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The $16,000 open-to-all chess tournament

2/28/2006 – Would you like to play in a grandmaster tournament? From your home and for a substantial prize fund? With a guarantee that you will not disgrace yourself? Then think about joining the second PAL/CSS Freestyle Chess Tournament, where anything goes. Where computer assistance is not forbidden, but is positively encouraged. Full details.
 

What is Freestyle Chess?

In a normal chess tournament there are very strict rules about what you can do or not do during a game. Certainly enlisting outside help – from a human or a computer – is one of the more serious transgressions. In Freestyle Chess everything is allowed. The players are expected to work in teams or with computers. There are no restrictions. Use Fritz or Deep Shredder, consult openings books or chess Informants, call Anand or Karpov and ask for help, if you know them well enough.

After the first PAL/CSS Freestyle Tournament last Garry Kasparov wrote in "New in Chess": "Now the promise of computer-assisted chess is being realized in its natural home, the Internet. The PAL/CSS 'freestyle' tournament took place on Playchess.com with different combinations of humans and computers all competing together." The main tournament proceeded as Kasparov has predicted: "Even the strongest computers were eliminated by IMs and GMs using relatively weak machines to avoid blunders. Three of the four semifinalists were grandmasters working with friends and computers. But the fourth 'mystery' player, 'ZackS', had dominated the event..." (issue 5/2005, p. 96f).

Here are the results of the PAL/CSS Freestyle Tournament 2005.

When and where?

The second PAL/CSS Freestyle Tournament will be played on two weekends: March 18+19 and April 8+9, 2006. It will consist of a main tournament, in which everyone can participate, and the final phase in which the eight top scorers play a round robin tournament for the title and their share of the US $16,000 prize fund. Full details of the schedule and prize fund are given below.

All games will be played on the Internet, in a special room on the Playchess server. Participants need to have an account on the server, which is free for the duration of the tournament. If you are not already a member of this giant Internet community (with 165,000 active members) you can download the software at Playchess.com and set up an account within minutes.

Prize fund

The total prize fund is US $16,000 and has been provided by the PAL Group in the United Arab Emirates, the company that is behind the Hydra chess project. The prize money is divided as follows:

1st prize US $8,000
2nd prize US $4,000
3rd prize US $2,000
4th to 8th prize Software and books totalling US $1,000
9th to 16th prize   Software and books totalling US $400

There are special bonus prizes (e.g. for the most beautiful games) that will be distributed during the tournament. Details will be provided when the number and make-up of the participants is known.

Registration

The entry fee for the PAL/CSS Freestyle Tournament is 10 Euro (= US $12.00). This is paid when you register for the tournament. Late entries can pay the amount in Playchess "ducats" (electronic money) on the day of the main tournament.

There is no entry fee for GMs and IMs with bona fide Playchess accounts. These players need to provide proof of their identity before the tournament starts. A title account on Playchess (i.e. one that has a King or Queen symbol) is sufficient, since it has been validated by ChessBase. Otherwise you will be asked to fax a copy of your passport or ID card to the organisers.

To register for the Freestyle Tournament you need to fill out a registry form (the link is given below), giving your name, address and Playchess handle. Some days before the tournament starts you will receive an email with further details.

Registration for the tournament

Schedule of PAL/CSS Freestyle Tournament

All times given in the following schedule are in Central European Time (CET), which is used in most European countries, e.g. Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Scandinavia, etc. CET is GMT + one hour. For instance 14:00h (or 2 p.m.) CET is 13:00h London, 8 a.m. New York and 4 p.m. Moscow. Click on the times given in the schedule below to convert to your local time.

Important note: you will need to log in with your correct handle not later than ten minutes before the start of each round. Anyone who is not present in the chess server room at this time can not be guarantied to participate in this round.

Main Tournament – eight round Swiss

Time controls are 45 minutes for all the moves plus a 5 second increment per move. The event is a classical Swiss. The top eight players will qualify for the finals. If tie-breaks are needed these will be played on Saturday, March 25, 2006, at 16:000h CEST.

