Posts Tagged ‘Oxford’







If you ever want to visit the British Museum and you can visit the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford instead, you should give it a serious thought! I’ve been to both and from my experience at the British Museum, I can just say that it’s way too busy to my taste. I definitely prefer the Ashmolean Museum where it’s much quieter and you can enjoy the exhibitions and the information in your own time and space. We found that there’s a lot more on display at this museum about Ancient Egypt. As we visited quite a few other places in Oxford, sadly, we couldn’t go through the complete museum and had to leave after visiting the two sections: Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece. At the British Museum, I feel ‘pushed‘ by the crowd and it’s really not a pleasure. Maybe I’m too much of a ‘reader of information‘ than some other people who just go to ‘look’. Also, I try to avoid crowded places and this is my experience at the British Museum. When you’re finished with your visit to the Ashmolean in Oxford, you surely need to find the Formosan tea bar, which is an independent business established in Oxford by a local Taiwanese entrepreneur. Enjoy your visit!

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Alice’s shop …the “Sheep Shop”

Alice’s shop — today…The Sheep Shop

Has it ever happened to you? You live in your country and tourists visit familiar places and ask or tell you about it, and you, having lived there since your birth, don’t have a cooking clue what they’re talking about? Well, then take a good read here… about a year ago, one of my English colleagues was going home for the half term. Her parents live in the Oxford area. When Karen told me where they live, I asked her if she’s been to the Sheep Shop…the “Alice in Wonderland“-shop. Huh?? What!?  The Sheep Shop? What are you talking about?! I continued about the Alice-book, the writer and very briefly the history and about The Sheep Shop. Karen’s reaction…”Hey…Alice in Wonderland is a fairy tale!! HELLO!!  Alice didn’t exist in real life! Do you know that…! I replied…(and I couldn’t help smiling) Of course I know that the book is a fairy tale. I mean…who doesn’t know that!  But, Alice actually DID exist! Karen: HUH!! WHAT….!!?? She looked at me with a puzzled face and if I were really dumb and the rest. At the end she promised  to visit the Sheep Shop one day.  Now you can read about Alice and the chess game.

Please click HERE for the Alice in Wonderland shop in Oxford.


A Chess Set inspired by the novel ‘Alice through the Looking Glass’ where the pieces magically turn transparent when they touch the board.

In ‘Alice through the Looking Glass’ by Lewis Carroll, Alice falls through a mirror and on the other side of the mirror, she becomes a piece in a game of chess. Inspired by this, the chess pieces have an opaque mirror finish, when they touch the surface of the board they magically turn transparent and reveal the identity of the piece contained inside them. When removed from the board they revert to being opaque, hiding the identity of the piece.

This is a comment on how a chess piece has no value unless it is in play on the board. If removed from the board, a pawn and a queen are equal, in that neither have any value.

The theme of ‘Alice through the Looking Glass’ is the difference between the real world and the world behind the mirror. In keeping with this theme there is a contrast between the unlit mirrored piece and the clear glass piece. Each unlit mirrored piece is a smooth and modern shape. Each lit piece is clear glass, with the negative shape of a traditional, delicate Staunton chess piece enclosed within it. In the book the White Knight talks about how he thinks better when he is upside down. In a reference, the White Knights in the set only work when they are placed upside down. This joke is hidden to all but those who know the background of the chess set

The Chessboard is made out of LightPoints a material manufactured by Schott, which is glass that has LED’s embedded in it; the pieces are coated with Mirona, a Material that turns transparent when light shines through it. When the piece is placed on the board it completes the circuit and lights up the LED under it turning it transparent, like magic.
Read the article here and see more images too.

Alice Liddell

Charles Dodgson….- the writer – Lewis Carrol

Images: …. http://www.lyon-olympique-echecs.com/textes/textes/accueil/photos_karpov_carroll.html


Image: echecs-histoire-litterature.com

Read on the site of ECHECSmore about this mysterious chess game of Carroll.
Press Release…on the site of Echecs!
Lyon, Thursday 3rd of July 2008

Press release Alice and the chess master : the adventure goes on !

