Gearing up for the World Open.

Jun 26, 2011, 11:39 AM |

When I tell my co-workers what I am about to do for vacation next week, the common response I get “ You call that a vacation?”   For the uninformed, Since the American chess scene that lacks sponsorships like our European counter parts, attracting the masses of "professionals" and amateurs with a hefty prize does draw a crowd so the organizers can break even. However, the time table is  a grueling 6 hours per game at 2 games a day during the peak. So when they hear I am signing up for 12 hours a day while holding my head as if I am in agony staring at 64 squares and a few little wooden pieces scattered about, they tend to go “ I you say so”.  I call that fun.

I’ve been ramping up my preparations for this event. Because I am not a big named GM nor am I any way near the level of play of a GM, I have no “second” helping me train. Rather, my “second” is of the silicon base and add to it a very good chess club that has strong players  who I can get a “lesson” from when I play against them.  I’ve shared some of those lessons recently.

What I’d like to share about is how I am using my “silicon second”. Years ago, I signed up for piece of software called Bookup, spent the money then Mike Leahy updated the software on several occasions almost to the point where it annoyed me as the next version always meant “ for a little more money” . At one point I emailed him back and told him flat out “ look, I paid for this earlier version and I use it, I don’t want to have to pay more for something  that does the same thing.” 

Mike was very receptive to this feedback and provided me with the registration code for the new stuff with no strings attached. That was two years ago. I finally got over myself and installed the new version called Chess Opening Wizard.

First, I must say that I used to use it purely as a memory drill exercise putting the tool in “training” mode where I would select an opening and play through variation after variation without thinking too much.  Problem with this is that I have a horrible memory to retain such rote responses. I needed to augment the learning  experience by verbal queues. This led me to barking at my computer screen cursory positional values but it was somewhat successful.  The problem was that the database I used would drill each variation down to the last move of the game before cycling to the next branch causing me to start and stop the training at various points.


Then, I discovered the feature of “speed learning” . The COW tool will take a starting position of your choice in your database and create a set of flash card like problems from that line. You can select how far down the rabbit hole you want to go, select whose side to move for the positions and voila! You have a canned batch of exercises specifically out of your repertoire!  I can’t tell you how excited I am  about this.  I’ve been trying to do this with ChessBase but its so cumbersome. Mind you CB has its merits …much for another post later.

Mike Leahy has a nice chess improvement tool out there and he’s been doing this for quite a while.  It’s worth checking out.