Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Completed 201 - 300 of problemsThe problem is, I only got 41% right. I am keeping 50% as a prerequisite to move on, so I am preparing to redo this set of problems, and I have the next set of 100 (301 - 400, Considered 'Medium' difficulty) ready to go. I really don't know if I'm being judged on the same curve with the 'program' that I am doing. Sometimes, you will know that it's a mating variation, and I'll get up to move four or five of the variation, and run out of mental strength to complete it. It can sometimes be a little frustrating, but I still count those as failures on my part. For me, success is making sure that you play it out to the win, but what else gets on my nerves is the fact that sometimes these chess problems that I am using shows only one move into the problem, then stops. Many times, I have already calculated three or four moves in to validate, then I look for the answer, and it says: 1. Ne5! 1-0 And I'll think, this is why chess books are not very helpful, because we never understood the tactics of each move. Sometimes, a book will do the same thing. It will say: 1. Rbd2!! And it will say nothing afterwards. Why in the hell not Reb2?!?! Why is this move so special. I imagine that's part of what we are trying to learn while we do these tactical exercises, but we will figure it out as we go (or as I go) I suppose. Update: I completed problems 201-250 again yesterday with a percentage of 58%. Because I have to calculate the entire position in my head before I put it on the board, these are extremely difficult, and it's all or nothing. Sometimes, I see many of the correct moves, and the theme, but like I said, all or nothing, which is very challenging. I will complete 251-300 again today, and then that will allow me to move onto my first Medium set, which is sitting there, ready for me to do them. YEAH! Update #2, 3/30/2005: I just completed all 100 problems, and I got a pass rate of 65%. For all the ones that I missed, I was close and was looking in the right area of the board for the solution, which I think is good. It's getting to the point now where it shows a tactics problem, and I look RIGHT where I'm supposed to look to see what is supposed to happen. I also now pay more attention to the position of bishops. Before, it was hard to notice a bishop on a long diagonal, and often I missed them in my earlier calculations, but now it appears to be getting easier, which is good, I think...
Monday, March 28, 2005
I am removing Jose from my TemplateI don't know if this guy saw an opportunity to sell chess items within a group interested in chess or what. I personally have a wonderful chess set bought for me by my wife a birthday ago (It's FROGS!!!) and I have no interest in reading about expensive chess sets. Large plastic sets for a buck are enough for me. He has posted nothing of interest to us, and it is impossible to reach him, not to mention, I actually have his link on my page. If I wanted to add a link to someone peddling goods, I would do it through Amazon, and make some money. This is ridiculous. What we need is a link repository for all of the current members to get together on this, and remove and add people as necessary, and as Tempo Schlucker said on Pawn Sensei's blog the other day, have rules, like, you must allow comment posts on your pages. Further, I have added to my 'interests' in my profile the item 'Errant Knights' (exact spelling, plural), and I think that we all should do this, so that it is easy to see who is involved in our group. Whatcha say, Errant Knights de la Maza?
Saturday, March 26, 2005
A new game to post... a WIN!Last night I played a game, and I played some decent tactics, but I made a major blunder, but I was left with the one portion of the game that I was good at, a two pawns split by one file endgame, which is great for me. Here we go. [Site "http://games.yahoo.com/"] [Date "2005.03.25"] [White "Unpublished Opponent"] [Black "psalcido80231"] [Result "0-1"] [WhiteElo "1291"] [BlackElo "1313"] [ECO "C22"] Now, in this game, I played against a guy who was new online, but was rising fast. He had lost few games so far, and who played hard and generally pretty well, and was probably on a winning fast track. 1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.Qxd4 Nc6 4.Qd5 Nf6 5.Qc4 d6 6.Nc3 Be6 7.Nd5 Bxd5 8.exd5 Ne5 9.Qb5+ Nfd7 10.Bf4 Rb8 11.O-O-O a6 12.Qa4 Be7 13.Kb1 O-O 14.Nf3 Nxf3 15.gxf3 Nc5 16.Qd4 Bf6 17.Qb4 Re8 18.Bg3 Qd7 19.f4 Re4 20.Qa3 Rbe8 21.Bg2 Ra4 22.Qf3 Rb4 23.b3 Na4 24.Rd3 Nb2 25.h4 Nxd3 26.Qxd3 Rd4 27.Bh3
Friday, March 25, 2005
Commanding the open fileLast night I played on Yahoo! Chess, and the game I played was interesting in the fact that I think my opponent really wanted to hold on to both of his rooks in the endgame, and therefore refused to challenge me on the open e-file. The open file was created in the opening, when I messed up and totally blundered away a pawn (and, in reality, two pawns, but he didn't take the second). Later on, a second set of pawns was traded, and I doubled his g pawn onto the f file, but he was still a pawn ahead. I made a few bad moves, giving him some tempo, but ultimately, I had both of my rooks on the open e file, one at e2 (I was black) and another at e5, and both of his rooks were on the first rank, one on f and one on c, with his king on h1, and a pawn on h2. I was able to swing the e5 rook to h4, and there was little he could do from that point without being a full rook down. I don't have the PGN on me now, what I am saying I am doing from memory, but all I can am trying to say is, without the tactical training that I had, I could have taken over the e file, but never would I have found the mate that I did. I thought for the longest time I was done for. I will update this post later with the PGN.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
Vegan Section AddedI added a short vegan section to my blog, to encourage veganism within the Knights Errant, which I know will get me some flack, but I'm going to make logical arguments as to why you should become a Vegan, and why it's related to chess.
