Sunday, September 21, 2008

Tools for Structuring Getting Better, Part One: Starting

In order to get better at chess, you are going to need a structure to work within. I will be having a LOT to say about this structure, in the weeks ahead--so much so, that I will have to take this one in bite sizes. I usually like to dive in head first, in large scale, but this is one (and good for me at that, against my nature as it is!), that necessitates piecemeal discussion. Also, the cap stone post will have to be last, as the 'big chessBase discussion', is one that I need to both build up to, and cover a lot of ground, first.

Today we begin this discussion, but first with miscellaneous subjects to prepare the ground as it were:

To begin with, I am not the foremost example of improvement. In fact, I am fairly typical. Perhaps above average in chess knowledge, significant in some ways, but lacking transfer of that knowledge. It doesn't mean it will be this way forever, but is so now. Added to that, I am an extremely very 'type A' person, and chess IS tension, so the need for more of it is antagonistic to getting better at chess, if not simply antagonistic to PLAY AT ALL. The net result is that I don't enjoy playing chess or rather don't get to play chess much unless I add stress, so that I greatly prefer study, which is more about lifestyle or hobby or activity than chess per se. I don't say this with pride or shame but as a fact about me.

Tama: Nine Year Old Cat Wearing Stationmaster Cap Helps Debt Strapped Japanese Train Company As Thousands come to visit him [3].

So what I can share with you is how I organize that effort, not what you DO with that effort, or what you extract from that effort. If you want to know more about 'types of correct effort', then go to Phaedrus's wonderful blog, Chess Vision, previously called Chess Training, I think it was. I wrote about chessedelic weeks ago, and he must be a very good coach. But if I were in Europe or had the right circumstance, Phaedrus is another coach that I would have to carefully consider. Might I suggest you go to his blog? He not only talks about it, but has 'done it'. For example, he once took a young man, who was pretty much considered uncoachable, and this man recently made his third IM norm.

Finally, I need not remind anyone that while he neither seeks money nor fame, full with his own successful career outside chess, loving family, and serious chess study, but rather that he not only has 'done it' himself but also knows how to skillfully communicate it, not to mention much else besides?

* * *
And now for the bones of our current essay:

In order to structure your effort, first you will need to be able to access and store your games, so that you can review them. If you are not doing that, you simply won't get better. Many of us do that already, but I have to start, in 'Aristotelian fashion' at square one, and work my way progressively forward by topic. And if you can do that, then you will be able to view high level games, both in classical and contemporary form.

'I am Done Organizing My Books by Color'

There are many viewers and I much prefer chessBase, but not everyone wants to spend that much, so there are alternative. To name but one, SCID is reputed to be the best, when previously ChessPad was recommended to me as recently as last spring-for those who like to research comparisons [4]. Free downloads are available at this link. ChessBase Light is very, very good, but I am going to ask readers to wait on that, for that is a separate post completely (chessBase Light is for great for viewing work in hand but cannot CREATE files, nor access them when too large). For now, I can say that I am going to recommend both but again, lets discuss this latter.

With your viewer, you will need a large database, and again, a completely free 4M game database is available for download at: ICOfY [1]. Now, there is a LOT to say about this. It is not a perfect database, but we are talking free, yes? The key is to get started, and you can make substitutions latter. What this database lacks it makes up for in shear size. What is really good about it, is that few record games are NOT in it [2].

This database will not stand still. And each week, you go to, and download the full games form the last week here or at The Week in Chess here, also free. There are few if any serious chess players who do not do this each Monday night (EST) or Tuesday morning (CST).

Florence: Old World Effort at Control

Finally, a small detail but might be news to many here, for I myself only discovered it by accident: had a Silverlight Chessboard application enabled embedded at the news site for months, before I realized that I had to both download and enable the Microsoft Application. I am not going to get into Macromedia, and Flash, and all that, only that I avoided doing so, for a long time, then one day I did and boy am I glad! Now I have viewable java applets at Mark Crowther's wonderful, World Number One chess site, and get immediate updates on live game's. I suggest you try it. If you are not going to daily or weekly, then you, kind sir, are missing out big time.

Much, much more to follow. Stay posted!
Warmly, dk

Jim Bishop Castle Builder. If you like this guy, then here is an even better one of him here. Gotta love the guy. Damn, some cool shit. Here is a full expose of him.

[1] You will need to download a free tool, to unzip it, and for this, download another free application, 7-Zip.

[2] For someone as scholarly minded as me, its lack of detailed game data bothers me, but I use it daily for when I cannot find a game in my $Megabase$, sold by chessBase. For example, it lacks round numbers and venue information such as the name of the tournament, using only city name.

