Author Topic: Who are Today's World Champions in Variant Chess?  (Read 403 times)

GothicChessInventor

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Re: Who are Today's World Champions in Variant Chess?
« Reply #15 on: January 24, 2018, 02:45:15 pm »
First, congratulations to GothicChessInventor for winning the U.S. Championship in 2000 of Gothic Chess. I'm sure there was a lot of spectacular play in those competitions.

I thank you kindly. And we did have tremendous battles in that tournament. My favorite was the game that clinched it for me. I had black in this game, Bryan Peckjian vs. Ed Trice


Black to move after 1. d4 h6 2. h3 d5 3 Nc3 g5 4. g4 c6 5.  f4?! gxf4 6. Bxf4 Cf6! 7. Cf3 Aj5 8. Ah2?! Bxg4! 9. Ce5 Cxf4+10. Axf4 Bxe5 11. Axe5

The unexpected move I made: 11...Qc8! to make the game ever more complicated. The game was over on move 39 in a time scramble where I delivered checkmate with less than a minute on my clock.

ebinola

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Re: Who are Today's World Champions in Variant Chess?
« Reply #16 on: January 24, 2018, 05:05:00 pm »
Shogi - Meijin is the closest you have to a 'world champion,' currently it's held by Amahiko Sato.
Chu shogi - chu shogi has a few organisation in Japan, I don't know about the titles and title holders, if there are any.
Thai Makruk/Xiangqi - I don't know much about them to really say, is anyone able to give a rundown?
Chess 2: The Sequel - There's no world champions but the one player who regularly plays and retains his 'Grandmaster' title is gbeastlord. I've come pretty close to beating him, though - one game I was Reaper, he was Nemesis, and there was a really long endgame that of course ended up in him midlining.
Chess player, amateur writer and on the side shitposter extraordinaire.

chilipepper

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Re: Who are Today's World Champions in Variant Chess?
« Reply #17 on: January 24, 2018, 06:16:48 pm »
...I had black in this game, Bryan Peckjian vs. Ed Trice
Black to move after 1. d4 h6 2. h3 d5 3 Nc3 g5 4. g4 c6 5.  f4?! gxf4 6. Bxf4 Cf6! 7. Cf3 Aj5 8. Ah2?! Bxg4! 9. Ce5 Cxf4+10. Axf4 Bxe5 11. Axe5
The unexpected move I made: 11...Qc8! to make the game ever more complicated. The game was over on move 39 in a time scramble where I delivered checkmate with less than a minute on my clock.

Appears to be a great move (without me being an expert in this particular game). You have an excellent pin on the h3 pawn, and rather than retreating the bishop you defended it with Qc8. The bishop in turn pins White's e2 pawn on his queen, forcing White's d4 pawn to remain isolated. I love this point in games where the board is still crowded and there's lots going on. Well played! :)
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chilipepper

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Re: Who are Today's World Champions in Variant Chess?
« Reply #18 on: January 24, 2018, 06:20:18 pm »
Here is an update on some of the star players based on information posted on this thread. I didn't yet add the information from ebinola's post, but plan to do so soon (within a few days). :o
« Last Edit: January 24, 2018, 10:00:36 pm by chilipepper »
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GothicChessInventor

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Re: Who are Today's World Champions in Variant Chess?
« Reply #19 on: January 24, 2018, 09:23:18 pm »
Appears to be a great move (without me being an expert in this particular game). You have an excellent pin on the h3 pawn, and rather than retreating the bishop you defended it with Qc8. The bishop in turn pins White's e2 pawn on his queen, forcing White's d4 pawn to remain isolated. I love this point in games where the board is still crowded and there's lots going on. Well played! :)

Yes and note after ...Qc8 he can't capture my Bishop with his Archbishop. If AxB? then QxA since, again, the pin is there. He started to reach towards his Archbishop in the game, then froze mid-move. I love when my move has this effect on players :) That means they didn't even consider my move as an option because they thought it was unplayable.

Panzerschiff

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Re: Who are Today's World Champions in Variant Chess?
« Reply #20 on: February 16, 2018, 08:42:51 am »
It has been a long time and hard to use the word "current" for this, but Cyber World Championships were held for Grand Chess through the inventor's (Christian Freeling) web site in 1997, 1999 and 2001.  No Cyber tournament took place after 2001 to my knowledge.  Consequently, I guess I would be still be the current Cyber World Champion (Equivalent to correspondence chess or similar turn based games conducted through a server) for Grand Chess. (10x10 variant).  Panzerschiff (John Vehre)  Wayne Schmittberger won the first two tournaments.

