DON DAILEY, 1956–2013
An Obituary by Aske Plaat On November 22, 2013, our colleague Don Dailey passed away. Don suffered from leukemia, and reached the age of 57. Don was many things, he was a kind man, honest, funny at times, but most of all, he was a chess programmer, a passion to which he devoted his life. Don was a successful chess programmer. However, in our profession success does not come easy. He worked long and hard, and dedicated years to improving his creations. He achieved his greatest success with his
... st program, KOMODO 6, that won the superfinal on TCEC mere days after his departure. Don was born on March 10, 1956, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He taught himself how to program the computer and he taught himself how to play chess. His first chess program was REX, originally written in Pascal, in 1985. Later he rewrote it in assembly, for a three-fold speed increase. He collaborated on REX first with Sam Sloan and then with Larry Kaufman. REX was further improved, notably with selective searching. REX was marketed as REXCHESS. In the early 1990s Don started to work with Julio Kaplan on a program that was first called HEURISTIC ALPHA, and later became known as SOCRATES. It was marketed as KASPAROV'S GAMBIT. DON AT MIT At the 1993 ACM Computer Chess tournament SOCRATES II won ahead of CRAY BLITZ, a PC beating a supercomputer. He met Bradley Kuszmaul and Charles Leiserson from MIT, who were competing with their program STARTECH. They probably wondered what the potential of SOCRATES on serious hardware would be, and they asked Don for his help in the development of a new massively parallel chess program. He began working at Leiserson's Supercomputing Technologies group on the new chess program, dividing his duties with system administration at the Lab for Computer Science.