Timeline of Winboard/Xboard Chess engines


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The concept

I think most people active in the computer chess area would agree that currently the Winboard/Xboard protocol is perhaps the most important protocol to support.This timeline is an attempt to chart some of the most significant milestones in the development of Xboard/Winboard and the rise in popularity of it's accompanying protocol.

I must warn readers that this, is a purely subjective selection of the events that I think are most significant in the on-going story about Xboard/Winboard and Chess engines.Obviously, the scope will be very limited. It does not attempt to cover the much broader story about Computer Chess, but rather a limited subset of it.

So interesting as events like Kasparov versus Deep blue, the debates at CCC about SDF and autoplayers, they don't directly affect the Winboard story.

Feel free to disagree with me, I'm more than willing to hear from you what you think are the most significant events in the development of and rise in popularity of the Winboard standard.

I'm very new (perhaps from late 98, early 99) to the field, so it's likely that I'm ignorant of some of the more significant events (in particular there's a big gap between 95-97!) . All I can say is that I have tried my best by checking all publicly available sources. In particular, the following 3 made up most of my "research".

I still need help in fleshing out this timeline. In particular, it would help if those of you who have being around a long time, could help me out by pointing out things that i have missed, or correct any errors. I'm also hoping to get a listing of the first few winboard engines (either available to the public, or private).

A list of Xboard/Winboard engines in order of their appearance by Frank Quisinsky helped a lot. .

Sincerely,

Aaron Tay
PGP Public Key
24-05-2002

Changes

13 Feb 2002 - Added mention of the first port to Win32. Removed reference of The crazy Bishop has third available Xboard/Winboard engine. It's unclear which was third after Crafty. Added release date of Arasan as Winboard compatiable engine .

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Bob Hyatt, Bruce Moreland, Remi Coulom, Vincent Diepveen for comments and answering some of my questions.


Dec 1991
-Tim Mann takes over as chief maintainer of XBoard.First release was Xboard 1.3. At the time,Gnuchess is only chess engine to run in Xboard.

[ Source: Frank Quisinsky's interview with Tim Mann ]
1993
- Tim Mann ports Xboard to Win32 , Winboard is the result.At the time it ran only on the 32 bit Windows NT and was not very popular.
-Tim Mann introduces Zippy, purely as a bot to shout Zippy the pinhead quotes.


[ Source: Frank Quisinsky's interview with Tim Mann ]
Sept 93
-Zippy with ICS support is introduced. Gnuchess plays on ICS through Zippy.Though not the first Computer engine to play on ICS, Zippy soon becomes very popular.


[ Source: Frank Quisinsky's interview with Tim Mann and Change log of Xboard Sept 11, 1993 ]
Nov 94
-Several people see the potential of porting their chess engine in place of Gnuchess. Shay Bushinsky the first person to ask Tim Mann how to connect another Chess engine in place of Gnuchess. Original email reply,forms the basis of the current protocol.

[ Source: Frank Quisinsky's interview with Tim Mann ]
Early 95
- Crafty starts playing on ICC in Jan 95, with informal Xboard support

[ Source: Email posting by author on Crafty mailing list 11/2/02 ]
Aug 95
- Windows 95 released by Microsoft. This was the first popular 32 bit operating system. The popularity of Winboard soars as number of users increase.
Nov 95
-It is now possible to play Crafty through a Gnuchess emulation mode,Xboard 3.4 is listed to have "preliminary support for Crafty 8.23"

[ Source: Change log of Xboard Dec 11,1995 and old post rgcc thread ]
95 -97
-Several other Chess engines become Winboard/Xboard compatible at about the same time or before Crafty. Notables include private/commercial engines like Ferret(Bruce Moreland) in Mid to late 95 and Zarkov. Several other free Xboard/Winboard compatiable Engines are released.E.g. Arasan 3.2 (Jon Dart) released in Sept 96. The Crazy Bishop (Remi Coulom) released in Jan 97. SSEchess II (Sam Slutzky) released May 97.

[ Source: Estimate/guess based on posts on rgcc, private communication with authors. ]
April 98
-Number of Winboard compatible engines continue to grow, Tim mann's site lists 18 freely available engines namely, Arasan, Comet, Crafty, The Crazy Bishop, EXchess, Faile, Fortress, GNU Chess, Gromit, Inmichess, La Dame Blanche, OliThink, Phalanx, Rival, SSEChess, Tristram, and ZChess.

[ Source: http://www.research.compaq.com/SRC/personal/mann/chess.html,18 April 98]
Sept 98
-Djordje Vidanovic's website on Computer Chess established, probably the first ameteur website to run and publish computer versus computer engine results using xboard/Winboard

[ Source: Rgcc announcement ]
Nov 98
-Remi Coulom releases Winboard adaptor for auto232 player.

[ Source: Rgcc announcement ]
Dec 98
-Fritz 5.32 released with winboard adaptor for Winboard Chess engines.
-Within a month, a debate erupts in RGCC and CCC about how Winboard engines are weakened in Fritz, because Fritz sends a "new" command each turn.

[ Source: rgcc thread entitled Fritz 5.32. How disruptive to other engines? ]
Sept 99
-Frank Quisinksy's newsticker begins together with Volker Pittlik's site and Winboard forum .By Nov 99, there are some 10,000 hits (and this is just the beginning) and the Winboard Forum is a regular visitor to the top 100 Parismony forums. Frank Quisinksy starts to host computer chess tournament results on his site, number of such tournaments begins to rise.

