Monday, June 25, 2012

Opening Blunder

In a game of speed chess at chess.com, my opponent MuratMihcioglu of Turkey made a blunder in the opening which was swiftly punished.  Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 f6

My opponent makes a very bad move.  The problem is that his king is in the centre and I can sacrifice my knight to open lines of attack.

3. Nxe5 fxe5
4. Qh5+ Ke7

It is usually not a good idea to bring the queen out so early in a game, but here it is a strong move.

5. Qxe5+ Kf7
6. Bc4+  Kg6
7. Qf5+ Kh6
8. d4+  g5

This is my fifth check in a row.

9. h4 Kg7

The black king tries to escape.

10. Qf7+ Kh6

I force the king back into the corner.

11. hxg#

The black king is checked by both the rook and the pawn.

Experienced players know that after 1. e4 e5 Nf3 black must not play f6.  Unlike d6, the move f6 exposes the white king to a deadly attack after Nxe5.  I take full advantage of my opponent's blunder and mate on my eleventh move.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Stress in British and American English

Many words are stressed differently in British and American English.   French loanwords are often stressed on an earlier syllable in British English than in American.  In other cases, American English stresses an earlier syllable.

The following French loanwords have first-syllable stress in British English and final-syllable stress in American:  adult, ballet, brochure, buffet, cafe, chalet, croissant, garage, gourmet, salon, vaccine.

The following words with the suffix -ate have first-syllable stress in American English and final-syllable stress in British:  dictate, migrate, rotate, vibrate.

These words also have first-syllable stress in American English.  In British English, the stress is on the second syllable:  mama, marshmallow, papa, weekend.  However, with words such as caffeine and paprika the reverse is true.  They have first-syllable stress in British English.

The number of words with stress differences in British and American English is far greater than the list given here.  Nevertheless, this list illustrates that one group includes  French loanwords and another words with the suffix -ate.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hungarian Word Order

Hungarian word order is much freer than in many other languages.  This is especially true in sentences which contain a direct object.  In such sentences, the direct object is marked by the suffix -t.  Because the direct object is marked, it does not have to follow the verb.

To illustrate word order in Hungarian, let us look at the following sentence:  Krisztina szereti a levest.  This sentence means "Christina loves the soup."  The word order of the sentence is the same as in English.  The word for soup is "leves" but with the suffix -t, it becomes a direct object.  However, other word orders are possible.

A levest Krisztina szereti.  In this sentence the emphasis is on the subject "Christina."

Krisztina a levest szereti.  Now the emphasis is on the object "soup."

A levest szereti Krisztina.  Here the emphasis is on the object "soup" but the emphasis is even greater than in the former sentence.

Szereti a levest Krisztina.  The emphasis is on the verb "loves."

Szereti Krisztina a levest.  Again the emphasis is on the verb "loves" but the subject Christina is more prominent than in the former sentence.

In languages with a relatively fixed word order such as English, a sentence such as "Christina loves soup" cannot be expressed with a different word order.  In Hungarian, however, the word order of such a sentence is very free.  The result is that the sentence can be expressed with six different word orders.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ten Great Beers

Beer is one of the most popular alcoholic beverages in the world and also one of the oldest.  The ten beers I have selected are not only of excellent quality but also beers that I strongly recommend.

Belgium is a country which produces hundreds of beers.  Three which are outstanding are Kriek, a cherry beer, Framboise, a raspberry beer and Hoegaarden, a beer with flavours which include coriander and orange peel.

Germany has a wheat beer called Weissbeer which is light in colour and very refreshing.  It is a beer with a lot of foam.

The Czech Republic has a dark beer called Gambrinus which is very popular.  It is one of my favourite dark beers.

Ireland produces two very popular beers.  They are Guiness, a strong dark beer and Kilkenny, a beer which is not as dark as Guiness and is very creamy.

Mexico has beers that are often enjoyed with lime.  One such beer is Tecate.  It is a light beer which is very refreshing on a hot day.

Scotland is the home of McEwan's Ale.  It is a dark beer but tastes sweet with a hint of caramel.

Japan produces a very popular beer called Asahi Super Dry.  It is a light beer which is undoubtedly the most famous of Japanese beers.

