What you get in a ChessJournal Membership

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Hello ChessJournal fans!

Well its been just over a week since we launched version 2.0 of everyones favourite chess players diary. Myself and Matt have been delighted with the response so far. Across the App Store and Google Play we are averaging a 4.43 (out of 5) star rating and I’m getting lots of lovely emails from my fellow wood pushers!

One of the biggest changes in v2 of ChessJournal was the move to a subscription model.  A few people have questioned whats included with the different membership levels so on todays blog I thought I would outline the different levels of membership. Here we go:

Free Membership

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ChessJournal is free to download and create an account.  With the free level of membership the following features and benefits are included:

  • Unlimited storage of your competitive ‘over the board’ games in the cloud;
  • Inport and export PGN of your games to and from your personal ChessJournal;
  • Built in engine to use on all your games;
  • Statistical breakdown of your performance across competitive seasons;
  • Create personal improvement goals that you can track and link important games to;
  • Share your games via email, Twitter and Facebook;
  • Search functionality for your whole ChessJournal.

Premium Membership (£4.99 / $6.50 / €6.00 per year)

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Becoming a premium member of ChessJournal unlocks the following:

  • Ability to analyse key variations and save interesting lines with your game;
  • Annotate your games with your thoughts and lessons learned;
  • Export and share your annotations and variations via email, Twitter and Facebook.

Becoming a premium member allows you to take your ChessJournal to the next level by enabling a deeper level of self study and learning.  Here is a link to an example of a fully annotated game that I played in the Bristol & District League recently:

Jon Fisher (1788) vs. Richard Johnson (1930), 25th April 2017

My team and club mates enjoyed watching me wriggle out of that one!

Our Premium subscription offering will be getting expanded in the coming months. I will be blogging more info here in due course.

Why choose ChessJournal?

So there we are! Even with a free membership I hope you can see the value of starting your own personal ChessJournal with us.  ChessJournal offers you the ability to access and study your ‘over the board’ games whenever, wherever and on a convenient device to you (leave your laptop at home next time you play a tournament!). Even time poor amateur players can now find the time and opportunity to study using ChessJournal!

The focus of learning from your own mistakes and patterns of play, will we hope start to yield real benefit to improving, aspirational, amateur chess players.  Anecdotally within the ChessJournal community (from v1.0) I have received reports of players improving up to 100 ELO (approx. 15pts in ECF money) after using ChessJournal for a season.  I myself have achieved a rating increase of 98 ELO this season.

So thats it for this weeks blog.  My chess club, Horfield & Redland, completed the league this week so I will probably write an analysis of my season soon.  Until then thanks for reading and keep those nice reviews coming on the App Store and Google Play!

Cheers

Jon


ChessJournal is the companion app for club and tournament players. Store your games in the cloud for free and analyse them on the go on your phone or tablet.  Leave your laptop at home the next time you visit that big tournament!

You can download ChessJournal on iOS and Android here:

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ChessJournal Pivots…

Hello ChessJournal fans!

Its been a quiet couple of months on the blog following the launch of version 1.4 back at the beginning of September.  The reason being is life took over for a while (as well as the new chess season started!) but also its been a period of strategic contemplation at ChessJournal HQ.

As regular readers will know, myself and Matt like to adopt a lean design and development approach to ChessJournal, gradually iterating and adding new features regularly.  The reason for the pause has been two fold:

  • The launch of iOS 10 by Apple scuppered many of our plans as a new range of bugs, especially around keyboard use and scrolling.  What we thought would be a quick fix actually turned into a considerable rewrite of the underlying ChessJournal code (leading to much soul searching over beer).  Thankfully version 1.4.5 of ChessJournal shipped yesterday and is now available for updating, huzzah!
  • A small percentage of ChessJournal users reporting that they were losing games. Matt has donned his finest forensic development gloves and been searching tirelessly for why some users appear to lose their games.  It appears that for those users whose phones memory are almost full the iOS will routinely wipe non-native apps first…charming!

With both of these incidents occurring in quick succession as well as a flurry of new feature requests from you lovely ChessJournal fans, me and Matt have been thinking long and hard on how to move forward.

Its clear that we have a real demand for a feature rich app that helps ‘over the board’ chess players but at the same time we need to address how to help our existing user base when a significant redevelopment of the application is required. Hmmm.

