Draws And Politics At The World Chess Championship

On Saturday, as thousands of protesters, dissatisfied with the results of the presidential election, were marching from Union Square to Trump Tower, just a few miles north, the two grandmasters sat down in the spaceship to play again. Game 2, with Karjakin handling the white pieces, began with the all-too-familiar Ruy Lopez opening, a staple of chess for 500 years. The rest of the game was an equally uncreative and plodding affair. One prominent grandmaster on Twitter called certain passages “flaccid.” After just under three hours, and not much else to speak of, they arrived at a second draw. (The computer chess engine Stockfish was in full agreement, seeing both games as nothing but deadlocked.) The last time the World Chess Championship was held in New York City, titleholder Garry Kasparov met challenger Viswanathan Anand on the 107th floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center. They played their first game on Sept. 11, 1995.That tower is now gone, a new one stands nearby, and the grandest board in chess is again set in lower Manhattan. This year, the venue is the new Fulton Market Building in the South Street Seaport, an area of the city that was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. It was rebuilt and has been thriving in recent years.The players are different, too. Magnus Carlsen of Norway, ranked No. 1 in the world, is defending his title against Russian challenger Sergey Karjakin, ranked No. 9. The first weekend of their best-of-12 match is in the books, and after two games — and two draws — the score is level at 1-1.This year’s chess venue is sparse and sleek, heavy on concrete and hypermodern black-and-white branding. Large flat-screen televisions dot the open floor, providing live views of the tense and slowly unfolding games. The sellout crowd mills around, stealing meaningful-looking glances at the game on TV, listening to live commentary on headphones, eating sandwiches and playing their own games of speed chess in the cafe’s Eames-style dining chairs.The two grandmasters play alone in a separate room, accompanied only by two stoic match arbiters. On the inside, the room resembles the bridge of a sci-fi spaceship. To the spectators on the outside, though, it evokes a reptile house in a zoo. You enter the dark, hot and humid viewing gallery through thick black curtains. You’re hushed as you enter and reminded to silence your phone. The lights inside are dimmed, and an eerie purple light glows from behind the thick glass of the one-way mirror. You can see Carlsen and Karjakin, leaning in close to each other over the board in deep thought. They can’t see you.In Game 1, Carlsen, playing with the white pieces, chose an unusual opening called the Trompowsky Attack. The joke around the Fulton Market Building on Friday was that he played it as a homophonic nod to the new president-elect. There was truth to the joke. Asked after the game whether his choice had anything to do with Donald Trump, Carlsen replied: “A little bit.”“I’m a big fan of Donald Trump,” Carlsen told Norway’s TV2 in March (in Norwegian). “Trump is incredibly good at finding opponents’ weaknesses. He speaks only about that the other candidates are stupid or smelly. There should be more of this in chess, too.” Carlsen then offered a Trumpism of his own: “Karjakin is incredibly boring!” Karjakin, for his political part, is an avowed supporter of Vladimir Putin.By the end of that first game, each side had pushed its wooden army as far as it’d go — two phalanxes scrumming at the center of the board. No further blood was drawn, however, and the players agreed to a draw after the 42nd move and just under four hours of play. (Draws are quite common in championship chess.) The actor and chess fan Woody Harrelson was on hand for Game 1. The star of “True Detective” brought to my mind that show’s oft-quoted line, bastardized from Nietzsche: “Time is a flat circle.” In chess, and at this championship, what’s old is new again, and moves and characters are strangely familiar. Donald Trump made the ceremonial first move at a qualifying event for that 1995 New York championship, at Trump Tower. And Rudy Giuliani, then the mayor and now rumored to be high on the list to be Trump’s attorney general, made the ceremonial first move in those finals. (Giuliani was late — and made the wrong move.)Carlsen remains the heavy favorite, although his chances according to my Elo-based simulations have dipped from 88 percent at the start to 84 percent now, as Karjakin has held serve.1I simulated 10,000 iterations of the remainder of the match using the players’ current Elo ratings and assumed that they draw half their games, as grandmasters historically tend to do. The players seemed to sense that the large crowds were getting a bit restless. “I ask you for your understanding that this is a long match,” Carlsen said at Saturday’s postgame press conference. “Not every game will be a firework.”Game 3 begins Monday afternoon. I’ll be covering the rest of the match here and on Twitter. read more

