Sunday, December 26, 2010

Double Rook Sacrifice

In a game of speed chess at chess.com, I used a double rook sacrifice to mate. My opponent was Hautboiss of the USA who played black. Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 b6
2. d4 Bb7
3. Nc3 g6
4. Bd3 Bg7
5. Nf3 e6
6. Be3 Ne7
7. Qd2 0-0
8. 0-0-0 d5

I castle queenside because I want to use my kingside pawns for an attack on the black kingside.

9. h4 dxe
10. Nxe4 Nd5
11. h5 Nxe3
12. fxe3 Na6

The black knight is not well-placed on a6. For this reason I do not capture it.

13. g4 gxh
14. Rxh5 c5

Black wants to attack my queenside with his pawns.

15. Rdh1 h6
16. g5 hxg

Now I have an open h-file.

17. Nexg5 f6

Black makes a mistake because the pawn on e6 is now undefended and can be captured by my knight.

18. Bh7+ Kh8
19. Bg6+ Kg8
20. Rh8+ Bxh8

I sacrifice a rook. Black must accept the sacrifice.

21. Rxh8+ Kxh8

I sacrifice another rook. Black does not have to accept this sacrifice but if he refuses and plays Kg7, I play Ne6+ and win his queen.

22. Qh2+ Kg7
23. Qh7#

This is the only game I can recall in which I sacrifice two rooks. My decision to castle queenside allows me to push my kingside pawns and the open h-file gives me the opportunity to mate the black king. Without question, this is one of the most memorable games I have ever played.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Origins of Christmas Carols

Many Christmas carols are popular around the world. Ones such as "Silent Night" and "Joy to the World" are classics. Many, however, are not aware of their origins.

"Angels we have heard on high" is a traditional French carol.

"O Holy Night" is also of French origin.

"Silent Night" was originally written in German and is of Austrian origin.

"Hark the Herald Angels Sing" was written by Charles Wesley, the younger brother of John Wesley. The Wesley brothers started the Methodist church.

"It Came Upon A Midnight Clear" was written by Edmund Hamilton Sears, an American pastor, in 1849.

The music of "O Little Town of Bethlehem" was written by an American organist, Lewis Redner, in 1868.

"We Three Kings" was written by Reverend John Henry Hopkins, an American, in 1857.

"O Come All Ye Faithful" was written by an English hymnist, John Francis Wade.

"What Child Is This?" is also known as "Greensleeves." It was written by William Chatterton Dix, an Englishman, and is based on a traditional English melody.

The music of "Joy to the World" was written by Lowell Mason, an English composer of church music. It is believed that the melody was partly based on the work of George Frideric Handel, especially the oratorio "Messiah."

Many famous Christmas carols are of European origin but a number of them are also American. They are now sung in several different languages. For example, "Silent Night," originally sung in German, has been translated into numerous languages. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sensational Game

I recently played a game at chess.com which has to be one of my most memorable. In this game I mated my opponent with two pieces en prise. The game had a fork, skewer and pin. My opponent, Muliadi of Indonesia, was black. Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 b6
2. d4 Bb7
3. Nc3 e6
4. Bd3 Bb4
5. Bd2 Bxc3

Black decides to give up his bishop for my knight. I am happy to take control of the a1-h8 diagonal and control the dark squares.

6. Bxc3 Qg5

Black plays aggressively. He brings out his queen early and attacks g2.

7. Qf3 Ba6
8. Bxa6 Nxa6

My capture of the bishop helps black to develop his knight but it leaves it on a bad square. Black has no bishops in a game that could become very open. This is good for me because bishops are favoured over knights in open games.

9. Nh3 Qh6
10. Bd2 Qf6

Black offers an exchange of queens. I decide to keep my queen to increase my attacking possibilities.

11. Qe3 Ne7
12. 0-0-0 d5

I castle queenside because I want to use my kingside pawns in an attack. I expect black to castle kingside because it is better defended than the queenside. With d5 black fights for control of the centre.