Its time to pivot

Having weighed up all the options available to us we have decided to bring forward an idea we have had for a long time which we affectionately call “ChessJournal Pro” (readers familiar with lean start up philosophies may refer to this move as a pivot!).

ChessJournal Pro is effectively a new app that we have started designing and developing as of this week. Launching a new app provides two major advantages to you, the ChessJournal fan:

  1. We can build in all of the feature requests that you have been sending us into our data model from day 1.  We have learnt so much about chess players needs in the first 6 months of ChessJournal that we couldn’t possible have known when we lunched back  at the end of May!  ChessJournal 1.0 to 1.4 has been a real pleasure to work on but there has always been certain requests (variations analysis for example) that were very difficult to provide without a complete rewrite of the app.
  2. We can move ChessJournal to a cloud based service! Yes I know what you are going to say: “Jon, what about all those blog posts where you said it didn’t need to be cloud based?” `Well I was right and wrong.  ChessJournal 1,4 works great as a local storage app but it is ultimately limited in the long run (just ask the users whose Apple phones are deleting data when their phones memory is almost full…).  Ultimately, local storage on the phone will have limitations across years of use.  A final advantage of moving to a cloud based app is that we can allow users to access their games from any device or platform (hurrah for all you Android users out there!)

“But Jon I have already put loads of games into ChessJournal 1.4!”

Dont Panic! Me and Matt are dedicated to both our existing and new ChessJournal fans.  The very first new feature added to the ChessJournal Pro roadmap was a PGN import feature. Happy days!

Next Steps

We will continue to support ChessJournal 1.4 for the foreseeable future as we finalise and start work on ChessJournal: Pro Edition.  Now would be an excellent time to send in any feature requests that you have always wanted to see in ChessJournal but are not currently supported!

I plan to blog a much more detailed run down of the new app and all its lovely new features in due course but please give myself and Matt time to finalise next steps.

As always thanks for reading and being patient with us.  We are determined to bring to market the best app for personal chess study available and it is no light decision that we have decided to pivot in this new direction.  Ultimately its for the good of all!

Cheers

Jon

 

The Great #chessjournal Challenge

Hello ChessJournal fans!

So the long summer break is finally over and we enter yet another season of cut and thrust ‘Over the board’ chess.  To coincide with the start of the new chess season we launched another update yesterday for everyone’s favourite self study chess app.

Version 1.4 of ChessJournal now contains two key new features.

Social Sharing

You can now create a unique URL for each of your games and share them with club mates through Twitter, Facebook, Whats app, email or what ever takes your fancy.  The keen eyed amongst you will have noticed me starting to test and tweet this functionality late last week but now it is available for all to enjoy, huzzah!

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Myself and Matt are really pleased to finally get this functionality into ChessJournal as it has always been on the roadmap.  We hope you find it useful for those evenings after the dust has settled on the league match from the night before (or on a Monday after that long hard weekend tournament).  Don’t lament that loss or rejoice in the win by yourself.  Its your club mates responsibility to tell you how you could have won that vital extra half point!

Analysis of variations

We have also added a “variations scratchpad” to the app to enable you to explore the key positions that you may have annotated.

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The scratchpad basically lets you open a new board position and shuffle some wood until you find the winning combination that you missed over the board (with a little help from the chess engine should you need it).

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We find the variations scratchpad fits nicely into the dynamic annotation timeline as it allows you to just double check some of your assumptions around the moves that were made (or missed).  You will find the variations scratchpad under “Options” in the dynamic annotations timeline of your games, titled “Analyse Position”.
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Whats next?

That just leaves us with moving ChessJournal onto the Android platform as the last part of our initial roadmap.  We have already begun to look into and test the app on Android and I aim to bring you news as soon as possible about when you will be able to get ChessJournal on the Play store.  What is definitely likely to happen is we will run another sales promotion to celebrate moving onto the new platform.  Probably free for 6 weeks at the time of writing, so please do standby to tell your friends.

The Great #chessjournal Challenge

Finally I wanted to mention an idea we have been floating around ChessJournal HQ for a while regarding measuring the success of keeping a journal.  ChessJournal is built around the premise that we believe amateur chess players can benefit more from analysing their own games and mistakes, than spending hours pouring over 2800 GM games pretending that we fully understand.  Whilst elite game analysis is also important, lets not pretend that the reason for most of our lost rating points is because we couldn’t remember the 16th move of the Berlin defence.

