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Friday, May 31, 2013

Update on Kevin Spraggett Blog Closure

GM Spragget sent a letter to a blog called BaconLOG explaining his Blog being closed. According to GM Spraggett it was closed “for reasons that Blogger itself knows. I was informed only after the fact that my blog contained ''malicious javascript'' and that the powers that be deemed this sufficient cause to close a blog that had millions of pageviews over the past 4 years.” GM Spragget also noted, “…I have been planning to move my blog over to Tumblr or/and Wordpress. Yesterday's action only speeds it up. My popular blog ''Spraggett on Chess'' will start up tonight or tomorrow.” Read full story.

Ohio Chess News

     There isn’t any. I recently visited the Ohio Chess Association’s website and found the Tournament Calendar was up to date and so was the news about the 2013 All Girls Champion, but who knows how old the news on the Ohio Championship is? The latest Champion is IM Goran Vojinovic who won it back in September, 2012; I know because I visited the tournament. There is also old news considering the High School/Middle School Championship, but that’s dated 2008!! The forums haven’t been posted in for anywhere from a couple of months to a couple of years. No list or biographies on past Champions, etc. Pathetic.
   IM Goran Vojinovic gives online lessons HERE. He won the Cincinnati (Ohio) Open in April of this year with a +4 -0 =1 result. FM Awonder Liang (2217) finished second with 4 points. Liang is all of 10 years old!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

New pdf book...

My latest pdf book, What Would YOU Play?, is available for $1.50 HERE.  Details on the book review Blog HERE.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Engine Strengths & Weaknesses

While surfing some engine forums recently I compiled a list of attributes for various engines. Here is a brief summary of other people’s opinions of the strengths and weaknesses of some of the more popular engines.

Stockfish: Could use more endgame knowledge.
Komodo: Reasonably solid in all phases of the game. Usually does not favor sacrificial lines but one commentator observed that when going through Spielmann's, "Art of Sacrifice in Chess" he was surprised how many times Komodo (version 4) liked the sacrifice more than other engines.
Houdini: poor understanding of initiative, strong in endgame. Very solid tactically. Sometimes has difficulty making up its ‘mind’ when things are complicated. Often comes up with the best defense. When Peter Svidler was asked which one player he would choose to represent Earth in a hypothetical match against aliens, he answered "Houdini". Note: I have Houdini 2 and have noticed that it seems to be slow in finding flaws in its initial evaluations, so it seems to need longer thinking times. I usually check its recommendations with either Stockfish 3 or Critter.
Shredder: Understands the initiative, especially in early opening, good understanding of endgame but other engines are much faster in their calculations so sometimes score over Shredder.
Fritz: Not very flexible compared to other engines. Sometimes heads for positions that other engines rightfully avoid.
Critter: Tactically strong, excellent opening play, sees reasonable alternatives. Not very good when it comes to hypermodern strategy but otherwise good at middlegame planning; reasonably good in the endgame.
Rybka: Poor in opening phases…no comprehension of early pawn structures or tempo. Slow…needs more time than other engines. Decent endgame play but not as good as Houdini in the endgame. The biggest advantage to Rybka (especially Rybka 4) is that it has very good positional understanding. It is capable of giving a fairly accurate assessment of the initiative and king safety but generally speaking, Rybka is slightly slower tactically than Houdini or Stockfish.
Junior: Sometimes too aggressive. Sometimes sacrifices unsoundly. Not too useful for analysis. Too aggressive in pruning in long games but it often show the most troublesome line for an opponent in OTB play.
Naum: Only engine to have a grasp of fortress positions.
Spike: Does not gain much strength with extra time.
Thinker: Does not show its thinking lines making it absolutely useless for analysis Single thread.
Zappa has a very solid style and sometimes when other engines are showing a win or loss Zappa will find a draw. But… it takes time and Zappa generally plays poor moves at shallow depth, and is very poor without some human help.
Vitruvius: Not very aggressive or sacrificial and it plays fairly conservatively.

Free GUI Downloads

Arena can be used for analyzing and playing games as well as in testing engines. It runs on Windows XP or higher or on Linux with Wine 1.0 or higher. Arena is compatible to Winboard protocol I, II and UCI protocol I, II. Furthermore, compatible to Chess960, DGT electronic chess board & DGT clock XP, Novag Citrine, Autoplayer, ICS (chess servers) and much more.

