Open Supply Neighborhood Vital Of Chessbase, Fats Fritz 2

The event groups behind the 2 most profitable and influential open-source chess applications, Stockfish and Leela Chess Zero, have issued statements denouncing the business program Fats Fritz 2 and the corporate Chessbase that’s promoting this system for 99,90 euros.

The statements (Stockfish weblog, lichess announcement) assert that the engine in Fats Fritz 2 is Stockfish with minimal adjustments, that Fats Fritz 2 has violated the GNU Normal Public License below which Stockfish is launched, and that Chessbase’s advertising and marketing has made false claims about Fats Fritz 2’s taking part in power.


Final week noticed the 25th anniversary of GM Garry Kasparov’s victory over IBM’s Deep Blue. Extra famously, the 13th world champion misplaced the second match a yr later. For a lot of, this marks the second in historical past when man’s superiority over the machine on the chessboard ended.

Kasparov’s defeat was synthetic intelligence’s victory. It was, in a method, the tip of a journey that started in 1950 when Alan Turing completed the code for the first-ever written laptop program. 

Turing died in 1954, two years earlier than the time period synthetic intelligence (A.I.) was coined for the primary time by John McCarthy. McCarthy favored to name chess the “drosophila of A.I.” as a result of fruit flies made genetics work in the identical method that chess in some ways has made A.I. work.

Enter Matt Ginsberg, an American laptop scientist, mathematician, and the creator of a pc program that performs bridge and one which solves crosswords. Since he’s additionally a contributor to Stockfish, Chess.com contacted him to debate the Leela Chess Zero/Stockfish vs. Fats Fritz controversy. Ginsberg, nevertheless, rightly identified that it is good to emphasise the significance of chess for A.I. and the other ways people and machines take care of problem-solving.

Matt Ginsberg.

The robust relationship between chess and A.I. resurfaced in December 2017 when Google’s DeepMind launched AlphaZero, the chess program that shocked the chess world as a result of it defeated Stockfish, at that time the world’s strongest chess-playing program, with a extremely dynamic taking part in model primarily based on neural community machine studying. For DeepMind, these early experiments with board video games have been the premise for groundbreaking analysis in different fields.

AlphaZero’s supply code was by no means launched, however the mission impressed the pc chess group to develop Leela Chess Zero (Lc0), utilizing the identical methods as AlphaZero. It was launched in 2018. In 2020, Stockfish started supporting NNUE, quick neural networks that may run on a single CPU.

The discharge of Fats Fritz 2, a business chess program utilizing a neural community, has provoked robust reactions from the open-source group. What follows is an try to untangle a fairly difficult story, following a chronological storyline. 

Albert Silver and Deus X

Shortly after DeepMind launched AlphaZero, Albert Silver began researching neural networks. Silver is a chess and laptop fanatic primarily based in Rio de Janeiro and a daily author and occasional photographer for Chessbase. The German firm has been the market chief in chess database and engine software program because the late 1980s.

Albert Silver Chessbase Fat Fritz
Albert Silver. Photograph: Chessbase.

A neural-network chess program consists of two parts: its search performance (normally referred to as the engine) and the neural community. In his newest article for Chessbase, Silver used an analogy: “Within the chess engine world with neural networks, the search is [the] race automobile and engine, and the neural community is the driving force.”

Silver launched a neural-network-based chess program, referred to as Deus X, in 2018, the identical yr that Leela Chess Zero was launched. It is very important be aware that Silver didn’t program the engine himself; as an alternative, he used Leela Chess Zero and educated a neural community in another way than the Lc0 workforce had achieved. 

As an alternative of getting it be taught by taking part in video games in opposition to itself, he educated Deus X completely from human video games that he took from a database, with gamers rated from 2200 and above. “It was a private concept,” says Silver.

A schematic drawing of Deus X components, as created by Alexander Lyashuk.
A schematic drawing of parts in a system reminiscent of Deus X, as created by Alexander Lyashuk. The modification to make use of skilled video games seems in field C.

Deus X was invited to take part in season 13 of the Prime Chess Engine Championship (TCEC) and Silver was interviewed about his new chess program.

