Winning the Middlegame
Topic: middlegame, specifically pawn structure and pawn play
My Take: a good resource for intermediate players, but nothing completely new
Length: About three hours of lectures, roughly 100 practical problems
Steam recently had their big summer sale, where you can get quality, quality games for a fraction of their retail prices. Shadow of Mordor, the game of the year of 2014, for $15, plus all DLC included? Yes please. Even recent games have excellent deals, and you can easily buy enough games to last you the rest of the year, all for pennies on the dollar.
That said, lost in all the big studio savings are the so-called indie titles, games developed from much smaller studios, sometimes just a couple guys in a basement. Yes, these games sometimes feel as if, well, they were developed by a random guy in a basement, but others are real things of beauty. At their best, they have that pure, innocent fun that the golden years of gaming had, proving you don’t need hyper-realistic graphics and voice-acting to make a good game.
Of all the games I’ve bought recently, I think the indie title Flamebreak may be my favourite. Really, it’s an amazing game. Continue reading
I’m not technologically savvy. I think I’ve established that by this point. I mean, I want to be, but there’s a yearning abyss separating my desire and my ability. I can’t help but think that learning more about electronics, especially computers, would make my life so much easier. I only discovered what an HDMI cable was a few years ago. No, I’m not making this up.
Still, I’m capable of surprises. Roughly two years ago, I built my own gaming PC from scratch. Not bad, right? I did all the research, compared all the parts, watched six-thousand YouTube tutorials and, voila, I made a working computer. Honestly, that’s one of proudest accomplishments … up until I realized I hadn’t hooked up any of the fans. Oops. It took a day, but I fixed that problem, or as best as I could.
Today, I go one step further: I upgrade from fans to liquid cooling. Continue reading
I love reading, always have, always will. It helps that I’m really good at it. My mom taught me how to read before I went to school, at least at a basic level. She also read to me every night until I could do it on my own, and even then we often shared a book, taking turns reading paragraphs or chapters as the case may be. Those early years sparked an intense love of books, and I devoured them.
That’s a good thing. Nobody will ever say that reading is bad, but there cans till be consequences. I read so much that I started collecting more and more books, to the point my shelves were practically overflowing. How many of these books will I read again? Honestly, not many. I have a few favourites, but once is enough for most.
I realized this last month as I did some spring cleaning around my house. I looked at my book shelf, taking up an entire wall of my basement, 95% of it covered with dust, most of which I’ll never read again. I thought then that there has to be a better way, and that’s what prompted me to get a Kindle eReader. Continue reading
I woke up late for the last time. I mentioned the problems of my old alarm clock(s) before, and I had enough. I went to Amazon and searched through literally dozens of clocks before deciding on the one I wanted. Since I’m an Amazon Prime member, I get free two-day shipping. Even with Family Day, the Ontario provincial holiday, I got it in two days. Oh boy.
I decided on an Electrohome brand clock, which, hilariously, is the same brand that created my ancient SD TV I keep in my attic. It also has eight-thousand different features, which is nice and all, but as long as it wakes me up I’m pretty stoked. It’s been one day, but so far so good. Continue reading
I’m a completionist. If I start something, I finish it. This is especially true for videogames. If I start playing a game, I need to finish it. This is especially true if I pay full price. A bargain bin game, or something on sale, I don’t feel the same pressure to complete. When something costs $50 or more, though, I definitely want to extract every minute of value.
I’m a picky gamer, in that I don’t play too many games. I’m not one of those people with a thousand games in my backlog. I focus on classics and those with near unanimous positive reviews. I also have my favourite series and genres, and I try to play through them, warts and all. This week, I finally played through perhaps the most wart-infested game of the Final Fantasy series, XIII.
Some background: I did not buy this game at launch. I didn’t even own a PS3 at that time. Reviews were mixed, to say the least, and upon hearing that I had little interest in the game. Five years later, I got a PS3, and I found FFXIII in the bargain bin, $10. Well, why not? I’ve played every other console game in the Final Fantasy series, enjoying almost all of them, so let’s complete the collection. Continue reading
This will almost certainly not become a regular feature. I’d wager I spend 98% of my television time watching sports. On a very odd occasion I may watch a rerun of the Simpsons or Seinfeld. Many of my friends have fallen in love with shows like Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad, but these aren’t for me. I’ve largely outgrown TV as my main storytelling medium.
Of course, I watched a lot of TV when I was younger, as virtually all kids do. As a teenager I really enjoyed the various crime dramas, shows like CSI and Law and Order. I enjoyed the chase, and I had about 50% success rate at picking the murderer ahead of time. I should note here that my brother has something like an 80% success rate. It was uncanny how often he got it right. Continue reading