Saturday, April 12, 2008

Judge not

I'll post the 8th and final video this coming Thursday. Then I'll post a list someone kindly made of all the A+ through B books (you might also check out the 'Book Reviews' section of my Blog Highlights for more nuanced PBS-style reviews). I'll also give some recommendations for beginners who want to be efficient in getting to around 1400 ICC. I did a lot of things inefficiently, so if a beginner like I was can avoid that, that would make me quite happy.

Speaking of reviews, DK recently blew a gasket when I criticized a chess book, ironically saying I was pathologically judgmental, and he characteristically steers the conversation from the interesting to the awkwardly personal and irrelevant (below I tack on my original post and his response). Even for him, it was over the top. Not that I'm bitter.

Hey, wait, I just did it myself! What monster have I become?!

To prove his judgment wrong, I've updated my Blogotypes post, which classifies chess blogger personalities. I filled in some details on existing types, and added some altogether new categories. Of course I had to make fun of people who make superficial reviews of chess books (see the Creationist blogotype). And no, I didn't change the entry for the DK-transform blogotype--I stand by that one.

The present post instantiates several of the categories; e.g., hypersensitive nutball (number 31).

[1] For those who give a shit, here's the DK throwdown. You can visit the original post (linked above) to see the context. I put it here to let people form their own opinions.

I said:
I really like his articles, which have strong and extreme positions on everything.

My two cents on his claim.

I think that in practice he seems to be wrong on this. In a position is relatively quiet it would be a bad use of time to do extensive variation crunching, time that should be saved for sharp positions with lots of forcing moves. In such quiet positions, in which extensive variation crunching would be a practical blunder (Soltis rightly says, spending too much time on a move can be itself a blunder), it is really helpful to use general principles to make a faster move, saving time for the tough positions that absolutely demand deeper calculation.

I haven't seen that GMRAM book but it sounds horrible. No annotations, just a bunch of positions? It makes me cringe. I do understand what he is trying to do with the book, but would it have hurt all that much to give his take on the positions in an appendix or something? Would that actually hurt the reader, encourage reader laziness? It sounds more like a classic case of author laziness, analogous to informant-style game dumps that are sold as opening repertoires.

That said, I know many people love the book, so perhaps he really has picked some wonderful and illuminating positions (which presumably provide insights into general principles that can be useful in real games--hey wait, didn't the author say that general principles are useless?).
To which DK responded:
Ok BDK: there goes your pronounced tendancy again to make others wrong and criticism as a habitual way of being.

my turn now. who told you that you were less so that you must so often put yourself there? i thought that you quit blogging or dedication to chess? what do you want now? do you know what it is?

you havent seen the book or the positions and how it is assembled and all this. oh my god. this makes no sense and is silly.

see how that one feels. :)


Blogger katar said...

In my opinion GM-RAM is maybe the lamest book i've ever seen -- 97 pages of nothing but diagrams with no solutions, nor even indications of which side has the move. It is a book without a reference point or direction-- making it ideal for pot-smoking hippies, moral relativists, and transcendental barefoot philosophers who feign appreciation of John Cage's 3:42 in order to claim a place above the unenlightened masses.
Alburt's "Pocket Book" is the book that GM-Ram wanted to be.

and i saw the DK train coming from a million miles away.... never got close to that one.

4/12/2008 05:41:00 AM  
Blogger katar said...

ok, it's john cage's 4:33, but whatever.....

4/12/2008 05:43:00 AM  
Blogger Glenn Wilson said...

I don't know about the book, but as I posted over at rlp about the "Chess can only be expressed with concrete variations" quote.

Chess is 100% tactics. :)

Blogotypes? What blogotype do others see me as? What blogotype would ask such a question?

4/12/2008 07:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Blogotype post is an epic win! Still attempting to ascertain where I fit in.

The phrase "DK vs BDK" or "BDK vs DK" has a certain ring to it. Which phrasing brings in more viewers to the pay per view?

4/12/2008 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Katar: I'll put that 'pocket book' on my list of books to look at and consider buying (notice I didn't say 'list of books to buy'--I've learned my lesson). You know, I saw the light in the distance too, but by then it was too late.

Glenn: Why am I not at all surprised? :) I respond there.

I would never presume to tell someone what blogotype they fit--that is a recipe for disaster. :)

LEP: I conform to about half of them. It is still painful for me to read that post because I conform to so many types. Except phlogiston.

Will the showdown become like Rocky and Apollo, when another more evil blogger comes along and we must unite to battle him? Will there be a Clubber Lang to unite us?

Or will it remain like Hulk and Macho Man, who started on friendly terms but became dire enemies?

Since I'm going to finish blogging soon, probably the latter.

4/12/2008 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger takchess said...

