Archive for the ‘Training’ Category

A New Training Game

January 5th, 2011

I’m always looking for fun ways to train. Especially when it comes to going over master games I find myself just nodding my head and saying “yep, yep, yep.” ┬áSolitaire chess is pretty cool, but I knew there had to be a better way.

Now there is. I’ve invented what I call “three move solitaire.” Here’s how it works:

  1. Select a decisive game (a victory) that you want to study.
  2. Play through the first ten moves.
  3. Cover the score sheet so you can only see the opponent’s move.
  4. Make the opponents move.
  5. Think about the three moves you think are the best candidates. Give yourself 3 minutes or so (use a timer if you like).
  6. Rank your three choices from highest to lowest, so choice #1, choice #2 and choice #3.
  7. Uncover your player’s move.
  8. If the actual move in the game is your first choice, give yourself 3 points. If it’s the second, give yourself 2 points. And if it’s the third, give yourself 1 point.
  9. Repeat until you run out of moves.

Now you can calculate your percentage by dividing your points by three times the total number of moves your player made minus ten (because we played out the first ten moves). If the game is annotated, go over the annotations now. You’ll get a whole new appreciation for the games you study and improve your play rather dramatically.

You might also play this game in competition with friends. I’d love to hear if this technique works for you.


Chess Trainer 1.5.1 Released

January 22nd, 2010

Two bits of news. First, I’m releasing the Chess Trainer 1.5.1. (Also launchable here). It has a new concept for training blindfold that divides the board into sectors. The basic idea is that the board is easier to remember and visualize if divided into small chunks.

The test asks you questions on bishop and knight moves from squares into the sectors.

Also, I’ve moved the file (and soon source) hosting over to Google Code. I was just tired of all of the sourceforge girations to release a file.


Tactics Training on the Web

June 23rd, 2009

If you are a player of less than, say, 1800 FIDE, nothing will improve your game faster than studying tactics. There’s no point in trying to carry out a long range plan when you miss the knight fork that scotches your plans.

There are quite a number of good books on the subject. If I had to recommend one, it’s the same one I cut my teeth on back in the 10th grade and took me from 5th board to 1st on the Vestal Senior High chess team. Woohoo! That book is the gentle and readable (and, sadly, out of print) Winning Chess: How to See Three Moves Ahead by Chernev and Reinfeld.

There’s the software programs, such as CT-ART 3.0 which take you through a large collection of puzzles and provide hints along the way.

But the largest collections are to be found at web based tactics training applications. There are two that I know of:

There. Now you have no excuses. Do a half a dozen problems over your lunch break and you’ll be kicking ass over the chess board in no time.


Released Version 1.4

June 12th, 2009

I’ve released version 1.4. It adds the aforementioned blindfold test where you can enter a PGN file and step through it being quizzed on the current position.

The download is here.


New version 1.3.1

June 4th, 2009

Two announcements: first, I’ve added a blindfold game quiz to the trainer. You cut and paste a PGN game and the trainer steps you through the moves and asks you questions about which pieces are on what square, what the checking moves are, etc. It’s not quite fully baked, but you can check out the new version in the “Launch…” item in the right sidebar of this blog.

Second, I’ve updated the Java Web Start file to reflect that this app needs Java 6 to run (it’s compiled with Java 6, thus all those annoying class file format errors). If anyone is still having issues with the app on using Java 6, please respond with a comment to this post.

I’ll have a windows installer and a Mac/Linux installer available for download at sourceforge and will update the freshmeat page at that time. As always, enjoy.


Tactic of the Week

April 4th, 2009

Just thought I’d share some of my tactics training with the rest of you. White to move. I won’t say what the position calls for, but in this case it should be pretty obvious. Don’t look at the answer below the board. Hmmm, maybe I need a puzzle mode for this here chess viewer. Enjoy.

[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2003.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Kupper"]
[Black "Patuzzo"]
[Result "*"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "b2r2k1/2q5/5bBp/1pn4P/2pN1p2/2P5/1P2QPP1/4R1K1 w - - 0 30"]
[PlyCount "1"]

30. Qe8+ *


OTB is soooo different from Correspondence and Blitz

March 18th, 2009

So I’ve taken the advice of my coach and am trying to play a slow game every night. Slow in ICC terms means something like 15 5 or 20 20. After a steady diet of blitz and correspondence, I’m really struggling to remember how to win. In correspondence you can settle in to analyze “to the endgame,” and in blitz you often play unsound because, hey, your opponent is only human and it’s over in less than 10 minutes anyway. Now I’ve got to make use of limited time, no books, and a situation where my opponent has enough time to punish my weaknesses. This is going to be harder than I thought.


Decided to take some lessons

March 14th, 2009

After years of going it alone in my chess training, I’ve decided to take some lessons. Back as a kid I took private lessons for my French Horn, so somehow the thought of private lessons is inextricably linked with a dark basement and the smell of cat pee. This was different. My teacher, International Master Vojislav Milanovic (voja on ICC), lives in Belgrade, Serbia. We connected via Skype for voice and used ICC to review positions — not a trace of cat pee or dark basement about the whole experience. ;-) I’ve had only one lesson so far, but I’ll let you know how it goes.


Chess Training Tools 1.3.0 Released

March 13th, 2009

cvtAfter a long break, I’ve started up on the Chess Trainer again. The latest release adds a larger board, a new test for improving your chess vision (where can a queen attack King and Rook and safely take the rook on the next move?), and fixed a few typos. I also removed the Opening Trainer, as there are other free and commercial tools out there that do a better job.

Drop me a comment if you find the tool useful.