Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Fundamental Chess Openings by Van der Sterran

     I had a chance to look over this book I discovered in the library recently and think it is the best opening book you can start out with if you are trying to learn openings. 
     Most players buy a bunch of books on different openings and end up not getting through any of them. Van der Sterran’s book is different. It covers a lot of material, but not deeply and that’s OK because beginning players don’t need a lot of sophisticated stuff. What they need is a very good explanation of general themes, development, and move orders with the main focus being on standard mainline openings. 
     Van der Sterren gives you enough knowledge to get through the first several moves which is all you really need because lower rated opponents aren’t going to be all booked up 15-20 moves deep anyway. Another great thing about the book is that it does not contain reams of analysis. Van der Sterren explains things with words which makes it easier to comprehend the principles behind the moves. It's a great book for beginners up to average players (around 1600). 450-plus pages large pages.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Deep Hiarcs 13

     The HIARCS engine uses the Fritz 12 GUI which I happen to like a lot. As for the engine itself, HIARCS is best known for its unique human-like playing. Chess computers don’t really play like humans, they play like computers. However, many players think HIARCS’s play is the most ‘human-like.’ It's not overly-aggressive and it doesn’t seem to play what can only be described as weird moves. 
     Like all engines, it is good at tactics but is best at positional play; but probably not as good positionally as Shredder and Houdini. This makes HIARCS a good training partner for the reason that it does play human-like moves and on the handicap levels it makes human-like mistakes. For this reason, it may not be best if you are looking for absolute best move.
     Hiarcs ranks way down on CCLR’s Complete List with a rating of 2997 which is still pretty good. By comparison #1 ranked Houdini 4 is 3248 while Stockfish DD is #3 at 3229 and Houdini 1.5a is #9. 
     One disadvantage is that HIARCS 13 offers single core engines Hiarcs 13.2 and 13.1 but if you are using it as a sparring partner rather than looking for the best move, this isn't an issue. It has the Hiarcs13Lite opening book, Fritz 12 interface with many training functions, a database with 1.5 million games and 12 months access to
     Opinion: if you are looking for a realistic training partner, HIARCS is worth considering if you don't mind the rather steep price just for a playing partner.