Therefore, I want to encourage all readers and owners of ChessJournal to start tweeting their games to #chessjournal throughout the coming season.  Perhaps even start be tweeting your personal goals for the season.  For example, I am aiming to add 75 rating points to break the 1900 barrier for the first time in my life.  A lofty goal but hey we all have to have ambition!

You can think of it as one giant experiment but I am really intrigued to see how an amateur chess players season wide performances are effected through the regular act of self study and maintenance of a chess journal.  When I have time I will write a full blog on The Great #chessjournal Challenge (maybe we can have prises?!)

Thank you reading and all your messages of support and feedback.  To all ChessJournal fans in the new season, Good Luck!

Cheers

Jon

Download ChessJournal here: http://itunes.com/apps/chessjournal

 

 

Improvements and summer sale!

Hello ChessJournal fans!

The blog has been quiet during July but the eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed a steady release of updates and new features for your favourite chess diary app! Today marks the release of version 1.3 of ChessJournal and inline with our roadmap (published here) we have thus far:

  • Optimised fully for iPad users
  • Added a PGN export feature at the request of many a wood pusher!
  • Added a Dynamic Annotations Timeline feature to radically overhaul the previous annotation option.

It is the launch of our Dynamic Annotation Timelines (DATs) that has got me and Matt really excited and we feel takes ChessJournal to the next level.  We previously acknowledged that the annotation feature felt basic in version 1.0 (a simple text field).  But as of today you can not only annotate individual moves but also immediately return to critical positions by pressing on the annotation number on the left hand side.  We really hope those of you who have already downloaded ChessJournal update soon and have a play with the DAT.  It packs the ‘Journal’ into ChessJournal.

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Unfortunately we were just a day too late for some people thou.  Sadly we received our first 1 star review yesterday with one customer lamenting the annotation feature of ChessJournal.  I really hope they upgrade today and are pleasantly surprised.  My only comment would be thank you very much for the feedback as it really helps validate the direction that me and Matt want to take ChessJournal.

One other piece of news from ChessJournal HQ is a decision around pricing.  I have been regularly (my wife would say religiously…) monitoring our analytics on the App Store and its fair to say that July and August have a noticeable dip during the off-peak chess season.  Therefore to get everybody geared up for the new competitive season we have taken the decision to offer a ‘summer sale’ by giving ChessJournal away for FREE in August!  If you have been admiring ChessJournal from afar then now would be a really good time to give it a try (and also tell your friends).  If you bought ChessJournal already then I’m sure you know how much me and Matt value your support and the early encouragement that you have given us. Thank you!

Speaking of support, in this release we have also added a quick link to leave a review on the app store (on the seasons list screen).  Anybody who works with apps will know how important customer reviews are so if you are enjoying what me and matt are doing with ChessJournal then please leave us some love!

Finally a quick social media update on the ChessJournal community.  We now number 472 likes or followers.  A tidy bunch if ever i saw one!

Thanks for reading and do please continue to spread the news of ChessJournal to your club mates, friends and coaches.  Together we can promote the power of ‘over the board’ chess whilst learning a little about ourselves in the process!

Until next time!

Jon

Download chessJournal here: http://itunes.com/apps/chessjournal

 

 

Talking to chess players…

Hello ChessJournal Fans!

Its been another interesting week here at ChessJournal HQ as we moved into our second week since launch and we started to get more feedback from real chess players.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting the Bristol & District Chess League’s Summer Congress where I had an opportunity to chat to players actually in a tournament environment.  I also made some rather snazzy posters (if I do say so myself) which I placed in tactical locations around the building such as right underneath the tournament standings.  Blunt but effective marketing!

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 08.28.01

My thanks to the congress organisers, Alan Papier and Graham Mill-Wilson, who also let me make an announcement to the 92 assembled “wood pushers’ before the start of round three.

What was fascinating about my little exploratory  research session was how badly missed the PGN export feature is in the current version of ChessJournal.  “Can I export my games?” was nearly always the first of second question asked (the other question often being “When will it be on Android?“).

