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Rooftops of Lancaster [1]

Lancaster, (Scott's program, Scott)
an early chess program for the ICL 1909/5 mainframe computer developed in 1968 by the then 17 year-old John J. Scott, at that time beside Atlas by Alex Bell the only other chess program in England [2]. Scott's program used an effective iterative deepening approach [3] and even already internal iterative deepening.

Lancaster played an exhibition match versus Greenblatt's Chess Program at the 1968 IFIP conference held in Edinburgh [4]. The game was analyzed by Jack Good, as published in Donald Michie's Machine Intelligence 4 [5]. Scott's program was further sparring partner of Atlas, the forerunner of Master.


Alex Bell in Games Playing with Computers [6]:

Greenblatt's program was exhibited at the 1968 IFIPS held in Edinburgh. It was a major attraction, drawing large crowds who cheered the program on to a win against the majority of its opponents. A special match was arranged between the program and one written by John Scott for the ICL 1909/5. An analysis of this game was made by I. J. Good, with the comment that Scott's program had a chance to draw at the 58th move, but made a bad move and then resigned. Because it was generally agreed that Greenblatt's program was the best to that date, Scott's program had done well to last so long. Both these programs were powerful opening and middle game players but became, from recorded games, relatively weak should they reach an end game. It seemed to the author that if it were possible to play a vigorous swapping strategy in order to reach an end game quickly then, even with a queen advantage, neither program would be actually able to realise the mate. 

The Game

The first four moves on each side were played before the machines took over the play, because Lancaster could not castle. The move time limits originally agreed were 90 seconds for Lancaster and 'blitz speed' (5 or 10 seconds per move) for the Greenblatt program, as it was considered that the PDP-10 is about 10 times faster than the ICL 1909/5. After a few moves the PDP-10 team increased its move time limit to about 25 seconds per move, while Lancaster remained at 90 [7].

[Event "IFIP Conference"]
[Site "Edinburgh, UK"]
[Date "1968.08.??"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Lancaster"]
[Black "Mac Hack"]
[Result "0-1"]

1.g3 g6 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bg2 Bg7 4.O-O O-O 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.d4 d5 7.Ne5 Qd6 8.Nxc6 Qxc6
9.Bg5 Rd8 10.Qd2 Be6 11.a3 a5 12.Qd3 h6 13.Bxf6 Bxf6 14.e3 h5 15.f4 h4 16.gxh4 
Bxh4 17.Kh1 Bf6 18.Qe2 Ra6 19.a4 Rb6 20.Nb5 Bf5 21.c3 Be4 22.Bxe4 dxe4 23.c4 e6 
24.c5 Ra6 25.Nc3 Kg7 26.h3 Be7 27.b3 f5 28.Kg2 Bf6 29.Rae1 Bh4 30.Rc1 Be7 31.Rh1 
Rh8 32.Ra1 Bf6 33.Qb5 Rd8 34.Qxc6 Rxc6 35.h4 b6 36.h5 gxh5 37.Rhg1 bxc5 38.Kf2+ 
Kh6 39.Nb5 cxd4 40.Nxd4 Rxd4 41.exd4 Bxd4+ 42.Kg3 Rc3+ 43.Kg2 Bxg1 44.Kxg1 Rxb3 
45.Rc1 e3 46.Rxc7 Kg6 47.Kf1 Rb4 48.Ke2 Rxf4 49.Kxe3 Re4+ 50.Kd3 h4 51.Rc8 Rxa4 
52.Kc2 h3 53.Kc3 h2 54.Rh8 Ra2 55.Kb3 Re2 56.Ka4 Kf7 57.Rh3 Ra2+ 58.Kb5 e5 
{(human) resignation} 0-1



External Links

Chess Program



  1. Lancaster Cathedral in the middle distance, and the Ashton Memorial (one and a quarter miles to the south-east) in the background. Photographed from Castle Hill by Antiquary, September 8, 2015, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons, Lancaster, Lancashire from Wikipedia
  2. Alex Bell (1978). MASTER at IFIPS. from Atlas Computer Laboratory, hosted by Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL), excerpt from Alex Bell (1978). The Machine Plays Chess. Pergamon Press, ISBN-13: 978-0080212227, from amazon
  3. Tony Marsland (1992). Computer Chess and Search. Encyclopedia of Artificial Intelligence (2nd ed.) John Wiley & Sons, Inc. pdf preprint
  4. John J. Scott (1969). Lancaster vs. Mac Hack. SIGART, Vol. 16
  5. Jack Good (1969). Analysis of the machine chess game, J. Scott (White), ICL-1900 versus R.D. Greenblatt, PDP-10. Machine Intelligence Vol. 4
  6. Chess programs: Scott from Alex Bell (1972). Games Playing with Computers. Allen & Unwin, ISBN-13: 978-0080212227
  7. Jack Good (1969). Analysis of the machine chess game, J. Scott (White), ICL-1900 versus R.D. Greenblatt, PDP-10. Machine Intelligence Vol. 4, pdf
  8. Games Playing with Computers - References

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