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Journal Writing Project: Matt Ruen


Fri, Jan 3rd, 2003
Posted in Columnists



The exact origin of chess is uncertain, but what is certain is that the game of Chaturanga, a precursor to chess, was being played in India by the time of Alexander the Great. (320 BC) Chaturanga spread quickly, becoming popular with rulers who wished to train their subjects in military thinking. As Chaturanga had no dice or other elements of chance, winning depended on skill alone.

Chaturanga spread both westward into Persia and eastward to China, but it is the westward expansion that gave rise to chess as we know it. In Persia the game was altered, becoming more similar to the modern version, yet the pieces were still a far cry from the familiar king, queen, and others that we know. When the Arabs swept through Persia, they adopted the game, now called Shatranj, and carried it westward during their wars of conquest. The Moors carried the game to Spain in the 700s, and merchants had brought it to Russia and Scandinavia by the ninth century. By this time, the game was very close to the modern form, and in 1282, a Spanish book of games devoted nearly a forth of its pages to chess.

Chess had adopted its current incarnation by the 1600s, with the rules and pieces essentially the same as they are today. The game is played on a checkered board, with an eight by eight grid forming sixty-four squares, alternating white and black. Each player has a total of sixteen pieces, which are separated into six types, and set up in the two rows closest to each player.

The rearmost row of the board contains the most powerful pieces, dispersed symmetrically. On the outside left corner is a rook, followed by a knight, and then a bishop. This arrangement is mirrored on the right side. The center two squares of the final row are occupied by the king and queen, respectively the most important and most powerful pieces in the game. The second to last row is entirely occupied by pawns, which represent the common foot soldiers.

The purpose of the game is to protect your king while placing the enemy king in checkmate. (From the Persian phrase Shah Maht: "the king is dead") Checkmate means that the king is both threatened with capture in his current square and unable to avoid capture in the next turn. In order to achieve a checkmate, both players maneuver their pieces around the board and capture enemy pieces. This process can take as little as five minutes or as much as 22 ho .....
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Of People, Places & Things: The Year of the Sheep

Fri, Jan 3rd, 2003
Posted in Columnists

2003 is the year of the sheep in the Chinese zodiac. People born under the sign of the sheep are said to be wise, gentle and compassionate, characteristics that many of our world leaders may need to find more of in the coming year.

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At Home in the Woods: Project Wild

Fri, Jan 3rd, 2003
Posted in Columnists

When I arrived at the Depot building in Lanesboro one day last October, Don Ward, Lanesboro historian, was already talking history with Carrol Henderson, Supervisor MN DNR Nongame Wildlife Program, and Adele Black, curriculum collaborator on the Proj ..... 
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Township Roads: Some things I never thought

Fri, Dec 27th, 2002
Posted in Columnists

The end of every year stimulates my memory. My family often tells me that they canít remember the circumstances of many of the stories I tell, but I guarantee I donít make them up. Not all of them anyway. Having a memory for events may be a mixed ble ..... 
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Notes from a country kitchen

Fri, Dec 27th, 2002
Posted in Columnists

God bless thy year!

Thy coming in, thy going out,  Thy rest, thy traveling about,  The rough, the smooth,  The bright, the dear,  [Read the Rest]

The commute: My friend died

Fri, Dec 27th, 2002
Posted in Columnists

Iíd planned to write this column about New Yearís resolutions and my aversion to physical exercise, but every time I start to write it, I am thinking about Deanne, who died December 16.

At the age of two, she was diagnosed with ..... 
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Prairie Notes: Clearer vision

Fri, Dec 27th, 2002
Posted in Columnists

Coming of age during the 70ís when we stopped using outdoor lights and started driving 55 in order to save energy makes me hesitant to applaud the proliferation of Christmas lights, but I am awed by the extent to which we will go to celebrate the sea ..... 
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Notes from a country kitchen

Fri, Dec 20th, 2002
Posted in Columnists

I'm thinking of   our Christmas tree  of many years ago,  a lovely pine, tall, freshly cut,  with candles all aglow.

Went drivin ..... 
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Journal Writing Project: Eric Leitzen

Fri, Dec 20th, 2002
Posted in Columnists

Ah yes, the time is here again. Christmas. Just the mere mention of that word brings thoughts of warmth and love, doesnít it? For me, I see my family at the table for Christmas dinner, all ten of us now. However, there are many people outside my fami ..... 
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