Monday, 30 August 2010

BBC World Service - Seeking The Endgame (Episode 1) by Simon Terrington

BBC World Service - Seeking The Endgame (Episode 1) by Simon Terrington

Just heard about this new series on chess from the BBC World Service, via Closet Grandmaster. I would check the exact times nearer the broadcast time though as there seems to be some uncertainty about these - see Link 1 & Link 2.

Tags: BBC - BBC World Service - Chess - Simon Terrington - Technology
Posted by ALCHEssMIST - Alchemipedia alliance.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

I'm An Explorer Okay - Richard Feynman Documentary - The Last Journey Of A Genius [1988]

ALCHEssMIST is a big fan of Richard Feynman (1918-1988), the theoretical physicist & Nobel laureate (1965). Below is a very interesting documentary about the great man - Richard Phillips Feynman - The Last Journey Of A Genius [1988].

Video Concept List: 1850 - 1931 - 1965 - 1981 - 1983 - 1986 - 1988 - 584 - Adventure - Adventure Of Life - Adventurer - Apes - Arista - Asia - Astronomical Numbers - Ballet - Banana - Big Screen - Big Subject - Big Words - Bishop - Bongo Drums - Botanists - California - Castling - Central Asia - Chairman Rogers - Challenger Disaster - Chemist - Chess - Codex - Colour - Complexity - Confusion - Doesn't Fit - Dresden Codex - Eclipse - Electric Field - Ethnologist - Evening Star - Explorer - Fakers - Gendarme - Genius - Geography - Heat - Heiroglyphics - Honors - Horse - Independent Country - Influence - Integrations - Kismet - Kyzyl - Kyzyl Electric Plant - Laws of Physics - Lectures On Physics - Mario Casetta - Mayan Codex - Mess - Mexico - Mongolia - More Simple - Morning Star - Moscow - Mother (Film, 1926) - Movie Theatre - Museum - NASA - National Academy of Science - Nature - Nobel Prize - O Ring - Orange Juice - Otto Manchen-Helfen - Pain In The Neck - Paris - Phrase Book - Physicist - Physics - Pit Viper - Pool - Presidential Commission - Publicity - Puzzles - Quantum Electrodynamics - Ralph Leighton - Republic of Tuva - Revolutionary - Revolutions - Richard Feynman - Rules - Russian - Science - Siberia - Silk Road - Simplicity - Singing - Stamps - Stockholm - Struggle - Stupid - Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman - Swan Lake - Swedish Academy - Tannu Tuva - The Library Of Congress - Theoretical Physicist - Throat Singing - Touva - Tuva - Tuva or Bust - Tuvan - Tuvinskaya - Underlying Laws - Venus - Very Small Specialty - Vision - Vsevolod Pudovkin - Washington D.C. - Waves - Whistling - World Music - Writing
Posted by ALCHEssMIST - Alchemipedia alliance.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Living Chess British Pathé Newsreel (1933) - The Famous Opera Game

The famous Opera Game was played in 1858 between Paul Morphy and the partnership of Duke Karl of Brunswick & Count Isouard. Morphy won in a dazzling manner.

The video link below (click on image) shows a living chess game filmed by British Pathé in 1933. Although not all the moves are seen, it is clear that the game is a re-creation of the famous Opera Game.

Moves to the Opera Game:

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 Bg4? 4. dxe5 Bxf3 5. Qxf3 dxe5 6. Bc4 Nf6 7. Qb3 Qe7 8. Nc3 c6 9. Bg5 b5? 10. Nxb5 cxb5 11. Bxb5+ Nbd7 12. 0-0-0 Rd8 13. Rxd7 Rxd7 14. Rd1 Qe6 15. Bxd7+ Nxd7 16. Qb8+! Nxb8 17. Rd8#

Tags: 1933 - 1858 - British Pathé - Count Isouard - Duke Karl of Brunswick - Living Chess - Opera Game - Paul Morphy

Eating Takes Second Place For Chess Fiends (British Pathe Chess Newsreel, 1946)

This 1946 British Pathe newsreel (click on image) shows weekday lunch hour footage of the Gambit Chess Rooms, London. The players can be seen eating lunch, with waitress table service, whilst they play games of chess. The chess games last on average 20 minutes.

The classic quote from the newsreel was:
'Lily the waitress has quite a job trying to keep the players mind on food.
She knows that with chess fiends eating takes second place.'
Link tip thanks to Leonard Barden via Edward Winter's Chess Notes - 6658. Edward Mason (C.N.s 4183 & 6646)

Enid Blyton On Chess (Chess Quote)

A comment by the author Enid Blyton (here) got me wondering if she played chess, and also if she was possibly influenced by chess as a child.

