Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Games’ Category

Sports hooligans in Constantinope, 532 CE

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The ruins of the Hippodrome, Onofrio Panvino, 1580.

Sports hooliganism has an long if not illustrious history. Dan Billingham writes in Antigone:

Constantinople’s Nika Riots of 532 may seem like a dark precursor to the so-called Dark Ages of the early medieval period. A tempting assumption to make is that a bout of collective madness and lack of societal restraint caused the grumbles of chariot-racing fans to escalate to the point of laying waste to large parts of the city and thousands dying. Sixth-century Constantinople was far from a place of anarchy, however. It was one of the most sophisticated cities on the planet, with a social order underpinned by a vast legal code. The Nika Riots were, in fact, more ofa sudden social implosion fuelled by mismanagement from an earnest emperor trying to do his best but failing disastrously.

Around a century after the Nika Riots, the sport of chariot racing was in terminal decline. That was anything but inevitable. It had already enjoyed a key cultural role in the ancient world for over a millennium. Its glorious era at Rome’s Circus Maximus was transported to the hippodrome of Constantinople, where it enjoyed several more centuries in the limelight.

Chariot-racing fans were, well, fanatical. Packing the great arenas to cheer on their favourite faction (team) was just one part of it. Merchandise such as statuettes of famous charioteers were popular, and curse tablets have been discovered on which fans would implore gods to wreak all manner of injustice and havoc on an opposition faction. Idolatry was granted to the brave charioteers, along with money that is staggering even in comparison to the earnings of modern sportspeople. 

This level of enduring fanaticism makes the poet Juvenal’s infamous line that the people “anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses” totally understandable. The popularity of chariot racing was so extreme, however, that it would be wrong to think cynical emperors were merely orchestrating spectacles for an intellectually vacant populace. Emperors mostly sought to harness for their own benefit a powerful popular interest in the sport – an exercise which, as Justinian showed in 532, could go disastrously wrong too.

Violence would appear to be a natural consequence of such fanaticism. This wasn’t noted to be a major problem at Rome’s Circus Maximus. Casual violence began to become more associated with chariot racing from the fourth century, however, and continued as Constantinople assumed Rome’s mantle. By the late fifth century, gangs formed within groups of fans that resemble modern-day football ultras. Several high-profile riots occurred during the reign of the Emperor Anastasius (491–518). The toll of several of these events was significant, with around 3,000 fans of the Blue faction killed in an ambush from fans of the Green faction in 501, but still there had been nothing quite on the scale of the Nika Riots.

Their potential for organised violence made chariot-racing factions a force to be reckoned with. How this force played into Byzantine politics is subject to scholarly debate. In his 1976 work Circus Factions, Alan Cameron dismissed earlier suggestions that the factions were aligned with different social groups or followed the religious divides of the era. He saw them as a social ill akin to modern-day football hooliganism with limited political impact.

The sociopolitical identity behind and between the factions does appear to have been muddled, but perhaps this is because the factions were too big even to fit within major social or religious fault lines. Blue was blue and Green was green. How people could declare allegiance to a colour is baffling for historians used to hunting for clear social explanations, but the popularity of the sport was such that people were generally confronted with that choice. Green supporters were accused of being Jews, Samaritans and blasphemers by an envoy of Justinian in the hippodrome in the build-up to the Nika Riots. That they walked out en masse in disgust at these accusations shows they identified as none of these.

Choosing which faction to side with became a major political decision for emperors. The varied conclusions they came to supports the idea  . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more. And see also the Wikipedia article.

Mosaic of the Reds, 3rd-century AD Rome (National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid).

Written by Leisureguy

5 September 2021 at 12:30 pm

Kayfabe Ascendent

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Two very interesting videos:

Written by Leisureguy

3 September 2021 at 6:13 pm

A run of 26 in three-cushion billiards

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A run of 26 in three-cushion billiards is unusually good. From Wikipedia:

The high run at three-cushion billiards for many years was 25, set over two games (fourteen and out and starting with eleven in the next game) by the American Willie Hoppe in 1918 during an exhibition in San Francisco.[1] In 1968 Raymond Ceulemans improved the record to 26 in a match in the Simonis Cup tournament. In 1993 Junichi Komori set the record to 28 in a Dutch league match, a feat repeated by Ceulemans in 1998 in the same league.[10] In 2012 Roland Forthomme tied the record in Zundert.[11] In the 2013 European Championships in Brandenburg, Germany, Frederic Caudron became the fourth member of the “28” club.[12] Ceulemans reputedly had a high run of 32 in a non-tournament, non-exhibition match.[10] The highest run so far in a World Cup match is 24, set by Jérémy Bury on 7 September 2013 in GuriSouth Korea (see result sheet on the right).[13]

