Most Impressive Computer Game Ever?

Oct 31, 2012, 9:43 PM |

Houdini and Rybka are the two leading computer chess software "engines".  They are rated at about 3200 Elo which means they would beat Magnus Carlsen almost 90% of the time.  Almost 2 years ago the two engines played a match with Houdini in version 1.5a (Version 3 was just released this month) versus Rybka 4.0, one game from which was considered by Houdini's programmer (Belgian engineer Robert Houdart) to be the most impressive computer game he had ever seen. This game is diagrammed below.

The two most important functions of a chess 'engine' are its ability to focus its analysis on a limited number of the best candidate moves in any position (selective search) and to evaluate the relative strength of each position more accurately than its opponent (the evaluation function).

In the game below Houdini shows a remarkable ability accurately to evaluate positions with respect to material, piece mobility and coordination and safety of the opposing king.  Its judgment appears clearly beyond the capability of the best human players not in the usual tactical way but in assessment of material vs non-material factors in the position.

There is a video I reviewed in which a GM comments on the game, progressively in awe of Houdini's moves which he finds difficult to comprehend, and I quote selectively from his thoughts below.  I used Deep Shredder 12 on a strong iMac (8 cores, 6 GB hash) at up to a few hours per move (21-24 ply, 10.5 - 12 moves deep) to help me understand the strongest alternative moves.  I invite others with strong hardware/software to look at this game, especially the critical moves for White #s 22-24.