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2024 03 24

I started playing Chess when I was 6 years old. I didn't start on the board. I am not sure I would have persisted playing chess had I started playing over the board.

My first experience with chess was on a computer. Back in early 1990s, my dad got a DOS based computer. It had four games on it: Prince of Persia, Dave, Gorilla (a game for two players to throw banana over some sky scrappers that deeply got me interested in geometry) and then Chess.

Since there weren't many choices to play on the computer, but there was a deep desire to be on the computer, I ended up playing Chess a lot.

I never learned Chess formally and hated theory until high school. From 9th grade to 12th grade I almost played Chess regularly over the board with a bunch of intellectual friends discussing random math/science/philosophy topics. It was a regular affair. Everyday after school I would bike down 5km to go to my friend's place which was by the sea, play an hour or 2 of beach football, then go up his apartment's terrace and play chess and discuss math/physics etc.

The friend whose place we played at used to go for chess classes. The other friend was a nerd who strongly believes in training and learning. I was the lazy one. I neither took classes, nor did I bother putting in the hard work of research and studying openings. I resorted more to trash talking and making my opponents feel they missed something and cause them to make unforced errors in their meticulous play which I would then go on to exploit.

As my strategy/theory was weak, I preferred to exchange off all the pieces and bring it end game. And I was pretty strong in end games. So even without training, without practice my scores against my friends were pretty good.

In college I got into Go. I played Go a lot. first with friends. When finding people who could spare 2-3 hours to play a game got tough, I started playing against the computer. One can't trash talk to a computer. I had to really think strategy. This is when I got deeply interested in theory and later when I got back to Chess (during the and boom), I focused a lot on theory. My openings were solid. My end games were top notch. But I started to platue. I would play likes 10-15 games a day and yet my chess never improved.

So I have finally stopped playing games and now I focus on just solving chess puzzles. When I get a few minutes free time I just play survival or 5 minute puzzle rush on Chess Cup. I know even and has puzzles, but then I get distracted and play games or tournaments or some other things on them. Chess Cup keeps it simple.

Right now my highest puzzle run in 36. It is not bad. I usually come up in top 10-15 in daily rankings. I want to continue this for at least a few months, till I consistently hit 40+ scores in the puzzle rushes.

2023 12 25

Back in the 2010s, when ever I left Singapore I would feel like I am traveling and that I need to get back home. Even when I left to some place for a long time, like doing my MBA in China or Korea, I would always feel Singapore is home. And that I have to get back home. Even when I worked in Korea in 2017-2020, Singapore was always home. I would make regular trips to Singapore. stay there only for 15-20 days. But those days felt like I was home. And when I returned back to Korea from the trip, it would feel like I am on a trip and that I need to get back to Singapore.

Singapore in many sense was home no matter where I lived.

Today I am traveling out of Korea to visit mom and brother. But I don't feel like I am going home. For the first time it feels like I am going on a trip and that I need to get back to Korea. And that my house in Korea is my base.

And then it struck me. Home to me was dad. Where ever dad was I always felt that is home. Since my dad passed away, suddenly I feel homeless and my house in Korea is what remotely resembles a home.

2023 10 06

  • Get rid of things and simplify possession. Keep house super organised and clean, and get into a routine.
  • Complete Advent of Code 2022
  • Finish reading the Elon Musk book by Walter Isaacson
  • Work on an App or some software project
  • Work on a hardware or physical side project
  • Get done with chores
  • Learn Korean Language (Complete Pimsleur Korean A by end of October)
  • Bike as much as possible
  • Fill up second brain when ever bored
  • Get back to blogging regularly

2023 05 28

Have started playing correspondence chess with a friend. It is casual chess with 24 hours per move. I prefer this more than playing with random strangers. There is some fun and banter. Hopefully, I can convince my other friends to also play correspondence chess with me.

Running has been steadily picking up. I doubt I will ever get back to my peak running form (2010-2015), but I do hope to do some Ultra Marathons in the near future.

