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Sunday Chess Problem

It’s time to take a break from helpmates and return to selfmates. This week’s problem was composed by Andrey Selivanov in 2014. The stipulation is selfmate in three: Recall that in a selfmate, white plays first and forces black to give checkmate in no more than the stipulated number of moves. Black, for his part,…

No One Needs A Moral Philosophy

Here’s something that happened this week: David Brooks wrote a bad column about secularism. In fairness, it gets off to a decent start: Over the past few years, there has been a sharp rise in the number of people who are atheist, agnostic or without religious affiliation. A fifth of all adults and a third…

New POTW Posted

The second Problem of the Week has now been posted. Also posted is an official solution to the first problem. Go have a look, and let me know what you think in the comments. But don’t get cocky. The problems get harder as we go along…

Proving God Exists

Broadly speaking, there are two general strategies for proving that God exists. One we might call the scientific approach. This is where you point to some empirical fact and argue that it is beyond the reach of natural forces. The classic example is Paley’s version of the argument for design. Paley argued that just as…

Sunday Chess Problem

This week we continue our look at helpmates. This week’s problem has very different feel from the two helpmates we have seen thus far. It was composed by Joao Santiago and Nenad Petrovic, back in 1951. The stipulation calls for helpmate in four: Let me remind you that in a helpmate, white and black cooperate…

So Much For The Nightly Show

We’re only six episodes into The Nightly Show, the program Comedy Central put on to replace Colbert, but I’m about ready to write it off. Larry Wilmore, the show’s host, was pretty funny as a correspondent for The Daily Show, so I was optimistic. But it was not to be. The basic format is this:…

POTW Returns!

Do you prefer math problems to chess problems? Well then today’s your lucky day! For today is the day that Problem Of the Week returns! Our theme this semester is: Geometry. Euclidean geometry to be exact. There will be ten problems during the term. The first five are meant to be relatively simple, while the…

Sunday Chess Problem

This week we shall continue our look at helpmates. The problem below was composed by Zivko Janevski in 2011. It calls for helpmate in two, with three solutions: Before diving in, let’s review how helpmates work. In defiance of normal chess logic, white and black will be cooperating to contrive a position in which black…

The Meaning of Life

I’m not in the mood for heavy blogging just now, so how about we discuss something light and frivolous. Like the meaning of life. Back in July, I wrote this: Answers about our origins have no implications at all for questions of meaning and value. Arising through blind, uncaring forces in no way implies that…

Sunday Chess Problem

This series has featured quite a few direct mates, selfmates and endgame studies. There are, however, other problem genres to consider. One of these neglected genres is the helpmate. So, over the next few weeks, I’d like to show you a few of them. This week’s example is a simple, but, I think, elegant example…

Turns Out the Boy Did Not Go To Heaven

Anyone surprised to read this? A bestselling Christian book that claims to detail a boy’s trip to heaven and his return to Earth is being pulled from stores after one of its co-authors admitted he made the whole thing up. The 2010 memoir, The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven, was written by Alex Malarkey…

The Pope On Charlie Hebdo

Pope Francis engages in some yes-buttery with regard to the Charlie Hebdo murders: Pope Francis said Thursday there are limits to freedom of expression, especially when it insults or ridicules someone’s faith. Francis spoke about the Paris terror attacks while en route to the Philippines, defending free speech as not only a fundamental human right…

Final Thoughts on Charlie Hebdo

I don’t have much to add to what I have already said about the Charlie Hebdo killings. However, having had some time to think about things a little more, and to read what other people have said, I do feel inclined to change my mind about one aspect of this. First, Charlie Hebdo put out…

Ice Breaker Card Tricks

Today was the first day of classes for the spring semester. I have a light teaching load this term, which is my reward for having an especially heavy teaching load last term. Just two classes, and they both meet in the afternoon, no less. For a night-owl like me that’s a good deal. One of…

Sunday Chess Problem

The last two installments of this series have seen some pretty heavy problems. So, this week I’d like to lighten the mood. The problem below calls for selfmate in two, and it was composed by me! It was published in the May 2014 issue of The Problemist. Recall that white is always moving up the…