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MatPlus.Net Forum General A new era in chess composition?
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(1) Posted by Kevin Begley [Friday, Aug 12, 2011 07:18]; edited by Kevin Begley [11-08-12]

A new era in chess composition?

Today, I discovered four new e-books, by Christian Poisson, at Problemesis (
Collectively, the books contain literally THOUSANDS of original problems. Nearly 7500 pages -- more than 85MB pdf -- each containing an orthodox study or mate (all appear to be C+ miniatures).

I don't exactly know the method by which these were composed -- in the blink of an eye, Christian suddenly threatens to overtake whomever is holding the "most prolific composer" title (a distinction that was long ago destined for dubiousness) -- but, if my intuition is correct, this may mark a significant event in the history of chess composition: the era of miniature extinction chess.

How long before the orthodox miniature is declared completely extinct?
This will spill over -- beyond miniatures, beyond orthodoxy... one day, all miniatures will have been exhausted in a new (though carefully concealed) fairy condition, prior to its very introduction...

I still believe, strongly, that a chess composer is no more than the first human to find aesthetic beauty in a problem, and humans can legitimately compose problems which have been solved by the EGTB.
But, I never dreamed humans would begin hunting "beauty" on such a massive scale... as if deliberately toward extinction.

"We've been fighting a long time. We are out numbered by machines. Working around the clock, without quit. Humans have a strength that cannot be measured... This is John Connor. If you are listening to this, you are the resistance."

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(2) Posted by Sarah Hornecker [Friday, Aug 12, 2011 10:47]

The books below, in PDF format, contain studies and problems composed with WinChloe by the analysis of the endgame tablebases.
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(3) Posted by Frank Richter [Friday, Aug 12, 2011 11:30]

May be there are really some chess problems included ...
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(4) Posted by Zalmen Kornin [Friday, Aug 12, 2011 14:04]; edited by Zalmen Kornin [11-08-13]

The machine searchs under certains criteria - this just is accelerating the process... (Maybe a new 'law' - or guideline - could be: to limit the number of originals that each inhabitant of the planet could publish - say, in one year !? )
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(5) Posted by Kevin Begley [Saturday, Aug 13, 2011 07:18]; edited by Kevin Begley [11-08-13]

I don't expect legal guidelines will provide any remedy.
It's easy to spot the folly in limiting a composer to some number of originals per year.
The problem is fate... computer domination of this art is inevitable, but our acts of free will have hastened this fate.

If computers could make a quantum leap, maybe they'd advise their users against the overly territorial act of publishing every sound problem.
Aside: I'm sure they'd have plenty to say about titles, too.
Obviously, a quantum-computer is not required to transmit this message -- would such a projection suddenly allow people to receive what has always been the inner voice of humanity?

When it comes to the misguided decision to publish a less than mediocre problem, I don't expect any composer is without sin.
Least of all, myself -- I am confident my name stands above diagrams far lesser than the least found in any of Christian's e-books.
[I'll spare everyone my unsound defense based upon learning curves & lower quantity.]
I'd gladly uncompose a dozen, or so, were this allowed -- maybe it should be encouraged!?

And, it certainly is not my intention to single one person out.
In all fairness, there is a highly credible argument that Christian (& Win Chloe) have done us all a service, by mining all redeeming value from the EGTB; therefore, it deserves credit.
On the other hand, our threshold for 'redeeming value' seems pitifully low -- how can anyone be satisfied by over-producing something of little (or no) nutritional value?

This is no more than a convenient opportunity to voice an eternal question: what is the low bar, which a problem must rise above, to merit publication?
You might expect editors and judges would take seriously their responsibility to help us answer this; but, often times, these "mentors" are your worst offenders.
Many seem prolific for no purpose other than proliferation -- unless they intentionally work to anticipate all hope of a good future.

It is high time we stop ignoring the low-bar that composers allow themselves to operate under.
Would Carlsen ever compare to Ragozin, if you judged them only by their best game?
Imagine if solving ratings were based upon such selective results!
Why must every conclusion in chess problem composition rely upon cherry-picked data?
Is it any wonder why the sporting aspect of this art has consistently failed to rise above the standard?

