Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Personal Chess Trainer: MDLM in a box? And an update.

Based on the comments of a couple of the newer Knights errant, I have added the Personal Chess Trainer to the list of Seven Circles Software. Here is my blurb:
Personal Chess Trainer is being used by a couple of Knights. It looks like a great program, as it is essentially built to implement the Circles for you: if you get a problem wrong you must repeat it right away, and a problem is not considered 'solved' until you have correctly solved it six times. The problems are distributed as follows. Each subject is divided in Training Modules, which start at a simple level and then gradually reach more complex ones. The subject Tactics includes 6 modules with 51 units each for a total of 4,320 different exercises. There are 3 endgame modules with 51 units each for a total of over 1400 problems. Finally, there are 3 strategy modules with 51 units each for a total of around 700 problems. The official price is $80, but they often have a half-off sale at the site. I won't be surprised if this becomes popular amongst new Knights.
I downloaded the trial version, and it looks pretty good. No themes are given, other than the broad themes of Strategy, Tactics, and Endgame. Many of the easier tactical motifs were actually mate in one problems. The interface is easy to use and has a lot of helpful options (e.g., you can set how many times you get to try a problem before it shows you the answer). It will be very interesting to see what people think of this software.

Also, I am a little depressed about my chess progress: I was winning a bunch of games but recently have lost just as many and my rating is in the toilet at ICC. My rating is correlated with how many games I've been playing, not how much I am training with the Chess Tutor. I am tempted, at my upcoming 6 month mark, to stop my training with the Chess Tutor for a month and play two games a day, one fast and one slow, with analysis after each. What do people think of this strategy? Perhaps I started training too early, before I played enough games to actually develop a bedrock of experience. On the other hand, I might just be building a bedrock of bad habits that I'll have to break later.

8 Comments:

Blogger Edwin 'dutchdefence' Meyer said...

To comment on the PCT... I for one like it very much :)

But i guess y'all were aware of that :)

I also like the additional "101 most important concepts" wich you can go over again and again.

10/05/2005 03:40:00 PM  
Blogger King of the Spill said...

>my rating is in the toilet at ICC.

Sounds normal to me! Your probably doing what I am doing, namely getting worse while you are reorganizing your play.

I think everyone has periods at some point of backing off and regrouping. You might consider just reviewing 10 problems from step 1 as a warm-up before games.

I do that to find whether or not I am too tired to play.

10/05/2005 11:25:00 PM  
Blogger Siliconpawn said...

This whole chess improvement thing boils down to TIME. MDLM spent over 2000 hours of study time to get to an expert rating. Dan Heisman calculates that it will take 3 years to get to 1800. I have to go back and figure out how many hours of study he is talking about because his program is not as intense as MDLM. Also DH's latest Novice Nook paper quotes someone saying that a gifted chess player spends 8000 hours to get to grandmaster.
Just about every writer, coach and famous player has said that analysis of ones own games is crucial.
A balanced approach like you are suggesting is probably best. But, hey what do I know? I'm in the same boat that you are.

10/06/2005 12:18:00 AM  
Blogger Druss said...

How does PCT rate against CT Art in terms of problem difficulty?

Yes - I've been there as well with training actually screwing up my rating.

I think there are two things going on.

1) It takes time for new chess knowledge to bed in and become automatic responses in a game. Before it does your rating dips

2) There is more to playing chess than tactics. There is how you play as well. I think MDLM summarised this when he talked about learning how to think in a game.

10/06/2005 06:40:00 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

Devil Knight,

Here's an interesting comment from a conversation I had with Dan Heisman in one of my early lessons.

Dan asked me how mnay games I think a Grandmaster had lost before he became a Grandmaster. I immediately replied "Thousands, maybe tens of thousands."

Dan said "About 10,000 is about right. You have to play a lot of slow games before you become a good chess player."

Look at it this way: You've only got 9,500 more losses to go before you become a Grandmaster!

Forget about playing quick games. Find yourself a site where you can play several slow correspondance type games. I play at Slowchess.com and I set the controls to 30 days 2 days.

This way I can use the Stoyko and PV methods Dan talks about in his Novice Nook.

