Beating Little Partner

Sep 17, 2007, 1:41 PM |

I'm feeling quite good about myself as I have just beaten Little Chess Partner for the second time. Ok, ok, it was on the easy setting, but for me that's quite an achievement.

The first time was the day I set up my account. I thought I won quite easily and I assumed that on the easy setting it was programmed to let beginners win. I have subsequently found out that this is not so. Definitely not. No way.

I played it again a couple of days later. Feeling quite blasé (did you like the slanty thing over the 'e' there?) about the whole thing, I just dived in and made a few random moves, expecting to win easily again. Needless to say (to those who have played against it, anyway) I lost embarassingly quickly. And again.

And again and again and again. Frustrated isn't the word.

Finally tonight, having taken a day off work and therefore feeling more refreshed than usual, I mustered all my resources and decided to have another go. I set it to easy, chose my favourite setting (wood, of course) and made sure I was white. Then, the game was on.

I decided to start with the classic but safe 1. e4, to which LP surprisingly responded with 1. ... c5. The game continued slowly but surely. I took my time over each move, carefully ensuring each piece was truly protected, trying to gain and keep control over the centre squares. LP responded so quickly each time that sometimes it was difficult to see where he had moved, which is disconcerting, to say the least.

After 10 or 11 moves we were both neck and neck, having lost a pawn and a knight each and with both sides nicely developed. Then - a revelation! If I took his knight, yes he would take my bishop and pawn, but his rook would have nowhere to go! I would be a rook up! Against my arch enemy! (well, sort of). My hand was trembling under the mouse (or possibly the other way round) as I moved my pawn diagonally, certain of the outcome, yet apprehensive nonetheless. His knight disappeared, and my bishop and then my pawn followed the same way. Now for the coup! I moved my other knight - check! He had to take it, he had no choice! His pawn moved to take it, leaving the diagonal open for my second bishop to take his rook - YES!! I had done it!!... A rook ahead!...

However, the problem with chess computers and programmes, and the thing that makes them soooo frustrating, is they just don't make mistakes. Not like us mere mortals who think we're onto a sure thing when we pin his knight with our queen, only to have the queen taken because we'd forgotten about that silly bishop in the corner. Needless to say, I'd missed something here and all of a sudden, I wasn't a rook up any more. In fact I was a pawn and a bishop down.

My victory came quite by surprise and as a result was a bit of an anticlimax or at least, slightly disappointing. I suddenly realised his 'h' file (or is it 'rank' - I can never remember) was open - his pawn having taken one of my more important pieces earlier - and he could do nothing to stop my queen from getting there in a couple of moves. It was protected by my own pawn sitting in front of his king on the 'g' file and the king was blocked on the other side. All I had to do was move and suddenly it was checkmate.

I notice that no matter who wins, LP just shows a dialogue box saying 'checkmate' (twice, for some bizarre reason). No nice 'Well Done, sir, you have vanquished me forsooth' or even a simple 'You Win'. But anyway, I had done it, and the feeling slowly overtook me that I was victorious. And I'm now realising just how sad I am... No doubt I shall have dreams of Little Partner throwing up dialogue box after dialogue box, shouting 'You may have won this time, MCW, but I'll get you yet! Ha! Ha! Ha!'

Goodnight everyone, and sweet dreams