Within the days forward of the event, among the different contributors raised questions on Silver utilizing the Leela Chess Zero engine as a part of his program. Shortly earlier than the event began, all of the wrinkles have been ironed out with a joint assertion by the Leela Chess Zero workforce, the event director, and Silver during which it was made clear that Deus X was “powered by” Leela Chess Zero.

Silver estimates that Deus X was about 100 Elo factors weaker than Lc0 on the time as a result of it was utilizing a small neural community.

“I didn’t have any sources, and I used a really crappy laptop.”

Regardless of the Elo distinction, Deus X managed to beat Leela Chess Zero in a single sport. Based on Silver, that was the beginning of his fallout with the open-source group, though the Leela workforce attributes the loss to a {hardware} failure and say that no onerous emotions resulted.

“This very day that it received that sport [August 7, 2018 – PD], they revealed an assault on me, saying ‘we had a change of coronary heart, he’s scum, he’s rubbish, he’s been deceptive all people,'” says Silver, referring to this publish on the Leela Chess Zero weblog. In actuality, the weblog publish doesn’t embody inflammatory language and is anxious largely with whether or not or not Silver credited the Lc0 work appropriately in describing DeusX.

The Lc0 workforce wrote that Silver wanted “incomparably much less effort relative to the trouble that he reused from the LCZero mission, because the LCZero workforce had all of the implementation work achieved, together with constructing instruments for the supervised coaching and the engine itself, defining neural community structure, and so on.”

After season 13 ended, the TCEC event director took the aspect of Leela Chess Zero, up to date its uniqueness standards, and didn’t invite Deus X again into subsequent seasons.

Deus X turns into Fats Fritz

Silver started rising his neural community measurement and including engine video games within the coaching course of. After getting monetary and sensible assist from Chessbase co-founder Frederic Friedel, he acquired entry to raised laptop {hardware}, and in 2019, he talked about the mission to a different co-founder, Matthias Wüllenweber.

Wüllenweber was fascinated with turning Deus X right into a business chess program however insisted on first getting private approval from the Leela builders that the Leela engine might be used. Silver contacted Leela developer Alexander Lyashuk on August 15, 2018, apologizing for failing to credit score Lc0 correctly and asking for permission to host an unchanged Lc0 binary below the identify of Lc0, with a weak (<2000 Elo) customized internet. The subsequent day, Lyashuk emailed again, saying he had talked to different folks concerned and that there have been “no objections.”

Silver’s program was commercially launched in November 2019 below the identify Fats Fritz, which refers to Chessbase’s long-time engine Fritz which launched again in 1991. It was the market-leading engine all through the 1990s. 

Fats Fritz was offered along with model 17 of Fritz for 79,90 euros. The bundle included an interface, a database, and a premium account.

Fat Fritz 2

On February 9, 2021, Fats Fritz 2 was launched, once more as a part of a bundle, now priced at 99,90 euros. Whereas the primary version (which was largely primarily based on Deus X) used Leela Chess Zero for its engine, Fats Fritz 2 makes use of Stockfish due to its assist of NNUE and has a neural community twice the scale: the place different nets use three layers of 256/32/32 neurons, Silver works with layers of 512/16/16 neurons.

“I spent six months just about renting out computer systems on the cloud to the tune of allowed $10Okay,” says Silver. “I rented these 24/7 growing knowledge from the Fats Fritz neural community that was reworked into knowledge that I might use to coach a neural community in a NNUE setting.”

Criticism from the open-source group

A day after Fats Fritz 2 was launched, an early criticism from the open-source group got here from Tord Romstad, one of many first builders of Stockfish. 

Joost VandeVondele, the present maintainer of the Stockfish mission, revealed an announcement on February 15, 2021, the place he notes: “ChessBase’s communication on Fats Fritz 2, claiming originality the place there may be none, has shocked our group.”

Based on Stockfish builders, there isn’t a important distinction between Fats Fritz 2 and Stockfish, an opinion additionally they expressed in an article titled “Fats Fritz 2 is a rip-off” posted on lichess. It was co-written by authors of various open-source chess applications.

