Why chess wrecks the bodies of grandmasters

Photo of Magnus Carlsen at a chess tournament

TIL that the physical rigors of competitive chess are so hard that grandmasters have begun to train like soccer players.

The exertions of chess are intense. The mental effort burns ferocious amounts of calories; the rigors of sitting for hours wreak havoc on the body. The upshot is that grandmasters can be a total wreck after a tournament, as this fascinating story in ESPN documents:

In 2004, winner Rustam Kasimdzhanov walked away from the six-game world championship having lost 17 pounds. In October 2018, Polar, a U.S.-based company that tracks heart rates, monitored chess players during a tournament and found that 21-year-old Russian grandmaster Mikhail Antipov had burned 560 calories in two hours of sitting and playing chess -- or roughly what Roger Federer would burn in an hour of singles tennis.

Robert Sapolsky, who studies stress in primates at Stanford University, says a chess player can burn up to 6,000 calories a day while playing in a tournament, three times what an average person consumes in a day. Based on breathing rates (which triple during competition), blood pressure (which elevates) and muscle contractions before, during and after major tournaments, Sapolsky suggests that grandmasters' stress responses to chess are on par with what elite athletes experience.

"Grandmasters sustain elevated blood pressure for hours in the range found in competitive marathon runners," Sapolsky says.

It all combines to produce an average weight loss of 2 pounds a day, or about 10-12 pounds over the course of a 10-day tournament in which each grandmaster might play five or six times.

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Finding the clumsy stormtrooper

James Stangroom has set out on a quest to find the Stormtrooper who banged his head inside Death Star 1.

You can tell this trailer is a parody as it doesn't give away the whole thing. Read the rest

Game champion threatens to sue records website that disallowed his precious Donkey Kong score

Billy Mitchell long held the high-score record for the arcade classic Donkey Kong, but his reputation suffered after his best times were shown to have been made using emulators rather than arcade hardware. Now he's threatening to sue one of the top scorekeeping websites, which struck his scores from the record, and the publishers of The Guinness Book of Records, which cites it as a source.

Owen S. Good:

This week, lawyers for Mitchell sent a letter to Twin Galaxies and Guinness World Records demanding that both “retract their claims against Billy Mitchell” and restore the scores to their world record leaderboards, where Mitchell had been a fixture since the early 1980s. Attorneys made the same demand of Guinness World Records, which uses Twin Galaxies as its source for the video game high score records it recognizes.

At issue is the April 12, 2018 finding by Twin Galaxies, after a three-month investigation and deliberative process, that the gameplay in two million-point scores Mitchell claimed for Donkey Kong were not produced by original, unmodified arcade hardware. The implication in that finding is that Mitchell used an emulator running the game to produce the scores, and emulators allow different control schemes, display setups, and even the means to cheat or manipulate a score or performance.

Here's the letter. An excerpt:

its investigation did not provide Billy Mitchell fair opportunity to provide evidence to prove his innocence. Throughout the investigation, Twin Galaxies had a double standard. Specific evidence against Mitchell was accepted, while evidence of equal stature was rejected.

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The misadventures of Corn Pop and Joe

In 1962, a 19-year old Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., in an effort to get to know more about the minorities who occupied the mean streets of Wilmington, Delaware took a job as a lifeguard at a local public pool. It was at that very pool when Joe ran afoul of a member of the Romans gang by the name of Corn Pop. Soon, straight razors, chain, and Esther Williams became involved.

Here's Joe, back at the scene of the crime in 2017 when the pool was renamed in his honor. I'll let him tell you the story.

Joe and Corn Pop's misadventures are getting renewed attention after The Root's Michael Harriot called bullshit on Twitter.

You can read the rest of the 19-tweet thread here.

So, because it's silly season, I'm sure someone will be offering a reward for information on Corn Pop's whereabouts. Only 141 more days until the Iowa caucuses. Stay strong.

(Photo: Gene J. Puskar/AP) Read the rest

"Missing" woman joins in search party looking for ... herself

Photo of a newspaper story about a woman involved in a search party for herself

Aren't we all, really, involved in a search party that's desperately hunting to locate ourselves?

I've seen this one making the rounds on Twitter, but The Poke transcribed the news story, in case it's hard to read in the photo above:

Missing woman mystery solved

A group of tourists spent hours Saturday night looking for a missing woman near Iceland’s Eldgja canyon, only to find her among the search party.

The group was travelling through Iceland on a tour bus and stopped near a volcanic canyon.

Soon, there was word of a missing passenger. The woman, who had changed clothes, didn’t recognise the description of herself and joined in the search.

