20 December 2009

Chessmaster versus Fritz: Analysis

Comparing Automatic Game Analysis

The Fritz interface, which supports several engines calls this feature "full analysis." In Chessmaster software it is called "auto-analysis". I took a game played against a Chessmaster personality and let Chessmaster analyze at ten seconds per move. I printed the output. Then, Hiarcs 12 (my strongest engine currently running in the Fritz interface) examined the game at ten seconds per move.

Fritz permits a copy and paste that facilitates posting the analysis to this blog, and with Fritz I can create diagram files for upload to blogger. Saving or reproducing the Chessmaster analysis is more cumbersome, so I typed it into the existing ChessBase file (Fritz).

In the text below, the Fritz (Hiarcs) analysis is indicated (H12) as is Chessmaster's (CM). I've added a few comments (JS) beyond my headnotes to each section.

Fritz embeds suggested lines as replayable variations, although the software offers the option of having these as text. Chessmaster's suggestions can be replayed within that software, but does not create an exportable product. It is possible to export a file with Fritz's variations so as to replay in Chessmaster, but not the other way round.

The Opening

Both software programs name the openings and give the ECO code. Chessmaster's opening book appears limited, while Fritz draws from a database that is easily updated. Fritz looks for the moment of novelty; Chessmaster highlights deviation from the main line. Fritz does not comment on moves prior to the novelty. Chessmaster comments on each move, presenting simple expressions of general principles.

Marie - Stripes,J
Chessmaster 10th Edition Rated Game, 2009

B53: Sicilian: 2...d6: Lines with Qxd4 (H12)


B00 King's Pawn Opening. The King's Pawn opening move is both popular and logical. It controls the center, opens lines for both th eQueen and the Bishop, and usually leads to an open game in which tactics, rather than slow maneuvering, predominates. (CM)


Sicilian Defense. The Sicilian Defense has an ancient lineage. It creates an unbalanced position in which both sides have full rein for play, and allows Black to call the shots at least to some extent. (CM)


White's normal response prepares d4 and avoids such committing moves as f4 or d3 or Nc3, which have their own rationale. (CM)

2...d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Qxd4 Nc6

B53 Sicilian Defense / Chekhover Variation (CM)


Out of Opening Book. Bb5 would have been in the Sicilian Defense / Chekhofer Variation opening line. Moves it to safety. (CM)


Disengages the pin on Black's pawn at g7 and attacks White's pawn at e4. Removes the threat on White's pawn at e4. (CM)

Removes the threat on White's pawn at e4. (CM)

6...g6 7.Bb5 Bd7

White has a very active position. (H12)
Frees Black's knight at c6 from the pin. (CM)


Slightly better is O-O. (CM)
8.0–0 Rc8 9.Nd4 Bg7 10.Bxc6 Bxc6 11.Qf3 Bd7 12.c3 0–0 13.Re1 e5 14.N4b3 b5 15.Qe3 a5 16.Nf3 Bc6 17.Qd3 Qc7 18.c4 bxc4 19.Qxc4 a4 20.Nbd2 Qb6 21.Qd3 Ng4 22.h3 Nxf2 23.Qxd6 Nxe4+ 24.Kh2 Nxd6 25.Nf1 Bxf3 26.gxf3 Qf2+ 27.Kh1 Qxe1 28.Bd2 Qxa1 29.Kg2 Rc1 30.Kf2 Rxf1+ 31.Ke3 0–1 Avramov,L-Schaal,R/Bad Wiessee 1997/CBM 61 ext (H12)
8.Qb3 Bg7= (H12)


8...Bg7 9.0–0 =/+ (H12)


Block's Black's pawn at g6 and clears the way for a kingside castle. (CM)


Black has a cramped position. (H12)


Slightly better is O-O. (CM)
Better is 10.0–0!?=/+ is the best option White has (H12)

10...0–0–+ (H12 evaluation)


Partially pins Black's pawn at e7, protects White's pawn at e4, and blocks Black's pawn at f7. (CM)


Frees Black's pawn at e7 from the pin and attacks White's queen. Black wins a bishop for a knight. Material is even. (CM)

12.Qa3 a6 13.Bxc6 Bxc6 14.Ncd2 Qb6 15.Rb1
15.b3 Bc3 16.0–0 a5-/+ (H12)


Attacks White's pawn at c2 and hampers the opponent's ability to castle kingside. (CM)
Hiarcs 12 gives the evaluation that Black has a decisive advantage.

Critical Position

I noted yesterday in "Chessmaster Nonsense" that Chessmaster's post-game comments draw attention to the most dramatic change in numerical evaluation, rather than the game's turning point. But, full analysis of a game should do better. According to Chessmaster, 16...Bd7 was my most serious error. Fritz (running Hiarcs) is less certain, opining that Black already has a decisive advantage after 10...O-O. Hiarcs points out a number of improvements in Black's play that would have maintained this decisive advantage more assuredly.


Slightly better is Rc1. (CM)
16.Rc1–+ (H12)


Leads to 17.O-O Be6 18.Rfc1 Bg7 19.B4 f5 20.c5 dxc5 21.bxc5 Qc7, which wins a pawn for a pawn. Better is Bxc4, leading to 17.Nxc4 Rxc4 18.O-O Rfc8 19.Qd3 Rc2 20.a3 Bxb2 21.Ne1 R2c3 22.Qd2, which wins a knight and two pawns for a bishop. This was black's only serious miscue, but black was able to stay close and eventually mated. (CM)

Better is 16...Bxc4!? 17.Nxc4 Rxc4–+ (H12)


17.0–0 g5=/+ (H12)


17...Be6 18.Rc1-/+ (H12)


[ 18.0–0!?-/+ (H12)

18...Be6 19.h5 Bxc4

Hinders the opponent's short castle. Black wins a pawn. (CM)
19...b5 20.hxg6 fxg6 21.cxb5 axb5 22.0–0–+ (H12)


20...b5 21.e5

Slightly better is Nxc4. (CM)
21.Nxc4!? bxc4 22.hxg6 fxg6 23.Qxa6-/+ (H12)

21...dxe5–+ 22.hxg6

Isolates Black's pawn at h7. (CM)

22...fxg6 23.Nxc4 bxc4 24.Qe3

24.0–0 Qc6–+ (H12)


Attacks White's pawn at b4 and seizes the open file. (CM)

25.0–0 Qxb4 26.Nxe5 Bxe5

26...c3 27.Nd7 Rf7 28.Nxf6+ exf6 29.Rc2–+ (H12)


White wins a bishop and a pawn for a knight and a pawn. Black is ahead by two pawns in material. (CM)

Finishing a Rout

Inexplicably, Chessmaster identifies 47.Rf6 as "white's only meaningful blunder." By the time the game reached this position, we were in an endgame that I could win against Anand or Carlsen. There had to be significant errors earlier in the game.

