Outside the Box

Tim Krabbé published an eye-opening problem in Schaakbulletin in 1972. White must mate in 2 from this position:

vertical castling

He does so with 1. e8=R! Kg2 2. O-O-O-O-O-O#:

vertical castling

O-O-O-O-O-O denotes “vertical castling” — the king castles with the new rook on e8. Amazingly, this was arguably legal at the time — here’s how the rules defined castling:

“The king is transferred from its original square, two squares toward the rook; then that rook toward which the king has moved is transferred over the king to the square immediately adjacent to the king.”

All other stipulations are met: Neither the king nor the rook has moved previously, and the king passes through no square guarded by Black.

So, legal, right? Alas, after much debate in Dutch and Belgian chess columns, FIDE revised its rules to refer to a rook “on the same rank.” Some people have no imagination.

01/30/2012 UPDATE: I find the same idea mentioned in the April 1970 issue of the Journal of Recreational Mathematics — David Silverman says he proposed an “impossible” two-move checkmate, “a problem that generated a lot of heat,” for the Litton Problematical Recreations series following Richard Epstein’s discovery of a similar loophole in Hoyle’s Book of Rules. This anticipates Krabbé’s publication by two years.

Naturally

Fielding positions in “Who’s on First?”:

  • First base: Who
  • Second base: What
  • Third base: I Don’t Know
  • Left field: Why
  • Center field: Because
  • Pitcher: Tomorrow
  • Catcher: Today
  • Shortstop: I Don’t Care

When Dodgers shortstop Chin-Lung Hu singled in a 2007 game against the Padres, announcer Vin Scully said, “And Hu’s on first.”

Camera Placement

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hollywood%26Vine-1907.jpg

That’s the intersection of Hollywood and Vine in 1906.

Seven years after this photo was taken, Cecil B. DeMille was searching for a western location to film The Squaw Man. He sent this telegram to his New York partners:

FLAGSTAFF NO GOOD FOR OUR PURPOSE. HAVE PROCEEDED TO CALIFORNIA. WANT AUTHORITY TO RENT BARN IN PLACE CALLED HOLLYWOOD FOR $75 A MONTH.

Sam Goldwyn responded:

AUTHORIZE YOU TO RENT BARN BUT ON MONTH-TO-MONTH BASIS. DON’T MAKE ANY LONG COMMITMENT.

Years later Marilyn Monroe would write, “Hollywood’s a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul.”

Off Base

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rube-waddell.jpg

1903 in the life of erratic pitcher Rube Waddell, cataloged by Cooperstown historian Lee Allen:

“He began that year sleeping in a firehouse in Camden, New Jersey, and ended it tending bar in a saloon in Wheeling, West Virginia. In between those events he won 22 games for the Philadelphia Athletics, played left end for the Business Men’s Rugby Football Club of Grand Rapids, Michigan, toured the nation in a melodrama called The Stain of Guilt, courted, married and became separated from May Wynne Skinner of Lynn, Massachusetts, saved a woman from drowning, accidentally shot a friend through the hand, and was bitten by a lion.”

And that was just 1903. In one game against the Athletics, Waddell was at bat in the eighth inning with two out and a tying run on second. The catcher threw to second, trying to pick off the runner, but overthrew, and the ball went into the outfield. The runner took off for home. As he rounded third, the center fielder hurled the ball in to home plate …

… and Waddell, to everyone’s horror, knocked it out of the park.

He was declared out for interference. “They’d been feeding me curves all afternoon,” he told a flabbergasted Connie Mack, “and this was the first straight ball I’d looked at!”

Remembered

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/698003

On the morning after Jack Benny died in 1974, his wife, Mary, received a single long-stemmed rose. Another arrived the next day, and the next. For the first few weeks she was too numb to wonder where they were coming from, but eventually she called the florist to inquire.

He told her that Benny had visited the shop some years earlier to send a bouquet of flowers to a friend. As he was leaving, he suddenly turned back and said, “If anything should happen to me, I want you to send Mary a single rose every day.”

She continued to receive them every day until June 30, 1983 — when she herself passed away.

Right of Way

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:1928-HenryBobbyPearce.jpg

In the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam, Australian rower Bobby Pearce was leading in the quarter-final when he looked ahead and saw a family of ducks crossing his lane.

He leaned immediately on his oars and let them pass. This let Frenchman Victor Saurin catch up and then pull away to a five-length lead.

But Pearce rocketed after him and won by 20 lengths — setting a new course record and making him a favorite with Dutch schoolchildren.

Uptime

One of Robert Benchley’s movie shorts required that he be suspended above a street in a tangle of telephone wires.

While waiting for the camera, he said to his wife, “Remember how good at Latin I was in school?”

“Yes.”

“Well, look where it got me.”