Gamer’s Hangover News Report — 04.25.04

Sorry for the absence last week, but trying to corral five teenage boys for four days in Dallas will wear anybody out. At any rate, I’ll make it up to you.

News

What Was Gone From The Buster Last Week
credit: GameDaily.com

Home Video Essentials, a product of Rentrak Corporation, has released a preliminary list of the top renting videogames for the week ending April 18, 2004.
Here are the top 10:
1. NBA Ballers—PS2
-or- Stephon Marbury’s Neighborhood
2. Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow—Xbox -or- 1 Ownz teh n00b.
3. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3 Raven Shield—PS2 -or- ENOUGH WITH THE SQUAD SHOOTERS ALREADY.
4. Need for Speed: Underground—PS2 -or- The Fast and the Fidgety.
5. NBA Ballers—Xbox -or- One-on-One vs. An Elm Tree “¦ er “¦ Shaq.
6. Mafia—PS2 -or- The Case Against Drug Prohibition. (Yes, I watch Penn & Teller.)
7. James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing—PS2 -or- Almost as good as Goldeneye.
8. Ninja Gaiden—Xbox -or- The Japanese Version of Sisyphus.
9. The Suffering—PS2 – or- Watching a Royals baseball game.
10. Pokemon Colosseum—GC -or- Care Bear Warfare

There Is No God
credit: GameDaily.com

Dear sweet mother of Michael Hayes “¦ they’re going to do it. They’re making a Backyard Wrestling 2. That’s it. I quit.

*sigh* Backyard Wrestling 2: There goes the Neighborhood is scheduled to be released this fall, on at least the PS2 and the Xbox. This year’s crapticity will feature online play, so you can heave car batteries and tires at people around the world.

They’re promising a revamped wrestling and animation system, which implies that there will actually BE wrestling in this version. Of course, we thought the same thing the last time since the game had the word “wrestling” in the title. Oh, and they’re claiming it will have a “redesigned Create-a-Wrestler scheme,” which is a bit of a misnomer since the first game didn’t have so much a create-a-wrestler as it had a pick-a-stock-character scheme.

Eidos and Paradox are, once again, to blame for this.

At Least It Wasn’t The RIAA
credit: GameDaily.com

In the latest humorous move of the Copyright Wars, EMI has filed a law suit in a New York federal court against Electronic Arts, alleging copyright infringement. The suit, filed last Wednesday, claims EA used music that “embody copyrighted musical compositions that EMI owns, co-owns, administers or otherwise controls.” Specific titles named in the lawsuit were Madden 2004, Tiger Woods 2004, and MVP Baseball 2004. According to EA, the suit is about a “single song that samples lyrics from another song.”

I should be outraged, but since it’s EA I’m not.

New Hotness
credit: GameDaily.com

For those that weren’t aware, Xbox Live was down about a week ago, but it’s back up now”¦with some improvements.

Users can now send voice messages to friends, and more game functionality will be supported in upcoming games such as team play and the ability of players to swap (Quick! Call the RIAA!) content (relax. They’re talking about piddly stuff like maps and rosters and stuff).

MS is also promising Level Playing Field Technology, which is supposed to reduce the ability of users to cheat, increase reliability ratings, and penalize for disconnects. Strangely enough, I’ve never had a problem with people disconnecting on Xbox Live. PS2, it happens all the time, but from what I’ve seen the Xbox Live users are a classier lot.

There is also a new flavor of XBL Starter Kit, which has a 3 month subscription (instead of the year) along with the headset and a pair of game demos. It retails for $39.99. The standard XBL kit will still have the year subscription, but will also have a full version of Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge. It’s price is getting bumped to $69.99.

I don’t mind paying for a service that’s worth paying for.

New And Busted — The Attack of Vaporware
credit: GameDaily.com

Infinium Labs is still trying to convince you that they’re not Vaporware, and as such they’ve announced a new stock purchase program which should net the company around $44 million.

I could talk about how this deal replaces one that called for $15 million in purchases, or I could talk about the poor saps backing this, but I’d just like to remind everybody that, as best as we can tell, the Phantom console is nothing more than a PC. That is all.

New And Busted II — Son of Vaporware
credit: Spong.com

And, finally, Activision said last week that the Xbox version of *snicker* Doom III *laugh “¦ chortle* will be Xbox Live-enabled. Well, at least they have taste.

Although, I’ll probably have to eat my words pretty quickly, because at least Activision is trotting out demos for Doom III. At the press conference, they had the game running in two-player co-op mode using two networked machines. Ooos and Aaahs were undoubtedly heard.