27...Qd6 28.Qe3 Rf5 29.Rfe1 Rh5 30.Qxe7 Qxe7

Better is 30...Qh2+!? 31.Kf1 Qh1+ 32.Ke2 Qxg2 33.Qe6+ Kg7 34.Rxc4 Rxc4 35.Qe7+ Kh6 36.Qf8+ Kg5 37.Qe7+ Kg4 38.Qe6+ Rf5 39.Qxc4+ Kh5–+ (H12)

31.Rxe7-/+ c3


32.Rc2 Rd5 33.Kf1 g5-/+ (H12)

32...Rhc5 33.Re6

33.Rec2 Kf7-/+ (H12)

33...a5 34.f4

34.Kf1 c2–+ (H12)


The pressure is too much, White crumbles. 35.Re3–+ (H12)
Moves it out of immediate danger. (CM)

35...Rxe5 36.fxe5

Creates a passed pawn on e5. White wins a rook for a rook. Black is up a pawn in material. (CM)
Fritz's double question mark at 35.Re5 states all that need be said regarding this doomed pawn. Magnus Carlsen could not hold the White position here. (JS)

Attacks White's pawn at e5 and blocks White's pawn at e5. (CM)
Neither program points out what a human coach might: Black's king will devour the pawn on the way to supporting the passed c-pawn with the intent to force the rooks off the board and crate a simple king and pawn endgame. (JS)

37.Kf2 Kxe5 38.Ke3


38...c2!? and Black can already relax 39.Kd3–+ (H12)
This push would have been consistent with Black's idea to get the rooks off the board. (JS)


39.Rc2 cannot change destiny 39...h5–+ (H12)


Better is 39...c2!? might be the shorter path 40.g3–+ (H12)

40.Kc2 Ke4

40...h4 keeps an even firmer grip 41.Rb1 Rc4 42.Rd1–+ (H12)


41.Rh1 a3–+ (H12)

41...g5 42.Rf6 h4 43.a3

43.Rf7–+ is the last straw. (H12)


44.Rh6 Slightly better is Ra6. (CM)

44...Kf4 45.Rxh4
Pins Black's pawn at g4 and isolates Black's pawn at g4. White wins a pawn. Black is ahead by a pawn in material. (CM)

45.Ra6 what else? 45...Rc4 46.Rh6–+ (H12)


Frees Black's pawn at g4 from the pin, forks White's pawn at g2 and White's rook, and blocks White's pawn at g2. (CM)

46.Rh6 Kxg2


Leads to 47...g3 48.Rh6 Rc4 49.Rf6 Kh3 50.Rh6 Rh4 51.Re6 g2 52.Re1 Kh2 53.Kxc3 g1Q 54.Rxg1 Kxg1. Better is Rh4, leading to 47...g3 48.Rxa4 Kf3 49.Ra7 Rc4 50.Rf7+ Rf4 51.Rd7 g2 52.Rd1 Rg4 53.a4 g1Q 54.Rxg1 Rxg1 55.Kxc3, which gains a pawn. This was white's only meaningful blunder, but it cost the game. White was not able to recover and was eventually mated. (CM)

Imagine some kid reading this analysis and developing the belief that White still ahead a fighting chance with the improvement Chessmaster recommends. That kid will suffer under a delusion. (JS)

47.Rg6 g3 48.Ra6–+ (H12)

47...g3 48.Rh6 Kf2

Better is Rc4 ... (CM)

Both programs offer long detailed variations in this phase of the game. These are labourious to type, so I'll refrain from revealing all of those offered by Chessmaster. (JS)

49.Rf6+ Kg1 50.Rg6 g2 51.Rg7 Rc5 52.Rf7 Kh2 53.Rh7+ Kg3 54.Rg7+ Kh3 55.Rg6

55.Kd1 cannot change what is in store for ? 55...Rc4 56.Rh7+ Kg3 57.Rg7+ Rg4 58.Rxg4+ Kxg4 59.Kc2 g1Q 60.Kxc3 Qc5+ 61.Kb2 Kf4 62.Ka2 Qf2+ 63.Kb1 Ke5 64.Kc1 Kd4 65.Kb1 Kc3 66.Ka1 Qb2# (H12)



56.Rg8 does not win a prize 56...Rg4 57.Rh8+ Kg3 58.Kxc3 g1Q 59.Re8 Qc1+ 60.Kd3 Qd1+ 61.Kc3 Qb3+ 62.Kd2 Rd4+ 63.Ke2 Qf3+ 64.Ke1 Qf2# (H12)

56...Rg4 57.Rh6+

57.Rf6 doesn't get the cat off the tree 57...g1Q 58.Rf3+ Kg2 59.Re3 Qd1+ 60.Kxc3 Qb3+ 61.Kd2 Rd4+ 62.Rd3 Rxd3+ 63.Ke2 Qd1# (H12)


Black has a mate in 9. (CM)


58.Rg6 doesn't change the outcome of the game 58...Rxg6 59.Ke4 g1Q 60.Kd3 Rg4 61.Kxc3 Qf2 62.Kd3 Rd4+ 63.Kc3 Qd2# (H12)

58...g1Q 59.Rb4

59.Rd6 cannot change what is in store for ? 59...Qd1+ 60.Kxc3 Qxd6 61.Kb2 Rc4 62.Ka2 Rc1 63.Kb2 Qd2# (H12)


59...Qc5 60.Rb5 Qxb5+ 61.Kxc3 Kf3 62.Kc2 Ke2 63.Kc1 Rc4#


60... c2!
Mate threat. (H12)
Here, Fritz created a training exercise, another useful feature wholly lacking in Chessmaster.