[3] Alert males will notice the carefully calculated complete absence of inclusion of any eroticized females at this blog when previously widespread if not frequent. Yes. Believe you me, every week I consider the matter, so that WHEN I do restore that feature, you all will REALLY have something to see, and duly note it as such. For now, we must suffice with fractal, heuristical, urbanistic, geopolitical, iterative, natural, mechanical, global, and feline scenes but not permanently as you can appreciate.

[4] Thanks to Phaedrus, who just wrote me back, from my inquiry earlier today, to tell me that SCID was the best.


Blogger Polly said...

I like the kitty pics. :-)

An excellent introduction. I'm looking forward to the next in this series.

Sun Sep 21, 05:37:00 PM PDT  
OpenID chesstiger said...

I the latest version of ChessBase, i think, its version 9, but i haven't used it so far since i am a bit wary to dive into the program without tutorial beforehand. Do you know such tutorial, anywhere?

Mon Sep 22, 01:13:00 AM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

@polly: of course, 'normal guidance' in some of the details about chessBase is widely available, but what i intend is, rather, the 'how to' OF 'the how to'! its one thing to point, click, and drag, or snap and shoot and another to do something as art, or a subtle methodology. this is what i am building up to. but, again, this must occur progressively. like freshman calculus, then sophmore, then advanced for those who already know.

my path here, is between those who already know, and those who know more but wish to get more out of it.

@chessTiger. you honestly surprise me. listen to me very, very carefully: go right now, open it up and instal it. its not that hard. as for getting the most out of it, use it for a year, and you will find all sorts of things. reading about using chessBase is a big mistake. huge, i feel. dive in man!

now, to use it at a higher level or get it to do what you want to do, its like my Karate Sensei Coffin (yes, that is his real name [1]) said:

'Do your front kick 10,000 times, then ask questions. this is not far from the truth.

what is the saying on wall street: 'start small. for, latter on, all sorts of things will occur, and you are going to ask:

"why didnt anyone tell me"?

but they cannot. not till you try and know about it' [2].

@generality: if chessTiger, you simply must get some direction that is textual, then go to ChessBase Cafe by Steve Lopez, Steve Lopez T-Notes at chessBase. com. believe me, i have been all over those AND you read those after having tried a LOT, not as a starting place.

fianlly, Mig Greengard of The Daily Dirt and Chess Ninja's work at the ChessBase Cafe at

warmly, dk

[1] My bosses name is Stalin. I am not kidding. i bet anyone $10,000 that this is true.

[2] paraphrase, from Harry Brown, 'Why the Best Laid Investment Plans Usually go Wrong'; and Libertarian Presidential Candidate (did not vote for him or anyone outside Independent), and author of wonderful book: 'How I Became Free in an Unfree World', homespun, self help about getting free. i should have listened better back in 1987!

Mon Sep 22, 02:05:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Good advice about software use: if you are sure you want it, just get it and install and use, navigate. You won't break anything.

Good to see that Phaedrus has posted again. I thought he was dead.

I'm curious to see where this is going. Remember our crazy discussion of ChessDB (here)?

Mon Sep 22, 07:02:00 AM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

@BDK: of course you know i remember it! as soon as i wrote this, i thought of you and said to myself, this is what BDK had come up with! himmmm?

of course, i have and use chessBase, but trying to help midcourse seekers.

great to hear from you, and absolutley loved your new post. warmest, dk

Mon Sep 22, 12:28:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Marino said...

SCID is the best freeware. And though it cannot compete with chessbase in graphics and functions, it has all the basic functions one needs to build a great database.

Content is what determines the quality of a base. A 1.000 game of the greatest games can beat a four million games file that is corrupted and has low quality games. These low quality games are not only superfluous, but also corrupt the statistics.

I am very anxious to see the follow up DK.

Mon Sep 22, 12:54:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Hiddenleaf said...

This is a true gem, information that I haven't seen anywhere else before.

I think I'm starting to get a clue about what to do with such a huge database and I can even try this for free.

And then to think it's only the first in a series...

Tue Sep 23, 10:25:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Polly said...

now, to use it at a higher level or get it to do what you want to do, its like my Karate Sensei Coffin (yes, that is his real name [1]) said:

'Do your front kick 10,000 times, then ask questions. this is not far from the truth.

Your Karate Sensai sounds a lot like my Taekwondo Grand Master. There is definitely something to say for doing the same thing many, many times to gain understanding of the technique. With understanding one will know the right questions to ask.

Tue Sep 23, 07:48:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Chess Coach said...

hello transformation. nice blog, and thank you for your words of welcome on my blog. perhaps, we can keep learning and sharing on our different(?) paths...

Wed Sep 24, 12:50:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Hiddenleaf said...


