The 2006 Arimaa Challenge

Karl Juhnke, Greg Magne, Paul Mertens vs bot_Bomb
Played February 5th to 25th, 2006

Challenge Games
Humans win 3-0, 3-0, 2-1

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 the top human Arimaa players in an official Arimaa challenge match before the year 2020. The official challenge match will be between the current best program and three selected human players.

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. 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 2006 World Computer Championship will have the right to play in the Arimaa challenge match.

Selection of the human players: Omar and Aamir Syed will choose three human players that will play in the challenge match against the best program. The players will be chosen from among the top rated Arimaa players. The player's performance against the four best programs from last year's computer championship will be taken into consideration. A first and second backup player will also be chosen so that if any of the main players is not able to play any of the games, the backup players can substitute. The name of the human players and backup players will be submitted to the match director 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 9 games using the 2/2/100/10/8 time control. Each of the three players will play a three game series against the program. The program must demonstrate that it can win at least two of the three games against each of the human players to win the challenge. The program can select which color to play in the first game and the remaining games will be played with alternating color. All games are played according to the Arimaa Match Rules. Games may not end in a draw. Draw will be broken as defined in the Arimaa Match Rules. 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 match director. The director may send a representative to be present with the human player during the games. The director 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 players 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 2006. The match will begin in early February. No more than one game will be played per day by any one player. The three players will alternate so that one player has not played two or more games than another. The program team must notify the tournament director what color they wish to play in the first game before February 1st. The selected players must also submit their schedule to the tournament director before February 1st. The exact schedule specifying the dates times and the player for each game will be determined and posted before February 5th.

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 match director: The role of the match director 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 director will review the logs produced during the game and decide if the game should be replayed. The director's decision shall be considered final and binding by all parties.

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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