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INTRODUCTION

Welcome to Chessgames.com's revolutionary chess training tool, Guess-the-Move! You can review some of the greatest chess games in history, move by move, and try to guess what move the winner played each step of the way. It's a fun, challenging, and competitive way to improve your chess.

It's almost like playing against a grandmaster. Your "opponents" will be some of the strongest players in history. When your GM opponent makes a threat, you'll have to decide how to counter it. And to win the game, you'll have to decide how and when to strike!

More than a training tool, it's also a game: you accumulate points based on the merits of your guesses, and at the end, you'll receive a final total score. You can gauge your strength by comparing your score against those of other Chessgames members.

Studying grandmaster games by guessing what move comes next is an excellent way to get better. Some of the world's greatest chess coaches recommend this technique as one of the key methods to improve your chess. After all, if you can almost always guess what move a grandmaster will play, then you are effectively a grandmaster yourself!

IMPORTANT NOTE: This feature is available only to premium members of Chessgames.com. If you are not a premium member yet, take our Premium Membership Tour to see the many features that we offer. If you want to try a free demonstration of Guess-the-Move, check out our free sample game.

GETTING STARTED

From the Guess-the-Move Main Page you will see a a game selected randomly from the database, and below that, the search engine.

There are a few ways you can start a round of Guess-the-Move. The easiest method is to simply play the game that was randomly selected for you. If for some reason you don't want to play that game, you can click on the "roulette wheel" (see graphic to right) and it will randomly pick another.

THE GUESS-THE-MOVE SEARCH ENGINE

You can also use the Guess-the-Move search engine to find a specific kind of game that you want to play. This is a little bit like the search engine on the Chessgames homepage. For instance, if you are a fan of Karpov's style of play, you could type "Karpov" in the Player Name" field and will then see a list of Karpov games which are available. You can also search by opening, endgame type, year, the length of the game, or any combination thereof.

When you find games with the search engine, you are given a list of search results resembling the graphic on the left. This list contains a wealth of information about the game. For example, we can look at the first game and note at a glance that the winner was Kasparov, because his name is in all-capital letters. This line is a link that lets you play the game, so in this example, clicking would let you play a round of Guess-the-Move; your opponent would be Karpov and you would be assuming the role of Kasparov.

At the start of the second line, we see the number of moves in the game. If the game contains an Endgame Selector it will say "w/ ending" immediately afterward. (See the section What is the Opening Selector and Endgame Selector? below for more information.)

The "# of times given" is the number of times the quiz has been administered to Chessgames members. The "par score" is their average score, to give you an idea of what kind of score is good.

The third line contains information about the openng played, and a link to our ECO page on the opening variation.

A CLOSER LOOK AT THE GAME PAGE
When playing Guess-the-Move, you will have a console that looks something like the graphic below. On the left is the current board position. Immediately under it is the scoring area, where you can see if your guess is right, and how many points you gained (or lost). On the right side of the page are some general statistics about the particular game you are playing: the players, the year, your current score, the moves so far, etc.
Guess-the-Move Outline
The first few moves of a game are shown to you automatically (there is nothing to guess), but after those first few moves, you will start to be quizzed on what move is played next. You are then scored on your answer, and continue to the next move. Once the entire game is over, you will be shown your final score, and be given the opportunity to review what you just played, at the normal Chessgames page for the game.
MAKING YOUR MOVE
To play Guess-the-Move, you have to tell the website what move you think comes next. There are two ways to make your move.

The first method, and surely the easier one, is to click on the board diagram. Simply click on the piece you want to move, then click on the square you want to move it to. Once you click on the second square, your move will automatically be sent to our server and then you'll see how it scores. It's that easy!

The other method is to type your move. When it is your move, a space immediately below the game board will appear (see graphic above). You may either use standard English Algebraic Notation (e.g. Ng5 or Bxb5+), or you can use Long Algebraic Notation (e.g. e2e4 or f1b5). You should not type the move numbers (e.g. don't type "3.d4", just type "d4"), nor should you type "..." before a move by Black.

Correcting Mistakes - If you click on the wrong square, you'll have to fix your error. You do this by erasing the contents of the "Guess the move" field manually.

Pawn Promotion - If you are using your mouse to enter moves, pawn promotions will bring up a special screen that reads "Please click the piece into which the pawn will promote." You will then get to choose between queen, rook, bishop, and knight.

