Tag Archives: Emerald Specter Chess Club

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!

Journal of the Emerald Specter 99: Getting Back in the Groove

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.

For now, thanks for reading.

Journal of the Emerald Specter 90: Chess Basho Roundup

Before I get into the nitty gritty, I’m going to be covering ALL of the Chess Basho stuff in this column. There will be a mini-history, a recap of the first two Chess Bashos (the unnumbered ones), and then I’ll cover Chess Basho III and IV (I’m hoping that by the time this posts that Chess Basho III will be over).

Let’s get to the good stuff.

I had an idea that I thought was worth exploring. That idea turned into combining the competition of sumo with the game of chess. Thus Chess Basho was born. The Emerald Specter Chess Club (the rules are here, and the running posts about what else is going on can be found here) was created on Chess.com to organize a regular series of tournaments to allow for people who will never be called “Grandmaster” or “International Master” to have a chance at earning other titles.

As of this post, only two others have joined the club to pursue this. It should be noted only members of the ESCC can hold the titles.

Chess Basho I, originally known as Emerald Specter Winter 2018 Basho, was the January 2018 event that introduced everyone to the system. Including myself, there were 12 players that jumped in to compete and much to my delight, there were more than a few strong players who entered the tournament. The results were as follows: WINNER Alexin2 (21), Nikbasketball12 (19.5),  Sim_zama (14), dukenukem123 (13), tom36adams (12), pantheon-67 (11), AlCzervik (11), ANTE1990 (11), OlegMalikov1965 (9.5), mancroft (5), EmeraldSpecter (5), and bespaly (0). The top four were initially made Sapphire Adepts but haven’t returned to competition.

Chess Basho II, originally know as Emerald Specter 2018 March Basho, was the March 2018 event that saw no one return but competition was just as fierce. No Adept titles were granted from this as there was some interest to return from the original group but I’d opened the tournament up to the world and it filled too fast. The results were as follows: WINNER ArturFaust (21), homozzapien (20.5), anujvaniya78692 (15.5), biraandrada (14), King_of_Not (13), ardirahendro (13), Aurel1954 (12.5), Fredl1963 (9), EmeraldSpecter (7), PietroSalem (4), sarotaromchuen (0), and vedantachess07 who withdrew.

Having communicated with the original group and the second group, almost no one wanted to return for a regular cycle of events. Their interest was primarily in a tournament that was quick (1 move per day) and they weren’t interested in what I was trying to accomplish… which is completely fine. It was learning this that I instituted the requirement to be a member of the Emerald Specter Chess Club to be promotable, getting automatically invited, and getting notified when new tournaments opened up. Two players joined, only one of which had previously competed: King_Of_Not.

Chess Basho III, fully known as Chess Basho III: May 2018, saw a full roster of players jump in to compete, including the three members of the ESCC (I am, of course, a member). As of this writing, only two players have the chance to win the whole thing: syibil (currently at 19 points with one game to complete) and FlashyFerrari (currently at 16.5 points with four games to complete). King_Of_Not will be promoted to Sapphire Adept for achieving 11.5 points, while both Mmuse and EmeraldSpecter (myself) failed to achieve the 11 point requirement. King_Of_Not is the first person to actually have a shot at being the first Ruby Adept after the next tournament.

As Chess Basho III stands, I have a chance at increasing my points to 7.5 if I can win my final game, which will again be higher than my previous finish. I’ve noticed that my games are all over the place with how I’m performing (I beat some higher rated opponents but lose to much lower rated opponents just as often). I am going to compete in the Chess Basho system until at least the end of 2018, if I fail to achieve an Adept title by that point, I’ll likely step aside to allow 12 other players to compete without the founder in the way.

Since July is fast approaching, I announced the Chess Basho IV event with a pretty new banner and a start date of July 8, 2018:Both King_Of_Not and I have joined already and I’ll be opening up the signups to everyone on July 1 or the end of Chess Basho III, which ever occurs first.

Hopefully everything keeps going super smooth for a long time, though I’m also hoping for membership to start picking up.

