Dead End for Computer Chess? Some ideas...

Discussion of anything and everything relating to chess playing software and machines.

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What is your hobby?

Writing a chess engine
14
11%
Creating a competitive chess engine
7
6%
Collecting and trying chess engines
21
17%
Playing chess against chess engines
17
14%
Getting a good engine for analyzing games
22
18%
Computer Chess Research and Development
13
11%
Student style learning and curiousity
13
11%
Getting, managing an engine for online play
4
3%
Developing a world top engine for tournament wins
5
4%
Other ideas...
7
6%
 
Total votes: 123

rfadden

Dead End for Computer Chess? Some ideas...

Post by rfadden » Thu Apr 17, 2008 3:21 pm

I posted this on the Rybka forum. These are some honest thoughts of mine. I'm posting here for the purpose of discussion...

We may be at a dead end for computer chess. Consider this... Take the chess playing abilities of the top computer chess programs (Rybka on down). Is this level of play good, or do we need vast improvements in order to finally have a good chess playing program? Ha! That's a laugh. We not only have good chess playing programs, we have ultra mega monsters of chess, with no mercy who will slay you at the game of chess, rapidly, as if you are watching a kitchen utensil slice through vegetables!

In almost all cases the top program decimates all human opponents as if the people are weak, as if these people don't even know how to play chess, and the only people on this planet who stand a chance against these engines at full tilt are a handful of Grandmasters. Right now, mentally take the person who you consider to be the best chess player on the planet, and assume that they play 10 games of chess against Rybka 2.3x as run on an Intel Q6600 based computer. What is the outcome of this imagined 10 game match?

The answer is that the top program when run on a chip that costs just over $200. will lead to the program winning the match, repeatable, repeatedly...

Imagine if I were to say that the world desperately needs a really good chess program, one that is much more capable of playing chess than current technology. Could you imagine turning to me and replying "Why do you need that?" Yes, that's what I'm thinking... why do we need that?

I think one key is that we are enjoying our hobbies and we are not necessarily asking tough or prying questions about our own hobby. Roughly I would say that we have arrived at the finish line. More improvement in the ability of a program to play chess would be nice, but I imagine what we would see is endgame performance that surpasses the best Grandmasters most of the time. After that, then what?

I think what is happening is that we are getting caught up in the battles between the top engines, and this process of battling for the top can continue with no end in sight for years and years. In the mean time we should realize that the hobby becomes machine versus machine contests. For human use the programs reach everything that we really need, and I believe that the top programs essentially are already at the goal. The program can beat everyone on the planet, period.

What would have been the outcome of the last Fritz versus Kramnik match if those folks had used the best program instead of Fritz? Well with Rybka on the fastest machine available at the time, the outcome would have been even more lopsided in favor of the machine. Rybka on the fastest hardware would essentially crush Kramnik in a typical World Champion style match.

Imagine that I eagerly await the latest ultra-mega chess program that is about to hit the market. Honestly I'm thinking "oh boy, this will be great, I'll get this engine and it will clearly beat all of my other engines!" I would gladly pay to see this. But that's part of the problem...

After I watch my new amazing engine decimate the other engines, I then share these results with others and yes the other hobbyists are doing the same thing, and then what? Well we all come up with the same answer and after a while you realize that you are just a spectator. There is no actual reason for me to run an engine match. This doesn't accomplish anything. It's a hobby, it's fun to watch, for a while... but then you realize there is really nothing to it. You plug in a new engine and you launch it, and it does the rest. Hey the hobby of Radio Controlled Helicopters at least has you controlling the helicopter, and some real skill is involved.

Imagine the skill that is involved in me downloading and using the latest ultra mega chess engine. I click download, I wait a few seconds, I unpack, I go to my GUI and add the engine, and I create a match and I start it, and then I watch. That's it. That's all there is to this hobby of computer chess at the top.

So someone might pipe up and say "Ya, but you will want to play chess against that new engine, right?" No Way! Man those engines crush me all the time. What fun is that?
Hey I could probably download a chess engine called "GoatRope 0.39a" and it would beat me at chess... I don't get chess engines to play chess against them - they all are way too good! They crush me mercilessly, actually in very few moves.

So what is this hobby? The hobby may be in writing your own engine, or it may be in collecting all of the top engines, or it may be...

Why don't you help me out and tell me more about this hobby of ours. Instead of focusing on how wrong I am, please consider the ideas here and please come on and add your own ideas. What do you think? Be creative...

User avatar
Graham Banks
Posts: 33225
Joined: Sun Feb 26, 2006 9:52 am
Location: Auckland, NZ

Re: Dead End for Computer Chess? Some ideas...