Main Tournament (Sat.-Sun., March 18-19, 2006)

Round 1

Saturday, 18.03.2006

14:00h CET

Round 2

Saturday, 18.03.2006

16:00h CET

Round 3

Saturday, 18.03.2006

18:00h CET

Round 4

Saturday, 18.03.2006

20:00h CET

Round 5

Sunday, 19.03.2006

14:00h CET

Round 6

Sunday, 19.03.2006

16:00h CET

Round 7

Sunday, 19.03.2006

18:00h CET

Round 8

Sunday, 19.03.2006

20:00h CET

Participants in the main tournament must be in the playing hall ten minutes before the start of each round.

Finale – Round robin tournament ("all play all")

Time controls are 45 minutes for all the moves plus a 5 second increment per move. Each player plays one game against every other player. If tie-breaks are needed these will be played on the same day, after the regular games have finished.

Final (Saturday-Sunday, April 8-9, 2006)

Round 1

Saturday, 08.04.2006

14:00h CEST

Round 2

Saturday, 08.04.2006

16:00h CEST

Round 3

Saturday, 08.04.2006

18:00h CEST

Round 4

Saturday, 08.04.2006

20:00h CEST

Round 5

Sunday, 09.04.2006

14:00h CEST

Round 6

Sunday, 09.04.2006

16:00h CEST

Round 7

Sunday, 09.04.2006

18:00h CEST

Participants in the finale must be in the playing hall ten minutes before the start of each round.

The winner of the finals gets the first prize of US $8,000 and the title of "Second PAL/CSS Freestyle Chess Champion". The runner-up gets $4,000, the third place gets $2,000. There will be special software prizes totalling US $1,000 for the places 4-8.

Registration for the tournament


Reports on the first Freestyle Tournament

Dark horse ZackS wins Freestyle Chess Tournament
19.06.2005 The computer-assisted PAL/CSS Freestyle Chess Tournament, staged on Playchess.com, ended with a shock win by two amateurs: Steven Cramton, 1685 USCF and Zackary Stephen, 1398 USCF, using three computers for analysis, defeated teams of strong grandmasters all the way to victory in the finals. We bring you a first flash report with games and results.

Scintillating chess in the PAL-CSS Freestyle tournament
15.06.2005 This unusual event, in which players may use computer assistance during the games, is turning into a milestone experiment. After the main event and the quarter-finals (and with four players left) we can draw first tentative conclusions. One is that the most powerful chess playing entity on the planet is a GM armed with a computer.

Hydra misses the quarter-finals of Freestyle tournament
11.06.2005 It was the shocker of the event: the massive Hydra machines, running on 16 and 32 processors and special FPGA chess hardware were both knocked out in the main section of the Freestyle chess tournament. On the other hand a dark horse named ZackS qualified with consummate ease. Today there will be tie-breaks, tomorrow the quarter-finals. Come and watch...

Eleven qualify for main Freestyle Tournament
31.05.2005 48 players from 20 different countries got together on the Playchess server last weekend to play in the PAL/CSS Freestyle Chess Tournament. Using computer assistance, which is not forbidden in Freestyle, eleven qualified for the main tournament starting on Friday. There they will have to battle it out with scores of computer-assisted GMs.

The $20,000 free-for-all chess tournament
24.05.2005 Like to play in a grandmaster tournament? From your home and for a substantial prize fund? With a guarantee that you will not disgrace yourself? Then think about joining the first PAL/CSS Freestyle Chess Tournament, where anything goes. Where computer assistance is not forbidden, it is positively encouraged. Here are all the details.

Freestyle tournament for $20,000
09.05.2005 It's a new kind of chess tournament, with a substantial prize fund. $20,000 in all, $10,000 for the winner. Top grandmaster conditions. But with a difference. In the PAL/CSS Freestyle Chess Tournament on the Playchess.com server anyone can play. Even you. And anything goes. Anything! (In fact computer assistance is encouraged). Here are the details.

Anyone – or anything – can play!
07.08.2004 Anything goes in our freestyle tournament on the Playchess.com server this Saturday, August 7th. Participants can use computers, visiting grandmasters, slime beings from other planets – whatever they want. The games start at 15:00h server time (GMT +2), time controls are 7 min + 2 sec/move. Watch the fun...

Freestyle Blitz Tournament August 7
25.07.2004 Winning Internet chess games with the assistance of computers is quite despicable. People who are caught get stripped of rights and privileges. Not so in the August 7th "Freestyle Tournament" on Playchess.com. There you can use anything you want to win your games. Details...

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