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Chess.com Announces Computer Chess Championship

Chess.com Announces Computer Chess Championship

The world's strongest computer engines will compete in a first-of-its-kind speed chess tournament on Chess.com this November, the site announced today.

As computer engines have claimed the undisputed title as the best chess-playing entities on earth, interest in the machines has risen among chess fans.

The first annual Chess.com Computer Chess Championship (CCCC) will decide which engine is the best at the format of chess most played online: speed chess.

The Computer Chess Championship is scheduled for Nov. 13-16, with all four days featuring full live coverage on Chess.com/TV with master commentary and high production values to promote computer chess as a fun viewing experience for the modern gaming audience.

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The tournament will include the top 10 engines in the world (seeded as of mid-August), with an option for engine authors to submit optimized versions of their programs for the Chess.com tournament.

As of today, two of the top three chess engines in the world — Komodo (number one) and Houdini (number three) — will have optimized versions submitted for this tournament, their authors have confirmed. Several other engines in the top 10 will also submit custom versions for the rapid format.

The tournament will be a double round-robin for the 10 engines, with each program having White and Black once in a 15-minute game with two seconds increment against every other engine.

The top-two scoring engines in the round-robin will face each other in a thrilling super-final, where time controls will transition from rapid to blitz and finally to bullet chess as the match proceeds.

Chess.com will provide four days of live coverage with master commentary, broadcasting all 90 games of the round-robin and all 20 games of the super-final.

The engines will vie for a $2,500 prize pool for the authors, developers, or appropriate charities, split as follows:

1. $1,000
2. $750
3. $500
4. $250

The full list of participants, seeded in order of rating at the time of invitation in mid-August:

1. Stockfish
2. Komodo
3. Houdini
4. Shredder
5. Fire
6. Fizbo
7. Andscacs
8. Chiron
9. Gull
10. Booot

If no custom version is provided to Chess.com one week prior to the start of the match, the publicly available version of the engine as of that date (Nov. 6) will be used in the tournament.

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To ensure fairness, each engine will be run on an identical computer with equal resources.

According to Norm Schmidt, the author of the computer engine Fire and Chess.com's advisor for computer chess, the technical details for the tournament are below.

The tournament will be run from an Amazon Web Services server farm located in Northern Virginia.

Each engine will utilize its own dedicated AWS virtualized instance of a hyperthreaded Intel Xeon E5-2666 v3 2.90 GHz (two processors each with 18 cores) with 60.0 GB RAM running on Windows Server 2016 Data Center Edition.

UCI config:

  • 32 threads.
  • 4096 MB hash.
  • 6-man Syzygy TBs (HDD).
  • All other UCI options will be set to default.

The actual tournament will be run as follows:

  • Ponder off.
  • No opening book.
  • No draw adjudication by evaluation.
  • No endgame adjudication. (The endgames be played out to mate or a forced draw for the benefit of the viewers.)

The tournament schedule and rules:

  • Time control: 15/2 for round-robin play.
  • Round-robin, all-play-all. Each engine gets White and Black once vs each other engine. That means nine rounds with 10 games per round. 90 games total.
  • Three Chess.com/TV shows of round-robin play with 30 games each (Nov 13-15) will be broadcast. One show per day, with three rounds per day, for three straight days.
  • A super-final match on day four between the top two engines will take place Nov. 16 and will be broadcast live on Chess.com/TV.
  • Each round of round-robin play will have both games between each engine start simultaneously (e.g. Komodo plays Stockfish with White and with Black at the same time).
  • There will be staggered starting times so that each of the five mini-matches per round starts five minutes later than the previous round.
  • Super-final format: four concurrent games per round, two White and two Black per engine. Each round has a different time control.
  • Five super-final rounds: 15/2, 10/2, 5/2, 3/2, and 1/2.
  • After 20 games over five rounds, a champion is crowned.
  • If tied after round five, there will be played individual sets of four simultaneous games at 1/2 until a champion is crowned.
  • If after four additional rounds of 1/2 (16 tiebreak games total) the score is still tied, the two engines will alternate single 1/2 games as White and Black until there is a winner (sudden death with no chance to equalize). The engine to first get White will be determined by a virtual coin flip on Random.org. 

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