Post by Graham Banks » Thu Apr 17, 2008 6:30 pm

I like testing engines against each other, but I'm not sure which category this would go under.
My email addresses:
gbanksnz at gmail.com
gbanksnz at yahoo.co.nz

swami
Posts: 6536
Joined: Thu Mar 09, 2006 3:21 am

Re: Dead End for Computer Chess? Some ideas...

Post by swami » Thu Apr 17, 2008 6:55 pm

Graham Banks wrote:I like testing engines against each other, but I'm not sure which category this would go under.
"Collecting and trying chess engines"

I voted 5 options other than programming and computer chess online play.

Tony Thomas

Re: Dead End for Computer Chess? Some ideas...

Post by Tony Thomas » Thu Apr 17, 2008 7:03 pm

I think Rick likes attention..I voted for three of the options. I doubt that it is dead end for computer vs computer chess. I do agree that Man vs Machine is kind of over when it comes to chess. Glaurung running on decent hardware can defeat any human under reasonable conditions.

swami
Posts: 6536
Joined: Thu Mar 09, 2006 3:21 am

Re: Dead End for Computer Chess? Some ideas...

Post by swami » Thu Apr 17, 2008 7:09 pm

rfadden wrote:
Imagine the skill that is involved in me downloading and using the latest ultra mega chess engine. I click download, I wait a few seconds, I unpack, I go to my GUI and add the engine, and I create a match and I start it, and then I watch. That's it. That's all there is to this hobby of computer chess at the top.

So someone might pipe up and say "Ya, but you will want to play chess against that new engine, right?" No Way! Man those engines crush me all the time. What fun is that?
I sometimes do watch engines play engines in blitz tournament that I organize, I have improved a great deal since 2005's. My playchess rating was around 2100 in 2005's, now it is already around 2350- 2400's average.

Computer chess software is incomplete, I'd be interested in a software that's designed to improve our strength. So far, I've not come across anything that offer decent course in chess for advanced players, only database of tedious games, mostly without comments. The software must ask us question, explain our moves, explain why this, why that, preferably in detail etc

rfadden

Re: Dead End for Computer Chess? Some ideas...

Post by rfadden » Thu Apr 17, 2008 9:13 pm

Tony Thomas wrote:I think Rick likes attention..I voted for three of the options. I doubt that it is dead end for computer vs computer chess. I do agree that Man vs Machine is kind of over when it comes to chess. Glaurung running on decent hardware can defeat any human under reasonable conditions.
I like the discussion and I think these are very interesting replies. I have been off of this site for so long (many years) and I simply have some ideas that I have thought of and I wanted to write about some of these.

I check this site too often. When I check for interesting posts I sometimes decide to just write on the next topic that I've thought of. Once I get through a few stored topics I'll probably go quiet. Then after that there's taxes and... you know...

mishoo

Re: Dead End for Computer Chess? Some ideas...

Post by mishoo » Thu Apr 17, 2008 9:38 pm

swami wrote:
rfadden wrote:
Imagine the skill that is involved in me downloading and using the latest ultra mega chess engine. I click download, I wait a few seconds, I unpack, I go to my GUI and add the engine, and I create a match and I start it, and then I watch. That's it. That's all there is to this hobby of computer chess at the top.

So someone might pipe up and say "Ya, but you will want to play chess against that new engine, right?" No Way! Man those engines crush me all the time. What fun is that?
I sometimes do watch engines play engines in blitz tournament that I organize, I have improved a great deal since 2005's. My playchess rating was around 2100 in 2005's, now it is already around 2350- 2400's average.

Computer chess software is incomplete, I'd be interested in a software that's designed to improve our strength. So far, I've not come across anything that offer decent course in chess for advanced players, only database of tedious games, mostly without comments. The software must ask us question, explain our moves, explain why this, why that, preferably in detail etc
I don't think software will ever be able to do this. A chess engine will beat the crap out of me because that's what it's programmed to do. A human could explain "look, you've been wrong, you lost control of the center" (or something) — but I don't think a program can ever do this... It will just beat me, "mercilessly", but it doesn't mean it's "evil" :-) It just fits its purpose.

User avatar
Bill Rogers
Posts: 3562
Joined: Thu Mar 09, 2006 2:54 am
Location: San Jose, California

Re: Dead End for Computer Chess? Some ideas...

Post by Bill Rogers » Thu Apr 17, 2008 11:15 pm

Hello Rick
Now before you grab a gun and try to shoot me, read my post to the end.
I have created a double challenge for myself. One to try to create a chess program that is quite strong and two, and this makes it even harder to write the program in "Basic". My programs are written in Basic and then compiled but programs written in "C" run 10 times faster than basic.
In a tournement where we are allowed 1 minute per move I can only get about six plys deep (3 moves) while most "C" program can reach 12 plys or more without any problems at all.
I entered one national tournement a few years ago and still managed to beat 3 or 4 programs written in "C", to me this was very rewarding and encouraged me to work even harder to make mine better and if possible faster.
Bill

maxchgr

Re: Dead End for Computer Chess? Some ideas...

