2023-11-14

One of my best chess tactics

I consider this to be one of my better chess tactics.  Of course, we have seen Grandmasters like Bobby Fischer make similar moves, so chess masters probably consider this to be pretty routine.

https://onethousandpositionstochessmastery.blogspot.com/2023/11/white-to-play_14.html

The Reason People Don't Get Better At Chess According to Ben Finegold

As a chess YouTuber, Ben Finegold is not my favorite.  His presentation is just not as interesting.  He seems rather casual, less informative, and cocky.  


However, I like the point he makes here, which is that people suck at chess because they blunder and don't learn from their mistakes. 

He is only partially correct.  People try to learn from their mistakes, but they do so by just playing.  It is repeated trial and error.  People don't retain information this way, although if a person played a great deal then they would make progress up to a point, which I think would be around the 1700-1800 level.  It is difficult to get better than this without some serious study.

So the way I learn from my mistakes is that I analyze as many of my games as I have time for, and I have a system for reviewing my past mistakes.  This takes much time, and maybe some people would feel that the time would be better spent just playing.

I strongly believe that studying tactics is critical.  There were specific tactics that I studied that took me from 1800 to 1900, and then a different group of tactics that took me from 1900 to 2000.  I studied tactics 30 minutes a day almost without fail, which meant that I spent hundreds of hours studying tactics.  However, this is something I haven't had time for lately, so my most recent goal is to study tactics for 20 minutes per day.

2023-11-05

Testing old chess computers through emulation

In the days before everyone had computers, if you wanted to play chess, your only option was to play with another person. In the late 1970's Fidelity introduced a series of electronic computer chess games. These early models played rather poorly, but I knew people who bought them just to be able to play and practice whenever they wanted. I managed to borrow a few of these so that I could get a feel for how well they played.

Although the early machines did not play well, things started to improve in the 1980s. There was a golden age of dedicated chess computers that went from 1983 to about 1993.  In 1984, I purchased the Novag Super Constellation electronic chess game for what I think was $200, which was quite a bit of money in 1984. The U.S. Chess Federation had given it a rating of 2018, which is better than at least 90% of all adult tournament players. Any rating between 2000 and 2199 is considered to be the skill level of "Expert" and a higher rating of 2200 is considered to be "Master."

Although I am currently rated 2016, at the time I bought the Novag Super Constellation I was rated just a little over 1700. In a few months, I would reach a rating of 1800 which is considered to be "Class A." Nevertheless, what I remember about the Novag Super Constellation is that it played better than me, which is surprising since it only contains an 8-bit processor running at just 4 MHZ. That is not very fast compared to modern 64-bit processors with multiple cores running at gigahertz speeds.

Over time, I bought a couple of better chess-playing computers and I have fond memories of practicing with all of them. I sold all these machines when I got a desktop computer in the mid-'90s, but I kind of regret it because they all were fun to play with it.

This became an issue when I was researching these old chess-playing computers where I saw many online claims that these computers were not as good as the ratings that had been assigned to them. For example, I saw the claim that the Novag Super Constellation was only about 1750 strength, and two other computers that I owned rated 2100 and 2265 were also claimed to be weaker than their advertised ratings. None of these claims match my experience, since all of the computers played better than I did.

I was so curious about this that I wanted to get my hands on one of the old chess computers, assuming that one can be found, however unlikely, and see how it compares to my current chess ability. Fortunately, I found software that allows me to emulate dozens of old chess computers on my Windows PC.

In my first game against the emulated Novag Super Constellation on level 1, the lowest level, I was able to win by only the slimmest of margins. I tried the same thing on the Fidelity Designer 2100, a slightly better machine, and I lost. I have no doubt that the other computer I owned, the stronger Fidelity Designer 2265, would stomp me like it used to when I played it 30 years ago. I will confirm this eventually.

So I tested a variety of chess computers with a somewhat difficult chess problem..



Most serious chess players have seen this problem already and know the answer. However, if they were not familiar with it, the solution might be difficult for them to find in a real game. There is the more direct solution of 6. Nxe5 Bxd1 7. Bxf7+ Ke7 8. Nd5# (checkmate). However, for a computer to see the solution it also has to see 6... Nxe5 7. Qxh5 Nxc4 8. Qb5+ c6 9. Qxc4. There is also 7... Nf6 8. Qe2 Nxc4 9. Qxc4. Either way, that is 7 half-moves deep, which is pretty deep for ancient chess computers to look.

Based upon my testing, this is how long various chess computers take to solve this chess problem...



