Sofia Babool
Mercury Staff

New interface for chess team designed to generate strategies more quickly

The UTD chess team will soon take a step towards future
competitions with the help of supercomputers that will reduce the time it takes
to analyze players’ moves.

An effort designed to advance the UTD chess team in national
and international competitions, the newly designed supercomputer interface will
serve as a tool to further develop existing position analysis for the UTD chess
team.

Jerry Perez, the director of Cyber Infrastructure Operations
in the Office of Information Technology, designed and implemented a chess
analysis interface for the UTD chess team. He named the supercomputer
“Ganymede.”

Even the best chess players from around the world, such as
Magnus Carlsen or Fabiano Caruana, take time to make decisions that could be
pivotal in their success in the game. Perez said the introduction of the
supercomputer — which will be tested by the chess team this semester — will not
only allow for players to make the best decisions during a tournament but will
also reduce the amount of time it takes to determine which next steps to take.

“There are more chess piece moves than there are atoms in
the universe. It humbles me to think that if everybody had this type of
technology, where would chess teams be today?” Perez said. “At UTD, we are
going to give our players more access to chess computing. The contest is about
who has the best analytical skills and who has retained the most information.
This is the arena through which we can test those skills.”

Software engineering junior Angel Arribas Lopez, a member of
the chess team at UTD since his freshman year, said although many
supercomputers exist right now, the one developed at UTD will have an interface
to make the most accurate decisions in the least amount of time. While players
must mentally make decisions without the help of technology during an actual
competition, these computers allow for the players to anticipate the possible
moves of their opponent before they make them.

ChessBase, a widely known program for chess teams, is what
UTD chess players currently use to prepare for their national and international
competitions. The program creates its own recommendations for each move made by
the opponent player, which allows for the physical player to choose and move
their pieces correspondingly.

“People try to memorize as many positions as they can, but
the supercomputer will make the best decisions in any position, so if we come
across that position or similar positions later on, we know what to do,” Lopez
said.

Preparation for various national and international
tournaments often determines the outcome of the matches played. Rade
Milovanovic, the UTD chess team coach since 2001, said when he met Perez, who
was then working at a lab at Texas Tech University, they often discussed chess
and computer algorithms that could advance chess teams during tournaments.

The old computers used during training sessions contain
20-40 chords, or connections, that allow for a certain speed of calculating
strategies. Compared to the old computer used for chess practice, the new
supercomputer contains an exponentially larger number of chords.

“With the computer that we use on our laptops, we have to
wait like 10 to 15 minutes now,” Lopez said. “The supercomputer is seconds. To
have something like this will surely bring our confidence up.”