There is not yet any remote challenger to a human's capacity to appreciate aesthetic beauty in this art form.
Yet, the present metrics of our contests strongly favor the brute force approach -- as if to deliberately deny the real measure of a composer in this art form (not coincidentally, our own -- uniquely human -- value).
If computers were remotely close to human intelligence, they'd die laughing at the institutions we have erected to ensure our own premature surrender.
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(6) Posted by Hauke Reddmann [Saturday, Aug 13, 2011 15:07]

Aw c'mon. Not even counting the fact that life will end at (Maya) anyway, there are about 10^12 legal positions
in orthodox miniature.

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(7) Posted by Kevin Begley [Saturday, Aug 13, 2011 21:26]

> Aw c'mon. Not even counting the fact that life will end at (Maya)...
> anyway there are about 10^12 legal positionsin orthodox miniature.

I estimate that over 10^5 orthodox miniatures have been published.
At this new rate of output, we might easily surpass 10^6 before 2060 (Newton's prediction for the end of the world) -- that's roughly one published problem per million positions.
If the Maya had predicted the number of orthodox miniature positions meriting publication (as problems), wouldn't they have arrived at a lower result?

Surely, this remarkably advanced culture knew better than to leave to calculation any matter demanding a sense of appreciation.
How do we compare?
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(8) Posted by Torsten Linß [Tuesday, Sep 6, 2011 03:18]; edited by Torsten Linß [11-09-06]

You will certainly be feed up after looking at 10 of Christian's "problems" or "studies" - I am sure. Maybe you are more tolerant or just tougher than I am, but I bet after 100 you will give up...

This is not the way to go: publish every vaguely interesting position [because it shows mutual zugzwang or some other formal theme] and claim authorship for all these positions. It is the author's duty to extract the best problems from his database and present them to the audience, but not to leave the selection process to others. To push it to the extreme, you design a program that sets up a web page with all the problems from your database [for example all miniature #n or +/= or s#] and whenever somebody else finds something interesting you claim authorship because it has been published on your web page earlier.

BTW. This "new" era has started in the 1970s with work by Helmut Mertes...
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(9) Posted by Dan Meinking [Tuesday, Sep 6, 2011 10:51]

I have no problem with the generation of canditate positions meeting certain criteria -- whether it be by database mining or an independent systematic analysis. The composer can subsequently review these candidates to separate the wheat from the chaff. That seems legitimate, and worthwhile. [ Perhaps the composer should acknowledge his/her methods in this instance, but that is another topic. ]

What bothers me, in this particular case, is that there appears to have been no subsequent review process. The composer/programmer, having generated his candidate positions, went straight to "publication" of the entire lot! Sadly, by Codex rules, Mr. Poisson gets credit (or blame, as it were) for authorship of the entire lot.

Let us hope that, at the very least, he has cross-referenced this "collection" and eliminated (self-)anticipations prior to publication.
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(10) Posted by Sven Hendrik Lossin [Tuesday, Sep 6, 2011 12:12]

Whoever should read this...

If somebody publishes one of these miniatures, I think even Mr. Poisson will not notice.
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(11) Posted by Juraj Lörinc [Tuesday, Sep 6, 2011 12:24]

Perhaps you should know that Christian's output is included in the WinChloe big database. When you insert a new position into the database, with exactly the same position, fairy elements and stipulation, WinChloe detects it and either rejects insertion (when adding the position manually) or reports so called doublon (when copying the position from another database). As a consequence, when the big database is updated, such complete anticipations are detected.
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(12) Posted by Kevin Begley [Tuesday, Sep 6, 2011 15:49]; edited by Kevin Begley [11-09-06]

Win Chloe is also capable of searching for mirrored positions, and potential anticipations.
It is quite likely that this, too, is completely automated.

I do wonder if this holds the possibility for an eternal human composer.
There are several instances of publication from beyond the grave (one human credits another from the past, without so much as correspondence).
What prevents the automated composer from eternally assigning the programmer's name to original problems it produces (and publishes online)?

And, I certainly agree with Torsten -- from that which showed "how God would end a chess game," we now learn "how Monkeys will start writing Shakespeare."
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(13) Posted by Jacques Rotenberg [Wednesday, Sep 7, 2011 05:54]; edited by Jacques Rotenberg [11-09-07]

Sorry, I don't agree. There is nothing special to say about the work of Christian, only, perhaps, that it is wonderful.

A new area ?? It is now already about thirty years old...

