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Subject: Re: WMCCC Hardware

Author: Bruce Moreland

Date: 02:42:11 10/17/97

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On October 17, 1997 at 03:01:10, Chris Whittington wrote:

>Try it from the point of view of the majority who are going to run on K6
>233's provided by the organisers.
>
>Some of these people think they are in with some sort of chance to win,
>they think the program they've been working on all year might have
>something (I exclude myself from this list, I don't think CSTal will
>win).

Of course you also need to criticize those who are bringing 300 mhz
PII's, and whatever else people manage to scrape up.  And you might also
point out that this happens every year.  Last year I brought a Pentium
Pro 200 mhz machine to Jakarta because I knew that these machines were
going to blow the hell out of the supplied Pentium 133's.  The machine I
brought last year was approximately 2.3 times faster than the supplied
machine, this year maybe <= 1.8 times (with my program in both cases).

I wasn't the only one to bring a machine last year.  There were several
Pentium Pro 200's, one Pentium 200 (Fritz, they went faster on this than
on a Pro), and I think that the Nimzo guys even over-clocked theirs to
220 or 233.  The one major 133 mhz hero at the last event was Virtual
Chess (actually maybe he brought a 166, I can't remember), but Pascal
Tang managed to borrow a 200 for the playoff with Fritz (and maybe for
the speed event, I think he might have used Crafty's machine).

The year before, I didn't bring a machine, and I had to use one of the
120's supplied by Peacock, while Richard Lang had a 133 (probably with
more and better memory, who knows), also supplied by Peacock.  I asked
why he got a faster one and I was told that he had made a "special
arrangment with the sponsor".  There were other machines brought by
competitors as well, and we also had Sun sponsoring the event, so there
were Sun work-stations all over the place, which were faster than the
Peacocks.  I think there was maybe one team who brought their own 100
mhz machine to that event (I don't know why), but other than that, I was
on the rock-bottom hardware at that event.

I also saw some of the teams at Hong Kong bring their own (faster) PC's
despite the fact that nice PC's were supplied (I brought my own, only
because the organizers wouldn't guarantee that there would be a PC there
for me, because they initially left me off the list of people requesting
hardware).  I think that Frans Morsch brought a very nice (for that
time) 120 mhz machine to that event.  I had a 100 mhz machine (it was
the machine from my office at Microsoft, I got a VP to say I could take
it).  I think the supplied machine may have been a 90.

I'm sure that this all goes further back, but I don't go further back,
so I don't know first-hand.

What I learned from all of this is that part of the competition is
organization.  Dark Thought has always been great at this.  They
achieved a close relationship with DEC, and have brought DEC hardware to
every event that I have attended, and I would be surprised if they have
ever had to pay anything for their hardware.

Other teams, this year, have also managed to get hardware sponsorship.

I am not good at this kind of thing.  Last year I tried to get Gateway
to sponsor me and they sent me some key rings and pencils to give away.
I still have some.  I couldn't even get any T-shirts, much less a
computer.

This year I decided to at least try to be a little smarter.  I noticed
one of the Crafty's on ICC was going at a completely outrageous speed,
and I asked the operator what he was using.  He told me, and I learned
that I could go fast without paying twenty thousand bucks, so I ordered
one.  I figured that I would have a chance against whatever Dark Thought
appeared with this year, but they scored again with this Kryotech thing.

>Only somebody is apparently turning up with a 750 MHz alpha, and Bruce
>with his 10,000,000 GigaHertz machine.

I am bringing a 533 mhz Polywell.  I think it is possible I will be able
to wrangle one of these Kryotech 767's as well, but maybe all I will get
is key rings, we will see.

>So now, five guys, ten guys, suddenly have these good winning chances
>much reduced. Not becuse their programs have suddenly changed, not
>because they did something wrong; but because two (?) of the strong
>programmers decided to put themselves way out in front with this special
>hardware advantage.

Three or four Alphas.  At least three PII/300's.  The PII/300's may not
be as fast as the Alphas (probably not, but I haven't tested one), but
they are the best x86 you can get now, so obviously someone is trying
pretty hard to compete in this area.

It's an open-hardware event, Chris.  If you want to take advantage of
the hardware provided by the sponsor, fine, but otherwise you can bring
your own.  But the provided hardware is quite likely always going to be
a notch below the best you can get.

It is an advantage to have a faster machine.  I would definately like to
have the fastest machine, no doubt about it.  But it is not a crushing
advantage.  I have been using the 533 for a month or so, and it has lost
numerous games against programs on weaker hardware.  I want to win, but
I am not betting on Ferret to win.  I think that having a 233 mhz K6
will increase everyone's tactical awareness markedly, and so you will
see more examples of mid-pack programs beating or drawing front-pack
programs than you did last year.

>I see this as both selfish and self-advancing at others expense.

I see that evaluating and acquiring hardware is another aspect of the
competition, along with writing a good (and in this case portable)
program, and building a good opening book.  You can devote as much
effort to any of these areas as you wish, it is part of the competition.

Last year I learned from Dark Thought to be better about acquiring good
hardware.

bruce



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