Using a computer in correspondence chess

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MJMcCready
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Re: Using a computer in correspondence chess

Post by MJMcCready » Tue Jan 12, 2016 9:31 pm

Tim Harding wrote:I think some of the comments so far in this thread would be considered fairly ignorant by top ICCF players. Personally I don't play serious CC any more and for 3-4 years I did not play at all. Lately I have had some interesting games where the engines don't always find the best moves. Also some games I won ridiculously easily because the opponent either didn't use an engine or didn't know how to use them properly.

Certainly 2 seconds or even 30 is rarely enough time to get a correct evaluation and main line unless the position is so clear that an engine is hardly required. That might be sufficient time for spotting blunders but not for proper analysis.

You can expect top players are mostly using two engines to cross-check with their own ideas. Also players with true chess understanding (which generally means players who have reached at least 2200 OTB) can judge what engine feedback is relevant and what is rubbish, and in particular which positions should be searched deeply (overnight plus) and doing it sufficiently far ahead so it's possible to avoid that line altogether if the outcome is not satisfactory.

It is indeed very hard to win games against opponents of a similar standard who also use their engines properly. It requires either a significant advantage from the opening or outplaying them in an endgame before it reduces to a solved 7-man tablebase position. I have won three rook endgames in the past couple of years (two from equal or only slightly advantageous positions) and in each case (Rybka 3, Houdini 4, Stockfish 6) the engines gave unreliable results.

And in complex middle games you frequently get the 0.00 evaluations because the computer cuts from its search some lines that might be promising and instead shows repetitions and perpetuals. You have the initiative but keep seeing this score so you have to look for ways to keep the game going.

From an interview by Gino Figlio with FIDE GM Leitao in 2008: https://www.iccf.com/message?message=225 I extract:

GFSubmit Most people that criticize correspondence chess after the advent of chess engines suggest that understanding of the game may not improve for the average player by simply using the powerful calculation abilities of a chess engine. How do chess engines help OTB players and do you see any negative influence in their use?

Rafael Leitao: Certainly most people do not know how to use the chess engines in a correct way. Its use can surely be very harmful for chessplayers in general. I think it is very important that you create your own ideas and form opinions about the character of the position, only using the computer to check for obvious calculation mistakes. Also, most engines do not understand positions with material imbalance. Even with computers, one can never be lazy. Properly used, the engines can improve one´s play.

GFSubmit What are the main reasons why most top OTB players do not play correspondence chess?

Rafael Leitao: I believe most professional players do not have time to play correspondence chess. Sometimes the search for the best move can take days (and even then there is no guarantee you will find a proper answer). And I know many players who enjoy the sportive and psychological aspects of the game, that are most obvious on OTB fights. But I believe that correspondence chess can have a serious impact on improving the game of an OTB player.


GFSubmit The International Correspondence Chess Federation (ICCF) does not prohibit the use of chess engines. Are you planning or perhaps already using them to help you with your correspondence chess games?

Rafael Leitao: Yes, I use all chess engines available. The search for the best move, which is what I try when playing correspondence chess, should meet no boundaries, in my opinion. As I said, blindly following the computer suggestions will usually lead to disaster. In the end, the best players will win anyway. I should add, complementing my last answer, that one of the main positive points of correspondence chess nowadays is that it teaches you (sometimes in the hard way) how to use computers to improve your analysis.
You'd hope that having to pay to enter tournaments at the ICCF would discourage such a thing but even at a slightly lower level (opponent rated 2016) I became quite suspicious of my opponent's play in a recent game, and as the post-game analysis showed, my suspicions were correct. I can understand Leitao's comments and how they would apply to professional players but for amateur players who are more motivated to play for pleasure, it seems a bit silly to pay to enter a tournament and then use computers.

Mike Truran
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Re: Using a computer in correspondence chess

Post by Mike Truran » Tue Jan 12, 2016 11:10 pm

Tim

With respect (actually without respect), that's all complete bo**ocks. You may as well try to justify performance-enhancing drugs in athletics.

