4 Ways Computers Can Help Improve Your Chess ...

4 Ways Computers Can Help Improve Your Chess Game
by Richard Stooker

Although the famous Man Versus Machine matches of Garry Kasparov against IBM's Deep Blue supercomputer and the upcoming match of Vladimir Kramnik against Deep Fritz coming November 25, 2006 get the media attention, this article is more about how computers have helped people play better chess.

You can find articles on how to beat chess playing computers. Personally, unless you're a famous chess star playing a famous chess computer for lots of money, I don't see the point. I don't want to beat computers -- I want to beat people.

For example, one tip for playing computers is to open with a highly unusual move. Computers know all the common openings and if you open with Your Own Silly Unorthodox Suboptimal Invented opening instead of Ruy Lopez or the Caro-Kann, it's forced to use up processing time to calculate the optimum response instead of saving that for the mid-game.

But if you want to use the Sicilian Defense or The Queen's Gambit Accepted when you play a real person, then why practice something you made up just to trick the computer? What use is it in a real game or tournament?

Of course, if you've discovered a brand new super-opening and want to test it out against a computer, then more power to you.

Fortunately, computers can help you do that, and analyze the game at any point.

1. As a training tool.

2. As a resource to make it easier to learn from past games

3. To analyze the game

4. To practice and play with when no person is available.

There're a wide range of chess computers and software you can buy. And these functions overlap, of course. The same computer you play when you have nobody else to play with can also teach you what you're doing wrong.

1. If you're a beginner or novice then of course a good chess computer or software program can help you. They'll play against you and point out your errors.

You need to learn the basics. That includes learning from the best books, playing other people and playing with a computer that provides good feedback.

If you're already a grandmaster, you don't need me to tell you that you need computers to support your strategies against your opponents, not to teach you.

In Mortal Games: The Turbulent Genius of Garry Kasparov, Fred Waitzkin relates how part of Garry Kasparov's team during the world championship tournament of 1990 against Anatoly Karpov was a database of past chess plays and someone who constantly scrolled through to research them.

If Karpov opened a game with the Zaitsev, then that night they would research that opening on the assumption (possibly false) that he would open with it again. And of course he and his team thoroughly researched his King's Indian defense.

Naturally, computers have been used to analyze chess theory and positions. Although chess is too complicated for them to have yet to come out with a totally optimum start to finish guide (the way they have come up with a Basic Strategy for blackjack), they have analysed the end game. Chess computers have databases of all 3, 4 and 5 piece endgames.

Chess computers include: Excalibur, Novag and Saitek.

There're three types of chess computers: hand-helds, portable chess computers and desk-top chess computers.

Chess software includes Shredder and Fritz.