In hindsight (a wonderful thing!) the demand for the PGN export feature is obvious as many chess players already have an established workflow for analysing their games at home using powerful software such as ChessBase.

This last point appears to be an interesting area of confusion as here at ChessJournal HQ we have received several comments from chess players thinking that our app would replace these much larger software packages!! Let me be clear now and say categorically, that is not the case.

We believe the beauty of ChessJournal is in the immediacy and convenience of having your games on your smartphone and forcing you to self critique and learn from your mistakes as you replay and annotate your matches.  ChessJournal is a tool designed to aid chess players immediately after a league or tournament game and not to actually replace or become a database of millions of GM games.  Don’t take your laptop to the tournament, take your smartphone! Its an app for chess players on the go or who don’t want to remember all their scoresheets when they meet for a weekend “coffee & kibbitz” session with friends ! We are a “$2 once kind of app” and not a $10 a month / $120 a year kind of app! I am going to work hard to clear up this confusion moving forward.

When viewed in this light its easy to see (hindsight, yes I know hindsight!) how essential PGN export is, as this feature enables ChessJournal to support and enhance existing software used by serious chess players. A PGN export feature for your games will very likely be in the next release of ChessJournal.

So some news on other updates!  I am working on the iPad improvements this afternoon whilst Matt is sunning himself on holiday!  In all seriousness we have taken a couple of weeks off to relax from the launch and give us the time to gather all of your valuable feedback.

We aim to start rolling out updates soon and of particular note is our planned discussion around the Android roll out.  The demand is clearly there!

Thats it from me this week!  As usual I will finish with an update on our little community.  Our social media presence now numbers 438 likes or follows so we continue to grow slowly and steadily. Keep spreading the word!

Until next time folks!

Cheers

Jon

Download Chessjournal here: http://itunes.comapps/chessjournal

Reviewing the 2015/16 Chess Season

Hello ChessJournal fans!

Its been a little over a week since version 1.0 of ChessJournal launched and I thought it would be a good time to give a demonstration of how I use ChessJournal to aid my thinking for my summer training (in the UK the chess season typically runs September to May). But first a bit of context…

I am an average club player.  I have hovered around the 1800 mark for the last five seasons and began the 2015/16 season graded at 1750. I play for Horfield Chess Club in Bristol in the  UK and was selected for board 6 (bottom board) of the Horfield B team who compete in Division 1 of the Bristol and District league.  My captains remit to me for the season:

Try not to lose too much“.

A quick look at the opposition showed I was likely to be the lowest graded player in most matches by 150-200 ELO points.  The final point to bear in mind was that my wife was heavily pregnant and we were expecting exactly half way through the season. Lets just say my mind wasn’t 100% on the chessboard…

Fast forward to May 2016 and I managed to play in 18 matches (I lost most of the second half of the season when my son arrived in February).  I had some cracking games against strong opponents and even managed to win a few.  Who could forget my heroic win on time to save the match against Yate Chess Club? No-one? Just me then…

Ok back to ChessJournal.  I have downloaded the app and input the 18 games for the 2015/16 season.  As I input each game it is refreshing to revisit games that I haven’t looked at for 9 months and I immediately start to spot patterns in my play.

Black performance in Division 1

I like to think I’m a good defender, especially with my favourite Owens defence (1..b6).  Turns out I’m not.

Last season I played Owens defence and scored almost 60% in Division 2.  Its just not working in Division 1.  Where last seasons opponents were confused, the higher calibre opposition saw straight through my ruse and battered me with black across the season.  A miserly 36% (admittedly from only 7 games) shows a poor return with the black pieces.

black review

Its not just my overall performance with black but the manner of the defeats.  On three occasions I was absolutely smashed in the early middle game, particularly when my opponent adopted an early knight e2 structure. The game below lasted 18 moves after an early Qg4, ouch!

dpk review

Tactics involving pins

Reviewing my season reveals that on at least three occasions I lost games due to tactics involving pinned pieces.  Ive had a suspicion of this weakness in the past but seeing it on the board with the engine running drives home that I really don’t spot this type of tactic.  I mentally note to look at this further. The game below shows how rook to B8 lost instantly to the rather lovely rook C6!

