Computer Chess Club Archives




Subject: Crafty CCT6 notes

Author: Robert Hyatt

Date: 19:39:20 02/01/04

The main preparation items were the hardware (supplied by AMD in Austin, TX) a
quad 848 box with 8 gigs of RAM.  I sent one of my 15K U320 SCSI drives out
there with the 3-4-5 piece tables and the opening book stuff.

The opening book prep was pretty minimal.  Gower and I (and a couple of chess
players he brought with him) tested a couple of QG-type lines to be sure that we
had reasonable choices for black's responses to d4/c4 openings.  As black we had
elected to play the 2. ... e6 variation of the Sicilian that we used so many
years with Cray Blitz.  It gives a reasonable position with a bit of asymmetry
to produce a position that isn't "dead" right out of book.

For round 9, since a win was critical, I chose to vary and not play 1. d4 since
Crafty has been known for that forever.  I decided to go with 1. e4 and if black
allowed it, I was going to play the Evan's gambit, an opening I like for
computers as white.  But Hiarcs didn't cooperate and we ended up in a Guico that
transposed to a Ruy.

The book has two components.  The base book is my old stand-by enormous.pgn
product made by "book create enormous.pgn 60 10".  I then had a bookc.bin with a
few (and I do mean a few as in 6-7 lines for white, 2-3 for black) lines to
guide the thing into reasonable positions.  I didn't try to win out of book, but
I did try to avoid losing out of book.  :)

Now on to the rounds.

Round 1.  White vs messchess.  Normal 1. d4 opening and we dropped out of book
on move 15 with an evaluation of +.67, totally acceptable.  :)  The score jumped
by about .3 every move and by move 40 the opponent resigned at +17.4.  Good
start.  NPS was ridiculous of course.  First search was to 17 plies deep.
Seemed to hit 14+ the entire game.

Round 2.  Black vs Pharaon.  A QGD (Lasker's) that popped out of book looking
drawish as most Lasker's do.  However starting around move 30, black used some
endgame/pawn structure knowledge to produce a significant "edge" that won a pawn
by move 35 and the usual score jump after every move resulted in a resignation
at move 47.  Typical depth here was 16-17 plies but queens were off.

Round 3.  White vs Pepito.  Another 1. d4 opening and another +.7 out of book,
but Crafty has always liked 1. d4 (+.7 is pure positional scores, not a pawn in
material ahead).  This was pretty stable through move 40, but slowly Crafty
improved and around move 40 things starting to get significantly better.  By
move 44 we were at +2.5 and while the game went on for 30 more moves, it was
over basically...

Round 4.  Black vs Zappa.  First bad book line.  We had accidentally left a
response to d4 for black that led to a position we didn't like.  Somehow I did
not delete it when we were testing, or I deleted it locally and not on the
Opteron.  In any case, we had no real winning chances in this game, and Crafty
found a forced perpetual that ended the game at move 30.

Round 5.  White vs Searcher.  We had a gross network problem and I could not
connect to ICC or the opteron, fortunately the opteron and ICC were not affected
and the game started without me.  Crafty simply played very well here in another
1. d4 except this time we were about 0.0 out of book as black tried something
different.  The evaluation steadily climbed, but slowly, until move 20 saw the
first fail-high winning a pawn plus.  Things fell apart quickly and the game
ended at move 32, at +8.20...

End of day 1.  Four wins, one draw.  Some amazing search speeds.  Some decent
luck with the book to avoid "book losses".  Not a bad day at all.

Round 6.  White vs Yace.  Expected to be one of the strongest competitors as
usual.  Out of book on move 7 and Crafty was happy.  So happy it offered the
b-pawn as a gift, although Yace declined.  By move 12 this was +2.  By move 20,
+3.5.  This is the _wrong_ kind of position to play into against a machine as
fast as the quad 848 box.  Yace resigned at move 35 at +10.0.  An easy win
thanks to a bad book line choice by Yace, that turned what promised to be a real
struggle into a quick tactical bust.  It's happened to me before, so I know how
it feels. :)

Round 7.  Black vs ChessThinker.  Another QG by white but leading to a pretty
good white position this time after we chose a bad reply.  By move 25 this was
+.75 with us as black not liking that very much.  The score quickly reached +1
and stuck around there until around move 40 where it had reached +1.5 and
eventually +2.  But Crafty finally got a bit more consolidated and the score
slowly started coming back down.  I thought we were going to lose this game when
 the score hit +2 around move 45.  By move 55 it was down to .75 and continued
to drop until the game ended in a hard-fought draw.