I am going to be devising a means of advertising the ESCC more broadly. I feel that there is a lack of exposure that is hindering the club and the goal of the club, which means I just need to get the thing out there and up front.

I’m also interested in creating a match play league, which wouldn’t rely so heavily on membership but could definitely drum up at least a little interest if done right. The details are still in the air a bit, but if you’re struggling to think of an analogue for match play, consider thinking about the UFC. One vs one. There would be an altered point system to encourage fighting to the end (i.e. no draws) and I’m interested in building mini-events around them.

Let’s get the Chess Basho system working fully, though.

Journal of the Emerald Specter 87: Fixing Chess

The title is really a misnomer, sort of… I really mean “how to fix chess to be closer to a spectator sport than it currently is” and you can already see that title is too long. So, I shortened it.

I’ve got a story to tell, it’ll be less about just that sixth grade chess club (though that will definitely be included) and be more rounded to my entire chess experience. Come take a walk down memory lane as I lead up to the meaty part of the column.

I learned to play chess in the sixth grade and was part of, for lack of a better term, a chess club that ran itself like the WWE of the 80s. I call this the 6CC (Sixth Grade Chess Club). We had a World Championship for the top tier, an Intercontinental Championship for the second tier, and we had ourselves a really good time. Some of us got better as time went on and some of us didn’t.

I was a someone who got better.

Without getting into the minutia of how everything went down, I personally ended up as the club’s final World Champion before the end of the year. I took that championship into the “next wave” of the club, which was smaller and operated slightly different, but held on to the excitement we had all experienced. The new club went forward with everyone on the same level, and those who weren’t quite up to snuff for a championship run were helped to get better so they could have their own runs as champions.

We were an all inclusive and collaborative bunch.

The next wave club lasted twice as long as the first one but still suffered a pseudo-death. I wasn’t the one to end up with the championship for this transition but the guy who did wouldn’t last long into the newest club before I was once again the champion.

This newest club, which I’ll call the last club, was really composed of a hard core group from the first and second groups (because a few from each group joined) and we ran closer to what an actual chess club with a champion would run like… we had a couple of tournaments, we had some championships among the best few players good enough to hold it (I was one of them), and we ended when all but one player (yup, me) left the group.

Instead of thinking that no one was interested, you should be aware that the others left school (all of these clubs were based in my small home town) and some moved to different towns to go to different schools.

My final year of high school, I helped form the World Chess Organization (WCO), and the WCO decided that there would be a two player match for the WCO World Championship. I won’t embarrass the runner up with publicizing his name, but I won a “best of 13” by winning all 7 games.

I won the WCO World Championship on April 24, 1994 and defended it almost 10 ten times in three countries (Puerto Rico, Japan, and the United States) with contenders from over five nationalities (Greece, England, Philippines, Mexico, and Canada). The reign was not unbroken, I did lose the championship to the Filipino (and regained it). Except for three months, I was the WCO World Champion from April 24, 1994 until July 24, 2004… when I retired the championship and ended the WCO.

Now, I’d love to continue the WCO but I’m not a 2800 rated player. I’m not even a 2000 rated player. I have, though, been trying to figure out how to recapture that exciting feeling when I was back in that first chess club.

There have been many attempts to exactly recreate the chess club but each and every attempt has failed. Some times the failure was due to a misunderstanding about what the “club” was about, sometimes there was a lack of participation, and there have also been disruptors that basically sought to undermine the entire effort because they didn’t believe in it. (To that last point, why did they bother joining? I cannot answer that.

There have been a few different variations of the club attempt: straight up WWE style (again), something more akin to how boxing operates, a tournament series (akin to NASCAR), and some other options too numerous to list.

Then I made a connection with something I love that seems to have taken hold.

Merging sumo and chess, putting a time control on this that puts a little pressure on the participants, seems to have made an impact. The Emerald Specter Chess Club on Chess.com hasn’t gotten a full roster of players yet, but we’re only three events in and things are working.

The time control is a 1 day per move and if I had the time, I believe running an even shorter time control for a single day 12 times a year would probably get more steady attention.

