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ChessOK.com » Dadi Jonsson’s article on CT-ART: Mating Combinations
Dadi Jonsson’s article on CT-ART: Mating Combinations 01 March 2011

CT-ART: Mating Combinations is a new training course. The “CT-ART” label indicates that it is a tactics training course, but more importantly that it is of the same quality class as the original and popular CT-ART. The author of this new training course is Victor Khenkin, an experienced and respected chess coach.

As all new training courses, Mating Combinations runs in the Peshka interface as shown in the following graphic.

Mating Combinations includes 1,200 instructive examples. They are divided into fourteen themes, with each theme illustrating mating combinations where certain pieces (e.g., rooks) play the main role in the combinations. Furthermore, there are 700 exercises to solve.
The Pehska interface can keep track of several players. Each player’s performance is recorded and the statistics are available for viewing. This makes the program ideal for use by friends and families, allowing different players to compare their results.

Getting Started With Peshka

Peshka has changed quite a bit since it was first released, and this includes the way you purchase, activate, download, and install new courses. Therefore, I will describe these preliminary steps for those new Peshka users who have bought their first training course online and need to download and install Peshka and the new training course. I am using Mating Combinations as an example, but the process is the same for all Peshka courses.

If you have already installed Peshka (steps one and two below), and registered your ChessOK account (step three), you can go straight to activating your new training course.

Step One Download Peshka. The latest version of the installation program for Peshka can be downloaded from the ChessCafe.com chess shop. Save the file to your hard disk.

If you bought a Peshka-based program on DVD, the installation process launches automatically after you insert the DVD disk into the drive. Or you can open the DVD folder containing PeshkaSetup.exe and run it manually.

Step Two Install Peshka. Go to the directory where you saved the installation program (in step one) and double-click PeshkaSetup to start the installation.

Before the installation begins you may get a screen asking if you want to run this program.

Click the Run button and the installation program will start by displaying the welcome screen, depending on the User Account Control settings on your computer you may be required to enter a password first.

Click the Next button.

Here you decide where Peshka will be installed. You can accept the default directory or change it. After that, click the Next button to display the following screen.

This is the final screen before the program installs Peshka on your computer. The only decision you had to make was where to install Peshka and here you can review your choice. If you want to change the directory, click the Back button. Otherwise click Install to continue.

Now the setup program starts the actual installation. This screen shows the current task along with a progress bar that displays the overall progress. The installation can take anywhere from a few seconds to a couple of minutes depending on the speed of your computer. When the installation is finished, the setup program displays the final screen.

Make sure that “Run Peshka when finished” is selected. Click the Finish button and Peshka will be launched.

Step Three Register. The next step is to create an account on chessok.com so you can activate and download training courses. When Peshka is launched for the first time, you may get a reminder that you need to create an account and you will be taken directly to the Peshka Wizard. Otherwise, select the Tools tab and then click the Wizard button, as highlighted in the image below.

The Peshka Wizard will be brought up.

The text in the upper left corner shows if you are logged in or not. Since you haven’t registered yet, it shows that you are not logged in. You cannot activate, download, or update courses or view the course catalog unless you are logged in. There are several buttons along the left side of the window. Click the Profile button, which the arrow points to in the image above.

Three new buttons will be displayed. The first one is for logging into the ChessOK server, the second one offers help if you have lost your password, and the third one is for registering a new account on the server. Click the Register New User button. The registration form will be displayed.

Here you must enter the following information:
Login is the username you want to use when activating training courses.

Password is also required. The password must be at least six characters long.

Confirm password. Here you must enter the password again. It must be spelled exactly as the one you entered in the Password field.

Valid e-mail. You must enter your email account here. This is important in case you lose your password.

After filling out the form, click Register to complete the registration. The server will send a registration confirmation to your email account and you will be automatically logged into the ChessOK server account. Make sure that you store your login information in a safe place in case you need it later.

After a successful registration, your screen should look something like this:

The login status in the upper left corner shows that you are logged in. The online status in the lower right corner shows that you are online, i.e, connected to the ChessOK server. Clicking the online indicator toggles the online status.

Having logged in successfully and being online, all the buttons on the left hand side are now active. If you switch to offline mode (by clicking the online indicator in the lower right corner), all the buttons will be grayed out except for Back to Training and Show Course List.

Of course, you only need to perform the steps described above when you first install and register Peshka. After that it’s a simple matter to activate your training courses.

Step Four Activate and download your training course.

Assuming that you have already bought CT-ART: Mating Combinations, you can now activate and download the course. Click Activate Courses in the Wizard to display the Link Activation dialog box.

Shortly after purchasing the course online, you received an email with an activation link. It begins with “crsa://” followed by a string of characters. Paste your activation link into the Link field. It should look something like the screen-shot above, although your code will, of course, be different, as the activation link above is only an example.