When allowing for interruptions by opponents starting new games, the current record high run is 34 by the Dutchman Dick Jaspers: in his 2008 European Championship Final match against the Swede Torbjörn Blomdahl, played in three games of 15 points each, he ended Game One by going 13 and out, ran 15 and out in the only inning of Game Two (started by Blomdahl), and ran six in his first inning of Game Three.[14][15]

This player’s cue ball is the yellow ball. (The spots are to make the english visible.) One point and the right to play another shot are given when a player makes the cue ball strike both the other balls provided that the cue ball strikes the cushions at least three times before it strikes the second object ball.

And here are some nice shots, explained:

Written by Leisureguy

28 August 2021 at 1:32 pm

Posted in Daily life, Games

Tagged with

Some amazing 3-cushion billiards shots

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Billiards (true billiards, not pocket billiards, aka pool) is played on a 5′ x 10′ table with no pockets and 3 balls: 1 red ball and two other balls — in this video, one is white and the other yellow. (One oddity: many places that have a sign saying “Billiards” will not have any billiard tables — just pocket billiards and sometimes snooker tables.) One of the two players uses the white ball as his/her cue ball, the other uses the yellow ball as their cue ball. The object in straight-rail/carom billiards is simple: hit your cue ball and make it hit the other two balls. That game is more difficult that you might think but if you can get the  two non-cue balls in a corner, you can make a lot of points very quickly.

To avoid that issue, there are a couple of variants. One is balk-line billiards, the other three-cushion billiards. I find three-cushion billiards more elegant. It has the same object as carom billiards, but it requires that before your cue ball strikes the second object ball, the cue ball must hit the rail cushions at least three times. The hits can be on the same cushion — what is important is the number of times the cue ball hits any cushion: three or greater. Each successful shot is 1 billiard (1 point).

This game shows various ways of doing that.

Written by Leisureguy

25 August 2021 at 7:09 pm

Posted in Daily life, Games

The Beauty of Bézier Curves

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25 August 2021 at 12:48 pm

Posted in Games, Math, Software, Technology

Marvellous break — Alex Higgins v. Jimmy White

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Written by Leisureguy

21 August 2021 at 7:29 pm

Posted in Games, Snooker, Video

How Facebook Failed to Stem Racist Abuse of England’s Soccer Players

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Another example of Facebook failure. Mark Zuckerman is not interested in fixing this because he makes money from it. Ryan Mac and Tariq Panja report in the NY Times:

In May 2019, Facebook asked the organizing bodies of English soccer to its London offices off Regent’s Park. On the agenda: what to do about the growing racist abuse on the social network against Black soccer players.

At the meeting, Facebook gave representatives from four of England’s main soccer organizations — the Football Association, the Premier League, the English Football League and the Professional Footballers’ Association — what they felt was a brushoff, two people with knowledge of the conversation said. Company executives told the group that they had many issues to deal with, including content about terrorism and child sex abuse.

A few months later, Facebook provided soccer representatives with an athlete safety guide, including directions on how players could shield themselves from bigotry using its tools. The message was clear: It was up to the players and the clubs to protect themselves online.

The interactions were the start of what became a more than two-year campaign by English soccer to pressure Facebook and other social media companies to rein in online hate speech against their players. Soccer officials have since met numerous times with the platforms, sent an open letter calling for change and organized social media boycotts. Facebook’s employees have joined in, demanding that it to do more to stop the harassment.

The pressure intensified after the European Championship last month, when three of England’s Black players were subjected to torrents of racial epithets on social media for missing penalty kicks in the final game’s decisive shootout. Prince William condemned the hate, and the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, threatened regulation and fines for companies that continued to permit racist abuse. Inside Facebook, the incident was escalated to a “Site Event 1,” the equivalent of a companywide five-alarm fire.

Yet as the Premier League, England’s top division, opens its season on Friday, soccer officials said that the social media companies — especially Facebook, the largest — hadn’t taken the issue seriously enough and that players were again steeling themselves for online hate.