The concept is to give an interesting competition for players who may never have a chance at a Master, International Master, or Grandmaster title in their lives. I’d like to see this go through as a bigger “organization,” modeled to have our own versions of Yokozunas (Diamond Adepts) headlining and hopefully eventually going on to do something more than they thought possible.

I’ve been evaluating what I’ve done so far and seeing what else might be able to be done with this format. Would it be popular enough to get a sponsor and maybe some modest prize money for the winners? Ideally, that would be great and then transitioning into more of a known entity… like the PRO Chess League.

The PRO Chess League took rapid chess and put a team play spin on it. Basically, this is the NFL of chess.

This doesn’t necessarily make chess a spectator sport. So, isn’t that what I told you I was going to talk about? Yes, and I needed all that to start talking about it now.

Every one of the clubs I was a part of in school had an audience for the chess matches. Every time I defended the WCO World Championship there was an audience for the chess matches. Every game played in the Chess Basho system in the ESCC has an audience for the matches.

Do you know who the audience was for each and every one of those? Chess players.

You’re probably thinking to yourself “of course, who else would be interested?”

THAT’S THE POINT.

I have been evaluating what I have been trying to do and how to make that fit into the vision of what I ultimately have been working towards.

The biggest obstacle is figuring out how to get the average joe interested in watching chess. I do not have the answer to this question and I know that is an unsatisfying ending to this column but I have learned something from all of this: if you want to build something for the masses, you need to start building for the players first.

Chess PLAYERS want some expert analysis while events are going on. Spectators that aren’t well versed in chess may not understand the analysis and are more just looking for a “what’s happening” type recap.

What else would the common person want from chess? This is what stumps me.

Part of the problem is over saturation. Magnus Carlsen, current World Champion, playing Fabiano Caruana, current next contender for the championship, isn’t big news in and of itself. Why? They’ve both played each other, I’m guessing, over a hundred times. Where’s the excitement in that?

Every active player in the top 100 of FIDE is similar. You have played everyone you’re ranked with at several tournaments already, you’ll probably play them a couple of hundred more times before your stint in the top 100 is done, and the only thing that matters is “how did that particular day go?”

The other killer for chess as a spectator sport is the time control. There is no reason to play a single game for 8 hours. Not a single reason. The PRO Chess League went with a much shorter time control and it makes the games more exciting because you know you aren’t going to be sitting around for 6 more hours waiting for a result.

Fixing these things is exactly as easy and changing the situation to elicit the results that you want. Sounds simple, right?

Do you want shorter chess games with vastly more activity? Make the time controls 15 minutes or shorter.

Do you want less drawn games? Score wins much larger than draws, maybe even going so far as to reward losses more than draws to cut them down.

Do you want to see games less frequently between the same people to make their meeting far more anticipated? That is something that would need to be figured out…

I made lots of references to the WWE style organization we used for the 6CC. When people hear or read “WWE” all they can think about is predetermined results and chair shots. There are two better references that can be made this two decades later that would be better analogies: UFC and poker.

I’ll start with poker.

Professional poker is a series of tournaments leading to a final tournament to determine the winner of the year. It’s kind of like NASCAR in the respect you have to win your way to the end, then win again at the end. The problem with poker is that you have multiple organizations claiming dominance and running their own tournaments irregardless of what the others are doing. ESPN shows the World Series of Poker, which some regard as THE championship, while Travel Channel as the World Poker Tour, which I believe is presented far more interestingly than what ESPN does. Personal preference, really.

If you’re interested in keeping the format a series of tournaments and running through to crown an ultimate winner at the end, this is definitely the scenario for you. In fact, don’t even limit the field of competitors… start the cycle out a hundred “qualification” tournaments all over the world, open to anyone. If you qualify from those, you get to then enter the next level and try to keep going from there. The field gets smaller and smaller as the year progresses until you reach a final tournament at the end to crown your champion. The later stages of the cycle are also where you’ll see the top players hang out as they’re really good at chess.