But the search was called off at about 3am when it became clear the missing woman was, in fact, accounted for and searching for herself.

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Extremely epic video shows how pencils are made

Faber-Castell's been making pencils since 1761 and wants to show-not-tell you about them. Wordless cinematography and a epic soundtrack right out of Hollywood.

Producing 2.3 billion pencils a year and being in the business for over 257 years, Faber-Castell has a sound know-how of how quality pencils are made. Have a look behind the scenes of our manufacturing.

The beauty of this video is the tension between two advertising concepts: "make the industrial process look artisanal" vs "glorify the scale of the industrial process." So you end up with intimately-recorded pencil-scatching noises played comically loud, fighting for attention against Logic Pro's orchestal sample library.


Epic glove ad explains benefits of glovesEpic chains ad explains benefits of chains Read the rest

Have you seen the entire Mr. Creosote sketch from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life?

The Mr. Creosote sketch from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life went viral this weekend after director Quentin Tarantino was alleged to have said it's the only scene in film he was ever disturbed by. Watching it, it struck me that I'd never actually seen the whole thing, and that you might not have, either.

I read somewhere, perhaps Michael Palin's autobiography, that under the hot studio lights and the long, technical takes, the food matter on the set began to reek and one of the extras vomited for real. Read the rest

Toymaker to produce line of plastic army women

Photo of prototypes of plastic army women figurines from BMC toys

BMC Toys, a Scranton firm that makes a line of traditional dark-green plastic army men, has decided to make a line of plastic army women.

As the owner Jeff Imel writes on the company blog, he decided to start the line of female figurines after getting a few inquiries this year from a woman who served in the Navy and a young girl:

June of 2018 I received an email from JoAnn Ortloff, Fleet Master Chief (Retired), US Navy. She was looking for female toy soldiers for her granddaughters, and made a compelling case for why Plastic Army Women should be produced. I spent a good chunk of a weekend putting together the basics for the project, set up an email list, wrote a blog post, and got some art made to illustrate the idea. Initial response was very positive, but my schedule and budget for the year was full, so not much happened until...

Early August 2019 I received a copy of the letter from 6 year old Vivian asking "Why aren't there any girl army men?". I responded to Vivian's Mom to let her know about the BMC Toys Plastic Army Women project. Soon after, I started to get inquiries from reporters, including CNN and Entercom Communications. With the new attention, I posted an update with some new concept art and customer feedback I'd collected over the past year. The story of VIvian's letter spread throughout dozens of local media outlets, and BMC Toys was mentioned in a lot of them.

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Work towards becoming a certified project manager with this training bundle

Breaking into the big leagues as a project manager isn't done overnight, but there are principles that anyone can learn, and they're applicable to nearly any business. No matter what your field, if there are multiple teams working toward a common goal, you're going to need a roadmap.

The Project Management Professional Certification Training Suite is designed to let you draw it up quickly and confidently - even if you have little or no prior management experience.

This series of courses isn't just a parade of empty motivational speeches. The Project Management Institute's ACP (Agile Certified Practitioner) certification is a jewel in any resume, and these classes will help you ace that exam - and other relevant certifications - the first time out.

Here's the breakdown of what you get:

Project Management Fundamentals: Run Projects Effectively - An overview of the role of a project manager, and the steps involved in taking an idea from pitch to product. Deeply Practical Project Management - A nuts-and-bolts look at best practices for PMI (Project Management Institute) ventures, including cost projections and software tools. Project Management Professional 6th Edition Training - An in-depth look at the Project Management Book of Knowledge, version 6. After taking it, you'll have PMBOKprinciples down pat, and be eligible and ready for the PMP exam. PMI-ACP Certification Training Course - A walk through all the Agile concepts and "soft skills" you'll need to lead a team, control your metrics and ace the PMI-ACP exam. Learn PMP Project Management - A five-hour breakdown of all the essential concepts in the PMBOK, leading towards a successful run at both the PMP (Project Management Professional) and CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management) exams. Read the rest

Pixel art map of the USA

PixelDanc3r (also on Instagram) made this adorable and intricate map of the USA in a pixel-art style similar to the overworld maps from 16-bit era games.

