Computer Chess Club Archives




Subject: Re: Ikarus at CCT7

Author: Pierre Bourget

Date: 10:36:36 02/14/05

Go up one level in this thread

On February 14, 2005 at 12:44:51, Kolss wrote:

>Hello everyone,
>As I have always enjoyed reading other people's reports on tournaments, here is
>my own brief account of CCT7 as the operator of Ikarus...
>First of all, I would like to thank everybody involved in the event, especially
>Peter for organizing it, Andy (Zek) for his assistance in setting up accounts
>etc., for IM Schroer for commenting throughout the whole tournament, for
>everyone else who was involved and whom I don't know or may have forgotten.
>Also, thanks a lot to all participants in helping to make this a great
>experience, especially to our opponents for some quite elucidating games.
>All in all, I think CCT7 went extraordinarily smoothly. There were only a few
>small incidents, but that is of course unavoidable... Everything was perfectly
>organized, the rounds could always start almost on the minute. That is to some
>degree due to the time control, which at 50'+3'' was very well chosen and can
>only be recommended for future CCT, but of course also due to Peter's incredible
>speed at updating results and posting them as well as the new pairings on his
>web site.
>The next part will be a very subjective story - from the perspective of Ikarus
>or rather one of its developers. If you are not interested, this is the point to
>quit! :-)
>Before the tournament, we had several goals, of course (not necessarily in order
>of descending importance...):
>1. Test our current version - there is no better way of getting new ideas and
>insights than from intensely watching a real game.
>2. Play against some new and interesting programs - this is sort of the same as
>3. "Meet" other programmers and exchange some thoughts.
>4. Have fun.
>5. Make Ikarus known a bit more.
>6. ?
>#5 partially stems from the fact that Ikarus was only seeded at #21. We both
>(i.e. Muntsin and myself = Munjong) thought that that was rather off, as we
>would probably have seeded Ikarus in the top ten. But then again, people did not
>seem to know much about Ikarus, and I had also failed to publish our hardware in
>time (Centrino 2.0 GHz, 768 MB RAM, by the way). Besides, we did not care that
>much about the seeding anyway - you have to win the games in the end, no matter
>against whom. Of course, it also had the positive side that we were quite
>certain we would overfulfill the expectations...
>As for the goal in terms of final ranking, it was hard to predict. We thought
>there were at least seven or eight programs that would seriously compete for the
>victory, and about 20 to go for the top ten... :-) For us, top ten or something
>like 6 to 6.5 points was sort of a minimum goal, though ending up worse would
>not have been a catastrophe - in such a dense field, a bit of bad luck is enough
>to catapult you down significantly.
>I personally expected 7.5 points to be needed to at least jointly win the
>tournament - I did not expect that one program would conduct such a rout
>So here goes the account round by round - don't worry: analysis not included!!
>Day 1:
>Round 1: Ikarus - SEE (1-0)
>Being seeded 21st, we played 43rd seed, SEE. Not knowing much about SEE, we
>chose to play something solid. Ikarus came out of a Nimzo-Indian with a minute
>disadvantage, but that is normal for this opening (at least our program seems to
>have difficulty judging it properly). After some moves, it gradually accumulated
>a nice advantage and finally converted a passer into victory. That was a good
>Round 2: Pharaon - Ikarus (1-0)
>As a reward, we were to play Pharaon on the black side. This would be a tough
>task, as we considered Pharaon to be one of the serious contenders for the top
>spot. Both programs being out of book rather quickly, a quite balanced position
>In this position
>[D]3r2k1/pp1r1ppp/4b3/3N1n2/8/1B1R4/PP2KPPP/3R4 w - - 0 21
>Ikarus missed the strong 21. g4! and ended up in a knight vs. bishop endgame
>with a passive king, which turned out to be hopeless, as Ikarus realized way too
>late. Pharaon played the ending very well and easily converted it into the
>deserved victory.
>So we were stuck with 1.0/2 and thinking that it could only become better... No,
>that is a bit exaggerated - while we did not think that Ikarus is really much
>weaker than Pharaon, we knew that it would be perfectly OK to lose to this
>strong program.
>An exclamation mark was set by DanChess by beating Yace, and also Matacz, seeded
>way in the bottom half, ended up with a perfect score after this round.
>Round 3: Ikarus - Petir (1-0)
>We knew nothing about Petir, but were lucky to get a good opening. Petir came
