August 16 2000 RussCon Report

Congress Report
Game Results
Evening's Soundtrack
RussCon Report Archives
Russ Zone
Ko Fight Club
20 of us. 21 games.

dilloArmadilloCon is this weekend! I'm taking over boardgame hosting for Marty (who's visiting family this weekend, despite my exhortations that he should have just invited his family down from St. Louis for ArmadilloCon), and I will be ably assisted by my lovely assistants Sea Biscuit and Dawn. We'll do an ongoing self-matched tournament using RussCon Ratings, with real prizes supplied by Dragon's Lair, Blacksburg Tactical Research Center, and leftover Cheapass prizes from last year. Come check it out if you're up for some good old fashioned RussCon gaming (complete with tasty nougat filling) along with all the trappings of an sf con: pro authors, panel discussions, art show, dealers room, Saturday night dance, and all that good stuff. It's at the Omni Southpark, that big hotel at the southeast corner of I-35 and Ben White (where it is possible there will be road construction, alas).

pokemon pop-tartsThe wacky food of the week is Pokemon Pop-Tarts, with Pokemon sprinkles! If you can't guess who brought these, well, all I can say is What! How Can This Be? Oddly, this box went unopened, though its companion box (Frosted Chocolate Fudge Pop-Tarts) did get consumed; when toasted, these brown bombers give off a subtle aroma which combines a frisson of melted chocolate with a piquant hint of burned motor oil, a simple yet complex flavor for the sophisticated palate.

William brought some photos he took last fall. This prompts me to set up a little RussCon photo gallery soon, along with pictures taken farther in the past, like me, Alfred, and Tim at the Willie Nelson picnic last year. If you don't want your picture posted, let me know, otherwise there's the chance any of you who've ever been associated with RussCon might show up in photos of this wretched hive of scum and villainy. The horror, the horror!

Denver 2000 Go Congress Report

dilloThose who know me well know that I call the Go Congress the best week of the year. How can living in a crappy dorm room with no air conditioning in 90 degree weather with mediocre cafeteria food be so good? Ah, that's just all part of the experience. I get to play lots of rated go games and side tournaments, have fun with friends I only see once a year at the congress, make new friends, learn from professional players' lectures and game analyses, buy a few nifty things from the vendors, sing silly go songs, get tipsy with JP at the banquet, and generally have a blast. I was unsure what to expect this congress since I'd slacked off on my go playing and study this past year, and for the first time was entering the congress at the same rank as previous year instead of a stone stronger. But I knew it would be fun. Overall I won about half my rated games, so I'm not expecting my official rating to change much. Austinites attending who are regular or occasional/honorary RussCon folks include me, JP, JeffS, KevinT, Jim. JP can expect his rating to increase, for he played quite well.

JP & I left for Denver on Saturday August 5. At Dallas his parents met us at the airport just to hang out. The flight was overbooked and they offered $400 to take a later flight. We agonized a little while, then decided to take the deal. Right as we got to the counter, they raised it to $500! Hoody-hoo! The voucher is good for a year, so next year's congress flight (to Baltimore) will be paid for easily. The drawback was we lost several hours and had to change planes in Phoenix.

At Denver, the recommended method of reaching the congress site (Denver University) was via SuperShuttle. $22 for first person, $8 per additional, so we hung around a few minutes to see if we could find any other go players. Turns out Terry Benson had already rented a car and was meeting a Japanese player, and he had space for 2 more, so we lucked out. Or did we? We got to the car in the airport garage and found the rent car had a flat tire with a nail in it. We took it back to Avis, who gave us a new car, ultimately losing another hour I'd guess in that little adventure.

Registration went smoothly until we went to put our bags in our room: it was filled with a huge mound of clothes everywhere! It turns out that some soccer player was supposed to have checked out 2 weeks before and had been surreptitiously camped out in the room ever since. Since your room key was what you show to get meals, one assumes he'd been eating free food as well. I later heard someone else saw police hauling some guy away a little later. They assigned us a different room in the north wing of the building, on a women-only floor (or so the bathroom sign said). One floor down had a "men/women" bathroom (I wasn't sure how that was supposed to work, especially for showers), and it turned out the closes men only bathroom was 3 floors down. I complained, and Sunday evening we got moved back into the south wing.

