An interesting book with some insights on Bob's Cray Blitz

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JuLieN
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An interesting book with some insights on Bob's Cray Blitz

Post by JuLieN » Thu Jun 23, 2011 2:07 am

As I am a compulsive collector, I like to collect everything in the fields that interest me. As a result, I frequently buy things without knowing what it will get me. My latest acquisition actually turned out as a very good surprise : Computer Chess II, by David E. Welsh and Boris Baczynskyj, WCB, 1985. As I yet possessed David E. Welsh's first "computer Chess" book, I bought this one too. And it is actually a very technical book, going with great details through computer chess history and programming. Just as an example, the book even describes alpha-beta pvs alternative algorithms, like the C* one. It even describes parallel algorithms (yes, the book dates back from 1985!). All this with Pascal sources.

More interestingly, the book has a big stock of rare pictures, most of them I never saw in any other book (and I have many!). There are dozens of them, but I'll share some with you, as they involve one of our dear comrade ;)

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Here's the gang, about to win the 1983 world computer chess championship with their program Cray Blitz, running on the monster Cray X-MP computer. (Tester told us last month that Apple's new iPad 2 is twice as fast ^^ )

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What a picture! Ken Thompson and Mikhail Botvinnik!

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Even better: Bob and Botvinnik. Now you know Bob can smile! ^^

@Bob
There's a big chapter dedicated to Cray Blit's history. If you don't have this book, I'd be glad to scan it to you (the chapter, not the 400 pages of the book). Here's its first page, for instance (cropped) :

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"The only good bug is a dead bug." (Don Dailey)
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Jimmy Huggins
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Re: An interesting book with some insights on Bob's Cray Bli

Post by Jimmy Huggins » Thu Jun 23, 2011 2:26 am

Now that is a great book. I remember reading many times, the efforts that GM Botvinnik tired to push for computer chess. And that is a very young Robert. :wink:

bob
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Re: An interesting book with some insights on Bob's Cray Bli

Post by bob » Thu Jun 23, 2011 5:35 pm

Jimmy Huggins wrote:Now that is a great book. I remember reading many times, the efforts that GM Botvinnik tired to push for computer chess. And that is a very young Robert. :wink:
What is really funny is that Botvonnik brought a present for the 1983 WCCC winners. He was certain it would be Belle, and brought two (as in 1.. 2..) ceremonial Russian horn cups, ostensibly one for Ken, and one for Joe (Condon) the other team member. He had to do a quick ad-lib when he made the presentation and discovered that there were three people on the CB team (myself, Gower and Nelson) so he quipped "I brought one for the authors, and one for the program..." I didn't buy it. But it was a nice try. :)

I did get to spend a couple of hours with him over the course of the event, and it was a lot of fun to discuss chess, computer chess, specific positional issues, etc...

Mark
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Re: An interesting book with some insights on Bob's Cray Bli

Post by Mark » Thu Jun 23, 2011 8:04 pm

Yes, Computer Chess and Computer Chess II were classics! I've bought pretty much every book about computer chess that I've come across, and I have a good collection of ads for the early dedicated machines. It's been a great hobby since the late 70's!

Gerd Isenberg
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Re: An interesting book with some insights on Bob's Cray Bli

Post by Gerd Isenberg » Fri Jun 24, 2011 3:06 pm

Thanks for the hint and the nice photos. Guess I need to buy those books as well.

For a cpw note, who is (was?) David E. Welsh? Does anybody know some details and his relation to computer chess?

Thanks,
Gerd

bob
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Re: An interesting book with some insights on Bob's Cray Bli

Post by bob » Sat Jun 25, 2011 4:14 pm

Gerd Isenberg wrote:Thanks for the hint and the nice photos. Guess I need to buy those books as well.

For a cpw note, who is (was?) David E. Welsh? Does anybody know some details and his relation to computer chess?

Thanks,
Gerd
Dave was a master-level chess player at the time. He was involved in the USCF computer-rating activities where the USCF was testing dedicated chess machines and giving them a "sanctioned USCF rating" that could be used on packaging and advertising. This in the days when the commercial chess companies were willing to spend significant sums of money to be the "top-rated" machine. He did not, so far as I know, write a chess engine. But he was pretty knowledgeable about the subject and attended many ACM chess events and sat around various tables to discuss compute chess ideas with many of us. Have not seen him in 20 years or so now...

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