Wednesday, 31 March 2010

More Chess Practice

On Saturday (27th) I joined in a rapid-play chess tournament (Swiss style 7 rounds) at the Hastings chess club, but only managed to score 1.5 (a win and a draw). I've not really got the idea of how to play so fast.

On Monday evening I got soaked on my way to the club to join the club secretary and another player to be taken by car to Cranbrook for a return match with the Kent team we met previously. A fourth team member travelled separately. I had the same opponent, but this time lost, though the game was very similar and just as long by time. This was not rapid play but 75 minutes plus another 15 minutes at the end, much more to my taste. Again I found myself a knight down but with a passed pawn. The team score was 2 points each.

When I arrived back I was concerned not to be able to find the pair of glasses that I use for looking at computer screens, and for chess play, but fortunately it turned out the spectacle case had just slid out of my jacket pocket onto the car seat, and hadn't been left behind in Cranbrook.

I'm looking on all these games as practice at getting back into the routine of orthodox chess, but I don't seem to be making very fast progress.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Spring: Time for New Developments

Now that, it seems, Spring is at last here, I've started waking up earlier, or at least not going back to sleep. So there is something to the idea that one tends to go into hibernation in the winter. I was up at six this morning and went for a swim at the baths between seven and eight. Whether I will be able to keep this up regularly remains to be seen.

One of the sounds that now greets me on waking is that of the blackbird, who seems to start singing before the noisy gulls get going. I've always liked the song of the blackbirds. They seem to be speaking to me personally, they often sound as if they are saying "What'ya doin' Georgie". Not that I like any one else being that familiar. My father was also named George, so I got the diminutive version.

It looks as though the British Chess Variants Society will close down this year, since John Beasley is retiring and no replacement has come forward to act as secretary and editor. Also Peter Fayers will not be able to carry on as treasurer and publishing manager. I will probably try to keep the magazine Variant Chess going in some form on the web, but not produce a printed version.

I've been looking into the costs of registering suitable internet addresses, to reorganise my web content, including the magazine. Because my "ntlworld" site was closed I've had to cram all my stuff onto the "mayhematics" site, which was not my original plan. There are also moves afoot to form some sort of International Variant Chess Society. This would be a welcome development, but needs a new generation of internet-savvy enthusdiasts to develop it.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Chess and Mathematics

Last Monday I took part in a chess match, playing on behalf of the Hastings club against a team of four from Kent. I was on the third board. The time allowance was quite generous, which suits my slow play, and I managed a draw. Most of the time I was a knight down, but with the advantage of a passed pawn, so it was a matter of trying to get the pawn promoted. There were a lot of interesting tactical situations that arose the game. The opposing team won overall by 2.5 to 1.5.

On Wednesday I received a letter from Professor Donald E. Knuth of Stanford University. We have previously corresponded on knight's tours, but I hadn't had a letter from him for several years. He is putting together a book of his Selected Papers on Fun and Games which will include several chapters on tours, among much else. I had to look up what "potrzebie" was all about. It seems it's a Polish word adopted by MAD Magazine as a running joke back in the 1960s.

The topic Prof Knuth was asking about concerned the results obtained by Robin H. Merson on non-intersecting knight's paths. As a result I have now placed PDF versions of Robin Merson's two main letters to me, dealing with open and closed paths, on the knight's tours page of my mayhematics website. They haven't scanned very clearly; for instance the background graph lines have not come out, but that's the best I can do at present.

Prof Knuth also likes to collect the middle names of everyone whose work he cites, but I was unable to locate what Robin Merson's "H" stood for. He worked for the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough on the use of satellites for mapping the Earth, among other activities.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Puzzle Addiction

Every week, though not every day, I buy a few newspapers, mainly for the puzzles rather than the news. On Friday for instance the Guardian has a sudoku and kakuro that are usually a bit harder than during the week. The Guardian on Saturday always has a good prize crossword, often by Araucaria, but I don't always buy it because it has far too many sections, on subjects such as sport, travel, finance, fashion and so on, that I'm not really interested in.

I also tend to get the Times once or twice a week, mainly for the crossword and the killer sudoku. However this week the Times has started to include a four-page puzzle section every day! This will mean that I have to avoid buying the Times in future, because once I start on the puzzles I have the compulsion to solve them all, and waste most of the day when I should be doing something productive. Why they have changed to this new scheme I don't know, I thought their previous policy was just the right balance.