22 August 2017

Bobby's Family

While working on the recent post Young Bobby and Sister Joan, the same photos of Bobby Fischer's family members kept appearing on various searches. Here's a composite.

1st row: Regina Wender Fischer & Hans-Gerhardt Fischer, Joan Fischer Targ & Regina
2nd row: Bobby & Joan, Bobby & Paul Nemenyi [also a composite]
3rd row: Paul Felix Nemenyi [work permit 1940]

Since most of the photos are easily found in different versions on various image searches, I won't give the sources. I previously used the composite of Bobby and his biological father Paul in Bobby's Parents (October 2007), where it was a screenshot from a Fischer documentary that might be its origin. A fuller scan of the work permit is on Paul Nemenyi & Bobby Fischer, along with a few other little known photos. For a biography of Bobby's biological father, see Paul Felix Neményi (geni.com).

21 August 2017

Masters Emeritus in the 1950s

In the previous post on early U.S. chess ratings, Master Ratings and Master Titles, I quoted an editorial in the July 1951 issue of Chess Life (CL).

CHESS LIFE will further propose that the list of recognized Masters Emeriti be published in connection with the semi-annual printing of the National Ratings.

The first list was published in the 5 March 1952 issue of CL, and included 12 names.

The introduction said,

Master Emeritus have been conferred by the U.S. Chess Federation upon the following players who have compiled outstanding records in American chess competition, in many cases even prior to the initial year (1921) covered by the National Rating System, and whose present ratings do not reflect their outstanding past performances. Some have retired from active tournament play and some still indulge in competitive events, but all have reflected glory upon the practice of chess in the United States.

Eight more names would be added in the 1950s (see USCF Rating Lists in the 1950s for details). The 20 names are shown below along with year-month of first mention on the list and state of residence. I've also added links to relevant pages on Chessgames.com, Wikipedia.org, Tartajubow.blogspot.com, and other sites; these are not exhaustive.

Generally speaking, these players had their most notable chess successes in the decades before the introduction of U.S. ratings.

20 August 2017

Rococo Chess

I can't remember another auction on Top eBay Chess Items by Price which was not primarily in English, so this might be a first. The item pictured below was titled 'AUGUST STEPHAN (*1868 Wien) Rokoko Schachspiel. Orig. antik Ölgemälde AP:-22000€', which Google translates to 'AUGUST STEPHAN (*1868 Wien) Rococo chess game. Orig. antique oil painting AP: -22000 €'. The word 'Wien' would better be translated as 'Vienna', but I have no idea what 'AP' means in German.

The painting was listed 'Sold for: EUR 2,750.00 (Approximately US $3,231.39)', although the index entry had a bar through that price. It was placed after an item listed at $2399 and before an item at $2000. I've never understood why eBay is so coy about the actual selling price, and probably never will understand.

For the rest of this post, I'll dispense with the original German and will give only the English translation with a few corrections of my own. The description started,

Galante dinner party ['Tischgesellschaft'] at chess in the rococo parlor. 19th Century, signed A. STEPHAN (August Stephan, very well-listed Viennese history painter * 1868 Königsstetten - 1936 Vienna). Perfectly preserved historical painting approx. 1890. Artprice up to 22000,- €.

Now I know that 'AP' means 'Artprice', which must mean Artprice.com. Wikipedia informs, 'Artprice is a French online art price database created in 1987 by its now CEO'. The mention of 22000 Euro must be the highest price recorded for the artist. The description continued,

The dimensions are: With frame approx. 75 x 60cm, Picture size approx. 47 x 32cm. Technique: Oil on painting cardboard ['Malkarton'], exceptional frame.

Very well preserved antique painting: rococo parlor with gallant society at the chess game. Origin: Berlin private collection. Conclusion: A very well painted historical oil painting in rare condition of good condition and of high quality. Viennese painter with best auction results. Surely a worthwhile investment.

State: The painting is antique, but in very good condition as seen on the original photos. Strong colors and good varnish. No flaws recognized. Overall impression: Apparently perfect.

