Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Kibitzer Catches a #Chess Cheater at ICCF

Dr. Tim Harding writes in his Chess Cafe column that he has caught what appears to be a correspondence chess cheater on the ICCF server: 
During the search for unwanted duplicate games, one of the things I do is to check identical games where player names differ. The ones of more than trivial length are examined individually. One name figured prominently in this "clip database".
Let us call him Mr. Fifty Percent, because of the effect of his practices, which I shall shortly explain: they guarantee a fifty percent result in all games where he does this. Of course you cannot win tournaments by scoring fifty percent but you can increase your rating if the opponents are higher rated than you, and that seems to be the main point of the exercise.
I leave it to you to decide whether what he did is cheating. It is actually amusing in a way - though some of his opponents may well not agree.


Say you are rated 2200 and in a tournament you have opponents A and B, rated 2340 and 2350. Against one you have white and the other black. You may be happy to score fifty percent against them. You could think that you might well do worse and fifty percent guarantees a rating improvement.
So when A opens 1 d4, say, you open with that move against B. You don't reply to A until you get B's move back. Say he replies 1...Nf6.
So you play 1...Nf6 against A and when he answers 2 c4 you play that against B and wait for his reply, and so on.
By proceeding in this way, you effectively do not have to pit your brains against either A or B. Instead, without knowing it, they play each other and you end up with either two draws or a win and a loss. 

Friday, May 14, 2010

Sears Has LOST My Business

#Sears @searsdeals #SamsClub . 

I will never go to any Sears store for anything ever.  Ever.

The latest episode (there have been others, this is merely the last straw) wherein Sears has screwed me over involves tires for the mini van.  I don't half-ass the mini van.  This is what my wife drives.  The Michelins that have been on the van for the last several years were wearing out with one approaching bald status.  Back on 30 April 2010 while I was having a flat repaired I asked for new tire estimates.  Of the tires they carry I chose the BF Goodrich TAs since I've had them before and was more satisfied with them than the Michelins being replaced now.

It seems they were not in stock and would have to be ordered from Michigan.  And, I was getting a reduced price since BF Goodrich was phasing out this tire.  This was fine with me.  The Sears Auto guy said they would be here in a few days and that I would receive a call when they arrived.

Two weeks later...  No one had called.  So, today (14 May 2010) I walk in the store and ask about the tires.  Turns out they had been here since Tuesday or Wednesday of last week - a week and a half ago - but no one had called because their phones are down.  Now that is very plausible and understandable.  The phones in Nashville were out for almost a week following the Nashville Flood on 1-2 May 2010.  However, land line service was restored last Saturday (8 May 2010) and cell service was restored several days before that.

I asked if anyone had thought to use a cell phone to contact me on my cell (which is the contact number they had).  That received blank stares from both the counter clerk and the manager.  The manager stammered something about not using personal cell phones...

I was told that the tires could be installed upon payment of the balance due (~$200.00) on top of the $349.44 deposit I had payed back on 30 April.  That is, of course, assuming they could find the stored tires without computer assistance and could take payment without the computers...

I asked for my deposit back.  "Oh, no problem!  Except, our computers are down..."  They referred me to the the Customer Care place on there website...  Now, they had the receipt in front of them.  They know the amount.  The guy that took my money two weeks ago is right there saying he took the money.  They have enough money in the store to give me a refund.  But they can't/won't since their computers are down.

So, I get home and call the number (800.549.5405) on Sears' web site.  After explaining the problem to several representatives - each of which instructed me to call the store where there are no working phones - I finally was put on the phone with "Kirsten" who stated her title is Manager On Duty, Customer Retail Care

WooHoo!  Someone that can help!

Not so much, it turns out.  Kirsten said she placed an email order for the store manager to call me.  Remember, this is the store that has no working phones.  And no working computers.  I asked Kirsten how the store manager that has no working computer to retrieve the email was going to receive the email.  The basic information behind this question seemed out of Kirsten's grasp.  It is understandable then how the basic reasoning of my next question failed to penetrate her thought process... 

"How will the store manager contact me if his phones do not work?"  Kirsten replied that she was emailing the manager to contact me by phone.  "He has no email or phone," I explained again.  Kirsten again stated that she had emailed the store manager (on computers that do not work) to contact me by phone (via a phone system that does not work).


So I call Sam's Club.  They quote me a price more than $150.00 LESS than Sears for BF Goodrich TAs which turn out to be the newer model.  And they can have them on the van within the hour.  "Just bring it in and we'll take care of you."  And I did.  And they did. 

I've done business with Sears these last ten or so years because they tell me I can expect superior service for the price they charge.  I happily paid the price to get that service.  Sears has failed to deliver, and in fact, their service quality is below that I receive at places they say are inferior.  Sears will NEVER get another penny of business out of me.  In my line of work I have cause to recommend automotive choices to a lot of people, especially tires.  I have sent a lot of business Sears' way.  No more.  I'll do everything I can to make sure everyone I deal with understands just how bad Sears' service is.