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Computers, Chess and Long-Range Planning [Paperback]

Michail M. Botvinnik , Arthur Brown

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Book Description

Jan. 1 1970 0387900128 978-0387900124 Softcover reprint of the original 1st ed. 1970
Mihail Moiseevich Botvinnik is an electrical engineer by profession; during World War II he headed a high-tension laboratory in the Urals and was decorated by the USSR for his accomplishments. At present, he is the head of the alternating-current machine laboratory at the Moscow Institute of Power Engineering. He is also a world-renowned chess player. He was born in 1911, and by 1935 had become a Grandmaster of Soviet chess. In 1948 he won the world chess championship and held the title until 1963 (except for a two-year break). His chess style has been characterized as deep, objective, serious, and courageous. In this book, the quality of his thinking is revealed in his study of the basic thought processes of master chess players, and his reduction of these processes to mathematical form. This formalization of thought processes is a contribution to science at three levels: at the immediate level, it provides a basis for a computer program that seems likely to succeed in playing chess; at the middle level, game-playing programs help us to study and rationalize the processes of planning and decision-making; and, at the highest level, the study of the mind in action, as in the game of chess, leads to an understanding of human thought and of the human psyche.

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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Finally it makes sense!!! ;) Nov. 19 2003
By Hoa H - Published on Amazon.com
I first read the book in 1985. The topic is interesting, the book title is impressive. After the first two chapters, the rest looked like Greek to me. The next three chapters are the "meat" of the book. Finally last week, after 18 years of "soul-searching", it begins to make sense to me. Between then and now, I revisited the book at least 5-6 more times. Difficult book! There are two reasons that this book threw me off. Dr. Botvinnik used lots of Greek letters to represent his formulars: alpha, beta, psi, theta, sigma, tau, rho, phi, delta, pi, sigma, etc. (See what I meant.) If that was not enough, he added in the "complex number representation" as a "bonus." That was the first reason. The second was the way he wrote those expressions, I thought they were "well-known continuous functions" in math or science. Most of them are NOT. They are binary functions, either have values of 1 or 0; which now can be represented as Boolean math in standard programming language.
The main way to use his evaluation expressions is with the assumption there is always an "attack" provided an material exchange. This was applicable for tactical chess; while for state-of-the-art program, the positional evaluation is more involved.
The first is about the historical match between the USA-USSR programs, which resulted in favor of the USSR's. The second, a lot of theories and background which are useful in chess-playing technique, computer programming, management decision-making, human-reasoning, etc. Chapter 3 has: the confussing math expressions with those beautiful Greek letters. Chapter 4: using bit-map to represent attack-defense paths that the decisions and evaluations in chapter 3 will compute. Chapter 5: using the his famous win over Capablanca as experiment to illustrate his math expression. Chapter 6: a useless one; he spent 7 pages to list some of his own games as excercise. (Why? If we want examples, Alekhine's, Capa's, Lasker's, Tal's or Fischer's are more typical.) In addition, many diagrams are so large, while the whole book is only about 90 pages. More than 10% of the pages goes wasted, killing at least 3 trees. Chapter 7: the future of computer chess. There are four chapters for the Appendices.
In summary, it is good book at the time, too confussing (at least to a literacy-challenged reader like me), and some minuses mentioned above. Four stars for your book, GM and many-time world chess champion Botvinnik!!!! (****)
5.0 out of 5 stars Not only an interesting relic Dec 5 2012
By klavaza - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book was written in a bygone era, an era when Chess and computers posed fascinating challenges for experts and laymen alike. Now we know better, but actually not much more. If you are seeking to illuminate yourself about the intricacies and fantastic intertwining of both fields this Botvinnik study is a perfect text to start.

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