Computer Chess Club Archives




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

Author: KarinsDad

Date: 16:09:25 02/21/00

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On February 21, 2000 at 14:04:12, Christophe Theron wrote:

>I think a strong chess player can be a very important part of a programming
>team, but I don't think a strong chess player can be the main programmer of a
>top chess program.
>    Christophe

I think it is more fundamental than that.

Strong (and by strong I mean IM+) level players spend a LOT of time on their
chess. This would give them little time to program.

A strong program (in most current models) requires a lot of elements: opening
book, hash table, egtbs, pawn hashes, etc., etc., etc.

It takes a lot of time to design and implement these well. Additionally, a good
design idea could turn out to be a poor implementation idea (i.e. it sounds good
on the surface, but it don't work). This means that even a strong programmer
will be going back to the drawing board on occasion (which takes even more

So, while I think you are correct in a general manner, I think the real issue is
that there are not a lot of strong players who are also strong programmers and
who are also motivated to write a chess program.

I think the motivation for strong chess players/programmers is to play the game
whereas for the weaker chess players/programmers, they lose enough over the
board to want to try to write a program.

I think this applies to some correspondence players as well. They are fair OTB,
but when they have the time to really think about a position, they are much much
stronger as correspondence players, hence, they are motivated (due to standard
risk/reward) to play correspondence chess.

Another way of saying this may be that there are about 8 or 10 REALLY strong
programs out there. The difference Elo-wise between them is not that great. But,
there have been hundreds of programs written. Why is it that the Elo difference
between the hundreds of programs is so much greater? It's due to the large
amount of effort required to gain that little bit more once you get a reasonable
program working. Some people are motivated to continue improving their programs
(working on them every day) and some people may only improve them once in a
while (or never).

A strong chess player would most likely get bored with his/her program once it
was basically working ok. To spend 2 more man years on it over the rest of a
strong chess player's life is probably beyond the self motivational capabilites
of those people. They would rather be playing chess.

KarinsDad :)

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