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Leiden University hosts world championship computer chess

At the annual World Computer Chess Championship, chess computers from all over the world compete with each other. This year, Leiden University hosted the event.

From 1 to 7 July 2017, the Snellius building at the Leiden Bio Science Park was filled with computer chess fanatics. In the tournament, famous chess computers Deep Shredder, Jonny, Chiron and Komodo (the current world champion) competed for the world title. An exceptionally strong lineup, as these are the four best players in the world.

Deep Blue and Kasparov

We already know that computers can play chess better than people, since chess computer Deep Blue defeated grandmaster Garry Kasparov in 1997. But if we let several chess computers compete, which one will turn out to be the strongest? During the World Cup Chess Championship, programmers from all over the world gather to determine that.

Playing on old-fashioned boards

It is primarily the combination of software and hardware that determines the success of a chess computer, says Jaap van den Herik of Leiden Center of Data Science, one of the organizers. And the differences are small: ‘Most chess computers use the same type of algorithm, but they handle details in different ways.’

Although the computers do all the thinking, the games are played on regular chess boards. Each chess computer has a so-called operator, a human who performs the computer-selected moves on a board.

Related events

Some other, related events took place in the same week, such as the Computer Olympiad (1-7 July). In this tournament, computer programmes compete against each other in board games like backgammon, checkers and Go. From 3 to 5 July, the biennial Advances in Computer Games Conference also took place, featuring blockchain expert Yori Kamphuis and data science researcher Arno Knobbe as keynote speakers.


The events were organized by the International Computer Games Association (ICGA), the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS) and the Leiden Centre of Data Science (LCDS).


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