The team of Alice and the chess master catched by English-speaking people!

With the help of Europe Echecs and its technologies for broadcasting of chess events and the Lyon Olympic Chess team and knowledge, and the decisive venue of Anatoly KARPOV in Lyon, the first « Circuit Espoirs Europe Echecs » got in 6 days, more than 1 million of visitors.

But problem … !

Some English-speaking people, among them one of the most important website in the world, asked us information about the mysterious chess game of Lewis CARROLL from the tale Through the looking glass and what Alice found there following of Alice’s adventures in Wonderland.

Indeed they have understood that the mysterious and secret meeting with Anatoly KARPOV of June 26th in the town of Lyon was in the painter Max SCHOENDORFF’s flat.
________________________________________________________ you can read more on the Echecs site with the link…”Press Release”…and make sure you click on “English”….if English is your mother tongue…

Click on the following image for a larger view…

The following information comes from a published Word document, which is available for you to download a bit further down in this post…and you can read the rest of the “article” in the Word document…there are also zillions of links for you to follow-up in the document.

1) Context of the game summarized

Charles Lutwidge DODGSON, better known as Lewis CARROLL (1832-1898), was a british writer, photographer and mathematician. Son of a pastor, left-handed and stammerer, first-born in a family of 11 children, he was made deacon. He was a genius in mathematics, highly skilled in symbolic logic, and had a well-developped artistic sense for drawing, theatre, photography (some of his photographies were among the best during the 19th century). He wrote two best-sellers: Alice’s adventures in Wonderland (1865) and its following Through the Looking Glass (1871). He became professeur in mathematics in Christ Church in 1855. His favourite number was 42.

Alice Pleasance LIDDELL (1852-1934), inspired L. CARROLL for Alice’s adventures in Wonderland. She was the daughter of the Dean LIDDELL, manager of the Christ Church College from 1855, which he supervised in a tough way. L.CARROLL met her in 1856. In 1862, Lewis and a friend of his offer a boat walk to 3 LIDDELL sisters, during which he established the guidelines of the stories that Alice will ask him to write. But in 1863, L. CARROLL and the LIDDELLS parted.

Alice became an artist (drawing, painting). She was said to have an affair with prince Leopold, son of Queen Victoria. In 1928, she had important financial difficulties, therefore she was forced to sell the original copy of Alice’s adventures under ground that DODGSON gave her.

Main locations
Christ Church College, Oxford university, managed a while by Alice’s father, and where Charles DODGSON worked. (Also, the film Harry Potter took place there).
The Crystal Palace, which once received the World Fair, where Lewis and Alice went and first saw the Queen through mirrors. Mrs LIDDELL also frequently went there to start and built a royal future for her daughter.
The Isis, branch of the River Thames, where Lewis CARROLL sailed with Alice and her sisters.
The White Tower of London, infamous prison near the Queen’s flat.

And here is the diagram which introduces the tale:

The white pawn (Alice) plays and wins in 11 moves

3) An unsolved game during 136 years …

Preface of 1896: 25 years after Through the Looking Glass was published, and two years before he died, Lewis CARROLL, noticing the global skepticism and lack of understanding in the face of his chess problem, wrote a preface in order to specify some points about it … Nothing really useful, but still, he wrote it on purpose …

See the preface in additional documents.

Christophe LEROY, born in 1968, is a chess fan and a good player (rated around 2200 pts) tireless worker since 1984, general delegate of the Lyon Olympique Echecs since 1992. He was asked in 1999 by the NOAO to comment this chess game, though he had never heard of it before. He worked hard on several French and English articles. He realized that this game had never really been read or solved properly .… After many unsuccessful studies, everything appeared clear overnight: Christophe understood that each piece was actually a living person during CARROLL’s life. Following that, a whole adventure began to figure out what Lewis CARROLL meant. It led him to Oxford, London, Paris and many other towns, and allowed him to meet dozens of people worldwide.