New Army Command Will Narrow Down HQ Locations over Coming Months

first_img Dan Cohen AUTHOR Army officials this week will present to senior leaders a list of 30 candidate locations to host the headquarters for the new Futures Command, reports Defense News. Undersecretary Ryan McCarthy said he and Vice Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville would make a final recommendation to the Army secretary and chief of staff in late spring. The headquarters for the new modernization command likely will be in a major urban area and not at an Army installation. “This isn’t like a standard basing decision, where we’re moving a brigade combat team somewhere,” McCarthy said. “We needed access to academia and business, and those two kind of key characteristics. Where the systems engineers, software engineers are.” McCarthy said he envisions the command leasing two or three floors of an office building for the next decade.Army photo by Spec. Esmeralda Cervanteslast_img read more

Seat Minimó concept brings a twee electric car to Geneva

first_img See All 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata review: Club life isn’t for everyone, and that’s OK 50 Photos • reading • Seat Minimó concept brings a twee electric car to Geneva Seat Minimó concept is all about urban mobility Mar 7 • The Ferrari F8 Tributo is the last of the nonhybrid V8s Mar 7 • New Peugeot 208 debuts i-Cockpit with 3D HUD Combo dashboard Post a comment 0 Share your voice 2019 Mazda CX-9 review: Losing its edge? Concept Cars Electric Cars As cars become rolling platforms of technology, we’re starting to see them pop up in odd places. CES is now practically its own auto show, and recently, VW Group’s Spanish division Seat unveiled a concept car at MWC, the world’s biggest phone show, in its hometown Barcelona. But now, it’s made its way to the Geneva Motor Show.To be fair, the Seat Minimó concept is only barely a car. Seat actually refers to it as a quadricycle, taking some aspects of cars and blending them with some aspects of motorcycles. It’s a tiny little guy, with enough space for two people and little else. If you want to bring a passenger and a suitcase, you’ll have to stow the suitcase out back, exposed to the elements.As for the interior, it’s on the minimalist side. The doors are hinged to make it possible for you to get in and out in tight spaces, and the front seat slides forward to offer passenger access. The dashboard is straightforward, with your standard steering wheel and brakes, in addition to a gauge cluster screen that appears to double as an infotainment system.Enlarge ImageIt’s like a Renault Twizy, but way less dorky. Andrew Hoyle/Roadshow That small footprint may not help with hauling, but since this concept is built for urbanites, its tiny dimensions should leave it well suited to handle tight corners and busy streets. It also happens to be electric, which means it’ll be no problem in European city centers that have implemented diesel bans or congestion charges for gas guzzlers. The Minimó concept is designed not to be owned, but to be shared — it’s not something Seat envisions living in your driveway. Instead, it will be out and about all day, lending itself to urbanites in need of a ride. To that end, it’ll keep downtime to a minimum thanks to a hot-swappable battery that slides out from underneath the body. Seat estimates this could reduce car-sharing operation costs by some 50 percent, since there’ll be little if any downtime. Its battery is small, but since everything is small, range clocks in at a decent 62 miles.Other bits of the concept’s tech are also aimed at the mobility market. There’s no physical key — access is found digitally, using a smart device. That same device can bring navigation into the car by way of wireless Android Auto. The concept relies on human drivers, but it could theoretically be outfitted to run autonomously, becoming even more efficient by minimizing the time it spends idle. Apr 17 • The 2020 Jaguar XE gets its first major visual refresh Geneva Motor Show 2019 Tags Geneva Motor Show 2019 Mobile World Congress 2019 More From Roadshow 2019 Audi TT Roadster review: The exit interview Mar 8 • VW is still ‘100 percent’ investigating a pickup truck for the USlast_img read more

