Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Step Aside, Maurice

If you thought that the HB Global Chess Challenge seemed like the biggest gathering of chess players you'd ever seen then you're just not hanging out in the right country.
PACHUCA, Mexico (AP) — Thousands of chess players set a new world record on Saturday for simultaneous chess matches at a public park in central Mexico, a Guinness World Records representative announced.

The total of 12,388 competitors participated to beat the previous record for simultaneous chess matches set in Havana in 2002 with 11,320 competitors.
Read "Chess Players Set New World Record" from FOXNews (last item in the column).

Monday, June 27, 2005

Today's post is sponsored by the letter "P"

Say hello to the newest member of the Errant fraternity -- Dread Pirate. I dub thee the One-Eyed Knight. I'd also like to offer a somewhat belated welcome to Zeon the Paradoxical Knight.

Update: Even more Knights ... this time, the fire-breathing Silver Dragon. Given today's theme, we'll call him the Pyrotechnic Knight.

Friday, June 24, 2005

GM vs. The Blogosphere

Grandmaster Jean Luc Chabanon is taking on the entire blogosphere in a game of blogger chess. Check out shabanovsky vs bloggers.

Chess made simple

Jamie Price describes a very simple strategy for playing chess (in order to illustrate his point that the concept of strategy is integral to the idea of a game):
Move the piece furthest in the upper right-hand corner of the board towards the upper right-hand corner of the board as much as possible (we need this qualification since not all chess pieces move in the same way). If such a move isn't possible, trying moving the piece towards the upper left corner, then the lower-right, and then the lower-left until you find a possible move. If no such move is possible, resign.
Of course if you actually want to be good at the game of chess, Jaime has a suggestion:
I don't recommend you use this strategy.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

I guess he didn't like it

From a review of the musical "Chess" at the Starlight Theatre on the Rock Valley College Campus in Rockford, Illinois:
This "overlooked" and "underproduced favorite," as described by Director/Producer Mike Webb, has an outdated plot built on an overstretched metaphor wrapped around a poorly developed love story with only one truly redeeming character.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Chess, Sculpture and Politics

A new exhibit of chess piece sculpture in Oakland, California intends to reflect "themes of femininity, war and frivolity."
In her latest exhibition, "Jane Grimm: The Chess Set," she explores the notion that we're all pawns in the game of life....

Several pieces consist of female busts placed on columns. Each is marked by symbolic imagery such as tears, flames and vines. Other pieces take the form of pawns, towers, bishops and unicorns.
Female busts placed on columns? Seems like just another one of those tactics intended to distract your opponent from the game at hand.

Friday, June 17, 2005

What a pathetic excuse for a game

Chess, a small-scale tactical turn-based strategy game, attempts to adopt the age-old "easy to learn, difficult to master" parameter made popular by Tetris. But the game's cumbersome play mechanics and superficial depth and detail all add up to a game that won't keep you busy for long.

Chess casts you as king of a small country at war with a rival country of equivalent military power. There is little background story to speak of, and by and large the units in the game are utterly lacking any character whatsoever....

The setting of the conflict is equally uninspiring and consists merely of a two-color grid so as to represent the two warring factions. Adding insult to injury, there is only one available map - and it's pathetically small, an 8x8 matrix....

Inexplicable pathing problems also plague Chess - the irritating Pawns can only move straight ahead, but for some reason or other they attack diagonally....

Only two players can compete simultaneously, thus severely limiting any play life to be found. There is only one gameplay mode - no capture the flag or team play - and that involves the two players taking turns moving their units one by one....

The sluggish turn-based nature of Chess bogs the package still further and renders this strategy game an irreverent exercise in wasted time for all but the most die-hard turn-based strategy enthusiasts....
Read "Game Review of Chess" by Greg Kasavin. (Hat Tip: Chris Kilgore)

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Chess and Chaos Theory

From "IPD-Spatial chaos" at Another Blog:
Consider a population of players distributed on the squares of a chess board. Each player interacts only with its immediate neighbours, obeying the parameters of the single-shot Prisoner's Dilemma. In the next generation, the square is inhabited by the player who scored the highest total: neighbour or previous owner. Obviously, a single cooperator perishes, but just four cooperators in a cluster can get a foothold, since each interacts with more cooperators than a defector can reach.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Not your usual chess analogy

It is easy to find references to sporting events as chess matches (see here, here, here and here) and individuals and countries as "pawns" in (geo-)political machinations. It takes some knowledge of chess, however, to make this connection:
The Jacob Zuma saga has forced President Thabo Mbeki into the zugzwang chess position, Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon said in his weekly letter on Friday.

"This is a position in which a player has to move but he can only do so with loss or severe disadvantage. So, while the nation and the world wait for his move, he has no good place to go," Leon said.

He said Deputy President Zuma does not intend to resign on his own -- a position he made clear in his evasive performance in Parliament this week.

And if Mbeki dismisses Zuma, as he should, he will face the wrath of major constituencies in his party, Leon predicted.

But he argued that if Mbeki does not dismiss Zuma or passes the buck to the judiciary by waiting for the appeal process to unfold, he will have failed the nation, the Constitution and the expectations of the wider world.
Read "Mbeki in zugzwang" from the Mail & Guardian.

