Friday, September 23, 2011

Today's Bible verse

The Benoni has never had a reputation for being easy: its name was drawn from Genesis 35:18:
Rachel was about to die, but with her last breath she named the baby Ben-oni (which means "son of my sorrow"). The baby's father, however, called him Benjamin (which means "son of my right hand").
If you play the Modern Benoni against Mesgen Amanov, it's going to cost you Benjamins.  Mesgen annotates this incredibly entertaining game

As long as we're blogging etymology, Mesgen uses the word "tabiya" in his annotations to refer to the position after White's 9th move.  In chess's medieval ancestor shatranj, pawns could only move one square, and the fers (predecessor of the modern queen) could only move one square diagonally.  Consequently, the two armies in shatranj did not make much contact in the initial moves.  The Arabic word "tabbiyya" was used to describe the battle array chosen by each player. 

In modern chess, when the two armies are colliding from the initial moves, you can't ignore what the other player is doing when you choose your battle array.  A modern tabiya is a standard position known to both players before the beginning of the game from which they tacitly agree to begin the battle.

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