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Another World Championship Mess

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Even the computers are making a mess of the world championship these days. The WCCC just finished in Graz, Austria. The program Shredder beat Fritz in a playoff to take the title this year. The controversy came in the final round of the tournament. Fritz and Shredder were tied for the lead and both were beating their opponents. Then the amateur program Jonny announced a three-time repetition against Shredder in a totally losing position! (Much more on this at chessbase.com.)

Most programs have code to detect repetitions and so avoid them in advantageous positions. A bug in Shredder allowed it to repeat three times although it was close to announcing checkmate. Basically what happened after that is that the programmer of Jonny, embarrassed at getting a draw this way (and a draw that would keep Shredder out of the playoff and therefore make Fritz the champion) went to the arbiter to ask to continue playing (and losing). The arbiter didn't understand and after some confusion, the game continued and Shredder duly won.

The game was continued because the machine didn't claim the draw correctly by FIDE rules. It made the move instead of claiming first. Of course this is the way the interface is programmed, not in accordance with FIDE rules. Clearly this is idiotic since a computer is perfectly aware of a repetition, unlike a human. (In human play the rule is designed to make you confirm the repetition on your clock, hard to do in time trouble.) So either all the programs have to change to giving notification before they make the third repetition or the ICGA needs to discount FIDE rules that are irrelevant in comp-comp play.

Then there is the problem of the operator/programmer stepping in to throw the game that was drawn. If he didn't want to lose on a programming bug in Shredder he should have resigned earlier, or perhaps not played at all and forfeited the game to make a sincere gift of the full point. Since when are bugs invalid reasons for winning (or not winning)? Isn't a bad move a bug? If Jonny had claimed the draw according to FIDE rules would its operator have been allowed to voluntarily throw the game anyway?

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    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on December 1, 2003 2:46 AM.

    And Now These Commercial Messages was the previous entry in this blog.

    Can You Forfeit Me Now? Part II is the next entry in this blog.

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