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Tolkien’s Lobelia Sackville-Baggins is probably a misogynist satire of women's rights campaigner Victoria Sackville-West

Lobelia Sackville-Baggins is a Lord of the Rings Hobbit, one of the few, rare female characters in that series, and she's a nasty piece of work: a bitter enemy of Frodo and Bilbo, she is mostly depicted trying to either steal their stuff or buy it at deep discounts from them: she ends her days first imprisoned and starved, and then dead shortly after she's sprung. Read the rest

Piketty on the "Brahmin left" and the "merchant right"

Thomas Piketty, the French economist behind 2014's game-changing Capital in the 21st Century, has a new book, Capital and Ideology (out in France now, coming in English in 2020), which uses the same long-run economic series that Capital 21C benefited from to understand the relationship between wealth and ideology. Central to Piketty's thesis: that it's not enough to use class to understand how people vote -- you also have to take account of peoples' beliefs about class (this is a neat way of resolving the tension between traditional left class analysis and contemporary "identitarian" theories of leftist politics). Read the rest

Save over 25% on this open source portable gaming console

On the one hand, nostalgia is "a corruption of the historical impulse," according to William Gibson. On the other hand, "Super Mario Bros." will never not be cool. Luckily, there's a way to satisfy that retro gaming while still keeping an eye on the future: The GameShell Kit.

This thing is simultaneously the last handheld console you'll ever need and the potential first step into a limitless world of indie gaming and maker culture. It's embedded, open-source GNU/LINUX operating system comes pre-installed with Cave Story, Freedom and more, but can be used to play old-school hits from the NES, Atari, Game Boy, PS1 - you name it. Just hop on to PICO8, LOVE2D or one of several game engines and take your pick of the classics.

And that's just for starters. You can use ClockworkPi to mod your favorite games or fully create new ones. You can even use the customizable keypad on the GameShell as a mini-computer or controller for your own projects. After you get hold of this, any other handheld won't just seem retro - it'll be downright obsolete.

Originally priced at $199, you can now get the GameShell Kit: Open Source Portable Game Console for 28% off at $142.99. Read the rest

New York Times: Brett Kavanaugh thrusting his penis in a woman's face "may seem like harmless fun"

The New York Times has a story out today about Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh's old schoolmates tattling on sexual misbehavior, and the FBI's refusal to talk to any of them in its abbreviated and crudely politicized investigation of him. Here's the tweet the NYT used to pitch it to readers:

This is what Richard Rorty described twenty years ago as the coming age of "jocular contempt for women" in public life. He was wrong, though, in thinking it would be a fashion of badly-educated Americans reacting against college graduates. You think the person who wrote that headline skipped school?

UPDATE: The NYT deleted the tweet, without apology, claiming it was "poorly phrased."

On the contrary, the sentiment contained in the tweet was phrased concisely and unambiguously. It is not the phrasing that was poor. Read the rest

Great deal on the Fire TV Stick 4K with Alexa Voice Remote

If you've been thinking about getting a Fire TV Stick streaming media player, this is a good opportunity. It's normally but if you use code 4KFIRETV at checkout you can get it for half the price. Read the rest

Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert sentenced to 10 years in Iran prison

University of Melbourne lecturer and researcher Kylie Moore-Gilbert was sentenced to 10 years in an Iran prison for undisclosed reasons. Dr. Moore-Gilbert specializes in Middle East politics and youth democracy movements in the region.

From The Sydney Morning Herald:

She is being held in the same facility as Australian travel bloggers Jolie King and Mark Firkin who were arrested after allegedly flying a drone near a military zone near the Iranian capital. The three are being held in Evin Prison, a facility often used to house the country's political prisoners. Former detainees have described it as a frightening place where foreigners are often kept in extreme isolation.

Amnesty International's Eilidh Macpherson said this week she was concerned the Australian detainees may have been subjected to “serious human rights violations, including denial of access to a lawyer and even torture or other ill-treatment".

The exact charges Moore-Gilbert was facing have not been confirmed.

Here's a 2017 interview with Dr. Moore-Gilbert:

Image: YouTube Read the rest

Painting freaky illusions on the road as virtual speed bumps

Photo of floating-bar illusion painted on a road

A town in Iceland has installed some innovative speed bumps -- a set of painted bars on the road that create the illusion of floating in the air.

As Bored Panda writes:

Not only does the innovative design give foot-travelers the feeling of walking on air, but the 3D painting also gets the attention of drivers, who will be sure to slow down their speed once they spot the seemingly floating ‘zebra stripes.’ Icelandic environmental commissioner Ralf Trylla called for its placement in Ísafjörður after seeing a similar project being carried out in New Delhi, India. With the help of street painting company Vegmálun GÍH, his vision of pedestrian crossing signs became a reality.

I love the concept, but almost wonder if it wouldn't cause some possible accidents on its own, as drivers unfamiliar with the illusion suddenly grind to a halt upon seeing bars apparently floating in the air in the road ahead. Read the rest

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