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Subject: WMCCC - may the best man at getting the fastest hardware win :(

Author: Chris Whittington

Date: 02:06:23 10/18/97

Go up one level in this thread

On October 17, 1997 at 23:21:27, Robert Hyatt wrote:

>On October 17, 1997 at 18:23:47, Amir Ban wrote:
>>Would like to add my six cents here:
>>Some may be limited in hardware because they write assembler, but the
>>issue for others is simply availability and logistics. I have a pure C++
>>program that runs on Win32, which makes it probable that I could run on
>>an Alpha quite easily. When I learned that I was going to compete
>>against several Alphas, I put extra effort in my program and actually
>>managed to shave some percents off, no small achievement for a mature
>>program. But this overclocking business completely defeats me and makes
>>me aware that I have been wasting my time investing in my program
>>instead of going all out for some hardware.
>>Again the issue of fairness is brought up instead of the right one. Is
>>it fair ? Well, it's within the rules (not sure about the overclocking
>>though), and everybody does it, but it is not good for the event. Sure,
>>as Bruce points out, the ICCA events are very much about logistics and
>>organization. The point is  that they shouldn't be. Another point is
>>that this hurts the sponsor since everyone who is someone brings a
>>machine that is not the sponsor's.
>there are many more issues than this however.  This has *never* been the
>"PC World MicroComputer Chess Championship"...  we've had overclocked
>MC68000-based machines (mephisto), bitsliced (homebrew) versions of the
>6502, and overclocked X86 (Fidelity) machines for years.

Fine, but

a) we don;t have these 68000 overclocked machines now

b) you never suffered competing against them since neither Bob nor Bruce
have ever played in a WMCCC where these manufacturers machines appeared

c) If you don't approve of the idea of these manufacturers getting an
edge over a basically 'uniform' rest of field (as was the case in those
days), then why are you doing exactly the thing you list you disapprove
of then, now ? Because, without these very fast alphas, this Paris WMCCC
would be, to all intents and purposes, a level playing field.

That it is not a level playing field now is pretty much a Bob/Bruce
issue. I guess we can live with the odd K6 at 266 or 300. 300 to 233 is
not the advantage the raw numbers imply (because of memory bandwidth). I
can live with a tournament where 'effective' speeds vary by 20, 30 % or
so. Its when you can get 2x or 3x by running oin these alphas that I cry

>Each of these
>architectures offers different features.  Now on to the alpha...
>If you go back to the beginning of my work on Crafty, which dates back
>exactly 3 years ago, now, you know that one of my specific goals for
>"experiment" was to target development for a 64bit architecture, such as
>Cray *or* the alpha.  Most of you have written your programs optimized
>16/32 bit words.  I wrote mine optimized for 64 bit words.  It doesn't
>reasonable to me that Crafty should have to be handicapped by having to
>on a non-optimal architecture, "just because everyone else is."  So that
>point 1:  a program ought to run on the architecture it is designed for.

So why not run it on a Cray then ?

Because that's outside the rules.
You're just going outside the spirit in order to get an advantage. And
no mean advantage either. Look, Bob, I want to see, and I suspect others
want to see, a tournament where the software gets judged; not one where
some people have manoeuvred or bought themselves a massive hardware

> I
>don't know of any way to "equalize" the alpha and the X86...  it depends
>the program.  Bruce gets 1.8x faster on his 533 than on the P6/200,
>seems to get exactly 2.5X faster on a 500mhz machine than on the P6
>on recent tests.  That's because I'm designed to pump 64bit words
>while Bruce is not.

So you guys want to win at all costs. Makes much of the optimisation and
work of all the other guys running on K6's seem a little futile, doesn't
it ?

>Second, alphas are *not* expensive.  They can be had for under $5000,
>is less than I paid for my P6/200 18 months ago when I got it.  So this
>*not* exotic hardware.  point 2.  It is readily available...

Come on. Its a universtity research machine. The market for selling
chess programs onto it is precisely zero. Its just a way to get a
massive advantage by spending several thousand dollars, and,
incedentally claiming to be an 'amateur' programmer. 'Amateur'
programmers don't work like this, IMO.

