Forum Archive : Snowie

Snowie vs GNU

From:   Stanley E. Richards
Date:   3 October 2005
Subject:   Snowie vs. GNU
Forum:   GammOnLine

Perhaps, it is poor form but I will state my conclusions first. Snowie
is far superior software, but GNU is much more important for the
development of interest in backgammon.

Why is Snowie superior?

1. Tutorial mode indicates 1, 2 or 3 ply analysis of each option
immediately after the move. It also details gammon and winning chances.
This feature is especially useful for beginners and intermediates. It
provides instant and continuous feedback. Said feedback enables the
backgammon player to more quickly learn checker play and to estimate
winning percentages. GNU's tutorial mode only gives this information if
there is a checker or cube error.

2. Analysis of moves after a match is easier. Personally, I am not
interested in careful analysis of my opponent. I prefer to only look at
my errors which is possible with Snowie, but not with GNU. Secondly,
Snowie will automatically update your match score after rollouts. For
instance, you may suspect that a 3 ply decision is wrong and perform a
rollout. Your match score is changed according to the rollout. This is
helpful if your decision was much better than indicated by 3 ply. GNU
does not change match scores after rollouts.

3. Snowie's Account Manager is very useful in evaluating your opponents
and yourself. You can easily track how well you have played over a
period of time. You can also be aware of those players who frequently
play well or mostly play poorly. I personally do not pay much attention
to my opponents' play. Although, I do see how that could be helpful.
However, I like to see my final Snowie score after one month. Record
that score. Purge the Account Manager and see if I improve in the next
month. I believe that GNU only keeps this information if you remember to
ask GNU to do so. While, Snowie will automatically update account
information. I may be wrong about this. Let me know.

4. Snowie's graphics are outstanding. It may seem to be trivial but
color analysis graphics do matter.

However, GNU is also excellent software. There seems to be little or no
difference in the quality of play. I am fortunate that I purchased
Snowie before downloading GNU. If I had GNU first, I may never have
purchased Snowie and would not have learned of its advantages. GNU is a
very fine tool for learning backgammon and enjoying the challenge of
playing against world class playing robot. I know that it is more
important to the developing interest in backgammon because it is FREE.
Anybody can download this excellent software and become a backgammon
addict like the rest of us.

I know this short post has only touched the surface of the Snowie/GNU
comparison. I would like to hear others speak of the advantages and
disadvantages of these products. On a philosophical note, we are all
very fortunate to be enjoying backgammon in these times. When my Dad
introduced backgammon to me in the 70's, we did not have internet
backgammon sites and great software. I did not have much of an
opportunity to play and lost interest. Two years ago, I discovered on
line backgammon and have fallen in love with the game. Also, the ability
to see your mistakes with software increases the enjoyability of the
game. Also, great authors like Robertie, Lamford, and Woolsey have
enabled us to understand the mistakes that the software reveals. So the
next time somebody rolls two sets of double sixes against you to win a
match that he does not deserve--remember that we are living in a golden
age of backgammon awareness. That is the pleasant approach that I take
to somebody beating me with super jokers... Then I slamm my fist on the
desk and say that !@#$% lucky bastard.

Marty Storer  writes:

You're talking mostly about the user interface. No argument from me that
Snowie's is better. I would guess that GNU's engine came first, probably
controlled initially from a UNIX command line--then as things
progressed, a GUI went up around that core.

But I find Snowie to be as slow as frozen molasses. So my next big
rollout project is going to be with GNU.

Other things in favor of GNU: better back-end (it really does seem to
play a bit better than Snowie); more choices for front-end evaluation
and rollout settings.

Finally, you can't beat GNU's price.

rew  writes:

Some areas where Gnu is better than Snowie:

1. Speed. Gnu is much faster in all areas.
2. Error rates. The error rates are more intelligently calculated and
   gives and overall better view of the match.
3. Checker play according to score in rollouts.
4. Graphics. To me snowie 4 looks like shit. I did love Snowie3
5. Adabtibility. Gnu can interface with python scripts.

These are the majors I can remember off hand.  Overall I would not trade
GnuBg with Snowie4 (but I will definitely buy Zbot).

The biggest shortcomings in Gnu from my perspective is the lack of a
position format so you can save rollouts, and the inability to do batch

Chuck Bower  writes:

> 3. (Gnu-bg uses) checker play according to score in rollouts.

This is very important for the serious (and strong) student. Amazingly
SW-3 did this but not SW-4. Best way to p-o a population is to take away
priveleges they have enjoyed.

SW does batch rollouts which is doable by GNU-bg, but not user-friendly
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Announcement  (Olivier Egger, Apr 1998) 
Checker-play-according-to-score bug  (Peter Schneider+, June 2001) 
Error rates  (Gregg Cattanach, Oct 2000) 
Hints and questions  (Achim Müller+, Aug 1998) 
Luck calculation  (Gregg Cattanach+, Dec 1999) 
Questions and answers  (David Montgomery, Dec 1998) 
Running in low priority  (lmfback+, Oct 2004) 
Snowie 4.0  (SnowieGroup Info, Oct 2002) 
Snowie 4.3 update  (Gregg Cattanach, July 2005)  [GammOnLine forum]
Snowie cube evaluation  (Kit Woolsey, Sept 2007)  [GammOnLine forum]
Snowie vs GNU  (Stanley E. Richards+, Oct 2005)  [GammOnLine forum]
Snowie vs. Jellyfish  (Mark Driver, Apr 2001) 
Snowie vs. Jellyfish  (Daniel Murphy, Oct 2000) 
Snowie vs. Jellyfish  (Gregg Cattanach+, Sept 2000) 
Snowie vs. Jellyfish  (Wayne Crookes, Jan 1999) 
Snowie vs. Jellyfish  (Kenneth M. Arnold+, May 1998)  [Long message]
Terminology  (Alexander Nitschke, Sept 1998) 
Using rollouts  (Michael J. Zehr+, Oct 1998)  [Long message]

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