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Subject: Re: What is Botvinnik's legacy to computer chess?

Author: Eelco de Groot

Date: 14:24:00 02/20/00

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On February 20, 2000 at 14:51:08, Bruce Moreland wrote:

>On February 20, 2000 at 10:01:46, blass uri wrote:
>>I do not think that anyone can create a program in under 24 hours that plays a
>>complete game of chess even if the task is only to choose a random move.
>>Maybe you are right about professional programmers but
>>there are many people who do not know to create computer programs and many
>>people are going to fail in the task of creating a chess program that play chess
>>in under 24 hours even if they know something about programs but did only some
>>simple programs of not more than some hundreds of lines.
>By "anyone" I meant anyone who programs competently.  It's not that hard, but
>it's not like you pick some Burmese kid at random and set them in front of a
>computer and come back in a day and watch it play chess.
>Let's not get caught up in this and miss my point.  The idea that someone can
>work on a computer chess program for more than 20 years and fail to produce
>something that can play a complete game, however poorly, is total rubbish.  I
>don't know why that project was so unproductive, but something is really wrong
>with the whole thing.  It had to have been some sort of scam.

I know very little about it, but if the goal had been just to produce a chess
program that could play reasonable chess they could have just asked the
programmers of Kaissa for help, that played about level with the early Chess 4.0
program in the early 70's.

As early as 1966-67 there was a computer vs. computer match, held by
correspondence, between the Kotok - McCarthy program from Stanford and a program
from the Institute of Theoretical Physics in Moscow.

This was not the goal. Botvinnik wanted to make a program that could beat the
world-champion. I get the idea that it was more to try to make some form of
expert system, to incorporate Botvinnik's knowledge and skill somehow in
heuristic rules. In Chess Skill in Man and Machine (indeed an excellent find, I
think) Botvinnik is quoted as wanting to make a program "modeled on human
thought processes" which he saw as diametrically opposed to the approach chosen
for Kaissa. So he felt that he should do things differently, in my opinion.
They, Botvinnik and his programmers, obviously failed to generalize enough or
even at all the few rules they may have found for some positions. I don't know
enough about their results to say what exactly they did program, but there are
articles in ICCA and other sources. I find the scam idea a little far-fetched.
Botvinnik had to I believe plan the city energy supplies or something like that
too for which the computers were also used a great deal of the time.

They just were bound to get stuck on trying to catch all the different patterns
and their association possibilities that strong chessplayers can use, in
heuristic, sequential rules. That was just an impossible assignment from the
start. That's just the way I see it.


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