Training Wizard Issues

Questions and answers for COW Macintosh and Windows
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DickMyhill
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Feb 09, 2021 3:10 am

Training Wizard Issues

Post by DickMyhill »

Since the recent introduction of the 5-a-day challenge I decided to make the effort to train the new positions as I add them. Then I realized I don't use the training wizard enough to understand it properly. Her is my problem:

Initially I had, say, 23 positions in the DB and trained them until I got the training complete message. Next day I add 5 more moves and switch training on. It tells me that training is complete beyond this position even though that position didn't exist until I just put the moves in! It says I've got to reset the training or increase the number of repetitions. Surely not? There used to be a training wizard video but that seems to have disappeared along with several others. Can anyone tell me how to rectify this? It doesn't seem to make any difference whether I have the rewind set to starting position or where training began. I am also using the option "sequential with coverage."
DickMyhill
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Feb 09, 2021 3:10 am

Re: Training Wizard Issues

Post by DickMyhill »

Since I posted this earlier in the week, Mike has tried to address it in episode 8 of the 5 a day challenge. However, his explanation does not solve my problem. In his post he says that one of two factors can cause the discrepancy between the number of positions and the number trained. Firstly, orphaning moves by deleting a move whilst the subsequent positions remain in the database. Secondly, entering two or more move alternatives for your side of the repertoire but setting the training to only accept the top candidate. Neither of these conditions is true in my case since I started afresh with a completely new ebook.
I'm still looking for answers!
manassasguy
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2020 3:28 pm

Re: Training Wizard Issues

Post by manassasguy »

I've been trying to understand the training feature myself, after starting to use COW more regularly during the challenge. I created a new ebook to test your scenario. I added just a few moves for white and black to do some quick testing. Here are some observations:
  1. To start training, I had to click back to starting position of the moves. If I tried to start training where I ended after entering moves, I would get message "There are no candidate moves in this position."
  2. In all cases I set "After Training Rewind To" = Starting Position.
  3. I started with "First time credit"=0. But more on this later...
  4. If I set "In a row to complete"=n, then I had to finish n+1 successful runs through the moves to complete training. The minimum seems to be a value of 1, for which you have to complete n+1=2 sets of training moves correctly to finish the training.
  5. Once I successfully completed n+1 sets of moves, I cannot train again without resetting training, or increasing the "In a row to complete" value. If I click "Train now" without doing one of these two actions, I get the "Training is complete..." message.
  6. After successfully completing training, if I increased "In a row to complete", COW just had me complete however many additional training runs I added. So for my simple test case, if I increased "In a row to complete" from 1 to 2, then I had to complete 1 additional training run.
  7. If I added moves after completing training and did not reset training (which I think is your scenario), the training feature doesn't seem to recognize that new moves have been added. As in #5, COW seems to think that the last training session was completed and training needs to be reset (or "In a row to complete" increased). I tried both clicking back to where I started adding moves and to start of moves, and consistently got the "Training is complete..." message.
  8. However if I increased the "In a row to complete" value after adding moves, it seemed to start over. That is, COW recognized I had added moves and had me complete the full set of n+1 training runs. So if "In a row to complete" was changed from 1 to 2, then I had to complete n+1=3 training runs with the new moves. (Note this is different behavior than #6.)
  9. This is where the "First time credit" option seems to come into play. Say that "In a row to complete"=n and "First time credit"=y. Then the number of training runs = n+1-y (with a minimum of 1 if the result is zero or negative). So I think the workaround for your scenario after you add moves---if you don't want to reset training---is to increase the "In a row to complete" and "First time credit", which will enable training to continue but without starting over with n+1 training runs (since n will continue to increase).
  10. As an aside, one other thing I noticed is that if I made a mistake, COW seemed to add one more run to what I had to complete, but only up to the place I made the mistake. But this behavior was not consistent for different cases I tried with more complicated lines, so I'm not exactly sure how this is supposed to work.
Bottom line for me, I just reset training every time I want to start a new training set. However this zeros out the the "Positions Trained" under the "About This Ebook...", which is not very satisfactory. I don't worry about that since I'm pretty much just getting started with COW, and use it to train specific openings as I add them. So if I enter a new line, or want to review an existing line, I just start there and work on training from that point. To me, this seems to be a continual process where I focus on where I want to train, so that "Positions Trained" number under "About This Ebook..." is not that important to me. But I know Mike made a point about saying that was the important number to focus on, so #9 seems to be the way to keep that number up-to-date after adding moves.