The quote was from a letter about her childhood where she described how her mind would be flooded at night by stories, "all mixed-up, rather like dreams are, but yet each story had its own definite thread—its beginning and middle and ending."

This trytychian description of beginning, middle & end, from my personal perspective has a chessic flavour.

Whenever a question about esoteric chess history comes up it is always wise to consult Edward Winter's Chess Notes. Hey presto! the answer appeared.

The following text is from Chess Notes Archive [24] - 4446. Enid Blyton (C.N. 4234):
Geoff Chandler (Edinburgh) has been doing some hunting on possible connections between chess and the British writer Enid Blyton (1897-1968), and has forwarded us a passage from page 55 of her autobiography (written for children), The Story of My Life (London, 1952):

‘When I was six my father taught me to play draughts, and a little later he taught me to play chess. That was just before I was seven. He thought that all young children should learn to play chess. “If they have any brains it will train them to think clearly, quickly and to plan things a long way ahead”, he said. “And if they haven’t any brains it will make the best of those they have!” I don’t know if he was right. I know that I enjoyed the games immensely. Children rarely play chess now. There is not enough time, and chess is a game that takes up a very great deal of time. I wonder if any of you who are reading this book can play chess.’
Considering the text quote is from 1952, I was surprised that Enid described there being 'not enough time', to play chess. Also, the comment that 'chess is a game that takes up a very great deal of time' suggests to me that she did indeed study the game of chess as well as play it.

Tags: 1952 - Autobiography - Chess - Chess Quote - Children - Edward Winter - Enid Blyton - Geoff Chandler - Tryptychian

What Do Bill Hartston and the Castellers of Catalonia Have In Common? (Cryptic Chess Puzzle)

What Do Bill Hartston and the Castellers of Catalonia Have In Common?


Catalonia (Map)
[Image by Hansen at Wikipedia (cc)]

Cryptic Chess Puzzles - An ALCHEssMIST View

ALCHEssMIST's mind is particularly prone to noticing associations (especially visual) between apparently unrelated topics. These thoughts, however, do have some logic unlike a certain famous chess metaphor.

Hint: - the psychologist who first described this chess metaphor had been in correspondence several years earlier with the celebrated author Enid Blyton who had written about her childhood experience of having stories flood into her mind at night:
"all mixed-up, rather like dreams are, but yet each story had its own definite thread—its beginning and middle and ending."
"I thought all children had the same 'night stories' and was amazed when one day I found they hadn't."
The term 'Cryptic Chess Puzzles' is a homage to Cryptic Crossword Puzzles.

I will start this thread of posts with a question which alludes to the merits of a university education -

Friday, 30 July 2010

It's Something That Probably Won't Happen Again

Blogging is such an interesting pursuit, just ask any blogger. Sometimes you get surprises.

I was quietly browsing Google Finance today & came across the page for the New York Times.

Anyway as the title says - It's Something That Probably Won't Happen Again.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Dylan Loeb McClain On Popularising Chess (New York Times Gambit Chess Blog)

Just read this article - How to Make Chess Sizzle - by Dylan Loeb McClain at the New York Times Gambit Chess Blog. For those of you who are not aware Dylan has been writing the Gambit Chess Blog for the NYT since May 13, 2007. Dylan is also a published author, being a co-editor of - Kill Duck Before Serving: Red Faces at The New York Times: A Collection of the Newspaper's Most Interesting, Embarrassing and Off-Beat Corrections (2002)

Anyway back to the article in question. Basically I am in agreement with most of what Dylan writes about the issue of popularising chess. In particular, the comments by Carol Phillips, president of Brand Amplitude (a marketing company) appear to make good sense.
“In the marketing world, the buzz is all about creating community,”
“And chess has a natural community.”
“As opposed to something that you passively observe, think of ways to get people really involved — that is the goal, to get people to talk back to the brand,” she said, adding, “The first step is to think about who are these people who are so engaged and then what brands would be interested in this audience.”
The whole article is well worth a read.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Chess - A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again (David Foster Wallace)

Following on from my previous post about ALCHEssMIST's alleged writing style being similar to the writer David Foster Wallace, the novelist, essayist & humorist who is best known for his 1996 novel "Infinite Jest".

