Sunday, 20 November 2016

Indian Chess - The change starts with...

India's 54th National Premier Championship (formerly National 'A') is in shambles. It started with a delay in start of the 1st round due to unavailability of a venue!


The championship did indeed start the next day and we thought the worst was behind us. But yesterday (Nov 19) another bomb fell when the organizer called the players and mentioned that they no longer have the venue for round 4!

Consequentially, 5 players (Abhishek Kelkar, Vidit Gujrathi, Abhijit Kunte, Tejas Bakre, Neeraj Mishra) withdrew from the tournament citing lack of a definite venue and hence the "intolerable playing conditions".

Don't shoot the messenger!

It was mentioned that it was the 1st time for the organizers and this chaos can be attributed to their lack of experience. But is it really that simple?

When the App developer working on my team makes a serious mistake and pushes an App update which breaks an important functionality, should I just fire him? Shouldn't I own it up and put processes in place to make sure such errors don't happen again? (In fact we have done such mistakes in the past, and now before every release we go through Test cases and a Checklist to make sure important things are in place)

If a kid is given a weapon which he does not quite understand how to use, and injures others, should we blame the kids or the parents?

I believe, a crisis like this could be averted with proper processes in place and inspections ahead of time to ensure things are as expected and meet a minimum quality criteria. Just like the FIDE members who visit the proposed World Championship venues in advance and check out the preparation and carry out other checks (along with members representing each players), a pre-event checklist and inspection for top Indian events would be helpful. 

But then, this is not just about one event or events which would be held in the future.

A bigger malaise

On numerous occasions, we hear and read on how our sports personalities are some times ill-treated or don't get the respect they deserve. As recent as Sep 2016, we read about the ordeal faced by our Olympic chess team: (in words of the Team Captain GM Ramesh on Facebook)

"Should really appreciate the gentleman/woman who made the booking for Indian chess team to Chess Olympiad at Baku. Chennai to Delhi three hour flight. Eight hour halt in Delhi. Delhi to Dubai by Fly Dubai airlines, food, water not included in fare. Flight delayed by two hours after boarding. Three and a half hours halt at Dubai airport. Three hour flight to Baku. Almost 24 hours for travel time with no provision for food or water."

Ofcourse, AICF distanced itself from the matter, saying it was an agency which booked on instructions of the government. 

The following month (Oct), the Indian team for the World Youth also had a not-so-pleasant experience, as narrated by the Coach Mrunalini Kunte on her facebook page (later deleted).

Accountability
Shouldn't the people in-charge of the game be accountable, even if things that happen may not be directly under their influence? I am given to understand that they are, and I know of atleast one person in the Indian Chess federation who goes out of his ways to ensure things go smoothly for the players. But clearly, this is not enough.

Something fundamental has to change.  Government/officials tend to take the easy way out. Banning tinted glasses on vehicles and stuff like that are the "easy" things to do, but that may not be attacking the root cause of the problem. You cannot wash your hands off like that and say I am done. Sometimes, its the fundamental things that need to be done right; like proper street lighting to make people safe, proper footpaths so people can walk, stricter laws etc and then everything else pretty much should fall in place.

Quality
Somewhere we take things for granted... In the things that we do for us, and for others. Since the past 2+ years that I have been broadcasting live events in Follow Chess, I have come across numerous organizers, federations and websites. Some go really out of their way to ensure their event is broadcast live and have dedicated websites and commentary etc.

In India, I don't remember the last time we even had a Round robin event with top players (barring the National championships). How many of our events even get their own dedicated web page (one page), let alone a complete website!?
Somewhere we lack, when its time to show case to the world, what we are doing and what we are capable of doing. The jugaad mentality needs to give way for more professionalism.

Quality cannot be compromised. Unfortunately, looking at the type of tournaments that get organized and lack of chances for 2400+ players, it looks like our focus is quantity than quality.

We say chess is getting younger (with the World Champ near 26 and many others at that age point), but why does India not have any 26 year old in the world top 10 (or 25, or 50)? (Harikrishna is 30 and ranked #11. The youngest top player is 22 year old Vidit, ranked #53)
But we are indeed breaking records for the highest number of FIDE rated players (India is currently the 2nd highest nation in terms of FIDE rated players)!

