Back in May, 2012 I posted about how I had ordered the download version of ChessOK Aquarium 2011 because I was interested in using their highly acclaimed IDeA for analysis. I had installation problems but after an e-mail to ChessOK they responded quickly and the problem was easily resolved. Apparently the issue was with the way Windows 7 copied and pasted the serial number, not the program.
As it turned out I didn’t like Aquarium 2011 because, for me, it was not user friendly. I felt like I had to be a computer programmer to use it and relegated it to occasional use but after the old laptop’s motherboard died and I bought a new one with Windows 8, I dug out the old download link and serial number for ChessOK 2011 and downloaded it on the new laptop “just in case.” Of course it didn’t run under Windows 8.
Several days ago I decided I wanted to invest in Houdini 4 so decided to purchase the download version from ChessOK. In the process of “shopping” on their site I ended up with two items in my shopping cart: Houdini 4 Aquarium (which I wanted) and Aquarium 14 with the Rybka 2.3 engine. I am not sure how it happened but I inadvertently purchased the latter! I was a little miffed at my stupidity at having been so careless at spending $35 for something I didn’t want but determined that after they sent me the download link I would learn how to use the program.
There was download problem! The download kept getting hung up and after several tries I got a message that the link had expired. They responded to my e-mail explaining the problem the next day and the new link they supplied resolved the problem.
After about three days of reading everything I could find and setting up a practice database and doing exercises on saving and deleting games, engine settings, manipulating databases and analyzing with infinite analysis and IDeA I finally began to learn the basics. I have to admit that there are some nice features to be found in the program. In fact, the program offers more information than I will ever need unless I decide to write an opening book or play for the world correspondence championship...that's a joke.
I’m not all that familiar with IDeA yet, but one thing that is beginning to grow on me is the Infinite Analysis feature. One of the unique features is that it stores the results of all infinite analysis that is sufficiently deep. If you run into a position that you have analyzed previously, Aquarium will let you know.
If you have a multiprocessor or multicore computer Aquarium allows you to store different infinite analysis configurations. There are a lot of different configurations, but on my quad-core laptop I chose to run infinite analysis using one core each for Houdini 2, Stockfish and Critter with a single analysis tab showing the best line of all three engines. I could have chosen, for example, to show 3 tabs with as many lines as I wanted for each engine, but I want to keep it simple. Another nice thing is that by setting things up this way I still have one core available for other stuff without the engines slowing things down. On the downside it takes longer to analyze using a single core, but that's not a problem for me.
|Click to enlarge|
As you know, engines often show different first choices and evaluations, so the question is how to know which move is actually the best one. In the lower left corner there are three green lights which give information about which engines are analyzing and the best move found so far. I am not sure exactly what determines why +0.29 is listed in this example.
Of course as is always the case, it will up to the user to determine which engine and which evaluation to believe if there is a wide discrepancy in the engine outputs, but it is still a very handy feature. Also, in some cases if one is well-versed in engine analysis and has the patience, it is possible go very deeply into the position and find moves that don't show up in a routine analysis, but I can't help there because I am not that savvy.
In any case, I am forcing myself to use Aquarium instead of my old favorite Fritz 12. Will Aquarium become my new favorite? Maybe.