Thursday, January 31, 2008

Getting better...

Dave: 9
Chessica: 37
Stalemate: 1

Oh, yeah. Sure, she picked up some games, but I smoked Chessica in three matches yesterday. I'm lean, I'm hungry. Okay, maybe not lean, but definitely hungry.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Dave: 6
Chessica: 31
Stalemate: 1

I fought Chessica to a tie game this morning, a stalemate. And even then, it was because we'd gone 70-something moves, and I think we could've gone another 100 moves. I had my King and a Rook, she had her King and a Bishop -- purely on points, I had the edge on her, which felt like a victory, given that Chessica had me on the ropes in the middle game, with something like seven Pawns all trying to get promoted to Queen. She managed to promote two to Queen, but I wasted both of them, and them methodically took down the other five Pawns until that endgame scenario, where we then fought across the board awhile, before I aced her Bishop with my Rook, and she aced my Rook with her King, leaving us King-to-King, which is a stalemate.

So, playing for a tie after a game I should've lost actually felt like a victory, and was pretty satisfying, given where I was in the middle game. Playing against a computer (which doesn't make mistakes), it's nice to be able to get around it and force the tie.

I'm strongest in the middle game, so I was pleased that I managed to play a solid endgame against overwhelming odds.

I checked Chessica's levels out, and I'm playing at Level 15, which sounds swell, although Chessica has something like 136 levels of play available, capable of beating 99% of chess players, like a rating of 2000. So, I've got a long, long way to go. When I first played Chessica at Level 1, I smoked it in like three moves, so Level 1 is for pikers; after that win, I cranked it up to 15 and that's where it's been since then. I won't up the level until I can up my wins enough to where I can consistently beat Chessica, so with the 5:1 ratio still holding, it'll be awhile, though today's stalemate was a promising development in our ongoing contention.

I'll fight to the bitter end, rather than taking a dive, even against a superior adversary -- "surrender" is a four-letter word to me. It always bugs me when I read matches where the other player resigns because they lose a key piece. Those wusses who resign because somebody nabbed their Queen? C'mon, deal with it. You fight until either you're dead, or the opponent's wasted. Win or die. Don't give me that resignation stuff. I think it's something to do with playing for points at the tournament level, like these guys don't want to lose points by fighting on or something like that. It has to be something like that, but if I'm beaten, I want to be actually defeated, rather than raising the white flag and saying "You win!"

But then, I'm from Rohan. Surrender is just so Gondorian, all milk-livered and whey-faced.

Bored, yet?

To quote Vizzini from A Princess Bride: "Wait til' I get going!"

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Dave: 6
Chessica: 30

I won one this morning, although Chessica's 5 to 1 edge persists for the moment. Still, it was nice to have taken one, and decisively. The computer kind of lays down and dies when it's beaten, whereas I'll fight on to the bitter end, but then, Chessica's neither Scots nor Irish.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Tactical versus Positional

Dave: 5
Chessica: 26

Yeah, basically for every one of my wins, Chessica wins over five. For now, for now. I nearly won four more games, but Chessica flatly outplayed me at the endgame. The curious thing about the computer is that it'll roll over and play dead once you've got it -- you'll see it make moves where you're like "Huh??" and you realize it's the chess computer equivalent of desperation.

I'm a fighter, so I'll keep after it until I turn those numbers around. The challenge always with a chess computer is that it masters positional play -- perfect, set-piece play that creates a spiderweb on the board that's very difficult to crack. I'm not a positional player; I'm currently a sloppy tactical player, and always will be tactical, though I should eventually be able to diminish the slop. My hope is that I can work on my game and improve my tactics, and then turn things around, because I'm never going to be a positional type of player -- that style of play oppresses me (even though it is impressive to watch a good positional player create a marvelous trap on the board). So, all I can hope for is to be the best tactician I can be, because I'll never be a strategist.

The advantage of it is that you can "outwit" the computer once your tactics get good enough, or at least outmaneuver it on the board, despite its elegant positional tricks and traps. I'm amazed that this handheld chess computer is as good as it is, given that the last one I had was about the size of a dinner tray. Gotta love miniaturization. My favorite chess program was Chessmaster, which was on an old PC I had in the 90s. That thing was positively deadly -- any win against it was hard-fought, although Chessica's no slouch, obviously.

Once I eventually turn around my string of defeats, I'll eventually up the level of the computer to force me to work that much harder, figuring it's got to be good for the brain. I haven't played chess like this since the 90s, so it's fun to get back into it, even to realize that I'm out of practice, and Chessica is currently making me its chess-bitch.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Last Laugh

Dave: 4
Chessica: 15

The joke's on me, eh?

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Dave: 4
Chessica: 11

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

One boat, one bite

The snowflakes this morning were pretty, winter-idyllic. A pity it's getting progressively colder.

Chessica: 9
Dave: 3


Got B1 to try chicken yesterday, at dinner, part of our One Bite rule with dinner, trying to get him to try a bite of new foods. That was semi-epic, had Spousette and me both leaning on him around 45 minutes to get him to try it (which involved Spousette and me trying every negotiating trick in the book).

Eventually, I resorted to a bogus threat to eat a little toy boat of his if he didn't try the chicken ("Don't make me eat this boat!!") I dangled it over my mouth "A Fish Called Wanda"-style, and that persuaded him to try the chicken (B1: Noooo! Don't eat the boat!!!!), and actually made him laugh, watching me pretend to eat the boat (perching it in my mouth by my fingers, like it was a Communion wafer), which broke the tension of the moment. Once he tried the chicken, I gave him back his toy boat. I do like that he thinks I'd actually eat a small plastic boat (roughly the size of a Matchbox car) to prove my point. I've still got him fooled.

