FrayerChess Blog

The World of Competitive Computer Chess

InfinityChess Responds to Criticism

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  InfinityChess General Manager:

  GM Arno Nickel

 

Dear Mr. Frayer:

Only now (Dec 8th) I saw your report about the InfinityChess Freestyle Tournament on your website (Nov 18th). Unfortunately your report is misleading in some points and drawing a more negative picture as would have been appropriate.

1) First, you should have mentioned that the application used for the tournament was a beta version, updated shortly before the tournament. All players knew about that, before the tournament got started. I as the TD, same as others, had no experience with this version. Of course, did I expect less problems with the software, otherwise I wouldn’t have agreed to perform this event.
All I could do after it turned out, that the software wasn’t ready for the tournament, was either canceling the tournament (that would have been the easiest choice for me) or trying to improvise to the benefit of the players and the server. I decided for the second option, and you should know that all players who stayed there till the end (14 of 16) proved very grateful for the way I did my job.

2) Taking into account the resulting difficulties, it was not possible and wouldn’t have been fair to decide on all conflicts as if we had a proper application and e.g. disconnected players (by fault of the server) losing their games, if these games could not be resumed automatically. Actually, in some cases we managed to find solutions and agreements for interrupted games, and also, if it turned out to be necessary to give the full point to one of the players, I was glad to see sensible insight from both of the players.

3) Regarding your interrupted game with Kevin Plant, you correctly describe that it was your decision to withdraw from the tournament, before a decision was taken. You did neither accept a) further tries to resume the game, nor b) getting the full point by approval of Kevin and me, nor the draw offer from Kevin’s side. You simply left the tournament without any attempt to solve the situation.In particular, I am very disappointed to read the following allegations:

4) “However, I did get the distinct impression the Arno Nickel was happy to see me go. His convenient lapse in understanding English as well as his not making a decision in a timely fashion convinced me of this.”

5) “Later, after I saw the tournaments final results I realized there were many irregularities in the way the points where awarded. Just to give one example The final tour results have (Yurisolo) playing me in the eighth round, he wins with the black peaces. lol Perhaps some one played for me the same way some one played for my second round opponent.”

The final table leaves no doubt about “forfeit” results which are quite normal in case of withdrawals, and the almost complete database, recovered in some hours of work (also provided by me) may also prove that we all just tried to do our best and be fair to everyone.

I hope, you will agree to publish this as my comments on your website.

Kind Regards

 A r n o N i c k e l

(General Manager)

www.infinitychess.com

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December 24, 2008 Posted by | Commentary | , , , | Leave a comment

To Infinity and Beyond

frayer-4

Commentary: by Kevin Frayer

Originally published December 9, 2008

I normally do not post personal correspondences, however Kevin Plant’s letter to me was so well received and exemplifies his good sportsmanship that I thought it appropriate. It also elaborates on the difficulties I encountered in InfinityChess last Freestyle tournament. Kevin Plant was my opponent in the forth round after which I withdrew from the tournament for conscientious reasons. Kevin is one of the engine room moderators for InfinityChess.

After the writing of this blog post but before I could publish it, I received an official response from Infinity Chess General Manager Arno Nickel to my first commentary regarding InfinityChess. He has ask me to place his response on my website and blog. I will be happy to do this and it will be posted in its entirety in a few days.

_____________________________________________________________

Hi Kevin:

My Name is Kevin Plant and I have just read your article on your Blog today 08/12/2008. I thought I would explain what happened in our Round 4 game from my side. After my move 23…Qf6 about 5 minutes went by and no 24th move came from your side which in its self means nothing as some replies by players take longer than this but after 6 mins went by I was getting a bit worried, so I thought I would check by logging on the server on my other computer as a guest to see whether you had played a move and to my horror you had!, but this did not show up on the board I was playing on, I spoke to Arno via private chat that my board was not showing my opponents last move and he said this was maybe a bug and advised me to log off and back on again and resume game. As you well know this did not work.

As you will see from the tournament results page on Infinitychess.com I did not take the full point after you decided you could no longer play on under these circumstances, It was entered as a draw as I felt that this was the only way I could continue the tournament without feeling guilty about gaining a point that I did not win and also hoping you would come back the next round after cooling down so to speak.

As for the remaining rounds where you were included but did not play, These were given as forfeit wins to your opponent (they were hoping you may return) to keep the pairing and colors correct during the tournament as was used for other player/s that did not complete the tournament.

Yes the tournament did not run as it should have, but as you maybe aware or not, this was and still is a beta site and there will be issues where things do not work as they should. We need players like yourself that have the experience and knowledge to help us out with these difficult early stages to make this an excellent Server to play Freestyle tournaments and day to day things like chatting and playing, whether these are with engines or human to human Chess games.

I do hope you have a change of heart and play in our Christmas Freestyle tournament starting this Friday 12th December. I can not of course guarantee that it will go smoothly but we have tested and it appears we have ironed out these bugs.

