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Subject: Re: The Limits of Positional Knowledge

Author: Michael Neish

Date: 21:36:41 11/23/99

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I started this thread, "The Limits of Positional Knowledge" about a couple of
weeks ago.  I'm happy to see that it's still ticking over, although by now it's
evolved pretty far from what my original question was!

A couple of the early replies to my question were on the mark, but
the rest have strayed into areas far more noble and sophisticated than my
lowly inquiry.  But since no one's really answered my (naive) question --
maybe there is no answer? -- I'll restate it.

Having recently written my first program, which can search only up to 6-ply,
that's if you want it to move sometime before the big crunch, I thought what
would happen if I stubbornly kept to a 6-ply limit and just tried to improve
the program's playing strength by giving it increasingly better positional
I presume that given perfect positional knowledge no lookahead at all would be
required, since all tactical opportunities would be nipped at the bud (although
how it would exploit tactical blunders by the opponent is a separate question in
itself).  So my question was "how strong can a program become just by
concentrating on the positional evaluation?".  I will allow the use of
if a tactical possibility is discovered.

I fiddled with my program with this in mind, and although I found that it seems
to ponder over better moves quicker with a better evaluation function,  I seem
to be hitting a wall as far as performance improvement is concerned.  For
instance, if I play the program against itself, with White adopting the old
parameters, and Black the new, it seems Black plays better, but after developing
an advantage it cannot convert.

I appreciate any replies.  Thanks.


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