Sensational computer victory at GM tournament

8/19/2003 – Our experimental hardware chess program "Brutus" scored a remarkable (some would say depressing) first place in the Lippstadt GM tournament, two full points ahead of its nearest rivals. In the process the computer easily fulfilled a GM norm. The performance was 2765. We bring you a round-by-round report with pictures and all games.

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Brutus in Lippstadt

We published a brief report on the GM tournament in Lippstadt at the end of round three. At the time Brutus had scored three consecutive wins and looked like nothing could solve the FPGA program. Then Brutus suffered from a "worm" ailment, as operator Alex Kure described it. Two listless draws were the result. But when Kure had cured the computer (with de-worming medication?) it went back into the fray with its original verve. In the end it had scored a sensational 9 points from eleven rounds, two more than its nearest rivals. We bring you a round-by-round report and all the computer games. An evaluation of the performance will follow soon, as will an extensive description of the Brutus project.


The playing venue in the Town Hall of Lippstadt

Game one – 1-0
On one of the hottest days in years Brutus caused the the Ukrainian GM Oleg Romanischin to break out into even more sweat, stunning him with a piece sacrifice and a brutally executed attack. The first victory for the computer.


GM Oleg Romanischin

Game two – 1-0
Brutus took a second GM scalp with a victory over Florian Jenni. The Swiss champion tried to keep the position closed but the hardware program found ways of opening it up, getting exactly the kind of position it excells in.


GM Florian Jenni

Game three – 1-0
Most of the games were drawn in Lippstadt, but Brutus was not in a peaceful mood. Facing a rival who had also won his first two games, Brutus went about clinically harvesting Jan Smeet's pawns until the 18-year-old Dutch star was forced to call it a day.


Holland's Jan Smeet

Game four – ½-½
Hardware and communications problems reduced Brutus to a shadow of its former self. Running on just one "cylinder" it played a toothless 59-move draw against IM Lukasz Cyborowski, who was also not in the mood to press for more.


IM Lukasz Cyborowski

Game five ½-½
"Brutus is only human," said many of his colleagues after a second unambitious draw against Hungarian GM Robert Ruck. Had the humans discovered a formula against the computer, or was it simply taking a creative rest.


GM Robert Ruck

Game six – 1-0
It was a creative break. Against ex women's world champion Maja Chiburdanidze Brutus was its old brutally ungallant self, winning the game in 33 moves. Chrilly Donninger, who was following the action from his home in the Austrian mountains, said that he was puzzled by this game. "First of all nothing much seems to happen, and still the human side is quickly demolished. If someone had given me the game without telling me who had played it I would never have recognised my program. The game is mystical. The first three games I would have been able to identify among 100 other games."


Ex world champion Maja Chiburdanidze

Game seven – 1-0
Brutus did not give IM Stefan Wehmeier of Lippstadt any chances. His attempts to take the computer out of book at move two backfired – the human player also did not know his way around in the unorthodox position that arose.


IM Stefan Wehmeier

Game eight – ½-½
Another draw, against IM Jan Gustafson, 24 years old and 2570 on the rating list. Gustafson kept the position closed, swapped no pawns or pieces, except for a bishop, and held the computer to a draw. But it was clear that the computer was going to win the tournament.


IM Jan Gustafson

Game nine – 1-0
"Brutus serenly orbits the globe," wrote the organisers. Against the machine Andreas Schenk, a young German talent with close to 2500 points on his Elo account, was pretty much without a chance, especially after miscalculations on moves 22 and 23.


Andreas Schenk

Game ten – 1-0
37-year-old Andreas Brenke, Elo 2394, bravely tried to entice Brutus into a Berlin game, but the computer did not allow it and set up a deadly rook battery on the d and e files. The encounter was over after just 23 moves.


Andreas Brenke

Game eleven – ½-½
In the final game Brutus was faced with one of his closest rivals, GM Jens Uwe Maiwald. The German GM came under considerable pressure but was able to salvage a draw with a resiliant defence and opposite colored bishops.


GM Jens Uwe Maiwald

Brutus won the Lippstadt GM tournament with a two-point lead, easily making a GM norm in the process. The hardware in Lippstadt was supplied by Alpha Data Parallel Systems Ltd. and the University of Paderborn. Dr Donninger's project is funded by ChessBase.


Portrait of the winner

  • Click here to replay all the games played by Brutus.

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