Needless to say, the complexity of this problem kept many chess players from trying to understand! Alice (white pawn) plays and wins but red pieces act first … The whites play 14 times, the blacks only 3 … A pawn which reaches the last square does not promote immediately … And to crown it all, a King stays in check for two moves … Christophe likes to say that normally non chess players flee in front of a chess problem and that chess players flee in front of such an odd position!

In December 2006, 70% of the game were decoded. Convinced that this game was really poetic and deserved to be known and recognized, Christophe claimed: “I consider it as part of the “world literary inheritance”, with the feeling to have finally found a precious text of the English author … allowing us to have a truly different reading than the one usually found in Through the looking glass and what Alice found there. A giant chessboard of mirrors with the position of the game was exposed during 4 months in domaine of Lacroix-Laval near Lyon, where several conferences took place.

In March 2008, his book explaining the game, Alice et le maître d’échecs, was published by the URDLA. In may 2008, Christophe received two letters coming from two world specialists of L. CARROLL’s work:

– Edward WAKELING, the master of 42!

– Professor M. COHEN, who wrote a key book on Lewis CARROLL. He indicated that he was very happy that this game helps to understand the relationship between the LIDDELL family and Lewis CARROLL.

The Lewis CARROLL Societies in London (Mark RICHARDS) and New York (Clare IMHOLTZ) have congratulated him on his work and the Christ Church College added his book to its library. The missing element?

Finally, in June 2008, he grabbed the opportunity to explain this game to former world chess champion A. KARPOV in the flat of the painter M. SCHOENDORFF (who is the editor of Alice et le maître d’échecs).

4) Main codes of the game summarized
Always keep the position of the game in mind, and if possible the animated diagram or a chessboard to play the moves! And make sure to be well seated …
Learn Lewis CARROLL’s language
4.1 – The pieces

Each piece embodies a real person:

– The white Pawn is Alice LIDDELL (indicated by the author),

– The white Knight is probably a messenger sent by Lewis CARROLL, trying to become Alice’s dearest knight.

– The red Knight embodies Charles LUTWIDGE DODGSON, who also becomes the white Knight during the 6th and 7th moves.

– The white King is Alice’s father (Mr LIDELL).

– The white Queen is Alice’s mother (Mrs LIDDELL).

– The red Queen symbolizes Queen Victoria (and not Mrs PRICKETT, Alice’s housekeeper)

– The red King is the mystery, the part of dreams we all have in us. It embodies Charles L. DODGSON dreaming about the young Alice and all the adventure. He uses both knights to deliver his message …

– The white Rook is the White Tower (an infamous prison in London), symbolizing the conservative Victorian society during the 19th century (the white Knight appears like a prisoner of this tower).
Let us take a look at the initial position:
– Let us imagine that the white Queen (Mrs LIDDELL) holds Alice (white Pawn) by the hand while observing the Victorian society (white Rook).
– Queen Victoria (the red Queen) stands above the white rook, and talks with Alice. She begins the game.
– We will come back on the position of the Knight in g8 in paragraph 4.4.
– Let us also notice that the white King (Mr LIDDELL) is in diagonal opposition with the red King (the dreaming C. L. DODGSON), who holds by the hand the white Knight, his messenger. Just as in the author’s true life, where he is in conflict with Alice’s father. That was one of the first things that put C. LEROY on the righ track!
Now you can replay the game, with new eyes … Several codes can almost be found at each move.

4.2 – Pieces’ colors
The choice of colors (white and red) of the pieces is important.
The opposition between black and white pieces in chess was turned into red and white: passion-softness, fire-snow.
Red symbolizes passion, love and hatred with all that it involves.
White represents softness, marriage, nobility, virginity and purity: Alice, but also what the british society was faking.
4.3 – Number of moves
The white pieces play 13 times and several moves successively whereas the black pieces only play 3 times. An element which has disconcerted many chessplayers for over a century!

