1287: Puzzle

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Prediction for Carlsen v. Anand: ...25. Qb8+ Nxb8 26. Rd8# f6 27. "...dude." Qf5 28. "The game is over, dude." Qxg5 29. Rxe8 0-1 30. "Dude, your move can't be '0-1'. Don't write that down." [Black flips board]
Title text: Prediction for Carlsen v. Anand: ...25. Qb8+ Nxb8 26. Rd8# f6 27. "...dude." Qf5 28. "The game is over, dude." Qxg5 29. Rxe8 0-1 30. "Dude, your move can't be '0-1'. Don't write that down." [Black flips board]


The game of Go (also called Weiqi, Baduk or Igo) is usually played on the 19×19 intersections of a grid, but sometimes a faster, simpler version is played on the 9×9 intersections of a grid; which thus has 8×8 squares, as a chessboard, though they are not colored in an alternating pattern – introduced to chess in the 13th century. In the comic, White has chess pieces and plays against Black, who uses Go stones.

In chess, particularly in puzzles, the phrasing "White to move" indicates that it's the White player's turn; "White to play and win" indicates that it's White's turn and if White plays correctly, the next series of moves will result in an advantageous position or possibly outright win for White. The caption "White to continue insisting this is a chessboard" is a play on this traditional phrasing. The same kind of phrasing is also used in Go puzzles. In Go puzzles the objectives are often of a local or tactical character, such as "White to capture four black stones" or "White to live in the corner".

The comic originally displayed three white bishops at positions c1 (to the left of the queen), f1 (to the right of the king), and e4 (three squares in front of the king). The same day the comic was posted, it was updated to have only two white bishops, replacing the ones at c1 and e4 with a single bishop in d2 (one space in front of the queen). On both boards, White has none of their pieces captured (likely because Black isn't playing chess), and therefore having three bishops would be impossible without having seven or fewer pawns.

It is unclear who has gone first. In Go it is traditional for Black to go first, while in chess it has been traditional for White to go first for about a century. Indeed, both players have made five moves, although the caption/"punchline" implies it is the start of White's sixth turn; though if Black did go first, none of their pieces are in the 3-3 handicap positions marked on a 9×9 Go board.

The title text refers to the then-upcoming 2013 World Chess Championship between Carlsen and Anand. Magnus Carlsen is (at publishing of this comic) a 23 year old Norwegian chess grandmaster. Viswanathan Anand is (at publishing time) a 44 year old Indian grandmaster. Both have been (and as of 2019 are) among the world top chess players.

The game transcript in the title text refers to the ending of the famous Opera Game between Paul Morphy and the Duke of Brunswick and Count Isouard. That game ends with 16. Qb8+ Nxb8 17. Rd8#. In the title text, Black continues to make moves as if he has not been checkmated, over White's protests. After White uses his rook to capture Black's king to emphasize the checkmate, Black defiantly writes "0-1" (the notation symbolizing a Black victory) on his scoresheet. When informed that his move cannot be to declare victory, he flips the board. "0-1" may also represent a position on a Go board (first down on the top left corner) in certain coordinates systems.

The game transcript is written in standard algebraic notation. The destination square is represented by a lowercase letter (a-h, on the x-axis) and a number (1-8, on the y-axis), with the bottom-left square from White's perspective being a1 and the top-right square being h8. The uppercase letters refer to the piece that is moving to that square (e.g., Q = queen, K = king, N = knight, R = rook), so Qa1 would mean moving the queen to White's bottom-left square. The absence of an uppercase letter refers to a pawn's move (e.g., "f6" means moving a pawn to f6). If the move captures a piece, an "x" is inserted between the piece and the destination (e.g., Nxb8). Checks are indicated by +, and checkmate by #.


[A game board with 8×8 white squares and black borders, like a go board or an all white chessboard, there are white chess pieces in starting position on the bottom after e3, d4, Nf3, Nc3, Bd2 and five black Go pieces on the vertices in the center of the board at d4 d5 c6 g4 g6.]
[Caption below the frame:]
White to continue insisting this is a chessboard

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So is there an answer to the puzzle? Clwhisk (talk) 19:06, 6 November 2013 (UTC)

Re5. This forks the two topmost black stones, allows the queen to attack one black and to develop, and in addition keeps the two eyes on d3 and e2, ensuring that white continues to live. Dominique. 15:33, 9 January 2024 (UTC)

Black thinks he's playing Go and white thinks he's playing chess. Although a 7 x 7 board is a bit small for go, it is not unusual for a beginner to play on such a board -- hax (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

