A double victory for Shredder 8 in Argentina

by ChessBase
7/21/2004 – Shredder again won two tournaments at the same time during the Republica Argentina Chess Festival, but it wasn't easy. The program did dominate the weaker event but was equaled by IM Salvador Alonso in the GM tournament. The programs are getting faster but the humans are getting smarter! Games, round reports, and many photos.

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"Republica Argentina" Chess Festival 2004

Playing in two tournaments simultaneously as only a computer program can, Shredder 8 took clear first in one and tied for first in another event played in Argentina. We bring you all the games and in-depth reports and photos from the venue. Shredder was slowed in the top event by a loss to Uruguay GM Rodriguez. Argentine IM Salvador Alonso equaled the mighty machine's 7.5/11 score but Shredder threatened to send out a virus if it wasn't given the title on tiebreaks. Kidding! Shredder did win the title on tiebreaks fair and square. The program by Stefan Meyer-Kahlen easily dominated the weaker master tournament with a great 9/10 score.

Uruguay's lone GM takes out a sacrificial Shredder 8 in round 8.

We were forwarded the following factoid from the forums:

It has been claimed that a REAL super GM would also have struggled to get a good TPR against such lowly opposition as Shredder faced in Argentina. To investigate this further, I posed the question: how would Kasparov have performed? To do this, I have looked at all games played by Kasparov against opponents with ELO 2200 to 2500 from the year 1990. His results are: +57 =23 -2

Assuming average opponent ELO is 2350 (I cannot be bothered to calculate it exactly and this is about right): TPR = 2632, 95% CI = 2538 to 2683. Haha! Kasparov, like Shredder 8, is undone by weak opponents! Except that, unlike Shredder-8's games, all Garry's games were SIMULS!

Mercosur Cup - Category 8 (avg. 2444)

Copa CM Salud - Category 4 (avg. 2332)

Argentine IM Salvador Alonso (left) got the Mercosur trophy and his first GM norm!

On-site reports on rounds 8-11 by Roberto Alvarez

Round 11: Friend's Day with Shredder 8

The last round of the VII Republica Argentina Chess Festival crowned Shredder 8 as the winner of the 2004 edition of the "Mercosur Cup". After the draw between IM Jorge Rosito and IM Salvador Alonso - which makes sure the first GM norm for the second named-, I was sure that with a draw, Shredder 8 will be the winner of this important and difficult tournament. There was no need to take risks playing for a win "burning the bridges", where in front there is a player of Oscar Panno's caliber - and he played very sound chess during all the tournament-. So, a draw was agreed after Panno's proposal at move 20.

Shredder 8 overall performance was around 2600, not as high as I've expected prior to the beginning of the tournament, but indeed, the opposition was quite "skilled" in playing against a computer program, so avoiding positions where the strongest computers excel, and leading play into "troubled waters" (I mean "maneuvering positions"), where programs are not so strong...yet!

Indeed, the tournament would provide very interesting material for chess programmers, and we should expect improvements for next year's version.

In the Masters event - that Shredder 8 already won yesterday- , the German program played quite "confidently" and got a nice win over FM Alejo De Dovitiis, winning with the impressive score of 9 out of 10! (an improvement over last's year 8,5/10 of Shedder 7.0).

After the end of the last round, the traditional prize-giving ceremony took place, and we received - 3 times in 4 years- the beautiful "Mercosur Cup"... and we went to celebrate with some friends - July 20th is the "Friend's Day" in Argentina, and the occasion could not be more suitable for a celebration!

Round 10: Shredder 8 wins the Masters Tournament

Yet with one round to play, Shredder 8 is a clear winner of the Masters Tournament at the VII Republica Argentina Chess Festival. Yesterday night, the program won a good game with the white pieces versus Sebastian Granara, and so, with 8 points out of 9 games, is 1,5 points ahead of the second, FM Alejo De Dovitiis -who has reasons to be happy, since after drawing with IM Enrique Scarella, he reached his 3rd and final IM norm and the title!-. Curiously, and most interesting for the tournament, the last round will face De Dovitiis vs Shredder 8 !

The final round of the GM tournament will also be interesting, since, after 10 rounds, there is tie for first place between Shedder 8 and IM Salvador Alonso, that is playing an excellent tournament, and very probably he will get a GM norm.

The game between Shredder 8 and IM Jorge Rosito - last year he got a comfortable draw against Shredder 7) was very curious. After the opening (a Trompowsky Attack, with the first 9 moves being played instantly by Shredder, since they were "book moves"), Black got a very sound position. 10.Bd3 (first move out of the book) is not bad, but I don't see a reason why to move again this bishop, since it's not being attacked yet (I guess that many of the strong programs are going to play it, anyway). 14.Rfc1 was played instantly - indeed the program had evaluated this move as the better after 13...Rb8, using the "hashtables". And then, White doesn't finds any better than repeating a sequence of 15.Na4, 16.Nc5, 17.Na4, 18.Nc5 (Black was keeping with ...Nd7-b6, "waiting to see if the program changes first", and the draw was unavoidable.

I asked the opinion of some of the strongest masters at the tournament, and all agreed that Black was indeed slightly better, and if he want, he could tried to play for a win. Shredder probably scored other moves as 18.Nxb6 or 18.Nc3 as inferior, and chose to repeat. The "evaluation" window clearly showed "0.00". Was there a failure? Shredder had the optimal settings (intelligent), with "draw" settings "late", the hashtables worked OK (the program was thinking between 2,5 and 3 minutes each of his last moves, searching in vain for an improvement). Indeed, this game would provide -as some of the other played in this tournament- very useful information for Shredder's programmer.