There are 13 white moves but in fact 14. The author lays the emphasis (in the text commenting the second move) on the fact that Alice’s first move as a white Pawn counts as two, since she moves from d2 to d3 by the railroad then reaches d4. Therefore there are 14 white moves and 3 black ones. 14 x 3 = 42, that is to say L. CARROLL’s favourite number!

Word document…which can be downloaded!


Image and 42 facts: wakeling.demon.co.uk

1. Born on 27 January 1832 at Daresbury, Cheshire.
2. Eldest son and third child of the Rev. Charles Dodgson and his wife, Frances Jane née Lutwidge.
3. Seven sisters (Frances, Elizabeth, Caroline, Mary, Margaret, Louisa, and Henrietta) and three brothers (Skeffington, Wilfred, and Edwin).
4. Educated at home by his parents – showed ability in mathematics.
5. Family moved to Croft–on–Tees, Yorkshire in 1843 when his father became rector there.
6. Went to school at Richmond, Yorkshire, when he was 12 years old.
7. Transferred to Rugby School in 1846 and studied there for four years.
8. Gained a place at Oxford University in 1850.
9. Took up his place in January 1851 as an undergraduate at Christ Church.
10. His mother died suddenly within a few days of his arrival at Christ Church.
11.  Graduated with a BA degree in 1854; 1st class in Mathematics, 3rd in Classics.
12. Became a tutor in mathematics at Christ Church; appointed Sub–Librarian in 1855.
13. Appointed Mathematical Lecturer at Christ Church in 1855, but takes up the post at the beginning on 1856.
14. Took the pen–name “Lewis Carroll” (based on a Latinate form of his first names) in February 1856.
15. Became a keen amateur photographer in 1856.
16. Ordained deacon in the Church of England in December 1861.
17. The story of Alice’s Adventures first told on a river trip with Alice Liddell and her sisters on 4 July 1862.
18. The manuscript of Alice’s Adventures given to Alice Liddell as a Christmas gift in 1864.
19. The book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, first published in 1865.
20. Took a trip across Europe to Russia in 1867; his only trip abroad.
21. His father died in 1868; he assumed the role of “head of the family” as the eldest son.
22. Leased a home at Guildford for his brothers and sisters.
23. Published his first book of poems, Phantasmagoria, in 1869.
24. Through the Looking–Glass published in 1871.
25. Continued to write mathematical works for the undergraduates at Oxford University.
26. Published an epic nonsense poem, The Hunting of the Snark, in 1876.
27. Rented accommodation at Eastbourne for the summer holidays in 1877, and continued this practice for the rest of his life.
28. Invented many word games and mathematical puzzles.
29. Published the drama, Euclid and His Modern Rivals, in 1879, but it was never performed as a play in his lifetime.
30. He gave up his photographic hobby in July 1880 and took no more photographs.
31. Resigned the Mathematical Lectureship at Christ Church in 1881, but remained in residence as a senior member of the college.
32. Elected Curator of the Common Room in 1882 by his colleagues.
33. Further poetry published under the title Rhyme? and Reason? in 1883.
34. A series of mathematical problems woven around a story published at A Tangled Tale in 1885.
35. The original manuscript of Alice’s Adventures published in facsimile in 1886, all proceeds going to hospitals and children’s homes.
36. The Game of Logic published in 1887 to support his teaching of the subject in schools and colleges.
37. The first part of a new story book, Sylvie and Bruno, published in 1889.
38. A special version of Alice for very young children, called The Nursery “Alice”, was written in 1889.
39. The second part of the new story, Sylvie and Bruno Concluded, published in 1893.
40. His major work on logic, Symbolic Logic, Part 1: Elementary, was published in 1896; two further volumes were planned but not published in his lifetime.
41. He died at Guildford on 14 January 1898 and is buried there.
42. The copyright of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland ended in 1907 and many editions have been published since them, the book never going out of print. It has also been translated into many different languages.

