Thursday, March 27, 2008

Raming GM Ram

What if I told the kind reader that GM Ram by Rashid Ziyatdinov was a deep work? The more I look at it, the more do I find within it; the more I examine it, the more nuances do I find.

Silman gives an interesting review, as well as has a series of terse articles at his blog [1] by the author himself. One alert reviewer noted that the author 'is a mathematician and it shows', to which I heartily concur:

For example, the book has 256 diagrams. Could it be an accident that this is the square of sixteen, or that being an eight by eight board defines our royal game of chess and could contain exactly four full chess boards there?

Most experienced chess students who have examined the book know that it is composed of two major segments: the first consisting of 136 endgame diagrams [2] without notes or move order, and the second consisting of 120 middlegame positions also bare of identification, then at the same time, housing the full game scores following at the end of the book.

Some Things Simply Need no Explaination

My progress has continued through my carefully cultivated 3,274 Classic GM Game Collection in Chessbase9, and after months and years of effort, has me finally reach the 59 GM-Ram reference games as I approach the 1,562 game mark in this vast series mapped out by me long ago.

Here are some details about the book and its constituencies: while 14 of these games have only one illustrative key diagram, some 30 of them have two diagrams, and another 14 of them three diagrams. One game has four diagrams, totalling 120.

While Ziyatdinov provides 136 diagrams intended as source material for learning key endings to be 'learned by hand" (so well known that the student can know in his or her sleep the right answers, either as white or black to move--to win or draw, so that their solutions are automatic), alert readers who render the book into pgn or cbv files must really enter 272 positions. Again, the positions provide no hints and white or black to move are implicit choices in all those endings!

So this really would require not a database housing 256 distinct records, but in fact 392 of them!

Breathless Beauty!

My respect for this book knows no bounds. I resumed ranking each of my GM games, and had been rating them 1 to 5, with five as best. A grade of four or four-point-five is a rarety, but Mr. Ziyatdinov's book has many classic games that I successively rank 'stark raving' fives!

I will bypass the ending positions for now, and difer this unit till long after I have done a lot of other work, discussed extensively at this blog many times, but nevertheless fully intended by me not to be missed, and sternly included in my major chess study plan.

warmest, dk

[1] Substitute 2, 3... 9 in the web address for the full compliment of nine articles at the Silman site, or use the sloppy links embeded at Z's primitive web site.

[2] Essential Endgames =5 positions, K&P =19, Rook =28,Queen =6, Minor pieces =56, R & Minor 13, and Fortress =9, totals 136 positions.

Lewin in his well recommended Complexity: Life at the Edge of Chaos discusses 'lumpy interger constraints'. Kaufman of the Sante Fe Institute was contracted by Proctor and Gamble to see where savings could be derived in size of truck load, in preparing shipments. He analysed the entire supply chain, and found that they could save money (P&G) by shipping less than full truck loads, in dispensing time bottlenecks.

Similarly, Ziatdinov is mostly but not always forced to configure his book into units of sets of six, the postions per page!

Anyone got any LSD or other heavy drugs that I can take now? My brain valve setting is on now full. Then again, maybe Home Depot has a brain reducer valve back in stock that would suffice instead? Who needs drugs when you have an imagination? BDK: Kant rules.


Blogger Phaedrus said...

Hello DK,

No need to say how serious I would take your opinion on any work of art, chess, society, etc.

But now, I must confess, I am in doubt. Everything I have read so far on GM-RAM, convinced me that buying and subsequently working through this book would be a complete waste of money and time.

But now your raving review of the book is tempting me to give it a try.

It is as if I am back at University when very good friends of mine told me I HAD to see Paris Texas, the movie directed by Wim Wenders (starring Natasha Kinski and Harry Dean Stanton).

When I asked them what the movie was about, I heard a very thin story with a very simple plot (man seeks ex-wife and finds her in a peepshow).

But my friends kept telling me I JUST HAD to see the movie. After a few weeks I found a girl who still hadn't seen the movie (they were hard to find under students those days) and who wanted to go with me (even harder to find).

