There were no people stewing over playing pieces for long hours in this tournament.



A new world computer chess champion was crowned at the 2004 finals in Israel on Monday. The new champ is the latest version of a particularly aggressive and human-like software program called Junior.


Unlike most leading chess programs, Junior places less emphasis on the value of individual pieces and more on factors such as mobility and positional advantage. The approach – known as “compensation” – gives the program the ability to find very unusual and daring moves. But it also makes it prone to blunders more reminiscent of human players.



“Junior is very interesting,” says Frederic Freidel, co-founder of the German company ChessBase, which publishes Junior and a number of other leading programs. “It finds brilliant ideas, but is sometimes also a little bit unsound. But Junior is very cleverly programmed and very fast.”



The contest ended in a thrilling finale. Junior and the defending champion, a program called Shredder, both stood a chance of winning with just one game to play. But the title was handed to Junior when Shredder could only draw with a lower ranked program called Falcon while Junior demolished the program ParSOS.



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