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Archive for the ‘Puzzle’ Category

This is a relatively free-form reflection on the comment left at a previous post.

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The 2009/10 Konditori van Gogh award for excellence in Impressionist Scripting

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The pleasures of chess

Garry Kasparov this month thinks about reviewing something-or-other in the New York Review of Books, becoming happily diverted into a discussion of what makes chess truly interesting. (I draw also from some recent conversations with S. O. Killmier.)

The big point: chess is not about who can see the most moves ahead. Computers (and humans) that win by doing this are simply winning by brute force, rather than by intelligence; in the article Kasparov memorably denigrates his result against Deep Blue as ‘losing to a $10 million alarm clock.’ If one insists that the only purpose of chess is to win, then brute force seems a very successful, though by no means infallible, way to do this. I’d like to spend a little time describing just why it isn’t fool-proof; and a lot of time showing why victory in chess is less than half the point.

Imagine you are a chess computer; in fact, imagine you are a chess computer with limitless computational power. Now here is a famous chess position—find the winning move:

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A Calendar Puzzle

Here’s a nice, neat puzzle for those with a spare minute.

I was at a mate’s house and saw that he had a desk calendar that worked as follows. The day of the month was displayed using two cubes, which had one number on each face. A quick calculation would suggest that the first cube (the tens column) needs the numbers 0,1,2,3. But the second cube (the ones column) needs the ten numbers 0-9. Each cube only has six faces, so it looks like we’re 4 + 10 – 12 = 2 faces short. So how does it work?

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