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ChessOK.com » New Features in Aquarium
New Features in Aquarium 08 April 2010

A new version of Aquarium 2010 (version 4.0.3) will soon be released and it’s free for current users. The new version has several new features, some of which are described below. First a quick overview, followed by more detailed description of each feature:

  • A new correspondence chess module and improved support for correspondence players.
  • Hide selected names in the Navigation Pane.
  • Highlight the moves in the notation that lead to the current position.
  • Automatically mark moves that have been analyzed deeply with infinite analysis.
  • See which games are being analyzed with infinite analysis.
  • Keyboard shortcut to add infinite analysis evaluation and time to the notation.
  • Configurable fields in database list (new fields: Date and ECO).
  • Cancel option in IDeA startup dialog box.
  • Three new options when stopping IDeA.
  • Two new IDeA presentation options.
  • “Active” button to activate/deactivate projects in IDeA Control Center.
  • “View Project” button in IDeA Control Center.
  • IDeA session statistics in IDeA Control Center.
  • Automatic creation/correction of tree configurations.
  • QAT Engine configuration button in IDeA view.
  • A new Root Node button in IDeA Project View ribbon.
  • Improved project statistics.
  • 2D-Eval chart showing IDeA node distribution by score.
  • MM-Delta chart, comparing infinite analysis evaluations with IDeA scores.
  • Branching chart, showing number of candidate moves for variations.
  • A link to analysis settings has been added to the IDeA Project Status window.
  • A single-click link to enable/disable root nodes added to Project Status window.
  • Improved Root Node List dialog box.
  • Four new lists for storing positions along with comments.
  • Changed display of IDeA analysis queue to facilitate handling of large number of positions.
  • A feature that makes accurate count of nodes in an IDeA tree.
  • Reset IDeA marks in notation.

Besides the new correspondence chess module, most new features can be characterized as usability improvements.

Correspondence Chess

The new Aquarium correspondence chess module is a major new feature that gives you a unified method of playing your correspondence games on Xfcc compliant servers.


Starting Aquarium’s correspondence play module

You get a quick overview of all your games in a single list, even if you have games in progress on different servers.


The new Aquarium correspondence play module

When you make your moves, many of the possible sources of error are eliminated. Games can be saved directly in an Aquarium database where you can check opening statistics, look up the position in endgame tablebases or use Aquarium’s analysis tools. No matter how extensive your notes and analysis are, Aquarium automatically ensures that only the move you make is transferred to your opponent and your notes and analysis will stay private.

For an overview of this new module, see Correspondence Chess with Aquarium 2010.

Hidden Names in Navigation Pane

Another feature that is of interest to correspondence players is the new “Hidden Names” option. It specifies names of players that should be hidden in the Navigation pane (sidebar) list. Click the Aquarium button, select “Options” and then “Display Options” from the menu. Clicking the “Hidden Names” button allows you to enter names that won’t be displayed in the Navigation pane.


Hide names in Navigation pane

In this example, when a game involving “Karpov, Anatoly” is open, only his opponent’s name will be displayed in the Navigation pane. If Karpov had white against Kasparov, then “- Kasparov, G” would be displayed so you can easily see the opponent’s name.

If you are a correspondence player, you might want to take advantage of this feature and hide your own name. When you are working with a database of your own games, you can quickly see your opponents’ names, as they won’t get cut off in the Navigation pane, even when you have the white pieces.

How Did I Get Here?

When examining a heavily annotated game, have you ever got lost in the notation? Unsure about the path you followed to reach the current position? Press the “L” key and the path will be highlighted as shown in the next image.


The path to the current position is highlighted

If you press “L” again, the highlight effect will be removed. If you move to a position outside the current path, press “L” to highlight the new path.

This new feature works in the Sandbox, database game view, and IDeA Project View.

Infinite Analysis

Now you can highlight moves in the notation that you have analyzed with infinite analysis. This feature gives you a quick overview of the moves you have analyzed and helps you spot positions that may need more attention.


Highlight analyzed moves

Click the dialog box launcher (tool button) in the Infinite Analysis group (highlighted in the image above). “Additional Infinite Analysis Options” will be displayed. Here you can enter the number of seconds required to mark a move as analyzed. In this example a move will be marked after 10 seconds of infinite analysis. Here is an example showing several moves marked as analyzed.


