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Subject: How to improve at chess (tactics)? rss

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Ola Mikael Hansson
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markgravitygood wrote:
Seriously?

You think 12 cents a day is "fairly expensive"? It's a quality service second to none, if you ask me.

I don't think 12 cents a day is expensive. I think having to commit for a whole year is. If they had a monthly (or 3-month) subscription for similar per day rate, I would get it. But given how my focus tends to shift with time, and I don't even know if I'll still be actively playing chess half a year from now, it does feel expensive.

Especially as my first impressions of the service were not that impressive - perhaps it has the features I need (but hidden away well enough that I couldn't find them or find information about them in the help), and perhaps I was on at a bad time for getting the sort of game I want...

Quote:
But, you can play any time control/color on Playchess. You just need to put up a challenge with the correct parameters. Go to the room "Play and Watch/Main Playing Hall and put up a challenge.

Yes, the game above was played with parameters I wanted (15+5), and set up in my challenge. Problem being that due to the parameters, that challenge went out to very few people (presumable because blitz / bullet is what most people play), and I had to wait quite a while to actually get a game going. Might have to do with the time of the day as well - morning in Europe, night in USA...


Quote:
If you registered with an email on Playchess, it sends you your games automatically to that address, I believe. But, I've sort of been out of that circle lately and forget.

I registered with my email, and did not receive the game. There might be an option for that *shrugs* but if so, again, I couldn't find it. Overall, I spent some time browsing help files (while waiting for somebody to actually accept my seek), and didn't find them very informative, which led to me (erroneously?) assuming the server lacks those features.

Still, it has another 6 days to convince me... might as well use the free trial week I have, and perhaps I'll work some more things out before the end of that week.
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Michael J
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Chess.com is great. It also has a really good mobile client.
 
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Ola Mikael Hansson
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Okay, I googled a bit, and the playchess server does indeed automatically save all your played games. However, it saves them in their proprietary chessbase format, and does not come with the tools to read that format.

Chessbase (the company) in the past used to offer a free version (Light) of their software, but seems to have ceased that practice in recent years, meaning that if I want to view the automatically saved games, I have to pay them €100 for a copy of their Chessbase program.

No thanks! [Edit: see posts below - they do still provide a free reader]

So, that means (unless I've totally misunderstood the information I found on various forums when googling) that the playchess server is definitely not for me. I'll have to try one of the other options mentioned and see if they are more wallet-friendly.

On a different topic, what is a good program for automatic game analysis / annotation? Last time I tried to improve at Fide chess was over a decade ago, and back then, I used some version of Crafty, which was free, but did not provide much in the way of interface niceties. (I've had periods of chess interest since then, but they've been mainly focused on either chess programs, or chess variants... not on actually playing standard chess myself).
 
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unic wrote:
Okay, I googled a bit, and the playchess server does indeed automatically save all your played games. However, it saves them in their proprietary chessbase format, and does not come with the tools to read that format.

Chessbase (the company) in the past used to offer a free version (Light) of their software, but seems to have ceased that practice in recent years, meaning that if I want to view the automatically saved games, I have to pay them €100 for a copy of their Chessbase program.

No thanks!

So, that means (unless I've totally misunderstood the information I found on various forums when googling) that the playchess server is definitely not for me. I'll have to try one of the other options mentioned and see if they are more wallet-friendly.

On a different topic, what is a good program for automatic game analysis / annotation? Last time I tried to improve at Fide chess was over a decade ago, and back then, I used some version of Crafty, which was free, but did not provide much in the way of interface niceties. (I've had periods of chess interest since then, but they've been mainly focused on either chess programs, or chess variants... not on actually playing standard chess myself).


Wrong: They provide a FREE Reader:
Chessbase Free Reader

I don't understand why you are messing with "forums" - go to the source!

Chess Engines: Google Crafty Chessbase Engines. Crafty comes up - it is compatible with Chessbase.

12 cents a day.
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Ola Mikael Hansson
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markgravitygood wrote:
Wrong: They provide a FREE Reader:
Chessbase Free Reader

I don't understand why you are messing with "forums" - go to the source!

