Monday, June 26, 2006

CTS at home

Since CTS proves to be an uncertain factor it becomes clear I have to find a way to become more independent of it. So I started to research a way to generate my own problem sets.
The basic idea is to automatically rip existing gamebases to create problemsets of my own.

This gives additional possibilities:
  • I can create sets for area's where I'm weak at. For instance with endgame problems.
  • I can reduce the amount of problems in a set so that spaced repetition becomes possible.
  • I can experiment with the solving time.
Generating problemsets will not be so difficult with existing programs.
But CTS has 2 strong points which aren't so easy to copy without making a program myself (which I like to avoid!):
  • The automatic rating of problems .
  • The time system.
Maybe the first point can be solved by generating problems in a set with identical degree of difficulty. The timing system is another matter. Maybe I can make use of the timing system of chessbase. I have no idea if that is possible.

During my research I found a lot of usable problemsets on the web already.
For instance at Gunther Ossimitz' Chess page


  1. Have you tried PCT? It has everything but openings.

  2. PCT tracks your problem-solving speed, which is very nice. Unfortunately it's much buggier than CTS or CT-ART. In problems with two or three equal solutions, it demands one specific answer. It lacks built-in Crafty analysis, so double-checking an answer takes more time.

  3. yeah, i agree that time spent building a problemset could be also spent solving.

    double checking takes 10 seconds more time in PCT--- the program copies the current FEN to the clipboard.

    i agree that sometimes PCT does not accept an equally valid move. i recall one puzzle where it takes Qa1# but not Qa4#.

  4. Tempo,
    I like your topic. There are hundreds of CTS users who are addressing the issues you raised. Too bad they all aren't tuned into this blog.

    I've never tried PCT. Three people posted comments ahead of me and they all had at least one positive thing to say about PCT. I'd like to hear more from you folks who have experience with PCT.

    In particular, I like to hear from someone who can honestly and explicitly say, "PCT is my first choice for a program to help me do training with tactical problems."

    As for myself, I can honestly and explicitly say, "Bookup 2000 is my first choice for a program to help me do training with tactical problems." Perhaps some of you would be interested in a discussion about a comparison of the good and bad points of various programs that facilitate training with tactical problems.

    In training mode with Bookup 2000, the program keeps track of average number of moves per minute.

    With Bookup 2000, if I encounter a problem with two or three good solutions (a.k.a. a dual), then I can use the editing capabilities of the commercial version of the program to either delete the problem, move the problem to another problem set, or mark the problem with colored markings so that the dual is immediately identifyable by the tactician in the future during training. I am using the third option. The free version of Bookup 2000 does not have editing capabilities.

    Whenever I want computer analysis of the position I am looking at in Bookup 2000, I just click my mouse. Better yet, such analysis can be saved in the comments (notes) associated with any particular position in the problem collection whenever I do engine analysis on a position.

    I have a reply to Patrick's comment about the time being spent building a problem set that the tactician would rather use to solve problems with. The ideal solution is we all use the same existing problem set that somebody is willing to share with everyone.

  5. CTS' strong point is thut it has a large user-base... so thut it can rate the problems by evaluating differrent user's solving rate.

  6. Blue Devil, good idea! I started with it today. I never worked with it in the past because it required something like vba or .net installed. What is not convenient at the moment. But they solved that problem and it is now usable. It looks good.

  7. Likesforests,
    luckily I'm not easy to frustrate. Otherwise I had given up George Renko long ago:)

  8. Patrick,
    the point in building your own problemset is that you can finetune it for your own specific weaknesses. As long as there are enough problemsets around which cover your weaknesses, I agree with you. But I hope there will come a moment that I become so good that I will need a special finetuned set:) Did I already mention I plan decades?

  9. Space,
    I never thought of Bookup as a progam to train something else than openings with. It sounds like a good idea! Where do you get your problemsets from?

    I belief Edwin has extended experience with PCT. Go and see

  10. Tempo, you were speaking to Patrick in yesterday's post when you stated you like to make plans for the next decade, right? And you said you anticipate that you will find some value in having a fine-tuned problem set in the future. Well, it sounds like you might appreciate what I'm about to say. If you are thinking long term, I suggest you eliminate any programs from consideration that don't provide editing capabilities. Oh, i should have stated upfront that I am addressing the issue, which tactical training software program is the best training program for you: Okay, as I was saying, you are going to want editing capabilities. For instance, without editing capabilities, what can the tactician do if the tactician doesn't like it that the desired solution to a particular problem is not being presented or is being presented in the wrong way?

    I suspect that any program that does provide editing capabilities is probably not going to be free. For example, the free version of Bookup 2000 provides editing capabilities only during the trial period. After the trial period is finished, the editing capabilities no longer work, but most of the rest of the functions of the free version continue to work indefinitely. If you want to compare the free version of Bookup 2000 with the commercial versions of Bookup 2000, see

    For those of you who are more familiar with ChessBase or Chess Assistant than Bookup 2000, be advised that Bookup 2000 is in the category of chess database programs just like ChessBase and Chess Assistant are chess database programs. There are various differences, of course, such as the jargon of the Bookup community. In Bookup jargon, a database = an ebook.

    Now Tempo, regarding your question about where I acquire my problem collections from, there are two answers. The first answer is I acquire them from PGN files. I just download PGN files from the Internet that are collections of tactical problems and I import these PGN files into ebooks. In fact, the "Gunther Ossimitz' Chess Page" web site that you listed as your own example of a place to find problem collections is also a place to find PGN files of tactical problem collections. For example, search for a zip file by the name of on the tactics page of this web site. I think it's easy to find such PGN files. Of course, not everybody likes to hunt wabbits like I do. :-) That's where the second answer comes into play. But before I get into that, I want to finish explaining the first answer.

    When I search for PGN files, I'm not really limited to searching for PGN files. For example, on the "Gunther Ossimitz' Chess Page" web site, there are plenty of ChessBase files, right? Some of them look pretty attractive. Well, if my ultimate goal is to (indirectly speaking) import one of those attractive ChessBase files into an ebook for use with the Bookup 2000 program, then the way I would have to approach this task is to use a ChessBase program to export the ChessBase file as a new PGN file. Only after performing this initial step can I make progress to import the new PGN file into a Bookup 2000 ebook.

    The second answer to Tempo's question is I acquire my problem collections from other people who are willing to give them to me for free. I'm not trying to say that tactical problem ebooks aren't available for sale on the Bookup web site. I just haven't found it necessary to spend money to get ebooks containing tactical problem collections. I presently have three ebooks that are each unique tactical problem collections. The smallest of these three ebooks contains 366 tactical problems which are heavily annotated. The annotations can be hidden, of course.

  11. Space,
    thx for answering. I own an editable version of Bookup. I'm going to try your suggestions.

  12. I am going to write a Delphi program to capture the solution times for individual problems. I believe that I can do better than the CTS rating system.