Posts

50th Anniversary!

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Since the Eagle landed on the moon shortly after I entered this world, it seemed only fitting to celebrate both these anniversaries with LEGO's Nasa Apollo 11 Lunar Lander building set. Can't wait to start building this weekend!




Chess for Android: UCI Engine Options

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The UCI engine setup dialog in Chess for Android was developed a long time ago when there were not many chess engines available for Android. As a result, I opted for a simple dialog that featured a few, commonly used UCI engine options only (such as hash table size, number of threads, endgame tablebases). However, the options that I picked almost ten years ago no longer serve the wide variety in options of the many chess engines available for Android.
Therefore, I decided to re-implement the UCI engine setup and do what the UCI protocol specification actually intended: the GUI should parse all options and build a dialog that allows the user to change them. For engines with only a few options, this yields a concise dialog, as illustrated below with BikJump v1.8. For engines with many options, this yields a more elaborate, scrollable dialog, as illustrated below for Leela Chess Zero. In any case, however, the new implementation gives the user full access to all options!
Expect this new…

Karpov 2294

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And another blast from the past. The Karpov 2294, the strongest dedicated chess computer that I own. It is rich in features, such as time control, infinite analysis, and many levels. It also features a very elegant magnetic chess piece set.

Autobridge Device

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My grandfather handed this autobridge device down to me in the early eighties, a few years before I got my first chess and home computers. Autobridge was invented in the 1930s for self-teaching bridge, both the bidding and the playing. I date mine around 1959, since that year appears in the manual and on all the inlay cards. The device has no date, but a serial number (so perhaps one could find out).
Does anyone else remember these?
I could play for hours with this. Amazing how times have changed....


Chess for Android: version 6.1.1

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I am gradually rolling out version 6.1.1 of Chess for Android to Google Play. Besides some internal cleanup and refactoring, the major new features are:
simple FICS client (see details at Connecting Chess for Android with FICS)improved electronic chessboard support (DGT/Certabo/Millennium)rudimentary DGT chess clock support (shows moves) The FICS interface is simple, in line with the design philosophy I have always followed so far.  Despite the simplicity, the client is fully functional, and I have started to enjoy playing online over an actual chessboard myself. Hopefully others will find the combination of an electronic chessboard and online play just as enjoyable!
A big thank you to my testers! Writing a client from scratch was a non-trivial task, and took a long time. Having awesome testers was extremely helpful during the initial development. Any remaining bugs are mine, of course. Please send me the details if you find one.

DGT 3000

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This beautiful DGT 3000 chess clock just arrived! I can't wait to start hacking and find out what features I can implement for Chess for Android connected to a DGT chess board and this clock. In particular,  am hopeful that the combination of online chess on FICS with an electronic chess board and clock will provide a very pleasant chess playing experience! 


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It took me a bit longer than planned, but I finally finished the alpha version of a FICS (Free Internet Chess Server) interface in Chess for Android. Either play directly on a phone or table, or first connect to an electronic chessboard (DGT, Certabo, and Millennium) to play over an actual chess board with people online.
To connect to FICS, long press the notation window in Chess for Android to open the extended menu. Then select "Connect to FICS" and login as a guest or using your register username and password. The formula string can be used to filter out match requests. For example time >= 5 & inc = 1 only accepts games with at least five minutes start time per player and exactly one second increment per move. The formula syntax is explained in more detail on the FICS help page.
Once connected, your username or temporary guest name is shown at the bottom of the screen. Match requests that pass the filter are shown in a dialog with the player names and game paramet…

Chess for Android: version 6.0

I am rolling out version 6.0 of Chess for Android, through the usual Google Play channel. The new features include:
Two new sets of chess pieces by Maurizio Monge (who very kindly gave explicit permission)Ability to enable/disable saving engine annotations in the PGN fileOpening the draw/resign dialog now requires tapping one king then the otherSimpler permission model for "older" Android versions The last change, adding bluetooth and network permissions, is needed so that pre-api23 versions of Android can also connect with electronic chessboards over bluetooth or with remote chess engines over a network socket (the latter is also needed for an upcoming FICS client I am working now). From api23 onward, users can selectively enable or disable such permissions. Pre-api23, however, it was an "all-or-nothing". Changes like this have unfortunately the danger that some users will uninstall, but in the long run I believe I can better serve the full customer base this way.

Maurizio Monge Chess Art

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I received several requests to incorporate some of the beautiful chess art by Maurizio Monge in Chess for Android. Maurizio did a great job creating attractive, yet very playable chess figures. Also, he kindly makes this art available to all, although I received explicit permission from him to use the art in my application. So the next version of Chess for Android will feature the fantastic "fantasy" and very funny "eyes" piece figures.


Checkers for Android: Endgames

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Now that Checkers for Android supports a position setup editor, analyzing textbook studies has become a lot simpler. This has increased the significance of the small built-in endgame tablebases of my app as well, as can be seen in the study below. Here, starting from what is known as the "first position" in checkers, Checkers for Android, playing with the black pieces, announces its inevitable loss in 30 moves!