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Comments by Matthew Montchalin

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Matthew Montchalin wrote on 2007-04-30 UTC
Is there any way a 'button' could be added to the module that allows
people to view the game logs from start to finish, more or less

I was wondering if there was a simple, easy way of watching a game log
play itself out automatically, assuming the user types in the point at
which it begins?  For instance, when I go to the implementation of Ultima
(i.e., Baroque), I always choose the kind of pieces I want to look at, and
then I always have to click 'VIEW' to translate the board into something
that makes sense to me.

It would be nice if there were a button that said 'VIEW CONTINUOUS'
(with user-definable pauses inbetween moves) so I could watch the whole
game play itself out automatically.  But if 'VIEW CONTINUOUS' takes too
much room to display on the screen, how about 'MOVIE' for an
auto-play-out option?

[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Matthew Montchalin wrote on 2006-07-12 UTC
I accurately described the problem; it existed; the problem appears to have
gone away.

It is unfortunate that your experiences were not the same.

Matthew Montchalin wrote on 2006-07-11 UTC
The 'v' command works better now.

As you observed, it kept reverting back to some kind of an 'abstract' or
'alfaerie' font, instead of the user-selectable font.  I'm glad you
fixed it.  It was getting frustrating having the thing revert back to that
weird font, over and over again.

Matthew Montchalin wrote on 2006-07-10 UTC
I just dropped by to see if my opponent had made a move, and when I clicked
the newest implementation of Ultima (that's Baroque to the rest of the
world), I was greeted with some kind of 'abstract' representations of
the chess pieces.

No matter what I clicked, I couldn't get the original 'staunton' style
of chess pieces back.

I tried selecting the 'chess motif' that was supposed to be available,
but then after I clicked 'view' I got stuck at move 0.  But the fact is,
we are around 6 moves into the game.  It appears that the most recent
innovation (or innovator) in the Game Courier must like the 'abstract'
representations of the pieces.  But I don't.  I prefer instead the
Staunton design, as that is what is most historically accurate.


[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Matthew Montchalin wrote on 2006-05-05 UTC
Well, that's why the Presets shouldn't attempt to verify check, checkmate, or stalemate. Let the players look at the diagram, and decide for themselves whether the proper score is available to them. (And in Ultima, a stalemate ought to count as 2/3 - 1/3 instead of 1/2-1/2, but that kind of a change would probably screw up your rating system.)

And considering the large number of chess variants being discussed or developed at this website (with or without some other kind of 'real world' non-Internet avenue of promotion available to it), I can certainly understand why you'd find it a daunting matter to spend time on something you don't really spent much time playing, as it presumably involves a lot of spaghetti code that needs to be given a good looking at.

So, if that new Preset you mentioned allows players to type in anything they want, maybe it could be used for a variant of Ultima where a Withdrawer is given the honor of additional captures?

Matthew Montchalin wrote on 2006-05-04 UTC
How much work would it take to modify the Ultima preset to allow the
Withdrawer to engage in additional withdrawals (in different directions,
of course) if it ends up (fortuitously enough) in a square adjacent to an
enemy piece that so situated it is subject to capture by the Withdrawer?

This kind of a change would make the Withdrawer considerably more powerful
than it is right now.  Allowing 'bonus' withdrawals would, if
implemented, make the piece enjoying that power a 'Multi-Withdrawer'
(similar to the Multi-Leaper that is already part of the Preset).  That
may not be too important in an 8x8 version of Baroque (like Ultima), but
in 9x9 and 10x10 versions with more pieces, and necessarily more
Withdrawers, it could make the game that much deeper to ponder.

Innovations along those lines *would* make it more difficult to calculate
when a King is in check, but that's something I think I could live with.

Matthew Montchalin wrote on 2006-05-04 UTC
Well, in any event, I'm glad you returned it back to the original.

Matthew Montchalin wrote on 2006-05-04 UTC
Somebody edited the Ultima preset to make it look for checks, checkmates,
and stalemates. 

Could you return it back to the way it was?

