Friday, September 7, 2007

Gothic Chess activity

A lot of things seem currently to be happening at the Gothic Chess homesite. I found a lot of more actual content. Even the link to the (expensive) wooden Staunton Gothic Chess set is working now (the first time for me). Therefore I hope, that all the other links and picture references will soon be working properly, too.

Maybe it would be a good idea, to also place written Gothic Chess license conditions (not merely its costs) at an appropriate position. I do not know, whether other chess programmers might be interested in that theme, but at least I am myself. Because I am not a lawyer and I never have used a license to a patented subject before, I have no idea, which implications it would have, to publish or distribute a patented Gothic Chess aware program under a license then.


jhoravi said...

I really can't understand how this Patent thing applies to Gothic chess. Anybody can setup pieces and play right? Will I go to jail if I organize a gothic tournament?? If not then what is this Patent all about??

GothicChessInventor said...

What I tell people is think of the "Monopoly" equivalent. You wouldn't dare try and market your own Monopoly game, because Hasbro would be all over you. Yet, you can surely play Monopoly, and you can have many people over your house playing Monopoly if you wanted to.

The patent is just aimed at corporations trying to make a profit of off something that is protected.

If a company wants to make Gothic Chess sets, and sell them, all they need is a license from us and a royalty must be paid for each unti sold.

jhoravi said...

thanx for the info.

But ofcourse a company can instead name their Chess Sets as "Capablanca random", "Embassy" or "Optimized" right?! It's up to the buyer how he configures the initial position as gothic. Thesame applies to a 10x8 variant software with board setup option.

This patent only discourages manufacturers in including the name "gothic" to their products. That will limit gothics potential to become even far more popular.

GothicChessInventor said...

What is protected is the starting configuration and the rules of the game that follow. Game manufactures can, of course, sell "Capablanca" sets, but if they include the rules for Gothic without a license, they infringe on the patent.

Game manufactures will not risk any money on games that don't have a strong following. So, we have not "lost" anything with our patent and licensing strategy. In fact, two large companies did try to "muscle in" and take over, and they are regretting not giving us our small 7.5% royalty, instead, they lost big by engaging us in a legal battle, which they lost.

It's very simple: acknowledge the patent, pay 7.5% of your gross sales to us, and we will both benefit from mutual promotion.

The House of Staunton now sells Gothic Chess sets for $895 each at

They are smart business people: They paid for the license and have a contract with us. $827.87 of each sale goes to them, with $67.13 going to us.

They are happy to be generating that kind of revenue for such a small performance hit.

smirf said...

To jhoravi: it is very possible, that people will have different opinions on patenting of games. But the business chances e.g. for me and a GC aware chess programm are not that huge, that it would make sense for me to start a quarrel on GothicChess for being patented. It has been the decision of GC's inventor to act like that, and we should respect it.

To GothicChessInventor: to transfer money for using a US patent might be complicated in Europe. It would mean finally to send Euros from the EU outside into the USA for to obey the rules. I do not know, whether I would be allowed to legally act like that as a private individual. But I do not want to start a company merely for that purpose.

GothicChessInventor said...


I left a $150,000/year job in July of 2001 because Gothic Chess was on pace to generate more than this. If SMIRF was for sale on the Gothic Chess site with a Gothic-only engine, I am sure you would be doing much better than you are now.

I sent you an offer to make a Gothic-only version of SMIRF, but you have not replied to it.

smirf said...

Ed, this matter is very complicated. Because of a lot of frustrating experiences on multiple fora (10x8 chess seems to raise a lot of emotions of yesterday Chess' fans) I am still about to decide whether to cancel my activites in chess programming. Thus for me it was already some movement to enter SMIRF again into your 2007 championship, even when it has not yet been improved that way I intended it to do within a complete rewrite of it as OCTOPUS.

To change SMIRF to only play GC, first would be more work again to put into that Windows project than I am actually willing to, also because it would not be sufficient to simply disable all the other variants in its GUI. The second reason is, that - if you would be right with your business optimisn (I am not yet able to detect in old Germany) - SMIRF would be spreaded as an unmatured version, not supporting e.g. opening libraries for established starting arrays especially like from GothicChess. SMIRF still is regarding itself to be a kind of beta version, despite of when one of its already existing strengths might be an ability to successfully handle randomly selected starting arrays as in CRC, which has been used to slowly improve its general opening understanding.

GothicChessInventor said...

