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Old January 15th 07, 01:44 PM posted to rec.games.chess.computer
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Default Want to improve my chess, software or computer?

Should I go for hardware based or software based?

On http://www.bcmchess.co.uk/bcmsoft.html there is some software that
seems to be fairly well respected (fritz and shredder), but I see there
are also some very nice chess computers :
http://www.bcmchess.co.uk/bcmcomp.html.

I do have a laptop so for me it's all about pro's and con's. Also
although I'd like to primarily just play I'd also be interested in
improving, and being told where I'm going wrong. Reading chess books
does make me nod off, so I'd rather learn by example, or playing.

So what should I be looking for?

And also there is GNU chess. Is it any good? I use a lot of GNU
software so I'm not adverse to compiling a C program (or even find a
pre-compiled package for whatever machine I choose to install it on)
however would other software/hardware be better for what I need?

Comments appreciated before I part with my hard earned money!


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Old January 15th 07, 04:14 PM posted to rec.games.chess.computer
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Default Want to improve my chess, software or computer?

While a dedicated chess computer is a nice thing to have, I personally would
go with a software package that has training and teaching modes. This gives
you not only more interactive instruction and analysis, but it also allows
you to use some of the free stuff that's out there (and there's a ton of
it). There's a wealth of free software engines (like GNU chess), may of
which are very weak and some of which are brutally strong. By grabbing a few
of these, it gives you a variety of "personalities" to play against, some
that show no mercy and some that are more like a good sparring partner.

I use a couple of packages. I have Fritz 10 with a few freebie UCI engines
loaded, Chess Assistant for database work, and ChessPad for sparring with
weaker Winboard engines. My present favorite partner engine is Celes, loaded
under Fritz 10. It's just a wee bit stronger than I am, so I get a good game
out of it as I learn. Once I can beat it regularly I will move on to a
slightly stronger engine.

If you just want to learn by playing and you aren't worried about training,
save your money. Go get Arena and load up some of the free engines out
there. A lot of them give the average player a good game, and Arena is
outstanding considering it's free. ChessPad is a freebie too and works with
Winboard engines.

Of course, if you select something like Arena or ChessPad and a few free
engines, that could free up the money for a dedicated chess computer...

"John Smith" wrote in message
...
Should I go for hardware based or software based?

On http://www.bcmchess.co.uk/bcmsoft.html there is some software that
seems to be fairly well respected (fritz and shredder), but I see there
are also some very nice chess computers :
http://www.bcmchess.co.uk/bcmcomp.html.

I do have a laptop so for me it's all about pro's and con's. Also
although I'd like to primarily just play I'd also be interested in
improving, and being told where I'm going wrong. Reading chess books
does make me nod off, so I'd rather learn by example, or playing.

So what should I be looking for?

And also there is GNU chess. Is it any good? I use a lot of GNU
software so I'm not adverse to compiling a C program (or even find a
pre-compiled package for whatever machine I choose to install it on)
however would other software/hardware be better for what I need?

Comments appreciated before I part with my hard earned money!




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Old January 15th 07, 11:31 PM posted to rec.games.chess.computer
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First recorded activity by ChessBanter: Jul 2006
Posts: 446
Default Want to improve my chess, software or computer?

John Smith wrote:
Should I go for hardware based or software based?

On http://www.bcmchess.co.uk/bcmsoft.html there is some software that
seems to be fairly well respected (fritz and shredder), but I see there
are also some very nice chess computers :
http://www.bcmchess.co.uk/bcmcomp.html.


If you want a small handheld unit, you might like to look at a PDA (HP
iPAQ or similar). You can then use different software (some is free like
CE board, other is commercial like Pocket Fritz or pocket grandmaster).

But none of those units (either dedicated chess computer or handheld
PDA) are going to be a strong as a modern desktop computer, simply
because of the processing power. Another issue with less powerful
devices is that you can't use tablebases. The 5-piece tablebases take up
about 7 GB, so are not practical on a small device. Those are useful to
practice endgames.

Some of the handheld units are cheap, but I find it hard to see any
advantage they offer over a general purpose PDA.

I do have a laptop so for me it's all about pro's and con's. Also
although I'd like to primarily just play I'd also be interested in
improving, and being told where I'm going wrong. Reading chess books
does make me nod off, so I'd rather learn by example, or playing.


You might find it worth paying a coach - it might be more productive
then spending on chess software.

