Sunday, March 16, 2008

And now for something completely different

Before I started my doctorate, I naively wanted to write a chess book. Bit mad really as I'm not a great player. And these days I simply don't have the time to play for a club, or train my opening knowledge, endgame play etc. But I still love the game, follow the big pro tournaments (incidentally, one of my all time favourites just finished), and deeply enjoy solving tactical puzzles. I especially delight in stretching my mind by trying to solve tactical problems without sight of a board. It is something about the required mental energy that fascinates me. Perhaps I will return to that far-fetched book project one day.

Here is an easier challenge to tackle: Without sight of the board, play these moves in your mind:

1. e4, e5 2. Nf3, Nc6 3.Bc4, Nf6 4. d4, exd4 5. c3, dxc3 6. e5, Ne4?

Now, close your eyes. What was White's winning 7th move?

What has this to do with a NT related blog? Well, errr, one webpage tells me that those who have played chess include Thomas Becket (Archbishop of Canterbury), Charles Borromeo (Bishop of Milan), Pope Gregory VI, Pope Innocent III, Pope John Paul I, Pope John Paul II, Pope Leo X, Pope Leo XIII, Cardinal Richelieu, and Billy Graham! Given this list of Popes, and even the great Billy, I have added a 'chess problem of the day' feature at the bottom of my sidebar.

Oh yes, click here to play chess online against fun levels of Shredder 11.


At 3/17/2008 5:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that you have no women or even feminie images in the collage at the top of your blog page.

Unconscious patriarchal bias perhaps?

Plus it is all rather dark too.
Or put in another way not much light in evidence!

At 3/17/2008 3:44 PM, Anonymous Jason Pratt said...

I'm not especially good at chess, mainly from lack of practice I suppose. I prefer larger scale strategy games--I'm doing fairly well as the Confederacy right now, in Forge of Freedom (though I haven't been able to build enough political capital to emancipate the slaves yet). On the other hand I'm facing my largest battle yet, in the Fredricksburg region of Virginia: 33 thousand of us vs. an invasion of over 90 thousand Union troops. Looking forward to that one... {slightly panicked grimace} At least we're well stocked, with plenty of generals, and everyone has weapon upgrades. If the computer simply pulled garrison troops and musters in order to get this force, then I might have a chance. Also they failed their surprise attack attempt, which would have been devastating--so I'll have about half a day or more to set up a concentrated defense in favorable terrain. No victory locations for the Union to take, as it happens, so I won't have to spread out or risk losing morale gains to the Union. (Their morale is going to be sky-high to start with anyway; I'll be hard-pressed enough to whittle it down.) The AI is good, but doesn't know how to do long-range flanking very well, so I probably won't have to worry about an evelopment. If I can keep a general running average 5:1 kill ratio (or better) in fire and counter-fire, and can keep short-range flankers from swinging around to eat my brigades from the rear, I may come out of it with a solid win. But it'll be tough.

If you're thinking of organizing a chess tourney for theological/biblical bloggers, Chris, I suggest inviting Prof. Victor Reppert at DangIdea. He knows a ring of chess players, too, theist and atheist, whom he could bring along.


At 3/17/2008 6:45 PM, Anonymous Steven Carr said...


That was rather easy...

At 3/17/2008 6:48 PM, Anonymous Steven Carr said...

There was a book once featuring famous people of all professions who had played chess.

I'm afraid the sinners would have trounced the saints.

For one, there was (is still??) Brian Eley - former British champion, a couple of murderers, some Satanists, and a few swindlers.

At 3/17/2008 9:58 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Anon, no: it is all conscious patriarchal bias. And I LOVE IT!

And Steven Carr has the right answer! 7. Qd5! is indeed the winning move. Kudos to the man from the UK.

Thanks for the link, Jason

Hi Jonathan, sadly I don't think I will have time to organise such a tournament this summer! Perhaps next year!

Hi Hendrik! No, I haven't tried that one - sounds HORRIBLE!

At 3/18/2008 2:52 AM, Anonymous Edward T. Babinski said...

Qd5 (without Carr's help) Though it's interesting he's a chess player and an atheist, while Victor Reppert is a Christian philosopher friend of mine and also deeply into chess, even has a blog about it. I suppose educated minds are drawn to some of the same things, like one-on-one games or debates, rather than say, more "barbaric" pursuits. I put barbaric in quotation marks because I don't want any barbarians thinking I'm insulting them. I'm using the term very loosely, so as not to get bashed in the head with a brick and my dead body covered in graffitti, probably by some drunken football fans of either the U.S. variety of football or the European variety.

As for days of chekmates past...

I was on a chess team that won the U.S. Team championship one year, and I aced all five of my games. A few of my teammates went on to become grandmasters.

I was neck and neck with the leaders of the U.S. Junior championship, and was only stopped in the last round by Michael Rohde who went on to become a grandmaster.

I beat some masters in my day, and drew with one IM in tourney play, and even drew world-champion contender Victor Korchnoi in a 50- board simul. (He was giving the simul, not me.)

Ah, the days of my misspent chess-filled youth (high school actually).

Top U.S. rating 2199.

Edward T. Babinski

At 3/19/2008 11:40 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Edward, thanks for your e-mail, mate. I'll try and respond in the enxt day or two. I'm rather impressed by your highest rating!

At 3/31/2008 5:54 AM, Anonymous Victor Reppert said...

You need to look at Dennis Monokroussos'blog The Chess Mind. He's a product of the Biola apologetics program and was a grad student at Fordham University, and has been at Notre Dame the last few years, but never finished his doctorate. Also Tim McGrew of the philosophy department of Western Michigan, is a master-strength player who writes the Gambit Cartel column for ChessCafe.

At 4/17/2008 6:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

7.Qd5 does indeed pick up the wayward Knight.

Match of chessplayers throughout history: If it were a matter of theists vs. non-theists, that would make for a very strange list -- on both sides. As Steven points out, the non-theists probably have the pick of the murderers; the Satanists, though, might be up for bidding, since presumably if they believe in Satan they believe in God. I suppose the theists could claim Fischer, though whether they would want to is another matter entirely. Henrique Mecking would go on the Christian side of the ledger. Where do Hindus fall according to this division? Does anyone know whether Magnus Carlsen is a good Lutheran?


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