Photo: Reuters
No human hand in Computer Chess Championship
Photo: Reuters
Israeli computer world chess champion
'Junior' crowned world champion for fifth time after beating Shredder from Germany and Zappa from US; computer didn’t lose single match

The Israeli chess computer program “Junior” won the World Computer Chess Championship which took place in Turin, Italy, over the weekend. Junior, which was developed by Amir Ban and Shai Bushinksy, did not lose a single match during the tournament, and accumulated nine points out of a possible 11 after winning seven games and tying four.


Eighteen computer programs from various countries competed in Turin for the world championship in computerized chess – without any human participation. Junior’s main challenges were Shredder from Germany, and Zappa from America, the outgoing world champion. Junior beat Shredder out by half a point, and Zappa by 1.5 points.


“We lost the title to Zappa in 2005," Bushinsky told Ynet. “It’s a program that works on a computer with 512 processors from the American computer supercompany NCSA, and it computes 100 million calculations per second (like Deep Blue, the first chess computer that beat world champion Gary Kasparov in 1997), but it still only came in fourth place this year.”


Bushinsky said that Junior was improved for the competition this year. He explained that its advantage is its willingness to surrender pieces in a trade-off for better strategic positioning on the board, an ability considered to be a very human trait and which most computers are not capable of. “Junior played the best game we’ve ever seen it play,” Bushinsky said.


This year’s win is Junior fifth time as world champion. The computer won in Paris in 1997, in Mastricht in Holland in 2001 and 2002, and in Ramat gan in 2004. The Israeli program competed against Gary Kasparov in 2003 in six-game tournament which ended in a 3:3 tie.


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