Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Chess and Computer Exercising

Chess and Computer Exercising

In my 19 years away from OTB while raising my kids, having a wife that worked every other weekend, it was Chessmaster 2000 that kept me playing chess. I must have played thousands of games against my 286 and I learned that the French Defense gave the program greatest difficulties. Strategically CM2K would commit to either the kingside or queenside and could be out maneuvered. But upon the arrival of the 386 model computer chess software left me in the dust. It is now a rare occasion that I defeat a 386 or stronger pc.

I think that practicing against a pc makes your tactics stronger, and subsequently I acquired Fritz that I first use in blunder check mode, then deep analysis to evaluate my games. This is like having your own chess coach and it allows you to spot obvious tactical errors.

In my math teaching days I was involved in introducing the first generation of desktop computers into the Town of Holbrook. We had Commodore Pets, Tandy TRS80's, and Apple Mac's, then the IBM PC in 1982. Apple and Dos/Windows battled for the educational dollar for many years.

One interesting observation was that some students gravitated to the math tutorial "drilling" exercises and computer simulation games. They preferred the playing/drilling without social interaction with other humans. Here was a new avenue for development that had a type of anonymity that some kids preferred. And this type of personal training exists today, as I know of kids that train for hours using chess exercise software, and some get good at a very fast rate.

I have seen it written that Gary Kasparov was the first champ to fully leverage training with computers. There was a time when Gary carried around two of the strongest laptops (at any given time) with him to assist in chess analysis. Contrarily Anatoly Karpov's minimal computer literacy has hurt his chess awareness. Not to take anything from the fact that Karpov is one of the greatest positional players of all time. It's just that today Karpov is a few steps slower than the top wave of Grandmasters who probably spend more hours playing chess via mouse than actually touching pieces. Locally IM Marc Esserman appears to be the top PC chess junkie, obviously this is the future of chess. It's amazing that you can sit in on tournaments around the world and know in seconds what used to take months to disseminate.

I wonder who has fallen victim locally to something that was just used at say Linares yesterday? Do you think pc's are changing today's game, and have been a victim or victimized anyone with a newly found innovation?

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Thank You

Mike Griffin


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