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Chess960 Computer World Championship will bring more than 20 computer chess specialists to Mainz

30.04.2005 - „In December 2004, when we came out with the announcement of the first Computer World Championship in Chess960, we were not sure how the community of chess programmers would react to it” recalls Eric van Reem. But already by January 2005, four weeks later, ten programmers had responded to the announcement and expressed their interest. Today, about 20 programmers have confirmed their participation. The event will therefore definitely go ahead; innovative and exciting Computer Chess is virtually guaranteed.

„The Computer World Championship for Chess960 plays an important role in our efforts to promote Chess960, as Chess960 needs powerful engines as tools for analysis” states Hans-Walter Schmitt, head of the Chess Tigers, a non-profit organisation devoted to the promotion of chess and Chess960, and also a driving force behind this event. “We are happy about the encouraging response we have received from the community of chess programmers and will work hard to organize a tournament that can live up to the standards which we have set in the FiNet and the Ordix Open.”

Eric van Reem talks about one of the highlights: one of the participants will be Mark Uniacke, author of the commercial chess engine Hiarcs. “From the beginning, Mark was enthusiastic about the idea of extending Hiarcs so that it can play Chess960. Hiarcs excels in positional play and will in my opinion be one of the favourites of the event, as it has always done well in Chess960 test tournaments.”

Mark Uniacke
Picture: Eric van Reem

Eric knows Hiarcs and Mark Uniacke quite well. In 2003, he and the Chess Events Maastricht Foundation organized a match between Hiarcs and Super-GM Evgeny Bareev. The match ended in a 2:2 draw and gave Hiarcs another opportunity to display its strength in positional play. Even against such a strong positional player as Bareev, Hiarcs did not lose a single game.

Two other authors of chess programs with commercial applications are also participating: Gian-Carlo Pascutto from Belgium with his program Sjeng and the team behind Anaconda, Frank Schneider and Kai Skibbe. Does that mean that all amateur programmers will not have a chance to secure their share of the price fund?

„We have taken the decision to divide the price fund of the event in a way so that everybody has a chance to win his share; it is definitively not that the winner takes it all. We will divide the price fund between the seven best programs” explains Eric van Reem.

Also joining the event is the team behind Spike, Ralf Schäfer and Volker Böhm, one of the surprises of the computer chess tournament recently held in Paderborn, Germany. Spike finished in fourth place, making it the most successful amateur program of the tournament.

But the honour of being the fastest programmer goes to somebody else: Anastasios Milikas from Greece. In March, the organizers got a message from Anastasios, not only confirming his participation, but also announcing that his engine AICE now supports Chess960 and is ready for download and testing.

Also joining is Richard Pijl from the Netherlands with his program The Baron. Richard will arrive early in Mainz, as he and his program will play a two game exhibition match against the reigning Chess960 World Champion Peter Svidler on August 10.

Richard Pijl
Foto: Thilo Gubler

And many other programmers have decided to join the fight for the world title: Tord Romstad with Glaurung, Volker Annuss with Herrmann, Reinhard Scharnagl with Smirf, Tony van Roon-Werten with Xinix, Ralf Dörr with Nexus, Daniel Mehrmann with Homer, Tom Vijlbrief and Hans Secelle with Ant, Roland Pfister with Patzer, Fritz Reul with List, Jochen Peussner with Neurologic, Jaime Benito with Ayito, Eric Tricki with E.T. Chess, Dimitry Morozov with Quazar, Thomas Meyer with Quark, and Stefan Knappe with Matador. All authors will be present in Mainz and will operate their programs personally.

With 20 programmers joining, the Chess960 Computer World Championship would be the most successful computer chess event in years: at last year’s Computer Chess World Championship, held in August in Tel Aviv, 14 programmers joined, while the largest computer tournament in Germany, the IPCCC in Paderborn held in February 2005, featured 16 programs.

„During the last few years, I was present at every major computer chess tournament and I know that it has become more difficult to get a strong line-up. Maybe this event is just what the computer chess community has been waiting for and will raise interest in computer chess to a new level” says van Reem, chief editor for the Dutch publication “Computerschaak”.

Maybe the attraction of the event stems from the fact that in Mainz, the name of the game will be “program against program” and not “opening book against opening book”. The response from the community of chess programmers shows that just like human chess players, they perceive Chess960 as a new and exciting challenge.

The author of the chess program Matador, Stefan Knappe, summed it up well when – after losing a game in Paderborn - he said: “my program is not weak, but I lose many games because my opening book is not good enough. The Chess960 World Championship in Mainz is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate how well my program can play.”

It is not clear yet whether the organisers will be able to provide hardware on site for the participants. “We are talking with two companies about sponsoring our event, but we cannot confirm anything yet. We will continue to try to provide hardware on site, but as of today, we cannot say for sure whether it will be possible” explains Eric van Reem.

The ICGA, organiser of the Computer World Championship in traditional chess, has just announced that this year’s World Championship will be held in Reykjavik, Iceland, from August 14 to 21, with the opening ceremony scheduled for the evening of August 13. This will allow programmers who would like to participate in both events to travel from Mainz to Reykjavik on Saturday, August 13, using Hahn airport, which is 90 kilometers (60 miles) away from Mainz and offers direct flights to Reykjavik.

Mark Vogelgesang

Published by Mark Vogelgesang

Dieser Artikel wurde 7314 Mal aufgerufen.

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