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

Author: blass uri

Date: 23:14:40 02/21/00

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On February 21, 2000 at 21:41:21, Christophe Theron wrote:

>On February 20, 2000 at 17:22:12, Amir Ban wrote:
>>On February 20, 2000 at 14:49:58, Christophe Theron wrote:
>>>On February 20, 2000 at 10:01:46, blass uri wrote:
>>>>On February 20, 2000 at 02:35:02, Bruce Moreland wrote:
>>>>>On February 20, 2000 at 02:25:32, Eelco de Groot wrote:
>>>>>>Botvinnik worked for many years on his program Pioneer but had very poor
>>>>>>hardware available to him in the USSR. It could solve some very difficult
>>>>>>positions from Botwinnik's games but never reached the stage where it could play
>>>>>>whole games as far as I know.
>>>>>The essence of intelligence is generalization, and the ability to generalize,
>>>>>however poorly, is built into any chess program very early on.  Anyone can
>>>>>create a program in under 24 hours that plays a complete game.
>>>>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.
>>>In 1987 I write the first version of my chess program for PC in one weekend. It
>>>began to play games only a few hours after I started to work.
>>>Of course I already had the experience of writting a chess program, but this one
>>>was completely different from the one I had written before. Not the same
>>>computer, not the same programming language, not the same basic data structures,
>>>everything was different.
>>>I think any experienced programmer, or even student, can create a chess program
>>>in a very short time, and a program that can play reasonnable beginner's moves.
>>>It actually happens all the time. Creating a chess program is a rather common
>>>project in the universities. A smart student can read some thesis about the
>>>subject and quickly write his own program.
>>>>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.
>>>Probably it's a difficult task for many people, but still it's doable and has
>>>been done already by non-professionals.
>>>    Christophe
>>You guys must be terribly bright. Well, actually, of course you are, but I have
>>no idea what you are talking about.
>>Writing a chess program from scratch in 24 hours or even a week doesn't make the
>>slightest sense to me.
>>I think if I lost all my sources and had to recode my program based on memory it
>>would probably take me about 2 weeks to come up with a simplified but working
>>I would need to build the basic data structures, code the move generation
>>functions, code makemove and unmakemove, try to remember how this alphabeta
>>worked and where I need to change the signs, work on the quiescence search,
>>patch some simplified evaluation function (no hope of remembering even 10% of
>>the real thing) and think out its internal data structures. Then work on game
>>control structures, identify the terminal positions, do input & move parsing,
>>and do some move and board display. Did I forget anything essential ? Probably,
>>but I'll find this later when I start compiling and debugging, which will
>>probably take a long time because I coded in a hurry.
>>I expect the result to look quite unprofessional and to play rather weakly after
>>only two weeks. If you want some fancy features like a working transposition
>>table and an opening book, you'll have to give me an extra week.
>>And all this is just to recode something that I already have and know well. If
>>someone is merely a bright programmer but has to think out all these issues as
>>he goes, how much do you expect this to take ? I think writing a chess program
>>from scratch is certainly more than a student semester project, which takes a
>>semester. I manage programmers on a daily basis, and I need to have a feeling
>>for how long tasks will take them. I would not assign even my best programmer to
>>write a working chess program in less than 3 months, and even that seems a bit
>>What am I missing ?
>What a lousy programmer you are! Let me tell you that you'd better speed up a
>little bit if you want to have the slightest chance to enter the SSDF list. :)
>:) :) :)
>More seriously, the discussion is about Botvinnik. In 20 years they did not
>manage to produce a program that played chess, even poorly, when one can write a
>poor chess program in 24 hours.
>That's all.

I think that the problem is that they tried to do too much.
Maybe they have netter chances if they decided to try to produce a program that
play chess poorly and only after that to try to do a better program with new
design decsions when they need again to start from the beginning.


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