13. e5 Qg6
14. Nf4 Qg5
15. h4 Qh6

My pawn attack begins.

16. g4 g5
17. hxg Qxg5
18. Qd3 Qxg4

My queen attacks the knight on a6.

19. Qxa6 Nf5

Now black cannot castle kingside because it is too dangerous and my queen prevents him from castling queenside.

20. Nh5 Nxd4

I prepare a knight fork.

21. Nf6+ Ke7
22. Nxg4 h5
23. Bg5+ Kf8

Though my knight is en prise, I decide to use my bishop in my attack and increase my control of the dark squares.

24. Qa3+ c5

Black cannot capture my knight because if he does, I capture his rook on h8 with check and then capture his rook on a8.

25. Rxd4 Kg7

My rook is immune from capture because this puts black in check. With his move, black unpins his pawns. My rook and knight can now be captured.

26. Bf6+ Kg6

I check black with my bishop. This move in which a piece is forced to move but a less valuable piece can then be captured is called a skewer.

27. Qd3#

My initial reaction is to play Bxh8 but it is not my best move. I notice that I have a move to end the game with my queen. My rook and knight are both attacked but it is of no consequence.

This is one of the most memorable games of speed chess I have ever played. I use a devastating fork to win the white queen, a pin to capture the black rook, and a skewer to force mate. My opponent plays aggressively but fails to protect his king.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Victory With A Pawn Fork

A pawn fork is a pawn which attacks two pieces at the same time. I played a game of speed chess at chess.com in which I used a pawn fork to win the game. My opponent, Jimflys of the USA, played white. Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 c5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. d4 cxd
4. Nxd4 d6
5. Bb5 Bd7
6. 0-0 Nf6

I am ahead in development with three developed pieces versus two for white.

7. Nc3 g6
8. Bg5 Bg7
9. Bf4 e5

White makes a big mistake. I fork his bishop and knight. A better move for white is Be3.

10. Nxc6 bxc6

Now I have a double attack.

11. Be2 exf4
12. f3 Qc7

I want to protect my pawn on f4.

13. Bd3 0-0
14. Ne2 d5

My move is necessary to protect the pawn on f4.

15. exd Nxd5
16. Qd2 Ne3

My knight is dangerously close to the white king.

17. Rf2 Rfe8
18. c3 Rab8
19. b3 h5
20. Rc1 h4

I want to weaken the white kingside with my h-pawn.

21. g3 fxg
22. hxg hxg

White resigns. His rook cannot avoid capture. The key to victory in this game is my pawn fork on move 9. After this devastating move, white is unable to recover.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Frequency of Parts of Speech

The parts of speech which are most frequent are nouns and verbs. Every sentence must have a noun and verb. The exception is imperatives in which the pronoun "you" is understood as in "Come here!" To calculate the approximate frequency of parts of speech in English, I analyzed a part of the introduction of the book "The World's Greatest Chess Games." The part which I analyzed was 100 words long which was very convenient for calculation. Here it is:

The aim of this book is simple: to present the 112 greatest chess games of all time, with annotations that enable chess enthusiasts to derive the maximum enjoyment and instruction from them.

The first problem we faced was the selection of the games: how could we choose just 112 from the treasure-house of chess history? Clearly the games should be great battles, featuring deep and inventive play. We decided that the prime consideration had to be the quality of the play, not just of the winner, but of the loser. We rejected games where the loser offered little resistance.

I then counted the number of occurrences of each part of speech. Here are the results:

nouns 28
verbs 16
adjectives 26
adverbs 4
pronouns 9
prepositions 13
conjunctions 4
interjections 0

Nouns occurred more frequently than any other part of speech. However, adjectives occurred more frequently than verbs, 26% to 16%. It must be noted that articles were counted as adjectives because articles are not a part of speech. If articles are classified apart from adjectives, the number of occurrences of adjectives decreases to only 12. The only part of speech which never occurred was interjections.

