No regrets. It's has been fun to play a lot of WotLK during the last couple of week. Nevertheless I might have overcommitted myself to wow to the point where my studies and chess tournaments suffered too much. Now it's time to draw a line in the sand and move on.
Chess In last Wednesday's chess match ended draw after only 18 moves. We both had 1600+ rating (equivalent to 1800 ELO) and we quickly got into a position none of us were comfortable playing. My opponent had the white pieces and got of to a pretty good start. I tried to establish a solid defense but ended up in a position where I lacked space to maneuver my officers around. We both used way too much time trying to figure out what was happening in this type of position and when none of us really liked to try to open up the position. We agreed on a draw with approximately 20 minutes left on each of our clocks to end the game. This is the position after I played 18...Nc8 and a offered draw.
Later a strong player (2200+ ELO) from my local club did me the favor of helping with a little analysis. Not surprisingly he told me that we had played for control of the wrong squares and he could find reasonable continuations for both sides. He told me that I should be happy to get a draw in that position. When I got home I asked Rybka (an ultra strong chess program) for an evaluation of the game. It concluded that there were no tactical errors and that the end position is in fact in perfect balance. Of course that doesn't mean more than I'm not losing if I have 3000+ rating.
Computer Science Most of the next 7 days will be spend on doing an assignment in computer science on the minimum-cost flow problem. The idea is to handle situations where you have a flow through some kind of network and you want to minimize the cost of maintaining the flow. There a 5 concrete question I need to answer. This is the kind of assignments I like the most because it requires that we try to come up with our own solutions instead of just repeating what's stated as correct in a book or an article.
Games I have been able to find a little time for playing games the next week. Tonight I'll be playing a small real life poker tournament. Thursday evening is reserved for a 17p Backgammon match and Friday evening will be spent on playing poker with some friends. This Sunday I'll be playing the big $2,000,000 guarantied $600+40 tournament on PartyPoker. Hopefully I have a lot good news Monday morning.
Did World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King (WotLK) live up to my expectations? Hell yeah!
Nov 19th by Peter Hallberg
Last week the night between Wednesday and Thursday was spend standing in line for the midnight release of WotLK at my local blockbuster store. There were 60 people in front of me but it seemed like most of them had preordered because I was out of the store with my copy 31 minutes later.
To my big surprise it took less than an hour to install and log into the game and 01:37 I set sail for Howling Fjord. The plan was to level my shaman from 70 to 80 in a week. To make that possible I had cleared my schedule and now I only had to submit myself to the true addictiveness of WoW.
Tuesday afternoon right before 4 o'clock I dinged 75 after 38 hours of killing monsters. That's approximately 7 hours per day which is half of what I planned.
This did give me some "spare time" where I decided to watch Battlestar Galactica episode 1x01 through 1x11. I'm not that impressed with the speed of the series but it's somehow intriguing enough to keep watching.
For the second time this week I have to leave Northrend (continent in WotLK). The first time was to attend a class and to night I'm attending the 2nd round of a chess tournament.
Wrath of the Lich King is finally here!
Nov 11th by Peter Hallberg
I've been waiting for this day for 6 month. This is the release day of World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King. Tonight at 23:59 I'll be standing in line outside my local blockbuster to pick up my preordered the game. The next week is planed for 24/7 World of Warcraft.
At the moment my main character is an alliance shaman on Emerald Dream (EU) called Shamuuh. She got to see Black Temple and do four time chests in Zul'Aman before they nerfed the bosses. As the other 100 members of my guild I think I'll be the first to level 80 which is the new level cap. To be realistic my chances are that I get there among the first 5.
Because I went to BlizzCon 2008 held in Paris I have had access to the beta server where the Wrath of the Lich King has been running for months. Because I didn't want to spoil the fun when the game comes out I didn't do one single quest or tried one single instance (dungeon). Most of the time in there was spend on exploring the new world and messing around with all the new talents and abilities.
The rest of the day is dedicated to preparing for a class Friday which I might force myself to attend.