10/06/2005 09:51:00 AM  
Blogger Edwin 'dutchdefence' Meyer said...

To answer Druss's question; How does PCT rate against CT Art in terms of problem difficulty? Well, i am currently going over Unit 08 of the first of 6 tactics modules consisting of 51 units each, and i am starting to encounter slight difficulty solving within the default time settings. I think i don't even want to know how difficult Unit 08 of tactics module 6 is :)

10/06/2005 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

PCT gets quite difficult. I'm on Unit 28 of Tactics module #1, which means I am something like 10% through the 4,300 tactics problems (which are repeated 6x each).

Unlike CT Art , PCT does not draw arrows and lines on the board. PCT also lacks a stripped-down version of the problem. PCT also lacks variations with analysis, one of CT Art's strengths. PCT also lacks Crafty for analysis. But PCT does have a much nicer, cleaner interface. (While CT Art looks like a Windows 98 program, which it is.) Another great thing about PCT is that you solve the mate in 1, then later the exact same mate in 2, then the same mate again in 3-- all in the same pattern! This is a terrific way to build combinative skill.

PCT has an endgame module, but it is simply not effective for learning endgames. Often (especially where your side is clearly winning), there are SEVERAL paths to victory, and PCT does not explain its preference for one particular move. The endgame module also does not explain themes, teaching instead by an odd sequence of trial-and-error followed by repetition. Other methods of endgame study are better, such as Capa's "Chess Fundamentals" or the "Improve your endgame" book by Flear, each of which i bought for $4. Karsten Muller has free endgame articls at chesscafe.com that are the best endgame material for free, though it gets kinda advanced.

PCT's strategy module is much better than the endgame one, as it is usually clearer that a particular move is "best". And a pop-up explains why.

The 101 tips are solid but nothing groundbreaking. PCT will certainly get you where you want to go-- I've made ridiculous progress, personally.

In the end, personal motivation and love of the game make everything else trivial. Alekhine didn't have CT Art and he managed ok. We are not Alekhines, but there is a danger of spending more time planning chess curriculum than enjoying chess and getting on with it.

10/11/2005 07:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*** Please delete prior for this is edited rewrite ***

Hi,

I have evaluated Convekta (Peshka newer interface) and PCT. I believe they both have merit providing we are learning and minimum time to encounter variety for improving.

The problem with PCT and I wrote to them asking for modes other than Chessimo (PCT repetition). It is not the most efficient when we have to answer 6 repetitions of a problem correctly to advance. It is a lot of repetitions (endgame: 3 module, 51 units, 80-180 problems * unit * module * 6 repetitions).

We would like an overview mode of no repetition (Selecting never in unsolved exercises and I still encounter review in the units). We would like an option to solve the exercise to queen promotion or mate. We would like a chessboard
display of exercises (like Convekta history) and to delete which exercise we do not want (Edit is important to remove very elementary exercises (eg. strategy
module has very beginner exercises. Option to recognize stronger players). We would like to be able to select our library of exercises (edited database and
where to place this folder in program/chessimo/OurLibrary. We would like to be able to select other engines like Rybka. Houdini, Fritz aside from Crafty (Crafty draws on some PCT won positions and Convekta provides other engines path or usage).

It is high time similar requested features be implemented. Demand this before spending your hard earn money. How many of us completed or reach the last exercises? By having the chance to do all unique problem once, we can be better prepare for problem solving slower tournament games. In blogs, we read they are stll solving over the year(s) with repetition 6 on. These features are important since I evaluated this product.

If I know of a similar database of problems, I would drop PCT. I am currently at endgame 1, unit 21. If you decide to switch between modules, I strongly suggest to create backup of training for time to complete those units. In Convekta CCE, I completed win with 80% success, tatical devices with 71% and did not do draw training. And would repeat in the future to improve my problem solving speed. If I have overview mode in PCT, I would have completed endgame 1. And if I wanted to redo the unsolve exercise of overview mode, it would be nice if PCT has a test mode (like Peshka). I am not here to promote any product. I do not know if chessbase have similar endgame training but I look at
Muller and Kasimdzhanov material. If you do know, please share information for I am into endgame.

Tx

2/09/2013 09:36:00 PM  

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