Many kinds of beer are produced all around the world.  However, a few beers are so special that they distinguish themselves from the rest.  The fruit-flavoured beers of Belgium, the wheat beer of Germany, and the sweet Scottish ale called McEwan's are examples of such beers.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Chess Openings

An important part of a chess game is the opening.  Without a good opening, it is difficult to excel in the middlegame and endgame.  A few popular openings are the Ruy Lopez, Sicilian Defence, Giuoco Piano, Queen's Gambit Accepted and Queen's Gambit Declined.

The Ruy Lopez, also known as the Spanish Game, is popular at all levels.  White begins with 1. e4 and  black  replies with 1...e5.  White follows with 2. Nf3 and black with 2...Nc6.  White then plays 3. Bb5.

In the Sicilian Defence, white plays 1. e4 and black counters with 1...c5.  In this defence, black immediately attempts to develop counterplay.

The Giuoco Piano, also known as the Italian Game, is less popular than the Ruy Lopez at the highest levels.  The reason is that it is considered an opening that often ends in a draw.  The first two moves for white and black are the same as in the Ruy Lopez.  In this opening, white plays 1. e4 and black replies with 1...e5.  This continues with 2. Nf3 ...Nc6 which is followed by 3. Bc4 ...Bc5.

In the Queen's Gambit, white opens with the queen pawn.  White plays 1. d4 and black replies with 1...d5.  Now white plays 2.  c4.  The goal of the opening is to sacrifice the c-pawn to gain control of the centre.  White wants black to play dxc in order to play  e4 on the following move.  If black replies with 2...dxc, this is called the Queen's Gambit Accepted.  However, if  black replies with 2...e6, this is the Queen's Gambit Declined.

The moves 1. e4 and 1. d4 are common opening moves for white.  With these moves, popular openings such as the Ruy Lopez, Giuoco Piano and Queen's Gambit can be played.  However, other opening moves are also popular such as 1. Nf3 and 1. c4.  The moves 1.e4, 1.d4, 1. c4 and 1. Nf3 are definitely the most popular opening moves for white.  A good opening is essential for success in chess.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Relational Grammar

Relational grammar is a syntactic theory which was introduced in the 1970's.  It has declined in popularity but is nonetheless an alternative framework to transformational grammar for analyzing grammatical relations in languages.  Among the grammatical relations which it analyzes are passivization and dative shift.

In the sentence "William Shakespeare wrote Hamlet," the subject is "William Shakespeare" and the object is "Hamlet."  However, in the sentence "Hamlet was written by William Shakespeare," the subject is "Hamlet" and "William Shakespeare" is the agent.  Relational grammar explores the relationship between the subject and object and between the subject and agent.

According to relational grammar, the sentence "Hamlet was written by William Shakespeare" has a subject, a predicate and a chomeur.  The chomeur in this case is "William Shakespeare" and this simply means that the constituent no longer has a grammatical relation. 

In the sentence "Paul gave a gift to Lisa," the subject is "Paul," the direct object is "a gift" and the indirect object is "Lisa."  In dative shift, the sentence is expressed as "Paul gave Lisa a gift."  The dative is "Lisa" because this is the indirect object which now precedes the direct object "a gift."

In relational grammar, the constituents which serve as arguments to predicates are numbered.  Thus, in the sentence "Paul gave Lisa a gift," the subject is (1), the direct object is (2) and the indirect object is (3).  The sentence "Paul gave Lisa a gift," the structure is (1) P (3) (2).  P stands for predicate.  In the sentence "Paul gave a gift to Lisa," the structure is (1) P (2) (3).

Relational grammar is a theory of grammatical relations.  It is more closely connected to semantics than is transformational grammar.  The chomeur is an idea which is particular to relational grammar. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Banana Pancakes

Banana pancakes are delicious and easy to make.  Be sure to use ripe bananas.  This recipe makes about four pancakes.  You need:

1 cup flour
1 egg
1 cup milk
2 bananas
butter

Mix the egg and flour in a bowl.  Add the milk gradually and mix.  Mash the bananas in a separate bowl  and add them to the batter.  Grease a frying pan with a bit of butter and melt over medium heat.  Pour batter onto the pan and cook for about two minutes on each side or until the pancakes become golden brown.  Enjoy!