Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Checkmate in Eight

In a recent game of speed chess at chess.com, I checkmated my opponent on my eighth move.  He was Ffoodd of the USA who played black.  This quick checkmate surprised me because my opponent was not a beginner, but undoubtedly the three-minute time limit affected his play.  Here are the moves along with my commentary:

1. e4 c6
2. d4 d5
3. e5 f6

I usually play Nc3 here.  Black attacks my pawn centre.

4. Nf3 fxe5
5. Nxe5 Nf6
6. Be2 h6

Black makes a bad move.  He prevents Bg5 but this is not critical.  He needs to play g6 to prevent Bh5+.

7. Bh5+ g6

All black can do is delay mate.

8. Bxg6#

In this game, my opponent's blunder on his sixth move leads to his quick defeat.  It weakens his kingside so much that he cannot prevent mate.  His exposed king and lack of development are the reason for his rapid downfall. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Canadian Football

Canadian football is a variety of football that is played in Canada.  Though it is similar to American football, it nevertheless has a number of differences.  The football, the length and width of the football field, and a few rules are different in Canadian football.

One major difference between Canadian and American football is that in Canadian football the field is 110 yards long and 65 yards wide.  Compare this to American football in which the football field is 100 yards long and 53 1/3 yards wide.

The football is also different in the two sports.  In Canadian football it is a little bigger than in American.  The Canadian football has two white stripes but the American football has none.

The number of players is also different.  In Canadian football twelve players are present on the field, but in American football there are eleven.

A significant rule difference concerns the number of downs.  In Canadian football a team has three downs.  This is one less than American football which allows four.  Since Canadian football has fewer downs, Canadian football tends to have less offensive rushing and more passing than American football.

Another rule difference is the single.  In Canadian football, if a kicker misses a field goal but the receiving team catches the ball and fails to return it out of the endzone or if the kick goes through the end zone, a single point is awarded.  In American football, no point is awarded.

Without question, American football is better known than Canadian.  However, Canadian football enjoys great popularity in Canada.  Despite the similarities between the two sports, many differences also exist:  these include the length and width of the football fields, the football, the number of players, the number of downs and the single point which only Canadian football allows.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

When We Two Parted

Lord Byron was an English poet who wrote many beautiful poems.  "When We Two Parted" is a very sad and moving poem.  Here it is:

When We Two Parted

When we two parted
In silence and tears,
Half broken-hearted,
To sever for years,
Pale grew thy cheek and cold,
Colder thy kiss;
Truly that hour foretold
Sorrow to this.

The dew of the morning
Sank chill on my brow—
It felt like the warning
Of what I feel now.
Thy vows are all broken,
And light is thy fame:
I hear thy name spoken,
And share in its shame.

They name thee before me,
A knell to mine ear;
A shudder comes o'er me—
Why wert thou so dear?
They know not I knew thee,
Who knew thee too well:—
Long, long shall I rue thee
Too deeply to tell.

In secret we met—
In silence I grieve
That thy heart could forget,
Thy spirit deceive.
If I should meet thee
After long years,
How should I greet thee?—
With silence and tears.

This poem has four stanzas with eight verses in each. The rhyme scheme is regular. We notice that the even and odd verses of each stanza rhyme with one another.  In the second verse of the third stanza appears the word "knell." This means the bell which is rung to announce death. It is clear that two people have parted because one has met death.  "When We Two Parted" is a very powerful poem which expresses the love and sorrow of the narrator.  

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are easy to make, but there are many variations.  Here is a simple recipe for this dish:

6 potatoes
1/3 cup of hot milk
2 tablespoons of butter
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Peel the potatoes and cut into small pieces.  Place them in a large pot of salted water and boil for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes break easily when they are pierced with a fork. 

Drain the potatoes and leave them in the pot.  Slowly add some of the hot milk and stir at the same time.  Add the butter.  Now use a potato masher to mash the potatoes.  Slowly add the rest of the milk and add salt and pepper to taste.  You may wish to serve the mashed potatoes with gravy.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

World's Most Indebted Nations

National debts can be compared in various ways.  One is simply to look at the debt of a nation, but because populations differ so widely, this is not considered the most accurate.  Debt can be divided by the population of  a country to determine the debt per capita and it can also be expressed as a percentage of GDP.  Not surprisingly, the world's most indebted nations have a higher debt than GDP.

According to cnbc.com, the five most indebted nations in the world are Ireland, the UK, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands.  It may come as a surprise because these are all classified as developed nations, but this is also the reason that these nations are able to borrow to the extent that they do.  If they were not developed nations, they would have less access to capital.

The figures below are for the year 2011 and are given in US dollars:

1) Ireland:  debt ($2.26 trillion)  GDP (182.1 billion)  debt divided by GDP (12.41)

2) UK:  debt ($10.157 trillion)  GDP ($2.250 trillion)  debt divided by GDP (4.5)

3) Switzerland debt ($1.332 trillion)  GDP ($340.5 billion)  debt divided by GDP (3.9)

4) Netherlands debt ($2.590 trillion)  GDP ($705.7) billion  debt divided by GDP (3.7)

5) Belgium debt ($1.457 trillion)  GDP ($412 billion)  debt divided by GDP (3.5)

From the figures, it is clear that the UK has the highest debt of these countries, but that in relation to GDP, Ireland has greater debt.  This is the reason that Ireland is ranked first.  In fact, if we divide Ireland's debt by its GDP, we get 12.41  For the UK, this figure is 4.5.  This is quite a significant difference.  It means that as a percentage of GDP, Ireland's debt is almost three times greater than that of the UK.  The countries ranked from third to fifth have very similar percentages when debt is divided by GDP.