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Sunday Chess Problem

I’m feeling a bit bereft now that the Sinquefield Cup is over. Fabiano Caruana won his first seven games, and then drew his last three, to win the tournament by a ridiculous three points (ahead of World Champion Magnus Carlsen). This is certainly one of the great tournament performances in chess history, worthy of mention…

New POTW Posted

The second POTW has now been posted, along with one possible set of solutions for the first problem. This week’s problem has a similar flavor to last week’s, so if you liked that one you’ll like this one.

POTW Returns

If that last post did not satisfy your need for brain food, then let me mention that as of today the Problem of the Week returns. This semester’s theme: Fun With Arithmetic! What’s that? You don’t like arithmetic? Well, let’s see if you’re still saying that at the end of the term. In general I…

Sunday Chess Problem

The Sinquefield Cup is turning out to be not just one of the strongest chess tournaments in history, but also one of the most exciting. In today’s round five all three games ended decisively, but the commentators were lamenting that the games were not as thrilling as in previous rounds. The sensation of the tournament…

The start of the school year, coupled with the looming deadline for the book I’m coediting, has left little time for blogging. I do, however, feel compelled to point out that six of the world’s top ten chess players have gathered in St. Louis for what is arguably the greatest chess tournament in the history…

Hitting the Road

The blog will be quiet for a bit longer, since I’ll be hitting the road tomorrow. I’ll be working out of my NJ office for a few days, which is to say I will be visiting the ‘rents. See ya when I return!

Sunday Chess Problem

Last week I introduced the Dombrovskis theme: Black has a certain move which, in one phase of the problem prevents a mate and in a different phase provokes the same mate. Last week’s problem came from the master himself, and coupled two such variations with an astonishing key move, which granted two flights. This week…

Everyone Likes Cat Pictures!

Assisted suicide is not the happiest topic in the world, so I think it’s time to lighten the mood around here. And what better way to do that than with some cute animal pictures? Let’s start with Emily keeping me company while I am at the computer: I was making revisions to my paper about…

MacDonald on Assisted Dying

I hadn’t intended to turn this into assisted dying week, but that’s how it’s turning out. After his recent debate with Christian apologist William Lane Craig, Sean Carroll expressed frustration that the debate followed a certain pattern. Craig would make an argument, then Carroll would rebut it, then Craig would simply repeat the same argument…

Replies to Smith and Klinghoffer

Wesley Smith and David Klinghoffer have now replied to yesterday’s post, here and here respectively. Smith’s reply simply ignores all of the main points that I made. He’s mostly sore that I did not discuss two specific cases from his original essay, of people who faced great physical suffering but overcame it to live long…

Consider this profile of NPR reporter Diane Rehm, in which she relates the harrowing story of her husband’s final days: His Parkinson’s disease had become unbearable. “He just kept getting weaker,” the NPR host told NBC News. “We called in the doctor and John said to him: `I am ready today.’ He said `I can…

Sunday Chess Problem

Today I have a charming little bagatelle for your consideration. It was composed by Alfreds Dombrovskis in 1958. In the diagram position, white is to play mate in two. Keep in mind that white is always moving up the board and black is always moving down. Vertical files are labeled a–h from left to right,…

Americans and Math

From the current issue of The New York Times Magazine: One of the most vivid arithmetic failings displayed by Americans occurred in the early 1980s, when the A&W restaurant chain released a new hamburger to rival the McDonald’s Quarter Pounder. With a third-pound of beef, the A&W burger had more meat than the Quarter Pounder;…

The Multiverse is a Done Deal

That title is somewhat facetious, of course, but I do think the multiverse is far more than an idle speculation. I think it is an idea that is sufficiently well-supported that it is those who deny it who should be on the defensive. I would make an elaborate argument in defense of that claim, but…

Israel

There’s plenty of science and religion stuff out there, but I think talking about anything else right now would be to ignore the elephant in the room. There’s a basic moral principle that I subscribe to that goes like this: When your neighbor is relentlessly firing rockets at you in an attempt to kill as…