Sunday, 22 August 2010

Chess Talk and other Odd Events

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.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Travelling to and in London

On Monday I went up to London for a Humanist Heritage meeting (as reported on the Hastings Humanists blog). Just going to London for a meeting is not really a good use of time and money, so I always try to fit in other activities.

I travelled up to London, and back, via Ashford and St Pancras, using the high speed train service that runs on that line. This was a bit more expensive than my usual route to Charing Cross, and the ride was not particularly smooth, especially in the tunnel between the Stratford and Rainham area where it vibrated rather noticeably from side to side. So I don't think I will use that route again.

I took a bus to Queensway to check out if the old Ethical Church was still there.
(see the HH blog for photo). Afterwards I spent some the time walking through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, seeing the Diana fountain for the first time, though it seems to be more of a paddling pool than a fountain, and on this hot day was crowded with children.

I also walked down Exhibition Road and visited the Victoria and Albert museum for the first time. I must certainly go back there again for a longer exploration. Previously I've only visited the Science and Natural History Museums.

The whole of Exhibition Road and half of Oxford Street were being dug up, which didn't assist the bus traffic, so I ended up a bit late for the meeting, but don't think I missed much.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Archiving the Ether

I've been trying to sort out all the files in the "My Documents" section of the computer. These included several lists of "Old Favourites" from previous computers. Naturally a lot of these coincided with those on my current list, but a surprisingly large number of old links have just vanished into the ether. There were quite a number on the "geocities" site which it seems Yahoo took over and closed down. There are now a number of archiving sites where old web pages are kept, for instance the British Library now has a webarchive, and there is an American internet archive based in San Francisco.

This week I received another letter from Professor Donald Knuth, enclosing four chapters on knight's tours from his forthcoming "Fun and Games" book. They cover non-intersecting knight paths, celtic tours (which include no minimal triangles), tours on three-rank boards, and longer leaper tours. As might be expected his idea of "fun and games" extends to some quite complicated mathematics. I'm naturally pleased to see that quite a number of my own results are quoted.