Letters from Readers

I love getting email from readers. Here’s a few of them from over the years. Most of it is about atomic chess, but sometimes it’s about the other sections of the website.

Gannet (29-September-2016)

I have read through your atomic chess page several times, and wanted to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it and loved the content. I am not sure if you are interested in keeping track of current events for atomic, but tipau is running a 2016 iteration of the atomic world championship on lichess.org. My nick there is gannet if you want to contact me for any reason.

GMDajm (26-November-2015)

Hello Nick Long!

I am writing a chapter in a Norwegian game book about Atomic, and would be very happy if you could answer some questions. I have visited your Atomic page a lot. What is your handle on FICS?

Actually I know a Norwegian guy at my age (32) who back in 1997 had around 2570 in Atomic on Wild Internet Chess Server(!) Still he stopped playing Atomic back in 2000, so he is blank on last 15 years, and such funky moves as 1.Nh3 or 1.Na3 🙂

So first do you know something more about the Atomic beginnings other than what we can read on internet – that Atomic got implemented on GICS back in 1995?

Tell me a little about your own Atomic experience, and how has the game theory developed last years? I see spectacular Queen sacs like 7.Qb6 in C44, or Qd8-f6-d4! in B25, but what about middle game and endgame strategy development?

Also I see there were Atomic championships around 2005 on FICS. Are there still championships? Which countries used to dominate, and dominate Atomic currently?

What makes you so good at Atomic? How much did you play and study? How did you practice?

What are your thoughts about Atomic and AI? I see strong AIs like Sordid and Atomystica. I guess both are Alpha-Beta pruners with opening book. Is Atomic harder for computers than chess?, or would more programming work create significantly stronger AIs than Sordid?


I’ve played Atomic on FICS myself in April and this month. My goal is to reach 2000. Currently 1846, but 1970 performance on last 50 games, and I am currently watching some 2400+ games, so hopefully 2000+ soon! 🙂


GMDajm on FICS

Goran Prpic (23-January-2012)

Hello Nick!

My name is Goran Prpic.  I dont think we have ever spoken to each other before.  I know a little more about you then you do about me simply because I cruised around a bit on you very entertaining and educational “chess section”.

I am a chessplayer.  It was not until about 2006 that I discovered “crazyhouse”.  I must admit that after that initial discovery, my interest in “normal” chess almost completely vanished.

Oh, by the way, good article for Chess Life trying to “promote” Crazyhouse.  I was only familiar with Pminear by seeing one his games in BPGNviewer. Jkiller on FICS suggested I get it back in April of 2011.

I took Crazyhouse seriously, I studied it!.  I played it!  I have, out of habit, always played on ICC.  I then “discovered” that the place where the “real crazy boys” hang out at is FICS.  I had an account there from years before.  I needed them to send me another email reminding me what my password was.  I decided to log on and check out the scene.  I had finally reached Crazyhouse heaven.  I starting to observe some games of crazyhouse.  After a while, a friendly chap came along and introduced himself to me.

It was RubberDuck!  Bear in mind this is before I had any clue of who he is (at least from your articles perspective of him!)

One of his first remarks was something like “you have been touched/contacted by greatness”.  To myself, I said “OK, one step at a time”.  After a little thought I replied “Thanks!, its a good feeling to know that!?”  He must have guessed or we discussed why I was here and my interest in Crazyhouse.  He states “Turn on 24” (is that the bug/crazy channel!?).  Not knowing what it was, I asked “what is it!?).  He did not like this question for whatever reason.  He then asked (i thought he stated) Are you a dupe!?.  I was quiet.  I didnt come to FICS to start a fight within an hour of logging on!  I thought he was calling me “A DOPE!” in a cute way!  Noone likes to called stupid!  Right!?  Anyways, for not admitting it to him (that i was a dupe) he censored me using some verbal barrage to send me on my way!

I still did not know what ch 24 was.  I found out later.  Also of course, I found your website with the many interesting articles.

Maybe I will cut it off right here.  I kind of got into the rhytym of typing. 

I have some questions I am hoping you can help me with regarding:

1.)Crazyhouse players on FICS (are they bona fide/computer/advanced)
2.)Mark Noble   (it seems you have had some dealing with him)

I am trying to figure out why Mark was such a moron to me and the other participants in a correspondence tourney at schemming mind.

There is of course no rush to answer.  If you would like to ask me some questions regarding whatever, ask!  If you choose not to reply, thats ok too.  I hope you do though!

I really enjoyed the manner in which you wrote you articles.  I could sense your strong desire to “educate” the readers to understanding your perspective on some topics.

Talk to you soon

Goran Prpic

AJ Goldsby I (29-March-2011)


Apparently you are a chess player and a fan of chess.

Somehow, you found an old article I had done on chess (in a web archive) and brought it back, copied it, and posted it on your website. [(Goldsby Expose.pdf)]

I am not mad, or anything like that. I was just curious.
#1.) Why did you do this?
#2.) Are you a fan of my websites?
#3.) Do you have a USCF rating?

Take a look at http://www.ajschess.com/lifemasteraj/index.html. (This is the new home of my old “Geo-Cities” website.) Check out the “announcements and chess games.” (#27)

Apparently, the French Champion (GM Fellers) was caught cheating.

