Thursday, April 21, 2022

Finding The Best Move

 What goes into making the best chess move? Well it's not just the move. It has to be part of a plan. I decided to try to mind map the process. Strongly influenced by the book "How to Reassess Your Chess" by Jeremy Silman.   What do you think? Did I miss anything? Click the picture to make it bigger. If you like the content be sure to comment and follow.

Chess Class

I taught a basic class on how to play chess. It took the students from beginner to an introduction to advanced ideas. I created a mindmap to organize my thoughts while creating the class. I'm posting it here in case it can help someone. Also I'm thinking of creating a new mindmap of how to approach the game.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Chess Lessons Part 2 lichess & Chess24

 After (see Chess Lessons Part 1lichess is another all in one chess site. It has a vast array of tools to play and study chess. Including structured lessons. 

Chess basics are divided into Chess Pieces, Fundamentals, Intermediate, Advanced, and What's Next.

Practice contains Checkmates, Basic Tactics, Intermediate Tactics, & Pawn Endgames. This is where many will discover the beauty of the game. If you already know how to play I would highly recommend this section.

Another mega chess site is Chess24. They too have lessons.

Under courses the lessons are grouped into three sections. Each section becomes available as to complete the previous one.

Likewise you can progress through the lessons as you complete them.

So I've given you 3 very good resources to begin your road to improvement. I'm sure there are others out there. I'm going to stop here and try to put together a post on advanced learning options. If you like the content please consider following the blog. Have something to add? Be sure to leave a comment below. Thanks again.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Chess Lessons Part 1

 For free you can go to and begin lessons. 

Just scroll down and click the Start Lessons button.

They are devidedd into four sections. New To Chess, Beginner, Intermediate, and Expert. They are professionally done. I've played hundreds of tournament games. I am a USCF Local Tournament Director (there is a test). So I know the rules. However I never had any formal training or coaching. So I decided to do all the lessons, even the New To Chess and Beginner sections. I recommend them.

The systematic method employed makes sure you cover all the bases. It's a fast way to learn and get up to speed.

The Advanced lessons can go on after you complete the courses.

I've completed all the Guide lessons, but I still study from some of their unguided lessons. This is a wonderful free resource. I highly recommend it. I recently added a Follow button in the upper left just under the title banner. I hope you will like the blog enough to follow and leave feedback. Thank you.

What About Chess Engines? Part 2

 In What About Chess Engines Part 1 we saw how powerful chess engines can give deep analysis of a complex position. This tool is helpful to point out what moves are strong, but this leaves you to figure out why and the ideas behind each move. This is where Decode Chess with it's AI (Artificial Intelligence) can be a real help. Using Stockfish running on it's servers Decode can analyze a game or position and give a lot of explanations as to the why and ideas behind each move.

I put in our position from Part 1 and let Decode "think" on it. The summery tab came back with a lot of good info. Explaining why Stockfish NNUE (what is NNUE) likes the idea of castling in this position. What are the forces at play. I like the graphics on the board too.

  Clicking on the + sign next to "How to find the best move. +" yields additional information. What is the Idea? the Problem? the Solution? It's all spelled out in a more human way of thinking.

If you click the tabs across the top you can learn even more. What is the role of the pieces involved in this continuation? Again the graphic is very well done.

The next tab deals with the Threats in the position. Before Black makes his move...

... and after.

So besides the best move. What are some other good moves? The "Good Moves" tab shows us.

Next are the "Plans". What is Black wanting to do? What is the problem? and the solution.

Finally the Concepts tab.

