$16,000 Freestyle tournament begins on Friday

6/14/2006 – The Third PAL/CSS Freestyle Chess Tournament begins on Friday, June 16, on the Playchess server. In the previous edition, won by Zor_Champ of the UAE, there were a number of grandmasters participating. One was Tony Kosten of England, assisted by the program Hiarcs 10, who gives us his assessment of such computer-assisted tournaments. You can still join!

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Third PAL/CSS Freestyle Tournament on June 16-18

The Third PAL/CSS Freestyle Chess Tournament on the Playchess server will take place in June and July 2006 (schedule details are given below), once again with the substantial prize fund of $16,000. This time the time controls for our Advanced Chess competition have been increased to 60 min. + 15 sec., in order to give the human component more opportunity for analysis. The organisers expect that the change will benefit the quality of the game.

In order to prepare potential participants for the Third Freestyle Tournament here is a report on the experiences made by a Grandmaster participant of the Second Tournament.

GM Tony Kosten and Hiarcs 10 in the Second Freestyle Tournament

How did British GM, Tony Kosten, come to be involved with Hiarcs10 in the 2nd. PAL/CCC Freestyle Internet Tournament? It started when Harvey Williamson, a reader of the British Computer Chess magazine Selective Search, asked GM Tony Kosten if he fancied having a go at the second PAL/CSS Freestyle Chess Tournament with a $16,000 prize fund. Harvey has been involved in the testing of the Hiarcs program for Mark Uniacke, and Tony decided to play with Hiarcs at his side. He joined 147 entrants from 30 different countries in the event. Later he filed a report for Selective Search. Here are some excepts:

In early March Harvey Williamson suggested I partner the new version 10 of the chess program Hiarcs by Mark Uniacke in the Internet 'Freestyle' tournament, and I found the idea intriguing, so happily accepted. Actually, I had first used Fritz as an analysis partner for my books and annotated games, but had switched to Hiarcs some years ago, since Mickey Adams recommended it to me because of its greater strategic understanding.

In Mark Uniacke's own words: "Hiarcs is rather unique in the computer chess world because it not only has tactical abilities but is also a capable positional player. One of the key features for chess players is that Hiarcs is able to learn from the positions you analyse and use this information to improve its analysis especially earlier in analysed variations."

Mark also sent me lots of useful information about its strengths and those of its likely principal opponent, Rybka, which was a new name to me but apparently was now the favoured engine on Playchess.com. Mark had suggested I get a lot of practice playing with and against computers using a pseudo beforehand, but I had just been too busy with chess publication work.

Summary and lessons learnt

  • Lack of serious preparation left me (and the other strong GMs most probably) at a serious disadvantage against specialists with quick machines.

  • The limited time (45 minutes + a few seconds per move) was also difficult to handle – I wasted lots of time checking analysis on two different computers, and trying to guess my opponent's next move! Next time I will try to make sure my opening 'preparation' goes much deeper.

  • Computers seem to be getting stronger, but I am not really sure why! Is it because they see farther, that their analysis is more selective? Is human positional judgement less important than we like to think? Maybe both!

  • One thing is still sure: in open or semi-open positions their tactical ability is impressive, but in closed positions where tactics are non-existent and long-term planning the key, our silicon friends still seem incredibly naïve and weak, so there is hope for us humans yet!

  • My first strategy was to take the computers out of their book as early as possible, and to try to keep the positions closed.

  • An early lesson learned was that it was very difficult to exploit a tiny advantage in an endgame!

Things hadn't been going too well, so by round 6 I decided to play more normally in the opening and then see if there was a possibility to obtain a position that the computer wouldn't be able to evaluate properly. Curiously, it was only in round 7 that I realised that I could anticipate my opponent's moves by clicking on my own 'Openings Book' tab to see what the Hiarcs’s book recommended!

In the end Hiarcs and I scored 4½/8 to secure 31= position, quite reasonable all things considered.

GM Tony Kosten

I've been a GM for 16 years. I have no experience of playing this type of Partner (Centaur) chess, and had never played online before. I played from home with an oldish AMD/1700 for the 'net connection, and my trusty Centrino/1400 laptop to analyse with Hiarcs10. My girlfriend also looked at some lines on her more recent Centrino – when she didn't have something better to do!

I had no idea who was running what in the tournament, but suspect that most of them were Rybkas, either running alone or with some slight human help. The reason I didn't do better in the tournament was not because of Hiarcs!

Tony Kosten runs the web site www.chesspublishing.com, together with a team of 12 GM's and IM's. The site provides monthly updates on the latest in opening theory.

