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Greenblatt (Computer)
Number of games in database: 8
Years covered: 1967 to 1977
Overall record: +1 -6 =1 (18.8%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games.

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(born 1966) United States of America

[what is this?]

Also known as MacHack (it was one of the first ever computers to be allowed to participate in a tournament: those like Toronto's Labour Day classic), its programmer was Richard D. Greenblatt. It superceded some of the routines developed by Mr. Kotok, Paul W. Abrahams and John McCarthy at MIT under Project MAC for machines such as the PDP-6, later ported to the PDP-10. Mr. Greenblatt, Donald E. Eastlake III & Stephen D. Crocker later released its source code as it acheived a USCF rating of 1243 in 1966. Larry Kaufman helped write part of its opening book. It was the first program to play in a tournament against humans and achieve a chess rating. It is an honourary member of the Massachussets State Chess Association.

Last updated: 2018-12-04 03:34:44

 page 1 of 1; 8 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. NN vs Greenblatt ½-½331967Tournament 1C58 Two Knights
2. C E Wagner vs Greenblatt 1-0551967Winter Amateur TournamentA00 Uncommon Opening
3. Greenblatt vs B Landey 1-0211967Massachusetts State ChampionshipB20 Sicilian
4. P Haley vs Greenblatt 1-0471969Labour Day OpenA04 Reti Opening
5. Greenblatt vs J A Curdo 0-1351971Greater Boston OpenC82 Ruy Lopez, Open
6. Greenblatt vs Fischer 0-1471977Computer MatchB27 Sicilian
7. Greenblatt vs Fischer 0-1391977Computer MatchB92 Sicilian, Najdorf, Opocensky Variation
8. Fischer vs Greenblatt 1-0211977Computer MatchC33 King's Gambit Accepted
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Greenblatt wins | Greenblatt loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Mar-24-05  Whitehat1963: Hilariously bad chess player -- at least next to Fischer. Yes, yes, I know, it was 1977. Funny thing is, only 20 years later computers had come far enough ahead to have beaten Kasparov!
Jun-23-05  sibilare: It wasn't a very good chess computer. But since its inception, chess computers of today would follow on how this one was made.

Look around 1/2 to 3/4 ways down on the link below. Or read the whole thing...

Aug-23-06  ianD: This computer played a crap game of chess.

DidFischer get well payed to play this Patzer

Jan-07-07  Maatalkko: This was the "Match of Recluses". Greenblatt's programmers refused to play it against other computers; Fischer refused to play against other humans.
Mar-08-07  wolfmaster: I can see why Greenblatt didn't play other computers; it'd gotten crushed!
May-22-07  piroflip: wolfmaster

not in 1977 it wouldn't

Feb-24-09  WhiteRook48: I wonder if it can still function
Jun-04-11  Graham1973: No idea. Anyway here is a link to the MIT paper with a few more games in descriptive notation. Seems like it was able to pull off a win now and again (Against a 1510).

Jun-04-11  BobCrisp: Is <Greenblatt> a Jewish name?
Jun-04-11  Graham1973: I wouldn't know. But, do you know if there is software to translate from descriptive notation to algebraic notation? I'd love to add the matches from the MIT paper (1 loss, 1 win, 2 draws) to the database.

The win BTW is why the software has that honorary membership, it was the first time any program had beaten a human player...might be why they bought Fischer in...

Jun-04-11  Tomlinsky: <Graham1973> I've downloaded the paper and will submit the games after transcribing them.
Jun-05-11  Graham1973: <Tomlinsky>Thanks. Do you know how long it normally takes from submission to appearance in the database?
Jun-05-11  BobCrisp: Games I submitted typically appeared the following Sunday, but some took longer.
Jun-05-11  Graham1973: I've found a document recording an interview with Greenblatt about the software he wrote. On pgs 18 to 20 there is some information about the tournament games in the MIT paper linked to earlier including the name of the person who lost to the computer.

No mention of the Fischer games though.

Jun-06-11  Tomlinsky: Here's the first game...

[Event "Winter Amatuer Tournament"]
[Site "Massachusetts"]
[Date "1967.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "NN"]
[Black "Greenblatt, (Mac Hack VI)"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2190"]
[EventDate "1967.??.??"]

1. g3 e5 2. Nf3 e4 3. Nd4 Bc5 4. Nb3 Bb6 5. Bg2
Nf6 6. c4 d6 7. Nc3 Be6 8. d3 exd3 9. Bxb7 Nbd7 10. exd3 Rb8 11. Bg2 O-O 12. O-O Bg4 13. Qc2 Re8 14. d4 c5 15. Be3 cxd4 16. Nxd4 Ne5 17. h3 Bd7 18. b3 Bc5 19. Rad1 Qc8 20. Kh2 Ng6 21. Bg5 Re5 22. Bxf6 gxf6 23. Ne4 f5 24. Nf6+ Kg7 25. Nxd7 Qxd7 26. Nc6 Rbe8 27. Nxe5 Rxe5 28. Qc3 f6 29. Rd3 Re2 30. Rd2 Rxd2 31. Qxd2 Ne5 32. Rd1 Qc7 33. Bd5 Kg6 34. b4 Bb6 35. Qc2 Nc6 36. Be6 Nd4 37. Rxd4 Bxd4 38. Qxf5+ Kg7 39. Qg4+ Kh6 40. Qxd4 Qe7 41. Qh4+ Kg6 42. Bf5+ Kg7 43. Qxh7+ Kf8 44. Qh8+ Kf7 45. Qa8 Qc7 46. Qd5+ Kg7 47. Kg2 Qe7 48. h4 Kh6 49. g4 Kg7 50. h5 Qe2 51. h6+ Kf8 52. h7 Qxf2+ 53. Kxf2 Ke7 54. h8=Q a6 55. Qe6# 1-0

Jun-06-11  Graham1973: Just tried it with WinBoard and the file works. Suggestion, you might want to keep to the naming used with the other files (eg 'Greenblatt (Computer)') so that they all stay together.