# Model Year Processor Speed ROM Time Depth Nodes/S
1.
Fidelity Chess Challenger 10
1978
Z80
4 MHZ
4K
Fails
2.
Fidelity Chess Challenger 7
1979
Z80
4 MHZ
4K
12 hours
3.
Novag Savant
1981
Z80
6 MHZ
24K
12:40m
4.
Novag Savant II
1982
Z80
6 MHZ
32K
12:33m
5.
Novag Constellation
1983
6502
2 MHZ
16K
6:46m
6.
Constellation 3.6 ROM set 1
1984
6502
3.6 MHZ
16K
3:30m*
7.
Constellation 3.6 ROM set 2
1986
6502
3.6 MHZ
16K
3:33m*
5 ply
8.
Novag Super Constellation
1984
6502
4 MHZ
56K
2:10m
5 ply
9.
Constellation Expert
1985
65C02
5 MHZ
64K
1:54m
5 ply
10.
Novag Forte A
1986
65C02
5 MHZ
64K
2:15m
5 ply
~1000
11.
Novag Forte B
1986
65C02
5 MHZ
64K
1:58m
5 ply
~1000
12.
Novag Super Forte
1987
65C02
5 MHZ
64K
1:13m
5 ply
~1350
13.
Novag Super Expert A
1987
65C02
5 MHZ
64K
1:00m
5 ply
~1100
14.
Novag Super Forte B
1989
65C02
5 MHZ
64K
30s
5 ply
~1400
15.
Novag Super Expert B
1989
65C02
5 MHZ
64K
19s
5 ply
~1375
16.
Novag Super Forte C
1990
65C02
5 MHZ
64K
11s
5 ply
~1500
17.
Novag Super Nova
1990
HD6301Y
4 MHZ
32KK
10s
4 ply
18.
Novag Super Expert C
1990
65C02
5 MHZ
64K
6s
5 ply
~1050
19.
Novag Scorpio 68000
1990
68000
16 MHZ
98K
9s
20.
Novag Diablo 68000
1990
68000
16 MHZ
98K
9s
21.
Fidelity Excellence
1985
65C02
3 MHZ
16K
2:16m
5 ply
22.
Fidelity Excellence
1985
65C02
4 MHZ
16K
2:00m
5 ply
23.
Fidelity Designer Display 2000
1989
65C02
3 MHZ
32K
1:45m
5 ply
~81
24.
Fidelity Par Excellence
1986
65C02
5 MHZ
32K
1:22m
5 ply
25.
Fidelity Designer Display 2100
1988
65C02
6 MHZ
64K
54s
5 ply
~180
26.
Fidelity Designer Display 2265
1989
68000
16 MHZ
64K
5s
3 ply
27.
Fidelity Designer Display 2325
1991
68020
20 MHZ
64K
3s
4 ply
28.
Chessmaster NES
1990
6502
1.79 MHZ
48K
7:00m
5 ply
29.
Chessmaster Super Nintendo
1991
65816
3.58 MHZ
110K
4:43m
5 ply
30.
Chessmaster 2000 (DOS)
1986
?
?
NA
1:33m
31.
Chessmaster 3000 (DOS)
1991
?
?
NA
4s
4 ply
32.
Stockfish 14.1 2017-iMac
2022
i5
3.4 GHZ One Core
NA
<1s
<12 ply
~880,000

It is noteworthy that the Super Constellation solved the problem in roughly 2 minutes, which is within tournament time controls. I am disappointed in Chessmaster on the Super Nintendo because it failed to achieve this. It is running on a similar processor, and it is a port of Chessmaster 2000 written by Dave Kittinger, who also wrote the Super Constellation program!

* The second version of the Constellation 3.6 solves this problem on its top two tournament levels, but the first version moves too quickly to see the answer.  It can only solve the problem on its infinite level, even though it takes about the same amount of time to see the solution. The second ROM set is based upon the Novag Expert program.

Super Constellation game #1.

Some of my chess lesson material

FYI.

The theme of today's lesson is that a person can often get a winning advantage right out of the opening.

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: John Coffey <john2001plus@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, Nov 5, 2023 at 3:31 PM
Subject: Chess Games from face to face chess lesson plus bonus material
To: John T


This is the first game that I suggest learning by rote:
This game is about weaknesses:

Second game:
This is about Development and Initiative:
Another game to study:

Third game:
This is about tactics:


Another game that I showed to illustrate this idea:

[Event "Columbus Chess Club"]
[Site "Lewellen Center"]
[Date "Nov 2, 2023"]
[Round "3"]
[White "John Coffey"]
[Black "NN"]
[Result "1-0"]

1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. c4 c6 4. Nc3 Bf5 5. cxd5 cxd5 6. Qb3 b6 7. Ne5 e6 8. Bg5
Be7 9. e4 dxe4 10. Bxf6 Bxf6 11. Bb5+ Ke7 12. Qb4+ Qd6 13. Qxd6+ Kxd6 14. Nxf7+
Ke7 15. Nxh8 Bxd4 16. O-O a6 17. Ba4 b5 18. Bc2 Nc6 19. Bxe4 Bxe4 20. Nxe4 Rf8
21. Rac1 Rc8 22. Rfd1 Bxb2 23. Rc2 Bf6 24. Nd6
1-0



This is an opening trap that everyone should know, even if it wasn't part of our lessons.

In addition to this, in the Queen's gambit accepted, if Black tries to accept the gambit and hold onto the pawn, it is always bad:

This is a speed game I lost in Utah in the 1990s.



Why 50% of Players Could Be Cheating