Saturday, November 1, 2014

Kiblitzing Defined

So, you may have asked yourself at some point, "Just what the heck does 'Kiblitzing' mean, anyway?" Well, it's a long story...

Let's rewind the clock back to 1981. That's around the time I got my first computer, the VIC-20. Designed by Commodore, the budget-priced VIC-20 quickly attracted a mainstream audience, and was the first home computer to sell one million units in the United States. There wasn't much it did especially well, but it was a capable video game system, with performance that struck a comfortable middle ground between the Atari 2600 and the ColecoVision. Commodore's beige breadbox had hundreds of games on both cartridge and cassette, serving me well in those lean years before I bought a Nintendo Entertainment System in 1988.

One of the games in my VIC-20 collection was Sargon Chess II. Like many folks with Asperger's Syndrome, I was something of a savant, learning to play chess at an early age. The only problem was that I didn't have the foresight or the patience to play it well, so I had to rely on a feature in the game called "Kibitzing." The computer would think of a move for you, which could either get you out of a jam or make a bad situation worse. However, a slim chance at victory was better than a guaranteed loss, so I milked that feature 'till the teats fell off. (It was also fun to use the edit mode to populate my side with queens and leave the computer opponent with one naked, helpless king. Try winning now! Mwa ha haaaa!)

Fast-forward to 2012. When I started this blog, I wanted to give it a clever, memorable title which doubled as a tip of the hat to the gaming web site I'd retired the year before. This is what popped into mind. It doesn't have the same ring as "The Gameroom Blitz," but it gets the job done... and it seems to fit pretty well now that I know what kibitzing actually means.

Contrary to what the instructions in Sargon II Chess would suggest, "kibitzing" is not a flattering term. It's Yiddish for backseat driving; offering advice that wasn't requested or even desired. I've often gotten the feeling that people weren't interested in my running commentary on video games... yet it still keeps coming!

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