The below table shows the number of FIDE rated players (as of Nov 2016) vs Titled players (GM/IM/FM/WGM...)


RankFedTitledRatedTitled/Rated (TPR) %
1Russia2443608934.01
2USA724136775.29
3China14720727.09
4Ukraine53988036.12
5India302590880.51
6France405447970.90
7Azerbaijan12827104.72
8Armenia11313538.35
9Poland377185292.03
10Hungary45896194.76
Table1 : Top 10 nations with total Titled + Rated players and their ratio
India has the lowest of all the Top 10 nations! (mere 0.51 Titled players for every 100 rated). It could be said that this could be expected for such a huge nation with large number of rated players. Maybe Russia is an anomaly with 4 titled for every 100 rated, inspite of having the highest number of FIDE rated players. But even France with equally high rated players has double TPR (Titled per Rated) ratio.
This should be a red flag!

But things start to look promising if you look at the below table:

RankFedGMsTitledGMs/Titled (GPT) %
1Russia23624439.66
2USA9072412.43
3China3914726.53
4Ukraine8753916.14
5India4430214.57
6France4940512.10
7Azerbaijan2412818.75
8Armenia3711332.74
9Poland4137710.88
10Hungary5445811.79
Table1 : Top 10 nations with total GMs + Titled players and their ratio

The GPT ratio (GMs per Titled players) is quite good and better than many other federations. What does this mean? Doesn't it look like our Titled players really beat the odds and do better inspite of what the system throws in their way and go on to becomes Grandmasters!?
So if we develop a system, a framework to generate more Titled players, they would probably rise up in the world rankings by their own merit (and ofcourse with help and sponsors) and really dense up the Top 100 rating list for India.

Some things that can be done...

Coach Ramesh had mentioned some amazing points on his Facebook page after the near successful Olympic triumph. He has re-iterated those points in our interview with him (especially the Q: 'How do you look at the current Indian and Global Chess scenario').
However, some things that I would like to add:
  • Put promising young players on a fast track to growth and provide more opportunities even if it means NOT having to play in their under-age category events
  • Focus on getting more titled players
  • Have a professional chess body to represent the Indian player's interest (akin to the ACP, although frankly I am not sure what exact role ACP plays apart from some FB posts from the president condemning an bad occurrence or stuff like that. Or maybe they aren't doing sufficient enough to promote/advertise what they are doing to help players and how it has been effective. Either way its atleast assuring that players have support when they need it the most)
  • Form a body of passionate like-minded volunteers/coaches/organizers/players & officials and work towards the important priorities
  • Focus on implicit branding by having proper pages for state/national events etc. No more jugaad. Sponsors need to be able to see the things that they are buying into. Else it becomes a vicious cycle of 'no good branding = no sponsors = no money to focus on branding'. A complete re-brand/overhaul will do amazing things!
  • Focus on quality, in everything we do. From organizing tourneys, communication, web sites, player interests, things need to be uplifted
  • Put players interest before everything else, as long as it does not compromise the integrity of the sport or the country
  • A team league system. (France for example has a league system even for kids and youth!)

The change starts with ... myself!

In the aforementioned interview with GM Ramesh, he gave a startling answer when we asked him about that one thing that he would like to change in this world. His answer was "Myself"!!

We cannot expect others to change, if we ourselves dont. Some say the venue crisis was a political conspiracy and sabotage. Maybe it is, maybe it is not. But who are all these people. Aren't they one of us? Our future self!?

Its very easy for us, arm-chair generals, to get on Twitter/FB and preach/criticize/suggest, but very difficult to actually go out and make the change or help the game. (Didn't the 'mahan atma' who said 'be the change you want to see' come from India!?)

So I should focus on improving the quality of what I put out there for chess players to use (Apps & Web)... No jugaad.. Focus on doing more for Chess (tournaments & administrative)!

What change are YOU going to make?

- Asim Pereira 

Friday, 14 October 2016

Analyze This iOS - Help/FAQs

Analyze This iOS : Frequently Asked Questions


  • How to flip/turn the board?

Flipping the board in Analyze This (and most of our Chess apps) is probably the easiest amongst all the other Chess apps out there!
Just swipe your finger top down on the board to flip it!

(Note: To flip the board again, just repeat the same step above. Swiping in reverse order (down-up) has no effect.)

