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Memory vs Reason

Sandra vs Halo

Me and Halo are so evenly matched at Baduk even though we have so opposite strengths and weaknesses that the other’s playstyle looks like magic.

I’ve got a lot of tesuji and sabaki and proverbs and shape patterns so when he runs into a stone I’ve played five moves earlier he thinks I’m kidding when I say I placed it there for a reason.

He on the other hand can estimate the score in a way that I just can not. I am always shocked when the scores come in while he has a pretty good idea.

He is also a more careful reader—for example, today there was a game where my group had a cut that left a dead five eye and he had to read it out instead of knowing the pattern—but he found it, because he reads the board carefully, considering different options.

Me on the other hand am more into managing liberty count (shape tesuji come in handy there). ABC—always be counting ♥︎

Studying vs Practicing

I’ve always relied more on memory than reason—I remember a chess club game back when I was new and lost every game and had no idea what I was doing, except… there was this one game that was pretty memorable. I was playing black and I had asked a friend what opening my opponent liked. Queen’s Gambit. So I sit down the night before and memorize several branches of the Berlin defense. Just jam them into medium term memory, it’d be forgotten a week later, just “cramming for the test”. Come game day and sure enough, guy is playing D4 and I go into the Berlin. Remember, I had lost every single game at that club up to that point. But. He is playing right into the trunk of what I had memorized, I’m making my replies right away, playing as fast as it were blitz while we’re in an hour-long ladder game, and he is pondering every move weighing them carefully. Friends take me aside and say “you’ve got to play slower” but I keep on jamming because every single move is according to script. Now, I have no idea what I’m doing or the purpose of the moves. Back then, I didn’t understand positioning or development or prophylactic moves (a.k.a. reverse sente). But, while the opening tree I had learned had many branches that were short detours, he kept playing straight into the longest branch every single move. This was decades ago before the engines (pros used “Fritz” but I was relegated to commentary such as “black should be stronger here”.

And then of course the opening ran out and we were in the position that was supposedly super good for black and guy was sweating bullets and had used like four times as much clock (probably better known as the seventeenth piece) as me—and I had no idea where to go from there. My game immediately fell apart, I bumbled piece after piece, and he had a turnaround victory.

Fun fun fun! I loved having that experience! Only good thing that happened at that terrible club.

Truth vs Justice

There was actually one more weird story that came out of there. Most of the people at that club were old but there were two kids that played there (who also would win vs me, this was before I had figured out chess stuff, I was the worst there) and their dad would pick them up. And I read a lot of comics (it’s probably not healthy to spend this much time reading comics) including stuff I pick up at thrift shops. And in an old banged up issue of Superman, their dad had, thirty years earlier, written a letter to the editor. That’s a lightning strike level coincidence; out of thousands of old comics the one I happened to have read that week, bought at a yard sale that week, featured a letter from their dad as a li’l kid. It’s not an interesting story at all, and there’s no punchline (he just went “so what?”), it’s just weird and glitchy.

Call Bostrom, the Matrix operators are getting lazy!