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  What a strange book Hyperion is. You can immediately feel that this is supposed to mean more than what is on the surface. People say it's written in the style of The Canterbury Tales, hence the "cantos", I guess, as well as the feel of a "magnus opus" of Dan Simmons'. The universe is very well thought out, with just the most limited technical descriptions, so it doesn't feel too dated. If anything, it is the mindset of the characters that betray how long this book has been in work for. Published in 1989, I am sure it was started a long time before.

  To me, of course, not being a reader of Chaucer or John Keats, this reminded me of fantasy more than middle English poetry or science fiction. It's a quest of a group of people, a fellowship if you will, towards a far place where a terrible dragon/wizard resides. During the travels, they share their stories, making us understand the world through their eyes and also explaining their motivations and skillset. This still was a lot of exposition for an ever shrinking part of the book where the ending was supposed to be... however the ending is not there. The book ends before the group reaches their destination. Quite frustrating!

  So many readers I respect loved Hyperion. I've read only The Song of Kali from Dan Simmons before and now with this book it's pretty clear to me that he is a great writer. He just isn't entertaining to me. Probably I should just forget any such expectations and instead try to understand, on a cerebral level, why his work is brilliant, forget about feeling good about it.

  OK, maybe I am a bit mean to the guy. I am going to read the whole series and then fully judge the series. It will be very subjective, though, disregarding the smart literary references or the poetic verses in it or whatever else that is part of the book and I will never understand or care about. So far in the book , I just read several stories that just set up what's going to happen next - hopefully - and got a feel of this brave new world of the future that Simmons saw.

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The Chicken Gambit starts from the Elephant gambit 3. exd5 e4 variation (which is the most common) which is called the Paulsen Countergambit in Lichess, and other databases. Considering the Elephant is a gambit for Black, why would a Black move lead to a countergambit?

Now the best move and most played is 4. Qe2, pinning the pawn and threatening to take it. We defend it with the knight (4... Nf6 best and most common move) to which White replies by renewing the attack on the pawn (5. d3  again best and most common). Now, the best move and most played is 5... Qxd5, but the Chicken requires you to check with the dark squared bishop first: 5... Bb4+, which is the second best move.

White's reply is usually 6. d3 and here we continue with the most common and best move again: 6... O-O. This is the Chicken Gambit, starting from an eval of +1.6, which is mostly due to starting with the Elephant Gambit. Black is now threatening to take the knight, while White threatens to take the bishop. Which side will swerve and which will continue on?

There are two moves that White plays here: dxe4, about two times out of three and the best move, and cxb4, about one time out of three, which is a blunder taking the evaluation from +1.6 to -1.0. That's what we hope will happen, but even with dxe4 on the board, there are some nice tricks to employ to burst the balloon of your overconfident opponent.

Opponent blunders: cxb4

While pretty obviously bad, our opponent might choose to help us by taking away from the center and allowing us to open up the e-file with tempo, probably from the misguided idea that a bishop is better than a knight or that c3 needs to be freed for the other knight. First of all, that's not any knight they're giving away, it's the king's knight, which so many openings and gambits are trying to lure away from the defense of the king. Second of all, that leads to double doubled pawns, while dxe4 undoubles pawns. In the Lichess Masters database there are only two games that reach the gambit's position and both of them take on e4.

However, if this happens, the path is clear: take the knight, attacking the queen, queen is forced to take the pawn and then Nxd5 and NOT Re8. There is a small but relevant difference, as we plan to release and centralize the other knight and attack as soon as possible with the two knights.

The four most common moves from this position are really bad, while the best move, 9. b5, is almost never played!

Here is the study chapter for this variation demonstrating why each move is terrible:

Opponent plays dxe4 like a champ

To 7. dxe4 we reply with 7...Be7. This is the third best move and leads to a +2.0 evaluation (yes, for the opponent). The situation may look dire: we moved the bishop to b4, then retreated it all back to e7. We lost not one, but two center pawns while White has a strong center. The only thing we have to show for ourselves is a safer king and a slight edge in development. Almost every move, except the very dumb ones, maintain the White advantage. Stockfish is frothing at the mouth and recommending to move the bishop again to c5 or d6.

