ChessCafe.

com would like to thank Dadi Jonsson for his service in Purchases from our
writing the ChessOK Cafe column. In more than five years he has chess shop help keep
written a comprehensive description (available in the ChessCafe.com ChessCafe.com freely
Archives) of all the major parts of the Aquarium program. We would accessible:
also like to welcome back Steven A. Lopez to our pages. He will be
demonstrating some of the features of Chess King and its associated
programs.

Train to Be a Better Chess Player the Fun Way
For many chess players, the phrase "chess training" connotes hard work and
ChessOK drudgery; after all, isn't playing more fun than studying and training? It's an
unfortunate association, because to become better chess players we all have to
Cafe spend time learning and practicing new concepts, otherwise our skills will
ossify and we'll get stuck in a rut. Happily, there's a new way for chess
players of all skill levels to train the fun way – using Chess King software. In
Steve Lopez a pair of articles, I'll demonstrate some of the features of Chess King, as well
Chess King Training:
Chess Tactics Level 3
as its associated training programs.

Many other chess programs tend to be aimed at one of two broad groups of
chess players. The programmers of "novice" chess software often seem
Translate this page resigned to the idea that the user will one day "outgrow" the program and step
up to something more involved, while software aimed at the experienced
chess player might throw in an occasional sop to the novice player, but are
generally geared toward the regular club player or to the chess professional.
The programmers of Chess King set themselves a very ambitious task: create
a single chess program that any chess player, regardless of skill level (from
beginner to grandmaster), can utilize to help them improve their chess play.

Chess King contains an enormous number of training tests and skill Chess King Training:
challenges for the beginner and intermediate club player, plus offers the chess Strategy
playing and analysis features that all players have come to expect in a chess
software package. What is more, the core appeal of Chess King is the user's
ability to measure his or her progress. Along with the traditional gauge of the
chess Elo rating, Chess King also borrows an idea from other computer and
tabletop games – the idea of "leveling up." A Chess King user has both an Elo
rating and a Level; the higher the level, the greater the challenges the user is
able to face in training modes.

Let's take a look at how this works in practice. The first thing a user must do
is create a user profile (since Chess King allows multiple users on the same
machine):

Chess King Training:
Openings

ChessCafe.com is pleased
to invite readers to a game
of chess at Convekta's
ChessOK Playing Zone!

as we see here: This will display the suite of chess puzzles in the left-hand pane. We're first going to look at two training features. Beginners or "club/class" level players (in USCF terms). Quest Mode and Chess Puzzles. though. Or play online against Rybka. which we'll examine later in this article. Houdini 2). most of these puzzles will be "locked" and unavailable. as you can see in the above illustration). to learn how Chess King's "levels" work and to see how they interact directly with traditional chess games. the puzzle sets will look like this: . An experienced club player. and I have done. Both of these numbers will change when the player uses Chess King's training features (which will increase the user's level) and plays rated games (which will cause the Elo rating to rise or fall depending on the user's success or lack thereof in rated games against the built-in engine. A new user begins at Level 1 with an 800 Elo rating (such as "Alan" in the above illustration).Click here for the Flash version or here to download and install the Full version. For a new user. will derive a huge amount of benefit from using Chess King's "Quest Mode" and chess puzzles in combination with traditional chess games (as Kara. To access them. Chess Puzzles are exactly what the name implies: small suites of chess challenges designed to instruct the user. Istvan. rated 1800 for example. Successfully solving puzzles will unlock more advanced puzzle sets. Jay. For a new user. click the "Training" button and then select "Chess Puzzles" from the panel on the left-hand side of the screen. could conceivably opt to skip Chess King's tutorial and challenge features and go straight to playing rated games against Houdini 2.

Later.. as the user advances through the puzzles.with only the "Basic rules" puzzle sets able to be used. many more sets are unlocked that then let the user pick and choose the desired type of chess training. including more advanced training categories such as "Defence" and "Combinations": .. for example.. we see in the next illustration that a different user has unlocked many additional choices.

the amount of time you will have in which to solve all of them. A panel in the lower left-hand corner of the screen will show the number of puzzles in the set. the software will give extra information before you begin to solve the puzzles in a set. and your best score so far (if you have previously completed that particular set): This illustrates one of the "hooks" that Chess King uses to get you to keep coming back for more training: the ability to repeat a puzzle set to try to beat your previous "personal best" score.When you are using these suites of chess puzzles. Chess King will also display some descriptive text for the challenge and an illustration directly on the chessboard: .