61.Kxc2 a3 Passed pawn. (H12)
61.-- c1Q Mate threat. (H12)
Null moves are not within Chessmaster's analysis capabilities. (JS)


61...Qe3 62.b5 Kf3 63.b6 a3 64.b7 Ke2 65.b8Q Qd3+ 66.Kc1 Qd1# (H12)

62.b5 Qc4+

62...Kf4 63.b6 Ke3 64.b7 Qb6 65.b8Q Qxb8 66.Kc1 Kd3 67.Kd1 Qb1# (H12)

63.Kd2 Kf3

63...Qxb5 64.Kc2 Kf3 65.Kc1 Qd3 66.Kb2 a3+ 67.Ka1 Qe2 68.Kb1 Qb2# (H12)

64.b6 Qb5
64...Qd4+ 65.Kc2 Ke3 66.b7 Qb6 67.b8R Qxb8 68.Kc1 Kd3 69.Kd1 Qb1# (H12)

65.b7 Qxb7 66.Kc3 Qb5 67.Kd4 a3 68.Kc3 Ke3 69.Kc2 Qb4
69...Qb2+ 70.Kd1 Qb1# (H12)

70.Kc1 Kd3 71.Kd1 Qb1#

71...Qd2# (H12)


Addendum, 3 March 2010

I added a brief note (follow link) concerning Chessmaster's online play. I played some 300+ games there when I first acquired Chessmaster 10th edition.

18 December 2009

Chessmaster Nonsense

I've been fooling around with Chessmaster's ranked play feature, testing my play against several "personalities" at rapid time control. My usual gig is to open the program to "ranked play" and select "random opponent" and "random color." If I lose (often), I may play more against the same opponent.

Today the program froze for several minutes, and I lost two minutes on the game clock--kind of frustrating in a game 10. Even so, I was doing okay until I reached this position.

White to move

I played 28.Qd1, opening myself to an unstoppable attack. This error was the game losing move.

The game finished:

28...Bxh3 29.gxh3 Rxh3 30.Rh2 Rxh2+ 31.Kxh2 Qf2+ 32.Kh3 Rh8+ 33.Kh4 Qf4#

Here's my beef: the post-game analysis tells me that my "worst move" was 31.Kxh2--the only legal move in the position. I suppose the software thinks I should have resigned inasmuch as it is mate in five.

Such post-game analysis distracts the chess student from a necessary task: identifying the key turning point in a game. Instead Chessmaster highlights the move that changes by the greatest margin the numerical evaluation in an easily won, or completely lost position. This feature is a disservice to users of Chessmaster software. Bad advice can be worse than none at all.

In contrast, Fritz (Hiarcs, Junior, etc.) does not offer numerical analysis at all from move 29 on. Rather, it is mate in 12, mate in 6, and mate in 1 after White's suboptimal moves.

From the diagram position, 28.Qf3 maintains White's advantage. All other moves shift the advantage to Black, my Qd1 decisively so. If one is using software in training, it should help identify the key position, not offer phantom assessments after the battle has been decided.

13 December 2009

Names in Lights

Sometimes a little notoriety warms the heart! See "Stripes Tops Xmas Chaos".

James Stripes won the Xmas Chaos g/60 tourney held December 3 & 10 with a perfect 4.0 score. and Ryan Ackerman was second with a 3.0 score. Loyd Willaford (2.5) topped the U/1600 section. A link to the USCF cross-table will be posted on our Recent Results page (link at left) when the event is rated. There were 15 players at club on the 10th.

The event pushed me to new peak ratings: 1857 standard, 1773 quick. See the crosstable.

Since I posted "Class A" marking my success in reaching a goal I had announced in this blog, I've maintained my A class rating through six events. After my fifteen minutes of fame in 2008, I pushed past the 1750 milestone. That felt good. Now, seventeen months later, I'm one hundred points higher. One hundred points gain is normal improvement for youth players, but takes some effort after gray hairs begin to appear.

It's time to get serious about some new goals, such as crossing into expert class before old age dementia sets in.

11 December 2009

French Defense!

I might have gone home, taking a bye in the final round to win the event. But, the TD told me I had to stay because Nikolay was counting on a battle. Staying meant playing Black against a youth who spends lots of time studying chess and is rapidly becoming one of the strongest Spokane area players. He scored 4/5 in our recent club championship, losing only to me.

After my grueling and lucky win against Ryan's French Defense in round three, I reset my clock, turned my board around, and put my mind into gear for the Black side of the French. Nikolay Bulakh's rating is provisional, based on nineteen games. He was 1479 (P11) going into the Fall Championship, and came out 1729 (P16). He swept Quad B in the Turkey Quads (I was second in Quad A), increasing his provisional rating to 1782. He had ambitious plans going into Christmas Chaos, a game/60 dual rated event, but lost in an early round. Even so, a win in this game would put him and I in a tie for first, likely with others.

When I arrived at club, he was ready, and confident that we would play in round four. We played some skittles to warm up and argue opening theory.

Bulakh,N (1782) - Stripes,J (1820) [C01]
Christmas Chaos, Spokane 2009

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5

3.Nc3 remains the most popular, and according to my selected database of master games since 2000, results in the highest performance rating. Slightly lower in performance, but higher in winning percentage is the Tarrasch, 3.Nd2.

A lot of French players dread the Exchange Variation because they like to win and it seems drawish on first glance. John Watson disputes this assessment. He shows that Black easily creates imbalances that can lead to victory for the second player, and dispense a little venom for aficionados of the White side.
It is not a particularly imaginative line. ... Although the Exchange Variation appeals to players who are trying to draw against stronger players, allowing equality on the third move as White may not be the way to go about that. Be aware that it's a strategy that has failed miserably throughout the years.
John Watson, Play the French, 3rd ed., 70
3... exd5 4.Bd3 Bd6

Watson recommends 4...Nc6 to break the symmetry immediately.

5.Nf3 Ne7 6.0–0 Nbc6 7.c3 Bg4

We have transposed into the line favored by Watson.


8.Re1 is more accurate.

8...Qd7 9.h3!?

Watson refers readers to analysis by Lev Psakhis, who calls this move inaccurate.

9...Bh5 10.Re1 0–0–0 11.Qa4

I thought during the game that Nf1 was part of the purpose behind Re1, and that's the move in the line from Psakhis given by Watson.

11.b4 seems warranted. Indeed, my worst experiences with the French have been losses to this queenside pawn storm backed by White's heavy pieces.

11...g5! 12.g4?

My opponent burned eight minutes off the clock to find this error. Counterplay is a better plan: 12.b4!

12... Bxg4

12...Bg6 is accurate, safe, and gives Black the upper hand. But, attacking is fun while defending accurately often takes time. In a game/60, time is critical.

