26 November 2008

Training Exercises

The Fritz interface that one gets with any of several chess playing programs--Fritz, Hiarcs, Junior, etc.--performs excellent auto-analysis of games. One of the available user options asks the program to create training exercises. Checking this option may result in several exercises in a single game or none. It depends on the nature of the game.

In these exercises, Fritz has a flair for drama.

Black to move

When I run infinite analysis with Hiarcs 12 (my strongest engine), it identifies sixteen Black moves from this position that maintain a decisive advantage. The seventeenth move maintains only a slight advantage: less than a full pawn. I chose this move in my play against the engine. Not surprisingly, the coach piped up with his offer to let me take the move back. I refused and won the game easily.

After the game, I set the engine to run analysis while I read a book. It created a training exercise for this position. After executing the move, it tells me "Correct. You entered the strongest move."

There are sixteen stronger moves, but my move is a dramatic sacrifice that leaves me ahead a single pawn in a rook and pawn endgame. It also reduces the engine's counterplay. The combination of my outside passed pawn and my superior pawn structure on the kingside gives me an easily won game. On the other hand, maintaining the material advantage of rook vs. knight keeps the game tactically complex--the sort of position I blow against engines all the time.

The Source

The position that led to this odd training exercise began as this exercise from the excellent text, Imagination in Chess (2004) by Paata Gaprindashvili. It originates from Short-Topalov, Linares 1995.

Black to move

After the combination that Gaprindashvili expects the pupil to find, he comments, "The rest is a matter of straightforward technique" (152). It is this "technique" that I am struggling to develop in my effort to break into the USCF A class.


  1. Taking the knight was also the move i looked at but i am not so sure it's an easy win as you say. Must i worry that my endgame technique is bad?

  2. I am not sure that I would sacrifice exchange, I am wary of rook endgames. But you were able to win, good for you.

  3. This chap wrote an article on one of my 1.b4 games. Some years ago now.
    At least I think it was him. Can't find it back though.