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which chesscomputer for novice ?
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krisderennes
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Joined: 16 Dec 2013
Posts: 7
Location: France, Rennes in Bretagne

PostPosted: Mon Dec 16, 2013 9:19 pm    Post subject: which chesscomputer for novice ? Reply with quote

hello,

I want introduce my twin daughters 11 year old to chess.
I consider a computer game is more fun.
But as they start I want a model that they can beat all the same at level 1.
I saw the aquamarine Novag but on comments I saw that level 1 was already very very hard.
So not for us.
I look for a model that is magnetized + practice.
Is this model Saitek mephisto you would seem good?
Saitek-107465-Chess-Explorer-Pro
do you recommend another?

thanks a lot for your help.
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SirDave
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Joined: 09 Sep 2010
Posts: 595
Location: Southern California USA

PostPosted: Mon Dec 16, 2013 10:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You might be interested in my post here:
http://www.hiarcs.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=6452

When my 4 year-old grandson insisted on learning chess, the challenge was to find a chess computer that he could beat. However, to me, the challenge was not just finding one that he could beat, but one that he could beat using beginning techniques (pins, forks etc.) rather than because the opposing Queen is moved into a silly position to be easily taken.

I have a fairly nice collection, but this is the one I used because on the others, either the easiest level was too hard and/or the other characteristics of the board were not good for children:

Radio Shack Partner 1680X cat. 60-2428A (not to be confused with the 60-2428). These come up on eBay frequently. But remember, you will have to ask the seller what the catalog number is (it usually isn't mentioned on eBay). It has to be 60-2428A, not 60-2428 (which has a totally different motherboard and firmware even though the boards look exactly the same). Also, make sure the manual is included because there doesn't appear to be one available on the internet.

This board is hardy, has 64 LEDs and a nice large LCD. It's perfect for kids. The beginner levels I use with him are A1 and A2. The price on eBay varies from $15-40.

Here's an example (although I would prefer one in better condition):

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Chess-Computer-Partner-1680X-/261353584099?

Again, if I was buying this one, I would ask the seller for the catalog number which will be on the back of the board and on the manual and box. I don't think the seller has the manual for the above unit so I'm just using this as an example of what to look for.

(BTW: I have the Saitek Explorer Pro. It's very nice, but overall is pretty powerful for the above purpose and IMO is more fragile than the RS Chess Partner 1600X cat. 60-2428A)
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Larry
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Joined: 01 Aug 2007
Posts: 1736
Location: Gosford, NSW Australia

PostPosted: Mon Dec 16, 2013 10:30 pm    Post subject: Re: which chesscomputer for novice ? Reply with quote

krisderennes wrote:
hello,

I want introduce my twin daughters 11 year old to chess.
I consider a computer game is more fun.
But as they start I want a model that they can beat all the same at level 1.
I saw the aquamarine Novag but on comments I saw that level 1 was already very very hard.
So not for us.
I look for a model that is magnetized + practice.
Is this model Saitek mephisto you would seem good?
Saitek-107465-Chess-Explorer-Pro
do you recommend another?

thanks a lot for your help.

https://a3-images.myspacecdn.com/images04/4/e91b0ffe281049abba6b0ce450edad9a/300x300.jpg
Something like this would be suitable, and cheap. It's called a
Fidelity Electronics Chess Challenger '8'

What country and state are you in? I'll keep an eye out for you for a
computer in the right strength and price range. You don't want to pay
much until the girls show they are going to keep their interest.
The Explorer Pro is too strong for them, and probably too expensive.
If you are in Australia I can send you one for free, but shipping to the
USA is expensive.
all the best to you and the girls...
Larry
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Theo
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Joined: 05 Mar 2013
Posts: 132

PostPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2013 12:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi,

I think the Explorer Pro would be a very good computer for a beginning chess player. I had one. It has got several beginner levels:

8 FUN levels which start at a very low playing strength and become stronger gradually.

8 Adaptive (!) levels, where the computer adapts to the playing strength of the novice player.

Quote:
The Self-Adaptive Weak Levels are perfect for players who
are just starting out. Here, beginners have the chance to
interact with the computer on eight weakened levels of
varying ELO rating strengths, and the computerís strength is
adjusted to match that of the player.
On the lowest level (H1), the computer will set its playing
strength to a deliberately weakened setting of about -350
ELO. On the upper end, Level H8 matches the strength of the
player by putting the ELO difference at zero. As you play, the
computer will try to keep this difference constant. That is, if
you play badly, the computer will not play well eitheróbut it
will fight to win back material it has lost to you, if necessary.
On the other hand, if you play stronger, the computer will also
play stronger. Work your way up!


That means, the H1 level is designed so that you win all the time, while the H8 level is designed so you win and lose an equal number of games.

