How bad do I want it?

First of all, thank you for your contributions yesterday on how to handle unwanted suitors and stories of unrequited gay love.

Catching up on other chess blogs, I was struck by an observation: most of them are trying to get better at chess.

Yes, I enjoy the game and want to be good. I have a (fairly) competitive spirit. But the amount of time I dedicate to chess improvement has been close to nil for a long time.

I started competitive chess in 1998, playing until 2000, when I took 5 years off before jumping back in. Several months were (relatively) hardcore, actually playing 40 or so rated games before tapering off again. Even then, almost all my time was spent playing; studying was relegated to when I was taking a dump in the lavatory.

Right now, I’m 1600-ish, the same as 10 years ago without putting effort into improvement. What would happen if I tried? Does the thought of “maybe there’s an Expert somewhere in here” motivate me enough to work?

More likely, the “I’m sufficiently skilled so most people can’t dismiss me; that’s good enough” win out (again).

Pick-up line

Senator Larry Craig

For lunch break on Thursday, I ambulated along Griffin Road to pretend I occasionally exercise. (Kinda like drinking V8, so you can fake getting enough vegetables. It’s probably beneficial and better than nothing, but if it’s the only thing it probably won’t matter much in the long run.)

A young man of about 18 years, possibly East Indian with a hairstyle vaguely like mine, bicycled past me. It sounded like he said something to me, and I briefly considered ignoring it. Griffin Road has a fair amount of traffic, making hearing difficult, so it would have been easy to pretend not to hear him. But I decided to turn around.

He stopped, and asked me what I was doing (“Not much, just walking down the street during lunch break.”). Then he inquired if I worked, as if the shirt and tie weren’t a giveaway, and had any kids. (“Yes and no.”) He talked about how he worked, but needed a bit of cash until payday Friday. I gave him 3 bucks, and then he asked if I liked DVD’s.

I don’t remember the exact diction he used, but he implied it was smut. Besides the obvious retort (“You can get that stuff free on the Internet”), I merely declared a lack of interest. After his brief, poor sales pitch, we parted ways.

At least for a few minutes. He came back and stopped me again. He asked rhetorically whether I know that other men would have been mean, and mumbled a couple other things. Then he asked “Can I see your dick?”

I froze and wondered whether the traffic caused me to mishear. Then I asked him to make it clear. He stammered and went on for a little while until I just laughed and said “No! Sorry, that’s not me.” Then he said, “Well, I mean, it can’t hurt to ask,” to which I replied affirmatively although I know full well there are people who would have hurt him for asking.

Even ignoring the fact that I’m not gay and he’s possibly underage…the line “Can I see your dick?” doesn’t exactly crack the top 5 in best ways to start a relationship.

News snapshot

“Crop-based biofuels are not part of the solution. They, in fact, add to the problem. Whether Al Gore has caught up with that, somebody ought to ask him.”
Food Crisis Eclipsing Climate Change

“Everyone knows the president’s poll numbers are at historic lows, but if he is over in Lubbock, there is no place in this country that likes him.”
The View From Gate 14

“At first the guy was blocking. But we kept on kicking and assaulting him. After he started bleeding, we stopped. They said: ‘Why are you stopping?’ So we had to keep on beating him. Then they gave us some pills – I’m not sure what they were, but after I took them I had this rage.”
Confessions of a Zimbabwe torturer

“Israel has dismissed a conditional six-month truce proposed by Hamas, saying that it was a ruse to allow the Palestininan group to recover from losses after recent clashes with the Israeli military.”
Israel rejects Hamas truce offer

“Dr Giles said fewer ejaculations may mean the carcinogens build up.”
Masturbation ‘cuts cancer risk’ (So I had to throw a curveball in there somewhere, OK?)

Tournament of Lepers, Closing Ceremonies

As we gaze through the mists of history, we see the hand of inevitability as the course of weeks marched on.* Other bloggers met. Victorious victories. Embarrassing losses. Vanishing tournament participants.

Final Standings

                 dnk Pol Whr LEP Tac l3r Tom cl  RR
1  drunknknite   xxx 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 0.0 1.0 1.0 1.0  7.0
2  Polly         0.0 xxx 1.0 1.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 1.0 1.0  5.0
2  Wahrheit      0.0 0.0 xxx 1.0 1.0 0.0 1.0 1.0 1.0  5.0
2  Liquid Egg    0.0 0.0 0.0 xxx 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0  5.0
2  Tacticus      0.0 1.0 0.0 0.0 xxx 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0  5.0
6  l3rucewayne   1.0 1.0 1.0 0.0 0.0 xxx 0.0 0.0 1.0  4.0
7  Tom           0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 xxx 1.0 0.0  2.0
8  chessloser    0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 0.0 xxx ---  1.0
9  Rocky Rook    0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 --- xxx  1.0

Nine of us slugged it out, and four of us poseurs demonstrated a semblence of strength in our four-way tie for second (placed in no particular order, BTW; I did no tie-breaks).

