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Introduction to Tree Configurations 25 September 2008
Aquarium Chess Trees
Trees are used more extensively in Aquarium than any other similar software. They are used in every type of analysis, even infinite analysis and, of course, for opening books. Aquarium trees can be used for annotating positions, not only using symbols (!, ? etc.) but also textual annotations and board graphics. Trees also typically store various statistics about positions. This information is displayed in a spreadsheet like format when viewed in Aquarium, where each column displays a specific type of information. Trees in Aquarium can store and display the following types of data, or columns as they are usually called:
On the top left we have the statistics tree and to the right another separate tree with evaluations. At the bottom of the image we see a screenshot from Aquarium displaying the merged information. The “Total” column displays the number of games. We can see, for instance, that the move 9… O-O has been played 150 times. The left red arrow shows that this information comes from the statistics tree. Similarly, by looking at the Rybka column in the tree configuration, we see that Rybka’s evaluation of the position after 9…O-O is 0.13. And this information comes from the evaluation tree as the red arrow shows.
Looking at the image it should be clear why the different types of data stored in a tree are usually referred to as “columns.” It’s because of the way the tree data is displayed in columns in the tree window in Aquarium. So every column you see in a tree configuration comes from one of its trees. The “Move” column is slightly different. As long as a move can be found in one of the trees it will be displayed there in addition to moves from the game notation.
Note that in order to keep the image simple only one type of data is shown in each tree. In reality each tree will usually contain two or more types of data, or columns.
You can add as many trees and columns as you like to a configuration. The “Success” column could display the percentage score of each move. That information would more than likely be available in the statistics tree, so all you have to do is add another column from that tree to the configuration. You might also want to see the evaluation of a second chess engine in the tree. In that case you would need an additional tree containing the engine’s evaluation. This would allow you to view the evaluations of the two engines side by side. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.
What Are the Advantages of Tree Configurations?
Tree configurations allow a modular approach that has several advantages over single-tree books:
Data from several sources can be used to create a tree configuration. You can use your own trees, standard Aquarium trees or trees that you download from the Internet to compose a new opening book. If your current opening book doesn’t cover gambits, for instance, you might be able to find a gambit tree produced by someone else and add it to your opening book.
There is no need to merge the data from the trees that comprise the tree configuration. The trees that go into the tree configuration stay as separate trees. This makes it easy to update or replace individual trees, without affecting the others. If we continue with the gambit tree example, you might find that someone else made a better gambit tree than the one you are currently using, and all you have to do is add it to your configuration and remove the old one.
The same tree can be used in multiple tree configurations. The same tree can easily be used in as many tree configurations as you like. You could, for instance, use the same statistics tree in several different configurations. Note that this only requires a single copy of the tree. No copying or data duplication is required, which makes maintenance much easier.
After a tree configuration has been created it can be used just as simply as if it were a single tree. Once you have created a tree configuration, it is handled by Aquarium as a single entity, no matter how complex its structure may be.
The “Main Tree”
Every tree configuration has a special tree, called the “Main Tree,” which allows the user to classify and order the moves in the tree configuration. The Main Tree holds information about:
The Main Tree also stores moves that you add to the tree configuration after selecting “Add moves to main tree” from the tree window right-click menu.
The “Discarded Moves” Tree
Practical Use of the Special Trees
The Main Tree and the Discarded Moves tree add a completely new dimension to opening books. Let’s take an example of an opening book author who is creating a new opening book in Aquarium. If his target group contains various types of chess players and engine operators, then it’s unlikely that a single book will suit all of them. A strong titled chess player is interested in different openings than a club player, a solid player wants something completely different than a young and adventurous player and chess engine operators and testers are yet another group with special and varied requirements. So what can the book author do? The answer is that with a little planning he can use the same book as a base and simply prepare special versions of the Main Tree and the Discarded Moves tree to create tree configurations that reflect the requirements of different groups. Here are some examples:
Using this method we are giving the same opening book completely different “personalities” by combining it with different Main Trees and Discarded Moves trees, i.e., by creating different tree configurations.
The real beauty of this approach is that once the book author has created these different configurations he can reuse them. The next version of his opening book may be based on a different game collection, but when he uses it in the Kamikaze configuration it will still play those wild openings!
What all this means is that the opening book author has much more flexibility than before and most importantly, he can reuse much of the work he put into the previous version.
The list of columns in the current tree configuration is displayed in the middle of the window under the heading “Configuration columns.” The “Name” column displays the text that will be used as a heading in the tree window. You can modify the name by double-clicking the cell. The “Tree” column shows which tree the data is coming from and the “Visible” column controls its visibility in the tree window. Doubleclicking on a tree allows you to choose a different tree for a column.
The two arrow buttons to the right of the column list allow you to change the order of the columns as they are displayed in the tree window. To move a column, first click on it in the column list and then click the up or down arrow buttons to move it.
Tree Configurations as Opening Books
Aquarium comes with five tree configurations that can be used as opening books. They are also a good starting point for creating new books:
If you create a new configuration based on one of these, your new configuration can be used as an opening book.
When you view a tree configuration in the tree window, you can see if it can be used as an opening book by the presence a “Play%” column, which displays the probability of each move being played.
This is the simplest way to create a new book. It is also recommended that you use this method if you intend to modify one of Aquarium’s standard books.
You can color the moves green, blue, orange and red, and discard them by right-clicking on them in the tree window and selecting the appropriate color. A much faster method is to use the keyboard shortcuts to color the moves (5: green, 4: blue, 3: orange, 2: red, 8: discarded). The play percentages are immediately updated as you change the colors. This way you can configure your opening book to play or avoid certain moves and variations.
A text description is given for each color in Aquarium, but you should not take those descriptions too literally and use the colors in whatever way suits you best. Dagh Nielsen, for example, preferred to call green moves “Approved” instead of “Good” and red moves “Inferior” instead of “Bad.” For other colors he used the description you see in Aquarium.
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