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By default, engines return the strongest variation(s) they calculate. I was wondering if there is a way to tweak an open source chess engine to show a move from their MultiPV which is slightly better than or equal to your moves. Let's say the evaluation stays only +2 consistently through the game. Instead of the strongest move in a position, the engine is retuning back the move with +2. Is there a way to do this?

[edit 3.10.2019] in case of a blunder (e.g. +3 jump in the engine evaluation, the engine can keep the difference and continue the game with +5 instead of +2).

[edit 4.10.2019] I found that on https://lichess.org there are levels for SF. Right now, level 5 corresponds to ca. 1700 elo, level 6 is 1900, level 7 is 2200. This satisfies my needs and closes my question. Thank you

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    May I ask what the purpose of this is? Do not get me wrong but this sounds a bit like cheating advice as I currently do not see any other use case. – Fabian Fichter Oct 1 at 19:43
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    @FabianFichter The obvious use case is to tune the engine to be slightly better than the player so that he always gets a challenging game but one where he still has a chance and doesn't just get crushed. – Brian Towers Oct 1 at 21:47
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    @BrianTowers As it is described above, it however maintains the same advantage no matter the playing strength of the opponent (if I understand correctly), so playing well or not does not have impact on the result, which does not sound like a suitable opponent for training. Would be good to get a clarification from Amir. – Fabian Fichter Oct 2 at 7:09
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    If you'd like to tweak the SF just to play against it than I would highly reccomend the good old Chessmaster 9000 - a desktop chess software that has about 100 human-like levels. That way you can play against a certain opponent until you can beat him easily and then move on to the next one. Works great even on Windows 10. – ThinkTank Oct 2 at 15:55
  • I don't think this would work as you're intending; see the answer below and my comment. – Grade 'Eh' Bacon Oct 2 at 19:13
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Ok, so say the engine plays a move with white and values the position as +0.50 (slightly better for white). So now the human plays as black, and blunders a bishop. The engine now values the position as +3.50, but you want to play a move as close as possible to +0.50, v. g. +0.60. Is it what you're looking for?

In that case it seems the way to go is (from the POV of the engine); "the position after my last move was +0.50, so in the current position, if a move that improves that eval exists, I must play the one closest to +0.50. Otherwise (there isn't a move that improves my eval after my last move), play the best move available." If this is your idea, I guess this is doable, and for someone who develops their own chess engine probably shouldn't be hard to code.

Maybe the idea can be improved. For example, if you blunder a bishop, probably it's a good idea the engine to grab the bishop than to play something really stupid.

In any case, I think it's definitely doable, probably with some refinement. (For example, it's not the same blundering a bishop in one than losing a bishop after a 10 moves combination; in the first case, IMO, the engine should take the bishop, but in the second one it should chose a sub-optimal move).

  • This highlights the flaw in the proposal from OP - playing against such a computer, you could ram your queen into the pawn on A2, and the rook couldn't capture back, since +8 [winning the queen for a pawn] is further away from +0.5 than -6 [losing the rook and pawn for no compensation]. – Grade 'Eh' Bacon Oct 2 at 19:13
  • Thanks for the valid points and for improving the idea – Amir Oct 2 at 23:22

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