19 April 2021

Komodo Personalities

In last week's post, TCEC 'Swiss 1', CCC 'Bots: Top Players...' Both Underway (April 2021), I mentioned 'personalities' twice:-

The [CCC] is currently running a similar event called 'Chess.com Bots: Top Players, Personalities, Streamers' with 20 bots participating. [...] The '!next' command says that a 'Komodo personalities match' is waiting in the wings.

This led to an obvious question -- what are 'Komodo personalities'? The concept seemed to be another angle on my post from two weeks ago, Chess.com Streamer Bots (April 2021), but this needed confirmation. While I was looking into 'Komodo personalities', I realized that I lacked an overview of Komodo's evolution, so I created the following chart from the Chessprogramming wiki.

Adapted from Komodo (chessprogramming.org)

A glaring omission in that chart is a mention about Chess.com's acquisition of Komodo. This is especially relevant because the CCC is also owned and operated by Chess.com: Chess.com Acquires Komodo; Launches New 'Monte Carlo' Version Similar To AlphaZero (chess.com; May 2018):-

PRESS RELEASE: Chess.com acquires the Komodo chess engine and launches Komodo Monte Carlo with a probability search similar to AlphaZero. [...] The acquisition of Komodo comes with the release of an exciting new version of the engine called Komodo Monte Carlo, where moves are chosen by win probability and not traditional evaluation. [...] The latest version, Komodo 12...

Now I had the overview I needed to understand the development of 'Komodo personalities'. It turns out that the function was already available in the first release of Komodo. This first reference is from May 2010: Vorstellung der SWCR TOP 20 Engines (nk-qy.info; German language; Komodo 1.2). It gives instructions on 'How to modify the personality of Komodo. [...] All comment lines begin with the '#' character...', apparently from a README file. This second reference is from September 2010: Komodo 1.0 Personality: Kinghunter (rybkaforum.net). Here are a few excerpts from that discussion:-

I set out to make a fun, dynamic personality for Komodo 1.0 that would be fun to play against and perhaps play some interesting engine games. [...] We need to convince Don Dailey and Larry Kaufman to include the personality system in the newer versions of Komodo! They removed the Komodo personalities because they expected people to use them to try to find a setting stronger than default, when people didn't do that, they removed them. But what people want is using them to create fun or interesting personalities, and who cares if they're weaker than default, the point is style.

When were the personalities re-introduced into Komodo? According to the official site, just last year: Komodo 13 Chess Engine (komodochess.com):-

February 2020 Komodo mastermind GM Larry Kaufman introduces Komodo 13 • We have just released Komodo 13, an upgrade of 13.2.5 [...] Komodo 13.3 introduces a new feature, "Personalities", with playing styles modified to simulate different types of human players.

Now the timeline makes sense:-

  • Chess.com acquired Komodo 2018-05;
  • Functionality for Komodo personalities released 2020-02;
  • Chess.com engine bots introduced later in 2020;
  • Bots appeared in Chess.com's CCC tournaments early 2021.
Is there more to the story than this? Maybe, maybe not. If there is, I'm sure we'll find out soon enough.

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