Computer chess

Computer chess is a game of computer architecture encompassing hardware and software capable of playing chess autonomously without human guidance. Computer chess acts as solo entertainment (allowing players to practice and to better themselves when no sufficiently strong human opponents are available), as aids to chess analysis, for computer chess competitions, and as research to provide insights into human cognition.

Current chess engines are able to defeat even the strongest human players under normal conditions. Whether computation could ever solve chess remains an open question.

Chess-playing computers are now accessible to the average consumer. From the mid-1970s to the present day, dedicated chess computers have been available for purchase. There are many chess engines such as Stockfish, Crafty, Fruit and GNU Chess that can be downloaded from the Internet for free. These engines are able to play a game that, when run on an up-to-date personal computer, can defeat most master players under tournament conditions. Top programs such as the proprietary Shredder or Fritz or the open source program Stockfish have surpassed even world champion caliber players at blitz and short time controls. In October 2008 Rybka was rated top in the CCRL, CEGT, CSS, SSDF, and WBEC rating lists and has won many recent official computer chess tournaments such as CCT 8 and 9, the 2006 Dutch Open Computer Championship, the 16th IPCCC, and the 15th World Computer Chess Championship. As of 3 February 2016, Stockfish is the top rated chess program on the IPON rating list.

CCRL (Computer Chess Rating Lists) is an organisation that tests computer chess engines' strength by playing the programs against each other. CCRL was founded in 2006 by Graham Banks, Ray Banks, Sarah Bird, Kirill Kryukov and Charles Smith, and as of June 2012 its members are Graham Banks, Ray Banks (who only participates in Chess960, or Fischer Random Chess), Shaun Brewer, Adam Hair, Aser Huerga, Kirill Kryukov, Denis Mendoza, Charles Smith and Gabor Szots.

The organisation runs three different lists: 40/40 (40 minutes for every 40 moves played), 40/4 (4 minutes for every 40 moves played), and 40/4 FRC (same time control but Chess960). Pondering (or permanent brain) is switched off and timing is adjusted to the AMD64 X2 4600+ (2.4 GHz) CPU by using Crafty 19.17 BH as a benchmark. Generic, neutral opening books are used (as opposed to the engine's own book) up to a limit of 12 moves into the game alongside 4 or 5 man tablebases.

Using "ends-and-means" heuristics a human chess player can intuitively determine optimal outcomes and how to achieve them regardless of the number of moves necessary, but a computer must be systematic in its analysis. Most players agree that looking at least five moves ahead (five plies) when necessary is required to play well. Normal tournament rules give each player an average of three minutes per move. On average there are more than 30 legal moves per chess position, so a computer must examine a quadrillion possibilities to look ahead ten plies (five full moves); one that could examine a million positions a second would require more than 30 years.

This page was last edited on 10 February 2018, at 23:45.
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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