Pointless Chess

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Reg Clucas
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Pointless Chess

Postby Reg Clucas » Thu Apr 26, 2012 7:28 pm

There was a chess question on the TV show 'Pointless' tonight - "We gave 100 people 100 seconds to name as many chess pieces as they could that can move diagonally". (For those unfamiliar with this show, the respondents are 100 randomly selected people).

Predictably, the pawn got the lowest score, cited by 40 respondents. Somewhat more surprisingly it was closely followed by the bishop with only 45. The king was next lowest and the queen received the highest number of answers.

Colin Patterson
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Re: Pointless Chess

Postby Colin Patterson » Thu Apr 26, 2012 7:47 pm

It's an interesting question as to whether or not the knight also moves diagonally. Draw a line between its start and end points and you have a sloping line, which I believe is the simplest definition of 'diagonal', although of course we conveniently regard the diagonal in chess as being a 45 degree line belonging to a white or black square complex.

Neill Cooper
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Re: Pointless Chess

Postby Neill Cooper » Thu Apr 26, 2012 8:08 pm

Reg Clucas wrote:There was a chess question on the TV show 'Pointless' tonight - "We gave 100 people 100 seconds to name as many chess pieces as they could that can move diagonally". (For those unfamiliar with this show, the respondents are 100 randomly selected people).

Predictably, the pawn got the lowest score, cited by 40 respondents. Somewhat more surprisingly it was closely followed by the bishop with only 45. The king was next lowest and the queen received the highest number of answers.

Assuming this a random sample, that implies about half the populations know how the pieces move in chess. That is more than I would have expected.

Ian Kingston
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Re: Pointless Chess

Postby Ian Kingston » Thu Apr 26, 2012 8:14 pm

Neill Cooper wrote:
Reg Clucas wrote:There was a chess question on the TV show 'Pointless' tonight - "We gave 100 people 100 seconds to name as many chess pieces as they could that can move diagonally". (For those unfamiliar with this show, the respondents are 100 randomly selected people).

Predictably, the pawn got the lowest score, cited by 40 respondents. Somewhat more surprisingly it was closely followed by the bishop with only 45. The king was next lowest and the queen received the highest number of answers.

Assuming this a random sample, that implies about half the populations know how the pieces move in chess. That is more than I would have expected.

I had the same thought. But it's also possible that some people just guessed the names of some pieces that they'd heard of, so it's hard to draw any conclusions.

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Re: Pointless Chess

Postby Alex Holowczak » Thu Apr 26, 2012 8:42 pm

Ian Kingston wrote:
Neill Cooper wrote:
Reg Clucas wrote:There was a chess question on the TV show 'Pointless' tonight - "We gave 100 people 100 seconds to name as many chess pieces as they could that can move diagonally". (For those unfamiliar with this show, the respondents are 100 randomly selected people).

Predictably, the pawn got the lowest score, cited by 40 respondents. Somewhat more surprisingly it was closely followed by the bishop with only 45. The king was next lowest and the queen received the highest number of answers.

Assuming this a random sample, that implies about half the populations know how the pieces move in chess. That is more than I would have expected.

I had the same thought. But it's also possible that some people just guessed the names of some pieces that they'd heard of, so it's hard to draw any conclusions.


Yes, I think Neill has drawn the wrong conclusion. The question was "We gave 100 people 100 seconds to name as many chess pieces as they could that can move diagonally".

The question is designed to enable people to say random piece names in the hope of saying a piece that moves diagonally.

If the question was "We gave 100 people 100 seconds to name as many Oscar-winning actors as they could", then I for one would just spout out the names of random actors, because I'd have no idea as to whether they were Oscar winners or not.

Reg Clucas
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Re: Pointless Chess

Postby Reg Clucas » Thu Apr 26, 2012 9:10 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote:
If the question was "We gave 100 people 100 seconds to name as many Oscar-winning actors as they could", then I for one would just spout out the names of random actors, because I'd have no idea as to whether they were Oscar winners or not.

I don't know whether they have a process for avoiding this sort of thing, e.g. by ignoring all respondents who give any incorrect answers.

