Don Dailey

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Don Dailey
Harvard Cup 1992, Patrick Wolff and Don Dailey
Born(1956-03-10)March 10, 1956
DiedNovember 22, 2013(2013-11-22) (aged 57)
Occupation Game programmer

Don Dailey (March 10, 1956 November 22, 2013) was an American longtime researcher in computer chess and a game programmer. Along with collaborator Larry Kaufman, he was the author of the chess engine Komodo. Dailey started chess programming in the 1980s, and was the author and co-author of multiple commercial as well as academic chess programs. He has been an active poster in computer chess forums and computer Go newsgroups. [1] He was raised as a Jehovah's Witness and served in recent years as an elder in the church of Roanoke. [2]


In October 2013, Dailey announced the release of Komodo 6, but also news concerning the future status of Komodo due to his fatal illness of an acute form of leukemia, [3] and introduced Mark Lefler as new member of the Komodo team. [4] Dailey died of leukemia at the age of 57 on November 22, 2013. [5]


Rex was Dailey's first chess program in the 1980s, in collaboration with Sam Sloan and Larry Kaufman. It competed at various ACM North American Computer Chess Championships and World Computer Chess Championships. [6] Rex was improved further and marketed as RexChess. [7]

Heuristic software

In the early 1990s, Dailey started to work with chess master and computer chess programmer Julio Kaplan within his company Heuristic Software. The program they developed was called Heuristic Alpha, which later evolved into Socrates, Socrates II and the mass market entry Kasparov's Gambit. [8]

MIT connection

At the ACM 1993 computer chess tournament, which was won by Dailey's program Socrates II on an IBM PC ahead of Cray Blitz, he met Bradley Kuszmaul and Charles Leiserson from MIT competing with StarTech, and they asked him to help develop a new parallel chess program. Some time later when Heuristic went out of business, he began working part-time for Leiserson at the lab at MIT on the new parallel program Star Socrates, [9] beside his duty as official systems administrator. Star Socrates played a strong World Computer Chess Championship 1995 in Shatin, Hong Kong, finally losing the playoff versus Fritz. [10] Dailey continued his cooperation with Charles Leiserson on the massively parallel chess program Cilkchess, written in Cilk. [11] [12]

Corel and Mini

Additionally, in the 1990s, Dailey further worked with Larry Kaufman on the commercial mass market entry Corel Chess. Beside competing with Cilkchess, their serial chess program Mini [13] played the World Computer Chess Championship 1999 in Paderborn.

Doch and Komodo

After a break from computer chess and a few years focusing on other domains, Dailey's 2009/2010 chess program Doch as well as its successor Komodo [14] are again a joint effort in collaboration with Larry Kaufman. [15] In Fall 2013, the developmental version of Komodo won stage 3, [16] and already after Don's death, the final of the Thoresen Chess Engines Competition, the latter in a 48-game match versus stage 4 winner Stockfish by a margin of 25–23. [17] Finalist Stockfish DD, dedicated to Don Dailey, was officially released during the final, [18] the commercial Komodo-TCEC a few days later. [19] [20]

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  1. The computer-go Archives
  2. Kaufman, Larry. Remembering Don Dailey,; accessed November 30, 2013
  3. Komodo release by Don Dailey,, October 1, 2013
  4. Re: Who is Don/Larry's new partner!? by Don Dailey,, October 8, 2013
  5. Don Daily (1956 -2013) Goodbye by Larry Kaufman,
  6. Rex (ICGA Tournaments)
  7. Larry Kaufman (1990). The Rexchess Story. Computer Chess Reports Quarterly. Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 8, Chess Computer UK by Mike Watters
  8. Larry Kaufman (1993). PC-Software. Computer Chess Reports, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 8-9, Chess Computer UK by Mike Watters
  9. Star Socrates (ICGA Tournaments)
  10. Shatin 1995 - Chess - Round 6 - Game 1 (ICGA Tournaments)
  11. Don Dailey, Charles E. Leiserson (2001). Using Cilk to Write Multiprocessor Chess Programs. Advances in Computer Games 9, Jaap van den Herik and Burkhard Monien (eds.) (2001) Computer Science Department, IKAT, Maastricht University; ISBN   90-6216-5761
  12. Cilkchess (ICGA Tournaments)
  13. Mini (ICGA Tournaments)
  14. Komodo chess engine by Don Dailey and Larry Kaufman
  15. Komodo - Rybka in Danger? by Larry Kaufman, Rybka Forum, January 21, 2010
  16. komodo wins stage 3 by Don Dailey,, November 4, 2013
  17. nTCEC - Superfinal Archived August 31, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  18. Stockfish DD: a new official release by Marco Costalba,, November 29, 2013
  19. Komodo-TCEC by Larry Kaufman,; retrieved December 1, 2013
  20. Komodo TCEC released by Larry Kaufman,; December 4, 2013