calverley review

Im scared to push with White

In a complete counter to my performance with black, I score a respectable 55% with the white pieces against strong opposition. However, a deep dive into my 11 games with white reveals that of my 4 draws, 3 of them I was in a winning position either on the board, on the clock or both. Although objectively two of the games were level, there was a lot of play left in the position and my opponents had very little time left.

domonic review

I appear to be overawed with the stronger opposition when I have them in a nasty spot.  My finding is validated from my wins with white where I have played some unsound but positive moves (see my bishop sac below) and been rewarded with the win.

dimond review

Finally a look at Trends shows that I have scored highly (1900) when drawing.  How many of those could have been full points rather than half?

trends review blog

Conclusions

Already I have identified three areas for me to focus on over the summer:

  • Review my black opening repertoire for Division 1;
  • Practice performing extra double checks for pinned pieces.  My structure is not always as solid as I would think!
  • Be more confident with white.  I am actually strong with white (averaging 1870 ELO) and could easily have scored even higher if I wasn’t intimidated by my opponents grade on the score sheet.

Thats it! At the conclusion of a tough season, full of mistakes, I’ve learnt a lot and I take some consolation when ChessJournal shows a grading performance of 1828 (78pts more than last year).

I hope this blog post gives you an indication of how ChessJournal can help you become a better chess player. Our goal has always been to provide an app that allows you to focus on your game and all of its nuances.  If I just address the three factors in this blog post I am confident that I will be a stronger player in Division 1 next season. Although I will definitely have to get more sleep…

Until next time!

Jon

Download ChessJournal here: http://itunes.com/apps/chessjournal

 

Feature Roadmap

Hello ChessJournal fans!

As promised, I wanted to write another blog post covering the high-level development roadmap for ChessJournal now that v1.0 has gone live.  Over the weekend we have received some fascinating feedback that we are still collating from all of you.

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However, me and Matt have always had a number of key strategic releases and updates for ChessJournal planned once it was on the App Store.  The timings and release schedule are to be determined but I wanted to give you early customers an idea of what is to come ahead.  In a loose but not necessarily correct order, here we go…

iPad Optimisation

Whilst v1.0 of ChessJournal works on iPad, we are well aware that it needs a level of optimisation to improve the “look and feel” when compared to its iPhone counterpart.  For example, typography and pop-up windows in particular. The iPad optimisation of ChessJournal is a “straight after launch” activity because we learned through our App Store application that iPad also had to be supported. If you have downloaded ChessJournal on the iPad then don’t worry, it will be improving soon.

PGN Export and Share functionality

As I stated in my last post, the addition of PGN export functionality has always been intended but following the v1.0 release we realise how valued this is.  The addition of PGN exports for games also ties in nicely with another missing piece of functionality that didn’t make it into the first version of ChessJournal: Sharing.

It has long been our goal that upon entering your chess games then ChessJournal should enable you to share them via email or social media (eventually we might move to the point of sharing between different ChessJournal’s but that is a way off yet).  Its obvious to see how the provision of PGN export and sharing go hand in hand, so it is likely that this feature combination will be added soon.

Annotation Design Improvements

ChessJournal is about storing, analysing and recording your thoughts about each individual game to identify where you went wrong.  Whilst we are pleased with the v1.0 implementation and the ability to edit and annotate games, we feel that a better, sexier solution could also exist.  Whilst I don’t want to say too much now, myself and Matt will be exploring how to improve the design of the game annotation feature of ChessJournal.  Basically we will be focusing some design effort on the “journal” part of ChessJournal.

Trends Expansion

The Trends tab of ChessJournal is intended to grow as we gather more feedback from ChessJournal users and fans.  At the moment we have launched with two Trends: “Opponent Grade” and “Length of Game”. Moving forward we have already identified three additional trends which are “Form”, “Days of the Week” and “Mistakes”.  If you have any suggestions for what kind of trends you would like us to track then please do let us know.

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Android Launch

Android, oh Android! Yes.  We will be launching on Android.  The app has been specifically designed to do so.  However, we want to make sure that we get ChessJournal right on one platform first before we launch it on a second one!  Its been really reassuring to get all your comments on Android as it shows a real desire for ChessJournal which is encouraging.

