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The Ashes’ Urn: The Story Behind One of Sport’s Most Iconic Trophies

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When you think about some of the most iconic prizes in the world of sport, the FIFA World Cup trophy, the Wimbledon Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ Single titles, the Super Bowl’s Lombardi Trophy, the Open’s Claret Jug and the Masters’ Green Jacket are some of the accolades that initially spring to mind.

Many will argue though that the urn awarded to the victor of the Ashes deserves a spot on that list. While it is only contested between two nations and might not be the official trophy given to the winner of the Series, nor is it as glitzy and glamorous as some of the aforementioned pieces of silverware, the four-inch accolade still has huge significance.

With England currently hosting Australia in this year’s renewal of the competition, which the visitors are now heavily favoured to win in the Ashes odds 2023 as they hold a 2-1 advantage over Brendon McCullum’s side with two Tests left to play, now seems like the perfect time to take a look at the origins of the urn and how it has become the centrepiece of one of sport’s greatest rivalries.

Australia win in England for the first time

The urn and the term ‘the Ashes’ actually both originate from a newspaper report following Australia’s victory over England at the Oval in August 1882. It was the first time the hosts had been beaten by the Aussies on home soil and British paper The Sporting Times wrote an obituary, saying: “In affectionate remembrance of English Cricket, which died at the Oval”, later adding: “The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.”

England presented with the urn

Not long after the mockery, England travelled Down Under for a tour of Australia and the visiting captain Ivo Bligh vowed to return home with the ashes. While playing a match in Melbourne, he was gifted the terracotta urn — which different legends claim either had the ashes of a burnt bail, ball or stump inside — by Lady Janet Clarke and it remained in his personal possession for many years before his wife gave it to the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) upon Bligh’s death. It is now found in the museum at Lord’s.

Replica urns

The original urn is extremely delicate. In fact, to preserve it and ensure it survives the trials and tribulations of time, it has visited Australia just three times since Bligh brought it back to England — once in 1988, again in 2006 and then as recently as 2020. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the urn hoisted aloft by the winner of the Ashes every two years is merely a replica.

The official trophy

Believe it or not, there wasn’t an official trophy given to the winner of an Ashes Series until the late 1990s. The MCC were aware of the need for a physical piece of silverware and commissioned a Waterford Crystal trophy in the shape of the original urn. The stunning and elegant trophy was first presented upon the conclusion of the 1998-99 Series, with Australia captain Mark Taylor the first man to get his hands on the prize.

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Has Technology Changed How We Play Classic Games?

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With technology changing many aspects of our lives, it’s reached into many areas that you might not have considered before now. In terms of the timeless games that people have played in the same way for centuries, what are some of the biggest and most dramatic changes we’ve seen?   

Live-Streamed Games

Live streaming has introduced a new type of entertainment that lets us enjoy the most popular games online. It’s possible to livestream everything from the biggest Scrabble competitions to the latest chess tournaments, capturing the excitement of the games and letting us see how the best players adapt their strategies in the most stressful moments. We can even find streams featuring people playing iconic board games including Catan and Monopoly.

The live streaming method has reached the world of casino games, with live dealer versions of games like blackjack and roulette joined by others with a game show-type presentation. The latest casino bonuses UK allow players to collect rewards for a variety of live games.

Newcomers can try this way of playing varied titles including Boom City, Mega Roulette, and Sweet Bonanza CandyLand, where a human presenter leads the game. 

Chess on the Blockchain

With a history going back centuries, chess is one of the world’s most loved board games and it’s moved with the times too. The traditional way of playing with two players face-to-face over a board is still popular, but technology means that many of the estimated 600 million chess players spread over the planet now take part in games online.

This can mean hooking up with other human players or testing your skills against an AI bot.

One of the most revolutionary changes in the chess world has arrived with the emergence of blockchain technology, which allows players to monetize all their victories. The Chess Polygon platform is a cryptocurrency-based project that lets players mine tokens and earn NFTs by taking part in chess challenges against others in the community.

