En Passant

I cannot remember when I first played chess. Early memories include losing to Dad very often, playing an exciting animated computer version where capturing pieces fought the captured, and peculiar rules variants I created based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail – especially the rules for Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Film. Ever since I learned its rules, its been a game I’ve held an interest in but never held much skill.

My strategy game of choice (on an elliptical cycle, partially based on cash revenue) tends to be Magic: The Gathering. I enjoy its flexibility, the freedom and creativity in creating a deck from collectable trading cards, and the silly, silly things I can sometimes do. Whilst I have often tried to sell my father the tactical and strategic strengths of MTG, he struggles to see it. It’s probably because my major draw is the creativity inherent in the game.Magic is a game of breaking rules, chess one of applying them.

That being said, I do enjoy subverting these rules. I like playing unorthodox openings. I like winning.

I don’t win very often.

I’ve gotten better recently, through a course of Chessmaster lessons and reading a book on better chess*, and now can just edge out my father (who rarely practises these days).

I still can’t beat my phone. A long while back, I downloaded a chess game for my HTC. The interface is beautifully simple and simply beautiful. The AI is hard, and in itself I see this as a major selling point.**

I can beat my dad because I want to. I invest more because the opponent is important.

I should really learn to invest more when I want to.

* Excitingly titled Teach Yourself: Better Chess.

** If you’ve an Android and even a passing interest in chess, I’d highly recommend this app. It’s free and Open Source at its best.

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En Passant

2 thoughts on “En Passant

  1. My father taught me chess when I was fairly young. It was the rules, or limitations as I saw them, that really put me off of that game. Whilst I admire it from a historical and strategic perspective, and have huge respect for those highly disciplined (and usually highly intelligent) folks who play it at the end game, I just can’t get into it. I’d even go as far to say I consider it a bit dull.

    MTG on the other hand – it’s awesome, fun, creative, the fantasy background and art make an interesting diversion at times (I wonder if it’s possibly that that puts your Dad off?). However, one reason that I don’t play or get into the game as much as I might like – and cost being another – is how closed and limited it is at times too – especially at its endgame.

    There are like 2 or 3 decks in most game types, and that’s it. And if you play outside those decks you’re likely to lose. Netdecking became so prevalent that it just wasn’t fun anymore.

    I play the odd game of MTGO, and for a while pauper became a really fun format. However, even now, with pauper and the extremely huge number of cards available, there are a number of pauper netdecks out there that seem to be played by people. So it is, I find myself playing more and more the same deck despite having a large playerbase to pool from.

    It’s like the small world of chess, its rules and regulations, simply come back to haunt me in a different way as MTG players play identical decks (tested to death in the meta-tactic-verse with each other). With such limitiations – it might as well be chess.

    1. archaism says:

      I’ve never really gotten into competitive Magic for largely this reason – the metagaming refines a number of perpetuated decks to exhaustive levels and much of the fun is drained out. Sure, the skill required to play and pilot these monolithic decks can be considerable, but its a shame that this impacts on multiplicity. As such, I can understand the recent bannings.

      This is why I largely play casually. There’s more leeway for sillitude.

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