22 November 2020

Hopelessly Entangled Topics

Another post on the Queen's Gambit Mania (October 2020) would be a great choice for this month's continuation of the series on The Sociology of Chess (November 2016). Since I already used the subject in this month's video selection, Queen's Gambit on the Tomatometer, let's go with a different idea. There's only one problem: it's not exactly a new idea either. The subject has already been seen on this blog several times this year, including a previous sociology post of the month, Political Pundits and Pogchamps (August 2020).

Online chess makes its biggest move (5:09) • '[Published on] Nov 1, 2020'

The video clip is from the CBS Sunday Morning show. Its description says,

The pandemic has hurt most professional sports, but it's done wonders for one game: chess! Players and fans, looking for competitive thrills, are logging into online chess platforms like never before. Correspondent David Pogue talks with a chess grandmaster and an online chess star about the boom in the game.

The chess grandmaster is Maurice Ashley, the focus of last month's sociology post, Wild Rabbit, Meet Black Bear (October 2020). The online chess star is Alexandra Botez, the focus of a previous month's sociology post, The Dilemma of Women's Chess (July 2020).

Which of the two themes -- Netflix 'Queen's Gambit' -or- the online boom -- will turn out to be the biggest chess story of 2020? I vote for Netflix. The online boom still has to prove it won't turn into a bust, like so many previous chess booms.


I had a good runner-up video for this post, World's hardest "Chess puzzle" | Fun Puzzles | Chess piece placement puzzle, from Youtube's MathsSmart channel.

Over a hundred years ago, Kempelen's famous chess player could not only beat most players that challenged him, but he could also formulate chess puzzles that stumped the best minds of the day. Here is one of the hardest. You are required to place four Black Queens and a Black Bishop on a chessboard so that they control the entire board. In other words, after the five pieces have been positioned, it will be impossible to place the White King on any vacant square without being in check.

The solution is available from the video page. Math and chess will always be hopelessly entangled.

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