'Garry Kasparov 10.947', where the number is probably some kind of a confidence metric. The second item was 'Chess 1.06755' and the last was 'Bobby Fischer 0.09179'.

The 'Pages with Matched Images' section returned a long list of links, most of them from Pinterest.com, including a link to the same image I used for the test. No question about it, Garry Kasparov has both name and face recognition.

While I was conducting that test, it occurred to me that the Google AI software might be cheating. It could easily locate copies of the image in the Google archive of results from web searches, then analyze the associated text.

I searched my own archive of images and located one that might not have found its way to a web page somewhere. I fed this one to the Vision API and it returned the image shown above on the right, along with 'Garry Kasparov 10.2885'. There's no doubt about it -- the API recognized Garry, and this time 'Pages with Matched Images' was empty.

One more curiosity is worth mentioning: the analysis of both photos returned the following list of face attributes:-

Joy : Very Unlikely
Sorrow : Very Unlikely
Anger : Very Unlikely
Surprise : Very Unlikely

It seems that AI software can recognize Kasparov's face, but it can't recognize his expression.

20 June 2018

Imagery of 1995 Kasparov - Anand

Start with the format used in Imagery of 1889 Steinitz - Chigorin, then fast forward more than a century to Chess at the World Trade Center. You end up with something like the following.

Google image search on '1995 kasparov anand'

[Call the rows 'A' to 'C' (from top to bottom) and number the images in each row '1' to 'x' (from left to right).]

First observation: There is nothing from Pinterest (Thank you, Google!), although there is plenty from Youtube (A2, A5, B5, C1, C4). Second observation: There are also plenty of similar aerial photos showing New York City (A1, B3, B4, B5, C5). Given that there is not a real position on the board and no clock. this was probably a publicity shot.

The 'Intel World Chess' logo figures in many photos (A4, A5, B1) and is partially obscured in others. In A4 -- Kasparov vs Anand, 1995 (kasparov.com) -- the word 'Intel' is cropped out on the top, though a smaller version is visible on the bottom; ditto A5.

Two more photos (A2 & B2) are from the match and show arbiter Carol Jarecki. A2 is from a Youtube video, Kasparov - Anand, Game 10, World Championship 1995, that includes footage taken during the match plus game analysis by Daniel King. In B2, NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani makes the first move.

Nearly all of the images on the third row are from other Kasparov - Anand encounters. C1 is titled 'BLITZ Intel World Chess 1995'; C2 is from a Spanish tournament (Linares?); and C3, dated August 2017, says 'Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz'. C4 is from another Youtube video, although the image returned by Google is not in the clip.

The match took place during a period of increased interest in chess by Americans. In The USCF in Numbers (June 2014), I documented a 'period of growth from 52.898 members in 1990 to a peak of 88.908 members in 2002'.

13 June 2018

Chess at the World Trade Center

I found this image while preparing a recent post, Chess in The Graphic, on my main blog.

Under the heading 'Checkmate!', the text says,

Intel World Chess Championship 1995
Garry Kasparov versus Vishy Anand
World Trade Center Observation Deck
September 11, 1995 through October 13, 1995
on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, 3:00 pm
For tickets call 1 800 388 KING

The four sponsors listed at the bottom are

World Trade Center,
Intel World Chess,
PCA, and
Alliance for Downtown New York Inc.

For the history of the PCA (Professional Chess Association), see my page World Chess Championship : FIDE/PCA Chronology. I've documented the event shown in the poster on the page 1995 Kasparov - Anand PCA Title Match.

Just above the name for that last sponsor, 'Alliance for Downtown New York Inc.', is a logo composed of buildings that appear to say 'Alliad', where the two letters 'll' represent the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The group's LinkedIn page, Overview ('Nonprofit Organization Management'), shows a similar but different logo that spells 'Alliance'.

I found the image in an August 2007 eBay auction. The auction description said,


Attractive announcement of Garry Kasparov versus Vishy Anand duel that took place on that fateful date, September 11 at the World Trade Center. ROOK GRAPHIC on opaque/glossy white chessboard. Suitable for framing. Dimensions: 6" x 9".

Accompanying WTC NEWS (World Trade Center) announcement: "The world's greatest chess players will compete a quarter mile high in the sky ... on the 107th floor Observation Deck at Two World Trade Center..."

The connection between my post about 'Chess in The Graphic' and this poster is the phrase 'ROOK GRAPHIC'. From such connections little discoveries are made.

06 June 2018

Imagery of 1889 Steinitz - Chigorin

The previous post, Leading Chess Players in 1886, included a short discussion of images from the first World Championship, the 1886 Steinitz - Zukertort match. What can we learn from a similar discussion of the second World Championship, 1889 Steinitz - Chigorin (Havana)?

Google image search on '1889 Steinitz Chigorin'

[Call the rows 'A' to 'C' (from top to bottom) and number the images in each row '1' to 'x' (from left to right).]

Three of the images (A1, C3, & C4) show the same setting and appear to be taken from the 1889 match; the first version is from Steinitz vs Chigorin 1889 (chessgames.com). The large text image (C5) is from my page 1889 Steinitz - Chigorin : Background, which is a collection of clippings from issues of British Chess Magazine in the 1880s.

Two more images (A3 & A4) are said to be from the rematch 1892 Steinitz - Chigorin (Havana). Another image is shown twice (A2 & B1), where the second version includes a caption, 'Petersburgo 1896: M.Chigorin, E.Lasker, H.N.Pillsbury, W.Steinitz'. The other images have little to do with the 1889 match.

Back to the only image from the 1889 match (A1 etc.), none of the sources identified the origin of the image or the other six men behind the chess table. More information about the photo can be found on another page, Échecs à Cuba -- 500 ans d'histoire (europe-echecs.com), by Georges Bertola.

30 May 2018

Leading Chess Players in 1886

Yesterday's post on my main blog, An 1886 Photoshopped Illustration, was based on an 1886 illustration titled 'The 16 Leading Chess Players of the World'. While looking into various aspects of the image, I discovered a couple of copies that were used to illustrate pages on the first World Championship.

According to my page on that match, 1886 Steinitz - Zukertort Title Match, it took place in 'New York / St.Louis / New Orleans, I-III, 1886'. The '16 Leading Players' illustration was published in the 17 July 1886 issue of The Graphic. The centerpiece of that composite illustration, Steinitz and Zukertort seated at a chess table, could very well have been taken from the match. What other images are available from the 1886 match?

Google image search on '1886 Steinitz Zukertort'

The composite image shown above is based on a technique that I use frequently on my main blog, most recently in a post for Berlin Candidates - Venue (March 2018); 'Call the rows 'A' to 'C' (from top to bottom) and number the images in each row '1' to 'x' (from left to right)'. Two of the images (A3 & B1) show the '16 Leading Players' illustration, other images are from the 1886 match (e.g. A1 & A2), and others are from different Steinitz matches (e.g. C1 & C4).

Given that the 1886 match was the first recognized World Championship, were Steinitz and Zukertort the world's best players? Were the other 14 players also among the best? My page of relevant BCM clippings, 1886 Steinitz - Zukertort : Background, confirms that the match was a direct consequence of the 1883 London Tournament, where Zukertort and Steinitz finished 1st and 2nd. In fact, nine of the '16 Leading Players' finished in the first ten of the 14 players in that event; only Chigorin, who finished 4th, is missing.

Chessmetrics.com has a page that covers the period coinciding with the start of the match, Monthly List: January 1886 rating list. Although the Chessmetrics calculations can't be taken as gospel, they do show 11 of the 16 players in the site's own top-16. The bottom line is that The Graphic's selection is probably as good a list as anyone's.