Round-the-house chess

Alan Turing was not only a brilliant mathematician and computer science pioneer, but also a gifted runner (with a marathon time of 2:46). It is no wonder, then, that he invented a game that combines rigorous thinking and running: Round-the-house chess.

The rules are as follows: It looks almost like a normal game of chess, except instead of opponents taking turns in playing, each player has to run around the house once before being allowed the next move. If you overtake your opponent, you get two moves in a row.

For those living in or near Cambridge (UK), my former colleague Daniel Murrell is organising a Turing chess tournament this coming weekend (Sunday, 23 June) to honour Turing’s 101st birthday.

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What is your Plan B?

Being a scientist in academia is not always easy. You go to school for years and years and years, you don’t make much money, you have to apply for grants to fund both your research and your salary, you move house quite frequently (at least at the beginning of your career), you work long hours. You spend months, even years working on a particular project. If you are lucky it works out, and you can publish the results. If you are unlucky, someone publishes them before you. Or your machine breaks down or your cell culture dies or animal rights activists kidnap your mice or it goes wrong in the many, many other ways it can go wrong. (You know, all happy scientists are alike, but every unhappy scientist is unhappy in their own way.)

So, many of us have a Plan B.

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