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Chess@ISIT 2024

During the last two decades, and especially in the past five years, there has been a near-explosive increase in the general interest and the degree of research activity in AI and in the game of chess. In view of the many fascinating developments in both – and also in view of Shannon’s pioneering early work in both – we are going to host a 5 hour-long event on chess and AI at ISIT 2024! This will take place on

Wednesday July 10, 13:00 - 18:00.

Specifically, two half hour-long talks will be given first, followed by a simultaneous exhibition game. The first will be a “science talk”, given by Jonathan Rosenthal, a machine learning expert, about state-of-the-art chess algorithms and engines. The second will be a “chess talk”, given by Vasilios Kotronias, a chess Grandmaster, about how computers have influenced the game of chess itself.



Talk 1. “The machine learning tools and ideas behind the top chess engines” (Jonathan Rosenthal):  [25-minute talk+5 minutes for questions.]

Talk 2. “How chess engines have transformed the game of chess” (Vasilios Kotronias): [25-minute talk+5 minutes for questions.] 



Following the talks, GM Kotronias will play a simultaneous exhibition game against 30 conference participants. In such simul exhibitions, the GM goes around the room making moves successively on each board. Each player is expected to have played their move by the time the GM returns to their board. Each player has the right to "pass" once during the game, meaning that the GM will make one more round to allow the player to think (usually at a critical point of the game). Traditionally, no clocks are used. The duration of this segment is expected to be 2-2.5 hours.



Photo of Jonathan RosenthalJonathan Rosenthal is a dedicated fifth-year PhD student at Purdue University (USA), focusing on Machine Learning with an emphasis on Data-Free Model Extraction. He earned his Master's degree in Computer Science from ETH Zurich (Switzerland). During his formative years, Jonathan attained the title of Swiss Chess Champion in the U14 category and represented Switzerland at various international youth events. His interest in Machine Learning developed later, during a research internship. The convergence of his academic interests and personal enthusiasm for chess is reflected in his work in computer chess. Jonathan's chess engine, Winter, was the first chess engine combining neural networks and Alpha-Beta search to achieve a rating of 3000+. Since 2018, Winter has been a regular contestant in the prestigious computer chess competition TCEC.



Photo of Vasilios KotroniasVasilios Kotronias was born in 1964 in Athens. He learned to play chess at the age of 9 and started participating in youth championships soon after that. That was the beginning of a long career, during which he became a 13-time Greek Champion (including 3 open championships and 10 closed ones), the first Greek GM, and a prolific writer on the game. He represented both Greece and Cyprus in numerous Olympiads and European Championships, earning silver and bronze individual medals. He was several times in the top 100 FIDE list, with a peak rating of 2628. His highest position in the world rankings was 43.


Chess@ISIT history

A simultaneous exhibition chess game has been part of ISIT before! In 1997, a German Grandmaster (Germany’s #2 at the time) gave a simultaneous exhibition at ISIT in Ulm. He lost several games and said that it was one of the toughest simul crowds, among amateur players, that he had ever faced. The event was very successful and generated a lot of enthusiasm among the ISIT crowd.


Contact Information

Questions regarding the chess event may be directed to the reflector [email protected] .



Lampros Gavalakis and Ioannis Kontoyiannis