To boldly cheat where no one has cheated before ...
No Sir, forget it. Just sit in front of your computer, login to one of the many (often free) chess servers and play. Play blitz, play a nice standard game, or play a correspondence game, here, on Chess World for instance.
But most of all: cheat! Use your computer. Why use your own brains?
To boldly cheat where no one has cheated before! Do I see you getting angry?
A few examples. I will start off harmless.
Captain to the bridge - On my way, Mister Spock
You sit in front of your computer, as Captain Kirk, looking at a live relay on ICC or wherever, and the game between Grandmaster Strongo and Grandmaster Greato is going on. They have a nice kibitzing feature and a whole bunch of guys are also on the chatting channel. You switch windows to Fritz or ChessMaster and ask: Computer, evaluate current position Delta One.
After memory access you type: I think Rb2 is best here, in my evaluation in the kibitzing window. Evaluation schmevaluation! You don't have a clue about what you're talking about, huh?
Fortunately, the others do not either. That other guy shouting a4 is much better should have yelled: my computer is faster and my program is stronger.
Eventually you will get a (C) behind your name by the server admins and the only thing you can do is turn to one of the many congenial chess newsgroups on Usenet, telling your grieves to anyone who's willing to listen.
And over there they are, boy, they are. Not only listening, also commenting. They say you're a cheater, and you shouldn't whine, you should *beep* off.
How? They cheat with their computers too! They know! It's that easy with chess on Internet. What to do?
Lt. Uhura, contact Starfleet Command!
Uhuh ... no way.
You, Captain Kirk, have to solve this alone.
Years ago, when I was in high school, I played chess at the school chess club. At home I analysed my games and studied openings and all. I wrote down my analysis on scraps of paper, eventually getting entangled in the process. I sucked at chess. There was no computer assistance.
In 1982 I bought my first stand-alone chess computer. I had to wait another 8 years or so to meet my first PC chess program.
But somehow, as the cheater I was, I became bored with winning all the time. I became bored with knowing all the moves in advance, and bored with having the perfect answer - at least a thousand Elo-points above the patzer level I am at.
What was I doing? A mere operator. I still sucked at chess.
That, Captain, is NOT logical.
It was the moment I realized I had to stop using my computer program as a false Moses leading me into the promised land of cheat heaven.
It's a life form Jim, but not as we know it.
But what SHOULD be the use of computer chess programs! Believe me: use them intensely, because they are docile, always ready for you, and willing to take your stupid chess without a single word of discomfort.
When I was talking about that analysis of myself, way back when, I struck a nice example. There are plenty of (free) database programs around which let you process moves for your analysis in a neat and tidy way. And if you are analysing, your chess program or programs will help you on the way, pointing out your tactical mistakes. The computer will make YOUR analysis better, instead of "making your analysis". Programs can help you check dark variations, and may point you at frontiers that seemed so final, but aren't. You can practice situations against a strong and tactical almost flawless opponent.
It will take some time to adapt - leaving cheating behind you, and thinking for yourself again, but it's an experience of a lifetime. You are actually becoming stronger, and one day you will look at the computer's evaluation and say Nah, that's not right. Don't use that move. Use Evasive pattern Riker Beta Three!
You will be there earlier than you think, because today's computer programs haven't got the ability to make plans, or seek out long-range strategies. You have. You should develop that further, and let the computer assist you with the right tactics.
Go find a solution with the help of your computer program. Won't work, eh? It's no win for black, it's a draw.
Your analysis made you a stronger player, and your computer program helped you to spot the wrong directions.
Warp One, helmsman, on my mark. Heading e2-e4. Engage.
Enough for now. Next time I will give you some further tips and tricks.
Okay, so I lied about me cheating in this story. Of course. I never cheated with a computer. Of course not.
You know what? Go search for the final frontier, ...
... and boldly play how you never played before ...
© 2000 Jeroen I.M. van Dorp