In West Texas Fracking Companies Face A Tough Challenger – The Dunes

first_img Share Natalie KrebsMachines harvest frac sand at the Black Mountain Sand company’s mine in Kermit, Texas.Out in the sand dunes of west Texas, a tiny lizard has been wrapped up in a big controversy for years. The four-inch long dunes sagebrush lizard calls the middle of the Permian Basin home, but conservationists have long feared the oil boom there would be detrimental to the lizard’s rare habitat. But in the past year, a new threat has emerged.The process of hydraulic fracking relies on the use of a very specific type of sand called frac sand. And the recent increase in mining for it is the new threat facing the dunes sagebrush lizard. This has left conservationists scrambling to find new ways to protect them.On a windy afternoon, the Black Mountain Sand Company, located about 10 miles west of Kermit – about 45 miles west of Odessa – is busy harvesting, cleaning and drying frac sand. It ships this sand across the Permian Basin.“Every day, trucks will pick up 13,000 tons. Each truck can carry about 23 tons,” says Hayden Gillespie, the company’s chief commercial officer.Just east of the company’s four-month-old mine is 640 acres of untouched sand dunes that are full of green vegetation. Gillespie says this is the home of the dunes sagebrush lizard.“All those dune complexes you can see, that’s what we’re avoiding,” says Gillespie.The little guys love the plant life and sandy hills, but the Permian Basin energy industry also loves that sand.Companies estimate using local frac sand can be up to 50 percent cheaper than importing it from the Midwest, and businesses are being built on this growing market. Since last year, more than a dozen mining companies have announced plans to open sand mines across the Permian Basin. That boom has conservationists sounding the alarms.“It’s a really new threat and it just sort of came in all at once and really has the potential to wipe out a lot of lizard habitat, if not controlled,” says Ya-Wei Li of the Defenders of Wildlife, a Washington D.C.-based conservation group.His group, along with The Center for Biological Diversity, filed a petition this week requesting that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service add the dunes sagebrush lizard to the endangered species list. This could allow the feds to place regulations on landowners to protect the lizard’s habitat.Li and the Defenders of Wildlife estimate frac sand mining has disturbed more than 1,000 acres of the lizard’s habitat in Texas in just the past year.“If habitat development continues at that pace,” Li says, “the threat from sandmining is going to overshadow the threats from oil and gas development.”The dunes sagebrush lizard was almost listed as endangered in 2010. But, instead, the Texas Comptroller’s Office, which is in charge of overseeing the state’s endangered species, worked with the oil and gas industry to come up with a voluntary conservation plan. Li says that didn’t satisfy conservation groups.“You have to trust someone’s word of mouth on that issue and that can be a real problem,” he says.Since Texas law doesn’t require companies to release much conservation data, the state and feds have had to rely on self-reported data. A state study last year found that more than 2,300 acres of the lizard’s habitat had been destroyed since the voluntary conservation plan went into effect. This is above the state’s initial estimates.Robert Gulley oversees endangered species conservation for the Texas Comptroller’s Office. Earlier this year, the office announced it’s completely rewriting the dunes sagebrush lizard conservation agreement.“We realized that the better thing to do rather than try to make sure all the puzzle pieces would fit at the end, is just kind of to step back and start from scratch,” he says.Gulley says the goal of the new agreement is to get so many landowners to cooperate that the feds don’t put the lizard on the endangered species list. He says landowners may be willing to cooperate because they worry an endangered species listing could devalue their land.“We’re going to try to work to bring many people into the program because the more people we bring into the program, the more protection that the lizard is afforded,” says Gulley.Gulley says so far eight of the 17 frac sand mining companies have agreed to avoid the lizard’s habitat. Black Mountain Sand is one of them. Gillespie says his company has chosen to avoid mining the lizard’s habitat entirely.“We own it. We could mine it. There are good reserves there, but that’s deemed habitat so we stay out of it,” Gillespie says.For Black Mountain Sand, that means foregoing mining on 15 percent of their land. Gillespie says not everyone is taking his company’s approach. He’s seen some conducting their own impact studies on the lizard’s habitat.“They want to prove that it’s not, and while that may be a worthwhile study for them, the easier option was to stay completely clear of it for us,” he says.For the state’s part, the comptroller’s office hired a Texas State biologist to use satellite images to update the six-year-old dunes sagebrush lizard habitat maps. The entire plan is set to be finished by the end of the summer.In the meantime, the feds will be reviewing the petition to put the lizard on the endangered species list and deciding on any future protections.last_img read more