Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Brief Update

I'm still alive, but I've been distracted by other things. For much of the fall I have to work when the local chess club meets. Lately I've been slowly plugging away at collections of old master games, but haven't had any "Aha! this would be good blog material!" eureka moments.

I've ordered a laptop for work and for play, so I expect once it arrives I'll be spending more time organizing material and training. I would be very interested in hearing from people how the new Rybka 3 stacks up to the previous release. Until now, I've been using my old Fritz 9, but I've been hearing "Rybka says this, Rybka says that" for a long time now.

I'd also like to hear if anyone feels that it is worthwhile to upgrade from Chessbase 9 to Chessbase 10. I haven't heard a compelling reason to do so yet...although if it's easier to keep your reference database up-to-date that alone may be worth the price. Currently I do the online updates that download TWIC files...but I tend to put it off and have to manually search their archives. Either way, I still have to cannibalize each TWIC and incorporate into my reference DB.

I have no illusions that new engines or database software will translate directly into better chess skills...but as a hobbyist I enjoy what these programs can do. For example, I'm interested in the use of engine tournaments to assess various positions, as described in Nunn's Secrets of Practical Chess. However, all I really have are Fritz 9/7/5 engines at the moment, which strikes me as incestuous. I've tried a few free engines such as Crafty, but they've caused crashes when trying to run engine tournaments.

Any thoughts on Rybka 3, Chessbase 10 or other nifty software?


Anonymous said...

Rybka 3 is amazingly strong. If you want to get the most out of it, make sure you're running a 64 bit version of XP or Vista - the speedup over a 32 bit OS on the same specs is like 1.6x or 1.7x.

As for CB10, I'm not sure it's worth the upgrade. The only two new features I've found really useful are (1) allowing you to use a UCI engine (like Rybka) as your default kibitzer, and (2) the online reference database search, which has been dramatically improved. But these are kind of minor tweaks, and I don't think they justify the purchase of CB10.

chesstiger said...

They say Rybka is playing more human then Fritz. So it's kinda a more decent sparringpartner.

likesforests said...

For me, the most exciting thing about Rybka 3 is the new interface (Aquarium)--specifically the IDeA and Monte Carloe features. :)

I didn't see anything in Chessbase 10 that would encourage me to upgrade. Especially since they said the online database feature is not available to upgrade users.

likesforests said...

As far as the engine itself goes, I'm liking that Rybka3-Human tends to pick "understandable" moves.

transformation said...

ive been running cb9 for 2.3 years, as it was gifted to me, but definitely plan to buy cb10 for a whole variety of reasons, with the Corr DB, the year of CBmag, Rybka (not sure which version of form of purchase), and annotated megaBase.

i run fritz8 and its time for the new. i, too, hear all about rybka, and with all the time i spend at CB, a small investment to pay for a love so dear!

i turn 50 in four weeks, so its my present to me...

good luck with the laptop. BTW, i do TWIC each week and its definitely worth the time.
take care, dk

Grandpatzer said...

Dumb question: If I'm getting a dual core machine, does that mean I should get the multiprocessor version of a chess engine?

Any opinions on the Fritz vs. the Aquarium GUIs for Rybka? I'm accustomed to the CB/Fritz UI, but it's unclear to me if the Aquarium UI has any interesting features not handled by the CB UI.

Anonymous said...

Yes, if you've got a dual-core engine, get the multiprocessor version. Single processor versions will only use one core at a time. Kind of defeats the purpose of shelling out for the speedy computer!

I've toyed with Aquarium, and it doesn't seem like a fully mature piece of software. That's just me, though.

likesforests said...

Yes, Aquarium has a new feature called IDeA which generates awesome overnight analysis. While "Infinite Analysis" may only go to depth 18-22, "IDeA Analysis" may go to depth 30-50. More importantly it displays a human-readable analysis tree so you will know why it selected one move rather than another, and you can guide the analysis when you feel certain lines are better or more interesting (or worse or less interesting). See ChessCafe, the ChessOK Cafe section, for details.

There's also a mode that lets the engine play itself hundreds of times--this appears in both the Chessbase and Convekta products as "Randomizer" or "Monte Carlo". This helps in middlegame and endgame positions when the implication of a move is hard to see for many, many ply.

If you're used to using Chessbase, it's up to you whether you want to try something new and different. :)

Grandpatzer said...

I'm familiar with the general concept of Monte Carlo from molecular modeling simulations. There, they basically shake a molecule randomly to help the computer find what the most stable shape of the molecule is. Think of it like bumping a table until a pen rolls onto the floor. The pen was jostled into finding a lower energy state.

The Rybka Monte Carlo sounds like a way of measuring the strength of a position by playing a large number of mini-games and seeing statistically what the outcome is. It'll be interesting to play with the feature and see what it can do.