Thursday, October 30, 2014

Dover Chess Books

Dover offers a wide variety of chess books for both beginners and advanced players, including books on tactics and positional play, the endgame, and openings. They have many classic books by past masters:  Alekhine, Capablanca, Lasker, and others.

from: Dover Publications
from: Dover Publications
from: Dover Publications
from: Dover Publications
from: Dover Publications
from: Dover Publications
from: Dover Publications
from: Dover Publications
from: Dover Publications
from: Dover Publications

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Komodo 8 Chess Engine

    I posted on this about a month ago on my other Blog that I had just purchased the download version of Komodo 8 and I have been testing it out on LSS. While it’s too soon to make any determinations my results since I started using Komodo have been +0 -1 =2. I can’t blame the loss on Komodo though because as Black I played the QGD Chigorin Defense and was never able to recover from an inferior opening position. Here is the final position:

     Even though it LOOKS like black has drawing chances, all the engines give white a winning advantage and a bunch of Shootouts all gave white the win, so it was time to resign and concentrate on the remaining games. The three draws resulted from, as white, an Evans Gambit and a Urusov Gambit (!) and as black, a Guioco Piano. With any luck, I expect to go +2 -0 =1 in the remaining games, but a result of +2 -1 =3 with Komodo won’t be very convincing since it’s about in line with my overall results prior to Komodo’s arrival on the scene. Many more games will have to be played to get a more accurate picture. According to all the engine ranking sites though, Komodo 8 is by far the best.
     The Komodo developers claim it is different from the rest in that its search allows it to often see deeper than any other engine and its evaluation differs because it represents a blend of both automated tuning and the judgment of a grandmaster and computer expert, GM Larry Kaufman.
     Komodo is primarily known for excellent positional play which is important if you are playing on ICCF or LSS where engine use is, if not mandatory, both allowed and advisable. Most of the top engines excel in tactical strength, but the programmers have sacrificed positional play so their engines will score better on tactical problems and do well in blitz play against other engines. In other words, they have stacked the deck for rating list purposes.
     As Komodo developers point out, the judgment of a GM is still superior to engines so it makes sense to emphasize positional play rather than tactical skill. Komodo is especially useful for opening analysis because Kaufman has made sure that the program's evaluations agree in general with accepted theory. Komodo also excels in the evaluation of positions with material imbalance, which it handles more correctly than other top engines. This is a very important factor because my experience has lead me NOT to trust engines in this situation. It seems they often get it wrong.
     On the CCLR 40/40 rating list Komodo 8 pounded Houdini 4.0 as did Stockfish 5, so we can discount Houdini 4.0 as not being worth the purchase price of about $50. So, the real question is, is Komodo 8 worth the $60 purchase price as opposed to the free Stockfish 5?
     On the CCLR 40/40 list, Komodo 8 hammered Stockfish 5 +19 -8 =67. On the other hand on the CEGT 40/120 list Stockfish 5 heads the list followed by Komodo 8 and Houdini 4.0, and the matchup of Stockfish vs. Komodo 8 is almost equal.
     In answering the question as to which is best, the $60 Komodo 8 engine or the free Stockfish 5 engine, it depends on what you are going to do with it. If you are SERIOUS about playing on ICCF or LSS and have 8 or more cores and are willing to devote a tremendous amount of time to preparing your own well researched opening books and spend days analyzing positions, then by all means spend the money for Komodo 8.
     If you’re like me and only have a quad core laptop, play correspondence for fun and like to experiment with different openings (I have played the Sicilian Wing Gambit, the Urusov Gambit, the Grob and stupid stuff like 1.a4 and 1…a4, none of which have been outright refuted!!) then stick with Stockfish 5.

