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Bloggers Square off

So a couple of you guys decided to take me up on the challenge and play a game with me. So in tribute to them I thought I would post the games, and if you play through the .PGN viewer you can see what crafty had to say about a few of the crucial positions.

In the first game St. Patzer tries to get me with a cheapshot.

black to move

Then Josh plays a pretty strong opening, but goofs up a bit and lets me run his girl ragged while I develop.

White to Move

Big thanks for the games guys, and remember if you want to play me either live on FICS or on timeforchess.com post here.


Personal Chess Trainer

So I recieved my license code for Personal Chess Trainer today and as I have posted before I intend to use it for the circles starting on New Year's Day. The trouble is, how exactly will I work it.

Personal Chess Trainer has 6 Tactics Modules, 51 Units per module and roughly 90 (some have 60) Excercises per unit. Which gives you about 27000 excercises, using roughly 5000 unique problems. MDLM calls for 1000 problems starting with easy, ending at OMG HARD and doing them 7 times.

PCT is set up to begin at mate in 1, and move to hard, but the 27000 excercises include built in repetition. Basically repetition is built into the program but not in the full circle, repeat full circle style. Its more like.. Do 60 problems, do 60 slightly harder problems, repeat 30 of the previous 60. Which supposedly builds the patterns into your memory in time for you to make use of them when you get to the hardest problems that require you to know the patterns in order to solve them.

Anyway I think my "circles" Are going to consist of my working through all 27000 excercises PCT has to offer in its Tactics modules, in order, between now and May 7th. Well at least thats the goal. The good news is, I can do the first 300 or so in an hour as they are mostly mate in 1's that I can spot pretty easy.

Any suggestions on using this particular program? Anyone with experience with it please leave some comments.

In order to keep pace I would need to do 2.4ish "units" or 225ish "excercises" a day, over the 127 days. However I told my wife that I would only tie up 5 days a week soo that cuts me down to 90 "problem solving days" over the course of 127 calendar days. Which puts me at 4.4 "units" per day, or 405 problems a day.

That seems really bold. In testing the PCT program before and after I licensed it I've found that by Module 1, unit 7 it took me 24 minutes to do a unit. As of Mod 1, unit 7 I'm just starting to have to think about the problems. Most of the problems prior to that are mate in 1's which are mostly trivial.

4.4 units at 24 minutes per unit would be 106 minutes a day. Although we can expect as the units get harder the time per unit will increase.

I had planned on 2hrs a day, 5 days a week. Given what I know right now I would say theres no way I make it through by May 7th. We will see. I will try to keep on schedule. As the difficulty in the excercises increases I will get back to you on my success.


White Xmas

Since I'm fascinated by the hits Sitemeter tells me I get from all over the world, and since I don't know who sees snow often and who doesn't... Here is a white Xmas for all of you who won't get one.

By the way I hope someone enjoys the pics, because now I have to go shovel this stuff up, and thats never fun.


What makes a good online chess service?

DG, over at Boylston Chess Club points out a few recent posts about
cheating. These sorts of posts always get me thinking back to my days as a member of http://www.caissa.com which is a small, relatively old chess site that had a nice product. The trouble at caissa.com was that the admins saw the chess sight as a labor of love but not as their primary business proposition. Long periods of time with no admin interaction would take place and in the mean time the inmates ruled the asylum.

Well as with any place on the web, anonymity leads to some less than stellar behavoir. While the admins are away the mouse will play so to speak.

Cheating.. ahh yes, the reason I made this post. The problem with online chess (i've no experience with OTB tournament cheating to speak of) cheating is that it comes in a couple flavors. You have the cheaters and you have the disconnectors. On top of all that, and what finally pushed me off of Caissa.com was a message board ji'had about who was cheating and who wasn't.

What's worse than cheating in an online chess game, to me? People accusing anyone and everyone they lose to of cheating. That's just as bad sportsmanship as cheating itself. Names getting sullied, reputations spoiled, chess playing friendships destroyed and often with no real evidence. Which brings me to comparison of a persons moves to Fritz or Crafty. The rationale behind this supposed method of outing cheaters makes sense, but I question it in practice. Just because someones moves match a computer's moves does not, in and of itself, prove that person used a computer. It points to the likeliness of computer use. At what point does likeliness become enough evidence to tarnish an online persona? After 1 move? After 1 game with 85% simularity? Or after someone is 203/7 on FICS?

What needs to happen is these decisions need to be made by an abitrary Administrator. Not the players. The decisions need to be made even handedly and regularly, and by a human being not emotionally involved in the outcome of a blitz game. So back to what I was getting at... a good chess service needs live, involved, active admins. The interface and features are nice attractors, but the admins make these services run.


Challenge the Blogger

Comment to this thread if your interested in setting up a match/game with me on Time for Chess. If you already have an account on that site then you should be able to click here to instantly challengeme.