The article begins by stating that in July 2018, “Silver secretly despatched the Leela Chess Zero engine with a customized neural community he had educated to take part in TCEC below the identify DeusX.” It doesn’t point out the joint assertion revealed earlier than the event the place Lc0 builders initially acknowledged that Silver had made it clear that Deus X was powered by Lc0.

The builders then transfer to the primary launch of Fats Fritz and be aware that it used the Leela engine with some minor adjustments: “modifying the identify and creator strings, and a few default parameter values.” They level out that within the product description Leela is not talked about anyplace, whereas Chessbase speaks of “an AlphaZero clone.”

Silver is sad with this description. “I complained about that, I had nothing to do with that,” he mentioned.

As for utilizing the official open-source binary of the Leela search, Silver says he wasn’t hiding it: “This was made public. The truth is, should you set up the business model of Fats Fritz and also you look within the UCI record of engines it says actually: ‘Fats Fritz (in Lc0). It will possibly’t get any clearer than that.”

The open-source builders offered related criticism towards Fats Fritz 2, stating that solely minimal adjustments have been made to the Stockfish engine.

“Though the Stockfish engine is important for taking part in power, it’s talked about solely briefly and the affect of the Fats Fritz 2 neural community over the one utilized by Stockfish is enormously overstated. The product description says FF2 is ‘studying from the surgical precision of Stockfish’s legendary search’, but it surely isn’t studying from Stockfish, it’s Stockfish.”

Silver is not joyful both with the suggestion that his program learns from Stockfish. He factors out that the neural community realized from the video games of Fats Fritz 1 as an alternative. He disagrees with the argument that the affect of his neural community is over-stated:

“Each engine and neural community have a really highly effective contribution to make,” Silver says. “For those who take for instance the NNUE and eliminated the neural community from it, it could actually nonetheless play chess as a result of it has the traditional engine concerned, however you’re going to drop 200 Elo so clearly the neural community is contributing greater than only a present of its face, to look fairly and make a pleasant banner.”

Silver says he has by no means denied that he makes use of Stockfish in Fats Fritz 2: “The search is totally 100 % Stockfish. Let’s not get any misunderstandings right here. I don’t declare in any other case, in any respect.”

Stockfish logo
The Stockfish emblem.

Authors record

Nonetheless, the folks behind Stockfish are sad about one explicit change. They declare that in Fats Fritz 2, the record of Stockfish authors has disappeared. (Up until now, a complete of 180 authors have labored on Stockfish over time as will be seen within the newest authors file.)

Silver says he does not perceive the issue there as a result of in latest Stockfish variations the authors are usually not talked about both: “It simply says Stockfish devs.”

It is just a little bit extra nuanced than that. Whereas Fats Fritz 2 has the be aware “Stockfish Devs and Albert Silver (neural community),” Stockfish offers “the Stockfish builders (see AUTHORS file).” In different phrases, Stockfish refers to an authors file, whereas Fats Fritz 2 doesn’t. For the typical consumer who merely installs Stockfish on his laptop, there isn’t a distinction as a result of that authors file doesn’t include the most well-liked obtain choices.

“This isn’t a giant deal,” says Ginsberg. “It simply hurts our collective emotions.”

A element like that is typical of how delicate the conflict between Silver and the open-source group is. One other instance is a phrase utilized by Silver in his newest article, the place he writes about Fats Fritz 2: “On an equivalent binary to the one Stockfish 12 used, it was popping out forward of their head-to-head matches.”

As Ginsberg factors out, this assertion can’t be true, for the easy motive that Silver used a unique formed neural community and due to this fact needed to change the engine binary, telling it that the neural community was of a unique measurement.

“I believe he’s actually nitpicking there,” says Silver. “Sure, I modified the Stockfish 12 binary however apart from the bigger neural community, every little thing else was unchanged. The search is basically the identical.”

Ginsberg disagrees it is nitpicking: “The phrase ‘equivalent binary’ is extremely highly effective, it’s referring to a selected sort of experiment that he merely didn’t run.”