Greg Strong

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Re: Who are Today's World Champions in Variant Chess?
« Reply #21 on: February 16, 2018, 12:06:08 pm »
as far as I know there has been no development of engines that could play Gothic Chess at all, since then.
There's the new ChessV.  Say, what ever happened to Spartacus?

HGMuller

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Re: Who are Today's World Champions in Variant Chess?
« Reply #22 on: February 16, 2018, 01:17:43 pm »
True, but I understood it is not WB compatible as an engine yet.

Spartacus is sort of in a sorry state. It seems I inadvertently forked the development. (I was not using version control at the time.) So I have two different versions of the executable, one obviously broken for Spartan Chess (it gives +1.80 in the initial position), the other for normal Chess. And there aren't ay source-code files that correspond to their creation date.

Spartacus was supposed to be a varaiant-capable engine based on an incrementally updated attack map. At one time I had that working for normal Chess, but then I changed the board size from 32x8 to 24x10 in order to support Grand Chess, and that broke the incremental update, so that I temporarily disabled it.

I suppose I could fix that, but in the mean time my ideas for how to incrementally update an attack map have evolved a lot, and even if I could get Spartacus working as designed, I would be quite unhappy with it. I applied my new design for the attack map in my Tenjiku-Shogi engine, and it works like a charm there. So it seems my time would be better spent to completely rewrite Spartacus, based on the same principles.

Greg Strong

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Re: Who are Today's World Champions in Variant Chess?
« Reply #23 on: February 16, 2018, 11:39:30 pm »
True, but I understood it is not WB compatible as an engine yet.

Well, you didn't specifically stipulate that  ;D

Spartacus is sort of in a sorry state. It seems I inadvertently forked the development. (I was not using version control at the time.) So I have two different versions of the executable, one obviously broken for Spartan Chess (it gives +1.80 in the initial position), the other for normal Chess. And there aren't ay source-code files that correspond to their creation date.

Spartacus was supposed to be a varaiant-capable engine based on an incrementally updated attack map. At one time I had that working for normal Chess, but then I changed the board size from 32x8 to 24x10 in order to support Grand Chess, and that broke the incremental update, so that I temporarily disabled it.

I suppose I could fix that, but in the mean time my ideas for how to incrementally update an attack map have evolved a lot, and even if I could get Spartacus working as designed, I would be quite unhappy with it. I applied my new design for the attack map in my Tenjiku-Shogi engine, and it works like a charm there. So it seems my time would be better spent to completely rewrite Spartacus, based on the same principles.

Sorry to hear that.  I'm revisiting Quadrox now but it's been so long and I have so many old hard drives lying around I'm not at all sure that the code I'm looking at was the latest, so I can sympathize.  Although if you've discovered a better approach in the meantime, maybe it's not too much of a loss.  I hope you get back to it.  We could really use another strong universal chess engine.  Fairy-Max may be a weak engine, and yet it remains one of the strongest universal engines ...

Incrementally updated attack maps are an interesting idea that I've thought about from time to time for at least a decade.  For large board variants at least I think the idea has great promise.  But when I think deeply about it and try to nail down all the details, I see it's pretty complicated and I'm not confident I can get it working correctly without spending a *TON* of time developing and debugging, so I keep putting it off.  I've been able to create some decent engines, but I'm not the bad-ass programmer you are.  (not being sarcastic.)

HGMuller

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Re: Who are Today's World Champions in Variant Chess?
« Reply #24 on: February 17, 2018, 05:10:39 am »
True, the incremental update was hard, and especally hard in the case of Tenjiku Shogi, where you have to deal with jumping generals, Fire-Demon burning, area moves... I did make some allowences there. E.g. the attack map only indicates which victims are in area-move range, and whether the capture is actualy possible is the verified from scratch during move generation. And Demon burns are generated from scratch in every node, assisted by an incremetally updated set of white/black 'bitstrips' (partial bitboards covering 3 files). I am still puzzling on how to incremetally do hook movers, so that the engine could do the larger variants as well.

I just started with a routine to generate the attack map from scratch, and compared that map with the incrementally updated one in every node of a perft. But I was surprised how quickly I got it working. Just a few cases of non-terminating loops, because I forgot to increment the index, and such. And throwing out all the stuff specific for Tenjiku would be quite easy.

The problem is that the number of Chess-programming projects I have is increasing, and especially the number of 'nearly finished' projects is increasing. 'Inferno' (the Tenjiku engine) has not been released at all, and is waiting for addition of an evaluation term that is crucial in the opening phase. And 'CrazyWa' (my engine for variants with drops on boards up to 11x11) is still waiting for a release of a cleaned-up source code, and addition of some variants of interest (mainly Kyoto Shogi). And I just started on writing a Chess program in assembler for the 'Gigatron' retro computer.