Round 8.  White vs Junior.  Obviously this would be a bear of an opponent, and
the game did not disappoint.  Crafty worked up an edge after leaving the book at
+.17 (nearly equal) to +.6 by move 16 (book ended at move 7 as Junior chose to
not repeat the previously tried responses to d4 others played, and apparently
listened to a comment by IM Schroer to play something different.  Junior let
things get a bit wild, and starting around move 20 we were hitting 16 plies
every time and our score was up to +1.0 with some wild tactics.  We ended up
winning a piece for three pawns and then a very sharp tactical struggle followed
where either side might have won.  A well-deserved by both players result of
draw was reached (perpetual by Junior) at move 64.

Round 9.  White vs Hiarcs.  Another difficult opponent.  Before starting this
round, I chose to do something different with the book for two reasons.  First,
our 1. d4 had become pretty predictable and I didn't want to repeat the Junior
game and possibly draw again..  I was concerned that had Ruffian won, a draw by
Crafty would have given the title to Ruffian and I chose to try something a bit
more dangerous and go with 1. e4.  In fact, this was the game where I had set up
for the Evan's Gambit but Hiarcs didn't play 3. Bc5 but went to the two knights.
 Had I prepared a bit more, I might have gone for something wild there as well,
but I had not prepared any other 1. e4 openings.   The Guico line ended at move
15 with a perfectly balanced position, both programs showing almost exactly 0.0
for the evaluation.  By move 25 the evaluation was up to +.75 as Crafty is not
prone to "sit" on a position having been brought up in the GM quagmire of ICC.
 It continued to press this positional advantage into winning a pawn, but it
reached a difficult to win (if it was winnable) ending with an extra pawn, with
one rook left on the board.  After a long struggle, this ended in a draw.
However, I like games where Crafty is playing for the win and the opponent is
struggling for the draw, rather than the opposite (which happened to us twice as
black as previously mentioned.)

Final result was 5 wins, 4 draws, 7.0/9.0 for the final result.  Hiarcs and
Crafty were tied, and Zappa put Ruffian down for the count to join the group
with 7.0.

The playoff was not something I particularly like, as the main event was 45 10
while the playoff was double RR 5 3 blitz event.  I played Zappa first and Zappa
played a couple of dubious book lines and Crafty won both games (not easily, but
it had enough horsepower that you give it a pawn, you can expect problems if you
don't have some significant compensation.  In the other two blitz games Crafty
played, it drew hiarcs in both.  The first was a bit of a struggle as Crafty
chose a dubious book line but it was fast enough to hold on anyway.  The second
was also a rather bad Sicilian line and again Crafty struggled for the draw, but
a draw was all it needed to win the playoff.

Final impressions were many.

1.  Competition is tough.  Everyone is getting stronger.  You can't take a
single game for granted any longer, in general.

2.  The AMD box is simply amazing.  8M-11M nodes per second.  Most games
averaged 8M or so throughout, after both sides have castled, 7M or so before
both sides castle.  Search depths were typically 12-16 plies, depending on the
position.  Open kings and lots of checks dropped the depth to 11-12 a very few
times, forcing lines in the Junior game let Crafty actually search as deeply
(reported ply depth) as Junior even though Junior counts plies differently.

3.  Luck still plays a part.  whether it be luck that avoids a bad book line for
you, or produces a bad book line for your opponent, or just searching deep
enough in a critical position to see a win or avoid a loss, etc.

4.  Debugging is critical.  No point in losing games due to bugs, screwed up
time management, etc.  Lots of games on a chess server can weed those things out

5.  A book is important, but not as important as "some" claim.  My normal big
book did just fine, with about 100 moves total in my "start" book to select
particular openings and avoid others.

6.  Perhaps that "if they thought they had a chance, they would have come"
nonsense can now be put to rest for all time.  I ran on a machine that might
have been about 1/4 the speed of the machine I could have used in Graz.  Anybody
that thinks that would not have been "competitive" is out of their mind.

I've been doing these competitions since 1976.  They are _still_ fun.  :)

And for Vincent, let me add the following to avoid all the discussions he will

1.  My evaluation sucks.
2.  My parallel search sucks.
3.  My book sucks.
4.  My simple q-search sucks.
5.  My wife is ugly.
6.  I'm too old and stubborn to have a chance.
7.  My kids are stupid.
8.  My mother used to wear army shoes.
9.  My truck is 9 years old.
10. I don't know squat about NUMA.

I think that about covers it.


Now he doesn't have to add his two cents' worth, assuming he has two cents'
worth to add. :)

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