Tarrasch: Extremely easy to use free program for Windows. Tarrasch comes with free engines and is designed to make it as easy as possible to perform some basic chess activities: Play a game against a chess engine, with either color, from any position, with a time handicap if desired. Position set up, play through the analysis provided by the engine. Create and edit .pgn files, enter variations easily, enter and edit comments easily, promote and demote variations and even comments. Author is willing to build you a special version incorporating special features for a small fee.

Chess GUI by Big Lion Nice looking interface.  A few of many limitations: - OS : Win2000Pro and WinXP - don't stay long in menu while engines are calculating/searching - maximum of 5000 engines supported (increase MAX_ENGINES_SUPPORTED in ChsGUI_Ini.INI)

WinBoard is a pretty basic chess game that is mainly intended to play games online, using different chess engines. Winboard works more as a graphic front-end for several different chess engines included with the game, as well as for several chess game modes. These include not only player vs player or human vs computer competitions, but also games played online and even by email. WinBoard also lets you save games and resume them from the point where you left them. As for graphics, WinBoard is quite simple. The chess board is just a squared 2D window with flat pieces – no three dimensions or shadow effects. You can customize the board's size and colors in the program's options menu. Despite its graphical simplicity, WinBoard is a good choice.

Jose Features: graphical frontend to MySQL database read and write PGN (Portable Game Notations) files 2D and 3D view edit games, insert comments, variations plug-in chess engine for play and analysis; supports both XBoard and UCI protocol. Play Fischer Random Chess / Chess 960, or Shuffle Chess Opening Books ECO opening classification Position Search Create HTML and PDF files.

Chess Assistant Lite has limited functionality compared to full commercial versions. The database is limited to 1 million games. You cannot open, merge or create new databases; the Tree and CAP database come in limited versions; engines included are relatively weak, but you can add other engines. No Opening Encyclopedia. No opening book. No pictures of players.

Fritz 5.32 dates back to 1998. Use it for playing, analysis, and managing databases. Comes with the old, but strong, fritz 5.32 engine, use the program to analyze your games, study opening statistics, and organize engine matches. One of its most useful abilities is to create and search large databases in either pgn or cbv format. You'll need an opening book and must download your own database.

