Adams vs Hydra in London

by ChessBase
5/26/2005 – Hydra, a machine with the processing power of more than 200 standard PCs, is arguably the world’s most powerful chess computer. From June 21-27 the 64-way cluster computer, housed in Abu Dhabi, will play a $150,000 match against top British GM Michael Adams. Hydra has never been beaten by a human.

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Press release

Man versus Machine: the battle for supremacy

Are we all just pawns in a computer world?

24 May, 2005: London: The most powerful chess computer ever developed, “Hydra”, is making its worldwide debut in London, taking on the UK’s leading chess Grandmaster, Michael Adams, in the biggest man-v-machine battle since Garry Kasparov took on Deep Blue in 1996 and 1997.

The six game chess match, announced today, will take place at the Wembley Centre in London on 21-27 June, with a purse of $150,000 (£80,000) up for grabs.

With a processing power of 100 billion calculations – or 200 million chess moves – a seconds, and the ability to project six moves beyond Deep Blue, Hydra can be configured for a range of super-computing tasks beyond chess, such as DNA and finger-print matching, code breaking, space travel calculations and complex systems simulations.

Hydra is coming to London specifically to take on Michael Adams, who is considered the UK’s best chess talent of all time. He was first crowned British Champion at age 17 and has been the British Player of the Year an unprecedented 10 times since 1990.

The match will show just how far virtual intelligence has progressed and whether computers are genuine challengers to humankind’s dominance as the most intelligent beings on earth.

Speaking at the launch today, Michael Adams said: “This is an awesome challenge. I have played nearly 2,000 games in international chess tournaments, but I’ve never faced an opponent quite like this. I’m really looking forward to matching wits with the ultimate opponent to prove that nothing can match the power of human creativity.”

Hydra’s General Manager, Syed Basar Shueb, said: “We have focussed all our attentions on building the world’s greatest chess computer, a task that has taken four years and millions of dollars. We’re confident even Mr Adams will have trouble landing a blow against our silicon champion.”

The contenders

Michael ‘Mickey’ Adams:
Age: 33
Weight: 140 lbs
Reach: 2’ 1’’
Maximum moves per second: 1.4
Career highlights:
10 times British Player of the Year, Grand Master at 17, #3 FIDE world ranking in 2002
Hydra “The Destroyer” Computer
Age: 2
Weight: 550 Kg
Reach: 5,651 miles: Abu Dhabi to London
Maximum moves per second: 200million
Career highlights:
Becoming the most powerful chess-playing computer in the world
Media Background


With the processing power equivalent to more than 200 standard PCs, the HYDRA computer is the world’s most powerful chess computer according to IPCCC officials.

Housed in a secure server room in Abu Dhabi, HYDRA is a 64-way cluster computer – 64 computers connected and operating as if they are a single machine. Each computer has an Intel Xeon 3.06 Ghz.

The cluster comprises 16 nodes of four computers, with each node boasting 32GB of memory. Each of the 64 processors in the cluster includes an FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Arrays) card from XiLinx, which are significantly faster than Pentium or Athlon.

It has never been beaten by a human.

The HYDRA project is financed by the Abu Dhabi-based PAL Group, and programming has been managed by Chrilly Donninger, Ulf Lorenz, GM Christopher Lutz and Muhammad Nasir Ali.

It is named after the mythological seven-headed monster, famed for its invincibility.

To demonstrate HYDRA’s processing power, it would take:

  • 1 second to analyse 200 million chess moves and chose the best one. This includes projecting the game 18-40 moves head (6 more than Deep Blue)
  • 1 millisecond to calculate all possible angles and determine whether Luis Garcia’s shot was a goal in the Champions League semi-final
  • 1 second to match a finger print to any person within the UK
  • Less than 1.5 minutes to match a finger print to any person in the world
  • Approximately five minutes to calculate every prime number between 1 and 1x1051 (a sexdicillion)

Michael Adams

Born, November 17, 1971, Michael Adams lives in Taunton, Devon and London when not travelling to chess tournaments around the world.

He first won the British Championships on debut in 1989 at age 17, entitling him to the title Chess Grand Master. He won the tournament again in 1997.

Adams was awarded Player of the Year by the British Chess Federation in 1990, 1993-96 and 1998-2002 – a record number of titles.

Adams has been an international chess professionally for nearly two decades, reaching his highest FIDE ranking of third in the world in 2002.

He is currently ranked number 1 in Britain and number 7 worldwide, with an ELO rating of 2741. He has won 62.5% of his games between 1979 and 2005.


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