Games

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“‘So at what point can you call yourself a Grandmaster?’

‘A Grandmaster doesn’t say he’s a Grandmaster. Other people say it for him.’” [1]

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the most secret and silly ways to draw

[2]

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“If an en passant capture is the only legal move available, it must be made. This point was debated in the 19th century, with some arguing that the right to make an en passant capture is a ‘privilege’ that one cannot be compelled to exercise.” [3]

Once, during a game of online chess, I did an en passant capture, and in the chat my opponent (who was pretty good) accused me of cheating.

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[Pannenkoek] “When a rook becomes unblocked, does its attack range propagate outward at the speed of light?”

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“Pam-Krabbé castling was an unintentional ‘legal move’ in chess. According to an earlier version of the FIDE rules, castling was allowed to be carried out when:

  • the king hasn’t yet been moved
  • the participating rook hasn’t yet been moved
  • no piece stands between the king and the participating rook
  • the king doesn’t have to go through check
  • the king is out of check before and after the move” [4]
It’s a vertical form of castling.
“This is one of the few examples of a ‘coding exploit’ in an analog game.” [5]

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“In Go, a divine move is a truly inspired and original move ― one that’s non-obvious and which balances strategy and tactics to turn a losing game into a winning game. A divine move is singular ― they’re of such rarity that a full-time Go player might play one such move in a lifetime.” [6]

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“In baseball, an uncaught third strike (sometimes called a ‘dropped third strike’) occurs when the catcher fails to cleanly catch a pitch for the third strike. On an uncaught third strike with (1) no runner on first base, or (2) with a runner on first base and two outs, the batter immediately becomes a runner. The strike is called, but the umpire doesn’t call the batter out. The batter may then attempt to reach first base and must be tagged or forced out. With two outs and the bases loaded, the catcher who fails to catch the third strike may, upon picking up the ball, step on home plate for a force-out or make a throw to any other base in an effort to force out a runner. An ‘uncaught’ strike includes not only pitches dropped by the catcher, but also pitches that hit the ground before the catcher attempts to catch it.

The purpose of the ‘no runner on first base or two outs’ qualification is to prevent the catcher from deliberately dropping a third-strike pitch and then initiating an unfair double or triple play with possible force plays at second base, third base, or home plate, in addition to putting the batter out at first base. The logic of the situation is similar to that which led to the infield fly rule. Regardless of the outcome of an uncaught third strike, the pitcher is statistically credited with a strikeout, and the batter is statistically charged with one. Because of the uncaught third strike rule, it’s possible for a pitcher to register more than three strikeouts in an inning. Numerous pitchers have recorded four strikeouts in an inning in a Major League Baseball game, though no five-strikeout innings have ever occurred.” [7]

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In ping-pong, there’s something I’ve always thought of as a secret shot. It can only be done on tables with a net that has gaps the ends (so unfortunately not on regulation ones).

As you can guess, you hit the ball through there! And it bounces off the net post, and that keeps it in play. I vaguely remember once seeing a friend or family member (or it might’ve even been me) inadvertently make this shot while rallying, but it might just be a false memory. Either way, I want to hit this shot again some day, and maybe even record it on video.

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“Actuaries have calculated the chance of an average golfer making a hole-in-one at approximately 1 in 12,500, and the odds of a tour professional at 1 in 2,500.

Holes-in-one most commonly occur on par-3 holes, the shortest distance holes on a standard size golf course. Longer hitters have also accomplished this feat on longer holes, though nearly all par-4 and par-5 holes are too long for golfers to complete in a single shot. Holes-in-one are considered also to contain an element of luck. As such, they’re more common and considered less impressive than other accomplishments, such as albatrosses.

An albatross means scoring three under par ― the albatross being one of the largest birds. This is an extremely rare score, and occurs most commonly on par-5 with a strong drive and a holed approach shot. (Holes-in-one on par-4 holes are also albatrosses.) Albatrosses are much rarer than par-3 holes-in-one ― the odds are estimated at 1 in 1,000,000.

As of 2008, a condor (a hole-in-one on a par-5) had been recorded on four occasions, aided by thin air at high altitude, or by cutting the corner on a doglegged or horseshoe-shaped hole. None were achieved during a professional tournament.

North Korean media once reported that during a round of golf, Kim Jong-il had shot 18 consecutive holes-in-one.” [8]

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“Experts have many advantages when compared to those of more modest skill. For example, experts simply know more in their domain of expertise. Some theorists have suggested that this is why someone usually needs a full decade to acquire expert status, whether the proficiency is in music, software design, chess, or any other domain. Ten years is presumably the time needed to acquire a large enough knowledge base so that the expert has the necessary facts near at hand and the necessary subroutines well practiced and available. In addition, an expert’s knowledge is heavily cross-referenced, so that each bit of information has associations with many other bits. As a result, not only do experts know more, but they also have faster, more effective access to what they know.

Crucially, though, experts also have a different sort of knowledge than novices do ― knowledge focused on higher-order patterns. As a consequence, experts can, in effect, think in larger units, tackling problems in big steps rather than small ones. This is evident, for example, in studies of chess players. Novice chess players think about a game in terms of the position of individual pieces; experts, in contrast, think about the board in terms of pieces organized into broad, strategic groupings (e.g. a kingside attack with pawns). This is made possible by the fact that the masters have a ‘chess vocabulary’ in which these complex concepts are stored as single memory chunks, each with an associated set of subroutines for how one should respond to the pattern. Some investigators estimate that the masters may have as many as 50,000 of these chunks in their memories, each representing a strategic pattern.

These memory chunks can be detected in many ways, including the way that players recall a game. For example, players of different ranks were shown chess positions for five seconds each and then asked to reproduce the positions a few minutes later. Grandmasters and masters did so with hardly an error; lesser players, however, made many errors. This difference in performance wasn’t due to the chess masters having better visual memory. When presented with bizarre positions, unlikely ever to arise in the course of a game, they recalled them no better than the novices did, and in some cases they remembered the bizarre patterns less accurately than the novices did. The superiority of the masters, therefore, wasn’t in their memory for patterns, but in their conceptual organization of chess.”i[9]

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“Novices learn about prototypical cases during training, but experts have had experience of exceptions to these and hence have developed a broader view of the category.” [10]

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The experts better understand the edge cases.

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“A wise person knows when to make an exception to every rule.” [11]

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“Even though Tal lost, he claimed it was the happiest day of his life, due to the beauty of his opponent’s play.” [12]

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“Only after the tenth punch will you see the fist, and only after the twentieth will you block it.” [13]

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“You can discover more about someone in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” [14]

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Citations

  1. Humans of New York
  2. Wikipedia’s Draw (Chess) article
  3. Wikipedia’s En Passant article
  4. Wikipedia’s now-deleted Pam-Krabbé Castling article, translated from Russian
  5. Noah Hermalin
  6. Mato Jelic
  7. Wikipedia‘s List of Go Terms article
  8. Wikipedia’s Uncaught Third Strike article
  9. Gleitman, Reisberg, & Gross
  10. Wikipedia’s now-deleted Rare Scores in Golf article
  11. S. Ian Robertson
  12. Barry Schwarz
  13. Sensei’s Library
  14. Richard Lingard
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