And now, the Newb presents... Losing (pt 2)

Feb 23, 2014, 6:08 AM |

Previous posts: (Apology) (Analysis Board) (Game Explorer) (Game Explorer pt 2) (Losing pt 1)

There is so much to be learned from losing. You don't learn anything from winning. Winning's just a check-up...
"Do you know how to beat this guy?"
"OK, do it."
"OK, just checking."

Losing can be a wonderland of self-discovery. When you complete a game, there will be a new link to the right of the board for "Computer Analysis". Click this and you'll get a warning that the analysis could take several hours that you'll be emailed when the results are complete. It never takes that long. It usually only takes a few minutes.

And finally there it is, you're very own GM-level robot analysis of your game. Now, what's it mean? Inaccuracies? Mistakes? Blunders? You're 10 seconds into this and the robot is already on your case. Let's back up.

Let's start with points - you know, material. Pawns are worth 1, Knights and Bishops are worth 3. Rooks are worth 5. A Queen is worth 9 minus the values of the pieces chasing her if she's out before the 5th move. So if you were a pawn ahead in the game, you might say the "value" of the game was +1. If you were a pawn down, you might say the "value" of the game was -1. Computers assign values to game positions the same way - except they have a lot more that they can evaluate besides the material score. But they use the material value of a pawn as a standard. Still, a computer can dice up a position to a far finer level than being a whole pawn up or down. Thus, we have fractions of a pawn. You'll see scores with numbers out to the hundredths (0.01) place. Those are centipawns.

Back to the robot. An inaccuracy is a move that worsened your position score by 30 centipawns or 0.3. A mistake is a move that worsened your position score by 90 centipawns or 0.9. And a blunder is a move that worsened your position score by more than 2.0 points (2 full pawns).

So, how did you do? If your Blunders = 0, you did well. To heck with Inaccuracies and Mistakes. That robot's rated at 2500. Of course, it's going to see better moves! Note your blunder rate and move on.

You've got your box with all of the moves in it. We'll come back to that. Below that, you have the game information, including the opening. And the opening is a link to the Opening Explorer entry! Need to know more about that opening? - click on the link. The last box where your Inaccuracies, etc. are listed again is the Annotation box. This is where the robot will talk to you about the move. Click on the first move of the game or click the ">" button to get started.

The Annotation box will probably read "(Book Move)". Chess openings are, for the most part, already lined out. What I mean is, there's so many books and tools; so much analysis and research, that until you do something interesting in your opening that isn't widely played, your opening is considered "In Book" - because it's probably in a book somewhere. The robot doesn't waste his time analyzing it either. And this is Game Explorer territory, too. The whole idea of the Game Explorer is to keep you "In Book" as long as possible. Just click through the moves until the "(Book Move)" message goes away.

In the game I'm playing through ( I departed from "Book" at move 8.Bd3. Or so the robot thinks. I'm still in Book, just not the robot's book. I'm in Reuben Fine's "The Ideas Behind the Chess Openings". Old (1943), but highly recommended. If I REALLY wanted to help you play better, I'd just transcribe that book into my blog. But I don't.

Fine says that this move is absolutely necessary in the opening to defuse Black's Queenside pressure and clear the way for White to build a better pawn structure. That's news to the robot's "Book" but he scored the move a +0.26. Remember + values favor White, - values favor Black.

My first inaccuracy came at 13.Ne5?! I'd had a disagreement with Fine by then. Remember, it's YOUR game. Anyway. My game position score went from 0.9 to 0.52, (down 0.38) so the robot flagged it as an inaccuracy. Big deal. But, as if he knew I was thinking that, he added a couple of lines in the move box to show me the line he was thinking about. See the blue shaded moves within the parenthesis? The first parenthesis will be the robot's "better" line than yours. The second parenthesis will be the line that the robot thinks your move is going to end up. To follow these lines, you have to click on the move inside the parenthesis. The ">" button will just skip to the next "real" move.

You'll have these options at every Inaccuracy, Mistake, and Blunder, so there's a lot to learn from every analysis. Long games are better. Higher rated opponents are better. There's not much to learn from a win in 6 moves. And watch for the blunders. Try to remember what the conditions were when you made those moves. Does my last column make any more sense now?


I get that a lot.