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17 Oct 2018
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Topic: Hidden conditional moves

AuthorComment
Rakesh Agrawal
Member #521
06-01-2017, 11:06
Hidden conditional moves

In AICCF the advance moves are visible to opponent which opens up our strategy for next moves. This discourages us to put advance moves. In ICCF its not visible to opponent. Is it feasible to implement in AICCF?

A.Chatterjee
Member #12
06-01-2017, 11:08
Re: Hidden conditional moves

Conditional moves was a very carefully planned implementation. We have purposely chosen to display the proposed moves. It would have been much easier to implement if conditional moves were hidden as in ICCF server. ICCF has conditional moves in only a few tournaments but in most cases conditional moves are not allowed. Why is this so? Since conditional moves are hidden, it takes away most of its usefulness. Conditional moves originated in the days of post-card chess. We used to write conditional moves on post-cards and there was no way to hide them. Visible conditional moves made for very useful strategy since both players are aware of the proposed moves. Accepting or refusing conditional moves was significant, proposing conditional moves was also significant. The worst part about ICCF conditional moves is that only one sequence of conditional moves can be made and no branching in the variations is possible. AICCF allows multiple conditional moves and these can be used to make branches. Thus it is possible to speed up the game significantly. These are days of engine play. If your line of play is going to be a big surprise (which no engine is able to spot), by all means avoid revealing it, but in most cases the opponent knows all possible good moves, so by revealing the line nothing is lost. Conditional moves are mostly used in (a) Openings. Here multiple conditional moves and variations are important and can lead to considerable speed up of the game (b) Middle game where the move is a capture so that re-capture is most likely (with some exceptions) or if the next move is almost forced (e.g. after a check) (c) In the end-game where a long sequence like a pushing a queening pawn can be given more or less irrespective of the opponents choices, or if the opponent has limited choice of moves. When, you think about it, in none of these cases there is any problem if the conditional move is revealed to the opponent. 

Rakesh Agrawal
Member #521
06-01-2017, 11:14
Re: Hidden conditional moves

Yea I understand the thought behind it. I still believe ICCF way looks more convincing.
Yea sure can discuss.
Om Prakash
Member #508
11-01-2017, 21:12
Re: Hidden conditional moves

Sir ,
Examples of post card does not apply here. Then computers were not used in analysis. Even if visible then it took time/ability for the player to see deep in position. It takes hard labour in this computer era to find a win. Anyone with a big hardware can get a formidable rating in a year. Finding flaw in computer analysis is key in Corr chess now.
Therefore conditional moves if visible loses its surprise element which didn't then even if visible. I think it should be hidden as per the current scenario.
Regards
OM
A.Chatterjee
Member #12
16-01-2017, 01:32
Re: Hidden conditional moves

We await further responses.

Some of my friends in ICCF were very happy with displaying conditional moves when I gave a demo of our server. In ICCF, the Tournament Organiser has an option to allow or disallow conditional moves in the tournament. Most of the time the TOs switch off conditional moves because objection has come from higher level players (e.g in ICCF World Championship) and that is why hidden conditional moves are switched OFF for 90% of ICCF games. These players, who objected told me that if conditional moves were not hidden they would be happy to allow it. But their programmer (Martin Bennedick) could not display conditional moves. Hence ICCF continues till today with hidden conditional moves and it is switched off for most of the games. Displaying conditional moves, and allowing for multiple conditional moves was a bigger software challenge.

Referring to your comment "Example of post card does not apply here", please note that ICCF continues with postal play and a large number of postal games are being played as of today especially in Europe with computer analysis. Here conditional moves are not (and cannot) be hidden even though computers are in use. The same argument holds for email chess. Hiding conditional moves was an idea invented when server chess was started, because it did not require any extra programming effort.

Now my suggestion is that we can have an option to allow or hide variations from the opponent's view. This may be a pleasant solution for all.

A.Chatterjee
Member #12
07-02-2017, 22:51
Re: Hidden conditional moves

Although this post has been there since 6th January, there seem to be no more opinions expressed by other members. As already explained, the implementation of conditional moves was done with a lot of thought and taking into account several factors. Now to change it make conditional moves hidden will mean a lot of work in re-coding and testing. As only 2 members have expressed an opinion (Rakesh Agrawal and Om Prakash) I would prefer to avoid making changes.
Anil Anand
Member #433
08-02-2017, 20:01
Re: Hidden conditional moves

I support Dr. Chatterjee's view point. With due respect to all, I do not find any strong justification for making the Conditional moves "hidden". In CC, we no longer make just one or two moves, but a sequence of moves leading to a particular line of play culminating in a particular position. The choice always lies with the player making the move to select and display variations or not. So I do not see a serious problem.

Of course, as Dr. Chatterjee mentioned, it would be excellent to have an option to display or hide conditional moves from the opponent's view.
A.Chatterjee
Member #12
08-02-2017, 20:25
Re: Hidden conditional moves

Since there are both opinions, I first thought that it would be best to introduce an option in players  Preferences  settings. However there is a complication in the coding. At present (with visible conditional moves) when a player accepts a conditional move, he cannot suggest a conditional move of his own (its pointless anyway). However with hidden conditional moves this would have to be opened up even though its pointless. 

E.g. At the start of the game, White moves 1.e4 and suggests if 1...e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5
With hidden conditional moves, when Black moves 1...e5 he may suggest if (a) 2.Nf3 Nc6 OR (b) 2.Bc4 Bc5  but both (a) and (b) are a waste of time in view of the variation already committed by White.

Because of this complication, the coding would become complicated. So I suggest to forget about this issue for the time being.

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