[ Source:Archived Frank Quisinsky's newsticker ]
Dec 99
-TSCP (Tom Kerrigan's Simple Chess program) version 1.4 becomes Xboard compatible.Designed to be simple to learn, this program together with Faile (Adrian Regimbald) becomes a important learning example for those starting out. They are followed by Gerbil (Bruce Moreland) and Beowulf (Colin Frayn)

[Source:Archived Frank Quisinsky's newsticker , CCC archives ]
2000
-Many more sites devoted to computer chess and Winboard as well as Chess programming spring up between 1999 and 2000.Many users begin to run their own computer chess tournaments in Winboard as well as build their own opening books.

Source: NA
Feb 2000
-The number of commercial software that supports the Winboard protocol rises, Frank Quisinsky partners with Gambitsoft for "Phase X" site on configuring Winboard engines in Chess academy,Chess Assistant etc.
-First computer chess tournament held at ICC. 22 entries. most of which are Winboard/Xboard compatible. By CCT4 in Feb 2002, there are more than 46 entries.

[ Source:Archived Frank Quisinsky's newsticker, CCT 1 ]
March 2000
-Mailing group at egroups (now Yahoogroups) formed to discuss changes in the protocol. Some of the discussions are included in protover 2.

[ Source:
Archived messages in Yahoogroups ]
April 2000
-Chessbase offers "Young Talents CD" consisting of native chess base versions of mostly Winboard engines.

[ Source: Source:Archived Frank Quisinsky's newsticker , www.gambitsoft.com/news.htm,March 03 2000 ]
June 2000
-50th available Winboard engine mark exceeded at this point or sometime before.

[ Source:Archived Frank Quisinsky's newsticker ]
Sept 2000
-Gandalf is first commercial Winboard engine to be sold individually by Gambitsoft. [Nimzo2000 while being a commercial Winboard engine was sold as a package with Shredder.]

[ Source:Archived Frank Quisinsky's newsticker ]
Nov 2000
- Chess Academy supports Winboard engines.
- Chessmaster 8000 released . Surprisingly it supports Winboard engines.
- UCI protocol published by Stefan Meyer-Kahlen on CCC.

[ Source: Posting by Stefan Meyer-Kahlen at CCC,28 Nov 2000 and various ]
Dec 2000
-Winboard Protocol II introduced in Winboard/Xboard 4.2.0 beta . The first release was somewhat buggy. Several Chess engines begin to support Protocol II by Feb 2001, Sjeng (2nd Jan 2001),Crafty,Comet,Yace support the second level protocol.

[ Source: Change log of Xboard Dec 16 2000 , http://amateurschach.in-trier.de/schach/uebersicht2.htm, Feb 8 2001 and Sjeng Homepage ]
Jan 2001
-Yace becomes first freeware engine to support UCI.


[ Source: Archived Frank Quisinsky's Newsticker ]
March 2001
-Changing of guard. Thomas Mayer takes over from Frank Quisinsky the main task of maintaining the famed Winboard engine details page.Thomas also takes over the administration of the Winboard forum from Volker Pittlik in Sept 2001.
[ Source: Thomas Mayer's News ]
May 2001
-100th available Winboard engine reached. Depending on how you count it, the 100th entry is Chezzz.
- "Winboard edition II" by Gambitsoft released, includes both UCI and Winboard versions of Patzer,Lambchop and Capture. Gandalf is included only as a UCI version.

[ Source: Archived Frank Quisinsky's newsticker , www.gambitsoft.com/news.htm,June 11 2001 ]
June 2001
-Method to run The King (Chessmaster 8000) in Winboard is found.

[ Source: Winboard forum archived posts ]
July 2001
-Beta testing for "Winboard Edition III" led by Frank Quisinsky for Gambitsoft begins. Many UCI engines are produced (e.g. Pharaon,Anmon,Nejmet) however within a few months the project is cancelled.

[ Source: Private communication, Archived posts at Frank Quisinsky's Chess Forum ]
Jan 2002
-Chessbase quietly drops Winboard adaptor from website.

[ Source:CCC, Chessbase.com ,various ]
Feb 2002
-Chessbase introduces UCI support for Fritz 7.
-Arena (Martin Blume) goes into open beta-testing. Arena is the first free UCI interface.
-Chess partner ERT and Gandalf 5.1 introduces UCI support.
-Rebel Century to be released soon in Winboard form.
-Quark , the free Winboard engine by Thomas Mayer stuns everyone by beating Fritz and Shredder in CCT 4. Leading (together with Junior) in the final round ,it unfortunately loses in a drawish position. Ends third equal on points with Fritz.

[Source: Chessbase.com ,Thomas Mayer's news and CCC , http://www.vrichey.de/cct4/ ]
March 2002
- Yet another Change of guard. Thomas Mayer stops maintaining Winboard details page.Eventually, Leo Dijksman takes over as maintainer of Winboard engine details at WBEC. [Source: http://wbec-ridderkerk.nl/ ]
April 2002
-Odd Gunnar Malin releases his free Wbtouci adaptor to allow Winboard engines to be used as UCI engines [Source: Wbtouci adaptor help file ]
-Alex Schmidt begins website focused solely on UCI engines details. [Source: http://www.uciengines.de/UCI-Engines/uci-engines.html ]
September 2002
- Ruffian a free WB/UCI engine is released. For the first time, a free engine is clearly stronger then Crafty and probably competitive with existing commercial programs. [Source: Ruffian Homepage ]




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by ChangeDetection
Aaron Tay