Industrial Chess

Sherwood, Russell  Saturday, December 16, 2017

I was pleasantly surprised to see myself 4th on the list in terms of games played (>4500) on the new Chessbase Correspondence database. Whilst I don’t play anywhere near as many games as I used to in the past I still play greater than most. This does occasionally lead to the question of how I do/did play so many games at a time. My normal response is badly but unlike most of the players at the top of this list, I don’t have a rating in the sub 1000 region!

So some thoughts if we you do want to play a lot of games at the same time?

#1 Be clear on why you want to do it! As it can soak up a lot of your free time. When at my highest activity levels as I was in a professional management role which had me spending probably 3-4 nights in a hotel most weeks, so I (a) Had the time and (b) Was on my own much of the time (no meeting up with Colleagues for food or drink)

#2 Have a clear time management system. Out of the games, I had played I have only lost a tiny percentage on time – and almost all of them were related to holidays. What I settled on (in the days of server play) is the 10 and 10 method. If I have either been thinking for 10 days or have less than 10 days on my clock then these games are treated as a priority.

#3 Have a clear Opening Repertoire – I tend to play the first 10 moves VERY quickly to put some time on the clock.

#4 Use conditional moves (in server play) where possible – If I have a line I want to play – enter it – if generally takes only an extra minute or so to enter a number of moves and the majority of the time my opponent follows the line, giving me a net benefit!

#5 Save Analysis – any analysis I do is saved in the game file, be it engine lines or my own verbal commentary. This does also help in both annotating games but less obvious in terms of being able to play moves quickly as I can look at continuing down the line I have already started to play. In addition to this, if I undertake a post-mortem after the game the process can be much easier

#6 Unattended Analysis. Both Chessbase and Aquarium allow you to schedule analysis whilst away from the machine. This means I can set up the engine to look at a few candidate moves whilst I am at work or in bed!! This method, when combined with #5, is very powerful

#7 Unintended Tools.  Do you know how to make your software do, what you want it to do? So its vital to learn how to use all its functions but also to figure out what those functions can be used for (which is not always what they are designed for!  An example of this. Reinforcement learning is in fashion at the moment due to AlphaGo but let’s say you have a version of your favourite engine with a learning file. You could (and would) teach it by backsliding within games you are analysis but a method could be to using the Game analysis function of Chessbase/Aquarium both of which perform a kind of backsliding. Let your engine run on key games of your opponent and quickly you have just gained a small edge!

#8 Voodoo.  If you play a lot of games you will start to play certain people repeatedly. Often, although players can have similar rating results are skewed against one player. It is vital to spend to considering how to get an edge in this situations as it will pay dividends in terms of results.

#9 Horses for Courses. Consider why type of analysis you are performing and choose your weapons accordingly. If you want to check a lot of moves quickly you want to use an engine with low TTD (time to depth). If you watch engines for a while you will see that some race to quite a deep position quickly, whilst others take a lot longer to get there – yet the ratings of the engines are similar.  Generally, you want to use Stockfish or AsmFish for fast analysis.

#10 Blunder Check – You are going to be playing a lot of moves and need a method to minimise this – I’ve covered this before but making the move on your analysis screen before making it in the game is a good start

#11 Pragmatic results – Once a game is “drawn” offer the draw and move onto the next game.

#12 Be on the lookout for prepared novelties. Once you start to play a lot of games, people have a large pool of games to prepare against, so keep your eyes open for odd novelties, especially in team events. One antidote to this (and boredom) is to vary your openings.  Anyone looking at me will see I have played almost everything as black and white over the years and now throw them all in on occasion, including recently a King’s Gambit – which I know shocked my opponent, so much so he refused the Gambit and transposed elsewhere!

#13 Hardware – You don’t need a high-end PC or laptop to play Industrial Chess but it helps!  For the majority of my CC time, I have used slightly above average specification hardware. The reality is that for most of us it does not make a difference unless you are competing at the highest levels.

#14 Move Alignment. Consider the games you to analyse and the methods you use. If for example, you use different books or databases for black and white, then it makes sense to analyse all black games then all-white games to reduce the time loading various databases.

#15 Move Now!  If the move is obvious or forced - make it, don't let your time run, especially "sulking" if your position is inferior!

 Till the next time!

Updated Saturday, December 16, 2017 by Russell Sherwood

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