However, we are playing against people - hopefully - and the only piece that can be easily developed for White is the dark squared bishop. d2 takes another development square from the knight, e3 blunders a pawn, f4 doesn't attack anything relevant. The only other option is g5 and our own move to e7 validates it: we wanted to stop a possible pin to the queen and defend the knight on f6. It must be important! That's why the most played move here is Bg5. The best move is Qc2 and pretty much refutes the Chicken Gambit, but it's quite unintuitive. It is followed by Bf4, Nbd2 and even g3, these three moves leading to pretty much the same eval +1.7. Bg5 is the same, but allows us to play 8... Nxe4! to which there is only one move that is not a blunder, again, and doesn't lead to equality.

The move is 9. Bxe7. We take with the queen, White renews the threat on the pinned knight with their own knight 10. Nbd2 to which the safest move would be 10... Re8, but we defend with the bishop 10... Bf5 setting up another trap! The most played move by White in that position is long castle which loses immediately to ... can you spot it?

What's the winning move? Scroll down to find out!

It's 11... Nxf3! Can you see it? Why does it win? Scroll down to find out!

Oh no, my queen! It's undefended! If White takes it, 12... Nxa2# is mate! Oh, no my knight! It's undefended! if White takes it, 12... Qa3# is mate! And otherwise, it's a queen and rook fork! -4.0 evaluation. Black is winning! And the best move for White is a shameful Qc4 which does nothing except accept defeat.

More on that in the study chapter about dxe4:


Unfortunately, this is not an undefeatable gambit. It can be refuted - which I believe makes a gambit even more fun! - by the move 8. Qc2. It takes the queen away from the dangerous e-file as well as the g4-d1 diagonal, while still defending the central e4 pawn and renewing the threat of Bg5. It also liberates the light square bishop. The best move Black can hope for is c6, trying to break the center. Re8 or h6 are also suggested.

But wait, you will say, what if I play c6 or Re8, won't White do the same thing: Bg5, followed by us taking e4 with the knight? Well, no, because in this case, White doesn't need to bother with Bg5. Bd3, Be3 and Be2 are all available, since they don't block the queen from defending the e4 pawn or are blocked by the queen on e2. One might say that the entire gambit is trying to punish that initial Qe2 move. If the queen moves, it becomes something else entirely.

I can hear you thinking back there: we must be able to do something. How about 8... Bg4, threatening to double pawns when taking the knight? A simple Be2 fixes the issue. Moreover, prepares short castle. You might try 9... Re8, hoping for a 10. Bg5, but O-O just ends your hopes and shatters your dreams.

Well what about 8... Bc5 9. Bd3 Ng4 10. O-O ? The knight and the bishop are attacking the king side, Black has more wins in that variation. This works! Well, yeah, for people rated 1900 who probably lost on time or something. The evaluation is +3 and the best moves for Black are f5 or f6.

More in the Refutation chapter of the Lichess study. If you feel you have a fun option coming up after Qc2, let me know. I will name that variation after you!

Other lines

While that may sound like the title of a horror movie, you can get a Reverse Chicken Gambit from the Russian Game: 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. d4 exd4 4. e5 Qe7 5. Bd3 d6 6. Bb5+ c6 7. O-O

As you see, the "trick" is to move the bishop twice to get the same position. You don't need to do that, of course, you can try to gain a tempo and use it for something else, like in the Reverse Chicken: Highly Cruciferous variation. Fork or die!

You might find that to get into the particular position in which you unleash the Chicken is not that easy. Even if best SF moves, many people play something else. Maybe not Qe2. Maybe not d3. People are weird...

See some of this in the Lichess study: The Chicken Gambit


While I called it the Chicken, because of the themes and also as an homage to Vampire Chicken, it is hardly a gambit. The Elephant Gambit opening gives up a pawn and then we risk a strategic retreat of the bishop to entice White to go into funny territory, but most of the moves related to the Chicken are best engine moves. Giving up the central pawns for almost no compensation may not appear wise and other lines of the Elephant might be feel more fun, but this is the beginning of a new branch of chess theory in the area. 

