That leaves Niche. The romhack scene, which we’ve started covering regularly on Thursdays, fills out that in that area a bit, but there’s still a lot of subcultures out there that could use a better look.
One of them is that around internet board games, and the biggest of those is, of course, the game of chess. The basis of chess is subtly different from that of video games, or even most other board games. Chess is deep enough that there’s a sense of mathematical purity to it. Petty human considerations seem to be disregarded in favor of finding the objectively best moves to make given a situation.
This is the road that has led us to the phenomenon of the chess engine, a computer program that plays chess. For a few years now computers have been known to beat the best human players, but far from ruining the game, the best human grandmasters now use computer programs to train. And far from requiring a supercomputer like Deep Blue, now ultra-high-level computer chess is in the reach of the ordinary user (who happens to be handy with a command prompt), in the form of the open-source engine Stockfish.
Stockfish is only a chess engine; it has no UI. Instead, graphic chess playing programs include it, interfacing with it through the Universal Chess Interface.
By the way! Did you know there’s a such an object as a Universal Chess Interface? Truly, as my pal the King of All Cosmos says, Earth has a lot of things.
Stockfish is thought to be the strongest chess-playing engine in the world, and you can use it yourself on your own computer! Maybe it is the future after all.