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Friday, April 10, 2015

Aart Bik's Android Chess Program

I recently purchased a Lenovo Android Table and immediately added a chess program to it. I didn't put any research into the available programs and just downloaded the first free program I found. It's by Aart Bik and it does what I want it to do...it plays a decent game using the default engine without being unbeatable, so it's good for playing a quick blitz game during idle moments. I'm not sure what the rating is supposed to be, but I seem to remember  reading that it's around 2100 which looks about right because it frequently misses tactics for both sides and like the earlier engines, it likes grabbing material. Here's an interesting position at 10 seconds per move from a game where, playing white, I made what turned out to be an unsound sacrifice of a N on b5 for two P's in a Sicilian Defense. Instead of capturing the dangerous B with 24...Nxc5 which would have left it with a slight advantage it has just grabbed a P with 24...Qc2xb2??.

     White has only ONE move that doesn't lose and that's 25.Bd6 which according to Komodo would have left me with a 1-1/3 Pawn advantage after 25...Rb6 and 26.Qa8+
     What I actually played looked more dangerous to black: 25.Rfe1 which rated "??" from Komodo. Still failing to realize the B had to be eliminated with 25...Nxc5 yielding near equality, the engine played 25...g5 which also rated "??" from Komodo.
     After 26.Qa8+ (26.Bd6 was a little better) white's advantage was almost 4 Pawns and I won without difficulty and neither side was awarded any more question marks by Komodo.
     Of course playing against me isn't a very good indication of how good the engine really is so I pitted it against Komodo 8 (using a single core) at 10 seconds a move and the result was a total disaster for the app. It may play considerably better with more thinking time, but at 10 seconds per move it's good for those moments when you want a quick game and actually have some chance of winning. If you don't like getting crushed by really strong engines then this app looks to be OK because it gives you a chance to win without it playing GM moves then tossing away a piece before switching back to GM mode! 

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