Image and info: wakeling.demon.co.uk

1. Born on 4 May 1852 at Westminster School, London, and christened “Alice Pleasance Liddell” in Westminster Abbey by her father
2. Fourth child and second daughter of the Rev. Henry George Liddell and Lorina Hannah née Reeve
3. Five brothers (Edward Henry–known as Harry, James Arthur Charles–died in infancy, Albert Edward Arthur–died in infancy, Frederick Francis, Lionel Charles) and four sisters (Lorina Charlotte, Edith Mary, Rhoda Caroline Anne, Violet Constance)
4. Father was headmaster of Westminster School from 1846–1855
5. In June 1855, Alice’s father was appointed Dean of Christ Church, and the family moved to the Deanery in early 1856
6. Lewis Carroll first met Alice (then aged nearly four) when he was photographing the Cathedral at Christ Church in April 1856
7. Lewis Carroll took many photographs of Alice (one given above) and her siblings, Harry, Lorina and Edith
Alice was educated at home
8. She was particularly good at English, French and art
9. Her governess was Miss Mary Prickett, known by Alice as “Pricks”
10. Alice had short dark straight hair cut into a fringe
11. Reports say she had blue eyes, although her passport described them as “dark”
12. Lewis Carroll often visited the Deanery and entertained the Liddell children, especially when the Dean and his wife were abroad for the sake of the Dean’s health
13. Lewis Carroll taught them to play croquet, and also a special version of the game that he invented called “Castle Croquet”
14. Lewis Carroll invented a card game called “Ways and Means” that he played with the Liddell children
15. On 4 July 1862, Lewis Carroll took Alice, her two sisters Lorina and Edith, together with Rev. Robinson Duckworth, on a boat trip up the River Isis (Thames) to Godstow
16. The story of Alice’s Adventures was first told on this river trip
17. At Alice’s request, Lewis Carroll wrote out the story he had invented, which he called “Alice’s Adventures Under Ground”
18. Lewis Carroll wrote out the story from memory in his own neat hand; it took him several months to do so
19. He also drew pictures to illustrated the story
20. The manuscript of Alice’s Adventures was given to Alice Liddell as an early Christmas gift in 1864
21. Friends of Lewis Carroll who had seen or heard the story beforehand strongly advised him to publish it
22. Lewis Carroll re–wrote the story for publication, adding new episodes such as the Mad Tea–Party
23. The book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, was first published in July 1865 with illustrations by John Tenniel
24. Tenniel was not satisfied with the printing of the first edition, and it was withdrawn
25. The book was re–printed and published in December 1865, although these copies have 1866 on the title page
26. The book has never been out–of–print from then onwards
27. In Alice’s Adventures, Alice’s sister Lorina is the “Lory” in the “Pool of Tears”
28. In Alice’s Adventures, Alice’s sister Edith is the “Eaglet” in the “Pool of Tears”
29. All three sisters appear in the Dormouse’s tale at the “Mad Tea–Party” as the three little sisters who lived at the bottom of a well, named Elsie (L. C. or Lorina Charlotte), Lacie (anagram of Alice), and Tillie (short for Matilda, the children’s pet–name for Edith)
30. Robinson Duckworth was the “Duck” in the “Pool of Tears”
31. Lewis Carroll’s own adopted character was the “Dodo”
32. The Prince and Princess of Wales visited Christ Church in 1863, and this event became a feature of the sequel, Through the Looking–Glass
33. Through the Looking–Glass was published in late 1871, but all copies of the first edition have 1872 on the title page
34. At the end of Through the Looking Glass there is a poem, the first letter of each line spells out Alice’s name
35. When Alice was a little older she was, for a time, romantically linked with Queen Victoria’s youngest son, Prince Leopold
36. Alice married Reginald Hargreaves on 15 September 1880 at Westminster Abbey. She wore a brooch from Prince Leopold on her wedding–dress. They lived at “Cuffnells,” a large country house at Lyndhurst in the New Forest, Hampshire
37. Alice had three sons; Alan, Leopold – known as Rex, and Caryl; Alan and Rex were both killed during the First World War
38. Alice sold her manuscript of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground at auction in 1928, for which she received £15,400 (a very high price for a literary manuscript in those days)
39. Alice travelled to the United States of America in 1932, the centenary of Lewis Carroll’s birth, in order to support an exhibition at Columbia University, New York. She was also awarded an honorary doctorate of literature while she was there.
40. Alice died at Westerham, Kent, on 15 November 1934, aged 82; her ashes were buried at Lyndhurst in the Hargreaves family tomb
41. The manuscript of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, went to the USA after being sold at auction, but was presented to the British nation by a group of American benefactors in 1946, and it is now in the British Library.