Or we can work out the details in via email or in the comments.

DreadPirateJosh Adds:
"timeforchess.com ... redhotpawn.com, chessatwork.com, redhotchess.com... are one and the same." Thanks Josh, but I notice you didn't challenge me to a game!

New Version of BabasChess client for FICS available

Go download this now if you play chess on FICS. It is simply the best chess client out there plus its free. How great is that. Here's a screeny of my play environment on FICS...


Aggravating PGN issues

Well I was going to post the PGN from a game I played at the club last night. Well technically I still am, but at this point I am beyond frustrated. Because this was a club game I had to come home and create the PGN by hand and for some reason it doesn't want to work properly in my PGN viewer unless I put another game in the file with it first. So in this PGN link you will see both last nights club game and the last game I posted as well.

The club game is the second game in the viewer, John E vs. Qxh7, the game resulted in a draw when I blundered into stalemating him. I really should have won. The last 15 moves or so went unrecorded due to time pressure. I continue to struggle with the pace of g/30. One week I play too fast and make blitz style errors, the next week I play too slowly and end up in a time crunch for endgames that deserve better treatment. Unfortunatly g/30 is the preferred time control at the Waterville Club, so I better adapt to it if I want to be successful.


Beyond that I'm also a bit dissappointed with HIARCS for Palm. I got my Xmas present a bit early and I've had a few problems doing Hot Synch's with HIARCS installed. Also you can't just copy a PGN file with multiple games to the Palm, you have to split up the multi game PGN's into several single game PGN files. Luckily there is a PERL utility to do it for you, but you need to have a pretty good geek tolerance to use it. Good thing I'm all set there.


Day 14 of Chess Vision in the books.

So its been 2 full weeks of Chess vision exercises and I have to say I'm glad that its time for the next step. On to "Knight Sight". To be perfectly honest with the MDLM crew out there, I didn't do the exercises all 14 nights, I think I did it 11 of the 14 days, and only 8 of those times did I do the exercise with Queen, Rook, Bishop and Knight. The other three days I only did Queen because I found it much more difficult. It did get dull after a while. I really liked fussylizard's chessvision trainer though.

So two weeks of Knight sight excercises and its on to the circles. As for the Knight sight stuff, I plan to follow the knight sight recommendations laid out in the original MDLM article. I did use an actual, physical, board for the chess vision exercises and I plan to again for the knight sight stuff.

In other news, I still suck at Blitz as anyone on FICS who has ever played me can attest. Apparently my corres game isn't much better, just take a look at Time For Chess Online Chess (My games) for evidence.


Santa loves Chess

This , this , this and this combine to make my Christmas wish list very chess-centric. It just so happens that I was let in on Santa's shopping list and I know that I musta been a very good boy this year because I'm going to get everything on my list. I'm brimming with excitement.


Tough night at the Club

After winning my first game easily I got a bit cocky tonight. I moved fast in furious and managed to drop 3 games in a row before drawing another and taking off for the night. I should have known I was in for a long night when I over looked a mate in 1 two moves in a row in the first game that I won.


Chess Vision Day 6

At this point I'm becoming exceptionally bored with doing Concentric Square excercises. Thats not to say however that I'm not finding them valuable. One more week and I move onto "Knight Vision" stuff.

I've also been playing a few games on FICS as usual. I lost a heartbreaker yesterday to a 1900 player. On move 84 in a clearly won endgame I played the 84. ... g4? instead of the correct 84. ... Ke6!.

Sure I get to queen first but I allow white to queen as well. Time pressure did play a roll in the misplay but thats not a good excuse. Clearly I could use some endgame work so that the correct moves come more naturally. The final result after 112 moves was a win for white, I had 8 seconds left on my clock, he had over 6 minutes of a g/30.


Exploit Black's Mistake

White to Move and Win
Pardon my self congratulating post, but its not often you get to mate in 13. My blitz rating is still hurting though so I'm just as liable to make this kind of mistake as the next guy.

Day 2 Chess Vision

To be honest, after playing chess for almost 25 years doing these chess vision excercises feels kind of silly. However, as MDLM talks about in his articles, doing micro drills is what keeps athletes in shape. Even the pro's throw the ball around the infield before each inning. I'm going to give it the fair shot it deserves, I just feel a bit foolish doing it.

So after doing the concentric circle last night, I spent some time identifying the color of squares without looking at the board. I also tried some problems like naming the square a Knight has to be on to fork two peices on forkable squares, again without a board.

Finally I spent about 30 minutes working on the knight tour I posted yesterday. Sadly I couldn't solve it. I always got stuck with 1 square untouched.

Working out of the office today so no mid-day posts :P


Day 1 complete

So yesterday I did my first official day of MDLM by doing the concentric circles excercise on a real board, with real peices. I went through the whole excercise with all four peices. I think the first thing I realized after doing this is just how much stronger the queen is than the other peices, and how the bishop and rook seem to be more on par with each other than the bishop and knight do. The bishop and rook patterns are really similar.

