Journal Entry #15
In a few short days I am going to travel to Auckland to play in the New Zealand Chess Championships. The truth is, my playing strength is not really sufficient for this tournament which really suits FM strength (or at least aspiring FM strength) or stronger players. I played once before and suffered rather horribly, managing only 2 draws in a 12 player round robin. Still, I have always had a preference for playing “up” rather than “down”. I always rationalised this as a desire to improve my game, but I am starting to accept that I am probably a little too old and my days of improvement are probably over.
You might be wondering what this has to do with the Tarrasch Chess GUI. Not a lot I suppose, accept such an “extracurricular” activity does impact the hours I can devote to the program and hence the schedule. I am glad I haven’t made explicit promises about a delivery date for Tarrasch V2, even the alpha version I’ve been talking about lately. I have hinted at the end of this calendar year as a target. Well even if I worked 12 hour days, I wouldn’t make it. As it happens,I’ll be working more like 1 hour days for a while, as my focus will be preparing for the NZ Champs, then the zonal in Rotorua in January, and participating in both tournaments.
One positive is that in my preparation I’ve been “dogfooding”. If you are unfamiliar with this term, it is a (rather unattractive) piece of terminology programmers use to describe using their own tools (i.e. eating their own dog food – actually as I write this I find myself questioning for the first time whether the term even makes sense – who eats dog food?).
For several months last year I enjoyed coaching from GM Gawain Jones during his sojourn in Wellington. He prepared oodles of chess material for me to look over, and as a rather lazy adult student I must admit I wasn’t that enegetic about this homework. But now I am looking at all the stuff related to my opening repertoire, and I am using Tarrasch V2.
I must say, it is rather good! When looking through deeply nested variations with Chessbase, I am always annoyed by the little menus that pop up as you move about with the arrow keys. I am pleased to report there is none of this with Tarrasch. To move back and forward through the material, you use the left and right arrow OR the up and down arrow. If you use left/right you automatically decend and ascend into and out of variations. If you use up/down you skip variations and stay at the same level of nesting. I say you use the left/right OR the up/down arrows, but of course really you use the left/right AND the up/down arrows, easily controlling progress. For rapid progress press mainly up/down. To look at the details use left/right. There is part of me that thinks I may have this the wrong way round and I should reverse these meanings. The good news is that would be trivially easy to do. If you have an opinion please leave a comment.
Anyway that will likely be my last blog post for a couple of weeks. If you wish to follow my progress (or lack of it) at the New Zealand champs, look on newzealandchess.co.nz.