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Tactics trainer is already a great tool for practicing and improving one's game. One simple enhancement to how performance data is tracked and displayed for a player's completed problems could capture a substantial untapped value through the tactical motif "tags" already in place.
Currently, the performance data displayed is total # of attempts, # and % passed, # and % failed, and total time. Simple. Yet, despite each problem having attached tags, we have no way of seeing how we've performed overall on any of the tactical motifs. Being able to see even the most basic information such as the % passed and failed for each of the various tags used to label problems (this can be displayed in a very simple table) means that a player can quickly identify weaknesses or strength's in his/her game that can be targeted for further practice or research as warranted.
Without this information people have no idea WHAT they are doing right and wrong or HOW they can focus their efforts to keep improving areas that need work.
Any chess coach or experienced player would tell you that to get better you have to first know what you did wrong. Right now, all we can see is how good we are doing, or in other words, our current rating and if we've been going up or down. Adding in the simple piece of tactical peformance data regarding tactical tags would be immensely powerful from a learning standpoint and it seems that nearly everything is already in place to provide this information to members. It's an instant value-add that supports all of the other content and learning intent on this site!
Example: Maybe I'll find I only pass 20% of "zugzwang" and 25% of "defense" problems, but I'm at a 60% overall pass rate and my "basic checkmate", "mate in 1", "mate in 2", "smothered mate", etc. are up at 75-80%. This would be a clear indication to me that I should look up articles/videos/games/problems on the concepts of zugzwang, taking the opposition, king safety, etc.
Thoughts? Seems like a huge win for a small enhancement, but I did a number of searches and didn't find this suggestion yet.
Actually I did bring up something similar - great minds :). Anyway, I agree with your suggestion. I also mentioned at the time that it would be useful to be able to create a user set - say 500 problems rated about your current level and then be able to work thru the same problems a couple of times. Similar to what de la Maza and other trainers have suggested.
@jwalexander: Glad to hear others agree and have been thinking of this sort of thing as well. Even if a customized problem set would take time or be difficult to add on this site, the first step is at least knowing what you need to be improving. I'm sure at the very least there are books or sites with specific problems types that can be found online in the meantime.......provide we actually know what we should be seeking to learn!
OK... I don't totally agree with the suggested improvement, but there is a need to improve the tactics trainer. What I see wrong with it is what is mentioned here. But perhaps there is a different way to put it.
When you do something wrong in tactics trainer, it is very hard to understand why the "right thing" is "right" according to the big brained computers. Even looking at the analysis source, which is no easy feat in itself, is not always helpful with the clarification.
I do find other people's comments under individual problems extremely helpful on the tactics trainers. It is from reading them that I have come to my conclusion.
I know that there are thousands of problems. Or perhaps millions. I am curious what the number of them are. Therefore individual analysis and improvement per problem is a great task. However, I believe this is the only way to improve tactics trainer problems. I believe that each problem should have an extra "button" called "further calculation and analysis." The problem would take you through a couple more moves of a game, with what seems to be the most "obvious choices" in moves. As the side you are playing, you would play the best move against an opponent who isn't playing "the best move" but instead is playing what seems to be the most "obvious" move.
Take the problem I just worked on. Though I actually figured the solution, after the problem ends I couldn't clearly see a tactics path to follow. I was like Sherlock Holmes with amnesia, or Watson looking at Sherlock Holmes solution. I understood what I saw, but didn't understand the ultimate answer after.
The problem is number "0044902". Here, the problem ends with a pawn of yours attacking the Queen. When you look at the source code, there is nowhere in the source with a line of movement for the Queen" Black Queen Moving 16. ... Qc6 . Apparently, the computer doesn't even LIKE this option enough to suggest it to itself. (At least, in how I understand computer chess programs to work, this is how I word my sentence. I have read "Beyond Deep Blue" so I appologize if I word the previous sentence inaccurately). I was very curious why. I was lucky in that in reading someones comments on the problem, the answer was presented. It is because, after a double move of white's knight on c3... movement to b5, then c7, the queenside rook is lost.
HOW WOULD A BEGINNER KNOW THIS???? I couldn't tell this from looking at the problem... and I was fortunate it was written by someone else. In this problem, if someone would hit my suggested "Calculation Button," it would take you to a tactics trainer problem within the problem. For non-members, or for star members, it would not count against thier three-a-day or 25-a-day. The next move by the computer would be 16. ... Qc6 , and the member would have to figure out the next move being the knight's move. Then the queen would have to retreat once more, either to a place where you recieve the bishop on c5 for free, or you get the fork with the king and rook.
