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Mainz 2005 Report
World Championship of Chess960 at Mainz, a short report from the
Mainz was the second presence tournament for us after IPCCC2005 in
Paderborn, a german open tournament. We were looking forward to it
because Spike performed pretty well in Paderborn and we have been able
to improve Spike since then. Additionally we enjoy these events
especially because of the very friendly flair, the excitement of
competition and last but not least the very interesting discussions with
other chess programmers.
The tournament itself was "Chess960", a variation of chess with 960
different starting positions selected by dices just before each game.
Thus no chance to use opening books to help the engines at the first
moves, here it is very important that the engine has the knowledge
about the opening phase in a match. In our test tournaments Spike did
already well in Chess960, but in Mainz registered some very strong
opponents, many of them undoubtful improved, so we just hoped for a
place among the top five.
Our first opponent was "XiniX" from Tony van Roon-Werten. Both sides had
to manage some technical problems, which made us all a bit nervous, but
finally we could both solve them by switching off pondering. Spike got
an advantage in the late midgame which was enough to finally score our
With one point from the first round Spike started to get some stronger
opponents, beginning with "The Baron" from Richard Pijl. After an equal
start Spike managed to destroy the pawn-shield of The Baron and started
a king attack which was strong enough to win the game. With two points
out of two games Spike had a very good start.
The disadvantage of the good start was the pairing against the next
opponent - Shredder by Stefan Mayer-Kahlen, the clear favorite of this
tournament. Shredder is currently the strongest PC-based program and
played on a computer system with 4 CPU's. In this game we were quite
relaxed because loosing would be pretty normal and winning would be a
little sensation. Shredder saw a nice king attack and decided to move
the queen very early, what the Author of Shredder, didn´t like. This
enabled Spike to bond the queen to the border for quite a long time.
Forcing against the opponent king with a stucked queen of Shredder,
Spike could win the game. Three of three points for Spike, a win against
Shredder, we were really happy.
The fourth game was then against "Pharaon" from Franck Zibi, one of the
many strong amateurs of this tournament. After a good start of Spike,
Pharaon managed step by step to reduce the positional and material
disadvantages and went into a drawish-looking endgame. But Here Pharaon
helped us and made a few unexact moves which allowed Spike finally to
Wow, four out of four points on the first day, leading by one point to
the next engine. Really happy we started to fear a drop in the table at
the next day.
Then on friday we started against "Jonny" by Johannes Zwanzger, an
engine that was able to draw a game against Hydra at Paderborn. Hydra is
a Chess Program running with a special hardware that enables it to
search much much more positions than PC-Hardware based programs. In the
game versus Jonny no side could get a clear advantage, but the game was
always open and exciting. Finally it ended draw by three-fold
repetition. Now Spike had four and a half point followed by Shredder
with four points, Shredder started to catch up!
Ikarus by Muntsin and Munjong Kolls was the name of the engine Spike
played against in the sixth round. Spike had lost against Ikarus in
Paderborn thus this game could give Spike a revenge. This time Spike
managed to get an advantage very fast and finally brought it to the
fifth win for him in this tournament. But the best result was the game
from The Baron versus Shredder. The Baron won the game! Now only one
program - Jonny - had enough points to get the same score as Spike
Really happy and wondering if a loss of Spike and a win of Jonny could
push us back to the second place we started the seventh and last game
against Glaurung. In this game Glaurung was revenging all the luck
Spike had in the fist six rounds and attacked. After only some moves
Spikes position was lost and Glaurung forced the game to a win quite
easily. At the same time Jonny managed to win this last game giving
him 5.5 points, as much as Spike had.
Now the game had to be decided by "Buchholz" a rating that counts all the
points of the opponents of an engine. The more points the opponents had,
the higher the Buchholz raiting. Luckily Spike had a better Buchholz than
Jonny what made of him the first world champion in Chess960!
Spikes games as pgn