“Football is a growing global market that includes clubs, brands, sponsors and fans who are all tired of the obvious lack of desire from the tech giants to develop in-platform solutions for the issues we are dealing with daily,” said Simone Pound, head of equality, diversity and inclusion for the Professional Footballers’ Association, the players’ union.

The impasse with English soccer is another instance of Facebook’s failing to solve speech problems on its platform, even after it was made aware of the level of abuse. While Facebook has introduced some measures to mitigate the harassment, soccer officials said they were insufficient.

Social media companies aren’t doing enough “because the pain hasn’t become enough for them,” said Sanjay Bhandari, the chair of Kick It Out, an organization that supports equality in soccer.

This season, Facebook is trying again. Its Instagram photo-sharing app rolled out new features on Wednesday to make racist material harder to view, according to a blog post. Among them, one will let users hide potentially harassing comments and messages from accounts that either don’t follow or recently followed them.

“The unfortunate reality is that tackling racism on social media, much like tackling racism in society, is complex,” Karina Newton, Instagram’s global head of public policy, said in a statement. “We’ve made important strides, many of which have been driven by our discussions with groups being targeted with abuse, like the U.K. football community.”

But Facebook executives also privately acknowledge that racist speech against English soccer players is likely to continue. “No one thing will fix this challenge overnight,” Steve Hatch, Facebook’s director for Britain and Ireland, wrote last month in an internal note that The Times reviewed.

Some players appear resigned to the abuse. Four days after the European Championship final, Bukayo Saka, 19, one of the Black players who missed penalty kicks for England, posted on Twitter and Instagram that the “powerful platforms are not doing enough to stop these messages” and called it a “sad reality.”

Yet as the Premier League, England’s top division, opens its season on Friday, soccer officials said that the social media companies — especially Facebook, the largest — hadn’t taken the issue seriously enough and that players were again steeling themselves for online hate.

“Football is a growing global market that includes clubs, brands, sponsors and fans who are all tired of the obvious lack of desire from the tech giants to develop in-platform solutions for the issues we are dealing with daily,” said Simone Pound, head of equality, diversity and inclusion for the Professional Footballers’ Association, the players’ union.

The impasse with English soccer is another instance of Facebook’s failing to solve speech problems on its platform, even after it was made aware of the level of abuse. While Facebook has introduced some measures to mitigate the harassment, soccer officials said they were insufficient.

Social media companies aren’t doing enough “because the pain hasn’t become enough for them,” said Sanjay Bhandari, the chair of Kick It Out, an organization that supports equality in soccer.

This season, Facebook is trying again. Its Instagram photo-sharing app rolled out new features on Wednesday to make racist material harder to view, according to a blog post. Among them, one will let users hide potentially harassing comments and messages from accounts that either don’t follow or recently followed them. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

11 August 2021 at 7:46 pm

Superb snooker defensive play: O’Sullivan v Wilson Final F10 2018 Champion of Champions

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Written by Leisureguy

7 August 2021 at 2:41 pm

Posted in Games, Snooker, Video

Sports Balls in this Olympics

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From Visual Capitalist:

Written by Leisureguy

1 August 2021 at 6:24 am

Posted in Games

The infrastructure bill

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Heather Cox Richardson writes:

It appears that it is finally infrastructure week.

Today, negotiators hammered out a deal on a bipartisan bill, which includes $550 billion in new spending. This evening, the Senate voted to move the bill forward by a vote of 67 to 32, with 17 Republicans joining all the Democrats to begin debate on the measure.

The bill is not fully hammered out yet, and the Congressional Budget Office, which examines bills to see how much they will cost, has not yet produced a final number, but it appears that the bill will cost about $1.2 trillion over 8 years. It puts together unspent monies from other programs and from new “user fees” to pay for it, but Republicans demanded that funds to increase funding for the IRS to enable it to crack down on tax cheats, who cost the United States about $1 trillion a year, be stripped from the bill.

The White House said the bill would create about 2 million “good-paying” jobs a year for the next decade. It provides $110 billion for roads and bridges, $39 billion for public transit, $66 billion for passenger rail, $73 billion to upgrade the electrical grid; $7.5 billion for electrical vehicle chargers on highway corridors, $17 billion for rebuilding our ports, $50 billion for addressing climate change and cybersecurity, and $55 billion for clean drinking water.