"Rafael Leitao: Certainly most people do not know how to use the chess engines in a correct way." Presumably most athletes don't know how to use drugs in a correct way. Whatever "correct" actually means.

"Rafael Leitao: I believe most professional players do not have time to play correspondence chess." No. They don't play correspondence chess because most right-minded people know it's just like an athlete taking drugs.

It's all just cheating. But I suppose at least all the parties involved know they're taking drugs. So presumably that's OK then.

Mike

NickFaulks
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Re: Using a computer in correspondence chess

Post by NickFaulks » Tue Jan 12, 2016 11:36 pm

Mike Truran wrote:It's all just cheating.
I don't understand such comments at all. How can it be cheating to use a computer in tournaments where use of a computer is specifically permitted? You might as well say that cycling is cheating because you're enhancing your performance by using a bicycle.

Johnathan Rothwell
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Re: Using a computer in correspondence chess

Post by Johnathan Rothwell » Tue Jan 12, 2016 11:48 pm

Top otb players use computer analysis all the time, including lines from correspondence games. They just have to remember it, but its still computer analysis.

Correspondence players have used outside resources since they came available. Books, informators, and later databases and finally engines. It's no different. I imagine you'd be considered an idiot for not using them.
Johnathan.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Using a computer in correspondence chess

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Jan 12, 2016 11:52 pm

NickFaulks wrote:How can it be cheating to use a computer in tournaments where use of a computer is specifically permitted?
Over the board is and should remain straightforward. You aren't allowed to consult anyone or anything during the game, the period if a game is adjourned being the one exception. You are free to "take computers" as much as you like, but only before play commences.

Correspondence play, on the other hand, has always allowed consultation of previous games or published theory, so somewhat muddier as to what could be permitted. In the absence of 24/7 supervision, the ICCF and other correspondence organisers were prepared to allow players to "take computers" even during play.

If your opponents are going to be repeating computer ideas without any input of their own, there's little point in playing them. You might just as well load their engine and challenge it directly.

MJMcCready
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Re: Using a computer in correspondence chess

Post by MJMcCready » Wed Jan 13, 2016 10:03 am

But the iccf doesn't allow the use of computers. It is.stated on their.site.

Tim Spanton
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Re: Using a computer in correspondence chess

Post by Tim Spanton » Wed Jan 13, 2016 10:14 am

MJMcCready wrote:But the iccf doesn't allow the use of computers. It is.stated on their.site.
That's simply not true.

The quotes from GM Leitão actually come from an ICCF interview:
https://www.iccf.com/Message.aspx?message=225

Kevin O'Rourke
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Re: Using a computer in correspondence chess

Post by Kevin O'Rourke » Wed Jan 13, 2016 11:44 am

Given the strength of computers now I’d be against adjournments in games completely. Just play to a finish and thus make sure the game starts at a sensible time.

Prefer to see 2 humans battle it out unaided by any powerful machine that can calculate on a astronomical level.

MJMcCready
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Re: Using a computer in correspondence chess

Post by MJMcCready » Wed Jan 13, 2016 12:37 pm

Tim Spanton wrote:
MJMcCready wrote:But the iccf doesn't allow the use of computers. It is.stated on their.site.
That's simply not true.

The quotes from GM Leitão actually come from an ICCF interview:
https://www.iccf.com/Message.aspx?message=225
Okay, let me find what I read when I joined and if I am wrong then I am learning something.

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Jon Mahony
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Re: Using a computer in correspondence chess

Post by Jon Mahony » Wed Jan 13, 2016 12:50 pm

To be honest I think computers have more killed than improved correspondence chess - I’ve tried taking it seriously many times on various sites and by post. But it just becomes too much like hard work when you can tell your opponent is using computer analysis and / or endless databases, the games just become an infinite copy and paste job once you get over the 1900 rating barrier.

