20 September 2012, by Dan Corder
So what does a company of software developers do in its free time? Well sometimes the answer is “write more code for fun”. To this end Softwire recently held a Battleships tournament. The competition consisted of writing a bot that implemented a particular battleships playing interface. All the bots were then played off against each other in a league format. Each match in the league was a best of 100 games series. A new bot was instantiated for each match, but the same bot played all 100 games within a match. This meant that some bots were able to learn from their opponent’s earlier games to try and do better as the match went on.
The tournament itself was made up of three two week rounds and was kicked off with an evening of beer, pizza, and coding. A league was run at the end of each round and the top ten players were awarded tournament points. After the third round the player with the most tournament points became the overall winner.
During the rounds all the players could download and play against the latest bots uploaded by their opponents, but were under strict instructions not to decompile or otherwise try to interfere with their opponents’ bots. This led to an unintended meta-game amongst some of the top competitors to see who could upload their bot last before the deadline for each round. Even a couple of minutes was enough to run a test match, tweak parameters, and then upload an improved bot. With the deadlines all being at midnight there were a few late nights involved, especially in the case of Greg who decided he was on a roll and kept going after one deadline until 4am!
After six weeks of fierce competition, and with a little luck, Tom S managed to just stay ahead of a very strong challenge from Jamie H and take the title of Admiral Softwire with a score of 29 to 27 (out of a maximum of 30). Pete K was close behind in 3rd place with a score of 26. Tom was of course rewarded for his efforts, in this case with a suitably nautical hat, which you can see him modelling to the right, shortly after his victory was announced. Congratulations Tom!