picochess v0.9h – Permanent brain

DGT e-Board Giftbox

With this release i continue the history of the v0.4x and v0.5x series. These versions mainly focused on bringing chess computer stuff to picochess like “alternative move”, “stop search” and many more. One big thing that has always been missing from this area is “permanent brain”. With “permanent brain” the computer is thinking ahead on your time. If supposes that you will play the pondering move (=what the engine expects as your move) and thinking about what to answer when you really follow this suggestion. With old chess computers that makes the program alot stronger and also allows it to save time. Due to a odd implementation of the underlying uci protocol this can’t be achieved the same way with uci engines. When picochess begin to search i have to give the times of the player and engine already 🙁 So, if you think longer, you can image (its not really so – but easier to understand) both clocks are running internally. That basically makes the engine answer your move quicker as in normal mode. So the time management of the engine is not as good as in old ages. But having this mode makes it spare the time for the following moves, thats already a big step ahead! This new “brain” mode is now also accessible with wQb5 meaning the rest of modes moved one square right. Despite this big improvement i also implemented the following (as you can see, this time its a quite big update):

  • in case you takeback the picochess move its now your turn (before picochess was thinking again about its move). I think thats more logical and i also made it so allover the menu system (for example if you change the interaction mode, its your turn) If you want picochess to continue to play press the lever, please.
  • Improvements in handling with various engines like “laser”. Also i now look if the engine supports pondering and only allow to enter such pondering modes if the chosen engine supports that. Sadly rodent III doesnt have such flag, which means that you cant enter this analysis, kibitz (=pondering) modes with rodent III anymore. But i opened already an issue for the rodent3 developer, so hopefully he will fix this soon.
  • Improvements on voice. If you only chosen one voice like “user voice” your system voice messages werent spoken correctly. This is fixed now. Also i improved the voice speaking if you slide with your pieces for example you slided the wB from f1 to b5 , but holding too long on each square between you got too many voices spoken, cause picochess was thinking you want to play Bc4 for example. Now picochess will wait for a stable position before the move is given to the voice system. Generally sliding is working for long, but the voice system is a separate task. For this i also introduced a new flag called “slow-slide”, where you can even slow down the recognition more. But please be aware that slowing down the dgt board making the board slow responding with everything, so only use this if you really suffer from alot of voices spoken due to slow sliding. Perhaps move abit quicker? 😉
  • I also do some coding to make the “ponder” mode working on the webserver directly. But this is only needed, if you use picochess without a dgt e-Board and want to use the new ponder mode. Despite this i did some more small updates for example the queen placing with level (bQ at 5th row) sometimes had a problem on last square (double entries). Revelation II users now get cleared led lights when they choose “switch sides” instead of former cleared when the move is finally displayed.
  • lastly i also updated the system menu. Some subpoints now moved inside a “info” submenu cause i thinked the “system” menu is too overloaded at first level.


    • The creator helped me with this issue. If you can log into the your pi via something like Putty, go to the /opt/picochess/ directory and do the following:
      Sudo su
      Git pull

  1. I’ve tested the 9h now for an half hour and I am astonished, how well the Ponder-Mode works! The Permanent Brain improves the Play very well. I found just one small bug in 9g and 9h. If you play a game and after some moves you want to play a new game and put the pieces on the starting-position and make your first move, PicoChess forgot to reset the time and you play your new game with the time of the game before. This just happens, if you start your new game very fast. If you wait a few seconds after you put your pieces to the starting-position, the time-reset works.

    • Hi Benny,
      picochess doesnt care how to get to the internet. So there shouldnt be any difference between wifi & cable.

      Concerning your quick move after newgame. Thats true, but you have be very quick. New version v0.9i (when released) will solve it.

  2. Hello picoschess commune. First, I would like to praise the unpleasant improvement of Picochess. But not all chess players are programmers and can not cope with the update. Can not (for 5 or 10 euros) occasionally a newer version img 0.9h or 0.9i for SD card (DGT PI) put into the network. Greeting Esser

    • Hi Horst,
      one (=same) comment is enough:-) No, all versions are for all clocks and operating systems. Thats different to “images”, cause they have the whole system (OS) on board. Updating doesnt change your preset picochess.ini with all the flags inside, so if you had a dgtpi version before, it stays so and visa versa. Where exactly you been and what you did, which version you have and what exactly happened? Please be more specific otherwise its hard to help you.

  3. I only use RasPi 3 images, now 0.9e. After the Start (Picochess on Display), i press >|| and can with – and + change the Version, but only c, d or e

    • this is not an official usage function – i regret to even told it in the german forum now 😉 cause i’m preparing my holiday, so i’ll take a look after returning home. In meantime please use the standard way with picochess.ini or stay with 0.9e for the moment please.

    • Hi Peter,
      even 10EUR is not enough for the work to make an image, sorry!
      If y cant do it yourself y have to be patient – after all its a personal project not run by a company.
      As i said many times before, get used to update picochess by the provided auto-update-system (=dont need these images).
      But the good news is: You can get one from picochess-images now – for “DGT-Pi” at least.

  4. Hi Jürgen,
    if you do not know what I mean and therefore do not answer 😉
    Swapping is the offloading of unused or seldom used parts of the main memory to a separate area on the sd card.

    • Im aware of swapping incl. limited sdcard writes.
      But with your last comments you not qualified yourself for a super fast service.

      picochess itself doesnt need alot of RAM. But there are also the engines with their engine settings (hash?) and not to forget if yr rasp has 0,5gb or 1gb RAM.

      But here we speaking about a <10EUR sdcard, not like these 250GB ones - so there is not so much to loose even they would get harmed by lots of writes.
      So, y can try to turn it off - i think, it will work - but im not responsible of any problem you get like for example if an engine crushes cause too few memory.

  5. 10 € are not a problem, but 10 x 10 € = 100 € 😉 my friend has bought the DGT Pi about 4 months ago and now needs his 3rd SD. That’s my idea, swapping out and memory split 16 MB. Maximum hash is 128 MB on some engines and my RasPi 3 has 1 GB of RAM.

    • then its a warranty case (to dgt). Thanks god, im not responsible for the hardware 🙂
      My DGTPi running 24h/7days the week with debug log on (so, producing alot of writes), and my sdcard is still the first.
      But y can try your cache-off – i expect it will work too – as said

  6. „But with your last comments you not qualified yourself for a super fast service.“

    Sorry 🙂 … but I wrote for my friend, I find Picochess (by a chess player for other chess players) on a RasPi great. But my friend is right, the DGT Pi as a commercial chess computer is not worth its price.
    DGT makes a profit and you are responsible for criticizing the software! You should pay for this responsibility … or just as a chess player for other chess players 😉

    • I think it works (at least i cant see a reason why not) – perhaps not out of the box – but you are alone on this hardware(!) means no support here.

  7. I am still waiting for my board to arrive, how can I make the web server stop say “no e-board” and instead play with it in the meantime? (can’t seem to turn on engine or brain mode)

    • picochess was all the time tailored for usuage together with dgt hardware.
      You can still activate the “console flag” with “-c” at startup which will stop these messages and allow y to play by entering the uci moves (like “e2e4”). But y cant play using the mouse cause this mode is actually for developers so not very convinient to use.
      This console mode emulates the dgt hardware like board, clock (incl. buttons) – its not for endusers – but maybe that helps y abit over the waiting time.

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