As I remarked in some of my previous reports, Shredder - as any other program- does not know who his opponent is, and so, he plays "pragmatically", as if it were facing Garry "God" Kasparov.

Some of the spectators asked me if I could not avoid the three-move repetition, forcing Shredder 8 to play another move. Well, after move 16, and seeing the program evaluation window, I was almost sure that the game will end in a draw, but I was unable - both for ethical and professional reasons- to do nothing. This tournament are specially interesting for those "computer-chess fans", because the programs that were participating - and Shredder 8 is not an exception- are running with its "commercial and unmodified version", without any special opening preparation against particular opponents. In this way, you are sure that for 50 bucks you can buy the same program that is playing here at GM level, with a standard hardware (not that silicon monsters with 4 microprocessors that are very expensive).

Shredder didn't rest on the off day, instead taking on all comers in blitz!

Rounds 8-9: Rodriguez halts Shredder 8

The GM tournament at the VII Republica Argentina Chess Festival is only two rounds to its end, and yet there is a lot of interest, both for the participants and the public. On Round 8, Salvador Alonso beat Ricardo Szmetan, and Dr. Diego Valerga - he is pediatrician, a medical doctor who specializes in children, and only plays chess a very few times in a year- did the same with Jorge Rosito, both masters fighting to get a GM norm. Also Bolivia's best player, Oswaldo Zambrana is doing a very good tournament. He got a very difficult draw against Shredder 8, in a Sicilian where the program had better chances and at some point maybe -maybe not!- missed some chances to went better (I guess there should be some improvement to 22.Bf1), and, closing to the time-trouble, Shredder sacrificed 3 pawns for a piece, with a position nearly balanced, but very difficult to play, due to its tactical nature. Zambrana kept his nerves, playing very well, and a draw was agreed in a position where there is no more than a "perpetual" check with a knight.

On Saturday 17th, there were completed all the pending games, and Zambrana won his 1st round game versus GM Andres Rodriguez. Diego Valerga drew versus Bernardo Roselli (a game corresponding to the last round), and, in the Masters event, Sergio Giardelli won over recently married Sebastian Granara (his young wife, Marisa Zuriel, is also a chessplayer, and she is playing in the ELO swiss tournament).

The other players took a well deserved "rest-day", but we don't! This year, in the traditional "blitz exhibition" we beat our previous year mark: more than 100 blitz games in five exhausting hours! (with two computers, one operated by me, the other by Estefania Sarquis). There was a truly "kids festival", with 5 teams composed of 16 players each, playing between them, and, the one with a "bye", facing Shredder 8 in games with 5 minutes (plus 2 seconds each move) for the people, and only 1 minute for the computer. This requires a lot of concentration for the operators, and with "speedy hands", we were able to do. Shredder 8 won all the games, and there was a special cup for Sabrina Larregain, a 10 years-old girl who "resisted" for 52 moves! The average length for the games was around 25 moves, so, our "arms" move back and forth at least two thousand times! The kids (and also their parents, because in this special day, a truly chess celebration, everyone wants to play a game with the chess computer) were specially happy, and their happiness was indeed, our best reward.

Yesterday night Round 9 was played. Only one of the computers was playing, since Shredder 8 had a "bye" in the Masters tournament. All the expectations were put on the game between Andres Rodriguez vs Shredder 8. Rodriguez is one of those players who always plays for a win. No matter which position arises on the board, he is optimistic - and you need to be very careful when facing a talented-optimistic-attacking player! After 1.e4, Shredder replied with the Sicilian Defense, and White deviated from the main lines with 3.g3, deriving in some sort of Closed Sicilian (which Rodriguez usually likes). At move 12, Shredder decides to sacrifice a pawn, evaluating the position as preferable for Black. White, of course, took the gift, and reacted energetically on the queenside (16.b4).

And so we got a complex position, difficult to evaluate. Shredder, after a long thought, decided in favor of 16...e4?!,(16...Nxd5 deserved attention) where it is able to win a rook in exchange for the dark-squared bishop and two pawns. But the decisive mistake seems to be 17...Nxe7 (played almost instantly). With 17...Qxe7, things would be far from clear. Why 17...Nxe7? Probably because the computer didn't evaluated the position after winning the exchange correctly. White's play from now on is almost "perfect", not giving the slightest chance to the computer. I shake hands with Andres at move 43, since there was not any possibility for a draw, and congratulated him on a magnificent victory!

Is possible to beat a strong computer? Yes, of course, but it's a rare occasion. We had some coincidences: on 2002, a Uruguayan master (Roselli) beat a computer at its 8.0 version (Hiarcs), after an attacking game in a Closed Sicilian! Now, on 2004 - seems like "even" years are specially dangerous for computer- , another Uruguayan master (Rodriguez), beats version 8.0 of Shredder, he having the white pieces and after an attacking game in a Closed Sicilian? Well, I don't believe in witches, but they surely exist!

Despite its loss, Shredder 8 keeps the lead in the GM tournament, with 6,5 out of 8 games, half a point ahead of Salvador Alonso and Diego Valerga (but he with only 1 game to play). In the Masters tournament, Shredder leads with 7 out 8, a full point ahead of FM Alejo De Dovitiis.

We are indebted to Roberto Alvarez for his help, reports, and photos.


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