Alex Bell

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Alex Bell 1965 [1]

Alex G. Bell,
a British computer scientist and early computer chess and game programmer from Manchester University and Atlas Computer Laboratory. Bell started chess and games programming in the early 60s, initially working for Nils Barricelli and his chess program for symbio-organisms research. He also wrote his own programs for Kalah and Chess, which was called Atlas. Alex Bell published various papers about those topics, his 1972 book Games Playing with Computers is a real quarry and covers a broad range of basic AI-algorithms and games. Fortunately, thanks to the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) archive, it is available online [2], as well as other valuable resources quoted here in the chess programming wiki. In the 70s Atlas evolved to Master in collaboration with Peter Kent, John Birmingham and chess expert John Waldron. Alex Bell was further involved to establish computer chess conferences .



Chess on the 360/195. Alex Bell, Geoff Lambert, Peter Kent, John Birmingham and John Waldron [3]


In 1962, when Bell was at Manchester University, Nils Barricelli arrived there with the intention to write a chess program for the Atlas Computer, which would be used to study certain theories of evolution. Alex Bell was hired by Atlas Computer Laboratory at Chilton site, Oxfordshire for the purpose to write a list legal moves generator for Barricelli's project. Bell later reproduced the Barricelli chess program in Algol with quite a good user interface.


When Alex Bell left Atlas Laboratory in 1969, his fellow Peter Kent took over his code. In 1973 after Alex' return, he joined forces with Peter and John Birmingham from Harwell to work on the chess playing program Master (Minimax algorithm Tester), which competed at the First World Computer Chess Championship 1974 in Stockholm [4]. Alex left Chilton a second time and moved to CSIRO in Canberra in 1975, and Master played the following World Computer Chess Championships, WCCC 1977 and WCCC 1980 with Peter Kent and John Birmingham as sole authors [5].

Computer Chess Conferences

Alex Bell was initiator and co-organizer of the two first computer chess conferences in 1973 and 1975, while the latter became the Advances in Computer Chess 1 conference [6].

Selected Publications



External Links


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