what is the best engine for big material handicap?

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Re: what is the best engine for big material handicap?

Post by lkaufman » Mon Oct 07, 2019 2:01 am

Ovyron wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 12:46 am
lkaufman wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 6:12 pm
About thirty years ago a tournament of top GMs was held in honor of GM Polugaevsky in which all players agreed to open with the Sicilian defense (I think they even specified "open Sicilian") every game. Was this a chess tournament?
Let me twist it around: Suppose you run a normal chess tournament, but two GMs are friends of each other, and before they arrive, they agree that if they face each other they will play 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 Bb7 10. d4 Re8 11. Ng5 Rf8 12. Nf3 Re8 and get a draw by three-fold repetition. Are they still playing chess? Or would you agree they made that arrangement to avoid playing chess? To see what I mean, imagine that everyone on your tournament makes such an arrangement, and then no novelty is played, or some people play fake novelties in an arranged game that ends in a draw.

Can we agree that if that happened, instead of being a chess tournament, it'd be a charade? This isn't about judgement, anyone calling such an abomination a "chess tournament" would be a fool.

What you talk about is called "thematic chess", and people have to be informed before they join about the theme, about the difference from chess, nobody gets to the board and it's surprised that moves they didn't intend to make were forced on their side. This is clearly distinct from chess.

So I'd definitively draw the line at "a player that loves chess and is given the choice between a normal game and X would choose normal chess", because then, this hypothetical player needs to have explained to her the difference between normal chess and X, so X is not chess (under this definition even time handicap games aren't chess, because you need to tell the player about the time handicap which would be different from normal chess with equal clocks, but it doesn't require judgement.)
Chess 960 isn't strictly speaking chess, since the start positions are illegal and the rules slightly different, but it still feels like normal chess.
What about the chess variant where people can promote a pawn normally, or they can promote it to Archbishop (Bishop + Knight) or Chancellor (Rook and a Knight), would you still consider it chess? Because most games without pawn promotions would look exactly like chess, and even for those with pawn promotions, it turns out players wanting to win are most likely to promote to queen anyway, so the extra rules have no effect for those games, because games with an Archbishop or Chancellor appearing would have been decided at that point anyway.

Is your claim that since this feels like chess it isn't fairy chess? Or that it requires judgement? I think this is clearly a chess variant, because players would need to be told in advance about the difference, so one of them isn't shocked when their opponent promotes to an upside down rook that can jump like a Knight or do Rook moves... I can only imagine the face of that person if this was tried to be passed on as chess...

If you need to explain the difference between chess and something else, that something else can't be chess.
So if chess with unequal time (for example, Black gets x minutes extra to make it fair) isn't even chess because the players need to be told about it, then what about any change in the time limit from whatever you consider "real chess"? That also has to be disclosed so those aren't real games either? What about the common practice in Elite events of awarding 3 points per win, 1 per draw? Are those events not chess? Actually, if you say no, I might agree with you, that is a far greater change to the rules than many other things we are talking about; I even wrote a letter to NIC once arguing that FIDE should refuse to rate such events. The fact that some tournament rules need to be announced in advance doesn't make it chess or not. What matters is that it should be considered chess by most of the players, and that is subjective. I'm sure that the Elite players in the Sicilian-only tournament felt that they were playing chess, but if they played in a tournament that stipulated an already drawn or obviously lost or won opening they would not call that chess. Many tournaments have special rules that need to be announced in advance, things like penalty for cell phone beeping, score keeping requirements in time pressure, illegal move penalties, various rules that differ between FIDE and USCF (or whatever your federation may be) such as use of inverted rook for a promoted pawn, etc. I think that FIDE even rated a tournament recently that scored stalemate differently than the usual 0.5 each. It just comes down to whether the players (and/or perhaps spectators) feel that the rule variations are within the bounds of what is called chess. How about Armageddon tie-break games? Are they playing chess? If not why does FIDE rate tournaments that use them? Maybe even the World Championship isn't chess, because a tie score leads to a decision in rapid chess, which many would say is not chess, and ultimately to an Armageddon game that certainly doesn't follow the normal rules of chess. You have to use some judgment, I don't see any hard and fast rules to distinguish "chess" from "fairy chess". If you have to add new pieces, or change the board, or change the fundamental moves of the pieces, I think we all agree that is "fairy chess", but many other rule changes are in a grey area. The fifty move rule has been changed by FIDE during my carreer, does that mean that either the older or the newer games are not chess?
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Re: what is the best engine for big material handicap?

Post by Ovyron » Mon Oct 07, 2019 2:23 am

Announcing under what conditions chess would be played is still chess. Announcing a chess tournament and then having to tell the players about the difference from normal chess would make it different from normal chess.

