21 March 2017

Chess in Conceptual Art

The upside about a category like Posts with label zFLUP (where FLUP = followup), is that it's always there when I need it. The downside is that, once in a while, I actually have to follow something up. Take the photo in A Lonely Knight (January 2017), for example, where the idea to followup was:-

Maybe it would help if I understood what 'conceptual art' meant.

Wikipedia says, 'not to be confused with concept art', and continues,

Conceptual art, sometimes simply called conceptualism, is art in which the concept(s) or idea(s) involved in the work take precedence over traditional aesthetic and material concerns. • Conceptual art

I think I get it. The idea behind 'Lonely Knight' is romantic loss, which makes the photo conceptual. Wikipedia continues,

History: The French artist Marcel Duchamp paved the way for the conceptualists, providing them with examples of prototypically conceptual works -- the readymades, for instance.

The name Marcel Duchamp is often attached to chess, as in a half-dozen posts on this blog. The most recent was Borrowing Leaves (December 2015; 'Marcel Duchamp and Larry Evans playing chess'). Getting back to 'conceptual art', what differentiates it from 'concept art'? Wikipedia again:-

Concept art is a form of illustration used to convey an idea for use in films, video games, animation, comic books or other media before it is put into the final product. • Concept art

While looking for examples of 'conceptual art', I became convinced that Google was confusing the term with 'concept art'. Wrapping the keyword in quotes ("conceptual") produced a different set of examples. I eventually found an entire category on deviantart.com.


Browsing Conceptual on DeviantArt

Where have I featured that site before? Oh, yes, in Chess on Your Mind (September 2009), which turns out to be another example of conceptual art.

20 March 2017

Korchnoi's Career 1946-1977, More Discrepancies

Let's continue once again with Viktor Korchnoi's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (TMER; 1946-2015). In my previous post, Korchnoi's Career 1946-1977, Long Events, I identified a number of discrepancies in Levy & O'Connell's book (L&O) covering the first 30 years -- the Soviet period -- of Korchnoi's career.

Since a discrepancy can arise from a number of situations -- an error in the book, an error in my manipulation of the data, or an error in the TMER index -- each discrepancy needs to be examined further.

Of the 10 discrepancies I flagged, one occurred because Korchnoi's result in an event was recorded incorrectly in the book's summary of his career. All of the others were due to an error in the index of the book : a wrong year, a wrong venue, or a game missing completely. I learned so much from the exercise that I prepared a similar overview of the next tranche of tournaments : where Korchnoi had between 11 and 15 opponents. Once again discrepancies in the number of games are flagged in square brackets ('[]').

A new curiosity is that five events are missing completely from the book's summary, which was also the original source of my TMER. These need to be investigated separately. While working on all of this, I noticed that L&O includes the month played for many events and days played for many individual games. I'll compare these with the TMER as soon as I get a chance.

19 March 2017

Lasker's Manual Autographed

As far as I can tell, the last time I featured Em.Lasker on Top eBay Chess Items by Price was Beating Dr.Lasker in a Simul (February 2013). The item pictured below was titled 'Chess book signed by Emanuel Lasker 1932 autograph' and sold for $400, 'Best offer accepted', down from an initial asking price of $600.

The item's description said,

Hard Lasker's Chess Manual 1932; The Printing-Craft Ltd., London; 349 pages with 308 black & white illustrations. • This chess manual has long been considered one of the most significant works on chess ever written. First revised edition. Lasker's Chess Manual is presented in a unique style and has great historical significance. Typical for Lasker, the focus is on general principles that can be used in a variety of situations, rather than lengthy analysis of a single line or position. First English edition was published in 1927. • A very good copy with an extremely scarce dust jacket. Signed by Emanuel Lasker.

Lasker's Manual is an occasional source of inspiration on this blog. See, for example, Lasker on Computer Chess (April 2012), and Thinking about Chess (April 2014).

17 March 2017

Hijab Wrapup

Remember Hijab Hubris (October 2016)? Here's the final result.


Interview and Press Conference Women's World Chess Champion 2017 (13:59) • 'Congratulations to Tan Zhongyi'

For an overview of the event, see World Chess Championship (Women) : 2017 FIDE Knockout Matches.

16 March 2017

A Short History of CCL

Last year, in Chess and Social Trends (October 2016), I kicked off the ongoing 'Chess and Sociology' series with a post about a huge Facebook group.

Chess Club Live (CCL) currently accounts for about half of the traffic to this blog -- I know this because the RSS feed breaks from time to time. I'm looking forward to delve further into its mysteries and into the overall sociology that surrounds chess as a global cultural phenomenon.

The founder of the group recently shared some facts about its history, including a related video.

Michael Chukwuma Mkpadi: The story of Chess Club Live was way back in 1996 I developed a chess page I called Michael's Chess Page. This was inspired by a chess page I used to browse in 1993-95 called Steve Pribut's Chess Page.

Later I created a chess server based on the WebChess open source code, called WebChess X. It sucked big time, but I learned a lot and got a loyal devoted fan base. Then in 2007 I joined Facebook and created a page for it, calling it the Facebook Chess Club. Facebook almost sued me and told me to rename it which I did to Chess Club Live. My friend Carina Jørgensen joined it when I was about to abandon the whole idea, convinced me it was a good idea, and allowed me the use of her chess art to use to promote it and make it cool.