13.hxg4 Qxg4+ 14.Kf1

Nikolay had offered a draw at move nine, and now while thinking muttered draw, draw, draw, ...


Did I consider 14...Ng6--a better move? No, I wanted to keep the king on his wing. Later in the game I would change strategies and try to steer him away.

15.Ke2 Nf5+

My engine tells me that carbon lifeforms fail to comprehend this game of ours, and that 15...Bf4 presents White with more difficulties. Nikolay's clock has thirty-one minutes remaining to my forty-three.

16.Kd1 Rxe1+ 17.Kxe1 Qh3

For some reason, I failed to correctly assess my advantage after 17...Nh4! 18.Be2 Re8. Perhaps I thought the rook should remain on the h-file to support my future queen.

18.Bxf5+ Qxf5 19.Kd1 g4 20.Ne5 Bxe5 21.dxe5


Up until this point, I have had the advantage, thanks in no small part to my opponent's lack of vigor in attacking on the queenside. Now I let his queen create problems, and the advantage shifts to his side.

22.Qxg4+ Kb8 23.Qe2 Qg1+ 24.Qf1 Qg4+

I could offer a draw. However, my opponent has twelve minutes left to my twenty-eight. Moreover, I think that I can stitch my pawns back together before they start their promotion run.

25.Qf3 h5 26.Kc2 Qg6+ 27.Qd3 Nxe5


"Box," Yasser Seiriwan would say, referring to Informant code for the only move. Alas, White has restored equality. Black has compensation for the material, but no real advantage. On the other hand, White has five minutes; Black has twenty-five. Forget tactics training; learn to tell time.

28... fxg6 29.Nb3 h4 30.Bf4 Nf7 31.Rh1

White completes his development!

31...g5 32.Be3 g4 33.Nd2 Nd6 34.Bd4 Rh7 35.Nf1 Nf5 36.Ne3


The knight is a more useful piece according to the massive calculating capabilities of the chess engine. But, reasoning that bishops are more useful when pawns exist on both wings, and that the cleric likes working with the rook, I opted to remove the long-range piece from my opponent's arsenal. He has two minutes left on the clock; I have nineteen. I should have mentioned earlier that we are using my analog clock--no time delay.

37.cxd4 g3 38.Rh3 c6 39.Ng2

39.Kd3 activates White's second most powerful piece.

39...Rf7 40.Kd3 Rf3+ 41.Ne3


41...g2! and the queen should take care of things nicely. I reasoned, incorrectly, that White might set up a fortress with the knight and rook that a queen would have trouble breaking down as all the action would take place on one half of the board. However, my queen would have been waiting--and picking the last pawns from her teeth--when the knight and rook arrived. Sometimes concrete analysis is necessary, especially when I have fifteen minutes to my opponent's one.

42.Rxh4 Rxb2 43.Rh8+ Kc7 44.Rg8 Rxa2 45.Rxg3 a5 46.Kc3 b5 47.Kb3 Rf2 48.Rg7+ Kb6

Black has a real advantage. Although it is not overwhelming, a little technique should carry the day. Decisive, however, is Black's fourteen minutes to seconds remaining for White. The blunders during the finale can be attributed to the time White expended early on attempting to prove the righteousness of an inferior opening line.

49.Rg3 b4 50.Ka4 Rd2 51.Rg4 Rd3 52.Nc2 b3 53.Rg6 bxc2 54.Rxc6+ 0–1

07 December 2009

Chessmaster Software

Chessmaster frustrates me. It has some exceptional teaching and learning features, is readily available for several platforms, and is inexpensive. Yet, I cannot recommend it without qualification. It could be much better, and would be if it were designed by chess professionals rather than a gaming company.

It was my first software, and I use it still. My use of it it recent years stems mostly from the need to be able to discuss it with children that I coach.

Chessmaster has features still lacking in its competitors. These are terrific for beginning and intermediate players, and may offer some benefits chess competitors with strong skills. Chessmaster offers a battery of learning devices: Josh Waitzkin's Academy, Larry Christiansen Attacking Chess (six annotated games with the GM's voice), Larry Evans' Endgame Quiz, Nunn's Puzzles, and many dozens of "personalities" against which to play.

Tenth edition (released 2004) was so thoroughly redesigned that long time users of 9000, 8000, ... going back to the first Windows version (3000) found themselves confronted with something wholly new. I dislike the menus of the new versions as it makes accessing the database more cumbersome. Thankfully, Chessmaster ceased as my database software in 2001. Once I started using Chessbase Light and Chess Informant Reader, Chessmaster no longer had anything to offer in the study of grandmaster games. My work with databases expanded further when I bought the full version of Chessbase in 2003. Then I bought Fritz 8 and found that it integrates fully with the database software.

With Chessbase products, I move the pieces around on a single board. From there I can access other games that reached the same position and a host of engines that calculate variations. The engines can give me the best line, or the twenty best lines. Right click menus provide access to my resident database and the Chessbase online database.

If I am viewing a historic game in Chessmaster and want to expand my understanding of opening theory by looking at similar games, the process is cumbersome. First, I must go to the menu and find Edit > Copy > Forsythe Board Position. Then, go back to the main menu, which seems akin to exiting and reopening the program. Once in the database ... ? I cannot seem to use this copied information in the database. Rats. I'll just find the game in Chessbase and examine it there.

17 November 2009

Position of the Week

From private lessons in homes to school clubs, I present each chess student or group with the same problem sets, the same curriculum. I leave plenty of time for individualized work tailored to specific needs, too. But, one new lesson that I must prepare each week is my "position of the week". This position goes on the demonstration board at the start of an after school chess club, and I put it on chessboards wherever I happen to be offering chess instruction from day to day. The position may come from a recent tournament game that I watched online, or from a weekend tournament (see "Vulnerability"), or from a classic game (and a position that is in all the books), or from some of my online play.

The past several have been from my own games on Chess.com. Some are three days per move; others three minutes per game.

In the first, White made several weak moves in the opening: senseless pawn moves, and his light-squared bishop moved six times in the first thirteen moves. Black (me) sensed an opportunity.

Black to move

The second features an elementary tactic that reveals how badly the Black side of the a Closed Catalan can become with one or two subpar moves that look sensible on the surface.

White to move

Pressing the attack against a vulnerable king emerges as the theme in the next.

Black to move

If I wake before my alarm sounds, I might play some blitz online. Seven three minute games against one opponent ended at 6:00 am with this gem.