How much of the selling price was for the frame?

The richly decorated stucco frame is very handsome, only minimally bumped, partly restored. It is to be regarded as free admission ['Gratiszugabe'], not part of the auction and evaluation - FREE. Value of the frame alone approx. 200-250 Euro (incl. VAT).

If your knowledge of art movements is as shaky as mine, Wikipedia's Rococo says,

Rococo, less commonly roccoco, or "Late Baroque", is an early to late 18th-century French artistic movement and style, affecting many aspects of the arts including painting, sculpture, architecture, interior design, decoration, literature, music, and theatre. It developed in the early 18th century in Paris, France as a reaction against the grandeur, symmetry, and strict regulations of the previous Baroque style, especially of the Palace of Versailles, until it was redone.

In the past I've used Tableaux ayant pour sujet les échecs ('Paintings with chess as a subject') as a reference, but the underlying domain jmrw.com has disappeared. Fortunately for fans of chess art, it lives on in archive.org.

18 August 2017

Fun with Tags

For the second consecutive Flickr Friday, we have a black and white photo -- the previous was A Chess Wardrobe -- but what do you expect from a chess blog?

Challenge © Flickr user S Demmer under Creative Commons.

With 294 views and 12 faves ('favorites'), the photo attracts attention, but why exactly? The start of a long list of tags says,

chess, game, King Richard’s Faire, renaissance, fair, ...

In King Richard's Faire, Wikipedia informs,

King Richard’s Faire is a renaissance fair held in Carver, Massachusetts, which recreates a 16th-century marketplace, including handmade crafts, foods, musicians, singers, dancers, [...another long list of 'tags'...], and the fictional King Richard. King Richard’s Faire is the longest-running renaissance fair in New England.

Getting back to the tags on the photo, another series mentions,

..., eye contact, candid eye contact, fun with tags, ...

After telling us, 'This photo is in 23 groups', the first group is candid eye contact. When it comes to chess, players probably make more eye contact with spectators than they do with each other.


While browsing the various chess photos published on Yahoo's Flickr during the previous two weeks, I was informed, Yahoo is now part of Oath:-

Yahoo is now part of ‘Oath’, a digital and mobile media company with more than 50 brands globally (including Yahoo, HuffPost, Engadget, TechCrunch, Moviefone and Makers), and a member of the Verizon family of companies working to shape the future of media


Yahoo and Oath plan to share some user information within the Verizon family of companies which will enable us to integrate our business, allowing us to coordinate more and improve your experiences.

Knowing that someone (or something) is spying on me won't improve my 'experiences', but there's not much I can do about it. Eye contact is better.

17 August 2017

Young Bobby and Sister Joan

Here are two photos of Bobby Fischer and his sister Joan (later Targ) that I hadn't seeen before.

Top: Chess Life, 5 October 1958; 'While Bobby's sister tells two Belgrade reporters her impressions of Europe, the U.S. Champ listens attentively to Yugoslav Master Janosevic, who met them at the airport.' (Portoroz Interzonal)

Bottom: Chess Review, February 1960; 'Fischer and fan: his sister.' (U.S. Championship; more photos ['by R. Echeverria'] of Fischer and other players on same page)

15 August 2017

Who Knows? Google Knows!

As soon as I finished last week's post on Prokopljevic's Cartoons, I performed my usual quick check on the final result to ensure that everything was OK. I was very surprised to see that the Google Adsense link was for a set of cards featuring Prokopljevic's cartoons!? (That's the ad just beneath the photo of my head.)

The related link for the ad went to Echecs: lot de 12 cartes postales 'Gens Una Sumus' de Jovan Prokopljevic (priceminister.com). Was this because the post was for Prokopljevic's cartoons -or- because I had been looking at the same Priceminister.com page earlier that day while preparing the post? When it comes to Google, who knows?

A few years ago, to help a friend who is not web savvy, I spent 30 minutes looking at web pages for robot cleaners of swimming pools. The pesky Adsense ads for robot cleaners are still following me. "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?" Google knows!