Seldom have I been more disappointed. The movie was completely beneath or beyond me, as well as to the girl I was with. And if it hadn't been for the score of Ry Cooder, I would have slept through all of the movie. When we left the theater the girl even more or less blamed me for talking her into going. So there even wasn't the comfort of good company and a shared bottle of beer afterwards.

So what to do now. Is this Paris Texas revisited? Or will I experience the treat you had?

Doubt, DK, doubt!

Thu Mar 27, 08:12:00 AM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

@phaedrus: thank you for such an ample and well crafted reply? are you sure you have not been 'telling me a high tale' and instead of a professional in Europe are not rather a college professor of English in Paris Texas, using the Netherlands as an alias, since your writing is so good?

seriously now. i can only go by what i see, that is to say be concrete and emperircal. i have spent three years going through 941 GM games slowly and carefully.

thereafter, i accelerated that work by adding another, shall we say, approximate 500 games. i hadnt missed many classics. but, hard as i tried to 'get them all', somehow when it was time to add the GM Ram games, upon the suggeston of Takchess of blogger [1] among us, i viewed the online version game collection and checked to see if i had them or not, before 'plunging' deeper into more work, perhaps unnecessary work.

i had maybe 60% of the games (i counted them, believe me, but its way in my notes and paperwork).

now that it is time to view them, i started back ranking games, having stopped for awhile, as viewing them alone was too much work. i have had a spreadsheet all along, and wrote game scores for my own notes there, in rich detail, but i am only talking about adding the rankin of the games being added as a task.

Ziyatdinov, i found, had put together an amazing illustrative game collection, with some examples from Morphy, Paulson, Steinitz, Anderssen, Chigorin, etc, that Nunn, Chernev, Krabbe, Fine, Soltis, Reti, Alekhine, Nimzowitch, Tartakower, etc had Not FOUND.

some men like them tall, some short, some round, some terse. some short hair, some long hair, some thin, some plump. me, i like order and clarity of concept.

i do believe, also, that the endings are well selected, and a close study of them is a perfect adjunct to Dvoretsky, Muller, and some other simpler endgame texts. but not first. GM-Ram, to me, is a late stage study book, along with Art of Attack, and NCO. the idea being, you go college before you do post graduate work.

what can i say? this book has been at my side for weeks, along with Reinfelds 1001 books, Dr. John Macks on Alien Abduction (he is a Harvard MD), and this book makes three.

maybe the zombies just took my soul and i cannot think now?

thank you again, dk

Thu Mar 27, 12:28:00 PM PDT  
Blogger likesforests said...

The idea that one can master K&Ps endings at the GM-level by studying 19 positions seems absurd. Attempts I've seen to cover pawn endings upto the expert level have taken 33, 72, and 117 positions. But I would be very curious to see them. I bet they are quite interesting. :)

But assuming these games are well selected--and Silman doesn't contest that--why aren't you using GM-RAM as your primary collection of games to study? Why bother creating your own collection when someone has done the work for you?

My only problem with game collections it that they're not always relevant to what I play. I've been trying to choose study games that also happen to be in my opening repertoire.

Btw, I finally posted a progress update on my blog after months of inactivity. ;)

Thu Mar 27, 03:06:00 PM PDT  
Blogger nemo said...

Ah the lovely GM-RAM. I posted about this book awhile back, excuse me for not posting a link to the article for I am lazy. I can't say that the book has really helped me much but at the same time, I'm not playing at the same level as you. Best of wishes to you and hopefully the book makes you a stronger player!

Thu Mar 27, 03:34:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Temposchlucker said...

Awesome movie of a quatroped robot!

Thu Mar 27, 04:04:00 PM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

@LikeForests: its hard to understand where you are coming from, when you are usually so positive!

you've seen my game collection, and you know how good it is. it is not fair to say 'why bother building it?', as it is made from many masterfull collections by great champions, masters, teachers, and writers.

as an aggregation it contains much integrated knowledge and forethought. taken in reasonable doses, one can absorb much by looking at 1,000 or 2,000 classic GM games over five years.

at the same time, it includes GM Ram, as it does Reti Masters of the Chessboard, Stohl, Nunn, i simply do not repeat to everyone again its constituencies.

