The 2005 Arimaa Challenge

Frank Heinemann vs bot_Bomb
Played February 7th to 18th, 2005

Challenge Games
Humans win 7-1

Press Release

ICGA Announcement

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The challenge: A prize of $10,000 USD will be awarded to the first person, company or organization that develops a program that can defeat a chosen human Arimaa player in an official Arimaa challenge match before the year 2020. The official challenge match will be between the current best program and a top ten rated human player.

Intent of the challenge: The main intent of the Arimaa challenge is to promote research in AI, which can help to advance the field and potentially have applications in other areas. Some areas of AI that would be involved depending on the approach taken include pattern recognition, machine learning, neural networks, evolutionary algorithms, and expert systems. It is hoped that in the processes of achieving the Arimaa challenge some new techniques are developed in one or more of these areas that can also be applied to other problems. The Arimaa challenge is designed to be met if significant progress is made in software and not from the advances in hardware, which are almost guaranteed. As such the challenge will define the hardware and OS to be used and participants need only to develop the software.

Hardware and OS: The hardware and OS that will be used in the Arimaa challenge will be specified shortly before the selection process of the best program begins. The hardware will typically be a standard general purpose computer that can be purchased within $1000 USD (not including tax, shipping and handling :-). The OS used for the Arimaa challenge will be the most current version of the Linux OS.

Selection of the best program: The program which wins the 2005 World Computer Championship will have the right to play in the Challenge match.

Selection of the human player: Omar and Aamir Syed will choose the human player that will play in the challenge match against the best program. The player will be chosen from among the top ten rated Arimaa players. A first and second backup player will also be chosen so that if the main player is not able to play any of the games, the backup players can substitute. The name of the human player and backup players will be submitted to the ICGA by midnight January 4th GMT (same as the deadline for submitting the programs for the computer championship). The names of these players will be announced publicly after the computer championship tournament is completed at the end of January.

The challenge match: The Arimaa challenge match will consist of 8 games using the 2/2/100/10/8 time control. All 8 games will be played. Only one game will be played per day on regular working days (Mon-Fri). The player who wins the most games will win the match. In case of a tie the fewest number of moves per game averaged for all wins and draws will determine the winner. If the match still results in a tie the challenge prize will not be awarded. The best program must win the match in order to receive the prize. The games will be played over the Internet in the Arimaa gameroom and will be viewable by the public while they are in progress. The best program will be running on the same computer system as that used in the computer championship games. It will be run under the control of the ICGA. The ICGA may send a representative to be present with the human player during the games. The ICGA may also use a webcam to monitor the human player during the games. A representative from the best program may also be present with the human player. The human player may use an aid such as a physical game board or a computer program so that pieces can be moved to assist in planning a move. No aid may be used which suggests a move or provides any information about the move aside from the position score defined in the Arimaa match rules. The human player must be isolated from discussions of the game while the game is in session. Between games the human player may study the past games. The best program may not be manually altered during or between the challenge games. Also it cannot be manually altered between the computer championship games and the start of the challenge match. If requested the program can be allowed to run in between the games so that it can study the past games and modify itself as long as this is an automated function.

The challenge schedule: The Arimaa challenge will be conducted in February 2005. On the first Monday of February the Arimaa challenge match will begin. One game will be played per day on Mon, Tues, Thurs and Fri for two consecutive weeks.

Advancing the state of the art: As mentioned earlier the intent of the Arimaa challenge is to help advance research in areas of AI. Thus, it is recommended that the participants (especially those with programs in the computer tournament) submit articles to the ICGA technical journal describing their research and results. If a program wins the Arimaa challenge, it must be described in a paper submitted to the ICGA technical journal after winning the challenge in order to receive any prize.

Role of the ICGA: The role of the ICGA will be to oversee that the Arimaa challenge match are being done according to the stated rules and to serve as the arbitrator in case of disputes. Should a dispute arise about the outcome of a particular game, the ICGA will review the logs produced during the game and decide if the game should be replayed. The ICGA's decision shall be considered final and binding by all parties. The ICGA is not financially responsible or liable under any circumstances that may arise.

Notes: Omar and Aamir Syed reserve the rights to modify the challenge details in the future to resolve any logistical problems that may arise.

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