Grand Master Lessons!


In the past few years chess engines have gotten so much better that it’s now well-nigh impossible for even top-level human grand masters (GM) to beat the most advanced chess engines. Processing power, AI and quick risk calculation all combine to make it a much more difficult job to take on the machines and emerge victorious. Having played Grand Master rated computer opponent in Scrabble I can now understand, to some extent, the frustration and empathize with the feelings of experts who get crushed by computer overlords. Below is my experience playing GM rated computer opponent in Scrabble.
1) My win loss ratio hovers between 1:6 and 1:7. Meaning, on an average I win once for every 7 or 8 games I play against the computer grand master. I am glad I am just an enthusiast playing for fun and not an expert playing for a living πŸ˜€
2) It’s been a very humbling experience, at times even humiliating 😒 when the virtual opponent goes on double-digit game winning spree, for sure. It’s like taking on a very powerful and talented opponent with instant access to the best resources πŸ™ The idea is to test oneself against the best and savor the occasional victory πŸ‘
3) I am not sure if the alphabet tiles for a player get selected randomly as it should be. Too many times I have ended up with all 7 tiles being vowels or all 7 tiles being consonants making me wonder if the intent is to load the dice even more against the humans intentionally. πŸ€”
4) Even when the opportunity presents itself to use all 7 tiles (and get 50 bonus points for that) the value of the tiles themselves are minimal reducing the benefits of 2/3 letter/word multipliers. In the left picture of this post, in one of the games, I managed to hit two 3 x Word multipliers (effectively 9 x word value) with the word ‘ORIENTAL’. Apart from the fact I had to use one blank piece (which can be used as substitute for any alphabet that fits a word) which does not have any value the rest of the tiles also had minimal value. Even if couple of tiles had more than minimal value the final outcome (right picture) might have been different πŸ€”
5) The computer opponent (of Grand Master rating) plays quite a negative game πŸ‘Žin the sense it’s always on the lookout for drying up opportunity for opponent to place on a value multiplier square. Maybe an extension of “Best defense wins championship” thinking on the board

Most times, when I am playing or the player/teams I support are playing, I believe that the player/team that plays better wins and the losing side just have to take it on the chin and get back stronger. There are times though when the virtual opponent sneaks in a high scoring word at the end and wins after trailing the entire game and leaving me shaking my head πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈin disbelief and mutter a word that rhymes with itch but starts with a ‘b’ 😑 No sexism there though, if the virtual opponent had been Joey instead of Zoey I probably would mutter a word that rhymes with dastard but starts with a ‘b’ πŸ˜‚. Actually dastard wouldn’t be a bad choice either. πŸ˜…

Bottom line: Biggest lesson learned is “It ain’t over till the petite lady stings!” πŸ˜ŠπŸ™

(Un)fun words of the day: Beerier, Sorptive, Vivat!

Let’s take a look at the meaning of words of the day.
beerier: 1. smelling or tasting of beer. 2. given to drinking beer
sorptive: 1. The process of sorbing 2. The state of being sorbed [Back-formation from absorption and adsorption.]
vivat: A cry wishing someone long life and prosperity

I am not going to try to use beerier, sorptive or vivat in a sentence. Those words are not part of my regular vocabulary and will not make for interesting read. A story is more interesting though! Here we go!
What is life without a challenge? Dull and uninteresting, right? That was my thinking when I decided to take on grandmaster rated computer opponent in Scrabble word game. How has the experience been? I have been getting schooled pretty much every game πŸ˜ƒ Good old fashioned country ass whooping would be a fair and more colorful description. πŸ˜‚ Akin to a chess enthusiast playing a chess grandmaster. Let’s take a look at one of the games (picture attached to the post). It started promisingly when I started with a 50+ score for the word, ralline (which means of, relating to, or resembling the rails), a word I was not aware of but tried in desperate way to start strong and apply pressure. How did the computer respond? With back to back 50+ scores playing the words “wargamer” and “ukuleles”, sending me staggering back. The coup de grace came when the computer played “yatching” for a triple word score with a 50 point bonus thrown in for all using 7 seven letters in a turn. Against lesser rated opponents one or two 50 point bonus scores and final score of over 300 is good enough for a win by a comfortable margin. Playing against the grandmaster it’s just good for a crushing defeat. Some games after scoring over 400 I have found myself losing by over 100 points! Overall it’s been a humbling and learning experience for sure. In one game finding myself trailing by quite a bit spotted an opportunity to play the eff word. No luck, the word used to express a wide range of emotions was not recognized by the game even though it’s a valid word and supposed to be a Scrabble word πŸ‘Ž WTHeck doesn’t pack the same power as WTF. Sounds unfun, eh? Sorry, mate, we are out of luck there too. 😑 Unfun may be a valid word in urban dictionary, meaning lack of fun, but it’s not a valid scrabble word.

