Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Best Chess Analogy I've Seen Yet

As we all have seen, the media compares things to chess: baseball (ad naseum during the playoffs), football, politics, financial transactions and the list goes on and on.

But this time, someone actually made a comparison to chess that is better than I've ever seen.

An FBI counterintelligence agent compared her line of work to chess, "Counterintelligence is like chess -- you have the foundation of a crime, the trunk of the tree, with a lot of branches. In terrorism cases, you look at the intelligence and the potential crime to stop the threat before it actually happens."

Not only is that pretty cool to think about (her line of work), but the analogy is a breath of fresh air from all the banal analogies and comparisons that usually bombard news reports.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Next-Gen Chess

Here's another chess-type variant. We've seen multi-layered chess, Fischer Random, multi-player chess, crazy and bughouse and who knows how many others. Now comes Arimaa. It's been around 7 years, but I heard of it for the first time today.

AI computers have yet to soundly beat humans at this game. The inventor of the game, Omar Syed, has offered a $10,000 prize to the computer developer who can design a program that can beat a human at this game.

The reason computers have a hard time winning is because of the incredible branch factor in Arimaa. According to the wikipedia article, "the average branching factor in a game of Chess is about 35, whereas in Arimaa it is about 17,281." WOW!

You don't have to buy the game to play it. You can simply use a standard chess board and pieces to play. But if you really want the real deal, the game is finally being published.

Have any of you heard of this game before? Have any of you played?

Deadly Chess

Yet another news story of a chess game getting out of control.

"Guilty Plea Entered in Chess-Game Death"

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- An Iowa City man has pleaded guilty in the death of his opponent in a chess game.

David Christian was originally charged with second-degree murder. However, on Friday the 30-year-old pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in Johnson County District Court.

Assistant Johnson County Attorney David Tiffany said the plea deal was influenced by the victim's family, who wanted Christian to receive help for his psychological problems.

Police said Christian and Michael Alan Steward were playing chess and drinking at Christian's residence on Oct. 19, 2008, when a quarrel turned violent. They say Christian apparently trapped Steward's neck between his legs and squeezed until Steward was dead.

Although a sentencing date hasn't been determined, the plea agreement includes a recommendation for the mandatory 10-year sentence.