A Match of Wits: Computer Chess Showdown (Part I)

Written by rob on February 11, 2007 – 8:00 pm -

I don’t know exactly how I got the idea, but I recently decided to have a tournament of computer chess programs. I’ve been into computer chess stuff for a bit, and while my personal chess skills have lately waned, my fascination for computer chess has not. I always thought it was amazing that a programmer could create a formidable chess opponent. Years ago, a computer beat the reigning human Grandmaster. Ever since, the gap between human and computer chess strength has been enlarging. Computers are getting faster, and programmers are making the programs stronger.

Click the link below to read the rest of the article and find out what happened.

There are plenty of computer programs made that can play chess. There are also some specialized programs that use the Universal Chess Interface (UCI) to communicate with a master chess program; these are called Engines. There are many such engines. By utilizing a master chess program, one can easily match multiple engines together. That is what I sought to do. I chose eight engines that I felt were among the best, and then matched them against each other in a tournament style (meaning that if the engine lost or gave up, it was eliminated from the contest). The matches were setup in a way that each engine had 10 minutes for every 40 moves. Most games don’t last more than 50, depending on the strength of each opponent, so matches rarely took more than twenty minutes.

The eight engines I chose are as follows: Fritz 10, Aristarch 4.5, Deep Junior 10, Colossus 2006f, Deep Sjeng 1.6, Rybka 2.1c, Shredder 10, and Gandalf 6.003. I originally wanted to use the Chessmaster 9000 engine, but that is not compatible with the master program I was using (Fritz). I therefore decided to do the eight-engine tournament, and then have the winner face CM9k to see if that would have even had a chance against these.

Chess Tournament Bracket

The above image shows the current bracket. I did the Round 2 match between Rybka and Shredder 10, but it was a draw by threefold repetition. I’m going to redo that match and see what happens. The winner of that match will face off against Fritz 10, and then the champion will play Chessmaster 9000. To be continued…

The following are links to the game files from all the matches so far. They are PGN files, which can be viewed with the freeware program WinBoard (download here).

Round 1 Fritz v. Aristarch
Round 1 Junior v. Colossus
Round 1 Shredder v. Gandalf
Round 1 Sjeng v. Rybka
Round 2 Junior v. Fritz
Round 2 Rybka v. Shredder

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