We see here that Kara (who presently has an Elo of 830 based on her rated games) has made it to Level 12 and needs to gain 3." A display in the lower right- hand corner of the board displays information about your training progress: A progress bar (as well as numerical data) shows how close you are to achieving the next level. you are awarded experience points and coins (which we'll examine later) depending on how quickly and accurately you have solved the puzzles: Experience points count toward "leveling up. We also see that Kara has earned 338 coins. After you have completed the puzzles in the set.896 more experience points before reaching Level 13.You just click the green "Go" button to start the clock and display the first puzzle. These coins can be "spent" on various hints that are available when you play a regular game in Chess King: .

Level Two quests are locked: As you advance. The idea of "leveling up" in Chess King is an integral part of the software's Quest Mode. at Level 12. A new user. You can also earn gold and experience points by beating the challenges you will encounter in Quest Mode. may try quests up though the twelfth level: . more difficult quests become available. In Quest Mode (accessed by clicking "Training" and then "Quest Mode") you are given a series of challenges that increase in difficulty as you gain experience levels. Your current level determines which quests you are allowed to tackle. Kara.The white "Hint panel" (in the left-hand pane) offers several kinds of tips when you are playing in Classical Chess mode (that is. Each hint will cost you some of the coins you previously earned when you successfully solved puzzles. may try only the pair of Level One quests. when playing a regular game of chess against a chess engine). at Level One.

As the great world champion Dr. then get surprised when their opponent turns the tables. Oftentimes players who are materially ahead tend to relax and take the win for granted. the hardest thing to do in chess is to win a theoretically "won" game. one in which you are ahead in material. you will enjoy a huge advantage in material.There are twenty-five levels of challenges available in Quest Mode. Many positions require proper technique to turn the material advantage into victory. But what exactly are "quests. At Level 12 (just short of halfway through the total number of quests)." anyway? Quests are games designed to teach you how to win a "won" game. such as in these Level Three quests: Higher levels increase the difficulty by reducing your material advantage. in early levels. the four challenges look like this: . Quest games are played against the Houdini chess engine. Quest Mode teaches you how to win these theoretically "won" positions. Emanuel Lasker once famously observed.

the panel will also display your "personal best" result: .And while the challenges might appear to be easy at first glance. moving the mouse cursor over its button will display some information about its difficulty in the lower left-hand corner of the screen: The "Average Elo Level" gives you an idea of how difficult the challenge is. there's a very important catch: your opponent Houdini 2. using the standard chess rating scale as an approximate gauge (and we're going to use this Elo value in the training plan I'll suggest to you later). in both rated and unrated modes. As with the chess puzzles. winning a game in Quest Mode earns you coins and experience points: Chess King's chess puzzles and Quest Mode make chess training something you will want to do. Before embarking on a quest challenge. so Chess King's Quest games challenge you to convert a material advantage into a win by using proper chess technique. rather than by relying on your opponent to blunder.thus challenging you to play the quest again to try to win it more quickly and/or in fewer moves. will be playing against you at full strength! That turns these deceptively simple chess quests into pretty formidable challenges! You'll always be playing against a very tough opponent... Chess King also lets you play regular chess games against a chess engine. Just click "Training" and then "Classical Chess" to get this display: . If you have previously completed the quest. Of course.

Chess King's Houdini 2 engine can analyze your chess games with just a few mouse clicks. while the higher ranges (1950 and up) will use the Houdini 2 chess engine. click the "Analysis" button. The two upper buttons let you select between playing the game as white or as black. The biggest reason to use a chess program that contains a super-strong chess engine is for analysis purposes. The vast range of approximate Elo ratings (from 800 to 3200) means that Chess King is the ideal "sparring partner" for all chess players. select your preferred time control (in the separate dialogue for this purpose). Load a saved game from your personal database.The slider lets you select the approximate rating of your computer opponent. Selecting the lower rating ranges (1900 Elo and below) will provide a weaker chess engine as your opponent. Chess King will make the first move automatically. then click the green "Go" button located under the board to start the game. if you have elected to play as black. Make your selections. while the lower button lets you toggle between "rated" and "fun" (unrated) mode. and then select "Analyse": The lower part of the panel (under "Game") offers four settings that determine .