one good point, i just roll my eye balls at 'yet another sicilian or roy lopez', when i try to play neither. of course, i learn from those two when they present themselves, and take it in stride as part of a universal chess education. i dont like them but can of course play them, and know how the positions should look...

my goodness likeForests! my, my goodness, what are you saying?? i am on the 1500th game, not taking 59 games. some of them are not important, and some are. i have 300 more to go, with the 1,400 games that come after as meerly for support or to act as supportive.

similarly the endings. who said anything about learning all of endings from 136 positions, and a tiny handfull of K&P endings?

i have much to study, first, including all of Secrets of Pawn Endings, again, i dont need to repeat the constituencies of my plan, plastered all over my blog the last 8 months?

just as you dont get a job from a resume, but is a necessary qualification towards the POSSIBILITY OF GETTING AN INTERVIEW, not a job likeForests, so here!

i am not saying 'this is it!' i am saying that after doing much work, here is a great place to visit and revisit.

no book is a panacea for chess skill or proficiency. no book can do that. the book is an invitation to work. a book is a concretization, a concrete reminder of steps to work, it is not the work. this is what Ziyatdinov is saying.

let me put it another way. i am not saying these are the only postions. no. no way.

what i am saying is that if a person looks at these games among many other games, he or she will see many concepts well represented.

what i am saying is that if a person looks at these endings AS AN EXERCISE among many other endgame studies, perhaps as a late stage exam, then he or she will know chess better.

i cannot rate this book any higher than Chernev's Most Instrucive Games of Chess Ever Played, or Alburt's Pocket Chess Training, or Euwe-Kramers The Middlegame in Chess, volumes I & II. i put these all in the same class.

i do not wish to say these are the only positions or will make you a grandmaster. perhaps others say that, and i do not. i only say that this is a very compressed workbook, and the same well known lack of notes, hints, or gamescore data pose as some advantages, putting the effort back on the reader or student. and not for beginners but only for those who have already done much work.

thx, dk

Thu Mar 27, 06:06:00 PM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

@nemo, of course, yes, i read your posts. there is little i miss among what all of us write here. i enjoyed what you wrote.

i have googled extensively on GM-Ram, and believe me, the quality commentary on this book is severely limited, which is why i felt duty bound to write this post.

@all readers: it is one thing to say 'this is the way follow me' and another thing altogether to say: 'this is AMONG my way, and i share it with you for your consideration'.

my way is very, very broad and inclusive, not exclusive, and takes in examples, books, games, ideas from all over.

i try to just keep working and, most of all, just to really enjoy studying.

warmest, dk

Thu Mar 27, 06:10:00 PM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

one commentator at youTube said that they found that robot scary. i agree!

probably most of the folks i know including me are run off of similar architecture, with collision detection, stability algorithms, and primitive decision making capabilities. :)

my life is sufficient evidence of limited capacity but archaic functionality in a vast stellar cold entropic heat death off to the stars and percolating down to the deep sea as eventual plankton and photosynthesis as i am sure you can appreciate.

Thu Mar 27, 06:29:00 PM PDT  
Blogger likesforests said...

I'm not skeptical of you, my friend. I'm not even skeptical that this is a fine book. I am skeptical that this book encompasses the essential knowledge to become a GM, specifically when it comes to endings. And I did have an occasion to review his pawn endings courtesy of Amazon's free preview. But this is no surprise. You have Secrets of Pawn Endings on your training schedule, which is a most excellent endgame book.

"One can absorb much by looking at 1,000 or 2,000 classic GM games over five years."

Certainly. Several players became GMs or champions after studying many games.

What is not so clear is:

+ Which ones?
+ How many?

My hypothesis is that there are two types of games one should study: (a) ones that's teach ideas and (b) ones relevant to your openings.

So my questions to you are:

(1) Have you considered assembling a collection of games in your opening lines?

(2) Why do you feel that knowing the 59 GM-RAM games is not enough "idea games" to make master? If you feel it is, then why study more before reaching that milestone?

As always, I wish you successful studies!

"No book is a panacea for chess skill or proficiency. no book can do that. the book is an invitation to work. a book is a concretization, a concrete reminder of steps to work, it is not the work. this is what Ziyatdinov is saying."

