Thursday, July 28, 2005

Program Free Zone

Chess programs in human tournaments are nothing new. I'm not talking here about circus acts like the recent Adams vs Hydra or the famous Kasparov vs Deep Blue "man vs machine" matches. I am talking about tournaments where such programs are themselves "participants". An example is the recently concluded Copa Mercosur - Torneo Internacional de Ajedrez, in Argentina. There, the program Shredder took clear first place on 8.5/10.

About such tournaments (like Mercosur), I always wondered, what the hec is the point? What does it prove exactly? If the intent is apparently publicity, then by all means have a circus show like man vs machine type matches. But should programs have a place in mostly human events like round-robins or regular opens?

Some years ago I recall a controversy at the Dutch Championships. The Dutch Chess Federation allowed Fritz to participate in their nationals. The idea behind this was apparently to generate sponsorships. At that time, one of the other human players, GM Van der Sterren, refused to play the program. My reaction then, as now, was "good on him!"

Tournament chess must always be a contest between humans. They should remain program free. It's as simple as that. Let's have our little events like Advance Chess or man vs machine. But these are really more for the sake of curiosity and publicity. There is nothing sporting about them. Peace.

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