Black to move

Surprisingly, although a rook ahead, Black's position is critical. One move maintains the advantage. The second best move, according to my trusty helper--Hiarcs 12--leads to a forcing continuation in which White emerges a pawn ahead.

My opponent played a terrible move--mere seconds remained in the game.


I missed the opportunity presented by this blunder (forced checkmate in four).

26. Bxf3??

Black again has a winning position, and the best move is much easier to find than a moment ago. He erred.


Finally, I found my way, and the conclusion of the game was simple. Even so, Black's most stubborn defense, had he found it, might have called for more than my pre-coffee capabilities can muster in the early morning.

08 November 2009

Director's Woes

Yesterday, I ran a small scholastic chess tournament--the fourth annual Black Knights' Joust--with seventy-nine players in three sections (K-3, 4-6, 7-12).

As I was starting to pair the first round, a message popped up in SwissSys 8 telling me that I was running an unregistered copy. I had purchased version eight last May. The license covers one copy on my desktop computer, and one on my notebook. I received the codes from Thad Suits, developer of the software. This message at the start of the tournament revealed my oversight: I had installed SwissSys 8 on both computers, but only entered the codes in my desktop. I ran several test tournaments to familiarize myself with the changes in version 8, including several nifty new features, but failed to run these tests on the machine I use during events.

I've run more than a dozen scholastic tournaments with 70-142 players, one large state championship with over one thousand participants, and I've helped at many others. I've learned from some of the best in my state--Jon Licht, Elliott Neff, Rick Jorgensen. Even so, I always make errors. Most errors are small, insignificant, and easily concealed. I might have hid yesterday's error because I resolved it quickly. But, I answered the phone at a critical moment.

Cascading Errors

A few years ago, I plugged my computer into the wall, turned it on, and then left the TD room to set up tables, chess sets, other aspects of the venue. When I returned to my computer, it was off. The outlet was switch controlled, and dead. On battery power, my notebook was set to shut off after a certain period of idleness. That event had ninety players preregistered, and enough late entries to bring the total to one hundred forty-two. I transferred my computer to a live outlet (per my wife's command), got my assistant TD (who runs most of the area's adult tournaments) to enter the late registrants, and after some delay we were ready to pair round one. Already, we were running late when the pairings were sent to the printer.

The computer failed to find the default printer. The usual printer was connected, but ordinarily was part of a home network, and so the computer was looking for the printer in all the wrong places. It took a few minutes to cancel the print job, and switch to the printer as configured at the tournament site. However, a spooling process continued to run until--panic behind--we deciphered the problem and shut it off (thanks to Dr. John, who has more experience with SwissSys than the rest of us--he and my tremendously experienced "assistant TD" ran the pairings at last year's state tournament). Printing was slow through three rounds, and the tournament ran further behind.

We managed to finish about the time that would be normal if elementary age children used all of their available thirty minutes per game. However, kids play too fast. These scholastic events tend to run ahead of schedule, so "on-time" is considered late. My tournament announcements list start times that once seemed realistic:
Schedule: First round begins at 10:00 a.m. Check in 8:30 to 9:30. Late arrivals will forfeit first round. Rounds 2-5 at 11:15, 12:30, 2:00, 3:30, or ASAP
Winterfest Scholastic Tournament Announcement 2004
ASAP is the key. In Spokane, the children usually finish play before 3:00 pm.

We ran close to the published schedule near the end of the day, and trophies were distributed near 5:00pm. Parents were frustrated. Since that event, I've asked for 100% preregistration (and get 90-98%). I always test my printer on Friday night. I do not repeat the same errors from prior events.

Yesterday, the K-6 awards ceremony ended close to 3:00 pm. The high school/middle school players finished play just before 4:00 pm, and after clean-up I was in my vehicle ready to head home at 4:40 pm.

Courting Disaster

I find new errors to commit with each new event, and seem to be growing more inventive in how I can sabotage myself. Friday evening, my spouse and I ran through the checklist. She no longer attends these events, as she did for my first few. She did help significantly with the state tournament last spring, and complied a list of lessons learned. Our Friday night checklist did not include: "Is the pairing software registered?" It should have.

When the message of doom appeared on my screen yesterday morning, I felt a sense of terror that may have lasted fifteen seconds or three minutes. Of course, I had options: pair by hand (not in a scholastic tournament of this size if that can be avoided), recreate the tournament set-up in an older version of SwissSys (five to ten minutes delay), get the codes before round three.

I called my wife. I told her where to find the email from Thad Suits and the information in it that I would need. She set to work, so I knew two things: I would have the codes in time, and I would be buying flowers on the way home. At 10:11 am, players were seated for round one. I was beginning the meeting for players and parents only a few minutes later than normal, and my phone rang. It was my wife, so I answered.

Don Lester captured the moment and posted the photo to Facebook.

As I talked on the phone in front of more than one hundred players, parents, and coaches, my wife told me she had sent a text message with the necessary codes.

Please add mobile phone to the list of essential tournament director's equipment.

27 October 2009

Pawn Wars

In Breaking Through: How the Polgar Sisters Changed the Game of Chess (2005), Susan Polgar mentions a game she played with her father when she was starting to learn chess.
After introducing the chess board and the pieces, for some time we only played "pawn wars". That means games where only the pawns participate without the rest of the army. The goal of the game was whoever queens a pawn first wins. Then later we added the kings and playing all the way to checkmate.
Polgar, 6-7
I had found that young children enjoy what we had been calling the pawn game a few years before this book came out. After reading that passage a few years ago, I've increased my investment in pawn wars as a teaching tool. It is a central element in my private lessons with young students. In classrooms full of seven year old children, I start with pawns.

The game can be modified easily. Last spring, a kindergarten student that had been playing chess one month with his grandfather showed some promise, and his father made arrangements for me to offer some instruction. We played pawn wars with the kings. He started with eight pawns to my six--my rook pawns were missing. It took him perhaps two or three games to learn that he could lure my king to one side of the board by creating a passed pawn there, then create one on the other side that was outside my reach. After several victories, we played eight against seven.

One need not use all the pawns.

The classic Szén Position is a challenge even to strong players that still need work on the endgame. The player to move has a theoretical win, but precision is necessary to keep the win in hand.

According to David Hooper and Kenneth Whyld, The Oxford Companion to Chess (1996), the three pawn problem--a king against three connected passed pawns--had been studied for over two hundred years without success until Jószef Szén solved it in 1836.

