The Shogi tournament of the 15th Computer Olympiad

29 Sept. 2010 - 2 Oct. 2010, Kanazawa, Japan

The Shogi tournament of the 15th Computer Olympiad was held in Kanazawa, Japan, from September 29 to October 2, with the following 9 programs.

Program Hardware Country
Bonanza Xeon X5680 x 2 (12 cores) Japan
Gekisashi Xeon X5590 x 2 (8 cores) Japan
GPS Shogi Xeon X5570, X5480, Opteron 2376 etc. (72 cores) Japan
Shokidoki Core 2 Duo E6600 (using 1 core) The Netherlands
Shueso Core i7 980X (6 cores) Japan
STR Core 2 Duo E7200 Japan
TACOS Core i7 720 (4 cores) Japan
Yamada Shogi Core i7 920 Japan
Kinoa Shogi Core 2 Quad Q9650 (using 1 core) Japan

Bonanza, Gekisashi, GPS Shogi, and Shueso are among the 8 finalists in the last World Computer Shogi Championship (WCSC), the biggest and the most prestigious computer Shogi tournament held every spring in Japan. TACOS is also a strong program -- it hit the headlines in 2005 after nearly defeating a Shogi grandmaster (Takanori Hashimoto 7-dan) in an exhibition match. Yamada Shogi and Kinoa Shogi have not yet advanced to the final in the WCSC, but are both regular contestants in the semi-final round. STR is a unique program in that it does not perform a search at all(!). Instead, it invokes a support vector machine classifier with a polynomial kernel to choose the best move. Shokidoki is the only participant from Europe in this tournament. The program was created from a strong Chinese chess program. It has some weaknesses in the opening but is quite accurate at tactical positions probably due to its efficient chess-based search algorithms.

The sudden-death time control was used for all games -- a program was given 55 minutes to play in each game. This amount of time is roughly twice that of the WCSC, so it was expected that games of better quality would be produced. The games were basically played using physical Shogi boards and pieces (see the photos below), but some of them were played on the wdoor server.

Some of the games were broadcast on ustream with commentaries given by Shogi grandmasters (Nobuyuki Ouchi 9-dan and Hiroyuki Iida 6-dan). Click here to see the recorded movies.

Here are some tournament highlights:

Bonanza vs GPS Shogi

(Click the arrows above to replay the game)

This was really a close game. GPS Shogi cornered Bonanza's king, but at that very moment there was actually an extremely long sequence of winning moves with Bonanza. However, Bonanza failed to find it and lost a very important game.

Bonanza vs Shueso

Again, Bonanza was so close to winning the game, but it was unaware of the danger of allowing the opponent's king to escape into the middle of the board. Shueso never misses such a chance.

Gekisashi vs GPS Shogi

At this point, Gekisashi and GPS Shogi were the tournament leaders with streaks of wins. GPS Shogi didn't like Gekisashi to establish a positional advantage, so it made an aggressive move -- dropping a bishop in Gekisashi's area. Gekisashi was forced into a dangerous position, but at the same time was able to establish material advantages. Gekisashi launched a counterattack by dropping a silver general near GPS Shogi's king, and the responding move from GPS Shogi turned out to be the one which determined the outcome of the game.

Here is the final tournament result. Click here to download the game records of the tournament.

Bon Gek GPS Sho Shu STR TAC Yam Kin
Bonanza \ L L W L W W W W
Gekisashi W \ W W W W W W W
GPS Shogi W L \ W L W W W W
Shokidoki L L L \ L W L L W
Shueso W L W W \ W W W W
Yamada Shogi L L L W L W L \ L
Kinoa Shogi L L L L L W L W \

Here are the top five programs.

  First prize: Gekisashi (8 wins, 0 loss)
  Second prize: Shueso (7 wins, 1 loss)
  Third prize: GPS Shogi (6 wins, 2 losses)
  Fourth prize: Bonanza (5 wins, 3 losses)
  Fifth prize: TACOS (4 wins, 4 losses)

This report was written on 4 Oct. 2010 by Yoshimasa Tsuruoka.