Sunday, May 15, 2005

In blunderchecking as in tactics....

I got Fritz in the mail today! I am excited about the potential it has to help me improve, and I have barely scratched the surface of its helpful tools! So far, I have played around with the 'Threatened Squares' tool while working through a game between Kasparov and Nunn (one of many in the cool database provided). Unlike Chessmaster, Fritz doesn't just show which squares are under direct attack, but color codes them: green if the piece is well protected, yellow if the piece is evenly defended, and red if the piece is piled upon. It is a great way to exercise my counting muscles when evaluating position strengths.

Not coincidentally, I finally feel like I have hit on the right method for my Thinking Drills. As mentioned in my previous post, the first Stage of my Thinking Drills, avoid en prise blunders (blundercheck, for short), was not going real well. This is because I was trying to do it much too quickly during actual games, scanning the board for just a few seconds. I have now slowed down and am doing the Thinking Drills using other people's games from Fritz's database. I take my sweet time, serially looking at each piece of my opponent, even pieces I "know" can't be a direct threat because they are outside the main action of play. To go through 10 moves in a game, writing down each threatened piece right after black moves and right before white moves, took me over 30 minutes! Then, afterwards, using Fritz's sweet Threatened Squares detector, I checked my answers. In my first game, I neglected that a pushed pawn was under threat from capture en passant. In my Second Thinking Drill game I got zero errors, and more importantly started to feel like I was building up a blunderchecking muscle that will come in handy in real games.

So, blunderchecking, as with tactics, is a skill that can be built up by slowly studying very simple scenarios until the skill has become automated and fast. Or so it appears to this beginner...Stay tuned for my inevitable humiliation.


Blogger King of the Spill said...

I have Chessmaster and chiefly use it for post-game analysis. I would be interested if you have an opinion on one v. the other.

5/16/2005 02:47:00 AM  
Blogger CelticDeath said...

I still haven't leveraged all of Fritz's capabilities, Blue Devil. You won't be disappointed!

King, I have CM8000 and Fritz, and what I can tell you is that my experience has been that Fritz is beyond compare for game analysis and so-so for actual game play (not that Fritz isn't as strong as CM, but it's just not as versatile or interesting to play against).

5/16/2005 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger King of the Spill said...

Interesting. I have found a few of Chessmaster personalities are much more human like than average, but I rarely play.

BTW Blue D., if your think 1000 is a rating your going to be concerned about, get used to it ;-). I predict you will be 1200 in a few months if you keep it up. Having a discipline of a thinking process is ultimately going to win/draw you close games against good opposition.

5/17/2005 12:17:00 AM  
Blogger scitcat said...

Give the fritz sparring mode a try, it's a real nice feature for making tactical awareness a habit...

5/17/2005 09:02:00 AM  
Blogger Pawnsensei said...

Hey Blue Devil. You still interested in U1400? I need to start looking for 2 more players if you are. Let me know.

And don't worry too much about your rating being too high. Mine fluctuations within about 100 points. Sometimes you are lucky, sometimes the other guy is. I'll have winning streaks going for weeks followed by losing streaks to players rated 100 points lower than me. That's how chess goes!

Main thing is to remember those "lucky" winning streaks when you are losing cause you are going to need the motivation. Keep up the good work!


5/17/2005 03:30:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...


I think I need to hold off for a bit, but will let you know if I get more time for the tournament circuit, which looks fun. One problem ais that I just found that there are like 3 or more chess groups in my local area (perk of living in vicinity of 3 universities), and they have OTB tournaments almost every weekend. Also, I really like ICC and am too lazy to establish a new identity at FICS (which I did join, with the handle neuronet). Also, the Divine Tragedy coupled with Thinking Drills is taking up too much of my time already! At any rate, thanks again for the encouragement. Good luck with the tournaments!

5/17/2005 04:37:00 PM  
Blogger takchess said...

Hey there BDK,

I have Fritz and what has benefited me is playing on Free 6 month subscription with purchase I believe. At the end of each game I play on line I save it to a database. Later I can run the analysis tool and find this to be a good learning tool. Remember to save the game quickly because if you accept a rematch before saving you cant get the data back.
Keep up the good fight!

5/17/2005 07:25:00 PM  
Blogger Sancho Pawnza said...

Really one of the best things you can do with Fritz is analyzing your ICC games.
First you have to set your account to automatically mail your games.

You will need to add the command line "set automail 1" minus the quotes. You only have to add commands once, ICC will remember the changes. Of course your email address has to be up to date. For more help type “help mailstored” in the command line.

Then you add one of the following options depending on the format you want.

"set mailformat 0" to get them in a non-PGN format that also includes the move times.
"set mailformat 1" to get the game in PGN notation.
"set mailformat 2" to get them in PGN with the clock times (the time
remaining after each move) in comments.

I use "mailformat 1", and then when I get a chance I will open my email and then copy and paste my game into Fritz.
You can do this under the “Edit” command. Edit->Paste->Paste Game.
Just make sure that the “Engine” Window is enabled. Window->Panes->Main Engine Pane, or just hit “Cntrl+Alt+E”, doing this will let you see what Fritz thinks about the position. There are lots of cool features under the “Window” tab, so play around with them. Also remember the various screens can be resized and docked, so don’t be afraid to tweak the screen to make it to your liking. Reviewing your own game is the best way to find improvements. Just play through your game until you hit what Fritz deems an error, either in your play or your opponents. Then enter the move(s) Fritz suggests as a variation and continue to play through the suggestions until you see why it is a mistake. Once you get the point Fritz was trying to make back up the game until you hit the start of the branch you just played and return to the Main/Game line and continue doing this until you have played through the entire game. I guarantee you will improve with each game you review.
Good Luck!

5/17/2005 11:01:00 PM  
Blogger Sancho Pawnza said...

P.S. You also have one of the strongest players in NC attending your University. Not many times do you find a 2400 roaming around campus. Finding him might be a good idea. :)

5/17/2005 11:05:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Thanks a lot for all the help, everyone. Especially Sancho: a very helpful post!

I will try to find this campus master!

5/18/2005 12:38:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Which verion of Fritz did you buy and from which online vendor?

5/19/2005 07:37:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Satish, I got Fritz8 Delux at Wholesale Chess.

5/19/2005 09:24:00 AM  

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