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The stellar explosion is the closest to be spotted since 1987 and will provide a 'galactic yardstick' for astronomers judging distances across the universe

Indoor: Backgammon

In the box playing Black was the Tempestuous Turk (TT). Minus 20 on the scoresheet and having a bad night, he finally thought his time had come when playing against The Doyen and myself. We had been doubled early and then got involved in a massive back-game. At the height of this game we had made our 1-, 2- and 3-points with an extra man on the 2-point, and our other 8 men were in or around TT's home board.

Secret papers: Castro's gift turned down by Wilson

Secret papers: Castro's gift

Records

As we prepare to practise dating things with a '98 instead of '97, it is a good time to look back on the records of the past year:

An Eye On ... fags, drink 'n' drugs

Geneva: A box of 25 Cuban "Trinidad" cigars was sold at auction to an Asian buyer for 23,000 Swiss francs (pounds 10,000). The average price of pounds 400 per cigar makes them the most expensive ever. The cigars were from a special selection normally reserved for heads of state.

Racing: Skip Away aimed at breaking Cigar's record

Skip Away, brilliant winner of Saturday's Breeders' Cup Classic in California, has arrived in Florida for a rest before being aimed at the Gulfstream Park Handicap in February.

The Knack: How to smoke a cigar, by Gordon Mott

"Select the cigar and roll it between your fingers to make sure the wrapper has not become cracked or that there is some flaw. There are three ways to cut a cigar - guillotine, V-cutter and a piercer - but the best is a double-bladed guillotine. This cuts all sides of the cigar, allowing the smoke to travel the entire length. When I was learning to smoke cigars in Central America, I had a friend who was adamant that you could not light a cigar with fewer than three four-inch cedar matches. Anything less and you clearly had not lit your cigar properly! Actually, you can use anything from a cedar spill - that's a thin slice of cedar that you light with a match - to a disposable lighter. My preference is a long match, preferably cedar, and it will take more than one though I don't know about three! You hold the cigar about a half-inch to an inch from the top of the flame and roll it slowly so that the flame lights the outer edge. Once the outer ring is lit, then you can bring the cigar to the mouth and draw in lightly.

Our man with Havana

How do you smoke the finest cigars? To separate puff from bluff, John Windsor fires up in a London shop dedicated to chic cheroots

Hollywood's cigar-toting stars begin to get up people's noses

A stogie is the accessory of choice in Tinseltown. But the health puritans are on the case, reports Tim Cornwell

Update on ... ... records

A review of recent developments in an area of general interest.

Cigar to relax in seclusion to overcome infertility

new tactics to help the world's top racehorse over his problems

SMOKING Cigars can reduce cancer risk

igarette smokers who have difficulty giving up can halve their risk of dying of lung cancer or heart disease by switching to pipes or cigars.

There's no room for yesterday's men on the CBI platform

People & Business

People & Business: There's no room for yesterday's men on the CBI platform

Steven Norris: The nearest thing to a Tory at the CBI

Smoke-ban commuter's light relief

A long-running legal campaign by a commuter against a smoking ban on the London to Brighton line descended into farce yesterday, amid claims that the rail company would permit him to smoke cigars. Peter Boddington, of Brighton, and Connex South-Central said they had resolved their dispute after Mr Boddington agreed to abide by the terms of an order drawn up by their lawyers. But later in the day it transpired that they had different views on what the deal meant.

Strike a light! Cigars - and humidors - are back in fashion

Collect to invest: John Windsor on the enduring enticements of Cuba
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Jamie Oliver’s version of Jollof rice led thousands of people to post angry comments on his website
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Apple CEO Timothy Cook
peopleAnti-LGBT campaigner Vitaly Milonov suggested Tim Cook could bring 'Aids or gonorrhea' to Russia
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Shock of the news: Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler’
filmReview: Gyllenhaal, in one of his finest performances, is funny, engaging and sinister all at once
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Shelley Duvall stars in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining
filmCritic Kaleem Aftab picks his favourites for Halloween
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Kit Harington has been given a huge pay rise to extend his contract as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones
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Prices correct as of 17 October 2014
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes