Saturday, October 31, 2009

More than One Way...

Happy Halloween, everyone. Today's puzzle is a tougher one, and a demonstration of contingency planning. There are at least two ways to win this puzzle, depending on your opponent.

Skill Level: Advanced

Your opponent and yourself have been trading pieces for much of the game, and have ended up even at this late stage. However, there are two ways you can close your enemy down and seize victory from him.

You are White. You must mate in four moves.


Scroll down for the solution.










Your first move is Knight to F7. Check.

Your opponent's best move in response is to move his King to G8, protecting his king and threatening your knight. He could choose to take your knight with his Rook instead, but if so, you could move your Queen to D8, placing the King in check, and forcing a mate in two moves.

Knight to H6. Check.

Your opponent's best move is to move his King back to H8, to avoid the threat from your knight.

Queen to G8. Check.

At this point, your opponent needs to take one of your threatening pieces if he possibly can, to take some pressure off his King. His best move in this case is to take your Queen by moving his Rook to G8.

Knight to F7. Checkmate.

Bruce Kingsford surprised the Editor of this publication by actually turning a chess puzzle in on time for a change. The Editor is thankful for this holiday miracle, and hopes that this is the only deadline he has to experience today. Happy Halloween from all of us at Liquid Ether to all of you.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

An Antarctic Mystery

Original Title: The Sphinx of the Ice Fields
Original English Publication by the J.B. Lippincott Company, 1900
Written by Jules Verne
Reviewed by Lee Strong, the Librarian of St. Gilda

It seems that even Big Name Authors write fan fiction…!

Jules Verne openly acknowledged his debt to his predecessor Edgar Allen Poe in many forums. In this obscure novel, Verne creates a sequel and answer to Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym. Like all good fan fiction, it assumes the truth of the original but then carries the basic story further and in different directions.

Mr. Jeorling the geologist is sitting around waiting for a ship – any ship – to get him out of the justly nicknamed Desolation Islands. What he gets is a vessel captained by the emotionally overwrought William Guy, who insists that Poe’s narrative of Antarctic adventure is not fiction as Jeorling supposes but veritable fact! Soon enough, the two men are partners in an attempt to retrace the voyage of Pym and his captain, Guy’s brother! But wait! Who are the strange sailors who embarked in the Falkland Islands with hidden agendas of their own? Will the good ship Halbrane survive to reach the warm waters cutting thru the Antarctic continent, or will they will destroyed by the crushing ice fields, the hostile natives, and the unexplained mysteries of the Pole and its awesome Sphinx?

I found this sequel to be well laid out but not terribly exciting. Moreover, Verne seems to be conflicted about whether he is building on Poe’s story or refuting it. For example, Verne accepts Poe’s warm Antarctica despite its inherent implausibility but conveniently sweeps the latter’s hostile natives away. Likewise, Verne’s captain has the same personnel issues that Poe’s captain did despite the former’s supposedly careful study of Pym’s cautionary account. As a result, Verne’s characters are mostly a collection of clockwork clichés including the Stalwart Scientist, the Men with Hidden Agendas, the Loyal Servant, and the Traitorous Scoundrel. The scientist, the captain and the half breed searching for missing members of Pym’s crew are fine fellows but their motivations are telegraphed too far in advance. Even the various life threatening incidents don’t seem to arouse great feeling on the part of the author, much less the reader. While I enjoyed Verne’s rational exploration better than Poe’s emotional excesses, ultimately this book is boring.

I rate An Antarctic Mystery as 2.0 stars on the 5 star scale because it’s basically second rate fan fiction of interest to the Verne (and Poe) completist.

Lee Strong is Liquid Ether's resident librarian, archivist, and published author. Questions or comments may be directed to him care of the editor, at liquidether@live.com

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mixed Drinks: Liquid Ether

Today's mixed drink is an homage to this website. It is a moderately potent and visually stimulating concoction, guaranteed to catch the eye of all present.


Liquid Ether

1 oz. pineapple juice
1 oz. orange juice
1.5 oz. coconut rum
1.5 oz. Midori

Shake.
Float 1 oz. Blavod.


Drink.

Enjoy.

Bruce Kingsford's bartending skills are all that stops the Editor of this publication from beating him soundly about the head an face for his lackadaisical attitude toward deadlines.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Pressure

Skill Level: Beginner

Today's Puzzle is about pressure. You have been playing a fairly even game with your opponent up until now, but the time has come to advance boldly and wrest victory from him aggressively.

You are red. You must defeat your opponent in three moves.



Scroll down for the solution.











Rook to Queen's Rook 8, capturing the white rook. Check.

The best move your opponent has is Rook to Queen's Rook 1, taking your rook. He could take the rook with his queen, but that takes pressure off your king, which makes the move sub-optimal. Your moves would be unchanged no matter which piece he uses, however.

Queen to Queen's Rook 8, taking the rook. Check.

Now your opponent has no choice but to take your queen with his, moving his queen to Queen's Rook 1.

Rook to Queen's Rook 8, taking the white queen. Checkmate.

Bruce Kingsford is Liquid Ether's resident chess enthusiast and bartender. His chess puzzles can be found once a week, as can his articles on mixed drinks.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Budget Snobbery: Oktoberfest Edition

Greetings, Guten Tag, Beinvanu, and welcome to another issue of Budget Snobbery. It is October, my second favorite month of the year, outside of March. The weather is changing, Halloween is coming up and the thing I wait for every year, like the migration of swallows, arrives. I am of course speaking of Oktoberfest beer! This wonderful concoction of deep woody flavors mixed with sweetened hops makes not only the chilly air less biting but brings about a generally warm feeling of contentment. But more about my favorite beer later, we must talk about some good beers that you can get for your upcoming party that is more than the usual Bud Lights or Schlitz. In this installment I will be going over the wide range of beers and introduce some you may not know, of course at a good price. I will include some imported beers in this list but please know that everyone has their own choices or views when it comes to beers, especially on the cheap side, so I hope that you can add these to your list of favorites.

