Friday, March 4, 2011

Chess Madness

We Might Be Overdoing It

I've been playing chess off and on for many years, and recently off. That's because my opponent beat me repeatedly one night in 2007 while chain-smoking Camels, sams filtre, the worst kind, in a small room, when I figured to beat him over half the time. He said he quit smoking after that, and I said I quit playing chess altogether.

Too bad, too, since other than that blow to the ego, I loved the game, but I steered clear of it pretty much from that day to this month. Oh, I might have thought about it from time to time, but steered clear of it. It has been four long and lonely years away from the chessboard. And now I am back in battle, with my nemesis himself in person. This time it'll be different.

Now he's talked me into joining up at and we played online, where he again beat me repeatedly, so my record this month is 1 win and 8 losses. I did crush him that one time, so it's not all bad. But one of the losses was the famous Fool's Mate, done in four moves to a checkmate. I don't usually fall for that one. Must be getting rusty.

In a few others I had good winning chances but made some blunder or other ruining it, from not being quite careful enough. For sure in Game 9 I should have had him, but we took a break and broke the concentration.

This guy has already been playing online games including chess but also other types for some time, and has a habit of joining 50 and more games at a time, with a 3-day time limit for moves. And he's gone and talked me into playing 23 simultaneous games like that with him, which are all underway now. Why 23--because then he can see on his profile that he has 100 games in all simultaneously in progress, and needed 23 from me to reach that magic number. The rest are against other people around the world.

But for me, I think this way lies madness. We played at the same time for a couple hours at the speed of bullet or blitz chess, with just a quick read of the screen, move, and on to look at the next screen. There's no time to focus on any one game that way, or even remember next time around what the strategy was going to be, because meanwhile 22 other situations have gone by. I think I could keep track of maybe four games like this at a time, and still remember what I'm trying to do in each one. But 23?

Already there are two games where I am almost guaranteed to lose, considering the heavy casualties, but it isn't over yet. There are still 21 where the issue is more in doubt, and my plan now is to go a little bit slower. We do have three days to move after all, and if I keep up at bullet rate and he doesn't, then he will have a huge advantage.

I've seen enough to believe that if I am a little more careful and not overlook things, I can win the most games, in spite of the lopsided record so far not backing up that assertion at all. All right, with that in mind, I am heading back to the arena for more mental combat.

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  1. Have always loved chess but I am incredibly rusty aswell, downloaded a chess app for my ipod touch and got hammered repeatedly but taking your time will help as the mental juices start to flow and the form comes back.

  2. Chess, I brilliant wargame...I love it!!! I collected chess sets at one point, still got two and considered making one with models etc...never happened due to the problem of representing the queen. Never played it whilst smoking Camels sans Filtre :-D
    I have tried playing PC versions but didn´t really go for it. I like to get to move the pieces with my fingers.

  3. Keep going with that Angry, it comes in really handy when the computer breaks down or waiting somewhere. It's right up there with Tetris as a time killer, and readily concealable in the right form, for the discrete.

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    Thanks for silently correcting my French Paul's Bods, I was remembering Gitanes et Gauloises at the time, which would have beat the Camel, even avec filtre.

    You can hand-make a pocket size magnetic chess set with jeweler's files, a pencil sharpener and quarter inch dowel, suitable for a 4 inch square board.

    I may post some instructions later, although I cannot post the Queens because of the design, based on a sort of French mermaid carving off the bowsprit of a ship. I would also supply alternate queens of a more benign design, such as an Easter Island form, but it is amazing what you can do when you focus on it.

  4. Gitanes et Gauloises..lovely...whenever I visit france I get them...seems unnatural not too