Chess (Northwestern University)
Chess was a pioneering chess program from the 1970s, written by Larry Atkin and David Slate at Northwestern University. Chess ran on Control Data Corporation's line of supercomputers. Work on the program began in 1968. It dominated the first computer chess tournaments, such as the World Computer Chess Championship and ACM's North American Computer Chess Championship. Chess was the first published use of the bitboard data structure applied to the game of chess.
In February 1977 Chess 4.6, the only computer entry, surprised observers by winning the 84th Minnesota Open against competitors just under Master level. It achieved a USCF rating close to or at Expert, higher than previous programs' Class C or D, by winning five games and losing none. Stenberg (rated 1969) became the second Class A player to lose to a computer in a tournament game, the first being Jola.
Because of its Minnesota victory, grandmaster Walter Browne invited Chess 4.6 on a CDC Cyber 176 to his simultaneous chess exhibition; to Browne and others' surprise, Chess 4.6 defeated the United States chess champion. Also in 1977, Chess 4.6 won the second World Computer Chess Championship in Toronto, ahead of 15 other programs including KAISSA; Chess 4 had finished in second place to KAISSA at the first tournament in 1974. The favorite to win the tournament, like all but one other entry Chess 4.6 ran on a computer located away from the tournament; despite losing 90 minutes to hardware failure at the start of its first match the program rapidly defeated its opponent in 27 moves, earlier than any other first-round match. Chess 4.6 was capable of defeating 99.5% of United States Chess Federation-rated players under tournament conditions, and was stronger in blitz chess.
In 1978 and 1979 Atkin and Peter W. Frey published in BYTE a series on computer chess programming, including the Pascal source for Chess 0.5, a chess engine suitable for microcomputers. That year the improved Chess 4.7—which had by now achieved a 2030 rating after 31 tournament games—played against David Levy who, in 1968 had wagered that he would not be beaten by a computer within ten years. Whereas Chess 4.7 had beaten Levy under blitz conditions, the bet involved forty moves over a two-hour period, the computer's choices being relayed by telephone from Minnesota to the board. Levy won the bet, defeating the Chess 4.7 in a six-game match by a score of 4.5-1.5, The computer scored a draw in game two after getting a completely winning position but being outplayed by Levy in the endgame, and a win in game four—the first computer victory against a human master—when Levy essayed the very sharp, dubious Latvian Gambit. Levy wrote, "I had proved that my 1968 assessment had been correct, but on the other hand my opponent in this match was very, very much stronger than I had thought possible when I started the bet." He observed that, "Now nothing would surprise me (very much)." International Master Edward Lasker stated in 1978, "My contention that computers cannot play like a master, I retract. They play absolutely alarmingly. I know, because I have lost games to 4.7."
Atkin, Slate, and Frey later wrote microcomputer chess, checkers, and Reversi programs for Odesta. Advertisements cited their Northwestern affiliation and authorship of Chess 4.7, "World Computer Chess Champion, 1977-1980".
- Jennings, Peter (January 1978). "The Second World Computer Chess Championships". BYTE. p. 108. Retrieved 17 October 2013.
- Hapgood, Fred (23–30 December 1982). "Computer chess bad-human chess worse". New Scientist. pp. 827–830. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
- Wheland, Norman D. (October 1978). "A Computer Chess Tutorial". BYTE. p. 168. Retrieved 17 October 2013.
- Douglas, John R (January 1979). "Grandmaster Walter Browne versus Chess 4.6". BYTE. p. 110. Retrieved 17 October 2013.
- Frey, Peter W; Atkin, Larry R (October 1978). "Creating a Chess Player / An Essay on Human and Computer Chess Skill". BYTE. p. 182. Retrieved 17 October 2013.
- Frey, Peter W; Atkin, Larry R (November 1978). "Creating a Chess Player Part 2: Chess 0.5". BYTE. p. 162. Retrieved 17 October 2013.
- Atkin, Larry R; Frey, Peter W (December 1978). "Creating a Chess Player Part 3: Chess 0.5 (continued)". BYTE. p. 140. Retrieved 17 October 2013.
- Frey, Peter W; Atkin, Larry R (January 1979). "Creating a Chess Player / Part 4: Strategy in Computer Chess". BYTE. p. 120. Retrieved 17 October 2013.
- Douglas, J R (December 1978). "Chess 4.7 versus David Levy". BYTE. p. 84. Retrieved 17 October 2013.
- Mather, Ian, The great computer chess bet, The Observer 20 August 1978
- David Levy, "Man Beats Machine!", Chess Life & Review, November 1978, pp. 600-03, at pp. 601-03.
- David Levy and Monroe Newborn, More Chess and Computers: The Microcomputer Revolution, The Challenge Match, Computer Science Press, Potomac, Maryland, and Batsford, London, 1980, pp. 10-30. ISBN 0-914894-07-2.
- David Levy, "Man Beats Machine!", Chess Life & Review, November 1978, pp. 600-03, at pp. 602-03.
- David Levy and Monroe Newborn, More Chess and Computers: The Microcomputer Revolution, The Challenge Match, Computer Science Press, Potomac, Maryland, and Batsford, London, 1980, p. 30. ISBN 0-914894-07-2.
- David Levy and Monroe Newborn, More Chess and Computers: The Microcomputer Revolution, The Challenge Match, Computer Science Press, Potomac, Maryland, and Batsford, London, 1980, Preface. ISBN 0-914894-07-2.
- "Tiny Computer Sends Chess Foe Down Tube". Milwaukee Journal. Washington Post Service. 1978-12-10. pp. Discover 1. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
- "Explore the Frontiers of Intelligence". BYTE (advertisement). December 1982. p. 99. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
- "Computer Chess Compendium", L. Atkin & D. Slate, Springer-Verlag, 1988, pp. 80–103
- "Chess Skill in Man and Machine" Peter W. Frey, 1977, pp. 82–118 - devotes a chapter to the internals of Chess 4.5
- Source code for Chess 4.6 available at