A bolt from the blue

The following game was played in the ICC 5-minute pool against an opponent whose FIDE rating is 2071. I don’t normally annotate or show blitz games that I’ve played for obvious quality reasons, but I uncorked an extremely snazzy tactic in this game that I can’t help but share. (To my opponent’s credit, he was very gracious and also congratulated me on the move.) A steady diet of exercises based on ‘invisible’ moves seems to have finally paid off!

*Spoiler alert* The key positions is after White plays 18.g3, so you can try to work it out for yourself if you like! Of course, knowing ahead of time the critical moment makes any tactic easier to spot, which is part of why finding moves like this can be so difficult!

[Event "5-minute pool"]
[Site "Internet Chess Club"]
[Date "2013.05.14"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Pavel"]
[Black "Aaron"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteELO "2071"]
[BlackELO "2098"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.O-O Bc5
( 4...Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 {is the
classical Berlin.} )
( 5...d6 $2 6.d4 Bb6 7.d5 a6 8.Ba4 {and White wins material.})
6.d4 Bb6 7.Re1
7...d6 8.Bxc6 $6
{Since White does not win a pawn on e5 as a result of this trade due
to tactical reasons, this move is premature.}
8...bxc6 9.dxe5 Ng4
{The point. With the double attack on e5 and f2 Black retains material
( 10.Rf1 $2 Ba6 )
10...Bxe3 11.fxe3 Nxe5 12.Nxe5 dxe5
{The position is approximately even, assuming White can find a good
square for his knight.}
{This maneuver is a bit slow.}
{Pressuring e4 and eying the kingside.}
14.Qf3 f5 $5
( 14...Be6 {was safer, but Black plays for more.} )
15.exf5 Bxf5 16.Qxc6
{White accepts the pawn. But now Black gains time to coordinate an attack on
the king.}
( 16...Bd3 $2 17.Qd5+ )
( 17.Qc4+ Kh8 18.Qe2 {was a safer alternative.}
17...Kh8 18.g3 $2
( 18.Rf1 {and White is alive and kicking. The point of 18.g3 is that
18...Qh3 is impossible. However...
} )
18...Rf2 $1
{Once the initial shock wears off, this move is actually pretty simple
to calculate. The myriad checkmating threats force White to capture
either the rook or the queen (apart from trivial spite moves like
Qc8+/Qe8+/Qg8+/Qh6). But both captures lead to forced mate!}
( 18...Rf2 19.gxh4
( 19.Kxf2 Qxh2+ 20.Kf1 Qg2# )
19...Rg2+ 20.Kf1
( 20.Kh1 Rg3# )
20...Rf8+ 21.Qf7 Rxf7# )

Barkley and Doppler

Recently we’ve learned a bit about physical modeling of PDEs in my pattern formation class. Here is a video depicting Barkley turbulence, which is a type of reaction-diffusion system.

On an unrelated note, here are a few of my results from implementing a simulation of the Doppler effect. In our first example, a source is traveling at about Mach \( \frac{1}{10} \) horizontally from right to left across a distance of \(200\) meters. When it is directly in front of us, the distance between us and the source is \(10\) meters.

In the second example, the source travels twice as fast, twice as far, and we are twice as close. The shift is correspondingly more dramatic.

One of the more counterintuitive aspects of the Doppler effect is the situation in which the source is coming directly at us. We never really experience this in real life (unless we are actually getting run over by the source). In this situation, the source does not in fact slide continuously from a higher frequency to a lower frequency but rather it does a discrete jump. (This is because the Doppler effect depends on the projections of the velocity vectors of the source and the receiver onto the line connecting the two, so unless the source and receiver are traveling directly toward each other, these projections vary continuously. However, when the source and receiver travel directly toward each other, the projections are constant until they meet, at which point they discretely jump to a new value.) In the particular example I have implemented, the source is traveling at Mach \( \frac{1}{4} \). (Warning: this example might be somewhat uncomfortable to listen to!)

Notice that we heard what sounded like a major sixth! This is actually a pretty straightforward consequence of the mathematics behind the Doppler shift. The emitted frequency, \(f\), is distorted by a frequency factor of \( \frac{c}{c + v_s} \), where \(c\) is the speed of sound in the relevant medium and \(v_s\) is the velocity of the source approaching you, with the convention that it is negative as it approaches you and positive as it recedes. Hence, the frequency ratio between the approaching sound and the receding sound is given by \( \frac{c + |v_s|}{c – |v_s|} \). In particular, at Mach \( \frac{1}{4} \), this ratio is \(\frac{\frac{5}{4}}{\frac{3}{4}} = \frac{5}{3} \), which is a just major sixth. Other musical intervals are, of course, also easily obtainable — Mach \( \frac{1}{3} \) yields an octave, for instance. In general, the reader can verify with some basic algebra that in order to get the frequency ratio \(P:Q\), the source must travel at Mach \( \frac{P – Q}{P + Q} \).

You might have noticed the expression \( c – v_s \) in the denominator above and wondered about the situation in which we are traveling Mach \(1\) or faster, but that’s another story for a future post.