First, I'd like to state that I agree with the argument that engine analysis of openings, taken on its own, is largely meaningless.
However, I don't think that broad, sweeping statements like "nobody needs FEOBOS" are justified. Dismissing someone's hard work without considering the whole picture is somewhat disrespectful and speaking on everybody's behalf sounds arrogant and presumptuous.
I am one of those nobodies that need FEOBOS. I use other books and test suites as well, but this one is my favorite by far. The main reasons for that are:
1) FEOBOS offers variety like few other books. There are even larger books -- GM 8-move (I forget the exact filename) is probably the biggest -- but they are full of lines where one side emerges with a 100+ cp advantage or that are liable to end in a draw five moves out of the book when played by top engines. Other highly-acclaimed books/test sets would have you believe there's little more to opening theory besides a handful of lines in Giuoco Piano, Caro-Kann, Ruy Lopez, Nimzo-Indian, Semi-Slav and QGD.
Not so with FEOBOS -- thousands of well-balanced lines with plenty of scope for creative play. Some people are happy to use the same 50-line test suite year after year. Some people are also OK with having a blank wall as the view out of their window. Others prefer to see the expanse of fields receding towards the woods/mountains, or perhaps the sea. If limitless horizons are your cup of tea, FEOBOS is the book for you.
2) Surprisingly low draw rate considering the average length of lines. I used FEOBOS in more than 30 tests for CCRL and here are the stats for the three books I used most:
Code: Select all
book | number of short draws | total games | short draws ratio
HERT500 | 15 | 3,170 | 0.47%
Noomen 3-move | 49 | 8,670 | 0.57%
FEOBOS | 97 | 27,622 | 0.35%
with short draws meaning games drawn in 20 moves or less. I'm posting this not in order to claim that FEOBOS is better than, say, Noomen 3-move, just to show that the former manages to improve on the latter's already very low draw rate by a factor of 1.6.
I'd like to use the new SALC books as well; however, the larger of the two consists entirely of lines that at 10 moves are a bit too long for rating lists. The general preference these days seems to be for much shorter books, like Noomen's 2-moves and 3-moves. I'll probably start using the smaller closed-positions-only test suite; although quite small at 500 lines, the premise appears very interesting.
Big thanks to Frank and Co. for the great book! You've done a terrific job and I hope you will consider releasing a shorter version just for rating lists.
The version I've been using for the past couple of months is feobos_v10-contempt-4.pgn
edited down to 12 plies (with the resulting duplicate lines removed with PGN Tools). Now that Dann listed some lines where balanced book exits are reached via some extremely unbalanced positions I'm a little worried that some of the book exits in my edited version may have come unhinged that way. I haven't seen any lopsided results where White (or Black) would get short wins in both games of a round played with the same opening with colors reversed, but it's a potential concern.