by admin on May 31, 2020

Thanks to Cathy Perlmutter for the groovy face mask!

There will be a short-lived pause (which you won’t even notice) in this blog as I de-chessify. The reason is that I’ve gotten entirely too much sucked into playing against Fritz on my computer. My wife finally said enough is enough, and took away my laptop for a week!

Let me hasten to add that I totally, one hundred percent agree with her. I had made a resolution a month or so ago to play at most two games a day, but on Friday afternoon as I was playing my tenth or twentieth game of the day, with dishes that needed washing and work that needed to be done, she finally came to me and said, “Stop.” I was in the middle of a game and said, “No, no, no!” and tried to keep her from closing the computer. Then I realized that I sounded exactly like an addict and that it really was time to step away.

A few days earlier I had completed a 100-game match against Fritz, and here were my results.

A whoooole lot of wasted time.

Some annotations: All games were played at a 40/10 time control, and all with Fritz’s rating set at 2025. (The highest setting is 2488.) I won 47, lost 40, and drew 13. I got off to a great start, with 6 wins and 2 draws in 8 games, but for the remaining 92 games we were essentially even (41 wins, 40 losses, 11 draws). Fritz considers your rating for the first 10 games to be “provisional,” which is why it says that my best rating occurred after game 11 even though I had been higher before. I then hit a four-game losing streak. I really thought and hoped that I could get back above 2100, but a bad run from game 86 to 96 killed that hope.

At a rating of 2025, Fritz’s opening repertoire is extremely predictable. Every game where I was White started 1. e4 d5 2. ed Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qe6+ 4. Be2. Not only are its openings predictable, they’re bad. It is very fond of pawn sacrifices with little to no compensation, such as 1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 Bf5 4. e4? What the frak? No wonder it’s always busted after 10 moves.

In the average game, after 10 moves, my advantage according to Fritz was +1.28 pawns. In other words, it knew its own openings were bad. After 20 moves, my average advantage was up to +1.78 pawns. But then I would start hanging pieces and missing tactical shots, so that after 30 moves the average evaluation was only +0.91 pawns in my favor, and it kept going downhill from there.

I don’t know if it was the programmers’ intention to do this or not, but it was very frustrating to get all these great positions and then (half the time) not win them. It also is not a great way of training for real chess, where you aren’t going to get winning positions out of the opening in most games.

I’ve since played with Fritz at its higher ratings (including the top rating, 2488), and I can say that it does play a greater variety of openings and they are better than the variations it plays at a 2025 level. But it still does not play the variations you expect humans to play. No Sicilians (the most popular defense for humans against 1. e4). Very few Frenches, no Caro-Kanns, still quite a few Scandinavians (not that stupid … Qe6+ line any more), and a lot of Nimzovich 1. e4 Nc6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5, which I regret to say I don’t know how to play for an advantage with White.

Okay, that’s enough about my Fritz obsession. I know you want to know about my chess mask! It was made by Cathy Perlmutter, a quilting friend of mine, who found this chess fabric and wanted to make me one. It’s super special because for the first month she made her masks with an inner layer of a brand of polypropylene called OLY-Fun. Polypropylene is also the active layer in an N-95 mask, so this is the good stuff. Unfortunately, all the OLY-Fun in America is gone now. It was made in China, and the supply chain is broken. But especially for me she used one of her last pieces of OLY-Fun to make this mask. I hope she didn’t have to do anything illegal to get it!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Roman Parparov May 31, 2020 at 2:11 pm

Khalifman recommends not to overthink with Nimzovich and play 2. Nf3.


admin May 31, 2020 at 2:21 pm

I’ll try it… when my wife gives me my laptop back!


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: