This is a tale of epic failure… but all hope is not lost.
When I recorded the first SpecterChess, I did so with the intention of only having audio to distribute. I used screen recording software and thought I might also get away with putting out video.
That was a problem.
The video / audio quality got corrupted somehow and I was trying to salvage as much as I could, obviously making me VERY behind. At one point, I even lost the file entirely (totally unusable, not “couldn’t find it”). I had a backup on a different hard drive and stopped futzing with the video and just tried getting the audio. Another failure.
Going back to the original backup, I’m going to be pulling off the audio without any attempt at restoring any issues. I’m not going to edit in the music or other sound effects, either. There was going to be a big production. I WILL be releasing SpecterChess 1 in as rough a form as it is because I’ve spent months fighting this issue.
I’m going to set expectations, too… this might be the only SpecterChess to be released. I have more time to work with stuff but there’s been so much that has gone into this that I’m sapped (even so much as I’ve timed out on no less than 20 games of chess because I was so focused on getting this thing up and running). I’m not totally set to give up on it but I’m also realistic enough to understand that it probably isn’t going to be what I wanted it to be…
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.
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.
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.
SpecterChess 3 sees DJ Allen return to the Straw Rate division against fellow countryman Gary Daniels. Who will come out on top in the second Straw Rate battle? Subscribe to the podcast and check back on this site for more information!
You were all beginning to wonder if this column was coming, weren’t you? There is a milestone coming up and I wanted to make sure that I pushed myself to get back to writing at least once a week, as well as other things.
Why don’t we get things started?
The time of year when packages start flowing like water is fast approaching and that normally means my time is going to start shrinking for other things. Work is work but that doesn’t mean I can’t be doing things outside of that.
I had popped back in to podcast about a week or two ago for the first time in months. There hasn’t been another show, as this column has been written, but I’m going to be recording a few of them in the next week or two.
Why? Well, I need to start the Specter Show back up full time and I also need to start banking the SpecterChess episodes so that I’m ahead of the game. Speaking of chess…
The Emerald Specter Chess Club is about to start moving along without me actively playing. All ESCC events, at present, are set up like sumo basho events and I’m personally finding it hard to keep competing with the wide variety of different playing strengths that tend to sign up for these things.
I’m going to keep running the events, but I’ll be essentially “retiring” from the ESCC basho play. As of this writing, Chess Basho V: September 2018 is currently running, with only two more banners created for the future… I do plan on continuing to run the bashos until it catches on. The next one is already on the horizon:
Most of the reason I’m going to “retire” from the ESCC active play is SpecterChess. I’ve stated that the rating is only a number but rather than have my own rating fluctuate all over the place between SpecterChess events, I’m going to start reviewing all opponents… and that means I’m also going to be needing to not play so many “non-reviewed” games.
SpecterChess 1 has been announced formally, and you’ll start seeing each event from here on out announced weekly. I’ve got a format for how I’m releasing all these and I need to stick to it in order to be ahead of the game. Honestly, if I don’t get ahead of this, the SpecterChess events will probably go from weekly to monthly and that with slow things down too much, in my opinion.
There haven’t been anymore sign ups for this, yet, but I’m confident that I’ll get the audience I’m looking for by perseverance.
Ah, the thing that most people come to this site for: BuJoRPG. I’ve made a little progress on things but I want to take a step back and talk about a recent email that really made me think.
Someone who lives fairly close to me, generally speaking, asked if there would be anything BuJoRPG related that wouldn’t involve combat. She asked for, literally, a “female version of BuJoRPG.”
I had to take a step back to look at things before I answered.
RPGs, roleplaying games, are generally “armor up and physically combat” enemies. The BuJoRPG is less about outside sources of combat but still involves a sort of combat. The original version is more about self improvement and is really about conquering your personal hangups, but BuJourneyRPG was going to be more story driven.
It was also going to involve various amounts of combat.
Thinking about the process, the “lady BuJoRPG” for the original would be dropping a template for it that didn’t involve the standard RPG tropes. That is easy enough and has now become the number one next release for BuJoRPG (version 1). But I didn’t want to limit myself there…
BuJourneyRPG has always been envisioned as being a “go here, fight that” type thing. I’m in the process of writing up the combat rules and combat will definitely be a heavy component of making successes. So, to “girl-ify” BuJourneyRPG, what would I need to do?
Looking at the situation as a whole, I really had to put thought into what I’d need to do to remove combat. It’s essential in BuJourneyRPG. I did come up with a theory, though, and that is a simple modification… to the definition.
Combat is actually a conflict towards a resolution. So, essentially, combat doesn’t need to be physical.
In BuJourneyRPG, you have four attributes that you’ll need to work on in order to balance out your life. Those are Physical, Mental, Social, and Emotional attributes. Each one of them can be involved in combat… and now combat is expanded a little.
With the first attribute, Physical can still include actual standard RPG combat. Swords, shields, battling opponents, and winning the day. In the case of the other three attributes, though, combat is completely different. Mental combat can be working out puzzles, Social combat can be conversational in nature (rather than physical), and Emotional combat can be things like meditation. Combat doesn’t need to be the default thought when someone says “combat.”