It would only be chess if everyone agrees it's chess. If chess is white and non-chess is black, any grey area wouldn't be chess.

That's why all the things you mention have X chess in them, where X denotes the difference with normal chess. If FIDE is having people play Armageddon chess and are taking those games into account for the rating of players they're doing it wrong, and a different rating for players for Armageddon should be built, lest, I can get in there and play the black side of Armageddon games exclusively, and get a rating that would give you unrealistic expectations about my strength if we played... chess.
lkaufman wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 2:01 am
The fifty move rule has been changed by FIDE during my carreer, does that mean that either the older or the newer games are not chess?
They were chess at the point they were played, but not anymore. More interesting for this is the stalemate rules, suppose I bring up a game played on medieval times where some guy stalemated their opponent and it was counted as a win. Was that chess? Yes, it was. Is it chess? No, under chess rules that game ended in a draw, but if it had ended in a draw and white knew, they'd probably hadn't delivered stalemate and would have continued to try to win instead, so they were playing a different game that was called "chess" back then.
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Re: what is the best engine for big material handicap?

Post by lkaufman » Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:17 am

Ovyron wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 2:23 am
Announcing under what conditions chess would be played is still chess. Announcing a chess tournament and then having to tell the players about the difference from normal chess would make it different from normal chess.

It would only be chess if everyone agrees it's chess. If chess is white and non-chess is black, any grey area wouldn't be chess.

That's why all the things you mention have X chess in them, where X denotes the difference with normal chess. If FIDE is having people play Armageddon chess and are taking those games into account for the rating of players they're doing it wrong, and a different rating for players for Armageddon should be built, lest, I can get in there and play the black side of Armageddon games exclusively, and get a rating that would give you unrealistic expectations about my strength if we played... chess.
lkaufman wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 2:01 am
The fifty move rule has been changed by FIDE during my carreer, does that mean that either the older or the newer games are not chess?
They were chess at the point they were played, but not anymore. More interesting for this is the stalemate rules, suppose I bring up a game played on medieval times where some guy stalemated their opponent and it was counted as a win. Was that chess? Yes, it was. Is it chess? No, under chess rules that game ended in a draw, but if it had ended in a draw and white knew, they'd probably hadn't delivered stalemate and would have continued to try to win instead, so they were playing a different game that was called "chess" back then.
You can't get "everyone" to agree on anything, certainly not on the definition of chess. If you say it's chess if 95% (or some other figure) of chessplayers agree that it is chess, then we agree. But then you need a definition of "chessplayer"! People who don't play chess might think that chess is checkers or something else, they shouldn't have a "vote".
FIDE isn't rating Armageddon games, but they are rating normal games whose result, if they end in draws, will be decided by an Armageddon game. They are also rating games where draws count as 1/3 of a point (effectively), and (I read) games where stalemate is scored as some fraction other than 0.5. All of these are technically wrong decisions to a purist like you, and maybe even to me. But if you don't accept that FIDE can call these variants "chess", then why should their decision to change the rules (as they did with fifty move rule) change the definition of "chess"? I personally don't grant FIDE or anyone else the right to define words such as chess.
Finally, how about rapid and blitz games? Are they chess? Does it depend on whether illegal moves lose or not? Is it only "chess" if the time limit (including any increment x 60) is more than one hour for sixty moves? Most people who play blitz, either live or online, would say they are playing chess even if the rules are a bit different than in standard tournaments. Chess is pretty hard to define!
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Re: what is the best engine for big material handicap?

Post by Nordlandia » Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:37 am

It's also important to acknowledge that normal chess is also an variant. The original ancient version is the true chess game. But may not appear so to present day people.

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Re: what is the best engine for big material handicap?

Post by Ovyron » Mon Oct 07, 2019 8:10 am

lkaufman wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:17 am
I personally don't grant FIDE or anyone else the right to define words such as chess.
This is the crux of the issue. If you aren't willing to grant the right to define words such as chess to anyone, then you're free to have a horse and define it as chess for yourself, and then to you your horse is chess, and nobody in the world could convince you that it's not.