More occurrences of adjectives than verbs were recorded, but this is because articles were included with adjectives. If treated separately, the number of verbs was greater than that of adjectives. It appears that articles are very common. Interjections, on the other hand, are not. The number of prepositions was high but this was because the infinitive marker "to" was classified as a preposition. If it had simply been classified as a part of the infinitive and thus a verb, the number of prepositions would have been much lower. The most common parts of speech were nouns, adjectives and verbs.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Offensive Battle

I played a game of speed chess at chess.com which was an offensive battle from start to finish. My opponent was Sahaladin of Bosnia who played white. Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 c5
2. f4 d6
3. Nf3 a6

I want to prevent a check from the black bishop on b5.

4. Bc4 e6
5. a3 Nc6

White's fifth move does not seem necessary. A better move is Nc3.

6. 0-0 Nf6
7. d3 Be7

Now I am ready to castle.

8. f5 exf

Though it is possible to castle here, I decide to capture the f-pawn to win a pawn.

9. exf Bxf5

I have an extra pawn but my king is in the centre.

10. Nh4 Bg6

White targets my bishop. I want white to capture my bishop so that I can recapture with hxg6 and open up the h-file for my rook. My plan is to combine my queen and rook to target h2.

11. Nxg6 hxg

The game goes according to plan. I no longer want to castle kingside because I need my rook on the open h-file.

12. Qe2 Qc7

The black queen pins my bishop. My queen protects my bishop and prepares to target the h2 square.

13. Bg5 d5

It is possible for me to castle queenside here and unpin my bishop. I decide to play aggressively instead and attack the white bishop.

14. Ba2 Qxh2+

I have control of the h-file.

15. Kf2 Nd4
16. Qd2 Ng4+

I have the initiative.

17. Ke1 Bxg5

A better move for me is Qe5+ which attacks the bishop on g5.

18. Qxg5 Nxc2+
19. Ke2 Qxg2+

With no desire to face my four extra pawns and dangerous attack, white decides to resign. The game might continue as follows:

20. Kd1 Nce3+
21. Ke1 Rh2

If white plays Kc1, I play Qc2#.

22. Nc3 Qxf1#

White castles but loses the pawn shield around his king. I do not castle but generate sufficient threats to prevent white from continuing his attack. The key to victory in this game is my ability to maintain the initiative and control the h-file.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Strong and Weak Forms in Swedish

Many Swedish words have strong and weak forms. This is also the case in English. For example, the word "for" has the strong form identical to "four" and the weak form identical to "fir." As in English, the Swedish words with strong and weak forms are usually monosyllabic and the strong forms are pronounced with greater stress and duration. The strong forms are considered more formal than the weak ones.

The word "mycket" means much. It is not monosyllabic but nevertheless has strong and weak forms. The strong form has a word-final "t" but the weak form does not. The "y" is a high front rounded vowel as in the French word "tu" which means you.

The word "dag" means day. It can be pronounced with or without a word-final "g." The weak form ends with a vowel sound.

Another word with strong and weak forms is "och" which means and. The "ch" is pronounced as if it were a "k." The "o" is similar to the "o" of "cold." The weak form has no word-final consonant sound and sounds similar to "oh."

The word for "what" is vad. The strong form is pronounced with a word-final "d." The weak form ends with a vowel sound.

Another word which varies in pronunciation is "aldrig." It means never. The strong form is pronounced with a word-final "g." The weak one ends with a vowel sound.

The word for "I" is jag. The strong-form has a word-final "g." The weak one ends with a vowel sound.

The word for "good" is god. The strong form is pronounced with a word-final "d." The weak form is not. The "o" is pronounced like a very rounded "u."

Another word which patterns the same is "stad." It means city. The strong-form has a word-final "d." The weak form ends with a vowel sound.

The word "tio" means ten. It is different because both the strong and weak forms have the same number of sounds. The strong form has a word-final vowel which sounds like a well-rounded "u." The weak form has a word-final schwa.

