I'd like to thank the ICGA for making the events happen, and to give a huge thanks to the guys on our team who worked hard to make Rybka's participation possible. Our team was:
Hardware & Testing
The credits start with Lukas Cimiotti, who over the past year has systematically built and tweaked one monstrous piece of hardware. His current cluster contains one w5580, two Skulltrails, another Harpertown oct, and five i7-920s, for a total of 52 cores. A picture can be viewed here, and full specs are attached. :) We had various problems getting everything to work, so in addition to his hardware and tuning work Lukas also contributed a lot of testing and debugging help. This clustering project would probably never have been started without Lukas, and it certainly wouldn't have come as far along as it has.
We finally got everything working this past Tuesday morning, and for now have only preliminary performance figures. The cluster won a match against a Nehalem Quad (i7-920) running the latest Rybka version with a score of +37 =25 -2 (+213 Elo). I suspect that with more games this Elo gap will be slightly lower.
Lukas is a regular in the Playchess engine room (handles: Rechenschieber, Victor_Kullberg) and will probably run his cluster there on occasion.
Nick Carlin handled our opening book, taking advantage of material previously published by Jeroen Noomen, and did really well. All of our book positions were equal or better, and all were complex and offered plenty of winning chances.
Nick is from the new breed of computer chess opening authors, who rely on systematic, automated methods and on statistical analysis. He uses all of the available resources, from Jeroen's work to Playchess games to Aquarium editing tools to Polyglot. For this event, he made algorithmic innovations in the area of sharpening the book exit points - his aim was to drop Rybka off into rich positions with plenty of winning chances, and to prevent opposing authors from doing the opposite. Judging by the games, these methods work quite well.
Unfortunately, Nick has decided to take an extended break from computer chess after these events, as the time required to stay on top of everything is just too high for him. Jeroen is also still taking a break after his last book release and has started to apply his skills to the stock market - hopefully he will soon be rich and will then return to what is best in life. :) All of this should underline just how much work is involved in the book preparation. The responsibility is high, as one mistake can spoil an entire event and wipe out the work of everyone on the team. Modern opening theory is simply a huge load and we will have to think about how to handle it.
Hans van der Zijden was our on-site representative and operator and won the blitz tournament, where operator skill is important. His workload was heavier than usual, as there were three tournaments this time instead of the usual two. You can read his reports on our web site.
Victor Zakharov and his team from Convekta (ChessOK) let us use internal versions of several unreleased tools which they have developed. They were also extremely responsive to feature requests. The most important of these tools was a remote engine server & client networking tool, which we used for intra-cluster communication as well as to host our playing engines. This tool has a number of nice features, one being automatic smooth reconnection capability.
New 8-Core Rule
The ICGA added a new 8-core tournament this time around and gave it exclusive "World Championship" status, causing quite some controversy. While it's hard to go wrong with more events and more computer chess, this particular rule is badly formulated. The normal tradeoff with hardware limitations is that looser limitations encourage innovation while stricter limitations make the tournament less expensive and less of a hassle to participate in. An 8-core rule gives you the worst of both: it prevents innovation with clusters of off-the-shelf components while emphasizing the use of expensive workstations. I hope that this rule is retracted for future events.
I felt that my job was to try to exit the book in a position that I thought Rybka would have the best chances to avoid a draw in, you can only take this approach when your engine is much stronger than everyone else’s of course. It was interesting to me that this invariably led to unbalanced positions in which a lot of fireworks could happen. The book making process was highly automated and iterative, statistics were gathered over each iteration about how each book move was doing, novelty moves that won quickly were automatically flagged. To get a base of games I played Jeroen's Aquarium book (by far the best publicly available book) against my own book, using the engines Rybka, Naum, zappa, Shredder, Sjeng, Baron, HIARCS and Junior, each running on single-core virtual machines. They all played together at the same time on my home Internet Chess Server (the lasker code from HGM) so the 8 cores of my two quads were 100% busy all the time. I was looking for positions that had a low draw statistic, in fact I got this book making idea from Nelson Hernandez during the Rybka Warriors forum games against HIARCS. In addition to that, I was also looking for positions where lots of pieces were still on the board after the opening and Dadi Jonsson helped me find those using CQL.
Technically the setup was quite interesting. The main WCCC book never left my house in the UK. Hans in Pamplona connected to me for the book moves. I in turn had a connection to Lukas in Germany for the Rybka moves which were automatically piped through to Hans. Convekta played a key part in getting all that to work by providing us with a network adapter (similar to netchess but more functional) which we used to glue us all together. For the WCCC Blitz tournament however, we didn't use the main WCCC book, I prepared a subset of it (a 30mb CTG book) for Hans to use locally. Lukas provided excellent support to me throughout the week allowing me to test new ideas using information from the openings that other competitors had played in the previous rounds - we worked late many evenings and I felt I got to know Lukas as a friend. Interestingly during this testing on Thursday, we found a serious bug between the Convekta adapter and Rybka which involved a double ("belt and braces" we say in the UK) fix.
The new Aquarium Book Adapter was used, there is now a pondering-in-book version of it, but due to some technical difficulties on my side I ended up not using the pondering version. With this Aquarium Adapter the whole question of "who authored your book" has changed. For instance during CCT11, I had Jeroen's Aquarium book ahead of mine in the book concatenation and during the WCCC I had my book ahead of Jeroen's in the book list, so for both of these events both Jeroen and myself should be considered as joint book authors.
As this was my competitive “retirement gig” (winning all three titles what better time to leave?), my sincerest thanks for the past 3 ½ with Rybka years go to:
• Vas for his belief, for being a friend and genius, and for Rybka
• Iweta, for allowing Vas to be Vas ;)
• Lukas for dedication, friendship and the biggest BADASS cluster on the planet!
• Jeroen for kinship, book advice, support and guidance
• GM Larry K for co-authoring Rybka 3 and all that that meant
• Dagh for friendship, philosophy, positive upstanding character, teaching me how to centaur and for the Freestyles (flyingfatman 1 - Mission Control 0) 24. Bc7!!!
• Majd for his support, chess analysis skills, belief, friendship and computer power!
• Hans for steadfast travel, operation, hilarious diaries (-tribes?) and superfast cube solving!
• Nelson for advice and guidance, extreme book-cleverance and general eruditeness!
• Anson (and again Nelson) for digging me out of a hole once
• Alan for invaluable assistance and for being able to recognize what is important (sometimes ;)
• Damir for his assistance, friendship, tournaments and for being the future Freestyle Rybka Cluster operator for us
• Victor at Convekta for his professionalism, dedication, long hours, friendship and putting up with my never ending feature requests and bug reports (and Sergey too!) - couldn’t have done it without you guys
• Dadi for his most excellent CQL help, guidance and friendliness, Dadi is probably one of smartest dudes I have met
• Marc for guidance, friendship, book help and for Polyglot (PS. You still owe me a beer for our Sjeng game in CCT11 ;))
• Jiri (Xakru) for advice and guidance and playing for the flyingfatman team in the Freestyle 6 finals day 2
• Oleg for Linux kernel, macro help, and patience with Gentoo
• Steinar for microwine, a fantastic idea which allowed my quad to box well above it’s weight in Freestyles and online
• Jason (turbo) for friendship, patience, and confident captaincy of The Warriors
• Paul (Nat12) for supreme dedication to chess, cigars and his Skulltrail AN – thanks!
• Dragon from Croatia (home of my hero Tesla, btw) for his support in CCT11 and to the Rybka team in general
• Felix (and his bruv) for the forum and for general displays of patience far beyond his years
And I’m sorry for the many that I have missed naming, thank you too, you know who you are, I will miss you all. The last time I retired from comp. chess (after IBM beat Kasparov in 1997) I was out for seven years, this time it will be less I hope. Although I am closing down operations I’m still here , not dead yet, and my plan is that I will be back competing in around five or six years time, I wonder how many cores we’ll be on by then?
Vas, it’s been my real honour and privilege to be part of your team, thank you for everything and all the best for the future. So long - and thanks for all the fish!
best wishes Paul.
I'm just a selfish guy who hangs around the forum (too) much - and for very long time now - and enjoys all the Rybka beauty for himself! :-)
It's sad to see you leave the competitive scene here. Hopefully we will still occasionally be graced with your visits to the forum. I hope that your retirement is short, and that there are still many very interesting tasks in the world of computer chess when you return. I wish you the best of luck, and make sure to keep up with happenings in the chess world in the meantime!
From the very first game of this tournament I could see a draw-avoidance strategy was dominating your critical move-choices and made repeated mention of it; you can read my posts, was that ever a good call! Now that you spilled the beans I really hope opponents will finally connect the dots. If they do and figure out what a progressive book ought to look like there will be fireworks in future tournaments--a fascinating tug-of-war between books that persistently want to draw against a superior opponent and those that are taking evasive action to force the inferior opponent to play on unfamiliar and slippery terrain.
I can scarcely believe you are entering the pantheon, Nick. In this case you are not literally dying but are joining the computer chess ancestors. Like Dagh you now slip into the realm of legend.
No, it is the Yuan and gold ;-).
Day trading!? Never. I am an investor. Not a gambler!
it's a nice high note to go out on. I can see the massive effort which you've put in, the results speak for themselves. Thanks for all of your hard work, it was a real pleasure and honor to have you book for us!
Maybe you can visit the forum once a year so that we know you are still alive :)
And congrats for the decent result in Pamplona ;)
I want to thank you personally for taking over the book preparations for Pamplona and doing such a great job. You must have invested a lot of your free time and it was at short notice. The three titles are well deserved, not only for Vas, but also as a credit to your work. Well done!
Now you are going to take a break from computer chess, I really hope you will have a nice time, find new interests and enjoy life. I am sure I speak for many when I hope you will be back in the (not too far away) future and that we can have the same good spirit as we had during the WCCC.
All the best to you!
Kind regards, Jeroen
I hope to do it all over again next year in Japan. I hope there will be enough participants. Not all that played in Pamploma will go to Japan. Too far and too expensive.
indeed, there is a ton of work which goes on behind the scenes. Thanks for everything!
What sort of information do we have about Japan? (No hurry here. :))
Has Larry K. stopped working on Rybka? Or he just has no time now by participating to tournaments, etc?
We need to find a good task for Larry - I need to think about it.
> hopefully he will soon be rich and will then return to what is best in life.
Note the reference to Conan the Barbarian, people.
Vas' report at chessbase.com: http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=5444
Okay, Cluster Deep Sjeng will be disqualified, because of not naming the hw correctly! :-)
PS: Old Russian saying: If you have no cow, kill the cow of your neighbour!
If you look closer you see that every comp has it's own mouse, it's quite funny when Lukas is trying to find the right one :)
>(the one on the left is Lukas' private comp)
What´s with the rest? They are Lukas´ business comps? I think, Lukas makes low profit with his business comps, but very much good marketing (okay, only for this little fraction of cc enthusiasts)! :-)
> If you look closer you see that every comp has it's own mouse, it's quite funny when Lukas is trying to find the right one :-)
I think there is one set of mouse, keyboard and monitor for each machine.
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