John F. White: Writing Strategy Games On Your Atari Computer & Superquerg
John F. White is author of the book Writing Strategy Games On Your Atari Computer and the creator of Superquerg and Negaquerg, computer chess programs that were distributed in New Atari User magazine.
He was also a contributor to the UK computer magazines Popular Computing Weekly, Personal Computing, Practical Computing, and Computer Weekly, often writing about computer chess and game strategy.
His book Writing Strategy Games On Your Atari Computer, published in 1983, offers “techniques for intelligent games,” with advice and BASIC code for programming tic-tac-toe, checkers, chess, and other board games.
New Atari User’s description of SuperQuerg — it was a “disk bonus,” not a type- in program — was: “SuperQuerg Chess is a third generation program with alpha-beta pruning and iterative deepening. An alpha-beta window is also employed. Uses Shannon A and B strategies, killer heuristic and chopper functions, new methods for searching to deep levels and for other game strategies. ... Querg Chess is unusual among chess programs in that it relies more on the strength of its positional strategy than on its tactical play. Artificial Intelligence methods are used to switch between strategic and tactical searching, as the program considers appropriate.”
John organized the 1982 Chess Computer Symposium, the first major tournament to assign gradings to chess computers by their play against human opponents. He is co-creator of Blitz Latin, Latin-to-English language translation software.
This interview took place via email from July 13 through 16, 2020. You will be hearing John’s words but not his voice. John preferred not to do a voice interview, so for this audio podcast, his emailed responses will be read by Victor Marland.