Thursday, April 13, 2006


Going postal chess

I'm playing Major Steel in a game of internet postal chess. He is a fun opponent, because he posts the current board position in the sidebar of his blog. (Scroll down, it's on the right.) His entire readership will soon see him going down in flames.

chess game
Left: Oscar Madison. Right: Major Steel.
Is it just me, or do I have an uncanny resemblance to Jude Law?

Email chess has all the advantages of postal chess, with a twist. In the old days, people actually played chess games via snail mail. You would set up the chess board, make your move, and mail it to your distant opponent. Up side: plenty of time to think about your next move. Down side: board just sits out there on coffee table or side board for weeks.

Another up side, of course, is the trash talking. In regular face-to-face chess games, unless you're playing speed chess or a pick-up game in Washington Square Park, trash talking is discouraged. The tradition in chess has always been the non-verbal psych out.

But it was never considered rude to trash talk in postal chess. To see a nice example of this, I recommend The Gossage-Vardabedian Papers. A short story in Woody Allen's collection Getting Even (1978), it's (in my humble opinion) the funniest thing Allen ever wrote, including all his screenplays. You can read it here.

The email postal chess program solves the "chess game in progress taking up the coffee table" problem, since the board is on line. And the email chess program, through, includes a little "dialogue box" in which you can send a message along with your move. I call it the "trash talk" box.

Major Steel (playing white) is a very high brow trash-talker. After
1) P-K4, P-QB3
... Major Steel accompanied his next move,
2) N-QB3 ...
... with this remark: "Since I am employing the Sicilian opening, I should remind you that you should never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line!"

To which I responded: "Fool! It only becomes the Sicilian defense because I, playing black, opened with my queen's bishop pawn! It is I who defined this opening!"

He is so going to be my chess b----

Your next move is actually to offer to drink with him. 2 cups of wine, one laced with the poisonouse iocane powder (watch "The Princess Bride" for details). However, the Scicillian in question did lose, so one wonders why Major Steele wanted to invoke that particular role.

wbjzqfjr - a random collection of consonants defying definition.
Taking trash talk public rather than limiting idle threats and posturing to private correspondence is the sure sign of someone who is SHAKING IN HIS BOOTS!

In the words of the immortal Gossage: "Obviously the constant tension incurred defending a series of numbingly hopeless chess positions has rendered the delicate machinery of your psychic apparatus sluggish, leaving its grasp of external phenomena a jot flimsy."

irkslf: to annoy oneself
Oh, and Wendy... I learn from the mistakes of others. I have, of course, spent the last few years developing an immunity to iocane powder. :-)
Majorsteel, I think it's against the rules to be both the Sicillian and the Dread Pirate Roberts simultaneously. (But LOL all the same)

ysgeh - a young creature from the Cthulu mythos.
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