01 July 2011

The Bernoulli-Barnes Experiment

You probably knew or found out that the previous posts were based on the second edition of the most probably well-known book The Chess Endgame Study: A Comprehensive Introduction by Arthur John Roycroft. Yes, I am a bit lazy coming up with new stuff all the time. Anyway, for a last time, I avail myself of it. Roycroft wrote about an experiment he conducted with Barry P. Barnes in 1964. I repeated it, though with less time. The original experiment took three months, mine about three days. Of course, I didn't know the study that was used and I didn't read Barnes' comments.

The experiment went like this: There were thirteen serially numbered sealed envelopes, each containing a diagram. The first envelope contained the final position of a drawn study. The instruction was to open it and examine the contents. A decision had to be made what the previous move of the main line solution was and the train of thought in arriving at the decision was to be noted. Only after that, the second envelope could be opened. That one and the succeeding envelopes contained alternate White and Black moves working back to the initial position, that is, the one that would normally be published as a study.

In case you don't know the book nor that study, you can also join the experiment. I was not too shy to do a little bit of scripting (yes, JavaScript must be enabled), so that you can have the same experience as Mr. Barnes and me. Only click to show the next diagram when you've made your decision. You don't need my comments, that should be self-evident. I simply provide them for completeness sake and maybe you want to compare your notes with mine. Here we go ...

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Black moved last (3+3)
    



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That was a very nice experiment. Comparing my notes with those of Mr. Barnes, I see that I was a little bit sketchy, though I guessed all moves correctly. How about you?


Finally, here is the solution to the quiz:
It's Barry Greenstein. He gives away a free copy of his book Ace on the River to the player who eliminates him in a tournament, including his autograph and details of the hand.

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