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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Just a Couple Observations

While forum hopping I notice the same issues seem to keep cropping up on a fairly regular basis.
One guy posted:
…there are only three types of chess players who have a real reason to want/need Houdini 2.0…they’re either super GMs, people who don’t understand they don’t need it, or cheaters (so they can beat other cheaters).
      Somebody did make a sensible response by adding another type: legitimate centaurs
I play on ICCF and LSS against opponents using engines and I don’t consider it cheating because the rules allow it and I know they are using engines. Now on the CCLA I played a few engine users and that was a different story because their rules prohibit the use of engines.
      What kind of ignoramus must a person be if they can’t understand such a simple concept that if a site allows engine use then it is not cheating to use one? But then I have also seen people who think the use of opening books in correspondence chess is cheating even though their use has been allowed almost from the beginning. These folks don’t seem to grasp the fact that OTB chess and correspondence chess are not the same even though that fact should be obvious.
      Of course there also exist computer chess enthusiasts who want to test, analyze and compare the newest engines simply because they enjoy tinkering with that kind of thing. If they are having fun and want all the engines available to play around with, what’s the problem?!
      And there is also the frequent comment, “You don’t learn anything using an engine.” What makes some people think that everybody who uses an engine is trying to learn anything? There are even some people without engines who don’t study…they just play. That must be hard for some folks to imagine, but it’s true.
This appears to me to be a new site offering chess lessons online. The site says:
Chessonlineinstruction was created to give chess players a unique chess coaching experience where they are in control of what gets taught. We found that most chess instruction sites make videos that the coaches think are good but may not necessarily be what the student wants to learn. We feel that the student should be more involved in the coaching process so he can get a lot more out of the experience.
      Actually, it's not unique. GM Alex Yermolinsky complained of this very thing: students telling the teacher what they (the student) think they need to study in order to improve. In Yermo’s opinion most instructors don’t have much choice but to comply. If they don’t, the student just goes elsewhere. At least this site is honest in telling you up front they will teach you what you think you need. 
Opening Study
One fellow announced his ‘study plan’ was to spend one hundred percent of his time on opening study. He is going to ask his friends to start from specific positions, play 45 minute games then analyze them.
      At least I’ll give him credit for realizing playing five minute games online didn’t help him improve so he’s trying something else. Good for him. Maybe when he realizes opening study alone won’t bring better results, he will try something else.
      USCF Senior Master Mark Buckley had a better idea: study everything he did not understand or did not like. The goal was to become an all around player. He hated endgames, so he studied endgames…that kind of stuff. In school you study more than one subject at a time so I see no reason to study one area of chess at a time either. Tactics, strategy, ending, playing over GM games. It seems you could divide your study time up to cover all these subjects.
For me chess is fun. I enjoy playing over GM games from books and admiring their play whether it involves opening innovations, long-range strategy, brilliant tactics or subtle endgames. I enjoy playing an occasional casual OTB game at the local coffee shop. I enjoy playing games using engines on LSS. I enjoy an occasional blitz game on Chessdotcom. I enjoy reading about chess history and chess players. Two things I no longer enjoy: playing in OTB tournaments and seriously studying. I never liked chess problems and was never interested in collecting chess stamps. That’s the great thing about this game. You can do what you enjoy and ignore the rest…and you don’t have to have a high rating to have fun.

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