Using the William Graif scale for gambits:

  • relatively unknown - ✔️
  • hard to decline - ✖️
  • using natural moves for both sides - ✔️
  • good win condition scenarios - ✔️
  • high reward possibilities - ✔️
  • low risk - ✖️

We get a 4 out of 6.

Let me know if you use it and good luck!

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  Mugen no Juunin: Immortal, or Blade of the Immortal, may confuse some people because it's one of many adaptions to the screen of the same story. There have been anime before, live action adaptions and so on. The one I am talking about is the 2019 one, that was released on Amazon Prime.

  Part Twilight Samurai, part Ninja Scroll, this is a story of a lot of characters on various sides, fighting each other for their own reasons, while the Shogunate is happy to influence the issue or downright force it, since it sees all swordsmen and by extension all people who choose to better themselves against all cultural pressure and outside any organization, as threats.

  The film focuses more on the character's motivation and the politics that lead to the situation they are caught in and less on the fight scenes. It's not like you don't get fight scenes, but many of the fights are bypassed when they don't actually further the story. At 24 episodes of 20 minutes each, it's long enough without swordplay porn inflating its duration, so I appreciated that.

  Now, the main character is Manji, the Immortal, a man who cannot die and regenerates any wound due to a curse, but in truth that's a detail that doesn't affect the story too much. One could easily do something similar with a guy who is just that good that every hit on him is superficial. There are some episodes and some characters dedicated to his particular affliction, but if you remove them, you still get a solid era storyline.

  The animation is really good, as well as the Japanese voice acting - I really like Tsuda Kenjirou's voice, and if I have to find one issue with the series, it's that there are too many characters. I understand why the same people who vote isekai anime every year as 10/10 would not be able to understand (or maybe even abide) such a complex story. And I say abide because it is sort of subversive, as well. It's not hard to understand how modern Japan got the way it did after such cleansings of independent thought.

Bottom line: a very good anime which I wholeheartedly recommend.

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  The BSCU (Brandon Sanderson cinematic universe, also known as the Cosmere) is a mistake. As far as I know there are no other authors creating stories in that universe, there is (and should be) little crossover between the worlds and characters Sanderson created and there are no movie or TV deals for other people to create content a la Marvel. It makes little sense for Stephen King, too. So when something that is quite literally a secret project completely separated from everything else Sanderson did is set in the Cosmere for no other reason than because one can, I feel it detracts from the quality and pulls the reader out of the experience.

  Yumi and the Nightmare Painter is a lovely little story about two people from parallel worlds connected to each other without their will, but finding common ground and becoming friends and also saving the world in the process. For reasons unknown, the story is told from the standpoint of a cryptic (you know, like from the Stormlight stories) and there is talk about other planets, even interplanetary travel to other places, that in the end have no relevance to the plot. There are occasional humorous breakings of the fourth wall which were completely unnecessary. There are some small inconsistencies as well, which makes me weary of this "secret project" stuff. If it's secret, who checks you are not making mistakes in the story?

  I may have been too subtle and you didn't catch it, but I hate the idea of these stories be set in the Cosmere. :)  That being said, this was not amongst Sanderson's best, but it was fun and had some elements that felt new to his work. Yes, there is romance, which he says he added more of in this story at the insistence of his wife, but there was also something else, in the way he wrote the protagonists, in the Japanese cultural influences, a feeling that even with a great author like Brandon Sanderson there is room for growth.

  I'll stop here for fear of spoiling the experience. Bottom line is that it felt a little too long for what it said and had superfluous elements in it that should have been stripped completely, but it was a fun and lovely standalone story as well.

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  If you liked Death Note, you will like The Promised Neverland. It's all about outsmarting your opponent and staying one step ahead to keep alive. If you like, this is the child of Death Note and The Island, the one with Obewan McGregor. The plot, though, is really convoluted and the "smart" things people do are not that smart. In the end, it becomes kind of boring. But it was a decent manga and anime, with a lackluster live adaption as well, but which was well received. So what do I know?

  Amazon apparently wants to do an American live action series. Why?

