Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org & Knatz.com / Personal / Stories / Themes / Chess /
@ K. 2005 10 17
I’ve played chess since childhood. My friend Rudy taught me, telling me new rules when they were to his advantage. Still, I don’t think he invented too many. The chess I know now is pretty much what I learned from Rudy.
I figured out one tricky move on my own: getting a supported knight to the C7 square, checking the king and capturing the rook. Everything else I know I’ve learned from Capablanca, from Fischer, or over the board.
I’ll brag that I’ve won almost all of my games. I’ll confess that [till jail I’d] seldom faced strong players: I'[d] certainly never sought them out. I’ll note that I never played more than sporadically till I was in my early forties, when I dated a woman somewhat close to the chess world, appeared on TV coverage, etc. Till I was forty my chess was fairly lame-brained. I’d do dumb things like simply try to take all of my opponents pieces down to a naked king: instead of scheming for a mate. Since forty, I still do silly wasteful things, things that will NEVER allow me to become strong among strong players, and certainly not now that I’m sixty-seven [posting this @ 74]. The chess brain needs challenge when it’s young, not old. Old is too late to benefit.
At the same time I have to relish my amateurism. What could be sillier than for an intelligent person to play as much of any game as Bobby Fischer: or Babe Ruth, or Michael Jordan, or Tiger Woods. Seeing Roger Federer dominate a tennis court is thrilling; but would someone else with a little bit of talent (or a lot of talent) want to put in his hours at it? Math, physics, writing … that’s different.
Since forty I’ve had periods where I play a lot of chess: dozens of games in a single day. But: in nearly all such cases, I’m merely playing some computer. And here’s an essential of pk chess: When I first get the program, the computer can give me a good scare! (No!!! I’m going to lose!) I might actually win. I beat the Boris computer the first game I played it , but only after it had pushed me into a tight corner. I somehow figured a way out: and on to victory. My first game against that girl friend I quickly went a knight up. She said, “I’ll get you for that.” I was so intimidated my play crumbled. She wiped the floor with me. But in our second (and only other game), I didn’t crumble, finally beating her three pawns to two, then two to one, then king-pawn against king.
That wasn’t easy since she was ranked and I not only had no end game, but no middle, and not much in the way of opening theory.
Here’s the rest of the essential: playing against a human, I can wait while they move, I can be thinking too, strengthening my imagination. But I can’t stand to wait for the computer to move. So, with the more sophisticated programs, Chessmaster 1, 2, 3 …, I set the computer to play really fast. (All this is pre-1990s.)
These days I play really fast too, though I wish to allow myself all the time in the world if I’m stuck. So my present [that is, former] ChessMaster 6000 “personalities” can occasionally win one time. Once in a hundred games, the weaker personality will suddenly surprise me with a mate against me: I wasn’t really guarding myself, thoroughly underestimated the opponent. But then I can take back my blunder, and proceed with my usual slaughter of black.
Now, the 6000 rates its pre-programmed personalities. You want a fast game? Play the players rated between 500 … 800 … Set the games at five minutes. If I don’t, the 6000 starts “thinking”: even in a five minute game. And I can’t stand it. I just want to destroy the opponent: in a minute, maybe three.
Why am I saying this? Just to waste time? No. It’s necessary to get to this: My 6000 wouldn’t work on the Mac G4 with OS X. The G4 came with a chess program which merely scared me with its opening. I never took time to learn its tricks. So I hadn’t played ANY chess these last couple of years (not counting a neighbor who declined to continue our meetings once he never won a single game). Ah, but the G4 died. While struggling to get my files back onto the new Mac mini, I’ve had to crank the old G3 back up: and I’ve been playing chess again. A lot of chess. One, two minute blitzes. And, for the first time, I’ve started to get to “know” the 6000’s low end personalities. Each has an Info window. Seth dropped out of college “to find himself.” Jenna is a nurse. Carrie is a senior in a high school for the gifted. Mariah is a girl! and only seven years old. Lydia is a construction foreman.
