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What
 
Ziggurat is the name of my chess engine which I have been working on since its first release as Windows Chess in the first Windows Entertainment Pack in 1989.  A group of Microsoft developers believed that, in order for Windows to succeed, a grassroots effort to create simple but fun entertainment titles needed to be made, and thus "Bogus Software" was born.  The byline for Bogus Software was that all of our applications could be "written in ten days plus a couple of two day follow-ups."  Read more about Bogus Software here.
 
Where
 
On this web site you will find the current Ziggurat UCI chess engine available for download, as well as other chess programs and utilities of interest, information about Ziggurat development and upcoming events, and links to other interesting chess and chess programming sites.
 
Why
 
Initially, Ziggurat was written to promote Windows as a platform, and so folks could have a decent graphical chess game to play.  The initial versions of Ziggurat were not particularly strong as they did not incorporate state-of-the-art chess intelligence in them; they contained a basic alpha-beta search engine with none of the advances we find in modern chess engines such as Crafty, Stockfish and Houdini.
 
The present version of Ziggurat has been written from the ground up as an engine intended to be able to play a respectable game with better chess engines; my goal is to create an engine that plays with an ELO of 2500+ (approximately International Grandmaster level), and hopefully enter the engine in the World Computer Chess Championship (WCCC). 
 
But why write a computer chess engine at all?  There are literally hundreds of chess engines presently available, the best ones free and play better than almost all human players.  Nonetheless, the state of the art continues to advance, and writing a good chess program is very difficult and taxing.  Recursive programs by their nature are difficult to write properly and debug.  My underlying reasons for this effort can best be found in the Nun Study.  In short: I do it in the hope that it will keep my mind sharp.
 
When
 
Ziggurat is presently under active development, and new versions will be posted here on a regular basis.  Version 1.0 will be the one that gets entered in the WCCC.  I will not keep any older versions around until 1.0 is completed.  The current version(s) are beta, but play a very respectable game of chess.
 
Several people have asked for a 32-bit version.  I have added that to my to-do list, but will probably not get to in the near term so I can focus on improving the strength of the engine for the WCCC tournament.
 
News
 
I gave up on the C# version as it was far too slow; I've resumed development on the C version.  In the near future, I will be focusing on transposition tables, tablebases (opening book and endgames), and improved search.  My computer is constantly running the genetic algorithm to fine tune the programs evaluation parameters.
 
Best regards,
David Norris
 

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