Checkers, anyone?

Checkers (or “draughts”) dates back 5000 years to the Egyptians, shows up in the writings of Homer and Plato, with variations played by Romans (Latrunculi), Arabs (Alquerque), Chinese (aptly titled Chinese Checkers), and even Hawaiians (Konane), let alone Canadians, Germans, Russians and more, sometimes on boards of 10×10 or even 12×12. Regular but not boring checkers, 8×8 board, captures necessary when possible, “King”ing peiece when they reach the last row, no moving backwards (except for Kings), etc.

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The Queens’ Gambit: Openings from Other Lands

Moscow, Paris, Mexico City

Kentucky, Columbus, Las Vegas, New York, Mexico City, Paris, Moscow: the chess matches span much of the globe. So do the openings, or they could have – there was a distinct preference for the Sicilian Defense, then (naturlich) some Queen’s Gambits. Had they chosen a more geographically representative set of openings, here is what they might have done …

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Chess with Ferb: Queens Gambit Battles Betwixt Beth and Benny

Benny aka Ferb played some mean chess

Benny’s games and discussions with Beth lacked the international charm of the other venues (Mexico City, Paris, Moscow), and frankly cluttered up the other pages.* But they were highly interesting on their own terms, though often played, as bewailed of the the tournament in Columbus, Ohio, “with plastic pieces on vinyl boards” unlike the more exotic venues abroad. So here they are, starting off with a puzzle presented in Benny basement chess lair, followed by Beth’s game against Benny in the US Open championship in Las Vegas, Benny’s humiliation of Beth at speed chess, then Beth’s return match(es) with Benny and two friends, simultaneously at speed chess.

For more chess from The Queens Gambit, visit

*_The Queens Gambit: Puzzling Positions in Kentucky, Mexico City and Paris
The Queens Gambit: Moscow Edition

For a more philosophical discussion, visit

Lilith and the Queen’s Gambit: Two Ingenue who Learn to Love through Sacrifice

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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: Puzzling Positions in Kentucky, Mexico City and Paris

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: Moscow Edition

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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