Chess Anyone?

November 4, 2004 | 19 comments
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Times and Seasons is my main way of wasting time these days, but I do have other vices, one of them being chess. I don’t really have anything to say about this topic, but I am interested in finding some people interested in playing correspondence chess. You can do this over the internet these days. Essentially, you have a board on a website where you make your moves. When you make a move it is emailed to your opponent, he visits the board at his convience and makes a move and so on. It is a nice way of playing at a relaxed pace. If anyone is interested in a game, please email me at noman-at-sidley-dot-com.

I generally play chess against a computer, which is a bit depressing as the computer wins about 90 percent of the time. I am hoping to get a group of actual human beings who would be interested in playing. Of course, I will probably still lose 90 percent of the time.

19 Responses to Chess Anyone?

  1. danithew on November 4, 2004 at 2:38 pm

    I’m interested in playing. How long does a game typically take?

  2. Nate Oman on November 4, 2004 at 2:40 pm

    As long as you want. If you wait more than 12 days between moves you get booted off the server, but otherwise there is no limit on the number of moves or the length of the game. I generally like to make about three moves a day. (It is a nice break from work.) Obviously, it depends on who you are playing. Some people are faster than others.

  3. Bryce I on November 4, 2004 at 2:40 pm

    [After playing out all possible outcomes for Global Thermonuclear War]
    Joshua: Greetings, Professor Falken.
    Stephen Falken: Hello, Joshua.
    Joshua: A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?

  4. danithew on November 4, 2004 at 2:41 pm

    I like that sound of that.

  5. danithew on November 4, 2004 at 2:43 pm

    Speaking of strategic board games, I was able to play Go a few times with Bryce, and I’m wondering if he still plays that game at all. I haven’t played since that time many years ago. But I still remember it as being quite an amazing game.

  6. Bill on November 4, 2004 at 2:49 pm

    If you go to Yahoo games you can play chess with people all over the world. Everyone has a rating based on their performance over time so you can select to play against someone above, below, or at your same level. You can also select many varieties of time limits for the game.

  7. Daylan Darby on November 4, 2004 at 3:15 pm

    playchess.com is good (and free – although you can pay for a premium service)
    chess at games.yahoo.com is good (and free)

  8. Logan on November 4, 2004 at 3:45 pm

    Awesome, Nate! I love chess. Let’s play. I’m good enough that I beat most anyone who isn’t at least somewhat serious about chess, but weak enough that most who are serious about it beat me. It would be a blast.

  9. Bryce I on November 4, 2004 at 6:19 pm

    Danithew —

    Oddly enough, my daughter just discovered my Go set last night and was asking me what it was.

    I don’t think I’ve seen it in over a decade.

  10. Ethesis (Stephen M) on November 4, 2004 at 8:26 pm

    What are we talking, USAF c & b class players? Benoni and Kings Indian or something a little more relaxed?

    If only I could take a break and play a little chess during the day ;)

  11. Robert Couch on November 4, 2004 at 9:38 pm

    Count me in. Is there a good downloadable board somewhere? I’ll never be able to keep track on a real board…. I’m about a 1350-1450 player according to Yahoo Chess ratings (a respectable recreational player rating, but I’d probably be killed by any self-respecting 6th grader who plays tournaments).

  12. Bob Caswell on November 4, 2004 at 11:03 pm

    Nate, will you take a rain check? I’d love to play you somtime and am more or less in the same category as Logan. Right now I’m busy, but I’ll get back to you.

  13. Logan on November 4, 2004 at 11:20 pm

    Ethesis, does the United States Air Force have a rating system independent from that of the United States Chess Federation? ;)

  14. danithew on November 5, 2004 at 9:56 am

    Bryce, just a random thought-question. I know about Deep Blue and other computers that have been made to play chess as well as the best masters. I’ve also read somewhere that the real holy grail of computer gaming is to create a machine that can play Go really well. Apparently the game of Go requires more of that special human factor called “intuition”, a characteristic that is very difficult to re-create in computers. Have you heard of this?

  15. danithew on November 5, 2004 at 1:44 pm

    Nate Oman has done me in on our first chess game. I was trying a certain rather odd (and aggressive) strategy and was actually doing ok until I let him lock my queen in line with my king. Nice work Nate!

  16. Bryce I on November 5, 2004 at 2:00 pm

    The problem with Go is that the number of possible moves at any given time is on the order of 19×19=361, whereas the number of possible moves in a chess turn is more like 16*2=32 (I’m making these numbers up a little, but they’re of the correct order of magnitude). Computer game playing generally proceeds via brute force — look at all possible moves, and pick the best one.

    A chess game, even with 32 possible moves per turn, quickly becomes uncomputable — after 10 moves, there are a total of 1,125,899,906,842,624 possible combinations. While this is a huge number, consider the number of possibilities for Go after 10 moves: 37,589,973,457,545,958,193,355,601. (this is not actually true — the number given is 361^10, while the actual value would be more like 361!/351!) Computers are fast, but not that fast.

    Real game playing programs don’t actuallly consider every single possibility — they have strategies for discarding lines of play that are sure to be unprofitable. Still, you can see the problem that Go presents. Humans make up for not being able to calculate every single possibility by developing methods for evaluating the worth of a board position — the “intuition” of which you speak. Understanding the factors that contribute to this evaluation function for Go has been a difficult task.

  17. D. Fletcher on November 5, 2004 at 4:18 pm

    Nate, I really hate chess. But did you know… my brother Bob was the U.S. Junior Chess Champion, 1966?

  18. Charles on November 5, 2004 at 5:03 pm

    I really enjoy chess but have few people locally to play it with. I’m not that great but I can usually hold my own. Before on line games were available, one of my law student freinds back in college was challenged by a Russian student on how pathetic Americans are at chess. They began an email game with each other. My dubious law student associate cranked chess-master 2000 to master mode and smoked his opponent.

  19. danithew on November 5, 2004 at 5:12 pm

    Chess was one of the fun things I did with my father when I was growing up. I’ll always appreciate him teaching me how to play. I’m not sure I’ve ever learned how to beat him. But it’s been awhile …