You could also use a point system to allow for advancement. Wins could be 5 points, losses could be 2 points, and draws could be 1 point. This encourages the players to actually play to win because right now “draw” is the word that you hear most often in results. The top 1024 point earners from the qualification rounds to advance into the heat of the competitions? Use the points.

Now, let’s talk about the UFC.

The UFC signs players to contracts, the best of the best in the world, to offer them a series of fights that heightens the excitement of the company as well as enriches the status of the fighters. Due to the fact that this is a combat sport, scarcity is a necessity… but the UFC doesn’t limit those who want to be really active and are healthy (see Donald Cerrone). They have multiple divisions for fighters to compete in based on their weight and they promoted the bejesus out of events to make sure they draw in the crowds.

Personally, I love the UFC and the way they do things. They get fighters scheduled to fight and let them smack talk each other the whole process, leading to the eventual fight to resolve the matter. WWE used to do this type of thing but their model is vastly different now.

This model, like the 6CC, would rely on some scarcity. In this scenario, ratings don’t matter… in fact, don’t even publicize the ratings of any of the players that sign on to this scenario. Group players in different categories so that super strong players aren’t taking on less competitive players. Behind the scenes, use the ratings to group them up… maybe in 200-300 rating point increments. Ideally, you’d allow for a little overlap per “division” so that someone who is getting better can opt up rather than be stuck in a division because they can’t find the competition to help them excel.

Yes, I’m saying keep ratings behind the scenes but don’t let the public know them. If John Doe is rated 1753 and Bill Fold is rated 1562, the potential spectators would know that Bill Fold’s chances are very low. If Art Work is the Gold Division Champion and his opponent, Jim Shoe, has played his way through some exciting games for a shot at the title, this is a scenario that would garner more interest because you aren’t focusing on the number. Sure, Art Work could be 1612 and Jim Shoe could be 1599… that could even be a selling point under normal circumstances, but keeping those numbers unpublicized makes the potential much greater (and if the players don’t know the exact strengths of their opponents, that eliminates them mentally beating themselves if their rating is lower).

Arrange matches (two game matches, one with white and one with black) to determine winners and losers. Use the point system from the poker example to keep draws almost non-existent (or use points per winning with white and black pieces specifically, same thing with draws… that would also be a winning combination to keep the draw counts down and allow for players to play for the win). Get players to “sign” for the organization to compete in so many matches, like the UFC, so that if the player wants to go on and do something else (or more traditional), they aren’t locked in for an indeterminate amount of time (but do have to participate a minimum number of games).

Hype the matches. Have the players do some smack talking about their opponents right up until the match. Even UFC fighters hug after the fight, showing their opponent respect. Chess players can do that, too. Really drive up the potential value of a, let’s say, blitz match between two championship contenders. Yes, they’d be ranked, which is another way to get them interested in smack talking and competing for ranking. The ranking and opponent’s rank could determine the prize fund (a #1 vs an unranked player might draw $100, whereas a #4 vs #7 would draw $300 because ranked players playing would be more interesting).

There is something I haven’t said in this column that would affect almost all of these ideas. Ratings are that subject.

Nothing I’ve talked about up to this point involves anyone rated higher than 2200. I’d even go so far as to say that you’re probably looking at a rating cap of 1800. The reasons for that may not be entirely obvious but they’re completely valid.

A player with a 2200 rating has a more “traditional” view of chess and would be less interested in the showmanship of what I’ve talked about. Players with 1800 ratings and up are more interested in studying games, figuring out how to improve their games, and are interested in competing for traditional prizes in traditional tournaments against other traditionally minded players.

On the lower end, players rated 1000 to 1300 seem to be more open to some shenanigans during their play. I have a regular game against a 1300-ish player that results in some fun back and forth while we play. We haven’t gone overboard with straight up smack talk but the potential is there. I’m also under the belief that players in the 1400 and 1500 range might also be willing to participate, as they’re in that “I’m not good enough for top ranked play but I’m better than casual games.”

