SparkChess Premium has many features not available online for free. In this section we’ll try to answer any questions you might have about advanced functionality.
What’s the difference between the Premium Live login and the Multiplayer login?
Premium Live users may need to log in twice when using SparkChess:
The first step is to log in to the Premium Live service. Here, users must enter the email address they used to create the Premium Live account after purchasing a subscription and the associated password. Once logged in, they can play single-player or multiplayer.
Signing up for multiplayer is completely separate. Users log in to the Multiplayer service with an account created for this purpose, using a username (nickname) of their choice.
This system is necessary and by design. Premium Live users can have multiple multiplayer accounts, and a separate username protects their privacy by not revealing their email addresses.
What do Alyx’ settings mean?
Alyx is a customizable AI character that we created. Unlike the others like Claire or Boris, you can tweak Alyx to alter her strength and play style.
There are currently ten parameters that you can alter. We tried to name them intuitively so as not to bore you with chess engine implementation details. Here are the basic descriptions:
- Strength – this is the most important parameter. It specifies how many plies (half-moves) Alyx will think ahead. In some cases Alyx will think even more than this number, but this is the baseline. Increasing this value greatly increases the required time.
- Time – this is the allocated time per move. It can be as low as 1 second and as high as 4 minutes per move. It should be high enough so that Alyx has enough time to finish thinking. In other words, it’s not enough to increase strength, you should increase the time as well.
- Judgement – This parameter affects Alyx’ ability to evaluate captures and recaptures when thinking, in order to arrive at a ‘quiet’ position before evaluating the board. Chess engines call this quiescence.
- Accuracy – This is the accuracy in evaluating the board. Increasing this to 100% makes Alyx always perform the best move; lower values allow for more variation in play. Decreasing this will lead to spectacular blunders.
- Focus – You shouldn’t need to alter it too much. The impact on search is relatively limited. Lowering it can make most searches faster, with an occasional very slow one. Higher values will make search times more uniform. Also known as ‘aspiration‘.
- Aggressivity controls how ‘desirable’ captures may seem. A higher value doesn’t mean a stronger play!
- Memory – how much memory is allocated for ‘cache’ – remembering old positions. Higher values will improve search times, but only up to a point.
- Intuition controls the heuristic algorithms, helping Alyx remember previous moves that were very good/bad. Altering it will subtly change the behavior, but there’s no a specific direction that will increase the strength. You’ll have to experiment.
- Insight is important in discarding bad moves. Moving it all the way to the left will possibly lead to more accurate results since no move will be discarded in tricky situations, but will dramatically increase search times.
- Knowledge affects openings and determines how much Alyx will rely on her memorized opening lines.
If you find an interesting combination of parameters, please share with us!
How do I add or save PGN files on iOS?
SparkChess uses iTunes to add, save and delete PGN files from your iPhone or iPad.
On iOS, each app has its own separate Documents Folder. The files saved in those folders are accessible by iTunes. SparkChess can import and export PGN files to its own folder.
To add PGN files on your iOS device or to save a PGN file from the iOS device to your computer, open iTunes, click on the iPhone/iPad button at the top to connect to your device, then click on Apps. From the Apps tab, look at the File Sharing section. There are two panels there. Choose SparkChess from the left panel; on the right panel you’ll see SparkChess’ Documents (if any). To add a new PGN, click on “Add File…” button and select a PGN file from your computer. To save a file from the iOS device to your computer, select a PGN from the right panel a click on “Save to…” button. To delete a PGN file from your iPhone/iPad, right-click on the desired file from the right panel and choose Delete.
When you’re done, don’t forget to click on the Sync button at the bottom of the page!
Check out this video showing how to use iTunes to manage SparkChess PGN files.
In SparkChess, click on Replay and then on the Import or Export icons to load and save PGN files in the game’s Documents Folder.