Hundreds of different paths in this Pseudoscience of Chess Improvement and no path fits all. It's interesting to hear what people say good/bad/whatever on a book. Alot of personal taste stuff here. BTW. I played the Englund in chess club last night came up with a draw which should of been a win except for my blown endgame play. This was against an opponent that I am about 0-8 against. I like the line that is 1...e5 2.dxe d6 3. exd6 bxd6. I still think it's trash but then again I enjoy playing trash.

4/12/2008 03:30:00 PM  
Blogger Polly said...

I loved the blogotype post. That came out before I hit the blogging scene. I'd like to think I have some #5 in me, but will not be so egotistical to declare I'm clearly a 5.

I'm an 8. I spend hours on chess blogging and chess but, I am not a geek!

When I'm disgusted I can fall into the #14 Self Hate mode.

I'm definitely not a 19. You will never see the F-word in my blog. Frigging and freaking is about as close as I get.

I have my unique combination of the actuary and accountant. I like to call it Sadistics. I can tell you my win-loss record against anyone, and I can tell you what my first rating was back in 1972.

Sometimes I feel like the #27 has-been. Though when I tell the stories of my past I'm usually making fun of something stupid I did way back when.

Am I being a number 29 now by leaving such a long response?? :-)

4/12/2008 04:35:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Takchess: Awesome. I too like that line, and am alternating between the f6 and d6 lines. I'm sure you are right that it's trash, but I am in the fortunate position of it not mattering. Even better my opponents get cocky and make silly mistakes.

Your description of chess improvement is great, too, as a pseudoscience.

Polly: LOL. So honest. I'm not a has-been, because I never was :)

Also, since you do triathlons, you are not a geek but a jock (well, a geeky jock).

4/12/2008 06:26:00 PM  
Blogger takchess said...

Heres my 2 cents.

I think that GM-Ram was a legitimate attempt by Z. to list what he thinks are the 300 most instructive positions to learn. I believe if one understood the 100 ish endgames position with both sides to move that one would become an extremely strong endgame player. I think these are the skeletons of more complex endgames.
Curious what Blunderprone and Likes Forest feel about this who have worked more with these positions than I have.

I am uncertain if the middlegame position are as pertinent or not though they come from some instructional games.

Alburts book is a good problems book of stuff he collected but I don't see it as the 300 essential positions that one need to know.There are some very interesting and cool problems in this book.

4/12/2008 07:49:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Tak: good point, and this is the possibility I mentioned in my initial post at Pearson's blog--perhaps he really nailed it, gave the key basis set of positions. That was his goal.

Clearly, everyone knows pattern recognition is key, and this is his attempt to get us the most important patterns. Or at least the positions with the most important patterns. The rest is up to you.

I am certainly not ready for such a book, but some people obviously really like it. The format sounds awful, but again perhaps he got the positions exactly right.

To spite him, someone should write up detailed annotations for each position. Yes, I know that would defeat his stated purpose of making you just struggle, but it's not like you will learn nothing by struggling a little less because you got a little help along the way.

Some reviews of the book:
-Jeremy Silman
-Taylor Kingston

They are somewhat noncommital, almost seeming to not want to offend the author, but obviously a bit taken aback by the style. Silman takes the opposite style, as he is aimed toward the class player (but one nice thing, as you advance in the book, he holds your hand less and less while also showing more complicated positions).

That said, even if a GM or something really likes the book, that doesn't mean anything for the novice/intermediate. This book is clearly geared toward the advanced player.

4/13/2008 12:28:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

One thing he is right about---if you don't struggle, if you aren't willing to put in some work, you will not reach your full chess potential.

4/13/2008 12:35:00 AM  
Blogger takchess said...

Check this out.

4/13/2008 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger Chessaholic said...

I agree with Katar, Alburt's pocket book is much better. I carry it around with me a lot, it's amazing how much good stuff is packed into that little gem. IMHO, it's one of the best books out there, period. Compact, succinct, and touching on a lot of different themes.

4/14/2008 02:26:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Chessaholic: thanks for the suggestion, that bumps it up even more in my 'to take seriously' pile.

The sometimes fanatical defense of the GM-RAM book is a little surprising. It reminds me of early on during the existence of the Knights, someone would come along and say how the Circles were stupid, and we'd all pile on him. Some of what he said was right, though. It depends on what you need at the moment. The Circles are part fad, part truth. I'm sure the GM-RAM phenomenon is the same.

The proof is in the pudding I guess. Does it help your rating, and does it make you like the game more? Psychologically, there is certainly much to be said for learning a few basic positions really well, for memorizing master games. Almost everyone agrees. What sets IM Ziyatdinov's book apart is the total lack of feedback.

Generally, people learn better with feedback. Providing zero feedback is pedagogically a very strange decision. For someone to be insulted (???) or surprised that I would say a book without feedback sounds awful is just odd, esepcially given my argument with Tacticus about CTART vs PCT.

I think Katar has something true here, there could be a 'cool' factor or 'I'm a bigger badass than you because I can handle this zero feedback book and you can't.' Rank speculation on my part, as I am not in their heads.

4/14/2008 03:01:00 PM  

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