Kind Regards,
Theo
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Larry
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Joined: 01 Aug 2007
Posts: 1736
Location: Gosford, NSW Australia

PostPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2013 4:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Theo wrote:


I think the Explorer Pro would be a very good computer for a beginning chess player. I had one. It has got several beginner levels:

Hi Theo, I take your point about the fun levels making the Explorer Pro
suitable for beginners, but that does still leave us with the question of
price. They can get a Fidelity CC8 for peanuts and use it until the girls
decide the chess fad is over then sell it without spending much money.
Just my opinion...I have been known to be wrong before. Smile
L
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Monsieur Plastique
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Joined: 03 Jul 2008
Posts: 1014
Location: On top of a hill in eastern Australia

PostPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2013 2:53 pm    Post subject: Re: which chesscomputer for novice ? Reply with quote

krisderennes wrote:
But as they start I want a model that they can beat all the same at level 1.
I saw the aquamarine Novag but on comments I saw that level 1 was already very very hard.


I assume you are talking about the Star Aquamarine which is the only currently available new Novag model with that name.

Don't believe those stories about the lowest level of this model being hard. There are various ways you can limit the strength of the machine to the point where a sensible beginner would easily be able to defeat it. For example, you can set it to the lowest standard variable level or limit it to only a 1 ply search.

This machine is also good for someone who wants to play for fun since it is one of the most human-like dedicated machines ever produced. By that I mean it's play is characterised by some remarkably strong moves along with occasional blunders even on it's strongest levels.
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krisderennes
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Joined: 16 Dec 2013
Posts: 7
Location: France, Rennes in Bretagne

PostPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2013 8:23 pm    Post subject: Re: which chesscomputer for novice ? Reply with quote

Monsieur Plastique wrote:
krisderennes wrote:
But as they start I want a model that they can beat all the same at level 1.
I saw the aquamarine Novag but on comments I saw that level 1 was already very very hard.


I assume you are talking about the Star Aquamarine which is the only currently available new Novag model with that name.

Don't believe those stories about the lowest level of this model being hard. There are various ways you can limit the strength of the machine to the point where a sensible beginner would easily be able to defeat it. For example, you can set it to the lowest standard variable level or limit it to only a 1 ply search.

This machine is also good for someone who wants to play for fun since it is one of the most human-like dedicated machines ever produced. By that I mean it's play is characterised by some remarkably strong moves along with occasional blunders even on it's strongest levels.



hello here http://www.amazon.com/Novag-Star-Aquamarine-Chess-Computer/product-reviews/B004G0ONM6/ref=cm_cr_pr_hist_3?ie=UTF8&filterBy=addThreeStar&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending
there is a beginner who tested it and can not beat the computer.
So i am not sure at all that il will be good for my daughters.
I will search someone who have one to ask him.
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krisderennes
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Joined: 16 Dec 2013
Posts: 7
Location: France, Rennes in Bretagne

PostPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2013 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hoops
mr plastique you are the personn who own the novag aquamarine, so please can you say me if the computer do some mistake at first level to let the beginner win ?
Or can you say if at level one a total beginner person can win easily ?

thanks a lot
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krisderennes
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Joined: 16 Dec 2013
Posts: 7
Location: France, Rennes in Bretagne

PostPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2013 8:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SirDave wrote:
You might be interested in my post here:
http://www.hiarcs.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=6452

When my 4 year-old grandson insisted on learning chess, the challenge was to find a chess computer that he could beat. However, to me, the challenge was not just finding one that he could beat, but one that he could beat using beginning techniques (pins, forks etc.) rather than because the opposing Queen is moved into a silly position to be easily taken.


(BTW: I have the Saitek Explorer Pro. It's very nice, but overall is pretty powerful for the above purpose and IMO is more fragile than the RS Chess Partner 1600X cat. 60-2428A)


Thanks very interesting.
So you grandson can not win versus saitek explorer pro fun ou beginner livel if i understand ?
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krisderennes
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Joined: 16 Dec 2013
Posts: 7
Location: France, Rennes in Bretagne

PostPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2013 8:39 pm    Post subject: Re: which chesscomputer for novice ? Reply with quote

Larry wrote:

What country and state are you in? I'll keep an eye out for you for a
computer in the right strength and price range. You don't want to pay
much until the girls show they are going to keep their interest.
The Explorer Pro is too strong for them, and probably too expensive.
If you are in Australia I can send you one for free, but shipping to the
USA is expensive.
all the best to you and the girls...
Larry


thanks from.... France i am a bit far away.
So you are sur that explorer pro, begin ou fun level is too strong for my beginner daughters ?
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krisderennes
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Joined: 16 Dec 2013
Posts: 7
Location: France, Rennes in Bretagne

PostPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2013 9:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Theo wrote:
Hi,

I think the Explorer Pro would be a very good computer for a beginning chess player. I had one. It has got several beginner levels:

Quote:
The Self-Adaptive Weak Levels are perfect for players who
are just starting out. Here, beginners have the chance to
interact with the computer on eight weakened levels of
varying ELO rating strengths, and the computerís strength is
adjusted to match that of the player.
On the lowest level (H1), the computer will set its playing
strength to a deliberately weakened setting of about -350
ELO. On the upper end, Level H8 matches the strength of the
player by putting the ELO difference at zero. As you play, the
computer will try to keep this difference constant. That is, if
you play badly, the computer will not play well eitheróbut it
will fight to win back material it has lost to you, if necessary.
On the other hand, if you play stronger, the computer will also
play stronger. Work your way up!


