Tuesday, November 13, 2018


It is not yet cooling down outside so there still remains some time to prepare the garden for the winter. Beside the yearly cutting of branches, I should also not forget this time to fertilize the grass. The recovery of my green after the months of drought has been accompanied with an explosive growth of moss. From the outside it looks all again healthy but if you look closer then you notice that the empty spots have been filled by undesirable moss.

Last summer was very tough for nature. Many plants and trees suffered heavily and some even didn't survive. On the other hand it struck me that some insects prospered from these extreme weather conditions. For instance there were much more wasps than usual as this article testifies: "Twice as much people beaten by a wasp." The insects were a real plaque as you met them everywhere. Chess-tournaments were no exception as after the last round of the Brugse Meesters my son Hugo was also sting by a wasp when playing outside with other kids. Fortunately there was no allergic reaction so the discomfort was rather limited.

Besides also during the games the bugs were very much present. Just next to the playing-hall there was a nest of wasps and despite several complaints the organization didn't manage to solve this problem. I therefore advised my son not to bring anything sweet to the games. So he chose water instead of cola to drink. Anyway during his games he didn't get too much annoyed by the wasps as he was quite far playing from the nest. Less lucky were the players on the top-boards as they were playing nearby. Eventually a wasp caused a loss of a full point to my strongest student Sterre Dauw. Sterre has a panic fear for wasps so naturally things went wrong in round 3 when one of them started to harass him during the game. In the end he played some random moves and spoiled a certain win.
[Event "Bruges Masters 2018"] [Site "Bruges BEL"] [Date "2018.08.13"] [Round "3.11"] [White "Rajesh, VA."] [Black "Dauw, Sterre"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A61"] [WhiteElo "2325"] [BlackElo "2192"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2N2r1k/4q1bp/4B1p1/1ppP4/1nN2r2/6Q1/1Pb2PPP/R4RK1 b - - 0 26"] [PlyCount "8"] [EventDate "2018.08.12"] [CurrentPosition "2N2r1k/4q1bp/4B1p1/1ppP4/1nN2r2/6Q1/1Pb2PPP/R4RK1 b - - 0 26"] { (I followed the game online with some friends thanks to the live-boards. We couldn't decide about which move wins the easiest for black but we did notice immediately Rxc8 is wrong. Naturally we were very surprised to see black anyway playing that losing move.) } 26...Rxc8?? 27.Qxf4 Rd8 28.Ne5 Bxe5 29.Qxe5+ Qg7 30.Qg5 { (Just after the game Sterre came to us and told us that he panicked as a wasp was harassing him at the board.) } 1-0
I was following the game live online and first didn't understand what had happened. The Indian IM Vav Rajesh was completely outplayed and the win seemed a triviality but suddenly Sterre stood next to me telling me he resigned. "Wasps are very dangerous animals" was his fantastic dry humor which is typical for him. I still didn't understand why he didn't leave the board till the wasp disappeared.

Anyway he is not the first one and won't be the last one being fascinated about those little species. Some time ago I discovered that an American programmer John Stanback has called his engine Wasp. You can download it for free on his site and it plays pretty strongly: 34th place in the current ranking of CCRL40/40 and a +3000 rating so more than likely stronger than any other human. A good game of that engine can be replayed below.
[Event "CCRL 40/40"] [Site "CCRL"] [Date "2018.06.07"] [Round "103.4"] [White "Komodo 12.1.1 MCTS 64-bit"] [Black "Wasp 3.0 64-bit"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B00"] [WhiteElo "3081"] [BlackElo "2987"] [PlyCount "63"] [EventDate "2018.??.??"] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.e4 Nc6 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Nf6 4.c3 g6 5.Be3 Bg7 6.Bd3 O-O 7.O-O e6 8.h3 h6 9.Qd2 Kh7 10.b4 b6 11.a4 e5 12.a5 exd4 13.cxd4 d5 14.e5 Ne4 15.Qb2 bxa5 16.b5 Nb4 17.Be2 c6 18.bxc6 Bf5 19.Rc1 Rc8 20.Nfd2 Nxc6 21.Nxe4 dxe4 22.Bc4 f6 23.e6 Bxh3 { (Despite white is not the strongest release of Komodo, I still think it is admiring how clever Wasp wins this game tactically.) } 24.Qd2 f5 25.Ba6 Qh4 26.Bxc8 Nxd4 27.Qd1 Nf3+ 28.Kf1 f4 29.e7 Rxc8 30.Nd2 Nxd2+ 31.Bxd2 f3 32.Be3 0-1
An engine which can stick can be easily neutralized by switching off the power. However things become more tricky when the pieces itself are transforming into insects. Sure this is not part anymore of standard chess as we now enter the magic world of fairy-chess. A summary of the existing fairy-pieces can be found on wikipedia see antelopes, bisons, flamingos, lions and zebras. I couldn't find any wasp in the list but anybody can develop a new piece and call it as such. Nonetheless another scary insect which is even very popular in fairy-chess does exist: the grasshopper. That piece moves like a queen but with the special condition that each move is combined with a jump over another piece and the landing must happen just behind that piece. There exist quite a number of funny chess-problems with that piece like the one below.

Not every article should be serious. The winter is ahead of us so those dangerous but also useful wasps will be again not annoy us for the next 6 months.


Solution Grasshoppers-problem:
1.Gh3 Gh4 2.Gh5 Gh6 3.Gh7 Gh8 4.Ge7 Gd7 5.Gc7 Gb7 6.Ga7+ Ga6 7.Ga5+ Ga4 8.Ga3#

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