Ziyatdinov says in the preface, "The good news for aspiring Grandmasters is that the work that must be done if you want to be a strong player has a start and finish. Everyone, upon glancing through this book, can judge the amount of time needed to go from start to finish--that is, to learn and understand the essential positions. My opinion is that if you memorize all of them, you will be a 2600 level player. Even a 2500 level player does not know all of them cold. They can find the solution, but only after studying the position."

Thu Mar 27, 10:14:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Temposchlucker said...

The scary part is because we know we are probably looking at the birth of the new soldier.

But then again, society is run by silly mechanical people who are asleep. As your graph clearly shows. Evil is only the byproduct of that sillyness. It is not intended.

Mother Nature: everything is going according to plan. Her plan. Sleep and the resulting sillyness are her methods to keep us on track.

Thu Mar 27, 10:42:00 PM PDT  
Blogger BlunderProne said...

I love the book. But I've yet to get to the positional sections. I've been working on the endgame studies, set teh book down and then moved on to other books.

What turns off most people is the problems have no solutions. That's what I LOVE about it. It forces me to think through the problems before resorting to the answer. There are no answers... well..they can be found eventually.

The endgame section seemed a little tedious with the same type problems shifted. I accepted this as it also forced me to look at positional nuances otehr books tend to gloss over.

I only scratcehd the surface of the middle game positions and game references. I am now eager to dig back into this nugget.

Fri Mar 28, 05:35:00 PM PDT  
Blogger takchess said...

An interesting topic with many thoughtful comments and engaging discussions here. When likeforest, Loomis(not represented here),blunderprone comments on one of my games I posted. It is always well thought out and helpful.

You hit on one of my favorite topics The (pseudo)science of Chess improvement and the subset of that:Russian Chess Folklore of the 300 Positions. That 300 superpositions form the essential knowledge one needs to become a grandmaster .

This idea spawned this book as well as Alburts 300 position book. The actual number needed and which positions are the super-positions are up for debate. Perhaps Papa Polgar felt given inflation the number should be updated to 5334.

Likeforests doubts that the 136 endgame positions are all you need to master endgames. Given LF passion for endgame study I need to respect that opinion. I believe Ziyatdinov theory might not be quite literally true that 300 positions wellknown = grandmaster.

I however have no doubt that knowing the 136 endgames listed would make one a decidely better player. I also believe that the endgames selected in the book are well selected they are stripped down to the bare essentials. So most endgames one would play has ideas contained within these. An analogy the author makes these are the letters of which the words of chess knowledge is made.

I am running out of time and will comment more later.

However DK, I would suggest that if your study includes endgame study. You might want to consider doing these first as they contain knowledge to help with more complex endgames.

Sat Mar 29, 04:40:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Polly said...

When I was watching that video I first thought it was two people dressed up as a robot dog. I thought it was a giant bug. Then as I watched the whole video I realized it was not two guys, but an actual 4 legged robot. Damn! I wouldn't want to bet against that in a dog fight.

Sat Mar 29, 10:36:00 PM PDT  
OpenID liquideggproduct said...

Anyone got any LSD or other heavy drugs that I can take now?

Well, it would probably have to be some sort of other heavy drug. LSD has long been displaced as a drug of choice and may not be as easily obtained.

Er, this is hearsay. Not that I'd have first-hand knowledge, of course.

Sun Mar 30, 08:22:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Soapstone said...

I like GM-RAM for its stark asceticism. That being said, I once had plans to publish on line my own efforts of "GM-RAM explained for the lazy chess player". I have all the positions including color switches and the games in a database file and have worked through half the endgames so far. Three of the rook diagrams are nonunique, so there aren't really 256 unique positions. I regard it as foundational to my endgame study, but if you ask has it been practical to my game results? I doubt it. Has it been fun and interesting? Definitely yes. If you'd like the file with just the positions and no analysis, I'd be happy to forward to you. I'd have questions about your commitment to chess if you requested my annotated version. :)

Mon Mar 31, 03:43:00 PM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

id love this file! no lines needed, just white and black to move symetric positions, as you suggest would save me a LOT of time.

id be so gratful!

dk_experiment at ya whoo dot kom (com)...

from there i can give you my direct email which, of course, is not appropriately broadcast on the web.

thank you so much, and i was praying for this!

i will send you one as good or better from another author back in kind, but its a secret. trust me, you will cheer!

