Elise Crossword Game Software
This software program is dedicated to the memory of James Robert Street, 1933-2012
What is it?
Elise is state-of-the-art crossword puzzle game analysis software with a design philosophy inspired by modern chess engines. It is a useful tool for serious players of Scrabble®, Clabbers, or any similar games. At "blitz" speeds, Elise plays a sharp game that will hang with the best human players. At tournament time controls on decent hardware, Elise plays a superhuman game that will compete with (and usually best) any other anagram engine.
(Click to see the full-size image.)
What are some of its features?
How does it play so well?
For more information about Elise's move generation and move evaluator algorithms, see this page.
How to use Elise
Some sample games
Games using an early, pre-release version of Elise
Word frequency reports and rack data statistics
Word frequency data and estimated rack leave values for various languages can be viewed from this page.
Scrabble® phonies by playability
A list of the most commonly played 7- and 8-letter phonies in Elise's UNABRIDGED lexicon can be found here. These are the phonies that have no playable anagrams in the official TWL06 or CSW12 word lists.
Scrabble® opening book
An "opening book" containing Elise's evaluations of opening moves for the most common racks can be accessed on this page.
Elise is the granddaughter of a software program I wrote in a summer afternoon in 1998. It was capable of playing Scrabble® or Clabbers on a variety of different boards (and indeed, was only the second computer implementation of Clabbers anywhere I'm aware of.) It could play a reasonably strong game without an exhaustive end-game search or any simulation -- it had rudimentary knowledge of rack leave, liked to close the board when ahead, and had heuristics that usually led to competent (if not perfect) end-game play.
This old program played a loose and rather human-like game -- more concerned with broad strategic situations than the expected value of a rack leave to the hundredth-point. Sometimes this resulted in finding a surprising move, but more often, it resulted in solid if not quite spectacular play. It was beatable if you were patient and a good player.
Many of the "human-like" ideas in the old program were taken, carefully tested, improved where they could be, and now are included in Elise's move evaluator. Instead of dictating the move choice alone, however, they now provide a supportive role, and run millions of times a second, searching moves many ply ahead in simulation. As a result, the surprising moves are a little more frequent. The old ideas, the things it learned from its predecessor, are still there, nestled deep inside Elise's DNA.
The old program was a favorite of my grandfather, James Robert Street, and he played it (and accused it of cheating) frequently. It took him a while to finally beat it, and when he did, he loved bragging about it. He asked me more than once when a new version was coming. This is, finally, it. Unfortunately, Grandpa did not live to play it. I think the probability is high, though, that he would not have enjoyed playing Elise quite as much as the old program -- if he thought the old program cheated, I don't want to hear what he'd accuse this program of doing.
About Elise's logo
The Greek letter epsilon is meant to suggest statistics, mathematical limits, and small things, like the placement of a single tile or whether to close a hook now or wait until next turn. It is also the Greek "E", so it can stand for Elise's name. The infinity sign -- the score of the tile -- is again meant to suggest mathematical limits, but also limitlessness -- that Elise will model all possibilities through the end of the game if you let it. It also, of course, suggests power and strength, that from all the little "epsilons" something strong might rise.
Things still to-do
Elise installer for Windows: version 0.1.8 (current), built 31 December 2013.
A terminal window version of Elise for Win32 and Linux platforms (suitable for scripting) is available on this page. This version runs the GCG game analysis.
Lexicon packs: As of version 0.0.3, the Elise installer now only includes rack statistics, tile guess data, etc. for the TWL06 and CSW12 lexicons. This is done to save room in the installer. The data for other lists can be downloaded separately. If you are using these other lexicons, Elise will play a much stronger and faster game with this data than without it. To use these lexicon packs, unzip them into the same directory as the Elise executable file (this will normally be under the "Program Files\Elise" directory, unless you specified a different install directory -- you may need administrator privileges to copy files into the directory.)
See versions history for more information.
Elise is free to download and use. However, donations are welcome. Any amount to support development is greatly appreciated.
Here are additional ways you can help with Elise:
Thanks and acknowledgements
Thanks to the following individuals who provided assistance with game rules and testing Elise gameplay in various languages: Christian Kongsted (Danish), Christoph Haenel (German), Cristian José Richart Piqueras and Enric Hernández (Spanish), Joan Montané (Catalan).
The DEFINITIONS file, containing word definitions, provided with Elise is primarily derived from Wiktionary data and as such is made available under its CC-BY-SA/GFDL license. The original wiki source data is available here.
I'd like to thank the developer of the Very Sleepy profiler for Windows. It's a handy, light and useful development tool.
Random number generation in Elise is via the Mersenne Twister by Makoto Matsumoto, Takuji Nishimura, Shawn Cokus, and Richard J. Wagner. PNG image save in Elise is implemented using a library, LodePNG, by Lode Vandevenne. Win32 progress dialog is from a library by Gopalakrishna Palem. Elise Windows UI uses the Allegro 2-D graphics library. TrueType font support in Elise's Windows GUI is from an Allegro library, AllegTTF, by Doug Eleveld, which in turn is based on code from the FreeType project.
A tip of the hat goes to Brian Sheppard, the developer of Maven, the first really strong computer Scrabble® player. I have wasted many hours playing his engine, and not only has it sharpened my ability considerably, but it inspired me to develop my first anagram engine all those years ago.
Scrabble® is a registered trademark of Hasbro in the USA and Canada. Hasbro does not produce or endorse Elise, nor is Hasbro affiliated with Elise in any way. Elise crossword game software is copyright © 2013 C. M. Street.