Heavy Logix.

Lateral Thoughts on Life.

Caissa, My Valentine’s Day Mistress.

Some people think you should always spend Valentine’s Day with a beautiful mistress, and I guess I must agree, for that’s exactly what I did, this year, and it was great fun.

My mistress is a real Goddess known simply as Caissa.

Let me explain before my wife gets too angry. Caissa is the “patron goddess” of chess players.

She was created in a poem called Caïssa written in 1763 by English poet and philologist Sir William Jones.

In the poem, the god Mars falls in love with the goddess Caissa, portrayed as a Thracian dryad. Caissa rebuffs his advances and suggests he take solace in the company of the god Euphron—the god of sport. After hearing Mars’ laments, Euphron

…fram’d a tablet of celestial mold,
Inlay’d with squares of silver and of gold;
Then of two metals form’d the warlike band,
That here compact in show of battle stand;
He taught the rules that guide the pensive game,
And call’d it Caissa from the dryad’s name:
(Whence Albion’s sons, who most its praise confess,
Approv’d the play, and nam’d it thoughtful Chess.)

Mars then presents the game of chess to Caissa in an attempt to win her affection.

So for die hard chess players, Caissa is often invoked as a source of inspiration or luck, they often say things like “Caissa was with me in that game.”

So, in other words, I spent the whole day,all of Valentine’s, just playing chess.

It gets worse too, I wasn’t even playing chess with anyone else. I was really just fiddling around with this new computer program I got which plays at the level of a real Grand Master.

I learned a whole lot of new stuff about how I can use computers to benefit my strategies on the board. Stuff which is totally boring to those who don’t realize that Chess is the best game ever invented.

Poker does have a lot of strategy too, but Chess is the Ultimate game. Both games are perfect for the internet era.

Anyhow I was totally excited to see how far things have come in the world of computer chess. I’m not a racing car fan, but I do like to think Laterally, so let me try to give an analogy of what’s happening.

Basically chess players now have real live Grandmasters sitting right on our desktops. This has happened because the computer programs are built like Formula 1 cars now.

The outer shell of the car is what the computer program calls the GUI or graphical user interface. Its the nice board and all the features you use to play the game. The eye candy if you will.
Two popular GUIs nowadays for chess are Arena and Fritz 11.

The real power comes from the Engine, so of course they’re called Chess Engines, that’s where the calculations are done and the evaluations of positions that makes the computers of today Grandmasters in rating level. The best engine around now is Rybka, which apparently means ‘little fish” in Czech.

The power of the engine also depends what type of hardware configuration it’s running on and how the resources of the computer are organized. Things like Hash tables, etc, (way beyond the scope of this intro) come into play here but suffice it to say the bigger the computer, (more memory, greater speed), is usually the better the result of the lines it calculates.

Deep Blue, the computer that beat a reigning world champion in a match, was a mainframe, but now an average desktop computer packs more than enough strength to beat a Grandmaster.

What really intrigued me though was that the human component is still way, way from being obsolete. Each of the top programs also uses what are called “Opening Books”. These electronic “books” are really huge trees of variations that the program will play. The strategies it will use in the beginning of the game. The basic approach to victory if you will.

What amazed me is that these books are critical to the success of the whole Program and they are made by Humans, by a laborious process like distilling wine. Men like Kevin Frayer, Dagh Nielsen and Sedat Canbaz are famous for producing high quality books to guide the chess machines like a Formula 1 Driver.

Humans must direct the brute force of the machine, for best effect, even though its admittedly more powerful than us in raw calculation. It’s like riding a horse, I guess. Where the “computer horse” and man work as a team,really closely connected, its a “Centaur”.

There are even tournaments where they have what are known as “Centaur” matches. Centaur is where a human using a computer plays chess. Usually of course using a computer is strictly prohibited for a tournament but now its becoming popular. I guess it’s like when the pocket calculator was first invented and banned from most Maths exams.

Learning all this from my Mistress was really fascinating to me. Just goes to show that I need a life, I’m a nerd or something but I was really totally happy all day long.

Wifey didn’t miss the roses either because she claims that she’s Jehovah’s Witness and they don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day.

“Chess is a beautiful mistress to whom we keep coming back, no matter how many times she rejects us”. –Bent Larsen.

Happy Valentine’s !!

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February 16, 2009 - Posted by | Beautiful Women, blog, chess, humor, Lateral Thinking, marraige, non fiction

2 Comments »

  1. you’re right – its the most strategic game ever – i wish i knew how to play but my brain sizzles at anything past checkers. thanks for the great info. i love your writing and your insights.
    one love

    Comment by tammy | February 18, 2009 | Reply

  2. chess is easy, dominoes is hard. wish i could play dominoes good 🙂

    Comment by heavylogix | February 20, 2009 | Reply


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