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Bulletin Day 3 WCCC

Round 4

The main sponsors of the WCCC (and the Computer Olympiad) are IBM, SARA (Computing and Networking Services) and NCF (Foundation of National Computing Facilities). Of course, today was an important day for the WCCC, but for the sponsors this day had an even more important event: the official opening of the new supercomputer, called Huygens, at SARA, an IBM-machine, partly financed by NCF.

It was an interesting day, with talks by representatives of SARA, IBM, NCF and the users. The official ceremony was done by prof.dr. Ben de Kruijff, of the General Board of NWO (the main financing institution) and dr. Job Cohen, major of Amsterdam.

There was ample mentioning of the WCCC, mostly concerning possibilities of the new supercomputer for high-speed computations, even on solving chess. Two talks were in particular interesting. The first one was given by Prof.dr. Hiroyuki Iida, main author of Tacos, the Shogi-playing program which participates at the present Computer Olympiad. He described the state-of-the-art of programs for several games, including, Chess, Shogi, Go, and Checkers. The last talk was given by dr. Murray Campbell, member of the Deep Blue team. Via a remote connection he gave an interesting overview of the history of computer chess in general and Deep Blue in particular.

Due to the festivities around the opening of the Huygens computer we were unable to closely watch the chess games in Rounds 4 and 5. So let us only give the results and brief observations.

Loop against Rybka was a game in which most of the pieces were quickly exchanged. What resulted was a game of black-coloured bishop + 6 pawns against black-coloured bishop + 7 pawns. But Black had a bad pawn structure (a triple of isolated pawns), and quickly lost the extra one. The endgame that arose was a clear draw, as both players agreed. The game Deep Sjeng against Diep was a difficult game, in which no player obtained a decisive advantage. The resulting endgame Q + 3 pawns each was therefore quickly agreed to be a draw also.

In the game MicroMax - Zappa, the black player sacrificed some material which MicroMax greedily accepted. The result was a position giving rise to a vigorous attack on White's king, which soon resulted in a mating net: 0 - 1. Jonny - The King and The Baron - GridChess were both tough games, in which the Dutch programs defended desperately for a long time, but had to resign after 58 and 59 moves, respectively. In the game IsiChess against Shredder IsiChess was able to survive longer, but after 76 moves had to resign also.

Round 5

In the 5th round we saw three wins for White and three draws. The wins for White were for Diep (with an easy win against MicroMax), Rybka (also an easy win against Jonny), and Zappa (against Loop). In the latter game Zappa played strongly, creating a passed pawn, and exchanging all pieces, after which the pawn's advance was unstoppable. Loop resigned after 53 moves.

The other three games, all ending in a draw, were harder games. In the game GridChess - Deep Sjeng a heavy battle occurred in the middle game. When smoke was up again, a R+2P/R+2P endgame was on the board, which both operators agreed to be a draw. In the game The King against IsiChess, White had to endure a heavy attack, losing a pawn. However, in the endgame The King defended securely, and the draw was the right outcome. The first half point for The King (but still one game against Rybka, from the first round, to go). The most upsetting game in this round surely was the one between Shredder and The Baron. The Baron so far had only 1 point (against MicroMax), so everyone thought Shredder would have an easy game. Indeed, after the opening Shredder was much better, but then started to exchange pieces. This made it much harder to win, and The Baron then defended carefully. After 84 moves Stefan Meyer-Kahlen accepted the draw. A good performance of The Baron!

After the fifth round Zappa is the leader, with 4 out of 5. But of course Rybka with 3 points can equalize if it wins the postponed game against The King. Tomorrow there will be an excursion day, and the only battle (at least at the chessboard) will be this postponed game.

2007-06-13 17:32:55, Amsterdam