Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Plodding On...

I am making good progress with my study programme.  I completed my first pass through McDonald's Starting Out: Queen's Gambit Declined, and have worked on my responses to the other QP games and the remaining opening moves by White.  I am now on my second pass through McDonald's book.  It is indeed a good practical introduction to the QGD, and the illustrative games are very instructive in themselves.

Its time for a few words on the other sources that I have used.

How to Beat 1.d4, by James Rizzitano.  This book gives some useful suggestions for defending against the QP games without an early c4.  Rizzitano also recommends the QGA, but I decided that White has too many threatening lines for my liking in that opening.

Fundamental Chess Openings, by Paul Van der Sterren.  This is great single volume introduction the strategy and main lines of all the chess openings.  You also get a lot of paper for your money.  Highly recommended!

Batsford's Modern Chess Openings (15th Edition), by Nick de Firmian.  This is no longer "the chess players' bible," but it is still a useful single volume introduction to the main lines of all the openings.  I find that it also provides a good "sanity check" on the level of detail to study.  If I am studying opening lines at a finer level of detail than MCO, I am probably doing too much.  As with the previous book, you get a lot of paper for your money.

I have also made heavy use of Shredder on my iPad.  Its a great little program for playing through games, and providing analytical help as required.  I have also been using the Chess Base Online app on my iPad.  This is, again, very useful.  It provides access to on-line opening and games databases, and has Stockfish on board to provide analysis.  Its still full of bugs, but has become less troublesome after the last update. I can now reset it by going back to the menu, whereas before I had to delete and reinstall the app.  Hopefully, Chess Base will fix the bugs eventually.

I am also making good progress with Neishtadt's Test Your Tactical Ability.  It is a very good book, and I expect that his more recent enlarged book is even better.  I am also plodding through my various problems of the day, and adding to my file of easy tactics that I had difficulty seeing.

I have just taken delivery of a new toy: a Novag Citrine chess computer. I have been working from diagrams for a long time now, and I am having difficulty visualising with a set and pieces.  Hopefully, this little baby will help me fix this problem.  It is supposed to be USCF 2330 (or about FIDE 2000 or ECF 170), but I was soon a rook up in my first game.  The Citrine was playing at an average of 30 seconds a move, and I may have taken longer.  Nonetheless, it should do the job.  Computers at this level win points by hanging on in there and exploiting blunders.  I will have to make sure that I do not make any!  The Citrine has a beautiful set and board, and its nice to have a retro machine that cannot hammer me!  If I want to be taken to the cleaners, there is always Shredder, which is formidable even on the iPad.  I expect that a cheaper machine would have done the trick, but I thought it was worth paying a few pounds extra for a nice one.


  1. Test the the ipod version of stockfish, its free of charge and might be stronger than shredder and can handle pgn pretty well too.

    this might be interesting for you too?

  2. That is on my to do list. The PC version might be even more useful. It should be much stronger than Shredder Classic, but how do I download a UCI interface and make it work with Stockfish? Are there any instructions anywhere? The Citrine is proving to be invaluable,

  3. This looks like what I want for the GUI:

    It also interfaces with the Citrine. The remaining problem is linking it with Stockfish. Perhaps I give the path address of the exe. I cannot see a user manual for Arena.

  4. easy
    Stockfish for iphone already does have a nice GUI !
    you can use stockfish with fritz chessbase or the free gui arena and others ( )
    usually there are 3 steps: tell the GUI where to find the engine, how the settings should be.and then which engine to use

    in Arena you just need:
    search for the path of stockfish.exe
    then : arena, menu, engines, install

    if i remember correct

  5. I will load Stockfish on my iPad. I am collecting a new iPhone today, which is keeping me busy!

    I have successfully installed Arena on my PC, and Rybka works well.

    I downloaded Stockfish to my PC, but was puzzled. I found some instructions for installing Houdini, downloaded Houdini 1.5, and put it in a new directory. (It probably belongs in the same directory as the other engines.) I set a link to the exe and Houdini works, but it is not using an opening book.

    My Stockfish download has three 64 bit exes, all with the same date. Perhaps I should use the one with the shortest name, i.e. without the "modern" tag.

    Stockfish does come with an opening book, but how do I link in?

    Arena does indeed have instructions for interfacing with the Novag Citrine. If I can get that to work, I will not only have a stand alone chess computer, but also a very attractive and cheap DGT board,

    1. engine do NOT need to be all in the same folder
      stockfisch is stronger than houdini 1.5a ( google ccrl )
      an openingbook is not needed for the engine if the gui does have one ( they usually have one )
      engine usually have/need no opening book,
      the setting for the engine openingbook should be found at arena.-book-manage-gui
      but it seems that arena cant change the folder or name of the book so copy it in the same folder as the engine
      houdini has no openingbook (as option) but can handle tablebases. but even without tablebases these enegines are extreme strong
      Rybka is not needed anymore
      set your arena openingbook at arena-book-manage.
      The build in "perfect 2010" should be VERY good

  6. Thank you for pointing me in the right direction. I will have another look after I have got the iPhone set up.