Category Archives: SpecterChess

SpecterChess 1: The Games

Game 1 and Game 2

A change has been made to eliminate the fake names because I have no means of posting game viewers on my website at present. There will be other changes in the future to things but let’s just start off with this as what you need to see.

SpecterChess 1 Promo

SpecterChess 1: Allen vs Duaz on January 4, 2019

Emerald Specter 107: The ESCC and Chess Basho

I like chess. I know other people like chess, too. I’ve attempted to combine chess with a couple other aspects of sports or presentation to make them more appealing to an audience. That all actually begins with getting players involved, regular players, and making sure that there are firm ground rules for how to do things in these scenarios.

One of those is the Chess Basho experiment. 

I was originally going to write about how this is mostly a failure but things have perked up a bit and I wanted to begin looking back, then coming forward, to see where we’re at and perhaps drum up some consistency that has been sorely lacking.

I am going to go all the way back and look at Chess Basho I (for ease of explanation, I’m just going to use the numbering rather than try to parse out what each event was actually called). Who played, who won, and where did we end up?

Without running down all the particulars, the four Sapphire Adepts were the winner Alexin2, Nikbasketball12, Sim_zama, and dukenukem123. None of them returned for the following tournament and I did invite them.

The tournament was well received, filled up very quickly, and play was fun. I participated in the tournament and finished a dismal 11th out of 12.

The next tournament was Chess Basho II, with almost an entirely new crew of players who joined the system (me being the only returning player from Chess Basho I). With no returning players, the aforementioned Sapphire Adepts were changed being “kyujo” (or absent) in this tournament. The new SAs were winner ArturFaust, homozzapien, anujvaniya78692, and biraandrada. This was also the first tournament I established being a member of the club to be technically promoted. I finished 9th.

In Chess Basho III, I returned again as well as King_of_Not. Mmuse would also first appear here and become part of the returning membership. The SAs were once again brand new as none of the Adepts returned for this basho. The new ones were winner FlashyFerrari, syibil, Pauliow1967, and mapru. I finished 10th.

Chess Basho IV had none of the Sapphire Adepts returning again, so we had a whole new slate of them for this one. They were winner miki1701, PRIMAT_RU, King_of_Not, and EmeraldSpecter (me). This tournament is also a catastrophic failure as the tournament started abruptly, while not being full (there were only 4 players), and was generally thrown out. Technically, though, I am including it as we did have a definitive ending.

Chess Basho V saw myself and Mmuse return but no King_of_Not. None of the Sapphire Adepts returned and that left yet another new slate: winner mrstasky, DarrylAG, DalkyiAK, and Goridulich_Evgeniy. I finished 10th… I also decided that this was going to be my last Basho as a participant because of my other project, SpecterChess, being my focus for the future. (Side Note: SpecterChess will be getting some alterations in the very near future due to my writing of a story that had things going in interesting directions)

Chess Basho VI is the one currently running as I write these words (though it should be over by the time this column is released). Currently, both Mmuse and King_of_Not are participating, and though Mmuse has currently attained the Sapphire Adept threshold, they’ll be too far down the rankings to actually be granted the title. 

This leads me to why I’m writing this big column.

As of about 45 minutes ago (as I write this), I announced and posted on Chess.com the new Chess Basho VII event. This will introduce a few changes to the basho system in the hopes that things start moving forward and people start coming back into the fold… here’s the nifty new logo, too, which will be part of the trophies on the website (and hopefully entire players to keep coming back to earn more of them):

Unlike the logo I had been using, this one is more compact. The trophies simply have a “1st, 2nd, and 3rd” in the bottom right corner of the logo.

What are the changes, though? 

First and foremost, the membership requirement for the ESCC is out the window. No one is joining and the only real reason to have the ESCC as part of chess basho now is to alert those players when another tournament is announced. Players can come and go as they please but the new trophies I’m hoping will start drawing in more returning players (enough to launch a second, invite only, division).

Second, there will be expanded numbers of titled players to allow for those who return to actually achieve what they came to achieve without always being pushed down by much higher rated players that pop in and never return. The new number of combined Sapphire and Ruby Adepts will now be six and that applies to the new Chess Basho VII event forward.

Third, players will be able to earn points based on their returning statuses. So, for example, since Mmuse and King_of_Not keep coming back AND they seem to achieve the Sapphire Adept title thresholds, they won’t lose their titles to players who haven’t returned to other tournaments. Using King_of_Not as my primary example, they have participated in 3 tournaments and will have 3 points over players who have not returned in the past. Mmuse also has 3 for returning. If they both achieve the Sapphire Adept threshold in Chess Basho VI then they’ll both be given the Sapphire Adept title, which they will continue to hold as long as they return for Chess Basho IX.

