Well , it’s not just about football, ya know. Or volleyball or baseball or cross country or golf or soccer or any of those sports where you get all sweaty. Much more refined than THAT.
Specifically, it’s the Sinquefield Cup Chess Tournament. Held this last week in St. Louis, MO, the event saw a stunning performance by Fabiano Caruana, a twenty-two-year-old Italian grand master(He became a grand master at the ripe old age of fourteen.) Prior to this occasion he had been ranked third in the world by the FIDE (Federation Internationale des Eschecs…sort of the NFL of chess)but he took care of the number-one-ranked dude, Magnus Carlsen(age 23) of Norway (Who is also a model for advertising campaigns and was named one of the “sexiest men of 2013” by Cosmopolitan) in short order and went on to best such big names in chess as Veselin Topalov and Hikaru Nakamura. He finished with seven…SEVEN…wins(in a row) and one draw in the tournament and won $100,000. This is unheard of in chess competitions, where winning frequently is decided by the number of draws and losses—it’s soo hard to win outright against all of these “brainiacs”. Judging from the ages of the top two finishers, it could be the beginning of a fierce competition to go on for some time.
Then again, you never know. Two competitors at the Chess Olympiad held in August in Norway kicked the bucket while the event was going on. One, from the Seychelles had a heart attack at the venue, one, from Uzbekistan, was found dead in his hotel room. Pressure’ll get to you.
And then, of course, there’s the Spanish Vuelta. What, you’re not following the Spanish Vuelta? It’s one of those European bicycle road races that we all care so much about at this time of year. ( Since Lance Armstrong and the Tour de France deceptions we’ve lost all interest. They could –totally–be riding unicycles and wearing clown suits for all we know…or care.) Anyway, the latest stage winner (Not sure what that means either) is a speedy dude named Przemyslaw Niemiec. Nice Irish kid, right? Imagine first grade, being a little tyke riding to school on your bicycle—probably in a Polish neighborhood—and having to learn to write your name on your school papers. Imagine being his teacher and having to pronounce the tiny tot’s name on the first day for roll call. Whoooeee! I survived Viggiani, Chaykowsky and Gruchewski but this guy might have given me pause for refection.
While you were on the road, should you have been traveling in Canada, you might have run into—oops! poor word choice—you might have encountered hitchBot, a robot designed and , presumably, programmed by David Harris Smith of McMaster University and Frauke Zeller(Who also produced an art critic robot named kulturBot) which was hitchhiking across the country from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Victoria, British Columbia. Beginning on July 27 at the Institute for Applied Creativity at NSCAD (formerly Nova Scotia College of Art and Design), it traveled 6000km (4000mi.) relying on the kindness of strangers and arrived on the west coast on August 16.
It was originally plunked down by the side of the road at the airport in Halifax and within five minutes got a ride with a couple heading to camp in New Brunswick. It then went on to crash a wedding celebration, join in a First Nations gathering, show off dance moves by doing the Harlem Shake at a festivity of some kind in Saskatchewan and become an international celebrity of sorts.
hitchBot can talk and has GPS capabilities. Creators Smith and Zeller refer to it as “her”, so that’s what that’s about(Girls can do anything). She survived having a cracked LED shield protector and by the end of the adventure her speech patterns had become a little more random (Heck. I get that way by the end of the DAY sometimes). She’s got a beer barrel body(Been there, done that), yellow gloves—with one thumb up—for hands, blue arms and legs, multicolored boots and red eyes—they wink –and she can smile. She can carry on a conversation( with a brief quotation from Robert Frost) about as well as a lot of people I can think of. She’s part of an investigation concerning the question of whether or not robots can trust humans and the functionality of Artificial Intelligence(The “real” kind seems to be getting pretty thin on the ground lately). Her last ride around was with a gentleman named Steve Sxwithul’txw(Yup, that’s his name; he’s of the Salish Tribe on the Pacific coast) who is a film producer, so we’ll probably soon see a documentary on hitchBot’s trek across Canada.
I’d have picked her up