Kiehl Retakes 4th

October 2nd, 2012 - A little over six weeks remain until The Kong Off 2, and it looks as though we will go into it with Donkey Kong Jr. champion Mark Kiehl sitting just beneath "the big three" of Chien, Wiebe, and Mitchell.

This is the fourth time the 4th place spot has changed hands in 2012—Dave McCrary first snatched it from Kyle Goewert in January, then Kiehl took it in February, followed by Shaun Boyd in May, with scores of 1,015,000, 1,016,500 and 1,037,500, respectively.

Now Kiehl has reclaimed his earlier position with 1,052,900, and in so doing has become the seventh player (MAME inclusive) to cross the "million fifty" mark.

The score was achieved just over a week after Kiehl beat his own two-year-old Donkey Kong Jr. world record (the battle for which has made him no stranger to Mitchell and Wiebe, who have alternately vied with him for that title).

September 7th's fourth-place Kong entry had the potential to climb past both Wiebe and Mitchell's second and third place scores. But late in the game, and on his last life, Kiehl (as quoted in Patrick Scott Patterson's report) opted to slow his scoring pace to a slightly more conservative style.

In the video of the final screens (embedded below), we can see that while Kiehl is definitely point-pressing, he is avoiding some of the more extreme and dangerous barrel-grouping and leeching techniques, before his run ends on the inevitable kill screen.

Kiehl is now only separated from Mitchell and Wiebe by 9,900 and 11,600 points, respectively, and while he has quite a ways to go before catching up to Chien, there is every reason to believe that he can.

The stretch of points standing between Kiehl's score and the world record is a painful and tedious one, but any player with the fortitude to endure the grinding psychological agony of point-pressing the Donkey Kong Jr. "hideout" screen is a player that Dr. Chien should be watching with a careful eye!

Of the gathering school of piranhas hungrily circling the most prized title in competitive gaming, Kiehl might be the most vicious. Could he be our next champion?


Anonymous said...

I don't understand, if he could get second place, why didn't he go for it rather than get to the kill screen? Isn't getting the high score more important?

Chrispy said...

It's not that he was trying to get a kill screen, he just decided to stop point pressing as hard, and then bumped into the kill screen.

All of this is rough estimate (because I can only see the section of the game that's on YouTube), but it's like this: Mark could either keep the pedal to the metal and get 1,500-2,000 more points on each barrel screen (ending up with 1,070 or whatever) than he would by playing more conservatively (ending up like he did with 1,052), but if he were to accept the extra risk, he'd also be making it more likely that his game would end prematurely (at, like, 1,030).

It might sound paradoxical, but in Donkey Kong, sacrificing the *potential* for a bigger final score increases your likelihood of clearing more screens. The less aggressive your pace-target requires you to be, the more likely you will be to actually "cash in" the target score by reaching the kill screen.

This is why several of the top 10 guys can shoot for 1,150,000 in dozens of attempts and never actually make it, whereas if they shoot for 850,000 they'll hit it probably one time out of two!

(I've got an article on pace coming soon, if none of this is making sense.)

marky said...

I looked back at the tape, and it appears I was at 687k at the end of L14, which is just a little over 1080k "pace". I lost my last reserve life at about 850k. For some reason, I wasn't feeling good about my chances on finishing it out playing that style, so I abandonded grouping up top. Was that a mistake? Maybe. It's okay though, since I am happy with incremental score improvements, this means the next time I am in that situation there will be no reason to back off.

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