Thanks for pointing that out. Colour me a dummy, but I had been at the source (I've had Chessbase's news site as one of my daily websites to read for many years), but the description of the reader ("For all Training download products from the ChessBase shop.") didn't convey to me what it was - I thought it was a program ONLY for Training download products from their shop (whatever they are).

*Downloaded and installed it* I might be a dummy regarding this too, but while I can easily view my game from within that reader, I still can't figure out how to export a game (or collection of games) to PGN?

Quote:
12 cents a day.

... assuming I play every day for a year. Say that I play every other day, for 3 months, before my focus turns to something else. Then we're talking 60 pennies a day, or 96 cents.

The problem though for me is really them not offering shorter time spans than a whole year. Regardless of whether I think the per day price is reasonable or not, financially, I won't have €33 available to spend until the 19th of January. Whereas if it was €3 for a month, I could have easily fitted it in.
 
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unic wrote:
markgravitygood wrote:
Wrong: They provide a FREE Reader:
Chessbase Free Reader

I don't understand why you are messing with "forums" - go to the source!

Thanks for pointing that out. Colour me a dummy, but I had been at the source (I've had Chessbase's news site as one of my daily websites to read for many years), but the description of the reader ("For all Training download products from the ChessBase shop.") didn't convey to me what it was - I thought it was a program ONLY for Training download products from their shop (whatever they are).

*Downloaded and installed it* I might be a dummy regarding this too, but while I can easily view my game from within that reader, I still can't figure out how to export a game (or collection of games) to PGN?

Quote:
12 cents a day.

... assuming I play every day for a year. Say that I play every other day, for 3 months, before my focus turns to something else. Then we're talking 60 pennies a day, or 96 cents.

The problem though for me is really them not offering shorter time spans than a whole year. Regardless of whether I think the per day price is reasonable or not, financially, I won't have €33 available to spend until the 19th of January. Whereas if it was €3 for a month, I could have easily fitted it in.


Well, alot of the features are disabled in the free reader. it is free, and it is a reader. However, if you have an email client set up on your machine (I have Outlook 2010), then, in the reader go "File"/"Send"/"Send Game" - select PGN, click "Go" and that should start your email client with the game in PGN in the message. For example:

[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "????.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "?"]
[Black "?"]
[Result "*"]
[PlyCount "4"]

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 *


As for the "12 cents a day" - if you lease a car for a year at $300 a month, you pay that rate regardless if you don't drive it on weekends. you are essentially leasing the use of the site for a year.

In any event, I'm just giving you the options I know of. If you want to play free chess online, you can at FICS, as previously mentioned.

Good luck.
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Ola Mikael Hansson
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markgravitygood wrote:
Well, alot of the features are disabled in the free reader. it is free, and it is a reader. However, if you have an email client set up on your machine (I have Outlook 2010), then, in the reader go "File"/"Send"/"Send Game" - select PGN, click "Go" and that should start your email client with the game in PGN in the message.

*sigh* No luck there, as I'm using gmail, and don't have any email client installed. (Yes, the reader is free... but I would be paying for the Playchess subscription, and don't see why that client couldn't provide the functionality in the first place - it is not like writing PGN is a complicated feature at all. It seems that unless one buys either a program with the Fritz Client, or Chessbase, one is stuck with an inferior Playchess client even if paying for the subscription.)

Btw, despite my so far negative experiences with the Chessbase products (I think my problem is that they really want you to buy into their whole package - Playchess server, Chessbase, and a computer chess program with their interface...), I much appreciate your advice.

Had a second game on playchess, and it was a heart-pounding experience... after blunders on both side, it came down to an endgame with little time left on the clock for either of us - 5 seconds extra per move felt very stressful! In the end, I managed to stop his passed pawn, and then advance two connected pawns of my own to take home the game. I clearly still need to work more on my tactics to eliminate those blunders, but that was an exciting game!

Quote:
In any event, I'm just giving you the options I know of. If you want to play free chess online, you can at FICS, as previously mentioned.

Good luck.

Yeah, once my free week on playchess is up, I will try out other alternatives. If playchess had allowed PGN export, and monthly payments instead of yearly, they probably would have had me as a customer - actually playing a game feels very smooth, and I got a match going much quicker tonight.
 
