Play it home, Sam
I've discovered a very useful new training method for me, and I strongly recommend it to every chess player struggling for improvement. I probably never would have had the idea, but two days ago, I've been a full piece up and managed to blunder the game to a loss at last. I strongly felt that I have to cope with this loss, and this gave me the idea to play games against Deep Shredder 11 with the odds of the Queen's Knight, running it on my 2.4 GHz Intel Core Duo processor with 10 seconds calculation time per move by which Shredder reaches a full depth analysis of 12 to 17 ply.
I use a normal chess tournament board, a mechanical clock and I write down my moves plus time used just as in a slow over the board game. My time control is 60 minutes for 36 moves and 30 minutes for the rest of the game. After my move, I walk over to the computer, enter it, and wait for the reply.
In my first game, I played as White, with the odds of knight and move, and I chose the French defense (1. e4 e6 2. d4), Shredder responded 2.-d5, and I exchanged pawns in order to get an open file where I could trade the major pieces later. This plan worked quite well, I always was up between 3 and 4 pawn units until move 40. The critical moment emerged in this situation after the 42th move of Black.
White to move.
After 43. h4?, the Queen escaped to f5 and the light squares, where I have a weakness, paradoxically with my bishop. But it emerges that this bishop is just a better pawn, one that I have been forced to sacrifice earlier for activity. But now I gave my activity back for nothing. I squeezed my brain for seven minutes and found nothing better than 44. Qe5 which I should have played a move earlier. Now the Queen escaped with check on d3 and gained a pawn. I also gained a pawn with check, and ten moves later the game was drawn by perpetual check, with only two minutes left on my clock.
Instead, 43. Qe5 would have forced a queen exchange, along with the sacrifice of another pawn. But after that, the white King intrudes the position on the dark squares and wins easily. The move 44. - Qg3 which I feared was no option for Black because the queen loses too much time to get on the back rank.
Very satisfied with my performance
Deep Shredder has a rating of about 2800, and given the relatively short calculation time of ten seconds per move, it may be only 2500 or so which is still grandmaster strength. The odds of knight equals about 650 Elo, therefore a safe estimate of my performance in this game is around 1850.