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More than a decade has passed since IBM’s Deep Blue computer stunned the world by defeating Garry Kasparov, the world chess champion at that time. Beyond Deep Blue tells the continuing story of the chess engine and its steady improvement. The book provides analysis of the games alongside a detailed examination of the remarkable technological progress made by the engines – asking which one is best, how good is it, and how much better can it get. Features: presents a total of 118 games, played by 17 different chess engines, collected together for the first time in a single reference; details the processor speeds, memory sizes, and the number of processors used by each chess engine; includes games from 10 World Computer Chess Championships, and three computer chess tournaments of the Internet Chess Club; covers the man-machine matches between Fritz and Kramnik, and Kasparov and Deep Junior; describes three historical matches between leading engines – Hydra vs. Shredder, Junior vs. Fritz, and Zappa vs. Rybka.



1. Deep Blue Establishes Historic Landmark

On May 11, 1997, IBM’s Deep Blue stunned the world when it defeated the best human chess player – possibly the best human chess player ever! – on planet Earth, Garry Kasparov, in the final game of their six-game Rematch, thereby winning the match by a 3.5–2.5 score. The victory gave Deep Blue the right to call itself the world’s best chess player. But was the claim legitimate? Was Deep Blue really better than Kasparov? Was the victory a one-time fluke? Would Kasparov – or one of his kind – set the record straight in the coming months or years? We’ll see in the following chapters. But first, let’s review Deep Blue’s two matches with Kasparov beginning with its victory in the Rematch.
Monty Newborn

2. The Dawn of the Post-Deep Blue Era

With Deep Blue retired, the new monarch of the computer chess world was up for grabs. In 1995 and leading up to the first Deep Blue versus Kasparov match, the 8th World Computer Chess Championship (WCCC) was held in Hong Kong. IBM planned to use this event to showcase the new Deep Blue and to establish formal recognition of its position at the top of the computer chess world. Deep Blue’s earlier version called Deep Thought had won the 6th WCCC in 1989 in Edmonton, winning all five of its games and dominating the competition. Then in 1992, the Deep Blue team skipped participating in the 7th WCCC. The team preferred to dedicate itself to honing Deep Blue’s talents against human grandmasters while aiming for the ultimate target, Garry Kasparov.
Monty Newborn

3. 2002: Shredder Bows to Deep Junior at the 10th WCCC

The twenty-first century began with Shredder as world champion. Between its coronation at the 9th WCCC in 1999 and its defense of the title at the 10th WCCC in 2002, Shredder and its main rivals battled each other a number of times in various competitions. All were in Europe where computer chess engines and tournaments for them were proliferating. Before considering the 2002 world championship, an examination of these other events is in order.
Monty Newborn

4. 2002: Deep Fritz Befuddles Kramnik, Drawing 4–4 in Bahrain

It took more than five years to again bring together the human world chess ­champion and, well, let’s say, one of the world’s best chess engines. This time the human was Vladimir Kramnik and the engine was Deep Fritz. Their eight-game match took place in Le Royal Meridiene Hotel in Manama, Bahrain, October 4–15, 2002. The host, Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Issa al-Khaleifa offered a prize of $1 million to Kramnik if he won, $800,000 if he drew, and $600,000 if he lost. The match would be our first opportunity to test whether Deep Blue’s 1997 victory was a one-time happening, of dubious legitimacy as some argued, or a real victory.
Monty Newborn

5. 2003: Deep Junior Confounds Kasparov, Drawing 3–3 in New York

If Kramnik couldn’t restore dignity to the human race in Bahrain, perhaps Kasparov could do it in his match with Deep Junior in New York, scheduled for January 26, 2003–February 7, 2003. Kasparov was approximately 40 rating points stronger than Kramnik, although the latter was now world champion, and the opponent wouldn’t be Deep Fritz or Deep Blue, but an even stronger Deep Junior. In spite of Deep Fritz’s defeat of Deep Junior to gain the right to play Kramnik, Deep Junior had a stronger record over recent years and held the title of world computer chess champion. Thus the showdown between Kasparov and Deep Junior pitted two even larger giants against each another than did the brawl in Bahrain.
Monty Newborn

6. 2003: Shredder, the Comeback Kid, Comes Back at 11th WCCC

The 11th World Computer Chess Championship took place in Graz, Austria, November 21, 2003–November 30, 2003. A beautiful exhibition hall called the Dome in the Mountain, located in the Schlossberg, a castle hill in the center of Graz, was the site of the games. For the first time the event was organized by the newly formed International Computer Games Association (ICGA), which the former ICCA had evolved into as a result of the growing links between programmers of different games. It was also the first time that a world computer chess championship was held one year after the previous one, rather than after a 3-year interval, a new practice that would continue. And, it was also the first time that the championship was coupled up with the Computer Olympiad, David Levy’s creation intended to parallel the Olympic Games, but for computers.
Monty Newborn