Your Chess friend
Kevin

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Kevin:

Thank you very much for your nice email regarding the InfinityChess Freestyle tournament the week of November 14, 2008. As mentioned in my blog commentary your conduced was exemplary and I would consider it a pleasure to play chess with you anytime.

I went into this tournament knowing that the server was still being beta tested and was more than willing to help work out the bugs. However many of the problems seemed to be the result of mistakes made by an inexperienced tournament director.

I was not aware that the TD had ask you to log off. Mr. Nickel did not advise me of that fact in the chat we exchanged while you were offline. I even told him, the server had noted you had not disconnected but had logged off. He knew or should have known that given the servers current limitations that the game could not be continued.

Please don’t take this wrong. There are many reasons that the game could have locked up for you, that do not include problems with the server. These include problems with your operating system, software launching at the wrong time, virus protection programs running, or internet connection trouble. I believe that responsibility for maintaining hardware, software, and internet connection is all part of being a well prepared computer chess player.

I came into the tournament as well prepared as my 20 years of internet chess experience allowed. I was using three computers, one for opening book, one for positional analyses (a borrowed xeon 8 way), and one for internet connection to the server. The better prepared player must be allowed to reap the rewards of his labor. In the engine chess world, all players lose a few games do to unforeseen occurrences.

There were several ways Mr. Nickel could have resolved the situation that accrued during our game. I would have agreed to an adjournment until the technical difficulties of restarting the game could have been worked out. It also may have been acceptable to me to restart the game from the beginning, with the same colors and time controls. The only option I was given was to manually try to reconstruct the game ignoring the time advantage I had gained and opening the possibility of disputed positions. (As you know, in an earlier round of this tournament an attempted at this kind of reconstruction of a game led to a dispute).

Arno Nickel did not ask me if I would accept a draw, (I would not have) and if he had awarded us both a full point it would have still been a draw, (with the caveat of disadvantaging the other players in the tournament). Also please understand, when I told Mr. Nickel that if the game reconstruction option was the only one, I would retire from the tournament. He told me he understood and cut off communications with me. In fact, he did not acknowledge the email I sent him two hours later officially withdrawing from the tournament and did not communicate with me at all for three weeks. (Then only because he had become aware of possible negative publicity being generated by my commentary).

The commentary about the InfinityChess Freestyle Tournament posted on my Blog and website reflected the dissatisfaction I felt in not receiving an equal opportunity to compete for the prize money being offered by the sponsors.

Thank you for asking me to reconsider participating in the Freestyle events on InfinityChess. All it would probably take is an email from Arno Nickel asking the same.

All the best:
Your chess friend:
Kevin Frayer:
Vincennes IN USA

December 22, 2008 Posted by | Commentary | , , , | Leave a comment

An Infinitely Bad Experince

frayer-3

Commentary:  by Kevin Frayer

Originally Published November 18, 2008

After sitting out of computer chess for a few weeks I attempted to play in Infinity Chess’s Freestyle Tournament last weekend. I can not tell everyone how excited I was that a new chess server had come online, providing engine players an untainted place to play. (To be honest, I had become disillusioned with the wild west show being put on by Chessbase over at Playchess.) I had great hopes that Infinity Chess would be better.

The tournament started Friday November 14, the server had a dedicated room for Freestyle chess. By the time the tour was ready to start there were over 40 players in the room. (Or so we thought) The tournament director Arno Nickel (ciron) informed us that due to problems with the software, all parings would be done by hand. Finally the centaur only tournament was started.

My game came online and the time was set at one minute blitz, a cry arose from the chat window. (The time is wrong, the time is wrong) I did not play and lost on time. This game was rated and I lost Elo points from my centaur rating that were never restored. After a short intermission the TD advised us that he could not restart the tour with the correct times and that we should all go over to the engine room for further instructions.

After moving over to the engine room I noticed something strange. Only 17-18 players moved over to the new room. (Hmm) As it turned out at lest 20 Accounts seemed not to be real. I supposed that they must have been phantom accounts being projected by the server to make it appear the tournament was well attended. I hoped it was for appearances only and not for a more nefarious reason.

Arno Nickel now informed us he could not run the tournament in the traditional way. He would now give us the pairings over chat and we would need to challenge the player we were paired with. The games would have to be unrated so the server would allow the players to choose the colors the TD assigned. At this point I started getting a funny feeling about this tour.

I got white the first round and challenged my opponent at 45-10 and started my game. It was not long before there was trouble in the chat window. In the game (Hoshad) was playing there was a disconnect. I am not sure whether it was Hoshad or his opponent, however when both players were back on line it was not possible to continue the game. According to the TD a glitch in the software prevented the continuation of the game. (only about 9 moves had been made) Mr. Nickel advised the two players he had the game in front of him and he would walk them through the moves. He ask that the players challenge a new game with the same colors and he would read them the moves to the point the game had been disrupted. This was done, however after the final position was reached, Hoshad disputed the position. Claming a Bishop was on the wrong square. An accommodation could not be reached and Hoshad forfeited the game.