Chess on the Blockchain

Playing Scrabble in the Metaverse

Will playing games in the metaverse provide the way forward for the games that we’re used to playing in a low-tech setting? This research by CNET looks at various ways of playing in the metaverse that include games based on Scrabble and Pictionary, with players having the freedom to set up the playing area in a way that suits them.

The overall idea with the metaverse is the creation of a virtual universe that blends perfectly with our real-world habits. This is why major brands such as Coca-Cola, Samsung, and Dominos have all entered the metaverse with physical products for sale, leading to the possibility that we can play our favorite games in a way that fits ideally into our existing lifestyles.

The games we’ve looked at have all changed greatly thanks to the latest technology, although it’s interesting to note that in many cases the underlying mechanics and rules have changed very little. By focusing on the presentation, these games have retained their timeless appeal while new ways of enjoying them have opened up.

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A Deck of Wonders: Unveiling the Rich History of Playing Cards

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Playing cards have long been an integral part of human culture, transcending geographical boundaries and spanning centuries. Originating in ancient civilizations, the history of playing cards is a captivating journey that unveils the evolution of this timeless form of entertainment.

Playing in casinos or in the comfort of your own home has been a staple for generations, whether its poker, blackjack or something played in the computer or phone like baccarat online, this article delves into the intriguing tale of playing cards, exploring the development of the suits and faces that have become synonymous with this universally enjoyed pastime.

The Origins

The exact origins of playing cards remain shrouded in mystery, with multiple theories proposing different points of inception. One widely accepted belief suggests that playing cards originated in China during the Tang Dynasty around the 9th century. These early cards were likely used for various games and had a distinct visual language.

The Spread of Playing Cards

From China, playing cards found their way along trade routes and made their way into Persia, India, and eventually reached Europe during the late 14th century. The intricate designs and artistic elements of these cards underwent transformation with each cultural influence, adapting to the preferences of different societies.

The Four Suits

One of the most distinctive features of playing cards is the division into suits. The standard deck we know today typically consists of hearts, diamonds, clubs, and spades. These suits have a fascinating history rooted in medieval Europe, where they were inspired by the socio-economic classes prevalent at the time.

  • Hearts: Originally represented the clergy or the church.
  • Diamonds: Symbolized the merchant class or the wealthy bourgeoisie.
  • Clubs: Depicted the peasantry or the working class.
  • Spades: Signified the military or the nobility.

The evolution of these suits reflects the social structures and power dynamics of medieval Europe. Over time, the symbolism associated with the suits may have changed, but the four-fold division has remained a constant.

The Evolution of Faces

Early playing cards featured simple designs, often just numbers or basic symbols. However, the introduction of face cards added a new layer of complexity and intrigue to the decks. The face cards typically include the king, queen, and jack, each adorned with unique characteristics and symbols.

Initially, the faces on these cards were generic, but as playing cards spread across Europe, they began to take on the personalities of historical or mythical figures. For example, the king of hearts might be inspired by Charlemagne, the king of diamonds by Julius Caesar, and so on.

This transformation added a storytelling element to the cards, making them more engaging for players.

The Standardization of Decks

As playing cards became more popular, various regions and cultures developed their own versions with distinct designs. However, with the advent of printing technology in the 15th century, the mass production of playing cards became possible, leading to the standardization of decks that we recognize today.

This standardization facilitated the widespread popularity of card games and established a common visual language for players around the world. And at the same time made the risk of tampering less apparent for cheaters.

Conclusion

The history of playing cards is a fascinating tapestry woven across centuries and continents. From their mysterious origins in ancient China to the intricate symbolism of the suits and faces in medieval Europe, playing cards have evolved into a global phenomenon.

As we shuffle and deal our decks today, it’s worth appreciating the rich history and cultural significance encapsulated within each card – a testament to the enduring allure of this timeless pastime.

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How Ergonomic Gaming Chairs Enhance Your Performance

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In gaming, every edge counts when it comes to enhancing your performance. Gamers often spend hours on end honing their skills, but one critical aspect that can sometimes be overlooked is the chair they sit in.