Final standing of the 2nd PAL/CSS Freestyle Tournament

The next 'Freestyle Tournament' will be in June and Tony is hoping to partner Hiarcs again. This time it will be played at G/60+15 which should help the humans participate more usefully! Many players partnering computers got into regular time trouble and found themselves having to either ignore the playing engine altogether – or switch themselves off! - so as to meet time controls.


Third PAL/CSS Freestyle Tournament

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.

When and where?

The third PAL/CSS Freestyle Tournament will be played on the two weekends: June 16–18 and July 14–16, 2006. It consists 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 are 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 over 100,000 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 9th to 16th prize: Software and books

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 an increased fee of 30 Euro 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 (with 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.

Note that the deadline for registration is 14th June 2006, 12 p.m. Entries after that date can be accepted by the tournament director. In this case an increased fee of 30 Euro in Playchess "ducats" (electronic money) has to be payed on the day of the main tournament. Grandmasters with an official Playchess handle can join the tournament by appearing in the tournament hall on Friday.

Schedule of PAL/CSS Freestyle Tournament

All times given in the following schedule are in Central European Summer Time (CEST), which is used in most European countries, e.g. Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Scandinavia, etc. CEST is GMT + two hours. For instance 14:00h (or 2 p.m.) CEST is 12:00h GMT and translates to 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 60 minutes for all the moves plus a 15 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, June 24, 2006, at 14:00h CEST.

Main Tournament (Friday-Sunday, June 16-18, 2006

Round 1

Friday, 16.06.2006

17:00h CEST

Round 2

Friday, 16.06.2006

20:00h CEST

Round 3

Saturday, 17.06.2006

14:00h CEST

Round 4

Saturday, 17.06.2006

17:00h CEST

Round 5

Saturday, 17.06.2006

20:00h CEST

Round 6

Sunday, 18.06.2006

14:00h CEST

Round 7

Sunday, 18.06.2006

17:00h CEST

Round 8

Sunday, 18.06.2006

20:00h CEST

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 60 minutes for all the moves plus a 15 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 (Friday-Sunday, July 14-16, 2006)

Round 1

Friday, 14.07.2006

17:00h CEST

Round 2

Friday, 14.07.2006

20:00h CEST

Round 3

Saturday, 15.07.2006

14:00h CEST

Round 4

Saturday, 15.07.2006

17:00h CEST

Round 5

Saturday, 15.07.2006

20:00h CEST

Round 6

Sunday, 16.07.2006

14:00h CEST

Round 7

Sunday, 16.07.2006

17:00h 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 "Third PAL/CSS Freestyle Chess Champion". The runner-up gets $4,000, the third place gets $2,000. There will be special software prizes for the places 4-8. Registration for the tournament


Reports on previous Freestyle Tournaments

$16,000 up for grabs in computer-assisted play
11.05.2006 The Third PAL/CSS Freestyle Chess Tournament on the Playchess server is coming up in June, once again with a substantial prize fund. This time the time controls for our Advanced Chess competition have been increased to 60 min. + 15 sec., in order to give the human component more opportunity for analysis. Like to play? It's lots of fun!

Zor-Champ wins Freestyle Tournament
16.04.2006 In a very exciting final the team of Zor-Champ, located in the United Arab Emirates, took first place and the $8,000 prize money in the Second PAL/CSS Freestyle Tournament. The team was driven by the program Hydra, which runs on multi-processor speical-purpose hardware. Second was IM Vasik Rajlich, assisted by his own program Rybka. Report and games.

Freestyle tournament: Finals this weekend
03.04.2006 After tiebreak matches the eight qualifiers of the Second PAL/CSS Freestyle Chess Tournament are ready to battle it out for the $16,000 prize fund. At the faster time controls this time four pure engines made it to the final round. You can come and watch the action at 14:00h CEST on Saturday and Sunday, when the tournament director says: Gentlemen, start your engines.

Freestyle tournament: Vvarkey wins with 7.5/8
24.03.2006 The first leg of the second PAL/CSS Freestyle Chess Tournament, which carries a prize fund of $16,000, was won by an unknown player with the Playchess handle Vvarkey. He scored 7.5 points from 8 games (before the last round his score was 7/7). Six other players qualified for the final behind him. For the final, eighth place there will be a tiebreak tournament tomorrow. Details.

Freestyle tournament: advice from an expert
16.03.2006 Are you one of the over 150 participants that have registered for the second $16,000 PAL/CSS Freestyle Chess Tournament, starting this weekend? Do you have your computer assistant or your GM advisor booted up and ready to play? For novices in computer assisted play we have some tips and tricks by correspondence chess GM Arno Nickel.

The $16,000 open-to-all chess tournament
28.02.2006 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.

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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