- Saturated fat reduces blood flow.
- The brain functions best with lots of blood.
- The only natural source of saturated fat is animal fat and animal byproducts.
- You must also avoid 'hydrogenated oils' as these are unnaturally saturated plant oils and fats.
- Milk has been linked to Attention Deficit Disorder.
- Have trouble concentrating while doing your problems? Perhaps you should quit drinking milk.
- The calcium in milk is counteracted by the animal protein in milk, which takes out more calcium than the milk contains.
- Milk causes allergic reactions in large percentages of people, which is probably enough to say we shouldn't eat it.
- Milk contains large amounts of saturated fat.
- A logical person is an ethical one.
- I guess this is up to personal opinion... do animals feel pain or are they self aware?
- Don't eat your dog.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Bobby Fischer Off To Iceland!!!Bobby Fischer has been released to Iceland, and has been officially given citizenship to Iceland as well. The extradition to the United States has been discontinued. Is this a good thing? Yeah, I think so. As an individual, he did nothing that was all that bad by playing chess and making money in Yugoslavia at the time. We have lots of Corporations that do the same thing. But regardless, The article is here.
Completed more ProblemsNearly thirty yesterday, but I don't really know how much time I'm spending on this, and don't have a program to record that for me. But, I did much better yesterday on the problems, and got a very good number of them correct. I am currently storing (on paper) my responses and plan to determine whether or not I should continue to move forward based on 60%, or perhaps 65% passage on this level of tactics. These were supposed to be the easy ones, geez. Update: I have completed the second set of problems, and based off of the ones that I got completely correct (out of 100), was a lowly 57%. I don't consider this too extreme, and I have decided to move forward with my next set of 100. Early on, I had about 25% correct, but I picked up at the end, and I think that I have a better understanding than when I started. I have no statistics for my first set of problems. Sorry. Update: On my current set of problems (201-300) I have only gotten 10 correct out of the first 40, for a wonderful result of .... 25%. I've decided that 50% is my minimum, and unless I pull 40 correct answers out of the next 60 (for a glorious 66%), then I will be redoing the current round. Oh, well, at least I'm challenged!
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
Just to make you understand...
Well, I got stuff to do. I will try to do at least 20 problems today to make it up to 160, but I am currently getting less than 50% correct. It makes me want to assume that either the program that you are using is teaching you something that I am missing, OR that these problems are harder, OR that I suck (and that last one is definitely true, so maybe it's a combination). Well, either way, have a good one.
Time, time, time...Boy, could I just get a few more hours in the day? Waking up at 7:00, doing Yoga, eating, shower, and what not, leave for work at 8:30, leaving work at 5:30, getting home at 6:00 p.m., then spending as much time as possible with my wife and daughter, by the time I hit 8:00 I am pretty drained. I'm way behind on my exercises, but the second group of 100 is quite difficult for me, but I am already a decent positional player, and that is the only thing bouying my ratings so far (especially based on how often I hang my Queen). I will probably go back through the first 200 after I have completed the current round to make sure that I understand the concepts that are at hand, then I will move ahead. Sometimes, though, I just wish that I had more time... but if there were more hours in the day, my boss would just ask for them anyhow, so I guess 24 is enough. Happy Hunting!
