CSc 180 -- Fall 2009
Intelligent Systems

2009 Tournament Results - "Catnap"

The 8th Annual CSc-180 Two-Player Strategy Board Game Programming Contest
took place the first week in November.  It featured 20 programs battling
it out in the chess-like "CATNAP", in which players try to capture their
opponent's king on a 5x7 board.  The two-day competition included programs
written in Java, C, C++, C#, and even Ruby.

For the first time, this year's contest finished in a tie for first,
between Levi Stanley's "Hairball" and Josh Christanelli's "0NYX".
Both programs utilize minimax and alpha-beta pruning with sophisticated
move ordering techniques and other optimizations -- "Hairball" uses
bitboards for fast move generation, whereas "0NYX" uses a variety of
cross-referencing tables.  Both search over 10 plies deep, and both were
clearly stronger than the other entrants before squaring off to a 1-1
draw in the final round.  It could be argued that "Hairball" ended
with a slight edge, having not lost a single game prior to meeting
"0NYX", whereas the latter did lose one game in a preliminary round
(to Willow Schlanger's "Fastnap2").  My own program, "Chairman Meow",
after defeating "Fastnap2" and top-seeded "Namffuh" (which also used
bitmaps for move generation), found itself overwhelmed by the two
co-winners, losing to both 0-2 in succession.  It was clearly a
two-horse race this year.

There were plenty of exciting developments in the rest of the field.
Three strong entries, "CopyCat" (Hilder), "BattleCat" (Dolison),
and "Polaris" (Chan) all managed to defeat each other 2-0.  And
since authors were allowed to fix bugs between days of competition,
some programs returned the second day much stronger than they were
the first day (although sometimes vice versa!).  In particular,
"Jungle Cat" (Amaya) avenged several earlier defeats on Day 2,
garnering the coveted title of "Grand Hamster" with an impressive
6-0 victory in consolation round 3.

Here are the complete results, showing prelims, quarters, semis,
and finals, as well as consolation rounds:

    Program        Author         F   S   Q   P    cons rds    total
 1. Hairball      (Stanley)      5-1 4-0 4-0 6-0               19-1
    0NYX          (Christanelli) 5-1 4-0 5-1 6-0               20-2
 3. Chairman Meow (Gordon)       2-4 2-2 6-0 ---               10-6
 4. Fastnap2      (Schlanger)    0-6 1-3 5-1 6-0               12-10
    Namffuh       (Huffman)          1-3 4-2 4-0                9-5
 6. Copy Cat      (Hilder)           0-4 2-2 3-3                5-9
 7. Battle Cat    (Dolison)              0-4 4-2      4-0       8-6
 8. Polaris       (Chan)                 2-4 6-0      1-3       9-7
 9. Crusher       (Ebert)                2-4 3-3      1-3       6-10
10. Bastet        (Benningfield)         0-6 2-4                2-10
11. King Charles  (Johnson)              0-6 2-2                2-8
12. Arancis       (Cacciatore)               2-4  3-1 2-0       7-5
13. Adversary     (Corbin)                   ---  4-0 1-1       5-1
    Nappy Time    (Nalbandian)               2-4  4-0 1-1       7-5
15. Jungle Cat    (Amaya)                    2-4  2-2     6-0  10-6
16. OB1 Catnobi   (O'Brian)                  1-5  2-2     2-2   5-9
    CNG           (Nizar)                    2-4  1-3     2-2   5-9
    ClickIt       (Le)                       2-4  2-2     2-2   6-8
19. King Joe      (Knapp)                    1-5  0-4     0-2   1-11
20. High Warmage Zarcolieus (Williams)       0-6  0-4     0-2   0-12

Arguably the most-watched program was Tony Le's "ClickIt", because
of its beautiful graphical user interface... click on a piece, and
it lights up all of the legal destination squares.  And without
question the most memorable NAME among the competing programs
had to be was James Williams' entry "High Warmage Zarcolieus",
although it had a rather rough time in the competition.

Former champion Jeb Crouson (his program "Headstrong" was the
2003 victor) dropped by, along with last year's Grand Hamster
recipient Dwayne Alexander (author of "The Tick") and 2008 finalist
Morgan Darke (author of "Napolean").  Dwayne volunteered to fill in
the crosstables as matches finished, which greatly helped the event
to move along smoothly.  Thanks also to faculty members Kwai-Ting Lan,
Dick Smith, and Du Zhang for stopping in and showing their support.
Thanks also to ACM for publicizing the event - we had a steady stream
of curious spectators throughout the two days.

The game turned out to be a lively, tactical one.  The top 8 or 10
programs all regularly defeat their authors, but as of yet the game
of Catnap remains - unsolved.

2008 results