21 February 2017

Photographic Proof of Presence

While gathering background info on last week's post, Joop van Oosterom (1937–2016), I flipped through old copies of Europe Echecs (EE) looking for stories about early editions of the Melody Amber tournaments. The second edition, held in March-April 1993, was the first to use the Amber formula of one rapid tournament and one blindfold tournament. Before I found its writeup in the May 1993 EE, I looked at earlier issues of EE, where the photo shown below caught my eye.

Europe Echecs, March 1993

'Aubervilliers : Computers among the GMs'
'Nearly 850 players, that makes a crowd! A partial (!) view of the tournament'
(Photo: Alain Fayard)

'I think I played in that tournament', I said to myself. At the time I was working and living in Paris from Monday through Friday, then commuting back to Brussels on the weekend. On one particular weekend I had to stay in Paris -- I can't remember why -- and decided to play chess. Friday evening at the local chess club someone mentioned Aubervilliers and told me how to get there, so the next day I took the metro, found the tournament site, and played.

Because it was a rapidplay time control I didn't record my moves and I have no record of the event in any of my chess papers from that period. Back to the photo, that's me in the third row of tables from the bottom, third player from the left, facing the camera.

I have a vague memory of a young Michael Adams at the tournament, but his name isn't mentioned in the EE report. If someone told me I dreamed the whole thing, I wouldn't argue. But there's that photo.

20 February 2017

Korchnoi's Career 1976-2000, Major Events

The previous milestone on Viktor Korchnoi's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (TMER; 1946-2015) was Korchnoi's Career 1976-2000, One View, where at the end I noted the next step:-

Assign months to the various events. At the same time, create a list of external references for the events.

I started to look up events one by one, noting the month the event was played and the best reference I could find. This was a slow process until I found Chessmetrics Player Profile: Viktor Korchnoi. The page is a summary of the major events in Korchnoi's career that were played at slow time controls. Some older events are missing the month played, but I was able to cover around 75% of the events already listed on the TMER.

Next step: (1) Tackle the incomplete events for 1976-2000. (2) Use the Chessmetrics.com data on events played before 1976.

19 February 2017

Chess Boards, All in a Row

Given how much I like paintings here on Top eBay Chess Items by Price, has it really been more than three months since I last featured one? Since Which Is the Original? (January 2017) was more about copying than it was about the artwork, then Focused on the Game (November 2016) was indeed the last painting featured.

The auction for the painting pictured below was titled 'Magnificent 1950's O/C Painting of "Chess Game" by Allen Wadsworth'. It apparently asked US $1200 and sold for $1000, 'Best offer accepted'.

The item's description added,

This is a magnificent 1950's oil on canvas painting of showing two men playing chess. It has a wonderful subject, detail and design. It used to belong to The Brand Library in California. It measures 30" by 24" framed and 24" by 18" unframed. It is signed by the artist on the lower left.

By coincidence, I found the same painting on a page titled Allen Wadsworth took skills from 1970s Ajijic straight to Hollywood (sombrerobooks.com), which gave some biographical info about the artist.

Allen Wadsworth, born in about 1939, had at least two exhibitions in Ajijic in the 1970s and honed his carpentry and painting skills in the village prior to embarking on a long and distinguished career in Hollywood as a set painter and scenic artist for major movies and TV shows.

The setting, with chess boards neatly arranged on adjacent tables, would appear to be an outdoor chess tournament or maybe a simultaneous exhibition. A week ago, in Chess in New York Parks, I featured artist Louis Wolchonok for the latest post in a series about The Sociology of Chess. Could it be that any painting showing chess in a social setting is worthy of that series?

17 February 2017

Max Euwe, Max Euwe

A strong feeling of deja vu told me that I had featured the 'Max Euwe Centrum' in a previous edition of Flickr Friday, but I couldn't find a relevant post. Maybe it's because I visited the center many years ago on a trip to Amsterdam. It was well worth the visit.

Max Euweplein © Flickr user C.-04 under Creative Commons.

What's the connection between the Euwe center and the photo? The giant chess set is located next to the entrance; Max Euwe Centrum (maxeuwe.nl, 'An institute unparallelled in the world of chess'):-

Max Euwe Centrum
Max Euweplein 30a
1017 MB Amsterdam

This is not to be confused with the Monaco-based 'Association Max Euwe' sponsored by the subject of yesterday's post, Joop van Oosterom (1937–2016), although it wouldn't surprise me to find a relationship between the two main Max Euwe groups.

