Saturday, February 27, 2010

ICC, learn from FICS

FICS has all their games on a web site Over one-hundred million games. Thanks to signalman for the great find!

I'm now looking into switching over to FICS.

Monday, February 22, 2010

ICC should post opening stats as a function of rating

I was excited to learn we can track down statistics about the opening at ICC, but then bummed to learn that they only save statistics for matches between the titled players.

It would be cool, helpful, and generally awesome if ICC let us navigate opening statistics for different rating blocks, or for people within X rating points of your present rating.

Such a feature would be a great check for authors of opening books. Often they erroneously pretend that the frequency with which a club player will encounter a move is reflected in the statistics of their database of GM games. Pity the poor club player who studies the book mindlessly, only to find out that in a tiny percentage of his games does he get the chance to actually enter the lines.

For instance, if you study the Marshall defense as black, and are rated below 1500, have fun the one time you actually get to play it in your next thousand games of chess.

Obviously a rating-indexed opening database would be incredibly helpful to the club player. It would let us get a better sense for the variety of play we will encounter in practice, rather than the variety of play we would encounter if we were IMs or GMs. So obvious, why isn't it done? Is it simply the server space that would be needed?

Yes, of course you should play your best moves always and understand principles, and if someone goes off book there is a chance they are violating some principle. That's nice to say and makes you sound smart, but in practice things are typically not so simple and it is hard to refute a line. And if it is easy to refute a line for an IM, that doesn't mean it is easy for a club player (that's sort of the point of writing a book aimed at club players).

Rather than just bitch, what can I do? In practice, I make my own little database by playing as many blitz games as I can in the opening. For instance, recently I started playing the Sicilian as black so I've been saving each Sicilian game in its own file (after game ends, go to Game || Save PGN in ICC menu) so I can get a better sense for what I see in practice in games I play against real people, and helps guide my focus if I feel like reading annotated games in the Sicilian, or opening books, etc..

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Beginner introduction to the Sicilian?

I've started playing around with the Sicilian. I know nothing about it, but I decided to give it a go. Why? Well, it is apparently really good. My personal reason is that it seems I always want to play ...c5 anyway, why not put it in right away and make white decide how to handle it and reveal his intentions early?

So, given that I know nothing about this opening, I'm looking for a beginner-level introduction to the main lines, something that is heavy on plans and general ideas, not too heavy on variation trees, nothing too specific (e.g., not a book on the hyper-accelerated dragon).

Any recommendations?