Rajlich Team won the third Freestyle tournament

8/31/2006 – The third 3rd PAL/CSS Freestyle Tournament was held in the middle of July. With considerable delay we bring you a report by correspondence GM Arno Nickel on the results of this event, which had a prize fund of US $16,000 and was conducted on the Playchess.com server. Also a reminder that another $16,000 Freestyle tournament begins soon. Like to join the fun?

ChessBase 14 Download ChessBase 14 Download

Everyone uses ChessBase, from the World Champion to the amateur next door. Start your personal success story with ChessBase 14 and enjoy your chess even more!


Along with the ChessBase 14 program you can access the Live Database of 8 million games, and receive three months of free ChesssBase Account Premium membership and all of our online apps! Have a look today!

More...

Rajlich Team irresistable at the 3rd PAL/CSS Freestyle Final

By Correspondence Chess GM Anno Nickel

The 3rd PAL/CSS Freestyle Final, which took place from July 14-16th, looked like a one man show right from the start. Eight pre-qualified Freestyle teams met for a round robin online tournament in order to find the winners for the three money prizes: $8000, $4000 and $2000. As usual help from computers and friends wasn’t only allowed, it was in fact encouraged. The rate of play was 60 minutes per game and 15 seconds per move. It showed once more, as in the main tournament held before, that the Rajlich Team, playing with the support of grandmaster Michael Krasenkow (43, Poland) and of course the Rybka programmer Vasik Rajlich (35, Budapest) and IM Iweta Radziewicz (25, Budapest) had the most professional approach and preparation, although the contest was anything but a walk for them.


The brains behind Rybka: IMs Vasik Rajlich and Iweta Radzievicz

Already in the first round with the white pieces the Rybka players were struggling in vain, when trying to refute a theoretical novelty in the Antimeran Queen’s Gambit prepared by the Hedgehog Team. The game was drawn. How the battle went on, and why it took some weeks before the winners of the second and the third place had definitely been found out, is the subject of this report.

At the end of his article you will also find the dates and the complete schedule for the 4th PAL/CSS Freestyle Tournament in September/October.

The fight on top

It was already in round two that the Rajlich Team, playing White, landed a coup against the Team Intagrand, headed by Anson Williams (25, London/England), an experienced centaur player, assisted by Nelson Hernandez (49, Washington DC/USA, computer expert). Intagrand invited Rajlich to repeat his Shabalov Attack (7.g4) from the first round, but did not appear well acquainted with the upcoming complications. So the Rajlich Team warmed up just in time, though they had to defend accurately in round three when they played the Sveshnikov Sicilian against Jazzled, which is the Freestyle name of Joseph W. Soney (28, Indiana/USA). For me this player was one of the surprises of this final, as he was the only one to remain hot on Rajlich’s heels right up to round 7. A single win in round 4, when Soney, somewhat luckily, profited from Intagrand’s blunder in a bishop ending (54.a4??), turned out to be sufficient for the second rank in the end.

This was exactly, where I had expected the Hedgehog Team, who outed themselves as a double of the well known Klosterfrau Team, consisting of International Master Dennis Breder (26, Bad Godesberg) and Jana Samorukova (19, Bad Godesberg). In contrast to the 2nd Freestyle Tournament they had changed their tactics and took the advice "march separately, strike jointly". That means both played under different user names in the third main tournament: Jana as Hedgehog and Dennis as Klosterfrau. While Dennis had the stronger opponents and failed to qualify for the final, Jana made it up to the tie-breaks, where both reunited and won the ticket for the final. By using this Freestyle trick their team was the only one, apart from Rajlich, to qualify a second time for a final. Yet, they were also the only ones who drew all 7 rounds, though they tried very hard to play for a win. Here you may ask: is this really the future of Freestyle chess – draw, draw, draw...?

Draw, draw, draw...

Well indeed, we have to realize that prolonging the thinking time to 60 minutes and 15 seconds bonus per move did not only raise the level of play but also the "danger" of a lot of draws. The proportion of draws was no less than 75% in this final, while it had only been 54% in the 2nd Freestyle Final. My impression was also, that the teams opting for rank two or three took less risks this time, especially as it is very hard for anybody to make up for a loss within such a short tournament. If this would be the rule in future finals we should seriously think about modifying the concept.

Another point may be also important for the high proportion of draws. The players with the starting number 1-4 enjoy the advantage of 4 games with White and only 3 with Black, while the players 5-8 "enjoy" it the other way round. The reason was to reward the winners of the main tournament, but in my opinion it has turned out to be too aggravating. So I have made the proposal to increase the number of players in the final to nine, so that all players have four games with each colour. (Even if it would be ten players I could live with it, as two additional rounds may lessen the advantage of more White games and stimulate the players to play for wins, as you can no longer hope for a money prize with a +1 result.) But than there is a practical problem: with more rounds we need more time and maybe more days for the final, and this is the main reason why the organizers still have some reservations about such a change. But we will keep discussing it.

The decision

Back to the tournament. In round 5 the Rajlich Team had once again to defend their Sveshnikov very precisely against Poweronoff, another experienced computer player, who lives near Hannover (Uwe M., 42, marketing assistant). For his 30th move Rajlich spent no less than 31 minutes! If Poweronoff would have continued with an attack at the queenside, he really could have created a sensation. But as a one man team with various computers, two dual machines included, the hobby player did not dare to take any risks against the top team with its top grandmaster Michal Krasenkov. Who could blame him, if not he himself!

