17 January 2018

23rd World Computer Championship

One of my Small Projects for 2018 (December 2017), was to update my page on the World Computer championship. Besides catching up with the ICGA, it gave me the chance to try out the PGN-extract software on a real PGN file. I noticed two differences with the previous software:-
  • a space between the move number and White's move (e.g. '1. e4' instead of '1.e4')
  • some lines start with a move instead of a move number (e.g. '1.d4 [...] 8. // O-O [...]' instead of '1.d4 [...] // 8.O-O [...]', where '//' indicates a new line)

Both of these are matters of taste and are probably not dictated by the SAN standard (which I don't remember ever reading anyway). On the positive side, the PGN-extract software does its most important job admirably : checking the validity of the moves in a PGN file. It also allowed me to remove comments from the file in the same step as the checking, which was a separate step with the previous software.

I created the PGN file & crosstable, combined the two into a ZIP file, loaded the result to my site, and updated the index page, World Chess Championship : Computer Chess. For the post on the previous ICGA championship, see 22nd World Computer Championship (August 2016).

One small question I had during the process was whether to continue listing Don Dailey as a developer for the winning program, Komodo. According to the Wikipedia page, Don Dailey, he died in November 2013. Since the Komodo site, komodochess.com, is titled 'Komodo chess engine by Don Dailey, Larry Kaufman & Mark Lefler', I decided to use that as a guideline. For details about the 23rd WCCC, see the ICGA site:-

The ICGA is going through some soul-searching about its stewardship of the WCCC. For specifics, see:-

That last link, by 'David Levy – ICGA President', includes a capsule history of the WCCC, e.g.:-

It came to pass that the first WCCC took place in Stockholm, at the Birger Jarl Hotel, in the summer of 1974. The British entrepreneur publisher Robert Maxwell donated a medal for the first World Champion, which was won by the Soviet program Kaissa, developed by Mikhail Donskoy, Vladimir Arlazarov and Anatoly Uskov.

It remains to be seen whether the current ICGA initiative is a fresh start or 'too little, too late'. Although a comment to the Levy article acknowledges the existential challenge of the TCEC, the ICGA plans future chess events:-

It's also worth noting the group's Facebook page: ICGA - Home.

10 January 2018


Continuing with Small Projects for 2018 and 'a replacement for my old PGN normalization software, which was forcibly retired last summer', I had to look no further than PGN-extract ('A Portable Game Notation Manipulator for Chess Games'). Although its output is not completely what I was looking for, it does the more important job of checking the validity of PGN files. I'll test drive it for some of the other 'Small Projects' before adopting it definitively. An overview of its functionality is available on the page PGN-extract Help file.

I also spent some time poking around the chess software on GitHub.com. The projects go beyond the basic support needed for my World Championship site and would better be addressed on my main chess blog.

03 January 2018

Petrosian Talks About Fischer

Since the first of the Small Projects for 2018 (December 2017) is 'a replacement for my old FTP package' and since I have nothing to say about that other than 'file name case conversion is an issue!', what can I write about in today's post? Luckily, yesterday's post on my main blog, January 1968 'On the Cover', provided a topic from the January 1968 Chess Life in an article 'Venice 1967' by Larry Evans. The report by the five-time U.S. champion included a long section titled 'Petrosian Talks':-
Since we were quartered in the same hotel, and frequently walked to the tournament hall together, I had the opportunity to ask Petrosian some burning questions. (His wife served as translator.) He readily admitted not being satisfied with his chess ever since the title match with Spassky, in which he felt the quality of his play was considerably better than the result would indicate. He is confident of finding his form in 1968 and attributes his poor tournament showings (as opposed to his winning the gold medal on Board One at the Havana Olympic) to the cross [curse?] of the title: everyone now plays for a draw against him.

And what about a match with Fischer? He says FIDE would not permit one for the title. What about an unofficial match, say, 12 games, for a purse of $10,000, divided 60% for the winner and 40% for the loser? Here Petrosian's attitude was ambiguous. He personally would be happy to play such a match, but it's a question of what his own chess federation would say. Furthermore, who would want to put up with all of Fischer's conditions? By now the latter's eccentricities are well known. Then Petrosian said that $10,000 would not be enough. I indicated surprise, pointing out that he received less than $2,000 for winning the title match against Spassky. Donner happened to be present at this discussion, and when asked by Petrosian's wife who he thought would win such a match, Donner replied instantly: "Fischer!" Donner, further, thought that the FIDE system was strong enough to withstand unofficial matches of this nature when the title was not involved (although the winner would have a moral claim). Petrosian wondered whether Fischer's chess was not somewhat stronger five years ago, before his temporary retirement from the game. I said Bobby was playing better than ever and would undoubtedly win the Interzonal.

Then came the news of the scandal in Tunis and Fischer's withdrawal. Everyone thought that Bobby was crazy. I said we would have to have more facts, but that Bobby was generally right when it came to matters of principle. I couldn't tell whether Petrosian was pleased by the prospect of not now having to meet Fischer for the title; but again he indicated that he would play Fischer a match if the decision were his to make. His wife pointed out that Tigran had a tremendous plus score against Bobby, and I replied that it had been piled up when Bobby was just developing. I know that of all the Russians, Bobby has the greatest respect for Petrosian. If they made draw after draw in a match, which is not unlikely, Bobby might very well get impatient and suicidally try to force the issue. When I asked Petrosian how he felt about a return to the old type of match for the title -- based on who wins the first six games, for example, thus making ties impossible -- he said he was not opposed, but it could produce an endless number of games since the players are so evenly matched nowadays. Besides, this is a matter which rests solely in the hands of FIDE.

