Checkmate!

This evening, for the first time in my life, I beat a computer at chess! Here's the magical winning screen.

Notice that dastardly rook, eying my bishop... I needed a distraction, something he couldn't ignore, like winning...

This was on "beginner" which I think is 2/10 on the scale it gives. Still, I've never beat a computer at chess before and I was excited. I accidentally gave up my queen in the first five moves (before she even moved!) so I didn't have high hopes for this game.

One of my goals for 2011 is to beat the computer (Chess Titans, it comes with MS Windows now) on "intermediate".  I guess I have a head start. Ha.

I started playing again a couple weeks ago and decided I had (and still have) a serious case of mind rot. When I was shorter (I'm thinking 10-ish), my dad played me a lot. I only beat him once, and I think he had the flu or something. There was definitely an asterisk. But the point is, lots of games of chess growing up.

I remember from those games that I would look at the board and start doing the scenarios in my head. I think I tended to go about 3 levels deep - except for my "awesome plan" which I would think through a bit further. We'd sit there for about 30 minutes and eventually he'd paste me, but I enjoyed it a lot.

Since then, I've played very little. There was one memorable game in high school where I was hanging out with a chess club guy after school and I beat him (then he demanded a second game, which he won). I thought that was pretty sweet. But, not much since. Julie won't play me.

When I started in again here a few weeks ago, I was pretty bummed. I noticed that while I could move the pieces around, I wasn't thinking through even the next set of moves anymore. It wasn't a matter of trying, it just wouldn't come to me. It seemed too hard, I couldn't focus, etc. Thus, brain rot.

Since then, I've played about eight games with the computer. Yesterday was the first time I noticed that on this easy level it was making deliberate mistakes. I played that game to a stalemate (which I should have won...). And today, I pwned its sorry mechanical keister. Sorta? Two-tenths of its keister?

The bummer is, I'm still not playing anything like I was twenty years ago. I've been reading all these websites about "the opening game", "controlling the middle", "isolated pawns", piece values, etc. Basically, I've been learning a whole bunch of handicap tricks to play well without being smart enough to think things through. Back in the day, the internet hadn't yet pulverized the local bulletin boards and I never touched a book on the subject.

My hope is that if I keep at it, I can rebuild my brain a little bit. Maybe someday I'll be half as smart as I was when I was 10. Thinking about that hurts a little bit.

Long Run Today

Today was long run day. This one was 18 miles. When I finished, Julie looked at my splits and, had a newspaper been available, she'd have rolled it up and smacked me around a little. Evidently I was too awesome and need to be less zingy in the future. I haven't moved much since. Here are the splits:

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The plan was to run the thing at a 9:30 pace and if I felt zoomy I could ramp it up to a 9:15. Well, it was nice out and I got a little silly. Keeping mile 18 faster than 9:00/mile was a lot of work. Fortunately, next week is a cutback week, so I think the plan will come together all right.

What hasn't been working too well with the plan is the strength stuff I've been doing. Pushups don't seem to hurt anything, but, against all reason, squats don't seem to be a great idea before a running day. It seems they make my legs tired in unique and interesting ways. I should probably cut back on the stupid until after the marathon in December. It's starting to get a little close. But... it's fun to misbehave a little.

Comments

Evelyn said…
Your writing is very entertaining, Charlie! You have a unique way of taking a creative look at simple things, and then writing about it to share with others.