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Total Chess Training II review
keywords: tactics, training, coach, exercises, endgame, middlegame
Robert Pawlak
Sunday, April 03, 2005

It’s a well-recognized fact that diagram-based training is a key part of chess improvement. Indeed, all Convekta training software uses this effective method for both imparting chess knowledge and improving technique, calculation and tactical ability. In all these programs, the user is given a number of chances to find the correct move. The number of guesses allowed, and the type of help given is generally a function of the difficulty of the problem. Convekta employs things like colored squares, board annotations, and the like to provide hints when needed (thus making many of the programs usable for people that do not speak one of the supported languages). Annotated game fragments are also used when needed, to show important concepts.

All the programs support multiple users, and very detailed records are kept for each. There is a nice bar graph that shows your success as a function of a tactical or positional theme. This makes it easy to quantify and target weaknesses in your own play. You can also select the types of exercises that you want to solve by theme, or based on whether you missed them previously. So by combining these elements, you can isolate your weak areas and work on them. A moving average of your estimated ELO is also tracked for each program. While possibly not accurate in the absolute sense, it is useful for showing relative improvement over time.

This is a collection definitely intended for stronger players. My feeling is that a ~1700 rated player that wants to improve probably has enough chess knowledge to make the training exercises meaningful. However, the collection is not well suited for those that have not mastered basic tactics or middlegame techniques. For this, Convekta has programs like Chess Tactics for Beginners, and Chess School 2. Players that have gone beyond the level of those two programs should then be ready to take on Total Chess Training I, and maybe portions of Total Chess Training II.

Program # Quiz positions # Additional example and playing positions Significant text instruction? Suitable for? Areas of game addressed
Encyclopedia of Middlegame, Vol. II ~600 ~700 Yes Intermediate-Advanced Middlegame, plans, devices, tactics
Chess Tactics for intermediate players ~1200 0 No Intermediate-Advanced Tactics, includes a number of study positions too.
Mate Studies ~5000 0 No Intermediate-Advanced Tactics, studies
Theory and Practice of Chess Endings ~500 ~700 Yes Intermediate-Advanced Endgame, tactics, studies
Chess Endgame Training ~2450 0 No Intermediate-Advanced Endgame, tactics, studies

Note that in the above table, hyperlinks are provided to individual reviews of the component programs. You can also find reviews of the remaining programs in this bundle at www.chessreviews.com.

Of the programs on this CD, “Theory and Practice of Chess Endings” and “Encyclopedia of Chess Middlegames II” both have an appreciable amount of written explanation of important concepts. In addition to the diagram training mentioned above, many of the programs on this CD also have a number of annotated game fragments and positions to help explain important concepts (see the table  for more details).

My two favorite programs in this collection would have to be Mate Studies and Chess Endgame training. Both of these programs are very good at improving both visualization and creativity. In fact, I do not think there is any other program currently available that is similar to Mate Studies in content.

All total, there are over 11000 training exercises on this CD. Most chess players probably won’t get through this many exercises in their lifetime. I’ve had many of these programs for two years or more, and I have yet to make my way through any one of them completely (and this is with regular use).   Demo versions of the component programs can be downloaded from the Convekta website, and some are also available in the downloads section of this site.

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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