[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Matthew Montchalin wrote on 2006-03-10 UTC
Can anybody comment on making your own plastic pieces, whether through
casting (as in the case of acrylics) or through injection moulding?  I'd
guess that both methods would require first the making of moulds for
churning out prototypes, and then obtaining material for filling the
moulds up with?  I read somewhere that plastics injection moulding employs
little plastic pellets that are exposed to heat and liquefied, and then
pumped into the moulds.  I'd suppose that foundries specializing in
plastics could work with initial prototypes before they actually do a real
production run.
Since the difficulty in making pieces is the same no matter where you do
it, a more serious question to ask, is whether production expenses would
be less if products were manufactured in one part of the world as opposed
to another.
Where are most plastic chess pieces manufactured in the United States?

Are there alternative sources for plastic pieces than the US?

[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Matthew Montchalin wrote on 2006-03-05 UTC
I'd like to invite someone to play a game of Maxima but for the graphics
currently designed for (or attached to) the game.

If anybody has the means of editing the graphics so the pinchers look like
chess pawns, could they volunteer their services?  I don't have access to
a reliable Windows or Mac computer, so that rules me out.

Game Courier Ratings. Calculates ratings for players from Game Courier logs. Experimental.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Matthew Montchalin wrote on 2006-02-16 UTC
Fergus, I suggest you use a different rating system, especially considering
how your current one is pretty arbitrary (we can nitpick about the 400
point difference as opposed to a 500 or 600 point difference, but we would
do by knowing in advance that one number is just as arbitrary as another),
and how it appears to be designed to judge people's 'future
performance' based upon observations of previous games that users were
told wouldn't count.  (Although that's really not /that/ big of a deal.)
 And if you encouraged users to add their computer programs to the fray,
the ratings, as such, would add an extra dimension of utility.

[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Matthew Montchalin wrote on 2006-02-16 UTC
If people think they are going to be 'rated' on games that they have
previously been told, don't count, there is going to be a chilling effect
that discourages people from participating on the website here.

For that reason, two separate rating systems should be used, if at all any
ARE used:  one would be for those adventurous souls willing to play games
they've never even heard of (and are therefore attempting to learn), and
another rating system for those souls that insist on playing just one
particular game, something they actually know a thing or two about, and
about which they have developed theories of play that are put into

Matthew Montchalin wrote on 2006-02-11 UTC
My program isn't ready yet, but I'll keep it in mind.

I think there are a lot of programmers hanging out at this website
( and many of them may have hacked together a
program out of nothingness, using nothing but sweat and insight, and they
should be encouraged to have their programs brought in as well.  (Ditto
goes for the people that are responsible for programming ZOG.)

I think that a 'Game-Ply Rating' system would probably oscillate around
a bit, with every re-calculation introducing a little bit of drag and a
little bit of drift- considering how 0-ply systems would hover around
1000, 1-ply systems around 1100, 2-ply at 1200, and 3-ply at 1300, and so

Using a 'Game-Ply Rating' system, to which computers could contribute
benchmarks, would make the human performances more meaningful.  And if a
human's  USCF or ELO chess rating were imported into the 'Game-Ply
Rating' system, it would probably see a steep climb before stabilizing. 
For instance, if a handful of human beginners at 800 USCF started playing
a few 0-ply computers at 1000 GPR, the human ratings would go up.  I would
oppose lowering a computer's GPR rating, however.  If a computer has a GPR
rating, it should only go down as a result of a loss to another computer. 
This is because humans are inherently smarter than computers.  The
computer GPR ratings ought to be independent benchmarks that only they
themselves contribute to.

Matthew Montchalin wrote on 2006-02-10 UTC
Tony, to answer your question, I already have two ST computers, so I don't
have to pony up for a PC computer, nor buy a Windows developer's license
(which I understand is $1,500 on top of the purchase price of the
hardware, and it costs even more to get a Mac and a Mac developer's kit,
if that even exists, which I'm not sure about).  And then there's the
learning curve.  I'd have to learn how to program a Mac or Windows, and
that's one daunting task right there.  Also, I prefer computers whose
operating systems are in ROM, and therefore incorruptible.

For the purpose of establishing benchmarks, maybe you and I could someday
test out our programs against each other's?  You could use a modern
computer running at 2.5 gigaherz (or whatever), and I could use my little
computer?  I'm naturally referring to the game of Baroque - or one of its
relatives (but no Rococo, please).  And certainly not Chess, as there are
enough Chess-playing computers already.  Baroque is a more challenging
game, and requires far more calculations than Chess does.  (Markedly more,
if we allowed either side to delay indefinitely the reversals of their
rooks (causing one to become an Immobilizer), or the reversals of the King
and Queen (Withdrawer)), which adds a whole extra element of long-range
strategy to the game.