Another word which is different is "morgon." It means morning. The strong form is pronounced with a word-medial "g". The weak form is pronounced with no "g."

Strong and weak forms in Swedish consist of common words which are often distinguished by their word-final consonants. In strong forms, word-final consonants are pronounced but in weak forms they are not. Another distinction is made in vowels. Strong forms have a full vowel but reduced forms have a schwa. Strong forms are most common in formal situations.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Basque

Basque is a unique language of Europe. It is one of the few European languages not classified as Indo-European. Other European languages which do not belong to the Indo-European language family are Estonian, Finnish and Hungarian. Basque speakers are mainly found in southwestern France and northeastern Spain. However, their language bears little resemblance to French or Spanish.

Here are a few Basque phrases to demonstrate the uniqueness of the language:

Welcome- Ongi etorri
Hello- Kaixo
Good morning- Egun on
Good evening- Arratsalde on
Good night- Gabon
Goodbye- Agur
Good luck- Zorte on
Excuse me- Barkatu
Thank you- Eskerrik asko
I love you- Maite zaitut

These few phrases illustrate that Basque is very different from other languages. It is so different that its origins remain a mystery. As a result, Basque is classified as a language isolate.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Quick Mate

In a recent game at chess.com, my queen and rook quickly mated my opponent. He was Gerakl of Israel who played black. Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 e6

Black's reply is popular with defensive players.

2. d4 g6

Here black usually plays d5.

3. Nf3 Bg7
4. Nc3 Ne7
5. Bd3 b6
6. 0-0 Bb7
7. Be3 d6
8. Qd2 Nd7

I have good control of the c1-h6 diagonal.

9. Bh6 0-0
10. Bxg7 Kxg7
11. h4 f6

I prepare an attack against the black kingside.

12. Rae1 f5
13. Ng5 Rf6

My knight sits on an excellent square.

14. e5 dxe
15. dxe Nxe5
16. Rxe5 h6

Black makes a mistake. The f6 square needs to be defended. A better move is Bc8.

17. Nxe6+ Rxe6

Black must give up his rook to save his queen.

18. Rxe6 Nd5
19. Rfe1 Qxh4

I prefer to double my rooks at the expense of protecting my pawn. Here it is a mistake to play Nxd5 because then black replies with Qxd5 which threatens mate on g2 and the capture of my rook on e6.

20. Nxd5 Bxd5

My rook is under attack but I do not need to move it.

21. Qc3+ Kf8
22. Rf6+ Kg8
23. Rxg6+ Kf8

The black rook remains on its original square.

24. Qg7#

The black king has no escape. My queen and rooks dominate the board. I achieve victory because of my control of the centre, ability to expose the black king, and coordination of my two rooks and queen.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Canada and the USA

Canada and the USA share many similarities. They both have the same official language, English. American TV and movies are very popular in Canada and the two countries were both British colonies. However, they are also different in many ways.

In addition to English, Canada also has French. It is a country with two official languages. Britain defeated France at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759, a significant battle because it made English the primary language of Canada. Quebec, Canada's French-speaking province, has a beautiful capital, Quebec City, which preserves much of the city's historic past.

In population, the USA is much larger than Canada. According to the CIA World Factbook, the USA has 307 million people and Canada only 33 million. The USA is far more densely populated than Canada because it has a smaller area and a larger population.

The ethnic composition of the two countries is also different. According to Statistics Canada 2006, Canada's population is approximately 83% white, 10% Asian, 4%native and 2% black. The USA's is approximately 81% white, 13% black, 5% Asian and 1% native. Canada has a larger percentage of Asians and natives; the USA has a larger percentage of blacks. Canada has a slightly higher percentage of whites.

After English, French is the most widely-spoken language in Canada. According to Statistics Canada 2006, it is spoken at home by approximately 22% of the population. In the USA, Spanish is the second most widely-spoken language and is spoken at home by approximately 12% of the population.

