"...a Chessmaster should be a combination of a beast of prey and a monk."

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


I'm not in any way being reimbursed for this post, I just wanted to say it.

Basically, I have had some really good experiences dealing with the customer service at Convetka.  The first time was when I bought Chess Assistant 12.  I pulled a really bone headed maneuver and accidentally lost the serial number I had purchased (I got the download version).  It took me some time and doing but I was eventually able to connect with a rep on Skype.  I was actually expecting that I would be told it was my fault since they delivered and I would just have to pay for another serial number.  Anyway, the rep on skype got me my serial number and then went ahead and fixed some other issues on their own initiative.  I just ended up feeling very positive about the experience.

Secondly I just bought some training programs.  Aside from being quite happy with the training programs so far, (I've only had them a few days.)  I was also able to get some one to help me claim the free program I was supposed to get with my order.  Basically they advertise that you can get a free program if you buy two.  I think it could be made clearer how to actually claim the gift, but basically they told me when I contacted them that I was supposed to have written the program in the comment box. (My usual impulsiveness, even though I was conscious that I didn't know how to claim the gift I went ahead and ordered without contacting anyone about it).  I had replied to an automatic email about my order status and I got a very friendly reply on the next business day and basically they came right out and just asked me to tell them what I wanted in email and they would get it for me.  I replied and within a few hours I had the download code and everything.  Again, I just felt that they handled the situation really well.

I won't say as much for the forum help.  I found that the guy who runs the forum isn't much help at all and doesn't even seem to understand the questions.  The forum is also full of spam.  So I wouldn't recommend trying to get help that way, but the other ways were very friendly and responsive and took care of the problem with no fuss.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Club, Lesson, League

Since my last post I have done several things.  First off, I found a club for adults here in Taipei.  It's a small but very nice and friendly group.  I have learned something cool pretty much every night I have gone.  It's also of course an opportunity to play with much better players, though there are also a couple of people at my level also.  So that has been a good boost to me.  I really like having the over the board experience and the social aspect of an in person club is really nice as well.

As far as the boys go, we took them to the club that I mentioned in the previous post with the pay to play set up.  It's actually a small school for kids about western chess.  It seems like a pretty nice place and there was a good number of kids.  We also decided to sign the boys up for lessons with the coach there.  So far they are enjoying both the lessons and the opportunity to play with other kids (although they have to accept that they aren't going to win much at the beginning).

I on the other hand have decided to sign up for lessons through ICC.  I shopped around a bit but ended up picking a coach based largely on price although he is also an FM.  I have my first lesson this coming Tuesday and am looking forward to it.  Basically he is about half as expensive as the average price for many coaches so I was able to sign up for 2 hour lessons.  So that should be a good learning chunk.

I also ended up joining Team 45 45 league and have played 3 games.  Two of those games I played well and won.  The middle game, I had a good game going and I made a horrible hideous blunder putting my rook right where it could be captured by a pawn for absolutely nothing in return.  I don't really know how to explain this chess "blindness".  It seems that for me, I start getting into my own ideas and plans and things I am trying to accomplish and instead of checking the very basic stuff I just start looking at the way a move relates to the idea I have in mind.  In this case I was storming the kingside with pawns and was looking at how the rook move would drive a defensive piece away and the rook could swing over onto the attack when that piece was moved.  Unfortunately there was just this one minor detail...  On the whole though I have enjoyed it.  My team is currently in last place.  There's only one more week to play in this session though.

I've been playing a lot of games online until recently when we got a dog and I started playing offline against Chessmaster more.  One of the people I met with has agreed with me to set up a weekly meeting time which I am happy about.

Other than that, just doing puzzles from time to time.  I have also been thinking I will switch to the open game as black.  I have been playing the Sicilian, but I think that the learning value and also the fun of the open game may be higher for me.  I really like the Italian game and am happy when I get a chance to play it.  So I thought it might be nice to be able to play some similar things as black.  Someone at the club pointed out that I will have to study the Ruy Lopez then though.  That's fine.  I will try to get to that.  Mostly I have been looking at things like "The Fried Liver Attack" and the "Evans Gambit".

As far as spending money on chess I continue to do that, even though I think it's kind of silly.  I got "Chess Openings, Traps and Zaps" and have been looking at that.  I also got some Peshka courses from Convetka.  "Tactics in the Open Game", "CT-ART 4", and "Attack on the King II".  I was thinking about getting Houdini 3 with Aquarium but I decided I already had Houdini 2 and for the most part I am pretty happy with the Fritz 11 interface that I got back in 2008.  So really I thought I would get more out of these courses than another analysis program that probably wouldn't be terribly different, particularly for the kind of work I need to do at my level which is pretty minimal.  Then of course there's the lessons which I will have to see how they work out.

Well, that's pretty much a catch up for now.