But what if they don’t place in the top 6? Not placing in the top 6 would be unfortunate, but will not disqualify them. Players in the top 6 who haven’t participated in more than one tournament will not earn the Sapphire Adept title. If more players start returning more often, this point system will be reevaluated.

Finally, the tournaments will no longer begin on the same days as actual sumo tournaments. The tournaments (starting with Chess Basho VII) will begin on the first non-holiday day of the month. If participation starts ramping up, there will be a consideration for 12 tournaments a year rather than just the 6.

This is still an experiment and I’m hoping that something comes of it sooner rather than later. I’m willing to run this tournament schedule for up to three years (we’re already done with year one) to see if this is worth continuing afterwards. The concept is solid, the participation just needs to be ramped up.

Emerald Specter 104: SpecterChess Revisited

If you want to know why columns aren’t coming out like they used to then you should be aware that November is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and I have decided to participate this year… that basically eats up the extra spare time I had to write a column.

So where is this one coming from? Well, the subject of my NaNoWriMo novel this year is basically SpecterChess. I started writing and came up with some wonderful ideas that I’d like to revisit on this site, and perhaps alter SpecterChess with… so, let’s not waste anymore time.

I have an issue finishing writing projects. No, really, I do.

Yes, I know that isn’t a surprise… that was sarcasm.

Anyway, I was challenged by my friend (and author) Jason Brick (of BrickCommaJason.com) to write something I “wasn’t married to as an idea.” I chose to write about someone who wants to set up a chess league and that basically meant I was writing about SpecterChess, in a nutshell. Along the way, though, something happened.

Some writers will tell you that they aren’t necessarily in control of their characters. Non-writers will be baffled by this statement but writers understand that sometimes the characters are really the ones who are in charge of the dialog, meaning they can sometimes start talking about stuff that you hadn’t expected them to talk about at all. Sometimes, even, they bring up subjects that are completely out of left field, and in my case they can actually unveil things you weren’t sure that you wanted to do.

My characters have done that very thing.

The character who came up with the idea for SpecterChess (it’s called ICE for International Chess Experience in the novel) pitched the whole idea to his friend and unbeknownst to me came up with some formatting changes that I didn’t really take into consideration when I launched SpecterChess. The biggest one is the “divisional breaks” I used for SpecterChess: my character broke them up more evenly and with a better overall vision for them.

As I write this, SpecterChess has 10 rate divisions that are between 100 and 200 Elo points apart (with no room for being at the top of the rating maximum and going over). I initially just named them after the weight classes that the UFC uses with the addition of the unified rules of MMA inclusion of Cruiserweight. Using the names and weights, I literally just added a “0” on the end of the weight to create an Elo maximum for each division.

Sounded good at the time.

My character, though, broke them up differently and excluded anyone above 2200. Why 2200? Well, the reasoning is that anyone above that rating will be focused on “traditional chess improvement” and wouldn’t really be interested in playing in ICE at all. These players would be the ones attending all kinds of tournaments and winning prize money.

The new “Rate Classes” are as follows (with the maximum Elo in parentheses): Kilo Rate (1200), Mega Rate (1400), Giga Rate (1600), Tera Rate (1800), Peta Rate (2000), and Exa Rate (2200). If someone won their division’s championship, and they were already at the maximum rating (or very close to going over), they are given a 50 Elo buffer to defend said championship. ONLY 50 Elo points and ONLY for championships. If you’re a non-champion player and you stray over the rating limit, you’re in the higher division.

Another caveat that I came up with, which I do not personally have the funding to do, was being paid a salary for playing in ICE. The salary varied based on rate division and would only apply to those who were “ranked” contenders. That means that the champion and the top 15 players under the champion are under salary, while the rest of the competitors are not salaried players. This gives anyone a reason to try to get ranked in their divisions and gives a reason for ICE, or in my case SpecterChess, a reason to be a draw to players.

On top of a salary, every win you achieve under the ICE (or in my case SpecterChess) banner would be a bonus of a flat fee (let’s use $25 for this example). Regardless of salary, you could earn an additional $25 per win (meaning the win over the opponent and not the win of individual games). There would also be bonuses for outstanding game/match and other possible bonuses.

