Yet another "Man vs. Machine" battle is raging between England's #1 player GM Michael Adams and the silicon powerhouse, Hydra. The Hydra project was founded by Ali Nasir Mohammed, a Pakistani computer engineer based in Abu Dhabi. Ali Nasir's company became interested in the prospects of computer chess while installing computer clusters for clients. The computer can be employed for DNA and finger-print matching, code breaking, space travel calculations, complex systems simulations and of course… chess. Hydra crushed Shredder (World Computer Champion) 5˝-2˝ at the Abu Dhabi Chess Festival.
The powerhouse Hydra computer has 16 Xeon processors running at 3.06 GHz (or 3 billion cycles per second) and data is passed between these processors with the ultra-fast fiber optic cables at the clip of 100 billion calculations per second. All this may sound overwhelming, but computers still have a ways to go before they are able to make "intuitive" decisions… the final frontier for complete chess dominance. Rustam Kasimdzhanov proved the intuition is still a computer's weakness when he uncorked a speculative piece sacrifice against Fritz Accoona. He developed a crushing attack; however, Fritz found a brilliant defense and snatched a draw from the throes of defeat.
Hydra will face the calm and collected Michael Adams, a Grandmaster at 17, known for his very precise and efficient play. He seems to place the pieces in the right places without taking undue risks, but is brutal on the attack. His style is not necessarily "anti-computer," but Hydra has shown its vulnerability in previous matches against several strong players. Nevertheless, Grandmasters have been taking a beating lately from strong programs and it appears to be a moral victory when a human can hold a draw these days. Have Grandmasters yielded supremacy to computers? Stay tuned.
HydraChess.com (official website)
ChessBase.com, "Adams vs Hydra in London," 2 May 2005.
ChessBase.com, "All about the Hydra Project," 22 August 2004.
The Chess Drum, "GM Garry Kasparov vs. X3D Fritz," November 2004.