  The story happens in a classy orphanage where children 6 to 12 years old live happily waiting to be assigned to a family. Only this is actually a brain farm for feeding demons. Yeah, stick with me. Some kids find out and they try to make a plan to escape, while their mom/warden/brain dealer tries to outsmart them. I liked the anime's first season, have read a little of the manga from then on, but I do suggest the first season of the anime is the only thing you need to watch, and only if you like this kind of stuff.

  I've also fast forwarded the Japanese live action adaption and it's pretty much the same, with some extra scenes that prepare some of what happens next. Also, with some really weird casting choices and TERRIBLE wigs. So I guess even the Japanese mess manga adaption up :) Schadenfreude improperly felt!

  Bottom line: might not be bad, but the most interesting part is the premise, rather than the execution.

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  OK, so I really don't like Battle Royale kind of crap. I didn't like the games, I didn't like the manga and I didn't like the movies. The idea that people would want to live so much that they would just risk everything, kill everybody and entertain their captors feels offensive to me. Yet regardless of the genre and my aversion to it, Deadman Wonderland is a dumb story, with dumb characters and unoriginal ideas. Imagine a combination of Jojo's Adventures and Squid Game, but without any of the nuance or intelligence of either. Kids with special powers in a prison fighting each other under the control of psychopathic wardens.

  I stopped watching almost immediately. You can't portray the audience of the "hunger games" in the story as mindless soulless ghouls, manipulated and entertained by psychos, and expect me to be entertained by the content of the show. But even if I didn't make that connection, everybody was acting like they were mentally retarded. No, thanks!

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  Every time and again I feel nostalgic about anime and manga. There are so many of those that I loved as I was growing up and later, so I periodically come back to it, hoping to get that feeling at amazement for a great story told well through drawing and/or animation. Yet if the Japanese are good at anything it's churning consistently decent product efficiently at scale. While their characters always seem to want nothing more than to grow in level, they keep doing the same things over, and over, and over again, nicely tucked in bento boxes for easy consumption.

  In Kaijuu No. 8, a guy who always wanted to join the force defending humanity from kaiju (giant monsters) is infected with a kaiju like thing and thus gets his wish. It's the typical shonen manga/anime thing where people protect their comrades, gain levels of power that are nicely quantified and monitored and overcome obstacles through the power of their feelings. It reminds me a little bit of Bleach, which was also about a guy who was fighting in a force dedicated to killing monsters, while being part monster himself.

  The problem I have with this is not that it's bad, but that it has been done before, almost identically. The comrades are the same, they have the same motivations, the psychopathic villains are the same, the levelling up is the same, the fights are the same, the feelings are the same. At no point does the story stop to look at the people in all of those destroyed buildings in Japan, on the political complexities of having a military force that is not the country's main military force gain so much power and influence. There is no attempt to communicate with the kaiju, once the intelligent and articulate ones appear, no attempt to find out where they are coming from, either. Just a mindless grind of ever increasing power in both sides. There is no explanation on what powers the monsters or the weapons, no real reason why individual people fight monsters without support, no attempt to understand how a human became a kaiju and so on and so on.

  The biggest issue in this story is not "how is it possible a human turned into a kaiju?" but "if he uses this more he will may not be able to turn back into a human". Like the most important part is not the safety of the country or its people, but the fascistic obsession to racial purity.

  Bottom line: after watching the first 10 episodes of the anime I read the manga up to chapter 108. There is nothing there. Nothing new. Just more characters with levels, people emoting on mindless battles and people surviving by the power of their shared feelings. If you like that kind of stuff, perhaps you should join the army. They kind of think the same way.

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  Firstborn feels like a golden era sci-fi story, not like a Brandon Sanderson book. Every author has these kinds of stories they just want to write down and get out of their head, but this read more like one of those old thought experiments where a character solves a '60s space opera problem with a singular solution in just the right moment. The idea of the story was really not expanded at all, the characters were not fleshed out, the dialogues felt wooden and even the moment of emotional catharsis was a bit dull.

  Bottom line: not really bad, but not good either.