The computer, of course, changed things, and still, getting more powerful, will go on changing things.

As many, I am waiting hungrily for EGDB for 7 pieces, for better solving programs, and in general for a better help from the computer.

@ KEVIN : monkeys....?? don't you think it is a bit violent ?
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(14) Posted by Kevin Begley [Wednesday, Sep 7, 2011 08:35]; edited by Kevin Begley [11-09-07]


>A new area ?? It is now already about thirty years old...

Unless thirty years ago a computer generated thousands of problems for publication, this does seem a major event (perhaps the start of a new era) to me.
If I'm wrong -- I am relatively new to chess problems -- please, enlighten me.

>@ KEVIN : monkeys....?? don't you think it is a bit violent ?

"Violent"?? How is my comment, in any way, "violent?" (hehe, I consider your "caps" more violent).
Seriously, I think you may have misunderstood me -- this is not directed in any way at Christian (I happen to like Christian).
The "monkey" comment is a reference, of course, to the "infinite monkey theorem," which states that "a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare."
(source: -

The computer (which is generating chess problems from the computer-generated EGTB -- "playing chess with God") is less intelligent than our hypothetical monkey (typing Shakespeare).
Despite this, I have no doubt, the computer will produce a masterpiece chess problem, someday soon.

And, it was never my intent to direct ire or angst at Christian, for his publication.
Such publication was inevitable -- I bet Shannon saw this coming (before the computer was born!).
My intent was simply to inform the problem community that this higher level of computer involvement in chess composition may signify something much more significant (than a few thousand originals from the EGTB).
It reads to me like the start of a new era -- but, I certainly do welcome (and appreciate) hearing other views...
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(15) Posted by Sarah Hornecker [Wednesday, Sep 7, 2011 08:37]

I think Jacques refers to the publication of all helpmate positions with KSKS.
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(16) Posted by Hauke Reddmann [Wednesday, Sep 7, 2011 13:25]

Formal search is formal. With enough chuzpe, you still
might come up with something unexpected.

H. Reddmann, Schwalbe 130(1991), Kg7 Pe7 Ph6 - Ke4, #6.
Because of possible duals in the last moves no computer
search will ever come up with this. Thus, no prize stuff
but I find it cute, still. (And yet, there *was* a bit
of computer aiding involved, but in "intelligent" mode.)

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(17) Posted by Sven Hendrik Lossin [Wednesday, Sep 7, 2011 15:02]

But I still think that there is a problem:
Some of my problems were not published since a reviewer or so did not want them to. If Mr. Poison puts all these positions into the WinChloe-DB then there are a lot of originals in the databases that are a lot worse... just because the database-manager decided so without any referee. There may be coincidently some masterpieces. But just as the reviewer from Schwalbe, Problemist and so expect me not to send them every sh.. I produce, I expect Mr. Poison not to put every position that is potentially interesting in his databases just because he has the power to do so.

Only he can answer what he is aiming for with these works - does he really want to share them with the world because he thinks that this is a substantial contribution?
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(18) Posted by Juraj Lörinc [Wednesday, Sep 7, 2011 15:18]

No, this is not a problem in my view. You do not need to publish any of your works in the renowned magazines. You can do it in magazine with very low publication level or you can publish your work in your book (many authors already did that) or you can publish them in your very own periodical (e.g. Chris Feather self-published already multiple series of newsletters filled with his own works, currently running series is Fairings with 17 issues, before that were Broodings with 50 issues, before that Scrapings, Moultings, Hatchings...). Personally, I have published a few originals only on my website, not even in print. Does this mean those self-published works are automatically worse than those in Die Schwalbe or The Problemist? Not at all, I would rather choose CJF's series than many other original columns, when talking about good average level of presented problems.

To round it, everybody has already the power to publish almost anything. Putting something into the database is just one way of doing it without anyone else's approval - but nobody needs any aprroval.
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(19) Posted by Jacques Rotenberg [Wednesday, Sep 7, 2011 16:17]; edited by Jacques Rotenberg [11-09-07]

Hauke, "Chuzpe" ? is it in German ? or in english ?
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(20) Posted by Sarah Hornecker [Wednesday, Sep 7, 2011 19:00]

It is German-Yiddish
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MatPlus.Net Forum General A new era in chess composition?