World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

World Computer Chess Championship in ReykjavikOn August 14th the Computer Worldchampionship starts in Reykjavik. Shredder will also compete in the tournament trying to gain his tenth Worldchampionship title in the following eleven rounds. Being Shredder's author and operator, I will exclusively report about the tournament's course as well as narrate some episodes from the happenings surrounding it. Comments, articles and photos from Iceland.: All to be found on this page! (Deutsche Version)

August 13th 2005, 10:00 pm

I´m sitting in the tournament's hall in Reykjavik preparing the first round for the next morning. The trip to Reykjavik was rather stressful. Yesterday the tournament in Mainz was finsihed and just a few hours ago the opening ceremony in Reykjavik started. My first impression from Iceland: presumably the moon won't look very much different. On the whole way from the airport to the city, which was a 45-minutes-trip by bus after all, I couldn't spot a single tree. My next impression was that everything is very (!) expensive. For the same hotel room I would only pay half the price in Germany, and even then I would be annoyed for having spent so much money. But let's go back to the tournament: we are playing in the University of Reykjavik and have excellent conditions. Tomorrow Shredder plays his first round match against Crafty from the U.S. Such as was the pairing in last year's first round in Tel Aviv. At that time a draw was settled but this year Shredder ought to get more.

August 14th 2005, 3:00 p.m.

The game against Crafty was very complicated. After more than 4 hours and 80 moves the battle ended up in a draw. Both sides had their chances before when Shredder gained a big advantage in the ending. I'm not absolutely sure whether Shredder might have missed a win here. Having more peace later on, I must look at it again. Anyhow, the draw was a fair result after all.

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

Shredder again plays on a Quad-Opteron server provided as usual by transtec. The computer is lodged in the transtec data centre in Tübingen. I simply log in to the computer via Internet. That makes travelling a lot easier, of course, since instead of the server, which weighs at least 70 kilos, I must only take along my notebook.

August 14th 8:30 p.m.

That was hard work. Shredder has won the second round match against Diep from the Netherlands.

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

For a long time it looked as if a draw was the most likely outcome, but in the ending Diep overestimated its position, and after 85 moves and again more than 4 hours being played Shredder could finally win. With 1,5 points from 2 rounds, Shredder looks very promising in the tournament, especially as my previous opponents are certainly among the wider circle of favourites. Crafty has affirmed this presumption with a surprising win against one of the top-favourites Junior from Israel.

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

After the first day, two newcomers are on top of the list: Fruit from France and Zappa from the U.S, both having two points out of two rounds. I didn't see anything but the tournament hall so far, which is not really a problem since it rained cats and dogs in Reykjavik for the whole day. Tomorrow two further rounds will be played.

August 15th 2005, 9:30 a.m.

This morning on the way to the tournament hall I have seen the Reykjavik sun for the first time. Of course I used the opportunity to take some pictures of the university from outside.

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

August 15th 2005, 2:00 p.m.

The third round today was far more relaxing than the tough games yesterday. My opponent The Crazy Bishop from France had already blundered in the opening, so Shredder had quite an easy time to win the game.

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

Two tournament games per day can be very exhausting, even though you don't need to play yourself but only have to operate a chess program. The university's cafeteria is in the same building as our tournament hall, but unfortunately its opening times do not always fit with our schedule. Yet, even for this there is a solution:

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

Certainly this could not happen in human tournaments, but this is computer chess. The machines do not get worked up so easily. You can chat with the opponent during the game, you can analyse the current game and, of course, you can eat. In the third round's top-match Zappa defeated Fruit which brought him the single lead with three points from three games. This afternoon we will be playing the fourth round.

August 15th 2005, 8:00 p.m.

The game against Deep Sjeng from Belgium didn't really cause any heart attacks.

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

The entire game was completely even with none of them having a chance to win. The combat consequently ended in a draw. My intention was actually to win the game. If Shredder wants to get the title, he must defeat the presumed outsiders. Well, in fact, Deep Sjeng is not that bad after all. In previous tournaments I often found myself in very bad positions against Deep Sjeng, which Shredder had always been able to turn around. Considering that, the draw is a fair result. It also keeps Shredder among the tournament's leaders. Crafty and Zappa are heading the list with 3,5 points from 4 rounds, followed by Shredder and Junior with 3 out of 4.

August 15th 2005, 10:00 p.m.

At the moment the general assembly of the ICGA, that is the International Computer Chess Association which organises our World Championship, takes place in Reykjavik. The meeting is held in three years' interval. Of course I am also a member and therefore on the spot. Luckily I have the notebook at my disposal and can use the internet access to write a few words about the history of this event. Computer World Championships are held since 1974. The traditional prize is the “horse”,

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

also known under the name “Shannon Trophy”. It stood already in my workroom once, but unfortunately it is a challenge cup and I had to hand it back. Well, next Sunday the winner can take it home, and I would only be too glad to pay for the extra luggage.