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  Defiant successfully captivates the reader and ends the Skyward saga in a satisfactory YA... err... way. I think I figured Brandon Sanderson out! He takes these ridiculously basic plots, like headstrong teen girl pilot saves humanity and the universe from evil alien bureaucrats, and makes them work. But how? I think the trick is that neither does he use cardboard hero/villain characters that can't change, nor does he flip them around from hero to villain and vice versa like a soft porn high school show. Instead, he makes relatable heroes and villains that are so close to the edge that it fills the reader with anticipation. Yet they will never cross that line, even while changing and growing during the entire story. It takes some talent to give your characters growth, but also a back bone.

  That is why I basically sacrificed my sleep on the altar of finishing this book in a day. Damn you, Sanderson! I need my sleep!

  There is not much to say about the plot. Some interesting twists and really lovely dialogue and prose, but the story is quite straightforward. I don't see how a sequel could be written, as all threads end in a satisfactory and definitive way, so I believe this to be the last in the series. It was fun, but it's time to move on. In that way, I am actually grateful to the author that he didn't leave me in one of those in-between states where your heart wants more and your brain thinks that would be stupid.

  Bottom line: if you've read all the books and novellas in the series, you will obviously read this one regardless of what I would say, but I will say it anyway: it was good and I am glad it's over. If you're new to this, start from the beginning, it will be a sweet ride.

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  This is one of those little gems that Brandon Sanderson creates in order to further flesh out a specific character or part of his fictional worlds. It acts like a standalone, but it also enriches an entire universe if you are willing to spend the time and effort.

  Edgedancer focuses on Lift, a young female thief that also has bonded with a spren because of her potential to life the ideals of the Knights Radiant. But really it's more about a little girl who in absence of any societal education, makes the rules as she goes along by listening to her heart. Typical Sanderson.

  It's a really nice, short read with compelling characters and the usual quirky fun dialogues that say more than what appears at first glance.

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  Tress of the Emerald Sea is a short standalone book about a girl from a strange backwater planet in the Cosmere who leaves her small insular birth town to save the man she loves. Adventure ensues and trials that she overcomes - a bit too easily - using her reason and strong moral principles.

  I was just talking the other day about how bad writers try to create novel narrative structures in an attempt to appear innovative, while great writers take tired formulaic ideas and make something better than anything else. Any other writer would have been accused of writing about a Mary Sue who can do absolutely anything while her man is a shy and ineffectual person. Not Brandon Sanderson. As usual his stuff is smart, funny and entertaining.

  Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, this book reads fast, ends on a positive note that also effectively closes all narrative threads and gives you no desire to continue reading about that part of the world, the characters or even remember the story for more than a few days. So depending on what you're looking for, this can be the right tool for the job.

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  There is a lot to unpack from this book. On the surface, Iron John is a richly symbolic analysis of a pre-Christian folk tale, using Jungian psychology and a lot of references, but beyond that it is an attempt to define masculinity and what good it brings to the table and how to heal it. Robert Bly started a "Mythopoetic men's movement" with this book that lasted (only) two decades in the United States. Some of the things he says apply eerily well to the present.

  The book is hard to describe. It's filled with unexpected connections between concepts, complete with references to philosophical works and poems, books and movies, mysticism and real events. The thing that it most reminded me of was the text the main character reads in House of Leaves. It was a text analyzing a video, but in such intricate detail: the sound, the frames, the hidden meanings, with scientific and cultural references linked to every little thing, that it becomes a larger and deeper work than its subject. This is an analysis of a fairy tale - itself a distillation of mythology, ritual and collective subconscious -  with minute attention to details that, honestly, I would have never even thought about. Some of the associations the author made felt really far fetched. I've seen people who make weird associations like that and they are either very mystical, schizophrenic or both. That made the read a bit difficult.

  I found it strange that Bly was talking about the societal malaise that turns sex against sex and the forces that try to convince men that they are toxic, useless and guilty, but he was doing it in 1984, when this book was first published. Now, 40 years later, that's weirdly prescient. He also makes some really good points about the role of the father in the family and society, the need for rituals that people have had since times immemorial and now abandoned or even shunned by modern culture, how we must recognize and embrace our feminine and masculine sides, our light and dark sides, respect the stages of evolution and maturity of the individual, family and society and so on.

