Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Manage your own Opening Repertoire

What I have been looking for is an easy way to visualise and to keep track of the opening moves that I tend to use the most. In this context I am not looking for other chessplayer's games in databases, nor am I particularly interested in the facility to use chess engines. Of course the sheer variety of chess software is somewhat overwhelming - but here I present the fruits of my labours. At least two of the freeware listing webpages that I came across in my journey are worth a mention - the Nørresundby Chess Club's En Passant and also James Kearman's site.

I began with CDB - "a powerful positionally categorically based tool for abnormally browsing, annotating, and analyzing chess". CDB was written by Peter Klausler which "does not seem to have a limit on the number of games that can be contained in a database. CDB will also convert any CBF-format Chessbase files you download to PGN format" - but is no longer supported. The above En Passant site also has the Traveller Chess font required for the program.

I was intrigued to find that it was able to show a list of openings in the form of a tree diagram, though I later found what I thought to be a slightly better version at 'Chess Age'. This one has opening titles too - the image here shows the 'Bogolyubov Variation'.

For me, a tree diagram would be a great way to show my own personal openings repertoire - assuming that I could create one for me personally. Chess Age utilises a read-only on-line system - basically just a glossary of openings. I should also point out that I am not after the 'normal' tree diagrams which appear in many programs such as ChessBase (these are in the form of a table and don't look like a tree with branches at all - and the data relates to move ratings as determined by a chess engine).

Nor am I, in this particular context, looking for ways to explore variations on-line such as the excellent 365chess or the Chess ECO Database. These are both very useful and interesting ways to explore opening theory in their own right of course.

I finally came across what I was looking for in the form of Stefan Renzewitz's Chess Position Trainer (CPT) program which can be downloaded from here. The site describes it as being 'both free and priceless at the same time' which seems fair comment to me. The PDF file 'Manual for Chess Position Trainer 3.2' also promises me that I can "learn from every game that I play (eg when playing on ICC), because the key information is no longer more than one click away - defeat your laziness! CPT will show you right away the novelties of your games which are not yet covered by your repertoire and you can even right away train exactly those positions where you missed the right move.".

And, yes, it does have the facility to 'grow' a tree as is shown in this screen shot (fudged a little to show the tree to best effect).

His project is ongoing and he is clearly committed to the whole project. This is clearly indicated by his latest post (about the statistical module) in the (English) forum - it is dated 9. July 2010 08:20 ie pretty recent.

A useful repertoire of basic openings to start with is the 'ECO-Repertoire by Prof. Dr. Dialetis' which can be downloaded here - which you will then be able to customise later to suit your own opening repertoire.

Features (site glossary)

# Very intuitive and customizable user-interface accompanied by a printable 65 page manual.
# Import or enter your chess opening repertoire and manage it with ease.
# Use more than 70 training options just for the chess opening alone - unbeatable capabilities.
# Use the applied flash-card concept making chess training more efficient and fun.
# Train your own repertoire blindfolded - no other chess software let you do that.
# Special functions - running your (internet) chess games against your repertoire, backsolving.

More details for advanced users

More advanced users can explore the idea of "creating a ‘Tactics’ repertoire for training using CPT". In this case you will need a program such as 'Chess Assistant Light' available here or here to manage the necessary files. CAL has a 15,000 games per database limit which is not a problem with CPT. Why? Because CPT only needs to hold specific positions and variations related to your own personal repertoire.

In fact the CAL program is useful in its own right, thus:

"Chess Assistant Light is software used for managing chess games and databases, playing chess on the Internet, viewing electronic texts, studying openings, analyzing games, playing chess against the computer."

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