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Mathematician John Conway R.I.P.

British mathematician John Conway died from COVID-19 last Saturday.

This is the first coronavirus death to really bum me out. I never met the man, he wasn't a bridge player, and 82 years is a reasonable lifespan, but the world is less magical without him in it.

In the popular imagination he is best known for the Game of Life. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. If you love games, if you appreciate bridge for its beauty, if you are fascinated by squeezes and other end positions, if you gobbled up Adventures in Card Play, if you have ever spent half an hour in a double dummy analyzer really trying to understand the essential nature of a complicated hand, if you are amused by zugzwang in chess, or have stared into the abyss of a go endgame, you owe it to yourself to make an acquaintance with Conway's work.

Find yourself a copy of Winning Ways for Your Mathematical Plays (three volumes), read about Hackenbush and so much more, and meet the surreal numbers, a class of numbers crazier than you'll ever discover on an acid trip. On Numbers and Games is the formal book. Go players can check out Mathematical Go: Chilling Gets the Last Point.

Glider guns in the Game of Life provide a clocking mechanism. Logic gates can be designed. Long ago the Game of Life was proven to be a Turing machine. So picture this: a giant cellular automaton visually computing double dummy results!

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