Mon Mar 31, 03:53:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Loomis said...

Your graph of national debt with the Presidential years labeled certainly deserves more explanation than you're giving it. Or are we pretending that nothing happened in late 2001 that might have affected the economy?

Thu Apr 03, 07:07:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Wahrheit said...

After reading all the interesting and thoughtful comments here, I conclude that it is not mutually exclusive that GM-RAM could be an excellent book, but also the author is indulging in a bit of hyperbole when he says if you know all the positions cold you could be a Grandmaster ("should be able to reach the Grandmaster level" according to Silman).

Is the fact that the author himself is "only" an IM germane to the discussion?

The opinion of the author of this post carries enough weight that I'm going to make this my next book purchase and decide for myself.

Fri Apr 04, 02:55:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Wahrheit said...

Update: just to be clean and accurate, Mr. Z is indeed a GM, though it's hard to tell form the FIDE site exactly when he got the title.

Tue Apr 08, 02:02:00 PM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

thank you Wahrheit. i had wanted to research this, and your doing it first saved us all time.

Title or not, Z is, in a world of smart men and women, smart, but his variety of smarts consists of clarity. in a chess world of 'data dump', too many voices, too many books, too many ideas RELATIVE to too little fundamental work on the margin by the average player all while trying to read Dvoretsky or similar, he gives a good clear signal not subject to confusion, if you ask me.

thank you again.

Wed Apr 09, 01:03:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Mary said...

Hi, is currently in the progress of choosing chess blogs/clubs to receive recognition from as Top Resources. This award is not meant to be anything other than a recognition that your blog/Clubs gives information about tactics that directly or in directly raise Chess awareness. Simply place the award banner code on your site and your resource will be listed as a Top CHESS Resources on once you place it. is a Private Global Chess Server which offer FREE Chess Games and Guidelines for learning chess and whose goal is to promote Chess (which game has lost his fan base) through the spread of information globally. Thank you for your dedication to your Club/blogs. Please reply me back with the subject line as your URL to avoid spam and to make sure that you only get the award banner.

Thu Nov 12, 12:13:00 PM PST  
Blogger transformation said...

Mary, its done. Thank you. New post, linked to you, image of logo.

Thu Nov 12, 02:07:00 PM PST  
Blogger Mary said...


I would like to give you an award banner for your hardwork in maintaing such a amazing blog.
If your Believe in our Goal of Global Chess Text link to use for your readers.

Text Link: Chess/Play Chess.


Please inform me once you add this on your blog

Thanking you

Thu Nov 12, 07:02:00 PM PST  
Blogger transformation said...

mary, i already added you. did you not get that message? dk

Fri Nov 13, 09:16:00 AM PST  
Blogger Bruce Fredman said...

Can you please link my url on the blog page on the right hand side.

Text Link: Chess/Play Chess.

I dont want this to be posted as it. I want this to on your blog home page and I also want to give you an award banner, so if you email me your email address it would be so kind of you.

Thanking you

Fri Nov 13, 10:08:00 AM PST  
Blogger transformation said...

ok bruce, its done. you will find your link next to the Bacrot-Bologan video, under the heading professional chess blogs.

much as i am sure you would greatly like to be 'up top', on principle i would have to update ALL the many links, ranks sort them, group them, prune them, reshuffle them.... and you have not asked me to do that, nor can i be expected to do that.

i dont usually do reciprocle links, EVER, but have to take you on your sincerity that you wish to promote the more established, quality, english speaking chess improvement blogs.

i will await seeing your end occur.

good luck, david korn

Sat Nov 14, 01:26:00 PM PST  
Blogger Mary said...

Hey David,

Sorry to bother you again but I cant find the text link. Can you please send me the url of my text link posted on your blog. I really appreciate the time you giving for chess.

Please get back to me on
Thanking you

Mon Nov 16, 12:59:00 PM PST  

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