Chessbase’s view on the matter

Chess.com additionally requested for a remark from Chessbase. Mr Wüllenweber offered the next assertion by e-mail:

• Albert has invested lots of time, modern concepts and {hardware} within the growth of his neural community. Coaching a internet is well underestimated, possibly as a result of it doesn’t suggest to jot down code. We consider that his totally different strategy to coaching provides demonstrable worth to the engine, particularly to its understanding of chess technique. Now we have some articles lined up which is able to illustrate that additional within the coming days.

• We remorse that the unimaginable achievements of the folks behind the Stockfish mission weren’t acknowledged loud and clear within the first articles when Fats Fritz got here out. We all the time see this within the metaphor “On Shoulders of Giants.” Certain, it was an achievement to climb up there. Certain, Albert may see the panorama farther from up there, or at the very least in numerous colours. However with out the Stockfish big, one would not see something.

• We be taught from the important suggestions to not conduct comparable tasks with out the shut coordination of all of the authors concerned. For Fats Fritz 1, there was an trade with the authors of LCZero to explain our intentions. It was a mistake to not provoke the identical with Stockfish.

How robust is Fats Fritz 2?

In its advertising and marketing, Chessbase used the phrases “the brand new primary,” stating that in a comparative match of over 1552 video games Fats Fritz 2 “clearly beats Stockfish 12” and “outperforms the earlier high engine by over 40 Elo factors (as of February 2021).”

Though Silver factors out that he prefers his personal phrase “the very best of each worlds” over “the brand new primary,” he does declare that Fats Fritz 2 outperforms Stockfish in his personal personal checks. 

Initially, Silver examined Fats Fritz 2 in opposition to Stockfish 12, which was launched September 2, 2020. Nevertheless, the engine of Fats Fritz 2 relies on a more moderen model of Stockfish 12—a developer model that’s nearer to Stockfish 13, which was launched on February 19, 10 days after Fats Fritz 2 got here out.

Evaluating video games between two applications that use totally different serps appears odd certainly. Why did he do this?

“Stockfish 12 is the one reference most individuals have, truthfully,” says Silver. “Sure, there’s a Stockfish dev however most individuals don’t find out about it and the issue is that Stockfish dev is a shifting goal, frankly. Even I don’t take a look at in opposition to it in my private testing.”

Another excuse for Silver to check in opposition to Stockfish 12 was that it was the benchmark on the pc score lists. Not like with human chess, for chess applications, there isn’t a single, universally accepted score record.

“Look, I used to be requested to supply a take a look at principally to point out the way it did in opposition to the very best applications. On the CCRL [the Computer Chess Rating Lists – PD] and the CEGT [the Chess Engines Grand Tournament – PD], Stockfish 12 was on high of the record. So I needed to present what they have been going to be getting and the way it in comparison with it. And that was the end result I produced.”

As soon as Stockfish 13 got here out, Silver in contrast in opposition to it as an alternative and revealed these leads to his February 21 article.

Fat Fritz 2 vs Stockfish
Silver’s take a look at confirmed Fats Fritz 2 performing 16 Elo factors higher than Stockfish 13.

The Stockfish workforce will get totally different outcomes. On a bigger pattern, the place each engines have been compiled from supply on the identical machine, their outcomes at 60+0.6s have been:

On the most recent CCRL blitz record (two minutes and a one-second increment), Fats Fritz 2 is the highest engine with two Elo factors greater than Stockfish 13. On the 40/2 record (video games with 40 strikes in two minutes), Fats Fritz 2 is forward of Stockfish 13 by six Elo factors, though the January 11, 2021 model of Stockfish on its flip is six factors forward of Fats Fritz 2.

The slowest time management CCRL appears at is video games at an equal of 40 strikes in 15 minutes. Testing for Stockfish 13 has solely simply begun and there are solely 24 video games thus far: a drawn match in opposition to Dragon by Komodo. On the high, see once more see the January 11 model of Stockfish though Fats Fritz 2 is as excessive because the second place.

CCRL 40+2 list Stockfish Fat Fritz 2
The February 20, 2021 CCRL 40+2 record.

The well-respected Stefan Pohl, seen as probably the most impartial laptop program tester, at present has Stockfish 13 at 4 Elo factors stronger than Fats Fritz 2, with the January 11 Stockish coming two factors greater.

