I've spent most of this week preparing a booklet on "Simple Chess Variants" for a talk at Hastings and St Leonards Chess Club. Although I only received one email from a member who said he would come, in the end the meeting went off reasonably well, since five others turned up at least for part of the time. I was only able to complete two bound copies of the booklet since my printer ran out of ink. I'll do some more later. It came to 14 A4 pages.
After the talk we tried out some variants. Progressive chess seems to be the most familiar and popular. I had some success with Cylinder chess. One player was familiar with Rifle chess, but considered that normal captures should also be allowed. A try-out with Double King chess was unexciting; the rules for checkmate of the two kings need to be clarified.
The previous week, having watched the first of the new Sherlock series on a flat-screen TV at the hotel in Lincoln, I decided to spend some money on a new television set, since the one I have is just a 14" portable. The local shop, Adams and Jarrett, supplied me with a 22" screen for under £200, made in India. I watched the first two parts of the "Matrix" series on successive nights, but missed the final part since the Richard Dawkins programme about Faith Schools was on at the same time. No doubt I'll get another opportunity to see the Matrix in future. The crazy scene where Neo fights ever-increasing clones of Agent Smith made me laugh. It reminded me of the old elaborate Busby Berkeley dance sequences.
As part of the rearrangements to put in the TV screen I put an old floor-standing pot plant, which came with the flat, outside the front of the building, where I thought it might do better. Within a couple of days it had vanished! Why would anyone steal an old browning pot plant, did they just want the pot? How did they take it? It was about four feet tall, awkward to carry any distance. It hasn't been dumped nearby. Are there gangs of professional plant stealers about? I didn't report the theft to the Police since I don't particularly want the plant back, and don't want to waste police time.