Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Another great chess app for iPad / iPhone

e+Chess is a chess book reader that comes with one free title, Capablanca's Chess Fundamentals. (This is the same book I started to excerpt on this blog and will get around to finishing someday: it's out of copyright.) As you might imagine, displaying both the text of a chess book and an interactive chess board is a bit much on an iPhone, but it's legible in landscape mode.

Here's a screen capture from my iPhone: I touch "1.f5" on the left side (the text of the book), and the move is made on the board. And I can shuffle the pieces investigating my own variations (as long as the moves are legal). Cool.

Here's a screen capture from my iPad: as you can see, there's a lot more room on the larger screen.

Silman's Complete Endgame Course is available in this format for $17.99. You're much more likely to study the iPad version than the paperback! But unless you absolutely love your iPhone, I wouldn't buy the book to read on the tiny platform: just too darn small. But that's not the fault of this great app.  There are even nuggets of Silman's wisdom sprinkled through the text as audio files.    To be clear, e+Chess falls far short of the true multimedia available through ChessBase, but this is a promising start.

There's also a Valeri Beim book on middlegame strategy available in this format (Beim is one of my favorite authors, but I'm not familiar with this book), and a few oddball titles.  It remains to be seen how popular this format becomes (e+Chess could go the way of Betamax).  And the serious player is more likely to get more utility from ChessBase or PGN formats.  But ease of consumption is a strong counterargument: the platform looks very promising to me!

If you own an iPad and you want to join Vince Hart in studying Silman's Complete Endgame Course (an excellent book for anyone from complete beginning to aspiring master), you can't go wrong downloading e+Chess.  If you own an iPhone, download it anyway, if only to read a free interactive copy of Chess Fundamentals, one of the greatest chess books ever written.  But I wouldn't spend money on content unless you're buying for the iPad.

White to play 

As long as we're on this page, here's a famous passage.  Capa writes, "In the above position White can't win by 1.f5.  Black's best answer would be 1...g6, draws.  (The student should work this out.)"  Your thoughts, students?


Chris Falter said...

A puzzling mistake by one of the all-time great endgame players. 1. f5 g6 2. f6! g5 (2...Ke6 3. g5 +-) 3. Ke4 Ke6 4. f7 Kxf7 5. Kf5 and white will capture the g5 pawn with the opposition, winning. 4...Ke7 is no help, as 5. Ke5 retains the opposition and threatens 6. Kf6. So 4...Ke7 5. Ke5 Kxf7 6. Kf5 and we are back in the original winning line.

Bill Brock said...

Good try, but no cigar.

1. f5 g6 2. f6? g5! 3. Ke4 Ke6 4. f7 Kxf7 (4...Ke7 works, too) 5.Kf5 and now Black only has to keep in touch with the g7 square without moving there to draw: 5...Kg8 6.Kf6 Kf8 7.Kxg5 Kg7, for example.

Chris Falter said...

Excellent analysis, Bill; black's king is not forced to dance sideways. I suspect that Capa thought that after 1. f5 g6 2. fxg6 Ke6 white, too, would have to dance sideways with his king: 3. Ke4 Kf6 4. g7 Kxg7 5. Kf5 Kf7=. But white can first make the black king take a detour by using his rear pawn to advantage:

1. f5 g6 2. fxg6 Ke6 3. g5! Ke7 4. Ke5 Ke8 5. Ke6 (Kf6? Kf8 6. g7+ Kg8=) Kf8 6. Kf6 Kg8 7. g7 Kh7 and the only way to prevent stalemate is 8. g8=Q+, which also happens to win (8...Kxg8 9. Kg6 +-)

Bill Brock said...

Take a bow for finding 3.g5!

Bill Brock said...

If you really want to rub it in, an underpromotion such as 8.g8=B+ works, too.

I think the trick for us mere mortals to solve this is to realize that if White can get his K to g6 with a pawn on g5, it doesn't matter where Black's king is--White wins.

OTOH, Capa is right in the sense that his method is easier!