April 30, 2008

Activities in playchess.de

Dear friends,

I return to playchess.de after almost a year's and a half absence. I feel sorry to discover that nobody has taken advantage of this great opportunity that Thomas offers to his public – I mean all of us – by implementing this fantastic chess blog. The blog has been silent since January 2007 and I think that some of you might need some special encouragement to contribute your own chess writings.

It is true that writing chess related articles with this tool (I mean the blog's administrative environment) requires some programming knowledge for reproducing diagrams and games, but Thomas can send you a detailed manual if you really want to step on and share your opinion with the rest of us. Additionally, I intend to write some articles and upload them here, so that you only need Thomas to give you access to the blog.

Apart from the chess blog, the playchess.de site has another interesting section that you should visit more often: the annotated games section. I can see that a lot of players still publish their comments upon finished games. Unfortunately, players of the M class are not so frequent contributors compared to players from lower categories. Only 4 games annotated this year. That's a pity. BTW, Thomas has just fixed the bug and all M class annotated games are available in "Master games" section.

I believe that more experienced players should try to annotate their games in public for two reasons:

a) An effort to express chess thoughts with words slows down the speedy procedure of the mind when reassessing a position or calculating variations. It helps to understand better a position or a theme or even to discover a missed opportunity or threat in post game analysis.

b) Not all of the chess games should be annotated. However, there are games that really must be commented and become public knowledge, because one may discover interesting ideas that can be applied in different occasions. In other words, if you have played a game here in playchess.de that meant something special to you, you must annotate it and share your point of you, even if you only want to annotate just one move or comment a singe position.

I admit that the annotation section lacks an organized presentation of its content (for example positional or tactical themes that make one game more interesting than another). Well, if an optimum presentation of the games is required to make annotations more popular, I believe that Thomas would be glad to make yours/ours wishes come true!

Two years ago somebody asked who I am and why I dare to write so often. I'd like to reintroduce myself to the playchess.de community. Well, I am a hobby chess player from Greece. I discovered chess some ten years ago and never visited the local chess club to play OTB. I am a computer engineer and an expert user of ChessBase products. Since 2006, I contribute articles to the Greek chess magazine “Skaki gia olous” (Chess for all). I started with the history of computer chess and continued with a series of articles about ChessBase and Fritz environment. I also do chess related reportage for the magazine. For example, last summer, here in Athens, I covered the open hearing of the FIDE Ethics Commission regarding the Kramnik-Hensel vs Topalov-Danailov “toiletgate” case. Finally, I interview people (I actually started here in an old chess blog article) the most important being an interview of the mighty Fritz chess engine. (Don't ask me how! Just think who might be the one who has the right to speak as if Fritz was a human being!).

Your comments are useful. Something good is being cooked here. Let's make it better.

Posted by Michalis Kaloumenos at April 30, 2008 12:13 PM

Thank you. Very nice article.
But there is one point I do not really understand:

MK: "I admit that the annotation section lacks an organized presentation of its content..."

Do you mean the presentation of a *single* annotation? Or the selection of annotations (by tactical themes etc.)?

And to all: What (exactly) would motivate and help you to write annotations?

MK: "I believe that Thomas would be glad to make yours/ours wishes come true!"

Exactly! :-)

Posted by: Thomas Stahl at April 30, 2008 10:07 PM

I believe the chess blog was actually turned off for several months, perhaps a year or longer.
I believe that was the result of a crash or near crash that Thomas suffered on the old server.

I for one, don't like the idea that the blog and the forum seem to "compete" for attention. Let's have one or the other, but not both.

Posted by: djpnola at May 1, 2008 03:36 AM

To Thomas: I mean the selection of annotations.

To djpnola: I think that blogs and forums are not the same but I don't want to defend my position for an open blog system. I use it with Thomas' supervision and try to stay as close as possible to the idea he had in mind when he programmed it.

Posted by: Michalis Kaloumenos at May 1, 2008 10:33 AM

I feel compelled to voice my agreement with Michalis. I went over his analysis in the annotation he recently posted and I feel that I have learned things which will improve my own annotation and maybe even my play in my ACL games. I too would like to see more annotation of quality games. I annotate mostly because it forces me to rethink analysis of positions. I have not done so many recently, mostly because I have burdened myself with too many games. There is good commentary to be found in the forums section concerning the acceptable number of games.

Posted by: Larry Findley at May 1, 2008 12:23 PM

Regarding the acceptable number of games: Depending on a players current motives, the correct number of games changes significantly. Currently I am trying to learn some new openings, and having a lot of games forces me to stick my nose into the library of new opening books I recently purchased, and actually think about what is suggested. It is amazing to me how many bad lines are "recommended" in most opening books, and the playchess.de opponents have been all too happy to point them out when I fall into bad lines. When I am more comfortable with my opening lines, and wish to hone my middle game skills, I will have to significantly reduce my game numbers. Now I am forced to play thorugh a lot of interesting middlegames with less consideration than they deserve, to keep my opening studies moving forward.

Posted by: John Findley at May 1, 2008 03:24 PM

Some players here have developed a habit of accusing every opponent who beats them of using an engine. News flash: sometimes you just get outplayed. Don't be a poor sport. Most engines in fairly equal positions will run through several "best move" choices as their depth search increases. Most fairly equal positions will have several moves that are close to equal in evaluation. It is probably not uncommon for a human player of decent ability to go very deep into a game, and possibly through an entire game, without varying from these "playable choices." So, don't be so quick to accuse your opponents of cheating. It makes you look like a poor sport. And even if some of them do, so what? It's a game. You can learn from your mistakes just as easily regardless of whether a silicon or carbon based brain beat you. The cheater harms himself more than his opponent, because by not making his "own" moves he doesn't learn his own weaknesses and cannot improve. Perhaps the motive is just to annoy the opponent so he will be distracted and make a mistake, or will quit because he is angry (as L**** has just done in several games). Another newsflash, in 1985 L**** finished an OTB tournament against an average rated opponent of over 2050, with a 4-1 score. He is better now than he was then. His playing style is like a bulldog, he isn't flashy, but he takes little advantages until they accumulate. My style is more tactical and flashy, but I also lose more often. Playing him is annoying. Not as annoying as T****, who kicks my butt regularly, but still his style is not exciting. Petrosian style. Anyhow, Z**** has no clue what L****'s ability is, and needs to tone down the accusations. Just saying . . .

Posted by: John Findley at May 4, 2008 05:11 PM

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