Here after expanding the Black uses the open d file concept. We see my original idea Nb6 wasn't totally without merit. I hope you enjoyed this deep dive into chess engines and how they can be used. I'd love to hear your thoughts if you would care to leave feedback below.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

What About Chess Engines? Part 1

 Is one computer engine better than another? Should I let it "think" for a longer time? What about cloud computer engines? I decided to run some tests. First I setup SCID vs PC with a position I've been trying to figure out. It's a middle game with a lot going on. Not easy to say what is best. Below is the FEN (Forsyth-Edwards Notation) of the position. In case you want to do some tests yourself.

r2qk2r/1bpnppb1/p2p1np1/1p4Np/3PP2P/2N1BP2/PPPQ2P1/2KR1B1R b kq - 5 10

I thought Nb6 was interesting. It had only been played twice in my database of over 5 million games. Black appeared to be the winner of both games by the graph. I ran Stockfish for 20 seconds. Stockfish liked the number one entry from the database e6. With Nh7 as it's second choice which comes in at number 10 on the database list.

So I let the engine run while I did some errands. When I came back Stockfish had looked 36 moves ahead. Still e6 was it's favorite.

Well what would Komodo think? With only 20 seconds to "think" Komodo liked O-O with e6 coming in second. Note Komodo 12 only looked 18 moves ahead in 20 seconds compared to Stockfish's 27 moves.

Next I loaded the position into the Fritz 16 GUI. Again I let Fritz 16 analyze for 20 seconds. It looked 27 moves deep and liked the castle move O-O. While I was setting up the cloud engines were researching the position. Over 20 seconds but less than a minute I think. This time Stockfish looked 42 moves deep and again liked e6.

So I stepped through the database and decided e6 really is the best continuation. So back to the questions. 

Is one computer engine better than another? Yes Stockfish is King, but it never hurts to research with other engines. Should I let it "think" for a longer time? Yes if the position is complex enough that the engines don't all agree. What about cloud computer engines? They are more powerful. It may not always matter but it's worth consulting them.

If you liked this article please let me know below. Have thoughts on this subject you care to share?

Want to know more about chess engines? Here is a blog dedicated to them.

Here are the analysis boards from Lichess and Click Here for Part 2.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Chess Websites

 Here are the biggest most important chess websites. I will give the cost for a one year full membership where applicable. Most have other purchase options. They are listed in no particular order, and I do not claim that this list are the only sites to be recommended.

Pay To Play: : It's the biggest. To enjoy all the features you will have to pay. Still there is a lot. Matches of just about every kind. Tournaments, news, puzzles, problems, computer play, bots, articles, and lessons. If it has to do with chess they probably have it. Currently $99 for a year of full access.

Chess 24 : Another big site with lots to offer. Again to have full access you will have to buy a membership. 1 year membership at the time of this writing $149.99.

Internet Chess Club : AKA ICC Has been around a long time in internet years. Another big site with a lot of content. USCF holds rated tournaments through this site. 1 year $69.95.

Free Chess Sites:

Play Chess : By Chessbase. This used to be a paid site but now appears to be free to non professionals. Chessbase is the professional chess database software company. Also home to Fritz, and other chess engines. Certainly worth checking out.

FICS Free Internet Chess Server : Before there were chess websites you could download an interface and play over a chess server. Both the ICC above and FICS date back to those days. You can still download a GUI Graphical User Interface and play that way. Also you can play through your browser. It's free. "We do it for the game not for the money". Appears to be their moto.

Lichess : Last but not least is " is a free/libre, open-source chess server powered by volunteers and donations." The name is derived from live/light/libre chess. It is another full featured website with game to play, watch, or analyze, videos, etc. I love the look and feel. The analysis graphics are excellent. It compares well against the paid sites and it's free.

Others: This category I could use some help filling if you know of a site to recommend please leave a note in the comments.

Decode Chess : Using Artificial Intelligence AI to analyze your games and explain why a move is good or bad. If you haven't tried it you really should. I find it interesting.

Chessable : A chess teaching platform. Using advanced teaching methods. You can use many free courses and samples and purchase full blown chess lessons.

Bill Wall's : A huge research and links site. Looking for pgn game collections, and books, this is the first site to look at.

Well that's all for now. Let me know what you think. Leave a comment / suggestion.