Monday, December 28, 2009

Opening of the Day

I am in the midst of going through old emails and returning to the git rapidsms hornet's nest - and decided to take a break and play some computer chess.

But Chess was depressing. Here I was thinking entering my middle game. Oooh I'm so clever pinning a bishop with my knights. Then out of left field - or B5 (to use funky chess notation) - the enemy queen swoops into my 2 rank (that is the rank with all the pawns).

I know I am a goner.

If the queen is in your pawn rank and you cannot take her out with a bishop or something then she will take all your pawns, and then your rook and then your soul (or just your king). I cant take the slaughter - and restart the game.

Ok this time I am black. I am going to mind-f@#$k the computer - even though the computer does not have a mind. I am going to mimic every move the computer makes until the endgame. The computer moves all the pawns to the 4th rank. The computer is a f#@$king idiot - I think. Perhaps my ELO (chess rating) has gone so low from forfeiting all my losing games - that the computer is on idiot level.

Now that I believe the computer believes that I suck at chess(which I do), I change my strategy. Ahh, I breath a sigh of relief. I dont have to go through all the permutations of every movie and can just play. Sadly again the queen swoops into my pawn row and takes what little pawns I have left - with my rook and has a very funky mating procedure with the knights.

I need to do something about sucking at chess. Perhaps I should play some people - maybe I can beat them. Sadly my online chess membership has lapsed. Instead I visit and look at the opening move of the day and the opening game of the day.

The opening of the day is something called the Caro Kann Defense Steinitz Variation. The salient feature seems to be - the knight in front of the king and opening black pawn at c6. Chessgames asks if I would like to play a game using this opening. Dont mind if I do - and I am swiftly knocked in the 2 rank by the queen - Sheesh. What the hell is the point of this opening - and after googling - I find some answers for the Caro Kann defense but not the steinitz variation. There is a little paper that promises to help me in my goal of maximum procrastination and increased knowledge of caro kann - " In Xanadu did caro kann...." It seems Caro-Kann helps black develop a good pawn structure without contesting the middle. It is an explanation that makes no sense outside the context of chess theory - which is a tangent to a footnote to a conversation between heraclitus and Parmenidies annoated by Whitehead. (and reminds me of all the Foucault and discourse I have been reading for a possible doc on the history of madness and the leather clad philosophers who write about it).

But really, why do I suck at chess? I am generally good at boardgames? I dont suck at chess, so much as I cannot crack it. I cannot game the chess game. In other games such as Settlers of Catan, hearts, or even backgammon - I feel that there are weaknesses that I can exploit.

What is this weakness? Chance. I can only play games with dice rolls, or handicaps- even if I am handicapped. I can only play games that involve luck or chance. And I think this is because I am able to work very well with incomplete information, and because chance invigorates rather than depresses me - even if chance deals me a bad hand. In chess, everything is manifest -there is no chance - and if you are playing the game because you hope your opponent messes up (chance) - you are playing incorrectly. I am constantly telling myself in games and in life "act dont react". In games of chance you are constantly reactingand perhaps I am a better reactor than an actor. (depresssing ?) I also think that once I make a strategy unless I am obviously disturbed by say the capture of a piece - I tend not to notice the other player's strategy and barrel through until the enemy's queen is bayonetting my little pawns.

The one thing I can do is beat computer chess on time - that is the computer uses up all its time trying to come up with moves. My strategy is to make good but convaluted moves that forces the computer to use many cpu cycles and search many nodes in its internal combinatorial chess graph to find the optimum next move. With this strategy - I believe I could become a grandmaster but only against a computer. This feels dishonest and cheating - it does not give you that chess pleasure of figuring out the right move - it does not make a you a clearer thinker. I can use this strategy against a computer, but not against a human. And lo the day when I am to be pitted against a human - his motherboard will not fry when confronted with a bizarro move - instead he will move his queen to my 2 rank and wonk my pawns on the head.

Maybe I should code some more - a strategy game where there is no opponent.

1 comment:

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