Ergonomic gaming chairs have gained popularity for good reason; they come with a host of benefits that can significantly improve a gamer’s overall performance. So, explore how an ergonomic chair for gaming can enhance your experience and elevate your performance to the next level.

Optimal Posture for Prolonged Sessions

Sitting in an uncomfortable chair for extended periods can lead to poor posture, causing discomfort and potentially impairing your performance in activities. Ergonomic gaming chairs, specifically designed with proper posture in mind, are the solution to this problem. They feature built-in lumbar support, adjustable armrests, headrests, and customisable seat height, allowing you to maintain a healthy and proper sitting position.

These chairs are engineered to align your spine correctly, thus preventing the aches and pains commonly associated with bad posture. With their enhanced comfort and support, these chairs enable you to focus more intensely on your game or work without distraction.

Moreover, the ergonomic design of these chairs not only supports long gaming sessions but also promotes overall well-being by reducing the risk of long-term musculoskeletal issues. This makes them a valuable investment for anyone spending significant time at a desk or in front of a computer.

Increased Comfort Equals Longer Playtime

These ergonomic chairs are meticulously engineered for maximum comfort. Featuring high-density foam padding and soft, breathable materials, they provide an exceptional seating experience that enhances endurance during extended sessions. The increased comfort from these chairs translates into longer periods of engagement without fatigue or discomfort.

When you’re not constantly shifting in your seat to find a comfortable position, you can devote more time and concentration to your gaming or work tasks, significantly improving your overall performance.

Additionally, the ergonomic design helps in maintaining proper blood circulation and reduces the risk of strain injuries, further amplifying your focus and efficiency. The adaptability of these chairs, with their adjustable backrests, tilt mechanisms, and height settings, ensures that they cater to a wide range of body types, making them a versatile choice for gamers and professionals alike.

Enhanced Concentration and Focus

In competitive gaming, where every millisecond can be the difference between victory and defeat, ergonomic gaming chairs play a crucial role. They are meticulously designed to keep you engaged in your game by minimising distractions and discomfort. Many of these chairs have advanced features like adjustable armrests, tilt mechanisms, and swivel functions.

These customisable options enable you to tailor the chair to your specific body type and gaming preferences, ensuring that you can maintain peak concentration and focus throughout your sessions.

Additionally, some models include integrated support for the neck and lower back, reducing the risk of strain during long gaming marathons. The chairs’ robust construction and durable materials guarantee longevity and consistent performance, making them a reliable companion for serious gamers.

Reducing the Risk of Health Issues

Sitting for extended periods improperly can lead to various health issues, including back pain, neck strain, and potentially carpal tunnel syndrome. These health risks are heightened for those who spend long hours in front of a computer.

Ergonomic gaming chairs, designed with comfort and posture in mind, are built to mitigate these risks. The lumbar support and headrest provide essential support to your spine and neck, crucial for reducing the strain on these sensitive areas.

Additionally, adjustable armrests can help prevent wrist strain by enabling you to maintain a natural, relaxed hand position while gaming or working. The chair’s adjustable height and tilt functions also contribute to maintaining an optimal sitting position. By investing in an ergonomic gaming chair, you’re not only enhancing your gaming performance but also safeguarding your long-term health and well-being.

Customisation for Individual Needs

One of the most significant advantages of these sitting options is their customisability. Gamers come in all shapes and sizes, and what works for one person may not work for another. These chairs generally offer a wide range of adjustments, from seat height to armrest position and even recline angle.

This level of customisation ensures that it adapts to your body and preferences, allowing you to create the perfect environment. When you’re comfortable and supported, your performance can thrive.

Conclusion

In gaming, where precision, concentration, and endurance are paramount, every detail counts. These chairs have become an essential tool for gamers looking to enhance their performance. With their focus on comfort, posture, concentration, and health, an ergonomic chair provides a multifaceted approach to improving your experience.

Investing in an ergonomic gaming chair isn’t just about upgrading your equipment; it’s about optimising your potential. By maintaining proper posture, increasing comfort, enhancing concentration, reducing health risks, and offering customisation options, these chairs can elevate your gaming performance to new heights.

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