Cafeteria food was all right, occasionally good, but not enough vegetarian entree stuff. (E.g. the first night's vegetarian entree was plain old macaroni and cheese.) I ate an awful lot of salad. There was a very cool new gym facility that was huge (Olympic sized pool, ice hockey rink, and more) with an interesting blend of modern and classical architectural styles and a church-like bell tower. Walking past it from dinner the first night, the carillon played the usual 8 o'clock tune, and then to our delight it played the Star Wars theme! Paul Bensen and I later made two separate attempts to discover a way into the bell tower, but eventually learned there was no way we'd be permitted entry unless we donated a million dollars. At least we tried. We did get to view a large expensive globe with each country of the world made of a different polished stone, and a little diamond where Denver was.

Saturday night was a 9x9 tournament; I did unspectacularly (won 2 of 5 games) after the day's long journey (and all on 2 hours of sleep).

Sunday night I won my table of 6 players in the 13x13 tournament. The finals were a second set of round robin games instead of the usual single elimination ladder. I liked this, but their was little done to facilitate our getting together to play the finals games. (This was a problem for 9x9 and lightning go as well.) Eventually it all worked out, playing the last 13x13 games on Friday, and I won the kyu division of 13x13.

Monday was lightning go; JP won his table and went on to win the kyu division! Just for fun he and the dan winner played each other later, and I watched in amusement as JP had 10 seconds left and lost groups rapidly, his stones crumbling away like, uh, some sort of crumbly stuff.

Tuesday I played some Crazy Go (wacky variants) which was fun. Since I wasn't competing for the most self-paired games played this year, I could afford to take time to smell the roses and play spiral go and joker go.

I was not seriously attempting to compete in the ongoing self-paired tournament because Horst from Germany and Martin from Czechoslovakia by way of Tucson now dominate that; Martin ended up playing over 60 self-paired rated games of go. Between the 2 of them they won 7 of the self-paired tournament awards for most games played, won, etc.

I also had taken my sketch book along, and hopefully some Ko Fight Club strips will come out of my congress doodlings and experiences.

On Wednesday, the traditional day off, I played in the die-hard tournament since none of the sponsored congress trips grabbed me (rafting, mountain climbing, hiking). I'd also researched the Denver Museum of Art, but the featured exhibits didn't grab me. I later learned that it had some other cool stuff I wish I'd seen, especially as I played crappy in the 4-round die-hard (winning only my last game against Jim of Austin, wherein I played a funky Go Seigen fuseki for the hell of it).

Meanwhile I'd been winning the first 4 morning games of the US Open. Finally I lost my fifth game Thursday, and won Friday's sixth and final game, which ended up giving me 2nd place in the 5 & 6 kyu division.

There was also a cool new event, Duplicate Go (analogous to Duplicate Bridge), in which players were all given the same board configuration. The 6 strong players were all white and competed to see who could do best against the black players, and the 6 weak players were all black and analogously were competing against other black players to see who scored best against the white players. 3 of the black players were Austinites (JP, Jim, me), and we finished 1st, 2nd, 3rd. Go Austin!

There were only 3 entries in the computer go competition; Many Faces won (again). As is my custom, I resolved that next year I'll bring my own go AI to compete in that.

Friday night I saw the Japanese pro Nakayama lecture; he is always popular and entertaining. This year he gave away a signed book to the winner of a massive audience rock-scissors-paper competition, which was quite lively and funny.