The passage below comes from David Foster Wallace's non-fiction book - A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again.[1]

The excerpt recounts an experience he had on the holiday cruise ship m.v. Zenith, from 11th March - 18th March 1995. He describes how one morning (0930-0945 hrs) on this Caribbean cruise, he played a game of chess against a 9 year old girl in the cruise ship's library (deck 7) with her mother observing.
The Nadir's library's got cheapo Parker Brothers chess sets with hollow plastic pieces, which any good chess player has got to like.98 I'm not nearly as good at chess as I am at Ping-Pong, but I'm pretty good. Most of the time on the Nadir I play chess with myself (not as dull as it may sound), for I have determined that--no offense--the sorts of people who go on 7NC Megacruises tend not to be very good chess players.

Today, however, is the day that I am mated in 23 moves by a nine-year-old girl. Let's not spend a lot of time on this. The girl's name is Deirdre. She's one of the very few little kids on board not tucked out of sight in Deck 4's Daycare Grotto.
99 Deirdre's mom never leaves her in the Grotto but also never leaves her side, and has the lipless and flinty-eyed look of a parent whose kid is preternaturally good at something.
I probably should have seen this and certain other signs of impending humiliation as the kid first comes over as I'm sitting there trying a scenario where both sides of the board deploy a Queens Indian and tugs on my sleeve, and calls me Mister, and her eyes are roughly the size of sandwich plates. In retrospect it occurs to me that this girl was a little tall for nine, and worn-looking, slump-shouldered, the way usually much older girls get -- a kind of poor psychic posture. However good she may be at chess, this is not a happy little girl. I don't suppose that's germane.
Deirdre pulls up a chair and says she usually likes to be black and informs me that in lots of cultures black isn't thanatotic or morbid but is the spiritual equivalent of what white is in the U.S. and that in these other cultures it's white that's morbid. I tell her I already know all that. We start. I push some pawns forward and she develops a knight. Deirdre's mom watches the whole game from a standing position behind the kid's seat,100 motionless except for her eyes. I know within seconds that I despise this mom. She's like some kind of stage-mother of chess. Deirdre seems like an OK type, though--I've played precocious kids before, and at least Deirdre doesn't hoot or smirk. If anything, she seems a little sad that I don't turn out to be more of a stretch for her.
My first inkling of trouble is on the fourth move, when I fianchetto and Deirdre knows what I'm doing is fianchettoing and uses the term correctly, again calling me Mister. The second ominous clue is the way her little hand keeps flailing out to the side of the board after she moves, a sign that she's used to a speed clock. She swoops in with her developed QK and forks my queen on the twelfth move and after that it's only a matter of time. It doesn't really matter. I didn't even start playing chess until my late twenties. On move 17 three desperately old and related-looking people at the jigsaw puzzle table kind of totter over and watch as I hang my rook and the serious carnage starts. It doesn't really matter. Neither Deirdre nor the hideous mom smiles when it's over; I smile enough for everybody. None of us says anything about maybe playing again tomorrow.
98 Heavy expensive art-carved sets are for dorks.
99 This is something else Mr. Dermatitis declined to let me see, but by all reports the day care care on these Megaships is phenomenal, w/squads of nurturing and hyperkinetic young daycare ladies keeping the kids manically stimulated for up to ten-hour stretches via an endless of number of incredibly well structured activities, so tuckering the kids out that they collapse mutely into bed at 2000h. and leave their parents free to plunge into the ship's nightlife and Do It All.
100 The only chairs in the Library are leather wing chairs with low seats, so only Deirdre's eyes and nose clear the board's table as she sits across from me, adding a Kilroyishly surreal quality to the humiliation.
David Foster Wallace never went on a cruise again. He did, however, continue to play chess. In particular, he would play chess with his stepson Stirling, who usually won.[2]

More importantly, I would love to know what happened to Deirdre (or her mother), who should be around 24 years old now. I suspect her name is not really Deirdre though. Any information would be gratefully accepted.

[1] - A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again (Amazon site) by David Foster Wallace, Back Bay Books (February 2, 1998)

Tags: Caribbean - Chess - Cruise Ship - David Foster Wallace - Deirdre - Fianchetto - Grotto

David Foster Wallace - ALCHEssMIST's Writing Style?

Just read Tom Chivers' interesting article Like: something rolling about at random on the keyboard, possibly in pain at the excellent The Streatham & Brixton Chess Blog.

Tom refers to a "statistical analysis tool, which analyzes ... word choice and writing style and compares them to those of the famous writers." Site here.

ALCHEssMIST wondered which author his writing style might be most like - though recognizing that he rarely posted more than one paragraph of text in his blog articles.

