Knight Keystor

A record of my journey of chess improvement.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

PCT 2007 Mini-Review (Updated)

I was going to wait until I had completed Tactics Modules 1-3 before doing the review, but after completing a little over half of Module 1 I think that I have enough information to do it justice. I can confidently say that Personal Chess Trainer 2007 (a.k.a. PCT 3.0) has a fairly substantial number of corrections, revisions, updates, and extensions to the problem set presented in PCT 2.0 as well as some completely new problems.

To expand a bit on that, I have run across a few problems so far in Module 1 that used to be in Module 2, meaning that they have re-arranged the problem set in some places. I'm assuming that this is to improve upon the progression of difficulty. There have been a few revisions and updates where problems have been changed (slightly in some cases, more drastically in others.) There have been extensions...for example there was a problem that used to be a two-mover in PCT 2.0 that ended one move before mate (the mating move is largely obvious) that has now been extended to include the mating move. Finally, I have run into problems that start the same as those in PCT 2.0, but follow up with a different reply from the opponent. In one case (problem 389) it was changed from a mate-in-three in PCT 2.0 to a mate-in-six here...same problem, but more difficult reply/variation. UPDATE -- After finishing Module 1, I can add that (perhaps best of all) it seems that the few problems that I was never able to completely "understand" or that just didn't seem to make sense (even after studying them extensively with Fritz, variations and all) have been revised to make them and their associated solutions much more clear and less ambiguous.

In addition to the changes to the problems and problem sets, the interface has been fairly heavily updated. It's a nice looking change in my opinion. Probably the two largest functional differences are the integration of the crafty engine and the ability to traverse back through the problems that have already been completed. Previously, once a problem was finished, you could not back up to it without re-doing the unit. A very nice update...

Finally, two new sets of Modules have been added: Openings and Commented Endgames. The Openings Modules seem somewhat offbeat, offering King's Gambit, Queen's Gambit, English Opening, and Larsen's Opening. The Commented Endgames include modules on Elementary Checkmates, Pawns, Minor Pieces, Rook, and Pieces vs. Pieces.

All-in-all, it seems to me that Personal Chess Trainer 3.0 is a worthwhile upgrade for owners of previous versions and highly recommended for those who've never tried it. At the very least, run over to the PCT website and give the free trial version a go.


Blogger Cratercat said...

Nice review Ron. Yeah, I downloaded the trial version and pretty much liked it, but I agree that the openings component definitely felt patchy and incomplete. Do you use any endgame drill exercise software you'd recommend? I have the Mueller DVD too, but really want something comparable to CT-art exclusively for endgame training. -CC

4/11/2007 4:04 PM  
Blogger Ron said...

Hi cratercat,

I don't currently have any endgame drill software, but the one that I have on my wishlist is "Chess Endgame Training" from Convekta. Of the three that are offered by Convekta, I think that one is the most like "a CT-ART for endgames."


4/11/2007 4:27 PM  
Blogger Cratercat said...

Thanks for the suggestion. I just happened to download Convekta's trial version of CET early this morning, and even though there are only about 10 or so drills it will allow one to complete with the sample version, I definitely liked it and agree that it had the same CT-art feel. At first glance, I thought I wanted Convekta's Comp. Chess Endings, but later found on their site that the positions are all theoretical.

4/11/2007 7:19 PM  
Blogger Pale Morning Dun - Errant Knight de la Maza said...

When you upgraded, did you lose the progress from your version 2.0? I'm thinking of the upgrade, but don't want to lose my progress and have to start all over.

4/11/2007 9:36 PM  
Blogger Ron said...

cratercat - Glad to hear it...I tend to stay away from the theoretical material as well. I think there's more benefit in practical exercises from real games.

pale morning dun - That's a good question and something that I should add to the review. Version 3.0 installs in a new folder leaving 2.0 intact, but does not bring over any of the user data/progress from version 2.0. I haven't tried it yet, but I'm guessing that you can probably copy the progress files from your user folder to the new version. I'll give it a try a little later and post the results.

4/12/2007 7:51 AM  
Blogger Cratercat said...

So Ron, you have a lot of familiarity with Convekta software, and I'm wondering if you might know how to fix a CT-art bug I seem to have. I'd been using CT-art all along just fine until recently, when all the sudden whenever the computer makes a move, it happens very slow, regardless of whatever animation speed I set it at under options. I even deleted CT-art and reinstalled it hoping it would fix it, but no. I noticed in a blog going back to 2005 from J'adoube he mentions that having windows media player open while doing CT-art fixes the move speed. Although I tried this solution, and it actually works, this seems rather ridiculous that everytime I want to use CT-art I also have to open up windows media player. Any advice/suggestions how I might be able to fix this bug?

4/12/2007 10:00 AM  
Blogger Ron said...

Hey cratercat,
Unfortunately, that is probably one of the biggest annoyances with almost all convekta software (not just CT-ART.) I have searched and searched and searched some more for a patch or permanent solution for this problem but have never come across one.

The windows media player trick works as does just about anything that chews up CPU time...for example opening up Fritz and turning on infinite analysis while using Convekta software also seems to "fix" the problem.

Unfortunately, other than these workarounds, I can't offer you a solution. It's a widespread enough issue (just search google for convekta slow or ct-art slow) that you would think convekta would want to do something about it, but the complaints seem to fall on deaf ears.

Sorry I can't be of more help,

4/12/2007 10:29 AM  
Blogger Cratercat said...

Ahhh, ok, so this has been a widespread nagging problem for awhile. Well it's good to know that I have options; I'd rather have Fritz up and doing something with that versus an idle WMPlayer. Hopefully Convekta will address this at some point in the near future. Thanks again Ron. -CC

4/12/2007 12:20 PM  
Blogger Ron said...


Glad to help. I agree that I'd rather have Fritz doing something useful than WMP doing nothing...I usually have it doing position analysis on a recent game or something. Unfortunately, I've kind of given up hope of Convekta ever addressing the issue. :(


4/12/2007 1:36 PM  

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