Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Rybka Officially Banned

As I've reported earlier on the ongoing saga regarding Rybka as a legitimate chess engine, the International Computer Games Association (ICGA) has just officially disqualified and banned Rybka and its programmer Vasik Rajlich from previous and future World Computer Chess Championships.

In addition, the ICGA is also asking that it returns the trophies+prize money of the World Computer Chess Championships in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.

More details here:

Just wow.


  1. Well for one it doesn't bother me. If he cheated he cheated. What I don't like is them giving the championships to the runner ups. They should just leave it void for those years.

    I wouldn't even want the championship if I was one of the runner ups.

  2. Hi Tommyg,

    One of the problems with championships is that if the winner cheated, he/she is stripped of the title and given to the runner-up.

    What this means is that the runner-up was denied a legitimate champion's medal. This is common in most sports eg. Olympic sports. Remember how Ben Johnson won the 100m in Seoul Olympics but was later found guilty of doping? He was stripped of the Olympic gold medal which was in turn given to the runner-up Carl Lewis.

    True, the shine is taken off for the runner-up. But there is a serious repercussion involved. This verdict will deliver a damning blow to the commercial success of Rybka (being a champion) and it amounts to potential millions of dollars being lost in revenue.

    cheers and thanks for your comments :)

  3. Hey Tanc,

    In America a recent college football team was just stripped of their title for an ineligible player and the organizing body decided to keep the title vacant.

    I like that idea!

    Maybe that wouldn't work for the olympics.

    Either way it is going to be interesting to see what happens to Rybka and whether Chessbase is going to be angry about it.

  4. I've never even used Rybka.

    A lot of these programs have been around forever - Crafty, Shredder (didn't this one start out as King, then become Rebel?), HiArcs. These are the ones I would want to use.

    I don't like the idea of Junior just because that name is associated with IBM, and I have an amazingly dim view of the conditions which Kasparov accepted in order to play the match against Deep Blue.

    Fruit and Houdini sound interesting. Rybka seemed plagued by controversy since I first heard about it.

  5. Hey Linux Guy,

    Shredder is my favorite. (it has never had another name)

    The engine comes with a great interface and internet access to tablebases and a great online opening book so you never have to buy another game dump monograph for study. :)

    Hiarcs and Junior are also cool.

  6. Hi Tommyg, Hiarcs is incredibly cool, one of my friends has it. The authors of Hiarcs also constantly revise their books every 3 months - making the engine better and better at no extra charge! If I got the dough, I would definitely splash out $$$ for it.

    Hi LinuxGuy, I've used the free version of Rybka available from their website but I never foresaw any need for it actually - not since I've got Stockfish! :D

  7. Another great free engine is Critter:

    It is a tactical monster and has been holding it's own against Houdini!

  8. Thanks Tommyg! A tactical monster... sounds really interesting!

  9. Hi Tanc, this is an interesting article, a champion stripped from it's 4 consecutive titles, just wow!
    Also, you have a great blog. Would you be interested in a link exchange? Let me know to send you info on my site ^^


  10. A while ago, i was using Houdini in the engineroom of They did force me to leave the engine-room because Houdine "would be a clome"...
    playchess is chessbase and they sell Rybka. Why should anybody buy this "clone" if there is a program wich is better and estimatingly less "cloned"?

  11. Hi AoxomoxoA wondering,

    Because it's all about marketing. Chessbase is notoriously absent in all the news so far about Rybka.

    Chessvibes recently published an interview with Rajilch. I sort of lost interest after I read the first couple of paragraphs.

    Some people just have no scruples.

  12. Hi Catherine Meyers,

    Thank you for your kind comments. If you have any website that is chess related, do send it to me and I'll put it up.


  13. I listened to most of that interview. I think the part that someone would have to ask him is how much, if any, of the "chess" algorithms did he borrow.

    As he points out, a lot of what a program is is code-structure. Sort of like an army. As much as 90% of an army is support and infrastructure and the dedicated combat infantry is maybe as low as 10%. So, it's mostly asking him about that 10%, IMHO.

    There has to be a huge segment of buyers, of course, that could care less about all of this and they just want the most powerful program that their money can buy. I find programs to be interesting, but I am not that paranoid about needing the strongest program. I think having the strongest DB would be more important that having the strongest engine by a huge margin.

    For me, there is nothing worse than an engine that thinks it is so strong that it can create theory. People are best at creating theory, IMHO.

  14. I think what gets lost in all of this is the unique ability of humans to _conceptualize_. Computers can't conceptualize, or at least that is not the trend with chess engines. Chess engines basically analyze the most idiotic moves and ideas as thoroughly as possible. A chess engine is basically a retarded moron on mental-steroids, if you will, IMHO.

  15. The sad reality of today, IMHO, is that once your source code is available on the internet, it's almost like all those bittorrent file-sharing of musics that a lot of people do, or of DVD movies. It's hard to stop people from doing it who are going to do it.

    Just recently I wrote a program for someone and thought I would get to maintain it. No, the person just found a dirt,dirt-cheaper person to work on (add modifications to) my program! I should have never given him the source code, apparently. Welcome to 2011, I guess. In business, a lot of people just care about money, even if they betray their own interests by it.

  16. Hi LinuxGuy,

    I'm very sorry to hear of your bad experience. Indeed, these days, it seems that people only seem to care about their own bottom line and some people have no qualms about treating people like dog-poo just to get ahead.

    You are right in that databases are the goldmine these days. Fresh ideas comes from the human brain, not the computer brain. The computer brain can only see so far, but it does not have the ability to conceptualise strategy or form long-term plans.

    Take good care of yourself.

    cheers and peace