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Ze_ro

Video Chess vs. GNU Chess, Grandmaster Challenge!

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Like many of you, I have never been able to beat Video Chess on the Atari... so I decided to find some worthy competition for it... my own computer! Using a copy of GNU Chess & XBoard (which I've also never been able to beat) running on an AMD K6-2 400 MHz system with 128 megs of RAM, I figured I had a pretty good chance of beating the old Atari. I fired up both the Atari, and GNU Chess, gave GNU Chess the first move, and the game was on! With Video Chess on it's lowest difficulty setting, GNU Chess handily mated it in a mere 13 moves, despite being put in check by Video Chess twice. For a look at the final board layout, check this screenshot (Taken in GNU Chess so that you can actually make out the pieces).

 

Feeling a little sorry for the Atari, I decided to knock things up a notch (Bam!), so I set Video Chess to level 4. I considered setting it even higher, but it's slow enough as it is. At this level, the game lasted over an hour and a half! However, despite a valiant game, Video Chess ended up in checkmate after 40 moves. Again, if you want to see the final board layout, here's another screenshot. There was a pretty nasty situation where Video Chess and GNU Chess kept making the same moves over and over (GNU Chess putting Video Chess in check with a knight in two locations)... luckily, GNU Chess realized that Video Chess wasn't about to give up it's stubborn ways, and made a different move. I was worried I'd have to call it a stalemate, or force a different move.

 

For anyone who's interested, I set GNU Chess to allow itself only 5 minutes worth of turns for the entire game... Video Chess on the other hand, used as much time as it wanted (often more than 5 minutes for each move). If you look at the clocks in the screenshots (which originally started at 5:00), keep in mind that I paused the game every time the Atari was thinking... otherwise I would have ran out of time very quickly. It's also worth pointing out that GNU Chess was actually thinking up new moves while the Atari was thinking (cheater...). Next, I'd like to use Crafty to analyze the strategy Video Chess uses, and see how good it really is. I wouldn't mind raising it's skill level too, but I'm not sure I have time for some of the higher levels...

 

Has anyone else here actually tried pitting Video Chess against their favorite chess program? I would be interested in seeing how it ranks against programs like Chessmaster 8000... or perhaps against a more evenly matched C-64...

 

--Zero

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Wow. Verrrrrry clever. kind of like putting a humidifier and a dehumidifer in the same room and letting them duke it out. (5 point reference.)

 

 

I might just have to see how my Excalibur handheld Chessmaster fares against Stella. This is pretty cool. Having computers from two different eras compete against each other. In fact, why not break out the Chess programs for other classic systems and see who the Digital Kasperov is?

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Very cool! 8)

 

I'm surprised that the Atari played so well against modern equipment and software.

 

Next, I'd like to use Crafty to analyze the strategy Video Chess uses, and see how good it really is.

I think, you can find some informations about the algorithms Video Chess uses on the web.

 

I wouldn't mind raising it's skill level too, but I'm not sure I have time for some of the higher levels...

If you are playing with an emulator (z26 is the fastest) disable the framerate limiter (-r for z26). That way, the game speed will benefit from a faster computer. :idea:

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You know.. I've ALWAYS wanted to do this! However I'd just think about it while I was tossing in bed or something then the idea would be forgotten by the next day. Basically I wanted to compare 2600 Chess vs. Chessmaster and I figured I'd try to run 2600 chess on an emulator and put it at a high framerate (as Thomas also suggested above) and set Chess Challenger to a relatively low level.

 

I'm sure there are other console or old computer chess programs around accessible via emulation who could also participate. :) Veeerrrryyy interesting.

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(Trying like mad to get any image even vaguely related to NE146 "tossing in bed" out of his head)

 

Choose your colloquialisms more carefully, damn you!

 

 

:D

 

 

CF

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oh you thought that was accidental? You don't know me very well do you (yet) :D

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It might be interesting to set up a tournament between the old-school systems... We could have the 2600 battling it out against various programs running on Commodore 64's, Atari 800's, and so on. Can anyone provide me with some more references to older computer programs? I wouldn't mind actually setting this up and seeing how it goes.

 

I've found the following chess games for the C-64 (By searching Lemon64):

 

Battle Chess (Electronic Arts)

The Chess Game (Microclassic)

Colossus Chess 2.0 (Commercial Data Systems)

Colossus Chess 4 (Commercial Data Systems)

Grandmaster Chess (Kingsoft)

3D Scacchi Simulator (Simulmondo)

 

From the screenshot they have of "The Chess Game", I'm actually not sure it's actually a chess game! But it's grouped with the other chess games, so who knows.... Obviously, since Colossus Chess 4 probably improves upon 2.0, only 4 would be included in a tournament... anyone know if the various ports of Battle Chess are any different? Would there be any point in including a PC or Amiga version if a C-64 version was already in the running?

 

--Zero

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Blah blah blah... can't delete my double post... blah blah...

 

--Zero

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Wow. Verrrrrry clever. kind of like putting a humidifier and a dehumidifer in the same room and letting them duke it out. (5 point reference.)

 

Steven Wright.

 

Oh and this is a cool idea. (The chess matches) It's amazing the 2600 can even play chess.

