Monday, October 31, 2011

Controlling the Back Rank

Controlling your opponent's back rank is often the key to winning. In a game of speed chess at, I managed to control my opponent's back rank and end the game quickly. My opponent was Chesspawn01 of the Phillipines who played black. Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 c5
2. d4 e6

The move cxd is more common.

3. Nf3 d5
4. exd exd
5. Bb5+ Bd7

I usually play Be2 here. I decide to play a more open game.

6. Bxd7+ Qxd7

Black has no kingside development.

7. 0-0 Bd6
8. dxc Bxc5
9. Ne5 Qe6

Black makes a bad move. The e-file is open, so the queen should not occupy it. A better move is Qd8.

10. Re1 Nf6

Black does not have time for this move. A move such as Qd8 is necessary.

11. Nd3 Ne4

The black queen is not safe for long.

12. Nxc5 Qf6

The knight is pinned, so I win a piece. I must be careful, though, because now black threatens Qxf7+ followed by Qxc5.

13. Nxe4 dxe4

The move f3 is also possible here.

14. Rxe4+ Kf8

Black loses the right to castle.

15. Qe2 Qc6

Black prevents mate on e8 but Nc6 is a better move. This develops a piece and brings the a8 rook into the game.

16. Nc3 g6

Black wants to create an escape square for his king but this is a mistake. A better move is Na6 or Nd7.

17. Bh6+ Kg8

Black's move is forced.

18. Re8+

Black resigns.

After Re8+ Black must play Qxe8. I then play Qxe8 which is checkmate. Black's inability to control the backrank is crucial to the outcome. At the moment of resignation, black has only one developed piece, his queen. His lack of development leads to his defeat.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Languages of Afghanistan

Afghanistan is home to many languages. The two official languages are Pashto and Dari. Pashto is spoken by approximately 50% of the population and Dari by approximately 40%. Other languages with a considerable number of speakers are Uzbek and Turkmen.

Pashto is an important language not only in Afghanistan but also in Pakistan where it is spoken by approximately 15% of the population. Pakistan is a southern neighbour of Afghanistan.

Dari is a language which is closely related to Persian, also known as Farsi. Persian is the first language of approximately 55% of the population of Iran. Iran is a western neighbour of Afghanistan.

Uzbek is spoken by approximately 9% of the population of Afghanistan. The largest number of Uzbek speakers are found in Uzbekistan, a northern neighbour of Afghanistan.

Turkmen is spoken by approximately 2% of the population of Aghanistan. The largest number of Turkmen speakers are found in Turkmenistan, a northern neighbour of Afghanistan.

Though Afghanistan has only two official languages, many are spoken. The official languages, Pashto and Dari, are also spoken outside of Afghanistan. Pashto has many speakers in Pakistan and Dari is similar to Persian, the first language of most Iranians. In addition to these two languages, many Afghans speak Turkmen and Uzbek, the official languages of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. In fact, most speakers of Turkmen and Uzbek are found in those countries. The fact that they are also spoken in Afghanistan attests to the multicultural nature of Afghanistan.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Galician is a language of northern Spain. It is the Romance language closest to Portuguese. At the same time, it shares more similarities with Spanish than Portuguese does.

The word for person illustrates the relationship of Galician to Spanish and Portuguese. In Spanish, "person" is "persona." In Portuguese, this is "pessoa" and in Galician "persoa."

The numbers from one to ten in Galician also illustrate the relationship to Spanish and Portuguese. Here they are:

Galician: un, dous, tres, catro, cinco, seis, sete, oito, nove, dez
Spanish: uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete, ocho, nueve, diez
Portuguese: um, dois, trĂªs, quatro, cinco, seis, sete, oito, nove, dez

The only Galician numbers which are not identical in either Spanish or Portuguese are "un," "dous," and "catro." Six numbers are the same in both Galician and Portuguese and three numbers are the same in Galician and Spanish. In the numbers from one to ten, a closer relationship between Galician and Portuguese can be noted than between Galician and Spanish.

Though many may view Galician as a dialect of either Spanish or Portuguese, it is in fact a language of its own. The Galician language has a vocabulary which is often different from that of Spanish and Portuguese. Nevertheless, it shares many similarities with both languages, particularly Portuguese.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Playing With a Plan

In chess it is important to play with a plan. In a game of speed chess at against Fampikutara of Costa Rica, I developed a plan. In this game he was black. Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 e6
2. d4 a6

Black's reply is unusual. The move d5 is common here.

3. Nf3 d5
4. Nc3 c6

Black is now weak on the dark squares because only one black pawn is on a dark square.

5. e4 Bb4

My move prevents Nf6.

6. Bd2 Bxc3
7. Bxc3 h6

Now that black no longer has a dark-squared bishop, I increase my control over the dark squares.

8. Bd3 a5

My light-squared bishop controls many squares.

9. a4 Ne7

I play a4 to prevent b5.

10. 0-0 h5
11. h4 f5

I play h4 to prevent g5.

12. Ng5 g6

My knight has a terrific outpost.