Now, in this suggestion, there is one OTHER suggestion that should come forth. It was probably OBVIOUS for the person who originally played this game as white that this trap existed. They probably noticed that blacks queen and black-squared bishop wondered to FAR from "protecting" the c7 square. I suppose that grand-masters would guess the events of the game. But... I'm NOT A GRAND-MASTER... NOT EVEN A MASTER. Um... duh? So... if I can't guess the events of the game, and I can't link to the original game, how am I going to figure out what the trap was? UM... duh? In the "analysis and source" there is a listing that refers to the game, but there is no HYPERLINK that takes you to the original game that was analyzed. PLEASE PLEASE make such a link available. I understand that un-paid members won't be able to access these games, many of them are to far back in history. BUT... that's thier own fault.... thats capitolizm baby.
OK... back to my suggestion... on how to implement it...
The programming implementation is very easy. The algorithem is basic... you set up a html button,... with a sort of if-then scripted link. IF "a further calculation for this puzzle" exists THEN go to it, ELSE redirect to a page that says "there is no further calculation at this time, sorry for the inconvience." Your basic under construction type stuff.
Of course, the masters that work for the site would have to work out the solutions for puzzles. And this is where the second step of the implementation comes in.
I don't know if there is a search routine in existence that will allow one to search statistics for the puzzles, or categorize them. If so, one does need to be set up. Not for the solution suggested in previous comments, per se. It is actually for the Masters who would be working out the solutions for these analysis problems.
The Masters would need to search for problems with the lowest percentage solved first. These are the problems that give the solvers the most difficulty when solving them, and the lowest percentage of those working on the problem actually having sucess solving them. You would first work on the "extra" lines of these specific problems. Further, the masters would have to agree, or pick, which line that follows seems to be the most obvious to those inexperience gamers. (I honestly feel this would be easy for them. However, they should still base the evaluation on the comments written by members on the individual problem). As they work on them, the programmers would then "attach" the solution to the problem... OR... alternatively,... they will write a sub-routine that allows said master to upload and post the "further calculations" solution on thier own. However, those masters working on the solutions would have to have the discipline to verify thier solution having posted correctly.
OK... I THINK that I've explained my suggestion and its implementation fully. Maybe, if you folks like it, you'll hire me. HEE HEE. But please email me if this idea was a good one or not.
I think this idea of keeping track of your passing % on specific themes is in the works... I will pass on the message guys!
Thanks for the heads up ACEChess and REtGuvvie. And, RetGuvvie, double thanks as well to the tireless patience I've notice you take in clarifying countless people's questions on tactics.
Keep up the good work, folks.
You mean by saying, "Look at the analysis board" over, and over again?
I'm going to ammend a comment I made. I made a comment that a link to the source games were not accessible in the analysis souce.
APPARENTLY... what I kept getter were tactics trainers derived from games not played on chess.com! HEE HEE! OK... so here is the REAL SUGGESTION regarding only THAT PART of my suggestion. (The extra button suggestion still stands).
The games derived from either 1. aborted games, or 2. games not played on this server would be very hard for beginner chess players to know how to find. Aborted games are not even VIEWABLE. THIS should be changed. There should be a special class of games stored on this server called aborted games where the message at the top reads "Game aborted by server." Further, the score should read "0-0" which is not a true chess score, but would whole represent the lack of a true score due to an aborted game. Yes, I understand games are aborted when the server goes offline. I LOVE that you guys update the server and wholly don't mind the inconvience. But for the tactics trainers this would greatly improve our ability to understand how a position was derived in a real game situation.
Now, the other aspect, games not played on this server. It is my understanding that many of the games not on this server used for tactics trainers are "CLASSIC" games and furthermore, don't fall under copyrighted material. Can't Chess.com create thier own database of games for PAID users to view, in which games that are used for the tactics trainers are stored. Also, possibly, games that show classic openings would also be stored (for example, the famous game from the 1600's [correct me if I'm wrong] where fried liver was first officially recorded!). This way, since an extra effort would get put into it, the paid members are the only ones with the priveledge to view it. However, it would then make those tactics trainers derived from such games really very accessible. FURTHER, chess.com could have thier own copyrighted chess game database collection of CLASSIC games, something that maybe they could publish yearly in a bookstore or on amazon.com in cd form as a christmas deal... something with the "best 100 games played" or something... and maybe make some extra money on it.
Ben, all of your comments are thoughtful, though it's a bit off topic from the specific suggestion this thread was created for so I think you'd do a bit better to create a separate thread to bring up and discuss some of this.
I hope that makes sense. Cheers.
Some clarification was needed for points I had made. Another user originally posted some issues with parts of my post, but then, because of the way I originally wrote this post took his oppinions down. Though I felt these were unrelated to what I wrote, I still feel the comments should have been left up, as they were educational. I will try to clarify some things, as well as posting as much information that was in the post of this other user as possible.
