Monday, January 14, 2013

Victory Without Castling

In a game of speed chess against Andyhk of China, I could not castle but emerged victorious.  Playing as white, I chose to open with the King's Gambit, an exciting opening that offers a pawn for rapid development.  Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 e5
2. f4 d6

Black declines the offer of a pawn.

3. Nf3 Bg4
4. Be2 exf

Black decides to accept the pawn.

5. d4 Bxf3

Black gives up his bishop but can now check with the queen on h4.

6. Bxf3 Qh4+

7. Ke2 Nf6

Black has taken away my right to castle.

8. Nc3 Nc6
9. e5 dxe

Perhaps black thinks he has won a pawn.

10. Bxc6+ bxc6
11. dxe Qg4+

Ng4 is a better move for black.

12. Kf2 Qh4+

Black makes a bad move.

13. g3 fxg+
14. hxg Ng4+

Black uses a check to escape the double attack.

15. Kg2 Qe7

The knight is no longer protected.

16. Qxg4 Qxe5

The black queen captures a pawn, but with the black king in the centre of the board this is risky.

17. Bf4 Qf6
18. Rae1+ Be7
19. Bg5 Qd6

I take advantage of the pin on the black bishop.

20. Rxe7+ Kf8
21. Rhe1 g6

Black makes another bad move.  The move h6 is better, but black is clearly losing.

22. Bh6+

Black decides to resign.  The only possible move is Kg8.  I then play Re8+.  Black must play Rxe8 and then I mate with Rxe8.  Since mate cannot be avoided, Black ends the game here.

Black manages to prevent my king from castling by checking with his queen.  However, black's twelfth move, Qh4+, is a mistake which exposes him to a double attack.  Two other factors in his loss are his exposed king and his two rooks which never leave their original squares.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Question

Robert Frost wrote the short poem A Question.  The poem is very philosophical.

A voice said, Look me in the stars
And tell me truly, men of earth
If all the soul-and-body scars
Were not too much to pay for birth.

The poem has four verses.  Each one is eight syllables in length and the stress pattern is weak strong.  The poem is in iambic tetrameter.

In this poem the narrator hears a voice.  This voice is from heaven and asks the narrator to answer a question.  The question is for all mankind.  God asks if all the sins and pains of life are too great for the gift of life. 

The question is addressed to mankind, but at the same time it may also reflect God's disappointment with His creation.  Though short and simple, the poem poses a complex question.  The style is typical of Robert Frost.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Belgian French

The French of Belgium is not so different from that of France.  In fact, there are only a few differences in vocabulary and pronunciation.  These differences are also present in the regional varieties of French spoken in France.

In standard French, seventy is soixante-dix and ninety is quatre-vingt-dix.  In Belgium, however, seventy is septante and ninety is nonante.  These words are also used in Swiss French.

Belgian French also has a few differences in pronunciation.  The labiopalatal approximant of Standard French does not exist.  For example, the word huit (eight) is pronounced similarly to the English word wheat. 

In Belgian French, long vowels occur in word-final position.  As a result, feminine adjectives are different from the masculine ones.  For example, vrai/vraie (true) are pronounced differently.  Also, the r is often pronounced as a uvular trill rather than a uvular fricative.  The uvular trill also occurs in France, but is often associated with Belgium. 

For some speakers, word-final plosives are devoiced.  Words such as grande (big) and bague (ring) have voiceless plosives in word-final position.

Though the French of Belgium and northern France is similar, differences nevertheless exist.  They are mainly in vocabulary and pronunciation.  In pronunciation, one of the notable differences is the absence of the labiopalatal approximant.

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