23 May 2017

Early Goichberg Tournaments

Running through two recent posts Early N.Y. Scholastic Championships and Early U.S. High School Championships was a common thread: Bill Goichberg and the Continental Chess Association (CCA). The chronologically first of the tournaments mentioned in those posts was the 'Greater New York High School and Junior High School Championships', April 1966. The following overview of Tournament Life Announcements (TLAs) from 1965 shows the earliest Goichberg tournaments listed in Chess Life (CL).


From various issues of Chess Life 1965

In 1969, Goichberg ran for USCF Vice-President, a position held for the three previous years by Isaac Kashdan. His candidate statement in the June 1969 issue of CL summarized his early career.

William Goichberg: I believe I have the experience to serve our Federation well as a national officer. Currently I am Director of the Continental Chess Association, USCF's most active affiliate. Previously, I was USCF rating statistician for 3 1/2 years, during the latter part of which I also wrote many articles for CHESS LIFE.

I have organized and directed over 100 USCF-rated events in seven states, with a total of more than 10,000 entrants; these have brought in over 1500 new USCF members. Among these has been the largest tournament ever held in the U.S. (1966-7 Greater N. Y. Scholastic Champions, 614 players), the largest rated tournament (same, 486 players), the largest single-section tournament (1969 National High School Championship, 370 players), and the largest open tournament (1968 Atlantic Open, 329 players). Of the fourteen largest rated tournaments ever held in this country, I have directed ten.

The success of these events has not been limited to one area, but includes the largest non-holiday open ever held in New Jersey, Connecticut, and D.C., and the largest open ever in Delaware and upstate New York. This activity has given me a thorough understanding of the elements of successful chess promotion -- of organizers' problems and players' needs.

He lost the election to Frank Skoff, but it was not his last run for USCF office and he would one day become USCF President. As for the CCA, the earliest tournament reference I can find is the TLA for the August 1968 Eastern Open in Washington DC.

Bobby Fischer usually gets full credit for the so-called Fischer boom in the 1970s, because his fame triggered the excitement. Tireless organizers like Bill Goichberg had already seeded interest among U.S players and were able to harness the newfound fascination for chess.

22 May 2017

Korchnoi's Career 1946-1977, One Table

The previous post, Korchnoi's Career 1946-1977, Cross References, documented a new table with Korchnoi's second-tier events, those which were not on the original overview of his tournament and match record. I ended the post saying,

The TMER page is somewhat messy, but that should improve when I merge the two tables. Before I do that I need to look at a half-dozen events on the TMER which have no corresponding L&O codes.

Two of those events were errors that I had introduced and four were events with no games in L&O:-

1948 USSR Junior Chp., Tallinn
1957 Armenian Chp. (hors concours)
1964 Leningrad Chp.
1970 Match vs Bronstein (training match)

Merging the two tables left one last set of cross references to be noted:-

L&O also has nearly 50 pages of crosstables covering major events. These could be flagged in the TMER.

I'll take care of that on my next post, which should be a wrapup for this stage of the series on 'Korchnoi's Career'.

[]

L&O: Levy & O'Connell, 'Korchnoi's Chess Games' (Oxford University Press 1979)
TMER: Viktor Korchnoi's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (1946-2015)

21 May 2017

An Education in Hustling

From The Prisoner Firefighters Battling California’s Wildfires (thenation.com),

Three clips from a new film exploring the seemingly ordinary landscapes touched by our prison system.

The three clips treat subjects ranging from the heroic to the mundane: fighting wildfires, playing chess, sending a package.


How Prison Taught This Man How to Play Chess (3:34) • 'When Nahshon Thomas was incarcerated in the 1980s, he didn’t know much about chess. But he met a guy who told him that he would never beat him at the game.'

The description continued,

He didn’t like to hear that, but he decided to learn from him. Now that he’s out, he teaches chess and plays for money in New York’s Washington Square Park. "If you see any black man out here hustlin’, trying to sell something," Thomas says, "he’s been to jail."

For more, see Prison permeates everything in its path (nsnews.com; 'Documentary explores the soul-wrenching business of incarceration at DOXA [Documentary Film Festival, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada]'):-

U.S. President Barack Obama made headlines last year when he tweeted: "We could eliminate tuition at every public college and university in America with the $80 billion we spend each year on incarcerations."

Makes you wonder, doesn't it? Add this topic to the ongoing series on The Sociology of Chess (November 2016), even though we're straying from the original thought.

19 May 2017

Adding Prestige to the Game

Rex Sinquefield introduces this Forbes clip saying,

Our top 10 or 20 players in the world don't have to do anything but play chess and they can earn a very good living -- $250.000 a year and up -- all of them can do that, just by playing chess. That's a big change. The emphasis to get money into chess was something started by Bobby Fischer. It's ironic because he didn't personally care about money at all. He wanted to get money into chess because he thought it added prestige to the game. He was right.

In our modern world, prestige is measured by money.


Checkmate: Earning A Living In Competitive Chess (2:36) • 'While some chess players can earn big bucks playing the game, many grandmasters are turning to coaching, lecturing and commentary to make a living in the sport.'

The video is an introduction to a Forbes.com story, Making A Living In Chess Is Tough - But The Internet Is Making It Easier (5 May 2017). A few days later, another Forbes article, How St. Louis Helped Kickstart An American Chess Renaissance (9 May 2017), started with another video, St. Louis: America's Premier Chess Destination, which was again introduced by Sinquefield. According to an earlier Forbes story, In The Esports Era, Chess Is Alive And Thriving (October 2016), Sinquefield is a 'Forbes Opinion writer'; see Contributor: Rex Sinquefield (forbes.com; 'I focus on pro-growth, free market tax reform solutions in states') for a summary of his opinions.