Chessbase Lite - Limited database - limit of 32,000 games

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Professor Rice

     Isaac Leopold Rice (February 22, 1850 in Wachenheim, Bavaria – November 2, 1915) was an inventor, chess patron and author.
From 1884 to 1893 Rice was active in the railroad industry as an attorney or director and for a time was foreign representative in London of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad. In 1885 he founded the "Forum" magazine, becoming the first president of the Forum Publishing Company. The corporate giant General Dynamics grew out of Rice’s Electric Boat Company, founded in 1899 to build John Philip Holland’s designs for the first U. S. Navy submarine, the Holland VI, which was commissioned in 1900. A year after the launching of their first vessel, the Holland VI, the management team of Holland and Lewis Nixon ran into bad luck and Rice took over in 1899 and renamed the company the Electric Boat Company.
     During World War I Rice’s company and its subsidiaries built 85 Navy submarines and 722 submarine chasers. Long one of the largest military contractors for the Pentagon and foreign governments, General Dynamics almost folded after the end of the Cold War, but regained momentum with the Gulf War and present conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
     Rice arrived in the United States with his mother at age six and attended Central High School in Philadelphia, then studied literature and music in Paris, where he met Julia Barnett, who came from a family of wealth and position. When Rice asked friends what the most common occupation of their richest friends was he ended up going to Columbia University's law school, first as student, then as teacher. He married Julia and they had six children. Family friends included the kings of Spain and Sweden, the Czar of Russia, Madame Curie, President McKinley and Pope Pius X.
     Julia earned a medical degree because she thought it would be helpful in raising children. Isaac’s wealth grew rapidly. His children were raised in an unorthodox manner. At an early age each child chose a lifestyle. Rice would then underwrite almost any interest they came up with. One had a seven-day bicycle racer for a tutor and another a three-cushion billiard player. They all grew up on a daily diet of calculus and chess and spent hours challenging each other with complex mental contests.
     When Dorothy, the oldest daughter, showed a talent for writing poetry, her father founded the Poetry Society of America and set up a salon in the grand ballroom of their 22-room apartment at the Ansonia Hotel. It was regularly attended by Theodore Dreiser, Gertrude Atherton, Richard LaGallienne and Frank Harris, always in white ties and tails. Later, Dorothy and husband Hal Sims became one of the most famous bridge-playing couples in the world.
     When daughter Polly took up motorcycle racing, he built her a garage. Daughter Marion Rice Hart was, at age 74, the first woman to make a solo transatlantic flight. She also wrote a definitive text on celestial navigation.
     Rice was a prominent figure in the US chess world, becoming president of the Manhattan Chess Club. The inventor of the Rice Gambit, he sponsored tournaments where that opening became the starting position of each game. Several chess clubs around the world are named in his honor. In 1902 he received honorary degree of LL.D. (Doctor of Law) from Bates College, a liberal arts college in Lewiston, Maine. Rice published book titles "What Is Music?" which was supplemented by "How the Geometrical Lines Have Their Counterparts in Music." He also contributed a large number of articles to various publications.
     In 1895 he discovered a variation of the Kieseritsky Gambit which then became known as the Rice Gambit. 1 e4 e5 2 f4 exf4 3 Nf3 g5 4 h4 g4 5 Ne5 Nf6 6 Bc4 d5 7 exd5 Bd6. He spent $50,000 subsidizing Rice Gambit tournaments. That translates to well over one million dollars in today’s currency.
     Dr. Reuben Fine writing in The Middle Game in Chess said, “Professor Rice, a New York amateur, had this position once and inadvertently left his knight en prise; then later he won the game. He was so impressed with his success that he immediately interested a number of the prominent masters in the move, which was easy enough to do because he had a lot of money. For several years the gambit was subjected to extensive analysis by the leading American masters.”
     In 1903 Mikhail Chigorin defeated Emanuel Lasker in a Rice Gambit match, held in Brighton, England. Lasker had White in all the games and played the Rice Gambit. Chigorin won 2 games, drew 3 games, and lost 1 game. Also in 1903 the Manhattan Chess Club held a Rice Gambit tournament. It was won by Julius Finn.
     On February 22-March 3, 1904, a Rice Gambit tournament was held in Monte Carlo, Monaco. It was won by Frank Marshall and Rudolf Swiderski. In November,1904, a Rice Gambit was held at the Metropolitan Chess Club in London and won by Richard Teichmann (13.5/16). Napier and Leonhardt took 2nd-3rd. Gunsberg took 4th. In 1904 the Brooklyn Chess Club had a Rice Gambit tournament. It was won by Hermann Helms.
     On April 2 to May 14, 1905, a Rice Gambit tournament was held in St. Petersburg. It was won by Mikhail Chigorin. In 1905 Napier defeated Marshall in a Rice Gambit match, held in London. Napier won 2 games, drew 1 game, and lost 1 game.
     After Rice died and the money dried up, masters quit wasting time on the Rice Gambit.  Is it sound? Theoreticians say no.

Recent Article on Rice Mansion


Chess and Culture

Schach und Kultur...very interesting browsing!  In German.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Analyzing with Paul Keres

The position below is analyzed by Keres in his book (written with Kotov) The Art of the Middlegame and is very instructive. You can study Keres’ comments on Google books; the analysis covers pages 174 to 191, but for some reason page 181 is not shown. It skips the moves 42… Kf5 43. f3 Kf4 44. Ra8. Here is the missing page.

Click to enlarge
This great little book covers attacking the king, defense, importance of pawn structure, analysis, etc. and is available on Amazon in either paperback or Kindle at a reasonable price..a little over $9. In descriptive notation, but anybody of at least slightly below average intelligence can learn descriptive in a few minutes so don’t let that stop you.

I would recommend setting up the position in an engine and following Keres analysis. As usual, if the engine disagrees with Keres, believe Keres! Here's the position with White to play:

Fine – Reshevsky Rivalry

     One of the first rivals in US chess Reshevsky had was Dr. Reuben Fine, the man Kasparov referred to as “one of the most underrated players in the history of the game.” Fine was the only player who had an overall plus score in games against world champions. In 1929 Fine began playing in the Marshall and Manhattan clubs and soon became a sensation in rapid chess, in those days played at 10 seconds a move. In his younger days Fine successfully competed with Reshevsky in major open tournaments and defeated the leading US players in matches. His international debut came in Pasadena, 1932. It was not a particularly successful start even though he drew with Alekhine. Fine scored 5-6 and shared places 7-10. 
     Eventially he learned German so he could read books by Tarrasch, Nimzovich and Reti and made a study of Alekhine’s games. His study paid off and by 1935 he finished first at Hastings with 7.5 – 1.5 ahead of Euwe, Keres, Tartakower, Bogoljubow and Moroczy. From there on, Fine gained a reputation as a possible world championship contender as a result of his play in several European events.
      On the home front Fine was never able to win the US championship. Reshevsky used to ask, “How many times has Fine won the US Championship?” He would then answer his own question with, “None!" and then ask, "Why do you think that is?" and again answer his own question with, "It was because I was playing.” Reshevsky sat out the 1945 championship and Fine was expected to win it, but Arnold Denker played the tournament of his life and finished first ahead of Fine!