Analyzed moves highlighted in notation

Moves that have been analyzed for more than 10 seconds are highlighted with “Engine analysis” style, which in this case has been defined to display the move in pink color. You can modify the style by pressing Shift+S. For more information about styles and move classes, see Aquarium’s Hidden Treasures, Part One.

Even those who use IDeA as their main analysis tool, like to browse analysis trees looking for positions where they suspect the evaluation may not be correct. In that case, they can run infinite analysis to verify the IDeA results. Since the “Engine analysis” style is saved with the game, you can quickly see which positions you have analyzed when you open the game at a later time.

This is another feature that will be useful for correspondence players who need to keep track of their analysis in several ongoing games. This is a good opportunity to remind users that Aquarium stores all your infinite analysis, as long as it is sufficiently deep.


Stored infinite analysis

If you hover with the mouse pointer over the move and evaluation shown in the status bar, a window will pop up showing the results of your previous analysis of the current position as the screenshot above illustrates.

Now that multi-core computers have become common, and some players even have access to two or more computers, you may want to run infinite analysis on more than one game at the same time. You can always see which games are being analyzed by the green rectangle next to the games in the Navigation pane as shown below.


Green rectangles indicate analysis

Here we see three games being analyzed at the same time with infinite analysis. The green rectangles help you to quickly identify which games are being analyzed.

One more infinite analysis feature worth mentioning is the new Ctrl+E keyboard shortcut. It copies the current evaluation from the analysis window and inserts it as a “Long After” comment in the notation along with the analysis time.

Configurable Fields in Database List

Aquarium is slowly adding improved database features. In the new version, you can configure which fields are displayed in the database list.


Configurable columns

When you want to add or remove columns, right-click over the game list to display the menu shown above and click “Select columns.” Two new fields are available for the database list: Date and ECO code.

The IDeA Control Center

IDeA sees many improvements in the new Aquarium 2010 version. Unlike the initial Aquarium 2010, which revolutionized the analysis features, the new version focuses on usability improvements and giving the user more information about the status of the analysis.

Since there are so many changes, I break them into sections based their location. I start with the new buttons in the Ribbon and changes to how existing buttons work.

Starting IDeA

When you click “Start IDeA” in the IDeA Control Center and there is more than one active project, a list of the projects is displayed. If these are actually the projects that you want to analyze, just click OK.


IDeA informs about active projects

Now there is a Cancel button in case these are not the projects you want to analyze. After canceling, you can activate the projects you want to analyze and deactivate others before starting IDeA again.

Stopping IDeA

When stopping IDeA you get three new options, instructing IDeA to perform certain tasks before shutting down.


Actions to perform before stopping

If you don’t select any of these options, IDeA will stop immediately, without completing the analysis of current tasks, as it did in the previous version.

Wait for current IDeA tasks to finish stops IDeA after completing the tasks that are currently being analyzed.

Minimax after finish will minimax IDeA trees for all active projects before stopping.

Make accurate position count in subtrees (long) is a new feature that makes an accurate count of positions reachable from every node in the tree. Note that this is a very time consuming operation and you should not use it at all for trees with more than 30,000 positions. The method used for counting is more advanced and accurate, but also different from the method normally used by IDeA itself. One of the differences is that IDeA counts each node in the tree once, but the new option may count the same position many times if it can be reached via different paths. Also, it is not affected by move colors. Therefore, the numbers you see will often be very different from those normally shown by IDeA.

IDeA Presentation Options

Clicking the tool button in the IDeA group gives you two new options.


IDeA presentation options

Automatically show the selected task in the notation refers to what happens when you click a task in the task queue, which is displayed in the Stage Status window in project view. If you select this option, the position corresponding to the task, and the line leading up to the position, will be automatically displayed in the notation.

Display a warning when there are many active projects decides if the dialog box described above is displayed when you start IDeA with more than one active project.

Activate/Deactivate Project

The “Active” button is now available in the IDeA Control Center. This means that you can select a project in the project list and press “Active” to toggle the active state of the project.

