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Encyclopedia of Middlegames III
keywords: Middlegames, Plans, Tutorial
Robert Pawlak
Thursday, June 24, 2004

One of the issues that confronted me when reviewing this CD, was the issue of where it fit in with the rest of Convekta's tutorial and opening programs. It turns out that there are certain elements in common with the newer opening CDs, which do talk about typical plans, and tutorial CDs like Strategy. But unlike the opening CDs, there is no presentation of what one might call "Theory". There is, however, quite a bit of discussion of typical plans and methods for a wide variety of openings.

[variations]Like the tutorials, this CD has three modes of operation: Study, Practice, and Test. In study mode, you go through carefully annotated examples that illustrate typical plans and methods for a wide variety of openings (see this link for a screen shot) . In this case, the openings covered are: Petrov's defense, Sicilian, Ruy Lopez, Scandinavian defense, Gruenfeld defense, Queen's Gambit Accepted, Queen's Pawn with 3... Bg5 (Petrosian's idea), Reti, and King's Indian Attack. I've included a screen shot (right) to show you which variations are covered.

On the CD, there are:

Practice mode allows you to go through the quiz positions on the CD, and an ELO estimate is kept, based on your success/failure in the different exercises. The benefit of practice mode is that it allows you to easily go through the quiz positions in sequential fashion. The program remembers which exercise you did last, and allows you to easily move through the material. In the screen shot below, you can see an example from the Queen's pawn section. Incidentally, this is one of the easier exercises on the CD, so it should give you an idea of what to expect. Many of the exercises will be much harder than the one I've shown (note that the answer is visible, it is only shown when an exercise is completed).

Test mode is a little different, in that it allows you to test yourself on a single opening variation, or all of them at once. It also allows you to go through the exercises in random order, with the option to do only those exercises that you missed previously, the unsolved ones, or all exercises.

[test parameters]

In both test and practice mode, visual hints are given when the user misses the correct move. Also, like the other tutorials, multiple users are supported (with statistics kept for each user), and a great deal of statistical data is kept, so that you can learn where you need to concentrate your studies. The screen shot below is actually from the Strategy CD, but it should give you an idea of what to expect with Middlegames III (I haven't gotten through enough of the exercises on the latter yet).


And finally, there is a playing mode, where you can play out positions against the built in chess engine (Crafty). After you're done playing, you can export the game in PGN format, for analysis by a program like Chess Assistant.

This CD is most useful for intermediate students that already have an opening repertoire, but are looking for a concise tutorial on the main ideas for the particular variations I showed earlier. Of course, this CD is very similar to the earlier ones in the series, and is complementary to them.

For more information, look at this link. Copy protection consists of occasional refueling (must insert CD every once in a while).

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