I was soundly defeated in my first game by a player who was unknown to me, but all went well. The parings for the second round were given out and I had black. My opponent however did not seem to be online. I was ask by the TD to please wait, to see if he would return. He did not, the TD rather than awarding me the game by forfeit, (as was the case in many matches in this tour) ask if I would play an alternate opponent. Not wishing to be disruptive and not wanting to claim a point I felt I did not earn, I agreed.

My second round game began, I was playing black. Well into the middle game my opponent fell behind in material and time. Apparently he just quit playing and allowed 10 min. to run off his clock. I won on time. I don’t know about everyone else but I consider it to be rude to just stop playing when you get behind in a game.

In the third round I came up against Alberto Gueci (Spaghettichess) one of the strongest engine chess players in the world. I should have known better than to get into a Sicilian Poison Pawn as black with him. However as always, it was a pleasure just be at the table with a player of Alberto’s caliber.

The real problem for me occurred in my fourth round game. I was paired with Cumnor Chess Club. (Kevin D. Plant) At move 24 Mr. Plant logged off. (The GUI said Logged Off) Unlike several other times over the past two days when I had seen players lose internet connection the GUI had always said Player has lost connection.

(4) Frayer – CumnorChessClub [C92]
4R freestyle, 15.11.2008
[Frayer,Kevin]
512MB, Heretic 2.2.ctg, Xeon 8way 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0–0 8.c3 d6 9.h3 Bb7 10.d4 Re8 11.Nbd2 Bf8 12.a4 h6 13.Bc2 exd4 14.cxd4 Nb4 15.Bb1 c5 16.d5 Nd7 17.Ra3 f5 18.exf5 bxa4 19.Rxe8 Qxe8 20.Nh4 Bxd5 21.Rxa4 Ne5 22.Nf1 Qf7 23.Ra3 Qf6 24.Ne3 Line

The TD was immediately at my game, he had seen the same server notice of log off as I had. I was ask to wait for my opponent to come back on so the game could be continued. Within ten minutes Mr. Plant had indeed came back online. Under the supervision of the TD we tried several times to continue the game, but the server would not allow it.

At this point Mr. Nickel suggested that we start a new game at 35-10 time and he would walk us threw the moves to the point where the game was stopped. I said no. This looked to me as it was going much like the Hoshad game had ended up. The TD and I began discussing the problem in private chat. I explained to him I was reluctant to allow a reconstruction of the game because the possibility of a dispute arising over the game position. Also, I was several minutes ahead of my opponent in time on the clock when he left the game. Mr. Nickel then told me that he was having trouble understanding me because of the language barrier. I could see where this was going so I ask to be allowed to resign the game and the point be given to my opponent. Mr. Nickel said he would not allow this, so I withdrew from the Tournament.

This is the email I sent the tournament director before the start of the fifth round.

Mr. Nickel:
Please forgive me for retiring from your Freestyle Tournament today.
I believe you did everything possible to accommodate the situation that occurred. I no longer have an appetite for conflict in chess and did not wish to disrupt play for others.
I am also sorry, I was not able to articulate in chat what the problem was for me. I suppose I did not want to criticize you and felt I was being put in a position to have to claim a point I did not earn.
As you said “disconnects happen“. When they do the server and GUI should allow for continuing the game. If the game can not be continued or restarted with the exact time and board position, then the player who disconnected should be deemed the loser. This may seem harsh, however if disconnects are allowed and reconstruction of games disputed you will multiply your problems as a tour director. It will also be true that some disconnects will be intentional. When a player makes a blunder or a mouse slip he may just wish to disconnect and take his chances in disputing the board position.
I realize that this was just a test run for your Freestyle Tournaments and I am sure you will get the bugs worked out of the GUI. A big thanks to you and all of your team for providing a great new place to play chess.

Respectfully:

Kevin Frayer:
Vincennes IN USA

Now let me make this very clear, my opponent in this game Cumnor Chess Club (Kevin D. Plant) did nothing wrong and in fact acted very honorably. He told me that he saw my point and ask that the game be given to me.

However, I did get the distinct impression the Arno Nickel was happy to see me go. His convenient lapse in understanding English as well as his not making a decision in a timely fashion convinced me of this. Later, after I saw the tournaments final results I realized there were many irregularities in the way the points where awarded. Just to give one example The final tour results have (Yurisolo) playing me in the eighth round, he wins with the black peaces. lol Perhaps some one played for me the same way some one played for my second round opponent.

I spent two weeks preparing for this tournament and had high hopes that Infinity Chess would be a good place to play. I can honestly say that my overall experience was extremely negative. This weekends Freestyle tournament was plagued by server problems, bad decisions from the tournament director and a high probability of collusion between players using secret accounts. I will not be participating in any activities on the Infinity Chess server as long as these problems continue.

December 21, 2008 Posted by | Commentary | , , , | Leave a comment