Man vs Machine Team Championship starts

10/6/2004 – For the first time the ever fascinating encounter man vs machine in chess is being staged as a team championship. From October 6 to 10 a team of three strong grandmasters, Veselin Topalov, Ruslan Ponomariov and Sergey Karjakin, will face three of the strongest programs in the world, Hydra, Junior and Fritz – live on Playchess.com. Picture and video report.

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Man vs Machine World Team Championship in Bilbao

The city of Bilbao is situated on the Bay of Biscay in the Basque region of Spain. It is a major seaport and an industrial centre, with a population of over 300,000 and close to a million in the larger urban area, the sixth-largest in the country.

The Festival also includes the VI International Open “Memorial Pedro Zabala” as well as the II Open de Problemas, in which the competition involves solving chess problems. These events go from October 6th to 12th.


The city of Bilbao – a first impression in the area close to our hotel


Fountains and warm, sunny weather await the visitor from other more weather-challenged parts of Europe


Statues and fountains all over the city


The world-famous Guggenheim Museum, built by Frank O. Gehry. Yes, it is finished, that's the way it was meant to be. And the giant floral puppy-dog in the front is part of the complex.


The giant floral puppy-dog, up close


The Quantum Field X3 – a building covered with holographic panels with a special prism coating that reflect and refract the light of the sun (during the day) and of laser lamps (during the evening hours).


The moat around the Guggenheim museum


A disconcerting eight-legged giant which visitors tend to walk around


The venue of the event, a telephone and TV company's Internet Café location


The vaulted halls and balconies of the Euskaltel center


Chief organiser Andoni Madariaga under the pressure of preparation


Professor Enrique Irazoqui who is here as a computer chess advisor


Amir Ban (right), author of Deep Junior, getting up a connection to his remote machine


Frans Morsch, who wrote and will be operating Fritz


Ali Nasir Muhammad, the project manager of Hydra

The Hydra hardware program will be running on a 16-processer array that is located in Abu Dhabi and connected to the playing hall via the Internet. Deep Junior, too, is being run on a remote machine, located at Intel UK (Swindon) and containing 4 x 2.8 GHz Xeon processors. Fritz will run on a notebook (Centrino 1.7 GHz) that is on the stage in Bilbao. The organisers felt that this would provide interesting comparative data, for amateurs and press, about program performances on three different platforms.


Two of the human opponents: FIDE ex world champion Ruslan Ponomariov, at Elo 2710 the world's number 13 player; and Veselin Topalov, Elo 2757, number five in the world. On the right is Silvio Danailov, the manager and coach of both these players.


Ruslan Ponomariov desperately needed to know the result of the Leko-Kramnik game before dinner started. But there was no Internet easily available in the hotel. Ruslan's solution: call Vlady in Brissago and find out.


The reception dinner for the players, teams and special guests


The computer table, with GM Christopher Lutz and Chrilly Donninger for Hydra; Frans Morsch for Fritz and Amir Ban for Junior.


The last contestant arrives: GM Sergey Karjakin, chess prodigy, with mom Tatjana. The two had got into a train the evening before (at 5 p.m.), arrived in Kiev the next morning, boarded a plane to Vienna, connected to Frankfurt, flown to Bilbao, taken a cab to the hotel and climbed a flight of stairs to the restaurant. And tomorrow he is going to face Fritz, young Sergey is.


The first man vs machine event in Bilbao: Ruslan Ponomariov plays a quick game against Silvio Danailev's mobile phone.


This is the chess game on the Sony Ericson


Silvio cannot hold back: Ruslan is a pawn down against the mobile phone! We hasten to mention that the Ex World Champion managed to equalise and win the game. So no points yet for the machine.

Pictures and report by Frederic Friedel

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