Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Gaming time

This is, sometimes, the time of the year when I find a few spare hours to play some games.

And, indeed, over the Thanksgiving break I managed to crack open Obduction, which I hadn't really played since the fall of 2016, and discovered that it's still beautiful, and still fun.


  • Winners of the 2018 IFComp
    The Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (IFComp) welcomes all kinds of text-driven digital stories and games, making them freely available in order to encourage the creation, play, and discussion of interactive fiction.
  • Queen Sacrifice: Ruth Haring, 1955-2018
    You can’t fill the shoes of a queen. You can only hope that another pawn will come along with the courage and persistence to promote itself to a queen. Someone with the courage and persistence of Ruth Haring.
  • The Last Chess Shop in NYC
    A film about Chess Forum and its owner, Imad Khachan, a Palestinian refugee who came to America to get a PhD in American literature and ended up as the owner/operator of a classic NYC establishment.
  • Far From a Turkey Shoot
    The sixth game, however, brought an announcement of checkmate that no one alive saw coming:

    It came from a supercomputer named Sesse running the chess engine Stockfish: Black has checkmate in 36 moves beginning 68…Bg5-h4! At first this looks suicidal since after 69.h5-h6 Black’s king is cut off and his knight and bishop look far from stopping the pawn. But after 69…Nd4-f3 (or 69…Nd4-c6) 70.h6-h7 Nf3-e5+ 71.Kg6-h6 Bg5+, White’s king is evicted and after 72.Kh6-h5 Kf8-g7 73.Bc4-g8 Kg7-h8, the compulsion to move (called Zugzwang) forces White to unguard the pawn since his king is frozen.

  • A Tiebreak Win and the Problem of Draws
    The title match tiebreaker gave 25 minutes plus an extra 10 seconds per move, the same as in the famous Melody Amber tournaments, whereas the World Rapid championships give 10 fewer minutes. My preliminary results show an average dropoff of 200–210 Elo in the Ambers and 280–290 Elo in World Rapids. Caruana’s quality of 2575 (with huge error bars from under 100 relevant moves in the three tiebreak games) was consistent with this, but here is what I measured for Carlsen:

    2945 +- 190.

    Since the error-bars are two-sigma, this was more than one standard deviation higher than Carlsen’s rating at standard time controls, and higher than his IPR for the twelve regulation games of the match. Clearly Caruana ran into a buzzsaw.

  • Hitman 2 Is My 'Forever Game'
    I first heard the term "forever game" during the press buildup for No Man's Sky. It denotes the idea of interactive infinity—a game that you can play forever, the one game to rule them all. A forever game means that you don't need any other videogames. It's the one piece of entertainment that is vast enough, complicated enough, and good enough to obviate your need for all other games, forever and ever, amen.
  • I was going to write about my most anticipated game of 2018, but I played 136 hours of 'Red Dead Redemption 2' instead
    if "Battlefield V" is a good game, "RDR2" is a fantastic game. Gorgeous visuals, a great story, a wide-open world to explore, good acting, and the general vibe of the Wild West all come together to make what is probably the best game I've played in a very long time.

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