11-1-14 UPDATE:  In a match conducted last month on an AMD FX-8350 8-core with 4GB hash per engine and the Syzygy 6-men tablebases and a long time control of 90 minutes plus a 30 second increment, the match was tied at +16 -16 =68.  So it appears my conclusions are...WRONG!!  There really does not appear to be any need for most of us to spend the money for Komodo. Details of the match HERE

Friday, October 24, 2014

Kindle and Nook Apps

     I was surprised to find out some people thought you had to have a Kindle or Nook to read digital books, but that’s not true. Whether you have a Kindle or Nook you can generally purchase books online cheaper from Amazon or Barnes and Noble (for the Nook) than from a book store and the digital editions are usually cheaper. By the way, most of the free books are digitized books that are out of copyright protection and most of them are of very poor quality. There’s not much point in trying to save a little money downloading them; they are usually boring and sometimes hard to read; if you want cheap download the $0.99 ones.
     Both the Amazon app for Kindle and the Barnes and Noble app for the Nook offer pretty much the same things. You load them on your tablet, smartphone or computer and when you buy a book once you can read it on any device with the app installed. Of course, you can also read that same book on the Kindle or Nook if you own one. I used to have the Nook, but it got destroyed when our house flooded back in May so now I just download and read books on my laptop.

Good Opening Books

Her are some good general opening books.  The book on the King's Indian Attack is especially good because to play it properly you have to have at least a general idea of how to meet each black setup. Also, the King's Indian Reversed is a good attacking opening that does not create any weaknesses in white's position.  The attack will be in the nature of a methodical buildup and so the chances of making a serious blunder resulting in an immediate loss is less likely to happen to white than in an open position that resulted from a gambit opening.

You can download the FREE Amazon app Kindle for the PC HERE

Thursday, October 23, 2014

ChessBase Starter Package

Product Features

• ChessBase 12 Starter Package & Guide to ChessBase DVD & Art of War E-Book (3 item Bundle)
• ChessBase 12 - Integrated CB online database with more than 5 million games - Access to player encyclopedia with over 30,000 pictures
• ChessBase Big Database 2014 + automatic update through December 31, 2014 - ChessBase Magazine subscription, half year: 3 issues DVD + print
• Guide to ChessBase is a series of multimedia videos that will guide you step-by-step through using ChessBase programs.
• FREE the epic "Art of War" by Sun Tzu, completely re-mastered for the 21st century by ChessCentral

Highly recommended to the tournament or correspondence player. Chessbase is a database management system that allows you to search millions of masters games that come with it for similar positions and analyze your games. Plus, they offer excellent support for their products.

Backgammon Sets and Accessories

The Backgammon Store sells equipment for the serious backgammon player. They offer vinyl, fine leather, plastic and exotic wood. They also produce their own line of backgammon sets in their own workshop.

Click on banner to visit


Monday, October 6, 2014

Must Have Dover Chess Books (Cheap!)

The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played: 62 Masterpieces of Chess Strategy by Irving Chernev. Over 60 games featuring games by the greatest— Capablanca, Tarrasch, Fischer, Alekhine, Lasker and others. Chernev’s annotations occasionally contain serious errors…play over the games with an engine or if you just want too, and aren’t worried too much about occasional faulty analysis, play over them just for enjoyment.

500 Master Games by Tartakower and du Mont. Must have!

Simple Chess by Michael Stean. This one will actually teach you something! Aimed primarily at novice players but helpful for all players. Stean isolates the basic elements and illustrates them very well. Algebraic notation.

Zurich International Chess Tournament, 1953 by Bronstein 210 masterpieces. Algebraic notation. This a MUST HAVE…REALLY!!

Paul Morphy and the Evolution of Chess Theory by Macon Shibut. You do NOT need this book about the best chess player of the nineteenth century which analyzes his games in depth and discusses other players of the period but it’s great reading.

107 Great Chess Battles, 1939-1945 by Alexander Alekhine.  Algebraic notation. Why would you NOT want to read a book by Alekhine?

Chess Master vs. Chess Amateur by Max Euwe and Walter Meiden

     This book contains 25 games chosen and annotated to help amateurs learn how to avoid a variety of weak strategic and tactical mistakes. The games were selected to point out how masters exploit typical errors made by amateurs and because they are not grandmaster games, they are easier to understand. The authors introduce concepts that appear in the game at the beginning and then when they appear in the game, they explain them.
     The book was apparently written for players in the 1200-1600 range, but I seriously doubt it will help anybody very much because the strategic concepts are given only brief explanations and you can’t learn much from playing over a single game. I wouldn’t bother buying it or, for that matter, borrowing it from the library. Note: it's not in algebraic notation either.