Post by maxchgr » Fri Apr 18, 2008 12:24 am

Out of curiosity, besides mental torture, if you know that it runs slower in basic, why write it in basic?

Terry McCracken
Posts: 15844
Joined: Wed Aug 01, 2007 2:16 am
Location: Canada

Re: Dead End for Computer Chess? Some ideas...

Post by Terry McCracken » Fri Apr 18, 2008 12:42 am

rfadden wrote:I posted this on the Rybka forum. These are some honest thoughts of mine. I'm posting here for the purpose of discussion...

We may be at a dead end for computer chess. Consider this... Take the chess playing abilities of the top computer chess programs (Rybka on down). Is this level of play good, or do we need vast improvements in order to finally have a good chess playing program? Ha! That's a laugh. We not only have good chess playing programs, we have ultra mega monsters of chess, with no mercy who will slay you at the game of chess, rapidly, as if you are watching a kitchen utensil slice through vegetables!

In almost all cases the top program decimates all human opponents as if the people are weak, as if these people don't even know how to play chess, and the only people on this planet who stand a chance against these engines at full tilt are a handful of Grandmasters. Right now, mentally take the person who you consider to be the best chess player on the planet, and assume that they play 10 games of chess against Rybka 2.3x as run on an Intel Q6600 based computer. What is the outcome of this imagined 10 game match?

The answer is that the top program when run on a chip that costs just over $200. will lead to the program winning the match, repeatable, repeatedly...

Imagine if I were to say that the world desperately needs a really good chess program, one that is much more capable of playing chess than current technology. Could you imagine turning to me and replying "Why do you need that?" Yes, that's what I'm thinking... why do we need that?

I think one key is that we are enjoying our hobbies and we are not necessarily asking tough or prying questions about our own hobby. Roughly I would say that we have arrived at the finish line. More improvement in the ability of a program to play chess would be nice, but I imagine what we would see is endgame performance that surpasses the best Grandmasters most of the time. After that, then what?

I think what is happening is that we are getting caught up in the battles between the top engines, and this process of battling for the top can continue with no end in sight for years and years. In the mean time we should realize that the hobby becomes machine versus machine contests. For human use the programs reach everything that we really need, and I believe that the top programs essentially are already at the goal. The program can beat everyone on the planet, period.

What would have been the outcome of the last Fritz versus Kramnik match if those folks had used the best program instead of Fritz? Well with Rybka on the fastest machine available at the time, the outcome would have been even more lopsided in favor of the machine. Rybka on the fastest hardware would essentially crush Kramnik in a typical World Champion style match.

Imagine that I eagerly await the latest ultra-mega chess program that is about to hit the market. Honestly I'm thinking "oh boy, this will be great, I'll get this engine and it will clearly beat all of my other engines!" I would gladly pay to see this. But that's part of the problem...

After I watch my new amazing engine decimate the other engines, I then share these results with others and yes the other hobbyists are doing the same thing, and then what? Well we all come up with the same answer and after a while you realize that you are just a spectator. There is no actual reason for me to run an engine match. This doesn't accomplish anything. It's a hobby, it's fun to watch, for a while... but then you realize there is really nothing to it. You plug in a new engine and you launch it, and it does the rest. Hey the hobby of Radio Controlled Helicopters at least has you controlling the helicopter, and some real skill is involved.

Imagine the skill that is involved in me downloading and using the latest ultra mega chess engine. I click download, I wait a few seconds, I unpack, I go to my GUI and add the engine, and I create a match and I start it, and then I watch. That's it. That's all there is to this hobby of computer chess at the top.

So someone might pipe up and say "Ya, but you will want to play chess against that new engine, right?" No Way! Man those engines crush me all the time. What fun is that?
Hey I could probably download a chess engine called "GoatRope 0.39a" and it would beat me at chess... I don't get chess engines to play chess against them - they all are way too good! They crush me mercilessly, actually in very few moves.

So what is this hobby? The hobby may be in writing your own engine, or it may be in collecting all of the top engines, or it may be...

Why don't you help me out and tell me more about this hobby of ours. Instead of focusing on how wrong I am, please consider the ideas here and please come on and add your own ideas. What do you think? Be creative...
You do like to hear yourself talk don't you? I don't think you have a clue why Kramnik lost outside the fact he allowed a mate in one. :roll:

Don't you worry there are plenty of us left that win against programs!

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