31 March 2014

2014 Candidates Openings

Congratulations to Viswanathan Anand on winning the 2014 Candidates Tournament, a result that was not widely expected before the event began. Now the chess world can look forward to Carlsen - Anand II later this year.

Before their first match I made an overview of the openings they had used against each other -- Anand - Carlsen Openings -- and thought it would be useful to make a similar overview for the just concluded candidates event. The numbers in the following table ('x56') show the number of times a particular move was played, e.g. '1.d4 x24' means 1.d4 was played 24 times during the event.

In this space last week I looked at the Sicilian Najdorf 6.h3 variation as played by the SuperGM crowd over the last decade. By the end of the tournament it had been played four times with a +1-0=3 result.

30 March 2014

Soviets 8 - Americans 0

A few years ago, in Fisching for Fischer, I noted, 'we have a real bull market in Fischer autographs'. Are all chess autographs in a bull market?

For the previous edition of Top eBay Chess Items by Price, we had 'Six World Champions on a Single Envelope', and for this edition we have the item pictured below. The title of the auction was 'INTERNATIONAL CHESS MATCH USA-USSR NEW YORK AUTOGRAPHS BOX SCORE 1954', and it sold for US $499.95 after a single bid.

The description added,

An extremely scarce box score guide for the '1954 International Chess Match U.S.A. - U.S.S.R. Sponsored by the United States Chess Federation - June 16, 19, 21, and 23 - Grand Ballroom - Hotel Roosevelt New York, N.Y.' with autographs of the entire Russian team including alternates. Autographs include: Smyslov, Bronstein, Keres, Kotov, Geller, Auerbach [Averbakh], Petrosian, Taimanov, Boleslavsky, and Bondarevsky. The Russian team won decisively 20-12. A bit of light wear and toning. Fine+ condition.

For more about the match, see Americans vs Soviets, 1954 ['Le blog de la Batgirl', Chess.com].

28 March 2014

Let's Ask America: Chess or Monopoly?

For $300, 'Which game did businessmen say would most help their employees succeed in their careers?'

Chess or Monopoly? (1:21) • 'Can you predict what America is thinking? If so, you can win big money and you don't have to leave your house!'

The two male contestants say 'Chess'; the two women say 'Monopoly'. Who is right?

27 March 2014

Chess Sightseeing

A few days ago, while working on Made in Manhattan, I discovered Waymarking.com ('share and discover unique and interesting locations'). Yes, the site has a search and, yes, the search returns chess related attractions -- over 250 of them.

While most of the chess locations involve giant public chess boards (has Bill Wall ever cataloged them?), there are some notable exceptions. One of them, itself a giant board, is shown below: Yoko Ono's white chess set at LongHouse; that's LongHouse, East Hampton, LI, NY.

The Waymarking description says,

This is a political statement for Yoko Ono -- not suprising -- all white pieces on all white squares. During the Cold War both "superpowers" used games, particularly chess, in order to construct an ideology of complete conflict and irreconcilable division between East and West.

You can also see a white chess set on Youtube: Yoko Ono and John Lennon playing chess (1972). I think they were making up the rules as they played.

25 March 2014

Chess Comics No.5: Mad About Chess?

No time for blogging? Mention previous post, Chess Comics No.4: Mad's Modern Chess. Open Mad Magazine, September 1958 (No.41, 'Lower the Pitch Department') to page 20. Copy chess related picture. Mention title: 'Snob Appeal vs Slob Appeal'. Quote introduction:

More and more advertising agencies are using "Snob Appeal" in their ads. Snob Appeal is supposed to make us "slobs" feel like "snobs" when we buy their client's products. The only thing wrong with that is: Us "slobs" like to feel like slobs! That's why we are slobs! And, as slobs we'd rather have "Slob Appeal" in our ads! So wise up, Madison Avenue!

Show picture and give credit.

