Legendary "lost" medieval chess piece found in drawer, expected to go for £1 million at auction

A family in Edinburgh had this curious medieval chess piece, mostly tucked in a drawer, for more than 50 years since the grandfather, an antiques dealer, bought it for £5. Recently, his granddaughter had it appraised at Sotheby's where it was identified as one of the five missing pieces from the historically significant Lewis Chessmen from the late 12th/early 13th century and dug up on the Isle of Lewis in 1831. The single piece is expected to fetch £1 million at auction. The rest of the set is held by the British Museum and the National Museum of Scotland. From the BBC News:

They are seen as an "important symbol of European civilisation" and have also seeped into popular culture, inspiring everything from children's show Noggin The Nog to part of the plot in Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone...

The newly-discovered piece is a warder, a man with helmet, shield and sword and the equivalent of a rook on a modern chess board, which "has immense character and power..."

The discovery of the hoard (of pieces) remains shrouded in mystery, with stories of it being dug up by a cow grazing on sandy banks.

It is thought it was buried shortly after the objects were made, possibly by a merchant to avoid taxes after being shipwrecked, and so remained underground for 500 years.

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Chess board turned into wonderfully nerdy coat rack

Volker Rieck transformed vintage old chess boards into fantastically nerdy coat racks to sell on his Etsy shop CreativeHolz. Chess club bonus points for the intentional arrangement of chess pieces into the Caro–Kann Defence and an Italian Game opening.

(via Laughing Squid) Read the rest

1981's 1K Sinclair Chess vs a modern PC running StockFish

How does the amazingly concise 1-kilobyte chess program that came with 1981's Sinclair ZX81 fare against a modern PC armed with the powerful StockFish chess engine? Ha ha, it gets its ass kicked!

The game of chess is an ancient one, dating back to sometime around the 6th century. While the Sinclair ZX81 isn't quite that old, it is now 37 years old. Standard ZX81 models came with only 1KB of RAM, but somehow David Horne managed to squeeze a playable chess game into that space. The question is, can 1K ZX81 chess compete with a more modern chess engine, in this computer vs computer chess game.

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Neural-net powered AI "crushes" top chess engine

AlphaZero lost only 6 games to Stockfish in a 1000-game series, winning 155 games and drawing the rest. The crushing win sharpens the challenge of neural networks to traditional chess engines.

What can computer chess fans conclude after reading these results? AlphaZero has solidfied its status as one of the elite chess players in the world. But the results are even more intriguing if you're following the ability of artificial intelligence to master general gameplay. According to the journal article, the updated AlphaZero algorithm is identical in three challenging games: chess, shogi, and go. This version of AlphaZero was able to beat the top computer players of all three games after just a few hours of self-training, starting from just the basic rules of the games.

Another neural net-powered chess AI independently learned one of AlphaZero's distinctive strategies--advancing lone pawns to vulnerable but irritating positions in the endgame--suggesting that it might be "a critical winning strategy" for human players to emulate. Read the rest

Meet the proprietor of the last chess supply store in New York City

Imad Khachan is proprietor of Chess Forum, the last chess shop in New York City.

“When no other place will welcome you, you have a seat [here],” Khachan says.

Khachan is the subject of King of the Night, a short documentary above by Molly Brass and Anne Hollowday.

(The Atlantic)

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How a miniature chess set is made

This relaxing video shows a miniature chess set being made with rotary tools, lathes, saws and other equipment. It's not quite a DIY guide, unless you already have a fabulous shop, but it definitely makes me want a nice chess set. Read the rest

Why the "Bobby Fischer of Union Square" threw his cell phone into the Hudson River

Ambakisye Osayaba is known to his students as TC ("Teaches Chess"), He can be found sitting at his folding table in New York's Union Square every day, even in bad weather. He charges $3 a game. If you think you can beat him, the wager is $5. He charges $20 for a 30 minute lesson. His students love him.

From NY Post:

“People walk by all the time wanting to learn,” said Osayaba. “I tell them, ‘Take a seat’ and before they know it, they’re coming back every day.”

Victor Raso, 28, has been taking lessons from Osayaba five days a week for two years.

“When I first came out I knew the rules but nothing about strategy,” said Raso, a facilities coordinator at the clothing store Express who spends his lunch hour in the park. “I stuck with T.C. because he taught me rather than hustled me.”