The reason for the rating limit is to encourage those who aren’t really in any danger of winning any prizes to participate in something that will draw some attention to the game for someone who doesn’t necessarily play. I’m willing to lay money down on the bet that if you have an event (a single player v single player match, or maybe a couple of those) played at a faster time control with a whole bunch of smack talk leading up the actual games, on top of the event being promoted like a UFC fight, that you’d get non-chess players at least moderately interested. This draws attention to the game, allows players who are interested in doing something a little more on the “fun” side of the game to participate, and gives those interested in learning chess a platform to jump onto that isn’t a traditional “stuffy chess scene.”

I believe these ideas have merit. I believe that with the right group of people that a successful organization could rise up to bring chess to a wider audience. I believe that if some effort was put into these ideas that, if nothing else, could be a way for lower rated players to feel like their accomplishing something great, even though they may never reach a 2000 rating.

Isn’t that worth giving a shot?

Journal of the Emerald Specter 83: Building Bigger

The title of this blog doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m going to be changing a bunch of things up. I wanted to leave the title vague enough to be able to accommodate a lot of options, while I’m not necessarily going to be speaking about making anything actually larger, the idea is that I’m going to be talking about what I’m doing and where things will be going.

If you haven’t listened to the Specter Show (episode 49), then maybe you want to… I explain a little bit about things.

Since this is a readable blog post, though, I’m more interested in where I’m going to be pointing for the majority of the topics here. I’ll be covering a lot of stuff here, so why don’t I go ahead and get things rolling.

I tried something new with the naming scheme of the Specter Show but it didn’t take when I downloaded the episode myself. The next time I’ll have to rename the entire post to see if that works, which means the graphics identifying the episode will need to be spot on for the download. The idea is to remove the show name from the title and just have the episode number and episode title.

This isn’t the only thing I want to talk about with this particular section.

The Specter Show has long not really had a focus. I’m going to be catching up on the numbering of where I should be after more than a year of recording and to do that I’m going to be doing some different types of episodes. There will be a little bit of BuJoRPG and BuJourneyRPG updates, which have become the centerpiece of the podcast, but there will also be some fiction read by myself (which fulfills the hope that I might someday get to record audiobooks).

Those will start as short story readings of public domain properties and possibly morph into (hopefully) writing and reading my own fiction.

Will the fiction reading take over the podcast completely? No. If things go well enough, or if there is enough interest in me continuing, then I’d spin the podcast off into its own thing.

Included with those above things, I’ve got two other projects that I’m looking to include into the rotation that I’m super interested in developing. The first one is a “funny news” podcast that I’ve written a script for (the first episode only), and as long as the news still isn’t out of date, I’ll be including that one real soon. Assuming that there is interest in continuing that, it would also eventually get its own podcast feed.

The second one is a little bit more complicated. Rather than having a weekly feed for this particular idea, I’m angling at more of a monthly show release schedule instead. What I’m talking about will require a somewhat in depth explanation… so here it is:

The Freemasons have a slogan that has always interested me: “We take good men and make them better.” In order to accomplish this, they have a set of lessons wrapped in allegory to teach those men how to be more well rounded. They call it “finding more light,” but whatever you call it, they’re teaching people about ideals and virtues that everyone should generally have. I’d like to research these allegorical lessons and turn them into a long form informational podcast.

Before you roll your eyes and start thinking about baby sacrifices, Illuminati plots, butt sex rituals, or any of the other conspiratorial things you associate with the Freemasons. None of that is true and believing it without proof makes you silly and ridiculous for believing things without proof. If you want to believe in conspiracies, then what I just laid out isn’t going to be for you, anyways. Just 15 minutes of research on Freemasonry without paying any attention to the Satan linking idiots out there taught me a hell of a lot, maybe others wouldn’t be so taken with conspiracies if there was some common sense involved in the research.

What I’ve laid out are items that I’d like to include JUST in the Specter Show, and if they’re interesting enough to folks, spin them out into their own podcasts.

I’m also going to talk about the Greatest Show. With all the hosts but myself, my wife, and Metal Jesus showing up on a regular basis, I’m trying to figure out how to adapt the show into the future. This means the infrequency of the podcast will continue until I figure that out.