I was wondering if you would mind if I wrote a kind of "notes to go with you article" describing challenges I encountered while following your program?

So far I have notes on:
- links in the post
- using chessDB
- the huge database
- twic
- other sources

Considering the nature of your post you might not want these very practical, but not a detailed how to, suggestions and have people figure it out for themselves.

Just let me know,

Thu Sep 25, 01:07:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Hiddenleaf said...

And let me know if I just should dump them in the comments, make a post out of it, mail them to you so you can use it on the next post...

(standing on the shoulders of giants... you don't want to kick them in the face)

Thu Sep 25, 01:11:00 AM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

a. not at all. go for it. i trust you. lets forget egos, and help our readers and blogger community.

b. just remember, as you gingerly go forward, i am not done. i am not laying out a program, but a method, and have not so much as hinted at the meat of my approach.

c. that said, go for it!

d. i have ten to twelve drafts, and this is sui generis, so cannot do this except 3D, or as a non-linear equation.

warmest, dk

PS write me if you wish:

globalmiddlegame at 'Jee!' and from there, can give you my real email. k?

Thu Sep 25, 01:15:00 AM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

to be perfectly clear: comments welcome, but had better email me first. i will publish them, as a stand alone piece with full credit to you and linked to your post, but need to make sure we dont get off track. this is not a set of essays on megabase, twic, or chessviewers but those were, necessarily, prefatory to a much larger and essential discussion, in setting up a frame. this will be going on for weeks, and is fairly inductive. thx, dk

Thu Sep 25, 03:40:00 AM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

chessCoach, sure we can.
very simple and direct question:
your ambitions are 2400, which is quite a big jump.

what do you need?
what can i do for you?

we have to walk, before we can run!

Observations about Chess Rating Distribution and Progression

to be 2400, you have to be able to beat 2600's on occassion, and doubt you are doing that with 2300 much. not to be rude, just honest.

according to this article, and rightly so, the jump from 2000 to 2200 is a lot less than from 2200 to 2300. think about it.

ten hours a week wont get you there. part of growing up is still having dreams, but also being realistic in not only setting goals, but going about attaining them.

Schopenhauer: "The Ownership of books is not to be confused with the appropriation of their contents".

regards, dk

Thu Sep 25, 01:46:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Do you plan on treating us to a post discussing your predicted collapse of the US economy based on a bunch of crap mortages coming to fruition?

Fri Sep 26, 07:28:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Fierabras said...

I like that you mention The Week in Chess (TWIC) at as an instrumental tool for game collection. The function "Get new games" (under the Help menu-item) in Chessbase 9 also uses chess games published at chesscenter to keep your databases up to date, and for good reason as TWIC collections have a consistent quality in content (complete information for each game).

Sat Sep 27, 04:15:00 PM PDT  
Blogger likesforests said...

Chess Databases are wonderful. You can use them to lookup how masters and amateurs before you handled a specific position or material imbalance, and the consequences. Or store your games and look for patterns in the mistakes. Or create smaller, more focused databases such as 75 games you plan to know inside and out to master your openings.

Tue Sep 30, 10:37:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous chessgambiter said...

Hi Chessfriend!

You have a nice chessblog here! Congratulations!
I offering you a link exchange - if you accepting it.

My chessblog:
Welcome to visit!

Your site - dk-transformation - already listed on my blog as:
Chess sites I read...

Keep on the good work and looking forward for the link exchange on your site as well - if possible.

Thanks and regards,


Mon Oct 06, 01:29:00 PM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

as a rule, i dont do link exchanges, but this is the one time i have added anyone to my blog list in a year--or more. because A. you seem so decent a man, B. your blog is so good, C. you make it so easy, inviting and compelling for me.

BTW, i do have a very, very accurate and long list of blogs, i keep adding to, assiduously, in fact, since i like to add them all at once, systematically, and accessed by type, quality, and degree of interest... but the whole damn link bar needs to be added.

i like to do things systematically and heuristically, and you are the first to have me budge off my requirements--insuing delay to all links but not a mess instead.

this is a compliment to you, for i just got off the phone with my company district HR Manager, who asked me to take a sick day today (lower back, but 2X per year inventory starts today, and i was needed in a high level support capacity).

i had to call him, to make sure i was not entering a hostile work environment, based on some things that are happening there. stress, it seems, is omnipresent in America this juncture. intense stress, actually.

warmly, dk

Mon Oct 06, 02:06:00 PM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

BDK. i wrote an entire post, just for you about the financial meltdown and what it means and what it doesnt mean.

hope that it quenches your not insignificant appetites.

Mon Oct 06, 06:59:00 PM PDT  

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