Here is the cinematic trailer for Wrath of the Lich King:
The Danish Backgammon Championship
Nov 9th by Peter Hallberg
Last weekend we saw the conclusion of the Danish Backgammon Championship. 64 players were qualified either through their ranking or through qualification tournaments held nation wide and online at Play65 who were sponsoring the event. Our new champion Inge Christoffersen played very well in the final and she is the only female to win the title for many years if not the only female at all. Congratulations Inge.
Unfortunately I didn't do quite as well myself. I lost in the first round. First I had to qualify through one of the qualifications tournaments because my rating isn't high enough to be invited directly. I chose to sign up at KBgK (Copenhagen Backgammon Club) which is the largest club in Denmark. We played 6 rounds of monrad (a tournament system) to 9 points and I won all rounds and advanced to the final. In the 2nd round I played the coming vice champion Jonas Moehrdel and we got into this position:
Match to 9, Blue leads 7-3 Blue to move 5-4
GNU Id: bbsBADFudhsEAA
GNU Match Id: UYkyATAAOAAA
Now, this position looks rather normal. In money game the right play is to play 13/4* hitting in the home board. That will win more gammons for sure. But the match score here advocates for making the move that wins the most games and as a 2nd parameter loses the fewest gammons. Let's take a closer look at the candidates:
1) 13/4*: By hitting I make whites 51 a bad number. Also it's much easier to get my last checkers home and off if I have the important 4 point. The down side is that any 4 for white brings him back in the game. To me it seems a little too easy for white.
2) 7/2 7/3: Clearing the barpoint (7-point) is definitely one of the problems blue has to sole sooner or later. By doing it immediately blue can look forward to an easier bear-in. On the down side white will have 63, 54, 66, 33 that will hit blues checker on the midpoint (13-point). Also white will be much less likely to crunch his home board and by that having less chance to win if he hit a blue checker later on.
3) 13/8 6/2: Playing the ugly move does have some benefits. There are no immediate shots. There are only a few bad rolls highly dependant of what white rolls next. Basically white will have a checker on blues 4-point or not. Of whites 6's and 5's only 63 and 53 keeps a checker on the 4-point. With a checker on the 4-point blue leaves a direct shot with 15 numbers (61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 53, 54, 55). If white runs away blue only leave 4 direct shots (64, 43). A rough estimate is that blue gets hit less than 10% of the times next roll which is a lot less than the other two alternatives. By giving white more chances to roll bad and break his home board blue will lose fewer gammons too.
A Snowie rollout confirms that 13/8 6/2 is indeed correct.
Chess - Another kind of challenge
Nov 8th by Peter Hallberg
Back in high school in the early 1990th I'd spend a lot of time playing chess. To be honest I wasn't especially talented or good but I enjoyed playing. My playing style was based on attacking at any cost. Against other new players it was a decent strategy but when I played a little more experienced players I lost almost every time. When I started attending the university in 1993 chess was sacrificed on behalf of backgammon.
Now some 15 years later I took up this old passion again. There are a chess club just 5 min from where I live and I decided to sign up and play some tournaments there. My old rating is 1622 which is equivalent of 1800 (FIDE) ELO rating. All the years of playing backgammon and poker had given me a whole new perspective on planning and decision making. I wanted to try winning by adapting a more positional approach to chess. It worked well and after 6 games, where I lost 2 in the opening by not knowing any opening theory, I still had 1622 in rating. On top of that I made a partial FIDE rating of 1850+.
My next tournament starts on Wednesday and I hope to do even better there.
A complete redesign of PeterHallberg.com
Nov 7th by Peter Hallberg
I'm very happy to present you this newly created website. The old website unfortunately disappeared along with the health of a semi-defect hard drive. Now I finally got time to start all over again and you are currently looking at the result of that.
This site will contain completely new material. There will be a Backgammon School section where you can read about the basics of the game. This should give you a sound foundation for further study and show you new aspects of this classical game. Along the way I'll make interviews of well known international stars on the backgammon/poker scene. This will give you an insight into the minds and lives of some of the great players.
My blog will consist of small posts of interesting things, primary gaming related, I encounter in my everyday life.