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Zero... take Collosus Chess 4, it's probably the best program for the C64. And damn good as well...

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It doesn't have to be an old chess program either. Like I said it'd be interesting to see 2600 chess on the higher levels duke it out with Chessmaster on the pc set at it's lower levels. I'd imagine the 2600 would still lose but it'd be interesting to see the game transcript :)

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This is infinitely cool.

 

I wonder if you used supercharger technology to hack into video chess, could you make it play better? It has got to be a programming feat to make a chess game for the Atari 2600. Makes me start thinking of what it could be like to have a chess program for the 5200 and 7800.

 

If everything is equal, which would win?

 

Atari 2600 chess

Atari 5200 chess

Atari 7800 chess

 

Makes a nice way to truly test the capabilities of each system, doesn't it. Kinda like a "benchmark".

 

You know where I'm going with this...yeah :)

 

XBOX chess vs. Gamecube chess

 

At least maybe there could be a site where it would list the winners in important matchups.

 

I don't think there is a chess game for XBOX and stuff tho.

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If everything is equal, which would win?

 

Atari 2600 chess

Atari 5200 chess

Atari 7800 chess

With the restrictions of the hardware, I'm sure the 2600 would loose. You'd need quite a lot of memory if you want to optimize the algorithms for speed.

 

And 128 bytes is not exatly what you'd want. ;)

 

BTW: IMO the best chess programs for the PC are Fritz and Shredder.

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In 2600 Video Chess the estimated computer time to do a move on the highest levels are:

 

Level 6 - 12 minutes

Level 7 - 10 hours

 

In the interests of giving the 2600 Video Chess it's best chance, I wonder how much of a difference the 'intelligence' of a move would be between level 6 & 7 seeing how there's such a drastic time difference. Additionally, I wonder how fast an unthrottled 2600 emulator running on a fast pc would take to produce a move on level 7.. hmmmm.... Anyway, I'm sure there are a lot of people who leave their pc's on 24/7 and could theoretically run a 2600 emu w/ video chess on level 7 and record a complete game over the course of a week or 2. What do you think? :P

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In 2600 Video Chess the estimated computer time to do a move on the highest levels are:

 

Level 6 - 12 minutes

Level 7 - 10 hours

 

In the interests of giving the 2600 Video Chess it's best chance, I wonder how much of a difference the 'intelligence' of a move would be between level 6 & 7 seeing how there's such a drastic time difference. Additionally, I wonder how fast an unthrottled 2600 emulator running on a fast pc would take to produce a move on level 7.. hmmmm.... Anyway, I'm sure there are a lot of people who leave their pc's on 24/7 and could theoretically run a 2600 emu w/ video chess on level 7 and record a complete game over the course of a week or 2. What do you think? :P

The problem with levels 6 and 7 is, that the game is "cheating" (moving pieces). I think this is not intentional and only a bug in the chess algorithm, but it prevents you from really using thoses levels (someone should try to fix that :) ).

 

I guess that in level 7 the game plays at it's theoretical maximum strength (all possible moves are evaluated) where in level 6 some time limitation still forces the chess algorithm to cut a lot not very promising looking moves.

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>>

The problem with levels 6 and 7 is, that the game is "cheating" (moving pieces). I think this is not intentional and only a bug in the chess algorithm, but it prevents you from really using thoses levels (someone should try to fix that ).

<<

 

What you can do in the meantime is if you know the correct board position, if Video Chess leaves a piece in the wrong place, change the difficulty setting to put the game into board-setup-mode and remove the piece and set one up back where it belongs, then continue from there.

 

I used to always play Video Chess with a real chess board in sync with the game because it's easier to visualize the board and it has the added perk of being able to detect the cheats.

 

BTW, I've always thought that the highest setting had an artificial delay in the think. It seems way too long. I didn't ask Larry Wagner about this when I had the chance, though.

 

If you really wanted to hack the game, I might be able to contact him again regarding the sourcecode.

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The fact that it may have made more than one valid move at a time may have already done it's damage...since the move it chose would be based upon the pieces' locations. You can also not base the intelligence of a chess program solely on the number of moves it takes to mate or be mated...since set-up may require a fair number of moves in itself. Video Chess seems to have a problem with squares that are guarded by more than three attacks (can anyone confirm this?)...and uses the Castling manuver much too often (to the point that you can anticipate this move). So while a game of 40 moves might seem not bad, those moves may have been just what the more-advanced oppontent (even with less look-ahead) might be expecting it to do (far from impossible considering larger database sizes to draw a book of moves from).

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Additionally, I wonder how fast an unthrottled 2600 emulator running on a fast pc would take to produce a move on level 7..

 

I would actually prefer to run all the programs against each other on the actual hardware if possible, and indeed, I used a real Atari for my above tests... but since I don't actually have a TRS-80, and my Atari 400 is broken and without power supply, I'll have to settle for emulators...

 

--Zero

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Hey, Zero, if you can determine an approximate rating and write up a synopsis, I'd love to print it in the 2600 Connection.

 

I actually had a guy who was going to do a head-to-head with Atari vs Activision in Checkers, but he only did the review part, not the actual competition. If anyone feels like pitting a couple Ataris against each other, please send me a summary/article!

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