Languages

A final high-level feature we will be working towards is the provision of ChessJournal in multiple languages.  In a similar vein to the Android launch, we want to make sure that we get ChessJournal right first before we invest and create multiple language versions of it. However, we understand how critical launching a multi-language version of ChessJournal will be as chess is obviously a global game!  For example, our Twitter Analytics package shows us that 18% of our Twitter followers speak Spanish. Thats a big percentage of ChessJournal fans!

So thats our high-level feature roadmap for ChessJournal. Hopefully this post gives you an idea of what is come and where we aim to improve.  I know I always say it but we really are grateful for your feedback and suggestions and ChessJournal’s success is built upon that collaboration. Please do share news of ChessJournal with your friends, team mates and club officers.  Every piece of feedback helps.

Until next time.

Jon

Download ChessJournal here: http://itunes.com/apps/chessjournal

ChessJournal is LIVE!

app store

Hello ChessJournal fans,

By now I am sure that most regular readers are aware that ChessJournal v.1.0 went live on Saturday 28th May 2016.  Huzzah!

The response so far has been absolutely fantastic with a flurry of positive comments across social media.  Its been a pleasure to read everyones responses as well as start to gather valuable feedback on how we can improve ChessJournal. If you have contributed over the weekend then both myself and Matt would like to say a big thank you!

Its already fascinating to see the consensus from ChessJournal fans on things that can be improved as well as features that are missing.  For example, a PGN export feature has been requested on numerous occasions.  Such a request brought a wry smile to me and Matt as we have already (architecturally speaking) planned for the introduction of a PGN export feature. It just didn’t make it into v1.0 of ChessJournal. This is an excellent example of how real customer feedback affects the roadmap for ChessJournal.  Originally the PGN export feature was not so high a priority but we have listened to you, the customer, and are already planning how to move this desired feature forward. I will be blogging shortly with the high-level development for ChessJournal so please say tuned!

Back to the launch weekend and what fun it was! Special mention has to go to Terry Tyson who probably was not only the first ChessJournal customer (I Tweeted at 06:30 following my baby boy waking up at 05:00 and Terry instantly replied!!) but also demonstrated immediate learning from his chess match later in the day when he posted the following:

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Unlucky Terry!

A second highlight of the launch weekend was finding ChessJournal entering the Top 20 in the Top Charts for “Board games” in the UK.  Straight in at number 13!  A great result (quickly followed by an immediate plummet from the top 150, ah well).

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So we finally got there (only the 6 weeks late) and I feel its important to say that this is only the beginning as we work (with you hopefully) to push ChessJournal forward and create the best companion app for “over the board” chess players possible.

I will finish this post with an image that I feel sums up the weekend for myself and Matt.

Cheers!

cheers.JPG

Download ChessJournal here: http://itunes.com/apps/chessjournal

Chess engine fun & games…

Hello ChessJournal fans!

Its been a month since my last update and despite outside impressions to the contrary, we are very very close! Tomorrow myself and Matt intend to meet for a couple of hours to finalise the App store submission which means, all being well, ChessJournal v1.0 should be available within a week!

The end of May launch would put us about 6 weeks behind our original intended launch date of mid-April. As regular readers will know its been a learning curve and perhaps the biggest lesson materialised since my last post when we realised we had issues with the Stockfish chess engine…

Myself and Matt thought we had done all our homework on the licence for Stockfish but thankfully a new friend on Twitter (Acid App Chess – check them out here) pointed out some complications and our misinterpretations with the Stockfish licence (specifically around open source code) that meant we would be unable to use it. Integrating Stockfish had taken the best part of 10 days so you can imagine we were not happy with this effectively lost time. Whilst the chess engine is not the sole key to ChessJournal we do consider some analytical support on your games an important feature so you can evaluate key moments in your games. Therefore we set about looking for a new chess engine built on JavaScript with a suitable licence. As it turns out, not such an easy task!

Perseverance was the order of the day and eventually we found Garbo-JS.  A lovely example of a chess engine with a playing strength of around 2600 ELO, more than strong enough to evaluate any given position that your average club player will find themselves in.  Unfortunately Garbo-JS hadn’t been updated for about three or four years (a lifetime in development circles), so Matt found himself scratching around in the dark whilst I desperately tried to figure out the strange outputs that Garbo-JS was showing. Our situation was analogous to finding an old sports car engine covered in dust.  Somewhere inside was a powerful engine, it just needed a hell of a good mechanic and a couple dozen oil changes!

