Dr Richard Cann R.I.P.

In Memoriam: Richard Cann

Friday November 8, 2019

Longtime Go-player Richard Cann, 68, died on Sunday, Oct. 6th of ALS. A memorial service will be held Nov. 16th from 1-4pm at the Hopewell Valley Vineyards, 46 Yard Rd, Pennington, NJ 08534.

Born in Pasadena, California he grew up in Denver, Colorado and lived for many years in Hopewell Township, NJ. He received a BA in 1972, and a Ph.D. in 1978 from Princeton University. He was a member of the United States Chess Federation, the American Go Association and the Recording Industry Associates of America. He was the IT Director for the Atlantic Trading Company from 2002 until the time of his death.

Richard was known for his passion for music; the game of Go, which he played at a 2 dan level; and his joy in skiing the black diamond trails of Colorado with his brother. He enjoyed fishing and hiking on his trips to Colorado. He had 30 years of Sunday morning hard fought racquetball games with a dear friend. He was a skilled competitor with a generally superior ability at games of most sorts. His talented musicianship on guitar, violin and piano was expressed by the musical bands he formed and played with over his lifetime. He was known for his warmth, kindness, quiet sense of humor and his easy smile. He had a gift for teaching, whether it was a game, a musical instrument or a physics theory. He had great love for his family as well as the numerous dogs who were valued companions throughout his adult life. He is terribly missed.

Condolences can be sent to his widow, Joanne Sheehan at joanne.sheehan@pobox.com.
photo by Phil Straus

In Memoriam: Richard Cann

Chess Without Borders?

GM Yuri Sulman has a Chess website, Chess Without Borders (http://shulmanchess.com/biography-of-chess-without-borders/).

This is not about his program.

The article, GO Without Borders seeks beta testers, appeared at the American Go E-Journal, Wednesday December 5, 2018. (http://www.usgo.org/news/2018/12/go-without-borders-seeks-beta-testers/)

Bill Frezza and his colleague John Gaby have developed an online go variant called GO Without Borders (http://www.gowithoutborders.com/HowToPlay.aspx) that they say is perhaps the first practical online implementation of Toroidal GO, the concept of removing the edges of a go board by allowing the board to “wrap around” both horizontally and vertically.

“What is most fascinating about playing GO Without Borders is the fresh approach required regarding tactics and strategy because every joseki you ever learned is useless,” Frezza, a 12 kyu player, tells the E-Journal. “There is also a premium on good fighting skills. And yet it is still go with all the same rules.”

Frezza and Gaby are actively recruiting a small circle of beta testers to help debug and fully feature the program before public launch. Email go-without-borders+subscribe@googlegroups.com if interested.
http://www.usgo.org/news/2018/12/go-without-borders-seeks-beta-testers/

A “joseki” is the opening in Go. Imagine what would happen to the Royal game of Chess if every opening you ever learned became useless.

A Pawn In The Army Of The Righteous

The American Go E-Journal has a feature, Go Spotting. After reading the Tuesday February 13, 2018 edition, Go Spotting: Altered Carbon

I decided to check it out. In season one, episode six I heard something that caused me to write it down.

“You sound like a priest.”

“If we do not know our role in this world, why are we in it?”

“A pawn in the army of the righteous can be more powerful than a king who is without faith.”

Later I went to Mark Weeks blog, Chess for All Ages, (http://chessforallages.blogspot.com/2018/02/another-ai-engine.html) and read, Another AI Engine, posted 16 February 2018, and clicked on the link, which led me to:

Hart House Chess Club

‘Where the Kibitzer is King’

WELCOME TO THE HART HOUSE CHESS CLUB!

The Official Chess Club of the University of Toronto

Some call it synchronicity. It made me think of a friend named Ron Sargent, who was shot in the face by a Viet Cong bullet. He underwent many operations. Some said he could have been a world class pool player. T I was playing in the first round of a weekend Backgammon tournament. My opponent, a nice woman who was a weak player. I had one checker left and was off next roll. She had four checkers left on her six point. Only one roll would win for her, double sixes. She rolled box cars. “Sposed to happen,” came a voice from behind me. It was Ron. I had to grin because he was right, it is supposed to happen once every thirty-six times, on average. “Oh Mike,” she said, “I’m sorry. You could win this tournament. What were the odds?” What could I say other than, “thirty-five to one.”

Chess in Less Than a Minute

The above can be found at the United States Chess Federation youtube page.
(https://www.youtube.com/user/USChessFederation)

It was found after reading an article at the American Go E-Journal earlier this month:

AGA YouTube channel hits 10,000 subscribers

The American Go Association’s YouTube Channel hit the 10,000 subscriber mark this week. “This is an awesome number to hit for a channel,” said the AGA’s Steve Colburn. “We are reaching almost every country on the globe,” added AGA president Andy Okun.
(http://www.usgo.org/news/2017/12/aga-youtube-channel-hits-10000-subscribers/)

The USCF proudly boasts “1,147 subscribers.”

There have been, though, 26,308 views of a video, Chess in Less Than a Minute, posted on Sep 28, 2011 by Jennifer Shahade.

Google’s AlphaZero destroys Chess

The headline of the American Go E-Journal reads:

Google’s AlphaZero destroys highest-rated chess engine in 100-game match

Thursday December 7, 2017

Chess changed forever today. And maybe the rest of the world did, too.

