Turn off those opening libraries!

CM ArnieChipmunk
0 | Chess Event Coverage
Today not only the finals of the Candidate matches in Elista have begun, but also the "Ultimate Computer Challenge" computer match between Deep Fritz and Deep Junior. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, president of the FIDE, appears to sponor the match himself. Of course this is all very moving, but I suspect that Chessbase would otherwise have donated the money. By the way, neither Ilyumzhinov nor Chessbase have responded to Rybka's challenge about which we wrote before. Whether this is really surprising, I leave to the reader's imagination. As a chess lover I would like to make another kind of appeal to Ilyumzhiov and the programmers of Deep Fritz and Deep Junior. It has to do with the usage of opening libraries. The first match game has finished already: it ended in a bloodless draw after 32 moves, of which the first sixteen were already known from a game in the Chessbase database. The question arises: why, for Heaven's sake?

Why these opening libraries? How can we ever measure the true strength of chess programs - especially when they're playing against each other - when the programs simply copy opening moves made by humans? What's the fun in that? How can the programmers see this as a challenge? Or are they simply not interested in a challenge and do they just want the cash? Don't they want to know what their program thinks of the beginning position? Don't we want to know this? Do Chessbase and Ilyumzhinov think that we, the public, don't want to know this? Do they think that the public wants two machines copying existing knowledge from their memory? Well, they're wrong then. Nobody in their right mind is waiting for this. It is a ridiculous event, and on top of that an insult to the true interest and intelligence of all chess lovers.

Computer chess - we're gonna have to live with it. But computers playing each other for money and using opening knowledge accumulated by man over the centuries, rather than displaying their own opinions and possible limitations (and new insights) of the software - that's a joke.

President Ilyumzhinov, you're a chess lover yourself. Surely you're not telling me you're more interested in the fact that two computers can store large amounts of data and reproduce it, than in the exciting possibility that computers can give us new insights in the beginning position, the possibility that they could re-invent the first moves of chess, or shake our age-old beliefs about chess theory. Let computers think from the first move, and then let's see which engine is better.

Programmers, turn your opening libraries off! If you dare.
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