Learning chess with Casablanca and Rotty

9/27/2004 – Why pay $50 for a program when you can get it for four buck? It may be illegal, but tempting if you have to get by on $100 per month. Apart from the moral aspect, are there any technical downsides? Denis Markov bought a pirated copy of Junior in Russia. Here is his disheartening report.

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Playing with the Pirates

By Denis Markov


Pirated software on sale on the streets in Russia

As many of you maybe know, Russia is the Empire of Evil. Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha! Just kidding. Anyway when talking about illegal stuff, you must understand that illegal elsewhere sometimes may be almost legal here. We are not speaking about alcohol and drugs, because we are sportsmen. We are referring to pirated software – that's a subject to discuss.

A pirated CD in Russia costs about three euros (just under $4). You pay for the CD, not for the software itself. If a program takes up one CD, it is €3, if it needs five you have to pay five times more.

Anyway, considering that €100 is the average salary in Russia, three Euros CDs look like a salvation. And for many people it really is sometimes. But, of course, you never have any warranty against getting something really terrible instead of desired software.


Anything you want – but no guarantee that it will actually work

I decided to check for myself if the thee Euros Junior 8 is worse than 50 Euros one. It was tempting. The CD box of the pirated program proclaimed in giant letters: "Russian Version". Being Russian myself I thought that it would be nice to use this great chess program in my own language. I am pretty good with English, as you can see. But Russian is Russian!

So yes, I bought it!

The first problem – the program started to crash from time to time, right after installation. Considering that my legal copy of Junior 8 worked great I think it was the pirated CD's problem, not mine.

But that's nothing compared to the quality of Russian adaptation! It is hard to “translate the translated", but I will try:

  • "Infinite analysis" was translated as "Many analyses".
  • "Chess Engine" became "Chess Machine".
  • "Playing strength" in the handicap options became "Playing strongly".
  • "Kibitzer" became "Counsellor".

And so on, all over the program. As for me, I was only able to understand how to use the program because I had used the untranslated version before.

  • But the funniest thing was how opening names were translated. Ruy Lopez, which in Russian is called the "Spanish Game," became "The Defence of Roy Lopes". Only very few Russian players have heard of "Ruy Lopez" or know what it means.

  • The "Colle system" has been translated to "The system of Koll". Richard Reti would turn in his grave if he knew that he is being referred to as "Rotty". The same with Steinitz, who has mutated to Shtenits, and Nimzovitch, who is now Nimzowish.

  • Capablanca can be pretty satisfied. At least “Casablanca” is a famous town in Northern Africa and a movie starring Humphrey Bogard and Ingrid Bergman.

I could take the torture only for an hour or so. If you want just to move the pieces, that's okay maybe. But if you want to use chess program for it's main purpose – to learn, to analyse, to find hidden game ideas and check things – things that are not easy to do without the help of artificial intelligence – well, then go for the real thing. This pirated CD can teach you anything but chess!


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