The world is getting stranger: what do chess games have in common with assault rifles?

Chess players with assault rifles? Sounds unlikely, doesn’t it? But first some other strange news:

A consumer agency in the US filed a law suit to ban the sale of “Bucky balls” (shapes that fit together with the aid of magnets inside them.) A total of twenty-two children had swallowed the magnets and suffered an injury, out of a total of 475 million magnets sold. Someone did a  bit of mathematics, and calculated the rate of injuries per 100,000 people from Bucky balls, tennis, skate boarding, and dog bites. Guess what’s most likely to give you an injury that needs medical attention? Guess first. I’ll tell you at the end of this blog.

In Australia, a youth on the run from the police decided to hide in the roof cavity of a house when the police came to a party. He should have stayed still, because when the moved, he fell through the ceiling, and into the long arms of the law. I’m sure the cops were surprised too.

Can you imagine chess players with  assault rifles? Neither can I. But it turns out that the Sicilian Defence, one of the most common chess openings, has a variation called the  Kalashnikov variation  What the Hell?? Well, the AK47 weapon was named after an Mikhail Kalashnikov, who invented it in 1947. Chess openings, as it happens, are often named after the city where they were first successfully used in an international tournament, or the player who made them famous by coming up with a new twist and winning unexpectedly. But the various chess websites and books I’ve consulted have no information as to which Mr Kalashnikov started the chess move. His first name appears lost to history.

AK 47 (photo from Wikipedia Commons)

And what about the Buckey balls? It turns out that tennis is more likely to cause you an injury than skateboarding, dog bites, accidental poisoning with household substances, and Buckey balls come last.    Click here for the stats.

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About Richard A Snow

I studied Economics at La Trobe University (getting a BEcHons and MEc). I was writing for newspapers, mostly on personal finance, from 1997 to 2006, part-time, while working as an Economist at Victorian Department of Treasury and Finance, and later as an Associate Lecturer at La Trobe university. I have a stock of older, published newspaper articles at http://richardsnownewspaperarticles.wordpress.com
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2 Responses to The world is getting stranger: what do chess games have in common with assault rifles?

  1. I got an email from Think Geek about the Bucky Balls (we’ve bought several sets) and it didn’t surprise me. Those little buggers are strong! I can imagine if two were swallowed, they could close an intestine or cause all sorts of problems internally. We’re not returning ours because, well, we know better than to swallow them. Duh.

    Fun news stories, Richard. Interesting about the chess and automatic rifle connection. Makes you wonder…

  2. Latest research I turned up on the Kalashnikov variation: one writer suggested it was a joke on the name of a chess player called Sveshnikov. Sveshnikov used to move his king’s pawn out on the fifth move, and a version of the defense is named after him. The”Kalashnikov” variation does that on the fourth move. It’s Sveshnikov “firing early”. But you’d have to sit down with Wikipedia’s article on the Sicilian Defense and play the pieces on the board to “get” the joke.

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