7. 2004: Deep Junior Edges Out Shredder to Take 12th WCCC

Playing on home turf is an advantage in most sports. But in computer chess? Well, based on the results of the 12th WCCC, one has to give this hypothesis some credibility. It certainly didn’t hurt Deep Junior. The Israeli program took on its main rivals, Shredder and Fritz, in its own backyard, the campus of Bar-Ilan University in Ramat-Gan, a suburb of Israel’s largest city, Tel Aviv, and showed them who’s best. Shredder had taken the title of World Champion away from Deep Junior the previous year; Deep Junior had won the title in 2002, having taken the title away from Shredder, who in turn had taken it away from Fritz in 2001! Until Shredder won the title in 2003, no world champion had ever lost the title and regained it later. Now, it happened for a second time in a row.
Monty Newborn

8. 2004: Hydra Slews Shredder in Abu Dhabi

No sooner than the 12th WCCC was over in Israel and Deep Junior had regained the title of World Champion, Hydra took on Shredder in an eight–game match in Abu Dhabi: The Abu Dhabi Computer Challenge. The dates were August 14–24, 2004. Hydra won the match with a very impressive 5.5–2.5 score, winning three games, drawing five and raising the question of which chess engine was really the best. For half a decade, Junior, Fritz, and Shredder took turns at the top. Now, there was a newcomer, possibly the best of all. The following year, Hydra essentially murdered England’s Grandmaster Michael Adams, and its status grew even higher.
Monty Newborn

9. 2005: Zappa Red Hot at 13th WCCC

Iceland may be one of the cooler countries on this planet, but Zappa was red-hot August 13–21, 2005 when it totally dominated the field at the 13th WCCC played at Reykjavik University. And if the Bobby Fischer versus Boris Spassky world championship match in 1972 was the most famous chess match in Iceland’s history, this competition will go down as the strongest tournament ever played on its soil, or better, its rocks. Fischer is certainly the most famous chess player to compete in Iceland; Zappa may be the strongest player ever to compete there.
Monty Newborn

10. 2006: Junior, Another Comeback Kid, Wins 14th WCCC

The 14th World Computer Chess Championship was held in the Oval Lingotto, a large arena built for speed skating races at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. The dates were May 25, 2006, through June 1, 2006. The tournament was hosted by the Organizing Committee of the 37th Chess Olympiad, which took place in the arena at the same time. The computer chess competition was a sideshow for the world’s best human players competing in the Olympiad.
Monty Newborn

11. 2006: Deep Fritz Clobbers Kramnik, 4–2

Time may have run out on the human race in Bonn, Germany, November 25, 2006–December 5, 2006 when Deep Fritz brought Vladimir Kramnik to his knees. In 1997, Kasparov bowed to Deep Blue, 3.5–2.5. In 2002 and 2003, both Kramnik and Kasparov were unable to do any better than stand even in their respective matches with computers. With the top chess engines clearly stronger than they were during those matches, how could one imagine Kramnik would set matters straight in Bonn in The Duel: Man vs. Machine? Four years had passed since his last encounter with Deep Fritz, four years during which chess engines were improved in many aspects. And if Kramnik didn’t manage to win or at least draw, one could be sure future matches were not any more likely to produce favorable results for us humanoids.
Monty Newborn

12. 2007: Deep Junior Deep Sixes Deep Fritz in Elista, 4–2

Deep Fritz’s defeat of Kramnik in 2006 marked the end of human attempts to outplay their electronic rivals – at least prior to the publication of this book. More than a decade had passed since Garry Kasparov downed Deep Blue in Philadelphia. During that time, computers became much faster and were given far greater storage capacity. Opening books were improved. Debugging produced more solid engines. Scoring functions were more sophisticated with knowledge more cleverly encoded. Search heuristics were more refined. Parallel processing systems were proliferating. One might argue that humans also improved with the top players more knowledgeable about opening theory and more aware of how to play chess engines. But the human improvement was far less than that of the computer hardware and software.
Monty Newborn

13. 2007: Rybka Moves to Top at the 15th WCCC

The 15th World Computer Chess Championship was staged from June 11–18, 2007 in the Science Park Amsterdam in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The organizer was the International Computer Games Association (ICGA). The event was sponsored by the Netherland’s National Computing Facilities, SARA Computing and Networks, and IBM. For the sixth time, it was held in conjunction with the Computer Olympiad.
Monty Newborn

