“Cuban” Chess Program Disqualified from World Computer Championships

by David Levy – ICGA President

One of the entries received for this year’s World Computer Chess Championship events in Kanazawa was a program named Squarknll, entered by Johnadry Gonzalez Espin of Habana, Cuba.

In July the ICGA received an email from a past contestant at the championship, Snr Pedro Castro Elgarresta, asserting that the Squarknll program is a clone/derivative of the program Robbolito 0.85g3 with only 3 values changed in the entire code. Pedro Castro Elgarresta provided, as evidence, a summary of some emails he received from Espin earlier this year, after Espin asked for help in getting “his” program in shape for tournament play.

On behalf of the ICGA I investigated this most serious allegation and my suspicions were soon aroused even more. Espin was making claims that “his” program had been developed as part of some sort of collaboration with Intel. I repeatedly asked him for the contact details of someone at Intel who would be able to verify what he was telling me, but instead of providing such details he sent me what he claimed was the text of an email from Intel to Elgarresta. You will find the start of that email below, with the “from” address given as software@intel.com When I clicked on that return address I was shocked to find that it changed into Espin’s own email address!!

Espin’s English is far from perfect and my Spanish is much worse than that, so in order to be absolutely certain that we were understanding each other I had a letter to Espin translated into Spanish. Here is the English text of my letter.

July 27th 2010

Dear Johandry Gonzalez Espin,

The ICGA has had this letter professionally translated into Spanish in order to be absolutely sure that you understand what we are asking.

You may reply in Spanish and we will have your reply translated into English. In this way we can be sure that we understand your reply.

As you know there has been an accusation, stated by Snr Pedro Castro Elgarresta, that the chess playing program Squarknll, which you have entered into the 2010 World Computer Chess Championship in Kanazawa, Japan, is a clone or derivative of the program Robbolito.

For the past several days I have been attempting, in my role as President of the ICGA, to investigate this matter, and I have been asking you some questions and for some information in order to give you an opportunity to disprove the accusation. You have consistently denied the accusation and have told me that your program is part of some sort of arrangement between your company Spinsecurity and Intel Corporation. I still do not understand this explanation.

I am now going to ask you for some very simple answers to simple questions:

[1] Snr Pedro Castro Elgarresta says that he has retained about 400 emails you have sent him about the program in question. He has sent me 8 of these emails which I am forwarding to you as part of this letter.

My question is simple. Do you agree that you sent him these 8 emails – yes or no?

I do not want or need a long answer, just a simple “yes” or “no” is what I need.

[2] Please explain clearly and in a simple way exactly how Intel is involved in this chess programming project.

[3] I have asked you repeatedly for the name, direct email address and telephone number of a person in the Intel Corporation with whom you have been dealing in relation to this program, so that I may contact that person myself and verify what you are saying about Intel’s involvement in the program Squarknll. Up to now you have not provided me with this simple information. If you do not provide this information and thereby prevent me from verifying what you are saying about Intel, I will assume that what you say about Intel is not true. So please, for the last time, I ask you to provide this information. I guarantee that the ICGA will not use the information for any other purpose, apart from attempting to verify what you say about Intel. And the ICGA will not divulge the information to any third party.

[4] During the course of your responses to my various emails you sent me an email which claims to be from Intel to Snr Pedro Castro Elgarresta. The beginning and end of this email are as follows:

“Legal matter (Code SquarknII)

Thursday, July 22, 2010 9:41 PM

From: “Intel Corporation” <software@intel.com>

Estimated Mr. Pedro Castro Elgarrresta.

Recently You have Done Erroneous declarations on a code of Programming Called SquarknII belonging to Mr Johandry Gonzalez Espín, The Above mentioned Code is Belonging to Intel Corporation Software.”

. . .

And the email ends:

“Attentivly; Corporation Intel Software Partner.

Copyright © 2010 Intel Corporation. Reservados todos los derechos. Intel y el logotipo de Intel son marcas comerciales registradas de Intel Corporation o sus subsidiarias en los Estados Unidos y en otros países.