When it comes to modern computers, there are zillions of programmers that
are better than I am.  I'm no virtuoso.  I just put my nose to the
grindstone, and keep toiling away at the darn thing until it works like
it's supposed to.  That means a near endless examination of the states
that the 'programming engine' outputs, and you would not believe how
poorly implemented the Atari support package is, you end up having to
kludge out your own suite of programming tools, the kind that more or less
work right most of the time.  I've put in about 9 months or more on this
thing so far.

Sure is slow and tedious.

As for computer contests, we /could/ use an ordinary telephone line with
direct connections, no webmail involved.  (Or we could just post the moves
here or at some other mutually agreed-upon place.)  The role of the
user-attendant would be to type the moves in, as they come.

Matthew Montchalin wrote on 2006-02-10 UTC
Fergus, your reference to Zillions of Games being a constraining factor
appears to be a 'non sequitur' and not a premise.

Supposing the games on this website are adequately described, it follows
that all of the games on this website /can/ be played; not just online,
but face to face, should the opportunity ever arise.  Computers could
eventually be brought in to help people learn how to play these games;
wasn't increased accessibility the main idea behind designing Zillions of

It's unfortunate that Zillions of Games doesn't have a ply-setting, as
that would have been extremely convenient for entry into my proposed
'Game Ply Rating' system.  Even five or six computers that limit
themselves to 2 ply searches, are going to play wildly differently if they
disagree on the values of their pieces, or employ even slightly different
pseudo-random number generators.  Even if they were all playing absolutely
randomly (and were therefore all assigned initial ratings of 1000), there
would eventually be a departure from that number, as their true colors
started to show, and the game results began to produce a bell curve of
sorts.  The inherent differences in programming is what appears to be the
real quandary behind using a 'ply' based rating system; each computer
will naturally play a little bit differently.  (What sounds good in theory
may not work out in the long run.)

As for computers that can play one or two of the games available at this
website, I'm still working on my Baroque computer game (for an ST
upgraded to 2.5 megs RAM, minimum). 

Boy, it sure takes a ton of work to do all of the graphics, but at least
the calculation part is proceeding fairly well.  My program just isn't
marketable, or user-friendly, in the slightest.  (And I'll probably end
up giving it away for free, anyway.)

Zillions of Games appears to be a remarkable product, even if it won't
run on my hardware platform.

The FIDE Laws Of Chess. The official rules of Chess from the World Chess Federation.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Matthew Montchalin wrote on 2006-02-08 UTC
Playing speed chess with one hand on the chess clock, and another hand
moving the chess pieces, often results in a broken chess clock because the
players, struggling to push their own buttons down simultaneously, in
belief that they are completing their moves 'in the nick of time' break
or bend the lever(s) inside).

[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Matthew Montchalin wrote on 2006-02-08 UTC
Yep, that's me.  I'm also known as Matthew Monchalin.  It's a very
frequent misspelling of my name.  But while we are on the subject, try not
to pronounce my name as 'Moncha Lin' (as it has the accent on the penult,
so pronounce it 'mont CHAY lin').  I think there may also be a Matthieu
Monchalin over in France, but I've never met him.

Matthew Montchalin wrote on 2006-02-07 UTC
David, you must be thinking of USCF ratings, NWCF ratings (if they still
exist), or ELO ratings, and each of these provide some way of estimating
probable future performance based on previously observed past performance.
 I need to read up more on the Glickman Chess Rating system to see how it
differs from that of the Game Courier Rating system, seeing as how they
seem to share the same acronym.

I was suggesting, on the other hand, a way of measuring computer programs
pitted against each other, and against humans that are allowed to compete
with them.  You've probably heard of where you can
play cardgames such as Hearts and Spades (but no Skat, the last time I
looked).  You even get to play with robot players if you want.  There are
lots of sites like that in Internet.  It's my understanding that the Game
Courier here at could handle cardgames like that,
though one might be a tad less graphical than another.