that's not necessarily the case with Classical Chess mode. that solving puzzles earns both experience and coins. I increase the computer's difficulty level by fifty Elo points (Chess King's rating setting are in multiples of 50). I'd like to suggest ways you can use the training to help you improve your chess. the shortest setting ("Fastest") gives a rapid. analysis while the longest setting ("Hard") takes longer but provides better results. and don't by any means constitute the "only" way to use Chess King. as well as for beginners and club players. even for experienced players. Training using Chess King Now that we've looked at some of Chess King's training features. The end result can contain variations and references from other games. The technique for using Chess King's chess puzzles is self-evident because of the way the feature is structured: correctly solving sets of puzzles unlocks harder puzzle sets. so it is possible for experienced chess players to skip many of the "beginner" puzzle sets. If I win the match (by scoring 3½ points out of six). So here's a technique I use as part of my own practice regimen: I play actual matches against computer opponents. successfully completing quests earns experience points toward "leveling up" and unlocking more quests. Even though you have a material advantage at the game's start. Note that achieving a very high score in the easiest sets unlocks multiple sets that are higher on the ladder.) While the puzzle and Quest modes have a built-in "hook" to keep you coming back. but cursory. Many of the Quest games provide excellent endgame technique practice. If I lose the match. six games to a match. Houdini 2 will be playing at full strength. Note that these are my own recommendations. so some of these "easy" quests are deceptively difficult to complete (especially if you have acquired and set up the Nalimov endgame tablebases for Houdini's use). pulled from Chess King's huge Gigaking database." If I tie the computer (3-3). (One of the intermediate level Quests was challenging enough to make me "hit the books" to brush up on my pawn and minor piece endgame technique. I play a new match with the computer set at the same rating. as well as display Houdini's numerical analysis and suggested improvements: These full-featured playing and analysis features make Chess King a valuable tool for the professional chess player. though. . so it might be worthwhile to go ahead and solve some easy puzzles just to rack up experience points and bank some extra coins. The "Quest Mode" technique is similar to the chess puzzles.how long Houdini will take to analyze your game. then I play another match against this "stronger opponent. Note.

though. set it close to your own. It's up to you whether or not to play rated games. It is displayed in the lower left-hand corner of the screen. even using the "Hard" setting. If either you or your computer "nemesis" wins a match. Thus. For example. If the rating is less than 700. reset the slider up or down according to the result. depending on the setting you have selected. always. Look at the games and try to find patterns to your mistakes. Now that we've given ourselves a "hook" to keep playing in "Classical Chess" mode. Are most of your mistakes happening in the endgame? Then study endgame techniques! Are you losing games because of tactical errors that cost you material? Then spend some time solving tactics problems! The character of your mistakes (the phase of the game and the magnitude of the errors) should be used to guide your chess study. then just use "700" as your starting point. you don't have to play all six games at one sitting.I lower the computer's Elo by fifty points and start another match. that the rating displayed in the lower right-hand panel won't change unless you play rated games. or (better yet) a bit faster. which is especially helpful for players who consistently find themselves in time trouble. So I recommend that you play some rated games from time to time. Be sure to alternate colors between white and black from game to game! Obviously. Always. it is a good idea to set the time for the tournaments you are used to playing in. Note. This is part of the reason why I mentioned earlier that your experience level and the ratings displayed in Quest Mode can directly intersect with playing "classical chess" and your displayed Elo in Chess King (the other part being the coins you earn that you can spend on hints). as seen above. in fact. How do you know where to set Chess King's Elo for your first match? If you are already a rated player. Use the time control with which you are most comfortable: younger players tend to prefer blitz games. you should set the rating slider to "1550": If you are not an officially rated player. always have Chess King analyze your games! It doesn't take that long to analyze a game. Playing these "mini-matches" motivates me to study and improve my chess by providing me with a goal: to win the next match against my electronic opponent. while older players (like myself) tend to go for somewhat longer time controls. and begin again. so there's no excuse for not having Houdini 2 analyze your games to show where you and your opponent missed some opportunities. . rounding your rating up. there's still one more very important part to our Chess King training regimen. if you are rated 1524. it is probably better that you don't (for reasons we'll discuss in a moment). just use the rating displayed for the quests in the highest group you have unlocked so far. If you are a regular tournament player. you'll play a six-game match against either a "handicap" engine or Houdini 2.

Until then. Lopez and Chess King. I have a question for Steve! Many of the programs described in this column are available in the ChessCafe. Please include your name and country of residence. Yes. A PDF file of this month's column.com Archives. We'll consider those in my next article.com] [Contact ChessCafe. Inc. Comment on this month's column via our Contact Page! Pertinent responses will be posted below daily. along with all previous columns.com Online Catalog.com®" is a registered trademark of BrainGamz. is available in the ChessCafe. All rights reserved. Inc.That "outside study" is something with which a few other Chess King computers programs can help you. All Rights Reserved. . [ChessCafe Home Page] [Book Review] [Columnists] [Endgame Study] [The Skittles Room] [ChessCafe Archives] [ChessCafe Links] [Online Bookstore] [About ChessCafe. "ChessCafe. Do you have a question for Steve Lopez? Send it along and perhaps it will be answered in an upcoming column. have fun! © Steven A.com] © 2012 BrainGamz.