Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Miscellaneous/2012 January 3

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January 3[edit]

Chess problem, getting stalemate[edit]

a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
b8 black queen
c8 black bishop
e8 black rook
h8 black king
a7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
b6 black rook
e6 white pawn
e5 white knight
g5 white pawn
h5 white pawn
g4 white king
f2 white rook
h2 white queen
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
"Another example of perpetual check. In this instance, which is given by Mendheim, White is much inferior to his opponent in numerical strength, but from the peculiarity of the situation he is enable to draw the game. Endeavour to discover how this is accomplished, beginning by playing the Rook to K. B's 8th square, giving check, &c."

That's the diagram and text in my book about chess. It's the very first diagram in the book that you have to solve yourself (the solution is not given), and I'm absolutely stumped. How do you do it??? Obviously, if you follow the instructions, the Black Rook is going to just take the White Rook. At that point, the only piece that can threaten the Black King is the White Knight, but of the two options the White Knight has of checking the Black King (f7 & g6), the former just causes the Black Rook to take the White Knight, while the latter just has the Black Pawn take the White Knight. Help?--99.179.20.157 (talk) 00:17, 3 January 2012 (UTC)

If you play the white knight to g6 and black pawn takes the white knight, then we have
1. h5xg6+ Kh8-g8
2. Qh2-h7+ Kg8-f8
3. Qh7-h8#
What other responses to knight to g6 do you see? --Itinerant1 (talk) 00:42, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
OK, my mistake. f8 will be occupied, as the comment below says. So it will end even sooner this way.--Itinerant1 (talk) 00:53, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
The point of the rook move is that black must take the rook, removing the protection of the pawn e7 and blocking f8 as a potential refuge for the black king. White's second move is Ng6. Black cannot take with the pawn, otherwise white would retake with the pawn giving check and then mate by Qh7. Black has to respond by Kg8. After that the white knight alternates between g6 and e7. 86.171.231.249 (talk) 00:48, 3 January 2012 (UTC)

I'm sorry, but I'm not following at all. What's to stop black from simply using the Black Queen to take the White Queen (and end the discovered check)? In other words,

1. h5xg6+ Qb8xh2 !!

--99.179.20.157 (talk) 00:54, 3 January 2012 (UTC)


If Black takes the White Queen, White has only 2 pawns and a King. How is he going to cause check against a Rook and a Bishop?

a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
b8 black queen
c8 black bishop
e8 black rook
f8 white rook
h8 black king
a7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
b6 black rook
e6 white pawn
e5 white knight
g5 white pawn
h5 white pawn
g4 white king
h2 white queen
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
b8 black queen
c8 black bishop
f8 black rook
h8 black king
a7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
b6 black rook
e6 white pawn
e5 white knight
g5 white pawn
h5 white pawn
g4 white king
h2 white queen
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
b8 black queen
c8 black bishop
f8 black rook
h8 black king
a7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
b6 black rook
e6 white pawn
g6 white knight
g5 white pawn
h5 white pawn
g4 white king
h2 white queen
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
b8 black queen
c8 black bishop
f8 black rook
h8 black king
a7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
b6 black rook
e6 white pawn
g6 black pawn
g5 white pawn
h5 white pawn
g4 white king
h2 white queen
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
b8 black queen
c8 black bishop
f8 black rook
h8 black king
a7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
b6 black rook
e6 white pawn
g6 white pawn
g5 white pawn
g4 white king
h2 white queen
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
c8 black bishop
f8 black rook
h8 black king
a7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
b6 black rook
e6 white pawn
g6 white pawn
g5 white pawn
g4 white king
h2 black queen
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h

How is White supposed to stalemate (let alone checkmate) Black at this point?--99.179.20.157 (talk) 01:05, 3 January 2012 (UTC)


LOL it looks like I just solved it without knowing.--99.179.20.157 (talk) 01:09, 3 January 2012 (UTC)

At this point, the white has no moves at all! It's a stalemate and therefore a draw.--Itinerant1 (talk) 01:10, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
Note too that it's stalemate not perpetual check, like the legend on the picture says. 88.8.76.174 (talk) 01:11, 3 January 2012 (UTC)

But the book says the initial arrangement is supposed to give an example of Perpetual Check... which this is not.--99.179.20.157 (talk) 01:23, 3 January 2012 (UTC)

It is assumed that the black will not make any move that necessarily results in losing the game or puts the white in a stalemate. After 1. Rf8+ Rxf8, 2. Ng6+, the black will not play 2. ...h7xg6, because it would be countered with 3. h5xg6, which would leave the black with two possible moves, one leads to an inevitable loss, the other results in an immediate stalemate. Therefore, the black will play 2. ... Kg8, and after that the white will proceed with a perpetual check.--Itinerant1 (talk) 01:56, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
Quite correct, and moreover, it is usual for chess problems to go this way (as Itinerant1 probably knows, but the OP may not). The result that they are talking about is called the "main line" and as it can sometimes be hard to decide what they are calling the "main line", the best ploy is always to look at the position with an unprejudiced eye, and just decide what you would play. Then try to work out where the "perpetual check" thing might be coming from. IBE (talk) 07:41, 3 January 2012 (UTC)

