Friday, November 29, 2013

Mate with Rook and Knight

In a game of speed chess versus Juanpablogonzalez of Argentina, I mated with my rook and knight. My opponent, who played black, probably never saw the mate. Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. d4 d5
2. c4 Be6

Black makes an unusual move. More common moves are c6, e6 and dxc.

3. c5 a6
4. Nc3 h6
5. Bf4 Nc6
6. Nf3 Nf6
7. e3 Bf5

I want to prevent black from playing Nb4 on his next move because this targets c2.

8. Bd3 Bxd3
9. Qxd3 e6
10 a3 Be7
11. 0-0 0-0
12. b4 Na7

I have a space advantage.

13. h3 c6
14. Rad1 b6

The knight on a7 is ineffective.

15. e4 bxc
16. bxc Nc8

The knight is even more ineffective on c8.

17. Ne5 Qe8
18. Nf3 a5
19. exd exd
20. Rfe1 Qd7
21. Ne5 Qb7
22. Rb1 Qa6

Black wants to exchange queens, but my queen is more valuable.

23. Qg3 Bd8

Black misses my next move.

24. Bxh6 Nh5
25. Qg4 g6
26. Nxg6 Re8

This is a blunder but black cannot save the rook.

27. Rxe8+ Kh7

This is black's only legal move.

28. Rh8#

The knight on g6 and the bishop on h6 are hanging, but this does not matter. I mate the black king with a combination of my rook and knight. Black cannot protect the back rank.

I take advantage of black's cramped position, lack of control of the back rank and exposed king to force mate. Black plays a number of dubious moves such as Nc8. This move worsens his position and gives me a space advantage. The black rooks play no active role in the game.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Spanish Syntax

Spanish syntax is similar to that of English in many ways. Both Spanish and English are SOV languages and both languages have wh-movement. However, in sentences, Spanish displays greater variety.

For example, the English sentence David isn't going to the party cannot be expressed with a different word order. In Spanish, three sentences are possible.  They are:

1) David no va a la fiesta.
2) No va David a la fiesta.
3) No va a la fiesta David.

The first sentence has the same word order as in English. In the second sentence, the subject David is placed after the verb and in the third sentence the subject David is placed after the object of the preposition party.

The basic Spanish structure is expressed in number 1. In number two we see the NP placed after the VP. More emphasis is given to the VP. In the third sentence, the NP is placed after the VP and the PP. Here the subject is demoted to sentence-final position.

Though English and Spanish both share many syntactic similarities, they also have differences. One of these differences is the word order of sentences. English often has a fixed word order in cases where Spanish allows a variety of word orders.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Winning Tactic

In a game of speed chess versus Mikehw of England, I used a winning tactic to force a quick resignation. My opponent played black. Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 d6

Black chooses a passive defence. Nc6 is more common.

3. d4 exd

I immediately challenge black's centre.

4. Nxd4 Be7
5. Nc3 Bf6

Black moves the bishop again. It is better to develop the knight.

6. Be3 Ne7
7. Qd2 Ng6

Black moves the knight again. It is better to castle or develop another piece.

8. 0-0-0 a6
9. Kb1 b5
10. Nce2 c5

Black advances the queenside pawns, but the black king remains exposed in the centre of the board.

11. Nf5 Qc7
12. Qxd6 Be5

I win a pawn, but to my surprise, black does not recapture. I expect ...Qxd6 13. Nxd6+. Blacks wants to avoid this, but his move is a blunder.

13. Nxg7+

I sacrifice my knight to win black's queen. Black must reply Bxg7 and then I play Qxc7. My thirteenth move is so strong that black decides to resign.

I win quickly because black falls behind in development, leaves his king exposed in the centre and blunders on his twelfth move. He loses a valuable pawn and then overlooks my knight sacrifice, which ends the game. My knight sacrifice is undoubtedly a surprise.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Ten Famous Arias

An aria is a long song written for a solo voice. Many operas have famous arias which have thrilled audiences from their premiere. Arias are a highlight of opera. Here is a list of ten famous arias:

1) Rigoletto (Caro Nome)
2) Rigoletto (La Donna è mobile)
3) Gianni Schicchi (O mio babbino caro)
4) Carmen (La voila...L'amour est oiseau rebelle)
5) Madama Butterfly (Un bel di, vedremo)
6) La Bohème (Che gelida manina)
7) The Marriage of Figaro (Voi che sapate che cosa è amor)
8) Aida (Celeste, Aida)
9) Tosca (Vissi d'arte, Vissi d'amore)
10) Turandot (Nessun Dorma)

The list has arias from nine operas. The opera Rigoletto appears twice. The composer Puccini (Gianni Schichhi, Madama Butterfly, La Bohème, Tosca, Turandot) has five arias. Verdi (Rigoletto, Aida) has three and Mozart (The Marriage of Figaro) and Bizet (Carmen) both have one. This list is by no means definitive and in fact, a list of ten famous arias can vary greatly.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Spices of French Cuisine

French cuisine employs a wide variety of spices. Modern cuisine tends to use less spice than in the past in order to emphasize the natural flavour of the dish. However, in comparison to many other cuisines, French cuisine nevertheless uses many different spices.

Salt and pepper are the main spices of French cuisine. In poultry dishes, mustard, garlic, paprika, ginger, thyme, basil, bay leaf, cayenne pepper and cumin are used.

Beef is often seasoned with bay leaf, parsley and thyme. Other recipes use garlic, rosemary, ginger, saffron and mustard. Lamb is often flavoured with cumin, cayenne, tarragon, mint, thyme, bay leaf, basil, tarragon, parsley, ginger, coriander and cloves. Pork is often flavoured with laurel and nutmeg.

Fish is typically prepared with saffron, paprika and ginger. In other seafood dishes, spices such as thyme, marjoram, rosemary, tarragon, chervil, fennel and lavender can be used.

Vegetables are often seasoned with clove, thyme, garlic, basil, nutmeg, parsley, chives, bay leaf and oregano. Potatoes are often served with thyme and bay leaf. Tomato-based dishes often have garlic, parsley, oregano, thyme and basil.

Fruits are often flavoured with mint, vanilla and cinnamon. Bananas can be flavoured with ginger and rum extract. French desserts are also flavoured with many spices. They include vanilla, almond extract, orange and lemon zest, nutmeg and cardamon.

The use of spices in French cuisine is extensive. Fish is usually prepared with fewer spices than other types of meat. Vegetables are usually prepared with more spices than fruits. The extensive use of spices is one of the reasons that French cuisine is so famous today.

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