13. b4 Bd7
14. Qd2 axb
15. Bxb4 Qb6

All the black pawns are now on light squares.

16. Nf3 Na6
17. Bxe7 Kxe7
18. Qg5+ Kf7

I have the initiative.

19. Qf6+ Kg8
20. Qxg6+ Kf8
21. Ng5 Be8
22. Qf6+ Kg8

This repeats move 19.

23. Qxe6+ Kf8
24. Qxf5+ Ke7

I have three extra pawns.

25. Qf6+ Kd7

I can capture the rook on h8 but I first want to involve my bishop in the attack.

26. Bf5+ Kc7
27. Qxh8 Qxd4

I am so intent on capturing the rook that I fail to notice that Qd6 is checkmate. Black's move is a blunder.

28. Ne6+ Kd7
29. Nxd4+ Ke7

This is a discovered check.

30. Qf6#

Black's moves enable me to develop a clear plan. I decide to gain control of the dark squares, penetrate with my queen and prevent black from coordinating an attack. These factors are critical to the outcome.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Regions of New Zealand

Unlike many countries, New Zealand has neither states nor provinces. New Zealand is divided into regions. The North Island has nine and the South Island has seven. The North Island has Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Hawke's Bay, Taranaki, Manawatu-Wanganui and Wellington. The South Island has Tasman, Nelson, Marlborough, Westcoast, Canterbury, Otago and Southland.

The region with the largest area is Canterbury. The capital of Canterbury is Christchurch. However, the region with the largest population is Auckland. The capital of the region, Auckland, is also the largest city in New Zealand.

The capital of the region Wellington is Wellington, which is also the capital of New Zealand. Wellington is the third most populous region in the country after Auckland and Canterbury.

The region with the smallest area is Nelson. In population, though, it is not the smallest. This distinction belongs to West Coast, a region which is fifth largest in area. It is a region with a long coastline.

New Zealand is divided into sixteen regions. The largest in area is found on South Island, an island with a larger area than North Island. The largest in population, however, is found on North Island, an island with a larger population than South Island. The region with the largest population, Auckland, also has the country's largest city.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pronunciation of /r/ in the Netherlands

The /r/ used in the Netherlands has many variants. It can be realized as an alveolar trill, alveolar tap, alveolar approximant, voiced uvular fricative or uvular trill. The pronunciation of this sound varies from region to region, and in certain cities such as Amsterdam and Rotterdam, from speaker to speaker.

To determine the distribution of the different /r/ sounds in the Netherlands, it is useful to identify the different provinces. The Netherlands has twelve provinces which are Zeeland, North Brabant, Limburg, South Holland, North Holland, Utrecht, Gelderland, Flevoland, Overijssel, Friesland, Drenthe and Groningen.

Though many Dutch speakers use only one /r/ sound, a few use an alveolar approximant in the syllable coda only. The city of Leiden is an exception, however. This city in South Holland uses an alveolar approximant in all positions.

The alveolar trill is common in Zeeland, Gelderland, Flevoland, Drenthe and Groningen. In Overijssel most areas use the alveolar trill but the uvular is used in the cities of Zwolle and Almelo. In Friesland the trill is common but in the capital of Leeuwarden the uvular is used. In North Holland the trill is common but in Amsterdam and Hilversum many speakers also use the uvular. Hilversum is well-known for the use of the alveolar approximant in the syllable coda. In Utrecht both the trill and the uvular are heard.

The uvular is common in North Brabant and Limburg. In South Holland, it is also common, but in Rotterdam, a number of speakers also use the trill. In fact, speakers of North Brabant and Limburg are known for using the uvular in all positions. This pronunciation of the /r/ is reminiscent of French and German.

Clearly the pronunciation of the /r/ in the Netherlands can vary considerably. In the southern provinces of Brabant and Limburg the uvular trill dominates. On the other hand, in the northern provinces of Groningen and Drenthe the alveolar trill dominates. It is also true that in cities such as Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Utrecht both the alveolar and uvular sounds are used, and in rural areas the alveolar trill dominates. Thus, the uvular /r/ is more common in the south than in the north, and more common in urban areas.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Quick Victory with a Double Check

In a recent game of speed chess at, I won quickly with a double check. My opponent was Forplaying of France who played black. Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 d5

Black's reply is a surprise. More common moves are Nc6, Nf6 and d6.

3. exd e4

This move is also a surprise. I expect Qxd5 but black attacks my king knight instead.

4. Qe2 Nf6

I pin black's e-pawn.

5. Nc3 Bg4

Black pins my king knight.

6. Nxe4 Bxf3

Black makes a bad move. It is necessary to shield the king from a check on the e-file. This can be accomplished with a move such as Be7 or Qe7. My queen is attacked, so black probably expects me to play Qxf3. But I see that I have a better move.

7. Nxf6#

This is not only a double check but also checkmate. My queen checks on the e-file and my knight checks from f6. The black king has no escape square.

In this game, my opponent surprises me with his second and third moves. He plays aggressively but fails to protect his king. I can ignore the attack on my queen because the black king is vulnerable. My ability to exploit this vulnerability of the black king leads to victory.

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