Text: Frank Jacobs • Pictures: Bob Clarke

Make gratuitous remark like, 'Which ad looks like most of the chess players you know?'. Mention upside-down small print at the bottom of the page: '"Promise her anything" ... but don't put it in writing!'. Post to blog and hope no one notices.

24 March 2014

Sicilian Najdorf 6.h3

After Resurrecting an Online Chess Database, I decided to take the software for a test drive. In the ongoing 2014 Candidates Tournament there have been several Sicilian Najdorf games -- 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 -- with 6.h3. I haven't played the Najdorf for several years and I wasn't aware that this old move also played by Fischer was in vogue. What was its recent history within the SuperGM crowd?

I went to Chesslab, found 99 recent games by players rated over 2700, downloaded them to my PC, and loaded them into SCID. Using SCID (see Frontend and Backend for more about SCID), I put together the following analysis.

The first question involved the three games with 6.Be3. After using SCID to locate those games, I discovered that they all started 6.Be3 Ng4 7.Bc1 Nf6 8.h3, a transpositional nuance of the Najdorf that I had forgotten about. No real surprise there.

The second question was when the GMs' attention turned to 6.h3. It turns out that after a few games by other players in the early 2000s, a certain GM Carlsen played it four times in 2008, achieving a +2-0=2 result. His first recorded use of the move was against GM Gelfand during that year's Amber Blindfold event, when the 17-year old Norwegian was rated 2733. Carlsen won the game. After 2008, he played the move only once, in 2012 for his game in Mexico against 'The World'.

GM Anand has also played 6.h3 a couple of times, starting in 2012. Perhaps we'll see the move in Carlsen - Anand II, which appears to be the most likely result of the Candidates tournament, where he is leading by a full point after nine rounds. He also has the tiebreak advantage over the only other player with a plus score, GM Aronian, having won their minimatch with +1-0=1. With only five games remaining, that's a huge advantage for the Indian GM.

23 March 2014

'Chess in School' : Why?

Why do we teach our children what we teach them? Why do we teach them letters and numbers; reading, writing, and arithmetic; literature, composition, and mathematics? Why do we teach them history and geography? Physics, chemistry, and biology?

We teach them those subjects because we know we should; because they are the building blocks, the essential skills, for other advanced subjects like medicine, finance, engineering, philosophy, commerce, sociology -- in no particular order and leaving out much. No one doubts that all of these subjects have an important place in both our individual existence and our collective existence.

At the end of my previous post on this subject, 'Chess in School' : Robert Ferguson, I noted,

In reviewing this material ['Educational Benefits of Chess'], I have the same sensation of feeling lost that I experienced for the first post in the series, 'Chess in (the) School/Schools'. I'll stop here to give it some time to sink in.

Now I know why I felt lost. I hadn't asked the basic question: Why should we teach our children chess? Why 'chess in school'? Why not 'checkers in school' or 'scrabble in school'? Or poker and backgammon? Why indeed any games at all?

With that in mind, I'm ready to tackle the Ferguson++ material again. I expect him, as well as the other proponents of chess education, to explain why chess belongs in school, competing for the same limited resources that we use to teach our children what we teach them.

21 March 2014

Made in Manhattan

Photo: Chess, Turtle Bay, East Side, NYC © Flickr user mccuba48 under Creative Commons.

What's this? And how do they move the pieces?

Waymarking.com ('tools to share and discover unique and interesting locations on the planet') explains in Giant Chessboard on Wall of Building - New York, NY: 'A giant chessboard is on the blank wall of an apartment building located on 212 E. 48th Street east of 3rd Avenue on the east side of Manhattan.'.

As for the next question, how they move the pieces:-

An upscale apartment building at 212 E. 48th Street in the Turtle Bay area of Manhattan happens to have a completely blank wall on its west side and a small open lot used as a pocket park below which makes the wall very visible, a rare combination in midtown Manhattan.

The owners of the building next door at 747 3rd Avenue, the Kaufman brothers, were unhappy with the appearance of the blank wall and decided to make this arrangement useful and unique by installing a four storey high giant chessboard and recreating great chess games of the past. The chessboard is claimed to be the largest in the world.

