Yesterday I finished the last chapter for Endgame Play. As usual when finishing a book, I feel empty, ill and slightly beside myself. There is more work to do, of course, but the difficult (read: brain in active mode) part of the work is done.

I am considering updating my laptop. Any advice on a good one for chess purposes? Money is an issue (donations welcome), but I am really looking for a good one.

We have banned a person from commenting on our blog for the first time ever this week. Not only was he trolling John and myself, he was also becoming a nuisance for everyone else. We are hoping that we will not have to do this again for a long time; not the least because it is time consuming to have to block his repeated attempts to get around the block.

Some wrote on the blog that Quality Chess and especially I had done great service to chess. I understand where this comes from, but find it rather unfair to John. He has personally edited most of our top books: Learn from the Legends, GM1, How I Beat Fischer’s Record, Attacking Manual 1, Pump up your Rating, Tiger’s Modern and so on. Besides this, he just won the Chess Publishing book of the year for The King’s Gambit, despite a vicious campaign against him. John and I have always been 50-50, though I think he is putting in more work and creating more value than I.

Besides this, John is my boss! He has the final say on everything, as we believe someone has to have this power.

Andrew Greet has also contributed greatly over the years. His work with Tibor Karolyi’s books as well as Berg, Kotronias, Mikhalevski, Attacking Manual 2, various GM Repertoire books and so on, should not be underestimated.

Our other employees, Colin, Claire, Nikos and Danny have to be content with praise in private.

Next up for me is some pre-editing on the Grivas book, the Sveshnikov Sicilian and then maybe a chess tournament!?

34 thoughts on “Various”

  1. Is it correct what someone wrote on the blog that this year is QC’s 10th birthday? If so, I think it merits some form of recognition.

    As for laptop, not sure I can give advice (I use a multiprocessor desktop for chess with 2 screens, which I think is ideal situation), only add to the debate. I was wondering on the merits of a Microsoft Surface Pro 2 for chess purposes…..I think Matthew Sadler hinted he was using one in a recent article in Chess Magazine.

  2. Lenovo Yoga 2. Its pricy but very light, powerful and looks and works great! I’ve made it my main machine for software development and chess stuff.

  3. With cloud engines on Playchess / in the Chessbase interface, do you really need all that horsepower in a laptop anymore? It might be worthwhile to setup a private engine in the QC home office on a heavy-duty desktop and then use it remotely on a laptop as you need.

  4. I agree John’s contrution to QC is underestimated. Maybe that’s just because he’s just more modest than you :-).

  5. Carlsen in preparation for the championship of the world uses a powerful Eurocom

    By the way just look at the picture on newinchess 2013/8 in addition to the aforementioned laptop there is also a book … 🙂

    In principle, 8gb of ram and an i7 processor is a good configuration for chess

  6. Jesse Gersenson

    Why are you replacing your current laptop?

    Your hard disk is, on all of your machines, the performance bottle neck for all work except engine analysis. I think you’d save 3 minuets per day with a high performance drive, more if you’re dealing with large files or system updates. The “Intel 530 Series SSD” would be my choice for your laptop. It’s 240 gb and costs about 190 USD and perhaps the shop where you get the machine could install the operating system so you don’t have to deal with that step.

  7. On the laptop, it depends a lot on how you want to use it. If you want to improve general performance, then I completely agree with Jesse the biggest bang for your buck is replacing the hard disk with an SSD.
    Second behind this would be adding RAM. At least 4 GB is needed, with 8 GB really useful particularly for caching large databases. If you can afford it as much as 16 can be useful for the large databases. Of course, this all requires a 64-bit operating system.
    The processor is only important for doing engine analysis. If you’re not planning for a lot of that almost anything today is fine. If you are then a quad-core is really important. If there is enough month a current-generation quad i7 is best. The budget solution is a quad i5, which is almost as fast and a lot cheaper.

  8. Nikos Ntirlis

    The problem with the Chessbase cloud is that it doesn’t MinMax the analysis (i hope that i am not wrong), so in a sense the service it provides is very limited.

    I am ready to update my laptop as well, and there is nothing really more to do that adding more RAM and buying an SSD, unless you are ready to migrate to Arch Linux for example and see a nice performance boost on your PC without doing any of those above (obviously, installing Arch is not the simplest thing on earth, but you can start with Manjaro). I am lecturing about Operating Systems in my university school and i know quite well that if you care mainly about performance, migrating to a suitable OS is a good (and cheap) step. You can always run you favourite Windows on Virtualbox.

  9. Nikos Ntirlis

    I think that Jacob has replied to this. Marin will do a second edition of his “Beating” book after he finishes helping Judith for her last book.

  10. @Nikos Ntirlis
    Is’nt it a problem with other operating systems that most chess software has only been written for Windows? E.g. I have an Apple laptop and I think it’s quite annoying that ChessBase is only available for Windows.

