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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Entering the 2012 LSS Cup Tournament

Several years ago when I returned to CC after a long absence from chess I joined the CCLA and started out at 1800 but quickly reached a little over 2050.  That was when I decided to give server chess (instead of using post cards) a try and after playing on several sites discovered IECG where I was allowed to start at my CCLA rating.  It hadn’t been much fun starting at 1200 on most sites and beating near beginners.
My foray into server chess on IECG was a disaster because my first result was +0 -4 =2.  I attributed it to the fact that my European opponents were probably underrated by US standards. Halfway through the second tournament I realized my opponents were using engines and there were no rules on IECG prohibiting their use.  So I fired up my old Fritz 5.32.  It didn’t matter though because some of the games were so far gone that even an engine couldn’t salvage them.  The next tournament wasn’t a whole lot better. That was when I realized, after I had dropped even more rating points, that Fritz 5.32 just wasn’t good enough; a better engine was required.
Results improved with getting an updated engine, but not drastically.  Then I got Robin Smith’s by then badly outdated Modern Chess Analysis and discovered a lot of good advice on how to better make better use of engine analysis.  Things improved since then, but I probably will never get much beyond 2000 on LSS (formerly IECG) no matter what.

One reason is because I’m not good enough to steer the game into positions where engines don’t play well.  Another reason is because I usually can’t tell when an engine’s recommendation might be unreliable.

Then I read this, written by CC GM Arno Nickel:
“Real Freestyle experts use about four computers with different engines, and…never trust their own play if it is not accepted by at least one of their engines. That does not necessarily mean they are simply playing computer moves. They try to check the full information provided by the engines and they recognize the weaknesses and the strengths of their analysis tools.

They know when a king’s attack may come into consideration and when it’s a storm in a teacup. They know when a fortress can be built, even if the engines say they are losing. And they know when a pawn or the exchange can be sacrificed to seize the initiative or to achieve counterplay. But they will never decide such things without consulting their engines. That’s the main difference between real Freestyle experts and inexperienced grandmasters.”
So in order to be good at CC even where engine use is allowed you not only have to know all that stuff, you need four computers…or maybe one computer and run analysis (probably at least overnight) with four different engines.  But then if you do that and get four different suggestions and evaluations, how do you select the best move?  I guess you don’t; you just use your best judgment. Running a position four nights per game times six games requires patience.  I don’t have a lot of that; I prefer the CC Blitz version where games only last a few months because I’m in a hurry to see who wins.

Now, after playing mostly LSS’s version of Blitz (10 days basic plus one day per move, no vacations possible) for the last couple of years, I’m entering a major event at long time controls where I may end up playing not only beginners but titled (both CC and OTB) opponents and I have to take the games seriously.  Why am I doing this instead of playing the Blitz fun events?  Don’t know.

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