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PotatoeTheCat
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Three Questions
« on: Jan 1st, 2015, 3:33am »
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How did you come across Arimaa?
 
I stumbled across Arimaa around 2013 while I was looking for Chess apps for my Ipad.  I downloaded the Arimaa app, tried it a few times,  got confused and gave up.  Then in August 2014, I had some spare time and looked at the game again, got interested, and signed up for this website.
 
What are you looking to get from Arimaa?
 
I have been a card-carrying chess addict for 4 decades, most recently competing in the national championships in Japan and UK.  
Chess remains a great game, and appears to be flourishing despite (or perhaps, because of) the computer revolution which we have witnessed over the past 2 decades.
But chess is suffering from ”over-urbanization”.  I recollect my early impressions of the game when chess seemed a exercise of pure imagination, when anything seemed possible on a chess-board if only one could conceptualize it.  
In 2015, this seems a far distant memory.  
From Arimaa, I guess, I am looking for the "wild-west" again.
 
Why "PotatoeTheCat"?
 
Potatoe is the name of my wife’s 17 year old cat which travelled with us from Japan to UK to USA and then back to UK, before passing away in 2010.  My ICC and Playbase account names are similarly named in honour of the late Potatoe.  
 
Happy new year everyone and I hope to play some of you in the World Championship.
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Fritzlein
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Re: Three Questions
« Reply #1 on: Jan 1st, 2015, 10:56am »
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I admit that I expected chess to start to wither away given the advent of super-human computer chess engines, and given youngsters' addiction to video games.  I'm very glad to have been wrong.  I am curious, though, what metrics you are using to judge the popularity of chess.  TV ratings?  Prize funds?  FIDE membership?
 
Anyway, we're always happy to get chess refugees.  Compared to some modern abstract strategy games, Arimaa is well established, but compared to chess it is definitely still the Wild West.
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PotatoeTheCat
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Re: Three Questions
« Reply #2 on: Jan 1st, 2015, 6:26pm »
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Hi Fritz - kind of you to comment on my post.
 
My statement about the continued popularity of chess is mainly based upon grass-roots impressions (catch up chats with captains and organizers after my return to UK).  However, I will mention that in both of the JP and UK championships in 2014, I was surprised to find myself one of the veterans (and I am only 54).  In the British Championship my average opponent was nearly 3 decades younger than me!  I guess if interest in chess was fading out, I would find myself one of the younger players rather than an "oldie".
 
County chess in the UK has certainly declined over the past couple of decades - but has been replaced by the British 4NCL (emulating the German Bundesliga).  Certainly either on-line or over-the-board it has never been easier to get a quality game of chess.
 
Actually, the easy availability of super-GM strength computers has made surprising little practical difference on over-the-board chess - which continues pretty much as it always did: enthralling, infuriating and mind-numbingly complicated.  (Correspondence chess, on the other hand, has changed beyond recognition.)  The main practical change is the abolition of adjournments, which, if one recognizes chess as a sport, can only be a change for the better.
 
The effect of the "Super GM in a Smart Phone" is more subtle. Firstly, the levelling-up of tactical ability, arising from the precision with which any player can analyse (and - if he wants to - learn from) his games.  And secondly, the depth and exactness of opening theory made possible by huge and frequently updated databases (eg Chessbase).  The latter is the greatest contributor (IMHO) to the shift in chess from an art form to a technical discipline.
 
Anyhow, many thanks for welcoming me to the Arimaa community - and congratulations on your very enjoyable book on the game.
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Fritzlein
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Re: Three Questions
« Reply #3 on: Jan 2nd, 2015, 3:39pm »
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on Jan 1st, 2015, 6:26pm, PotatoeTheCat wrote:
My statement about the continued popularity of chess is mainly based upon grass-roots impressions (catch up chats with captains and organizers after my return to UK).  However, I will mention that in both of the JP and UK championships in 2014, I was surprised to find myself one of the veterans (and I am only 54).  In the British Championship my average opponent was nearly 3 decades younger than me!  I guess if interest in chess was fading out, I would find myself one of the younger players rather than an "oldie".