With just a lone win and dozens of losses to show why do I still play against grandmaster rated computer opponent? That’s a valid question as it seems like a lost cause. Few reasons. Playing against stronger opponent is a way to measure one’s level, improve and stay humble. It’s just a game and unlike real life where at times all may appear to be lost when one’s words may get twisted, one’s intentions may be doubted, one’s actions may be questioned. By people who should know better. For no good reason. In real life perception and emotions reign supreme, right or wrong. Life still goes on. πŸ‘ You play hard but fair, you win some, you lose some. There is something to be said about losing with dignity. Nothing is lost if dignity stays intact IMHO. That’s a great life lesson and worth learning πŸ™

Words of the day: Coruscating, Corrupting, Charlatan

Let’s start with dictionary definition of the words coruscating, corrupting and charlatan.

coruscating : adjective
1) flashing; sparkling
2) severely critical; scathing.

corrupting : verb
1) cause to act dishonestly in return for money or personal gain
2) change or debase by making errors or unintentional alterations

charlatan : noun
1) a pretender to medical skill : quack
2) one making usually showy pretenses to knowledge or ability : fraud, faker.

Fun is using the words in sentences. Below is my humble attempt

His supporters came from far and wide hoping to witness coruscating brilliance, they left convinced he was just a charlatan with corrupting influence. Sigh! πŸ˜’πŸ™

Words of the day: mulled , barred

Dictionary meaning of the words:

Mulled: think about (a fact, proposal, or request) deeply and at length

Barred: In legal context it means obstructed by a bar; subject to hindrance or obstruction by a bar or barrier which, if interposed, will prevent legal redress or recovery; as, when it is said that a claim or cause of action is β€œbarred by the statute of limitations”. Banned, debarred, disallowed, excluded, precluded, prohibited, proscribed, shut out are some of the synonyms for barred.

Below is my attempt to keep up with the times and also have some fun using the words in sentences!

While Mueller mulled, Barr barred prosecution πŸ™‚
The fallout: Mueller can’t mull going public with his findings, Barr finding speculation can’t be barred πŸ˜€
Likely path ahead: Folks dissatisfied with the outcome, who feel Barr should have been debarred from announcing his verdict, are mulling about preparing for the Barr exam πŸ˜‰
With both sides deeply entrenched in their held positions it promises to be a no-holds-barred battle in the weeks ahead!

“Got Barred” is likely to become a phrase used to indicate obstruction in pursuing obstruction charges and we will all be scratching our head while the lawyers and lawmakers battle it out. This situation is clear as mud to me, so much for a definite answer!

Words of the day: Perchance, Penchant and Predilection

P’s to all who visit this page πŸ˜‰ Below are the words of the day!

perchance : by some chance; perhaps.
penchant : a strong or habitual liking for something or tendency to do something.
predilection : a preference or special liking for something; a bias in favor of something.

Now let’s try to all three words in a sentence.

Perchance you did not know the celebrity lawyer, with a penchant for publicity and predilection for courting controversy, was on TV defending his client charged with POT USE πŸ™‚




Hubris, zugzwang, schadenfreude!

Words are used to convey meaning to one’s utterances and writings. Some words get used more than others depending on the person and the language. There are some words that are used less frequently and it piques your interest when you come across their usage the first time. The words that come to my mind today are: hubris, zugzwang and schadenfreude.
If you are interested in etymology hubris has its roots in Greek, zugzwang and schadenfreude have German roots. When I first came across these words I was naturally interested in knowing what they meant. Below is meaning of those words

Hubris: excessive pride or self-confidence
Zugzwang: a situation in which the obligation to make a move in one’s turn is a serious, often decisive, disadvantage
Schadenfreude: pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune

It’s tempting to say I knew the word hubris from the time I was in kindergarten πŸ˜€ but that wouldn’t be true and I don’t remember when I first heard or saw that word. Zugzwang I remember more clearly. One episode in TV series Criminal Minds had that title. Retaining that word in memory was also helped by the fact my son used to play chess at that time and the word is also used to describe a situation in the game which is kind of hopeless for the player who has to make the next move. About 10-15 years ago I must have come across the word schadenfreude. Haven’t seen or heard that word much in recent times. Probably it is not used much now. I set out to see if I could use all those words to describe a situation. Here is my attempt.

Imagine a person who is a congenital liar given to boasting all the time. Assume that person is also supremely confident that someone else will always take a bullet for his/her lies and deceptions. If that person claims he can get away with murder, shooting another person in broad daylight at Times Square, that is HUBRIS!
If the liar gets caught in his/her own web of lies and deceit and not able to come up with a proper explanation for his/her words and actions that is ZUGZWANG!
If people who have been repeatedly mortified or affected by the liar’s words and actions find that person in zugzwang the feeling that they experience is SCHADENFREUDE!

Link to snippet of Criminal Minds episode ‘Zugzwang’ which has ‘Say something’ song playing in background:

It’s poignant.

Link to zugzwang explanation in chess: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4zNsJ46MQY