I also would like to equip the 'Interactive Diagram' (written in JavaScript) with an AI. And develop (and in particular tune) an engine for Peace Chess (Paco Shako), where no clue exists for what is optimal strategy, so that it would have to be some self-learning thing. Perhaps Alpha Zero can provide some inspiration for that. It would be cool to write a program that learns to play just from the rules anyway.

Working on a program for 'ordinary chess variants' has become a somewhat boring task in comparison...

GothicChessInventor

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Re: Who are Today's World Champions in Variant Chess?
« Reply #25 on: February 17, 2018, 11:18:04 am »
Here is an update on some of the star players based on information posted on this thread. I didn't yet add the information from ebinola's post, but plan to do so soon (within a few days). :o

There are many Gothic Chess programs that are not on the list.

The oldest = CapaGNU Modified, which was a DOS program that played Capablanca Chess which could be modified to play Gothic Chess.
Zillions of Games has a Gothic Chess implementation.
Gothic Vortex was the creation of a "Dream Team" of programmers where I was the lead developer. Derived from Robert Hyatt's Crafty 19.something, with programmers Gil Dodgen, Steven Dodgen, Ed Trice, Eugene Nalimov, Marc Bourzutschky, and Andrew Kadatch.
TSCP Gothic was a modified version of Tom's Simple Chess Program (by Tom Kerrigan) made by Dutch programmer Michel Langeveld.
S.M.I.R.F.  ("Strategiespielprogramm Mit Intelligent Rückkoppelnden Funktionen" which is Strategic Game Program With Intelligent Recursing Facilities in German) by Reinhard Scharnagl.
Joker80 by H.G. Muller
FairyMax by H.G. Muller
Variant Pulverizer, originally named "Variant Shredder" but a strongly worded communication from Stefan Meyer-Kahlen (the programmer of the "Shredder" chess engine) quickly disavowed authorship and requested me to contact that program's author to insist he change the name. (He did so, then withdrew his program from all future events after a strong showing.)

There are others that I am forgetting, and H.G. can certainly add the ones from his own "Battle of the Goths" events he hosted.

As for "World Champions" of Gothic Chess, or other variants, I am hesitant to use any such title because it really pales in comparison to how the FIDE title is organized. I would say, in the absence of a World Governing Body where the variant is played in live, over-the-board tournaments in multiple countries, with certified tournament directors and a diligently-maintained ratings list, we should avoid such a title.

Instead, I propose using the label: Recognized Strongest Player

From my involvement with Gothic Chess, here is my list of known "RSP" based on their years of activity

2000 Ed Trice
2001 Larry Kaufmann (I played over-the-board with Larry. He consistently swapped into winning chess positions and killed me).
2002 Michael De La Maza (scored 7 wins and 2 draws in the under 2000 section of the 8x8 chess World Open in the year 2001)
2003 Ed Trice
2004 John Vehre
2005 Bobby Fischer (played online at GothicChessLive.com under the pseudonym of "Umbra")
2006 Susan Polgar (Fischer came online less and less frequently, and Susan beat me pretty bad)
2007 Bobby Fischer
2008 Anatoly Karpov (was preparing to face Fischer, safe to say he was the best)
2009-2015 No activity while I built a Supercomputer Design Firm
2016 Ed Trice
2017 Ed Trice

It should be further noted that this is no way implies a "line of succession." In 2000 and 2001, we were still a fledgling variant, and even 1 game with 1 person showcasing dominance is clearly enough to convince me who belongs on the list. My 2 games with Larry Kaufman in 2001 were enough to convince me of that, and watching Michael De La Maza manhandle some players in the earliest version of our online playing site in 2002 led me to believe I would not outlast him in a set match. Both of these players were not active beyond this time, so players coming after had not crossed swords with either of them. John Vehre played a correspondence game with me, and I learned very quickly you can't rely on e4 in Gothic Chess the way you can in 8x8 chess. Fischer was destroying everyone online, giving them 10 minute vs. 1 minute odds and mopping them up. He died 6 months before the match between he and Karpov was slated to take place. In Fischer's absence, Karpov was clearly at the top of the list. It was also the start of a period of Gothic Chess decline, because I owed the match financiers over $800,000. They stipulated that should Fischer not appear and play, for whatever reason, I had to pay them back TWICE the interest that accrued on their portion of the $15,000,000 that was raised for the match. Well, over a 21-month period of time, this interest totalled $400,000, so double that, and that is what I paid back (painfully!) So you can see why I was not interested in playing much for a long, long time. In between that, Susan Polgar played me in 2006, and won in convincing style. She would be awesome in just about any variant I would imagine. In the absence of the Titans, and going over all of the 500+ games I have played, I improved considerably. Without a doubt, I am also at a plateau, and the next strong chess player who comes along could probably knock me off the perch.