The board is constructed of large metal beams. 2.5' diameter blue and tan round disks, with the standard chess symbol inscribed, are used. Moves are made every Wednesday by workers using hydraulic cherry pickers. A flag next to the board signals who has the next move or the status of a finished game.

Is the chessboard really the largest in the world?

20 March 2014

Static Blog Pages

After I wrote the previous post, Iframes Don't Dance, I started to think about ways I could use static pages on my own blogs. What are other chess blogs using them for? Here are a couple of blogs that list static pages across the top of the blog template.

And here are a couple that list them on the right sidebar.

I also discovered that the page links can point to other domains. I added a test link 'M-W.com' pointing to the home page on my own domain. This would let me create an external page using the Chessdom Arena iframe that failed in 'Don't Dance', then link to it from this blog. Might be useful.

18 March 2014

Iframes Don't Dance

Since the 2014 Candidates Tournament started almost a week ago, I've been watching it on Chessdom Chess Arena. It suits me because I can open each of the games in a separate browser tab, then periodically cycle through the games to see what the current status is. The engine analysis for each game gives me an instant idea about who's better.

One of the features on the Chessdom Arena tournament index page is 'embed code' which lets me place the same index on one of my own pages, like this blog. I tried it and got the results shown below. You can see that the display is simply cropped.

I know from a previous experience on my chess960 blog -- ChessCube Chess (Test) -- that there's not much I can do about the truncation. The width/height for the display area on my blog page is not compatible with the Chessdom Arena widget attributes and can't be changed. On top of that, the 'iframe' technique used to embed the widget doesn't allow for scrolling.

Back to the drawing board... To keep the idea in mind, I replaced the Chessdom Arena widget with another widget from Shredder Computer Chess: Daily updated chess puzzles for your website. That's where I'll leave the idea for now.

17 March 2014

Resurrecting an Online Chess Database

After my failure in Choosing an Online Chess Database, I decided I had three options (in order of preference):-

  • Find another online database
  • Get Chesslab working, whatever it takes
  • Stop playing traditional chess and switch 100% to chess960

I went back to Google and found two more candidates for a chess database, but these also proved to be insufficient:-

Then I used Google to uncover every bit of information I could find about the Java problem mentioned in Searching for an Online Chess Database. Finally I discovered a solution that worked. I won't say what it was, except to mention that it involved a security compromise. I know what the risk is and I'm willing to accept it.

As for giving up traditional chess and switching to chess960, I am certain that day will come. It just won't be today.

16 March 2014

'Six World Champions on a Single Envelope'

For this edition of Top eBay Chess Items by Price, I had plenty to choose from, but they were all autographs. Here is the short list down to my cutoff point, with final prices in US$:-

  • Howard Staunton Autograph Signed Letter Great Britain Halifax Chess Club 1842; $3,175.00; 5 bids

  • Hotel Doelen Dinner Menu Chess Tournament Autographs Alekhine Rubinstein 1921; $2,995.95; 1 bid

  • Chess 1904 Lasker, Chigorin, Schlechter, Marshall, Fox signed, Cambridge Springs; $1,499.00; 1 bid • [signed 'Michael Tschigorin']

  • Chess: Jose Raul Capablanca Signed 1924 Original Autograph; $999.00; 1 bid

  • Staunton Centenary Chess Tournament Booklet England Autographed by Players 1951; $499.95; 1 bid

  • Chess match USSR vs. World 1970 signed Tal, Botvinnik, Euwe, Smyslov, Spassky + 10; US $499.00; 1 bid

Which item to choose as an illustration? The dinner menu was visually interesting, but even more interesting was the cover from the 1970 USSR vs. World match, shown below.

The description said,

Commemorative envelope with a special cancel from the famous first chess match USSR vs. Rest of the World held in Beograd, Yugoslavia, in 1970. Signatures of 15 participants - 10 from the USSR team + 2 reserve players (Bronstein and Stein), 2 players of the world team and Max Euwe as the world team captain. SIX (!) world champions on a single envelope!

