Nine-headed monster wins Paderborn

by ChessBase
2/15/2004 – Hydra, described by its authors as a program that will "corner in a bloody confrontation whoever crosses its path", justified this frightening image by winning the computer tournament in Paderborn outright. Second on the table was Fritz and third Shredder. Here are the results and games, and further information on a blood-curdling program.

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Hydra won this computer tournament with an almost-perfect score of 6.5/7, followed by Fritz with 5.5 and Shredder with 5.0. Hydra dropped just half a point against Shredder, which lost to Fritz (which lost to Hydra).

The Paderborn venue, we learn from the home page of the organisers, is located 51' o 43 ' latitude north by 8' o 45 ' longitude east, 94 to 347 metres above sea level. Paderborn is one of the main centers in the East of Northrhine-Westphalia with about 130.000 inhabitants. the name is made up of two words: Pader is the name of the river that rises in the center of the town, and Born is a German word for spring or source. Over 200 springs in the city center provide the River Pader with its water. It is the shortest in Germany (4 km long).

The recorded history begins in the year 777 AD. The Emperor Charlemagne held the first Imperial Council "on Saxon soil" in Paderborn. It then followed a long and diversified history for the city. Different sovereigns (Franconian, Prussian), war conflicts, religious changes (Reformation, Counter-Reformation) influenced the development of Paderborn.

From the first Westphalian University founded in 1614 nothing remained when in 1972 the former Teacher Training and Technical Colleges of Paderborn, Höxter, Meschede and Soest became the new Paderborn University with its over 17.000 students. A well-known focus in research and education lies on computer sciences from Theory to Practice. A strong scientific community with several interdisciplinary institutes has been founded in the last years.

During the last 30 years, Paderborn has become one of the leading German centers for Computer Technology. This development is closely connected with the name of Heinz Nixdorf.

  Program Country Author
1. Ikarus Germany Muntsin Kolss, Munjong Kolss
2. Comet Germany Ulrich Türke
3. Diep Netherlands Vincent Diepeveen
4. Fritz Germany Frans Morsch, Mathias Feist
5. YACE Germany Dieter Bürssner, Carlos Pesce
6. Quark Germany Thomas J. Mayer
7. Patzer Germany Roland Pfister
8. Hydra UAE Chrilly Donninger, Ulf Lorenz, Erdogan Günes (book), Alex Kure
9. Shredder Germany Stefan Meyer-Kahlen
10. Anaconda Germany Frank Schneider, Kai Skibbe
11. Gandalf Denmark Steen Suurballe, Dan Wulf
12. Matador Germany Stefan Knappe
13. BlackBishop Germany Andreas Herrmann
14. SOS Germany Rudolf Huber
15. Isichess Germany Gerd Isenberg
16. The Baron Netherlands Richard Pijl


The name Hydra is derived from the Greek mythology in allusion to the nine-headed monster that entered into duel with Hercules. Here it refers to a powerful chess software launched by a UAE-based company, PAL Group. It is essentially Brutus, the FPGA hardware program originally developed by ChessBase and parallelized by experts at the University of Paderborn. The team consists of Chrilly Donninger, Alex Kure and Ulf Lorenz. The book author is Erdogan Günes. The Hydra web site, which is still under construction, does not hold back with blood-curdling language.

"Hydra, the monster of the chessboard, will corner in a bloody confrontation whoever crosses its path. Hydra is planned to attach the chess world in four versions: Orthus, Scylla, Chimera and the final Hydra. All mentioned chess monsters related to counterparts in the Greek mythology. Orthus, hideous two-headed dog, guarded the cattle of Geryon and terrified anyone who dared to approach. Chimera, a monster with the head of a lion, the body of a goat and the tail of a dragon, ravaged the city it dwelt in. Scylla, a sea monster with six dog heads, lived in a cave. Scylla attacked sailors and terrorized them to the bones.

The chess software will then reach its optimal form through Hydra, which will face the chess population with a nine-headed force of strategy and speed. A massive and poisonous serpent, Hydra’s nine heads were indeed a primary source of fear. Every time one head was injured, another two grew in its place. The ascending numbers of heads of the above-mentioned monsters will match the strength of the programs themselves, thus crushing competing human and non-human rivals.

Are you up to this multi-headed challenge? Are you prepared to face unrivalled strength and monstrous duels? In ancient times, legendary monsters were defeated by human heroes, like Hercules, Achilles, and Odysseus. Today, the monsters are back on the chessboard. Only this time, we created them."


Fritz is a product of ChessBase GmbH, Hamburg (Germany). The program is built around a selective search technique known as the null-move search. As part of its search, Fritz allows one side to move twice (the other side does a null-move). This allows the program to detect weak moves before they are searched to their full depth. Move generators, evaluation functions and data structures have been designed to maximize the effectiveness of the null-move search. Fritz is the winner of the previous computer chess world championship in Hong Kong 1995. In 1993 Fritz tied for 1st place in a Blitz tournament in Munich with the complete world elite. It scored the best computer result in the 1996 man-computer Aegon tournament. In 1998 Fritz won an active chess tournament in Frankfurt with a full point ahead of 36 grandmasters.


Shredder is the winner of the 9th WMCCC and the 9th IPCCC 2000 in Paderborn. it started in 1995 as a project at university. Good tournament and test results encouraged the author, Stefan Meyer-Kahlen, to spend more work in it and lead to the winning of the 1996 WMCCC in Jakarta. Shredder has been commercially available since then and continued to perform very well in computer chess championships. It is written in ANSI-C and therefore it can easily be compiled on various hardware platforms. Shredder is distributed by ChessBase.

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