Thursday, October 26, 2006

Happy with PCT

I'm pretty happy with PCT.
Most positional principles are allready familiar, but it's good to convert them into skill by simple, straightforward positional problems. Given the errors I make this is going to help me.
I already see myself saving tons of time during a game by mastering this. Maybe I will even get into an endgame every now and then
The reading of Seirawan's book continues. Things fall at their places.


  1. I also like PCT. I haven't explored the higher level training yet, but it takes so long just to advance to the upper levels, and as you point out - mastering simple positions very quickly is the foundation for analysing more complex positions.

    I have a question - why are so many skilled 'amateur' chess players from the Netherlands. I play on and it seems like 1/2 of the 2400+ rated players are Dutch.

  2. CMD,
    it's true, we have relatively a lot of titled players in the Netherlands. 216 on 16 million residents. Compare US 459 on 300 million.
    There are a few reasons for that.

    First we had a Worldchampion that didn't go nuts. We are still in the aftermath of Max Euwe who boosted the dutch chesslife. Holland was after WWII a second homeland for the Russian players. We learned a lot of them.
    A nice anecdote: when the Russian grandmasters hided themselves behind their language when they were interviewed, a group of dutch journalists decided to learn Russian. That caused shock and awe amongst the Russian players!

    Secondly we have a very good trainingsystem for the youth: TCT, which educates to masterlevel.
    For the public there are only 5 steps available, for talented youth there are an additional 5 steps which are given by coaches only.

    Third, Holland is densily populated, so it's relative easy to organize tournaments beyond your home town.

  3. Tempo,

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Netherlands is home to some fantastic tournaments. I'm guessing it stirs up a lot of interest in the game to have super-GMs playing nearby. But your description of playing in some tournaments painted a picture of chess culture at the lower levels that makes me jealous.

    I'd be interested to hear more about what it's like at these tournaments. Both for you playing and if you ever spectate the top players.

  4. Loomis,
    what shall I say (to make you even more jealous, that is:)?
    This is what's within the next 3 days and within 50 mile distance:
    The Essent-tournament with Judit Polgar and Topalov, 8 slow tournaments and 3 rapid ones.
    The average filling is 100 - 150 people for such tourneys.
    We have about 7 long (9-10 days) tournaments a year. Those have a greater filling, from 300 - 1700 (Corus).
    I play every week a long game at the club competition and every month one in the regional competition.

    The tournament I like most is Corus. It's very special indeed when you see the persons from your books in real life.
    At the Corus tournament we play in the same hall as the big guys, only divided by a low seperation wall. That's when you realize that you can play in the crown group by just playing better:)

    I was there when Kasparov made his famous double rook sacrifice against Topalov in 1999. As usual I had my own thoughts about it:)
    I mean, he was two points ahead, so he couldn't avoid winning the tournament anymore. His position was won by any means, but he decided to go for the brillancy price and sacrificed his first rook. I'm convinced he head not a clear ida at that moment how to proceed exactly, but everything went on great.
    At such moments, between hundreds of live spectators, there is a great atmosphere! And of course I can say "I was there"!

  5. Now, I think you have answered why there are so many skilled amateur chess players in the Netherlands. In the US there is no chance for me to see any of these great chess players. Nor to have the kinds of tournament experiences you have. Tournaments here in the US, even the big ones, are rather lame in comparison to what you have described.

    I love chess and so I work at it anyway, but for the average person who doesn't yet love the game, there is no environment to fall in love. To put it romantically.

    I look forward to your blog entries in January when you play at the Corus event. Just imagining being there is a thrill for me. Hopefully someday I can experience chess in a culture not as lame as we have here in the US.

  6. I've heard a lot of people mention PCT so I decided to take a look at it.

    I'm currently testing out the PCT demo. On the site it says it's 50% off until the end of this month, which translates to $39.90 US for the download and an additional $29.90 for a CD copy if desired.

    Was the program really double that cost before or is this a marketing ploy? Or perhaps the next installment is due to release soon?