It worked because we grew and then I decided to make something of permanent value we ought to share, but allow people to share on our page. We first shared content with Onlinechesslesson.net now iChess. They posted on our page and then we invited other pages and content creators.

I developed a chess RSS news feed for Chess Club Live using ideas invented by Aaron Swartz, then later created a social media network Social Chess Club Live. The founder of Lichess, Thibault Duplessis, saw it and agreed to allow me to integrate Lichess on every page, so they became our chess server widget. The rest, as they say, is history.

Here's the video on Vimeo.com.


Team Chess Club Live from Chess Club Live on Vimeo.

For more about the origins of CCL, see A story of Chess Tech (facebook.com/ChessClubLive; 3 November 2015). [Will this link work for non-Facebook visitors? I'll find out as soon as it is posted...]

***

Later: Re 'Will this link work', the video plays along with a message: 'To see more from Chess Club Live on Facebook, log in or create an account'. There are no other links.

14 March 2017

More about 'Outliers'

Whenever chess pops up in my Yahoo News feed, I try to use it as the basis of a blog post. The last time this happened was for Last World Championship Hubbub (December 2016). The latest occasion wasn't a chess article, but used chess as an introduction.


The 10,000-hour rule is wrong and perpetuates a cruel myth

That Yahoo stub page leads to the full article with the same title, The 10,000-hour rule is wrong... (businessinsider.com), which is attributed to Slate.com. The Yahoo caption expanded to

Sports - Business Insider • The 10,000-hour rule is wrong and perpetuates a cruel myth: A decade ago, Magnus Carlsen, who at the time was only 13 years old, created a sensation in the chess world when he defeated former world champion Anatoly Karpov at a chess tournament in Reykjavik, Iceland, and the next day played then-top-rated Garry Kasparov -- who is widely regarded as the best chess player of all time -- to a draw. Carlsen's subsequent rise to chess stardom was meteoric: grandmaster status later in 2004; a share of first place in the Norwegian Chess Championship in 2006; youngest player ever to reach World No. 1 in 2010; and highest-rated player in history in 2012.

What makes someone rise to the top in music, games, sports, business, or science? In the late 1800s, Francis Galton -- founder of the scientific study of intelligence and a cousin of Charles Darwin -- analyzed the genealogical records of hundreds of scholars, artists, musicians, and other professionals and found that greatness tends to run in families.

Fast forward to the 1990s, where the prevailing view became 'prolonged effort, not innate talent, explained differences between experts and novices'. But there's a catch. For chess,

The number of hours of deliberate practice to first reach "master" status (a very high level of skill) ranged from 728 hours to 16,120 hours. This means that one player needed 22 times as much deliberate practice as another player to become a master.

This implies,

So, deliberate practice did not explain all, nearly all, or even most of the performance variation in these fields. In concrete terms, what this evidence means is that racking up a lot of deliberate practice is no guarantee that you'll become an expert. Other factors matter.

These other factors are age at starting the activity and genetic inequality. That second factor is the main point of the article, which concludes,

If we acknowledge that people differ in what they have to contribute, then we have an argument for a society in which all human beings are entitled to a life that includes access to decent housing, healthcare, and education, simply because they are human. Our abilities might not be identical, and our needs surely differ, but our basic human rights are universal.

Getting back to Magnus Carlsen, it's not clear why a discussion on 'differences between experts and novices' has any real relevance to his level. Perhaps it would be more useful to look at differences between experts and world-class practitioners. Maybe Dilbert was right after all: Dilbert on Mastering Chess (February 2013).

13 March 2017

Korchnoi's Career 1946-1977, Long Events

Continuing with Viktor Korchnoi's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (TMER; 1946-2015), in my previous post, Korchnoi's Career 1946-1977, Major Events, I wrote

The 'On Paper' post (also used in 'Three Views') would appear to be the most promising area for further analysis.

That post was Korchnoi's Career 1945-1977 on Paper (January 2017). In that post I started to analyze the content of 'Korchnoi's Chess Games' by Levy & O'Connell by scanning the index of opponents.

According to a preliminary analysis, the book has 1663 games played against 486 opponents. I'll delve further into this record for my next post.

Delving further, I counted 215 events, of which 111 (about half) had more than five games. Of these events, 33 had more than 15 games. These events are shown in the following table.

The second column ('Venue') is the code used by Levy & O'Connell (L&O). The third column ('Ct') is the number of games I identified from their book's index. The last column is the name of the event used in the TMER, which also lists Korchnoi's final score in W-L-D format. That final score allows a quick calculation of the number of games played by Korchnoi. In events where that doesn't match the 'Ct' column, I've flagged the discrepancy in square brackets ('[]'). For example, in the 1954 Bucharest tournament I counted 16 games in the L&O book, but the TMER gives Korchnoi a final score of +10-1=6.

Since a discrepancy can arise from a number of situations -- an error in the book, an error in my manipulation of the data, or an error in the TMER index -- each discrepancy needs to be examined further. I looked at the last one, the 1977 match vs Spassky and discovered that one game in the book used a different code to identify the venue. This little exercise gave me some additional confidence to continue with the data.