Archive for April, 2009

Paul Hoffman’s “Geeking Out” Video

April 18, 2009

Here’s video of a 20-minute talk I gave on my dad’s Ping-Pong hustling, my paying my Harvard tuition in cash, the 60 million Americans who broke the law in bed every night, chess obsession, and mathematical beauty.  (In the video, my talk starts just after minute 3:00 on the time stamp.)  The webzine Gelf asked me to speak at their first “Geeking Out” evening at the Jan Larsen Art Studio in DUMBO, Brooklyn.  In advance of my talk, Gelf published an interview with me called The Man Who Loved Numbers, Writing, Puzzles, and Chess.

Alien vs. Facebook

April 5, 2009

When chessboards are shown in ads and film, a common mistake, if there are no real chess players on the set, is to arrange the board incorrectly with a black square in the right-hand corner.  An advertisement for Alien vs. Predator makes an even more elementary error, which I haven’t seen before:  Black appears to be moving first.  Maybe I shouldn’t be so picky because the habitues of Alien vs. Predator are more known for engaging in gory fights than in  playing leisurely cerebral board games.

Alien vs. Predator advertisement

Al least the guys at Facebook (co-founder Mark Zuckerberg playing White and product director Chris Cox playing Black) know who goes first and how to set up the chessboard.  Zuckerberg will be a piece up after he takes the bishop that has just checked his king.  Maybe Cox is giving up the cleric on purpose, believing that it’s a good career move to let his boss win, or maybe Cox just made a mistake because he was giddily distracted thinking about his company just having reached 200 million users.

Facebook (Facebook photo from the NY Times)