It went on to list the 15 signatures corresponding to the circled numbers on the cover.

(1) Boris SPASSKY, (2) Fridrik ÓLAFSSON, (3) Max EUWE, (4) Mark TAIMANOV, (5) Efim GELLER, (6) Mikhail BOTVINNIK, (7) Paul KERES, (8) Tigran PETROSIAN, (9) Vlastimil HORT, (10) Leonid STEIN, (11) Vassily SMYSLOV, (12) David BRONSTEIN, (13) Lev POLUGAEVSKY, (14) Viktor KORCHNOI, (15) Mikhail TAL.

Six world champions on a single envelope -- is that a record?

14 March 2014

Man of Many Talents

IM Anthony Saidy, MD, discusses his book written in 1973 and published in 2013. Around 15:00 into the interview, the conversation turns to chess for a few minutes.

Russian Revolution with Chess Master Anthony Saidy (36:20) • 'Dave Koller [#1 ranked TYTchess player] discusses 1983, chess, Russia, and even plays a game of chess with Master Anthony Saidy here on TYT [The Young Turks] Interviews.'

The description explained,

Anthony Saidy is a chess master who lived in the Soviet Union (the world center for chess at the time) for several years during the Cold War era. Now, we seem to be in a somewhat similar situation with the U.S.S.R. He's also the author of "1983, The Novel," a fictional take on the Soviet's two vital classes - dissident intellectuals and the lesser-known working class. What if the two groups had worked together to form a new society?

For more about the book, see 1983thenovel.com:-

Out of the ferments of the final decades of the Soviet Union, when no spy agency foresaw major change in that totalitarian state, the author projects an alternative reality. Instead of the pseudo-liberation that would come, what if change had issued from two vital groups in society: dissident intellectuals, from whom the West heard much, and the working class—correspondingly little?

For more about IM Saidy, see Anthony Saidy [Wikipedia].

13 March 2014

GM Capital's Patrick Wolff

This week's Barron's has a familiar face in its 'Interview' section: A Chess Master Scans the Market for a Checkmate by Lawrence C. Strauss; 'Grandmaster Capital's Patrick Wolff discusses strategy, stocks he likes and dislikes, and his global outlook.' It starts,

Patrick Wolff's résumé includes two U.S. chess championships, first in 1992 and again in 1995, when playing professionally during his time off from college. The Harvard-educated philosophy major earned the distinction of grandmaster, an elite level. Nowadays, Wolff, 46 years old, is running Grandmaster Capital Management, a hedge-fund firm in San Francisco overseeing about $230 million. And though he doesn't play professionally any longer, he hasn't stored his chessboard in the attic just yet.

In recent years at Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting, Wolff, wearing a blindfold, has played multiple chess games simultaneously. "I win more than I lose," he says, noting that he has to keep track of half a dozen games in his head. "But it is a good show." Chess, with all of its complexity, served as good training for Wolff the portfolio manager. [...]

'Barron's: Could you talk about how longevity treats elite chess players versus money managers?'

Your peak years in chess are generally in your 30s. And once you hit somewhere in your late 30s to early 40s—it is different for different people—but around that age you start to decline. The person who lost the world chess championship last year, Viswanathan Anand, is a friend of mine. He is 44, and there is no question he peaked about five, six years ago. You could see it in the quality of his play and the result he got; that's normal.

The wonderful thing about investing is that Warren Buffett is going strong in his 80s. Investing is much more cumulative. So long as you're sharp, you can do this for as long as you want to. In chess, you have both an analytic faculty and a judgment faculty, and the judgment gets better as you get older. But the analytic faculty begins to decay as you get beyond a certain age—just the ability to hold the board in your head and manipulate it. Well, I'm sure that Warren Buffett can't do mental math at 83 the way he could when he was 33. But it doesn't matter because he has a calculator. It's the judgment faculty in investing that really matters, and that is what drives it as you accumulate more and more experience.

