Saturday, August 18, 2007

Aspirational TV

I've discovered a wonderful new TV programme called Jane and the Dragon. It's about (ostensibly) a girl who wants to train to be a knight when everyone else, including her mother and father, wants to pigeonhole her into being a lady-in-waiting like her mother. Even her friends aren't sure about her ambition, but at least the rules are applied fairly by Sir Theodore, although he is a daft old ... knight. So she sets out to kill the dragon but instead befriends it and brings it back to the castle. Which isn't always appreciated as it should be.

Why she wants to be a knight when the examples around are less than honourable beats me, but I suppose it's better than being a lady-in-waiting, even if the young princess who smells of lavender is quite nice really.

There's a website although Jester hasn't fully finished it, so no link here. Google it and you'll find it. Programme is Saturday and Sunday mornings on Five.

In other news, I'm hoping to meet a man with seven wives.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Rock Your World

According to New Scientist, researchers have been making recordings to show what sounds come out like on other worlds, in preparation for sending recording equipment there. Atmosphere density and composition changes the harmonics. So now they know what Smoke on the Water sounds like on Venus and Titan. ("I should have doen thunder, but I couldn't resist" says the producer.)

On Venus it's much deeper and punchier and on Titan it's much louder. So that's next holiday sorted.

Friday, August 10, 2007

A British Champion

Who says chess isn't exciting?

This afternoon is the last day of the British Championship and I doubt it's ever been so tense in the last round. The two leaders are the number 8 and 12 seeds, by half a point over numbers 1, 3, 4, 7, 10 and 11. 5 and 9 are half a point behind those two and number 2 seed is off the pace (!) a further half point behind. Now 12 is playing 10, 7 v 8, 1 v4 and 3 v 11. Any of these can therefore finish up first or equal first if the results go their way.

I've been watching live the last few days as Jacob Aagaard (12) has tried to blow a colossal lead. At 6.5 out of 7 he looked like a winner all the way; after 1 point from the next 3 games he's been demoted to Board 2, but is still guaranteed at least a share of first place (with up to one other) if he wins, and a draw will do it unless the game on board 1 is a win for White (potential for up to a four-way tie, if boards 3 and 4 are decisive one way or the other. A draw can't give him the title outright). Another defeat will leave him nowhere, relatively.

I note that Jacob has played (including this afternoon's game) the players currently lying in positions 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 10. So I think he'll deserve it if he wins. Averaging the gradings of opponents, he has played the highest average of anyone, equal with the number 4 seed, Nick Pert. Jacob drew with the number 1 seed and beat numbers 3, 4, 5 and 9.

Jacob plays under the Scottish flag. The Scots do seem to have a lock on the championship in recent years .... (Famous last words.)

Well every bit as thrilling as anticipated. No short draws with so much at stake. Aagaard won a pawn at the cost of an open g-file to his king, and contrived to lose the exchange. Pawn for the exchange then, but pressure against his king-side ....

Rowson beat Pert, so that's one player on 8. Hebden plugging away, but lost his a-pawn and facing an advanced passed d-pawn ... (which disappears with surprising speed)

On board one Gordon, needing a win for 8.5 to overtake Rowson, had a pawn for the exchange ... but I was never convinced his attack was going anywhere. Aagaard I felt could always resist the pressure but one slip and it would be over. Much tense manoeuvring.

Suddenly Kosten gets two rooks round the back of Gordon's defence, whose bishop is pinned to his queen and behind that the king. But the Black king is suddenly exposed ....

Howell beats Williams with 25 seconds left on his clock. (You can make a lot of moves in 25 seconds.)

I don't understand all the pawn captures in Hebden-Haslinger but it looks drawish, two bishops v bishop and knight. Yes, there it goes, in 62 moves. And Aagaard has two passed rook pawns. Now you don't see that too often. He must win, surely? Yep, thought so. Resignation after the second time control, move 60. Both players down to last two or three minutes before that. So can Gordon break through? I didn't think so. Drawn on move 61 - Haslinger can repeat moves and Gordon can't afford not to.

The winner is Aagaard, after all. I'm pleased for him.
Second equal, Gordon, from Oldham, and Rowson from, er, Aberdeen?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Strange Echoes

Well it isn't exactly a pick-up truck, but I have this curious feeling that I should get a pink carnation and drive to the levee ...