  • Import my own PGN file

There are two main ways you can import your own .pgn file into Analyze This app.

Method 1 and probably easiest of all is that you can import your pgn if you have it in your mailbox or Drive or Dropbox.
    Choose the Share/Copy Into option from your App (Gmail, Drive, Dropbox) and then choose "Copy to Analyze This"

After this the pgn will get copied inside Analyze This app and the app should show the list of the games. Just in case the games are not automatically loaded, you can open the pgn by tapping the Folder icon inside Analyze This app.

(Note you should be in the "PGN Games" tab at the bottom to see the folder icon)

Method 2 Copy using iTunes
Copy your pgn file from your PC to the Analyze This app's Document folder using iTunes File sharing.
Please see the section on 'Copy files from your computer to your iOS app' here https://support.apple.com/en-in/HT201301

Once the file is copied, open Analyze This App - Games - and choose the Folder icon at the top right (as shown in the diagram above)

  • Delete a move from the game (added in v2.4)

Tap on a move in the notation to select it. Then tap the same move again and it would show a popup with more options including "Delete this move". Choosing that option will delete the currently selected move and all moves after that.


  • Promote Variation / Add Comments

Same as above. Tap on an already selected move in the notation. This will show a popup with these options

  • Delete a game from the database (added in v2.3)

Games can only be deleted from the 'My Games' database (only games that you have saved. Games cannot be deleted from the pgn file, at this moment)
To delete a game that you have saved in the App, swipe the game to the left to reveal the hidden
   Delete   button. Select it to delete the game.




  • Delete a PGN file from the listing

Sorry, currently not supported

I would love to hear your feedback. Please email me at pereira.asim@gmail.com

Monday, 26 September 2016

iChess v5.0 on Android - Its brand new and colorful!

Over the past several weeks, we have been partly busy with iChess release. We slowly rolled it out to few set of users, squashed a lot of bugs (and silly mistakes), but its finally here! The latest Android version is now available for all users!


What's New?

Background
Sometimes when you start an App project, you develop it with the knowledge and tools you have during that time. Over a period of time, your knowledge improves and you realize that the way you developed something in the past, was probably not quite the best way to do it. It can be made better.

So thats what we did. We changed the guts of the Android version and built-it almost from scratch!
This was done to make it better and improve the stability and fix bugs which creep in some weird scenarios.

Colorful & Curvaceous...



..with new Wooden Board Theme


..and colors!



Brand new Store design and experience!


 
Search any puzzle or publisher. View our Top Puzzles or your purchases, all in one screen! Find puzzles that you want based on various categories!

..and puzzles from 'New In Chess' publisher!

Puzzles based on your playing strength or from games of top players like Carlsen, Nakamura, Giri, Kasparov etc.

..and...

  • A single place to view and download all your purchases
  • Choose a different 'Side to play', in case your PGN has puzzles where the 1st move is for the losing side.
  • Its not only the App design that has changed, the underlying stuff and architecture
  • Stability improvements and bug fixes and more!

These are significant changes and might cause some bug here and there. It will be great if you could just email me (Can do that via the App too. Menu - About - Feedback)

If you don't like something, just email me! Looking forward to your feedback!

PS. Some of these changes will be rolling out to the iChess iOS version too

Monday, 8 August 2016

Your Move correspondence chess app for iPhone/iPad!

Your Move Android was the only mobile App for correspondence chess on the official Chess Servers (ICCF, SchemingMind, AICCF, ChessMoon, MyChess.de, ChessOK)

Now, Your Move app is also on iOS (for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch...)! This is our 7th Chess App on iOS and we couldn't be more proud!

  1. You can make your moves in your games on any of the aforementioned chess web servers. Please note that ICCF is the official chess body for correspondence chess, which entitles you to official rating, Titles etc.
  2. Multi-login. The App supports multiple logins, especially for those who play simultaneously on different servers
  3. One tap position analysis with Analyze This iOS App (PRO only)
NOTE : The App only serves as a conduit/client app to get list of your games and make moves in your ongoing games. The App currently does not have any API (from the servers) to get list of users or issue challenges. Who knows, maybe in the future!



Check out all the other iOS Chess Apps from us!

Monday, 25 July 2016

Live chess on the web has a new address!