That means, the H1 level is designed so that you win all the time, while the H8 level is designed so you win and lose an equal number of games.

Kind Regards,
Theo


very interesting it sounds to be good for me and my daughter. I like there magnetized pieces.
Note that i will useit for me if my daughters finally don't like chess.
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Monsieur Plastique
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Joined: 03 Jul 2008
Posts: 1014
Location: On top of a hill in eastern Australia

PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2013 7:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

krisderennes wrote:
so please can you say me if the computer do some mistake at first level to let the beginner win ?
Or can you say if at level one a total beginner person can win easily ?

thanks a lot


It will play extremely weakly on the lowest levels. In all honesty if a human beginner who has spent say, just one week learning the most basic fundamentals of the game, cannot at least draw with it on level BA1 then they really need to put more effort into their concentration at the board (which is one of the benefits and main ideas behind chess - to teach logical thinking and sustained concentration).

On level BA1, not only is it's search restricted to only a half move (i.e. the immediate reply to your move and no further), but it is also restricted to a half move for captures as well. That is about as weak as you can possibly play at chess without deliberately trying to lose the game by purposely throwing away material for no reason.

The bottom line is that so long as a beginner understands the most basic concepts of all (avoiding checkmate and avoiding losing material because a piece is threatened on the very move), then they should draw with it at worst. They wouldn't even need to grasp the most basic strategic ideas in order to draw or defeat it at this level.

So yes, if the beginner merely knows the rules and legal moves, they may not be able to beat it. But then you might as well just be playing a random move generator. But so long as they understand piece values and realise you cannot just let your material get captured away for no compensation, they can beat it.

That said, there are a huge number of levels to pick from and on the strongest levels (the fixed ones), it will play up to around the mid to high 1400s, which is at the lowest end of decent club standard but still light years ahead of a raw beginner. So it will scale well - and keep up with a developing player.

incidentally, despite what is written on the boxes and the literature, the Star Aquamarine and the Star Opal are absolutely 100% identical programs. At least all the examples I have seen of them which is probably about 20 of them by now. The only difference is that one is tabletop and the other portable. But the magnets on the Star Opal are not very strong and the pieces can be easily knocked. I myself prefer the Star Opal because I play on a large wooden board and transfer the moves across to it. But of course if you have no external board and want more secure pieces and bigger magnets, yes the Star Aquamarine is better.

On the other hand, forgetting dedicated machines for the moment (sorry Steve Laughing ) if you are after something that deliberately does everything in it's power to help a beginner win (i.e. proactively goes out of it's way to lose as opposed to merely playing exceptionally weak moves), then perhaps a chess engine on a computer is better, since these can be tailored more easily to do this and are much more flexible. For example, the Chessbase engines are very good at this and you can set them to literally play like a moron (that is Chessbase's literal term, not mine).

In actual fact, unless you have a particular need to a physical unit and pieces, I actually think you would be better off with a chess engine with the features I mentioned above (ie. HIARCS13 for Chessbase), since it really can be tailored to do everything in it's power to lose even to a raw beginner.

But then again, what is the point of having such a ridiculously weakened opponent that plays like a drunken house fly? It certainly isn't going to be of any help even to a beginner in my opinion. You really need to set whatever it is you chose to a level that is going to be a challenge and force the human to actually sit down and think about their moves and the consequences of those moves.
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Monsieur Plastique
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Joined: 03 Jul 2008
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Location: On top of a hill in eastern Australia

PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2013 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I forgot to mention in my previous post that the Novag Carnelian II is also exactly the same program as the Star Aquamarine despite what you might read or otherwise hear and despite any discrepancies in reported ratings.

In my opinion, this would be the best unit to buy because it is a noticeable step up in quality over the Star Aquamarine with it's much nicer cabinet and excellent (for what they are) wooden magnetised pieces.
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Mars
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Location: Bonn, Germany

PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2013 11:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Assume that
http://www.schach-computer.info/wiki/index.php/Novag_Primo
this one is different? I have one for the kids but it seems a bit too strong yet...

Novag Regards,
Martin
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sje
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2013 12:46 pm    Post subject: Contrary view Reply with quote

I will take the contrary view and suggest that caution is needed regarding giving any dedicated chess computer to a young person.

For school aged kids, chess can be a lot of fun. But that fun comes not so much from shuffling plastic on a painted board, but rather from the social experience gained from friendly competition with others of the same age. A kid who hides in his room alone with a toy is missing out on a very necessary part of transitioning to adulthood.

Chess prodigies are common. But how many of them became psychologically healthy adults? Tragedies like Morphy and Fischer are the first to come to mind; I'm sure there are many others less famous. People like these could have had a much better childhood had they escaped exploitation by others, and probably still would have become world class chessplayers.
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