Friday, March 18, 2005
Day Five of Tactical ExercisesAnd now I'm on problem #108 with 76% correct. Because of the lack of themes, and because I am doing chess problems, my results rate is not necessarily comparable to those that are actually using CT-ART, but I am doing my best. One thing that I am finding that I am far better at now is spotting mate on the board, but most of my recent games have been G/10 against a computer opponent, and when you are trying to write down your moves as quickly as possible, you'll find that a computer opponent will wear you down in time (even the bad ones), so that you eventually are left with only 2:00 or so on move 25 and you'll stop recording your moves (the computer still records), but then you'll find yourself STILL struggling just to keep up. I've noticed, however, that when I write down my moves, in any situation (online play, computer play, whatever), I have an effective rating increase of about 100 - 200 rating points (based on where I am). Thus, I am loathe not to record the moves. Fast time constraints suck, but I am trying to win the 'Championships' offered by Chessmaster, and that's what they have them set to, so I have to live with it. Well, maybe I'll have some time for some online play coming up. I created user psalcido on FICS, and perhaps I'll log on their soon, although I am already quite established on Yahoo games. I look forward to seeing my non-provisional FICS rating (probably around 1000 or so) so that we can see if I have just as big a ratings jump as the rest of you guys, even with such a low rating.
Thursday, March 17, 2005
Doing Non-CTArt Tactical ExercisesWith some of the comments posted on other blogs about the CT Art (I hope I got that right) application, and the way that it works, I wonder whether or not doing my exercises can work as well as the ones that have been designed by CT Art. One thing that I have noted that other people say works well is really getting into the problem, and not looking at the solution until you have it resolved. You will find it very easy to look at the solution when you can't find it in the first minute if the solution is immediately available. Of course, there seems to be a way around this that, I believe, is excellent for calculation purposes, and it has already improved my rate of speed and correct resolution rate for all problems that I have been doing. This is very simple to do, and I think that anyone would agree that it should be done this way if you do not have the money to put down for a chess trainer, and it can be done with either a database and a notebook, or printouts of the problems (without the solutions) that you can get from the DejasCacchi site that I have referenced in the Chess Resources section of my links. The best way that I have found is to look at the problem in the database (or the printout) and write down your entire solution. Write down variations and how they work out. Doing this will help to find you the best moves for each player the whole way. Of course, most tactics are based on forced variations, but it is possible for multiple options, and many tactical puzzles stop at one variation (I don't know about chess trainers) or only show you the correct move. Work out the problem until you have mate or until you have superior material over your opponent, and write it all down. Now, whatever you do, don't look at the solution. Even if you can't solve it, don't look at the solution. Do ten to twenty problems this way, then, after you have all of those completed, go back and try to solve the ones that you could not originally solve. During the first pass, give yourself about five minutes per problem. On the second pass, give yourself two minutes per problem. Looking up the solutions without giving yourself enough time is very counter-productive, I have found. Well, either way, that is how I am doing this, and it seems to be working well. Some of you might say 'well, duh', but I thought that this might be helpful for those just starting up with these tactical studies, much like myself. Now the one thing that I can guess about CT-ART is that you can kind of toss out a guess as to what looks right, and then it will tell you if you are right during each step. I think that the method that I have entailed is better, because during your calculations, if you are forced into the moves, you will find the failure points yourself, which is great for calculating abilities.
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Tactics.pgn File PublishedAnd you know what, it works great in Scid, in fact, it loads up the whole file very quickly, and the problems are in order of difficulty, with random themes as you go (which I think is a great idea, it keeps you on your toes). Please see the My PgnBase link on the right, and follow it to the set of pgn databases that I am putting together. Well, now I think that it is a good time to finally tell something of myself, because this is as good an opportunity as any. I have been trying to get serious about chess over the last two years or so, but I have had little luck due to time constraints of various sorts. These include, but are not limited to, my wife and child. Which one takes up more time is anybodies guess. I am a Buddhist Atheist (yes, this is possible) and I am a psuedo-vegan, but dairy is so hard to avoid (despite the fact that it might actually be bad for you), and I have a tooth for honey (all apologies), but I do my best. Having a beautiful little girl gives me a sense of purpose, but I can only hope that she will enjoy chess as much as I do. Being only 16 months old, though, there is little possibility of meaningful tutoring for the time being, and that gives me a few years to get some tactical teeth, so that I can teach her appropriately. Anyhow, thanks for having me in the Errant Knights, and I look forward to it. Please enjoy my crappy play. Cheers!
