Main
Date: 31 Jan 2008 14:37:50
From: J.D. Walker
Subject: A Prodigal Returns...
Dear Chess Friends,

After a twenty-five year absence, I have returned to the chess scene. I
have spent the last six months re-acquainting myself with today's chess
world. This process led me to abandon notions of joining the club or
tournament scene. I also decided that I did not want to support
organizations like the USCF or Polgar Enterprises.

Consequently, I joined ICC a few days ago. I have been spending time
learning the various features of the site and the interface. So far, I
am quite impressed with the value one gets for the dollar. There is a
large player base with many titled players, and plenty of activity
around the clock.

I particularly enjoy watching games between GMs, either at ICC, or
relayed from international tournaments. In these cases it is possible
to use a chess engine while observing the game, which adds a lot of
value to the entertainment. I have been using the default engine
Crafty, and I downloaded the public version of Fruit. Good enough for
starters, but now I want to get more serious about finding an engine to
be my companion as a chess fan. I would like to hear from others that
have the experience so that I can select not only a very strong engine
but one that provides the most useful output.

Next, I have held off playing anything but the computer so far. The ICC
software allows one to play against the computer at selectable rating
strengths. I am pretty rusty. The computer is sharpening up my game.
My last USCF rating was 2235. Possibly I have made it back up to about
2000 strength now. Still I am faced with a quandary.

The imposing obstacle of chess opening theory I once faced has only
grown much more intimidating than it used to be. I really am not
interested or motivated to climb that mountain again. This factor has a
great bearing on what I actually decide to do about playing at ICC.

One option would be to head in the direction of Fischer Random chess. I
may well do this. ICC supports this variant of chess. One attribute I
would like to see in a chess engine is the ability to switch to Fischer
Random mode so I can use it to analyze my games afterwards. Has anyone
else gone this route? Also is there a good database program that
handles this variant?

Another possibility is the two player variant of Bughouse known as
Crazyhouse. It sounds like great fun, and quite different from standard
chess. I may start here just for the fun of it, while I work out the
details of Fischer Random. Any Crazyhouse players want to comment on
that variant?

I am sure there are those that would say, "Don't worry about it. Just
get in there and play!" I can sympathize with that view, but I plan to
do this for some time, so I want to make good choices at the outset, if
I can.
--

Cordially,
Rev. J.D. Walker, MsD, U.C.




 
Date: 01 Feb 2008 07:30:59
From: Mike Murray
Subject: Re: A Prodigal Returns...
On Thu, 31 Jan 2008 14:37:50 -0800, "J.D. Walker"
<j.d.walker@comcast.net > wrote:


>Consequently, I joined ICC a few days ago. I have been spending time
>learning the various features of the site and the interface. So far, I
>am quite impressed with the value one gets for the dollar. There is a
>large player base with many titled players, and plenty of activity
>around the clock.

I joined Playchess.com because a year's membership came with purchase
of Fritz, keted by ChessBase. ICC and Playchess seem roughly
comparable. Yasser competes on the latter periodically.

You can plug other engines into Fritz and, on a whim, I bought Rybka
and have been using it. At my level, it doesn't make much difference.
Fritz includes a few database functions and comes with a huge game
library.

>The computer is sharpening up my game.
>My last USCF rating was 2235. Possibly I have made it back up to about
>2000 strength now.

You mentioned some time ago that your peak rating was 23xx. Even with
a long absence, I'd bet you're still way stronger than 2000.

>The imposing obstacle of chess opening theory I once faced has only
>grown much more intimidating than it used to be. I really am not
>interested or motivated to climb that mountain again.

Staying away from main lines seems one alternative. So many systems
that were once considered crackpot are now considered playable.


  
Date: 01 Feb 2008 11:32:52
From: J.D. Walker
Subject: Re: A Prodigal Returns...
Mike Murray wrote:
> On Thu, 31 Jan 2008 14:37:50 -0800, "J.D. Walker"
> <j.d.walker@comcast.net> wrote:
>
>
>> Consequently, I joined ICC a few days ago. I have been spending time
>> learning the various features of the site and the interface. So far, I
>> am quite impressed with the value one gets for the dollar. There is a
>> large player base with many titled players, and plenty of activity
>> around the clock.
>
> I joined Playchess.com because a year's membership came with purchase
> of Fritz, keted by ChessBase. ICC and Playchess seem roughly
> comparable. Yasser competes on the latter periodically.

I considered Playchess, but thought the lower membership might mean less
activity and features. It is good to hear that Yasser is still active.
I had heard he was retired now. Is that true?

One of the very nice features of ICC is the series of online shows
(audio + chess board) they have by various GMs discussing different
aspects of chess. I particularly enjoy the ones by Larry Christiansen
and John Watson.

> You can plug other engines into Fritz and, on a whim, I bought Rybka
> and have been using it. At my level, it doesn't make much difference.
> Fritz includes a few database functions and comes with a huge game
> library.

