Chess analysis and proofreading
May 27, 2009

I bought Fritz 8 for a bargain from Amazon about 9 months ago. About 2-3 months later I'd used it to annotate all of my games I'd played in high school and college in tournaments. At 400 games that was 4-5 a day. That included the easy ones, the tough ones, the long ones, and the ones where I'd written in moves badly. If it sounds like a lot, I think it helped for me to think "would I rather be doing this, or one of the time wasting things it's hard to admit aren't fun, because I've wasted so much time at them?"

I played a lot of chess in high school/college but increasingly looked for new ways to try and be creative while my chess got "solider" (read: mechanical and uninspired, and I realized I was hitting a ceiling.)

I enjoyed staying up late and even taking vacation time to sleuth through my bad handwriting and time-pressure-induced mis-writes, and I noticed certain patterns in my play, and moves I thought were the best out there but that were over-conservative. I learned about imbalances: of course, you're aware of them, but when you have a computer to spell things out, it's much more helpful than a person who understands them but can only think so fast about them, so he can't help you work through everything. There were even some games I'd analyzed and was pretty sure I'd done as well as I could, and Fritz found better moves which immediately made sense. A big jump up from the old days when you could give a computer bad pawns and grind through an endgame. I had to swallow my pride a lot to realize all the mistakes I made.

Despite having a computer at hand for the proofreading, it was undoubtedly hard work. I had to re-evaluate how I looked at things, what I hoped to accomplish, and indeed whether I still tried for too-low-risk stuff. I remember a lot of moves I made, I said, "I'd played X instead if I were the sort of person that had the guts." I'm not really interested in chess any more, but this is something I wanted to do, and I dispatched it fairly quickly.

In the same light, proofreading can be very tough for me, but once I get started, I can plow through. So while I see that I can apply the sort of drive I gave to my chess games to my other writings, I find it much harder to. Maybe it's easier to analyze a group of moves with clear calculable values, or maybe I have enough distance from it. But I know needing 10+ years for "distance" in some cases is not going to help me progress so quickly.

I feel like I'm close to doing something major, but I just need to be able to draw the parallel, or have a few more ways to realize my writing is even more important and enjoyable to me than chess was. And to remember that proofreading and reading others' writing is at least as important to writing as studying books and games was to my chess.

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randxian randxian - May 27, 2009 (07:17 PM)
There were even some games I'd analyzed and was pretty sure I'd done as well as I could, and Fritz found better moves which immediately made sense.

Heh. I know in Chessmaster when I have it analyze games, it always at one point says something like "White was asleep at the switch here. White had mate in 7 and blew it."

My endgames are comparable to the Keystone Cops. My pieces just chase the king all over the board about half a dozen times before I finally manage to achieve checkmate.

I'm getting a little more efficient, but I still have a ways to go.

It's too bad you're not interested in chess anymore. I find it's a good stress releiver.
aschultz aschultz - May 27, 2009 (07:40 PM)
Yeah...those are tricky to find and it's annoying to see, but Fritz is very objective. It just oges from "+.38" to "-.62" which means "you hung a pawn" or a delta of -.3 means you made a bad positional move, probably.

Sometimes it's more intricate, with Fritz, saying YES it is very bad to move this pawn or yes this sacrifice does/doesn't give an advantage, or no I shouldn't be worried about trading a bishop for a knight. Especially where an attack seems overpowering or that you can repel it, or you know there should be a knockout blow but can't find it...that's when it's most useful. When you can learn from its treatment of either side of Fritz, that's when you're cooking.

My problem was, chess got so stressful trying to learn openings, and I don't enjoy getting into ruts so many players did, playing the same openings etc. I have so much other stuff I want to improve at, but it was valuable then. Too much familiarity with chess and worrying machines'll take the game over--but I'm still at the point where people make bad but plausible moves several times a game. Most other people just don't realize it, though.

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