Yep, the latter is what is happening to contract bridge.  I am 44 years old and constantly feeling decrepit when I try to play Ulitimate Frisbee with college kids, but whenever I want to feel young I can just sign up for a bridge tournament.  The future of bridge doesn't look very bright, at least in the United States, despite bridge's excellence as a game.  (I can't help but blame the hideous ACBL rating system, in which points are only accumulated and never lost, for discouraging younger players by overly honoring past accomplishments of the old.)
 
Quote:
County chess in the UK has certainly declined over the past couple of decades - but has been replaced by the British 4NCL (emulating the German Bundesliga).  Certainly either on-line or over-the-board it has never been easier to get a quality game of chess.

I should have weighed the positive influence of on-line chess servers more heavily in my prognostications.  A serious obstacle to enjoying chess is the extreme stratification of skill levels.  It just isn't very fun to always beat (or always lose to) the same opponent over and over.  But with on-line chess one can easily find fresh opponents of nearly one's own level.
 
Quote:
Actually, the easy availability of super-GM strength computers has made surprising little practical difference on over-the-board chess - which continues pretty much as it always did: enthralling, infuriating and mind-numbingly complicated.  (Correspondence chess, on the other hand, has changed beyond recognition.)  The main practical change is the abolition of adjournments, which, if one recognizes chess as a sport, can only be a change for the better.

Amen to chess as a sport, and amen to the abolition of adjournments!
 
Quote:
The effect of the "Super GM in a Smart Phone" is more subtle. Firstly, the levelling-up of tactical ability, arising from the precision with which any player can analyse (and - if he wants to - learn from) his games.  And secondly, the depth and exactness of opening theory made possible by huge and frequently updated databases (eg Chessbase).  The latter is the greatest contributor (IMHO) to the shift in chess from an art form to a technical discipline.

Down with chess as a technical discipline!  There is a reason we don't have tournaments to see who can recite the most digits of pi.
 
Six years on from what I wrote in my book, I remain optimistic that Arimaa openings will never become as stereotyped as chess openings, even if Arimaa attains the popularity of chess.  The minimal repetition of Arimaa openings that does occur at present seems to arise from consensus as to what is best only to the extent of using the 99of9 setup for Gold.  From then on any stereotyping seems to result from individual players sticking to what they know and like.  That suggests that an influx of players would increase opening variety.
 
At the end of the day,  Arimaa simply has more avenues for the expression of personal preference and superior strategic understanding.  With more options available, one should expect more of them to be viable.
 
Quote:
Anyhow, many thanks for welcoming me to the Arimaa community - and congratulations on your very enjoyable book on the game.

I'm glad you enjoyed my book despite its advancing age.  As for taking the time to write to the forum, I'm more in your debt than you are in mine.  Smiley
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browni3141
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Re: Three Questions
« Reply #4 on: Jan 2nd, 2015, 4:12pm »
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I will give my own answers to the questions you posed to yourself Smiley
 
1: I discovered Arimaa in 2007 in a mathematics themed calendar: http://www.amazon.com/Mathematics-Calendar-2007-Discovering-Influence/dp /1884550363
It features a math-related article every month and daily problems of varying difficulty from arithmetic to calculus for which the answer is the date. Arimaa was mentioned in a footnote of an article on algorithms.
For some reason I hardly thought about Arimaa again and didn't sign up until 2011.
 
2: As a player, the ability Arimaa provides to invent and discover is fascinating, and as a learning programmer the bot development aspect should be an excellent teacher on some algorithms.
 
3: My username is a concatenation of a childhood nickname (browni or brownie) and the first four digits of pi, representing my love of math.
« Last Edit: Jan 2nd, 2015, 4:13pm by browni3141 » IP Logged

PotatoeTheCat
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Re: Three Questions
« Reply #5 on: Jan 3rd, 2015, 1:16pm »
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Fritz & Browni - Thanks again for your posts.  Its nice that a newbie gets personally welcomed by both an ex-world champ and the reigning no 1 rated player.  I started playing Shogi in 2012, but I am still waiting for that email from Habu!  Cheesy
 
Browni - Thanks for your tip regarding refreshing the client.  It seems to fix the problem. Smiley
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