You have to admit that chess as a word has some definition that coincides with something in the real word or on the abstract (like in math, Pi has some definition, you can't say that you won't grant anyone the right to define what Pi is, because Pi exists regardless of who's defining it, so chess would exist similarly even if there wasn't anyone to define it, or if it had a different name.)
lkaufman wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:17 am
Finally, how about rapid and blitz games? Are they chess? Does it depend on whether illegal moves lose or not? Is it only "chess" if the time limit (including any increment x 60) is more than one hour for sixty moves? Most people who play blitz, either live or online, would say they are playing chess even if the rules are a bit different than in standard tournaments. Chess is pretty hard to define!
I'll say one thing about this: after watching Nakamura play bullet chess for more than 20 hours total, seeing how Pre-moving is an important ability to have, recommending to his audience to premove losing moves in certain conditions to force the opponent to flag, and winning on time on losing positions he purposely played into because he knew his opponents wouldn't be able to mate him or capture all the material he had so he didn't have mating material, with the time they had left, so he could predict 100% of the time he was going to win those lost games with his pre-moving technique, it would be easy to convince me that that's not chess at all.

Frankly, most chess websites allow something that is not chess at all, and that is drawing on the chess board, and you don't even know your opponent is doing it.

But even if I were some crazy purist that was saying things that are clearly chess aren't chess or saying that some things in a grey area aren't chess, I don't think big material handicaps are on this range, let's see again...



Let's start here, is it chess? What is white's objective? To draw? To win? To get mated in the longest string of moves?

Would you run a tournament in this position? Would you expect something interesting to happen like white mating the weakest person in the history of the game?

I think my fairy chess variant where pawns can promote to alien pieces is more chess than this, and I hope we agree that my variant is fairy chess.
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Re: what is the best engine for big material handicap?

Post by Uri Blass » Mon Oct 07, 2019 11:57 am

Ovyron wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 8:10 am
lkaufman wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:17 am
I personally don't grant FIDE or anyone else the right to define words such as chess.
This is the crux of the issue. If you aren't willing to grant the right to define words such as chess to anyone, then you're free to have a horse and define it as chess for yourself, and then to you your horse is chess, and nobody in the world could convince you that it's not.

You have to admit that chess as a word has some definition that coincides with something in the real word or on the abstract (like in math, Pi has some definition, you can't say that you won't grant anyone the right to define what Pi is, because Pi exists regardless of who's defining it, so chess would exist similarly even if there wasn't anyone to define it, or if it had a different name.)
lkaufman wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:17 am
Finally, how about rapid and blitz games? Are they chess? Does it depend on whether illegal moves lose or not? Is it only "chess" if the time limit (including any increment x 60) is more than one hour for sixty moves? Most people who play blitz, either live or online, would say they are playing chess even if the rules are a bit different than in standard tournaments. Chess is pretty hard to define!
I'll say one thing about this: after watching Nakamura play bullet chess for more than 20 hours total, seeing how Pre-moving is an important ability to have, recommending to his audience to premove losing moves in certain conditions to force the opponent to flag, and winning on time on losing positions he purposely played into because he knew his opponents wouldn't be able to mate him or capture all the material he had so he didn't have mating material, with the time they had left, so he could predict 100% of the time he was going to win those lost games with his pre-moving technique, it would be easy to convince me that that's not chess at all.

Frankly, most chess websites allow something that is not chess at all, and that is drawing on the chess board, and you don't even know your opponent is doing it.

But even if I were some crazy purist that was saying things that are clearly chess aren't chess or saying that some things in a grey area aren't chess, I don't think big material handicaps are on this range, let's see again...



Let's start here, is it chess? What is white's objective? To draw? To win? To get mated in the longest string of moves?

Would you run a tournament in this position? Would you expect something interesting to happen like white mating the weakest person in the history of the game?

I think my fairy chess variant where pawns can promote to alien pieces is more chess than this, and I hope we agree that my variant is fairy chess.
White certainly can win against the weakest person in the history of the game.

i know from experience that there are children that I can beat with white.

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Re: what is the best engine for big material handicap?

Post by Dann Corbit » Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:34 pm

Ovyron wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 8:10 am
{snip}
But even if I were some crazy purist that was saying things that are clearly chess aren't chess or saying that some things in a grey area aren't chess, I don't think big material handicaps are on this range, let's see again...



Let's start here, is it chess? What is white's objective? To draw? To win? To get mated in the longest string of moves?

Would you run a tournament in this position? Would you expect something interesting to happen like white mating the weakest person in the history of the game?

I think my fairy chess variant where pawns can promote to alien pieces is more chess than this, and I hope we agree that my variant is fairy chess.
Positions like this are simply chess puzzles. They obey the normal rules of chess, except for the bizarre starting point. There are other examples that are further drifting from the real game (e.g. too many chessmen of a certain type).

"Real chess" or not, they can still be fun.
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Re: what is the best engine for big material handicap?

