Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Transitions: Hens and hobbies

Samurai Knight had a brief sit in the throne as Secretary Knight. He has passed the sceptre on to none other than Tacticus Maximus. Treat them well, Tacticus, and thank you Samurai for taking a turn sitting on the egg. The 'Chess is crack' image is an homage to Samurai Knight.

I think I've successfully made the transition from chess-as-obsession to chess-as-hobby. It is quite nice. I gained a lot of tactical skills doing the Circles, and because the Circles took me so damned long (see Blog Highlites) I was lucky enough to learn a lot of other stuff along the way, from basic openings, endgames, to middlegame strategy, among other things. I no longer feel the urge to "study" chess in any disciplined way, and am pretty happy with my performance levels in chess, which by any objective measure in the actual chess community, are not impressive(probably around 1400 or so at ICC), but less unimpressive than when I started (950 at ICC). So, the guilt is gone, but the fun is still there (though admittedly with less pronounced highs and lows).

In the next week I'll put up what should be my last post for a while: I plan on making a goodbye video. We'll see if the experiment works. At that point, instead of trying to keep the Knights list updated, I'll put a link to the Knights Errant FAQ page, which should be up to date. I will continue to lurk and comment at blogs, though. There is a lot of great content out there!


Blogger takchess said...

So you think you can become a social chess player ...............

2/20/2008 05:23:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

I guess if it were really as bad as crack we'd have chess whores, chess babies, chess dens. Dirty skinny girls offering sexual favors for a quick game, little fetuses with huge brains thinking about tactics in the womb, and dirty abandoned tenements where people sit for hours playing chess lying in their own filth.

Well, I guess the latter sort of thing exists. They're called chess clubs.

I was going to make the joke "I can stop whenever I want, I just don't want to" but that hacky line has been so overused that I resisted. It seems any time someone is joking accused of being addicted to X in a comedy, they have to use that damned line. I resisted.

I can stop saying "I can stop whenever I want to, I just don't want to" whenever I want.

2/20/2008 10:04:00 AM  
Blogger Temposchlucker said...

There always comes a moment that you realize that an above average IQ isn't enough to become a good chessplayer. At that moment ambition tends to crumble. The choice seems to be then to abandon the game at all or to just enjoy the game. In my experience you must be holy to just enjoy the game without any ambition. For me that is impossible, so I use the clever trick of adjustable ambitions. That way I have the best of both worlds, I enjoy the game while I'm not bothered by unfulfilled ambitions.

Holy Blue Devil pray for us. To Caissa, that is.

2/20/2008 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Tempo: I realized that about a month in. But it took even longer to see that it wasn't necessary. That is, high IQ is neither necessary nor sufficient to become good at chess (by 'good' I mean 1800 rating--above that is 'very' good). What is necessary and sufficient is an average IQ, (and lots)^100 of time/energy put into the activity.

I won't be surprised if I come back into it in a more competitive spirit in a few months or even years. It's not like I'm back at square one, as I mentioned. Many people have taken years off and come back only to reach a new height in their performance.

I think all of this follows from the fact that it is largely a test of procedural memory, not your ability to think through more moves, not your ability to have explicit conscious recall (declarative memory). I'm not sure how unique chess is in this regard: if you watch martial artists practice, they do it hours and hours and hours, practicing basic moves, more complex moves, how to fall, etc.. Snowboarders, surgeons, it's all the same. We all want the surgeon with the most experience.

As in martial arts, it seems important to have a good sensei, and the younger you start the better, and the more time you spend working the better.

So, rating equation for rating change over time span T:
where N is the number of games you have played (this could be split into types of games, slow or fast), T is the total length of time you have been playing, T1 is the amount of time spent focused on chess (if the units are days, T1/T is the average fraction of each day you spend on chess), E is a fluffy 'effort' variable (how focused are you during that time you do spend), Q is the quality of the feedback you receive (best is personal coach, much less good is probably just using Fritz to give you the best move, worst is no feedback other than the temporary feeling when you win or lose), IQ/5 shows how unimportant the IQ is.

D is a generic decay term. When you don't work to stay sharp, things slowly decline.

