An engines tourney, and some toughts about openings.

Yesterday, I make a suicide engine tourney on one of my computer between 4 engines:

  • Sjeng (version 11.2), the most popular suicide engine. I used it with his default settings, default opening book and 3 piece egtb. (link)
  • Wizard (version 3.1), the demo / free version. Default settings (link)
  • Pulsar (version 2009-9b) , with his default settings. (link)
  • Nessjeng, a version of sjeng (11.2) that I have made, default settings and 3 pieces egtb
  • I was sure that my own version of sjeng will finish higher that sjeng, but I wanted to compare with others.
    The tourney was a 50 games Round-robin of 1 minute with 1 second incremental.

    Here the result:
    Nessjeng 117.5 / 150
    Wizard 94 / 150
    Sjeng 87.5 / 150
    Pulsar 10 / 150

    All games can be download in one big .pgn file here.

    What changes have I made to sjeng ?
    Simply, a way better opening book. Ok, I must confess that isn’t a simple handmade opening book, I had connect a sjeng on the huge opening book of suicidechess.ca .
    I got this idea several months ago, when I started to program a opening book layer of StayAlive( a wizard engine running on FICS) for Neca.
    Recently for the job, I needed to do some C/C++ programming. It was my first real C/C++ program. When I looked that Sjeng source code, I saw that could be easy to connect it to the opening book database.

    I knew that Sjeng and wizard have some weakness in their openings, but I didn’t tough that will be that much.

    There’s a lot of better chess engine programmer than me, but many underestimate the importance of the opening. I strongly suggest to new engine programmer to invest their time in all game phase: opening, middle game and endgame. It’s true not only for the suicide variant, but for all chess variant.

    Currently, i’m only under windows, so I can’t compare these engines vs linux engines. But if you know others engines to throw-in, I can easily run others tourney.

    How to win against (part 3)

    Sjeng is probably the most popular suicide engine. Sjeng is available for Windows, and even Mac users. This engine have a small opening book, and 3 piece endgame tablebase.

    Many suicide computer account on FICS have use Sjeng engine. Sjeng play quite different from other engine. Sjeng is way more defensive, waiting that the other player make a blunder.

    Since he have 3 piece EGTB, it’s hard for a human to beat Sjeng in endgame. To beat Sjeng, you must do it before the endgame. The default opening book of Sjeng is quite small, so on some line when the game exit the opening book range, Sjeng make a blunder. You must take this opportunity. This happen sometimes , but not always.

    Good news, you still can beat him.

    In middle game, Sjeng often make some useless move, like moving his king back and forth between two square. You must put pressure on him, but without doing a blunder. At some point, when you will have put enough pressure, he’ll be in a hopeless position, where all his moves are lost.

    Don’t forget, each game are different, and Sjeng is still a good suicide engine. So you need a lot of practice, and knowing very well your opening book to beat him.

    Small tool release

    I have release a small tool to help some engine owner to modify their opening book.

    Some engine like Sjeng one, use square notation in his opening book, like e2e3 b7b5 f1b5, but in our opening book or nilatac’s one , we use SAN notation, like 1.e3 b5 Bxb5.

    It can be boring to manually translate SAN notation to square notation so I have release a Gui Translator to translate from SAN notation to square notation.

    The tool can be use for regular, suicide or Losers chess. It be can download in our download section