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"Interview" with HopDiriDiriDattiriDittiriDom

Discussion Board interview May 25, 2021

Hop (as many of us call him) is one of the most prolific and skilled players and currently tops the Elo list by a pretty good margin. I suggested people pose random questions on the Discussion Board and this is an attempt to gather them together.

About how many moves ahead to you look?

Didn't count but I guess it should be somewhere between 5 to 10.

Do you have a favorite variant?

Those from 7x5 to 10x2. I like to play them in streak mode. Also 8x3, 9x2 and 10x1 to a lesser extent.

You seem to keep inching up in ELO. What's you strategy? Do you think you'll hit 2600?

I select the variants with the least number of unwinnables (9x3, 10x2 level-11) mostly with some occasional shots some few others (7x5 level-11, 11x1 etc.) and I also play the winnable variants during the WWCX competion or when they are about to age off. Yes I aim for 2600 and it looks like it can be reachable from where I am now.

What's your vocation?

This is a new word for me. I don't know its exact meaning. But I do things like code writing, solving math puzzles and learning new languages (currently I am trying to learn Esperanto in Duolingo), etc. No paid job.

Balalaika: great instrument or the greatest instrument?

No idea.

Your longest daily win streak at 12x1 W is 200 your longest daily win streak at 13x0 W is 200 your longest daily win streak at 8x4 is 199 what happened to the effort ?

12x1W is still alive. 13x0W was a winner in the WWC but it was lost during another WWC. That 199 of 8x4 was not best of that day. I came second with that one on that day. It took me about seven hours to win that many. Not on that day but a few days later it was lost. Playing too many games in a day makes it more likely to lose a streak.

What was the best job you had ?

I had various titles in software business. system analyst, consultant etc. Then I was self employed to develop software. Now out of business.

Travelled several countries for training and/or projects.

Should Shoeless Joe be in the Baseball Hall of Fame ?

No idea about Baseball. I don't even know its rules. Not an interesting sport for me.

What car would you like to own?

I have never had a car. Maybe I can buy an electric one when prices gets lower to a resonable level for me.

How would you do on Jeopardy?

I don't know. Probably not well.

If you won the lottery what charities would you donate to?

I never play lottery. I am almost %100 sure that I will lose money in it. So why do it?

You have previously told us you got your nick from the beat of music you were listening to at the time. Can you reveal what tune that is?

Rather than providing a link here, if you feed my nick to google, it lists many links... I didn't say I was listening. I said I whistle and sing when doing something... It's one of my favorite tunes to whistle.

But that said, here's a favorite version on YouTube...

How many languages do you feel you're proficient in? and which one was easiest for you to learn?

Well all of the languages I have tried, I find all of them hard to learn (I get annoyed by their irregularities) except for Esperanto which has very consistent rules and vocabulary is a mixture of western languages I have studied and it helps a lot. Of course Spanish is a little bit easier having already known some Italian. Duolingo has some possibilities. You may pretend you speak Italian and begin to study Spanish or English and vice versa.

In which country do you live? I was curious and tried to figure it out once based on your play history but I was not successful. My best guess is somewhere between Europe and India?

Yes, I am located in western Turkey, Aegean coast. GMT+3 in the winter GMT+2 in the summer.

As far as I can tell looking 5 or 10 moves ahead would get no where near the win rate you have. Are you actually looking much deeper into the games with out realizing?

No it gets (somewhere near the win rate). If I try to see more than that I would have longer average times. I look for transitions (those that turns your position into a better one) and simplifications (those moves that do not affect/change the number of free columns and freecells but lead to a better position).

I use some heuristics like looking for a free column and two freecells (in 8x4).

Also planning the first moves is something that must be done carefully. I usually select 2 suits; one red and one black and locate the lower cards of those suits and do some sort of Manhattan distance calculations. It helps.

Why freecell? You are very skilled and seek out difficult variations and deals. Why not try a more difficult game? i assume its the netcell community that is the attraction

During tourneys, You play all kinds of difficult deals anyway.

In streaking I hate to lose a streak to an unwinnable game. That's why I usually try to play those variants with the least number of unwinnables.

Clarification on distance?

If you have Ace of a suit close to bottom but other low cards deeply buried then it makes a lot of distance. I meant how close they are to send to foundations. And I said "sort of". Distance can be thought of as the number of cards below a target card.

I already knew he doesn't give a damn about wester pop culture

Not really. I have a lot of western pop culture music in my cd collection. And I am always keen to discover new artists. I pay attention to the music links posted here in these forums.

What's funny is his incredible English fluency and...

Wow, you think so? I always thought my English is not so good at all.

Hmmm. I thought, like Hop, that it was clear he wasn't a native English speaker - altho he clearly has mastered the language to a high degree.

That is because I worked in an international company and you know you have to use English for communication. I have attended trainings abroad so English was a must. When speaking I have clear accent but when writing I'm better. That is probably because I spend a lot of in the forums to exchange views.

How old are you?

Rather than giving you a number let me answer it this way:

Old enough to watch Munich Olympics (yeah Mark Spitz), and old enough to watch Arthur Ashe winning Wimbledon, and old enough to watch Germany winning 1974 Football (Soccer for Americans) World Cup by beating Netherland 2-1.

I guess I am above average here.

What about the Apollo 11 Moon landing?

Vaguely I remember those days. It was on TV but my memory has no details at all.

How do you cure your Freecell addiction?

I don't think it's an addiction for me. It's a routine.

You ever have a IQ or aptitude test done? If you have what were your best areas. My bets on spatial reasoning.

No IQ test.

It's my belief that linguists and cryptographers use the same parts of the brain. You wouldn't be happening to be working on some type of freecell enigma machine? I mean other than the one that resides in your coconut.

Interesting, I have some interest in cryptography also. And I use my home made crypt utility to store my sensitive data.

A while ago, I asked you for a tip and it helped my 8 x 4 game so much. What you shared was to always try to keep one column and two spaces open. I've gradually improved my rankings since then.

I'm glad to hear it. I think I have provided another tip earlier in this thread. How you start your moves is important so sometimes you must be careful about which suits you target. If you are not sure how to start, select 2 suits, one black and one red. And select those with lower cards not deeply buried.

Also there are some tactics that come up all the time. Once there was thread about it (see link). By far, this is the one I come across most of the times.

* 4 3 2 or any 3 sequential cards
* * 4 3 2

Here * represents any card which can be moved to another column.

You have one open column and one freecell or 2 open columns with zero freecell.

So first move is to move "3 2" to the free column and "4" to the freecell or to the other open column.

Check the link (below), you may find several screen shots there.

link to discussion of tactics


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