Freestyle Learning Tournament

Mar 20, 2008, 5:49 AM |

I'm "competing" in a freestyle tournament. That means the games aren't rated, and players can use any tool or reference or help of any kind, during the game, to win. 

At first I thought of it as a sort of tongue-in-cheek competition, with each of us using our favorite robot tools. I have Shredder Classic 3, BookUp, and I like the Opening Explorer at

The tourney kicks off and I'm playing Drizztnoob (do you realize that the guy probably spent hours thinking up that user name? I'd like to see what he rejected!).  I quickly discovered it's lot of work to maintain 10 simultaneous games in various Shredder sessions, plus bouncing around in the Openings Explorer. It's also not fun. So what if I win? What does that prove? That I set my Shredder timer longer than my opponent did?

A lot of work and not fun. I was considering withdrawing from the tourney after about an hour of this, when Drizz made a blunder. He basically threw a piece to me like it was a Scooby snack. Shredder told me to take it, so I did. 


 satisfice: what was that?

Drizztnoob: lol me not paying attention I guess :-P I'm at work so sometimes make quick moves :-P

satisfice: are you not using any tools for support?

satisfice: because I thought we were doing that

Drizztnoob: lol no I'm not using anything, u can if you like, it's no biggy

satisfice: heck I'll just play you with my own brain!


For a few minutes I chuckled about Drizz. Why did he join this tournament, anyway? He's going to get sooo creamed. Then I remembered the games are unrated. It won't matter if Drizz loses. Why do it then? And it dawned on me why: the learning. In a rated game my learning is delayed. I often find myself wondering if Shredder would evaluate my position as +.30 or -3.0. But I have to wait until after the game to discover what BookUp or Shredder thinks. Or if someone plays an unfamiliar opening, my rule is (I assume this is THE rule) that I can't look up the opening during the game. After the game I can find out that it was called Greco's Defense or the English Opening. I can then get ready for it to play it better the next time. In a learning game, I can read all about it in Wikipedia, and check out how Morphy shredded Greco's Defense. Then I can go back to my game.

Until Drizztnoob's lighthearted comment, I'd been squandering my learning opportunity by letting the tools do the work.

I'm going to enjoy playing freestyle tournaments.

-- James