According to the CIA World Factbook 2001, of those who profess a religion, Canada is approximately 52% Catholic and 28% Protestant. The USA is approximately 53% Protestant and 25% Catholic. The largest Protestant denomination in Canada is the United Church, a denomination unique to Canada, and the largest Protestant denomination in the USA is the Baptist.

Military expenditure is also different. According to the CIA World Factbook 2004, Canadian military expenditure is approximately 1% of GDP and American is approximately 4%. Thus military expenditure is considerably more in the USA than in Canada.

Differences also occur in the area of sport. The big three sports in the USA are football, baseball and basketball. Baseball has traditionally been considered the national sport of the USA, but football is undoubtedly the most popular. In Canada, hockey is unquestionably the most popular. Football and basketball are also popular, but not to the same extent as in the USA. Baseball is considerably less popular than in the USA. Canadian football, a form of football similar to that played in the United States, is only played in Canada.

Canada and the USA are neighbouring countries which may appear to be very similar. However, a deeper analysis of the two reveals that they also have a number of differences. These include population, ethnic composition, language, religion, military expenditure and sport.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Danish Spelling

English and French are two languages whose spelling systems are not so phonetic. However, another language which belongs to this category is Danish. A number of Danish words are pronounced quite differently from the way they are spelt.

The word "vejr" means weather. The "ej" in Danish represents the diphthong in the word "my" but in this case the "ej" is pronounced like the vowel in "ten."

The word "tredive" means thirty. Here the "e" is pronounced like an "a" and the "i" is silent. The "d" is a voiced interdental fricative similar to the "th" in "the."

Another number is "seksten" which means sixteen. Here the "k" vocalizes so that the first syllable sounds similar to "sigh."

The word "peber" means pepper. Here the "b" vocalizes so that the first syllable has a diphthong. It is heard in the Spanish word "deuda" which means debt.

The word "kobber" means copper. Again the "b" vocalizes so that the first syllable is a "k" followed by a diphthong similar to the one in "no."

Another diphthong is found in "jeg," the Danish word for I. The diphthong is similar to the one found in "my." The "j" is a palatal glide.

The same diphthong is found in "mig," the Danish word for me. The diphthong is the same one as in jeg.

The word "daglig" means daily. The first syllable has no "g" but rather a diphthong as in the word "now."

The word "havde" means had. The "v" is silent and the "d" is a voiced interdental fricative.

Another verb is the word "sagde" which means said. The "g" and the "d" are both completely silent.

The examples illustrate that many Danish words are relatively unphonetic. Their pronunciations need to be learned apart from the rules of spelling. Though Danish is not such a phonetic language, it is nevertheless more phonetic than English.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Norwich Accent

England has a number of different accents such as the accents of London, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle. Cockney is a famous London accent which was made prominent in the movie "My Fair Lady." An accent which is a southern accent but is nevertheless distinct is the Norwich accent.

In the book "English Accents and Dialects," the Norwich accent is discussed. Two speakers are featured on the CD. The older speaker has a stronger accent that the younger one.

In the Norwich accent, the palatal glide /j/ is lost after all consonants. The word "humorous" has the pronunciation of "who" in the first syllable.

The words "soul" and "sole" as well as "knows" and "nose" are distinguished. "Soul" and "knows" have the vowel of "no" and "sole" and "nose" have the vowel of "two."

The words "beer" and "bear" are not distinguished. Both words rhyme with "where."

The glottal fricative /h/ is often dropped. It tends to be preserved in stressed syllables such as "humorous" but dropped in unstressed ones such as "hello."

Certain words have the vowel of "foot" such as "home" and "suppose."

The glottal stop is often used instead of the voiceless alveolar plosive /t/ between vowels. Examples include "bottom" and "city."

The Norwich accent is distinct from other English accents. The pronunciation of words such as "sole" and "nose with the vowel of "two," the pronunciation of "home" and "suppose" with the vowel of "foot" and the loss of the palatal glide after consonants are typical of the Norwich accent.