Apparently, just to piss off Szulczewski, the PC version will not have the co-op functionality”¦initially. (I’m setting the over/under at two months from PC release.)

They’re still rather quaintly claiming that all versions of the game will be released this year. They’re just sooooo cute sometimes, aren’t they?

Pimp-Licious

This week, in commemoration of my interview with Ms. Polgar and Valley Center’s STUNNING achievements in Dallas, I shall make a wild guess as to what chess openings each of my Kliq brethren would play were they, in fact, avid chess players themselves.

Misha, would play whatever Michael Adams was playing at the time, and I couldn’t say that I’d blame him.

Yeager is young and brash, so he’d be all over the Scotch opening as white; and the Scandinavian as black, because he’s evil.

Lee, the guy who is never out of it, no matter how many times he tells us that he is, would study the games of Tigran Petrosian and pick some nice, quiet lines from the Queen’s Gambit and grind his opponents to dust.

Lucard is studious enough to succeed with any opening he would choose to study, but since he’s a pretentious bastard, I *know* he’d be coming with an English Opening as white “¦ or an Alkheine Defense as black.

Bebito. Two words. Hedgehog Defense.

Berg can use any opening he wants, since he already knows five moves in advance what you’re going to do anyway.

L.C. won’t play an opening unless the word “gambit” is in the title, and it’s not because he’s an X-Men fan.

Eric S. is another fine student, but his surly streak would lead him toward the Evans’ Gambit as white, or the Russian Defense as black.

Panky would surprise you by starting out with something unorthodox and then transposing it right into one of the more brutal lines of a Sicilian Defense. As those of us that write for 411Games can tell you, he loves to push pawns.

Quasi-Random Thoughts

I’m wrote the bulk of this from the National High School Chess Tournament from the beautiful, scenic basement of the Hyatt Regency hotel in the middle of beautiful, scenic DFW Airport.

I feel like such a Dork.

Don’t get me wrong, I like dorks. I am a Dork. Hell, I married a fellow Dork. I’m a card-carrying member of the National Dork Society. I’m such a Dork that I don’t feel Dorky when doing most of the Dorky stuff that I do, like quoting “Real Genius” in everyday conversation or playing Dance Dance Revolution in public.

However, there are some times where, no matter how comfortable you are with your inner Dork, you feel Dorky as all hell. This is one of those times.

Now, it would be different if I were good at chess. Then I’d at least have that “King of the Dorks” vibe going, and would command respect from my Dork brethren. But I’m not. I’m mediocre at chess at best, and that makes me a poseur coach at best, and that makes me an even bigger Dork than before: a Dork wannabe.

But I take heart in that I’m at least good at being a coach. I like my kids, they like me, and they actually like playing chess and I had something to do with that. They’re giving up an entire weekend (and, to be fair, getting three days out of school) to come play chess in Dallas.

And they’re not Dorks “¦ unless they are “¦ because that’s okay “¦ more than okay “¦ Dorks rule the world.

Let me see “¦ sticking one’s foot in one’s mouth’ “¦ yep. I’m a Dork.

Thankfully, the trip thus far has been uneventful, other than the revelation that one of our players either needs some Breath-Right strips or a muffler when he sleeps.

I’m sure there’s some sort of cosmic lesson or at least a universal truth in this, but the single most attractive person at the tournament is the visiting Grandmaster, Susan Polgar. I quote the old and tired chess t-shirt slogan, “Chess players mate better.”

Okay, as my fellow Dorks out there who are USCF members could attest to, “Chess Life” needs to get some better photographers. There was an issue a couple of years ago with a head shot of Ms. Polgar, and I can tell you that she’s far, FAR lovelier in person than in any picture I’ve seen of her in that publication.

I’m not saying that the USCF should compromise its principles by resorting to cheesecake pictures to gain business, I’m just saying that they have that option should they want it, but they NEED some better photographers if they do.

Good. Now that I’ve pissed off the entire chess world, let’s get to the meat of this: An interview with GM Polgar. Yes, I was brave enough to her for an interview and was lucky enough to have her actually say yes.

This interview is going to be part of a larger piece on chess that will hopefully see some time on 411Black. That piece will include information from Ms. Polgar’s lecture as well as some of the funny and interesting things that went on that weekend; but because I want to hip as many people as possible to Ms. Polgar, here is the interview in it’s entirety.

“¦

Grandmasters always seem to be put on a sort of pedestal. It’s like they posses some sort of magical power that, by its nature gives you more pieces and a better position (she laughs). So, what’s the real story?

