Thursday, 20 March 2014

Should Anand win the Candidates?

A smiling Anand at the Candidates 2014
(pic by @NastiaKarlovich)

Note, the question is no longer, "Will Anand win the Candidates?" since this is now put to rest after the first 6 rounds. But my question is; should he?

Today is a rest day for the players and me too (after a BIG Analyze This app release). So I thought it was a good day to rest a bit, take a break from programming and ponder over this Q.

"Should Anand win the Candidates?!".
Sounds dubious, doesn't it? After all, which player would not want to win a tournament and challenge Magnus Carlsen himself!? And which fan would not want his favorite star to win the Candidates? But should he?

Before I start getting threat calls from Chennai, and Vishy himself 'unfriends' me on FB and stops following on Twitter, let me make it clear. I am a big Anand-fan and would like to see him play forever!

There is no doubt about his stature. He is a legend who has single-handedly carried the expectations of a million Indians Chess fans (and one of the reason I quit my full-time job and started working on my Chess Apps and eBooks). He has won everything there was worth winning.

And the way he is currently playing, is a treat to watch. Then, why this question?

Lets take 3 likely scenarios when the Candidates tourney ends:

Scenario 1 : Anand plays badly here-after (r6) and ends up somewhere in the middle of the standing.
This will be obviously bad for him and his fans, especially after a dream start like this. We fans and probably Anand himself would not have imagined that he would be in sole lead after 6 rounds!
This will be quite disastrous.

Scenario 2 : Anand wins the Candidates and the right to challenge Carlsen (again!). Many Chess fans would think this would be the easiest pairing for Carlsen and a lop-sided match. I am sure even Carlsen, would probably stop practicing on his Play Magnus app and stop drinking Orange Juice. He might even take up additional modelling assignments or sign-up a movie! ("Board Wars - Return of the Tiger" starring Liv Tyler and some south Indian dude).

But would Anand himself like to play Carlsen again? Carlsen is strong, but not unbeatable. And he might even take some inspiration from the Rocky movies. According to reports, Anand was initially planning to skip the Candidates (probably because he wanted a nice break and wasn't really thinking of matching Carlsen again). Would the Chess-world (barring Indian fans), be excited again to watch the match? (well I bet, on any given day a Carlsen-Anand match would have more viewers than a Carlsen-XYZ match)
Anand will now need to spend months in intense preparation if he has to beat Carlsen.

If Anand defeats Carlsen, does it make Anand more greater than he already is? It would be another feather in his overcrowded hat and an impossible comeback! But at some point, the new generation has to overtake the older while the legends fade, and that is perfectly natural!
If Anand loses again, the cycle repeats!?

Scenario 3 : Anand narrowly misses the ticket and finishes 2nd in the Candidates. Probably Aronian beats him on tiebreaks.
Fans will definitely be sympathetic towards Anand and be happy that against all odds, he played a superb tournament and the "tiger is back". No hard feelings. Even Anand would feel good about his performance.
Anand goes on a nice extended holiday with his family, feeling content that he performed his best and came very close to winning it. He gains a dozen rating points and is having a good time, till his next tournament. Less pressure!

What do you think? Should Anand win the Candidates?

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Analyze This - Tips and Tricks (new in v3.0)

Many features have been added in v3.0. Here are some Tips and tricks.

NOTE : When in doubt, press the Menu key (indicated by 3 vertical dots on the Top right/left of the device. On some devices, the Menu can be accessed with a physical button)!

Delete game from PGN file

Added a game to your PGN file by mistake and wish to delete it? Touch and Hold the game and you will see the Delete icon on the top right. Press the icon to delete the game. (Note : the game will be permanently deleted. Always create a backup of your important PGN files!)

Play against Mobile / Engine shootout (PRO Only)

The one important thing that Analyze This lacked was the ability for the engines to play against you or against other engine. Not anymore! Say you are practicing Endgames or just want to understand why the GM resigned in a given position; you can test your skills against the machine!
Tap the Engine name (hyperlink) and choose 'Play this side' and the engine will automatically make moves for that side, while you play the other. If you choose 'Play this side' again, then the engine will make moves for both sides and finish the game. This way, you could use any combination of engines!! (Psst: I tried to play the Shak vs Svidler Candidates game where Svidler resigned after the awesome Rg5. I played with the White pieces, but I still could only draw against the Engine!! Envy those Super GMs. Try it!)

Engine output to Notation

You can copy the engine output to the notation! There are two ways to do this:
* Clip main-line - Tap the engine name to see the option. This will copy the engine's main line to the notation
* Touch and hold the engine line - Alternately, you can touch and hold any of the variation in the engine window and that variation will be copied to the notation.