Dejascacchi Tactics Deja VuIt contains all of the same tactical puzzles, in PDF format, that you will find in the PGN file that I located on the Ozzimitz Chess Collections site and modified into PGN format. I am still working on publishing the piece, I will let you know when I am done.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
I imagine I'm not aiming for perfectionAnd any attempt to do so is futile and only brings suffering, much like pleasure (all things being temporary, the end of pleasure brings suffering, you get the picture...). Anyhow, I opened my little PGN of 3,517 tactical positions this evening and looked through the first 15 or so, and that's all I had time for. They were interesting, and I now understand that I still have a ways to go, although, instead of just going through the positions, I, like many of you, am looking for patterns that will exist in the game that will make these kinds of tactics possible. I mean, possible mates, overloaded pieces and how to take advantage, the pinned piece, etc. All of these things are enough to make your head spin. I imagine that the next step after resolving 1,000 of these tactical puzzles would be to actually learn how to create these situations. Sometimes easier said than done, however, the use of possible tactics can be used to stifle your opponents play, but that's a discussion for when I'm a better player, not the patzer that I am today. If anyone has hosting space for this PGN file, please let me know. If not, I will eventually find someplace to put it. Please let me know.
Tactical NightmaresYeah, I'm going to have trouble sleeping tonight, especially after this mess. I tossed this game away, and seeing better moves is just one Crafty program away. First, the game, in plain old PGN format: [Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "2005.03.15"] [Round "?"] [White "psalcido80231"] [Black "LavaSoft jChess"] [Result "0-1"] [BlackElo "2000"] [ECO "A10"] 1. c4 Nc6 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. g3 e5 4. d3 Bb4+ 5. Bd2 d6 6. Bg2 Bg4 7. O-O O-O 8. Bxb4 Nxb4 9. Qa4 Na6 10. b4 Bd7 11. Qb3 c5 12. b5 Nc7 13. Nc3 g6 14. a4 h5 15. h4 Ng4 16. Nh2 Nxh2 17. Kxh2 Rb8 18. Ne4 Qe7 19. Nc3 f5 20. Bd5+ Nxd5 21. Nxd5 Qe6 22. Nc7 Qf7 23. Nd5 Rbe8 24. b6 axb6 25. Qxb6 Bc6 26. Rfb1 e4 27. a5 exd3 28. exd3 Bxd5 29. cxd5 Qxd5 30. Qxb7 Qxd3 31. a6 Re2 32. Rf1 Qd4 33. Kg2 Rfe8 34. a7 Rxf2+ 35. Rxf2 Qxa1 36. Rd2 Qe1 37. a8=Q Qxd2+ 38. Kh3 Rxa8 39. Qxa8+ 0-1 So, there it is in all of it's glory. My crown achievement (a loss). What sucks so bad is that I was actually fairly close that time against a moderately strong opponent, but he had some weak moves too. There are several positions that stick out on the score graph. Most noticeable, however, is 32. Rf1. Crafty recommends (and quite brilliantly, I might add, that a more responsible and powerful move is Qg2! However, this was still not the end of the game for me. My opponents next move (32. ... Qd4) gave me some real chances. Better would have been the not-so-quiet move 32. ... f4!!, based entirely on the pin on f2. My final chance for a win came on move 37. Instead of 37. a8=Q, the more powerful Ra2! would have greatly stifled my opponent, and probably would have won me the game. These three moves were all that stood between me and a K+R+2P vs K+5P endgame, which would have given me a great opportunity to win this game. However, in a book I once read that you can play like a 2000 player for 20 moves of a game, and that one move that an 800 player would make is enough to leave you with a 1300 rating. The goal is to remove that one 800 point move in every game. Now I move on to converting that PGN file, for future tactical studies.
Low Level ChessMaster LossHere is an embarrasing ending brought to you via ChessMaster, Personality Adam, Approx. Rating 1116. Please disregard comments on the last move. The correct move is clearly Rg1. I will probably lose sleep over that tonight. How embarrassing, but that's what this is about. It is worse than hanging a Queen. [Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "2005.03.15"] [Round "?"] [White "psalcido80231"] [Black "ChessMaster: Adam"] [Result "0-1"] [WhiteElo "1008"] [BlackElo "1116"] [ECO "C70"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Qf6 5. O-O Bb4 6. c3 Bc5 7. d3 Nge7 8. Be3 Ba7 9. d4 exd4 10. cxd4 Qg6 11. Nc3 Bxd4 12. Bxd4 b5 13. Bc2 d6 14. Kh1 Nxd4 15. Nxd4 Bg4 16. f3 Bd7 17. Nd5 Rc8 18. Nxe7 Kxe7 19. Re1 Rhg8 20. Nf5+ Kf8 21. Nd4 Ke7 22. b4 Qh5 23. Bb3 Kf8 24. Rc1 Qh6 25. Bd5 Qg5 26. Bc6 Rd8 27. Bxd7 Rxd7 28. Nc6 Qh4 29. Nb8 Rd8 30. Nxa6 c5 31. bxc5 dxc5 32. Qb3 Rd2 33. Nxc5 Qg5 34. Rc2 Qxg2# 35. 0-1 Now that you've all got that punched in so that you can follow along, there are two points where the Score Graph really goes crazy, when annotating with Crafty, and that is at moves 19 and 22, which implies a missed tactical opportunity. Normally, I enjoy far more subdued games of chess. Anyhow, the motif that is necessary to notice is that the King is in the center, and that white can take advantage of this by opening up the center with e5! in both cases, and trade down material straight away. Further, an excellent move that I missed was 25. Bb7!, which would have been a devastating move, causing the loss of much material. There are other locations where tactical opportunities were abound in my quest to defeat this opponent, however, they almost all involved the move e5, which I simply would not do because I do not like to open the center, but I guess that in order to gain tactical abilities, I will have to do it from time to time. Please feel free to critique this embarrassing play, but remember, there is positive critique, and negative. Have Fun!!!