I doubt that Barron's would appreciate me giving away GM Wolff's investing recommendations, so you'll have to locate a copy of the entire interview. One of the comments said,

How did Wolff get such a primo job after spending his youth as a chess player? I mean, chess is not the sort of pursuit that first comes to mind as a wealth-building profession. I guess he had some connections...

Does the name Peter Thiel ring a bell?

11 March 2014

Getty Chess Images

Sounds good, doesn't it: Getty gives away 35 million images for free [csmonitor.com].

Image-hosting giant Getty Images announced it won't fight a legal battle with the millions of bloggers who use its images without attribution everyday. Instead, it is offering images for free in hopes that embedded advertisements and linked-back attribution will provide revenue in the future

Sounds good, that is, until you try it. I had access to Getty Images when I was with About.com and the word that best sums up the experience is 'disappointing'. NEW: Embed lets you share tens of millions of images [gettyimages.com]. Here's an example; click the photo to find out more about it (you might have to hunt with your mouse for a clickable area).

It's hard to imagine a service less friendly than Getty Images. Although their image search promises to restrict results to images you are allowed to embed, I'd say less than one in ten can be used that way. Most of the chess images that can be used are stock photos that look like they were originally taken for a Human Resources ad campaign. There is nothing timely, nothing newsworthy, and very little that is even interesting.

Note how my example is truncated to the right? There is nothing in the embed tool that allows me to fit a photo to the size of my page. I'm certain that if I were to adjust the WIDTH and HEIGHT attributes myself, I would run afoul of Getty's terms and conditions.

I'll stick to Flickr and Picasa. They run services that understand the web.

10 March 2014

Choosing an Online Chess Database

It's been three weeks since I started Searching for an Online Chess Database. I first narrowed the choice to two services in Short List for an Online Chess Database, then added a third in Short List Is Longer. For convenience, here are the specs I developed in that first post, 'Searching'.

The first few moves are usually played on auto-pilot. I'm a 1.e4 player, and I don't need to refer to a database for the first few moves of the Najdorf Variation (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6). At this point I have a couple of favorite moves (6.Be2 and 6.Be3), but I'm willing to play most alternatives for White, of which there are many.

When I reach this point in a game, the first decision after auto-pilot, I want to see what the top players have been playing in their recent games. This means going to the database and researching what 2600+ players have been playing during the last few years. I don't do a deep analysis at this point. I assume that the top GMs have done their homework and that their systems are sound.

After a few more moves, usually in variations that I have played before, the number of sample games starts to diminish and I broaden the research to include 2400+ players over, say, the last ten years. Here I have somewhat less confidence and I start to check variations that I haven't seen before.

At some point, usually around moves 10-12 in the Najdorf, I start to run into moves and ideas that I haven't seen before. Here I want to see every game played in the variation since the beginning of time and the research involves playing through the games until the early endgame has been reached.

All opening databases use the same basic 'explorer' mechanism. Starting with the initial position:-

  • See next moves with counts and stats (W-L-D)
  • Click a move for next position
  • Repeat

Here is a screen capture from database.chessbase.com. The current position is shown on the left (after 1.f4). In the middle is a list of games matching that position. On the right are the next moves. The panels in the bottom left and bottom right show the current game and engine analysis, respectively, and can be removed from the display.

I spent a few hours switching back and forth among the three services on my short list. This isn't enough time to appreciate the subtleties of a service, but it gave me a feel for the possibilities.

>>> database.chessbase.com: The list of next moves can be switched between 'Book' and 'Live Book', but I couldn't determine what these terms meant. The service offers two required functions:-

  • Search current board for games on database
  • Sort on Year or on Elo (either White or Black) descending
Some further observations:-
  • W-L-D stats are a single number
  • Earliest games are from 2009
  • No PGN download

>>> chess.com/explorer: Two required functions:-

  • 'View all games from current position'
  • Sort on year or rating descending
Further observations:-
  • Latest games are from 2012
  • A player's rating is one number for the entire career, e.g. the top Black rating for 1.f4 is Romanishin - Kasparov 1975, when Kasparov was 12
  • Download 20 games at a time

>>> chess-db.com: Beyond the basic explorer functions, I couldn't find any of my requirements.

