"My opponent left a glass of whisky 'en prise' and I took it 'en passant". - Henry Blackburne | SINCE 2007

Monday, February 29, 2016

How To Play Chess - The Wire

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Towards a replacement for the PGN format

The PGN format has been a common format for recording chess games for a long time. Is it time we changed it? Play Magnus guys discuss. 

Since it was introduced more than twenty years ago, Portable Game Notationhas been by far the most widespread and portable format for exporting, importing and sharing annotated chess games in the software world. Even today, it remains a fundamental part of computer chess infrastructure.
However, as groundbreaking as PGN was back when it was introduced (at a time where no open and widely implemented document format for chess games existed), time has moved on, and modern chess software struggles to work around the various limitations in PGN.
At Play Magnus, we're working on a new chess game file format that we hope can replace PGN in the future, and that can also be used in many situations where the limitations in PGN makes it too awkward to use. We already use an early version of this new format internally. It will take a while before we are ready to publish a specification, for a number of reasons: The format is still rapidly evolving, as we keep discovering new features that we need. Along with the specification itself, we'd like to have some open source libraries for reading and manipulating games in the new format, as well as some friendly end-user software for producing and consuming content. And finally, since we've got an awful lot of other work to do, we can't prioritize this task as much as I'd like. We don't expect the new format to be ready for external use before some time towards the end of the year (and that's an optimistic estimate).
The reason we bring up the work on the new format so far in advance is that we'd like to give the wider community a chance to share their thoughts about what they want to see in the new format, and what limitations in PGN annoy them the most.
Here are a few of the most significant weaknesses and limitations we've identified so far:
  1. PGN is designed to be somewhat humanly readable, at the expense of making it harder for computer software to parse and produce. We believe this is a design mistake. Few users read PGN without the help of some kind of software anyway, and writing a working PGN parser is needlessly hard – even more so because in practice you also need to be able to parse all the subtly broken PGN that's produced by other programs that fail to implement the spec 100% correctly.
  2. PGN is ASCII encoded, making it unsuitable for both player names and textual annotations in most of the world. A modern format should obviously support Unicode (in fact, many recent implementations of PGN do permit Unicode, even though this is technically breaking the standard).
  3. No support for including engine analysis in the game. Various programs do support annotating games with engine analysis, but only using the standard PGN mechanisms of comments and recursive annotation variations. Data like search depths and evaluations are included as textual comments, and the syntax of these comments vary from program to program. This makes it difficult to exchange computer annotated games between different pieces of software.
  4. No support for formatted text in comments – not even paragraphs. In our new format, we're toying with the idea of using some kind of Markdown for comments, including support for things like images, videos and hyperlinks.
  5. No top-level elements other than games. We'd like to be able to group the games into rounds and tournaments, and to produce ebook-like documents with chapters and text between the games.
  6. Variations can only appear after the main move in a position, and not before. Often the annotator wants to present some variations before the move that was played in the game, in order to explain her choice of move. For instance, it is not unusual to first present the move you were originally planning to play along with some variations, the explain why you decided that it doesn't work, and how you arrived at some other move (the one you ended up playing) instead.
  7. No support for null moves in variations. This makes it impossible to annotate a move with something like "threatening 31. Nx7 Kxg7 32. Rg1+ Kh8 33. h6, with a strong attack" (except in a purely textual comment, where you can't play through the moves).
If you have other PGN annoyances you would like to see addressed in a new format (or if you have comments to the above list), please let us know about them, and there's a chance we can consider your wishes while developing the format.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Owino Magana: 1961-2015

Owino Magana one of the passionate chess players in kenya passed away on 12th Feb 2016, he was 55.
Owino Magana.

From the Star

Friday February 12 was a dark day for chess players as news trickled in of the passing on of Owino Magana. It was as if time had stood still, for barely a month ago, we had a brief phone conversation and I later gathered he had spoken to quite a number of chess players this year. 

From pgonchess 

Friday, 12 February 2016, was a sad day for Kenya’s chess community as news of Ben Magana’s elder brother Owino Magana’s death was announced by John Mukabi via SMS and on Facebook.


Friday, February 19, 2016

The 6th Capablanca Cup

Braeburn School on Gitanga road, Nairobi will this weekend play host to the 6th Capablanca Cup organised by Kim Bhari under the auspices of Nairobi Chess Club.
The two-day six round FIDE-rated event will be part of the Grand Prix circuit being used to select players for the national team, and is expected to attract a huge number of participants, more so being the first open tournament of the year.
According to the veteran player cum organiser, the tournament will be run on the Swiss system using accelerated pairing, and will be divided into the prestige, open, ladies and the under 14 sections. The U14 will however not be FIDE-rated and will be played on Sunday only.
Entry fee has been capped at Sh1,500 for the prestige section, Sh1,000 for the open, Sh900 for the ladies and Sh850 for the U14 but there is an option of paying Sh1,800, Sh1,600, Sh1,300 and Sh1,200 respectively that includes NCC membership until August 2016. The time control per player to finish a game will be 90 minutes apart from the U-14 who shall be allocated 25 minutes each. No walkover time shall be applicable during the rounds and the expiry of an absentee time shall determine the result of the game.
The entrants and standings can be viewed here

Friday, February 12, 2016

Best Android Apps To play Online

With smart phones getting cheaper by the day, Kenyan chess players have a wide range of android apps to play chess online. Here are my favorites.

1. Chess.com android app.

It has all the functionalities of the website and much more. Try playing turn based games instead of live games. 

2. Chess free android app

Play online games on either Free internet chess server or Internet chess club. You can also follow top  chess tournaments using the same app.