The story is that the Topalov team had access to four twelve-core machines and eight eight-core systems all connected into a cluster of 112 processors. This awesome hardware was running a cluster version of Rybka 4 that was not available to anyone else.
This is what a computer cluster looks like – with just 52 cores. Topalov's had 112.
What a powerful cluster is able to do is shown in a picture that was circulated in computer chess forums. Apparently during the 2008 World Computer Chess Championship in Beijing Rybka 3 running on a 40 core cluster announced mate in 1942 moves. We have no idea if this is accurate, but you can see for yourself in the following photograph circulated by the Rybka operator.
So how did Anand counter the massive hardware advantage of his challenger in Sofia? During the match that was of course a closely guarded secret. But now that it's over Vishy is willing to spill some of his secrets. At 17:00h CEST (= 16:00h London, 11 a.m. New York, 19:00h Moscow) you will be able to hear him talk about his match preparations, his seconds and the cluster he used. All of this live on the Playchess Server. A transcript of the most interesting passages will be provided at a later date.
In the meantime you may want to study the following picture, which shows the Anand team in Sofia:
Standing in the front row are GM Peter Heine Nielsen, Eric van Reem, GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov, Hans Walter Schmitt, Vishy Anand, Aruna Anand, GM Surya Ganguly, GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek. In the second row on the left: Christian Bossert, Mark Lefler. All of the GM seconds worked with Anand in his 2008 match against Vladimir Kramnik. You will learn more about what they all did this time in the Anand interview and in future articles.
The interview with Anand will be broadcast live on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a client on the Playchess page and register online.