  11. @Jacob Aagaard
    Nothing bad about Marin of course (he’s one of my favourite chess writers), but imo his 1…e5 reportiore was a bit too passive for my taste. It would be great of Mikhalevski could write a follow-up to his book on the Open Spanish. Maybe one ‘Playing 1…e5’ book by Marin iwth a more positional reportoire and a GM Rep book 1…e5 by Mikahlevski with a more aggressive reportoire would be the ideal, but I guess there must also be a business case for you guys (though most 1…e5 players would probably buy both books).

  12. Jesse Gersenson

    @Nikos Ntirlis
    Running applications via virtualbox introduces complications and inefficiencies. I agree that, in the long run, they’ll be more productive on Gnu+Linux. The issue is they’ll lose productivity during the initial transition. A plausible solution would be to do the transition in steps, namely one program at a time. Move from Excel to LibreOffice Calc. Move from MS Word to LibreOffice Word. Move from MS Outlook to Thunderbird. Move from PhotoShop to Gimp. In this way the gain a bit of time and money when installing new machines because they wouldn’t need to unregister/register/buy the named programs. When they’d moved to these new programs their remaining critical ms programs would be run in Linux under wine: chessbase, Indesign, Illustrator. I’m not certain how well these run under wine.

    Any office machines which don’t need Chessbase, Indesign, or Illustrator should be running GNU+Linux – just install the operating system and install LibreOffice.

    fyi, At one point Jacob agreed to try Thunderbird and it crashed (or windows froze) while importing several gb of data. 0-1. Also he let me install virtualbox so they could have 64-bit engines on their 32-bit XP systems but, their Q8400 cpu’s didn’t support vitalization. 0-2.

  13. About the laptop, I think Jacob should answer the important question first: what kind of work is it intended for? In the effort to determine the best price/performance ratio, it is impossible to make suggestions without an answer to the above!
    In the grander scheme of things, there is no better combination of all factors (performance, portability, battery life, screen real estate and quality, etc) than a 15″ MacBook Pro, latest generation. But it costs too much. So, depending on your needs, you can keep going down from there, until you hit the sweet spot.
    Go the ultrabook way if portability and battery life is your main concern. Get the speediest multi-core processor if chess analysis is the plan. Rely only on latest-generation Intel processors (“Haswell”, of the type iX-4XXX) for improved battery life. Don’t go for AMD unless you are really concerned about the cost. Don’t accept anything less than 8Gb of RAM and anything less than a 128Gb SSD for storage – stay away from traditional HDDs, and use cloud storage or a USB 3.0 external HDD (such as WD MyPassport Ultra) for multimedia and other stuff. Integrated graphics by Intel, generation 4000 and up, will suit you fine if you don’t play graphics-heavy games or do graphic designer work. Look for at least two USB 3.0 ports. Backlit keyboard is a must. Very importantly, test the trackpad’s responsiveness yourself in a store, most trackpads suck and the device itself is becoming increasingly important in modern OSes. Get a touchscreen if you go the Windows way, it can prove really useful with Windows 8. There are many other things to mention, we could elaborate if we had a clear direction from Jacob.
    Regarding manufacturers: you can’t go wrong with Apple (but it will cost you). Sony is selling its VAIO business and will stop producing laptops after spring – they will keep offering service, but who knows? Lenovo has kept up with IBM’s tradition well and is generally a good choice. HP has hits and misses, but generally reliable. Overall, manufacturers who also have server business (Lenovo/IBM, HP, Dell) offer the best service options; for someone who heavily relies on his laptop for productivity, this can be an important factor.

  14. Jacob Aagaard

    Mac has done poorly in quite a lot of hardware tests and do have a lot of faults, compared to other producers. Also, I do not really want to pay double for the “feel” that Mac users always refer to; which in my opinion is nothing more than a great design.

    My job is mainly with ChessBase and InDesign.

  15. Jesse Gersenson

    As a rule I don’t buy new: cars, acoustic guitars, computers. In your case I’d be looking for an “i7 thinkpad” and seeing what’s available.

    I checked and craigslist (philadelphia) for i7 thinkpad. 1350 GBP is on the very high end.

    This looks very good (717 GBP + shipping):

    “128 gb SSD drive” is as descriptive as “64-bit chess engine”. You want an Sata III made by Intel with 500mb/s Read and 490mb/s write speeds. Accept no substitutes. Also you don’t want to rely on an external drive as a primary source of data storage because it means a box will constantly be hanging from your computer on a structurally weak joint which is an annoying distraction.

