Wednesday, October 28, 2015


About a year ago, I blogged about an ending involving the snare-like properties of Plants vs. Zombies Winter Melon. Funny enough, a friend who didn't know I like PvZ noticed and we compared notes on the Survival:Endless levels. Here is my setup, which got me to level 1000 before I quit.

Well, I managed to survive some of my own attempts to mentally defeat myself and I won the club championship for a second year in a row. I struggled through the qualifier, grabbing the sixth seed. Funny enough, all four past club champions ended up on one side of the 8-man bracket. I defeated two players that I beat in last year's championship, this time more quickly as they each lasted 3 games each instead of last year's 8- and 6-game matches. But the finals this year took 8 games. Adding in the 9-game qualifier, the road to the championship lasted 23 games this year; last year it took 24 games.

I could complain about the length of the club championship, but perhaps the blame would be misplaced. I lack the stamina to concentrate on chess for a whole weekend swiss. Right now, I'm taking a break from chess, hoping that my natural rhythms will bring me back to it in time for the club championship qualifier after the New Year.

For now, here is the retrospective on 2015's year in chess, especially benchmarked against last year's assessment

    On the positive side:
  • Played 35 rated regular games, about 33% less than last year (54).
  • Had fun for the first 6 months.
  • Pushed my peak rating up to 2133, 1 point higher than last year (2132), but slid back down to 2105.
  • Won the club championship for a second time
  • Contended for the state championship for the second time (semifinalist)
  • Finished the year with a plus score against experts for the second time 8W-8D-6L
  • Five of my games against strong players went into trappy lines I had prepared resulting in 3 wins, 2 draws
    On the negative side:
  • Many of my games - wins, losses, and draws - seemed to be decided on luck as opposed to good technique
  • I didn't win any money, didn't finish at the top of any non-match tournaments, and felt too tired to play in weekend swisses

Fewer positives, but also fewer negatives. I'm debating whether I have enough motivation to contend for the championship again. But Plants versus Zombies also has a Threepeater plant...


As a writer, I should research a lot of information about Rubik's cube before coming to this article, but I feel lazy today and am content to direct your attention to a long list of sayings about cubers.

My family received several Rubik's cubes from a visitor when I was in 5th grade. It came with a set of pictorial instructions that taught me how to solve the cube layer by layer. I learned the algorithms and began showing off in middle school where kids would pay me a quarter to fix their cubes for them. I once solved it in 46 seconds, but it was a lucky break where the pieces fell just right. I never got too far in speed cubing, but I can regularly finish in under 3 minutes. While watching the Double Fine Adventures documentary about how the Broken Age adventure game got made, I was fascinated by how often Tim Schafer was playing with his set of cubes ranging from 2x2x2 to 5x5x5. I purchased a set for myself and they finally arrived in July. For much of the summer and early fall, I had been lost in cubing, distracting me from chess. I had never signed on to Rubik's Revenge or the Professor's Cube sequels, but now I have. Two of my chess friends have been cube crazy.

My best times for the 2, 3, 4, and 5 cubes are 0:32, 1:20, 4:45, and 8:51, respectively, which aren't anything special. One friend told me he can do all 4 in under 8 minutes cumulatively.

For some reason, I wanted to compare some of the astronomical numbers that come out of chess and cubing. Here is what I collected:

2x2x2 - Pocket Cube, Mini Cube, Ice Cube3,674,160
3x3x3 - Rubik's Cube, Magic Cube43252003274489800000
4x4x4 - Rubik's Revenge, Master Cube7.40x10^45
5x5x5 - Professor's Cube2.83x10^74
Atoms in the Universebetween 10^78 and 10^82
Positions in Chessbetween 10^43 and 10^47
Chess Game Tree Complexity10^123

Hypercube refers to an n-dimensional cube of which the standard 6-sided cube is the 3-dimensional version and the tesseract, popularly introduced in Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle In Time, is the 4-dimensional version. Don't watch the movie "Cube 2: Hypercube"; it sucked.