>>> Conclusion: What can I say? All three services are basically of limited value for my purposes. I never realized until now just how good Chesslab was.

09 March 2014

'Chess in School' : Robert Ferguson

Continuing with 'Chess in School' Is Individual, the first name on my initial list of chess educators is found on LinkedIn: Robert Ferguson:-

Dr. Ferguson has a wealth of experience in the field of education, including: As Coordinator for Gifted Education in the Bradford Area School District, he authored and was project director for the grant, the 4th “R” Reasoning Program, which focused on the use of chess, as well as other intellectually stimulating activities to develop both critical and creative thinking skills. He holds both elementary and secondary certification and has taught in the K-12 sector for many years in addition to the undergraduate and graduate levels.

In 1980, the Pennsylvania Department of Education reviewed the 4th “R” Reasoning Program and declared it an exemplary program. In 1986, the 4th “R” Reasoning Program was selected by the Bradford Area High School staff and the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools as being one of the most unique programs in the school district.

There is so much web material on and by Dr. Ferguson that I don't know where to start. I'll use this initial post to highlight two PDF documents on uschesstrust.com. The first PDF is Chess in Education Research Summary, 'A review of key chess research studies', a presentation of 15 pages for the 'BMCC Chess in Education Conference'. The document is undated, but other references place the conference in January 1995. Following is a sample chart from the document.

The second PDF is Educational Benefits of Chess Summary Based on Research and Articles, 179 pages, also undated, but the mention of 'current world champion Kramnik' indicates the early 2000s. The 'Introduction' tells us,

There is a pressing need, in the opinion of many educators, leaders, employers, and others, to teach young people how to think. Relevant to the assumed need for teaching thinking processes, this book will review two research projects and one pilot study that I designed and directed. These studies propose that critical and creative thinking can be taught using chess as the vehicle. My 1987-88 research also asserts that chess can be utilized to develop memory.

These studies assume that chess can be employed to provide scientific verification for the theories of Dewey concerning human thought. Dewey’s theories of reflective thinking have persisted since 1910, but they remain largely absent of scientific validation.

In reviewing this material, I have the same sensation of feeling lost that I experienced for the first post in the series, 'Chess in (the) School/Schools'. I'll stop here to give it some time to sink in.

07 March 2014

Chess Queen or Chess Knight?

The description added, 'Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, Arizona'. A tag said, 'Chess Queen', but it looks more like a Knight to me, with the Knight looking slightly behind to the right.

The Queen and the Moon © Flickr user snowpeak under Creative Commons.

As for the moon, I didn't see it at first because of all the smudges on my screen. It's there and the 'Knight' seems to be facing it.

06 March 2014

March 1964 'On the Cover'

What was happening in the U.S. chess press 50 years ago?

Left: 'Action at the Marshall C.C.'
Right: 'Two Generations'

Chess Life

Walter Harris (left) engages Bill Slater in a skittles game at the Marshall. Harris, the first Negro to be rated a USCF Master, is now serving with the U.S. Air Force and is stationed at Mather AFB, California. Photo by EBONY Magazine. (p.65)

For more about Harris, see A Conversation with Walter Harris [thechessdrum.net]. NB: Issues of Chess Life from this period had no table of contents.

Chess Review

The picture happens to be of the Yugoslav Championship but is symbolic of all the chess world. Pirc, the old timer, stares at the board with fierce determination to succeed yet once again. Behind him, Parma of the coming generation, scans the position deliberately enough, but with an air of cool assurance. There is a moral which the old timers all know well but which no one can really succeed in imparting to the chess masters still on their way up. (p.68)

For more about Pirc, see Vasja Pirc [Wikipedia]; ditto Bruno Parma [Wikipedia]. As for 'a moral which the old timers all know well', I'm baffled.