How do you convert from descriptive notation to algebraic notation?

Jun-06-11  Tomlinsky: Ahh, true enough. I'll do that before submission. For conversion I use the grey matter that still works on a good day. All chess literature I had access to used the system when I first started playing. It really is quite simple, mainly because it's well.. descriptive.
Jun-06-11  Tomlinsky: There are problems with the score for the second game. I assume that Black's 26th move is B-KN4 as he doesn't actually possess a knight at that stage. That solves things and the score makes sense again until move 31 where R-KN8 with check is impossible as there is a pawn between the rook and king. If I assume that the move was not with check then the remaining moves work, although entered incorrectly, with white settling for a repetition instead of going for the win. Which is quite possible I suppose if time was short and White was 1400 or so...

[Event "Tournament 1"]
[Date "1967.??.??"]
[Round "3"]
[White "NN"]
[Black "Greenblatt, (Computer)"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[WhiteElo "1410"]
[EventDate "1967.??.??"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 d5 5. exd5
Na5 6. Bb5+ c6 7. dxc6 bxc6 8. Qf3 Qd5 9. Qxd5 Nxd5 10. Be2 Bf5 11. d3 Bb4+ 12. Bd2 Bxd2+ 13. Nxd2 O-O 14. a3 f6 15. Ngf3 Rab8 16. b4 Nb7 17. O-O Nc3 18. Rfe1 Nxe2+ 19. Rxe2 Nd6 20. Ne4 Nxe4 21. dxe4 Be6 22. Rd1 Bc4 23. Red2 Rb7 24. Rd8 Rxd8 25. Rxd8+ Kf7 26. Nh4 Bb5 27. Nf5 Rc7 28. g4 Kg6 29. Rd6 Be2 30. Rd8 Bxg4 31. Rg8 Kh5 32. Nxg7+ Kh6 33. Nf5+ Kh5 1/2-1/2

Jun-07-11  Graham1973: I may have hit similar problems with trying to convert the notation of an old newspaper account into algebraic notation. As far as I can tell everything is correct but I get errors when I attempt the conversion using CHSBD.
Jun-07-11  Petrosianic: This is the real problem with Descriptive. It's more of an art form than algebraic. The art of saying exactly what you need to say, but no more. Like B-QB4 is "wrong" if B-KB4 is legal. "How can that be wrong?", one might ask. The Bishop moves to QB4. Yes, but that's more than you need to say. You only have to say B-B4 in that case, so B-QB4 is unnecessarily verbose.

The problem is that that would lead to notation errors when both moves were technically possible, but one was so poor that nobody would consider making it. Like if B-QB4 and B-KB4 are both legal, but black has a pawn on e5, and so B-KB4 would just hang the Bishop, a player might tune the move so completely out of their consciousness that they wouldn't remember that it was legal when it came time to write the move down. I found a lot of notation errors like that in my early games when I tried to enter them into the computer.

Jun-07-11  Tomlinsky: All of the moves transcribed are legal and the errors, and moves themselves, make sense assuming it was a time scramble at the end with a low rated player with a computer looking, maybe, 2 or so 1 or 2 Ply when moving quickly. This is 1967. I'l wager the score here is correct.
Jun-07-11  Tomlinsky: As Petrosianic notes, descriptive could get very messy. Ambiguities and erros were easily made in time trouble. Move 26 had to be a bishop move and ignoring the rook check that was impossible the move itself was legal as were the following moves. It does match up with the game in the notes... in the end.
Jun-08-11  Graham1973: You might want to mosey over to the Daniel F M Starbuck to have a look at a game I'm trying to convert to algebraic but am having problems with. I'm simply not an experienced enough chessplayer to work out what is wrong with the moves.
Jun-08-11  Petrosianic: Oddly enough, in looking over those early games, I found that although I'd made plenty of errors of ambiguity, that I'd made very few errors involving square naming (like saying R-Q2 when it should have been R-Q7). This is the kind of error people seem to expect from Descriptive, since after all, every square has 2 names. But it was much less of a problem for me than the B-B4/B-QB4 type of error. It was actually more natural than algebraic in that respect, since no matter what side of the board you're sitting on, the numbers increase as they move away from you, which is easy to remember.

Another advantage of algebraic that almost nobody talks about: It's much easier to type. If you want to type the move B-QB4, you hit and release the shift key twice. But to type Bc4, you only hit and release it once (and you also only type 3 characters, rather than 5).

Jun-09-11  Tomlinsky: <Petrosianic> I wouldn't use descriptive these days but something I've occasionally pondered on, that is also pertinent to language in general, is that language itself influences the way that we think and there may well be benefits.

Although seemingly archaic it's nature is to 'physically' describe piece movement from the perspective of the player on the move. When thinking about moves internally it makes perfect sense to me. The internal picture builds up like a natural spoken language as opposed to a more mnemonic style thought process.

It seems long winded now, for sure, but then more colourful languages do tend to be appear that way compared to more stripped down and 'logical' forms I wonder?

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