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

Author: Christophe Theron

Date: 18:10:36 02/21/00

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On February 21, 2000 at 19:09:25, KarinsDad wrote:

>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 :)

That sounds sensible.

I guess the reason why strong chess players are not good candidate to write good
chess programs is a little bit of the two:
* lack of real strong motivation
* risk to stick with unadapted prejudices about the game


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