From Chessvibes: see source link at the bottom

The enchanting power of numbers

Well, however charming Leroy’s enthusiasm, however well-promoted his book, however intriguing his thesis, I beg to disagree. The problem with his article and the whole project is the same problem that Bach and the Number suffers from. Both rely on weak interpretation, factual inaccuracies, wishful thinking and a highly naive belief in the power of numbers. For example, Leroy notes that 42 was Lewis Carroll’s favorite number. And he’s absolutely right, it was. But he then goes on to suggest that, among other things:

Carroll lived in Christ Church, Oxford, on number 6, where people could only access it through the 7th stairs, so that 6×7 = 42!
Carroll died in 1898 because he met Alice Liddell in 1856 (98-56=42!)
Carroll quit photography in 1880 because he met Alice Liddell in 1856 (80-56=24!)

And these are only three of dozens of “hidden, impressive signatures” within the chess problem. We’re actually supposed to believe Carroll choose his own year of death to give us, dear readers, a clue to the solution of his chess problem.

By the way, in Bach and the Number, similarly remarkable conclusions are reached. Bach knew his exact date of death and hid it in some of his works. The authors even calculate the exact number of days Bach has lived (23869) and derive all sorts of wonderful conclusions from it. I won’t go too deeply into all this, but interested readers can read a discussion on the book here. It reminded me a lot of some discussions on the existence of Atlantis or aliens. Like words, numbers can mean anything, as Humpty Dumpty would be the first to point out. I, for one, prefer Alice’s point of view:

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many things.”

Anyway, why should we multiply numbers in one case, and do subtraction or addition in another? But okay, perhaps these calculations were just a joke…?

Another remarkable discovery is the fact that Lewis Carroll hid his initials (LC) in the chess problem. Now why would he do that anyway? And wouldn’t he rather have put his real initials (CLD) in a problem that says something about his private life? But wait, let’s not start asking thorny questions yet. Take a look at the diagram again. Don’t we see a C-shape in the pieces on the bottom on the diagram: c1,d2, e2, f1? Never mind the C is rotated 90 degrees – we can’t be too picky in these matters. Now we’re going to find the L. That’s a little more difficult, but with enough will-power, we’ll manage. Draw a line from the White King on c6 down to the Black King on e4, then go up to the Knight on f5. c6-e4-f5, there you go! It sure looks more like a V-shape to me, but according to Leroy, it’s an L allright. And by the way, that pawn on d2, that’s Alice, right? Well, notice she’s on the fourth (d) file, on the second rank. 4 and 2, makes 42, you see?
(Apparently, sometimes we shouldn’t multiply or subtract numbers, but just put them behind each other, and the meaning will magically appear!)

The message

So what is the meaning, this hidden message of Carroll? The article says:

After many unsuccessful studies, everything appeared clear overnight: Christophe [Leroy] understood that each piece was actually a living person during Carroll’s life.