Now here’s the point of the point: I blitz the weak players, go onto the next stronger one: till they start taking time to think: at around ratings of 1300. Then I go back to Manny, and Seth, and Jenna, and Buddy: who plays fast (and foolish). Good. That’s old stuff. But just the last couple of days, I’ve gone way back down: to Mariah and to Lydia: and by God, they can sometimes put me in a devilish pickle. They seem far stronger to me on occasion than players “rated” much higher!
In other words, I don’t think the 6000 is altogether honest (or intelligent) in its ratings.
Naturally, turn the program loose and it can beat grand masters: in seconds!
And the super computer programs could rip the 6000 to shreds in no time.
Gosh. How recent it seems that the human champions were the top of the top.
I’ve played through a recording of a champion program shredding the runner up. What the hell was going on? I didn’t recognize one moment of either side’s strategy. There didn’t “seem” to be a strategy, just blitz, and shred. Where were Capablanca’s sacred opening principles? Where was the development? All I saw was carnage, then a dead king.
Some of Fischer’s classic games have left me gasping in awe. But one of them, after years of trying to fathom the attack, I still don’t see it! All I know for sure is that the other guy resigned.
And Fischer was supposed to have been furious. He wanted Byrne to have let him play out the last few moves, show the mating net. Fischer saw it. Byrne saw it, and folded. I’ve still never seen it, not for sure, even after reading the analyses! I see that Fischer might win. I know that Fischer did win. I don’t see what the two masters saw: that Bobby MUST win. I didn’t see the moves as forced.
(I love forced moves in backgammon too: where one side has no choice but to cooperate in his destruction.)
Now: would Fischer, Karpov … be all-at-sea watching the super computers?
2008 05 26 I heard an answer to that in jail: not the best place to be able to research or check things. I heard that Kasparov (pardon me if I misname a champion) had nudged his ranking up toward 3000! Fischer would have been 2400, 2500 … and that would likely have been the highest ranking ever: before Kasparov went after it with a vengeance, the super computers way-pushing the envelope. I heard that Kasparov had played against IBM’s Big Blue and had held his own valiantly: till Big Blue just smeared him over the board.
Speaking of the 6000’s “Mariah”: I’ll never forget a moment of Shelby Lyman’s coverage of the Fischer / Spassky championship in Iceland. Early 1970s. I loved how Shelby had a variety of players in his peanut gallery. He’d have women, children … as well as known masters. He treated all the players with courtesy, and respect. But of course when situations were tight, he rode the grand masters hardest, called the Marshall Chess Club every other minute. Experts, you see.
Fine. Who wouldn’t? Except for this one precious moment. Fischer was taking time on one particular move. Shelby analyzed and analyzed the position. No one had a clear idea what Bobby would do. Finally Shelby asked the little kid if he had any ideas. “Pawn to H3,” the kid answered.
Shelby goes back to his board. Makes no sense of it. Turns back to the grand masters.
Finally, the incoming move bell dings. Shelby races for the telegram. “Pawn to H3!”
So: Shelby was right right right to have had the little kid on the show. Tiger at age seven. Bobby at age eleven.
Shelby had asked the kid while they were waiting, empty, why he thought Fischer would push the king rook pawn in that situation. The kid couldn’t say.
Once that move was announced though as Fischer’s move, Shelby started Oowing and Ahhing. Once it was the great Bobby that actually made the move — against Spassky!!! — it took on a sacred aura.
I’ve glanced back through those games but am never sure when I’m in that exact spot again. (I emphasize: I have some chess depth now, but I had none in 1972.) (From my silly blitzes the ChessMaster rates me around 1600, but I’m sure I could bump that up a good bit if I started sweating with the better opponents.) I’d like to see the masters analyze that situation, all hindsight permitted.
And what happened to that kid?
2005 11 03 I put some Chess Slide Shows and pix up. the URLs have times out. But I insert newer locations.
2008 04 25 Back rebuilding after the fed censored all my domains, destroyed nearly all of my work. Lots of good chess stories to tell from jail, but I’ll put them in the HierCon section: Hierarchy vs. Conviviality Stories.
2013 05 09 I’m back to playing the new OS X app but only at the silliest setting: amazing how the app self destructs.
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