American Lager
American lagers are best described as a mix between Pilsners with German lagers. This is no surprise since many of the first major brewers in the US were German immigrants back in the nineteen-hundreds. But since then American lagers have taken a different take on beer. They tend to be lighter, smoother and less infused with hops than other beers. Many American brewers have returned to the old traditions of brewing but good American lagers can still be found out there.

Coors: I know, a very common brand, but I am not talking about Coors Light but the regular Coors beer. You would think that such a stable would be easy to find, but on the East Coast not so much due to the Light version being far more popular. A typical 12 case of bottles comes to about 8-10 dollars, cheap compared to most. Regular Coors is a rich American Lager with a crisp ice-brewed taste. The reason why Coors is on this list instead of Budweiser or Michelob is due to the rarity of this item in most stores, at least where I live and it is a treat to find and enjoy.

Yuengling: Ah the all American staple that’s making a come-back. This beer has been around for ages and is what I consider the best of the cheap beers. Easier to get than Coors, richer in taste than Schlitz and Blue Ribbon, Yuengling is a great all around beer with a light mixture of hops and a smooth finish. One of the best things about Yuengling is that it is not over-powered by alcohol and can accompany almost any meal or event. Mind, this isn’t for a baby-shower but coming from Prescott, AZ my relatives would find a way to get it in.

Cervasa
Spanish beer has taken up a special place in the land of the brewmeisters. Usually accentuated by a citrus texture and tangy taste, this is the beer lover’s choice for something cold on the beach. I remember when my family would go down to Mexico and drink Coronas before they became popular over here, they even had to pay a deposit and return the bottles when they were done. It is memories like that which makes me feel have a special bond with Cervasas.

Dos Exquis: “He once wrote a book about his life. He didn’t publish it to be fair to everyone else.” We all know the commercials but I must say this, Dos Exquis is not only a superior beer to Corona, with a more refined taste and a bolder body to it, but also cheaper. Mind you that it is breaking the cheap-o-meter for the Snob, but considering a six pack of Dos is at least 7.00 while the same from Corona is 9.00, it needs mentioning.

Geman Beers
German beers tend to be the richest and thereby most expensive beers on the market. German beers ranges from the sweet, rich Marzen, to the crisp and tangy Schartzen, please forgive the lack of umlauts. Never fret fellow Snobs, I am here with your much needed salvation through Bavaria.

Gordon and Bercht: Yes, they are an American brewer but their beers are made in the same traditions as the German classics. At 12-pack cases around $11-13 they are at least two or three dollars cheaper than their Germanic cousins. Unfortunately, since it is not only local but also just starting out, they don’t have their full varieties out yet, but I will say this – each one is amazing.


Asian Beers

Asian beers are a strange group. They tend to have a more sour taste to them due to the low malts that they use but it lends itself a distinct richness, especially when paired with Asian food or anything with salty.

Kirin Ichiban: This is the oldest brewed beers in Japan, and one of the most popular, outside of Sapporo, which is made by the same company. Originating back in the early 18th century when it was sold to Dutch sailors, Kirin is not only cheaper than most of it’s competitors but it’s strong yet inviting taste of low malt hops makes it worth drinking by itself. The most popular version of this drink is the large can, usually running for about 4.00 but spend a bit more and get the six pack for 7.00, you will be happy with the many blessings this classic can bring.

Seasonal
Seasonal is just that, seasonal. I personally stay away from most seasonal beers due to they have too many weird varieties. This happens in winter the most with every kind of beer having spices or fruit added to it to make it distinct. The only exception, the only one that I would dare wait all year, cruel winters and blistering summers for, OKTOBERFEST beer! This beer, of the Marzen style from Munich, has more hops than normal, giving it a sweetened texture and a rich amber, color. Not a sweet beer like Winter ales, Oktoberfest beers are more the transition of savory summer brews to the winter flavored styles.

Old Dominion Oktoberfest: I must admit that though Samuel Adams is a preferred Oktoberfest beer, Old Dominion, a local brewery in Virginia, trumps it twice. First since it is local, it is cheaper by almost two dollars. Also, since OD is not as popular as Adams, I am almost guaranteed a six-pack of my favorite seasonal treat waiting for me. The taste is comparable only by degrees, Adams is smoother while OD has a bolder taste, but that is like comparing apple pie to cheesecake; no matter how you slice it, you’re in store for a wonderful experience.

Well my friends that is it for now. I know there are more out there but if I went over every beer, I would be writing a book, which is a good idea but who has the time when Snobbery is about! Next time we will take a look at fun and easy ways to have an amazing party that any of the upper crust would love to be a part of. As always, keep your nose up, and your eyes open.

Ryan Parson's column is submitted irregularly to this publication, due to author's interests in writing and producing films for the moving pictures. His first film is undergoing post-production at this time, and The Editor is grateful he could take the time to talk about beer with us.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Best Defense...

Skill Level: Intermediate

Today's puzzle is about swiftly overcoming defenses. Your opponent has placed his king in what he believes is a strong defensive position surrounded by a rook and a maze of pawns. Unknowingly, however, he has backed himself into a corner, making his defeat inevitable.

You are White. You must play to win in two moves.



Scroll down for the solution.










Queen to King's Rook 7, taking the pawn. Check.

The only possible move red has is to take the queen with his king. This places the red king at Kings Rook 7.

Rook to King's Rook 3. Checkmate.


Bruce Kingsford's love of chess is comparable only to his love for strong drink and beautiful women. His puzzles appear every Saturday in the Smoking Room.