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Clive Blackburn
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Re: Pointless Chess

Postby Clive Blackburn » Thu Apr 26, 2012 9:33 pm

I think I can see why the show is called 'Pointless' :roll:

Is the title intended to be ironic?
"Tactics flow naturally from a superior strategical position".
Bobby Fischer

Alex Holowczak
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Re: Pointless Chess

Postby Alex Holowczak » Thu Apr 26, 2012 9:49 pm

Reg Clucas wrote:
Alex Holowczak wrote:
If the question was "We gave 100 people 100 seconds to name as many Oscar-winning actors as they could", then I for one would just spout out the names of random actors, because I'd have no idea as to whether they were Oscar winners or not.

I don't know whether they have a process for avoiding this sort of thing, e.g. by ignoring all respondents who give any incorrect answers.


Well, why else would they be given 100 seconds?

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Re: Pointless Chess

Postby Ian Kingston » Thu Apr 26, 2012 9:54 pm

Reg Clucas wrote:
Alex Holowczak wrote:
If the question was "We gave 100 people 100 seconds to name as many Oscar-winning actors as they could", then I for one would just spout out the names of random actors, because I'd have no idea as to whether they were Oscar winners or not.

I don't know whether they have a process for avoiding this sort of thing, e.g. by ignoring all respondents who give any incorrect answers.

They've occasionally mentioned some of the wrong answers people give, so I suspect not.

Sean Hewitt wrote:I think I can see why the show is called 'Pointless'

Is the title intended to be ironic?

Definitely an element of that.

Our President will be appearing on the celebrity version of the show - Pointless Celebrities - soon. I think he's partnering snooker player Shaun Murphy.

Neill Cooper
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Re: Pointless Chess

Postby Neill Cooper » Thu Apr 26, 2012 10:21 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote:Yes, I think Neill has drawn the wrong conclusion.

Agreed. It should have been that 50% of the population know the names of the chess pieces.

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John Clarke
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Re: Pointless Chess

Postby John Clarke » Thu Apr 26, 2012 11:15 pm

"Pointless Celebrities"? Shurely a tautology??
"The chess-board is the world ..... the player on the other side is hidden from us ..... he never overlooks a mistake, or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance."
(He doesn't let you resign and start again, either.)

Stewart Reuben
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Re: Pointless Chess

Postby Stewart Reuben » Sun Apr 29, 2012 4:53 pm

I haven't seen the programme. Is it intended that the question is worded in a rather meaningless fashion?
Much better would have been:
There are 6 different chess pieces in a chess game. Name all those which can legally move diagonally.
That probably isn't perfect either.

Ian Kingston
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Re: Pointless Chess

Postby Ian Kingston » Thu Sep 27, 2012 5:52 pm

More Pointless chess today: contestants were asked:

  • Number of pieces on the board at the start of the game
  • World governing body
  • Name of the IBM computer that beat Kasparov
  • US World Champion
  • The piece which can only move diagonally

Ian Thompson
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Re: Pointless Chess

Postby Ian Thompson » Thu Sep 27, 2012 10:26 pm

Ian Kingston wrote:More Pointless chess today: contestants were asked:

  • Number of pieces on the board at the start of the game
  • World governing body
  • Name of the IBM computer that beat Kasparov
  • US World Champion
  • The piece which can only move diagonally

Should we be pleased that 49% of people surveyed knew how many pieces there are on the board at the start of the game or disappointed that 51% didn't know? Similarly, pleased that 57% knew a bishop moves diagonally or disappointed 43% didn't know? I was a bit surprised that only 20% knew Fischer and 6% Deep Blue, but not at all surprised that only 1% knew of FIDE.

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Re: Pointless Chess

Postby David Robertson » Thu Sep 27, 2012 10:55 pm

Ian Thompson wrote:...not at all surprised that only 1% knew of FIDE

Really? That means c. 600,000 British people did know! Halve it to eliminate children, the insane, and obsessive football supporters. That makes 300,000 Brits who have heard of FIDE. Frankly, this is alarming!


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