The request adds another dimension to the BuJoRPG situation that I think will make things far more interesting for those using the system. I’m really glad I got that email.
The Specter Show will be getting back into full swing soon… and I’m going to be doing all those things that I said I would be doing before, meaning that the Specter Show is going to largely become an eclectic collection of audio experiments and may even form into some sort of narrative as things go on.
One thing I’m not going to change until I reach the end, though, is naming the shows after Nine Inch Nails songs.
SpecterChess has taken over the old PRO Chess League podcast feed and won’t stop until they need to in order to reach a proper end (or, I hope, someone else will pick up the flag and run with it when I’m done). Once I get closer to the event narrowcasts, I’ll remove the old PRO Chess League shows and it’ll only be SpecterChess. I might be inclined to include ESCC reviews in the feed, too, but that isn’t going to be anytime soon.
The return of the Greatest Show is on the horizon, kids. After having attended Rose City Comic Con a little over a week ago, I’ve got a few people I’ll be hitting up to come on the show, as well as getting the crew together more often for shows. There is a caveat with this, though… we won’t have a solid recording time again.
Way back when Bob and I launched the Greatest Show, we literally just recorded when we had time and posted the shows. Fast forward five years and we’ve been stuck in a rut with only appearing live on Saturday nights… that used to happen weekly but we’ve lapsed because lives have gotten in the way. We are going to be returning to the “recording when it works” model.
Live viewership will probably be next to nothing, which is what needs to happen to make this work. I’ll entice the listening and viewing of the show, though, by returning to the giveaways again. I have given away a free box of stuff to Tab from Ohio and I’d like to give away more.
I have written exactly nothing since the last Specter Show. My ability to sit down and write has been replaced by sitting and doing things to help my wife fill orders for her business.
Honestly, money making projects come first, so I don’t actually mind too much. If you want me to put more effort into this site’s output, I have a Patreon link to the right you can click on… which means I’ll need to start posting the content there (I’ve been a little lax).
I’ve been thinking of my serial fiction that will be released as a “series,” in the vein of a TV show. There are serial works I’m simmering on the back burner that I’ve termed “one shots,” like movies, and while I was cleaning up something on my computer the other day, it dawned on me that all my serial fiction projects are one shots.
See if you follow me.
If I am writing an urban fantasy serial fiction (I’ll call it Street Wizards for this example) with the idea that it’s a TV show, I’m inclined to think of the project as open ended and more “episodic.” Sure, things can stitch together and there is probably a larger arc going on, but it’s really being less cohesive and digestible in smaller chunks.
If I am writing Street Wizards as a one shot and releasing it, still, as serial fiction, then there is a bigger plan at work. The one shot means there is one large and cohesive story running through the whole project without the consideration for whether or not there will be a sequel.
I’d started writing my first work as a one shot and the second one as a series. I like the first one a whole lot better so far.
On the Specter Show, and in a past column, I mentioned that I was writing the fiction in solid 1,000 word chunks with the intent of writing to 80,000 words. Well, folks, that isn’t a good way to format this (seeing as the first story has progressed to about 1/3 of the way into the story and is sitting at around 6,000 words).
The first story isn’t going to have an 80,000 word run. I know that now.
My first serial fiction story is called “Revelation,” which will be released in larger chunks than 1,000 words and will run as long as it needs to in order to finish telling the story.
Now that I’ve announced it and released the cover image, maybe I’ll get back into this thing and do it up right.
First things first, I need to go back and add in more context and content to what I’ve written, because 6,000 words and being a 1/3 of the way through the story isn’t quite what I was looking to do. There was a lot of descriptiveness that I skipped over in order to get to that point and I’d like to go back and add in that descriptiveness.
My goal with Revelation is to release between 2,000 and 5,000 words at a time. That isn’t too long, it isn’t too short, and should be interesting enough to keep people coming back to check out the next segment. Revelation is a literal one shot, as in when the story is over there isn’t anything else to tell. There is a beginning, a middle, and a solid end. Once you read the whole thing you’ll understand why that is a thing.
Once that is finished (the writing), I’ll read through and make sure I have no spelling errors and grammar makes complete sense. After that, I’ll start releasing the fiction weekly in as many parts as is necessary. Once the release schedule is set up, then I’ll start writing the second serial fiction, which may allow for sequels… unlike Revelation.
This is the last “Journal” entry. The column, as announced on the last Specter Show, will return to just being called “Emerald Specter.” I’m going to be moving to making an individual cover image for each edition, and I started with this one. I liked the comic book theme and decided to shrink it to fit the dimensions of the website more.
Sitting down and writing these columns is cathartic. I get tings in order, I get enthusiastic about doing the things I say I’m going to do, and I an motivated to get things moving right away.
I’ve been dragging my feet a little on the digital journal and that is going to be worked on heavily over the next couple of weeks. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but I should be a lot further along than I am.