Stefan Pohl computer chess rating list
Stefan Pohl’s newest record.

“I’ll be trustworthy with you, I’ve outcomes in every single place,” says Silver as he refers to a variety of lists. “I don’t know what to say. The whole lot goes to rely on the openings, the circumstances, no matter.”

Concerning the query of why the outcomes are so totally different, Silver says: “Not all lists use the identical pattern measurement and there may be totally different circumstances. I did a breakdown of one of many lists that produce the outcomes and I discovered that ECO A openings (largely English, Benoni and irregular openings – PD] represented 60 % of the video games. I assumed: what if that they had a extra balanced distribution of the openings, would it not nonetheless appear to be that?”

Ginsberg means that Silver’s divergent take a look at outcomes are a mix of a comparatively outdated processor and the time management. Silver used an AMD FX-8350 (4GHz), utilizing one thread (both sides) with 512MB hash.

“This can be a processor that was launched in 2012,” says Ginsberg. “So a take a look at with video games of 90 seconds and a one-second increment goes to be successfully hyperbullet. We’ve not achieved any testing in any respect at these speeds, and all of us use trendy CPUs.”

As of February 24, 2021, ChessBase has eliminated the “new primary” declare from its web site.

“We really feel that clients shopping for Fats Fritz 2 get little or no added worth for cash,” wrote VandeVondele in his assertion. So what’s that added worth? Why would a buyer pay these 99.90 euros?

Silver: “In the end I don’t assume it’s all about Elo. If it was, it might be actually boring, frankly. For those who’re speaking a couple of modest distinction it shouldn’t be absolutely the criterion. Certain, it’s a advertising and marketing side, there’s no query. But when I’m selecting an engine to investigate with, I do know tremendous GMs who nonetheless analyze with Leela although its Elo is worse than Stockfish NNUE. Why? As a result of it supplies them with new views, totally different evaluation, totally different positions, totally different continuations. They relish that. They don’t care if on record X, Y, and Z it’s 50 Elo behind or forward. I’ve achieved sufficient checks and sufficient video games to say that FF2 NNUE in comparison with Stockfish 13 NNUE in the identical search, utilizing the identical binary, makes use of totally different continuations, greater than sufficient to say that they’re clearly totally different.”

License points

Apart from Chessbase’s claims about Fats Fritz 2’s taking part in power, one other factor the open-source group is upset about is the alleged violation of the GPL license by Chessbase.

In his assertion on behalf of the Stockfish builders, VandeVondele wrote:

Promoting Stockfish derivatives is feasible with the GPLv3 license we grant, however not with out necessities. Specifically, the license states that if one redistributes a program derived from our work, the corresponding modifications of our sources and all info wanted to construct that program should be made out there. Solely after explicitly informing Albert Silver (the creator of the online in Fats Fritz 2) of a license violation have matching C++ sources, however not the online weights, been made out there. Clearly, we condemn the strategy taken.

This a part of the conflict between Chessbase/Silver and the Stockfish builders appears to be the results of the way in which Fats Fritz 2 was initially launched, together with a unique interpretation of the GNU Normal Public License (GPL) below which Stockfish has been launched.

In brief, the GPL permits for utilizing, sharing, and modifying software program, and that features the proper to take action commercially, so long as the spinoff work is distributed below the identical or equal license phrases.

When Fats Fritz 2 got here out, the net obtain model consisted of a single set up file that might create a bundle on the consumer’s laptop that included the search engine and the neural community.

“I did it as a result of, one, the neural community is unusable in another setting, and the second motive is that this was what Stockfish was doing, this was customary process,” explains Silver.

Nevertheless, as a result of every little thing was supplied as one file, the entire bundle fell below the GPL. As VandeVondele defined, this meant that every little thing, together with the supply code and neural internet, needed to be made publicly out there.

Chessbase said that it had made the supply code of the search engine out there, however thus far, it hasn’t made clear the place it may be discovered. Based on Silver, the (hyperlink to the) code solely needs to be offered upon request. In actuality, the license says you must provide the supply code “in the identical method by the identical place at no additional cost,” whether or not a hyperlink is requested or not. Entry to the neural community wasn’t offered both.