A year ago, I posted on The Money Game (May 2016), where Daniel Roberts of Yahoo Finance interviewed Maurice Ashley. There we learned that GM Carlsen is the only chess player earning a seven-figure income from chess. The other players have to be content with six figures. Can money replace the Elo rating system?

18 May 2017

Renewing the CNC

Remember FIDE's Longest Running Joke (February 2014), aka CNC, aka Chess News Corporation? No? Neither does anyone else.

I don't know what drives me to do it, but once a week (during my weekly news round) I stop by the CNC site to see what's new or what's changed. There's never anything new or changed, but it's some kind of a ritual I go through. Earlier this year I noticed that the CNC web site had disappeared and I recorded the event in the top screen capture. The fine print on the page said,

Chessnc.com expired on 02/16/2017 and is pending renewal or deletion.
Backorder Domain / Renew Now

I didn't know why anyone would want to backorder or renew the domain, but I continued to check the site once a week, just in case. This week, the site appeared again, along with the same photo seen in 'Running Joke', a photo from early 2012.

I recorded the latest incarnation in the bottom screen capture. Here the fine print said,

When Mr. Ilyumzhinov defeated his own record by becoming the president of the World Chess Federation (FIDE) again in 2009, he started working on ways how to promote chess and attract sponsors. That is when the idea to market chess through a partnership with a small start-up company called Chess Network Company (CEC) was born. In the past, FIDE was mostly focused on events once at a time and the world championship cycle was inconsistent. These constant changes made it difficult for FIDE to attract sponsorships. This was about to change with CNC getting involved, and at the FIDE Congress in October 2009 the partnership was made official.

CNC was tasked to create a legacy on which to build and keep the interest for chess worldwide, even after the events and tournaments ended. They would promote chess by increasing the media interest, making new chess brands and products and distributing chess news in internet.

CNC would not be given all marketing rights immediately but would work in full cooperation with FIDE. CNC will be creating and contracting chess events with the aim to get people more engaged and involved. With the chess in the core, CNC would be organizing promotional activities with the educational component in all of them, hosting celebrities and local leaders to attend and complement chess competitions.

With their extensive experience in marketing, CNC editorial team would be following chess tournaments, matches and games and all other chess-related events. The results will be presented in the media in an interesting and creative way with a goal to attract both chess and no-chess audience. In addition, CNC will be responsible for production and distribution of editorials including interviews with organizers of chess events, players and future talents. They will be bringing stories, photographs and interesting facts about chess, creating BrainGym puzzle and much more.

If the year in that excerpt was 2016 instead of 2009, it would read the same. I marked the official transition from CNC to its successor Agon in a post on my World Championship Blog, 2013 FIDE Executive Board : Whither the World Championship? (December 2013), a transition which started five years ago. So why the renewed interest in the moribund CNC site? I think it's related to the latest event in the Ilyumzhinov saga, He Didn't Resign (April 2017), but I'm sure we'll find out in due time. In the meantime, I'll keep checking the CNC site.

16 May 2017

Smythe, Not Smith

From the Bain Collection [loc.gov/pictures/collection/ggbain; LOC = Library of Congress]:-

The George Grantham Bain Collection represents the photographic files of one of America's earliest news picture agencies. The collection richly documents sports events, theater, celebrities, crime, strikes, disasters, political activities including the woman suffrage campaign, conventions and public celebrations.

The collection has only a few images featuring chess, although a wider net on loc.gov brings a few hundred.


J.H. Smythe Jr. & Whitaker

Whitaker is better known as Norman T. Whitaker [Wikipedia]:-

(1890–1975), an American International Master of chess, a lawyer, a civil servant, and a chess author. He was convicted of several crimes, was disbarred from the practice of law, and served several terms in prison. His most infamous criminal escapade was a confidence trick involving the Lindbergh kidnapping in 1932.

What about J.H. Smythe Jr.? Another photo from the Bain Collection, J.H. Smythe & Son, is captioned,

Reverend John Henry Smythe, Sr. with his son, chess expert John Henry Smythe Jr.

Smythe Jr. has a page on Chessgames.com, John Henry Smythe ('Number of games in database: 1; Years covered: 1901'),

(1883-1956), born in Philadelphia, USA. He learned the rules of chess at the age of 16. Smythe Jr. attended Philadelphia University and was the elected chess club president for three years.

That one game was a draw against Em.Lasker at a simul. Most of the discussion on Smythe's CG page was to determine his date of death, a project related to "Undeceased" CG players over 100 years old by Zanchess.

15 May 2017

Korchnoi's Career 1946-1977, Cross References

I ended my previous post, Korchnoi's Career 1946-1977, New Events, with an action:-

The next step will be to merge that table [of 70 'new' events] into the 101 events classified as 'Already on TMER'. (*)

In preparation for the merge, I added the months given by Levy & O'Connell in 'Korchnoi's Chess Games' (L&O) to most of the 70 new events. I also added codes used by L&O to the 101 events classified as 'Already on TMER'. This allows me to cross-reference the different sources of data going into the 1946-1977 portion of the TMER. L&O also has nearly 50 pages of crosstables covering major events. These could be flagged in the TMER.

The TMER page is somewhat messy, but that should improve when I merge the two tables. Before I do that I need to look at a half-dozen events on the TMER which have no corresponding L&O codes.

(*) TMER = Viktor Korchnoi's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (1946-2015).