The characters in the novel started by forming a single division first and expanding out from there. Now, I’ve only written into the beginning of their first event, so Tera Rate is the one they started with and they established a KO tournament in order to determine a champion and 15 ranked contenders. After another event of only Tera Rate competitors, they will be starting in on another rate division (I’m thinking “down” would be smarter to go with initially, so they’d be introducing the Giga Rate division next using that line of thinking).

When I use the word “tournament,” I am speaking specifically about KO tournaments. Chess is rife with round robins (it is THE norm) and the whole point of SpecterChess is to go back to match play.

Why match play?

Well, there is no scarcity in chess anymore. Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana (the two World Chess Championship 2018 players) have played each other more than 50 times already… where’s the mystery in that? Also, with only tournament play in chess, they haven’t gotten a chance at a long run of match play like they are about to enter. There isn’t really any match play other than the WCC.

Sure, that allows all kinds of kibitzers to download all their games and overanalyze things. I also agree that tournament play isn’t necessarily a bad thing. My concern is that with ONLY tournament play, chess is becoming more an endurance product than a player v player game. Players are more concerned with their overall tournament performance and less about “that one game they drew” early on.

My goal with SpecterChess isn’t to eliminate “normal” chess tournaments, it’s to add a feature for those who aren’t in some sort of contention for the WCC. I’m creating “chess competition for the rest of us.”

I’d like to play in tournaments, sure, but I’d rather concentrate more on a single opponent at a time with a focus on seeing if I can outmatch them rather than endure an entire tournament.

The last thing that ICE is doing that I hadn’t really considered before is game time. Each game is 15 minutes per player, meaning we don’t need to worry about achieving that “perfect game” in a traditional time control. It also eliminates the stress of needing to be spectacular at blitz chess, which in my estimation can be overrated as the alternative. With 30 minute games, players have their entire set of four games (per match) in a single day, leaving the multiple day event format in the dust.

SpecterChess would literally be like the UFC in that they’d only be happening on single days. 

I would like to thank my characters for coming up with most of this and though I’ll be altering SpecterChess’s format/rules in the near future, I wanted to point out that sometimes writing takes you in weird directions.

Emerald Specter 101: Overloaded

“What the hell are you doing?”

“I’m doing what I need to do in order to get things–“

“No, you’re overloading yourself with crap that you don’t need to be messing with right now. You’re stressed out, fun things aren’t getting done anymore, and you’re losing your hair.”

“My hair is already gone.”

“Metaphorically.”

Yeah, I just talked to myself. Deal with it. I did raise a great point, though, and that is about putting too many things on my plate… shoving aside anything I hope to accomplish, period.

What I’ve put on my plate so far: writing Revelation to release as serial fiction, working on BuJourneyRPG, working on BuJoRPG, working on SpecterChess, working on the Emerald Specter Chess Club, working on digital bullet journals, pushing to get the Specter Show back up to normal, pushing to get the Greatest Show running again… 

That’s a lot of stuff to be working on. 

The important part of what I’ve accomplished in that list: nothing. I’ve got so many irons in the fire that I can’t even keep on a task. I write this column on a regular basis because I need something to keep me writing, but I’ve got hardly a drop in the bucket written in Revelation (or anything else for that matter). I have an alarm that goes off every Sunday at about 5 pm to remind me to podcast the Specter Show… and I end up skipping it because I’m usually busy working on helping my wife out in her business. I’m about ready to start emailing people for the Greatest Show… and I’ve put it off because I’m overwhelmed.

I need to make things really simple.

NaNoWriMo is coming up… that’s National Novel Writing Month, for which I’ve participated in almost seven times. I’ve “won” twice. Those were my first two participations. With the help of a friend in the Iron Writer Challenge Facebook group, I’ve been challenged to write something… anything, and we’ve both agreed that due to NaNoWriMo coming up, that is when I should write it. Jason, the owner of BrickCommaJason.com, has told me to write until the book is finished. We will see how that works out with me just doing this as a NaNo novel.

That means Revelation is sidelined… because Jason also said that whatever I ended up writing needed to be something I’m not “married to, as an idea.” Revelation is something I have been kicking around, so I’m not writing it.

The Specter Show, I can tell you right now, isn’t going to be recorded until I’ve got the correct time and figure out what the show needs to become… because what I’ve been doing isn’t enticing to anyone, I’m guessing. Updating things week after week isn’t a show I wanted to rely on… so now, it is on hold.

The Greatest Show is a different story. That has a reason, that has a format, and that has a reason to keep being made. So, rather than continually wait for things to smooth out and figure out what the hell I’m waiting for, the instant that Nurmagomedov-McGregor is over, I’m setting up shows so that we get back on the air.