Annotation editor

Analyze This now has the option to annotate your games. You can use the Annotation Editor to annotate multiple moves in one sitting! Just tap on the move that you wish to annotate and choose the appropriate symbols. Add a comment if you like and press 'Apply Comment'.

Quick Annotation Palette

What if you only wish to quickly add some symbols to the game without having to load the complete Annotation Editor!? Simply double tap on any empty square on the board and you will see the above Annotate Palette. Then choose any symbol and it will be added to the move. Note the palette will auto close in 5s.

Promote variation

Touch and hold the move in the Notation window to see the option to "Promote variation". This will make the sub-variation into the main line.

Auto-replay game (PRO Only)

A good way to go through master games is to play through them quickly, as many times as possible and as many games as possible. Analyze This now allows you to do that. Just press the green button and the game will auto-replay every few seconds. Sit back and enjoy the game!

Variation chooser

When you are reading a annotated game, its not always easy to find the sub variation and jump to it. Now, Analyze This will pop up the available variations and you can tap any of the move to jump to that variation. Bonus Tip : At the end of the sub-variation, you can continue to hit the right arrow and you will automatically jump back to the main-line!

Player lookup via Wikipedia

Note the hyperlinks on the Play names in the first picture. You can lookup the Player profiles on Wikipedia. Handy if you are browsing through some international games and wish to lookup on some favorite players or somebody unknown.

Swipe to change games

When you load a game from the games browser, you can swipe from right-to-left on the board to load the next game. Similarly, swipe left-to-right to load the previous game. (Note : Every time you launch the app, the app may show you the Games list the first time. Then subsequently, swiping will load the game)

Arrows and Highlights

Sharing Board as image with Analyze This just got better! You can now highlight squares or draw arrows. Simply touch any square to highlight it. Swipe your finger across to draw the arrow! (Thx Carlos). Coordinates are automatically added to the image, so that your readers are not left wondering which side moves up or down!

Quick access to recent PGN files

Like me, if you access multiple PGN files from different folders (Download, Dropbox folder etc), then Analyze This v3.0 has a handy little feature. It shows your last accessed PGN files at the top (in light gray) irrespective of which folder you are current in. Simply tap the file to load it!

Different ways to Paste in Analyze This

Analyze This has a single "Paste" option, but it is smart enough to know what you are actually pasting!
So you can paste a complete PGN or only the FEN string or only the moves, and Analyze This accepts them all!

Say you have received a PGN in your email or have it on a website. 
You can paste the complete PGN.
[Event "New Jersey State Open Champion"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1957.??.??"]
[Round "7"]
[White "Fischer, R."]
[Black "Sherwin, J."]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B30"]
[WhiteElo ""]
[BlackElo ""]
[PlyCount "65"]
[EventDate "1957.??.??"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d3 Nc6 4. g3 Nf6 5. Bg2 Be7 6. O-O O-O 7. Nbd2 Rb8 8. Re1
d6 9. c3 b6 10. d4 Qc7 11. e5 Nd5 12. exd6 Bxd6 13. Ne4 c4 14. Nxd6 Qxd6 15.
Ng5 Nce7 16. Qc2 Ng6 17. h4 Nf6 18. Nxh7 Nxh7 19. h5 Nh4 20. Bf4 Qd8 21. gxh4
Rb7 22. h6 Qxh4 23. hxg7 Kxg7 24. Re4 Qh5 25. Re3 f5 26. Rh3 Qe8 27. Be5+ Nf6
28. Qd2 Kf7 29. Qg5 Qe7 30. Bxf6 Qxf6 31. Rh7+ Ke8 32. Qxf6 Rxh7 33. Bc6+ 1-0

Or you can paste only the FEN string (frequently available in diagrams on the ChessCafe website). Ex:
 [FEN "8/4pkPp/7B/3K4/8/8/8/8 w - - 0 1"] 
"8/4pkPp/7B/3K4/8/8/8/8 w - - 0 1"

or you can paste only the moves from a game (from starting position)

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d3 Nc6 4. g3 Nf6 5. Bg2

Now isn't that one smart app!?


//The following features were already part of v2.0.x

PGN delete and share

Now delete or share the PGN file with your coach right from within the app!
In the File Browser (via Open PGN), touch and hold the pgn file that you are interested to delete or share. You should see options to the top right as shown below.
Then you can Delete the file or Share it via Email, Dropbox, Google docs etc

Create new PGN

While saving a game, you are asked to Choose a File. You can even create a new PGN from within the app!
Press the physical menu key and choose "Create New PGN". If your device does not come with physical menu key, then its even easier. You can simply choose the "Create New PGN" option from the drop down located at the top right of your screen (indicated with 3 vertical dots)

Long press notation/moves for more options

You can select a move from the move/notation window. Then touch and hold it and a popup should appear with more options.
"Delete this move" - Delete the currently selected move including itself. This can be even used to delete a complete variation by selecting the first move from the variation and then choosing "Delete this move"

Swipe to turn board

Wish to turn/flip the board? Now thats easy. Simply swipe your finger down the board as shown below! Turning the board was never so easy!

