30 October 2017

Improve Engine Software

At the end of last month I wrote a post on my chess960 blog titled Engine Trouble. It started, 'Talk about a disastrous tournament!' and made some general observations about a particularly poor result. One of the observations was 'Insufficient engine power' and at the end of the post I set myself the task 'to investigate what sort of engine setup I would need to improve my result.'

I've been using chess engines long enough to know that I have four specific areas to investigate. Here they are in the order they should be addressed:-

  • Upgrade software
  • Upgrade hardware
  • Link engine(s) directly to tablebase
  • Improve GUI

All of this needs to be within a certain budget, but I would also like to know what I could do given (nearly) unlimited funds. As for the tablebase, what are the possibilities of using a seven piece (or more) TB?

A Google search on 'chess engine best software' returns a list of results in a format unlike most Google searches. There is no count for the number of results and certain top results are displayed above the traditional results in a banner that scrolls left and right. I've seen the format before, but have never understood why it is used in certain searches. Perhaps it has something to do with shopping.

I split the 16 'best software' results into a 4x4 display that reads top-to-bottom, left-to-right in the same order presented by Google, where the most important results are presumably presented first. It works for me in a second way because I've used the four engines that are displayed in the top row

chess engine best software

All engines have their peculiarities, their strengths and weaknesses. I often run two different engines on the same position to see if their evaluations match. If they don't match, I try to determine why not -- which engine understood the position better?

For the next few posts in this series, I'm going to assume that my main engine will be Stockfish. Because it is open source, more information about its internals is available to the public. I can come back to this decision after I've investigated the other points on my list.

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