The bill also calls for $65 billion to expand broadband internet, tying all Americans into the same grid and lowering prices. In the White House statement, Biden explicitly tied the expansion of broadband to the nation’s 1936 expansion of access to electricity through the Rural Electrification Act. Through that act, the government tried to level the playing field between urban Americans who had electricity through private companies and rural Americans who did not because the profit margins weren’t high enough to make it worthwhile for private companies to bring electricity to them.

Electrification not only enabled rural Americans to enjoy the new products created in the early twentieth century, but also created a new industry of consumer products that helped the post–World War II economy boom. Then, as now, federal funding for a vital infrastructure need opened up the door to government oversight and regulation of that utility, a principle that today’s Republicans oppose, especially when it comes to broadband. (It’s an interesting thought, though: could regulation of publicly supported broadband help address the problem of disinformation on social media?)

That is only one of the ways in which this bipartisan bill remains precarious. There are others. It is always possible that the Republicans cannot muster the 10 votes they need to pass the bill, and continuing to tinker with it is simply a way to run out the clock on the congressional session so that the Democrats cannot get the infrastructure deal they want so badly.

From the other direction, progressive Democrats have made it clear they will not accept this bill, which focuses on “hard” infrastructure like roads and bridges, unless it goes along with a larger “soft” infrastructure bill that focuses on human infrastructure. There are not enough Republican votes to pass that second measure over a Senate filibuster, so it will have to pass the Senate through budget reconciliation, which requires only a simple majority. But that means it will need all 50 Democratic votes, and today Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema said she does not support the bill in its current form. She apparently wants adjustments, but what they are and whether progressives will accept them remains unclear.

Still, the idea of this new, sweeping infrastructure package becoming reality is . . .

Continue reading.

For a different take, look at Kevin Drum’s post:

I see that cats and dogs are living together and have produced a bipartisan infrastructure bill. I figure they did this just to annoy me, but I hold no grudges. I just want to know how they’re going to pay for it:

The new agreement also included significant changes to how the infrastructure spending will be paid for, after Republicans resisted supporting a pillar of the original framework: increased revenues from an I.R.S. crackdown on tax cheats, which was to have supplied nearly one-fifth of the funding for the plan.

In place of those lost revenues, negotiators agreed to repurpose more than $250 billion from previous pandemic aid legislation, including $50 billion from expanded unemployment benefits that have been canceled prematurely this summer by two dozen Republican governors, according to a fact sheet reviewed by The New York Times. That is more than double the repurposed money in the original deal.

As I recall, the previous version of this “$1 trillion” bill actually represented $600 billion in new spending. With this new funding in place, it looks like the $1 trillion bill is now a $350 billion bill. In other words, starting with the very first proposal from the Biden administration, the amount of new spending has gone from $2 trillion to $1 trillion to $600 billion to $350 billion. I think. This gets kind of tricky. In any case, it sure seems like Republicans got a helluva good deal here.

And there’s this:

“We still have a long way to go before we get to the finish line, but this was a vitally important first step,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), one of the lawmakers who helped broker the deal, at a press conference after a vote.

That sounds mighty familiar, doesn’t it? For one thing, it turns out there’s still no actual legislative text. I’m sure that’s not a problem, though. Stay tuned. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

29 July 2021 at 3:24 pm

Coaches who care more about winning than about the athletes they coach

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Byron Heath has an interesting post on Facebook:

This realization I had about Simone Biles is gonna make some people mad, but oh well.
Yesterday I was excited to show my daughters Kerri Strug’s famous one-leg vault. It was a defining Olympic moment that I watched live as a kid, and my girls watched raptly as Strug fell, and then limped back to leap again.

But for some reason I wasn’t as inspired watching it this time. In fact, I felt a little sick. Maybe being a father and teacher has made me soft, but all I could see was how Kerri Strug looked at her coach, Bela Karolyi, with pleading, terrified eyes, while he shouted back “You can do it!” over and over again.

My daughters didn’t cheer when Strug landed her second vault. Instead they frowned in concern as she collapsed in agony and frantic tears.

