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 .
    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.


    A good way to learn: Lose a game

    In real life, we learn from our mistakes. It’s truth in suicidechess too.

    In a suicide game, we often lose on a single move. You need to know which one. Sometime it’s obvious, you can see it in a second after your move, but it’s not the case, you need to know. In regular chess, the one who make the last mistake loss the game, in a suicide game, the one who make the first one usually lost the game.

    To spot your mistake, you can use several tools: a opening book, a suicide chess engine or end game table. You can also ask someone to help you, most of suicide player are willing to help / analyze game.

    You have spot your mistake, now you can do two things:

  • Just remember it, to not do it again
  • or learn how to win the game if your opponent does this mistake
  • The first one it’s easier, and you can continue playing game. The second one may take a lot more time. Example 1.e3 b5 2.Bxb5 Bb7 is lost for black, learning to not play it as black it’s easy, but learning how to win this as white, it’s very hard : only suicide engine can play it perfectly. So you may ask : »When should I learn to win a lost position? » There’s no perfect answer. Just try, if after a amount of time / asking other suicide player , you don’t see the win, just pass over and go play some game.

    In the last few week, I have learned a lot mostly by losing a lot of games against Nilatac and StayAlive. Against them, you can know right a way when you made a mistake: Nilatac is telling you, and StayAlive start to play very fast.

    Analyze one game can help you more than a hundred games…

    Several milestones reach at the same time

    Today, it’s a special day…

    First, in the opening book, there’s now more than 300 millions positions, and 45 millions of them have been calculated !! This is amazing, I often see check those number growing, but when I start to thinking to it: « This is huge! ». Again I will like to thanks anyone you run a Azor, suggest improvement, etc !

    Second, 15% of all positions have been calculated. What this means? It’s means that we are moving closer to solve suicide chess. We are still very far, but at least we are moving in the good way.

    Third, the suicide computer account StayAlive on FICS have reach the rating of 2600+. I didn’t program the engine itself, but since I had program some improvement for him, I’m proud to see his rating raising like this !

    And fourth, it’s my birthday…

    Let start 2010 in a good way

    Some people think that my project SuicideChess, it’s just a free-time project. But it’s not.

    Even in the part of the year, each day I work on it, and usually I pass more than week work time (40h/week) on it. Today I had correct a bug for StayAlive (Suicide computer on FICS). Still few tests have to be done, but quickly it will improve his opening book, and will resolve the bug where the engine hang and lose on time.

    Hopefully, I’ll post a new blog post on any progress made twice a week. Even if I don’t receive any cash from it, I consider SuicideChess project as my job.

    Soon, I will release monthly status from some source code analyzer run on the java source code of SuicideChess.

    I start to do some tests to know if it’s a good idea to change from Apache Server to a GlassFish server.

    What happen in 2009

    The end of the year arrive, so it’s time to look what happen in 2009 about the suicide variant and in SuicideChess project.

    When 2009 started, Azor was still in version 10, and now it’s the version 16.8 that’s currently running. Many things have improved between these versions : en-passant rule, auto-update, speed increase, better connexion’s stability and EGTB capacities. I’m impress how much azor improve this year.

    About the website, end game section have appear, to help players with suicide end game. That’s not the only section being created, the blog and forum too! In the opening book section, it’s now possible to add comments about a position. And since few, it’s now possible to register / login on the website.

    About the opening book, it increase a lot this year. At the start of the year, there was about 8.5 millions calculated positions in the database; at the end of the year, it will be about 37.5 millions. So 29 millions positions have been compute this year. Thanks to everyone who ran/run an azor. To give you a idea, to compute 29 millions positions on some cloud computing program like Amazon EC2, that would cost me more about 6000$.

    At the begin of the year, I have complete the transfer the hosting of the website from my home computer on a real web server, host by SliceHost.

    All my Java source code for my project have been release open-source this year too.

    About Suicide variant in general, you have seen new computers accounts on FICS like nakshatra. And StayAlive have now a way better opening book, than before, he almost reach the 2600+ rating in suicide. The Cyanide Sandwiches tourney have been moved from Tuesday to Wednesday.

    This is what I remember so far… oh what a year ! 🙂
    Hoping to see what will happen in 2010.

    Happy New Year all!

    Finally some news

    Last few weeks, I didn’t program a lot, because some sickness. But now I’m back on track.

    Today, I had release the version 16.6. Few changes , but nothing big. This afternoon, I found a bug in nessegrev / Azor that existed since the beginning. So a 16.7 will be release soon. Before this I have to test and make some choice like speed vs depth search.

    I need to release a new update for StayAlive too, but that will be quick to do.

    There’s so many things to do for suicidechess, I hope to do as much I can, before I got a real job.

    I still have some future dream about suicide:
    1- I wish to make a suicide engine that will merge nessegrev, with the Wizard engine. The wizard engine will provide more strategies in middle game, while nessegrev will bring his opening book, his quick way to find win path and his endgame play.
    2-I wish to make a new nessegrev, that will be multi-core, to take advantage of new cpu
    3-Finish a suicide applet to provide a web version of nessegrev.
    4-If I got a better budget for suicidechess, I hope to remove the database of my personal computer to put it on maybe a Amazon service. This will provide a better stability and less latency, so this will help the speed of the website.
    5-Provide even more services for any suiciders.

    About suicide in general, I like to see that suiciders try more different opening. Recently I saw some interesting games between Amitj and Gasgo, most of them were 1.a3 opening. Even if this opening isn’t rate good on suicidechess and nilatac book, but this opening provide many nice middle game positions.

    Hopefully I wish to see more high-ranked suiciders to participate to Fics suicide tourney, but I tend to agree with many of them, that 3 0 or 5 0 games are too short. Longer games are way more interesting.

    Time to go back to jub-hunting…