Do Fritz and Rybka allow Fischer Random chess? I found that Source
Forge has a nice free chess database named "Jose" that handles Fischer
Random. It comes with Spike as an engine that can handle it. I also
plugged in the Fruit engine and it has a good record in computer
competition at Fischer Random. Jose let's you play it against the
computer also.

So I am making progress. Next, I would like to find a database of
Chess960 games. I saw an online one with about 3000 games, but I saw no
way to download it. Can anyone point me to a resource for this?

I tried a few games, and Fruit was trashing me pretty easily. It is
amazing how reliant one gets on theory in standard chess. You are
thrown back on more primitive arts at Chess960. You have to create
theory on the fly rather than search your memory.

>> The computer is sharpening up my game.
>> My last USCF rating was 2235. Possibly I have made it back up to about
>> 2000 strength now.
>
> You mentioned some time ago that your peak rating was 23xx. Even with
> a long absence, I'd bet you're still way stronger than 2000.

Maybe 2100+ now at standard chess.

>> The imposing obstacle of chess opening theory I once faced has only
>> grown much more intimidating than it used to be. I really am not
>> interested or motivated to climb that mountain again.
>
> Staying away from main lines seems one alternative. So many systems
> that were once considered crackpot are now considered playable.

Back in the eighties I often played the Chigorin Defence, the Nimzovich
Defense, and most often the "Rat," having been inspired by GM Suttles
earlier. Opening theory is a two-faced beast. In my opinion, it adds
value to the game at the same time that it eventually kills it.
--

Cordially,
Rev. J.D. Walker, MsD, U.C.


   
Date: 01 Feb 2008 11:56:14
From: Mike Murray
Subject: Re: A Prodigal Returns...
On Fri, 01 Feb 2008 11:32:52 -0800, "J.D. Walker"
<j.d.walker@comcast.net > wrote:

> It is good to hear that Yasser is still active.
> I had heard he was retired now. Is that true?

AFAIK, he's retired from official tournament competition, but still
active in other ways -- he's been pumping a new variation of chess
with a couple of extra pieces but the same size board.

>Do Fritz and Rybka allow Fischer Random chess?

It's got a "chess 960" option on the menu. Haven't used it.


    
Date: 01 Feb 2008 12:04:37
From: J.D. Walker
Subject: Re: A Prodigal Returns...
Mike Murray wrote:
> On Fri, 01 Feb 2008 11:32:52 -0800, "J.D. Walker"
> <j.d.walker@comcast.net> wrote:
>
>> It is good to hear that Yasser is still active.
>> I had heard he was retired now. Is that true?
>
> AFAIK, he's retired from official tournament competition, but still
> active in other ways -- he's been pumping a new variation of chess
> with a couple of extra pieces but the same size board.
>
>> Do Fritz and Rybka allow Fischer Random chess?
>
> It's got a "chess 960" option on the menu. Haven't used it.

If you don't mind, try just starting up a chess 960 game and see if it
tells you that Rybka does not support it, or if it goes ahead with a game.
--

Cordially,
Rev. J.D. Walker, MsD, U.C.


     
Date: 01 Feb 2008 13:26:48
From: Mike Murray
Subject: Re: A Prodigal Returns...
On Fri, 01 Feb 2008 12:04:37 -0800, "J.D. Walker"
<j.d.walker@comcast.net > wrote:


>> It's got a "chess 960" option on the menu. Haven't used it.

>If you don't mind, try just starting up a chess 960 game and see if it
>tells you that Rybka does not support it, or if it goes ahead with a game.

Heh, heh. When I invoked that menu item, it unloaded the Rybka engine
and loaded the Fritz. Then started a new game.


      
Date: 01 Feb 2008 13:36:19
From: J.D. Walker
Subject: Re: A Prodigal Returns...
Mike Murray wrote:
> On Fri, 01 Feb 2008 12:04:37 -0800, "J.D. Walker"
> <j.d.walker@comcast.net> wrote:
>
>
>>> It's got a "chess 960" option on the menu. Haven't used it.
>
>> If you don't mind, try just starting up a chess 960 game and see if it
>> tells you that Rybka does not support it, or if it goes ahead with a game.
>
> Heh, heh. When I invoked that menu item, it unloaded the Rybka engine
> and loaded the Fritz. Then started a new game.

Well, at least it is well behaved about it. :)

I know that there is a version of Rybka that plays chess960 very well,
but I did not think it was part of the commercial version yet... Dunno...

Thanks for checking it out.

I found a small database of 479 games at the FRCEC chess960 by email
club. I have been looking them over. It is fascinating. Some games
are over very quickly, like 8 moves. I'd like to get a hold of that
3000 game database as many of the games are by today's GMs. By the way,
the Jose database with the Fruit engine is working fine for this.
--

Cordially,
Rev. J.D. Walker, MsD, U.C.