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Human Interference In Computer Chess Championship? 34

migstradamus writes "In a twist with interesting implications for the computer chess world, the intervention of a human programmer and a human arbiter have had a decisive impact on the World Computer Chess Championship that finished today in Graz, Austria. What happens when a programmer acts against his creation's best interest? ChessBase has an eye-witness report on the dilemma. This year's event was already controversial due to the disqualification of one of the programs midway through for being derivative of an open source program."
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Human Interference In Computer Chess Championship?

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  • by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @11:56AM (#7599062) Homepage Journal
    why not just make them battle through some computer programs, with _no_ human interaction?

    much easier, faster, you could have online competitions as well with the same system.
  • by JMZero ( 449047 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @12:17PM (#7599297) Homepage
    A draw isn't automatic, it needs to be claimed. As such, there's a decision to be made. The program in question wasn't set up to make that decision clear. It's the same as if it didn't tell the operator what piece to promote a pawn to. Is the operator just to make an assumption and drop a queen? That's silly - it's a program bug.

    In the future, this just needs to be a requirement - the message box needs to say "I claim a draw - three repetitions". In addition, the program needs to be smart enough not to mention anything if a draw claim is available in a favorable position.
  • by You're All Wrong ( 573825 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @12:34PM (#7599504)
    "The ICGA needs a procedure to follow in resolving these disputes"

    But it does have one - the inspection of the code.
    Fritz refused to permit the inspection of his code.
    ICGA run this show, if Fritz doesn't play by their rules, he's out on his ear.
    I thought the flexibility offered by the ICGA was perfectly respectable. Remember - this is in the _middle_ of a tournament, decisions need to be made sooner rather than later.

    However, I respect Dann Corbit, from my exchanges with him in other fields and believe him to be honest and entirely trustworthy and professional.

    So quite probably Fritz is _innocent_ of plagiarism, but _guilty_ of stubornness.

    It is their show. Like it or lump it.

    I'd like to know what would happen if he were now were to submit his full program source. Would the ICGA lift or shorten the ban? (He is still guilty of not following the expected protocol, after all.)

  • by You're All Wrong ( 573825 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @12:55PM (#7599735)
    But how can the notification of a three move repetition be not an instruction to claim the draw? If all the other programs use the same ambiguous announcement, then you could say that it's not ambiguous, and that it actually _means_ "claim a draw".

    However, as some ambiguity does remain it's a good safeguard for the ICGA to specify a list of acceptable phrases that are to be taken to mean "claim a draw" (and thus direct instructions the hyuman may not decline to follow).

    Using principles of human linguistics (if that's what people say when they mean X,then it means X) and looking at things in time order:
    1) the stronger program had a crap bug.
    2) the weaker program did actually draw first it notified the outside world that that state had occured.
    3) the human driving it followed the protocol for making the TD aware of this.
    4) the TD failed to understand the situation.
    5) the human driver broke both the rules by not following the computer's instructions and protocol by continuing to play.

    So all three parties went awry here.
    However, there's nothing against the rules in having bugs, so the first place where something went wrong was the _TD_ dismissing the information he was given as not requiring immediate resolution.

    However, the TDs have a very difficult job, and it's an unfortunate situation that's occured.

    If I were on a committee (I am for other games with strict protocols, and by heck, we've had a lot worse than this in our time), in review I'd:
    - award the draw to the computer that claimed it.
    - admonish the player for breach of protocol. (perhaps disqualification for one tournament).
    - get lots of feedback from all competing authors, the ICGA exists _for_ them, and must serve their common interests. Yes, rules (protocol) meeetings can be excedingly boring, but it's only when you thrash things out that you can reach conclusions.
    - issue an unambiguous directive regarding ambiguous statements.

  • by migstradamus ( 472166 ) * on Monday December 01, 2003 @05:45PM (#7602927) Homepage
    Eliminating the humans entirely has been suggested off and on for many years. Many of the same programs play online all the time without a human operator and engine-engine matches on the same PC are standard. Using a neutral server as intermediary would seem to be the best plan. Adding network capability wouldn't be any harder than making a GUI, certainly.

    Tradition is probably the biggest impediment. Having humans making the moves on a real board, pressing a clock, and writing the moves down allow them to use regular arbiters and the human rules for the most part. That's how we ended up with the mess this year.

    The rule in question about claiming a repetition draw BEFORE you make your move is just to make sure you confirm it's a draw on your own clock time. This makes sense for humans, but since a computer can detect repetitions trivially, enforcing that rule in a comp-comp event is like having a rule about no talking or eating at the board for them.

    The uber comp-chess guys are splitting hairs about whether it was the GUI or the program itself that claimed the draw, and whether or not it actually claimed anything or was just pointing out that the repetition had occurred. This is mostly foolish because of course if the computer had seen anything better to play it wouldn't have repeated the position three times whether it was aware of the implications of the repetition or not. So any such repetition should be taken as a draw.

    If the programmers want to add threefold repetition awareness, and most have, in order to use it for contempt purposes, that's great. (That way they can tell it to avoid repetitions against weaker opponents or in must-win situations unless the alternative is fatal. This is what we call the contempt setting.)

    At the end of the day, the letter of the law was followed correctly. Because the machine did not follow the obsolete FIDE rules and claim the draw before making the move, the claim would have been disallowed no matter what the programmer wanted to do. (One hopes.) But the event highlights several weaknesses of using human rules in machine events and in letting operators interfere with programs at all.

... though his invention worked superbly -- his theory was a crock of sewage from beginning to end. -- Vernor Vinge, "The Peace War"