Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Oh, Dear (Chess and Philosophy)

Credit: Drivethru Comics
I was reading a philosophy article (published by a serious writer in a serious journal) and noted a quote about what is supposed to be chess:
After an assessment of the state of the game, a chess players is considering moving the horse forward (move a) in such a way as to force the opponent to move his queen. Yet, before making her move, she suddenly realizes that an alternative option is open: shifting the tower ahead (move b), which would put the other player's king under mate, ending the match successfully.
As the author is Italian, it seems likely this is a case of bad -- i.e., literal -- translation from Italian into English, not ignorance of the game by the author. This sort of thing makes ones rather distrustful of the rest of the article: how can we be sure the translator didn't  make other, similar mistakes?

I suppose the author can always console himself by playing philosopher's chess with Bertrand Russell. It is good to know, as this chess variant tells us, that 'an "enlightened philosopher" is similar to a normal philosopher, except that it may make one or two moves in a single turn'. Clearly an invention -- everybody knows there are no normal philosophers.

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