     Starting shortly before the end of WW2 Fine unsuccessfully tried to get the chess world to buy into the idea that he ought to still be considered a world championship contender. Fine didn’t participate in the 1946 US Championship and as a result Reshevsky and Kashdan gained the right to participate in the upcoming tournament to determine Alekhine’s successor despite Fine’s claim that he should be included. The USCF wouldn’t support Fine’s claim but FIDE did. Fine still did not participate. Later Fine kept changing his story; he alluded to the fact he was not allowed to play but also stated he was working on his PhD and could not spare the time; he complained nobody consulted him on the tournament’s scheduled dates,; he complained the tournament arragements were “bizarre,” and said he never received and official invitation; he whined on and on. Years later Larry Evans said Fine told him that he didn’t play because he did not want to spend three months of his life watching the Soviets throw games to each other. In any case, Fine dropped out of chess not long afterwards. On the other hand, to his credit, Reshevsky kept playing and playing and playing even after he was eclipsed by Fischer. 
     Once in a Chess Life interview Rehsevksy claimed he considered himself as the player most capable of winning the world championship from the later 1930’s on.  When asked if Fine had a good chance to beat Alekhine, Reshevsky replied, "Certainly not!" In an interview much later in life when asked about Fine Reshevsky replied, "Fine was a fine player.” (laughed)
     Here is an interesting anecdote about the Reshevsky vs. Smyslov game from the 1945 USA vs. USSR Radio Match.
     In the game below, Fine defeated Reshevsky at AVRO 1938 in a good example of the power of the queenside majority.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Tournament Books

     My favorite chess books have always been of two types: My Best Games collections and…tournament books! Tournament books have pretty much disappeared in this age of databases. There seems to always be a new opening or tactics book or a book on how to become a better player without much effort, but tournament books are rare.
      I like tournament books because they give you a sense of being there; something a raw game score can’t. As someone once observed, we lose something valuable, a part of our chess history, without the tournament book. Back in the day they were an important source for games and there were a few people who specialized in them. Dale Brandreth, for example, who used to privately publish a lot of typewritten and mimeographed books of rare tournaments. And there was the eccentric James R. Schroeder of Cleveland, Ohio, who would visit the James G. White collection at the Cleveland Public Library and hand copy games from their collection then painstakingly type and mimeograph them then sell them for fifty cents or a dollar at tournaments. 
      Curacao 1959, Nottingham 1936, New York 1927, Zurich 1953, the Piatigorsky Cups, the Lone Pine events, just to name a few. I have some of the books (booklets actually) by both Brandreth and Schroeder. I got the Brandreth books cheap on e-Bay and once helped Schroeder by playing over a couple of hundred games for one of his books and correcting typos so occasionally he would mail me one of his books for free.
      One thing I like is that, unlike My Best Games collections and other published games, you get to GM chess as it is really played, warts and all. Like the following game.
      It was played in round 19 at Zurich 1953. At the start of the round Smyslov had 12 pts and Reshevsky was a full point back followed by Bronstein, Najdorf, Keres and Petrosian, Boleslavsky and Geller, Euwe, Szabo, Kotov and Taimanov, Averbakh and Gligoric with Stahlberg firmly in last place.
      This Szabo – Reshevsky game was in suspense. Szabo, with plenty of time on his clock, picked up his Q to mate in two moves, but Reshevsky remained impassive. Szabo had missed the mate though and a comedy of errors followed. I doubt that this game ever made print.