>out with a locked-away bishop, failed to set up counterplay on the queen side,
>and Ikarus, effectively playing with a piece more, quickly won the game. It was
>nice to see a #13 announced without tablebases...
>Movei beat Crafty, for us perhaps the biggest surprise of the round besides
>DanChess' draw against Pharaon.
>Round 4: CEng - Ikarus (1-0)
>Again a completely unknown to us - please pardon our ignorance... CEng played
>without opening book, something we did not know before. In a Sicilian, Ikarus
>came out with a slight disadvantage, managed to keep the balance and gradually
>equalized. Things started turning when CEng allowed Ikarus to enter a slightly
>better bishops' ending (same colors). Ikarus increased its advantage, when
>suddenly the following position came up:
>[D]8/8/6B1/4p2P/1p1pp1k1/1P6/2PK1Pb1/8 b - - 0 55
>Here I thought that it had blown its advantage, but after a bit of shuffling, it
>came up with a nice sequence which led to the following:
>[D]8/8/7k/7b/1p2B3/1P2p3/2P5/5K2 b - - 0 69
>I suppose that this position is won for black and therefore the above one should
>be as well, but deeper analysis would take too long, and I leave it to others...
>The end was a tablebase mate with KBP-KB.
>With 3.0/4, we were back in the game!
>Round 5: Chepla - Ikarus (1/2-1/2)
>In a sharp Sicilian, Ikarus emerged with what it considered a substantial
>advantage. However, Chepla did a good job at keeping the position complicated,
>not trading queens and thus sustaining some annoying counterplay against the
>open black king. In the end, Ikarus traded off into an ending KRPP-KRN where it
>thought it was still better, but had to aquiesce to the draw after all. I am not
>sure if black had a win anywhere at all - that will also have to remain open to
>more detailed analysis. Well defended by Chepla, although fighting for the draw
>is not really what you hope for as white...
>So we finished the first day with 3.5/5, which was OK, had some lousy moments
>with the loss and the gross misevaluation in the last game - but hey, that is
>where you learn most from!
>Zappa had beaten SOS to maintain a perfect 5/5 score - the tournament victory
>seemed to be booked, especially considering the hardware Zappa was running on.
>The only way to catch it would be to score 4/4 on the second day while beating
>Zappa itself and hoping for it to give up another half point somewhere else...
>That of course seemed ridiculously out of reach.
>Day 2:
>Round 6: Ikarus - ChessThinker (1/2-1/2)
>ChessThinker was still undefeated, so we knew it would be tough. Besides it was
>playing on superior hardware as well. Ikarus was surprised in the opening by a
>pawn sacrifice, which left it with a poor bishop. However, ChessThinker probably
>did not treat the position optimally, as suddenly things turned, and it was
>black that was stuck with the bad bishop! I found that very remarkable, but of
>course did not mind. Ikarus played the next part very well and increased its
>advantage to 2.5 pawns. But when ChessThinker was almost on the ropes, it fired
>up some counterplay by sacrificing a second pawn, thus activating all its
>pieces. Ikarus completely underestimated this counterplay. In the end, it did
>not have the guts to continue in this position:
>[D]4R3/kp2N3/p5r1/P7/7P/5rP1/P7/5bK1 w - - 0 65
>With 65. Nxg6 (65. ... Bb5 66. Kg2 Bxe8 (Ra3!?) 67. Kxf3 Bxg6 68. g4 +-), it
>might have played for the full point, but instead went for the perpetual with
>65. Nc8+ Kb8 66. Ne7+ Ka7. Nice fight by ChessThinker after a maltreated opening
>- another lost half point for Ikarus, although before the game, we thought that
>a draw would be OK. I guess that is one of the big differences to the top
>programs - they squeeze out full points out of these kinds of positions.
>Zappa beat Pharaon in a dramatic game and must have started to feel lonely up
>there with 6/6 and 1.5 points to the next neighbor...
>Round 7: Amateur - Ikarus (0-1)
>This was one of the games where I can only say: "Beyond the fourth ply..."! It
>was simply way too complicated for me, but somehow Ikarus seemed to gather
>centipawn by centipawn (which I actually missed completely, because I had a
>couple of phone calls), finally trading into a good ending with the more active
>pieces. In contrast to the game against Pharaon, this time Ikarus was on the
>better side of the topical good bishop vs. not so great knight ending (although
>there also was a pair of rooks left) and convincingly converted the advantage
>into a full point. I particularly liked the move 63. ... Bh7! in the following
>position, although it is not difficult for engines:
>[D]4R1b1/6P1/8/2p5/p7/3k1P2/2r5/6K1 b - - 0 63
>The point is 64. Rh8?? a3! 65. Rxh7?? a2 66. g8Q a1Q# checkmate!
>Things seemed to go pretty well now with 5.0/7.
