(Q1) Initially, what made you decide that you wanted to write a chess program and what hardware did you write it on (The story I heard was that you where contracting in Alaska and had no one to play chess with)
(A1) I had gotten a copy of the original Microchess (which ran on a z80) and was a 4k assembly program as I recall. It had a number of levels and a setup mode. I played it taking off both my Q and both Rooks, and could always WIN. I thought - I can do better than that! So first thing I did was write a disassembler (in z80 assembly) to see how the program worked. First thing I discovered is the levels simply affected a delay loop - hence no real levels at all. Rather than trying to figure out exactly what the program did, I figured it would be easier if I just wrote my own. First effort was MyChess, which focused on speed chess (completely independent movegen for white and black. One of the funny things about MyChess is that it originally had two 16 byte arrays for the pieces and the piece values were fixed by position (again, in the interest of speed). The result of this is that you could only promote a pawn to a 'captured' piece.
(Q2) All these years later, WChess has been incorporated recently into commercial software packages such as Majestic Chess and Disneys Aladin Chess. Are these the same version and do they contain your latest bit of coding?
(A2) That I don't know. Fluent (Majestic Chess) generally used a derivitive from WChess for their chess programs. I'm not sure what is in Aladin Chess, but suspect it may have been one of the dedicated programs I did years ago for Novag.
(Q3) Do you keep up with what is presently happening within the world of computer chess today especially the phenomenal rise of Rybka?
(A3) No, I don't follow the chess wars. I was checked out 'Hydra Chess' a while back, but they seem to have gone quiet. I have seen a general rise in strength of the PC programs. It appears some significant algorithmic or heuristic improvements have been discovered.
(Q4) Turning to Novag, how did you initially become their engine programmer. Were you working for a software company when Peter Auge contacted you?
(A4) I had won a computer tournament (SF Micro Championship, don't recall the year, but was an early one that George Koltanowski helped organize). I was fortunate to have both Fidelity and Peter both interested in my services. I ended up going with Peter primarily because I had not been impressed by the character shown by the principles of Fidelity in various events.
(Q5) Novag occasionally release a strong product like the recent Citrine. Would they have contacted you for a new program for this or do the Novag software engineers change the coding that they already have to suit?
(A5) I haven't done work for Novag in some years now, I suspect they either have a new source for their programs or their engineers have updated the code from my old works.
(Q6) Do you provide Novag with regular updates or are all there products now engineered from a WChess program you sent them a while ago? If this is so, when would be the last time Novag received an update from you?
(A6) See above. I don't recall last update, would have been several years back (maybe 10 years?)
Novag's response - Dave's last update for us was for the Star Diamond (2003)
(Q7) Novags latest offering the excellent 2Robot, is their first robotic chess computer since 1981. Did you have any involvment developing this product?
(A7) No. I am glad they are back into producing a robot chess player. I always thought the Robot Adversary was by far and away the best chess playing robot ever made available.
(Q8) And finally, will we see WChess in any new PC titles during 2009 and any inside information about anything new from Novag?
(A8) Nothing I'm aware of. As I said, I have been out of the chess wars for some time now. I currently work for Mentor Graphics as the Field Application Engineering manager (worldwide) for their embedded systems division. Our division provides embedded software and tools for worldwide developers who create consumer electronic, medical, industrial control, networking, mil-aero etc. products and our customers range from small startup companies to the largest players.