04 March 2014

Delucia's Chess Library

A couple of days ago, I mentioned that I had several alternatives to the post on Chess Ambrotype. One of the ideas involved books by David Delucia, one of the world's premier chess collectors. I've already featured Delucia's collection twice on this blog, in Three Fischer Games Uncensored and in Lay up Your Treasures. During the past fortnight two more of his books sold at auction:-

David Delucia's Chess Library; A Few Old Friends - Vellum copy 1 of 20 printed • Sold for about US $700, 'Best offer accepted'. The description said,

In 2007, I decided to do a book highlighting the best items in my chess collection. I titled the book, David DeLucia’s Chess Library – A Few Old Friends. It’s a hardback, double stitched for strength and quality and 394 pages on high quality paper. For those of you who do not know Dale Brandreth he is one of the leading chess historians in America. He has been a chess book dealer for decades. Here is Dale’s review of a Few Old Friends when it was published.

A SPECTACULAR BOOK !! DAVID DELUCIA'S CHESS LIBRARY - A FEW OLD FRIENDS, second edition, just published in a total edition of 225 copies of which only about 200 are for commercial distribution. Hardback, 394 pages (glossy clay-filled paper), 9x11 in, 4.5 lbs. About five years ago DeLucia published a beautiful book within this same title with photos of some of the highlights of his fabulous collection of rare chess books, manuscripts, autograph letters, and ephemera in a 130-copy edition of which only 100 were by distribution. That book had about 2/3 as many items as this one and it sold out very quickly with the price originally at about $95. Today copies go at auction between $300 to $450. Both volumes are notable for their fine photos, many in color.

Among the treasured depicted in this volume are the Paris Lucena Manuscript, the first edition Damiano, a flawless Carrera, the three editions of Saul (1614, 1640, 1672), the first edition Ruy Lopez, three different-color editions of the London 1883 tournament book (pristine copies), the Dubuque Chess Journal (with collation of this very hard-to-get complete run), St. Petersburg 1895 Tournament book, letters and scores of Alekhine, a commemorative envelope from Em. Lasker to his wife Martha from Cambridge Springs 1904, the first page of the Cambridge Springs 1904 tournament bulletins (the first tournament bulletins ever), extracts from several Lasker manuscripts (some on mathematics), several Lasker letters, a letter from Einstein to Lasker, Morphy letters, scoresheets, photos, and his chess board, Capablanca scoresheets, Capa's top hat, passport, and watch...and hundreds more extraordinary items. These two volumes are unique in the history of chess literature. I lack enough superlatives to do these two volumes justice

David Delucia's Chess Library; In Memoriam • Sold for about US $950, 'Best offer accepted'.

Here is Dale Brandreth’s Review- In Memoriam. A VERY SPECIAL ITEM - JUST OUT! DAVID DELUCIA'S CHESS LIBRARY. IN MEMORIAM - SPECIAL EDITION, 2-volume boxed set, only 150 printed. Vol. 1, books and title pages of choice items, 482 pages. Vol. 2, 635 pages, mainly letters and photos. Much material on Lasker, Alekhine, Capablanca, and Fischer, but wonderful material on Steinitz, Botvinnik, and other great players too. There are scarcely enough superlatives to describe this set of fantastically superb books, documents, and photos. The only comparable volumes are the others which DeLucia published on Fischer and the other two volumes of similar items in his wonderful collection.

Even for relatively common books such as some of the many books on Fischer, signed by Fischer or others, the copies are beautiful mint or close-to -mint examples. But the value does not end with gazing in awe at the treasures every chess aficianado will appreciate, for the letters—many in their entirety—contain much chess history which has either been unavailable or only so in dribs and drabs world wide. The entire production is impeccable in the quality of the photos, color reproduction, binding, paper and layout.

