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    Entries in computer chess (86)

    Tuesday
    Mar012011

    An Open Letter from Programmers on the Rybka-Fruit Issue

    You can find it here, and it's not good news for Vas Rajlich and the Rybka side. There are some big names among the signatories (maybe they're all big names, but even I as an outsider to that community recognize some of the names), and I doubt that they can all be dismissed on the grounds of professional jealousy or something like that. Nevertheless, it must be emphasized that this letter does not constitute legal proof. All the same, I wonder: what's the best program out there that doesn't have some sort of direct or indirect taint?

    Saturday
    Feb192011

    David Levy on Cloned Chess Engines

    Here. Levy condemns the practice, takes an inconclusive look at some of the controversies around Rybka, and then calls for help in setting up a forum to investigate claims of cloning.

    Wednesday
    Feb162011

    A Look at Rybka 4 - Houdini 1.5a, Game 1

    A while ago I reported that the free program Houdini 1.5a defeated the king of the commercial programs, Rybka 4, by a 23.5-16.5 score in a recent match. Many people, both on my blog and elsewhere, were especially impressed by Houdini's play in the first game of that match, and I can't blame them! Houdini sacrificed three pawns for play, and the end result was an overwhelming initiative. You can have a look at the game, with my comments, here.

    Tuesday
    Feb082011

    Houdini 1.5a Defeats Rybka 4: 23.5-16.5

    More on this site, somewhere. Assuming this result is meaningful*, it's not clear if this is good news or bad news for chess fans. Superficially, it's great news, because it costs money to buy Rybka while anyone can freely download Houdini. BUT: There seems to be a lot of cannibalizing going on among engines** (certainly such accusations are widespread), and if it's true that the free programs are ripping off code and concepts from the for-profit engines, it's likely that sooner or later the for-profit people will simply leave. Then the cannibals will have to do their own work, and with no financial incentive or notoriety to inspire them, the field will stagnate. Then it's not only a pity for the legitimate programmers whose work and financial opportunities were stolen, but for the broad chess community as well.

     

    * There are reasons why it may not be so significant: the computers may have used truncated or common books, and a 40 game match, while not trivial, doesn't guarantee that Houdini is the stronger engine. Still, the evidence that's there, of whatever quality, is in Houdini's favor.

    ** As far as I know, no one has accused Houdini of pirating code from a closed-source engines, but its author has acknowledged being influenced by engines that have allegedly done so.

    Monday
    Jan242011

    More Computer Chess Controversy

    Somewhere around a year ago there was controversy about a series of programs that allegedly stole pieces of code from Rybka; now there's some controversy (or renewed controversy - I remember seeing something about this last year) as to the degree to which Rybka, at least in its earlier insilicarnation, depended on the chess engine Fruit. This forwarded letter by Fruit's programmer seems to be the instigator of the latest salvo.

    I have no idea who, if anyone, is guilty of anything in this matter, and as a legal matter all the accusees should be considered innocent until proven guilty. I am curious about some points, however, like what counts as learning from a program as opposed to stealing intellectual property. If one uses someone's algorithm but expresses it in different code or in a different computer language, is it considered theft from a legal point of view? What about the moral point of view, from within the software community? And as a practical matter for those who want to take the highest possible road, are there any chess engines out there that are competitive and don't involve some "borrowing"?

    Tuesday
    Jan112011

    Houdini Rolling in Computer Tournament

    Computer-computer battles are ubiquitous nowadays, but I mention this one because Houdini, which is at the moment running away with the aforelinked tournament, was mentioned more than once in the Svidler interview and because it's a freebie. Naturally, there are bells and whistles you get when you buy a Rybka or a Fritz, but for just a plain Jane engine, free is good, and as Houdini might actually be the strongest one out there at the moment, that's even better.

    HT: Freddie Jones

    Friday
    Dec032010

    The Latest TCEC Game of the Month is Up

    I've annotated the "Game of the Month" for Martin Thoresen's TCEC site the past three months, and the latest one is available on his site. (You can find it on the drop-down menu just above the board.) Enjoy!

    Monday
    Nov292010

    260-Core Rybka Wins Dutch Computer Event

    Alas, most of us only get to use two or four cores - and not only we civilians, but some of the participants in the 30th Open Dutch Computer Chess Championship as well. On the other hand, the program Jonny got to run on a stupendous 800 cores, and despite this only managed a 50% score. (Does it fall for Scholar's Mate on one core? I know, it doesn't scale that radically, but it's still a shockingly bad result given the monster hardware.)

    There's a report on the event with a couple of games to boot, here.

    Friday
    Nov192010

    This Week's ChessVideos Show: Two Shows!

    The "official" show is here, in which I present a remarkable computer battle from one of Martin Thoresen's all-engine battles. It's a really spectacular game in which attack and defense remain in a precarious balance for a long time before one side goes too far, and even that turns out to be fascinating as well. This is definitely a game to check out, and suitable both for pure entertainment and especially for training.

    This week there's a second video as well. Last week's show featured a couple of pawn endings arising straight out of opening theory, and one of the viewers asked a very good question, one that deserved a special look. So here it is: two videos for the price of one!

    That "price" is very reasonable - it's free (free registration required) - and the videos will be available on-demand for the next month or so.

    Tuesday
    Nov022010

    Kasparov on Technological Innovation

    Here's a summary of a talk Garry Kasparov gave for Palantir Technologies. One interesting remark comes in the context of computer chess, where he wishes that the triumph of chess programming had come from an artificial intelligence breakthrough rather than by brute force. What's interesting is that this echoes the approach taken by his great teacher Mikhail Botvinnik. Botvinnik was not only a world chess champion, but an engineer and programmer whose desire was just what Kasparov wished for: a truly AI-based chess program.

    HT: Brian Karen