It is clear that Petrosian, whether he says so or not, considers Bobby the strongest possible challenger. But, he said, in their own games Bobby did not make a single move which he had not anticipated. Furthermore, he gave Fischer a draw (in their second round encounter at the Piatigorsky Cup 1966), even though he demonstrated to Bobby after the game that he (Petrosian) had a winning position. Why? Because he wanted to see Bobby finish second (rather than Larsen) because Bobby had played the best chess in the tournament. His wife, seeing that I took this with a grain of salt, assured me that it was true. Apart from that, he would like to play in the next Piatigorsky and give an exhibition tour in America.

Tigran Petrosian was the reigning World Champion from 1963 to 1969.

27 December 2017

Small Projects for 2018

This being the last post of the old year, let's set some goals for the new year. I did this nearly three years ago in Small Projects for 2015 (January 2015), and actually managed to accomplish all of them. Perhaps I haven't needed specific objectives since then because of the blog follow-up list: Posts with label zFLUP. Some of the most prominent small projects on that list can be done in small chunks whenever I have some free time:-

'Small Projects for 2015' included updates for both the World Correspondence and World Computer championships, two topics that I tend to forget. Comparing the last time I looked at the first topic, Correspondence Chess 2016 (May 2016), with the current situation reveals two events in progress, neither of which requires immediate attention:-

As for the second topic, one event has taken place since I looked at the 22nd World Computer Championship (August 2016). Details are on the home page for the ICGA : International Computer Games Association; see especially the post by David Levy, dated 19 June 2017.

On top of those World Championship subjects, I have two technical problems to address. The first is a replacement for my old FTP package. It ran under my browser, but was deemed obsolete after the browser's last major software update. My ISP's 'File Manager' is adequate for small updates to the site, but is too clunky for large updates. The second is a replacement for my old PGN normalization software, which was forcibly retired last summer. I added two recent events without including the corresponding PGN:-

Updates to the correspondence and computer championships will also require PGN normalization.

20 December 2017

World Championship Branding

In last week's post, 2018 World Championship, London, I mentioned a couple of drawings that I had found on the official site, london2018.worldchess.com:-
I couldn't find an official logo on the official site, so I reused two images that appear to have been created for the event. They are somewhat strange, particularly the one on the right, but many things that emanate from Agon are strange.

A few days after I posted that, I leaned that the images were indeed designed for the match: Branding for the 2018 Match Unveiled (worldchess.com):-

Key visual for the 2018 World Chess Championship is controversial and trendy, just like the host city. [...] The 2018 key visual has been developed by Shuka Design and we are very happy to unveil it today.

The 'key visual', the image I had on the left of the '2018 London' post, appears in much larger format in the Worldchess 'Branding' announcement...

...The announcement also mentions,

As organizers of the match we've been busy for over a year working with artists and designers to develop a perfect key visual, the image that will be associated with the 2018 match and which will find its way onto mugs, posters, outdoor displays, venue design, media, broadcasting graphics and more.

As for the image I had on the right -- questioned by one source as Pawn-ographic? (rt.com; 'Chess world divided on "suggestive" Russian-designed logo for World Championships') -- it's already available on a poster: 2018 World Chess Championship 'Sexy' Limited Edition Print (worldchess.store). I imagine it will soon be available on mugs as well.

13 December 2017

2018 World Championship, London

I created a new page for next year's World Championship, currently titled 2018 Carlsen - TBA. The page is only a stub with a link to the official site (available a year in advance!) and a link to the announcement of the venue. That Fide.com page said,
FIDE and World Chess announced that the 2018 World Chess Championship Match will take place in London in November 2018. [...] The 12-game Match will see current World Chess Champion, Norway’s Magnus Carlsen, defend his title against a challenger to be decided at the forthcoming FIDE World Chess Candidates Tournament in March.

Why create the new page only a month after creating one for the candidates tournament, 2018 Candidates, Berlin, which will be held in March? Because I expect that there will be some controversy surrounding the London match and I wanted a permanent place to record it. With announcements coming variously from Agonlimited.com, Fide.com, and Worldchess.com, it is difficult to keep track of World Championship news.

I couldn't find an official logo on the official site, so I reused two images that appear to have been created for the event. They are somewhat strange, particularly the one on the right, but many things that emanate from Agon are strange.

According to yesterday's post on my main blog, FIDE's Journalist Commission 2017, an 'official website' should have a domain name like hostcity20xx.fide.com. Using 'london2018.fide.com' produces a message 'can’t connect to the server'.

06 December 2017

2017-18 GP

After finishing the previous post, 2017 Grand Prix, Palma de Mallorca, I added the latest Grand Prix series against the names of all 24 players on the World Chess Championship : Index of Players. The chart on the left lists the names of those players along with the number of points they scored over the three events (of four total) in which they competed.

As you might expect, the 24 players were already listed on the 'Index of Players'. For GMs Hammer and Rapport, it was only their second appearance in a World Championship event, and for GM Riazantsev it was his third.

My page on the 2017 Grand Prix shows that GMs Mamedyarov and Grischuk qualified into the forthcoming 2018 Candidates Tournament (congratulations to both!), while the chart on this post shows how close was the race in terms of points scored.

The 2017 GP, the fourth such series of events to be authorized by FIDE, was the first to start after the previous cycle had finished and the first to take place in a single calendar year. For the wrapup post on the Grand Prix for the previous cycle, see 2014-15 GP (June 2015).