Having looked around the Internet a bit, I’ve seen that I’m nowhere near the first one on the digital journal creation train. I can’t possibly have a digital journal with BuJoRPG and BuJourneyRPG built in before 2019, so I’m finishing my own digital journal and I’ll decide what I need to do to get fully operational ones on the market when I can… 

Which leads me the BuJoRPG and friends… I need a chance to clear things off my plate and look at this with fresh eyes. BuJourneyRPG is my top priority and that needs to be stepped back from and evaluated a little better. I want it to be everything it can be and I can’t do that the way I’m going forward.

I’m sorry if this was a downer. I’m sorry if you can here looking for inspiration and hope that something was getting done. 

Let me start again and actually finish something.

Emerald Specter 100: Finally

Who would have thought I’d get all the way to 100 with a column that is basically about nothing? Sure, I talk about things that are involving my life, projects, and it provides me with a place for some personal commentary, but #100?

I’m going to talk about a variety of topics, so buckle up, folks… we’re going on a ride.

If you haven’t figured out that I’m a giant Doctor Who fan by now, then you must have been visiting the wrong website for years because I loves me some Doctor Who. 

Since we are about to experience our first female Doctor in the series, there has been a bit of a divide among fans. Everyone who is an actual fan is willing to watch the show and see if Jodie Whittaker is interesting in the role (like I want to see) is in one camp… and the rest are misogynists.

Why does the Doctor have to be a man? When Tom Baker was getting ready to leave the role, he said (during an interview) that his successor could very well be a woman. That was in the late 70s/early 80s. Here we are over 30 years later and people are out there complaining about something they haven’t even seen yet.

The concept of judging something before you know what it is baffles me. Completely. It’s akin to a four year old complaining that broccoli tastes terrible when that four year old has never had broccoli.

Back to the fun stuff… 

Materializing a new season on October 7.

On October 7, 2018, Jodie Whittaker’s era of Doctor Who begins and I am so excited… more for the fact that Steven Moffat is no longer in charge than anything else, but I am genuinely interested to check out what’s in store for the new season.

Chris Chibnall, the new show runner (known previously for Broadchurch), said that there won’t be any returning villains this first season. None. There has been a heavy reliance on them over the course of this New Who and even though they seemed heavily involved in Classic Who, there is so much Classic Who it’s difficult to understand that there were many appearances because the Classic Who stuff ran for over 25 years.

I’m excited that there won’t be any Daleks.

The Daleks are, arguably, the reason that Doctor Who wasn’t cancelled way back in the 60s. They took the UK by storm and have allowed Doctor Who to develop into something we all understand today. The Daleks, however, are so over used. There have been WAY too many Dalek stories in New Who… and I’m not even talking about the ones where they make an oblique or cameo appearance, I mean Dalek stories proper.

That being said, I’m hoping Chibnall does what Moffat was incapable of doing: bringing back some of the villains that deserve some more development. I’m talking about villains like the Rani, Omega, the Black Guardian, the Meddling Monk, and Salamander.

If you don’t know who those characters are, then you have allowed Moffat to dictate to you what matters to Whovians. Let’s not forget those that had so much potential and weren’t used again because the show was cancelled (or actors died).

I’m also excited for some new monsters. So far, we’ve gotten some greats in the Gelth, the Silence, Weeping Angels, and the Vashta Nerada. There have also been some epic misses under Moffat and Davies, like the Slitheen.

We need new monsters and villains, especially some good ones. I wouldn’t even mind a couple seasons without seeing classic monsters, even though that means I’ll miss my favorite Cybermen.

I decided to make a more inclusive “sports” category than one for each of the sports I enjoy (football, soccer, sumo, MMA, racing, etc). This one will also be about more than one sport, so I’m killing a couple birds with the same stone on this one.

There is a Sumo Game that I play online every other month when the Basho is taking place. I’ve participated in 6 events, with my last two being less than desirable results. I’m hoping to get better at this and return to winning ways, because I like the way things are run there and the game is generally fun.

I have also witnessed a fair amount of change since I’ve been watching sumo again. While I was paying attention way back (when ESPN was running it), you’d see nearly all the same people at all their same ranks time and time again. It was good but there wasn’t much movement (or at least that is what I perceived at the time). Now? I’ve gotten to see someone become a Yokozuna, seen at least two new Ozekis, and there is massive movement in the top division.

Having access to someone posting the events on YouTube (Kintamayama) is also a huge help, because I get to see every day and all the events in their entirety rather than only catching a broad recap from a major network.

