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rec.games.chess.compute FAQ [1/3]
Section - [8] I'm a Novice (or Intermediate). How Do I Improve?

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There are lots of variations to the methods, but the things most good
teachers agree on is to emphasize (1) tactics, (2) endings, and (3) playing
with a plan.  Most people spend too much time studying openings.  Just learn
enough about openings to get to a playable middlegame.  The books listed
below should give you a great start on (1), (2), and (3).  Of course, playing
experience is important.  Review your games (with a much stronger player if
possible) or your chess computer to find out what you did right and wrong.
Seek out games against stronger players, and learn from them.

You should also consider reviewing classical games by the masters: Capablanca,
Tal, and others. Read over well annotated games.

When playing your chess computer, set it at a level that you can beat it
approximately 25% of the time. This will allow you to successfully practice
some winning techniques, rather than practice losing. Beginners may
benefit from programs such as Bobby Fischer teaches Chess, which also comes
with a chess engine (software) that can be set on 10 different novice levels.
It was designed by Richard Lang, the programmer of Chess Genius.

ChessBase University Software may also be useful. More on this will appear in
a future edition of the FAQ.


Educational Software:

Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess. (Bookup, Inc. 2763 Kensington Place West, Columbus, Ohio 43202
(800-949-5445) for $49 with free shipping) List $59.95, Recently seen at CompUSA for
$28.00. CDROM only. 300 Interactive Chess lessons designed by Bobby Fisher,
300 classic chess photos, history of chess, 500 of Fischer's best games. And
an excellent chess program to play against! Realistic beginners levels
and regular levels also. The Chess Machine included is based on programming by
Richard Lang, author of Chess Genius. Jump from practise session to computer
chess game at the position you are studying.
Free PGN viewer is available with 3D chess board from BFTC at ICS as I believe
b8view.exe. This is also available from Bookup for $3.95 shipping charge if you do
not have compuserve or ftp access.

ChessBase University. (ChessBase)

Recommended Openings (and Books) for Novices to Intermediates:

Remember your goal is to reach a playable middlegame.  Don't worry about what
is popular, or what the Masters play.  As GM Lombardy once said, all openings
offer good winning chances in amateur play.

As you become stronger, you can shop around for an opening yourself.  At first
you should play many openings. Don't learn them too deep at first. Learn the
principles of the opening and the reasons behind the moves. It is important
early in your chess undertakings to spend more time on tactics. Or as someone
else put it "TACTICS, TACTICS, TACTICS!" But of course opening theory or at
least the theory of develpment is important so you can last more than 10 moves
in a game.

Bookup 8.5 is one means of practicing openings. It will allow you to drill
yourself on a variety of openings, including ones that you may select and
detail yourself. Hundreds of e-books are available as detailed under supplies.
These are directed at the ranges from C player level to Master or higher.
Eric Schiller and Chuck Schulien are authors of many electronic books suitable
for developing players.

Subject: [9] I'm really good. How do I get better? (Class A/B and Up.)

No one may actually need this section because you may have already figured
out what to do at your current elevated status of chess playing. In case
you are looking, aimlessly for things to do to improve. I will recommend
a few good sources of material. At the higher levels, tactical ability is
a given. Opening theory will become increasingly important. So will the
occasional surprise, something outside of your usual repertoire. Note
Kasparov and his recent Evan's gambits. It is important
to develop a sense of both what positional improvements are possible and what
dynamics underly a given position.  Methods of choosing and analyzing
"candidate moves" is increasingly important - and has at no level really not
been important. The use of computer database software to study recent games
will be useful. At a high level, you will be able to study the games of your
opponent. The assistance of high level chess program to analyze lines that
either you or your opponent plays can also be helpful and serve as a double
check on your own analysis. You should analyze not only the games you lose,
but also those you win. Be sure that you know the errors you made in the
games that you have won.

High level electronic opening books are available for use with bookup. These
include complete opening systems by Dragan Barlov aimed at expert and above.

When looking at games for ideas, in addition to looking at the Informants and
NIC yearbooks you may also consider looking at high level correspondance chess
games.  These contain themes that have been worked out with considerable time
and effort.



Subject: [10] Publications

(expanding shortly)

_Chess Informant_ by Sahovski Informator, P.O. Box 739, Francuska 31, 11001
Beograd, Yugoslavia (Serbia).  Published in March, August, and December
(semi-annually before 1991).  Consists of "good" games (judged by committee)
from major tournaments; as well as interesting positions (combinations,
endings) given as a quiz, and tournament crosstables.  There are about 750
games/issue classified by opening (known as _ECO_ classification).  Notation
is figurine algebraic; games are annotated (often by the players) with
special ideographs (defined for 10 languages).  The January & July FIDE
rating lists are published in the following edition.  _Informant_ games are
also available in ChessBase/NICBase formats.

_Computer Chess Reports_ published quarterly by ICD Corp., 21 Walt Whitman
Road, Huntington Station, NY 11746.  Phone 800-645-4710.  Subscriptions are
$18/year.  Focuses on computer chess, and rates dedicated chess-playing
computers and software. This is worth looking at.

_The Computer Chess Gazette_, Box 2841, Laguna Hills, CA 92654.
714-770-8532.  Focuses on computer chess.

_International Computer Chess Association (ICCA) Journal_ published quarterly.
Membership/subscription is about $30/year.  Follows computer chess worldwide.  ICCA,
c/o Don Beal, Department of Computing Science, Queen Mary and Westfield
College, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS, England.  ICCA Europe, c/o Prof. Dr. H.
J. van den Herik, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maasticht, The Netherlands
Email ICCA is icca@cs.rulimburg.nl (Membership/subscription
is Hfl. 60).


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