Hope this helps. I found it really instructive to experiment with a new ebook with just a few moves. I learned a lot about this feature trying to answer this post! :D
DickMyhill
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Feb 09, 2021 3:10 am

Re: Training Wizard Issues

Post by DickMyhill »

Thanks for your detailed analysis of the problem, and you have pretty much confirmed that what I experienced is how COW works. I find it annoying but there's not much to be done about it.
The only other software of which I am aware, that does a similar job of training opening repertoires, is Chess Position Trainer. Unfortunately, the main author of the software, Stefan Renezewitz, stopped developing it 7 years ago. It was in many ways better and more sophisticated than COW. There was a free version but that didn't have the comprehensive training regime that the paid version possessed. It looks like both versions can still be downloaded but who wants to pay for a program that hasn't had any maintenance for seven years?
Consequently, COW is the only game in town, warts and all! There is a market for an alternative product. It just needs someone to take up the reins, if only to keep Mike on his toes.
manassasguy
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2020 3:28 pm

Re: Training Wizard Issues

Post by manassasguy »

I looked at CPT pretty closely. Pros: polished from Windows UI perspective (ribbons, etc.); excellent documentation. Cons: not supported as you mentioned; not cross-platform (Windows only). CPT did seem to have a lot of training functionality, but I haven't dug into COW or CPT enough to really compare training side-by-side. At the end of the day, I went with COW since Mike actually answered my questions and I found him to be responsive.

I got started with COW using the Android version on my tablet. Mike was running a "pandemic special" for $7, and that was a pretty reasonable way to check out the software. When Mike ran the "challenge special" for the Windows version, I signed up for that deal and am happy I did. I like having the software running on my home office desktop, where I spend most of my time. I really like the cross-platform functionality, but I wish it was more automatic. I can synch files between my tablet and desktop, but it's a manual process using Dropbox. Works fine, but I have to remember to upload files to Dropbox if I make a change. Would be great if Mike could host his own server and provide an option to make this synchronization automatic.

One other program I checked out when I started looking for an openings training solution is Chessable. However this is subscription based, and just seemed more expensive in general for ebooks. Also, the training feature seemed to have a steeper learning curve, and it wasn't clear how hard it would be to create my own training. But I didn't look at this too deeply, since I didn't want to go down the subscription-based pricing route, so this is just a first impression. Might be worth a look if you don't mind subscription-based programs.

Back to your problem, it seems that an easy fix would be to hide the current "First time credit" and "In a row to complete" parameters and make these internal counters. Then the Training dialog box could ask the user to set a "Number of training runs to complete successfully" (or whatever), and the internal "First time credit" and "In a row to complete" parameters could be incremented by this number on each training run. It seems like this could work and address your problem (i.e., don't make the user worry about fiddling around with a running total of training runs and an offset to that number), but I'm sure the devil is in the details.
DickMyhill
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Feb 09, 2021 3:10 am

Re: Training Wizard Issues

Post by DickMyhill »

Like you, I am not a fan of subscriptions and neither do I like to be tied to the internet via the likes of Lichess or Chess.com. I reckon I'll just have to get used to the idiosyncracies of COW. It is buggy though. Apart from the training issues we've been discussing, another area I have problems with is the comment window. I have always been in the habit of entering comments to my opening books but find that they are not always "glued" to the move to which they were originally attached. Hence I occasionally see a comment that has absolutely nothing to do with the move on the board, and sometimes not even the opening I am studying!
I'm working towards the conclusion that time might be better spent studying whole games in my chosen openings using Fred Mellender's Guess The Move free software. It's more akin to playing rather than rote learning and you get to think about the middle game and endgame as well.
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