Have taken up a rock climbing gym membership. Pure bouldering. I have figured, I don't like climbing as much as I like bouldering. Bouldering is non-nonsense. Go there alone, solve some problems and get out. And you can always make friends there. There are always people your level, who struggle on the same problems as you do and overcome it just like you eventually do. When you find such people, you instantly connect. Even if you don't know their language and they don't know yours, you play dumb charades and connect with them.

Have picked up about 10 interesting books on math. So the summer is kind of packed with a great reading list.

Played around with Bard from Google. It certainly seems to be quicker than ChatGPT for coding help, but the quality is not very good for complicated requests. I am going to get some of the weekend projects done. The only issue with Bard is I am not able to figure how to go access my previous chats with Bard. Which means, after I start a conversation, I have to complete the project one-shot.

  1. Words - A list of 10 random words to help improve vocabulary.
  2. Proximation - A math approximation game, where a person can choose between 0-20% precision and then pick a randomly generated problem set that is either big number addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, percentage or reverse percentage.
  3. Airbnb Chat clone - A chat app that auto translates messages between two people who type in different languages.

2023 03 17

I have always wondered if there is any use for managers at all. I have in my life had the experience of working in big MNCs, high growth startups as well as starting my own businesses. And in all my stints, I have purely been successful by being a leader.

There is a big difference between being a manager and a leader. A manager focuses on proxies for performance by the team. They care about compliance. When people come to work. Do they take leaves. Do they sit in their seats. Do they attend the meetings. They enforce policies.

In my opinion, all this is not required if you can inspire people to do better, leading by example. I have always done work independently and people around me look at me and they do better. And this has worked out pretty well all these while.

So, what is the real need for managers? If managers are so critical for efficiency in large organisations, how come the military doesn't have managers?

Every manager I have met are idiots. They aren't leaders. They know less than their subordinates and so have trust issues and are always threatened about their position. They can't inspire people to be better. And hence resort to compliance and policies to make sure their subordinates work. Most of them try to control information flow to hold on to their jobs.

2023 02 21

Today at the metro train I spotted a grandmother with 4 grand children. All under the age of 5. She quickly tried to find the kids seats. She got them to sit. She stood. The kids did offer her to take their place. But she was like "no you all sit comfortably" and she kept standing. The beauty of the moment can only be appreciated by those who understand these same kids in a few years won't remember this aspect of their grandmother and only be irritated to talk to them.

I remember the many mini-sacrifices my grand parents and my parents did for my brother and me. I miss those times. I wish, while I was a teenager, I was more closer to them and hung out with them more. But somehow, at that age, I preferred to hang out more with my friends, play a lot of computer games and in general be anti-social with parents/grandparents.

I was reminded today of my fond memories of my time spent with my maternal grandparents. All the stupid things we would do. And how they would act our age to be with us. I would give anything, to go back to the 1990s to those summer vacations spent completely with grandparents. It was the highlight of my growing up years.

2023 02 20

Now that the website is setup and the structure seems to be working quite well with Obsidian, I think I will start adding notes with a theme. The theme needs to be broad enough to capture all my interests, especially my online reading and information consumption. But I don't want it to be a data dump. I want to process the information that I consume. I think a good theme could be to make mathematical models of all of information that I consume. Breaking down industries, process, ideas into fundamentals and reconstructing them will help me process the information as well as create mental models.

2023 02 19

I decided to redo my entire website today optimising for Obsidian. The previous site was made for github and then I tried to fit in Obsidian notes and things got out of hand. The structure was messy. Things were broken and I had no motivation to even open it up and write stuff, because it was overwhelming to clean it up.

As with any new setup, there is plenty of things to learn. I have been googling quite a bit to make things work and I think I enjoy this process the most. The "aha" moment, when something wasn't working for quite some time and then you find some random website that tells you add this piece of code and it starts to work, is a very underrated form of joy.