Counting Pilcrows

by admin on April 7, 2010

¶ For those of you who are wondering about how Jesse Kraai, David Pruess, and Arun Sharma are doing after their auto accident, I have not heard anything more. I assume that means everything is okay. I’ll let you know if I hear anything else.

I also do not have a lot of information about the results of the Far West Open, which they were returning from. Ernie Hong, who usually is the best source of information about the Reno tournaments, missed the tournament, and does not have the crosstable yet. Michael Aigner was there, and he posted a tweet that says that Jesse won the tournament, and Arun Sharma was part of a five-way tie for second. Jesse’s victory is probably not too big of a surprise, but finishing clear first was obviously a good result for him.

Arun tying for second is definitely a huge surprise. He is an expert who helps direct tournaments in the Bay Area. I knew him a long time ago when he was a little kid in North Carolina, and in fact we played a game when he was about 12 years old. Last weekend’s tournament must have been just about the best moment of his chess career, which make it even stranger that the weekend would end on such a down note. Almost enough to make you believe in karma …

¶ Over the weekend I got my latest issue of Chess Life in the mail. For those of you who are USCF members, take a look at the Grand Prix listings in the Tournament Life section. Do you notice something? This year’s Grand Prix is sponsored by!

I think this is a big step forward in increasing the visibility of the ChessLecture “brand,” and it reflects the fact that there has been a change in ownership of ChessLecture that gives them the resources to do bigger things (like sponsoring the Grand Prix). I’m a little bit surprised that there has been no announcement about this on the ChessLecture website, but I think you can expect some more changes and a higher profile for ChessLecture in the months ahead. The fact that you haven’t seen anything yet is probably a good sign: it means that the new management will respect the core identity of ChessLecture and is not going to change things willy-nilly.

¶ What are all these paragraph marks doing in this post? I thought you’d never ask! A couple days ago I was just leafing through the dictionary (which is probably a good thing for a writer to do now and then) and came upon the word “pilcrow.” I thought, “Wow, that’s an unusual looking word, what does it mean?” Then I was surprised to discover that it means … a paragraph mark! I was stunned to find out that a common symbol in the ASCII character set has a name I had never heard before.

Wikipedia, which knows just about everything, says, “The pilcrow was used in the Middle Ages to mark a new train of thought, before the convention of physically discrete paragraphs was commonplace.” It seems to me that it could still be used for a similar purpose today. What if you are writing a blog post like this one? You have several different items you want to write about, which are not related to each other. Each one is more than a paragraph long. How do you indicate when you have switched to a new train of thought? Bullets are too businesslike, and really a bulleted list should be part of a longer document, not a whole document unto itself. Section marks (§) would be good, but I think a new section is a little bigger than just a new train of thought. Pilcrows are perfect!

Besides, section marks don’t have a cool name. Pilcrows do. ‘Nuff said.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Sorcerer88 April 7, 2010 at 11:52 pm

haha, the return of the pilcrows.. why not?


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