self-indulgence

My First Chess Program

When I was a kid, back in the 70's and 80's, I thought chess programs were the most sophisticated computer programs in the world. That was back when the average personal-computer chess program wasn't very good, and dedicated chess computers cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, so it seemed to me that chess was something very difficult for computers to do. At the time, many experts still thought a computer would never be able to beat human grandmasters. I dreamed that I would one day write The World's Greatest Chess Program, and that would prove I was a great computer programmer.

But one's priorities change. I did look into how chess programs worked when I was in college, and while I found the topic interesting, I didn't try writing my own program. I still thought that writing a chess program was something every Real Computer Programmer should do, but I didn't get around to it.

Now, at age 50, I've finally done it. A few weeks ago I started writing a chess engine in Swift, and it is now capable of playing a real chess game. I call it "kjchess".

50

So, suddenly, I'm 50 years old. Almost a quarter of my life behind me.

50 really doesn't seem that bad. 40 felt much more like an oh-man-I'm-old-and-have-wasted-my-life event. I'm much happier now than I was then. This has been a great decade for me. I met a wonderful woman, and we are celebrating our ninth wedding anniversary this year. I live in a comfortable house with people and dogs who make me feel connected and loved (most of the time). Being 50 and happy is much better than being younger and miserable.

48

I'm writing this yearly update later than I usually do. A few things have been unsettled, and I didn't want to write until I had some idea how they would turn out.

47

Another annual State of the Kris message:

The biggest change for my family this year was moving from our little mountain cabin in Dahlonega to a house in Cumming. This puts us closer to the schools where Pebble teaches and where Bailey learns. Instead of spending two hours commuting per day, we now spend about 30 minutes.

I used to joke that we should just move to exit 14, since that’s where we spent our weekends shopping. Now we’re here.

Our five dogs love the big fenced-in wooded backyard. They get to chase deer once in a while. (I don't know what a Yorkshire Terrier would do if it caught a deer, but I'm not worried about that happening.)

I ran two half marathons this year, and I’m preparing to run a marathon in March. I’ll probably also try to run the Atlanta Marathon in October. After that, I suspect I will be finished with marathons, but will keep running twenty or thirty miles per week. I enjoy running, and like being in better shape than I have been for the past couple decades.

Pebble is now working at North Forsyth High School, teaching courses in forensics and agricultural science. She seems less stressed-out than she did while working at the middle school.

Bailey is really enjoying the marching band. His band went to a competition in New York, and they took third place. The band will be going to London in December.

I usually make a list of goals for each year. However, I rarely consult that list after making it, so I’m not going to bother this year. I hope to run two marathons, and I hope to learn to play piano, but I really just want to enjoy life in our new home.

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