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Interview with Vasik Rajlich

2008-10-09 Rybka wins 16th WCCC in Beijing


Michael Diosi (Arena Webmaster)

The 16th edition of the WCCC in Beijing (China) has been won in an convincing manner by Rybka written by Vasik Rajlich ahead of Hiarcs and Junior. The blitz tournament was won by Sjeng programmed by Gian-Carlo Pascutto ahead of Rybka, Haircs, Falcon and Shredder. Additional information on this tournament can be found here and here. On this occasion the author of Rybka, Vasik Rajlich was so kind to grant us a short interview.

Hello Vas, First cogratulation for the convincing win of the 16th WCCC in Beijing. I hope you agree to grant us a short interview.

1) Does the Monte Carlo feature in the newest version of your program use Naloimov tablebases access ?

Yes - Monte Carlo plays games using all normal engine options.

2) Are you going to implement bishop undepromotion in Rybka activly so it doesn't oversee wins/draws in many studies using bishop underpromotions as many people use your engine for analysing and not only for playing ?

This is on the to-do list, but I have to admit that it's not very high. At some point, we'll get to this.

3) Can you please show us a fortress position whrere Monte Carlo analysis finds a solution and normal analysis doesn't or it takes much longer ?

Sorry, I don't have an example handy. You could ask on our forum (

4) What would be the ammount of games that should be played within Monte Carlo till it finds a solution and when can it be securely stopted ?

This depends on how good a solution you want. Probably, the sweet spot is somewhere between 100 and 1000 games.

5) Is it possible for normal users to setup a Rybka cluster and how does this work or is this just in experimental stage ?

There is a special Rybka "master" version, which can be a run as a normal UCI engine and which coordinates the entire cluster according to information from a config file. We're going to keep this feature private for now, probably until 2010. Lukas Cimiotti from the Rybka team owns the cluster and is going to be responsible for all testing and demonstrations until then.

6) Can we expect a Rybka version on Lynux, Mac, mobile phones ?

I'm just now starting to focus on this. Pocket Rybka is more or less a certainty. Mobile, Linux and Mac Rybkas are unclear.

7) Why did you release your engine with ChessBase as one of their representants stated on their server your engine is garbage ?

Actually, I always had a good contact with ChessBase management, even before we did business together. It's like with sports teams - the players for the most part respect each other, while the fans fight in the stands. :)

8) Can you please tell us something about the Aquarium interface ? Are you involved in any way in the interface or are you strictly programming the engine ?

Formally, this interface belongs 100% to Convekta, I have no legal rights or responsibilities related to it. I decided already some time ago to 'stick to my knitting' and stay out of the interface arena (pun intended :)) - it's just another big ultra-competitive world which demands full attention. I am a big fan though of Convekta's work and am quite enthusiastic about what they are doing. Every now and then, I will make some suggestions about the Aquarium and they occasionally do the same for Rybka.

9) There still are some rumours about Rybka and its provenience by some experts, is there anything behind this or just envy and are you going to take any steps aganist this unacceptable attitude as Rybka has been away from any other engine since beeing released for the public ?

Actually, I somewhat enjoy these various little controversies which follow us around from topic to topic - they're flattering and sometimes even entertaining. Really, there are two types of people in computer chess - those who openly love Rybka, and those who secretly love Rybka. :)

10) What are you working on right now, do you still have ideas for improving Rybka and how much ahead of other engines will it be then ?

I have a huge to-do list. At the moment, I am cleaning the code and fixing all sorts of little cosmetic issues. This is something I tend to neglect, so I want to finally take this chunk of time after the WCCC and really focus on it and do a great job with it. Also on the near-term to-do list are ports to other platforms. I also have a ton of ideas for improving the engine. Due to schedule constraints, a lot of my ideas didn't quite make it into Rybka 3, so the Rybka 3 to Rybka 4 transition should be a relatively productive one from the engine knowledge & strength point of view. Finally, there is one project which will be implemented next year which I'll keep a secret for now. Sorry for the tease, but this one is going to be really awesome.

Many thanks for the interview and for allowing us to bundle the latest free Rybka version with Arena. Now we know which is the GUI of your heart.

That was a tough secret to hide :) - anyway, you're welcome.

You can find additional information about Rybka on its homepage. Also at Rybkas homepage you can download the latest free Rybka which will be later bound with the latest Arena 2.0 GUI. Not to forget you can also order Rybka 3.0 the winner of the WCCC. Also a nice article about the eventcan be found here.


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