Chris Garlock writes the AGEJ and this is his take on the development:

“A little more than a year after AlphaGo sensationally won against the top Go player, the artificial-intelligence program AlphaZero has obliterated the highest-rated chess engine.

Stockfish, which for most top players is their go-to preparation tool, and which won the 2016 TCEC Championship and the 2017 Chess.com Computer Chess Championship, didn’t stand a chance. AlphaZero won the closed-door, 100-game match with 28 wins, 72 draws, and zero losses.

Oh, and it took AlphaZero only four hours to “learn” chess. Sorry humans, you had a good run.

That’s right — the programmers of AlphaZero, housed within the DeepMind division of Google (https://deepmind.com/), had it use a type of “machine learning,” specifically reinforcement learning. Put more plainly, AlphaZero was not “taught” the game in the traditional sense. That means no opening book, no endgame tables, and apparently no complicated algorithms dissecting minute differences between center pawns and side pawns.

This would be akin to a robot being given access to thousands of metal bits and parts, but no knowledge of a combustion engine, then it experiments numerous times with every combination possible until it builds a Ferrari. That’s all in less time that it takes to watch the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. The program had four hours to play itself many, many times, thereby becoming its own teacher.”

The article (http://www.usgo.org/news/2017/12/googles-alphazero-destroys-highest-rated-chess-engine-in-100-game-match/) continues with a comment from the ‘Deep Thinking’ Garry Kasparov from an article by Mike Klein at another website.

Thomas Magar posted a comment on the USCF forum under the thread, AlphaZero – first true AI in chess? (http://www.uschess.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=23721&start=15), which gets right down to it; cuts to the chase, or gets to the heart of the matter. No matter how one puts it, this is the $64,000 Question (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_$64,000_Question):

“Think of the endless possibilities for silicon based cheating. It is going to be a challenge for the anti-cheating committees to compare games and catch someone who is using a new algorithm based on AlphaZero. The unique and paradoxical moves may not be comparable to known move selection by present programs. If the chips are small enough, virtually anything could become the device that can be used to generate moves quietly, stealthily, and effectively.”

Could this be the end of Chess?

Chess Spotting

Chris Garlock writes the American Go E-Journal for the American Go Association, which is frequently sent to my inbox, as it will be to anyone who requests it because it is free. (http://www.usgo.org/news/)
One of the features is called, “Go Spotting.” Readers who spot Go on the internet, in books, or movies, etc., notify Chris and he posts it.

US Chess does not have an E-Journal, thus there is no “Chess spotting.” I frequently find Chess mentioned in various places and would like to begin a “Chess Spotting” feature. If you spot Chess featured anywhere and would like to share, please send it along to xpertchesslessons@yahoo.com and it will be posted here.

An article at The Hardball Times, published today, begins:

“Baseball does not change.

Yes, the rules change; the bats change; the fields, the uniforms and the broadcasts change. The pitchers throw differently, and the hitters don’t swing the same. The gloves have changed shape, and the umpires call the games in a new way.

But, since 1871–since before 1871–the ancient Spirit of Pitchers has sat in the same spot, unmoving, across from the timeless Spirit of Batters, and they have played their unending game of chess in the exact same way, no change.”

https://www.fangraphs.com/tht/there-is-no-juiced-ball-no-steroid-era/

Chess & Go Tourney

“The tradition of the best Japanese board game players, to be interested in a game other than their ”main” one is known from Nobel Prize winner Kawabata’s masterpiece “The Master of Go”.”

This can be found at the Chessbase website in part two of “Grandmasters at the Shogi Forum,” by Chess Grandmaster Peter Heine Nielsen. (http://en.chessbase.com/post/grandmasters-at-the-shogi-forum-2-2)
It has been my experience that some chess players resent the fact that any chess player would consider playing any game other than chess. This is strange considering World Chess Champion Emanuel Lasker said, “If there are sentient beings on other planets, then they play Go.”

“The Master of Go” is a magnificent book. It is de rigeur reading for any board game player.

An article by Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor, “Wonciewicz Tops Chess & Go Tourney,” can be found on the American Go E-Journal. “Ten children played go and 15 chess in a four round Swiss-McMahon tournament, at Taborspace, in Portland, OR, Jan. 18th, reports organizer Peter Freedman. “All the children were in the chess and Go clubs at Irvington, Richmond and Beverly Cleary schools. Sam Wonciewicz, of Irvington, took first place in go with a perfect record of 4-0. Tied at 3-1, Grant McFeeters-Krone and Luke Helprin, both from Irvington, had a play-off match to determine 2nd and 3rd place. Grant won in a tightly contested game that featured a possible seki which would have led to the death of a neighboring group, and his defeat. Four children finished with 2-2 records, two with 1-3 records, and 1 with a 0-4 record,” said Freedman.
Leo Frankunas, Irvington, topped the chess tournament with a 4-0 record, followed in second place by Mason Buchanan, Irvington at 3 ½, and third place, Benjamin Cicilian, Richmond, at 3-1. Trophies were award for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place for both chess and go.”
(http://www.usgo.org/news/2015/01/wonciewicz-tops-chess-go-tourney/)