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Sunday Chess Problem

Many years ago, as a middle-schooler, I attended a one-week summer chess camp in New York state. There were many excellent instructors at the camp, but my favorite was Aviv Friedman, a FIDE master originally from Israel. He had a real knack for finding interesting and instructive positions to show us, and he always presented…

The Big Bobby Fischer Movie

I saw the film Pawn Sacrifice the other day. It stars Tobey Maguire and Liev Schrieber as Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky. Serious chess movies don’t come along very often, so I was excited to see it. I liked it! What’s not to like about a movie where the actors deliver lines like, “They’re playing…

Sensible people understand that there is little connection between belief in God and moral conduct. As has wisely been noted, with or without religion good people will do good, and evil people will do evil. On the other hand, we could survey the nations of the world and note a strong inverse correlation between the…

How to Lie With Statistics

Did you watch the big hearing in Congress the other day? Congressional Republicans, having failed completely with their plan of holding their breath until the Democrats and Obama agreed to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood, had to settle for the consolation prize. They hauled up Cecile Richards, PP’s president, so they could browbeat her…

POTW 3!

The third Problem of the Week has now been posted. Enjoy!

Sunday Chess Problem

I only have time for a quickie this week. Here’s another Troitzky study, simple by his standards but charming nonetheless. It’s white to play and win. This is actually a one-liner in which black’s moves are all essentially forced, so you might want to have a go at solving it before reading on. We’re going…

An Essay on Simplicity

Granville Sewell has a new post up at Uncommon Descent. It’s short, but if you don’t want to read it, then rest assured it’s just the same post he always writes. Could the four fundamental forces of physics assemble iPhones or nuclear power plants? Absurd! The post is framed in the context of an imaginary…

Coming Soon…

I’ve made occasional references to the book that I have been editing forever. Well, it has finally entered the home stretch: The book is a companion volume to the 2013 MOVES Conference in recreational mathematics, organized by the Museum of Mathematics in New York. The publisher is Princeton University Press. It features seventeen papers, mostly…

Drum States it Plain

Kevin Drum of Mother Jones magazine is one of my favorite political bloggers. In this post he provides a perfect summary of conservative rhetoric: These guys wreck the economy, and then complain that Obama hasn’t fixed it fast enough. They blow a hole in the deficit, and then complain that Obama hasn’t quite filled it…

Sunday Chess Problem

Last week’s study went over well, so how about another study from Alexis Troitzky? It’s white to play and win in this position: There is an astonishing amount of strategy wrapped up in this simple position! Let’s start with some general considerations. White must try to promote his pawn as quickly as possible. Something like…

POTW Returns!

Classes started last week, but that’s not the real start of the semester. No, the real start of the semester is when Problem of the Week returns. Which means the semester starts today! The theme for the term is “False Proofs.” By this I mean proofs that seem superficially convincing, but lead to an obviously…

Sunday Chess Problem

I have been terribly remiss in my Sunday Chess Problem responsibilities. So how about a charming little amuse bouche from the greatest of all endgame composers: Alexey Troitzky. The position below was composed in 1898 and calls for white to play and win. A natural first reaction would be to give check with 1. Rc2…

Back to School!

Classes started on Monday. I’m actually pretty happy about that. This summer was rather hectic and stressful in many ways. Also productive, but still. It was basically a good counterexample to the clueless types who insist that teachers only work nine months out of the year. For me, the summer tends to be harder work…

Great Moments in Evolution Debates

I’m in the mood for something light-hearted today, so here’s a YouTube clip for you: It’s from the Firing Line debate in 1997 about evolution and creationism. Representing darkness and obscurantism were William F. Buckley, Phillip Johnson, Michael Behe, and David Berlinski. Sunshine and goodness were represented by Barry Lynn, Eugenie Scott, Michael Ruse, and…

Musing About the Burden of Proof

I see that Barry Arrington is blogging up a storm lately over at Uncommon Descent. It’s all his usual silliness–bad arguments coupled with denunciations of anyone who dares disagree with him–but this post was eyebrow-raising even for him. The set-up is this: Arrington is in the habit of making big bold claims about what is…