And there are more copies on offer. The following composite shows six books; from left to right, top to bottom: 'A Few Old Friends - First edition', 'Bobby Fischer Uncensored - Large Paperback Edition', 'In Memoriam', 'Bobby Fischer Uncensored', 'A Few Old Friends - Second edition', and 'A Few Old Friends - Vellum copy'.

'A Few Old Friends' and 'In Memoriam' we saw above. The description for 'Bobby Fischer Uncensored' (paperback) said,

In 2009, I published Bobby Fischer Uncensored in a hardback edition (currently listed on Ebay). At that time I also printed some paperbacks to give to friends. I have a few left over so I have decided to list them. The content is identical to the hardback but they are bound in laminated covers. each copy is wrapped in cellophane. Here is the review of my book by Edward Winter, one of the world’s leading chess historians:

Review Bobby Fischer Uncensored by Edward Winter – 2009 • One of the most extraordinary of all chess books has just been published: Bobby Fischer Uncensored by David and Alessandra DeLucia (Darien, 2009). A richly-illustrated 394-page hardback of supreme quality, it presents hundreds of items from David DeLucia’s collection of Fischer material, including photographs, game-scores, correspondence, contracts, books and ephemera.

More: 6189. Bobby Fischer Uncensored [Chesshistory.com] • For sample content, see Chess Explorations (79) [Chessbase.com]

I'm not a collector, but if I were I would have these books.

03 March 2014

Short List Is Longer

Looks like I goofed. In last week's post, Short List for an Online Chess Database, I reported that the last database in my list ('6: chess-db.com') had 'No search on openings'.

While I was working on today's follow-up post, to compare the two databases on the short list, I took another look at Chess-db.com. Lo and behold, there were two functions 'OpExp' and 'OpCmp' that I overlooked last week.

The first, 'OpExp', stands for 'Opening and Position Explorer (Beta)', which has similar functionality to the two short-listed databases. The second, 'OpCmp', stands for 'Historical Comparison of Openings by Popularity'. It does exactly what it says for any two variations that you feed it. Here is an example for 1.e4 c5 (in blue) and 1.e4 e5 (in red). I don't know how useful that is, but it's available.

As for 'OpExp', I have to return to last week's post to correct my error before I go any further with this post...

02 March 2014

Chess Ambrotype

And then the rains came. Is the long drought in Top eBay Chess Items by Price that I last complained about in Real Olympiad Silver, finally over? For this edition of 'Top Items' I had five ideas on the short list, any one of which was suitable for a typical post. I finally chose the item pictured below, titled 'THE GAME OF CHESS 1/4 PLATE BRITISH AMBROTYPE C.1853'. It sold for US $600 after receiving 25 bids from 12 bidders.

The description added,


This is an original collodion positive on glass plate - Ambrotype, taken c. 1853. A highly unusual and interesting composition, taken outdoors and having a natural feel to it, rather than a staged or contrived look. Size 1/4 plate: 4 1/4 x 3 1/4 inches or 11 x 8.5 cm approx Comes in a fully operational plain burgundy leather case complete with eyelets and hooks. The case is in very good condition.

The fashions and hair styles of the sitters, together with the plain burgundy 1/4 plate case would all indicate a date commensurate with the early 1850's. The image is British by context. The detail is so extraordinary in this image that you can see the chess pieces and who is winning the game. The sitters are seated at a small table ensconced in their game, three little children look on from a draped doorway or window and you can see the expressions on their faces. Surrounding them there is heavy foliage: ivy and bushes.

The image has good overall contrast and deep blacks. It is sharp and clear. There are no visible flaws such as scratches, marks, blemishes, spots or cracks. The plate is intact and in excellent condition. It fits tightly inside the case and cannot be removed without hazard. Plain gilt arched mount and thick (3mm) cover glass. Plain deep wine red velvet liner pad on inside front lid. Good condition and no fading present. This is a fantastic, highly unusual ambrotype for the discerning collector. Museum quality image.

As for the other four ideas on the short list, I might save one or two of them for another post.