Quantum Chess, Icy Chess, Aussie Chess

Quantum Chess, Icy Chess, Aussie Chess

This edition of "In Other News" is surely the first to feature references to "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure," Stephen Hawking, and quantum physics, and that's all just the first item!

It is our second consecutive month where playing chess in extreme cold has become a thing, and once again the volume of obscure chess news has necessitated two parts. Enjoy this first compilation, and good luck with all of your chess "superpositions."

Paul Rudd And Stephen Hawking Play Quantum Chess

Many new variants of chess have been invented over the years, but perhaps none has been publicized with a comedic actor challenging a renown physicist. Or a Keanu Reeves reference.

Enter USC graduate student Chris Cantwell and his invention, "Quantum Chess," which mimics quantum "superposition" and "entanglement" -- the duel possible states of location of chess pieces. The promotional video is not simply a rulebook.

Confused? Try this "how to" video for a more dry explanation.

Rudd falls into "Legal's Trap," and a series of "live tweets" pop up. Emerging from the ridiculing masses comes Neil deGrasse Tyson, who responds "OMG what a noob." 

The actor relied on his library for help, which includes a copy of "Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess," but we're pretty sure there's no chapter on "Schrödinger's Gambit." And yes, before you comment below, there could be a universe taking place concurrent to this one where you beat Magnus Carlsen every game you play.*

*This is not likely.

Rapid Chess Match With Heart Rate Monitors

Tournament chess players know that the body's involuntary reactions to the game are unmistakable. About to beat a master? Get surprised out to the opening? You're not the same person you were before the game began -- breathing, heart beats, and perspiration all change.

Some organizers want the wider public to know that chess is stressful, and to add more graphical excitement to a broadcast.

Last month a two-game rapid match in Stockholm took place between Swedish GM Nils Grandelius and American GM Sam Sevian. They played 15+10 with their heart rates broadcast for the viewer to see.

In the first game, Grandelius might have been trying to keep his pace out of the red by playing the Four Knights Opening. The Swede won, but in game two, the teenage Sevian got the blood pumping right away with 1. b4. GM Pontus Carlsson told Chess.com that both players' monitors spiked after the Orangutan came out of his cage!


How To Beat A U.S. Champion

Still looking for that first grandmaster scalp? Many chess players earn their first win via a simul, but one legendary GM goes even further -- giving away pieces and advice.

GM Larry Christiansen, a three-time American champion and a staple in the Boston-area chess community, admitted in this interview that he plays a little more adventurously against the hoi polloi. And that's from a man who's attacking prowess is famous.

GM Larry Christiansen at the 2013 U.S. Championship.

The reporter sought advice on how to beat him, and Christiansen obliges with the serious ("do some reading") to the nefarious ("cheat") to the slightly dubious ("sip some suds"). 

For those that know Christiansen, his simuls are surely some of the more entertaining to contest -- his willingness to offer "passes" also shows his graciousness.

Soldier Reunited With Chess Set

We've heard of service dogs being brought back together with their masters, long-lost letters arriving in the mail decades later, and other long-winded tales of delayed reconnections. Here's a story of a World War II soldier getting his old chess set back, 70 years later.

Besides the emotional connection to something he used to pass the time as a prisoner of war, he likely wanted to recover the pieces due to the huge cost involved -- 20 packs of cigarettes!

William Howard Chittenden's handmade chess set and tea box. (Image courtesy World Chess Hall of Fame.)

The chess set was displayed at the World Chess Hall of Fame as part of an exhibit called "Battle on the Board" about the role of chess during the last world war.

The "Polar Bear" Of Chess

Who is Cui Deyi and why is he appearing on a chess web site? The Chinese cold-endurance athlete recently played an hour of chess while half submerged in ice.

Sure, it wasn't "Western Chess" but rather Chinese Chess, but it does beg the question of which opening is best suited to such an endeavor? The Scandinavian? The Icelandic Gambit? Probably best would be the "Arctic Defense" which this writer actually didn't know existed until now (being "drunken" seems the best way to attempt this opening and this stunt).

Deyi will have to up his game in other cold-weather pursuits. Apparently his main rival is Dutchman Wim Hof, who is short on syllables and on clothing. He once reached 24,000+ feet on Mt. Everest wearing nothing but a pair of shorts (no word on the record for the highest-altitude chess game).

Deyi must also compete with these Russians that we featured last month, who's icy setting was even more natural.

Small Nations, Strong Players

The second-annual tournament for members of Europe's "Small Nations" will be in Luxembourg from April 1-11, 2016. The Benelux country is a natural fit to host. After all, the first edition, held in Cyprus, was won by Luxembourger IM Michael Widenkeller. The country is also the reigning Small Nations Team Champion.

IM Michael Widenkeller, the only champion the event has ever known! (Photo: Wikipedia)

One member of the Chess.com news staff is also quite partial to a small nation. In 2014 Peter Doggers earned his second IM norm in Liechtenstein.

Nigel Short Plays "Beast" To Female "Beauty"

After the firestorm following last year's comments about women and chess, GM Nigel Short now admits that his column didn't advance the debate.

His path with ladies crossed again last month in New Zealand, as he played the spectrum of female abilities. Instigated by GM Murray Chandler, Short agreed to be the protagonist in a simul for 20 challengers. The catch? They were all female in the contest dubbed "Beauty Versus the Beast."

GM Nigel Short flanked by two women who didn't take offense to his column -- countrywoman IM Jovanka Houska (left) and IM Elisabeth Paehtz (right), who often refers to him as "Uncle Nige."

The simultaneous followed a tournament loss at the New Zealand Chess Championship to a woman, GM Wenjun Ju

GM Wenjun Ju, putting crow on the menu for Short?

At tournament's end, Short tied with Wenjun Ju and GM Qun Ma for second place. Fellow Englishman GM Gawain Jones, who is married to a Kiwi, took first with 7.5/9.

Short also captained the men's team at this year's "Battle of the Sexes" in Gibraltar. The men dropped the first game but won the match 2-1.

Teenagers Dominate Australian Chess Championship

We close by staying in the Southern Hemisphere, jumping across the Tasman Sea to Melbourne. If you were alive to see Jerry Garcia in concert, it would have been a bad year to compete in the Australian Chess Championship as the top three finishers were all teenagers.

IM Kannan Izat of Azerbaijan won, but the official title goes to IM Bobby Cheng as the top native player. Both are merely 19 years old. Third place was 16-year-old FM Karl Zelesco.

Australia also had IM Moulton Ly pick up his second GM norm in GibraltarIM Anton Smirnov, born this century, is coming up on 2500. Their national team, which has never had a top-10 Olympiad finish in its history, is looking primed for a resurgence in the next decade.

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