Search Results for: chess

Chess Boxing: an actual thing done by humans, repeatedly

Robert Krulwich doesn’t lie, which forces me to conclude that Chess Boxing is an actual thing.

We start in a ring. There are screaming fans. The first round is 4 minutes of chess, followed by 3 minutes of boxing, then chess, then boxing, for 11 rounds. You win by knocking out your opponent or checkmating him, either way.

As Krulwich writes, Chess Boxing has apparently been practiced for close to a decade, in a growing number of venues around the world (after starting in Amsterdam). That I had never heard of it before today reminds me that the world of games will always be far larger — and weirder — than I’ll ever completely grasp, bless it.

(And, given the subject matter behind of our banner artwork, perhaps I ought to declare Chess Boxing the official sport of The Gameshelf…)

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Weekend links: two on chess

Lewischess2-popup.jpgVia the New York Times’ “Gambit” chess blog, we learn of a new controversy surrounding… well, not so much a very old game as a set of very old game pieces, with new evidence causing some to question the national origin of the celebrated Lewis Chessmen.

But really, I just wanted to take the opportunity to mention these extraordinary game pieces on this blog. Even though they’ve been known to the modern world since the 19th century, I first learned about them only some months ago while kicking around Wikipedia. While they like look like the whimsical work of a modern sculptor — at least to my unschooled eye — they were actually carved some 800 years ago.

I showed pictures of these little guys to a friend this morning, one who actually does know something about art history. She tried to add a little perspective to my astonishment, noting how a lot of medieval artwork looks comically cartoony by modern standards. But while she spoke, all I could think was: boy, I’d love to just reach over and pick one of these pieces up. I recognize intention in their squat, chunky shapes: they were made to thunk down on the board, decisively. I bet they make a really satisfying sound when that happens.

Heading away from the past and into an uncertain future, we discover quantum chess, a computer game by Queen’s University student Alice Wismath, based on a concept by Selim Akl, a computer science proessor at Queen’s. It appears to be an academic work in progress, though one fun enough to have gained a bit of media traction. Certainly, it’s an intriguing idea, using the notion of quantum superposition to add a (perhaps rather thick) layer of tactical surprise to an otherwise pure strategy game:

A piece that should be a knight could simultaneously also be a queen, a pawn or something else. The player doesn’t know what the second state might be or which of the two states the piece will choose when it is moved.

“It was very weird,” said Ernesto Posse, a Queen’s postdoctoral researcher who took part in a recent “quantum chess” tournament at the university in Kingston, Ont. “You only know what a piece really is once you touch the piece. Basically, planning ahead is impossible.”

Like a lot of geeks, I’m enamored with the twisty little passages that represent quantum physics (or at least the closest representation a layman like me can grasp). But even moreso, any science that can plug itself into a cultural foundation of gaming to produce wacky chess variants is my kind of science.

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MIT campus becomes giant game table

To start off the blog in the right mood, here's Eric Schmiedl's photographic evidence of a December 10 MIT hack that transformed highly visible parts of campus into an enormous game table.

On the morning of December 10th, hackers put up references to various board games around MIT. The Stata Center's Student Street got the cheese, mousetrap, and mouse (the latter, formerly known as the Hilltop Steakhouse Cow) from Mousetrap. Building 46 and the 34 atrium got the logo, cards, and dice from Cranium. The Media Lab (Building E15) got Scrabble -- a complete game played out on the gridded surface of the walls. The black and white paving stones in the MIT Medical / Media Lab courtyard were converted into a game of chess: with students playing black and the administration playing white. The grassy 'Dot' in front of the Green Building (54) gained a Settlers of Catan board, complete with MIT Campus Police officer as the 'robber' character standing watch with a can of A&W (root) beer in his pocket and a doughnut in his hand. And the campus maps that so helpfully guide tourists with their color-coded areas of MIT were turned into games of Risk, complete with plastic soldiers. Paper forms of the RISK maps were posted around campus as well, complete with proper markings to play a game of RISK a la MIT.

More photos of the prank on Eric's site.

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