Thursday assorted links


So why is Magnus Carlsen so good?

Because the masters of yesteryear were so bad by comparison. GM John Nunn has written about this, finding the masters of old were much more likely to blunder than today's players. That said, I think there's Elo inflation today, due to the way new players are given a too high Elo score, and how elite players refuse to play the ordinary GMs once they reach over 2600 Elo. That said, there's also *deflation* in the USA. It used to be that an expert in the USCF was 2000, but nowadays (I hear) that's actually candidate master level. USCF Elo was always about 80-100 points inflated over Fide Elo, so this deflation is not unexpected as more and more Fide players travel to the USA and play there. It's complicated, as Elos from different rating pools cannot be measured against each other (it is said Asia's Elos are greater than Europe's Elos too, for what it's worth, not sure I believe it). Finally, if you were to play Magnus his ratings would go up even more, since it's a proven fact that when there's a 'mismatch' where one player is much stronger than the other, he can slowly and unfairly gain Elo points. A dude in Virginia death row named Bloodgood, an apt name considering he murdered his own mother, exploited this fact to rise to the very top of US chess (see On a different scale this is occurring today with the ratings as To account for inflation, just subtract 100 points from today's rating to get 'yesteryear's equivalent rating' for any rating after 1990 or so (my informal rule of thumb). Last I checked, B. Fischer and M. Carlsen were about tied using this rule of thumb which adjusts for ratings inflation.

Okay, but I didn't ask why Magnus was rated so high, but why he is so good. Is he not really that good comparatively? Is he just one of those one-in-a-billion prodigies? Does he have a different method/style?

Carlsen is no better than Fischer or Kasparov at their peaks, though he's still young so he may surpass them. Your question is overly broad, but I guess the answer is: "because he can calculate faster and deeper than others"... he's good in the endgame more than the opening. As for "one in a billion" that's true, but it's probably not as 'genetic' as you might think. You can become good at chess, just like golf, with practice. For example Carlsen showed an early aptitude at chess but also his father let him practice. Likewise, the World #2 or #3, Nakamura, is good 'genetically' no doubt, but his non-biological, adoptive father was a chess author who taught Naka the moves and encouraged him to practice. So practice makes perfect.

BTW thanks for your interest in chess. The chess community is currently trying to get more people like you interested. They are making chess more visually appealing with sexy graphical user interfaces and sexy graphics, and sometimes sexy girls (who play chess, not promo models yet), check out and Chess beats poker IMO. It needs more sponsorship money like poker has. Maybe a betting site for chess would help, since it is highly predictable but with occasional upsets and hence good for gambling.

Watching/betting on poker is popular because any doofus can watch it and understand what is going on, who has a good hand, who is bluffing, etc. (even if they are not good at playing it).

By contrast, the strategies of high level chess are quite inaccessible to non-experts. I know the rules of chess and have played a few games, but when top players are playing, I can't tell what moves are good or who has the upper hand at any given moment. To enjoy a chess game as a spectator requires the ability to analyze all possibilities and predict the next few moves--which only comes with playing a lot of chess yourself.

Ha, I find the community and history interesting. Can't stand the game personally. With the explosion of new and interesting boardgames in the last 20 years, I'd much rather play those than a game that's been analyzed for hundreds of years.

I still think the simplest innovation that would dramatically change chess without affecting its general chracter would be to make stalemate a win instead of a draw -- thus matching the rule in variants like Chinese chess. The endgames would be transformed, and by extension many of the middlegames.

I'd think the games would get much longer, both for good players (because you'd never agree to draw) and bad players (because stalemates take a long time to prove out).

>My assumption was that due to their extra practice with computers and solid training in chess theory, modern chess >players would be much more efficient at closing a game early

Who did he think these better players were playing against?

5. As far as I can tell, the Bangkok malls appear to pay about 15.5 US cents per kilowatt-hour for electricity. With the Thai government apparently planning to introduce feed-in tariffs for solar ( there is a good chance the malls will start getting a significant amount of their electricity from solar panels on their roofs, as is currently done by malls in a variety of countries. This is not good news for Liquid Natural Gas exporting nations, but good news for the world.

The per capita income in Thailand is about $3,500. I doubt they can afford large scale solar power deployment.

Huh? As I wrote, as far as I can tell, Bangkok malls pay about 15.5 US cents a kilowatt-hour for electricity. (About 5 baht.) Obviously at that price rooftop solar is capable of paying for itself, provided local installation costs are low enough. Thailand is a solar panel manufacturer and has a significant and expanding quantity of solar capacity with over 700 megawatts installed at the end of 2013. They apparently have a target of generating 20% of their electricity from solar by 2022. Given the current cost of PV that is a clear money saver given their current reliance on imported natural gas.

Links to a couple of old articles in case you're interested:

I am suspicious of the photo of the giant rabbit. The rabbit might be much closer to the camera than the human, or it could just be a Photoshop job.

I've seen numerous accounts of such rabbits, some from authoritative sources. They are real.

That's just the 'big fish' photo trick -- hold it straight out in front and closer to the camera to make it look much bigger than it is.

The angle of the picture is designed to emphasize the size somewhat, but these rabbits are definitely real. You can see Flemish Giant rabbits at pet stores, and they are massive.

It gives the physical dimensions of the rabbits, so they really are quite big even if their size is being emphasized by angle. A 4 foot long rabbit is enormous - that's like the size of a dog.

#3: Apple Watch may be awesome for notifications and quick messages. I wonder what people will use for vines and youtube.........old smartphones? I wonder how much time people spend on a smartphone "communicating" and how much time just consuming audiovisual content.

#6...Very nicely done. Good choice.

#6. . . I don't think that it is possible in principle to have true 100% reserve banking using the somewhat unnatural definitions of money that are used by economists. This fails to recognize that the mere act of lending with obligations that are transferable to different payees inherently creates a money equivalent that changes the size of the money supply.

But don't forget, we're mainly trying to avoid financial crises and the taxpayers being on the hook for them, not prohibit every interaction.

I wouldn't want it as the sole source of money creation, but it could be a useful tool for expanding the money supply when credit is contracting (like if your financial sector just took a body blow). I'd have it on top of demand deposit money.

2. There is no great real rabbit stagnation (really not, check out the link).

But how efficiently did he turn grass into meat?

Sadly, as a hindgut fermenters, rabbits do not digest plant matter as efficiently as foregut fermenters such as cows, sheep, deer, kangaroos, and folivorous old world monkeys. But on the bright side, if rabbit droppings still contain sufficient nutrition, they will recycle them, boosting overall efficiency.

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