Computer Programs Review

Computer checkers programs have become a part of the players tools used in their efforts to study and understand the game. Most players that I have talked to say that different computer programs have helped them take their games to another level of play. Even Mr. Alexander “Alemo” Moiseyev, the current World Champion in English Checkers, relates that he used a computer program to aid in the analysis of a middle game which he subsequently used in defeating Ron King for the championship.

Advice to want-to-be good players, get yourself a good strong computer checkers program. Although I don’t consider myself as a strong player nor even a good player some of you whom I have played over the years can be the judge. I combined the book study with a particular type of computer play.

Over the years I purchased several different computer programs in an effort to enhance my checkers playing skills. Some of you will ask “why did you purchase several of them?” Well my answer will be “When I purchased my first, I purchased it to spar with, to have a live-in sparing partner so to speak.”

For several months, I sparred with this program and my game became somewhat stronger, but I had not incorporated it into my style of study. Mostly this was due to my lack of knowledge of the program’s special features. You see, I had developed a bad habit that many others have acquired-- failure to read instructions. I was not aware of its special features.

Becoming curious and wanting to know how I could use this program along with my book study too, I decided to become more familiar with the program and its special features. One of the features in particular was its database features meaning that I could save positions and games that I inputted and retrieve them for subsequent study. At last, I would not have to go through the tedious task of re-setting my board again and many times thereafter as the players of yesterday had to do in order to review a particular position or game. With the click of my mouse key this game or position was before me on my computer screen and I could replay it or have the program analyze it as one would imagine watching a video tape. I had answered two major question, “How can a computer program help enhance my game and how can I incorporate it into my book study?”

At this point I would like to take note that when playing the computer, you can take time and study your moves. One thing about computer plays; there is no one on the other end of the board rushing you to move. You should play it at its top level of play and while playing it try not to be impatient. It will bring you its best move which provides for a better practice game.

Eventually, you will fall into a position where you find yourself getting into trouble to the point of losing. When you detect that you are in trouble use the move review features to see where you begin to get into trouble and look for something better. If you can’t find anything better go to your books. This will allows you to see the type of weaknesses and the losing positions that are subject to arises when playing live opponent.

Before purchasing one of the many programs that are on the market, you should research the special features of the program and ask yourself the same questions. Also consider the playing strength of the program. A program with 6-7 piece endgame database is considered to be a strong program especially in endgame analysis.

Here I will list some of the programs that I have purchased and attempt to describe the value of each in my study of American Pool Checkers. All of them are self-learning games, other words, the more you play them the stronger they get! I should point out to the reader that these programs have too many features to discuss here. Also there are no bad books or checkers programs. Some are just better than others!

Click on the following hyperlinks for further information about that particular game.

Dynamo Pro  With its parameters set for maximum strength of play, I found it to have a very strong opening and middle game, but its endgame is very weak due to its programmer having failed to program it to recognize special endgames such as the well known “three piece special”. However, it has other special features that compensate for this weakness. I have used its database features in saving and retrieving board positions that I have studied. Also I have entered many games and openings from Kaplan, Ramsey and Waters’ books which I retrieve and review from time to time. I especially retrieve those games and positions that I have found myself being unfamiliar with while sparring with live opponents, including those on vog2, as well as the different computer programs that I own.

WinPool   I found this to be an excellent program. It was one of the first computer pool checkers playing programs that I found to have been programmed to recognize the “three piece special”. It is also a self-learning program; the more you play it the stronger it plays. One of its main features that I witnessed was its ability to analyze a game from opening move to end setting out the best moves for either side and providing for a printout of its analysis.

Tornado Pool Checkers This program has a seven piece endgame database which provides for stronger play and endgame analysis. I have used this program to solve a few difficult problems and challenges that were presented on the former CheckersUSA's bulletin board and found it to render good results. It is an excellent sparring partner.

Plus 900 Plus 900 is also a pool checkers program which I found to have a few bugs, but yet had some features that I liked, Its opening orientation of 12-16, the Bodyansky. It also has the ability to analyze moves and suggest the better move. But, I found it to have a weak endgame analysis. There were certain positions that it could not analyze and as of yet to recognize the “three piece special”.

The computer pool checkers programs listed above are the ones that I have found listed on the internet and subsequently purchased. However, I also found several good Russian draughts programs and some could be downloaded at no cost. Two Russian draughts programs that would be of interest are: Aurora Borealis and Tornado Draughts Base.

Aurora Borealis is a database program that contains a collection of approximately 80,000 Russian games that have been recorded and extracted from various tournaments held through out the continents. One can query its database and find openings and games and endgames played by such notables as Ion Dosca, V. Sokov, I. Kuperman, B.Blinder, as well as our own Mr. V. Kaplan himself. The program also plays a strong game (Master level) of pool checkers plus it has the ability to find solutions to some of the more puzzling positions. And most of all the Aurora Borealis 2.0 has a user friendly interface.

Tornado Draughts Base is a database program similar to Aurora Borealis. The difference is that this program contains 70,000 games.

Turbo Dambase is a useful study tool in that you can store your games and replay them at a later date. While studying you can store your comments after or before a move and add different variants without distorting the original game. Also you can share this game with other students of the game via email across the country and the student can return it with his comments and variations without any distortion of original game. I see that in the future that this game is a must for those students who are eager to enhance their game to a higher level.