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Bulletin Day 2 WCCC

Round 2

In this round Rybka entered the tournament. This means one of the strongest programs playing one of the weakest, namely Micromax. There were some connection difficulties and so it was decided to play on a local version. However, this local version was not the strongest offspring of Rybka, and so the game took much longer than was expected. Of course, Rybka easily won.

The first appearance of The King was against Zappa. In the last three years the top programs have increased in playing strength so much that the older generation programs, such as The King, have not really a chance to the current sophisticated programs. The King was outplayed, although superficially it offered tough resistance.

Loop - Shredder was a game with many subtle manoeuvres. Loop is a rising star, built by Fritz Reul, and Shredder is an established program of world-championship calibre. Shredder played precise and subtle moves that were not countered in the best way by Loop. So Shredder deserved the victory it reached in a rook ending.

The game Jonny - GridChess was remarkable. Not so much with respect to the outcome, as well to its play. Jonny played hesitantly, especially with its white queenside rook and from this "doing nothing" GridChess could use the extra time to set up a dangerous king attack. A rook sacrifice decided the game at the level not directly understandable for human beings. Whereas both programs saw an advantage of 6-8 pawns for GridChess, it was not clear to the public how this could be achieved. Nowadays we should be aware of the fact that these programs are thinking up to 18 plies. Two players and the tournament director agreed that we should continue the game for a while up to a position that it is clear that the position is a win for Black. After 7 moves all were convinced.

The game IsiChess - Diep was an interesting fight with a disturbed balance of material. However, the power expressed by the pieces and the pawns was still unbalanced and remained unbalanced, even though both programs tried to complicate matters in their favour. Both did not succeed and so in the end they agreed to a draw.

Finally, The Baron lost against Deep Sjeng. It was a regular game in which Deep Sjeng showed its surplus in playing strength.

Round 3

Two games ended in a fast victory for the white pieces. Deep Sjeng won against Micromax, and Diep against The Baron. In both cases the black players showed themselves simply as the weaker players. This being so, in any case we saw a fight in these two games.

The game Shredder - Jonny had no fighting element at all. For one or another reason Shredder had a position in the library that led to an immediate repetition of positions. Jonny used that repetition and without having much performed in the opening, it took the draw and was happy (at least its programmer). The draw between GridChess and IsiChess was completely different. It was a real fight with Black a little bit pressed by the white pieces. White entered Black's seventh rank with a rook and queen, but just under these circumstances IsiChess found a way out by continuously attacking the white queen, which could not leave the seventh rank because of losing the rook.

In the Sicilian game between The King and Loop, the King was rather early out of book. Loop continued to play some 10 moves longer from the book. In fact a compliment for The King, because it found all these book moves by pure computation. However, such a computation costs time. In the position were both players were out of book, Loop showed that it searched considerably deeper than The King. In the double-edged position on the board this was a clear advantage, in particular since mating threats occurred in the game tree. Suddenly there was a vigorous attack by Black to which The King had no answer. A nice game by Loop.

Rybka - Zappa was a very interesting game, the most exciting one of round 3. The opening was rather quiet, although Zappa sacrificed a pawn for the half-open h-file. It was the start of a combinatorial game with subtle manoeuvres and an unequal material balance. White had a rook and Black two pieces. But White still had a pawn and now and then another pawn (double h-pawn). The h-pawns were dangerous and finally they resulted in the gain of a piece. The remaining endgame required a high skill of endgame techniques. All participants assumed that such a technique was in good hands of Rybka. The more so, since the tablebases of Zappa showed that it was a mate-in-41. During the game it lowered to 36, but soon thereafter it raised to 44. Clearly, Rybka had no tablebases asembled or it was assumed it had the tablebases, but in its search process it did not reached sufficient depth to reach the tablebases. Other spectators speculated that the null-move was guilty of not finding the right continuation, due to the occurrence of zugzwang now and then. In any case, it is interesting to investigate what was the precise cause of Rybka's failing. Zappa remained moving and Rybka remained trying to find a way to the win, but without a clear plan such an undertaking is helpless. At some time the 50-move rule was invoked by Zappa by the simple reason that they had played some 30 moves and the mate was still 40 moves away. Assuming that the pawn was taken after 20 moves the 50-move rule applied. Both players continued play for some other 20 moves and then Rybka offered a draw, which was accepted by Zappa.

2007-06-12 18:18:35, Amsterdam