In this example, the project at the top of the list has been selected as shown by the black border around it. It’s currently inactive and indicated by the “Status” column and the gray characters. Clicking the “Active” button will activate the project.

View Project Button

The new “View Project” button, below the project list, opens the selected project.

In this example, the Carlsen-Kramnik project would be displayed in project view. The “View Project” button is equivalent to double-clicking the project or selecting it and pressing the Enter key.

IDeA Session Statistics

The “Statistics” button in the IDeA Control Center displays statistics about the current analysis session.

Here you can see at what time the analysis session started and the CPU efficiency. Of course you want the CPU efficiency to be as close to 100% as possible. In this case it is 95%, which means that the engines have been busy 95% of the time. The rest of the time (5%), they have waited for a task to analyze; e.g., while IDeA is minimaxing the analysis tree.

CPU efficiency can be low if you are starting a new project from scratch with several engine instances. In general, the efficiency will increase if you analyze more than one project at the same time.

Automatic Creation/Correction of Tree Configurations

It seems that tree configurations are the main cause of frustration for new IDeA users. This problem is addressed in the new Aquarium version.

If there is no tree configuration specified for an IDeA project, it will be created automatically when the IDeA Project View is opened.

IDeA also examines existing configurations when IDeA Project View is opened. It checks if the fields “Positions,” “IdeA,” and “Main tree” use the IDeA tree that the user selected for the project. If not, then they are updated to use the project’s IDeA tree.

In addition to this, all changes to tree configurations as well as IDeA project settings are now immediately saved to disk. The former is not limited to IDeA or IDeA tree configurations.

Engine Button in QAT

You can now customize the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) in IDeA view to display an “Engine” button that brings up the “IDeA Engines Setup” dialog box.


IDeA QAT customization

You can add the new button by right-clicking somewhere in the QAT and selecting “Customize.” Make sure that “idea” is displayed in the “Mode” drop-down list and then select “Engines” by clicking the check box in the “Visible” column. The “Engines” button (highlighted in the image above) will be added to the QAT when you click OK.

The new button is available both in the IDeA Control Center and IDeA Project View. Previously, you had to switch to the IDeA Control Center and click the “Engines” button in the ribbon to modify the IDeA engine list. As before, it can only be modified when IDeA isn’t running.

IDeA Project View

The Project View Ribbon has several new buttons, including new statistics buttons, which give you a new insight into the analysis tree, beyond what a simple score and position count can do.

The “Root Node” button allows you to add a new analysis root with a single click.


Add the current position as root

When you click the button the current position is added as a root. One of the most common operations in Aquarium 2010 IDeA is to add and remove root positions. As you’ll see later in this column, removing root positions has been made equally easy.

Next we come to a feature that truly deserves its own special column: The “Statistics” group in the Project View Ribbon. It opens up a completely new view of the analysis results. This can help you to better understand where to focus your analysis resources, how likely your opponent is to go wrong in different variations, if the IDeA analysis is likely to surprise an opponent who relies only on infinite analysis, etc.


IDeA statistics

The four statistics buttons are shown in the image above.

The leftmost button, Project, gives you numeric information about the project.

2D-Eval displays a chart showing the distribution of scores for the sub-tree starting in the current position.

MM-Delta graphs the differences between infinite analysis evaluations and the IDeA scores.

Branching charts the number of alternatives examined for moves following the current position. This helps you find positions where additional analysis may be needed.


IDeA project statistics

The first pane, “Overall statistics,” shows the total passes or stages that have been completed and how many tasks of each type (”Prolongation,” “Alternatives,” and “Deep Prolongation”) have been created. Finally the results of the “False Alarm” checks are shown.

The second pane is an overview of the latest “Prolongation” stage. It shows the total number of leaf nodes in the tree, how many of those were rejected because of the limit you have set on variation length and the number of analysis tasks that were generated.

You can reset these statistics at any time by clicking the “Reset” button.

The third pane, “Other,” is new and shows when the tree was last minimaxed, when the latest backup was created and how many positions the tree contains.

The 2D-Eval chart shows the frequency distribution of scores in the sub-tree starting from the current position. The chart title in the screenshot below shows that the current score is +0.52 pawns, which means that White has a slight advantage. The chart is based on the 5 best moves in each position.


