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Is there software that tracks unassisted game play and categorizes player's strengthens and weaknesses in a way that allows the player to focus on the most valuable deliberate area practice relative to the player's strengthens and weaknesses?

  • I don't believe I play well enough to warrant focusing on this problem or that problem. – Tony Ennis May 20 '12 at 1:40
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    @Tony Ennis: Level of skill has nothing to do with the effective use of deliberate practice. In fact, I'd venture to say that experts of less skill would benefit more from such a system, since it would bring meaningful focus and feedback as well to the learning cycles presented. – blunders May 20 '12 at 1:47
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I'm confident in saying that there is no such software; though engines are of course incredibly strong players, and their numerical evaluations can certainly pinpoint poor individual moves that you might make, the kind of helpful feedback you describe is unfortunately out of reach for a computer program at this point in time. On the plus side, though, there is a fantastic (and cheap!) alternative to such nonexistent software: human players who are stronger than oneself.

One of the best ways to get better at chess (and this is in common with most competitive endeavors) is just to play against the strongest opponents you can find, whether casually or in tournament play, especially if you can pick their brains in a postmortem afterward. You will come to learn where they saw you going wrong, and in what areas of the game you tend to make mistakes, and in time you will see more and more of these things on your own. And even if you don't talk through the game afterward, just the playing itself will be a boon to your development as a player, as there's no substitute for practice against the best, and steel sharpens steel.

  • +1 @Ed Dean: On another question, xaisoft provide software that gives feedback, but to my knowledge does not allow the player to see the feedback real-time. It's interesting that such software does not appear to exist – blunders May 21 '12 at 14:22
  • @blunders: thanks for that link. What xaisoft describes there is exactly the most I would expect from a software solution. It can tell you when you've messed up (and indicate "how badly" with a number), but can't offer guidance for improvement for a human. – ETD May 21 '12 at 14:26
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    Mistakes are not just knowledge-based (typically inferred by looking at one game). Can also be behavior-based (poor time management), willpower-based (resigns too quickly) or simply a lack of attention to details (hand-waving/coasting on general principles) and simply not finding tough/critical positions "fun enough" to really grind into. A good coach/mentor can observe these patterns by going over N games (watching them live/offline with move timestamps) and then making assessments of what these weaknesses are, then prioritizing how they ought to be addressed (or deliberately practiced!) – shivsky Oct 2 '13 at 16:16

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