Saturday afternoon, after the final round of the US Open, it always feels like a dead time like the end of a college year or something, and some people are gradually leaving. I naively thought I might have time to visit the art museum, but instead lost time trying to sort out our flight back (both of which had changed) via JP's cell phone which for some reason was giving an awfully faint signal, and our transport to the airport (thanks to Jeff & Kevin for giving us a ride in the morning). Most folks stay for the banquet Saturday night, which was quite fun this year for me & JP who drank too much wine and got rather silly. There was a live classical guitarist, and clever table settings (half the napkins were white, half were black, like go stones). We were both somewhat disappointed that we won no plaques for our respective victories in the lightning and 13x13 tournaments; this lack of tangible knick-knacks was distressingly different from previous congresses. We did get vendor certificates, so JP bought a new magnetic go set to replace the one he bought last year and accidentally lost at Dobie Mall, while I bought a nifty little statue of Four Immortals playing go. Later, as is traditional, a dozen of us sang go songs (analogous to sf filking).

There you have it, the best fun you can have other than a week at an expensive German brothel.

Game Results

Cloud96Dan 5 Daniel 3 Clayton 1 William -1 Matt -3 RussW -5
Frank'sZoo4Susan 3 ChrisH 1 BobR -1 Mindy -3
Zero4Susan 3 Mindy 1 ChrisH -1 BobR -3
Letras4ChrisH 3 BobR 1 Susan -1 Mindy -3
UnionPacific6Matt 5 Steve 3 Daniel 1 Dan -1 Clayton -3 RussW -5
Acquire3RussW 2 JonathanC 0 Daniel -2
MembersOnly4JP 3 Jeffles 1 Jayson -1 Carly -3
LastPanther4Jayson 3 JP 1 Jeffles -1 Carly -3
TajMahal4JeffF 3 William 1 Alfred -1 Allen -3
LostCities2JeffF 1 Allen -1
Samurai4Matt 3 Brady 1 Steve -1 Dan -3
Bluff3Daniel 2 RussW 0 Jayson -2
DevilBunny5Mindy 4 Jeffles 2 Daniel 0 Carly -2 Dan -4
Letras4Allen 3 BobR 1 ChrisH -1 William -3
TakeItEasy3Allen 2 William 0 Daniel -2
Dorada4Jeffles 3 Carly 1 ChrisH -1 Mindy -3
CarolusMagnus4Matt 2 Jayson 2 JP -2 JonathanC -2
BattleCry2Brady 1 RussW -1
ButtonMen2RussW 1 Allen -1
ButtonMen2Allen 1 Brady -1
CarolusMagnus4JonathanC 2 Jayson 2 JP -2 Matt -2

Our extracurricular RussCon game of Fantasy War came to an unexpected end when the Sony Station simply halted all Fantasy War operations and stopped our game in midstream. We were quite surprised that they didn't let existing games run to completion, which would have taken at most a couple weeks, probably less. Very abrupt and unprofessional. I'm surprised they didn't pull the plug sooner; this nifty turn-based diplomacy/wargame was floundering due to terrible marketing. A sad case of a nice game being mishandled. Just as well for the other players, since I was on the verge of restoring my last-place shattered empire and overrunning the map (despite not being able to do turns while at the Go Congress). Yeah, that's the ticket.

After coming in last in Cloud 9 and Union Pacific, I did not complain when Daniel brainfarted in Acquire: all 3 of us were broke, and he made a merger which gave me a $9000 payout while he and Sea Biscuit got nothing. Something like that will certainly set you up to coast to victory. Thanks, friend, and your bribe is in the mail!

battle cryBrady & I played Battle Cry's Pea Ridge scenario in match mode, i.e. played it twice, switching sides, to see who could achieve the better score. This is the handy way of handling the fact that some scenarios favor one side or the other. I played the Union first and won 6 to 2. We both thought that playing the second half of the match was a mere formality; how could I fail to win the match? But Brady achieved a 6 to 1 victory as the Union! Conclusion: Pea Ridge is rough for the Confederacy!

Brady shall be running a Battle Cry tournament at Millennium Con. (RussCon old-timers may recall that the first Millennium Con, almost 3 years ago, was where I met Brady, Sea Biscuit, Dawn, and James, helping lead to the growth of RussCon.) This time the focus is on miniatures, not really my cup of tea, but Battle Cry apparently counts as miniatures. Brady & I brainstormed tournament formats. We both felt running matches was better than single scenarios, to handle the balance problem; unfortunately that means playing twice as long if you want to cover the same number of scenarios. The alternative is to use bidding victory points for sides, e.g. I might bid 3 or 4 points to play the Union in Pea Ridge.