The previous page explains the concept of Perpetual Check like this:

a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black king
b8 black queen
a7 black pawn
b6 black pawn
b5 white king
c4 white queen
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h

"This position is only a modification of the preceding one, but it will enable you to understand what is meant by perpetual check as well as the most elaborate arrangement of the men could do. Place the men on your chess-board according to the diagram, suppose yourself to be playing the white Pieces, and that it is your turn to move. Your adversary, you will observe, has the advantage in point of force, but this is counterbalanced by the situation, which enable syou to draw the game. To do this, you must first play your Queen to one of the three squares where she will check the King, i. e., to the K's 3th, Q's 5th, or Q. B's 6th; it is indifferent which, say, therefore Q. to K's 4th (check). Black has no option, his King cannot move, he must interpose his Queen. If now you were to take the Queen you would lose the game, on account of his two Pawns; but instead of doing so, you play the Queen to King's 8th sq., giving check. The black Queen must again interpose; you repeat the check at K's 4th, Black can only parry it with his Queen, and you may persist in giving the same two checks, ad infinitum. In such cases, the game is resigned as "drawn by perpetual check"."

That's the full text that immediately precedes what I have shown so far. The modification in question is an arrangement of the previous page, which is this:

a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black king
b8 black queen
g8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b6 black pawn
c6 white rook
b5 white king
c4 white queen
a2 white pawn
g2 white bishop
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h

Still not understanding how the perpetual check is achieved here. Perhaps the book is in error? It's an old book after all (first published in 1847 in London). It's called The Chess-Player's handbook, by Howard Staunton.--99.179.20.157 (talk) 01:23, 3 January 2012 (UTC)

It is in an old style of notation and there is an error. "Queen to one of the three squares where she will check the King, i. e., to the K's 3th, Q's 5th, or Q. B's 6th;" means Qe3+, Qd5+, or Qc6+. But Qe3+ should be Qe4+. Then (from the first diagram), Black must move Qb7 to block the check, then White checks on the 8th rank, etc. That results in perpetual check which was a rule at the time. It is no longer a rule, but it would force a draw by threefold repetition. Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 05:09, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
I'm no good at chess problems.
Fooling around with it, this is the closest I could come to making it work. Unfortunately, It requires a bad move from each player. Black's second move allows white to checkmate, but white doesn't.
Perhaps the author of the book confused the concepts of perpetual check with stalemates in general? It seems unreasonable that a book first published in 1847 would still contain that kind of error. APL (talk) 06:15, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
It seems unreasonable to me that Howard Staunton of all people would be confused about basic chess concepts. It's a little more plausible that one or more typographical errors (if that be the cause of the confusion) could have persisted through subsequent editions: subsequent printings may have been made direct from the original plates, or via photographic reproduction. Proofreading chess notation would be exceptionally difficult and tedious even if one had a correct original with which to compare - picking up such a typo from proofing the printed text would be well-nigh impossible, unless a reader (such as yourself) had notified the error to the author or publisher. {The poster formerly known as 87.81.230.195} 90.197.66.103 (talk) 18:30, 3 January 2012 (UTC)

Name of State[edit]

Respected Sir/Madam,

The name of the Indian state Orissa has been changed to Odisha. But I can still find that in different articles of Wikipedia the name Orissa is used. It is my earnest request to kindly address this issue. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Kaushani13 (talkcontribs) 12:33, 3 January 2012 (UTC)

Can you provide a valid source for that? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 14:10, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
Easy enough - check the sources at the article. A requested move of the article to the new name has been considered and rejected on the basis of WP:COMMONNAME. Ghmyrtle (talk) 14:48, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
That seems like a misapplication of the policy, to me — it seems deliberately wrong to me to say that the "common name" policy means that outdated names should be used even though they have been officially changed. ("Official" names are often superseded by abbreviated popular names, as in the example of Rhode Island given in the article, but that's a different sort of thing, in my opinion.) There are surely more references in the world to Bombay than Mumbai. But that doesn't make the former names the right article titles. (Personally I think Burma should be renamed Myanmar, by this stage, since nobody calls the contemporary country "Burma" anymore, but anyway, this is the sort of nitpicking that got me to stop regular editing in the first place, so I should just shut up now before I start caring too much...) --Mr.98 (talk) 17:50, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
'nobody' is a strong word - at least on this side of the pond, no media I've ever seen uses anything other than Burma, and whilst people might recognise 'Myanmar' if it were used conversationally, its use would be note-worthily unusual - we don't recognise the legitimacy of the junta to change the names at will, this article sums it up quite nicely :) --Saalstin (talk) 20:04, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
A BBC Radio Four programme on 1 or 2 January 2012 asserted that many people in Bombay/Mumbai itself find the latter name contentious, symbolising the stance only of a cultural/political faction, and insist on using the former. The two versions are in any case merely representations of slightly different pronunciations of the same basic name, not completely separate names as in Burma/Myanmar. {The poster formerly known as 87.81.230.195}. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 90.193.78.26 (talk) 14:58, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
Actually, as Names of Burma explains, Burma and Myanmar are different forms of the same word. 81.98.43.107 (talk) 16:10, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Would it make sense to just change the article names and make a redirect to the new article (while mentioning that the country recently changed names)? Heck froze over (talk) 18:24, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
Time will tell if sources start using the new English name (I suspect this is again one of those cases where the English name is changed to more closely reflect native pronounciation; i.e. the local name hasn't changed a bit). After all, Wikipedia did rename the article Bombay to Mumbai when that name change was reflected in main stream sources (like the AP Stylebook or similar references) recommends the change as well. Wikipedia even has an article titled Renaming of cities in India which covers the practice. If we made the Bombay/Mumbai change, that means we could make this one, if conditions warrent. We don't have to make the change if, however, no one else does. --Jayron32 22:22, 3 January 2012 (UTC)