After round 6, believe it or not, 5 of 8 teams were gathered on place 3 with a score of only 50 percent. In case of a crazy outcome of the last round we could have seen 4 winners on the first place! This shows how close the race really has been. Only one team, Campolungo, a strong correspondence chess player from the Netherlands, had fallen back hopelessly. Right in the beginning he had suffered a mouse slip against Poweronoff on move 17, which changed an equal position into a lost one. Not enough with this, he again suffered a mouse slip in round 4 against Rajlich, though this time his position already looked suspicious. As I learned from other teams and from my own Freestyle practice you need to concentrate to a high degree in order to execute your moves with the computer mouse. Just take a few seconds for this procedure and never do it in a hurry, because it could be your last move in the game... Nevertheless Campolungo went on fighting and tried very hard to play for a win. This led to a very bizarre game with White versus Intagrand. I had to replay this game twice in order to understand where Campolungo went wrong very early. This was another fine example for a game where you should not believe anything the computers are whispering into your ears... So, our thanks to Campolungo, without whom the tournament would have been less colourful.

Alansacount, the team of Alan Sassler (46, Las Vegas/USA) and Sam Wong (20, Ottawa/USA) was the last one to try and stop Rajlich & Co., and as they have a distinct preference for 1.b3 (and may be the world’s biggest database on this move), something special could be expected. I tried to encourage them by the remark, they should play like Kasparov vs. Karpov in Sevilla 1987, and Alan joked, it would probably be more something like Larsen vs. Spassky… But the opening didn’t hold the promise, as White had a rather slow development. More or less without any needs Alan also spoiled the endgame, though we must admid, that the Rajlich Team showed once again high-class endgame technique. All in all their victory and the title “Freestyle Champion” is well deserved.


CCGM Arno Nickel, alias Ciron [Foto; Hans-Walter Schmitt]

3rd Pal/CSS Freestyle Final (60+15)

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

Pts

S/B

Rank

1

Rajlich

1.0

0.5

1.0

0.5

0.5

1.0

0.5

5

15.75

1

2

Intagrand

0.0

0.0

1.0

0.5

0.5

1.0

0.5

3.5

10.25

6

3

Jazzled

0.5

1.0

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

4

13.75

2

4

Campolungo

0.0

0.0

0.5

0.0

0.5

0.5

0.5

2

7.00

8

5

Poweronoff

0.5

0.5

0.5

1.0

0.5

0.0

0.5

3.5

11.75

5

6

EmilV

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

3.5

12.25

3-4

7

Alansacount

0.0

0.0

0.5

0.5

1.0

0.5

0.5

3

10.00

7

8

Hedgehog

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

3.5

12.25

3-4

The game "EmilV" vs. "Intagrand" was drawn by mutual agreement after the game finished + adjudicated by TD and judges.

Progress table

R1

R2

R3

R4

R5

R6

R7

Final

1

Rajlich

0.5

1.5

2.0

3.0

3.5

4.0

5.0

5.0

2

Intagrand

1.0

1.0

1.5

1.5

2.5

3.0

3.5

3.5

3

Jazzled

0.5

1.0

1.5

2.5

3.0

3.5

4.0

4.0

4

Campolungo

0.0

0.5

1.0

1.0

1.0

1.5

2.0

2.0

5

Poweronoff

1.0

1.5

2.0

2.0

2.5

3.0

3.5

3.5

6

EmilV

0.5

1.0

1.5

2.0

2.5

3.0

3.5

3.5

7

Alansacount

0.0

0.5

1.0

2.0

2.5

3.0

3.0

3.0

8

Hedgehog

0.5

1.0

1.5

2.0

2.5

3.0

3.5

3.5

Download the games of the finals of the 3rd PAL/CSS Freestyle Tournament

Arms race

Upon request some participants provided information about the hardware they had used in the final. It turned out that two of them had an AMD Quad Opteron Dual Core at their disposal (that means a total of 8 threads on each system), a third one used Quad opteron 275. In one case the computer company, Transec, allowed the team to use the system by remote access. Why not, it’s Freestyle Chess! And we should not forget that we had already seen the hardware monster ‘Hydra’ in Freestyle, which wasn’t always able to profit from its 32 or 64 threads (that’s the difference between the old and the new version, called ‘Chimera’ and ‘Scylla’). If you take a look on the decisive games and moments in this final, may be you will agree with me that it was not the hardware that really made the difference, but brilliant positional ideas produced by the human players; and that is what particularly applies to the Rajlich Team. On the other hand many mistakes cannot explained by the hardware, but by human failure. It seems to me, that the hard- and software integration remains the most complicate thing in Freestyle Chess.

4th PAL/CSS Freestyle Tournament

Main Tournament   Friday 15.09.2006 – Sunday 17.09.2006
Tie-breaks:   23./24.9.2006
Final Tournament:   Friday 20.10.2006 – Sunday 22.10.2006

Discussion and Feedback Join the public discussion or submit your feedback to the editors


Discuss

Rules for reader comments

 
 

Not registered yet? Register