“Why did she jump again if she was hurt?” one of my girls asked. I made some inane reply about the heart of a champion or Olympic spirit, but in the back of my mind a thought was festering:

*She shouldn’t have jumped again*

The more the thought echoed, the stronger my realization became. Coach Karolyi should have gotten his visibly injured athlete medical help immediately! Now that I have two young daughters in gymnastics, I expect their safety to be the coach’s number one priority. Instead, Bela Karolyi told Strug to vault again. And he got what he wanted; a gold medal that was more important to him than his athlete’s health.

I’m sure people will say “Kerri Strug was a competitor–she WANTED to push through the injury.” That’s probably true. But since the last Olympics we’ve also learned these athletes were put into positions where they could be systematically abused both emotionally and physically, all while being inundated with “win at all costs” messaging. A teenager under those conditions should have been protected, and told “No medal is worth the risk of permanent injury.” In fact, we now know that Strug’s vault wasn’t even necessary to clinch the gold; the U.S. already had an insurmountable lead. Nevertheless, Bela Karolyi told her to vault again according to his own recounting of their conversation:

“I can’t feel my leg,” Strug told Karolyi.

“We got to go one more time,” Karolyi said. “Shake it out.”

“Do I have to do this again?” Strug asked.

“Can you, can you?” Karolyi wanted to know.

“I don’t know yet,” said Strug. “I will do it. I will, I will.”

The injury forced Strug’s retirement at 18 years old. Dominique Moceanu, a generational talent, also retired from injuries shortly after. They were top gymnasts literally pushed to the breaking point, and then put out to pasture. Coach Karolyi and Larry Nassar (the serial sexual abuser) continued their long careers, while the athletes were treated as a disposable resource.

Today Simone Biles–the greatest gymnast of all time–chose to step back from the competition, citing concerns for mental and physical health. I’ve already seen comments and posts about how Biles “failed her country”, “quit on us”, or “can’t be the greatest if she can’t handle the pressure.” Those statements are no different than Coach Karolyi telling an injured teen with wide, frightened eyes: “We got to go one more time. Shake it out.”

The subtext here is: “Our gold medal is more important than your well-being.”

Our athletes shouldn’t have to destroy themselves to meet our standards. If giving empathetic, authentic support to our Olympians means we’ll earn less gold medals, I’m happy to make that trade.

Here’s the message I hope we can send to Simone Biles: You are an outstanding athlete, a true role model, and a powerful woman. Nothing will change that. Please don’t sacrifice your emotional or physical well-being for our entertainment or national pride. We are proud of you for being brave enough to compete, and proud of you for having the wisdom to know when to step back. Your choice makes you an even better example to our daughters than you were before. WE’RE STILL ROOTING FOR YOU!

I’ve read a fair amount about the psychology of athletes and performers. It would be interesting to read more about the psychology of coaches — not how they employ psychology on their charges, but on the psychology that drives them — why some coaches are so willing to sacrifice an athlete to secure a win.

Written by Leisureguy

28 July 2021 at 9:47 am

Paris Sportif: The Contagious Attraction of Parkour

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I first encountered parkour in a Luc Besson movie, District 13 (from 2004, original title Banlieue 13), but it has a longer history, discussed by Macs Smith in an extract from his book Paris and the Parasite: Noise, Health, and Politics in the Media City published in The MIT Reader:

In a city fixated on public health and order, a viral extreme sport offers a challenge to the status quo.1955, Letterist International, a Paris-based group of avant-garde authors, artists, and urban theorists, published “Proposals for Rationally Improving the City of Paris.” The group, which would become better known as Situationist International, or SI, and play an important role in the May 1968 demonstrations, put forward wild suggestions for breaking the monotony of urban life. Some of these, like the call to abolish museums and distribute their masterpieces to nightclubs, were iconoclastic and anti-institutional, reflecting the group’s anarchic political leanings.

Others were less overtly political and testified to a thirst for excitement. To appeal to “spelunkers” and thrill-seekers, they called for Paris’s rooftops and metro tunnels to be opened up to exploration. The group believed that the mundaneness of urban life in the 1950s was integral to bourgeois capitalism. Boredom was part of how the government maintained order, and so a more equal city would necessarily have to be more frightening, more surprising, more fun.