The guest rotation thing, including people that I want to interview of just generally have a conversation with will be on the show at irregular times while I try to figure out what’s next.

I play the Sumo Game, where you pick who will win and lose each day of the 15 day sumo tournament (or basho). I’ve only competed in three bashos so far and I’ve managed to have a kachikoshi (more wins than losses) each time. The goal is to eventually become a Yokozuna (Grand Champion), just like real sumo.

I’d like to get more people playing, more people interested in sumo, and more attention to the sport that is far more nuanced than most people understand. Personally, I’ve only really followed THE true sumo in the Japanese Sumo Association, where the best of the best compete.

Much like Kintamayama, where I catch most of my “digest” style recaps of each day’s action, I’d like to have my own little sumo competition going on like he does on his own site. He was a Yokozuna for a time on the Sumo Game site, I don’t think he needed to start his own but it always helps to have a system for building up something from a common source.

Speaking about bashos, the Emerald Specter Chess Club on chess.com is the place for a merger of sumo and chess.

The first basho was a hit, the second basho was a hit… there have only been two people to sign up to be a part of the “permanent” rotation, so the cycle will continue to happen with the two other members, myself, and a slew of random folks.

The goal, of course, is to have a steady group of “top division players” to then start expanding out in order to build up a regular competition and maybe even get some attention of some big time players to want to compete (and by “big time,” I’m talking about titled players who aren’t in the top 100 but want to do something that is a little different than “normal.”

I’ve been jotting a few things down in the last few weeks. Some of those jottings have been about things to include into the website, and of course, some of those jottings have been about fiction. I’m not going to do a lot of talking about the things to include on the website, so this will be more about the fiction.

The “Journal of the Emerald Specter” that is currently on it’s 83rd iteration, has formed out of the original “Emerald Specter” column that I was writing and has evolved over the years that I’ve been writing it… what it currently is and where it appears to be going doesn’t really seem to fit with what things were way back when. If you went back to read the original column, then you’d see that there was more of a commentary going on than anything informational. I also had some legacy things going on from other columns I had written in the past (see: Think on it.).

With writing fiction, I’d like to have some of that see the light of day. Serial fiction is a big deal these days, see SerialTeller and SerialBox for examples, and if I wrote some short stories, I could release that on the site. I’m going to start by writing short stories and include those into a column rather than releasing them separately (or maybe separately AND inside another column).

I’m rambling a little on this because I’ve contemplated either renaming this column with a focus or, in the fashion of both Marvel and DC, relaunch the new column in a “new #1 issue.” I still like that idea, but we’ll see if that catches any traction with me over the next week.

I’m going to be hiring someone to work on this website. It’s going to remain a WordPress site but I’m going to be getting a custom framework built that I can update the graphics on periodically to keep things fresh. While what I have going on right now isn’t terrible or in need of updating, I am looking into the future for the next version of this site.

The thing you do as a web designer (which I can’t technically say I am anymore since I haven’t physically coded one in over a decade) is change things and that normally involves planning ahead. I’m simply talking about planning ahead.

See you.

Journal of the Emerald Specter 82: Chess Basho UPDATE!

Are you interested in a chess tournament that happens six times a year with a one move per day time control? Are you interested in competing against no less than 11 other players to fight for titles in a sumo-style tournament brawl?

Well, the Emerald Specter Chess Club is for you, then.

And to make life better, here is an update on what’s happened so far in the world of the ESCC.

The Emerald Specter 2018 Winter Basho, also known as the 2018 January Basho, concluded in February and saw the first set of “Sapphire Adepts” added to the list. This led to mass invitations out to the original players with a shot at new players getting involved for the Emerald Specter 2018 March Basho. The tournament hadn’t been “invitation only,” and the original players never really got a shot to return for the second tournament as a whole new batch of players flew in to snatch up the spots.

That leads us to where we are now, with players interested in continuing to build and play while others still wanting in (yes, I’ve gotten requests for inclusion in the future).

First things first, though, let me state that ESCC competitors should sign up to the ESCC group on Chess.com in order to be considered for the tournaments that are invitation only. After 2018, the ONLY way you can continue to be included in the top division will be by being a member of the ESCC group.

