Saturday, February 10, 2018

Learn How to Play Chess Like a Writer

A number of writers like Nabokov, Lewis Carroll, and Edgar Allan Poe wrote about and played chess. Unlike Tolstoy, you may not have learned to play chess as a child but I've got a simple way for you to learn, because it can be a daunting task. 

Firstly, I recommend that you learn the names of the chess pieces and how they move:

Moves one box in any direction

Moves in any direction as far as possible

Moves forward\backwards and side-to-side as far as possible (i.e., in straight lines).

Moves diagonally as far as possible

Moves in a L shape and is the only piece that can jump

Moves forward one box but initially can move two but captures diagonally
The only piece that can block
If it reaches the other side of the board, it gets promoted to a piece of your choosing

Secondly and lastly, I recommend that you play. It's that simple. Once you start playing, you'll organically understand how to capture your opponents king (i.e., "Checkmate."). And the game is so kind that you're warned that your king is in grave danger (i.e., "Check."). If you can't find a patient human to play with you, I recommend an app set on the lowest level of difficulty. 

Saturday, February 3, 2018

#WhatsInYour[WRITER'S]Bag: A Russian Novelist's knapsack

Transparent Things (1972) p.18

A popular hashtag on Instagram is #whatsinyourbag. For some reason, it can be fascinating to view the contents of a stranger's bags. And writers may find it very interesting to read about the contents of a Russian novelist's 
  • rough drafts of letters
  • an unfinished short story in a Russian copybook
  • parts of a philosophical essay in a blue cahier purchased in Geneva
  • loose sheets of a rudimentary novel temporarily titled Faust in Moscow
  • portable ink
Person is the protagonist in Nabokov's Transparent Things. A quean took Person to a room in a "hideous old roominghouse" where the Russian novelist "[...] sojourned on his way to Italy."

So, what's in your (writer's) bag?