IDeA project statistics

The X-axis shows evaluations, but the Y-axis the number of positions. Here we can for example see that 41.1% of positions in the sub-tree are equal.

There are many things you can read from the 2D-Eval chart. In this case, we see that the distribution is rather flat across the three highest bars where the bulk of the nodes fall. If a game is played from this position, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the evaluation changes and if it does it most likely will move towards equality. In an over the board game, Black should be able to draw the position, but he has to be careful.

If you right-click over a chart, you get the option to save it to a graphics file or copy it to the clipboard.

There are several options available for the 2D-Eval chart. There is a drop-down list in the upper-right corner of the chart where you can choose to chart the nodes for all moves, or just for a specific move.


Chart a selected move

By default all moves are charted, but the drop-down list shows all available moves along with their score. When you select a specific move the chart is immediately updated to reflect your selection.

There are also options at the bottom of the chart window where you can specify the maximum number of alternatives that are included in the statistics.


Limit the number of alternatives

In this example, “Best White moves limit” is set to one. This means that in positions where White is to move, only the best move is considered. “Best Black moves limit” is set to five, so Black’s five best moves are added to the chart. After modifying the values, you must click the “Refresh” button to update the chart.

Finally, there are a few common presets available for the number of alternatives considered for each side.


Presets for number of alternatives

If you select “everything” all nodes in the sub-tree will be included. The other options are are displayed as two numbers, separated by a colon. The first number stands for the number of white alternatives and the second one for the number of black alternatives. If you, for instance, select “1:5″ only the best move from White will be included, but Black’s five best moves will be included in the chart.

The next chart is the “MM-Delta.” It compares the IDeA scores for the positions in the tree with the infinite analysis evaluations.


Infinite analysis evaluations vs. IDeA

The statistics are broken down by the color, so you get several pairs of yellow and brown bars, where the former represents White’s moves and the latter Black’s moves.

The Y-axis shows the difference between the infinite analysis evaluation and the IDeA score, measured in percentages, which are commonly used in Aquarium when evaluations need to be converted to winning percentages. On this scale, 5-7% means that when translated to probability of winning, the difference between infinite analysis and IDeA is 5-7%.

Positions where there is less than 1% difference between infinite analysis and IDeA are not shown in the chart.

If you right-click over one of the bars in the chart and select “Add to Notes”, the positions corresponding to that bar are added to a note list (see the description of note lists above), where you can browse them and examine further. This feature can be quite interesting for positions where there is a big difference between infinite analysis and IDeA.

The options for selecting data for the chart are similar to those for the “2D-Eval” chart described above.

The third chart is the “Branching” chart. This shows you which positions have many candidate moves analyzed and which have fewer moves analyzed.


The Branching chart

You can, for instance, take advantage of this information to decide where you want to focus your analysis. The following options are available for this chart.


Branching chart options

If you click a point on the lines in the chart, the corresponding variation is displayed in a box below the chart. You can then click “Go to position” to view the position on the board in Aquarium.

The chart can show moves for “Both Sides,” as in this example above or only for the “Current Side.” The chart can be limited to the best candidate moves, by specifying a low “Evaluation delta.” After changing delta, you must click “Refresh” to update the chart.

I have only described the technical part of using the new charts above. Their practical application is much more exciting, and an Aquarium user (”buffos”) will soon publish some interesting examples of their application on the Aquarium support forum. You should definitely check the forum, because it has a lot of useful information about Aquarium.

Project Status Window

The Project Status window has three improvements, which make working with IDeA faster and more convenient.


The improved Project Status window

The first change is that the “Analysis settings” is now a link that brings up the “Analysis Quality Settings” dialog box with a single click. Previously you had to switch to the IDeA Control Center to change the seconds/position, depth, maximum time, etc.

The second change makes working with root nodes more convenient. In the example above, you see three “Root nodes” links: “52 root node(s),” “(1/2),” and “disable this root.” When you click the second link, you cycle through the active roots. The first number (”1″ in this example) shows the current root and the second number (”2″ in this example) shows the total number of active root nodes. The third link is only displayed when the current position is a root node. If it is enabled, as it is in this example, the link shows “disable this root” so you can disable it with a single click. If the root is currently disabled, the link changes to “enable this root” and clicking it enables the root node. In the previous version you had to open the Root Node List to disable and enable root nodes. Clicking the leftmost link (here “52 root node(s)”) displays the improved Root Node List dialog box, shown below.