Another variation of pawn wars that I've been using the past few weeks appears to be a theoretical draw. Remove the kings, and the player on move should win.

19 October 2009

Monday Tactics

This position originates in Stocek-Cifka, Pardubice 2008, and was published as Chess Informant 103/302. I played it against Hiarcs 12 beginning with a move given in the annotations. It required twenty-four moves and two take-backs to force the machine's resignation. Then I let the engine run for two hours. It favored the move played by Stocek, but slightly.

White to move

13 October 2009

Tactics Training

Here's a dirty little secret: I have not been doing my tactics training the past few months. Summer was busy, and the constant activity has not let up. I attempted six problems on Chess.com's Tactics Trainer this morning, failing three.

Here are two. The first originates from a correspondence game, Hayami-Rittenhouse, 1989. The second from Gheorghiu-Ljubojevic, Manila 1973.

Black to move

Black to move

10 October 2009


In round three of the Spokane Chess Club's Fall Championship, I had Black against Nikolay Bulakh. Nikolay is a rapidly improving high school player. He has been coming to chess club since last spring, and he plays on Chess.com. Although we have played a few casual games, and some blitz, this was our first rated game.

I learned after the game that he had done some preparation, looking at perhaps my best game ever--a French I played in the City Championship Match in 2008. He did not prepare for the course our game took. Indeed, I had only a general opening plan before we sat down to play: play something that puts him in unfamiliar terrain.

Bulakh,N (1479) - Stripes,J (1823) [B43]
Spokane, 2009

1.e4 e6

Everyone in Spokane plays the French. At least that's what I've heard asserted by some players from Seattle, "if you can beat the French, you'll do well in Spokane." Several of Spokane's top players have certainly developed a reputation for playing the French. Our top player, FIDE Master David Sprenkle does not like playing against it. When he came to my board during a club simul this summer, he said, "you play the French," then played 1.c4. I said, "But, I was planning to play the Sicilian!" For many years, I always replied 1...c5 to 1.e4. The past few years, 1.e4 e6 has been just as automatic. The past year, I have aimed at flexibility and choice. I favor the French, but hold the Sicilian as a possible surprise weapon.

2.d4 c5

The Franco-Benoni often catches players by surprise. I like it because 1.e4 players are often uncomfortable going into queen pawn openings. I have had some good results with the Benoni, and have been known to play the Benko on occasion, although rarely from the Franco-Benoni.

3.Nf3 cxd4 4.Nxd4

Nickolay opts for the Sicilian. I could play the Scheveningen, a solid opening choice.


But, the Taimanov is sufficiently offbeat that most club players are not well prepared with a plan.

5.Nc3 Qc7

The Kan, or Paulsen, puts most players on their own.

6.Be2 Nf6 7.0–0

We are still in mainline opening theory, at least it is a mainline if that term applies to any line found in the tables of the Encyclopedia of Chess Openings, and not yet relegated to the footnotes. My opponent has used twelve minutes getting to this position; I've used three.

Black's normal move here is 7...Bb4, which generally leads to positions described in the books as unclear. I have played it in online games, but more often have thrown out an offbeat move that first appeared in Chess Informant 63/148 in Perez-Garcia, 1995 from the Cuban Championship. This game is found in the footnotes of ECO.

7...Bc5 8.Nb3

Perez-Garcia continued 8.Be3


8...Bb4 may be better. I've used four minutes to my opponent's twenty-two. Tucked back on a7, my bishop will force my opponent to think about it for the rest of the game.

9.Kh1 h5

9...Nc6 has been played, but this move does not appear in my database. I spent five minutes considering this risky move, and decided that it gave my opponent more problems to solve than it was likely to generate for me.


10.f4! is nearly always a useful move against the Sicilian. Moreover, when a player has delayed castling, the king must be punished.

10...b5 11.Bg5

White wants to take advantage of the difficulty Black will have to castle.

11...b4 12.Bxf6 gxf6 13.Nb1

13.Na4 loses the knight.


13...Nc6 also attracted attention. I have used seventeen minutes; Nikolay spent forty-five. We've been at the board a bit over an hour, and I am hapy with my position because I think my pieces are coordinated much better than his.

14.N1d2 Nc6 15.Nc4 Ke7

I did think about 15...O-O-O, but saw no benefits to giving up the exchange. My plan is to create some tactics, possibly with a rook sacrifice, then swing the other rook over for the coup de grace. Before playing 15...Ke7, it was necessary to be certain my opponent could not wrest open the center. It seems, however, that my attack is coming faster, my pieces are better coordinated, and any action in the center can be met with superior force. I spent eight minutes thinking about this move--my longest think of the game.


It is always tempting to be ahead a pawn, but this error helps Black launch an attack against the White king. 16.Qd2 at least threatens to start a fight in the center. My opponent has used half of his allotted two hours.

16... Ne5

This move is not the computer's choice. According to my chess software, my next several moves reveal my failure to press the attack with the most precise and accurate moves.


17...Ncd2 makes Black's job more difficult.

17...Qxe5 18.Bg4 Bxe4

18...Qxe4 forces concessions in the pawn structure, and wins a piece.


19... f5

Again, Rag8 is superior to my moves.


White's string of blunders testify to the difficulty of the position in which he has found himself, perhaps due to having been lured into an unfamiliar opening. At least, I am tempted to give myself credit for creative transpositions.

20... fxg4!

It took me two or three minutes to realize there was no reason to move the queen.

21.Qxb4+ d6 22.Kh2 g3+ 23.Kxg3 Qg7+ 24.Kh2 Qxg2# 0–1

09 October 2009

Many are Stronger

US Chess Federation Washington State Rankings


05 October 2009


Every Wednesday afternoon during the school year, I have an appointment with a group of elementary age children. I run their after school chess club. Each club meeting begins with a problem on the demo board, where we will gather and talk chess for five minutes, usually, but sometimes longer. Then they play chess with each other, ending the one hour session with another problem or lesson on the board.

The second lesson gives their parents a chance to come into the library where we meet, and I get to talk with them too. Some like to learn a few chess skills, but the purpose is to talk about sportsmanship, appropriate and inappropriate behaviors at tournaments, and other things that parents and competitive chess playing children need to know.