Hi Reinhard,

I would be happy to give SMIRF a copy of the Vortex opening book if there was a Gothic Chess version of SMIRF. This would be easy to code.

I mostly ignore the people on 10x8 discussion forums because they don't know what they are talking about.

Smart people, like Larry Kaufman and George Tsavadaris, are the ones whose comments make sense to listen to.

For example, on the Rybka forum, they are supportive of Gothic Chess, and they are even asking for Gothic Rybka to be made!

See this link for more:;pid=24774;msg=ReplyPost#pid24774

I also think some of your lack of sales is also from your announcement of a "constant beta" version of SMIRF. In the USA, if you announce your software is only in a "beta" stage, NOBODY buys it.

It does not matter if it is the "best program ever", if a beta label is on it, everyone knows there are bugs or unimplemented features. Americans are used to being screwed by Microsoft and all of its "bad betas".

Another thing to consider: If it takes you 3 years and you are still not out of "beta", American consumers think you don't know what you are doing as a programmer. That will hurt sales.

My suggestion: Stop "hiding behind" your beta annoucement. Release the program and stop calling it a beta version.

If you're not adding an opening book and you're not adding more features, your program is done.

smirf said...

Well, Ed, thank you for encouragment! I agree, that 8x8 Computer-Chess actually seems to be going to become boring. And I did not know about the discussion about GothicChess in the mentioned forum.

Maybe, to let flow the SMIRF development into a final non beta version could be an interesting test for 10x8 acceptance. Here already a very small opening book (first for Gothic Chess) would do ... but I do not like to disable other supported variants. Because SMIRF's approach is just targeting on that covering ability of one unique engine.

One additional problem is, that people want to have such programs to be installable without any problems also in Microsoft Windows Vista. But I have no matching development system yet (from Borland for to continue the status quo). Being short on money I have to think over such investments twice (or at least trice ;-) ), and the new RAD IDE from Borland/Codegear still is not yet 64 Bit aware, and therefore would be only an intermediate platform.

GothicChessInventor said...

There is some free installer programs out there also. I forget which one I used, it has been so long, I think it was Ghost Installer, or something like that.

Did you see I have all of the SMIRF games from BrainKing on the site now?

Let me know if I am missing any.

smirf said...

Oh well, the link seems to be:

I myself am using a free installer "Inno Setup Compiler", but I have to make also sure of the absence of any vista problem related to my own written engine DLL and used Borland and MS DLLs from XP related development environments. That would need a lot of tests on a working Vista OS.

I will think it over.

GothicChessInventor said...

That's one reason why I made Vortex a stand-alone application. I never understood the mentality of making .dll files. Since so many programs install dlls or need certain versions of dlls, it seems to me it creates more headaches than it solves.

jhoravi said...

to smirf: off topic: i've been struggling to find a computer vs computer autoplay option in your SMIRF software.. isn't there any?

thanx in advance :)

smirf said...

to jhoravi: well, SMIRF uses the open TMCI = Third Millenium Chess Interface as its internal protocol between GUI and engine, and X-FEN as its position notation form. Currently this is the only proposed such protocol covering as well traditional chess, random games, 10x8 chess variants etc.

Unfortunately nobody else is using it yet, thus there still is no need to have automated engine to engine games for 10x8. Therefore such a feature is missing in the current SMIRF GUI.

For a (nobody knows when) coming successor program OCTOPUS and its GUI plans are to support a kind of extended UCI protocol, called X-UCI. But actually it is intended initially to run on a Mac as a private program, because nobody seems to be willing to support the SMIRF and 10x8 Chess Variants idea of my ChessBox project.

GothicChessInventor said...

Gothic Vortex has an engine match feature so it can play against other programs. But, it requires no specific UCI engine format. It uses external files to send moves.

Example, Vortex plays 1. d4. It would write "d2-d4" into a file named "white.txt". A program running on the same machine would "look for" white.txt, read the move, make it on its board, then delete the file "white.txt". That program would then play its move, say Nh6, and write "i8-h6" to the file "black.txt".

Then Vortex would read black.txt, make the Move Ni8-h6 on its board, and send its next move, etc.

I think this is "cooler" to do, since you can watch two different GUI engines play each other. I've made different versions of Vortex play matches with each other this way, I found it very entertaining.

Smirf said...

Now there is a new donationware version of SMIRF probably able to install fine also at MS Vista systems. Feedbacks on that would be welcomed.

Smirf said...

SMIRF now is supporting five languages: English, German, French, Swedish and Spanish.