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A Geek's Game

Every geek has his/her game. For me, initially, it was chess. I learned chess well enough to hold my own in elementary school, then joined the chess clubs in junior and high school. During these times, I was studying professional players, watching chess matches, learning opening, middle and end games. I was soaking in anything and everything chess. I subscribed to chess magazines, established quite the library on chess books, and when I was introduced to the Internet, I played on Yahoo! games. I had chess software installed on my comptuer and even attended a local chess club that met at the local library. Once, at work, I decorated my cubical with a chess theme, and had a daily chess puzzle, that many of my coworkers enjoyed solving. I ate, slept, walked and talked chess for years.

Then, I came to a sad conclusion. Chess mastery is nothing more than memorizing offensive and defensive opening moves, playing a solid middle game, and holding your own in the end. But, it's the opening that will make or break your game. Seeing as though there are arguably only 10 or so solid opening sequences, chess becomes pretty boring. It's always the same attacks. It's always the same defenses. Nothing new. The only thing with professional chess, is seeing if you can remember your move sequences for a longer time than your opponent. This is what Garry Kasparov excels at. He has a vast library of knowledge regarding opening sequences, and can keep pulling out of the library the whole game.

The once brilliant, then hopelessly pathetic, Bobby Fischer, modified a chess variant that solves this very problem. It's known as "Chess 960". The idea with chess 960 is to randomize placement of the pieces on the back row, thus opening up the nearly unlimited potential of opening sequences in a chess game. Chess 960 still keeps to some fundamental rules about piece placement, but for the most part, the back row is completely randomized by a computer. Now, chess prowess is determined by studying the board, and calculating strengths, weaknesses and risks. No more analyzing memorized opening moves.

An interesting quality of myself, is that once I lose interest in something, it takes a herculean effort to bring the interest back. I lost interest in studying chess, and even though chess 960 brings back the excitement of the game, it's a lost cause for me. Now, don't get me wrong. I won't turn down a game from anyone, and I can still hold my own, but I'm not dedicating time to it any longer. Instead, I discovered Go.

I liked the challenges that chess presented. It made you think. It made you analyze. So, when I discovered Go (I'll capitalize it from here on out), I was immediately intrigued. What really impressed me with Go, was not the strategy involved with playing the game, but the fact that there are no opening moves to memorize. Every game is different, with billions and trillions of possibilities. Supposedly, the game of Go is so astoundingly large, that it's theorized that no algorithm can be built, which will beat an intermediate player, let alone an advanced one. Count me in.

As such, I picked up a Go set from my local game store, and started studying. Unfortunately, my life seems to put more of my spare time in other interests instead of Go. So, I don't get to spend the time studying the game, like I did with chess. The result is if you were to play a game of Go with me, and you have any experience whatsoever, you'll find that I am a total newbie to the game, and you would feel like you were playing a second grader. I want to study it. I want to deeply learn it's strategies and such, but I just don't have the time to dedicate to it.

Then, the other night, my sister introduced me to a new game- Killer Bunnies. If you are familiar with this game, it's very unlike chess or Go. Rather than strategy, Killer Bunnies is complete luck. You're playing the lottery when playing a game. Learning the game play is somewhat of a challenge, but once you get over the initial learning curve, the game is a blast. It has strategies, from which you can increase your chances of winning, but other than that, it's a non-thinking all-for-fun whimsical game.

Why would I be interested in such a game, if I was a Chess student, and future Go world champion (I can dream, can't I)? The reason I like the game, is the fact that I don't have to study deep for it. This could be said for many other games that are in mine or your game closet. While this is true, the thing that intrigues me the most, are the booster packs. Like other card games, booster packs enhance the game play, and introduce new challenges to the game. With Killer Bunnies, there are 10 booster packs, and 1 starter deck. Supposedly, as booster packs are added, the complexity of the game increases, as well as the game duration. If all booster packs are added, you're talking well over 700 cards that are in play!

While Go may be the first choice as my geek game, Killer Bunnies is a new found interest. Anyone up for a game?

{ 3 } Comments

  1. Michael Goetze using Opera 9.62 on GNU/Linux | December 23, 2008 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    I'll play a game of Go with you. You can have 9 handicap. If I win, you must admit that dpkg is better, and if you win, I must admit that rpm is better. Sound fair?

  2. Tad Thorley using Firefox 3.0.5 on Mac OS | December 23, 2008 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    I was introduced to Go a few weeks ago and have been trying to learn how to play; play well, that is. There are Go openings, but they aren't like chess openings.

    I've been trying to beat GnuGo on a 9x9 board, but haven't been able to do it yet.

  3. Richard using Opera 9.63 on GNU/Linux | December 23, 2008 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    For geeks who like board games, there is no better place on the net than the unsurprisingly titled boardgamegeek.com - a brilliant website, but you can disappear in there for weeks...

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