I build my lessons before and after the playing time around themes. Last year, I stressed mobility. Many of the lessons--not all--were designed to teach the opening principle usually termed development. That word development is a little abstract for second graders. Some get it; some don't. When chess players use the term development, they often mean mobilization, or improving the mobility of one's army. I find that there are concrete ways of illustrating mobility so that second graders can understand the concept. For example, set each piece on a center square of an empty board and count the legal moves. Set the same piece on the edge and count again. This exercise, it seems to me, is better than a point system for teaching why the rook is better than the bishop or the knight, and why the knight and bishop seem close in value despite their clear differences. It also helps players understand why minor pieces should be deployed to the center.

This fall, my theme is vulnerability. We are looking at checkmate threats, pieces that are en prise, the reasons one should castle, and so on.

This week's lesson will include an endgame that I watched yesterday at the Eastern Washington Open.

White to move

This position was reached in Kirlin - Baker during round five. Pat Kirlin is my age, and we first played each other in high school. Ted Baker is a couple of years older than we are, and has been active in the Spokane Chess Club seven or eight years. He beat me on Saturday.

White has an advantage, but Black has threats. The White king is vulnerable. If Kirlin had taken precautions to guard his king and remove his threats, he would have had good winning chances.

He played 1.b3?

Now, White should draw.


Alas, Kirlin blundered with 2.Kf1?? and resigned after Black's next move. Ted had a good tournament.

04 October 2009

Mate Threats

I lost yesterday. My participation in the Eastern Washington Open is cut short this year to facilitate a college visit to my alma mater for two high school seniors--son and nephew. Yesterday, I played only round two. Today, I'm playing the last two rounds, but will not be paired against the strong players I long to play in these events. And this year's Eastern Washington Open is among the strongest in recent memory.

My pairings will be against weaker players because yesterday I lost to a C player--an improving middle-aged friend who has given me plenty of scares the past few years, and finally achieved a deserved win.

As my position was in its final stages of deterioration, I gave up another piece to expose his king. Had he panicked, I might have gotten a string of checks--though I didn't think I had a perpetual or any other chance of repeating the position. I had nothing else. My sacrifice gave him a powerful passed pawn. So, we reached this position.

White to move

I was prepared to resign if my opponent played 36.Rxf8 in light of the checkmate threats. Instead, Ted played 36.b8Q and I played on a couple moves more.

This morning, I sought solace in a few online blitz games. Again I am losing badly.

White to move

My opponent played 32.Qxc8??

This move threw away the win. Why?

29 September 2009

Dodging a Bullet

The Fall Club Championship for the Spokane Chess Club began last Thursday. It continues through five Thursdays, plus one week for make-up games. I have never won a club championship, but am the second seed. Last January, I started the Winter Championship as the top rated player, but a late entrant put me at number two. We tied with 2 1/2 each and a C class player that beat me in round one won the event.

In USCF rated play, I've lost four games in 2009. Two were in the last club championship. I should have lost my fifth last Thursday, but my opponent missed several knockout blows, then let me have the advantage.

Stripes,J (1836) - Blue,A (1448) [A09]
Fall Club Championship, Spokane 2009

1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 d4 3.g3 c5 4.Bg2 Nc6 5.d3 e5 6.Na3


6...Be7 7.Rb1N

7.Nc2 h6 8.Bd2 Nf6 9.a3 a5 10.0–0 0–0 11.Rb1 Bf5 12.b4 axb4 13.axb4 e4 14.Nh4 Bh7 15.bxc5 g5 16.Rxb7 Kg7 17.Qc1 Ng8 18.dxe4 gxh4 19.Qb2 Bf6 20.Qb5 Ne5 21.Nb4 Ra5 22.Qb6 Nxc4 23.Qxd8 Bxd8 24.Bf4 Rxc5 25.Rc1 Be7 26.Nd5 h3 27.Bxh3 Bxe4 28.Rxe7 Bxd5 29.Be5+ Kg6 30.Rd7 Nxe5 31.Rd6+ Kg7 32.Rxc5 ½–½ Capece,A-Ranieri,F Bratto ITA, 2006

7...f5 8.0–0 Nf6 9.Nc2 0–0 10.a3 Nh5 11.b4 f4 12.b5 Qb6 13.Bd2 Nd8 14.Nxe5 fxg3 15.fxg3 Qd6 16.Nf3 Bg4 17.e4 Nf7 18.Qc1 Ne5 19.Nxe5 Qxe5 20.Bf4 Nxf4 21.gxf4 Qf6 22.Qd2 Qh6 23.Ne1 Bd6

Will f4 fall?

24.e5 Bxe5 25.Bd5+ Kh8

And only now I see that Qg2 does not win a bishop due to Bh3.

26.Ng2 Bh3 27.Rb2 Bxg2 28.Qxg2 Bxf4

White has problems, but they are not yet fatal.


29.Re2 Bd6
a) 29...Bxh2+ 30.Qxh2 Qg6+ 31.Qg2;
b) 29...Rab8 30.Kh1 b6; 30.Ref2
(30.Rxf8+ Rxf8 31.Kh1 Qh4 32.Bxb7 g5 33.Bd5 g4 34.Qg1 g3 35.Rg2 Bf4 36.Qe1 Qh3 37.Qe7 Qh6 38.Qe6 Qh4)
30...Rxf2 31.Rxf2 Re8


29...Bxh2 30.Rxf8+ Rxf8 31.Qxh2 Qc1+ 32.Kg2 Qxb2+


30.Rbf2 b6 31.Qg4


30...Bxh2 31.Rxf8+ Rxf8 32.Qxh2 Qc1+ 33.Kg2 Qxb2+


31.Qc6 Qh5 32.Rbf2=

31...g5 32.Rbf2 Rh3–+ 33.Qg1?

33.Bd5 Rxd3 34.Rf3 Rxf3 35.Bxf3 d3–+


33...g4 34.Rg2 g3–+


34.Re1 Bg3 35.Qxg3 Rxg3 36.Rxf6 Qxf6 37.hxg3–+


34...Bxh2 35.Qg4 Bd6+ 36.Kg2 Rhf3 37.Qc8+ Rf8 38.Qxf8+ Rxf8 39.Rxf8+ Bxf8–+

35.Rg2= Rxg2 36.Qxg2


The game is turning my way.
36...Qh4 37.Qe2 Rf8 38.a4=

37.Qe2 Be3??

And it has fully turned.

