Building Lc0 from source is now a breeze, whereas it used to be a pain

I annotated my games from last weekend’s Northern California senior state championship, but discovered the WordPress plugin I use to display PGN files breaks if the PGN is, say, 2100 words plus 75 move pairs long.

While that issue gets resolved, here’s something else:

One of the main events in the Top Engine Chess Championship was conducted 10 times since 2018. Stockfish won 8 times, and Leela Chess Zero won the other two.

After the DeepMind programs AlphaGo and AlphaZero demonstrated that a neural network-based engine could teach itself to play more-than-superhuman Go and chess, DeepMind retired them.

AlphaZero lives on as the basis for the open source Leela Chess Zero (Lc0). Binaries (that is, ‘download and go’) are available for Windows, Macintosh, and Android, but Linux users have to build it from source code. I did that once, and it was a very trying experience.

I have an old computer. The 2012 HP TouchSmart 520-1047c runs Lubuntu and LXQT (lightweight Linux distribution and desktop environment) well enough for my use, but time is running out. I used to find support docs for the 520-1047c at, but no longer. It’s like HP is saying: Dude, get a new computer.

I’d installed Lubuntu over Elementary OS to save some resources, after which Stockfish wouldn’t play nice with the Tarrasch Chess GUI front end. For a while, I used an old Komodo for analysis, but I discovered that there’s an apt package for Stockfish, and it runs aces.

I said to myself: I wonder if there’s an updated Lc0 that will also be more friendly. Boy, is there.

According to the GitHub README, “Building should be easier now than it was in the past“. I cloned the repository, installed one missing dependency, and the build script ran without incident.

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