14 August 2017

Master Ratings and Master Titles

Between the publication of the second and third lists of USCF ratings (see the previous post in this series, USCF Rating Lists in the 1950s, for a chronology), the USCF grappled with a number of new issues provoked by the introduction of ratings. The following editorial was published in the 5 July 1951 issue of Chess Life, under the title 'Masters -- and Masters in the National Rating System'.

From letters recently received, it becomes apparent that many players are still confused regarding one phase of the National Rating System, and that they insist, despite all that has been written to the contrary, in considering that the Rating System does the one thing that it very definitely does not attempt to do.

Let us therefore repeat again, in the fond hope that this time our statement will be understood, that the National Rating System does not determine the permanent status of any chess player nor indicate how he will be ranked ultimately in the history of the game. The National Rating System does no more than indicate the current effective playing rank of a player at one particular period in his career, without regard to his achievements in past decades beyond the scope of the system and without prophesy as to his possible future attainments.

For a number of reasons which we will not catalogue at this time, there is a definite need for this current evaluation of how a player is actually performing at a given period. But the value of this current and transitory rating is sadly distorted when some misinformed chess players insist upon considering this current performance rating as conferring or withholding honorary titles. This the National Rating System does not do. and it was never intended to do. In the Rating System a player may shift from Senior Master to Expert classifications in the matter of a few years, according to his performances in current tournament play -- the fact that he may temporarily hold the classification of Master in the rating system does not actually make ham a Master in the honorary sense that the term has been applied in the past; the fact that another player, long considered a Master in the honorary sense, slips in more recent play to the Expert classification, does not deprive him of the many honors gained as a Master, nor the right to be considered as a Master in the honorary sense.

It is to be expected that even the most formidable player, if he continues to play tournament chess after his prime, will eventually lose rank in the National Rating System which can evaluate only current performances and cannot, except in a very limited sense, make exceptions for past heroics. If the recognised Master continues to play tournament chess long enough, in his final years he is almost certainly doomed to a reduction in his current performance ratings to an Expert classification. But this reduction does not actually make him any the less a Master in the honorary sense.

This was further explained by an example from baseball, showing how the performance of a great player can decline in the twilight of a career.

National Chess Ratings are merely the chess equivalent of the yearly baseball batting averages, and the confusion over them has arisen solely because some chess players insist upon considering them so much more than that.

However. since there has been so much confusion in players' minds between "Master" as an honorary title conferred for outstanding performance in the world of chess and the ”Master classification" in the National Rating System, CHESS LIFE will recommend to the annual meeting of the USCF Board of Directors at the Fort Worth meeting that the Federation create and recognize, outside of the scope of the National Rating System, an honorary classification of "Masters" in the same sense that the present FIDE titles of "International Master" [IM] and "International Grandmaster" [GM] are conferred for outstanding performances of the past as well as of the present.

CHESS LIFE will recommend specifically that the honorary rank of "Master Emeritus" be conferred upon all chess players of the USA who may be deemed to have at any time in the past earned the right to the title of "Master" before the operations of the National Rating System became effective, and whose present standings in the current performance ratings are below that of the "Master classification"; that the selection of those players entitled to such recognition be placed in the charge of a special committee qualified to judge and assess past records of tournament performance.

CHESS LIFE further will recommend that it be provided that in the future any chess player in the USA who has held a "Master classification" in the National Rating System for a period of years (exact length of tenure to be determined by the Board of Directors) automatically becomes a Master Emeritus upon dropping in the current performance ratings to a classification lower than that of "Master".

CHESS LIFE will also recommend that the Board of Directors make full provision for conferring the title of Master Emeritus upon such qualified chess players who have won recognition as "Masters' in European events and have since become Americans, whether they participate actively in tournament play in the USA or not, provided that they contribute substantially to the promotion of chess in the USA.

CHESS LIFE will further propose that the list of recognized Masters Emeriti be published in connection with the semi-annual printing of the National Ratings.

Montgomery Major

For a discussion of FIDE IM and GM titles, see Early FIDE Titles (November 2014).