Post by lkaufman » Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:59 pm

Uri Blass wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 11:57 am
Ovyron wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 8:10 am
lkaufman wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:17 am
I personally don't grant FIDE or anyone else the right to define words such as chess.
This is the crux of the issue. If you aren't willing to grant the right to define words such as chess to anyone, then you're free to have a horse and define it as chess for yourself, and then to you your horse is chess, and nobody in the world could convince you that it's not.

You have to admit that chess as a word has some definition that coincides with something in the real word or on the abstract (like in math, Pi has some definition, you can't say that you won't grant anyone the right to define what Pi is, because Pi exists regardless of who's defining it, so chess would exist similarly even if there wasn't anyone to define it, or if it had a different name.)
lkaufman wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:17 am
Finally, how about rapid and blitz games? Are they chess? Does it depend on whether illegal moves lose or not? Is it only "chess" if the time limit (including any increment x 60) is more than one hour for sixty moves? Most people who play blitz, either live or online, would say they are playing chess even if the rules are a bit different than in standard tournaments. Chess is pretty hard to define!
I'll say one thing about this: after watching Nakamura play bullet chess for more than 20 hours total, seeing how Pre-moving is an important ability to have, recommending to his audience to premove losing moves in certain conditions to force the opponent to flag, and winning on time on losing positions he purposely played into because he knew his opponents wouldn't be able to mate him or capture all the material he had so he didn't have mating material, with the time they had left, so he could predict 100% of the time he was going to win those lost games with his pre-moving technique, it would be easy to convince me that that's not chess at all.

Frankly, most chess websites allow something that is not chess at all, and that is drawing on the chess board, and you don't even know your opponent is doing it.

But even if I were some crazy purist that was saying things that are clearly chess aren't chess or saying that some things in a grey area aren't chess, I don't think big material handicaps are on this range, let's see again...



Let's start here, is it chess? What is white's objective? To draw? To win? To get mated in the longest string of moves?

Would you run a tournament in this position? Would you expect something interesting to happen like white mating the weakest person in the history of the game?

I think my fairy chess variant where pawns can promote to alien pieces is more chess than this, and I hope we agree that my variant is fairy chess.
White certainly can win against the weakest person in the history of the game.

i know from experience that there are children that I can beat with white.
Yes, pawns only handicap is fair against kids around 7 years old who have just learned to play. Even after they have a lot of experience, many of them can't win if I keep two minor pieces plus the pawns. But the skills involved aren't much like normal chess, so I don't mind calling it a variant. Regarding defining chess, I don't dispute that it should have an objective definition, I just don't accept that one person or organization (like FIDE) can define it. I don't even think FIDE has tried to define it. I just now learned that FIDE changed the basic rules of the game in the year 2014, so that an arbiter can call a draw after 75 moves (without p move or capture) or 5 repetitions if the players fail to do so. So I guess almost all the games I played in my long career are no longer chess games because of this? I don't think so. Maybe we could use Webster's dictionary or Wikipedia or another such source for a definition, but they probably don't agree with each other.
What is "drawing on the chessboard"? I've never heard that expression.
I think that the key point in defining chess is that the principles and thought processes needed to play well should be the same or almost the same. Bullet chess would not be chess then if deliberate blunders can help you win. Maybe I would say that any sudden death game with no increment or delay, even a 2 hour per side game, is not chess because you can win by running out the clock with non-chess strategies. Chess with minor rule variations like different versions of the fifty move rule or whether illegal moves lose etc. is still chess, it is very rare that you would have to think about these things. Chess 960 is a borderline call, you do need to think about the castling rules so it's a bit of a variant I suppose. Thematic opening chess is still clearly chess to me as all normal principles and thought processes apply, unless the thematic position is too different from the normal start position or from ones regularly seen in master play. As for handicap chess, the key is that it be "close" to normal, which I admit is hard to define. Certainly f7 or b1 or g1 handicaps are close to normal, while removing four or more of the chessmen is certainly not close to normal.
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Re: what is the best engine for big material handicap?

Post by Ovyron » Tue Oct 08, 2019 3:18 am

Dann Corbit wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:34 pm
"Real chess" or not, they can still be fun.
I'll not dispute that, I've been saying for years that Crazyhouse is a superior game to chess, and that people should consider dropping chess and moving into a more fun variant, instead of trying to fix chess drawing rules to artificially decrease draws, research what most people would be willing to play (though, it turns out if you put some big prize money, people would play anything), so if it turned out playing from a chess puzzle would be best, I'd support that. But I'd be against still calling it chess, which is easy to define whenever you invite someone to play chess and they're shocked when something is different from what they expect.
lkaufman wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:59 pm
What is "drawing on the chessboard"? I've never heard that expression.
It's... this:

Image

You can click on the image to see what is happening, but basically people are being able to draw arrows and circles on the chessboard as they play games. Whenever it happens, to me it's no longer chess, because on a game in person you'll not see people getting out their crayons to draw on the board to help them visualize.

