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August 27, 2011

After a big effort to ship Tarrasch V2 Beta one week ago, I have been taking a little break from Tarrasch. Apart from anything else, I have been earning a living :-) Of course I have learned my lesson from Tarrasch V2 Alpha, it is very important not to take too much of a break, else you lose all momentum. I am not going to let that happen. I need to ship the real (not beta) Tarrasch V2. And soon!

Let’s recap for a minute. Where do we stand with this project? Tarrasch V1 has been “out there” for nearly three years. It’s a decent little chess program, ideal for human v engine play and training, and for quickly setting up positions and analysing them with an engine. However, I took a huge shortcut with Tarrasch V1. It has no real .pgn support at all. That’s a huge problem for a chess GUI and it’s been nagging away at the base of brain for far too long! Hence Tarrasch V2, which seeks to be just as simple, intuitive and comfortable as Tarrasch V1, but also to have comprehensive .pgn support like any real, self respecting chess program.

In a way, the sheer magnitude of the effort involved in V2 has legitimised the shortcut of V1. It took months to build V1, but removing the shortcut is taking years. The lesson; It was a good shortcut to take!

A few months ago I made available Tarrasch V2 Alpha to anyone who requested it. This was tangible evidence that V2 was coming. But there were a lot of bugs. And a few missing features as well. In some ways Tarrasch V2 Alpha was an embarrassment.

Now Tarrasch V2 Beta is available. After one week I am happy to pronounce that it is not an embarrassment. Phew! I haven’t been swamped with feedback; I wasn’t surprised by that, experience has taught me that the number of users offering feedback is always a tiny percentage of the downloads. But I have some feedback, some of it of very high quality, enough for it to be very clear that V2 Beta meets its main goal of being much more solid that V2 Alpha. I would like to thank my countryman Iliya Kristoff in particular who has been a star tester this time through.

As well as being more stable, V2 Beta has some new features. I wonder how many downloaders have noticed them? In order of importance;

  1. Real undo (not just takeback), and redo
  2. Context menu (right click) for editing move annotations
  3. Open log file menu command for looking back at previous Tarrasch sessions

I said last week that V2 Beta was a release candidate. Unfortunately, there are some little issues that have arisen, and I have also weakened and plan to sneak a little new functionality into V2. So V2 Beta is not going to be simply renamed to V2.

Soon I will write some more about wrapping this project up and shipping V2. For now my wife is insisting we head to the cinema for Cowboys versus Aliens!

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. August 28, 2011 5:24 am

    Hope you would add keyboard input to v2 . e2 e4 e7 e5 g1 f3 etc…
    regards jimmy

    • August 28, 2011 10:42 pm

      Hi James,
      I’ve heard from you a few times on this topic. I don’t think I can help you, but to be sure you need to tell me *exactly* what you want. In precise English please. Why don’t I think I can help you ? Well the keyboard is already supported. For adding comments! It’s an important function! How *exactly* do you propose that I support both comments and move input ?

      Actually, the truth is, I *already* support both comments and move input. If you type e2e4 e7e5 g1f3 (same as your example, but no spaces in the middle of a move), then select promote comment to variation in the edit menu, then voila, the comment is updated to moves. Doesn’t this meet your needs ? If not, why not ? Please try to be precise in your reply.

  2. Yves permalink
    August 28, 2011 9:02 am

    Nice works ;)
    I have juts downloaded the last version and install it on snow leopard, and all is fine.
    I like it and i can play with nice interface and choose my engine.

    May be the next version will have a tournament engine option ;)

    Best regards
    Yves

    • August 28, 2011 10:47 pm

      Hi Yves,
      How do you get Tarrasch to work in Snow Leopard. Wine? Parallels? Maybe you can post some instructions for other Apple users. A couple of Linux guys have also reported success (using Wine), I am about to ask them to provide instructions too.

      I am sorry about Engine v Engine. When (if?) there’s a Tarrasch V3, it will be top of the priority list I promise! Building Tarrasch has been a big effort, I would never have delivered anything if I had tried to do everything!

      • Yves permalink
        August 30, 2011 8:15 pm

        Hi,

        yes it is with Wine
        For SnowLeopard
        Installed CrossOver or Free Wine implementation, for example http://winebottler.kronenberg.org/

        After just install Tarrash like under Windows.

        Have nice fun ;)
        Regards
        Yves

  3. balestegui permalink
    August 29, 2011 12:34 am

    Tarrasch is a very well made GUI for playing chess and very easy to use. Thank you for your effort. My requests:

    a) Being able to use other chess pieces and other colors of the board.

    b) One way to change the engine options. For me it would be enough that there was a way to change the strength of the engine (UCI_Elo, I like to play against Shredder).
    Another option would be to access the engines using Polyglot.

    Greetings from Spain.

    • August 29, 2011 1:04 am

      Thanks for your input.
      a) Sorry, maybe in Tarrasch V3, it is much too late to consider changes in this area for V2
      b) You are right, engine options is a weakness of Tarrasch. I haven’t thought about this for a long time. Looking at polyglot I see using it is out of the question – it is a uci->xboard adaptor and so would require Tarrasch to support xboard as well as uci interfaces – a big big job). But I notice that polyglot lets advanced users manually add UCI options to polyglot’s .ini file. Tarrasch also uses an .ini file, so maybe I could allow advanced users to do something similar. I make no promises (it is a little late for something like this), but I will investigate this idea.

    • September 8, 2011 3:09 am

      Just to let you know; in the latest beta you can add extra UCI parameters. You might also appreciate the way you can now use Spanish notation conventions.

  4. Markov permalink
    August 31, 2011 5:18 pm

    Good job on the new release.
    Two things I can remember off hand – would be nice to have shortcut keys for promoting variations etc.
    And the option of resizing the board, maybe have a small board and the regular one.

  5. David Nash permalink
    September 2, 2011 4:24 pm

    Nice Job on the release, I was wondering if you support multi-pv mode for kibitzing so that the engine will print the top 4 moves.

    There is a UI based on ChessDB named ChessX-0.8 that handles the use of both UCI and Winboard engines quite smoothly … unfortunately its built in the QT sdk and this has its own built tool and C++ language modifications. Also the class hierarchy depends heavily on the QT engine.

    • September 3, 2011 2:53 am

      Yup, multi-pv mode is the way I get more than one move. I’ve never actually looked at the Winboard protocol, I just got the impression very early that UCI was the way to go. I think I would look at building my own Winboard engine -> UCI protocol adapter before I’d consider providing direct winboad support in Tarrasch. Time to get back to it; my wife is away for the weekend and I am throwing myself deep into the task of finishing this thing. There are some new features coming this weekend. My plan of doing almost nothing between V2 Beta and V2 has been quietly abandoned!

      • David Nash permalink
        September 5, 2011 12:01 am

        Thanks again, I agree UCI is the newest protocol and probably best. Great job on the move list window! A tournament feature would be great, perhaps eventually a feature like Arena’s “demo” button that will show engine vs engine play from a given position (with perhaps settings for time/depth) Couple of quick questions…
        1)How can I set up the engine to use multi-pv mode, when I load stockfish I get one line in Kibitz mode?
        2) I could not load the book into the ui, is the path misconfigured?

  6. Iliya permalink
    September 5, 2011 10:26 am

    A note to David Nash,

    Hi David,

    I tested Stockfish 2.1.1 JA 32 bit (without any modifications) and got 4 lines in Kibitz mode.

    Iliya

    • David Nash permalink
      September 5, 2011 11:10 pm

      Thanks, I was using Stockfish 1.8 and got 1 line, I tested Stockfish 2.0.1 and got 4 lines =)

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