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Mike E.
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I enjoyed looking at your chess sets. But on your JangGi set you noted that one side uses Chinese symbols and the other side uses Korean symbols—that’s not correct. In fact, both the red and the green pieces use Chinese characters. The red set employs traditional characters which are used in Taiwan, and the green set uses simplified characters which are used in the PRC. As well, the green characters are written in “running style,” a more artistic calligraphic form which is more free flowing where some of the detail of the individual components making up the characters is no longer clear. Also, whereas your set above the JangGi set has the piece in the middle be either “commander” or “general” (roughly equivalent to the King in Western chess), in the JangGi set, the big red piece says HAN, the name of the famous Chinese dynasty, while the bottom big green piece says CHU, which is the name of a famous ancient state in China that was defeated by the state of Qin. Lastly, the five pieces in the front rows facing each other are different characters on the green and red sets, but mean the same thing, something like “foot soldiers”—these are the pawns in the game. Enjoy these beautiful sets!
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Ola Mikael Hansson
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Mike31 wrote:
But on your JangGi set you noted that one side uses Chinese symbols and the other side uses Korean symbols—that’s not correct. In fact, both the red and the green pieces use Chinese characters. The red set employs traditional characters which are used in Taiwan, and the green set uses simplified characters which are used in the PRC. As well, the green characters are written in “running style,” a more artistic calligraphic form which is more free flowing where some of the detail of the individual components making up the characters is no longer clear. Also, whereas your set above the JangGi set has the piece in the middle be either “commander” or “general” (roughly equivalent to the King in Western chess), in the JangGi set, the big red piece says HAN, the name of the famous Chinese dynasty, while the bottom big green piece says CHU, which is the name of a famous ancient state in China that was defeated by the state of Qin. Lastly, the five pieces in the front rows facing each other are different characters on the green and red sets, but mean the same thing, something like “foot soldiers”—these are the pawns in the game.

Interesting - I (clearly) did not know this! Always cool to learn more about the history and context of these games.
 
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Ola Mikael Hansson
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To follow up, and summarize what I've found...

For tactics problems:

I've done over 3400 problems on http://chess.emrald.net/ by now, and quite like that site. However, I do find their focus on very fast solution times to be excessive - even when I spot the move that quickly, I don't have time to verify that it is indeed correct - and I don't want to get into the bad habit of playing moves that look good without actually reading ahead and verifying that they work. So, my rating has become stuck at around the 1300 level... I solve most problems, but do them too slow for the expectations of the site.

I also tried http://www.ideachess.com/ for tactics problem, but did not like it as much.

There is also http://chesstempo.com/ which I haven't given a try yet, but plan to try out eventually.

I do like the tactics problems at http://chess.com, but a subscription is required to get access to more than 3 a day.

For actually playing:

Playchess was no good for me - about half the time when I tried to get a game going, nobody would accept my challenge (... and I gave up after waiting half an hour). Might have to do with the times I typically play on, might be due to my very casual level, might be because people there prefer blitz games. Whatever the reasons, not being able to get a game going, combined with it being a yearly subscription service, and
the hoops I need to jump through in order to get my game in pgn, it all left me with a very negative impression of Playchess. If I ever improve my level significantly, I would be willing to give it a second chance though.

On chess.com, on the other hand, I've got a (15 minutes + 10 seconds increment) game going within seconds of sending out my challenge every time so far. I can easily download my games as pgn, in order to analyse them (currently using Scid vs PC 4.8 and Houdini 1.5a as my combination of software for game analysis). Basic access, which is sufficient to play games, is free.

As I've quite enjoyed their video lessons, and also like their tactics problems (both of which I've tried in the free 10-day trial), I am even likely to buy a short-term subscription when money allows, as they do allow monthly subs. All in all, for now, this has ended up my site for actual playing, and I feel as if I've learned new stuff from their teaching material as well.

I'm sure their are other options out there as well (for instance, I never got around to trying FICS or ICC out), but having found a playing site that works well for me, I haven't felt the need to look further.
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