I always loose interest and either resign all my games, or leave it too long between visits to the site and loose on time (which makes you the antichrist in CC players eyes!) When finishing work I think to myself “ugg, I must go on there tonight and make some moves after tea” 9pm rolls around and I think sod it :lol:

Of course in 20 years when technology is so far improved that they can’t police cheating OTB, I fully expect the same thing to happen - every player sat otb with Ipads, or whatever they have by then.
"When you see a good move, look for a better one!" - Lasker

Kevin O'Rourke
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Re: Using a computer in correspondence chess

Post by Kevin O'Rourke » Wed Jan 13, 2016 1:21 pm

Jon Mahony wrote:To be honest I think computers have more killed than improved correspondence chess - I’ve tried taking it seriously many times on various sites and by post. But it just becomes too much like hard work when you can tell your opponent is using computer analysis and / or endless databases, the games just become an infinite copy and paste job once you get over the 1900 rating barrier.

I always loose interest and either resign all my games, or leave it too long between visits to the site and loose on time (which makes you the antichrist in CC players eyes!) When finishing work I think to myself “ugg, I must go on there tonight and make some moves after tea” 9pm rolls around and I think sod it :lol:

Of course in 20 years when technology is so far improved that they can’t police cheating OTB, I fully expect the same thing to happen - every player sat otb with Ipads, or whatever they have by then.
by then it might be a chip in the brain that does everything not just chess.

NickFaulks
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Re: Using a computer in correspondence chess

Post by NickFaulks » Wed Jan 13, 2016 1:57 pm

Jon Mahony wrote: I always loose interest and either resign all my games, or leave it too long between visits to the site and loose on time (which makes you the antichrist in CC players eyes!)
I strongly recommend that you find a different hobby, for the benefit of both yourself and your opponents.

Adam Ashton
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Re: Using a computer in correspondence chess

Post by Adam Ashton » Wed Jan 13, 2016 10:50 pm

NickFaulks wrote:
Mike Truran wrote:It's all just cheating.
I don't understand such comments at all. How can it be cheating to use a computer in tournaments where use of a computer is specifically permitted? You might as well say that cycling is cheating because you're enhancing your performance by using a bicycle.
If you play chess with a computer you are cheating, it is doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing(oh I know it's just 'blunder checking' your brilliant ideas). If you and your opponent both agree to cheat the game is still pointless because the computers influence is overwhelming compared to the input of the players.

Brian Towers
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Re: Using a computer in correspondence chess

Post by Brian Towers » Wed Jan 13, 2016 11:09 pm

Adam Ashton wrote:If you and your opponent both agree to cheat the game is still pointless because the computers influence is overwhelming compared to the input of the players.
All you are doing is demonstrating your phenomenal ignorance. If you played a correspondence game with an expert then no number of powerful, state-of-the-art computers with the very best software installed would save you from a sound thrashing! That is the point! It is far more difficult than you can imagine.

Computers are far from all-knowing and all-powerful. Part of what makes a great correspondence player is the creative imagination to think up fantastic motifs with cunningly devious moves. Most of them will be crap but the computers allow him to quickly separate the few grains of wheat from the bushels of chaff. Part of that process will be to suck in the computer-assisted opponent too far in to the maze before he and his computers can spot what is going on. It is a completely different game to over-the-board chess. You are making the same kind of mistake as someone who can't see the difference between draughts and chess.
Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.

Mike Truran
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Re: Using a computer in correspondence chess

Post by Mike Truran » Wed Jan 13, 2016 11:24 pm

So that's why Kasparov and Kramnik beat the computers. It was all about the computers' inability to "think up fantastic motifs with cunningly devious moves". :roll: :roll: :roll:

Of course it's a different game from over the board chess. Just like sprinters taking performance enhancing drugs is a different game from the game played by sprinters who don't take drugs. At least in correspondence chess all the cheats are huddling together for warmth in the same place.

And, by the way, your own FIDE rating is I believe 1779. What earns you the right to accuse a FIDE rated 2390 player of "phenomenal ignorance"?

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