1) It was commented that one doesn't need a whole game to understand a tactic. I did not mean to imply that a specific position is best understood from the game it came from. I DID mean to imply that many of us have interests in how a position came about in a game. Some of us are actually skeptical about why we should be studying a puzzle. I personally understand something a lot BETTER when I see the game it came from... from the BEGINNING. I work this way, I can't help it. I assume others work this way, otherwise there would be no interest in the links to the source games for tactics trainers in the first place.
2) My statements can be misconstrued to imply that individual games are copyrighted. They are not. Ideas in chess are not copyrighted. There are collections of games, like arrangements of music, that are copyrighted. In these cases, it is not the individual games that are copyrighted, however it IS the fact that the unique way the games are combined are copyrighted.
3) I did suggest a title "Best 100 chess games" in my recommendation. It was misconstrued that I siad there is an absolute right and wrong on which games are the best games in existence.
My debate opponent suggested that the idea of "best games" is subjective. Though the presentation of this idea at the time was rude, his actual point was correct. There is no such thing as best games. Further, what one person thinks might be a helpful game to look at, another of equal skill will just throw this away.This can be for many reasons. One possible reason is the fact that positions derived from one opening will never be reached using a complety different opening, with limits on the fact that the statement is exaggerated. It can also be said that some people are entirely uncomfortable playing from a certain position. I for instance, am completely uncomfortable playing a traditional style against a French Defense when I as white used e4 to open.
The suggestion of the "Best 100 games" CD was a money making suggestion for chess.com. My style is to point out possible benifits of doing extra work. My line of work was not a physical one, such as plumbing or carpentry (though I actually HAVE that experience in my backround), but more so was management and maintenance. In management, sometimes you have to motivate others with thier own greed. This is capitalizm. I carry that into my daily life too.
4) There was a recommendation for a tactics book. My response to this suggestion was as follows. For me personally, I have found randomly picking chess books, even ones suggested to me by others, does not help. A book, or manual, for me, has to have certain kinds of things in it to be helpful. My original statement to this effect was harsh. I understand some people aren't as picky. It would have been helpful if such a reference was left up. However, I do not retract the harshness of my words to the individual. I will just point out my oppinion here in a slightly less arrogant way.
5) There were some rather rude remarks left in the original argument that reflected the oppinion that it impossible to understand why someone did what they did without talking to them, or being psychic and reading thier mind. Below I leave my original statement pretty much in tact. HOWEVER, the debator should have taken his/her own advice. He/she should have thought "oh wow, here I am thinking I can read Mychiptest's mind instead of taking the words in front of me and trying to really understand them." Or at least, this was how I felt after reading the response post.
"Perhaps it IS fair to say that a person should be speaking to someone to understand how exactly they arrived at the position they got to. However, without that luxury, the least I want to do is look at a game. Besides, again, what I meant was in a real world application, i.e., a game two people played, did the supposed "tactic" exist, and more specifically, where in the game did it exist. I know there are OTHER ways to answer this question, but being that I am a [rude comments edited out...] HANDS ON learner, I work best after I've seen a game that exposed the position I play from. Even if its only a game played a [...]1200 rated player."
Hopefully this clarifies the points I've mentioned. It was not my desire that people erase thier oppinions. It is my desire that people who get paid to be moderators, even when they act as just themselves, are nice to others, and when they are wrong appologize. This was completely misunderstood, and as of yet I still have not recieved an appology in my inbox. Even so, I will work to clarify my points as best as possible, for I still completely believe that my suggestions are really great ones that should be at least looked at by chess.com. Though in the end, as I privately stated as well, I won't personally benifit from the profit or lack thereof of chess.com. Further, I do not rely on chess.com as my only source for learning chess. However, I do think chess.com in general, even with bad apples, is a great social/chess site, and probably does have one of the best chess commercial products in the world, and only hope that they continue to be as sucessful as possible.
BTW, beer mug, I really am sorry if it seems that my suggestion is unrelated to the topic. I actually felt like it was related, but I will really try harder to keep seperate, seperate. I did appreciate what you told me beermug, though. It was probably rude of me to attach my suggestions to this particular thread.
Danny & Chess.com peeps - THANKS for getting this idea implemented, it's already helpful for my learning.
Zugzwang - currently 22 attempts and 6 passed at the bottom of my % pass rate! Clear area for improvement and study.
You guys have really been taking this site to the next level this year. Keep it up, and you'll keep your success in grabbing mass chess study market share while helping tons of people!
I still hope that chess.com can implement a set builder function that let's you specify the type and rating level of tactical problems so you can focus on a particular tactical weakness.
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