The Hiarcs team changed the contempt factor during the game versus Alaric.
The contempt factor is a way to tell the engine when it is time to accept a draw. By setting the contempt factor to 1 pawn they told Hiarcs to accept a draw only if the evaluation said something worse than 1 pawn. Look at draw 149 in the game below. Hiarcs sacs a pawn in order to avoid the 50-move rule because of the high contempt factor. Hiarcs rather lose a pawn than accepting a draw.
Now, to change parameters or to intervene in any form during the game is not allowed in computer tournaments except from a few obvious cases. For instance when the engine crash you must start it up again. Normally you are not allowed to help the engine in any way.
So obviously the Hiarcs team broke that rule and they did also very openly admit that. This started a hot debate at CCC. It all starts here and the following thread.
Let us try to have balanced view here...
ICC tournaments are always done in a friendly atmosphere. There are rules and there are rules. Many rules are overruled when someone accidently do some error. For instance in one game Crafty didn't Kibitz. They whispered instead, by mistake of course. The rule says kibitzing but this is typical a situation when no one tries to forfeit Crafty. Some games are replayed cause of some mistake from one of the participants. In this tournament Erdo registered at the same day. A bit late... Operators often didn't show up in time to the rounds and the TD started their engines for them. There are probably other examples as well. The TD did a great job! and no one really cared about all this. On the contrary if I illegaly tried to use Rybka and call it Alaric, there would be no friendly atmosphere anymore! Absolutely forbidden of course. There are rules and there are rules.
The friendly way gives a fun and relaxed tourney. The problem with friendlyness is that we have a gray zone of breaking rules. For instance Rybka didn't Kibitz at all in any game. The rules are very clear about this. Of course Vas could implement Kibitzing in his engine in less than 30 minutes but he didn't. Now Vas told us that he tried to use Chess Assistant. It kibitzes automatically for the engine, but he couldn't make it work and had to use Arena. In Arena the engine must kibitz by itself. Most people accepted this but there were discussions. What would happen if it was Alaric and not Rybka who did this? Would they let Alaric play? Well, I don't know. Somewhow I have a feeling that the top engines have more bargaining room when it comes to these matters.
Rybka won the tourney despite breaking this rule.
So how should we judge the Hiarcs contempt? First of all they didn't gain anything from this, they lost instead of a draw, but this is not the issue here. Secondly, if someone do change the contempt during the game, we can never never see that or prove that in any way. The same goes for many engine parameters and even things like forcing the engine to think more or to move immediately. Forbidden but not possible to discover. Is breaking a rule less serious when it can not be proven? Of course not! We would actually need a special GUI that blocks or reports any operator action during the game and that is secured in some way from hacking. We dont' have that but maybe something to think about in the future!
IMO is changing the contempt factor during the game a more serious act than the Rybka mistake, but.... The friendly atmosphere how about that?
The Hiarcs team admitted by themself what they did. They could be quiet about it.
Let us keep the friendly atmosphere even here. Let it be... and remember that I would say the same even if Hiarcs won the game.