ChessOK, formerly Convekta – A Poor Software Company

ChessOK is a good chess company but not such a good software company. If you report a bug you will get a response, which is good, but the support person has no power to make anything happen. Neither, it seems, does the Director of the company. All the power lies in the hands of the ‘Programmers’.

Knowing this, its easy to see why ChessOK products are full of bugs, stagnant, difficult to use, difficult to understand. Its what Microsoft would have been had there never been an Apple.

This is all the more sad because the content of the ChessOK courses is excellent. I’ve realized that that is because the ‘Programmers’ have had nothing to do with the content, otherwise it would be just as bad as the programs. No, I believe the excellent content is the result of the hard work of Grandmasters and other chess experts who have poured their hearts into it.

On the other hand, there are places where the content leaves something to be desired. For example, in the Endgame courses a position is often judged as drawn or won when its far from obvious why. In ‘Test’ mode the ‘Programmers’ have decreed that you cannot play against a final position, and so cannot get a feel for why the position is so judged. I think its some sort of contemptuous pedantry that motivated the ‘Programmers’ to withold such a useful feature. Maybe they were thinking that the user would try to ‘cheat’ in test mode.

I describe the above only because its typical of the attitude of the ‘Programmers’ and the helplessness of the rest of the company against the will of the ‘Programmers’.

I was given temporary hope on discovering ChessOK’s new training delivery system, Peshk@. However, my hopes were quickly dashed when I saw the bad decisions, ommisions, and bugs with which the ‘Programmers’ had poisoned the new system. When I reported 20 issues, one at a time so as not to confuse the support staff, I could sense the timidity in their offers to ask the ‘Programmers’ to please look at the issues.

Here are some of the issues with Peshk@:

  • The option to manually switch to the next exercise (in test mode) doesn’t work.
  • Click the Test button often just results in a cryptic error cause by the user being on a page from which the ‘Programmers’ don’t want to enter Test mode. Nothing in the Doc.
  • The program doesn’t remember previous Test mode settings (like the old program did)
  • One of the old program’s strong points, the pieces, have vanished.
  • The old colored board, which matched standard tournament boards in many countries has vanished.

To top it off, when the user does a test, the ‘Programmers’ often feel the need to assess the test results as ‘BAD’ rather than just showing score. Who are these guys?  Why are they given a free hand over the software?  Are there no quality control personnel at ChessOK?

Finally as an example of Convekta’s history of low to none quality control, every pre-Peshk@ training program they sell has had an inconvenient, time-wasting bug for over ten years. I’ve reported it repeatedly. They don’t care. The bug is this: in test mode, you can specify how fast the pieces move across the board using a little slider in Options. That’s fine. The problem is the slider is ignored so that the pieces move in slow motion. That doesn’t sound too bad but after the ten-thousandth time you sit for a half a minute of having your concentration broken while a rook saunters across the board, the frustration level is high. And to taunt the user, once in a great while the pieces will move quickly – too quickly, of course.

That’s just one example – there are plenty.

Because of the excellent content of ChessOK’s courses, they maintain a sort of edge in the Chess market despite the awfulness of their software.  But sooner or later Apple developers or perhaps even top-notch Windows developers will be tempted by the lucrative Chess Training market.

ChessOK, Convekta Total Chess Training I
ChessOK, Convekta Total Chess Training II