SI disbanded in 1972, but its ideas about the links between emotion and urban politics have been influential. Among the best examples are the subcultures centered around urban thrill-seeking that exist today, like urban exploration (Urbex), rooftopping, and skywalking, all of which involve breaking into dangerous or forbidden zones of the city. The most famous inheritor to SI’s call to experience urban space differently is parkour, which was invented in the Paris suburb of Lisses in the 1980s. It was inspired by Hébertisme, a method of obstacle course training first introduced to the French Navy in 1910 by Georges Hébert. David Belle learned the principles of Hébertisme from his father, Raymond, who had been exposed to it at a military school in Vietnam. David, along with a friend, Sébastien Foucan, then adapted those principles, originally conceived for natural environments, to the suburban architecture of their surroundings.

Over time, parkour has incorporated techniques from tumbling, gymnastics, and capoeira, resulting in a striking blend of military power and balletic artistry. Parkour involves confronting an urban map with an embodied experience of urban space. It is often defined as moving from points A to B in the most efficient way possible, and parkour practitioners, called traceurs, often depict themselves as trailblazers identifying routes through the city that cartography does not capture. Traceurs sometimes evoke the fantasy of tracing a straight line on the map and finding a way to turn it into a path, although in practice, they more often work at a single point on the map — a park, a rooftop, an esplanade — and end a session back where they started.

Traceurs’ desire to rewrite the map is another thing they share with the Situationists, who liked to cut up maps and glue them back together to show the psychological distance between neighborhoods. But parkour distinguishes itself from SI through its use of video, which continues to be a point of debate within the practice. In the early 2000s, Sébastien Foucan reignited this debate when he broke away from Belle to pioneer his own version of the training system.

Foucan’s appearance in the 2003 documentary “Jump London” cemented “freerunning” as the name for this alternate practice, which put a greater emphasis on stylized movements. Foucan would go on to play a terrorist bomb-maker in Martin Campbell’s “Casino Royale,” leaping from cranes with Daniel Craig’s James Bond in pursuit. Some parkour purists see this as a degradation of the utilitarian roots of their training, and insist instead on a physio-spiritual discourse of communion with the environment, mastery of fear, and humility. They reject freerunning as a brash corruption of Hébert’s principles. The sociologist Jeffrey Kidder notes in his interviews with traceurs in Chicago that they dismiss participants who lack interest in serious rituals like safety, humility, and personal growth. They react negatively to media coverage that highlights parkour’s danger or assimilates it into adolescent rebellions like skateboarding, drug use, or loitering.

In my own email interview with the leaders of Parkour Paris, the official parkour organization of Paris, the same will to blame media is evident: “Parkour has been mediatized in ‘connotated’ films. The traceurs depicted in those fictions were friendly delinquents a bit like Robin Hood. Friendly, yes, but for the immense majority of people they were still delinquents from the banlieue,” they gripe. “It’s been very hard to shake that image.” . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more. And it includes this 50-minute video, Jump London:

Written by Leisureguy

27 July 2021 at 10:17 am

That’s why they call it “snooker”: O’Sullivan and Selby contest the deciding frame

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Tied 16-16 in a best out of 33 match, Selby and O’Sullivan throw snookers at each other with astonishing skill and finesse.

And as a bonus, here’s a video of Ronnie O’Sullivan making astounding comebacks from being very far down — for example, the first frame is O’Sullivan vs. Bingham and begins at the point where O’Sullivan has 1 point and Bingham has 67 points.

Written by Leisureguy

26 July 2021 at 12:12 pm

Posted in Games, Snooker, Video

Lifting Atlas Stones: A Strongman Competition

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The five stones usually range in weight from 160kg to 200kg, though Tom Stollman in May 2020, in the Castle Stone world records attempt, managed to conquer a 286Kg Stone. In this video he also sets a speed record.

Written by Leisureguy

23 July 2021 at 4:11 pm

Posted in Games

Magnus Carlsen Crushed in 26 Seconds!!!

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Magnus Carlsen is world chess champion, and he is quickly defeated in this tournament game of bullet chess. In this game the time limit seems to have been 1 minute per player.

Written by Leisureguy

21 July 2021 at 3:25 pm

Posted in Chess, Games, Video

Nice frame by Chang Bingyu

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I recently posted a video that showed the remarkable level of skill and sangfroid exhibited by Chang Bingyu in the 2020 Snooker Shoot Out. Here he is again, and one interesting thing about this frame is how it begins with a whole sequence of safety shots — and then Chang Bingyu does a 120 break to close it out.

