[Retros] linguistic hole

andrew buchanan andrew at anselan.com
Wed Jan 20 20:16:36 EST 2010

Glad some people are finding it an interesting topic.

Surely Otto if Phoenixes appear in HP, then there *must* be more people who know what a Phoenix is than a Horcrux?

But I guess for me the telling argument is that J.K.Rowling wrote about the best fantasy chess game since "Alice through the Looking Glass". Tolkein did not write about chess. And "Alice chess" certainly exists. Surely Rowling deserves to be immortalized for her action, through the only immortal canon that really counts - namely chess problem terminology :D.

Xineohp is certainly nice (it wasn't me that suggested it, as someone asserted earlier), and it is even nearly pronouncible. Niklorf and Niknorp would also be nice to have at some time... but reversal of an existing word is a bit of a passive option, when something metaphorically much more apt has been identified.

Will Rowling still be known in 50 years? Will the human race still exist at that point? Does it matter? Do many people read Longfellow these days, and does that stop us from enjoying the term Excelsior. (The poem reminds me of Otzi the Iceman.)

So here's how it would work. When a promotion occurs, it is into one of 5 types (there are 2 "flavours of bishop"). If that type results in the number of pieces of that type still being within the limit (2 for R,N; 1 for Q,B,B'), then the promotion is a Phoenix. If the number of pieces of that type would exceed the limit, then the promotion is what to a "Horcrux". Note that a Horcrux is a darker concept than a Phoenix, because a Horcrux brings us, at least at that stage in the game, in a state of violation of the promoted material convention. Blood must usually be spilled, mark my words, before the game is out! A Phoenix has no such baggage.

And this concept is completely independent of the notion of Ceriani-Frolkin-ness. Phoenix/"Horcrux" is determined at the moment of promotion. Ceriani-Frolkin-ness is obviously assigned at elimination. A promoted piece is determined "parvenu" only at the end of the game, if it has failed achieve C-F status. (Though I am now less sure than I was that we actually need this term.) It's also at the end of the game that we determine the violation of otherwise of the (non-thematics) promoted material convention.

If someone wants to organize a vote then let's go for these, but in the mean time I have certainly been shown terms that I could live with.

A related term which troubles me is Pronkin. According to wikipedia, "a piece apparently standing on its initial square may turn out to actually be a promoted pawn (Pronkin theme)". Alternatively on Peter Wong's excellent pages http://www.chessville.com/Wong/SPG1.htm: "the substitution of a captured piece on its initial square by a promoted counterpart". So does the ousted piece have to be captured? Does it have to be captured at the time when the promoted piece occupies that square? Surely the Pronkin trespass can be displayed in the middle of the proof game - it's not just at the end when it matters. The capturing can be applauded through other mechanisms. If WNb1 is captured, and WNg1 goes to b1, and a parvenu occupies WNg1, then does this show the Pronkin theme or not? I think it should.

Bottom line: I think the fundamental thing about Pronkin is the trespass. This can be shown multiple times during the course of a game. The question of capturing in some definitions is a distraction, and can be applauded through other metrics that we have. Comments?


----- Original Message ----
From: Noam Elkies <elkies at math.harvard.edu>
To: otto at janko.at; retros at janko.at
Sent: Wed, January 20, 2010 4:05:01 PM
Subject: Re: [Retros] linguistic hole

"Otto Janko" <otto at janko.at> writes:

> Some comments to Horcrux and HP:

> Alain: "and we can't expect it [Horcrux] to be as widely known as greek

> mythology [Phoenix]" -- I am pretty sure that there are more people in the

> world who know what a Horcrux is than people who know what a Phoenix is.

May be true now, but in 50 years?...

> Kevin: "recent children's book" -- IMHO Harry Potter has the same status as

> "The Lord of the Rings". [...] HP becomes a fantasy epos for any age.

It's clearly aiming for that status, but it's too early to tell whether
HP will attain it. Anyway it might not be a comparison you want to make:
I don't think fairy chess has a Shadowfax or Ringwraith, despite several
decades' head start for LOTR.

On the third hand, the name Circe has impeccable Classical credentials,
but the original Circe seems to have nothing to do with its fairy-chess
usage; shouldn't _that_ have been called Phoenix?

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