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Bulletin Day 1 WCCC

In the afternoon of June 11 the 15th World Computer Championship started in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, together with the 12th Computer Olmpiad. Below we describe what happened in the WCCC. In a separate report we provide the results of the Computer Olympiad in which Go 9*9 started the competition.

The chess community faced the simultaneous match in Elista between World Champion Junior and the strong program Fritz that had shown to be superior to World Champion Kramnik in november / december 2006. Yet the grouop of participants in Amsterdam has world-championship calibre (see below). At a very late moment the group was completed to 12 participants by the participation of Johan de Koning's program The King. His late entrance was only on the condition that he could start tomorrow. So the first game against Rybka was postponed.

The five games played in the first round were really tough games. They can be seen via the ICGA website under http://www.grappa.univ-lille3.fr/icga/round.php?tournament=173&round=1.

In the players' meeting it was decided not to use Sonneborn-Berger in case of shared places. When a top position is involved it was decided that a decision will be taken by a playoff.

The results of Round 1:

A few comments follow below. The Baron won easily against Micromax. The latter program by Harm-Geert Muller is certainly the smallest program in the world and as the author remarked in the ICGA Journal of March 2007, p. 57: "his goal is building an engine that has 1 ELO point per character". For those who are interested, his Micromax 4.4 version measures 1865 characters. His self-imposed limit is 2048 characters. Although the program is assumed not to be strong, it is a performance in itself to build such a program. To honor the author we provide the following link: http://home.hccnet.nl/h.g.muller/max-src2.html.

Deep Sjeng - IsiChess was a fight between two old rivals. Although both sides tried to take the initiative, they did not succeed in making progress and so the game ended in a draw by perpetual check.

Diep - Jonny ended in a win for Jonny after a very big struggle. Both programs agreed that Diep was better, even winning, in the middle game, but it was difficult. The attack should be handled precisely and with care. For a human being that is not difficult, but for a program (at least for the current programs) this is a difficult task. In a series of moves Diep took time and again probably the second-best move. It resulted in a position where the program had lost its advantage. Vincent Diepeveen was clearly disappointed on the performance of his program, and he thought that the series of bad moves was due to time pressure. He could not reach a sufficiently deep level of search in the tree and had to see that his opponent easily made 18 plies. His move 44. Bd3 changed the position from an equal position into a lost position. Yet there was still a very ingenious plan necessary to win the game, but Jonny showed that this technique was in his program. So he won and he is now together with The Baron the leader of the tournament.

GridChess is a completely new program composed of open-source software, mainly components from Crafty (Bob Hyatt) and Fruit (Fabien Letouzy). The author Karl Himstedt has requested permission from Hyatt and Letouzy and some others for using their material. The ICGA knows that there has been a discussion on this topic, but having seen the agreements of the people involved the ICGA unanymously let GridChess participate in this WCCC. A main reason is that the WCCC is in origin a contest of scientifically developed programs. In science it is usual to build on others' shoulders, of course with due reference of the building blocks that are adopted from others. Himstedt fulfilled this job perfectly. In the first round he played the program Loop by Fritz Reul. After the opening White had some advantage, but Loop defended accurately. After some trials to keep the advantage GridChess conseded in a draw by a very attractive combination.

The former world champions Shredder and Zappa did play an exciting game with many combinations. Shredder sacrificed the exchange for two pawns and had some initiative. But Zappa defended precisely and the chances changed in favour of Black. Although Zappa tried many things, it could not overcome the defending by White. Meanwhile both players were in time trouble. For a long time it looked that the game would be decided by the 50-move rule. When 49 moves were played Black decided to take a white pawn and the 50-move rule started again by counting at 1. After 165 moves the competitors decided to a draw. For Shredder, which has a long career in the computer-chess world, it was presumably its longest game. Both players believed that the game never was in a decisive phase.

2007-06-11 17:38:07, Amsterdam