Saturday, November 30, 2013

In Love with Armenia

Arianne Caoili has apparently been settling well into Armenian life that she now has her own regular column in some local media. She writes about a variety of subjects - foreign policy, taxi drivers, the local delicacies and Armenians generally.

In an earlier column, she observed:

To counter the political, religious, economic and explicitly sinister designs from various powers throughout the ages, Armenians have learned several survival tactics to combat them: avoiding marriage into foreign communities [my emphasis], using the church as an instrument of leadership to form unity, excelling in trade, flourishing in the arts, achieving powerful political positions in various parts of Eastern Europe, and the downright dirty skill of fighting to survive.

Well, then, some of you blokes might think that there's still a chance.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

UPDATED: The Mysterious British Chess Champion

There I was flipping through the channels to see what the mainstream press might have been saying about the recent World Chess Championships when I suddenly saw something from the BBC featuring someone who looks like Harry Potter, and who is apparently a "British Chess Champion", passing on his observations about the result. Joseff Thomas is the name.

Now I realise that I've been outside of chess for a couple of years, but the big news I still follow. I have never heard of Joseff Thomas. So who the fuck is this guy?

UPDATED (Nov 25, 2013): It turns out that Joseff Thomas is, indeed, a "British Champion". He was =1st in the U16 section in 2006 and =1st in the U15 the year prior.  Here is the full list of British chess champs since 1904. Hat tip to Kerry Stead.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Vishy Blunders

Days like today. A game like that. If you understand even the basics of chess, count yourself lucky.

What a game. What a game.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Norway: Yes!

The Prime Minister of Norway on tonight's game no. 5 in the World Chess Championships.

That says it all. For the Indians, it was a sad day. Vishy lost and that man Sachin played his last test match.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wesley So Upsets Athletic Atheletes

What an amusing tidbit. Wesley So's university decides to put his face, along with that of Mara Kamphorst, on a roadside billboard and the mob in the school's athletics department get all twitchy.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Herman Miller and the World Chess Championships

The guys at Chessvibes spotted what they called a "bra-like" logo and didn't know what it was until, apparently, a reader pointed out that it was the logo of furniture designer and maker Herman Miller. It seems that the table and chairs currently used in the ongoing World Championships match are actually provided by that company.

This is probably my only tiny contribution to all the commentary on the match, but Herman Miller actually has a long history with the World Chess Championships. The link between the company and chess goes back to that famous 1972 match Fischer v Spassky. Fischer apparently demanded that he sit on the Herman Miller designed "Eames" executive chair because it helped his concentration. When Spassky saw the chair, he also insisted on one for himself!

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Man in the Red Beret: Jude Acers

I first heard the name Jude Acers back in 2005 when hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. Several US blogs I used to follow reported him missing. Thankfully, he later surfaced perfectly healthy, if I recall right. At the time I wondered who he was but it turned out that Mr Acers was one of these prominent and at the same time quirky characters in the American chess scene. So I suppose it is only to be expected that sooner or later somebody would film a doco on him. That is what this Kickstarter campaign is all about.

You can watch the video and/or head over to the Kickstarter page to read all the key details. And well done to the film-makers, as well as to the backers, it looks like they even managed to exceed their target by a good amount.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Chess, Street Fightin' Style

First up, apologies. I didn't expect that there'd still be readers and commenters to this blog, so I failed to publish a few reader comments. But they are there now.

With that out of the way, here's another idea to "improve" chess, raising excitement by making a good fight out of every game. There is talk if a "midline invasion", armies and "duelling". But I don't know, this notion really doesn't sound like chess to me. Plus I would have thought that the long-established Fischerandom already makes for a good alternative variant. On duelling:
The final addition is duelling, a real-time double-blind bidding mechanic. To quote from the official Chess 2 rules, "Duelling allows you to spend a new resource called stones to threaten to destroy a piece that takes one of your pieces." Duels can be initiated whenever a piece is captured, and they work a little like rock, paper, scissors, with a hidden number of stones clenched in each player's closed fists and then revealed at the same time. All stones revealed are destroyed, and the winner is the player who showed the most stones. The long-term strategy comes from the fact that, when you're out of stones, players can still duel against you - and they win automatically.
You can read more of this here - Chess 2: The Sequel - How a street fightin' man fixed the world's most famous game. And a hat tip to The New Statesman.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Magnus Carlsen's Last Big Title

Add this to the growing list of docos on Magnus Carlsen. This one is by a Norwegian outfit, it seems, but the lingo is in English. If the viewing screen is too small, you click onto the VGTV site to watch the whole thing.