Random musings from Acid Ape Studios
In particular about Acid Ape Chess

January 9, 2019 Finalizing the next release of Acid Ape Chess

First of all, happy new year! We wish our users success and prosperity in 2019. Or more generally, to be able to accomplish whatever their goals are.

We are working on the final details of the next Acid Ape Chess. It contains several novelties, goodies and fixes. For instance:

  • An exhaustive user manual has been added inside the app. This manual is worth reading for users who want to leverage the full potential of Acid Ape Chess.
  • A stylish fullscreen clock for DGT OTB games has been added (as a bonus, we also provide a separate clock app for non-connected OTB games with any chessboard).
  • DGT3000 support (likely, unless technical impediments delay this support to a subsequent release).
  • Lichess rated games have been fixed (we have adapted to their protocol changes).
  • A trivial but annoying bug has been fixed in move input. This bug was only apparent in lightning games (many users reported this as lag). You are no longer gonna lose 1+0 games because of move input issues.
  • The PGN Explorer occasional refresh issues have been fixed (for details, see our news entry dated November 30).

We usually don't like to provide a timeframe, because some users are upset if impediments delay things, but it is very likely that this next release will be available in January.

Please note: an iOS port will not be there yet, but under the hood Acid Ape Chess has been almost entirely migrated to our in-house Android/iOS portability framework (we've spent most of 2018 doing this), so we're getting there.

December 6, 2018 DGT3000 support

Thanks to DGT for sending us yet another clock, the DGT3000 Limited Edition. It is a standard DGT3000 but with a nicer finish:

DGT3000 Limited Edition

In the next version of Acid Ape Chess, when connected to a DGT e-Board, there will be 3 different clock sources:

  • Automatic: the Acid Ape Chess clock is automatically tapped when a move is detected on the DGT e-Board (this is the mode of the current version of Acid Ape Chess).
  • Manual (touchscreen): in this mode, each player has to tap his side of a fullscreen virtual clock after playing his move on the DGT e-Board.
  • Manual (DGT3000): in this mode, each player has to tap his side of the physical DGT3000 after playing his move on the DGT e-Board.

This last mode will allow people who own a DGT e-Board and a DGT3000 to use the combination in the standard OTB way everyone is used to.

December 4, 2018 Chess Engines Collection 1.3 released

Chess Engines Collection version 1.3 has been released.

It features two updates: Stockfish 10 (the newest version of the strongest engine in the world at the time of this writing), and its assembler variant armFish.

As part of our testing we have organized an interesting match between Stockfish 10 and armFish 20181204. This match was played on a powerful octa-core phone.

This means that each engine had 3 cores, since our core allocation algorithm ensures fairness (an equal number of cores for each engine) while keeping one core free for the Android system and other background apps.

The match consisted of 4 blitz games with 5 minutes for each side and no increment. A coin flip decided that Stockfish 10 started the first game as white.

While this means nothing per se (especially since we were taking screenshots at random moments, thus depriving the side to move from some useful CPU cycles), Stockfish 10 won this match (2½-1½), the results being as follows:

  • Game 1: Stockfish 0 - 1 armFish (White forfeits on time)
  • Game 2: armFish ½ - ½ Stockfish (drawn by repetition)
  • Game 3: Stockfish 1 - 0 armFish (Black forfeits on time)
  • Game 4: armFish 0 - 1 Stockfish (White forfeits on time)

Some screenshots of the games:

Stockfish 10 vs armFish in Acid Ape Chess Stockfish 10 vs armFish in Acid Ape Chess Stockfish 10 vs armFish in Acid Ape Chess Stockfish 10 vs armFish in Acid Ape Chess

December 3, 2018 - 22:15 CET Not chess

Congratulations to Luka Modrić for his more than well-deserved Ballon d'Or. An awesome player and person.

Luka Modrić

Totally chess-unrelated, but we also love football. Perhaps some day there'll be some kind of app of ours named Acid Ape Football, who knows.

Top chess players should actually take example on top football players, in terms of humility, work involved, standing pressure, creativity, spontaneity and several other qualities. No soundproof glass in football stadiums.

December 3, 2018 Preparing the next release of Chess Engines Collection

We are currently preparing the next version of Chess Engines Collection.

As usual, it will feature the latest version of Stockfish, asmFish and others. The main point is that Stockfish is now at version 10, and asmFish has been updated too.

December 1, 2018 Chess engine evaluation display in Acid Ape Chess

As some of you have noticed, Acid Ape Chess has a non-standard way of displaying chess engine evaluations. The score and red/green gauges in the move arrows are relative to the side to move. If it's red (negative score), the side to move is down according to the chess engine(s) that evaluate the position. If it's green (positive score), the side to move is up.

We prefer this system of ours, but we understand that it can be confusing for people who are used to the de-facto standard eval display (white/black). We've had hundreds of requests and inquiries about our peculiar way of displaying evals.

Hence, we plan to add a settings option for enabling "standard" eval display. But the default will stay as it is right now, because the standard is just de-facto, and because we prefer it this way.

December 1, 2018 No more cesspool

We have deleted our Twitter account. No more cesspool, idiot GMs who believe they are God, etc. No more hypocrisy, no more bad haircuts, no more of all that. Our official news are here from now on, and only here.

November 30, 2018 The Acid Ape Chess PGN Explorer: some refresh issues, sometimes

It has recently come to our attention that despite all our testing, manual and automated, both on the Android emulator and on real phones, the PGN Explorer sometimes has refresh issues. That is, your changes (file and/or game operations) might sometimes appear as if they weren't applied. This is very dependent on the phone you have, the version of Android and other factors. You might not encounter the issue at all; you might encounter it once in a while, or you might encounter it more often than that.

If you encounter this issue and your changes don't seem to be applied, they in fact are. If that happens, you are advised to quit Acid Ape Chess (possibly the hard way by killing it), then restart it. The issue will of course be fixed in the next release.

Now for the technical part (non-coders can just skip this): this issue is in part caused by the Linux inotify API, whose semantics are notoriously ambiguous and impractical. On top of that, there is a major bug in the Android FileObserver API that maps to inotify. As with most Android bugs, they aren't gonna fix it: « No ETA because this is P3 and we have no current concrete plan to fix it. ». These guys seem to never have any concrete plan unless it involves selling stuff, but whatever.

This major Android bug forced us to design an entire API on top of FileObserver that works around the Android bug, very much complexifying what should have been a standard, easy functionality: being notified when a file or directory changes.

We have designed the PGN Explorer like it should be designed, reacting to external changes automatically (eg. you download a PGN from outside Acid Ape Chess, and it automatically appears in the PGN Explorer). However, this standard design (that we have implemented countless times without issues on Linux and BSD flavors) has been proven to be too ambitious (because of Android bugs), so we will probably simplify everything and only have the PGN Explorer refresh itself in reaction to changes from within AAC, not from outside. We'll see what best can be done.

November 30, 2018 A nice electronic chessboard from Italy

Cool people at Certabo (Bologna, Italy) have sent us this nice compact electronic USB chessboard (the Vittoria Betulla), featuring high-quality wood and a 8x8 blue LED grid.

It is likely that at some point in the future, Acid Ape Chess will support this chessboard (and its LEDs, of course). Its price is very reasonable, considering its quality, and the price of the competition (not gonna name any specific company here).

Certabo Vittoria Betulla

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