Friday, May 24, 2013

FM Morris Giles

      This old news which I just discovered the other day while surfing the net but it left me stunned.  
     On Sunday, December 23, 2012 FM Morris Giles of Chicago died. Giles was struck by a tow truck the previous morning when the truck driver failed to yield before making a left turn and struck Giles as he was in the cross walk. The driver was subsequently cited for “failure to yield to a pedestrian” and “failure to exercise due care”. Giles was rushed to Advocate Christ Medical Center where he died Sunday at 2:30am.
      It was written of Giles that he impressed others with his brash and daring style, yet had a soft and humble demeanor. I can attest to that because some time in the early 1970s I played in a Chicago tournament and scored 4-0 then had to play Giles in the last round. I no longer have the game score but remember I had White and got crushed. More than that though I remember the post mortem I had with Giles because he was very gracious in his praise of my play.
      Giles took a break from chess in the 70s only to return with a vengeance in the early 80s and at the 1988 U.S. Open in Boston he scored 9-3 beating GM Alexander Ivanov and drawing with GMs Lev Alburt, Andrew Soltis in the process. His only loss was to GM Benjamin. Despite only having the FM title pretty much everyone agrees – he was IM strength.
      As a person, Giles was a quite, gentle fellow but as a player he used aggressive openings: the King’s Gambit, Sozin Attack against Sicilian, Najdorf and Scheveningen Sicilian with black, King’s Indian, the Grunfeld and an occasional Dutch with black, always playing the most theoretical lines.
     His USCF rating was 2423 and 2360 FIDE. It’s not certain exactly when he gave up chess; his cousin told The Chess Drum that he had simply lost interest in chess, gave it up and never returned. 
      He worked in the computer field and for a time was employed by Sears in the IT department. His older brother, Dr. Roscoe C. Giles, III, a professor at Boston University, tried to persuade Morris to spend time in Boston and resume playing, but he wasn’t interested.
      Like I said, this is old news, but I have never forgotten the impression Giles made on me that Sunday afternoon in Chicago so many years ago. Giles Games

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Evergreen Game

This game didn’t take place in a tournament; it was a friendly game that has given pleasure to generations of players. It has been analyzed to death and even with engines there are no solid conclusions. If you haven’t seen it before take a look. If you have seen it, take another look.

Robin Ault

      Robin Ault was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey on December 23, 1941 and was the first person to win the U.S. Junior Championship three times in a row (1959, 1960, 1961). He won the 1959 Championship on tiebreak over Gilbert Ramirez, won outright in 1960 and the 1961 Championship on tiebreak over Bernard Zuckerman. He was the first person ever to have won three years in a row.
      On the basis of his performances in the Junior Championship he was invited to the 1959-60 U.S. Championship based in the USCF rule that the American Junior Champion was automatically qualified for the adult title competition.  His results in the 1959-60 Championship were a disaster...he lost all 11 games. After this the USCF no longer allowed the top junior player to be invited to the U.S. Championship and Ault dropped out of chess and went on to a successful career in other fields.  Unfortunately, Ault passed away at the early age of 52.
      His brother, National Master Leslie, was US Intercollegiate Champion. The both played for Columbia University, which won the nation Intercollegiate Team Championship.
      Here is his obituary taken from the Cranford Chronicle dated October 19, 1994.

Robin Ault, math professor Social justice activist; was 52 :
CRANFORD — Robin Ault, 52, a college mathematics professor, computer software engineer, and social justice activist, died Sept. 16, 1994 at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Newton, Mass.

      He was born in Elizabeth, raised in Cranford, and had lived for more than 20 years in Newton, Mass. Dr. Ault earned a bachelor's degree from Columbia University and a doctorate in mathematics from Brandeis University. During his college years he won the U.S Junior Chess, Championship three times, something no one has yet matched. He was a professor of mathematics at Boston State College in Massachusetts from 1965 until the school was closed in 1981, and more recently was a senior software engineer with MicroLogic Inc.
      He was active in the New University Conference, an organization of university professors involved in human rights and anti-war issues. Dr. Ault volunteered his time to the Quaker church as a draft counselor during the Vietnam War. He also was active in Newton Action for Nuclear Disarmament in Newton, Mass., one of the first disarmament organizations in the country. Dr. Ault was a longtime member of Mass Choice, the Massachusetts affiliate of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League. He joined Mass Choice at its founding in 1970 and worked in nearly every volunteer capacity: grassroots organizer, volunteer coordinator, board officer, political action committee board member. He was recognized by Mass Choice on its 20th anniversary in 1990 for his work with the organization. It will dedicate the Robin Ault Volunteer Award at Mass Choice's 25th-anniversary celebration in 1995. He also was prominent in his Massachusetts city on political campaigns for alderman, school board, and state representative. A delegate to the Massachusetts Democratic Party convention
      Dr. Ault was the secretary of his ward's Democratic Party committee and was active in a bicycle-pedestrian task force in his city. Surviving are his mother, Margaret Ault of Cranford; two brothers, Leslie Ault and David Ault, both in New Jersey; three nieces and two nephews."