Written by Leisureguy

16 July 2021 at 11:16 am

Posted in Daily life, Games, Snooker

Superb break in 2020 Snooker Shoot Out

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Snooker Shoot Out is to snooker as blitz chess is to chess: a stripped-down, fast-paced game. From the Wikipedia article at the link, here are the rules:

  • Every frame lasts a maximum of 10 minutes.
  • There is a shot clock. For the first 5 minutes of the match, players have 15 seconds per shot, but for the last 5 minutes this is reduced to 10 seconds.[27] Prior to 2013, the shot clock was set at 20 seconds per shot for the first 5 minutes and 15 seconds for the last 5 minutes.[25] Failure to strike the cue ball within the time allowed results in a minimum 5 points penalty or the value of the ball ‘on’, whichever is greater. Prior to 2018, it was always a 5 points penalty.[28] In 2021, normal rules regarding foul points are used.
  • Players must hit a cushion (with any ball) or pot a ball with every shot.[27] Prior to 2013 either the cue ball or the object ball needed to hit a cushion.[25] Failure to do so results in a minimum 5 points penalty or the value of the ball ‘on’, whichever is greater. Prior to 2018, it was always a 5 points penalty.[28]
  • All fouls result in ball in hand.
  • Players ‘lag‘ for who breaks off.
  • In an event of a tie the blue ball shoot-out determines the winner. The blue ball is placed on its spot and the player can place the cue ball anywhere within the D before attempting to pot the blue (winner of lag decides who goes first). The blue ball must be potted directly, i.e. without a fluke.

And here’s an exceptional frame played by Chang Bingyu. You can see the countdown time on-screen as he makes each shot.

Written by Leisureguy

13 July 2021 at 10:42 am

Posted in Games, Snooker, Video

Ronnie O’Sullivan v. Neil Robertson in 2019 Tour Championship

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This game finds the two tied at 9-9. I wanted to show The Wife how snooker matches are lighted — by using a blue light on the audience, with white light on the players and table, the game is very much foregrounded in the video with the audience muted into background. Plus it’s a good game.

Written by Leisureguy

10 July 2021 at 11:42 am

Posted in Games, Snooker, Video

Influence: A Go-inspired game

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You can play against an AI (or watch it play itself) or play against another player. Simple rules:

Players take turns to select and color a tile. At the end of a turn, each tile will influence its neighbors by imparting some of its color.

If a tile gains enough color to pass the threshold, it can no longer be selected and will have a dark border. Conversely, a tile can lose its dark border and become selectable if it loses enough color.

The game ends when all tiles pass the color threshold. The player with the most colored tiles wins!


Change the difficulty or color of the AI player in the settings menu. To play against a friend, simply disable the AI for both colors.

Give it a go.

Written by Leisureguy

18 June 2021 at 11:54 am

Posted in Games

Best board games of the ancient world

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Meilan Solly has an interesting and well-illustrated article on a variety of ancient board games (including some still popular: Go, chess, backgammon, and the Royal Game of Ur. She writes:

ong before Settlers of Catan, Scrabble and Risk won legions of fans, actual Roman legions passed the time by playing Ludus Latrunculorum, a strategic showdown whose Latin name translates loosely to “Game of Mercenaries.” In northwest Europe, meanwhile, the Viking game Hnefatafl popped up in such far-flung locales as Scotland, Norway and Iceland. Farther south, the ancient Egyptian games of Senet and Mehen dominated. To the east in India, Chaturanga emerged as a precursor to modern chess. And 5,000 years ago, in what is now southeast Turkey, a group of Bronze Age humans created an elaborate set of sculpted stones hailed as the world’s oldest gaming pieces upon their discovery in 2013. From Go to backgammon, Nine Men’s Morris and mancala, these were the cutthroat, quirky and surprisingly spiritual board games of the ancient world.


Beloved by such luminaries as the boy pharaoh Tutankhamun and Queen Nefertari, wife of Ramesses II, Senet is one of the earliest known board games. Archaeological and artistic evidence suggest it was played as early as 3100 B.C., when Egypt’s First Dynasty was just beginning to fade from power.

According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, upper-class members of Egyptian society played Senet using ornate game boards, examples of which still survive today. Those with fewer resources at their disposal made do with grids scratched on stone surfaces, tables or the floor.

Senet boards were  . . .

Continue reading. There’s much, much more. And this is helpful:

Written by Leisureguy

17 June 2021 at 1:58 pm

Posted in Daily life, Games, History

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