vrijdag 18 december 2009

No sneaky preview

In last weeks post "searching for Steve Stoyko" I explained the dilemma I encounter when I select positions for my Stoyko Exercises. A Stoyko Exercise is the most challenging when one starts it without having a clue about the game continuation or the given analyses. When the position meets these requirements, the exercise comes really close to a real otb chess game. But the exercise also demands that the position is complicated and/or dynamic. And last, but not least, it is best if I can compare my exhaustive analysis with those of a much stronger annotator.

But finding positions which meet those criteria is impossible without a glance at the position and the continuation and analysis, which at least gives away candidate moves. I absolutely don't want this to happen, so I have found ways to tackle this problem, but not to my complete satisfaction.

At the moment I am using positions from two sources. I get my positions from Agaards "Excelling at chess calculation" and from Pata Gaprindashvilli's "imagination in chess". These positions are in general sufficiently complicated to offer a real test to my calculation powers. Because the answers and analysis are given at the end of the book, I do not have to fear getting involuntarily preview at the solution.

There is however a small negative side to this method. The positions I get are not only highly tactical, but they also have a very clear "solution". Contrary to real games, every position can be solved to a clear advantage (win) or equal position (draw). So there still is an certain urge to obtain a database with positions that do not lead to a clear cut conclusion. Alastairs suggestion to let another player do the selecting might be the best way to get exactly what I want. Teaming up with a player of more or less equal strength and exchange positions is probably the way to go.

Thanks to everyone who gave me suggestions to find Steve Stoyko. Your help is greatly appreciated.

8 opmerkingen:

chesstiger zei

Is 'Fire on the board' book from Shirov not annotated well enough for such exercises? I mean that their must be books good enough to do the exercise with, or am i mistaken?

Phaedrus zei


Probably yes, as is Kasparovs "The test of time". But alas, the glancing problem. So this is a good candidate book to pick up with a partner.

Tommyg zei

I thought of a solution..maybe. I think someone even sort of suggested this or something like this:

In whatever Chess program you use there should be a way to view ONLY the board. No moves list or notation. I know there is a way to do this in Shredder.

Then pick a game that looks interesting from the INDEX of a well annotated book (such as Shirov's or any of the Kasparov stuff etc. etc.) The find that game on a database and view it on your chess program. Play through the moves until you find a position that looks really complicated and/or interesting. Since you will be viewing it without notation you will not know what the move played was and since you picked it from the index of the book you won't have looked at the annotations. Then just print that diagram and set it up on a board. Does that sound helpful?

chessbuzz zei

Another idea, is to do the tests based on the diagrammed position of a richly annotated book. You walk through the game, and once you reach a middlegame diagram you stop and perform the Stoyko exercise and then review your notes with the annotations.

Phaedrus zei


Thank you for the suggestion. This surely prohibits peaking. There is however the chance that the position I pick is not deeply analyzed in the annotations.


Thank you as well. This method reduces the risk of picking a position that is not thoroughly analyzed and annotated. However, as I found out, Not all diagrammed positions are heavily annotated. Sometimes a diagram is given just because the move is somewhat unusual or to give a marker for some general comments.

chessbuzz zei

I've created a forum, where members can add their own positions for Stoyko Exercises.

Here's the link:

So far I have posted 3, but anyone that joins is free to add their own. This could become a welcome repository for Stoyko positions.

Phaedrus zei


Very, very well done. I applaud the initiative! Comments (if I have any) will be posted on your chess.com page.

Blue Devil Knight zei

I would often go through an entire book, finding he position with the most comments by the author (in the midgame). I would do this without looking at the position or annotation deeply, and even would try not to be aware of the move suggested. Then I'd go to the beginning of the game/chapter and write down that move.

Do this for every game and wait a month. You won't remember, except maybe one or two (e.g., the first).