After a successful activation, you will be taken to the Course List and the newly activated course will be highlighted.

Here you can see that CT-ART: Mating Combinations is highlighted. When you double click the course, it will be opened in Peshka and you can begin training!

Peshka Enhanced With iBooks

The iBook concept was introduced in one of the free updates to Aquarium 3. The purpose of iBooks (or interactive chess books) is to allow authors to write about chess in such a way that the reader or student enjoys the most benefits. The author is no longer restricted by the linear flow of the chess game and can structure the text as he wishes. Even the order of the chapters can be rearranged at any time. Diagrams (full or partial) and images can be added.
Now the iBook technology has been incorporated into Peshka and Mating Combinations is the first course to use it.

This means that Peshka now offers four methods for studying and learning, as illustrated with this screen-shot of the Peshka Ribbon:

  • Learn (theory): In this mode a new topic is introduced via a narrative and examples that the user can play through on the screen. When available, this should be your starting point for each new topic. This option is superseded by the more flexible iBook approach.
  • Learn (practice): When you select this mode you are given exercises to solve from the selected topic. The program keeps track of your practice results. In iBook based courses, this is the only function of the Learn button.
  • Play: In this mode you can play against the built-in chess engine, from any position on the board.
  • Test: Here you can select various test parameters. The program keeps track of your test performance.
  • iBook: This new button switches to iBook view. If the course has no iBook content, it is grayed out. If the course is presented as an iBook, this is your starting point. Typically, instead of dry variations, an iBook will contain explanations, verbal commentary, and generally read like a printed chess book.

The Learn, Play and Test modes have been described in a previous ChessOK Cafe column and will not be covered here.

From the reader’s perspective, the main difference between an iBook and a printed book is that it is interactive and the diagrams and moves can be clicked to display the corresponding position on the board, as illustrated below.

The notation from the iBook will also be transferred automatically to the notation window as you click the moves. Once the moves are in the notation, you can browse them, add your own variations (although they are not stored), play any position against a chess engine, etc.

Transfer the Current Position to Aquarium

One recent Peshka enhancement allows you to transfer the notation to Aquarium 4, where you can use all of Aquarium’s analysis and annotation features.

When you want to transfer the game to Aquarium, switch to the Help tab and click the Aquarium button highlighted in the image above.

Dockable Windows

Another recently introduced Peshka feature is dockable windows. This means that you can rearrange the windows (iBook, board, notation, navigator) as you like. This windowing system also comes from Aquarium. For more information, see Managing Windows in the Aquarium Tiki.

Mating Combinations

Most of what I have written above applies generally to all training courses in the latest version of Peshka, except that the iBook concept was first introduced with Mating Combinations. In the following I will focus on this new course.

The Navigator window helps guide you through the course and lists all the different sections. Mating Combinations has fourteen sections, as shown in the following screen-shot.

The contents are split into chapters, based on the key pieces in the attack. Within each chapter the author discusses various themes, each one illustrated with a series of examples that help the student understand and memorize. As an example, the following checkmate patterns are discussed halfway into Chapter Eleven,The Bishop and the Knight.

The practical application of this pattern is shown with several examples, starting with the following one.

White can’t capture the queen after 1…Qa4, as 2.Nxa4 Na2 leads to one of the
checkmate patterns illustrated above. The author covers the classics of chess history, as well as giving many little known examples. Here is one of the classics, Bernstein – Capablanca (1914), taken from Chapter One, The Rook.

All aspiring chess players who have tried to find the win on their own admire Capablanca’s combination and in particular the beauty of the final move, 3…Qb2!.

The final example shows a simple combination leading directly to checkmate. It is taken from Chapter Twelve, The Queen and the Bishop. Most experienced players have encountered similar combinations in their games, but studying practical examples such as this will help lower-rated players improve their game.

Conclusion

CT-ART: Mating Combinations is aimed at the improving player who needs to work on his tactics. It is not a general tactics course (like the original CTART). It focuses on mating combinations, as the name indicates. The training course has extensive explanations and reads like a printed book, but it has the advantage of being interactive. Clicking a diagram in the text sets up the position in the board window and clicking a move transfers the variation up to that point to the notation window. This allows you to quickly play through the
variations and even add your own analysis.

In Learn mode you are given exercises to solve and in Test mode you can test your knowledge with Peshka keeping track of your test performance. You can monitor your progress and Peshka can even keep track of several different players who can compare their results.

Intermediate and club players will benefit the most from studying CT-ART: Mating Combinations, while stronger players can use the Learn and Test modes for speed training. Beginners might first benefit from Chess Tactics for Beginners before progressing to Mating Combinations.

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