On 9/28/2008 the 16’th World Computer Chess Championships began in Beijing, China. The IGCA has scheduled an eleven round accelerated swiss tournament format for the top chess engines in the world to compete for the the title of World Computer Chess Champion 2008. The accelerated swiss structure strikes me as odd being that there are only ten competing chess programs. The principle of a Swiss tournament is that each player will be pitted against another player who has done as well (or as poorly) as him or herself. The first round is seeded according to rating. Players who win receive a point, those who draw receive half a point and losers receive no points. Win, lose, or draw, all players proceed to the next round where winners are pitted against winners, losers are pitted against losers, and so on. In subsequent rounds, players face opponents with the same (or almost the same) score. No player is paired up against the same opponent twice however. This is where the organizers of the 16’th World Computer Chess Championships are going to run into trouble. With only ten competitors and eleven rounds, it will be impossible to follow a swiss format. The schedule of the chess events have been taken off the the IGCA website and I expect them to alter the pairings and tournament schedule. Obviously this should have been done before the tournament started.
My criticism of the tournament structure aside, this event should, once again, demonstrate that computers are now playing much better chess than humans ever will. Case and point: When Viswanathan Anand faces off against Vladimir Kramnik in eleven days, it will be computer chess engines that will provide humans with the most definative analysis as to who won the championship and why. I doubt we will see any humans evaluating Rybka’s games with out the help of a chess engine.
Speaking of Rybka… After five rounds the reigning 2007 champion is tied with Hiarcs at 4.5/5. The two leading engines have yet to play each other. Below is the cross-table and a nice game played by Rybka.
[Event “16th World Computer Chess Championship”]
[Site “Beijing, China”]
[Black “The Baron”]
1. e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nc4 Nxe4 5.Nc3 Nxc3 6.bxc3 g6 7.d4 Bg7 8.Bd3 o-o
9.o-o Nc6 10.Qf3 Re8 11.Bf4 Bd7 12.Ne3 Na5 13.Qg3 Bc6 14.h4 Be4 15.h5 Qd7 16.Rae1 Qc6
17.h6 Bxd3 18.cxd3 Bf6 19.c4 Bxd4 20.Nd5 Rxe1 21.Rxe1 Qc5 22.Re7 Nc6 23. Rxc7 Qa5 24.Qh4 Qxa2
25.Nf6 Kh8 26.Rxf7 Qa1 27.Kh2 Bxf6 28.Qxf6 Qxf6 29.Rxf6 Kg8 30.Rxd6 Rf8 31.Kg3 a5 32.Bc1 a4
33.f3 Rd8 34.Rxd8 Nxd8 35.Kf4 Kf7 36.d4 g5 37.Ke4 Ne6 38.Kd3 Kg6 39.d5 Nc5 40.Kc3 Kxh6
41.Be3 Nd7 42.Kb4 a3 43.Kxa3 Kg6 44.Bd4 Kf7 45.Ka4 Ke8 46.g4 Nf8 47.Ka5 Kd7 48.Kb6 Kc8
49.Kc5 Kc7 50.Be5 Kd7 51.Bf6 h6 52.Bg7 Ng6 53.Bxh6 Ne5 54.Bxg5 Nxf3 1-0