Anyway, he tolerated the chicken, and when presented with the option of One Bite of broccoli or or rice, he said he'd have another bite of chicken, so we claimed that as a parental victory in the ongoing food wars.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

F-f-f-f-rickin' cold

I went to Target this morning to get some jumbo Rubbermaid containers for the Christmas tree (yeah, still up; hey, it's not February, yet), and I got a few other things. It was amazingly cold outside -- the car reluctantly started; glad I got a new battery last year (or the year before? Can't remember). Still, the car was like "Say what?" when I turned it on. It was so cold, the liquid crystal display on the stereo was slow to respond. Spousette wiped out her liquid crystal watch yesterday, when it got exposed to the cold weather -- the thing just went blank. Maybe the cold leached the power from it, or something. No idea. She's the Luddite's Luddite -- the body count has kept piling up (her old iPod, then my iPod, two printers, and now a wristwatch I'd gotten her for her birthday).

Speaking of tech and Luddites...

Chessica: 7
Dave: 3

Sigh. Still, the matches have been good, even though Chessica keeps winning. I'm out of practice, so this'll help my aging neurons.

I bought a few others needed things at Target, then piled it in the tubs I'd bought, and then carted that indoors. I was out early enough, and it was cold enough, that I managed to get our good parking spot back, which never happens when I set out on a weekend jaunt.

So very glad to have tomorrow off. I really need that.

Friday, January 18, 2008


I played my chess computer this morning, barely managed to beat it. It's a Sharper Image portable chess computer, something I wanted for Christmas, something to keep my brain sharp. I used to play chess a lot as a kid and a teen, although I wasn't a stellar player. I thought it would be a good thing to get back into to help my aging brain.

The chess computer calls itself "Chessica" -- I love that. As it stands...

Dave 2
Chessica 1

She almost had me this morning, but I managed to beat her in the endgame. There are many different levels of difficulty in the program. I think she's slightly better than I am in the current configuration, which isn't saying much, since I'm very out of practice. I was sweating while playing, so that must be a good sign, forcing my brain to work.

Oddly enough, I saw that Bobby Fischer has died.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A-M and P.M.

Man, I love this scene between Ann-Margret (drool) and McQueen in "The Cincinnati Kid" -- she's about the only actress who could hold her own against McQueen in a scene. Ssssmokin!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Remember me?

Ha! Surprise, Poppets! You probably thought I wasn't going to blog anymore. I kind of thought so, too. But it's nice to have this as an option, so I'll keep it going, even if I'm not here as often as I was. I sure won't give up the space, b/c otherwise it'll be scooped up by some dirtbag marketeers (who gobbled up Everydaibh and probably took Isonomia the minute I dumped them).

So, I'm nearly done with the first revision of the book I wrote at the end of last year, and I'm again in the High Hatred Mode for the piece, the usual love/hatred I feel for stuff I write -- love it when writing it initially, then hate it afterward. My biggest triumph with this book was writing it so quickly, which was entirely aided by writing it during my workday, on the sly. That let me get so much work done, it was great, and made my workday otherwise bearable, and was a resounding "F*CK YOU!" to my current employer.

It stands at 130,000 words; it was nearly 140,000 words, but I edited about 44 pages out of it. Right now, I'm making an outline for it (I never start an outline before writing a book; I do it afterward -- hey, I'm left-handed; we do everything backwards) -- just to see how the story flows, to see if there's any plot-tweaking I need to do.

I've got a second revision to do for it, and after that, it'll be ready for readers, to see what they think of it, and then to incorporate any comments they make into a third revision. THEN (pant pant) it'll be ready to be pimped to agents.

For somebody as historically off-the-cuff and improvisatory (is that even a word?) I'm doggedly meticulous in my revision of my work, what I call "deshittification."

One thing I wrestle with is my conception of horror -- horror is a reactionary genre, and I'm not a reactionary. I've realized while working on this piece how difficult it is to have a liberal conception of horror. There are things that horrify liberals, yes -- but the very nature of being progressive implies that you are able to think your way out of anything. There is nothing ineffable in liberalism (or is there? Muhahaha!) There's no door you shouldn't be willing to open, no place you shouldn't be willing to go. Part of liberalism's optimism is precisely what sabotages the idea of horror, in my view -- everything's supposed to be solvable in liberalism. There's no problem too tough for a good liberal. Whereas horror is invariably moralistic, and often the problems don't get solved, and things end up worse than before. Hence, the reactionary quality to it.

I've fought with that in the story, since the characters are all a group of bohemians (or fauxhemians), and are ill-equipped to face what's going after them. It's literally outside of their world, and only one of them is truly horrified by the encounter. The rest are largely uncomprehending of their peril. But that's kind of the point of the story. If evil's a virus, ignoring the symptoms won't make it go away, and there's no amount of wishful thinking that'll do the trick.

Anyway, onto the second revision, which should go quicker than the first revision, which I started in December.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Instant "Carma"

Okay, so the first bad thing of the year for me: somebody drove too close to my (parked) car and broke the driver's side mirror. The mirror's okay, but the housing on it was snapped, leaving the mirror dangling. They left a note on the windshield, although it looks like I can just fix the mirror with some Gorilla Glue or something, once it warms up a little. Still, grrruh!

Today is B1's 6th birthday.