16 February 2017

Joop van Oosterom (1937–2016)

It's been a bad period for former World Correspondence Champions. Last month we lost Hans Berliner (1929-2017), and this month we learned of the disappearance of Johannes Jacobus [Joop] van Oosterom (1937–2016).

Along with correspondence chess, Berliner was known for world class contributions to computer chess. Van Oosterom was a world class chess philanthropist. Here is a photo from his first (Melody) Amber chess tournament (wikipedia.org), Roquebrune, France, February 1992.

Europe Echecs, March 1992

The Polgar sisters, van Oosterom, and GM Karpov
(Photo: Alain Fayard)

And here is a list of van Oosterom's top correspondence chess achievements, from my page on the World Chess Championship : Correspondence Chess:-

Why list the 14th event, where van Oosterom did not participate? The first game in Tim Harding's '64 Great Chess Games : Masterpieces of Postal and E-Mail Chess' (Dublin 2002), van Oosterom - Timmerman (15th CC World Championship Final), explains,

These two great Dutch rivals have had parallel careers in CC for two decades. Timmerman, a mathematician, is the current (15th) Correspondence Chess World Champion and has also won several other major tournaments.

For several consecutive years, he was the world's highest rated active correspondence player. As Timmerman is world champion, I have made a special exception and he is the only player with two wins in this book.

Van Oosterom (founder of Volmac software, which is now part of the Cap Gemini corporation) is a wealthy man who lives with his family in Monaco. He is well known as a sponsor of both OTB and correspondence tournaments (e.g. the Melody Amber series, named for his daughter, the NBC Millennium email tournament, and the ICCF Jubilee Champions and Elite events).

Van Oosterom was just starting the 14th World Championship Final in 1994 when illness forced him to defer his place and so he was fated once more to be thwarted by Timmerman in the next final which began two years later.

About this game: This was one of the most important games in the 15th World Championship Final, in which van Oosterom was also a contender for a high placing. At the time this game was played, he had never beaten Timmerman, a psychological factor that may have counterbalanced his colour advantage.

Van Oosterom finished the event a point behind Timmerman. In his book, Harding also included one of van Oosterom's wins: van Oosterom - Reynolds (15th CC World Championship Final). Both games can be fouund on Chessgames.com...

...along with many more of van Oosterom's games.

14 February 2017

A Chess Valentine

See also Romance in Chess, ('What could possibly be less romantic than chess?), and 'Valentine, Be Mine' ... Does Not Compute! (February 2014).

13 February 2017

Korchnoi's Career 1976-2000, One View

My ongoing project to construct Viktor Korchnoi's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (TMER; 1946-2015), currently has three sections, each section covering a different period of his career:-

  • 1945-1977 (the Soviet period)
  • 1976-2000 (the pre-Internet period)
  • 1998-2015 (the TWIC period)

I'll eliminate the overlaps when I merge the three sections into a single table. Last week I worked on the first section, as documented in Korchnoi's Career 1945-1977, Three Views.

To make progress for the period 1945-1977, I need to work only with the Levy & O'Connell material (on paper) and the GMchess data. The UPITT data can be ignored for now.

Two weeks ago I worked on the second section, Korchnoi's TMER 1976-2000, comparing the GMchess data and the UPITT data for that period.

[I had] two tables covering the period 1976-2000, which was one too many. I combined them into a single table and updated the TMER accordingly. While the result is far from perfect, it's still better than what I had before.

That single table was in fact two columns where an event in column A (GMchess) corresponded to an event in column B (UPITT). This week I collapsed the two columns into a single column by rectifying differences between the columns. When it comes to identifying chess events, there are two pieces of information that can create discrepancies:-

  • The year, esp. when an event starts in one year and ends in another.
  • The venue, when a locality goes by different names.

Neither of the two columns provided a complete record of Korchnoi's career, because small events like weekend team tournaments can easily slip through the cracks. At some point I'll have to come back to these, but they can be ignored for now.

Next step: Assign months to the various events. At the same time, create a list of external references for the events.