Dluxe's World

Wednesday, March 1

Ruff Ruff It!!!

A week or so ago, my wife expressed an interest in learning to play chess. This would've been music to my ears when we were first married. When we first moved to PA to enjoy our new, wedded bliss, I discovered that a bookstore in the mall where Eva worked had tons of chess books. And, not surprisingly, they were always on clearance.

So, I bought several books and a little mini board. Those were decadent days for us, looking back. I'd go to wait on Eva to get done with work, sit near the food court, and study chess games (while raiding the free samples of Chinese food).

Shortly, I started becoming very 'annoyed' with chess. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I was good or anything - but the game seemed so dull in certain ways. Wired Magazine put it this way:
The opening phase of a chess game as currently played has been subject to a hundred years of scholarship and play, and today players are hard pressed to find so much as a viable pawn push within the first 20 moves that hasn't been thoroughly analyzed.

As a result, serious players spend considerable time memorizing published openings as played by masters and grandmasters, so they know the correct, time-tested response to every move an opponent makes. One standard text on the subject, Modern Chess Openings, is 750 pages long, and will tell you, for example, that the proper answer to white's pawn advance on the 12th move of the Soltis Variation of the Yugoslav Attack, a variant of the Sicilian Defense, is to move your king's rook pawn.

That's what bugged me... The game is so highly scripted that it has become as much about memorization as anything. That's bunk. The other side is that, if you're playing online, cheating is a real problem in the amateur ranks. I remember downloading Chessbase to archive/analyze games I played online (important to do, since I was always losing and losing sucks). Chessbase had the formidable Fritz chess engine built-in to help you evaluate your play. What I discovered was that some guy claiming to be 20 years old and 'just learning like [me]', managed to mimic Fritz's suggested moves for each of the four 'fun' games we played.

Surprising rise to Grandmaster... Well, not really.

The Wired article cited above, interestingly, is highlighting Fischer Random Chess... FRC is a chess variant from the twisted mind of the reclusive, crazy-genius Bobby Fischer that attempts to remove the formulaic elements from the game through 'randomizing' the opening position.

Since Fischer is not really a nice person, most folks are now rebranding his invention as Chess960. Remember kids, branding counts.

Having determined in my head that I'm not cut out for chess, I decided to wish really hard (again) that I'd find someone intensely interested in either spades or (preferably) bridge. And everything I've written thus far is really only a setup for this punchline:

While wishfully looking at the ACBL website and dreaming of cold 7NT slams, I noticed this site seeking to popularize bridge with teh under twenty crowd.

Here's the real riot... Check out the 'hella tight' promo video they've come out with. Nothing sells like hip-hop and vaguely sexual card terminology... Where's my deck of cards? I needs to ruff it up a little.

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