The new Root Node List dialog

The following improvements have been made since the initial Aquarium 2010 release:

1. The “Eval” column, showing the current score of the root node has been added.
2. The “Position” column now shows the final moves leading up to the root position, if they are available. Previously, only the FEN string for the position was displayed. This makes it much easier for the user to remember how the position shown on the board (missing from the image) arose.
3. The “Comment” column let’s you add comments to individual root positions. This can be very useful if you have several root positions.
4. If you open the Root Node List, where the current position is a root node (active or inactive), then the corresponding line is highlighted in the Root Node List. An example can be seen in the image above, where the third line from the bottom is highlighted.

The third and final improvement to the Project Status window is the addition of four lists that you can use for storing important positions along with verbal commentary. The names of the lists indicate what kind of positions they are intended for: “Good,” “Interesting,” “Critical,” and “Dubious.” As you can see when you look at the Project Status window image above, each list is displayed as two links, similar to the root nodes, and the links work in a similar manner. The two links are the name of the list (e.g., “Critical”) and a link with two numbers separated by a slash. The first number stands for the current position in the list and the second number is the total number of positions in the list. Clicking the numbers displays the next position in the list. When you reach the end of the list, it rewinds to the start of the list. Using this feature you can quickly scan the positions in each list. Clicking the name of the list displays the “Note List” dialog box. An example is shown in the next image.


A Note List dialog

As you can see, the “Note List” dialog box is similar to the “Root Node List.” For every position, you can see when it was added to the list, it’s current and initial score (the score when it was added to the list) and the most important piece of information, your notes about the position. You can edit, copy and paste the commentary. Right-clicking on an item in the list opens a menu where you can copy or move the position to other note lists. Double-clicking an item in the list opens the position setup dialog box.

There are five buttons at the bottom of the “Note List.” The leftmost button let’s you “Remove” the currently selected position, while “Remove All” deletes all positions from the list. The next button is “Add Board Position”; this is a quick way of adding the position displayed on the main board to the list. If you run into an interesting position that you want to remember, click the “Interesting” link in the Project Status window and then this button. It is disabled in the screenshot, because the current position is already in the list. When you are done, click the OK button to store your changes, or Cancel to ignore them.

Once you have opened the “Note List” dialog box, there is a drop-down list below the chess board (not shown in the image above), which lets you switch between the available lists.

Whenever you open a list and the current position is in the list, it will be highlighted. This applies both to the note lists and the root node list. An example can be seen in the image above, where the first position in the list is the current position.

Stage Status Window

The first thing you will notice about the Stage Status window in the new version is that the task queue looks different.


The Stage Status window

Instead of a fully expanded queue with one square for each task, only the tasks that are being analyzed are displayed individually. The leftmost gray square shows that there are eight finished tasks. There are two green squares, which represent the tasks that are currently being analyzed. You can click an active task to see the engine analysis. In this example, the second active task has been selected and you can follow its analysis in the space below the queue. The yellow square shows that there are 14 tasks in the queue waiting to be analyzed.

One of the reasons for this change is to allow the processing of large EPD files when showing each individual task would not be practical.

A new menu item has been added to the “Manage” menu in the Stage Status window.


Make an accurate position count

The “Fill Subtree Power” scans every position in the tree and makes an accurate count of positions that can be reached from it. It is the same operation as was described above when the new features of the IDeA “Stop” button were described. Note that this is a very time consuming operation and you should not use it for trees with more than 30,000 positions.

IDeA Notation Window

There is one change in the IDeA notation window, which clears IDeA related highlighting from the notation and then displays all root positions, both active and inactive, with a blue color.


Reset IDeA marks

If you want to highlight the root moves and remove highlighting from positions that were manually added to IDeA, right-click over the notation window and select “Reset IDeA marks” from the menu.

Conclusion

As you have seen in this column, the new Aquarium 2010 version is a major update. It offers new features, such as the correspondence chess module, and numerous changes that were designed to improve the usability of Aquarium 2010. Best of all, the new version is free for current users!

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