Hot Tip! HOT TIP - The software is fairly forgiving if you make small mistakes like forgetting the "+" when it's check, or forgetting the "x" for a capture. You can also use shorthand for pawn captures--e.g. instead of typing "exf4" you can simply type "ef". However, don't get so sloppy that the software can't decipher your move, or you will not get credit for your answer.

Hot Tip! HOT TIP - Want to get a good score? Then take your time! There is no need to try to play through these games as if you are playing blitz chess. You will gain the most from these exercises if you try to work out the best move, as if you are actually sitting down for a real game.

STARTING A GAME: THE OPENING

Once you pick the game you want to play, you will have to step through the first few moves of the opening without making guesses. You do this by clicking the "Next Move" button until you are asked to guess a move. This way, you see how the opening of the game unfolds before you are asked to guess a move.

Next Move Button IMPORTANT: You must press the glowing next-move button (usually several times) to play a real round of Guess-the-Move. If you jump to the beginning of the game using the "Opening Selector" or any other method, you will be in "drill mode", your score does not count, your results won't be recorded to your account, and you won't influence the par score.

Under normal circumstances, the Guess-the-Move game will actually begin (i.e. you will be asked to guess the move) when the position displayed has fewer than 1000 games in the Chessgames database. This usually means you will have to click the "Next Move" button 3 or 4 times before the quiz actually starts. However, if you want to drill on opening knowledge you can play Guess-the-Move in a special mode where it starts from the very beginning of the game instead (See the section What is the Opening Selector and Endgame Selector below.)

SCORING

Each chess game in the Guess-the-Move list has been analyzed by a powerful chess engine called Toga. This helps us assign partial or full credit for guesses that are good moves. The data of the Opening Explorer is also consulted to help with scoring some of the opening moves.

Here's how the scoring system works:

  • 3 points for guessing the move that the grandmaster played. Even if this move is not objectively the best move, you will get full credit for guessing it.
  • 3 points for for picking a move that Toga determined is just as good, or better, than the move played.
  • 3 points for picking an opening move with a long and successful history according to the Opening Explorer.
  • 2 points for guessing a move that is almost as good as the text move.
  • 2 points for guessing a move that is has a reasonably popularity and a successful history in the Opening Explorer.
  • 1 point for a move that might not be as good as the text, but still playable.
  • 0 points for a wrong guess that Toga does not consider to be among the top moves.
  • -1, -2, or -3 points - Penalties are assigned when you miss a critical move. The degree of the penalty is determined by Toga.

During the scoring process, a small yellow "smiley face" will tell you, at a glance, how good your move was. When it's smiling, you know you scored the full 3 points.

As the game progresses, your score will go up and down (hopefully, mostly up!) until the game is over. The number of points you have at the end is your final score.

The "par" score is the average score that other Chessgames members have achieved with the test. By comparing your results with the par, you will know how good you are doing. Chessgames.com members in general are pretty tough chess players, so if you can just stay equal to par you should be proud. Any result more than 10 points above par is excellent.

Hot Tip! HOT TIP - If you are really stumped on a move, you are allowed to abstain from guessing. Just click the "Next Move" arrow and see what was played. You will receive zero points for that move, but you cannot receive a penalty.

Note... NOTE - While Toga is very strong, it's not nearly as strong as most of the grandmasters involved in these games, and it will occasionally make errors in its assessments. Sometimes it will award you only 1 or 2 points when your move is every bit as good as the move played; occasionally you may even receive a penalty for what's actually a strong move. However, Toga is a GM rated chess engine and will usually provide an accurate assessment.

WHAT IS THE OPENING SELECTOR AND ENDGAME SELECTOR?
The "Opening Selector" and the "Endgame Selector" are menus that appear to the right side of the page. If you are interested in doing drills on a certain phase of your game, then these are for you.

The Opening Selector - This is indended for people to want to rapidly test themselves on book knowledge of certain openings. It will allow you to start at the very beginning of the game and try to guess the moves. You will usually be given the additional option to start a few moves into the game, once the opening has been determined. In the example above you can either start at the very beginning, or at move 4. At the bottom, it names the opening being played. You can click on the ECO code in parentheses to jump to the chessgames page on that opening. People who use this feature often abort their games prematurely and then play another game of the same opening; in that sense it is a "drill".