14. 2007: Zappa Upsets Rybka in Mexico City, 5.5–4.5

Three months following the 15th World Computer Chess Championship in Amsterdam, where Rybka finished in first place one point ahead of Zappa and where the remainder of the field trailed in the distance, these two giant chess engines went head to head in a ten-game match in Mexico City for a $10,000 prize. The event took place in the Hotel Centro Historico Sheraton; at the same time, the human world championship was held with Vishwanathan Anand, the winner. The match, played September 20–27, 2007, consisted of ten games with a time control of 60 minutes per game plus 20 seconds per move. Because of problems bringing computers into Mexico, the two participants each used a remotely located 8-core Intel Xeon X5355 processor running at 2.66 GHz.
Monty Newborn

15. 2008: Rybka, Naum Top Field at Internet Chess Club CCT 10

The Internet Chess Club has held annual computer competitions dating back to 1999; this marked the tenth such gathering. The seven-round tournament was held over 2 days, January 26–27, 2008, with four games on the first day and three on the second. The time control was all moves in 50 minutes plus three seconds extra per move.
Monty Newborn

16. 2008: Rybka Retains Title at the 16th WCCC

The 16th World Computer Chess Championship was held in Beijing, China at the Beijing Golden Century Golf Club from September 28, 2008 through October 5, 2008. Beijing had hosted the 29th Olympic Games only a few weeks before, dazzling the world with its opening and closing ceremonies and everything in between. Now, the greatest electronic brains would demonstrate their awesome talent there playing mankind’s ultimate mental game. The Beijing Longlife Group provided support for the event, as did the Northeastern University, the Beijing Institute of Technology, the Beijing University of Post and Telecommunications, the ICGA, the University of Maastricht’s ICT Competence Centre, and Tilberg University’s Centre for Cognition and Communication. Ten chess engines participated in the 9-round round-robin event, including three from Germany, two from Israel, and single entries from the USA, China, The Netherlands, Great Britain, and Belgium. The rate of play was 60 moves in two hours, followed by the remaining moves in 30 minutes. Deep Blue’s Feng-Hsiung Hsu attended the competition and gave a speech at the opening ceremony.
Monty Newborn

17. 2009: Rybka Tops at Internet Chess Club CCT 11

The Internet Chess Club held its 11th Computer Chess Tournament, January 26–27, 2009. Five rounds were played on the first day and four on the second. The time control was the same as it had been previously: all moves in 50 minutes plus three seconds extra per move. Rybka, the two-time world champion, returned to see if she could do better than tie for first place as she had done in the previous year’s tournament. Thirty-two other entries would try to take a shot at her. However, some of her strongest rivals were missing including, in particular, Junior, Zappa, and Shredder.
Monty Newborn

18. 2009: Rybka Rolls Through Opposition at 17th WCCC

The 17th World Computer Chess Championship was held in the Palacio del Condestable in Pamplona, Spain, May 11–18, 2009. Ten chess engines participated in the nine-round round-robin event, including two from Germany, two from The Netherlands, and single entries from the USA, Israel, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, and Belgium. Rybka, the defending champ and the winner for the last two years, was there to defend her title. Her main competition was expected to come from former world champions Junior and Shredder, and from Hiarcs.
Monty Newborn

19. 2010: Sjeng Wins Internet Chess Club CCT 12

The most recent Internet Chess Club Computer Chess Tournament, CCT 12, was held as the previous year over two days, February 20–21, 2010; again five games were played on the first day and four on the second. As previously, the time control was all moves in 50 minutes plus three seconds extra per move.
Monty Newborn

20. 2010: Rybka Romps Again at 18th WCCC

The 18th World Computer Chess Championship was held in the Shiinoki Cultural Center in Kanazawa, Japan, September 24–October 1, 2010. It was hosted by the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST). Ten chess engines participated in the nine-round round-robin event, including three from the USA, three from Germany, two from Hungary, and single entries from Israel and Hungary. Rybka was there to defend her title, now 3 years running. Rondo, a derivative of Zappa, Deep Junior, and Shredder figured to be the main threats. Rondo was the work of Zach Wegner, a student of Anthony Cozzie. Missing was Deep Sjeng.
Monty Newborn

21. And Beyond Rybka?

As the first decade of the twenty-first century and this book come to an end, Rybka’s reign at the top of the world of chess-playing entities is now four years old. History has shown that staying there for much longer is a tough task. A number of chess engines have risen to the top including Chess 4.0, Kaissa, Belle, Cray Blitz, Hitech, Deep Blue, Fritz, Shredder, Junior, Hydra, Zappa, and now Rybka. All but Hitech and Hydra established their positions at world championships. None but Cray Blitz held the title for more than four years. Cray Blitz did so for six years. However, though champion for the longest time, it was best by the narrowest of margins. Fritz won the title in 1995 and held it for four years until Shredder took it away in 1999. Junior, the comeback kid, captured the title three times, in 2002, 2004, and 2006, each time only to be relieved of it the following year.
Monty Newborn


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