In the game below he defeats veteran master Jeremiah Donovan in a short, sharp Dragon.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Willa White Owens

      In addition to Mrs. Markowski, Willa White Owens was another prominent Ohio lady player in the 1950s and 60s whom I remember seeing at tournaments on occasion. In the 1957 US Open held in Cleveland, Ohio, Mrs. Owens finished tied for places 99-112 with 5.5 pts. out of 12. She lost her second round game to the strong master Attilio DiCamillo

      According to a brief article on her by Batgirl at Chessdotcom she was born on April 13, 1910 in Ohio. Her first husband died in 1948 and she married her second husband, Ross Owens, in 1950. She had learned to play from her first husband around 1937 and met her second husband at a chess tournament. Both of them were rated in the 1700’s.  Mrs. Owens died May 26, 2003 in Wyanesburg, Pennsylvania. 

Mrs. White's Obit at Find-A-Grave

Alina Markowski

     Alina Markowski died on June 28, 2011 just one month short of her 101st birthday. She was the Ohio women’s champion in 1955, 1957, 1959, 1960 and 1961. Her victory in the 1955 championship came only two years after learning the moves.
      Mrs. Markowski was born in Krakow, Poland on July 18, 1910 and her family moved to Chicago in 1912, but returned to Poland in 1923 where she was taught chess by her sister. In 1925 she briefly returned to Chicago and then moved to Toledo, Ohio which is where I remember her from. While living in Toledo she was employed as a Registrar at the University of Toledo. Registrars have the responsibility of maintaining records of the academic progress and accomplishments of students and maintaining student records.
      In 1935, while performing a Polish folk dance at a festival at Walbridge Park in Toledo, she met and married Steve Markowski, an attorney who also served as president of the Ohio Chess Federation (1956 - 1961). Her husband was also born in Poland and moved Pittsburgh in 1915. They both played chess, but it was not until 1953 that they began tournament play. Both had ratings in the 1600-1700 range. Her last published rating was in 2006 and was 1507...not bad for a 96 year old!  Her 'Quick Rating" was 1524. Her husband died of cancer in 1971 at the age of 65.
      In 1975 when Mrs. Markowski retired she moved to Escondido, California and became active in the local chess scene. Both in Ohio and California Mrs. Markowski was an active organizer for women’s chess. She also served as a board member for the Southern California Chess Federation and wrote articles on women and chess for the organization's publication. She was also active as a member of the San Diego Chess Club, the North County/Escondito Chess Club and the Vista Chess Club.
      She was a member of the Correspondence Chess League of America and was active in postal chess for many years. She also served as a volunteer organizer for the U.S. Senior Open and was a certified Tournament Director. Beginning in the mid-1908s Mrs. Markowski was living in an assisted living center where she formed, what else…a chess club.


Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Demise of Plasticbishop

      Back in August of last year the site owner, who started the site about 7-8 years ago for his own enjoyment, announced that he would be closing up shop in August of this year, so the time is drawing near.
      He gave several reasons for his decision: 1) Not enough time…family and job 2) Other interests besides running a chess server 3) Working on the server became an obligation and not something he does because he wants to  4) Rather than making money, it is costing him money and 5) running the site is exhausting.  This was a very difficult decision for him, but understandable.
      However, from August 2013 the site will be transferred to a much cheaper server and most of the features disabled. The forums and messaging will still be active so people can keep in touch with their friends. 
      A few years ago when I was reentering correspondence chess and looking for a site to play on, I tried a lot of them.  Plasticbishop was a nice site, but the players there were mostly lower rated and there was no competition…I think my longest game was 20-something moves and several were 10-12 moves and two lasted about 5-6 moves!
       For reasons it isn’t necessary to go into, at one point I exchanged e-mails with Mr. Robson and found him to be a really nice guy and I’m sorry his site is shutting down in a couple of months.  It was a good site for lower rated players and the loss of a free chess server is, in itself, kind of sad. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Stockfish 3 Update

The New Thoresen Chess Engines Competition reports that after 48 games Houdini defeated Stockfish by a score of 25 -23.  The complete set of games can be downloaded from the site.

The top 10 ratings are:

1-Houdini 3 - 3156
2-Stockfish 250413 - 3102
3-Rybka 4.1  -3099
4-Komodo 4534 - 3084
5-Critter 1.6a - 3073
6-Vitruvius 1.19 - 3064
7-Gull R375 - 3052
8-Equinox 1.65 - 3049
9-Hiarcs 14 - 2984
10-Chiron 1.5 - 2983