Rybka and Shredder qualify for the finals
By Eric van Reem
On the second day of the Livingston Chess960 Computer World Championship, title holder Rybka showed her class by scoring 5,5 points out of six games. With 9/12 games programmer Vasik Raijlich clearly won the preliminaries and will meet Shredder, the program by Stefan Meyer-Kahlen on Friday. Shredder scored 6,5 points. The ICC qualifiers Naum and Shredder played some very good games, occasionally teased Rybka and Shredder, but in the end the favourites came out on top.
Today, another round robin was played and after a suspense-packed first day, Rybka had a perfect start by winning 2-0 against Shredder. The first game really hurt Shredder, because Rybka played a very powerful game, but the second one was equal, until Shredder pushed too hard for a win, made a mistake and lost in the end. Aleksandar Naumov, who scored 3,5 points on the first day with Naum, had a disappointing start of the day. He only scored half point in his mini-match against Deep Sjeng. The last game was interesting for endgame lovers. A mind-boggling knight endgame seemed to be drawish, but Deep Sjeng kept pushing and won after more than 100 moves. So the Belgian program was back in business again. Shredder won 1,5-0,5 against Naum and Sjeng lost 1,5-0,5 against Rybka, although Sjeng must have missed a way to win the endgame in the second game. “This was actually the most interesting game of the day for Rybka”, Raijlich said, “because this was a really nice endgame”.
With only two games left, after ten rounds, the situation was as follows: Rybka 7 points, Naum and Shredder 4,5 points and Sjeng 4 points. Rybka won 2-0 against Naum and got her revenge for the loss on Wednesday. Shredder won 2-0 against Deep Sjeng. On Friday, we will see a repetition of last year’s final. Will Rybka win the second Chess960 title in a row? The programs will battle it out in four games.
Some comments from Vaclav Gerhard Vasik: “Today I scored more points (Elo performance 3350!), but even in computer chess, some days are better than others. Yesterday I scored only 3,5 points, but that is ok. I was not worried about Rybka’s performance yesterday. Tomorrow, when I play the final, Rybka must be ready. That is the important day”.
Throwing the dice
There are many procedures for creating the starting position for a game of Chess960. You can use the new DGT Chess960 clock, which is probably the easiest way to create a position, there are coin-tossing methods but have youever heard of the the eight-card method? Using a deck of playing cards, the king, queen, two jacks, two aces, and two tens can be selected. It is decided which pieces are represented by which cards (as the king and queen are obvious.) The deck is shuffled, cut, and dealt. Care must be taken as to keep the bishops on opposite colors, and the king between the rooks. To deal with a card that would be illegal, just hold that piece to the side until it is legal to place. When a legal square opens, place the held piece. Sometimes, two pieces are held but it is not confusing and quite a speedy and random method.
There a a few more (and more fun) methods. Since so many grandmasters wander around the Rheingoldhalle during the Chess Classic, it has become a nice tradition that tournament director Eric van Reem asks one of them to determine a Chess960 position by rolling the dice. On the first day world champion Vishy Anand rolled the dice, and today big names like Hikaru Nakamura and Judit Polgar were happy to create a position for the computer tournament. The two Dutch Chess960 ambassadors, Bianca Mühren and Dennis De Vreugt created interesting positions.
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