USPS total failure[edit]

Hi. I have a friend who was contacted by the US Postal Service, which apparently had a mishap and mistakenly sent his Christmas present to Germany. According to USPS, they most likely cannot get it back. Now both this friend and myself live in Canada, and considering that, is there any way to contact the German postal services to retrieve such a package? Thanks. ~AH1 (discuss!) 17:58, 3 January 2012 (UTC)

I would say that I'm surprised that the USPS would make such a mistake, but I'm really not. You could inquire with the USPS about the package to figure out which postal code they may have sent it to within Germany, then you could try locating the post office to which it was sent via here: [1]. Good luck.--WaltCip (talk) 18:23, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
So it was posted in the US with a Canadian address on it? It should now be in a German post office, still with a Canadian address on it, so I would expect the German postal staff to just put it in the next shipment to Canada (while laughing at the stupidity of their American colleagues, which will be obvious from a package with American postage and a Canadian address being anywhere near Germany). It could take a while to get there (they might send it by sea), but I would expect it to get there in the end. Postal staff generally do their best to get post to its destination. --Tango (talk) 20:55, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
I keep getting calls saying that there's a package waiting for me and I need to send money for postage, it's a scam. The Mark of the Beast (talk) 21:39, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
It does sound very much like the beginning of some sort of scam. Don't give them any additional money. If they tell you to contact a particular office, don't blindly use the number they give you, look that office up on the internet and find the number that way. APL (talk) 08:40, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
You could tell them you have no money to pay the return postage, having invested your life savings in the development of time bombs. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 06:38, 5 January 2012 (UTC)

Yellow heavy equipment[edit]

Why is most heavy equipment yellow? I understand aesthetics are not a major factor in heavy equipment, but what caused yellow to be picked as the most common colour? Is it because it's so easy to differentiate from the surroundings? JIP | Talk 19:57, 3 January 2012 (UTC)

Exactly. It's called "High visibility yellow". Imagine if you're a construction worker on a busy, noisy work site, and there's a gray dirty dump truck headed your way ... It's the same reason why highway workers and motorcyclists wear orange vests and why hunters are required to have a patch of orange on their clothing. --Itinerant1 (talk) 20:30, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
Hunters in some areas are required to wear orange (as opposed to yellow etc), because it was thought at one time that they and not their quarry could be seen. [1]--Aspro (talk) 21:06, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
FWIW If you live in Europe (or that tiny island just of the mainland referred to a the UK) it is called JCB YELLOW [2]--Aspro (talk) 20:41, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
Bealive it or not. This has already been asked before and J. C. Bamford mentions when he first used it – on that tiny little island of the coast Europe at least. Isn't Wikipedia wonderful.. I wonder it it can tell me where all my left-hand socks keep disappearing to?--Aspro (talk) 20:53, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
If you are putting your socks on your hands, then you probably deserve to lose them. KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 22:05, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
Especially if they're sinister sockpuppets. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 08:26, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
I doubt it, but if you have disappearing money, I can nudge you in the right direction. Try here. Note that this is not an endorsement.--WaltCip (talk) 21:40, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
Aspro: see Planet Of The Socks (short story). – b_jonas 09:37, 5 January 2012 (UTC)
See safety orange and school bus yellow for other examples. Dismas|(talk) 20:40, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
A company in my country that specialised in concrete delivery used bright pink for their vehicles for decades. Sadly it's recently been taken over in a corporate move, so we've lost that variation now. HiLo48 (talk) 22:00, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
One of the local contractors around here has painted at least one of their cement trucks bright pink in support of breast cancer research. They also have a tradition of festooning their trucks with Christmas lights in December and then driving them in one big caravan all around the area. And I'm not talking just a few lights. The entire truck will be aglow with various color lights. Dismas|(talk) 02:25, 4 January 2012 (UTC)