28 March 2017

Did He Resign?

When was the last time a chess story grabbed so many mainstream press headlines without once mentioning the name Magnus Carlsen?


World chess body chief alleges plot to oust him: TASS
Reuters - 27 Mar 2017 • 'When asked in an email exchange with Reuters if he could clarify the situation, FIDE Executive Director Nigel Freeman...'

The article started,

The Russian head of world chess's governing body FIDE said on Monday he was the victim of a plot to oust him but denied a report by his own organization that he had resigned. The statement on the FIDE website said Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, its president since 1995, had announced his resignation on Sunday at the end of a federation board meeting in Greece. But Russia's TASS news agency quoted Ilyumzhinov as saying: "They wanted to oust me but it didn't work. I haven't signed anything and I'm not resigning. I think there is an American hand in this, and I think it's called a set-up."

The Google News summary (captured in the image above) showed nine related stories. For example:-

I've covered Ilyumzhinov many times on my blogs. For more about the U.S. Treasury Sanctions, see Spectating the 87th FIDE Congress (December 2016). For more about the internal problems leading to the latest spate of stories, see FIDE's Finances (February 2017). For the last time World Champion Carlsen made the news, see More about 'Outliers' (earlier this month).

27 March 2017

Korchnoi's Career 1946-1977, More of the Same

After the previous post, Korchnoi's Career 1946-1977, More Discrepancies, what more can be learned from 'Levy & O'Connell's book (L&O) covering the first 30 years of Korchnoi's career' combined with Viktor Korchnoi's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (1946-2015)? I started by looking at tournaments missing completely from the book's overview of his career.

The five missing events are identified in the first section of the following chart. Particularly intriguing is the '1974 New York blitz' event, which I can't recall seeing before. According to L&O, it was played in February 1974, which would have followed the match vs. Mecking played in January at Augusta GA.

The rest of the chart follows the lead from 'More Discrepancies', comparing L&O's index of opponents with its overview of events. This time I looked at events that had between seven and ten games. Almost all of the events played before the mid-1960s present a discrepancy and there are 13 additional unidentified events.

26 March 2017

Chess Strategy Woodcut

I'm slowly discovering that the most efficient method of exploring The Sociology of Chess (November 2016) is through related imagery. Last month I had a couple of posts featuring Louis Wolchonok (see Chess in New York Parks for the second post) and this month I'll feature another artist who often used chess as a theme.


'Chess Strategy', Irving Amen (woodcut print)

Wikipedia's Irving Amen informs,

Irving Amen (1918–2011) was a painter, printmaker and sculptor. Born in New York City in 1918, he began drawing at the age of four. A scholarship to the Pratt Institute was awarded to him when he was fourteen years old. With Michelangelo as his idol, he spent seven years in life classes perfecting his drawing. From 1942 to 1945 he served with the Armed Forces. He headed a mural project and executed murals in the United States and Belgium.

His first exhibition in woodcut was held at the New School for Social Research and his second at the Smithsonian Institution in 1949 and also exhibited at the Artists House in Jerusalem, the Library of Congress, and the National Academy of Design. [...] His work often depicts themes of Judaism, chess, people, music, Italy and Don Quixote. In his later years he lived and worked in Boca Raton, Florida.

The image appears to be loaded with symbolism. Is it just my imagination or is the bird in the bottom center in the form of a chess King? And is the bird in the bottom right corner connected to the thinking man in the top right corner? And why call the piece 'Chess Strategy'? For another example of the same artist's use of chess, see Chess Art? Amen! (November 2011).

24 March 2017

Posing for Euros

Once again, as in Sand Dudes Play Chess (June 2015), we are confronted with the deep philosophical question, 'What is this exactly' : a statue or elaborate makeup?


Chess and the Girl © Flickr user Juan Diego under Creative Commons.

Armed with the knowledge that the 'This photo is in 1 album: Madrid', plus the only information in the description -- 'Calle del Arenal' -- we learn that the calle 'is one of the 10 streets emanating from the Puerta del Sol Square' (gomadrid.com). This leads to the discovery,

Street performers must be permanent fixtures of Puerta del Sol. You might chance on one corner a motorcycle rider floating high with his bike, and on another a human statue playing chess. Others scatter all around the square as they act out the Predator, Edward Scissorshands, and various characters, mostly from Disney.

Each one is eager to get the attention of passing tourists. Be wary about taking their pictures, however, as it isn’t free. See to it that you have at least a euro to pay afterwards. (letstalkmadrid.com)

There's even another photo of the player wearing a hat: 2014, July ' a street performer at Puerta del Sol in Madrid, Spain (wikimedia.org); same table, same clock, different player, different position on the board. Don't forget to pay him a euro.

23 March 2017

Follow-up Closure

In my previous post, Chess in Conceptual Art, I wrote,

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.

The downside is not just following something up, it's also about removing it from the list of things to follow up. Here are a few posts that required administrative closure.

Next step: Follow up something else.

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.