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This situation was seen by all men of state and the people, and they understood that he was psychologically disturbed.

Boston StranglerThe Boston Strangler is a far less exciting opening than the name suggests. Occurring in an inexplicably high 4.7%, this is the 29th most popular opening in the game and fifth most common for Turkey, it’s fair to say it’s a hopeless opening that consigns Turkey to a defensive position, and a weak one at that.

Ostensibly testing the trustworthiness of the Russian, all the opening accomplishes is a horrific tactical bottleneck and wasted units while opening opportunities for Austria and Russia to quickly establish a dominant attacking position – even without Italian help. With no strategic options and a weak tactical set-up, there is very little to recommend this opening.

Karl Popper

Good tests kill flawed theories; we remain alive to guess again.

Unknown.jpegKarl Popper (1902- 1994) was one of the foremost philosophers of the twentieth century, specialising in the philosophy of science and modern democratic political philosophy (in particular, the importance of critical discussion about political issues).

Born and educated in Vienna, his early dalliance and disaffection with Marxism he considered a defining moment in his thinking – a theory of social order that was tested and found wanted should be discarded or amended, a thought that led to the above quote and, more importantly to search for a better process than revolution by which societies could test and adopt new systems.

Initially this led him to Psychology (then an emerging science), but his unusually brilliant doctoral work pushed him away from that field too, commenting that the unscientific nature of early psychology was a stark and damning contrast to the brilliance of physicists such as Einstein.

After achieving a break through academic position in New Zealand and some impressive (but, sadly, futile) work in opposition to facism in Europe he set about constructing a philosophical basis for science. He succeeded in this, giving a formal structure to the scientific theory, introducing principles such as the need for falsifiability (a stab at psychology), discussing induction in detail and even providing a (more questionable) basis for mathematical philosophy.

Following these landmark contributions he turned his attention to applying similar robust methods to social and political philosophy. While his work was less dramatic, his contributions to principles such as tolerance and anti-historicism are recognised as beneficial stepping stones toward a modern basis for political reasoning.

In something almost unique amongst famous twentieth century philosophers, Popper was happily married and remained devoted to his wife throughout their 55 year marriage and even moved back to Austria so that she could spend her last months with her family. Nine years later he was suddenly taken ill, diagnosed with cancer, and died two weeks later.

Good tests kill flawed theories; we remain alive to guess again.

Hungarian HouseboatThe Hungarian Houseboat is the fourth most popular opening for Austria, used in 4.8% of games. This is despite there being no known tactical or strategic reason why this move is better than any number of alternatives that achieve similar defensive outcomes against Italy and positional outcomes against Russia (including F Tri – Ven varieties and A Vie – Gal options).

Most likely conceding Greece to Turkey the move is certainly pro-Turkish. The implication is that Rumania is threatened in Fall and that Austria will dismantle Russia while Turkey attacks Italy. The strategic idea is sound, but the tactics are highly questionable. Why not open to Galicia? If it bounces then it needed to, and if it doesn’t then this is more a headache for Russia than Budapest is while achieving everything the latter move does.

It’s hard to recommend the opening and certainly no-one historically has stuck their neck out in favour of it. With such a poor reputation it is often seen as a sign of incompetence, and when playing Austria that usually leads to a quick death. For this reason alone, the opening is best avoided.

Michel De Montaigne

He Who Fears Suffering Is Suffering That Which He Fears.

Michel De Montaigne (1533- 1592) was a respected French statesman and one of the most influential philosophers of the Renaissance.

Apart from periods serving in courts and as the mayor of Bordeaux, where he played a powerful role as a moderate in the arguments between humanists, protestants and the Catholic Church, he was also a well travelled unofficial representative of French interests throughout central Europe and Italy. During his lifetime, it was for his achievements in these roles that he was most highly regarded.

History, however, remembers him first and foremost for the introduction of the essay as a form of intellectual writing. Combining personal anecdote, metaphor, and robust intellectual and theological argument into digestible pieces, he dubbed them “attempts” or “essai”.

While this form was at first treated as a somewhat self-involved conceit, it rapidly increased in both popularity and intellectual valuation. Not only was this form of writing accessible but De Montaigne was very good at it – creating compelling arguments and addressing his professed subject: to describe humans (especially himself) with utter frankness. Along with his above quote, he is famous for his statement “What Do I Know?”, a literary flourish that captured his philosophy of human uncertainty and inspired the likes of Rene Descartes, Blaise Pascal, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Frederich Nietzsche, and even Shakespeare.

Before every student curses his name for invented the dreaded essay, it pays to remember that until De Montaigne they would have been writing the equivalent of theses instead. His contributions to education were more far reaching, encouraging questioning and the scientific method as well as social, individualised learning – a line of thought that has found renewed strength in many modern education systems.

Édouard Manet

You Must Always Remain Master Of The Situation And Do What You Please.

Manet_Self-Portrait_with_Palette_v3.jpg
Édouard Manet (1832- 1883) was a French painter who is famous for being one of the first artists to paint contemporary scenes and, more substantially, was critical in the transition from realism to impressionism throughout the 1800s.

His early works, which were extremely controversial, are widely credited as a landmark moment that heralded the arrival of modern art.

From this starting point he continued to be a major influence on the impressionist movement both through his art and through his role as a mentor and promoter to many other artists. He famously provided the quote above when asked what it took to be be a successful artist.

While his art was a remarkable leap forward, his personal life was a shambles. Having an affair with a childhood friend for over a decade while she was also having an affair with his father, he was also known for sleeping with his models and frequenting brothels. Eventually, this led to his death from complications from untreated syphilis.

He Who Fears Suffering Is Suffering That Which He Fears

The Lorraine Opening is the fifth most popular French opening and 27th Overall, and the last opening that is used in over 5% of games.

When playing France and the manure is heading toward the ventilation device, this is an opening that you should seriously consider. Otherwise, best to avoid giving potential allies a reason to start throwing it.

Moves north can be very aggressive ones for France, and this opening can become a solid attack against either England or Germany if it is allowed to go unchecked. For this reason, opening with it is likely to cause the two to consider working together very strongly, a situation that needs to be avoided for France to have a good game. This rules out the Lorraine Opening in all cases. All apart from one.

When you are sure that both your neighbours are out to get you and intend to open strongly against you, this opening is a commanding defence. While the threat of Italy in Piedmont is still a concern, the rethink this opening may cause in an aggressive alliance looking for a quick kill is powerful benefit.

The downside is that there are probably better options: the Alsace Opening (where A Mar s Par – Bur) and the underused (and so far unnamed) opening of (A Mar – Bur; A Par – Gas; F Bre – Ech) which is inexplicably only the equal 312th most common opening! Both these opening have most of the advantages of the Lorraine but ensure coverage for Marseille and the acquisition of Spain in Fall 1901.