The only way to get an appointment with T.C. is to show up at his table. “I threw my phone off the Brooklyn Bridge,” Osayaba said. “You need to give the game your full attention.”

Luiz Hanfilaque Read the rest

New York City chess set

Skyline Chess is taking pre-orders for a set based on New York's most iconic buildings.

The concept was first conceived when we shared a flat together and would play chess in the evenings. The idea grew out of a conversation about whether we could replace the classic pieces with our favourite buildings. This led us to design and develop our first set, based on the skyline of our hometown, London.

King - One World Trade Tower Queen - Empire State Building Bishop - Chrysler Building Knight - Flatiron Building Rook - Guggenheim Museum Pawn - Brownstone House

I'm a Londoner, and have to admit the New York City one is much more attractive.

New York's skyline is a wonder of the world. London's is black comedy: a gigantic sinister science fiction pyramid, a child's drawing of an obelisk, and two dildos flanked by clown car wheels and refugee game pieces from Steampunk Monopoly. Read the rest

Chess set made from car parts

It started when an anonymous Imgur user found an "old Integra cylinder head laying around the shop, collecting dust," which they "dis-assembled and decided to put it to use again." Read the rest

Women competitors must wear hijabs at chess world championship, oddly awarded to Iran

If you thought soccer's world cup being awarded to baking-hot Qatar marked the zenith of sporting corruption, give FIDE a chance: the international chess federation's forthcoming world championship is headed to Iran, and women players must wear the hijab to compete. UK tabloids quote leading women chess players as threatening to quit the tournament rather than obey.

US women's champion Nazi Paikidze said: ‘It is absolutely unacceptable to host one of the most important women's tournaments in a venue where, to this day, women are forced to cover up with a hijab.

‘I understand and respect cultural differences. But, failing to comply can lead to imprisonment and women's rights are being severely restricted in general. It does not feel safe for women from around the world to play here.’

She added: ‘If the situation remains unchanged, I will most certainly not participate in this event.’

It's insane, but entirely in keeping with FIDE's brainier-than-thou shiftiness, to think that Tehran is a good place to host the key event on their highly-politicized mind game's calendar. For starters, there's a current U.S. government travel warning telling citizens not to go there at all.

(I would go, but wear a Burka) Read the rest

Chess grandmaster takes on mouthy hustler

The most entertaining chess match you'll watch all year: Grandmaster Maurice Ashley, with the black pieces, takes on a trash-talking, fast-fingered hustler. [via] Read the rest

A chess set that could teach aliens how to play

What if you could learn how to play chess simply by looking at the pieces? Read the rest

High-ranking chess player caught cheating with wearable tech

Arcangelo Ricciardi was booted from the International Chess Festival of Imperia for cheating using a camera pendant to transmit video of the board to an accomplice and some kind of wireless device in his armpit to receive signals of suggested moves. According to The Telegraph, Ricciardi claimed the devices "were good luck charms." Read the rest

3D printed chess set where each piece holds a tiny plant

After this Bauhaus-inspired pattern from XYZ Workshop is downloaded and printed, each chess piece is designed as a mini-planter. Read the rest

Double weighted chessmen and tournament roll up board

Nothing makes me happier than friends coming over to sit on the deck and play chess. Read the rest

Chess grandmaster delighted to fall into unexpected trap

In this splendid game, chess grandmaster Max Dlugy (Rating: 3130) is surprised—and intrigued—by the wily play of the ominously and accurately-named player "TrickyMate" (Rating: 1400).

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Row over chess move ended in "ritualistic" killing

Irish Gardaí charged an Italian man with murder after a dispute over a chess move ended in his opponent's death—and with his heart being EATEN.

Saverio Bellante, 34, of Castlenock, was accused of murdering Thomas O'Gorman, 39, with whom he shared an address, reports Sunday World.

According to police, details of O'Gorman's death are "too horrific to release", but they said he was beaten and stabbed—and that Bellante told them he was guilty.

The Guardian's Ireland correspondent, however, reports that the killing had a "ritualistic" aspect, but gives no details beyond that his throat was cut and that "other parts of his body were attacked."

The Irish Independent claims that after killing Gorman, Ballente ate his victim's heart -- and that police are unable to locate one of the victim's lungs.

Judge David McHugh ordered a medical assessment of Bellante, who will remain in custody until a Jan. 17 hearing. The stabbing occurred just before 2 a.m. in the west Dublin neighborhood; gardaí say that alcohol was not a factor in the incident. Read the rest

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