“Well, there’s no magic formula. It’s just practice. Practice gives you knowledge. Knowledge gives you results. Results give you self-confidence. Once you put that together you’ll find success. That’s all there is to it.

“And there’s always room for improvement, even me and Garry Kasparov, everyone can get better. If you’re wanting to get better, you can always get better.”

As the promos for your father’s book goes, your father taught you all chess as a means to increase the ability to learn across the board “¦ pardon the pun “¦ What does he think about his daughters making chess their full-time occupation?

“He very much supported that choice and encouraged us. I always wanted to play, and growing up my success came early enough that I could make a choice whether or not to pursue chess and a career.”

Isn’t it the greatest job?

“It’s very unique. It has good qualities and bad qualities “¦ but it has more good qualities than bad. On the bad side it can be very tiring going from hotel to hotel and living in airports and traveling all the time. But it gives an exciting and eventful life.”

Tell me how your tournament came about? (That would be the Susan Polgar Invitational for Girls, which will be held at the same time as the U.S. Open.)

“First of all, they have the Denker Tournament for the last 17 years. As I was touring the country, a log of girls were discouraged with playing chess. It’s very intimidating for many of the girls, with how boys are more competitive and result-oriented, and other things that I could mention “¦.”

(I chuckle)

“But now, I have a little different perspective on things. I know that not every girl wants to be Garry Kasparov. A lot of girls just want to play chess and have fun. So there is a definite need for such a tournament. We thought it would be a perfect opportunity to have it along with the Denker at the U.S. Open. I’m also happy that there’s now the U.S. Open for girls next month in Chicago.”

At any point, did you play chess because you felt you were expected to, or did you always have a passion for it?

“Normally, I’m very eager to play chess. Of course there are times during a tournament that are very disappointing and you feel like it’s too hard and it would be easier to just forget it and walk out. But every game is a new battle. Every new game is an opportunity to come back and play better.”

Do you think that American chess will ever catch up to the rest of the world?

“I believe so. I’m working on a lot of big, big projects that I hope will put it on the map, both in the media and in society. If you look at T.V. and movies, there are a lot more examples in those things than there used to be of chess, whether it be Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, or whatever else. I think it’s the right time. Education departments are a lot more encouraging of chess, not only as a game but as an education tool. In many ways I feel it’s the right time for chess. I’m working with media companies to help me make this dream come true. I think it will be a vicious cycle. If we can get more players that means more merchandise, which means more money for tournaments and more publicity and eventually real professional chess. It’s a whole chain reaction. We may not see it for another 5 or 10 years, but there’s a plan in place; and at least there is that plan.”

And you should always have a plan, right? (laughs) So what is your favorite part of a chess game? What is the part that just grabs you and keeps you coming back to the board time and again?

(grins slightly) “I like the middle game the best. I think it’s a challenge when it comes to making plans and executing them.”

That’s all? Executing the plan, or executing your opponent?

(slightly sternly) Executing the plan. (softer) Making it work. It’s a matter of who can carry out a plan better. Whose plan is more dangerous.” (grin)

That’s what I was looking for. So, what do you think of the gimmick chess games you see being sold. 4-sided chess and such?

“They are for fun. Most of them have nothing to do with chess, whether you’re talking about that or bughouse or whatever. They’re okay, as long as you don’t think that you’re helping your chess by playing them. In that way, you might as well play basketball.”

So is Dallas boring you terribly? New Yorkers are notorious for being bored easily.

“No, I don’t think Dallas is a boring city. It’s nice; I went to a concert last night “¦ Erykah Badu “¦ and it’s not my first time in Dallas. I like it.

I would ask you what a Grandmaster does after a long hard day of playing chess, but knowing you have two kids, I already know the answer to that question.

“Yeah, besides that I like to go to the gym, tennis, swim “¦ but as I’m sure you know, it’s very limited nowadays, being a single mother.”

Okay, here’s my chess nerd question of the day. If I played 1.e4 what would your response be?

“Depends on my mood. (grin). Maybe e5, c5, c6, it varies.”

Thanks again, Ms. Polgar.

“You’re welcome.”

“¦

Yeah, I know. Give me some slack; it’s my first interview.

By the way, Valley Center High School took 12th in the NATION in the Unrated section at Nationals. My senior, Lance took 22nd individually and my freshman Eddie took 15th. I believe I now have what they call “street cred.”

In a completely unrelated note, check out my report from last night’s WWE house show here.

Next week, I have no bloody clue.

Until then, get some sleep.

-Cory