Sunday 9 February 2014

The Spring 2014 Core War Tournament

In May 1984 A K Dewdney introduced Core War, a game played between two or more computer programs in the memory of a virtual computer. The aim of the game is to disable all opponents and survive the longest. A variety of strategies have evolved for Core War, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.

To celebrate the 30th anniversary in May, The Spring Core War Tournament will be held at The Centre for Computing History in Cambridge UK. The Centre was established to tell the story of the Information Age and presents an interactive collection of computers and artifacts.

Entries can be up to 25 instructions and will compete in three different core sizes, 800 (tiny), 8000 (standard) and 55440 (large). A program's final score will be calculated as follows:

    final_score = 2 × standard_score + tiny_score + large_score

The program with the highest final score will be awarded the first prize, $50 and a signed copy of The Armchair Universe by A K Dewdney. The top program in each core size will be awarded a signed copy of Life As It Could Be by Thure Etzold, a technothriller which explores the possibility of programs escaping the confines of the Core War virtual computer.

Entries can be sent via email or delivered to The Centre on the day of the tournament (date tbc). Players can submit up to two entries. All entries will be published at the end of the tournament.

The provisional deadline is 01 May 2014. Updates will be posted on,, #corewars on and on twitter using the hashtag #corewar. Good Luck!

Technical Details:

Players may enter up to two programs. Programs face each other in a one-on-one round robin, no p-space, no self-fights, no read/write limits. Entries must be your own work. Extended ICWS'94 Draft Redcode applies with the following settings:

  • pmars -s 800 -p 800 -c 8000 -l 25 -d 25
  • pmars -s 8000 -p 8000 -c 80000 -l 25 -d 100
  • pmars -s 55440 -p 10000 -c 500000 -l 25 -d 200

Entries may use the run-time variables (CORESIZE, MAXPROCESSES, etc) to tailor the program for each core size, but the program must still behave essentially the same. Some allowed examples include:

  • tweaking the steps / constants
  • adding an extra bombing line to the core clear
  • including an extra SPL/MOV pair to a paper

Completely changing the program's behaviour or swapping / adding extra components for each core size is not allowed.

Further Details:

More information about Core War can be found at:

Software is available from:

Core War can be played online at:

For help, advice and updates see:

The Centre for Computing History has a website at: