Friday, July 1, 2016

Pestaño: Chess computers better than humans

A LONG time ago I had a dinner date with GMs Eugene Torre and Jaime Sunye–Neto of Brazil. Eugene then was still considered the best player in Asia and Jaime was a mainstay on the Brazilian chess Olympiad team, and was at that time President of the Brazilian Chess Federation.
Jaime was one of the most influential persons in chess then and later ran for president in 1996. He assembled a powerful team and won the support of almost all of the chess-playing countries of Europe. Fide president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov exerted a lot of influence and pressure on the delegates especially from the Latin-American and African federations with the help of Singapore`s Ignatius Leong who held a lot of proxies. Jaime lost by 87 votes to 44.
As I recall, our main topic of discussion was chess in general all over the world ,Garry Kasparov and the increasing popularity of chess computers.
Going back, I was introduced to chess computers in the early 1980s while playing regularly at the Luneta on weekends and the earlier versions were easily beaten. However, sometime in the mid-80s a foreigner brought a portable chess computer to Luneta that was a revelation at that time. He challenged all the strong chess players then to play against the machine with a bet and won most of them.
In the 1982 North American Computer Chess Championship, Monroe Newborn predicted that a chess program could become world champion within five years; tournament director and International Master Michael Valvo predicted 10 years;  Ken Thompson predicted it would take more than 20; and others predicted that it would never happen.
During our discussion, Eugene had the opinion that a computer will never be able to defeat the world champion, while Jaime said it will happen much sooner than later probably within a decade.
Garry Kasparov, in a 1996 match with IBM’s Deep Blue, lost his first game at tournament time controls in Deep Blue vs. Kasparov, 1996, Game 1. This game was, in fact, the first time a reigning world champion had lost to a computer using regular time controls. However, Kasparov regrouped to win three and draw two of the remaining five games of the match, for a convincing victory.
Deep Blue was then heavily upgraded to calculate up to 200 million positions per second , and played Kasparov again in May 1997. Deep Blue won Game six, therefore winning the six-game rematch 3½–2½ and becoming the first computer system to defeat a reigning world champion in a match under standard chess tournament time controls. Kasparov accused IBM of cheating and demanded a rematch. IBM refused and retired Deep Blue.
While world champion Magnus Carlsen is rated 2835, chess computers are now rated well over 3000. The top five are: 1.) Komodo (3340), the leading commercial program, was the undisputed champ of 2014 before being briefly eclipsed by the new version of Stockfish this year. Its developers then released Komodo 9, which is about 50 rating points better than its predecessor.
2. Stockfish (3318) and Komodo are easily the two strongest in chess history. The best thing about Stockfish is that it is completely free, open source, and cross-platform.3. Houdini (3277), a commercial engine, used to be the strongest in the world, and remains a very formidable chess program.
4. Fire ( 3229) In development since 2010 is another fast-riser in the world of computer chess. It gained 16 rating points in the CCRL pure list compared to its normal database rating, the most of any engine in the top 15.
5. Gull (3214)is the fifth-ranked of the world’s best chess programs.

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