The Bitmap of Computer Olympiad 2006 11th Computer Olympiad took place in Turin (Italy). The location was the Oval Lingotto, were the Speed Skating events happened at the recent Winter Olympic Games but the Backgammon event was considerably hotter than that. After a hiatus of two years the same competitors as in 2002 and 2003 found their way to Italy:
GNU-Backgammon (a collaborational effort of programmers from all over the world, this time operated by Massimiliano Maini) and naturally BGBlitz.

Best-of-five 15 point matches were agreed upon. Time limits were not regarded as necessary and the atmosphere between the competitors was friendly and relaxed as usual.

Match 1 was largely determined by the dice. After two fast wins of GnuBG, BGBlitz won every following game. With the exception of game three they were unspectacular games.

In the second match BGBlitz quickly built a lead of 6-1. The following games had several strong turnarounds and BGBlitz went on to a 12-8 lead. In the next three games the dice didn’t leave BGBlitz many chances, so GnuBG won 16-12 and equalized.

BGBlitz had crashed in the first moves of the first match and wondering about some peculiar moves I found out, that due to the crash, BGBlitz played with a wrong configuration and the old AI! This was immediately fixed so BGBlitz played only match 3 and 4 with the AI intended for this event. Later analysis has shown, that the new AI would have omitted some weaker plays in match 2, but it is impossible to say, whether this would have had an influence on the final outcome.

Game 2 in match 3 proved to be an exciting game with excellent game play on both sides. Game 11 was crucial. BGBlitz doubled a little early, but the game went well until move 13 where BGBlitz's position was ruined by an unlucky roll. In game 13 BGBlitz doubled a little early again. The game went well for BGBlitz for some time, but GnuBG was able to save itself in a favourable running game. Very interesting are the moves 11 to 14 where BGBlitz left a blot intentionally to increase the amount of contact. It looks strange at move 14, where BGBlitz could have easily saved the checker, but BGBlitz, GnuBG and Snowie agree on 8-5 and on move 14 GnuBG denied to hit which suggests that BGBlitz’s decision to stay was correct.

Photo of Board at match 3 game 13 move 14
BGBlitz to play 2-1. Astonishingly 8-5 is the best move and not the "natural" 15-13, 8-7.

Finally the checker got hit on move 15. There was to be no return hit for BGBlitz and GnuBG won the third match 15-8 and led 2-1. BGBlitz hadn’t won a point in the last 6 games.

Match 4 started with a lucky 4 point win by BGBlitz. BGBlitz led 9-3 and 13-9 but similar to match 2 and 3 GnuBG did make up the leeway and although BGBlitz had several chances to equalize the match, it didn’t get the right dice and GnuBG won the fourth match and the whole event. 

Congratulations to an excellent program and a worthy winner.

The whole match at a glance:
BGBlitz 2.0.1vs.GNU-Backgammon 0.15

Here are some photographs from Turin 2006:
Photo of Oval Lingotto Max and me
The Oval Lingotto, where all the action took place. Max and me at "work"
Atmosphere in Turin Award ceremony in Turin
The atmosphere in Turin Max and me after the competition with Prof. v.d. Herik
Mole Antonelliana arcades in turin
The Mole Antonelliana, the landmark of Turin 30 km of arcades, another landmark. And chocolate, the coffee houses, the ice cream.......
picture of an ancient bridge at night picture of The kings palace
Nightly impression of a bride The kings palace
You can download the matches as mat files or view them online:
match 1 , match 2 , match 3 , match 4 .