38.Qg4+- Rf6

38...Bf4 39.Qc8+ Kg7 40.Qg8+ Kf6 41.Qf7+ Ke5 42.Re1+ Be3 43.Qe7+ Kf5 44.Qe4+ Kf6 45.Rf1+ Bf4 46.Qe6+ Kg7 47.Qf7+ Kh8+-


Black must lose material and face a hopeless finish, or ...

39...Kg7 40.Qg8# 1–0

Alton scores his share of upsets, and upsets are the norm in our club championships. Lucky for me that he missed some opportunities.

20 September 2009

Keres Attack Thematic Update

In early August, I mentioned in "Intimidation" that I had joined a thematic tournament featuring the Keres Attack. My first round ended this morning with the resignation of one of my opponents. The tournament has sixty-four players, and we are placed into sixteen quads. The members of each group play each of the others in the group two games, one as White and one as Black. I swept my group with a little luck, and I and the player that gave me the most difficulty advance to the next round.

Teamsheets made a few moves in one game, none in the other, and lost both games by timeout. Nevertheless, he managed to take a point from my nearest rival, PhattyNugget. Newt27 played with spirit, but offered me no real resistance.

Both my games with PhattyNugget could well have been losses. I had White in the first, which quickly went down some uncharted paths.

Ziryab (2074) - PhattyNugget (1728) [B81]
Sicilian Defense: Scheveningen Variation, Chess.com (1), 08.08.2009

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.g4 Nc6 7.g5 Nd7 8.Be3 g6 9.Nxc6 bxc6 10.Qd4 e5 11.Qa4 Bb7 12.Bc4 Nb6 13.Bxb6 axb6 14.Qb3 Qc7 15.0–0–0 Bg7 16.h4 h5

White to move

I was oblivious to the presence of a nice tactic from this position.

Then, my position grew steadily worse as I found few opportunities, but Black was able to expand. Finally, an error by my opponent put us into an period of maneuvering our heavy pieces where I had a bishop against his three connected passed pawns. Objectively, it may have been drawn, but I was able to swindle a win.

More later.

13 September 2009

Alan Turing

Alan Turing is known to chess players for advocating games, chess in particular, as testing ground for efforts to develop machine intelligence, or AI (artificial intelligence). As early as 1944, Turing began developing move analysis algorithms that would be useful in teaching a machine to play chess.
Around 1947-1948 [Turing] and D.C. Champernowne devised a one move analyzer called the TUROCHAMP and at the same time Donald Michie and S. Wylie designed a rival analyzer named MACHIAVELLI. ... These analyzers permitted their creators to simulate the play of a computer that was searching to a depth of 1 ply. They simply hand-calculated the scores of all positions as a depth of 1 and then made the move leading to the one with the highest score.
David Levy and Monty Newborn, How Computers Play Chess (1991), 32
Alan Turing was one of the founders of computer science, one of the pioneers of computer chess, and is perhaps best known as the leading British mathematician on the team that cracked Nazi Germany's Enigma code during World War II. In 1952, Turing was charged with gross indecency because after confessing a homosexual relationship. He was given a choice between imprisonment and chemical castration. He chose the latter; two years later he committed suicide.

Last Thursday, Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued a formal posthumous apology to Turing.*

This has been a year of deep reflection – a chance for Britain, as a nation, to commemorate the profound debts we owe to those who came before. A unique combination of anniversaries and events have stirred in us that sense of pride and gratitude that characterise the British experience. Earlier this year, I stood with Presidents Sarkozy and Obama to honour the service and the sacrifice of the heroes who stormed the beaches of Normandy 65 years ago. And just last week, we marked the 70 years which have passed since the British government declared its willingness to take up arms against fascism and declared the outbreak of the Second World War.

So I am both pleased and proud that, thanks to a coalition of computer scientists, historians and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) activists, we have this year a chance to mark and celebrate another contribution to Britain's fight against the darkness of dictatorship: that of code-breaker Alan Turing.

Turing was a quite brilliant mathematician, most famous for his work on breaking the German Enigma codes. It is no exaggeration to say that, without his outstanding contribution, the history of the Second World War could have been very different. He truly was one of those individuals we can point to whose unique contribution helped to turn the tide of war. The debt of gratitude he is owed makes it all the more horrifying, therefore, that he was treated so inhumanely.

In 1952, he was convicted of "gross indecency" – in effect, tried for being gay. His sentence – and he was faced with the miserable choice of this or prison – was chemical castration by a series of injections of female hormones. He took his own life just two years later.

Thousands of people have come together to demand justice for Alan Turing and recognition of the appalling way he was treated. While Turing was dealt with under the law of the time, and we can't put the clock back, his treatment was of course utterly unfair, and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him. Alan and the many thousands of other gay men who were convicted, as he was convicted, under homophobic laws, were treated terribly. Over the years, millions more lived in fear in conviction. I am proud that those days are gone and that in the past 12 years this Government has done so much to make life fairer and more equal for our LGBT community. This recognition of Alan's status as one of Britain's most famous victims of homophobia is another step towards equality, and long overdue.

But even more than that, Alan deserves recognition for his contribution to humankind. For those of us born after 1945, into a Europe which is united, democratic and at peace, it is hard to imagine that our continent was once the theatre of mankind's darkest hour. It is difficult to believe that in living memory, people could become so consumed by hate – by anti-Semitism, by homophobia, by xenophobia and other murderous prejudices – that the gas chambers and crematoria became a piece of the European landscape as surely as the galleries and universities and concert halls which had marked out the European civilisation for hundreds of years.

It is thanks to men and women who were totally committed to fighting fascism, people like Alan Turing, that the horrors of the Holocaust and of total war are part of Europe's history and not Europe's present. So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan's work, I am very proud to say: we're sorry. You deserved so much better.

"I'm Proud to Say Sorry to a Real War Hero," Telegraph

*Hat tip to Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars for bringing this apology to my notice.

19 August 2009

Create Training Exercises

To have Fritz (or Hiarcs, Junior, or other ChessBase engine) analyze a batch of games, first highlight in the database view the games you want analyzed.

Then from the menu at the top, go: Tools >> Analysis >> Full Analysis.

This brings up a window such as you see in the image.

If you want the engine to create training exercises, make certain the box "Training" (see red arrow) is checked.

You can see on the right side of the image above the black portion some tags that Fritz adds to annotated games. You may need to click on the igae to see all of it. Those with the small t have training exercises. In this batch, that's close to half of the games. Fritz will not create exercises for every game, and it may create several in some games.