So it's not as bad as I once stated here, but it is a fricking lot of work to get better, and quite a bit of work even to maintain one's performance. We have all beaten people at ICC who were once rated much higher than us, who are just getting back into chess. It was experiences like that that made me think, "Damn. Do I really want to worry about this?" At this point I'm happy if my DeltaR is zero, or even slightly negative.

I wonder where blogging fits into the equation? For instance, I just spent about 20 minutes on this comment. Egads.

2/20/2008 12:46:00 PM  
Blogger katar said...

IQ suffers from diminishing returns if not irrelevance. IMO, the primary purpose of IQ scores is to fill a void of self esteem for those who lack meaningful accomplishments or relationships but who wish to place themselves above the masses of humanity in some artificial way.

The first rocket scientist Robert Goddard noted that his IQ was not even high enough to get into MENSA. The few chess blogs taht I've seen trumpeting the author's IQ contain hideous grammar and disorganized, illogical ideas-- usually wrapped up in a perpetual ode of self-congratulations. Some players can't crack 1500 after years of "training", but pretend they have grandmaster potential. Then there is the frail pasty white pimple-faced punkass kid who talks down to me because he is 2100 after 5 years of private lessons with an IM. This ego parade is one reason I had to get away from the game.... It can suck you in.

2/20/2008 05:30:00 PM  
Blogger katar said...

i dont know where those rants come from! you can delete it!@

2/20/2008 05:39:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Katar...delete it? I loved it!

I very much agree about the IQ. I have never understood people who mention right when you meet them "I'm in mensa." It reveals something about them, but probably not what they intend. "Note to self, this person is insecure."

And in chess, people treat rating as an IQ that extends to all aspects of life, creating a strange primate social heirarchy even for matters political, social, etc.. I have spent enough time around brilliant mathematicians to know that such skills are fairly modularized and often don't extend gracefully to matters social, political, or other...if you have a higher rating in chess than me, that doesn't give you the right to treat me like a child, and it doesn't mean your opinions in politics, science, or other domains are valid.

That would be cool if they made one of those Spial-Tap esque pseudo-documentaries about the chess tournament subculture.

That said, with very few exceptions the chess blogosphere is made up of very kind, funny, self-effacing, honest, and helpful people. Patience may not be our strongest point though.

2/20/2008 07:17:00 PM  
Blogger BlunderProne said...

Some, not all, will judge a person by rating, sizing up the intelligence etc. But my experience while playing at many F2F tournaments has demonstrated that this is not the norm. Most people I meet at the weekend events are genuine down to earth folks. The occasional eccentric or marginally distrubed individual will make noise about how much bigger there rating is over the next one... but perhaps they should buy a big car to go with that as well.

I guess it depends on how well adjusted you are. I liked the comment Jon Jacobs made back in december when I posted about my ICC in the toilet ( http://blunderprone.blogspot.com/2007/12/my-icc-is-in-toilet.html ). His simple suggestion "Fire the coach and hire a shrink" rings true on many levels.

I'm really starting to enjoy chess without feeling the urge to HAVE to improve. Chess is a nice outlet for the other things in life... more than that, it becomes an obsession.

2/20/2008 09:10:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

BP: I think you are right that most people are actually very nice. I think the oddballs are just that. Whenever I've chatted with someone they've always been very nice. Now, the ICC chat area? Fuggetaboutit.

2/20/2008 10:58:00 PM  
Blogger The retired pawn said...

BDK: I hope you never stop your chess blogging. You have posted some very useful items in the past and I would urge you to do so in the future.

Yes, chess is like crack...or gambling, sex, alochol, etc. It is addictive and you can be lead into the seedy chess club life..ewwwww.

Enjoy your casual playing! The real work starts whenever you decide to play in rated tournaments for cash prizes. That is when the 11oo player is in reality a sandbagging 1500+. You gotta love it, but it tends to keep you sharp!

2/21/2008 04:50:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

RP: Thanks for the encouragement. I'll continue to lurk and comment, but after my video post I'll probably not post for a while. The post will include some updates and suggestions for people visiting my blog for the first time. If I do start blogging again I may start a different blog, letting this one stand as a tribute to the Circles. We'll see. I could start blogging every day next week for all I know.

I've played in about four rated tournaments with cash prizes. My best performance described here where I blogged live after each game. It was a lot of fun.

2/21/2008 05:21:00 PM  

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