Queen's Eye View


Thursday, June 09, 2005

He's history

I put a bullet in Viking Sword. These descendants of Leif Erikson really need to upgrade their weaponry.

Lief Erikson

Don't despair though; a new knight has arrived just in time to take his place. Welcome to Martin -- the Wiki Knight.

Jason's Tales from New York City

I am slowly climbing towards my goal of 2000 by the end of the summer, and currently sit at 1924. I have a ways to go, about 25 rating points a month, but this marks an official high for my rating, not counting a time in college, when I reached 1900, went 4-0 in a tournament to gain about 50 rating points, only to discover months later that the event was never rated.... but that is a different story.

My past couple of games haven't been too interesting, unless you like to see weak players hang pieces on move 10 and then think deeply for the rest of the night. Thus, I thought I would share an interesting position I had "accomplished" against IM Jay Bonin. Actually, I was up a clear pawn, but I blundered a piece moments before this!

Here is the position:

Bonin-Rihel position

FEN: "8/7p/1N5k/p7/4K3/7P/8/8 b -- 0 1"

Black to move and *draw*

I think you will find this position interesting. Fritz gives white a +2.5 score, but it can never seem to find a real win.

I would love someone to prove me wrong here. Black's defensive idea is to keep the pawn on h7 forever and box the white king out of that corner. If the Knight leaves his post, the a pawn gets pushed. If white pushes the h pawn to h6, black actually sacs the a-pawn(!) and reaches a fortress in the corner the knight and king can't break.

Any takers on finding Bonin a win in this position?

OH, what happened during the game? Well, I was bummed about my dropped piece, and I missed this defensive idea completely and lost. Not sure I would have found it over the board, especially the pawn sac, which is key in many lines.


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Chess Coins

The Republic of Slovenia's coins marking the occasion of the 35th Chess Olympiad in Bled:

Slovenian Chess Coins

Hat Tip: The Glory of Carniola

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Caissa's Heights

Martin Minarik is high up on Mt. Everest preparing to attempt a solo ascent of the peak. What does an experienced climber do while waiting for the right conditions?
Update May 26th: Martin called last night, he plans to leave ABC (Advanced Base Camp) on the 30th or 31st; as it seems several others will do as well. He says he is doing well, playing lots of chess with the Indian Army.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Mouse slips and draws

It had been awhile since I checked out the occasional material at Maverick Philosopher. Two posts caught my eye. In the first, Bill shares his ICC finger notes including this interesting perspective on mouse slips:
You say your mouse slipped? That's no different than a Fingerfehler in OTB chess. And if a man cannot control his mousie, is he a man or a mouse?
In the second, Bill details the seven ways to draw a chess game. I can't find lust among them.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Car 66

Viking Sword ... where are you?

Teaching chess to the younglings

I'm guessing that this particular educational program wasn't adapted from the famous St. Petersburg chess school:
Educator Stephen A. Schneider, now the Director of Atlanta-based Championship Chess and the author of The Scholastic Chess Series, will demonstrate materials and methods of teaching chess at the annual Florida Parent-Educators Association Convention in Orlando, Florida, May 26-28, 2005....

Color My Chess World is a chess readiness activity book with an accompanying music CD of short, fun songs that invite kids to dance and sing along. It builds the skills to make the introduction of chess easy and fun for very young children. Developed by certified early childhood educators and scholastic chess coaches, this program builds academic skills through chess activities designed to capture the interest of young children. Color My Chess World introduces children to the "world of chess": the chessboard, chess "characters" and chess play. Activities in the book introduce basic chess concepts while improving spatial skills, developing math and reading readiness skills, and reinforcing skills in listening and following directions.
So that's the problem with my chess game -- not enough singing and dancing during my formative years.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Chess at your fingertips

It seems as though chess is going to play a role in the Internet Search wars.
On June 21, Accoona will unveil its Artificial Intelligence ToolBar, providing users the most unique experience in Web search. The Accoona AI ToolBar grants users the ability to Search the Web AND their Desktop, utilizing proprietary Artificial Intelligence Search technology that locates lost files, emails, and documents....

The Accoona AI ToolBar is also the first of its kind to offer a free, completely interactive Chess experience. Chess enthusiasts will be able to compete with others from around the World, and against the Accoona AI Chess Program included in the toolbar's technology. Accoona's ToolBar will also offer free daily chess tips and strategy sessions to toolbar users, where Chess players will be able to improve their skills over time with regular use.
While access to a chess program, playing platform and content directly from the desktop certainly isn't going to be the critical factor in Acoona's competition with well-entrenched search rivals like Google and Yahoo, this toolbar might have interesting implications for chess software and server companies. The ease of access that the toolbar provides could pose an interesting challenge to companies like Chessbase and ICC. I'm looking forward to trying out the toolbar when it is released.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Notetakers Rejoice!

It seems that the high spirits I experienced when learning about FIDE's new rules forbidding the recording of moves before they are played may have been premature. At last week's meeting between representatives of FIDE and the Association of Chess Professionals (ACP), the ACP indicated that they are...
...against the new FIDE rule which forbids writing down the move before it is played on the board.
Given that many of the other issues discussed between the two groups are quite contentious -- e.g., drug testing, time controls, and official hotels -- I suspect that FIDE will find it prudent to throw the players a bone on this one.