On the soccer front, I’ve been watching more Manchester United on the NBC Sports app (at least until this weekend, when they’ve started peddling their overpriced “Gold” garbage). The last time I got to watch this much Manchester United they were flying high under Sir Alex Ferguson… my, how we’ve fallen.

I also have the look like I don’t understand the hype of Mourinho, too.

Manchester United has gone from a “score when it counts” type of team to a “score once and hope the other team doesn’t score” mentality. Jose Mourinho is no Sir Alex and I’m worried that the club is going to falter for another decade before figuring out what to do in his wake.

I’ll keep watching and hoping they finish with a Premiership Championship again soon but I’m realistic enough to understand that probably isn’t going to happen for at least another two or three years.

The 25th Anniversary marks a rough patch for the UFC as well as a milestone.

I’ve been watching more UFC lately, as well as more One Championship and more Invicta FC. In a bizarre sequence of events, my interest in each company has taken some weird turns to return me to a place where I thought things might not work out so well for the UFC… but they will… ish.

There is a column on this site about the UFC seeing a loss in interest coming on the horizon. While I still feel strongly about the ESPN deal being terrible for the UFC, I don’t really think they have the competition that I thought they did only a couple of months ago.

In a bizarre turn, the One Championship organization has started doing some really weird things with their events. They are, for Western audiences, essentially the UFC of the east. One is WAY more popular in Asia than UFC, to the point that some Asian Continent residents don’t even know what the UFC is… 

What weird things, you ask? How about scheduling a headlining fight containing the WBC Super Flyweight Champion Srisasket Sor Rungvasai battling Iran Diaz. Regular, boring ass boxing as the MAIN EVENT of an MMA organization card? What the actual fuck is going on? Am I in bizarro world?

The whole reason I enjoy MMA is because it isn’t boring ass boxing. Boxing, where the waistline has crept up to just under the nipples, is sluggish and very awkward to watch. There is a lot of hugging that happens and not in the fun, punch someone in the face kind of way like MMA.

Why would you schedule a boxing main event on an MMA card?

One has also been doing kickboxing on a regular basis lately, too… as well as Muy Thai, and other fringe (I use that to mean not large scale) style fights. I was okay with a little kickboxing, but if One is going to turn into a “we are just combat sports, not MMA” then I’m probably going to start watching more UFC… 

Until the ESPN, that is… because I’m not paying ESPN to watch UFC.

I will be posting the Chess Basho VI: November Basho in the next few days, which will mark the first basho where I’m not going to be participating. As I write this, I am in dead last of the Chess Basho V event and I’ve decided that maybe it’s time for me to let the others go… and maybe, hopefully, get some advancements through the system as a result.

There is an ulterior motive in this “retirement,” too.

Last column I mentioned that I’d like to start reviewing ALL of my chess games, and that means I’m hoping to go for events and opponents that will help me improve. As of last night (the day I am writing this), I beat a 1400+ player in an event because I decided to try something different (rather than going with the knee jerk reaction move). Look, I’m already learning.

The idea of reviewing every rated Chess.com game is to see, in real time, my advancement through the ratings and how I am either getting better or worse… because, I am currently “better” but I expect a dip in the near future.

I am also (already) looking at dropping the SpecterChess events from weekly to bi-monthly (every other week). If I’m reviewing every single one of my games (single, one off games as well as tournament play), then I can probably keep up the pace… but with the current mode of how I’m doing things, I am having issues finding similarly rated opponents.

Time will tell.

The Greatest Show will be returning. This week, not next week or the week after, is when I’m going to start recruiting guests. I’ve got Kirby Krackle interested in joining me, Dan Berry (the creator of Verdacomb and TOFUzilla), and possibly even Dirk Manning. These may be at the “normal” Saturday evening time, or in the case of Dirk (for example), I’ll be having it whenever I can.

As far as whether the other hosts will be joining me for these is entirely up to their availability. In a similar vein, I’ll also be bringing back the shows WITHOUT special guests because I want to get back to talking geeky with other folks on a semi-regular basis.

The Specter Show has not been recorded in a few weeks, again… I’m getting ready to put out episodes of other things in that feed, so there will be content coming. I have some prep to do before that happens, though.

Once again, I’m going into a holiday season without an idea of how things are going to work out. I’m in a new office at work, on a new route, and unfamiliar with the “holiday season” of my new route, I’m expecting to be overwhelmed.

I’m retiring from this new office, in 15 or so years, so I’ll get a feeling for how the holiday will work out in the future. Knowing that after this year, I’m hopeful that planning can be done for the things I like to do.

See you all for #101!