Russell Sherwood Thursday, December 21, 2017
Within Sales and Marketing (S&M) there is a concept of a Unique Sales Proposition (USP). This is a concept that basically says “This is why you should buy from me”. If you consider, say Volkswagen and Ferrari both have different propositions on why you should buy a vehicle from them. Anyway, what has this got to do with CC? Using similar thinking we can come up with the idea of the Unique Winning Proposition. Let’s simplify this more – How do you win?
If we look at almost any sport, different methods are utilised by different players and/or Teams – All out attack, “Park the Bus”, Counter Attack, the list is endless…….
You might think that I just play the moves and the win comes (or not!) If this is the case then you are probably not getting the results you deserve! So let us consider a few of the approaches I have observed:
#1 Out-Hardware your opponent. It’s sad but this is an approach used by some – basically, I have the bigger hardware, so can search deeper. It does have flaws, one of which is the concept of Minimum effective dose (or search in this case) and another is that of diminishing returns. Both of these can be summed up as once you get to a certain depth of search, going beyond it tends not to gain you much!
#2 Out-Preparing your opponent – this is probably one of the most effective methods. Examining the games of your opponent and finding weaknesses to exploit. On the surface, this is the Opening’s play but we can go much deeper, how do they handle certain types of positions? How do they win? How do they lose? Early Draws? Here we can generate strategies such as knowing your opponent does much worse in closed openings – so guess where we go!
#3 Out-Preparing your opening – This is similar to the previous method but here we focus on the opening much more – do we actually know the concepts of the Opening, the plans, the ideas, Why this move is played/not played rather than simply looking at percentages in Opening books?
#4 Playing Chess – This approach involves very early deviation from the mainlines and playing based on our understanding of the game (with an engine acting as a tactical checker). The advantage of this approach, especially when combined with Out-preparing the opening is that we are able to ignore the engines protestations of a position being 0.2 pawns worse and play the long-term game.
#5 Middlegame Knowledge – Engines are tactical beasts but have fairly poor middlegame conceptual knowledge. If we specialise here we are able to see that we want our Knight in that outpost and thus generate a plan which will get it there. Engines will (almost certainly) not see this sort of manoeuvre. The same goes with the concept of translation (a core anti-engine technique) which is the idea of moving your entire position up the board.
#6 Endgame Knowledge – Engines are pretty poor in endgames and a good human player, (with an engine peeking over their shoulder for tactical blunders) can outmanoeuvre the engine
#7 Psychological methods – This is a bag of methods utilised (none of which I would recommend!) by some players – including attempting to upset their opponent (whilst saying just within the rules) in a number of ways. These methods tend not to work as much these days and most TD’s take a dim view of them if discovered.
#8 Communal Analysis – These are a number of methods utilised by some players which are in some cases, breaking the rules and in others are on the very edge and untested in terms of the legality. A couple of examples of this are (a) Team Rooms. In very simple terms the details and moves of the game are shared between the teammates in a private area, with analysis, comments and suggestions being discussed. This is against the rules and risks severe sanction if discovered (b) Shared Hash Files. Imagine a number of players decide to play a certain opening and all have very large Ram on their PC’s. If one has a very fast PC, they can let this run for a period of time and fill the hash table. This hash table is then saved and shared between the different players. A similar idea is running Monte Carlo or Gauntlet analysis on their opening positions and sharing the results. In my mind, this is on the edge of the rules, although probably legal as the sharing of opening books is legal
#9 Out Software your opponents – Here the basic idea is to gain a winning edge by always having the cutting-edge software. This is generally the latest version of engines, databases or GUI’s. This is, in general, a bit of a fool’s errand as the difference between, for example, Komodo 11 and Komodo 11.2.2 is not going to make that much difference to your results. However, it is worth noting that saying reasonably up to date is a good idea.
So dear reader? How do you win your games? If you don’t already know then specialisation in one or more (can you specialise in more than one thing?) could possibly give you improved results and somewhere to focus your limited study time!