« Last Edit: February 19, 2018, 12:45:07 am by GothicChessInventor »

GothicChessInventor

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Re: Who are Today's World Champions in Variant Chess?
« Reply #26 on: February 19, 2018, 12:42:02 am »
Indeed, the Gothic tournaments were great. The last Battle of the Goths event is already quite some time ago, but as far as I know there has been no development of engines that could play Gothic Chess at all, since then. Bihasa won the last tourney convincing. (But of course only WinBoard-compatible engines could compete, so Gothic Vortex wasn't there.)

I recently heard from someone named "Fernando" who said he is the author of Bihasa. He contacted me through the TalkChess Forum.

Over the years, I have heard from other engine developers, or I should say, programmers who started developing Gothic Chess engines to various degrees. Usually they would ask about the piece values for the new pieces, and/or how to adjust the values for the chess pieces on the 8x8 board to the 10x8 configuration. Of the dozen queries only 3 made it across the finish line. I would inevitably get a request to play a game with the engine over the phone, which I would accept. Incidentally, nobody ever gave me the white pieces :)

In retrospect, I probably should have thrown a game or two along the way. After blanking their digital offspring a few times, I would no longer hear back from them.

I understand their plight. I can't count the number of programs I have started and never finished. Perhaps it was just an interesting distraction for them, knowing full well how hard it would be to create a strong chess engine with so much competition that is out there right now. Anyway, who knows what lies beneath the surface. Another great engine might be lurking out there somewhere.

HGMuller

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Re: Who are Today's World Champions in Variant Chess?
« Reply #27 on: February 19, 2018, 06:14:07 am »
Actually his name is Ferdinand (or Ferdy) Mosca, from the Philippines. Fernando is another guy, who frequently posts in the CTF sub-forum. Ferdinand is a very talented chess programmer, and a real asset for the community of chess variants. He has very many engines to his name, all dedicated to a different chess variant. (Presumably they are all derived from the same code base.) And he offers free download of their executables, see:

https://sites.google.com/site/deuteriumengine/files

And his engines are quite strong, not at all comparable with simple, minimalistic general-purpose codes like Fairy-Max. Although the state of the art for chess variants is not nearly as advanced as that in orthodox chess.

Recently there is also a project to convert Stockfish, the absolute top engine for orthodox Chess, to play Chess variants. With amazing success: in Crazyhouse it blows away all competition, even Ferdy's engine 'Immortal'. The Stockfish code depends very heavily on the board being 8x8, however. So it is unlikely it will ever be able to do Gothic Chess. They are working on Seirawan Chess, however, which also supplements the FIDE piece set with an ArchBishop and Chancellor, but on 8x8. (Too crowded, for my taste.)

GothicChessInventor

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Re: Who are Today's World Champions in Variant Chess?
« Reply #28 on: February 19, 2018, 10:03:17 am »
The Stockfish code depends very heavily on the board being 8x8, however. So it is unlikely it will ever be able to do Gothic Chess.

That's what they told me about Crafty, but Gil Dodgen and Steve Dodgen had a clever idea: Use "operator overloading" to convert the 8x8 operations to 10x8. All of the 64-bit variables were converted to structs with a 16-bit component and a 64-bit component. The flow from one field to the other was done in the operator overloading definitions. The hard part was changing the indices of all of the crafty "rotated bitboards" to their 80-square counterparts. I put this in the multi-screen About Box to Gothic Vortex...

« Last Edit: February 19, 2018, 10:04:55 am by GothicChessInventor »

chilipepper

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Re: Who are Today's World Champions in Variant Chess?
« Reply #29 on: February 19, 2018, 01:29:24 pm »
It has been a long time and hard to use the word "current" for this, but Cyber World Championships were held for Grand Chess through the inventor's (Christian Freeling) web site in 1997, 1999 and 2001.  No Cyber tournament took place after 2001 to my knowledge.  Consequently, I guess I would be still be the current Cyber World Champion (Equivalent to correspondence chess or similar turn based games conducted through a server) for Grand Chess. (10x10 variant).  Panzerschiff (John Vehre)  Wayne Schmittberger won the first two tournaments.
What was the format for the Grand Chess Cyber World Championship? Is that a variant chess-engine tournament, or engine-assisted play?

The listing that I've produced is intended to show the World Champions for strictly human-play. But engine vs. engine play is interesting and I enjoy reading about it. Not sure if anyone has started a thread specifically for that topic yet. It's awesome to see how engines have improved and see who has developed the best code, particularly for individual games. :)
« Last Edit: February 19, 2018, 03:42:47 pm by chilipepper »
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