How Chess tactics servers can draw inspiration from the gamification aspect of codewars.com to create the next generation of chess training tools.

How the gamification of code wars.com differs from the gamification of chess tactics servers and why code wars found a great brain hack that should be replicated by chess puzzle websites to create the next generation of training tools and tactics servers.

In codewars.com players have ranks. You start at 8kyu and work your way up to 1kyu by solving complex problems. There is a finite number of questions (puzzles/coding challenges) on the website. Many of which are user generated but which must be up voted and pass beta testing before becoming actual problems.

There is a small catch on the site, once you unlock a solution in your account without solving it you can no longer get credit for that solution.

Unlock solution but lose ability to ever get points again for that specific challenge.

If you make attempts at the problem but don’t get them correct you are not prevented from revising your code and submitting the answer again. You can not unlock solutions for problems that are too far from your current ranking so if you are 8 KYU they won’t let you unlock any 6 KYU problems. I guess this prevents cheating in the instance that someone opens multiple accounts that just unlockes the answers copies the popular ones, then switches back to a main account and earns the points. Since there isn’t infinite problems someone with a maximizer mindset will feel a sense of loss from unlocking an answer since he can never get those points back.

Chess tactics servers are missing this gamification aspect and dis incentive structure to unlock problems or keep trying if you don’t get the answer correct on the first try. If you get a puzzle wrong it gives you the correct answer. This can make someone lazy and not want to actually spend the time to think. Also if you get the problem wrong in code wars it doesn’t give you the answer rather it generates some bug reports giving you hints as to where your program answer has gone wrong but you have to still continue banging your head against the door and looking for clues or trying out different code in your console to find the right answer.

The user is dis incentivized from unlocking the answer because once he does it means he can never go back and get credit for that problem ever again. Once you get the right answer in code wars you can see the correct answers of other code warriors or code enthusiasts on the site and compare your answer to theirs increasing your knowledge and skill for future problems. This would be cool if chess tempo or chess puzzle server websites (lichess, chess.com, chess able, chess base) had this gamification aspect where as long as a variation stands up to logic and wins against a computer engine it will be deemed a correct solution.

Another issue in the way chess problems are served and how they can be improved is that during an actual chess match or tournament game the player has to try to accurately calculate moves for both sides while when you try to solve problems on a chess tactics server it responds with a tree move or computer generated response but does not force the trainer to be able to accurately calculate the opponents responses. This can be part of the code wars inspired lay out for future chess tactics servers where instead of you playing against a computer you have to submit your variation either by text or by moving of the pieces and then click submit. The server can then run this against an engine like stock fish/komodo/hi arcs etc and see if it stands up to correct logic. This would be a lot more challenging but a better representation of a persons tactical and analysis skills.

There can be one or many correct answers depending on the complexity of the problem. The best way to understand what I’m saying is to experience it for yourself side by side. Try both for a few days and try to notice the subtle differences in the gamification of both websites.

*** while its true that people can and will find a way to cheat using outside engines this amplification would really benefit people taking their training seriously.