Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Chess960 for Computers

For the first time, computers will compete in a Chess960 (or Fischerandom) tournament. According to Wired, some two dozen or so programmers have signed up for the event in Germany next month.

But why does Fisherandom hold such special appeal to programmers? Wired journo, Kevin Poulsen, tells us:
Because the placement of pieces is random, computers rely on lightning-fast processing, without retrieving archives of past moves from a database.

Conventional chess-playing programs, with their dreadful power to calculate moves deep into the future, still rely on a digital version of an opening book at the outset of each game. This is essentially a look-up table constructed by a specialist, dictating the correct move for two million or more unique positions.
I've never tried Fischerandom myself, yet it sounds quite exciting. Though I doubt if it will ever displace the regular version. Sydney's Jason Chan and Melbourne's Trevor Stanning are aficionados.

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