ICGA disqualifies chess program 'List'

by ChessBase
11/27/2003 – The International Computer Games Association (ICGA) has disqualified one of the participants at the world computer chess championship in Graz. The program List is suspected to be a clone of the program Crafty. Author Fritz Reul failed to prove otherwise and allowed a final deadline to pass. He is banned from ICGA events until 2006. Here are the details of the disqualification.

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David Levy - President

Graz, Austria.
November 27th 2003

Disqualification of the program “List” and its author Fritz Reul

The tournament committee of the 2003 World Computer Chess Championship received a complaint on November 23rd from one of the participants concerning his suspicion that the program LIST, entered by Fritz Reul, is based on the program CRAFTY. The complaint is supported by circumstantial evidence given to the Tournament Committee by the complainant. This evidence relates to two older versions of LIST, namely 4.60 and 5.04 which are publicly available. The question to be asked therefore was whether LIST Graz contains substantial parts of CRAFTY.

The Tournament Committee consists of four persons: Professor H. Jaap van den Herik (Tournament Director), Dr. Ernst A. Heinz (Assistant Tournament Director), Mr. David N.L. Levy (President of ICGA and Chairman of the Committee of Appeal), and Professor Jonathan Schaeffer (Member of the Committee of Appeal).

Plagiarism of another program’s code is a very serious offence. The Tournament Committee has an obligation to investigate any such complaint in a fair and unbiased manner.

CRAFTY source is open source code and may be used under certain conditions for well-prescribed purposes. We refer to the CRAFTY copyright notice as formulated by Professor Robert Hyatt, University of Alabama at Birmingham, who is the author of CRAFTY.

We have not seen any mention from Mr Reul, either on his entry form for this World Championship or elsewhere, stating that there is some connection between the program code in LIST and that in CRAFTY. When the Tournament Committee first asked Mr Reul about this matter by electronic communication on November 24th, Mr Reul stated that there was no connection whatsoever between the two programs.

In order to investigate this matter in a proper manner and to provide the complainant with an answer, the members of the Tournament Committee needed to convince themselves of the precise relation between the two programs, if any. The rules of the World Championship clearly stipulate exactly what should happen in such cases. We refer to article 2 of the rules as published in the ICGA Journal Vol. 26, No 1, p. 63:

“Each program must be the original work of the entering developers. Programming teams whose code is derived from or including game-playing code written by others must name all other authors, or the source of such code, in their application details. Programs which are discovered to be close derivatives of others (e.g., by playing nearly all moves the same), may be declared invalid by the Tournament Director after seeking expert advice. For this purpose a listing of all game-related code running on the system must be available on demand to the Tournament Director.”

On November 24th the Tournament Committee therefore officially requested Mr Reul to allow them to inspect his source code. Throughout the tournament Mr Reul had been in Germany where he was due to take an examination in mathematics during the tournament. The Tournament Committee understood any concerns Mr Reul might have about revealing his source code and therefore pointed out to Mr Reul that all of its members are neutral and would treat Mr Reul’s source code as strictly confidential. The Tournament Committee also emphasized to Mr Reul that his source code would be used only for inspection purposes.

On November 24th Mr Reul was invited to come to Graz in person together with his source code and was requested, if he was unable to come in person, to send the code to the Tournament Committee either via his program operator in Graz or via his beta tester in Vienna. As an alternative Mr Reul was offered the opportunity to send the code directly to Professor van den Herik’s e-mail address.

On November 24th Mr Reul refused these requests and was therefore sent an e-mail on November 25th in which he was given a deadline of 14:00 today, November 27th, to send an e-mail in response to this request. He was at the same time offered the opportunity, in view of his mathematics examination this week, to agree to a meeting next week with either Dr. Heinz (in Frankfurt/Main, Germany) or with Professor van den Herik (in Maastricht, the Netherlands), in order to allow a safe inspection of his code under circumstances where he himself would be present throughout.

With this deadline message Mr Reul was told that if he failed to co-operate with the inspection as suggested above, the Tournament Committee would request the ICGA to take appropriate action.

Yesterday evening the Tournament Committee was still awaiting a reply from Mr Reul and therefore Professor van den Herik telephoned Mr Reul’s home. Mr Reul’s mother said that he was out and a message was left with her asking Mr Reul to reply to the deadline e-mail.

By 14:00 today no reply had been received from Mr Reul and the Tournament Committee therefore met to decide what action to recommend to the ICGA. It was decided that the program LIST should be disqualified and that Mr Reul should be banned from participation in any event organised or sanctioned by the ICGA until June 1st 2006. These recommendations are in line with previous ICCA rulings.

At the time this decision was taken the program LIST had played three of the four leading programs in the tournament and was paired to play the fourth in that group at 16:00 today. Had LIST been disqualified before the 8th round today the very act of disqualification could have an impact on the final result of the tournament and the destiny of the World Championship title, partly because of the effect it would have on any tie-break. It was therefore recommended to the ICGA that the disqualification should take place immediately after the conclusion of round 8.

The ICGA agreed with these recommendations. As a result the program LIST is hereby disqualified from the tournament with immediate effect and Mr Reul is banned from participating in any events organised or sanctioned by the ICGA until June 1st 2006.

David Levy


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