August 15th 2005, 11:30 p.m.

Finally I found social life in Reykjavik outside the tournament hall. And being used to the general price level, the beer is not even expensive anymore.

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

August 16 th 2005, 9:00 p.m.

Now I only have to extend my outdoor activities. Because the only thing I have seen so far was the way from my hotel to the university. Always straight on this street, most likely not one of the Reykjavik attractions. Yet, tomorrow we are all making a trip, where we will see something different after all.

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

August 16 th 2005, 3:30 p.m.

The fifth round today was hard. Shredder had to play against Fruit from France . A relatively new program, but nevertheless very strong.

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

Shredder gained an advantage in the opening, but then the game slackened, and for a long time it looked like a clear draw. But then Fruit played very strong and after five hours and almost 100 moves I had to resign for Shredder. That, of course, is a severe set-back for my title ambitions. I have to admit though that Fruit played very well indeed in this game. Shredder also took one of his legendary rests, contemplating endlessly over a certain position. This time he invested ten minutes for this position,

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

but it didn't help him. After five rounds Zappa heads the list with 4,5 points followed by Junior with 4 points. Shredder dropped a bit with 3 points. 6 rounds are still to play, so there is still something possible. However, I need a bit of luck to win the tournament now.

This afternoon we are playing the Computer Chess World Championship in Blitz. This event has been won by Shredder for the last three years. Unlike tournament chess, where a game could last up to five hours, in Blitz chess each side receives only five minutes to finish the whole game. When the time is over, the game is lost, no matter how good your position is. Everything must be very quick

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

and you can play the entire tournament on a single afternoon.

August 16 th 2005, 7:00 p.m.

Shredder has done it! For the fourth time in a row Shredder is World Champion in Blitz. After I had made a silly operating mistake in the first round against Fruit, resulting in an immediate loss, Shredder sped up and won the remaining six games. There was a real final in the last round between Shredder and Zappa. Both programs were equal in points at that moment.

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

Finally, Shredder has played some very nice games and won confidently. In the end he had 6 points out of 7 games. He was followed by Zappa with 5, and Junior and Fruit each with 4,5 points. Thus, Shredder has gained his tenth world champion title in computer chess. Tomorrow will be the yet mentioned trip to the touristy highlights of Iceland.

August 17 th 2005, 12:30 a.m.

Leaving the university at night, most of the restaurants have already closed. Luckily there is a pizza service in Iceland , too.

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

The already presented way from the university to the hotel along the main road. Of course, I´m familiar with it at night, too.

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

August 17 th 2005, 6:00 p.m.

As mentioned earlier, today there was no chess but a daily trip for all the participants instead.

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

The trip's impression was that Iceland is indeed full of many interesting things. The landscape in the heartland is sparsely populated, but also very beautiful.

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

Needless to say that we have seen the famous geysers as well.

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

And finally this impressive waterfall.

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

All in all a fine day and a welcome change to the daily routine of the tournament. Tomorrow the show will go on with the sixth round coming up.

August 17th 2005, 7:00 p.m.

The Blitz tournament from yesterday made it into the evening news of the Iceland television. The language is Icelandic, and probably hard to understand for the most of us. Even though, one can pretty well recognize how computer blitz tournaments are played. This is the link to the report. Click here for another video broadcasted of a different station.

August 18th 2005, 8:30 a.m.

A tradition in my tournament diaries is the view from my hotel room.

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

This time it is not that spectacular like the one from the last WCH in Tel Aviv or the view in Abu Dhabi, but it is not that bad after all.

August 18 th 2005, 1:00 p.m.

Against Futé from France , Shredder had quite an easy game today.

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

After 6 rounds Shredder has 4 points. Still in the lead are Zappa with 5.5 and Junior with 5 points, both of them have won their games today.

This afternoon we are playing a show tournament in Fischer Random Chess, also known as Chess960. The position of the pieces is drawn by a lot. This idea goes back to Bobby Fischer, the legendary former World Champion in chess. In the meantime, Bobby has acquired the Icelandic citizenship and lives in Reykjavik. Perhaps he shows up, when he hears that we play a tournament after his rules.

August 18 th 2005, 2:30 p.m.

Wait, isn't that…

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

… no, that's not possible, is it?

August 18th 2005, 8:30 p.m.

The Chess960 tournament is over. Shredder scored the same points as Jonny which brought him the shared first place. The beginning of the games is often somewhat strange because of the randomly placed pieces,

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

yet after a few moves normal positions arise usually. Not all of the programs can handle the slightly different rules of Chess960. Some of the competitors used their leisure time for a hard-earned break.

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

Tomorrow will be very stressful again, since we are playing the 7th and 8th round of the main tournament. Gradually the crunch has come.

August 19th 2005, 3:00 p.m.

As expected, it was a very tough game against Jonny made by Johannes Zwanzger from Germany.

