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Monday, October 4, 2010

Using Engines to Improve Your Play

Steve Lopez at Chess Central wrote an excellent three part article describing how to correctly use an engine to actually improve your play. This is an important series of articles. For example, I always use “Full Analysis” mode because I never fully understood the “Blundercheck” feature, but Lopez describes how and why it’s such a valuable tool. And, if you're like me, I have always been content to just plug in a game and let the engine analyze it without paying much attention to the meaning of the results. Lopez explains what it all means.

In his series of three articles Lopez describes all of Fritz’ features and offers advice on their settings. He discusses things like full analysis, calculation time and threshold, graphical and training annotations, referencing databases, etc.

Most important, Lopez tells you how to actually use the engine to pinpoint areas of you play where you need improvement. Areas like, opening play, strategy, tactics and endings. As he points out, there are two major areas to look at here: the how and the where. Are you losing games tactically or positionally? And is this generally happening in the opening, the middlegame, or the endgame? He tells you how to use your engine to answer these questions.

Bottom line: Fritz (or any engine) will not explain theings like middleagme strategy and planning but what it will do is, as Lopez explains, “It all boils down to this: study a lot of your losses and see if any patterns are present. Look for where in the game you're doing badly (opening, middlegame, or endgame) and look for how you're doing badly (the sudden tactical lightning bolt that ruins your day or the slow positional python-like crush that gradually does you in). Play through your old games, follow Fritz' analysis and suggestions, and take careful note of the where and how. This will tell you the area(s) of your game on which you need to concentrate your study.”

Check out his article. HERE

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