The Endgame Selector - If you want to improve your endgame skills, this menu is of great utility. It does not appear by every game, since every game does not have an ending. When it does appear, it will give you choices based on endgame type. When reading the endgame types, the material on the left belongs to white, and the material on the right belongs to black. The little numbers next to pawns is the number of pawns. For example, in the diagram above, the last line of the Endgame Selector will take you to the ending where White has six pawns and Black has a knight and 5 pawns.

Note... NOTE - If you use either of these features, your score will be tallied and reported, but disregarded for all other purposes (such as par). This is because you started the game either early (for openings) or late (for endings), therefore you cannot be expected to have a score similar to somebody who played the normal range of moves.

Hot Tip! HOT TIP - Use this in conjunction with the Guess-the-Move search engine on the main page to find the kind of endgame or opening you want to practice. For example, if you want to practice your rook endings, select "Rook Endings" from the pulldown menu and then pick a game from the list that is returned.

GUESS-THE-MOVE SPECIAL FUNCTIONS
We have designed a page of several "special functions" available to you, in order to help you use Guess-the-Move more effectively. A link at the bottom of the Guess-the-Move Main Page will take you this area.

The special functions found on this page include:

Review all your scores - Displays all results of games you've taken in the past. This helps you see at a glance how good you're doing.

Clear out all partially-finished games - If you ever quit a guess-the-move game in the middle, we remember that so when you play the game again you can pick up where you left off. If you would prefer to start those games from the beginning, use this tool. This is also a handy way to see which games you have unfinished.

Clear out all scores for all games - This will wipe out all knowledge we have of your participation in guess-the-move. Warning: this option cannot be undone.

Suggest a new game for Guess-the-Move - This feaure is described in more detail in the section below.

Member email support - If you believe you need special assistance, feel free to contact our support team for help.

To access the Guess-the-Move Special Functions page, simply follow the link at the bottom of the main page.

HOW DO I SUGGEST A GAME FOR GUESS-THE-MOVE?
Do you see a game that you think would make a good quiz for Guess-the-Move, or a favorite player that you are trying to emulate? We'll insert just about any game into Guess-the-Move at your request!

Suggest your own game! Just visit the Guess-the-Move Suggestion Page and tell us the URL (web address) to the game you want added. It will be placed in the queue. Depending on the backlog, it could take anywhere from minutes to days to be added. You'll see a color-coded status log of your submissions to let you know how they are coming along: orange is a game waiting to be processed, red is a game currently being analyzed, and green is a game that is finished successfully and added. The lines that read "finished" will be deleted from the status log after 1-2 days.

There are several reasons why this process is necessary. Before a game can be used for Guess-the-Move, the chess engine Toga must analyze the game, move by move, to locate reasonable alternate moves that are worth partial or full credit. Toga will also assign penalties where appropriate. Also, the endgames must be identified and the opening menu created. Once all of these steps are taken, the game will be added to the Guess-the-Move database for you and others to enjoy.

Note... NOTE - You can suggest adding most games in the database, but there are some special restrictions that prevent certain games. These restrictions include: (1) at least one of the players must be somewhat famous; (2) extremely long games, and extremely short games, may not be submitted (3) no odds-games, Fischerandom, etc., and (4) it must be a decisive game (no draws). Chessgames administrators can override these restrictions for special games.

Note... NOTE - Some games are not apppropriate for Guess-the-Move. Games in which the winner commits atrocious blunders, certain composed games, and games that ended in an unusual fashion (e.g. by a cell phone forfeiture) are examples of games that would not be desired for this purpose. If we believe that a member is intentionally submitting inappropriate games to the Guess-the-Move database, we will revoke that member's privilege of suggesting games.

CREDITS

Guess-the-Move was written and developed by Daniel Freeman exclusively for Chessgames.com.

Guess-the-Move was inspired by Bruce Pandolfini's highly entertaining Chess Life column called Solitaire Chess. Pandolfini probably derived the idea from Israel Albert Horowitz who wrote a similar feature for Chess Review. Leonard William Barden created the acclaimed series of books "How Good is Your Chess?" based on the same premise.

The chess engine "Toga" was written by Thomas Gaksch, and is a derivative of the engine "Fruit" written by Fabien Letouzey.

Finally, many thanks to Chessgames member Stu Taylor ("Join The Army") who suggested this feature and provided many good ideas during its development phase.


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