Fast forward three weeks and we are proud to say that the our chess engine is now purring nicely and giving good clean honest evaluations of any given chess position. With some minor amendments to the user interface (UI) the app is now feeling really nice to use.  Nicely done Matt!

new_chess_engine_interface

So that explains the delay in launch and the fun shenanigans that we have been enjoying in the ChessJournal camp in recent weeks. Our final bug sweeps have thrown up some fascinating issues, most notably the one below which neither me or Matt can really explain (don’t worry its fixed now)!

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As always I will finish this blog post with a social update.  Our little community now numbers 402 followers / likes.  Its reassuring to see the steady growth and interest in our project. Thanks for all your patience, we really are very close and I can’t wait for you all to get your own ChessJournal’s on your phones.

I have been playing with the v1.0 of ChessJournal for the last week and on my next blog post I will write about using it to analyse my personal chess season from 2015/16.  Its surprising what findings it throws up!

Until next time!

Jon

UPDATE: We are delighted to say that since this blog post was written, ChessJournal is now available on the App Store. You can download it here: 

http://itunes.com/apps/chessjournal

Thank you for your support.

 

 

 

How understanding chess players helps design decisions

Hello ChessJournal fans!

Welcome to another update on the development of the best companion app for over the board chess players (I know Im bias but what the heck). Last week I spoke about several ways ChessJournal can benefit the amateur chess fan. This week I thought I would discuss a major design decision for ChessJournal and why we have chosen that route.

Since the beginning I’ve wanted ChessJournal to be a product not a service.  Let me explain what I mean…

When I explain to friends, family and team mates what ChessJournal is many of them ask if it will be cloud based i.e. will you be able to remotely store your chess games and access them from any device.  In short the answer is no.  By choosing to make ChessJournal cloud based there are a number of factors that we need to consider, most importantly the storage of your data and all the factors that this entails (e.g. emails, usernames and passwords).

In essence, making ChessJournal cloud based means making it a service that would have a number of implications. These include:

  • 24 hour access and support (I know I’m a young father but even I have to sleep some time!);
  • A subscription payment model in order to cover mine and Matt’s time with servers and data storage etc;
  • Reliance on an internet connection!

This final point may initially sound moot but if you think about our principle of “carrying all your chess games in your pocket” then a reliance on an internet connection can be annoying.  From personal experience, many tournaments in the UK are limited in their wifi coverage and are often in cold dark halls but I have also been known to conduct analysis on trains, planes and even the bathroom (perhaps I’m sharing too much now…)!

So very early on in the development of ChessJournal we felt that it was a product and not a service.

We want chess players to access their games anytime, anywhere. No matter what.

We want to focus our efforts on making an exceptional application that  improves and meets the needs of over the board chess players with each new release.

We want the ChessJournal community to engage and tell us how they are using their individual ChessJournal’s and what features they need.

We want people to pay once and receive all the benefits that ChessJournal can provide for years without having to worry about monthly or annual subscription fees.

Perhaps most importantly we want a premium application that is not littered with adverts, or pushing people to constantly upgrade.

A final added benefit of us choosing to make ChessJournal a product and not a service is that all of your game data will naturally be stored in the cloud anyway as a natural consequence of backing up your iPhone.  Therefore, you the customer, have the best of both worlds. A quality premium app with your data backed up.  Happy days!

As always I will finish this post with an update on progress this week.  The big news from development land is that we have integrated the StockFish analysis engine (with a few wires still hanging out of the back) and are tweaking our game board interface.  Obviously the integration of StockFish enables a strong level of analysis but also allows some fun planning on the ChessJournal roadmap in the future. Keep your ears open for those updates.

Our social media presence continues to creep up with our little community now totalling 365 likes or follows.  Thank you for all your comments, shares and feedback.  Me and Matt genuinely take onboard every comment as we continue our journey towards launch day (what I have affectionately started calling “International ChessJournal Day”).

Keep reading and sharing!

Until next time…

Jon

UPDATE: We are delighted to say that since this blog post was written, ChessJournal is now available on the App Store. You can download it here: 

http://itunes.com/apps/chessjournal

Thank you for your support.