I have a PDA and have 3 programs on that - Pocket Fritz 2, Pocket
Grandmaster and CE board. All have their good/bad points, but at I can
chose to use one, based on the task at hand. If you buy a dedicated
chess computer, you are stuck to using whatever is supplied.


So what should I be looking for?

And also there is GNU chess. Is it any good? I use a lot of GNU
software so I'm not adverse to compiling a C program (or even find a
pre-compiled package for whatever machine I choose to install it on)
however would other software/hardware be better for what I need?


GNU chess is not very strong. Stronger are Crafty or Toga - both of
which are open source. Stick them inside winboard and you have a decent
engine, but it wont tell you where you have gone wrong.

I would have to say take a look at

http://chessdb.sourceforge.net/

which is a free database. Good to practice openings against, good to
practice endgames using tablebases. But it is not designed to play chess
with as such.

Comments appreciated before I part with my hard earned money!




--
Dave (from the UK)

Please note my email address changes periodically to avoid spam.
It is always of the form:
Hitting reply will work for a few months only - later set it manually.

http://chessdb.sourceforge.net/ - a Free open-source Chess Database
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Old January 16th 07, 10:44 AM posted to rec.games.chess.computer
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Default Want to improve my chess, software or computer?


John Smith wrote:

Should I go for hardware based or software based?

On http://www.bcmchess.co.uk/bcmsoft.html there is some software that
seems to be fairly well respected (fritz and shredder), but I see there
are also some very nice chess computers :
http://www.bcmchess.co.uk/bcmcomp.html.


If you already have a PC to run it on then you can't really go wrong
with modern chess software.

My local library & PCWorld have an old version of Chessmaster on sale
for 9.99 I hate its user interface but for that price... and it is
very configurable with weaker playing personalities. The N-1th and
N-2th version of Fritz are also keenly priced if you can find them now
that FritzX is out.

NB you may find that some of the latest engines are a bit strong to
play against seriously unless you are rated ELO 2000+. (And they don't
simulate human play especially well when dumbed down). I like Shredder
10 for practicing against, and Fritz for analysis. I dislike HIARCS10
intensesly because of its nagware copyprotection on a licenced copy
(same complaint against Chessmaster too).

Small portable LCD chess computers are very convenient. And play a
slightly stronger game than their book rating because it is quite hard
to distinguish the pawns from bishops on some displays. PDA graphics
are better.

I do have a laptop so for me it's all about pro's and con's. Also
although I'd like to primarily just play I'd also be interested in
improving, and being told where I'm going wrong. Reading chess books
does make me nod off, so I'd rather learn by example, or playing.

So what should I be looking for?


You probably want one engine to play against and analyse games and a
training package. You get 2 or 3 weaker engines free with any of the
Chessbase products and there are a host of other freebie engines you
can download to run under the CB interface on their website,

Provided you are not already above ELO 2200 then PCArt 3.0 is excellent
tutorial software for improving your game. (IME yeilding a much larger
rating gain than practice playing against chess engines)

And also there is GNU chess. Is it any good? I use a lot of GNU
software so I'm not adverse to compiling a C program (or even find a
pre-compiled package for whatever machine I choose to install it on)
however would other software/hardware be better for what I need?

Comments appreciated before I part with my hard earned money!


There are many free strong chess engines around and also free
interfaces to run them under. GNU chess isn't especially strong, and
the commercial engines tend to have nicer interfaces for doing analysis
of games.

Hope this helps.

Regards,
Martin Brown

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Old January 18th 07, 12:51 PM posted to rec.games.chess.computer
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Default Want to improve my chess, software or computer?

John Smith wrote:
Should I go for hardware based or software based?


Since you already have a computer, I see little point in buying a
chess computer, given that good software is much cheaper, much more
flexible and much stronger.


And also there is GNU chess. Is it any good?


Not really. But there's lots of other free software out there that's
much better. (Some of it can even give the commercial programs a good
run for their money.) You should consider Crafty (relatively weak,
these days but rather stronger than GNU Chess), Fruit and the free
versions of Rybka.


Comments appreciated before I part with my hard earned money!


Give it to me. I'll look after it for you. ;-)


Dave.

--
David Richerby Simple Accelerated Dictator (TM):
www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~davidr/ it's like a totalitarian leader but
it's twice as fast and it has no
moving parts!
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