Computer Chess Club Archives




Subject: "The Tale of a Small Tree" by M.M.Botvinnik [fragment]

Author: José Antônio Fabiano Mendes

Date: 13:58:07 03/09/00

[....]Three Studies
Eleven studies had long since been prepared for testing
the program---several years earlier I had written in an
introduction to a collection of studies by G.Nadareishvili
that it was with studies that one should begin experiments.
My reasoning was simple---in studies there is forcing tactical
play,positionnal evaluation is not needed,and since positional
"understanding" was to be the last thing to be put into the program,
one should therefore begin with studies...
We began with a famous study by Réti.
[D]7K/8/k1P5/7p/8/8/8/8 w - -
    White to play and draw
What could be simpler,and at the same time cleverer than this
And so,during December 1976 to January 1977,"Pioneer" solved
Réti´s study.We thought that it would all be very simple,but
it proved to be highly complicated.Without any positional
evaluation,and without the attachment of the endgame library,
the tree "disintegrated".The computer had little other work,
but hours went by,and still no result.It became clear that
"Pioneer" needed help!
We took the rule of the square,programmed it in three modifications,
put it into the library,and at each node of the tree "Pioneer"
received from the library the necessary information.The effect
was staggering:the study was solved within 70 minutes,and in the
search tree there were only 54 moves.This small "human" tree was
first obtained on 28th January 1977---without doubt a significant
date in cybernetics.[...]
Source:"Selected Games 1967-1970",M.M.Botvinnik,Pergamon Press,1981,
pages 299 and 300
So it seems that,contrary to widespread belief,Botvinnik thought his
computer-chess work to be very important.  JAFM

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