Saturday, November 26, 2005

CheckerBoard 1.64 beta

I've posted CheckerBoard 1.64 to my website; there is no link as yet but you can download it as introduces a change to the directory structure: there is a new dir called "engines" where all engines should go. In the "bmp" directory, there are now subdirectories where you can put all kinds of piece sets which then show up in the options menu. There are 3 sets pre-installed, my standard set and two new ones by Ron Carney. For serious checkers players, there is the option to analyze an entire PDN database. Ed Gilbert sent me some code to improve my PDN parser, which is now more forgiving of non-PDN input, such as games which you copy-paste from a webpage. CB 1.64 also introduces alternate languages, albeit only for the menu and not for the dialogs. It's a start... Angel Galan Galan did the Spanish translation. My thanks to all those who contributed to this release!

To install CB 1.64, download and execute the CB_setup file. There are several ways to get it working properly:

-> Install CB 1.64 over your old CB directory: In this case, CB 1.64 will not recognize checkers engines which are not in the "engines" directory. You must manually copy these engines (all the *.dll files and associated files) into the engines folder.

-> Install CB 1.64 side-by-side with your old CB: choose a new directory such as C:\program files\CheckerBoard164 for your new installation. The two versions should be able to coexist on your system.

-> Uninstall the previous version of CB: First, remove your old version of CB. Make sure to keep games that you have saved! Re-install the new version over it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

GUI checkers 1.05

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's GUI checkers running at an amazing 4.5 million nodes per second on my Athlon 64 3000+! I managed to coax Jon Kreuzer from his checkers retirement by requiring a tiny change in the way engines interact with CheckerBoard, and instead of just implementing this change, he went on to improve GUI further. It is now searching about 3 times as fast as Cake Manchester. You can download GUI on Jon's checkers page.
Jon also wrote a nice tutorial on bitboards in checkers programs, which gives you an idea on how to program a blazingly fast checkers program.

PS: of course, speed is not everything. There are reasons why Cake is so much slower than GUI, and it's not only that Jon is a more accomplished programmer. Cake has larger endgame databases which take time to probe, and it also has a more complex evaluation function. As you know from our human checkers experience, it is not necessary to examine millions of positions to find a good move - it is more important to examine the right positions, and to evaluate them correctly. Cake Manchester is better than GUI checkers despite searching less positions per second.

Monday, November 21, 2005

CheckerBoard 1.64

CB 1.64 is under way, and will be finished soon. I'll be posting the link to a beta in some days. CB 1.64 will have a small change in the directory structure; this may cause some problems which is why I am going to need you as beta tester! I am also going to need translations of the help file to Italian and German; the help file itself will be slightly updated, but if you feel like translating, you can start on the current help file, there are not many differences. Remember to leave a comment that you're working on the translation so that others can see that this task has been taken care of!