  Yet at the same time it feels like an alchemical treatise, a book about tarot cards with deep meaning, ways to transmute copper into gold using mercury and ash, only psychologically rather than literally. I didn't know Bly was a poet, but it makes a lot of sense. He was presenting some ideas and to drive them in he would quote from some poem or another, but in a strange way, like a scientist would quote from science papers, poetry as source of truth. I got the feeling that for him reality had a much deeper meaning than for me, and that meaning may or may not have been purely imaginary. The alternative would be that he was talking about a truth I can't even perceive in myself.

  Anyway, I feel this review would never make justice to the book. It was both intriguing and annoying, eye opening and eyebrow raising, meaningful and meaningless. Magic made temporarily real through Jungian psychology. I suggest you read it, but take from it what you need rather than seek a general approval or dismissal verdict. 

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  I have not seen the Stanley Kubrick 1962 Lolita and I barely remember the 1997 one, nothing other than it starred Jeremy Irons (the roles this guy takes! :) ). I will have to watch at least one of them to see how they managed to adapt them for the ridiculous American screen sensibilities. However, even in its original book form, Lolita is not really a disturbing statutory rape story, as puritans want you to believe, as it is a situational dark comedy combined with some social satire. You can compare it with Dexter (the TV series, not the books) in the sense that it features a socially engineered villain as the hero who has to navigate the hurdles of polite society to achieve his dark goals. Only, in this case, instead of killing loads of people, he follows his heart to attain the love of his life - which is, of course, much worse, apparently.

  Anyway, in a sense, that's one of the messages of the book, at least as interpreted by me. If the girl would have been of age, this would have been a romantic comedy. Instead, it's a dark exploration of disturbing behavior or whatever. The artificial nature of social constructs is exposed again and again and again in the text. In that sense, I really liked the book.

  But here is where I start discussing the issues I've had with Lolita. The writing is terribly tedious. I have no doubt that Vladimir Nabokov is a great writer, however the complex words and phrases that his character uses with great verbosity to explain even the simplest of things make the read difficult and the character annoying. Yeah, I get it, he has a very inflated sense of himself, but why should I have to suffer for it? Try to listen to it in audible form and it just starts to rush by you. Try to read it from the page and the finger twitches to skip ahead to places where something else happens than the introspective thoughts of Humbert Humbert.

  Personally I don't enjoy awkwardness - in myself or others, which is why I don't find situational comedies that entertaining. This book is packed with this kind of situations. Structurally, I think the first part of the book was a lot better than the second. Basically, when the going got tough, it meandered and fizzled into a rather unsatisfying ending.

  To summarize: a man in his thirties with an unapologetic sexual attraction for "nymphettes" or young girls that have not yet matured into adolescents, but are not strictly speaking children, falls in love with innocent Dolores and proceeds to make rather clumsy plans to be near her and take advantage of her somehow. As we navigate the difficulties of nosy neighbors, teachers and friends, legal and social rules, luck, coincidence and a poor assessment of the situation, our hero swings wildly from knave to victim, from mad evil genius to ridiculous man, from jealous lover to loving father and then back again. The book explores the vast difference between our customs and social expectations and the state of the real world. It doesn't judge, it just describes, and that might be off-putting for some, for various reasons.

  I liked the book, I think it is worth notching it off the list, but it read like an overeducated Oba Yozo or Meursault falling in love with a wild child, and the whole world made a big deal out of the story subject. I enjoyed more the underlying notes of social satire (which are exacerbated by the reaction to the book) than the actual book. In current parlance, it's like a less entertaining YouTube video on a spicy subject which results in hilarious reaction videos.

Happy Birthday, LiChess Tools!

It was one year ago that LiChess Tools was first published on GitHub. It was like the birth of a child, having spent a few weeks in gestation as an extension I would only use for myself. It was doing just the simplest of things at the time:

  • opening friends box automatically on page load, so that you see if you have any friends online
  • making sound alerts when friends started playing, so you can watch your favorite chess players the moment they start a game
  • pressing Shift-Right to choose a random variation from current position in analysis or study
  • sticky Preview mode in studies, so that you can move from chapter to interactive chapter and keep playing without seeing the move list
  • setting a minimum engine depth, so that the local engine would run automatically if a lower cloud depth was displayed

It had the Preferences in the extension popup, because they were so few features. The code was so awful that I didn't dare tell anyone about it.