The answer ... David Foster Wallace (R.I.P.)
David Foster Wallace (February 21, 1962 – September 12, 2008) was an American author of novels, essays, and short stories, and a professor at Pomona College in Claremont, California. He was widely known for his 1996 novel Infinite Jest,[2][3] which Time included in its All-Time 100 Greatest Novels list (covering the period 19232006).

Los Angeles Times book editor David Ulin called Wallace "one of the most influential and innovative writers of the last 20 years."
[Wikipedia summary]
Wikipedia describes David Foster Wallace's style in the following way:
Wallace's novels often combine various writing modes or voices, and incorporate jargon and vocabulary (sometimes invented) from a wide variety of fields. His writing featured self-generated abbreviations and acronyms, long multi-clause sentences, and a notable use of explanatory footnotes and endnotes—often nearly as expansive as the text proper. He used endnotes extensively in Infinite Jest and footnotes in "Octet" as well as in the great majority of his nonfiction after 1996. On the Charlie Rose show in 1997, Wallace claimed that the notes were used to disrupt the linearity of the narrative, to reflect his perception of reality without jumbling the entire structure. He suggested that he could have instead jumbled up the sentences, "but then no one would read it."
How does ALCHEssMIST describe his preferred writing style?

Visuospatial (a picture tells a thousand words) with variably referenced tabular jists.

May explain why ALCHEssMIST enjoys blindfold chess.

Make of that what you may.

Image of David Foster Wallace at reading for Booksmith at All Saints Church in 2006 by Steve Rhodes (cc)
Tags: Acronyms - Author - Blindfold Chess - David Foster Wallace - Jargon - Time Magazine - Visuospatial - Writing Style

Monday, 3 May 2010

Florencio Campomanes (Former FIDE President) Dies Aged 83 Years (3 May, 2010) R.I.P.

ALCHEssMIST was sad to hear the news that Florencio Campomanes (1927-2010), Filipino former FIDE President, has died today in Baguio City (Philippines) at the age of 83 years from prostate cancer.

Campomanes was an extremely adept chess politician, who did much for world chess during his time as FIDE President (1982-1995); particularly those less wealthy nations. Approximately 50 new nations joined FIDE during his stewardship.

Bobby Fischer counted him as friend. In 1973, after Bobby Fischer had beaten Boris Spassky for the world chess championship, he returned to Manila at the invitation of Campomanes to make the ceremonial first moves that opened the first Philippine International Chess Tournament. Up to that time, it was the only foreign trip that Fischer had taken following his world championship win. It is said that when foreign chess writers asked Bobby why he chose to travel only to Manila, he replied ‘‘I was here in 1967 when I was not yet the world champion, but they treated me like one.”. Photos of the visit to the Philippines in 1973 (including the picture of Campomanes to the right) are shown in this Bobby Fischer tribute video by nirocal.

The last time Campomanes saw & talked with Bobby Fischer was in October 1981, when Campo made one last attempt at bringing Fischer back to active chess competition. According to Campo, ‘‘It was in San Francscio. I had spent six years trying to get him back to play. When I finally gave up, we shook hands and said goodbye. That was it,”. Interestingly, at the time of this meeting in 1981, Bobby Fischer still owed Campomanes US$3,000. In 2006, out of the blue, Bobby Fischer sent a payment to him settling this debt, reaffirming Campomanes belief, "that Bobby Fischer was a very honest man,”.

As a young man Florencio Campomanes was one of the Philippines' first Fulbright Scholars, studying for an M.A. (Browns University) followed by a Doctorate (Georgetown University) in the United States.

My favourite quote about Campo comes from a woman associated with a Caribbean chess team:
“There are three types of men whom women don’t like – Santa Claus, Superman and Campomanes.”
“Santa Claus comes only once a year. Superman is too fast – slam, bang, thank you ma’am. And Campo – once he’s in, you can’t get him out.”

Image of Florencio Campomanes in 1973 from video by nirocal.

Baguio - Bobby Fischer - Filipino - Florencio Campomanes - Fulbright Scholar - Philippines - R.I.P.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Matthew Devereux - Chess Fantasia 1001 Reasons Why Chess Is Important

I recently came across this fantastic post by Matthew Devereux.
Chess Fantasia: 1001 Reasons Why The Game Is Important In The 21st Century (Particularly In Education): A Personal View By Matthew Devereux.
I found this article utterly fascinating and nicely researched with lots of great weblinks. The blog publishing of the first portion of what promises to be a great book is a good idea. Matthew has given us his first 101 reasons why chess is an important game, and will write the remaining 900 when he gets a book deal. I would certainly buy this book.

Matthew Devereux can be contacted at