Monday, May 21, 2012

Peshka software review

I have talked a bit about the Peshka training interface from ChessOk before in this blog.

At first I didn't like it.  (I still don't like the Aquarium GUI from ChessOk but that is a different post!)

Then I tried Peshka again and now I LOVE it!  It is my main training software.  The courses (MOST of them) are of great educational value.  It has been BY FAR the best and most productive purchases I have made for LEARNING tactics.  I discuss the difference between LEARNING, PRACTICE and APPLICATION in this post!

Peshka Interface

  • Fairly easy to use.
  • Allows for quick maneuvering between problems
  • Exercises are NOT timed!  (you can see how much time you use but they aren't time for score)
  • Copious amounts of statistics so that you can chart progress
  • can store many courses
  • can have many users (great for multiple run-thrus of a course!)
  • GENERALLY remember where each user left off at a certain course
  • You can bounce around course to course in a session
  • Board looks nice!
  • MANY MANY course to choose from on the ChessOK website.  Lost of different subjects!
  • ChessOK Customer service is PROMPT, fair and VERY willing to please their customers!  A BIG plus!  (ya listening Chessbase??)
  • Sometimes forgets where you left off!
  • The ribbon interface (although it is not too bad on this software for some reason!)
  • Sometimes downloading a course can be finicky but it has not been a problem since they revamped the entire process a bit!
  • Research courses carefully as sometimes (SOMETIMES not often!) they have the same course with two different names.  BUT as I mentioned above their customer service is very cool! 
  • Does it what it is supposed to do:  Facilitate chess training without having to worry too much about the interface itself!  Very efficient!   I LOVE this software for tactics learning!!

Now I will give a brief review of  a few of the courses!!

Chess Tactics Level I, II and III
  • Very systematically designed tactics course that have raised my tactical level better than anything I have ever used.  Period!
  • Level I flows nicely into Level II.
  • The later sections, (labeled "How To Proceed") in Level II have no guidance.  You just have to figure out what the tactic is!
  • LOTS and LOTS of exercises for the money!  And that ain't even counting the repetitions I have done and am doing!
  • Level III is a big jump up in difficulty! So much so that I had to put if off for a bit!
  • That's it!  That is the only con!  But I have found the answer to get me ready for Level III and its name is..................

CT ART For Beginners

  • Has some small explanations of each tactic and examples BEFORE you get to the exercises!
  • LOTS of clearing and decoy exercises which are a weakness (for me anyway)
  • Seems the logical successor to Levels I and II mentioned above.
  • Nicely melds learning with some APPLICATION of tactics in its examples!
  • Probably not really for "beginners" !  If I hadn't gone through Levels I and II above, THIS course would be tougher and less edifying!

And now for a stinker course:

Opening Lab

  • Yes!  I am starting with the cons first.  I got this to have a nice opening reference with some explanations since I am not buying opening books.  The explanatory prose is weak and not very explanatory!
  • Some openings are giving nothing but a diagram and an "exemplary" game or two.
  • Only one:  Also includes tactics problems in each opening covered!  These are great for PRACTICE and APPLICATION exercises of the tactics I have been LEARNING in the other courses.  So this was not a total waste of money.
Overall Summary
  • Yes there are a few stinker courses in their library but overall they are high quality training courses!  The best I have seen for THIS kind of training.  Other great courses included their "Play like so and so" series.  I have the Botvinnik and Capablanca ones.  These are GOING to be a treasure trove of APPLICATION study!  And they aren't just for tactics.  ChessOK would do well to expand this line of courses.  I LOVE Peshka and the courses.  There are other factors but my small but definite uptick in play the past year can definitely traced to what I have learned and practiced in the Peshka interface and courses.  Believe me!  I did Reinfeld, Chessimo, Winning Chess Tactics for Juniors, Polgar's books, Heisman's tactics book etc, etc,  And NOTHING really stuck tactically until these courses!   (I will say that Chessimo is great but at a certain time...that is also another post!)   So I give the big thumbs up to Peshka from ChessOK.