A Happy New Year for all our readers

1/1/2014 – Yet another year has started, and as usual it was brought in with fireworks, some more spectacular than any in the past. There were general retrospects – at least one that had us proverbially ROTFL. And a lovely video look back at the year 2013 by Anna Burtasova. And finally you are able to send in solutions to our Christmas Chess Puzzles, with some interesting prizes to win.

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A Happy New Year for all our readers

For geographical reasons the big New Year celebrations started at the Auckland Sky Tower in New Zealand and progressed to Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia.

Then came Taiwan, almost a million revelers croweded around Taipei City Hall, from which the 24,000 fireworks, costing over US $1 million, emanated. They were ignited by a laser beam fired by a 4m sculpture of comic book superhero Spider-Man.

There is a half-hour video of the Taipei New Year's Eve Countdown to watch (warning: it contains scantily clad teens dancing with giant teddy bears), or for truly dedicated readers the full six-hour (!) show.

You thought Taipei was impressive? A few hours later Dubai put on a show involving more than half a million fireworks in a display spanned 94 kilometres (58.4 miles) of the Dubai coast. The fireworks centered around the Burj Khalifa (see video above), the world’s tallest tower and lasted six minutes, which was enough to shatter the world record for the largest ever pyrotechnic display on New Year’s Eve, as Guinness World Records adjudicators confirmed. In fact enough fireworks were launched in the first minute of the display to break the previous record, set by Kuwait in 2011 with an hour-long show of 77,282 fireworks. A full overview from 400 locations can be viewed in this six-minute video.

At around the same time Ukrainian anti-government pro-European protesters set a record for the most people to sing a national anthem at the same time. In the above image, from the Daily Mail online (which has a lot of very impressive New Year 2014 pictures) we see Ukrainians using light screens and mobile phones during the singing of the national anthem at Independence Square in Kiev.

Then came the traditionally spectacular London New Year's fireworks, watched by 50,000 revellers and billed as the "world's first multi-sensory fireworks display" – with clouds of apple, cherry and strawberry mist, peach snow, plus thousands of big bubbles filled with Seville orange-flavoured smoke and edible banana confetti. Then came Rio and New York. You can watch firework celebrations from all over the world here.


Review of 2013

Naturally the first day of the new year is a time to reflect on the past twelve months, and before we come to the chess section here's a review of 2013 entitled Year of the Zombies. It is by Dave Barry, Pulitzer Prize-winning American author and columnist, and appeared in a number of news sites. Why do we include it? Well, it was pointed out to us by GM Yasser Seirawan, who wrote: "I must admit to having a soft spot for David Barry. He can really tickle my funny bone." We circulated it to a large number of chess players, many around 2750-2800+, and their reactions made it imperative that we share it with our readers. Typical reaction of a Very Strong Player on Skype: "Reduced to tears – and am just in January. Every single para has me in splits. I am in pain."

And now at last we come to chess (remember, the checkered board with wooden pieces which Magnus Carlsen can rearrange better than anyone else?). Just before the new year broke our friend Anna Burtasova sent us the following charming review of 2013 in chess:

Anna Burtasova is a WGM (2009) from Russia who has a nice list of achievements, including under 14 Russian vice champion and under 16 champion, as well as winner of tournaments like Mondariz, Kharkov and Jakarta. She graduated as a lawyer from Vladimir State University, moved to Moscow and worked as an editor and reporter for the Russian Chess Federation website.

Later Anna joined the FIDE Chess in Schools Commission as General Coordinator. Her articles have been published in chess magazines like "64 Chess review", "New in Chess", "Schachmagazin 64", "Schach", etc. and of course she provided a few great articles for ChessBase (remember for instance this famous interview?).

In May 2013 Anna joined ChessTV team as an editor and reporter. ChessTV is an online channel that not only has major tournaments broadcasted live but also produces its own content such as interviews, lessons for various levels of play, analytical reviews on major tournaments, weekly review of the main events, etc. ChessTV broadcasts 24/7 in Russian.


ChessBase Christmas Puzzles 2013 – prize contest

And finally we come to our 2013 Christmas puzzles, which once again were supplied by multiple world champion solver John Nunn. They contained the a varied collection ranging from a mate in three to a seriesselfmate in nine. Apart from one tricky puzzle, the selection, with one exception, was fairly easy. You can review the problems by clicking on the above link or any of the images below, which will take you to specific problems.

 


January 1

To the above chess puzzles we add three general brain teasers:

Brain puzzle 1: Jack loves Mary; Mary loves Peter. Jack is married, Peter is single. In this group does a married person love an unmarried person? – This puzzle was given to us by Nick Carlin during a visit in 2012 to Bletchley Park. Nick is a computer chess expert and was involved in the Rybka program.

Malcolm Pein, daughter Tami and Nick Carlin in front of the main Bletchly Park building

Brain puzzle 2: It's the nineteenth century. A man owns a grandfather clock, which he meticulously winds up each day. One day he forgets, and the next morning the clock has stopped. He knows that in a not too distant village there is a church clock that has the accurate time. How does he reset his clock with the correct time? No, he cannot see or hear the village clock from his house, and neither does he have a pocket watch to consult. – This puzzle was given to us by John Nunn on a walk around a beautiful lake near his house. John believes in exercising the brain together with the rest of your body.

Brain puzzle 3: Why must you be extremely suspicious if someone is using a deck of playing cards with backs that look like this:

Send in your solutions

We asked you not to send in solutions to the Christmas puzzles until January 1st. Now you can do so. Use the feedback form at the bottom of the page and paste your text into the message box. Please do not forget to give your full (real) name, the town you live in and your email address – that is if you want to participate in our Christmas Puzzle Prize Contest. This requires that you have solved at least three of the chess puzzles and one of the above brain teasers correctly.

Two winners will be chosen at random from all eligible submissions – we like to reward participation, not getting everything meticulously right. A third prize winner will be selected on the basis of the nicest message (in our opinion) that we receive. Closing date for all entries is January 15, 2014. Note that the arrival date will not influence the selection.

And the prizes? They will consist of the most recent ChessBase software, with autographs of top players – at least one a World Champion or ex. And one of the prizes will have a personal dedication and the signatures of all the participants of the 2014 Zurich Chess Challenge – if nothing comes in the way of us getting them. Definitely worth a shot at winning, don't you think?

Frederic Friedel


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