>Zappa was closing in on victory by beating Movei for an incredible 7/7 and now a
>two-point lead, which meant that it only needed one single draw from the
>remaining two rounds to be sole winner.
>Round 8: Ikarus - Yace (1-0)
>Yes, I confess: I had been hoping that we would play Yace in this tournament.
>Yace is a really strong program, although Dieter would never admit that.
>Besides, Dieter is always an enrichment in any tournament - it is nice to chat
>with him, and we had participated at some of the Paderborn tournaments without
>ever getting to play each other, so it was about time... The game commenced
>quietly, when Dieter surprised me with the comment: "This could go quickly - are
>you going to play Bxh6 soon?" I replied: "No, Ikarus does not play such
>moves..." Sure enough, two moves later it played 16. Bxh6, although it was not
>really tactically inspired, but seemed rather positional. I seem to have the
>incredible talent of missing out the interesting parts - this time, my body was
>called to sustainment measures (aka dinner). When I came back, Ikarus showed +9
>- it had converted more active piece placement in a way that is of course beyond
>my modest capabilities.
>Now things were definitely going well - 6.0/8, which meant we would get to play
>"the monster", as Zappa had been tenderly called.
>Zappa meanwhile had wrapped up his victory by drawing ChessThinker. 7.5/8 was of
>course an unbelievable demonstration by Zappa. On the other hand, there was to
>be noticed the clear downward trend - obviously Zappa had some serious problems
>with motivating itself to keep concentrating... We hoped to exploit this fatigue
>and at the same time make use of our own forward momentum. No, just kidding - of
>course we would have been quite contented with a draw...
>Round 9: Ikarus - Zappa (1-0)
>Fortuna had an eye upon us, and because Zappa was seeded higher than Ikarus, it
>(Zappa) had color change priority and therefore got black... Ikarus came out of
>a rather short Scotch opening with maybe a minute advantage due to the better
>pawn structure. Zappa had some counterplay against the king, but it turned out
>to be easily driven off. Ikarus was daring enough to start pushing its own
>kingside pawns (with opposite-side castles!), something which I naturally missed
>again due to some other interruption I don't remember any more... It gained a
>pawn, only to give it back in exchange for a passed pawn on the seventh rank.
>After the score wobbled around a fair bit, this pawn proved decisive, as in this
>[D]4r3/kpp1P3/2p3p1/p7/P3QPPp/2P4P/3qRK2/8 b - - 0 45
>Zappa had to give the rook for the passer, as 45. ... Qxc3 would fail to 46.
>Qe3+ Qxe3 47. Rxe3+-, followed by the push of the f-pawn. The last hurdles
>(avoiding perpetual check) were mastered, and when the queens went off the
>board, the game was over.
>I feel we deserve some sort of charity price for this, as I do not think that
>winning such an event without a single loss can be healthy! :-) Anyway, I guess
>that Anthony was able to get over this easily - still an impressive tournament
>victory for him with Zappa, so again congratulations to this marvelous
>I would also like to point out the IMO most remarkable showings at CCT7: It is
>most noteworthy that ChessThinker was the only program that went undefeated
>through all nine rounds. The (for me) most surprising (positive) result was by
>DanChess - I had not even known it really before, but obviously Dan must have
>improved it quite a lot recently; it should be watched in future events! Also
>Gosu, CEng, and Chompster (the latter written in Java, if I gathered correctly!)
>did very well. And of course everyone deserves applause for the mere fact of
>producing a program that is able to play and entering it in the tournament - you
>are all winners, at the very least from a learning perspective!
>To wrap up the tournament for Ikarus, it goes without saying that we were more
>than pleased with the result. If someone had predicted 7.0/9 and a clear second
>place for us, we would have said: "Well, yes, theoretically not entirely
>impossible, but..." Apart from that, we were also very happy that the whole
>tournament worked out perfectly from a technical point of view: not a single
>crash, not a single disconnect - when we compare that to the pathetic failure
>last year (router died, no internet connection, hastily set-up backup quit,
>etc.), that was like ascending from Hades and flying up to the sun...
>There is of course one downside to this result: realistically, it can only go
>downhill from here on...!
>Best regards - Munjong.

Congratulations ,is Ikarus will be available for download sometime in the future


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