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Subject: Shredder wins in Graz after controversy

Author: Darse Billings

Date: 04:36:14 12/09/03



I have been asked to contribute my views regarding the Shredder vs
Jonny game in Graz.  (I was in Graz during the WCCC, and I've been
involved in similar 3-fold repetition situations in the Computer
Olympiad.  FWIW, I have the highest arbiter certification awarded
by the Chess Federation of Canada: National Tournament Director.)

  http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=1335

This is an interesting situation, but the ruling was entirely correct.

The actual circumstances made the decision clear.  Anyone who cannot
see this needs to check their logic or their knowledge of the rules.

The hypothetical issue is more interesting: whether the operator has
the right to decline an opportunity to draw.

Some people have asserted that the operator does not have that right.
They are wrong.

Since the operator is given the right to claim a draw on behalf of
the program, the natural corollary is that it is *not obligatory*
for the operator to do so.  Note that this discretionary privilege
can also lead to a *win* for the operator's program.  The operator
is *not* a completely passive entity, nor has that ever been the
case in computer chess competitions.

The rule in question dates back to a previous era when computer chess
was a friendly competition between gentlemen.  If that is no longer
desirable, then the whole process of claiming a draw (as well as
resigning on behalf of the program) must be revisited, and be taken
out of the hands of the operator.

The exact procedure for claiming a draw by 3-fold repetition is
covered in the FIDE rules.  If a program follows those steps, then
the operator has no say in the matter.  Most programmers have better
things to do than encoding every niggling detail of the FIDE rules
(which were developed for human players).

Personally, I prefer to allow the programmer to do what he believes
to be right.  If I were the arbiter, I would rule accordingly.  If a
third party suggested or demanded that a programmer do something he
believes to be less than honourable, I would hope it was a bad joke,
and would dismiss it summarily.

It is a sad statement that some non-cooperative participants prefer
to use the rules as a weapon, forcing increasingly complex rules to
handle minor quibbles (which is an impossible task in the limit; at
some point judgement and reason must come into play).

Regardless, the case at hand is clear and unambiguous: Jonny did not
follow the exact steps for claiming a draw, and the operator's choice
to continue the game was legal.  Those who have criticized the ICGA
on this matter should rethink their position.

As a side note, this situation would not have arisen if the programs
were required to use a direct communication protocol, like that used
for Go competitions.  We could also dispense with the physical clocks,
leaving the time enforcement (and other technical details, like draw
claims) to a referee program in the middle.  This places a greater
burden on the programmer to satisfy the protocol, and I wouldn't
recommend it for friendly events like the Computer Olympiad, but
it is long overdue for the World Computer Chess Championship.

  - Darse.



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