I played a few more FICS games and continued to win. This time without blunders. Provisional rating after 12 standard time control games is now 1806.

Tonight is Club Night, and I will do the concentric circles excercises again when I get home.

This is interesting: http://enchantedmind.com/puzzles/knights/knight.html


Four rated standards on FICS

Its a cold day in Maine and perfect for sitting inside and playing some Chess on FICS. So thats just what I did, when I wasn't doing chores. So I got 3 games in, 2 wins and 2 draws and I improved my FICS provisional rating for standard games to 1773. Now I know thats not right so I'm just going to enjoy this lucky streak while I'm on it. If you replay the games you will notice in 2 of the games I blunder badly but still manage to win. Oh well take the points when you can right?


Starting down the MDLM (Primrose) Path

OK so if I'm going to do this I ought to do it pretty much the way MDLM laid it out. So here is my plan.

Starting Dec 4th I will begin 14 days of doing the Concentric Squares Excercises.
Dec 18th I will begin the knight movement excercises and continue for 14 days.

This will bring me to New Years Day. What a great round date to start the 7 Circles of Tactical Problem Solving Hell. Which works out pretty perfect as it can be 1. A New Years resolution, 2. I don't need to have the software until after Xmas... which is important to my wife since apparently that's all I'm getting for Xmas.

The First Circle will run from
Jan 1 - March 5th

2nd Circle
March 6th - April 7th

3rd Circle
Apr 8th - Apr 24th

4th Circle
Apr 25th - May 3rd

5th Circle
May 4th - May 7th

6th Circle
May 8th - 9th

7th Circle
May 10th

Of course the last few circles will probable need to be spaced out so they fall on weekends but we will get to that. In any case I should be done right around my 33rd birthday. For what its worth I'm going to call my initial rating 1550. I do this because I have ratings all over the place... from USCF, FICS, Timeforchess.com, ICC, Playchess, Caissa.com and even a club membership.

I normally say I'm a 1600 player but I'm taking off 50pts because I took such a long break before making a return this time and that seems to be about the average of my various ratings. Plus a number of my ratings are provisional since I'm playing at different sites this time than the last time I was serious submerged into the chess world.

So thats the plan. I'm not overly known for sticking to work regimens like this so wish me luck.

Thought Process Per Move

I've noticed many of my fellow bloggers have tried to describe/refine their fundamental thought process on a per move basis. Before I begin to describe my thought process I want to point out a fundamental difference I know exists between those that I've read and the thought process I use. I don't claim to know which way has the right of it.

The difference
All of the thought processes I've read start with step 1: check threats, ascertain what my opponent is trying to do.
And immediately this is where I differ with most people's process. My process is usually centered around "a plan"(tm). Perhaps because, having a plan has been drilled into me for so long. The first thing I do after my opponent moves is step 1: Check whether opponents move hinders/restricts/stops my plan. I guess its a different mindset, but I'm primarily concerned with what *I* can do to win the game.

My Thought Process

  • Check whether opponents move hinders/restricts/stops my plan.If it does hinder my plan, see how my plan must change or develop new plan.
  • Check for any threats that MUST be dealt with before continuing with my plan.
  • If necessary look for a move that deals with opponents threat.
  • Otherwise look for a move that furthers my plan.
  • Check any available checks, and hanging peices for available tactics to win material.

  • As I work more on the tactical part of my game I'm sure my thought process will change. This is that thought process that has developed over the course of training mostly with Silman and Keres/Kotov books.


    Does Black have a Winning Resource?

    In tonight's game I failed to convert a 2 Pawns up, opposite bishops + rooks ending. Tough game I guess a draw was the expected result when both players have the exact same 1595 rating on FICS.

    I will post a link to the pgn later. Black to move in the pictured position. I need to develop a schedule for my training. If not I will end up playing g/10's on FICS too much and not getting any stronger.

    CT Art 3.0 Demo

    So tonight I found the CT Art 3.0 Demo and I got 1 step closer to purchasing the Personal Chess Trainer. I found the CT Art program clunky and almost physically painful to use. Waiting for the peice to slide around wasn't much fun, the board was pretty ugly and the interface wasn't really intuitive. Bravo to those of you that managed to do 7 cycles with it. I know your very patient men and women now for sure.

    Anyway I will be experimenting more over the next week or so before I buy the software I decide on and start making a serious stab at the Cycles.

    Blogging Faux Pas

    OMG I soo didnt realize that comments where in moderated mode. Sorry that your comments weren't showing up. And sorry that I didn't reply to them. I think I have the feature corrected right now.

    The really cool news is, I've had visitors from all over the world! Kaula Lampur? Very interesting. Just need someone from Australia and Africa to stop by and we can really call this a world wide website.