I argue strongly for round robin (where each player plays all the other players, or at least some subset of them, with everyone playing each round) rather than single elimination (where half the players get knocked out each round), on grounds that it gives more accurate results (more data) as well as being more fun for the players (who know they get to play the whole time instead of being knocked out at some unpredictable time). If anyone else has thoughts, email Brady or me. At the Go Congress, side tournaments (like Lightning or 13x13) would set up tables of 6 who would play round robin (i.e. each player plays all 5 opponents), then the table winners go on to a finals round. If you simply count victories, then your score would range from 0 to 5 this way. You could also count actual game scores, giving a range from 0 to 60 (if you played a match with all 5 opponents), which would help address the problem of ties. Anyway, I'm looking forward to this tournament and hope to be there!

Sea Biscuit pointed out that in a way, the existence of RussCon nullifies his main reasons for going to a game con. We could run our own RussCon Battle Cry tournament sometime. We need more folks to buy sets, though!

Carolus Magnus seems to be getting popular, so hopefully my ratings program will handle team games soon, if the code fairies are kind to me. I'll keep you posted.

Also, thanks to Marty who left 2 boxes of his games for ArmadilloCon. We noted the Button Men sets and played a couple games. Fun little game! By the way, fans of Sluggy Freelance might be amused that Sluggy Button Men exist.

Evening's Soundtrack

Bauhaus, Press the Eject and Give Me the Tape
Slant 6, Inzombia
Supertramp, Indelibly Stamped
Wings of Desire, Original Soundtrack
Zebra, Zebra

All have black & white photos of people on their covers.

(Black & white... go stones... get it?)


Rank ratings:
 1.0000 JeffF (2 games played)
 0.5556 Susan (3)
 0.3846 Jeffles (4)
 0.2857 Jayson (5)
 0.2632 Matt (5)
 0.2500 Steve (2)
 0.2000 Brady (3)
 0.1000 Daniel (6)
 0.0909 Allen (6)
 0.0667 ChrisH (5)
 0.0000 JonathanC (3)
 0.0000 JP (4)
-0.1667 BobR (4)
-0.1765 Dan (4)
-0.2000 Clayton (2)
-0.2308 William (4)
-0.2500 Mindy (5)
-0.3333 Alfred (1)
-0.5000 RussW (6)
-0.5385 Carly (4)

New Win ratings:
 1.0000 JeffF (2)
 0.5556 Susan (3)
 0.3684 Matt (5)
 0.3571 Jayson (5)
 0.2727 Allen (6)
 0.1176 Dan (4)
 0.0000 Jeffles (4)
 0.0000 Mindy (5)
-0.0625 RussW (6)
-0.0667 ChrisH (5)
-0.1250 JonathanC (3)
-0.1500 Daniel (6)
-0.1667 JP (4)
-0.2000 Brady (3)
-0.2000 Clayton (2)
-0.2500 Steve (2)
-0.3077 William (4)
-0.3077 Carly (4)
-0.3333 BobR (4)
-0.3333 Alfred (1)
JeffF is the Devil! Susan is Vice-Devil. Then Jayson, Matt, Jeffles...


Here's your ArmadilloCon info. It's this weekend!

John Foley's Battle Cry Page has many links and resources for Battle Cry. Read it before playing in the Millennium Con Battle Cry tournament Brady will be running. has an interesting article analyzing the recent news reports misrepresenting the "broken speed of light" experiments.

"I am Curry. A slim and handsome race car driver. Here are some FAST and BASIC facts about me!!!" poses as a dorky personal page, but is part of an advertising campaign.

Alex Chiu is an entertaining science crank who thinks he's invented several remarkable things including teleportation and immortality.

This is a Turing Machine implemented in Conway's Game of Life. It takes 11040 generations for one cycle.

Shout, shout, the battle cry of Freedom!