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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Free Chess Training Programs

     Reader Alastair has alerted me to the site of a Mr. Fred Mellender who offers a couple of free programs, NeuroExperimenter and Linguist Parsing System. To be honest, what they do escapes me, but he also has some interesting free chess programs and YouTube videos.

Chessboard Capture Program - This tool allows you to capture an image of a diagram from your monitor and convert it to FEN for pasting into an engine.

Guess the Move Program – This is a handy program that's worth investigating. It lets you play over games, guessing the move for the winning side. It scores your move and the whole game by using an engine to evaluate the positions you obtain.

Yatt -- Yet Another Tactics Trainer – This is another potentially handy program that presents about 5500 puzzles for solving.

Chess Speak -- A Voice Interface to a Chess Engine - This one is sounds like it could be very useful! ChessSpeak allows you to speak moves to any UCI chess engine and receive the engine's move in audio. This lets you set up a real board and pieces across the room from the computer and play a game against the engine without having to use the mouse, keyboard, or monitor. Some find this a more natural way to play chess and their "board vision" benefits from using actual pieces. You can use the program to practice blindfold chess; it has a graphical interface too. Additionally, ChessSpeak will calculate your rating and ratings for chess engines. Edit: I downloaded this one, but it did not work (under Windows 8.1).  Under the Parameters setting the select engine and time selection windows did not show up.  More information:  I e-mailed Mr. Mellender about the problem and heard back within a couple of hours.  Here is his reply:

I changed the interface to ChessSpeak since I made the YouTube video. If you start the app, go to the "help" tab, and click "User's Guide", you will see the current interface described (here is a link there https://docs.google.com/document/d/1IIazPm57vNei4w51fnxBpUzSRnuL58ncBn3xXhSCEik/edit).

Instead of specifying engine parameters you now specify an "opponent" from the "game setup" tab. This allows you to specify the engine ply and also shows an approximate rating for the engine at that ply. This allows the app. to calculate a rating for you based on your games with the engine at that setting. You can use the "roster" tab to input another engine specification, and to enter human players. You can use that same screen to calculate engine/ply ratings (which will depend on your system's CPU speed).

After following his instructions it now works fine.  However, I soon discovered that there is something about my accent, tone of my voice or inflection that the program does not understand, so sometimes I have to repeat my move a few times.  I also discovered it's also like when speaking to someone who does not understand your language very well...shouting does not help!!

Support for Chess Clubs - Free software for chess clubs. This program includes tournament and ratings managers.

      Mr. Mellender offers YouTube videos detailing how to use the programs, PLUS he also has two informative videos on how to use SCID to learn chess openings and to study games.


  1. Fred Mellender's Guess the Move" program is an extremely powerful learning tool. C.J Purdy thought that playing over GM games, trying to guess every move, was the best possible form of chess training, and Fred's program makes it easy to do exactly that. But a word of warning! This kind of training is not for sissies! I can tell you from experience that playing over an Alekhine game and trying to guess every one of his moves is damned hard work! If you really want to improve, and don't mind having your ego deflated a few times, this is a great product. And FREE!

  2. 'I soon discovered that there is something about my accent, tone of my voice or inflection that the program does not understand' . . .

    I have a Scottish accent that would drop a steer at fifty paces; so I've yet to try Chess Speak.