Intel Corporation Cancelar suscripción/Privacidad, 2111 NE 25th Avenue,

Hillsboro, Oregon 97124 USA”

My question here is simple: Why is it that when I click on the return address software@intel.com it changes to your own personal email address: johandry@spinsecurity.com ?

[5] Until this matter is resolved in a manner that is satisfactory to the ICGA, your participation in Kanazawa is not confirmed. As soon as I am able to verify what you are saying about Intel’s involvement in the Squarknll program the ICGA will review the matter.

Kindly note that if I do not receive a satisfactory response to this email by August 17th 2010, the ICGA will have no alternative but to reject your participation in Kanazawa.

Yours sincerely,

David Levy

[President – ICGA]

I sent the Spanish translation of the letter to Espin, together with eight emails (in Spanish) that Elgarresta had sent me – emails he had received from Espin. (Those eight emails are reproduced at the end of this publication for the benefit of those readers who understand Spanish.)

Elgarresta had also kindly sent me the following summary of those eight emails:

1. In the first e-mail dated mid-February this year, we can see how Johandry acknowledges that he has no idea how to start a chess engine, asks me if I can explain step by step how to do it.

2. In the month of March, he sent me a source code to compile, I have suspicions that it is a clone, but I said nothing, maybe they’re testing.

3. June, He asks me if I can compile anothe source code, the engine does not work with Fritz.

4. Shipping SquarknII source code. The source code is the same that in March.

You can quickly check that the code is Robbolito 0.85g3 with only 3 values changed, Johandry has simply change the license and put your name. In the process make a mistake in the UCI protocol and puts “id Author” instead of “id author”, that’s their problem and so the program is not loaded on Fritz. Funny Johandry and his team of programmers do not get to know where the problem is, I’m not a specialist in the UCI protocol, my engine is winboard protocol and yet I give quickly with the problem. They are able to make an engine that can beat Rybka3 but not able with this problem.

5. A few days after compiling the program, Johandry asks me to find tournaments where we can play with the engine.

6. Johandry in this message asking me to play the tournament with the executable that I created a few days ago.

7. The entire process to create an engine that can beat Rybka3 was done in 3-4 months. Johandry makes the excuse that they have worked more than 2000 people from Intel in the project. I say, Intel’s 2000 people working on the project and I am the person who meets the concerns of Johandry and who will compile and solve problems.

8. After seeing a forum that I demand SquarknII as a clone, Johandry send me an e-mail, the acknowledges that he has sent me is Robbolito.

Espin replied to my letter with a collection of evasive answers, denying (inter alia) that he had sent the 8 emails presented below to Elgarresta. The next day he followed this letter with an email claiming to have received, that very same day, another missive from Intel.

As a result of Espin’s failure to respond adequately to the allegations, and because of his behaviour and claims described above and evidenced by the emails received by Elgarresta, I sent Espin the following letter (translated into Spanish) which is self explanatory. Due to the very serious nature of Espin’s behaviour I have decided to publish this account of the matter, partly as a warning to others who might be similarly tempted.

July 29th 2010

Dear Johandry Espin,

I have received your letter of July 27th.

That letter does absolutely nothing to convince the ICGA of your honesty in this matter.

The whole point of asking you for the name and contact details of someone in Intel was not because it is only possible for Squarknll to compete in Kanazawa if it is “a member of Intel” as you suggest. It is because you have not been able to substantiate your claims about your dealings with Intel Corporation, which claims you have repeatedly used in an attempt to convince the ICGA that the Squarknll program was developed by you and your Spinsecurity team.

Furthermore, in your email to me of yesterday evening you state that:

“ Intel writes to us today in the Morning, that They cannot Offer any Information to Anybody for whom it violates his Laws of Confidentiality.”If someone in Intel has indeed sent you such an email then you would be able to put the ICGA in contact with that person, as I have repeatedly requested and as you have repeatedly refused to do.

In view of all the facts at our disposal I believe that you are a liar and that the allegations made by Snr Pedro Castro Elgarresta are true.

You and the program “Squarknll” are both disqualified from participating in the ICGA events in Kanazawa this year and will not be considered for participation in future ICGA events.

This correspondence is now concluded.

Yours sincerely,

David Levy

[President – ICGA]

London, July 29th 2010

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