Saturn, Jove and Jesus at Christmas 2020

Jupiter and Saturn aligned Dec. 20,2020
Picture taken from Ball State Planetarium, IN

As Jupiter (the king of planets) and Saturn (mythologically associated with suffering and wisdom), aligned in the skies on December 21, 2020, I can not help but wonder at what symbolic significance one can attribute to the event – without “going astrological” – especially given the pandemic-wrought suffering of 2020 as the year comes to a close amidst the joyous and hopeful notes of Christmas. These jumbo-sized planets align to the Earthling eye to some extent every 20 years, though they have not done so quite like this since March 4, 1226 (there was 1623, but the sun was too bright for anyone to see it), as per a recent USA Today article. The appearance suggests to some that of the Bethlehem Star, rising 2000 years ago to announce the reign of a new King on Earth, Jesus, the long-awaited and much-heralded Messiah and King figure of the Jewish scriptures.

As we pause to consider the suffering wrought by the corona virus pandemic in 2020, and the meaning of hope and joy at Christmastime as we put 2020 behind us, we can ponder the wisdom induced by the sufferings of Saturn, and the hope and joy brought by a regal Jupiter, and how they can both be found in the hope and hero of Christmas, Jesus.

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The Queen’s Gambit and its Lesser Puzzles

Study for Match v. Russian Champion or go to the bar?

Besides her matches with Borgov and Pluchenko in Moscow, The Queen’s Gambit abounds with intriguing chess games and positions. They are here presented, in the venerable spirit of chess puzzles like this collection from logician Raymond Smullyan.

Black’s last move? taking the N when it moved to a8 with discovered check

Thus far, games or positions discussed include

  • Mate in 3 puzzle from Episode 6 Adjournment in Benny’s basement loft, as it were, with his chess friends, who later challenge Beth to multiple simultaneous games of speed chess.
  • From Exchanges (Episode 2)
    Beth’s first tournament move
    Mate in 1 position from a Beltik game
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Phaedrus 24

My identity on chess.com would seem to require some explanation. Hopefully you can read English, as in addition to my various western US time zone friends*, I keep getting matched with opponents from Europe and sometimes Latin America; chess.com is not just fun, but globally if not cosmically fun.

The simple, enigmatic name results from a confluence of a few factors …

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The Tale of Froddy Bischer

Schachgi, Battleground for Middle Earth

Chapter 1: From Middle Earth to Top of the World

What if Bobby Fischer had turned from the Royal Game to the Game of Royalty, the Philosophy of Life?

              It was the third game of the Tellus Midi championship match, and the culmination of Froddy Bischer’s short, precocious life.  Froddy, you see, had spent his entire life in pursuit conquest and domination, in short, immortal glory, on the eighty one squares of the Game of Royals, Schachgi.  His father, himself a brilliant scientist of the highest rank, had given him his brilliantly cool calculating brain. His mother, a poet who sang with the sinners and danced with the saints, his resilient spirit.  His sister constantly dweeded on her interstellar TeleVac with her chatty friends, and didn’t figure much in his ambitious plans, or so-called “life.” 

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The Queen’s Gambit and its Puzzles

Like Russians sequestered indoors during their long, harsh winters, Americans (and likely many other parts of the world) are learning to enjoy the game of chess once again.

The NY Times cites a resurgence in chess interest in Chess (Yes, Chess) is Now a Streaming Obsession (Sept. 7, 2020 Kellen Browning), though much of it consists in watching Grandmaster superstars play rapid games (games with time limits of 5 or 10 minutes for an entire game’s moves), such as the American Haruki Namakura who has gained nearly all of his 528,000 Twitch followers since the pandemic began).

Activity at sites like chess.com is also up, though the US populace will be challenged to match the Russian enthusiasm for the game, as a report cited in Chess Life magazine a few years back cited how a stunning 43% of Russians will play at least one game of chess a year, double the rate of the closest competitor nation.

A Young Boris Spassky Chess Fans gathered outside of the Harmon-Borgov match
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All About Chess

Chess has taken many forms across space and time

While a “friend” once chided me on the oxymoronic status of my favorite magazine, Chess Life, I yet maintain that said royal game is nearly as philosophically nuanced as life itself. Or, at least it is nearly as fun. Hence, to supplement my various observations posted here at NarnianFrodo, I hereby include a category for musings on chess [and] life, as it were.

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Jesus Talks with Buddha: The Lotus and the Cross

“Jesus and Buddha can not both be right; the lotus is the symbol of Buddhism, the cross the symbol of Christian faith. Behind them stand two diametrically opposed beliefs.”

RZ Buddha

Notes/summary from The Lotus and the Cross: Jesus Talks with Buddha, Ravi Zacharias (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Press, 2001).

“Dedicated to ‘the kind and generous peoples of Malaysia, India, Singapore and Thailand for their friendship, hospitality and inspiration.’ where the author spent time, ‘scores of hours in temples with monks and with instructors of Buddhist thought,’ researching the book.”

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From [Confucian/Taoist] Pagan to Christian: Story of Philosopher Lin Yutang

From David Cain’s Wild Wild West persona Kwang Chai Cain, the peripatetic peace-loving Shaolin monk to Disney’s Mulan, Kung Fu Panda and upcoming Moana to the Karate Kid, the allure of Eastern Thought has held a certain popular appeal. Here we listen to noted Chinese novelist, philosopher, translator and inventor (a Chinese typewriter plus a toothpaste-dispensing toothbrush) Lin Yutang as he reconciles his upbringing as the son of a Chinese Pastor with his learning in Chinese Classics and later return to Christianity.

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