Wednesday, April 1, 2009

You Suck at Chess

Ok Fritz, I get it. I hear you. I suck at Chess. I cannot seem to see 15 moves deep and find a move that will give my opponent doubled isolated pawns. Or locate a line that will force my opponent to drop a pawn 18 moves from now. I'm a mere puny human. Not a silicon chess god such as yourself.

For all intents and purposes Fritz really is a remarkable program. Not only did the developers create a magnificent chess engine that is really strong, they also managed to provide excellent analytical features packaged at a reasonable price. Perhaps the most amazing feature of Fritz is the "please talk down to me while analyzing my game" feature which seems to come enabled by default.

There is no program on the planet that simulates the joy of a condescending chess coach standing over your shoulder laughing at your moves quite like this little delightful package. When looking over my game it is generally not a good feeling when Fritz' kindest comment is "last book move". Some other gems I have received from Fritz in the past have been "Throws away an advantage", "The nail in the coffin", "Only delaying the inevitable", "Best move in a hopeless position", "Inviting disaster". I am going to write the developers and tell them comments like "White had better moves" or "Black missed a tactic" would have been preferred. Supposedly a computer is just a network of electrical impulses with no feelings. I'm not buying it. Fritz loves mocking my pain.

I did allow Fritz to analyze a game I was proud of. I found a slick win in one of my tournament games last year with some sharp tactics. Expecting Fritz to be equally kind I threw it in the engine for consumption. I got up and got some coffee and was excited just thinking about what Fritz was going to say about my game. I just knew I would arrive back at my computer and the analysis screen would be doused with comments like "Black is finished!" and "White finds yet another crushing move!". Or how about "white is well on his way to chess mastery with this kind of play". That would have been nice. Instead what do I see? Fritz made only two comments in the entire analysis. The first comment was "28. Qd3 forces mate in 21 moves". The second comment was "28. Qf3 misses a forced mate". Misses a forced mate? Are you kidding me Fritz? Why not just say "1. e4 misses a forced mate"?

Trumping all these perhaps was the one instance where Fritz wrote a sideline in its analysis something to the effect of (Equally hopeless is 27. Ne4 Bxb2 28. Nc5 Kc8 29. Rb1 Qg7 and Black still wins). Wow, thank you so much Fritz for pointing out an equally futile and ultimately pointless line rather than the futile and pointless line I was able to discover by myself over the board. I did not need a quad core processor and two gigabytes of RAM to come up with a losing move in my game, but thanks again for spending your processing power on pointing out some losing analysis that I OBVIOUSLY overlooked in time pressure.

This revolutionary program got me to thinking. Why stop with a chess program? I could envision an entire line of condescending creations that will mock your failures instead of assisting to correct them. Here are the ideas I came up with.

1. Condescending GPS

Normal GPS: "Prepare to turn right in 150 yards."
Normal GPS: "Bear left on Highway 66."

Condescending GPS: "Put down your cheeseburger fatty, your turn is coming up in 150 yards."
Condescending GPS: "Take this road to your left which will deliver your meaningless life to your ultimately pointless destination."

2. Condescending Automated Phone System
Normal Phone System: "Thank you for calling in order to route your call please enter your account number"
Condescending Phone System: "Thank you for calling if you would like to find out how to keep an idiot busy press 1... Thank you for calling if you would like to find out how to keep an idiot busy press 1..."

3. Condescending Wife
Normal Wife: "You lost? After spending ten hours this week sitting on your butt doing chess problems you lost? You know you could have been mowing the lawn or fixing the bathroom lighting during that ten hours. I bet you didn't pay the phone bill either did you?"

Condescending Wife: "You lost? After spending ten hours this week sitting on your butt doing chess problems you lost? You know you could have been mowing the lawn or fixing the bathroom lighting during that ten hours. I bet you didn't pay the phone bill either did you?"

In conclusion, I really do have a lot of respect for the Fritz program. It's analysis is second to none. However, I have not yet seen it but I know it's there. One day Fritz will be analyzing my game and the comment will soon be inserted, "You suck at Chess".

3 comments:

  1. Love the Condescending GPS.

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  2. hahahha

    your posts are very funny !!!

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  3. Funny and true, although I got a !! from Fritz recently. I didn't realise ersatz Germans were well-versed irony....

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