When confronted with the GPL violation by Vandevondele, Chessbase up to date its product three days after its preliminary launch. Since then, the search engine and the neural community are offered individually.

“I used to be knowledgeable that the GPL permits for a breach to be corrected inside 30 days so that is only a technicality,” says Silver, who is not planning on freely giving the code and different info behind his neural community. He does provide a weaker, earlier neural community for customers who wish to compile their very own copy.

The explanation for separating the search engine and the neural community is that in keeping with Silver, as soon as it has been separated from the binary, the neural community is now not topic to the GPL.

Whereas acknowledging that such issues can solely be determined in courtroom, Ginsberg says he disagrees: “You’ll be able to’t un-GPL one thing. As soon as it is on the market below the GPL, you’ll be able to’t undo that.”

Ginsberg famous that he bought Fats Fritz 2 on February 22 and that his obtain nonetheless consisted of 1 set up file, saying: “The GPL applies to that file as a result of that file is object code that features the Stockfish binaries.”

It isn’t the primary time that the Stockfish builders have accused a business chess program of violating the GPL. A latest instance is Robert Houdart’s Houdini 6 which, they declare, is a Stockfish eight spinoff with out offering the sources on request. This has resulted within the TCEC revoking the championship outcomes of Houdini 6.

“I wish to assume that they weren’t as cautious as they need to’ve been,” says Ginsberg about what he sees as a mistake made by Chessbase. “I don’t wish to say that anyone was evil right here however they didn’t act like scientists. I don’t wish to complain about them, I simply need your viewers to know the reality.”

Must you purchase Fats Fritz 2?

What stays is the query of whether or not it is smart for the typical chess fan to buy Fats Fritz 2. Based on Silver, it is the end-user that should resolve: 

“Aside from the interface and different perks you pay for, with Fats Fritz 2 you get a big, totally different neural community, working completely in Stockfish, no query about that. It’ll present a unique analysis, it can present a unique search. Do not forget that the search isn’t the identical. It’s guided by the neural community itself. Identical to you’d analyze strikes and also you may be analyzing on the similar velocity as someone else, you’re going to be specializing in totally different strikes due to the way you take a look at chess. It’s the identical factor right here. Some traces will go deeper, some traces much less, and all of that’s the neural community that decides this. The velocity would be the similar however the traces and the strikes proven are particular to the neural community itself. Is it gonna play the identical? Generally sure, typically no. But it surely’s going to supply totally different concepts. Is that this sufficient worth for you? Is that sufficient to justify shopping for it? It’s a private name. I can’t make the decision. For me it’s in fact it’s. For some GM’s it’s in fact it’s. For a mean participant who doesn’t care about such issues, the reply is not any. And if the GUI provides nothing to their expertise, then actually, no. It’s about totally different opinions, totally different views, totally different evaluation, totally different concepts. The worth of that he’s going to be as much as you to resolve.”

Ginsberg thinks the race automobile vs. driver analogy is truthful however in the end does not work in Chessbase’s favor: “His neural community is worse as a result of it loses Elo. So that you’ve acquired the identical automobile, two drivers, and one man retains dropping. It’s the driving force. Claiming that the online is healthier could be very annoying to the Stockfish builders who’ve spent a lot time making the very best internet, getting the very best driver they might discover. So our view is: now we have the very best automobile—he doesn’t argue with that—we even have the very best driver, and it’s nonetheless our automobile.”

Apparently, Ginsberg does not thoughts in any respect that Chessbase is earning profits from Fats Fritz 2: “I am thrilled that they’re earning profits and I hope they make quite a bit. As a result of if they’re earning profits it’s good for chess. I really like chess. I would like chess to be standard. It doesn’t trouble me in any respect that they’re earning profits. Not within the slightest.”

The conclusion, due to this fact, might be that in the long run, chess wins. Business and open-source chess applications will proceed to be developed and can get stronger as time passes by, main not simply to greater rankings however to extra discoveries, extra excellent video games performed by computer systems, and extra understanding of chess. Whereas computer systems want people to make new steps, people are helped by computer systems to understand the traditional, royal sport much more.

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