Archive for March, 2021

[Note: I actually dreamed this poem the other night, in its basic form. That is, it was 75% composed while sleeping. The other 25% was tweaking the grammar and so forth. Unlike Samuel Taylor Coleridge, no opium was used.]

Your story is a trilogy,

3 ponderous volumes, really—

The 1st just a farm, and a knife,

The 2nd the slag of your life.

But the 3rd.  Alas!  It appalls. 

Therein you stare at waterfalls

And so then with sheer force of will,

You attempt to stop and distill

Permutations of molecules,

Holding them immobile, as jewels,

The entropy stagnant but blurred:

Just so you can consume the 3rd.

Writing about Literature Revisited (Coleridge) | The Orthosphere

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I’ve been playing a lot of internet chess lately: you know, Covid.  I play on Lichess.com, mostly, but also on Chess.com, where I play in an international team league.  Compared to the average player, I am decent, with a rating that fluctuates between 1900 and 2000.  I have drawn a National Master (NM) in over-the-board chess, had a postal win (!) published in ChessLife, and beaten a grandmaster (GM) in a simul online (Jacob Aagaard).  But of course I am nowhere near the level of an NM, much less an IM or GM.  Nonetheless, I have a lot of experience with chess players.  I estimate that I have played upwards of 50,000 internet chess games in my life, much of it bullet chess (with a 1 0 or 1 1 time control).  I have a LOT of experience with blitz and bullet.  And there are 10 main kinds of internet players that ANNOY THE CRAP OUT OF ME.

1. The Fred

Sometimes you play a game and crush someone.  They want a rematch.  You accept.  And then, as White, they open with 1. f3 followed by 2. Kf2.  (The Fred defense 1. e4 f5 has a similar feel to it.)  Basically these players are saying, “You’re not any good, that win was a fluke, look, I can beat you with this garbage.”  It’s an insult.  Such players have no self-awareness, and aren’t willing to admit that they are fallible.  They’re sociopaths.  I usually just resign when people do this.  Why bother playing these fools?  [Caveat: If you’re with friends, it’s OK to goof around and play such things.  The bong cloud opening (e4 followed by Ke2) or its derivatives have been played by Nakamura and by Carlsen against other GM’s.  But as far as I know they don’t play such things against peons like me.  If they did, they would be punks.]

May be an image of chess and outdoors

2. The “Idiot”

Maybe this belongs with the “Fred”, I am not sure.  Every once in a while you’ll encounter some joker who plays a3/b3/c3/d3 etc. moving all the pawns up one square.  This infuriates me.  It’s like starting a pickup game of basketball with someone, and all they do is shoot underhanded.  No thanks.  Why are you playing chess?  Go back to playing Halo in your parent’s basement.

3. The “Sacker”

I sense a theme here.  A lot of people can’t handle losing, but on the internet there’s not really any way to BE a bad loser (especially when, as I do, chat has been disabled).  Without an outlet for poor sportsmanship, internet chess players get creative.  They play the “Fred”, or the “Idiot”, or….just sacrifice every piece on the board.  Ever win a knight in a blitz game, only to have some fool subsequently “sacrifice” every other piece?  What does this prove?  I suppose they could argue that they’re going for stalemate, but it really just means that they’re having a tantrum.  To see what I do in such situations, see the next note…

4. “People who don’t resign”

If you’re playing in a tournament, or for money, or for some other stakes, then fine…play it out.  Or if you’re up 45 seconds in a bullet game, play it out.  But in an unrated game, if you are down on time, AND down a Queen, AND the position is dead, with no possibility of a tactic…then RESIGN.  Not doing so shows an utter lack of respect not only for your opponent, but for the game of chess itself.  In these situations I usually try to recreate the opening position (by promoting pawns to Knight, Bishops, Rooks, etc.) against the opponent’s bare king.  It’s an attempt to shame the opponent into resigning.  It never works.

You Resign Now! |  YOU RESIGN NOW! | image tagged in queens gambit,queen's gambit,netflix,chess,chess opening,you resign now | made w/ Imgflip meme maker

5. The “Time Adder”

This is a weird one, but common on Lichess.  I’ll get a winning position, and instead of resigning, the opponent does not move, but instead keeps incrementally adding time to my clock.  (Some chess servers have this option so that if someone is about to lag out, you can have mercy and give them more time).  Is this some form of protest?  What’s going through these people’s pea brains?  My favorite thing to do is go eat a sandwich, taking advantage of the time they’ve given me….then coming back and delivering mate with less than 10 seconds my clock.

6. The “No Move” gambit

Another annoying way to have a tantrum is simply…not to move.  I don’t mean disconnecting in a lost position (which probably happens 20% of the time in any game I play) but to let the clock run down.  In bullet this is meaningless, but in a 10 minute rapid game, when I get a winning position against someone and they have 9 minutes left, it’s a real childish move.  So in this unrated, meaningless game, which is supposed to be just for fun, you are really going to make me wait 9 minutes, staring at my +11 position, just to get the “win”?  Nope.  I will just resign and play someone else.  And maybe that’s their point: they can say they “won”.  Good for them.  I’d rather play chess.

7. “Asking for a takeback”

This one just shows that the player has no online chess experience.  If you’re playing a stranger, then you NEVER ask for a takeback.  Ever.  It’s that simple.  Drop a piece on move 3? Then you RESIGN.  Maybe if I am playing a friend and we’re contesting the same opening 30 games in a row, and my friend makes an obvious mouse slip, OK.  But if I don’t know you?  And it’s a bullet game?  Mouse slips are a PART OF THE GAME, especially in bullet.  Sorry.  Resign, biatch.

8. “The absurd draw offer”

I don’t mean when a player in a lost position offers a draw…after all, we might evaluate the position differently.  I actually mean something much more specific.  It’s like when you’re up 8 minutes to 1 minute in a 10 minute game without increment, in a roughly equal position, and…they click DRAW?  No, you imbecile, you’re going to lose on time.  Play it out.  You might even win…you’re a daisy if you do.

9. The “’Good game’ robots”

Bad sportsmanship isn’t reserved just for losers.  Winners can do it too.  To whit: automated “Good game” messages are as annoying as popcorn kernels stuck in your teeth.  Now, I get it.  They’re TRYING to be nice.  But when you lose a piece on move 7, and then resign (as you should in a non-bullet game), no one wants to see “Good game! :)” or “Well played!”  It comes across as condescending and insincere.  If you really want to be a good sport, type an ACTUAL message after the game, that proves you’re a human being.  Of course I disable chat, so never mind.

10. The “Obvious blunder!” morons

My final category is the worst of all, and doesn’t even involve PLAYING online chess.  It has to do with WATCHING online chess.  Nowadays, you can watch any major GM tournament from the comfort of your home, on sites such as chessbomb.com.  And of course, everyone now has a computer engine on their smartphone that could crush a GM.  It’s like this: Svidler is playing Aronian.  And Aronian makes a move that swings the evaluation bar from +0.4 in favor of Svidler to +1.7.  Someone comments, “Obvious blunder!”  Of course all they’re doing is looking at their engine.  They have no idea WHY the move is a blunder.  It boggles the mind.  It’s a form of trolling.  If you’re going to spectate, watch GM commentators that know what they’re talking about:  Tania Sachdev and Peter Leko, for example, or the team of Seirawan, Shahade, and Ashley.  Even when they consult the engine, they put the move(s) in context.  If Aronian’s move was so “obvious”, dude, why aren’t YOU a GM?   

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