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 12:13 PM | Comments (6)

October 30, 2005

Kasparov interview about Topalov

There is a very interesting interview with Kasparov at playchess.com, where he explains his view about Topalov, Anand and Leko:


More about this topic

Hint: PlayChess.de and playchess.com are completely independent servers. The latter is managed by ChessBase.

Posted by Thomas Stahl at 07:35 AM | Comments (0)

October 06, 2005

World Championship

The FIDE world championship in chess is running in Argentina. Believe it or not: Topalov leads with 6.5 after 7 rounds. But there are still another 7 rounds to go - will he be the next world champion?


Posted by Thomas Stahl at 07:28 AM | Comments (0)

September 21, 2005

chessKIDS academy

chessKIDS academy offers online interactive lessons, quizzes and games for kids, five chess computers for you to play, and a resource center for parents and teachers of kids who play, or would like to play, chess, including a scholastic chess download pack to enable any school to run a chess club.

I tried out the interactive chess lessons: highly recommended for children and weaker players (class C). They present chess not in the usual boring way, but tailored for kids - I love it!


The only weak point: Opera is not supported (use IE or Firefox).

Posted by Thomas Stahl at 09:29 AM | Comments (0)

February 05, 2004

ICCF and PlayChess: Looking in the Future

Greetings! I'm new here, but I saw Thomas's call for bloggers and figured I'd try my hand, so... be gentle with me, eh? ;-)

PlayChess.de has made me curious about the broader correspondence chess world, especially the "official" structure under the aegis of the International Correspondence Chess Federation (ICCF). Up to this point the ICCF has specialized in what I'd call "old fashioned e-mail chess" and "really old-fashioned snail-mail chess." Even the e-mail version requires users to e-mail moves according to a text file format, track number of days of think time according to the honor system, etc. Compared to the convenient interface of a site like PlayChess, i'm not terribly interested in this e-mail format. But apparently for a few years now the ICCF has recognized that the future of the correspondence game lies in servers like this one.

(GRATUITOUS OPINION #1: It's a pity they couldn't have just worked a deal with Thomas or other chess site maintainers a few years ago; they could be up and running by now! Sounds like a lot of "reinventing of the wheel" if you ask me.)

In a 2002 article (here) at ChessMail.com, Tim Harding looked into the crystal ball to a CC world oriented around servers instead of loose e-mails. The ICCF official site actually has a November, 2003, announcement (here) about the progress of this project. It also figured quite prominently in the President's Christmas message (here). It seems they've been working with Chess Base GmbH on this project, and, "ChessBase has pledged to support the innovative standards, which we will use," whatever on earth that means.

(GRATUITOUS OPINION #2: My fond hope is that these "innovative standards" involve open-sourcing the code for this server. In my mind all competitors should have the right to inspect the software with which their moves are being recorded. But I'm not terribly hopeful on that front.)

Here's how they assess their progress:

Design and development work is progressing well and the first events should be running on the new system around mid-2004. The ICCF schedule of events will be phased for Webserver tournaments over future months and new types of event will be developed, to exploit technology which will be available.

(GRATUITOUS OPINION #3: I sure hope they're willing to work with sites like this one rather than seeing them as the competition. They could bring huge numbers of CC players "into the fold" of a worldwide tournament structure, if they play their cards right. Or they could further divide the CC world into factions if they play their cards wrong.)

(GRATUITOUS OPINION #4: Ideally they could at least coordinate with this site and the other major CC servers to build a worldwide championship structure.)

Now, i'm a total neophyte to correspondence chess, so I don't claim to have my finger on the pulse of the CC community. So I'm posting this to ask others: What do you think about this direction? Would you have any interest in joining ICCF events if their server worked like PlayChess? Or is it not that important to most people?

Posted by Philip Reed at 11:03 PM | Comments (7)

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