That being said, an invitation was sent out to every player who participated in either the Winter or March Basho this year to be allowed in to the invitational circuit. If there isn’t a full roster of 12 players (minimum) who sign up, invitations will be granted to interested parties who make contact with me.

The March Basho finished as such:

ArturFaust – 21
homozzapien – 20.5
anujvaniya78692 – 15.5
biraandrada – 14
King_of_Not – 13
ardirahendro – 13
Aurel1954 – 12.5
Fredl1963 – 9
EmeraldSpecter – 7
PietroSalem – 4
sarotaromchuen – 0
vedantachess07 – withdrew

With this we’d have SIX Sapphire Adepts, just like last time… though we’d only have added one if the original players were still involved (assuming the standings remaining the same in both cases).

Thus, we will begin with a soft reboot of the ladder (division) for the top, depending upon who joins the club and who does not. I will also be starting an “Open Basho” each time to allow for the experimentation of the newer players and for a promotion/relegation system to begin being looked at, as that is also part of the sumo system.

The remaining Bashos in 2018 will continue with the naming structure as the others have (May, July, September, and November) with one caveat: the numbering for future installments will be added. That means, since we’ve already had two Bashos, the Emerald Specter 2018 May Basho will be listed as Emerald Specter Chess Basho 3: May 2018 will be the title. After 2018 ends, the naming will more than likely just be everything before the colon.

I will personally be competing in at least two more Bashos this year, and if my luck with the rest of you remains steady, I’ll probably withdraw just to administer this effort. I’ve enjoyed playing but work took a toll on me by causing me to miss a number of game moves in the allotted time, so I guess I would have done a little better (optimistically speaking) than I actually did.

Anticipating that about half of each group will want to continue participating in the future, I can see a solid 12 player division being constant before we reach November, leading to a need for expansion if the interest continues to grow.

One move per day is the quickest time control I can create without forcing people to be online at the same time to play real time. If we get to a point where real time is something people want to do, I’d consider expanding this into a 12 annual tournament “live tournament” cycle in the same manner as the one move per day, though the two would be separate from each other.

Hopefully things keep looking up.

The Specter Show 046: Erased, Over, Out

DJ is in the new podcast studio, live broadcasting on YouTube on Emerald Specter Channel 2 at the same time, and runs down on some things to pay attention for in the Emerald Specter.com universe in the coming months. BuJoRPG, BuJourneyRPG, and Emerald Specter Originals are discussed as well!

Host: DJ Allen
Intro Music: The Idea of You by Nine Inch Nails (from Not the Actual Events)
Outtro Music: The Perfect Drug by Nine Inch Nails
Intro Lead in: Theo Rossi

Contact:
Website: www.EmeraldSpecter.com
Email: EmeraldSpecter.com@Gmail.com
Twitter: @EmeraldSpecter
Instagram: @EmeraldSpecter

Support Emerald Specter at Patreon!

PRO Chess League Podcast 003: Weeks 1 and 2

The PRO Chess League weeks 1 and 2 are over and I do a terrible job covering them. First time back jitters.

Host: DJ “The Emerald Specter” Allen

Contact:
Email: EmeraldSpecter.com@gmail.com
Twitter: @EmeraldSpecter
Instagram: @EmeraldSpecter
Website: www.EmeraldSpecter.com

Hashtags: #chess #PROChessLeague

The Specter Show 43: Self Destruction Part 2

There is more information than you can handle about BuJoRPG, chess, the Emerald Specter Chess Club, the future, and all kinds of wonderful!

Host: DJ Allen
Intro Music: The Idea of You by Nine Inch Nails (from Not the Actual Events)
Outtro Music: The Perfect Drug by Nine Inch Nails
Intro Lead in: Dirk Manning

Contact:
Email: EmeraldSpecter.com@Gmail.com
Twitter: @EmeraldSpecter
Instagram: @EmeraldSpecter

Support Emerald Specter at Patreon!

Thanks for checking this out, you can find more at EmeraldSpecter.com!