Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The Wednesday Quiz II.VI: It Becomes an Emperor

Well, it turns out that you guys, while distinguished and erudite in many ways, aren't that excellent at naming monkeys, so we've collected a bunch of other primates for you to have another go, in the little game we like to call Name That Emperor. All you have to do is identify the Emperors in the comment thread below to win the genuine admiration of a blogger near you.

Vive l'Empereur!

Monday, 28 November 2011

What's Up With: The Reading?

As some of you may know, I have finally moved houses, and I now live in a cosy little bedsitter. While this is great in many ways (and I'm finally getting some alone time to read!), it does cause one large drawback to the reading project: My unread bookshelf does not fit, so I instead have... the unread Suitcase!

The suitcase contains only the books that filled two of the five boxes packed from the contents of the bookshelf, but it's a start, and if by some fluke I ever manage to finish this lot, rest assured that the rest are waiting happily nearby.

With any luck, the book reviews and pointless statistics that I know you've all been waiting for will be back this time next week. I've finished a few books recently that I cant wait to share with you, by which of course I mean that I can wait, at least until next week (see above). Expect

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Chess Variants - Extinction

A month ago now, in that blogging black hole that we shall not refer to again, I hosted a small chess variant tournament for a few friends, games were randomly selected from a list to which we all contributed suggestions, and on Saturday the four of us, my four chess boards, and a box of tea got together for what I hope was the first of many such competitions. None of the four of us are exactly hot-shot chess players, but we make up for our lack of skill with enthusiasm for the game. Over the next few weeks I'd like to present you some records of the games I played, complete with annotations, because I'm just that hep with it.

The first game drawn out of the hat was Extinction Chess, a popular and widely played variant in which one wins by removing all of an opponents pieces of any type, so if you lose your queen, or both of your bishops, knights or rooks (or even all of your pawns) you lose, as well as by conventional checkmate. Being gentleman, we agreed to call check for any "royal" piece whose loss would cause the end of the game.

In my first game, I drew the black pieces against David, who I would normally beat in a game of orthochess some three times out of five, but as you're about to see (assuming that you have java) I played a pretty poor game of chess.

Click on the applet below to being the game and navigate by pressing the direction buttons or spacebar.

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So my first game of the tournament started off true to form, but I had no time to mope about my loss, because my next opponent was Dan, who'd also come off of a loss in the first round. This one isn't exactly a great win, Dan having made a bad error with his knight very early on, but it is a nice example of the possibilities of extinction mates.

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And so, spurred on by that victory, I decided that if my next opponent was going to plat silly buggers with his knights, I was going to play silly buggers as well. This is a classic example of how overconfidence, rapid play and sheer not-looking-at-the-board can result in a truly abhorrent game of chess. I'm not going to annotate it, because there's nothing to say, except that this is without a doubt the worst game of chess that I have ever, ever played, and it's almost enough to convince me to hang up my board forever.

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On the plus side, I can hardly play such a terrible game ever again, right? Tune in next week to find out! (And if anyone has access to or wants to quickly code up a pagn viewer that can handle a 16x8 board (no need to enforce the rules), drop me a line.)

Tournament Scores (W-L-D) After Round 1
Bell, D. : 3-0-0 (3 Pts)
Nowak, D : 2-1-0 (2 Pts)
Diment, T : 1-2-0 (1 Pt)
Thomas, D : 0-3-0 (0 Pts)