Training Tools

March 13th, 2009

Chess Trainer

Help, or how to get the most out of the Chess Trainer.

What is it?

This is a program that I wrote for my own use to improve my chess visualization ability. I decided to share it with other players, since I believe they can benefit from it. It basically helps you remember what color the squares are, how the pieces move, and so on, all in your head. It does so by posing you various excercises that, if practiced every day, will let you visualize positions without the aid of a board.

I use this tool every day. You may want to use it the way I do, or you could develop your own method of training. I work my way through the panels, doing 20 of each excercise. I proceed Color->Same Color->Diagonal 2->Diagonal 3->Knight->Knight 2->Mate. Then, after all of that I play a game against Vince. Start slow, by either lagging the display
by one ply, or by blanking out one quadrant. Work your way up to the 7 ply and four quadrants.

New: now available for Palm OS & Pocket PC.

The Different Panels

Vince

Probably the coolest feature of the application, Vince is a weak chess engine with some interesting features. Specifically, you can set the chess board to “lag” a certain number of plys - in other words, show the position from 1 to 12 half moves ago. Playing with this setting on trains you to imagine the postions a few moves down the road.

You can also hide from 1 to 4 quadrants of the board, forcing you to imagine where the pieces are in the hidden parts, and you can hide pawns or pieces (or both).

Move entry is textual, since dragging and dropping on an out-of-whack board doesn’t make a lot of sense. Move entry is as follows:

  • Regular moves, i.e. e2-e4, g8-f6, or e2e4, g8f6.
  • Captures, i.e. e4xd5, g5xf6, or e4d5, g5f6.
  • Castling, O-O and O-O-O (that’s an ‘O’, not a zero).
  • Promotion, i.e. d7-d8Q, e2-e1R, or d7d8Q, e2e1R.
  • NEW: You can click on the board to enter the square coordinates.

Vince doesn’t recognize book draws, the 50 move rule, or 3-fold repitition, but what do you want? Figure it out, you’re smarter than he is!

Vince display’s its move in a text field just below the board. Plus there is a list of moves on the right hand side.
If you want to end the game and start over, just hit the “New Game” button.

Color

Here you are asked to identify what the color of a particular square, e.g. e1, g5, b7, is. It keeps track of your answers and calculates your correct answer percentage.

Same Color

Here you are asked whether two squares are the same color, e.g. are a1 and f6 the same color? It keeps track of your answers and calculates your correct answer percentage.

Diagonal 2

Here you are asked whether two squares are on the same diagonal.

Diagonal 3

Here you are asked whether three squares are on the same diagonal.

Knight

Here you are asked whether two squares are a knight move apart. For example, e2 and d4 are a knight move apart.

Knight 2

Here you are asked whether two squares are two knight moves apart. In other words, if you put a knight on one square, can you reach the other by executing two moves. For example, a knight on g1 can move to f3 and from there to g5. So g1 and g5 are two knight moves apart.

Mate

Asks you to determine whether the position described is checkmate.

Future Plans

Internationalization and a few things around more blindfold training.

Getting the Source, etc.

See the project page for CVS and source packages.

Thanks to…

Thanks go to Jan Matthies and his excellent Chess Visualization web site ( http://www.janmatthies.info/chess/cvt/cvt.htm). He also has a commercial CV program with lots of features.

Finally, thanks to Mark Buckley and his excellent book, Practical Chess Analysis and Jon Tisdall and his equally excellent book Improve Your Chess Now. The playing program, which I call “Vince” in honor of a helpful patzer who help me hone my tactical abilities when I was young, and the idea to lag the display and hide quadrants of the bord as well as pawns and pieces, come from those two excellent works.

Credits

This program makes use of the excellent Chesspresso ™ library (http://chesspresso.sourceforge.net).

Legal, etc.

Chess Trainer is released under terms of the GPL version 2 (see http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.txt) and is © 2009 by Dietrich Kappe.

  1. May 2nd, 2009 at 00:52 | #1

    i want better visualization.

  2. Felix
    May 2nd, 2009 at 10:52 | #2

    Hi,

    I have downloaded CVT and created a short cut which launches it and shows the initial splash screen.
    However it then goes to a blank window with no way on interacting.
    Can you explain what I should do or tell me where the documentation is?
    (ps. I am running debian 5.0)

    Many thanks

  3. Felix
    May 3rd, 2009 at 11:32 | #3

    Hi,

    following on to my previous question, I find that CVT works under Ubuntu 9.04 but not Debian 5.0. Some sort of java problem maybe.

    Anyway, I have looked at the program and to be fair it is not really intended for what I want - teaching 9 year olds to play chess.

    But I do like the game where you have to position the queen to take the rook.
    It would be great if this had other pices for both black and white as well.
    e.g position the white bishop to take the black knight on the next turn etc.

    But even as I write that I can see that it wouldn’t work so well since a knight changes colour on each move. Also I guess the code would be much more complicated.

    Do you know of any other programs with simple chess problems in?

    Many thanks for creating and sharing this program.

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