Last week was amazingly busy. We released updates to several Apps:

 Analyze This iOS got improved support for annotated games and several bug fixes.  Analyze This Android got critical bug/crash fixes related to game saving.
Follow Chess iOS had a bug related to multi board refresh which went unseen for a while. We fixed that too!
Chess Book Study iOS got support for loading your own PGN files! (finally!) So now its easy to study Chess books and magazines.
♞ Your Move app which is currently on Android, will also be coming to iOS (its with Apple for approval...sshh)!


But the most exciting and well received, was the news about Follow Chess (Beta) on ANY browser!
Just type live.followchess.com in your browser and enjoy live games from top tournaments in a mobile/tablet friendly manner.


Currently its a "lite" version and does not have all the bells and whistles of the Android & iOS Apps. But its a big step for us as well, since its our first product to be publicly available via a Browser!
Any hey, like all our products, its just a matter of time and even this "lite" will get new features and updates!

titbit: This project was conceived as part of our "Tech Tuesday", where we work on some different challenging ideas every Tuesdays!

I am personally very happy to see a side-project become something more. But what excites me more is the potential it has to further improve how we all experience Chess.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Fixed - InApp purchase issue in My Chess Apps

Today we learnt about a critical issue with In-App purchases.

Issue: Users attempting to purchase an In-App item (ex in iChess) or Subscription (ex in Follow Chess) saw a failure message, even though the actual transaction was successful.
Due to this the In-App item may not have been immediately available. (it works if the App/Screen is closed and re-opened, and in some cases can be downloaded again)

Do I need to do anything? No
This issue has since been fixed and all purchases should proceed normally. The Apps don't need to be updated since this issue was on the Server.

We are extremely sorry for the inconvenience caused and are putting measures to ensure this does not happen again.

* If the In-App purchase was for App Upgrade, and the App still hasnt been upgraded -> Please restart your device once.

* If the In-App purchase was for a puzzle or extra item, please visit the App's Store and the App should allow you to download at no additional cost.

Please write to us if you face any issue.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Analyze This v2.0 for iOS with Stockfish 7 and more!

Hardwork and dedication; this is what this App update is all about! Given our unfamiliarity with the environment and building complex UIs on iOS, we weren't sure we could pull this off, but here it is... Analyze This v2.0 for iOS!



Whats New?

This single screen pretty much summarizes everything!

  • Stockfish 7
Now you can analyze your games with the latest and greatest version of Stockfish 7 which is rated a whooping ELO 3337! Ofcourse, strength on mobile devices would differ. In a future release, we plan to add an option to change the number of threads/cores the engine uses.You can also start/stop the Engine so you can take a break while you read the annotations or browse through the complete game.
  • Multi PV
Earlier App version only showed a single PV (primary variation) or line. With v2.0, you can now view more engine variations to get better insights into the position.
Tapping the +/- buttons increases/decreases the number of lines. The first line is the best line followed by 2. 3. etc. If you wish to view a longer line, its best to use the device in Portrait view.


  • Improved Notation view
The Notation view now support text commentary if present in your pgn string.

  • Multi-purpose Paste
We have improved the Paste option. You can now paste a complete PGN or even a single FEN string. ex: rnbqkbnr/pp1ppppp/8/2p5/4P3/8/PPPP1PPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq c6 0 2

It is quite fault tolerant and should ideally accept quotes or extraneous strings and only take what matters. (ofcourse there will be many more improvements coming to this feature and the App overall)

Apart from these changes, we have made several improvements. Hope you will like the App, as you have come to like all our other Apps on Android and iOS.

Ads - We need to pay our developers and feed families. One important change in this version of the App is the presence of full screen Ads. But we have taken care to not annoy anybody with excess Ads and they would probably appear infrequently (moreover, most of the Ads would be related to Chess, so you may actually find them useful. Sample below...)


However, knowing who we are and how awesome our Apps are (and can be!), you could also Upgrade the App to the PRO version at its current low price (via In-App purchase) and enjoy all features and Ad free experience.


PS. Yesterday we discovered a critical bug in Follow Chess iOS (thanks to Steve) which prevented users who purchased the full version of the App (in the past few days), from using all the PRO features. This has been fixed in version 2.0.3 currently in the App store.