Monday, 15 June 2015

Round Numbers

What is the sum of the first four cubes? (I'll put the answer in the comments - but it should be obvious)

Yay, done it!

Okay, I missed one.

Alright, two.

But if you look they are the right colours just the wrong the way round, that's close right? Seriously, I have been trying to solve this for eight years (on and off) and this is the closest I've got.

Incredibly, this is the one hundredth of these blogposts that you have read. Well done you. I looked up the number 100 in my Penguin Dictionary of Curious and Interesting Numbers to see if I could crib a few facts to include subtly throughout this post but it turns out that 100 is not a very curious or interesting number. When I read the book, I have to confess, I kind of glazed over in the middle. The early numbers from i to pi were truly interesting and every visitor to the flat that spies it on the bookshelf peeps at the end to see what the highest number is (It's Graham's Number which I wrote about way back in March 2012). 

I wanted to put up a celebratory poem or something not just some pictures of an unsolved Rubik's cube and a stolen fact about the number 100. Unfortunately, the only thing I have been working on is a long history of all the chess sets that have had an impact on my life. It's in blank verse pentameter and is a work in progress as it needs tightening up and I want to add a couple of verses (one about a glass chess set where the felt had worn off the bottom of the pieces so it made a horrible noise when you played and one about the experience of playing digitally) but you'll get the gist. People who hate poetry, especially blank verse, please stay for the title as it has a pun in it!

The Joy of Sets

Battle’s coming. I can hear it in the
Rattle of the box. The sliding wooden
Lid is slid back to reveal two equal
Sides of dark and light: Stout Rook, the frowning
Bishop and my favourite: The Knight - his
Seahorse-head and unique jumping prowess
Makes him by far the most superior piece.

Learned to play the game on Father’s Staunton
Set. One Knight had had his head unscrewed by
Some unknowing toddler’s hand then chewed by
Pericles our dog. For years we played with that
Headless Knight and I’d refuse to swap him
For his twin if he remained uncaptured.
Games could turn on one unnoticed Knight.

Ed brought back from Petersburg a
Soviet Set - pinched Pawns and spiky Bishops,
Atheist King crowned with sphere in place of
Cross. Then, innocent of death and grief still
Far away, we tallied wins and wagered
Desecration rights to the loser’s grave.
(Eighty-four, Fifty-nine to Ed last count).

Lit spliff in mouth: I ponder Jack’s damn
d5 pawn that dominates the yellow
Squares and stops my knight advancing. Bloody
d5 pawn. No way he's worth a Bishop.
Must have played a thousand variations
On the Centre Game before I looked it
Up: e4, e5, d4, pawn takes pawn.

Gothic visions wrought in gold and silver,
All Inset with semi-precious stones, sit
Unloved, untouched. The King never castled.
Bishops bide their time blockaded by the
Pawns who wait forlorn upon the second
Rank. Denied their fates. Never to be
Sacrificed and never to be promoted.

You get the idea...

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