As for ZOG being some kind of a reason to forbid the 'Game Plies Rating'
system I suggested, that only applies to people unwilling to buy an
upgraded ZOG with the feature I suggested.  Since I don't have a copy of
Zillions of Games (and I'm unusually reluctant to go out and buy
something that I don't even have a hardware platform to run it on), it
escapes me why, exactly, the program can't be upgraded to play out all
the plies that it has been directed to search through, short of observing
that the person who originally programmed it, must not have felt like
designing that feature.  It was probably a case of him shrugging, and
saying, 'Why bother?'  If someone gets around to upgrading ZOG so it
*could* search through entire Plies' worth of information (with or
without regard to time controls, or the peculiar predicaments inherent in
data storage), I'm sure it could do the job just as well as the next one

Matthew Montchalin wrote on 2006-02-07 UTC
I guess automating the gaming process by bringing in computers to play
humans (or other computers) might overwhelm the website, but while I am on
the subject, there should be some practical way of evaluating how well
computers play against each other, even if a 2-ply computer will almost
always lose to a 2-ply human, if only because the 2-ply human has a way of
recognizing patterns and trends, and learns how to take advantage of them. 
I suspect an ordinary human capable of 3 plies will often beat a computer
capable of 6, if only because the human can assess positions more deeply
in a general, 'off-the-cuff' sort of way than computers can.

Well, I'm not too likely to buy a copy of Zillions of Games, so your
argument against implementation of a 'ply-based' ratings system using
computer players for standardization purposes sounds more like an 'a
priori' argument against it than anything else.  Computers should be
encouraged to participate against humans.

If two computers made absolutely random moves, the likelihood of winning
or losing would ultimately depend on their implementations of their
pseudo-random number generators; and some platforms do that sort of thing
much better than others can.  Even still, a computer that made totally
random moves should be rated 1000.  Programs that were 100% 'open
source' could be entered into the system for benchmark purposes. 
Computers otherwise operating on the basis of secret terms, or on the
basis of undisclosed source code would find themselves ranked against
those that were, just like humans are.

In closing, if a computer that played utterly randomly could be rated
1000, and a depth of 2-ply would make it play with the equivalent of a
1200 rating, then it follows that 10-ply would bring it up to 2000, and
20-ply would bring it up to 3000.

Matthew Montchalin wrote on 2006-02-07 UTC
The user identification subroutine truncates my name from 18 characters to
16 characters; 'Matthew Montchalin' shrinks down to matthew_montchal
because of the way the website handles registrations.

Matthew Montchalin wrote on 2006-02-06 UTC
Where, exactly, is the ratings page?  Are you suggesting the existence of a
webpage that deals with this subject?  How do I get there?  I tend to have
a lot of trouble (and that's an understatement) navigating around this
website ( and rely principally on the menu
system in place.  The time lag between clicks and webpages loading tends
to frustrate my navigation also.  Humans should not have to wait 3 or more
minutes for any given webpage to load.  If this were a direct-dial BBS (and
not a website) with a real telephone number, it would load a whole lot

Matthew Montchalin wrote on 2006-02-05 UTC
Where can I find the formula for determining the players' ratings?

Is there such a thing as a performance rating, and a provisional rating?

All other things being equal, two computers that are both capable of 2 ply
searches, and make their moves accordingly, with absolutely no regard to
positional nuances, only material differences, ought to be rated 1200.  If
they are capable of 3 ply searches, then their ratings ought to be rated
1300.  Similarly, a computer capable of a 4 ply search should be rated
1400. By allowing computers to play against live humans, an exponential
standard of sorts could be established for measuring human excellence.

Pincer Pawn. Moves as rook, and takes by enclosing.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Matthew Montchalin wrote on 2005-11-07 UTC
In almost all species of Baroque (and Ultima) Chess, the pincher pawn does not capture diagonally. To bring about a 'custodial' capture, the pawn must move like a rook, and the enemy target must be between the pawn and a friendly piece.

[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Matthew Montchalin wrote on 2005-11-01 UTC
Is there any way to change the defaulting font for Game Courier?  I made
the mistake of starting a game of Ultima with the Alfaerie font, and find
myself now stuck with it.  I find myself constantly having to click the
other optional fonts, trying to fix the original mistake.  Is there
anywhere I can click to change the default, so I don't have to do this
every time I view the board?

[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Matthew Montchalin wrote on 2005-10-28 UTC
Okay, thanks for the information about holding the CTRL key down while I
click the mouse.  (?)  My familiarity with Windows and Internet Explorer
is limited to the disasters I've suffered from, and succeeded against,
despite the odds.

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