Tactics Problems and DifficultyBecause of the database that I have selected to use, I will have little control over the difficulty and themes of the problems that will result. Therefore, I implore, one must wonder what is the best possible way to study tactics. Are tactics problems acceptable if you cannot resolve them yourself? Is this more or less helpful than doing tactics that you can resolve? Well, enough on that. I have a game that I can post, but that will wait until I can run it through the database and I make sure that my written PGN is accurate. Afterwards, I will note positions and possible tactics that I missed, but for the most part, it was a positional game all the way up through the endgame, then the computer took me for a real ride. After I get home, I will also work on creating a Scid (.si3) file for that set of PGN's that I described earlier. As I work through the problems I will set the board to hide the next move, but I will not be able to set it up for testing purposes, as Scid is a database, not a trainer. Being a Linux user, however, I have no possibility of using a trainer, unless I develop one myself, and frankly, I don't have the time and resources for that, so wish me luck in my current, and much shorter, endeavor.
Chess Tactics PGN Database InfoWhen I visit chess database lists, I notice that the vast majority of them are in ChessBase format, which is unnacceptable for those who do not have Windows. Well, I have broken through the mess, and created a PGN file with 3500 tactical positions on it, based on a tactical ChessBase file that can be found at the Ossimitz Chess Collections (please see the link to the right). If anyone has space where I can make this chess collection public in PGN format (1.3 megs), please let me know. I also would like to publish it in .si3 format, for Scid. As soon as I can make it available, I will let you know.
Chess Programs for LinuxI don't have tons of time and money to devote to chess, but what I do have is a love of the game. While I had no embarrassing losses last night, I decided to devote my current post to the subject of chess programs for linux, how to install and use them. For those interested, I use Mandrake 10.1 right now, because it is easy for my wife to use. When I first decided to join errant knights, it was because of Patzer Quest. He had several applications that he was suggesting that one get, and the links to the two that I suggest are in my links under 'Chess Resources'.
- Scid (A Chess Database)
- Crafty (A Chess Plugin Program)
These two programs are excellent, to say the least, but on Linux, Scid can be extremely difficult to set up, while crafty is a pretty standard program to 'make'.
Therefore, I have a little helpful info for those interested.
First, the following items need to be found and installed:
- tcl 8.4+
- libtcl 8.4+
- tk 8.4+
- libtk 8.4+
All of the rpms for these can be found at http://rpmfind.net/. After all of the rpms have been installed, then you need to either get the source code, or find the relevant rpm at Rpmfind. If you choose to do the source code method (for the newest release), then simply read the instructions that come with the source for how to make. You still need the items above installed. The other option is to use the RPM at rpmfind and install it.
Now, all you need to do is type 'scid &' from the command prompt, or setup a desktop item pointing to '/usr/bin/scid' in order to start up scid.
Scid is not the easiest database tool that I've used, but it's many options are brilliant, and I highly recommend it. Far more than Jose, which is a good but very cludgey database tool in Java.
Now, this comes with 'scidlet', which will be the default tool for annotating games automatically, however, Crafty is better. To get Crafty, go to Tim Mann's home page (see the chess resources again for this link), and download the source. It should be easy to compile as long as you have your box set up for compiling and what not. I have not searched for Crafty on rpmfind, but you do not need any additional libraries to set up Crafty. tcl and tk were both for Scid.
As I move forward, I will describe some of my experiences with these two programs, and cool ways to use them.