Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Stoyko Exchange

The Stoyko exercise (see the description at Dan Heisman's site) does sound like a good exercise but I have almost never found the time and inspiration to get started. I think I have done it at most three times and I am probably doing it wrong since I do not get the impression that I have gained 100+ points by doing the exercise.

The obvious obstacles is finding suitable positions and to find the "true evaluations" of the lines. Using an engine will give you evaluations in centipawns but that is not too enlightening.

Any suggestions on how to find suitable positions? Does it really matter which position you use? Is there any die hard Stoyko believers out there in the "bloggsphere" who would like to sharesome positions and maybe even some evaluations?

I would love to hear about your experiences using the exercise!


  1. I think you should try to find positions that reflect your weaknesses.

    IE: I tend to have problems in positions in the early middlegame where a lot of possibilities exist. So I focus on those (for now)

    Get a database of a player whose games you would like to emulate. Do a material/maneuver search in your database (Scid vs PC does this as does Chessbase) and viola! You will have a few positions to choose from. If there is an OBVIOUS tactic or move that shows up then it is not a good position for this exercise. The position must have some complications to it.

    And I don't buy the 100 elo points gain for every time you do a Styoko exercise BUT I do know that when I do a bunch of them my ability to calculate and make a plan do get INCREMENTALLY better. Small but important gains happen.

    I hope this helps!

  2. Hi Tommyg, It helps a lot! I will need to figure out how to use CB to identify positions.

    Yeah, the 100pts/exercise claim is way to silly!!

  3. Hey Farbror!

    It is pretty easy in chessbase to do a material search. And in Scid Vs Pc (and I am assuming Chesbase) you can even tell the program to look for certain pieces on certain squares within the material parameters. and if you want you can specify ECO as well.

    I think this type of search is a little better than position search because you can end up with some really interesting positions! I have found Judit Polgar's games to be great for this type of study as she often leads the game into complications. Same with Tal, Nakamura, Shirov etc. etc.

    Karpov might be cool if you were looking for closed positions. Same with Petrosian.

  4. I tried the first exercise of the Stoyko lecture here (clicked on your picture, actually):

    It took me close to 20 minutes to find the "Master" level move in position #1 against Bisguier, which Steve also played, but we both missed the "Super-GM" move in his notes, which is much stronger. Arthur wilted after the "Master" level move, but could have put up much stiffer resistance, IMHO.

    I definitely believe in these exercises. For one, the answer alone is telling - square-control, which is also what blindfold-chess is about, this is why the values of the pieces are relative. OTH, it will probably most benefit your slow-chess rating at first, since these exercises do take time. If you want a high-rating at fast time-controls, then tactics drilling works best at first.

  5. In exercises 2 and 3, I found the answers within two minutes a piece. In exercise 4, the answer 34..Qd7!! is given, but I preferred the natural 34..Bf4, and if 35.gxB Qh4+, 36.Kg1 Rxf4 and Black's mate comes a move sooner, even if Rxf3. The problem is that White is still winning with 34..Bf4, 35.BxB+ Kg8, 36.gxBf4 and now ..QxNd6 else the knight hops back to e4, and after 36..QxNd6 comes Bf4.

    So 34...Qd7 is really a "save move" IMHO because I believe White is still just winning after 41.QxQ RxQ, 42.Nc4 (hitting the rook and controlling e3 square).

  6. This is not something I have tried, although one of the Khelminsky (? spelling ) ' Test your chess' books would probably contain some good things to start with.

    I picked up a test your chess book by Steffen Pedersen in a sale ( yes is was only a couple of EURs ) but never really used it as it was not in my 'Skill Level" at the time ( read I just wanted quick tactics :).

    I did put a couple into my dbase though, so you can see if this will work for you and is what you want ? [rnb3kr/pp2qpbp/3pp1p1/1N6/2BNP3/4P3/PPP3PP/R2Q1RK1 w - -] White to play