Here is hoping you write me back. I don’t check this e-mail every day, IF you want an immediate response, send me an e-mail at “(privateemail)” … but without the quotation marks. (This is my PRIVATE e-mail, please do not give it out to anyone.)

Thanks for writing me! (LifeMasterAJ@yahoo.com)
– USCF Original LIFE Master, A.J. Goldsby I
I also suggest to everyone who truly likes my site and enjoys it – and also has the means – that they contribute 20-35 dollars a year. {This is a nominal amount, I pay about 50 bucks a month just to maintain my websites.} It would allow me to continue building great web pages and web sites. Visit my biggest site at: 

http://www.ajschess.com/lifemasteraj/index.html …

or http://www.lifemasteraj.com

Make sure you also visit my “Services I Offer” page, and check out the list of around 10 of my better sites! 

joddle (29-July-2010)

So I read your page on “Ratings Manipulation”, and I learned quite a lot 🙂
I’m guessing you probably don’t like playing much FICS anymore, but I thought I’d bring a possibly new type of rating manipulation to your attention.

It’s a type of computer abuse, I suppose.  Anyway, “Pigwell” is the player I’m talking about.He was actually a decently strong human player (“hstat pigwell /h” shows that he was capable of beating strong human players in standard).  However, he chose to play mostly computers.And he developed a method of constructing board-length pawn walls, and shuffling his piecesback and forth until the computers lost on time.  He also used a “hippopotamus” set up on occasion.

Now, this method obtained mostly draws and losses.  Draws by the 50 move rule.  And losses because the computer would often play a “bad” move in order to avoid a draw, and if Pigwell moved too fast or didn’t notice, the computer would break through his position.  However, Pigwell drew frequently enough against these high rated computers that he managed to inflate his blitz rating (probably around 1600) up to 2100.  He got to 2100 in lightning too, which would probably have been around 1700(?) from playing against humans.  Same with his standard rating, although he played more humans in standard, so it may have actually been somewhat legit.

Anyway, on Aug. 18, 2008, FICS reset his blitz, standard, and lightning ratings to 1720, and ALSO reset his best ratings to 1720.  This is when Pigwell got fed up and left FICS.

I’m not sure how many players use this method, but there’s a new player called “goldcrown” who has been using this method.  I’m sure he’ll get reported sometime soon.

Something kind of ironic to add about these players too.  They have somewhat bad records against lower rated computers like mscp(C) because these computers move instantly (making the clocking method unusable), and these lower rated computers probably play random enough moves that it prevents these players from using their “drawn position” setup.

Derek (“joddle” on FICS)

VladimirXern (10-September-2009)

On rediscovering my website after it had been revived – what he missed the most from the original sites (from 2002-4):

A couple of the rants, sure. Reviews, chat logs, archives–your levity was always fun to read. The atomic section is good, too. There’s a severe dearth of information on any of these variants to begin with.

There is and isn’t a lot of stuff new. You know how it is, the usual life changes to be expected after five years, but things don’t seem so different. Work, school, love life. It all gets a little complicated. I haven’t been playing much at all after the USCL collapse/Borg assimilation, but I’ve been to SchemingMind before and tried it. It’s fantastic for what it does, but I must be getting old: picked up a few matches and the time controls still felt hectic. Must’ve lost the chess-player’s constitution or something.

Every now and again I seem to be feeling nostalgic and log in the FICS. Picked up your site from a fingernote. For every oldie that seems to fade away, there’s the pillar who’s still playing there after eleven or more years.

Ukimix (14-May-2009)

Hi Chron! U know me from FICS and Buho21. Mi handle there was Ukimix. First at all, I wanted to thx u for ur apdated page on atomic. It is really great. I have quited atomic for a while, since I dont have time now for it. But I like to read about it, and it has been really nice to read your page.
Checking milestones in Bronze Era, I thought that it must be there the creation of wildchess.org. Just an opinion.

Alejandro Gordillo aka Ukimix

* – Editor’s Note (2009) – I had wildchess in the list, but it was only a mere sentence – Ukimix’s idea of expanding coverage onto the creation of wildchess.org is a fine one and I shall work on it as soon as possible, especially since this will give me an excuse to harass siggemannen some more!

* – Editor’s Note (2019) – I have successfully completed harassing siggemannen about it and the creation of wildchess.org has been covered in my interview with siggemannen. Only took me 10 years to address reader feedback!

JoelH (6-January-2006)

Hi Nick,

i just found your Atomic-Page in the Net, and I am glad to see my User-Handle all around. You have to know, I’m “JoelH”, one of the Guys who wrote this first Atomic Openingbook. It’s really a long time since we made this stuff, but some lines are still played 🙂 It is interesting, that 1.Nh3, which was introduced on GICS by a the Computerprogramm TrojanKnight, is still unrefused and complicated for black. Some weeks ago I reactivated my Handle on FICS and played a couple Atomicgames, but its really hard, the players learned a lot, as well as I forgotten even the mainlines 🙁

Some Words to Atomix, a lot of the lost games came because of time and lag problems, the program had no timeseal.

Jonas ‘JoelH’ Hoffmann

Grobi (2-November-2005)

thanks for your page regarding atomic chess and atomix. I enjoyed it since it describes very well the good old times on the chess server. I guess I haven’t played a game of atomic for about 9 years now, but I guess I would like it.
(aka Grobi)

Other Posts