boadams161 wrote: ↑Mon Jul 01, 2019 4:26 amAnother problem with odds games is standard chess programs like Stockfish are not typically optimized to play them. The Alpha Beta search wants to find the best move and if that is trading queens it will do it in a heart beat. But the odds player usually uses some non best move intelligence like i need to get into certain positions, avoid to many trades etc which until you have chess programs programming for these types of games its a bit haphazard to say well give up a knights probably 2700. Would depend on how it wound up playing and what strategies that the human was using against it that without a heavy amount of code changes the engine would not defend against.
Well you are quite correct that a program with no concept of how to maximize chances in a losing position won't play well giving knight odds. But Komodo, Stockfish, and Houdini all have a Contempt setting that tells them to value their own pieces more highly than the opponents', and Komodo also certainly knows to avoid equal trades when down in material even without a Contempt setting. Really, this is just basic chess knowledge, and any engine lacking this knowledge is an anachronism. Some of the Lc0 networks are very good at giving material handicaps, while others are atrocious at it; basically as long as the network chosen "thinks" that it still has at least a few percent winning chance at the specified handicap, it can play it well. Handicap play is a major part of chess history; something like 1/3 of recorded Morphy games were handicap games. Handicap play was still popular during the playing career of my first chess teacher, in the 1800s (crazy but true). Bobby Fischer played hundreds of handicap games for wagers (none recorded that I know of though), and even Gary Kasparov played a well-publicized high stakes two pawn handicap match. As for those who claim that handicap play isn't interesting, the Komodo vs Nakamura and MVL handicap matches had thousands of viewers, so apparently quite a few think it is interesting. Regarding the question of whether time odds or weak hardware odds would be more interesting than material odds, they are both of interest, but the former only tells us something about computers, whereas the later is a measure of how far from perfection even the best human players are. I find that to be quite an interesting question, although of course it only puts a lower bound on the answer, as we don't know how imperfect the best engines themselves may be.