Tuesday, 28 August 2012
Chess Position Trainer 4 introduced a new way to organize chess content. You can leverage this unique concept to gain invaluable insights into your repertoire, which no other chess software offers. And the best of all: it comes without any additional work on your side!
I’m not only developing CPT, but I'm an active chess player too. Recently I’ve started with the preparation of the upcoming season. This year I wanted to take advantage of the new repertoire concept, which CPT 4 introduced. Although I’m the author of the program I sometimes discover new things myself.
I bought several eBooks and imported them all into CPT - each into a separate opening (please check out the other blog post about how to create a chess repertoire). Now, there are some specific features which really make my life as a chess player much easier and actually give me confidence that my just created repertoire is really complete.
Insights 1: For openings a position database beats a game database hands down
Many chess books follow an approach where they explain certain variations by model games. I personally prefer a variation based approach (still with comments and explanations) and only model games once the theory part is over. This way I’m confident that all relevant moves for every position are covered and at the same time I get some ideas for the arising middle game positions. It also helps to quickly look up a specific position and to see, which alternatives exist. In books with the model game approach the index is usually rather shallow and you have to jump between games. This is not very convenient.
Now, if I import all model games from an eBook into CPT I actually get exactly this overview: for every position I can see all candidate moves covered by the book, no matter in which model game (or introduction!) they have been mentioned. That’s because CPT only imports unique positions (the same position does not exist twice). However, if two different games reach the same position, but then continue with different moves both moves are assigned to the same position.
If you only follow model games it is easy to miss alternative moves for a specific position. Usually the author adds a remark like “Nd4 is covered in game 24”.
If you use CPT all alternative moves are shown directly and you can simply follow each variation. No need to look up another game some pages later. You get this feature for free, no extra work on your side.
You will be surprised how often alternative moves exist, which are not mentioned in the model game at all, but somewhere else in the book. In some cases I only knew about an alternative move thanks to CPT, but still failed to find the page in the book where the move is covered! And sometimes variations transpose, but the author recommends a different line suddenly, because he is using a game database and missed that he covered the specific position already earlier (it must be a nightmare to write an opening book without using a position database).
Using a paper book or an eBook with a game database is almost the same experience as game databases have been designed with games in mind and not openings.
Insights 2: Auto-detection of transpositions across openings
Now we get to my personal favorite. Assume you play the Sicilian Grand Prix with White and you’ve bought an eBook for this opening. Furthermore let’s assume you are playing the Sicilian with Black too and you bought an Anti-Sicilian eBook. Now, wouldn’t it be great to see for each position what each author / eBook covers or recommends?
Just import both eBooks into CPT (as two openings) and you get this info without any extra work! The candidate move list shows all candidate moves for the current position and opening, but it also shows any candidate moves covered by other openings. Those other openings are visually clearly separated. I love this unique feature of CPT - try to achieve this without CPT 4!
You can see that my Sicilian Grand Prix book is actually missing a6!? for the current position. As this move is mentioned in an Anti-Sicilian book I better should check this move (for example with the strong UCI engine Stockfish which comes with CPT).
In this case you can see that the recommended move by my book is even not considered by the Anti-Sicilian book. I should be able to give my opponent something to think about if I play this move!
If you are a chess book author you don’t want to miss this feature to make sure you really cover all critical moves of relevant chess theory.
As a chess player you can use the functionally in many ways, not only to compare two eBooks. For example you could use it to prepare your next over the board game or to check what strong GM’s are playing, which are playing the same openings as you do. First, create one opening for White and one for Black. Then import all games of your next opponent into the respective opening and browse through your opening. Check the candidate move window to see, what your opponent / other player plays in the given position.
The beauty of all this: you are not mixing your openings or any moves and positions. They all remain in their respective opening.
Insights 3: Comprehensive statistics
Finally, it would be very interesting to see how complex each opening system is. This info can be used to focus on specific openings or substitute them with less complex openings in order to save time.
Last, but not least the program shows you how well you know your complete repertoire:
Not to mention that the scheduler ensures you recall your openings just before you are about to forget them.
While Chess Position Trainer became popular due to its innovative training module and the applied flash-card concept, it offers much more than just memorizing openings. As we have seen CPT’s innovative concept of organizing an opening repertoire does not only make it more intuitive, but provides powerful features too.