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The 12th World Computer Chess Championship starts July 4 in Ramat-Gan, Israel. There's an event summary at ChessBase, which is also the publisher of all three of the favorites: Fritz, Shredder, and Junior.

Computer chess is a thriving subculture. Thousands of fans are more interested in Fritz vs Shredder than in Kasparov vs Anand. They swap test positions, play tournaments, and brag about suite scores. Most of them aren't chess programmers, they just love to fool with and talk about chess programs. Computer chess has even followed the humans in getting caught up in Middle Eastern politics.

One of the most interesting computer chessplayers is Hydra, the hardware-based system formerly known as Brutus and programmed by the author of the program Nimzo, Austrian Chrilly Donninger. (The official Hydra website has no information on the machine at all, but has plenty of chess news "borrowed" from other websites like ChessBase and TWIC.) Hydra won the short but strong Paderborn computer tournament last February, but won't be playing in the WCCC.

Hydra is now officially a program from the United Arab Emirates. From my my e-mail exchange with Donninger:

"The UAE has declared 1967 war to Israel. There is so far no peace-treaty between the 2 countries. It is therefore for political reasons not possible that Hydra participates. Personally I have also no interest to travel with an Arabic-stamp in my passport to the WC. I assume that I would be specially checked by Israeli security forces. I do not like this idea. There were plans to organize the WC-2005 in Abu-Dhabi. But the negotiations were canceled, because Israeli citizens get no visa for the UAE."

One of the Ramat-Gan organizers sent me this:

"When the Hydra team asked if they can play in Israel under the UAE flag, we replied that there is no problem with that, and they are most welcome here. But when the WMCCC was held in Indonesia (Jakarta 1996) the Junior team was not allowed to participate."

As is the case with the humans in Libya, chess loses.


I would like to add to Chrilly's comments that the reason the negotiations regarding a possible 2005 WCCC in Abu Dhabi were truncated is not only because the Israelis would not be given visas. Anyone who travels to Israel for this year's WCCC would also not be given a visa for the UAE if his/her passport contains an Israeli stamp. This would automatically exclude virtually all of the potential participants, as well as the ICGA officials!

And what about the "forbidden" pairings at the 2004 Aeroflot Open mentioned by Arbiter Geurt Gijssen in his column at ChessCafe?

"As a matter of fact the players of some countries were forbidden to play against Israelis."

Isn't it going too far, especially for organizers accepting these conditions?

It seems that this kind of pairing system has also been enforced in Olympiad long ago, and not only for Israel and Arab Countries.

This way, FIDE is just letting some countries to play politics even when on away fields. A real "no politics, please" attitude should be: this is your pairing, you play; if you don't, you lose, period.

Massimiliano Orsi

One remembers that our life is not very cheap, but we need money for various issues and not every person earns enough cash. Thus to receive quick mortgage loans or just college loan will be good way out.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on June 30, 2004 2:33 AM.

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