Tap engine analysis

Now you don't have to manually enter moves. If you like the engine's suggestions, then Tap on the engine move in the list and it will be played on the board!
For ex. in the image below, once you tap the variation, the first move Ra3 will be played on the board.
You can continue to tap to make subsequent moves

Tilt to move

Give your fingers some rest. Simply tilt your device left/right to take back or move forward through the notation! I use this feature, when I am relaxing on the couch and wish to play through some recent master games. What best is that I can even use it while moving around and move back/forth through the moves with a single hand!
Note: Tilt = move the left/right vertical edge of your device such that one edge of the device is up while other edge is down.

Analyze This v3.0!! Lots of features and fun in your favorite Android Chess app!

Extremely happy to have released Analyze This v3.0 today. This culminates many months of work and I could not have been more happier than this.

This release has lots of exciting features and I am personally very happy with it.

WHAT'S NEW in 3.0?

  • Delete games from PGN file (remember to always back-up your precious PGN files!) (Thx Mesut, Romuald, Claude)
  • Copy Engine output to Notation - Handy if you like to permanently save the engine analysis to PGN. To copy the whole line to notation, simply touch and hold the line. Alternately, you can also tap the engine name and choose 'Clip main-line' to copy just the main line. (Thx Timotei, Kevin, Mazzy)
  • Play against Mobile / Engine shootout [PRO Only] - Wonder why the GM resigned in his game? Now you can try that position and play it against the Engine. Or wish to sharpen your Endgame skills? Play it out against the Engine. You can start a different engine (or even the same engine) for the other side, and have the Engines play against each other and finish off the game! This can be a really powerful tool to practice endgames or certain winning positions and test your skills against the machine.
  • Annotation editor - Add comments and symbols. You can tap on any other move and enter the comment for that move too. Makes it easier to quickly annotate a game.
  • Quick Annotation Palette - For those cases where you simply want to add a symbol. Just double-tap any empty square on the board and quickly choose the symbol It cannot get easier than this!
  • Promote variation - You can now promote sub variations from the Notation view.
  • Auto-replay game  [PRO Only] - Like to go through many master games? Then this is for you. Load your favorite games and let the app automatically move through the game.
  • Variation chooser - Sometimes when you are studying an annotated game with lots of variations, its not easier to find the sub variation inside the large variation tree. Analyze This gives a handy list of variations for you to choose. Tap the variation to enter it. At the end of the sub-variation, you can tap-tap (twice) to automatically jump back to the main line. Pretty handy I say! (Thx Durga Prasad)
  • Player lookup via Wikipedia - Sometimes when I browse through PGNs downloaded from, I come across good games played by relatively unknown players. This feature makes it handy to lookup the player's profile (if exists) on Wikipedia. It is also a good way to check on your favorite players and their important statistics.
  • Swipe to change games - Say you loaded a game from your PGN file. Now to load the next game, you simply swipe left-wards on the board. Similarly, swipe right to load the previous game from the PGN. (every time you restart the app and swipe, you will be shown the games list for the first time. Subsequently, swiping will work as expected) (Thx Joseph)
  • Arrows and Highlights - Sharing the board as image just got prettier. Before you share the image, you can highlight key squares and draw arrows! (Thx Carlos)
  • Single tap to launch Notation menu. If you already have a move highlighted in the Notation view, then you simply touch it one more time to access the Notation menu (Delete Move, Promote variation, Annotation Editor) options.
  • Improved Fritz color (hopefully this is easier on the eyes on brighter devices) (Thx Zamana)
  • Stockfish upgraded to DD (another update v3.0.2 was released with Stockfish 3.0 included. If DD has problems running on your device, you can switch the engines from the Manage Engines screen). Added support for intel Phones. (Thx Eric and neevstation)
  • Move to sd card (for supported devices) - App can now be moved to the SD card (if you are falling short of space on the internal memory). Please let me know in case some things don't work. (Thx Larry)
and some more...!

Download Links:
AMAZON APP STORE (v3.0 releasing soon)

PS: The app has been thoroughly tested (as much as one person could!) and there may be some potential problems. Please drop me a note if you see anything odd!

IMP: If you see some weird behavior after upgrade (over your existing version), its always best to uninstall and re-install again!

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Follow Chess - New Android app to watch live chess games


Here is a simple App to watch the Live games from the Candidates 2014 tournament.
FOLLOW CHESS on the Play Store

With multiple boards, you surely cannot miss a move!
'Follow Chess' will broadcast many more tournaments in the future and have many awesome features like my other Chess apps. Stay tuned!

FOLLOW CHESS on the Play Store