FIDE did lose me when they legalized illegal moves, as in, if your opponent makes an illegal move and you don't notice and the game continues to completion then the result of the game stands, or something like that, which makes chess a joke, because I could potentially take advantage of illegal blunders, by pretending I didn't notice them, and win the game, and it'd stand, or whatever.

What I'm saying is that the word "chess" describes a game, and this game has some properties, and a game with different properties is no longer chess, no matter how similar, or if it feels the same (like the variant with different pawn promotions.)

Chess would have these properties:

-It is a game played on a 8x8 board (Things like Capablanca Chess would be eliminated)
-It is played with 6 pieces, called pawn, bishop, knight, rook, queen and king, respectively (anything with a fairy piece would be eliminated)
-The pieces move like this <insert moving rules> (Most positions from 960 Chess are eliminated because kings move differently when castling)
-There's two sides, white and black, that control the pieces, and want to checkmate the opposing king (Things like Losing chess and Suicide chess are eliminated here, as long as any chess variant that is -identical to chess but with different objectives for winning, like promoting a pawn wins the game)
-Players can't make illegal moves that violate <moving rules>, but otherwise, they can choose any legal move and play it on the board (this eliminates thematic chess, players arranging to play certain moves if they face each other, and anything that starts the game forcing the player to have made some moves before the game started)
-Players start the game with 32 pieces on the board <insert here what pieces are on the opening position and their arrangement>, white plays first (for the purposes of this part, the colors of the pieces don't matter, but they're still defined as white and black so they can be differentiated on the chessboard, and players know when is their turn) and then black plays next, and they continue alternating moves (this eliminates material handicap games, games with extra pieces, and most shuffle chess positions that don't have pieces in their starting squares, variants where white or black move more than once, or can skip a turn, and, I guess, games where multiple people control any of the sides, so getting assistance would be cheating.)
-<Insert here rules about checking the king, and how it has to escape, capture the attacker or block the attack, and how being unable to do that is checkmate>
-A player checkmating the opposing king is awarded 1 point, and the other 0.
-<Insert here rules about draws, defining stalemate, draws for insufficient material, repetition of positions, and draws for going too long without a pawn move or capture happening>
-A player can resign at any point, doing so is the same as getting checkmated by the opponent.
-Players can offer a draw to their opponent, if it's rejected nothing happens, if it's accepted then doing so is the same as a stalemate (for simplicity purpose)

Unless I forgot something important that would work as a definition of chess, even if you wouldn't grant me the right to define it, chess as a word could be defined similarly to this.

Note that chess clocks are absent from this, because all they do is giving an incentive for players to move, lest, nothing stops white to never make a move, because the rules only say it has to eventually make it, they can take years to make it if they wanted.

At least in my country, chess clocks are too pricey, so the norm has been to play most chess tournaments without chess clocks. The surprising thing is that without clocks, people tend to play quick and the games end in a timely fashion. Not only games are finishing faster than if there was a 2 hour clock on there, people seem to be playing faster than in 10 0 games with clocks, and the games resemble chess more than the 10 0 games that end in a time struggle where players are moving their pieces and hitting their clocks like maniacs...

Even if my attempt at defining chess were garbage, I think another similar list could be built by someone else and everyone could agree with them that that's chess (the definition exists and there's a combination of characters that depicts it). I'd actually be interested in arguments by someone to claim something in the list isn't chess.
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Re: what is the best engine for big material handicap?

Post by lkaufman » Tue Oct 08, 2019 3:49 am

You forgot (I assume) to say draws count as 1/2 point per player, a rule which FIDE violates frequently when they rate games that give only 1/3 of the point to each player for a draw (so-called "football" scoring). They also violate your rules by rating events that forbid draw offers before move 30, 40, or even at all unless approved by a TD, but in this case I would side with FIDE and against you. You also don't say whether "touch-move" is a requirement to call the game chess or not, it is a FIDE rule. If it is, then other issues arise. Then there is the question of what to do when national rules differ from FIDE rules (example: using an inverted rook for a promoted pawn when no queen is available); I think either way they are playing chess, they just need to specify which rules are to be used. I don't actually know the FIDE rule regarding the rating of thematic tournaments; I do know that at least in my youth (maybe even now) USCF allowed it. If so then you might have trouble justifying including the requirement of no specified opening moves in your definition. Does anyone know the FIDE rule on this?
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