  16. Clear. Then you should look for a really fast processor, 8GB RAM as I said, and an SSD – this will greatly speed up your InDesign editing. I suppose you’d then wish a pretty large screen, maybe 15″ or so, for plenty of real-estate for InDesign; it should be at least FullHD too. The touchscreen will not really help with InDesign much, but you may find it useful with ChessBase – you’d be amazed how much it eases move input.
    It’s true that Macs are overly expensive, compared to other solutions, but it’s not just the design (and premium quality of materials). They do include some pretty advanced technology, such as PCIe SSDs and Lightning, for example, and fantastic screens. And you do realize that this very same InDesign was initially created as a Mac-only software! But anyway, such things matter more to enthusiasts and to those running more specialized software. It has to be agreed that it doesn’t make sense to pay that much more unless you really need it.
    Thus, to recap, look for something with an i7-4XXXQM (QM stands for Quad-core Mobille), or a dual-core i7 (i7-4XXXM) at high frequencies. 8Gb of RAM and an SSD for everyday work – it will really make your life so much more pleasant! I am not sure about the graphics requirements of InDesign, maybe another reader on this forum can help out, but I guess that the integrated graphics should suffice (integrated graphics = lower cost, less electricity consumption, less heat, less spinning of the fans, less noise!). You can opt for an ultrabook if 13 inches are enough screen real-estate for you, or you can trade the portability and fantastic battery life of ultrabooks for a bigger screen (and lower cost).
    As we’re on the subject, here is another advantage of MacBooks in productivity terms: they have less wide screens, rather than the usual 16:9 ones you find in almost all Windows laptops; they are so much better for productive work!

  17. Jacob Aagaard

    Thank you for all of the advice. I will continue to ponder.

    The Mac is out of the question as we are all PC in the office. You do not want to spend all your saved time struggling with conversion issues of files, as we do have from time to time with people who work with Mac. Or just having two automated systems in your hands…

  18. Probably not what you want to hear. Keep a junk computer around and build a good desktop for all your main chess work. You can drag the pgn files back and forth.

    Laptops are designed to run slower so the batteries last longer and slow the processors down.

    Personally I couldn’t understand using a expensive laptop for chess calculation through a program, when you could build a desktop that is way better at everything for cheaper.

    My suggestion is keep the laptop you have and build a desktop for hardcore calculating.

    You can get some cool liquid cooled computers for some hardcore stuff. Lots of ways to go with it. You just get more out of desktop and with the nature of your work I couldn’t imagine you would do anything else. But what the hell do I know.

    1. Jacob Aagaard

      I want to hear people’s honest opinions; because there are a lot of smart people visiting this blog (unlike those writing on it, obviously).

      I am reconsidering a bit. I always tend to want to have the best tool; but maybe the best tool is a desktop and a cable into the wi-fi.

      Regarding water-cooling. Our second best machine in the office, which runs engines for John, had this. But it went a bit wrong. Trying to fix it was a nightmare and failed. In the end, we had it replaced with a new type of fan that only killed about 1% of the speed. John can correct me; he was dealing with it.

  19. Jacob, I really recommend you considering a very good desktop machine. Recently I bought second hand HP Z800 workstation with 2×6 core Xeons and 48 GB RAM for just about 800GBP (with 30 days warranty). It saves me a lot of time in my correspondence games. I am using it non stop with 80+% load and have no problems. The good thing is that you can configure it when buying what to be included. If you are interested please send me an email and I will give you the site from where I bought it (it is in UK, so you can have 2-3 days delivery). Do not want to post links to third party sites here.

  20. Hello There,

    My laptop is the Asus N750JV, i7-4700HQ and it is very comfortable to use, good machine. There is a more recent recent and more powerful version with the Asus G750JX, i7-4700HQ but you pay a bit the graphical card when I guess you are not looking forward to spend your time on video games.

    PS : it is a very interesting topic and I have written something about it on my blog – just a joke :).

  21. I would look into bare bones kits.

    Hit up cnet (website research fastest processors ect.

    I use and not sure what sites are popular across the pond but these guys sell bare bones kits here.

    With a bare bones kit you have to put the computer together. (don’t let this scare you) you have to upload the software windows 7 instead of 8 I would recommend easier to work with.

    When you build it yourself you get what you need. Super high end processing, yet simple graphics. Smaller hard drive and crazy amounts of ram.

    You can build something here for around $750 us dollars that compares to a $2000 machine.
    As you really are putting it together yourself.

    And really don’t let that scare you. ( you could always give a few lessons to a local computer nerd and trade off the work )

    But yet it will be faster and better than anything else out there.

    They initially make laptops slower to save battery power.

    its really a nice ala cart kind of way to go.

    I would save the cash and buy the best computer for what you need use your laptop as your main writing horse and use your desktop as your main thinker.

  22. Jesse Gersenson

    For what it’s worth — if you get a machine and it just runs chess engines:
    1. it should run linux
    2. doesn’t need a hard drive (noisy and consumes power, makes heat) or a cd drive! the operating system and engines can just go on a thumb drive.
    3. get a silent fanless power supply

    I’m reluctant to think you needs tons of ram but I’ll ask some chess programmers if there is a benefit to say, more than 4gb.

    Jacob when you’re ready to do something show the following page to your local computer builders, it will give them an idea what set ups are being used to achieve high performance chess machines and give them some ideas how best to solve the riddle:

    Could try measuring your machine, i’d guess it’ll be around 7000 kn/s.

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