But drunknknite stands alone as the victor of the very first Tournament of Lepers in history. His name will now be known world-wide as a champion (technically, anyway–LEP has a single reader in countries like Australia and the Netherlands). Even the jokers of Wikipedia will not defame his name, when (if) the Tournament becomes significant enough for its own Wikipedia entry.

Only the heroics of l3rucewayne prevented him from earning the right to a McDonald’s Gift Card of Perfection.

And, drunknknite, as for your prize…due to the mysterious and abrupt departure of gorckat, the original prize–some random item that had a connection to Seirawan–is no longer in play. So you will be the proud recipient of a gift certificate for the USCF store. Valued at whatever’s left in my checking account (not that much). It’ll be arriving via e-mail.

The Mascot has also offered you one of his T-shirts or mugs (with the ability to customize), so I guess you can e-mail about that. He also left you this message of congratulations:

Hey, drunk! You weren’t perfect, but that’s OK. You know the old saying: “To err is human; perfection is eggish.” Anyway, you probably didn’t know this but I’m making a movie. Your victory in the Tournament of Lepers has earned you a great cameo spot! Check out this trailer, and let me know if you want me to stick your mug in there. Although there’s a chance you may be a dashing blonde already, so you won’t need to come in for filming.


Anyway, thanks to everyone who made this possible and helped out!

Wahrheit: For convincing me to go through with this and coming up with the time control.
gorckat: Offering what was going to be the main prize.
Allen: Offering a McDonald’s gift card for perfection.

And all the participants!

I forgot someone, probably! Sorry!

* Yeah, I don’t know what that means, either.

Akismet still has to learn this one

WordPress users: Anyone else encountering a different type of spam recently? What they’re doing is putting garbage on line 1, a legit link on line 2, and a spam link on line 3, and it’s slipping by Akismet. They look something like this:

toppingness girtline geocarpic lamiaceae homophylic vermix catholicate pseudatoll
FEC Wants ClintonGore Campaign To Repay Matching Funds [CNN link]

It should be noted that LEP is a relative lightweight when it comes to getting spammed, because I’m not using a WordPress server–almost a year and “only” 790 spam comments. So maybe this has been going on for a while and I’m just out of the loop.

Spring Break

I’m taking a Spring Break vacation. Here’s the note I left for Donnie; I’m sure he couldn’t be bothered to let you know about what was going on.

Love you all–I’ll be back on the 28th!

Not-so-mysterious Letter

North Korean hits, Vol. 1

Never mind the garbage that comes out of American radio. The North Koreans have cooked up some serious hit songs recently (iTunes doesn’t seem to have them yet for some reason). The only thing is that’s it’s tough deciding which one’s the best…

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

Egg Benedict

The Mascot has gone over to BDK. Or taken him hostage. Or something. Guess I should have given him that raise.

Good riddance; I don’t need him.

The legendary Blue Devil Knight is leaving the blogosphere really soon, at least for now. (“Legendary” should be understood in context, in as much as it is possible to call a personal chess blog a legend.) I was unfortunate to have caught him only during the last third of his time on the net. He held the reins of the Secretary Knight for some time and turned his site into a nexus of chess information and improvement for the Knights Errant and passing patzers alike.

The website wasn’t without controversy. Critics universally panned his decision to get rid of his spinning head.

BDK, we at LEP wish you the best in your future endeavors.

And the black glove was a nice touch.

Themes for BabasChess

I didn’t find the themes that came with BabasChess endearing, so I made a few of my own. Note that these were created for BabasChess 4.0, and may require the additional Graphics Pack. It’s possible they will work in an older version, but I can’t guarantee it. The zip file should be extracted to your base BabasChess directory.

Use the Themes option in the File menu to load, but you should export your original settings first just in case. Loading them won’t change the window layout, or overwrite other settings unrelated to appearance (such as custom buttons, auto-save, etc.), but if there is an issue, let me know.

For some reason, when you change themes, the text style in the console doesn’t update until Babas is restarted.

Click on the name to download. Thumbnails are also clickable for a closer look. My favorite is the Refinery theme, probably because the idea is the most original and the colors ended up complementing each other very well.

BabasChess Space Theme
BabasChess Nature Theme
BabasChess Refinery Theme
BabasChess Pandaemonium Theme
BabasChess Underwater Theme