Now this has become a behemoth with close to 100 different tools and bright prospects for the future.

I would like to thank the community, such as it is, because even if only one person was giving me feedback in a month, it could have happened when I was feeling low or stressed or unmotivated and it would perk me up immediately. Thank you a lot, guys!

For some weird reason (all passionate devs are weird) there was nothing more motivating than some kid wanting a feature, first thinking it was impossible, then getting the nagging feeling that I should think about it more, then finding a brilliant lateral solution, implementing it, improving on it, then delivering everything within the hour only to get a bored "thanks" at the end. But that thanks was all I needed to carry on. Occasionally I get thankful notes from people and it makes my day.

Right now LiChess Tools has 2500 daily users and 26 ratings that average to 4.8 stars. It's not the quantity, but the quality, though. The extension is focused on chess analysis and ease of learning. It's basically a pro tool, aimed at chess enthusiasts, coaches, schools and chess professionals. With such a scope, 2500 users is huge! And we'll get even higher.

At the time of this writing, plans are in motion to use the OBS integration feature of LiChess Tools for the official Lichess Sharjah Masters broadcast on the 14th of May, presented by WIM Irene Kharisma Sukandar. Oooh, I hope it doesn't break midway 😱


But there is more! I am working with the Lichess devs to streamline some of the more hackish features of the extension so that it can be used en masse without bothering the Lichess servers. I've received some suggestions from GMs and IMs and chess coaches that I will implement in LiChess Tools and I will support a plan to update the chess openings list in Lichess (as well as in Lichess Tools).

So there are some great opportunities open to the extension in the near future and hopefully they will make this blossom into something even more special!

The next major version (3.*) will probably restructure the features into more mature tools, focus on performance and adding more "epic" features, like:

  • full Client Side Analysis - including brilliant/good/best move detection ideas, statistics and charts
  • a more complete and user friendly Explorer Practice module
  • Chessable-like interface for Studies and spaced repetition features

There is also time for a rebranding. I am tired of people thinking I am talking about the Tools menu in Lichess. Right now the best idea I have is Prometheus for Lichess. I just hope Thibault is not going to nail me to a mountain and sic the Lichess owl on my liver. Perhaps you guys can come with better ideas.

Rebranding doesn't come with corporate goals and premium tiers, though. LiChess Tools will always be free, regardless of its name, so don't worry.

So, let's celebrate by singing along with the official LiChess Tools theme and hope for an even more awesome year!

It's made with AI, so it's cool by default 😁

Enjoy chess, Lichess and LiChess Tools!

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  Extra Virginity is basically a reportage, exploring the world of olive oil from its influence in antiquity on health, religion, economy and culture to the huge counterfeiting industry making billions yearly by selling us unhealthy crap under the guise of olive oil. It seems Tom Mueller specializes in this kind of report-books, having done multiple investigations into different domains, like health or whistleblowers.

  I was afraid the book was going to be too dry, but it wasn't. The author makes many interesting connections with people all over the world, interviews them and writes their story in the book with competence. If I were to complain about something, it was that some things were repeated throughout the book. Perhaps limiting it to just the essentials and editing more of the fluff would have resulted in a more impactful book, but overall I liked it.

  I also think it's an important book to read to understand not only oil, but our entire food industry and the supply chains that feed it. The most disgusting thing in the book, for me, was when it described how Europeans and Americans are being trained to associate olive oil with the bland industrially deodorized mix of different cheap oils, so when we get to taste the real thing we are shocked by its taste and believe it is counterfeit.

  Personally I've had the opportunity to taste and use regularly real olive oil and I can tell you that, yes, there is a big difference. The book goes further to talk not only of the taste, but the many apparent health benefits of real olive oil, which makes the counterfeiting industry not only guilty of fraud and wrong when they declare that if you can't tell the difference, why should it matter, but also enemy of public health, even when they don't serve you contaminated or poisoned oil (which also happened).

  In short, read this. It says a lot about the world we live in. Not a happy book.