Too Much Travel

This has been the lowest volume of posting I’ve had in a while – sorry for
those of you who check here frequently for gaming-related posts. I’ve been on
the road way too much lately, and things will not be letting up for another
month or so. I do have a backlog of things to talk about, including:

  • Jacob celebrated his 9th birthday last weekend, and I’ve got some pics from the party
  • The Cubs. On second thought, I don’t want to talk about it.
  • The fantastic work Mikael Sheikh has been doing on his Wallenstein implementation, which he should be making publicly available before too long.
  • More Chess teaching information. Classes start next week.

Teaching Chess

I mentioned a few days ago that I will be teaching chess classes at Archer
Glen elementary school where Jacob and Matthew are in 3rd and 1st grade,
respectively. I helped out with the beginner class (1st – 3rd grade) last year
– Jack Weeks was the instructor, and he was a great role model. I will teach
two classes a week: the beginner class on Tuesday mornings and the advanced
class on Wednesdays.

I feel like I have a pretty good handle on the beginner class; partly because
I was involved last year, and partly because I’m comfortable with my ability
to teach at that level. I will focus on basic rules, how pieces move,
checkmates, stalemates, etc. I small amount of strategy and a bit of tactics.
I will introduce the tactics of pins, forks, as well as walk through some
simple endgame approaches. Strategies focus on pawn structure, control of the
center, and material / position advantages.

I’m a bit more concerned about the advanced class, mostly because of my own
abilities. I’ve played sense since I was a child, but I’ve never played
competitively and I don’t consider myself a very strong player. The theory
makes sense to me, but I just don’t have the pragmatic experience. So I’m
trying to ramp up quickly by playing as much Chessmaster as possible and by
reading some good texts on opening theory. I’ll keep posting reports here as
things progress.

Matthew’s Soccer Game

Wow, it sure has been a while since I posted an entry. I was in Chicago all of
last week at our customer conference and got a bit behind. Matthew had a bye
week in soccer this weekend, but I have some pictures from last Saturday where
he score eight goals in his game. We can’t help but think it is mostly due to
his size and speed, but for his first year playing we are certainly amazed.

One of the parents from the other team jokingly exclaimed “get that 12 year
old off the field”. We’ll enjoy it while we can. It sure is doing a lot to
boost his confidence which can only help him in the future.

A few other random notes:

  • Jacob’s football team continued its undefeated streak, winning over Wilsonville this Saturday. Jacob had another solid game – no fumbled snaps, and he made three tackles on defense.
  • I volunteer to teach chess at Archer Glen elementary this year. I’ll be teaching two classes a week until spring break – one for grades 1-3, and another for grades 4-5. This will be fun, though I really need to improve my skills.
  • I’m sitting here watching the Chicago Cubs play in game 5 of the NLDS. They are up 4-0, and the collective world of Cub fans are crossing their fingers. It has been waaay too long!

Wallenstein Arrives, First Play

My backordered copy of Wallenstein finally
arrived from Funagain last week. I played this for
the first time during a trip to New York City last July, and I was anxious to play again. I’m
pretty sure this game is out of print, so I think I’m fortunate to have landed
a copy of this game.

My routine when a new game arrives is to dismantle the bits and divide into
little plastic baggies. One of the coolest features of Wallenstein is the
combat tower, which is used to resolve combat between two players. Little
wooden cubes are dropped into the top, some get stuck in the tower, and some
roll out into the tray. The player with the most cubes rolling out wins the
battle. It is actually a bit more complicated than that (native farmers might
fight on the side of one of the players, for example), but that’s the basic
idea. Jacob suddenly became very interested in the game as I showed him the
tower and the gameboard and I talked him into trying a two player game. We
used the variant rules posted on the ‘geek. One
other note on the rules – make sure you grab the most recent translation from the ‘geek! The
version sent with the game from Funagain was almost worthless.

Jacob picked up the game very quickly, but was a bit too aggressive in his
attacks. Rather than focus on expansion first and then picking battles where
he had an advantage, he tried to fight me one too many times where I had equal
opposition. The luck of the tower was leaning towards me in these battles and
I came out ahead. He was also slow to understand the victory conditions and
didn’t get enough strength in his buildings across the region, so I won pretty
handily.