It is a 9x9 go board! (usually used for learning,  as its smaller, less strategic, and quicker to finish game, whereas regular go is played on 19x19 intersections). Olivier. (talk)  (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
You beat me to it. "Less strategic" also means "more tactical". In my experience, 9x9 boards are rare (mostly, people would just use part of a 19x19 board), but when they do exist, they have 4 handicap intersections marked with dots. Homunq (talk) 08:28, 6 November 2013 (UTC)
9x9 boards are great for variety and getting through games, and for beginners of all levels! Go on a 9x9 is about as hard as chess, in terms of playability, state space, and only recently seeing pro strength computers. Clwhisk (talk) 18:59, 6 November 2013 (UTC)

The picture on xkcd.com is changed. The bishop on e4 is removed and the one on c1 moved to d2. 08:48, 6 November 2013 (UTC) Could this be another Time Lapse much like the Wait For It comic?-- 02:31, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

It only changed once, to fix a legal error with a move. Davidy²²[talk] 02:41, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

Would it be better to use algebraic notation instead, seeing as FIDE stopped recognizing descriptive notation in 1981? -- Banak (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Possibly - I was trying to distinguish between Go moves and Chess moves by using the older Chess notation as a disambiguation, but... eh. I'm ambinotational - I read metric and imperial and barely notice the conversion. :) SleekWeasel (talk) 11:18, 6 November 2013 (UTC)
Then you may have a career at NASA ahead of you... ;) 14:26, 6 November 2013 (UTC)
Haha, NASA approached me once about designing a catsuit/pressuresuit, based on my stretchy.org website, thinking that I lived in Cambridge Mass, not Cambridge UK. SleekWeasel (talk) 23:35, 6 November 2013 (UTC)

It would be helpful to give a description - or at least a primer (or a link to one) - of the notation used for chess moves (i.e. Q, N, R ... x, +, #, ... which sides of the board are alphabetic vs. which are numeric). 16:55, 6 November 2013 (UTC)

Re: black not playing on a handicap positions: it may be that black considers the players evenly matched (or white to be only slightly better), so no handicap. If there was a handicap, black would have 6 stones on the board (I've never heard of a 1 stone handicap). In any case, the upper-right move is a traditional starting move (assuming black is facing the board from the top), as it gives good control over the corner (and in a 9x9, the center). 14:28, 7 November 2013 (UTC) -TauCeti

Also, as a note, it looks like the two players are playing in response to each other. Black is playing in contact with the white pieces as a tactical play to contest that section of the board, while white is carefully positioning their pieces to protect against a player who has somehow taken control over the center of the board (although white is treating the go stones as more valuable than pawns, or the knights wouldn't be there). 14:28, 7 November 2013 (UTC) -TauCeti

How did that bishop get out? 17:04, 7 November 2013 (UTC)
Do you mean the light-squared bishop or the, uh, other light-squared bishop? -- 15:42, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
I mean the light one that's not in its starting location, but out mingling with the pawns 16:57, 11 November 2013 (UTC)

I have to say, Black's position is extremely unusual for Go. The two uppermost stones are on 4-4 and 3-4 (counted from the edge of the board as 1). A 4-4 opening invites a corner invasion, which could be a disaster in a 9x9 game, especially if your opponent has another corner. A one stone handicap is pretty common, as this would just mean playing without komi (the few points white gets to counter black's advantage for going first). Playing on the handicap points (3-3 in 9x9, and 4-4 in 19x19) are usually considered just decent starting points, apart form their use in handicapped games. Of course, there are many different openings, especially in even games, so there's plenty of different moves to play. But 4-4 in 9x9 still seems exceedingly unusual. 16:28, 8 November 2013 (UTC)greyaenigma

I figured that the 3-4 move was black's first, and the remaining moves were in response to white (where the 4-4 was to shore up the left side of the board). That said, I generally play on 19x19 and play rather poorly, so I'd trust your judgement over mine. 18:48, 8 November 2013 (UTC) -TauCeti

It's interesting to note that in Japan, Go vs Shogi (a Japanese variant of chess) is not uncommon, however the game is played on a Shogi board, and the go stones are placed in the squares, rather than on the intersections. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

That feel when you can tell the author uses the same online chess website that you do because of how the chess pieces are drawn. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

As I could not give good current statistics and couldn't find those of november 2013, I removed the statistics. If anyone can do so, please readd them, and mention the validity date of them.--Lupo (talk) 12:23, 8 March 2019 (UTC)