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

Johannes is a very strong chess player himself, and you never know what he might have taught his program after all. Shredder secured a slight edge over the entire game, but for a long time it was not clear, whether it would be sufficient to win. Finally he has done it and is still well placed in the tournament. In the top match of the day Zappa won against Junior.

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

Zappa leads the table now with 6,5 points. Shredder, Junior and Deep Sjeng follow in his wake with 5 points.

August 19th 2005, 9:00 p.m.

For more than 100 moves and almost five hours Shredder has tried to win the game against The Baron from the Netherlands .

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

But in the end he just scored a draw. Junior and Deep Sjeng also drew their games, Zappa won. After 8 rounds Zappa has now 7,5 points followed by a lot of persecutors with 5,5 points: Shredder, Junior, Deep Sjeng, Fruit and Crafty. It's rather hard for Zappa not to win the tournament now. Tomorrow Shredder faces Zappa.

Although the programmers do not have to ponder about the moves during a computerchess tournament, operating a chess program is very exhausting. I feel very tired at the moment, perhaps this somehow infected Shredder. On the other hand, all the other participants

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

feel quite similar.

August 20th 2005, 9:00 a.m.

In the upcoming game against Zappa, Shredder has his last chance and must win at any rate. Go, Shredder, go!

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

August 20th 2005, 1:30 p.m.

Apparently Shredder knew that he had to win. From the very beginning he marched forward attacking hard. But Zappa defended tremendously and turned the tide through some very good moves.

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

Shredder's attack fizzled out and Zappa's counter-attack was too strong. Very well played by Zappa; somehow everyone here is playing superb. Zappa is most certainly the new World Champion now, while Shredder only plays for the golden lemon.

August 20th 2005, 3:30 p.m.

The 9th round is over now. The group of persecutors has considerably diminished. In the lead is Zappa with 8,5 points followed by Junior and Fruit with 6,5 points. Two more rounds are still to play, yet most likely we will already have a new World Champion after the 10 th round tonight.

August 20th 2005, 8:00 p.m.

Shredder has won his game against Isichess from Germany.

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

But more important was the win of Zappa against Crafty. So Anthony Cozzie, Zappa's programmer, is the new World Champion in computer chess.

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

Congratulations to Anthony for this outstanding performance. Zappa played really impressively and undoubtedly deserved the title. With one round to play, Zappa has 9,5 points. Fruit is in second place with 7,5 points. Shredder, Junior and Deep Sjeng follow with 6,5 points. Tomorrow Shredder will face Junior. For the last ten years, this was the match for the title, but this time it is probably just played for third place.

August 21st 2005, 2:00 p.m.

After the opening Shredder got a good position against Junior. But Junior defended well, and it was only in the ending that Shredder could save the full point. A classical Shredder vs. Junior game, so to say: a hard fight lasting to the very end.

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

As mentioned earlier, the game wasn't that important, however. Nevertheless, Shredder vs. Junior is Shredder vs. Junior after all. Zappa did not slacken in the final round, either, gaining another win instead. Fruit also won, so that the final table shows Zappa on top with 10,5 points followed by Fruit with 8,5 points. Shredder captured a shared third place together with Deep Sjeng, both of them having 7,5 points. Crafty and Junior ended up fifth and sixth with 6,5 points.

Third place in a World Championship is certainly a very good result. However, I wanted to win with Shredder, of course. Well, at least Shredder has become Blitz World Champion again. Zappa and Fruit have both played very strong, so the third place for Shredder is quite ok in the end.

August 21st 2005, 5:00 p.m.

Just for fun, a Blitz tournament among all the human participants was held. The unofficial title of the best chess player among the computer chess programmers was at stake. Just imagine: real human chess meaning thinking for yourself without the computer's assistance.

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

It was really good fun. Johannes Zwanzger from Jonny has won expectedly. He is the strongest player among us playing even in the Chess Bundesliga. Tonight is the victory ceremony, and tomorrow I have the whole day left to have a go on Reykjavik at last.

August 21st 2005, 11:00 p.m.

We received very nice trophies at the victory ceremony: original lava stones from Iceland. After a short disagreement with Gian-Carlo Pascutto from Deep Sjeng concerning the price for third place,

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

everyone was happy in the end.

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

August 22nd 2005, 7:00 p.m.

As mentioned before, today was my first opportunity to get a closer look at Reykjavik. The weather was ok, too, so I could spend my first day in Iceland without bothering about chess and tournament stress. After a city tour we went to the sea, hiring a boat to go whale watching. Unfortunately this didn't turn out to be a great success as even after endless staring at the water no whale showed up.

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

Yet even this couldn't spoil the beautiful day.

Tomorrow morning I'll fly back home. Once again many thanks to the organizing University of Reykjavik

World Computer Chess Championship in Reykjavik

and to all the participants for the fair and nice tournament. The next World Championship will be held in Torino in May 2006. Of course I will be there starting a new attempt with Shredder to get the title…

 
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