Leroy then goes on to link not only Alice to the White Pawn on d2 (which is correct), but the White Knight to “a messenger sent by Lewis Carroll, trying to become Alice’s dearest knight”, the White King to Alice’s father, the White Queen to Alice’s mother, and the Red Queen to nobody else but Queen Victoria. Oh, and the Red Knight embodies Charles Dodgson. (Note that Leroy mixes Carroll and Dodgson all the time, without explaining why.)

Leroy assumes (as many have done before him) that Carroll wanted to marry young Alice and proposed to her or her parents. In recent years, however, this theory has become under a heavy cloud. Leroy doesn’t seem to know this, and is happy to use the old assumption for his own theory:

Indeed, this sacrifice (he is taken by the white Knight: his double) permits him to do another proposal but with new clothes … White clothes, symbol of marriage …

So, Carroll hid the fact that he proposed to Alice within the problem. He may never have written anything about it in any of his thousands of letters, or in his books, or even in his diaries, but, by God, did he make it crystal clear in his nonsense problem!

Unfotunately, and needless to say, the whole ‘identification’ is flawed. For one, Carroll intended himself to be the White Knight, not the Red one, as was proven by Jeffrey Stern in 1990 [“Carroll Indentifies Himself At Last”, Jabberwocky Summer/Autumn 1990]. What Queen Victoria has to do with all this, is utterly unclear.

All sorts of problems
Enough already! The article suffers from more general problems than the ones I mentioned above. Since we’re still assuming the theory is meant to be scientific or at least scholarly, here are a few of the most obvious questions that come to mind:

Can the theory be falsified? Since neither Carroll nor anyone else ever mentioned a possible hidden solution, by what criteria could we ever say, ‘okay, this definitely disproves the theory’?
Can the theory be tested?
Can the theory be accepted by someone who disagrees over the fact (such as that Carroll proposed to Alice)? Or does it take ‘faith’?
Why doesn’t Occam’s Razor apply to the theory?
Is there a method by which we can reproduce the ‘message’ or ‘meaning’ of the chess problem? Or was the solution found by intuition only?
What does it mean that by 2006, “70% of the game was decoded”? Which 70%? And what was the other 30%? How was the final 30% found? What, in fact, is the code of the game exactly?

Finally, and most importantly, the theory totally lacks facts to back it up. Carroll never wrote about a possible hidden message, not did Alice herself or anyone else. Also, as the ‘dramatis personae’ from earlier editions shows, Carroll originally intended charcters from the book to resprest the pieces in the problem, not real life persons. As I wrote to Sylvain Ravot:

In my opinion, this fact alone disproves the theory of mr. Leroy, unless he can actually show that Carroll wrote it as a ‘decoy’ to distract attention from the ‘real meaning’.

So far, I have not received an answer.

This can only mean one thing: the project is a joke after all. It has to be. No chess player (and mr. Leroy is a 2200 player who plays for several French clubs) could ever believe this theory. It’s a charming, innocent joke, an artistic hoax in the spirit of the great dadaist Marcel Duchamp, who was also a chess player. Let’s hope it is. I leave it to the readers to decide whether they like the joke.

Alice LiddellYes, Carroll liked to invent puzzles, but he was not a cryptologist. Yes, he liked riddles, but he was not obsessed with it. He probably was something of a chess enthusiast, but he didn’t know much about the game. Yes, he was a romantic, and he was fascinated by young Alice Liddell, but he didn’t leave a desperate secret message of failed marriage and love for her in a chess problem. And Christopher Leroy and Sylvain Ravot must surely know this.

What if their not joking, though? We’ll be sure to hear more of it. Lack of evidence has never stopped astrologists, Atlantis mysticists or people who believe aliens control the U.S. government. And a book that claims Bach was even more obsessed by numbers than by fugues, can even be found in the best music store in The Netherlands, on the same shelf as the highly serious Interpreting Bach on the Keyboard by Paul Badura Skoda.

But serious interpretations will always be less popular than mysterious ones.

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