>Next, the overclocking issue.  It was OK for Lang to overclock Mephisto,
>was ok for Fedility to overclock chess challenger, and for Dave to use a
>bit-slice (think it was him but I'm not sure) for what was back then
>various things such as "superconny"...  So I don't buy the fact that
>Bruce or Ernst have done something unconscionable here.  Crafty *might*
>get a
>766 machine.  It will definitely get a 500mhz machine.

You and Bruce were never affected by overclocking Mephistos or anything
else, because you WEREN'T at those tournaments. This is a criminal
argument to bad propose actions now on the basis of bad actions in the

That was then. Now is now.

Now  is pretty much a level playing field. You two are the guys with
this year's hydraulic jacks rasing the ground by a 45 degree slope away
from your own goal.

>next the concept of "carrying a custom machine under our arms."  If you
>at the last WMCCC, *many* toted their own machines and it raised no
>I think part of this is caused by the "shrinking gap" between commercial
>amateur programs.  But, in crafty's case, we aren't carrying *anything*
>to the
>tournament.  DEC is supplying us a machine.  Kryotech will if possible.
>this sounds *just like* what AMD is doing as well.  I'm not buying an
>at present.  I'm using one supplied by DEC.  Others are using PC's
>supplied by
>AMD or whomever.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Except all your programs (with a few exceptions of knowledge ones) are
just the same, aren't they ? They all use recursive null move and and
and and. They all do a little evaluation at the tips. Some do a bundle
of pre-processing and very little evaluation at the tips. You all know
and use the same tricks. None of you have got any real edge over the
others. Any of these programs could win - it will be down to luck and
machine speed.

So two of you are going into an overkill on machine speed to try and

Either by spending resources (not exactly amateurish), or by using
contacts (also not exactly amateurish).

Its really as simple as that, isn't it ?

May the best man win :(

>Somehow I get a sense of "those damned rich amateurs
>vs us
>poor commercial programmers" and I simply don't "get it."  I'm not rich.

I think I'll wait until after Paris to open up the issue of full-time
paid academic work on computer chess being classed as 'amateur'. You
know as well as I do the numbers of careers in academia dependent on
computer chess programming. The numbers of contracts given out for
research including creation of programs or testing the B***** algorithm;
and the empires built on it.

Some of these people are doing just as well, if not better, than the
guys working away at home and selling their programs. IMO there is not a
lot of difference between academic commercials and commercial


> My
>Operator Jason Deines simply spent hours on the phone getting us an
>alpha.  It
>was hard work, not amateur/professional status that made this happen.
>programmer *could* have done this, excepting those .asm special cases.
>that was a poor choice they made.  I did that for the Cray, and suffered
>it couldn't be ported to something else like a Fujitsu or Hitachi when
>were available and a Cray wasn't.
>>What do I suggest ? When the ICCA polled about the WMCCC invitations I
>>suggested that the rules will contain a mild deterrent: Have anyone who
>>brings his own machine, and can run on the supplied hardware, pay a fee
>>for entering external hardware. Nothing too high. If this does not deter
>>many, at least it will generate some revenue for the ICCA, and we may
>>not have to see the ridiculous sight of "professionals" staying out
>>because they cannot afford the entry fee while "amateurs" haul custom
>>machines halfway around the world.
>this "deterrent" is a stupid idea.  Just as the fee for commercial
>is a stupid idea.  The idea is *not* to deter, but to encourage
>The very concept of "a deterrent" leaves a foul taste with me.  Why
>would we
>want to deter *anyone* from competing?
>If anyone wants to host a PC-only event, I'll participate.  I probably
>attend unless it is reasonably short, but I'll make arrangements to have
>operator ready.  If anyone wants to host an alpha-only event, count me
>there too.  Ditto for a PowerPC event.  I don't mind "equal machines".
>I do
>mind getting my brains beat out because I have slow hardware and someone
>has something faster.  I didn't like the alphas in the last event, nor
>sun Sparcs in the one before that.  But they got in.  And in my case,
>alpha is the machine of choice, since the Cray doesn't fit the micro
>definition (yet).
>However, if enough are unhappy, why not take it up at the tournament,
>take some action for next year.  Make it PC-only for all I care.  I'll
>participate.  But this "tone" (not necessarily Amir's tone but a couple
>others too) seems "backward."  I'd think that "commercial" programs
>be good enough to give up a factor of 2x or so and still do well?  Or
>the amateurs really pretty close?  I have my opinion...

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