Thursday, September 15, 2016

Season 9, rapid tournament, rounds 1-8

Rapid tournament, not my cup of tea. The games fly by and there is no way to keep up with all the action. There will be one double RR, hardly enough to get a clear picture of which engines are the best at this time control. Cato is providing 2-move book openings, some of which are very biased, so luck will be an important factor. All 32 engines are participating, and many games are really one-sided because of the big difference in strength. The only good thing is that even boring games with endless shuffling are over after an hour and a half.

I may not like this tournament but people are watching and commenting in the chat, not a lot of complaints. TCEC is for chess entertainment, so have fun !

Table after 8 rounds

Fire leads with 8 wins, Stockfish and Houdini right behind with 7 wins and one draw in the game they faced each other. Komodo is 2 points behind the leader, still unbeaten. Ginkgo and Nirvana are the only additional engines with no loss so far. Of the 3000+ engines Naum and Critter are a little behind at this stage with a less than average score. DisasterArea, Laser and The Baron are performing better than expected so far for 2800- engines. It should be remembered that the table means little at this stage since each engine has only met 8 opponents of 31. Comparing engine performance is unreliable when each engine faced a different set of opponents. The table will get clearer as the tournament progresses. There's also the white/black bias and opening bias, so the best results will only be available when the reverse games have been played, but who wants to wait that long to say something about engine performance...

Games that caught my eye

Round 1:
Bobcat - Laser: Laser surprised with black. After 40 moves in a closed position Laser sacrificed a knight to open the queen side and get a QN vs RR imbalance. The rook pair was very strong and Bobcat had to exchange the queen for one of the rooks. Laser played the BN vs RB ending well, getting the win.

Texel - Raptor: In a static RRB vs RRN position and with no time on the clock Texel was tempted to take two pawns. Raptor quickly took over, using the exposed white king to gain material that made up for the lost pawns.

Round 2:
Laser - Raptor: Laser outplayed Raptor in what appeared to be a drawn rook ending. It appears Laser's rank should be higher in rapid games after two wins against better ranked engines.

Protector - Jonny: Jonny converted a pair of connected passers to a winning position. Two losses in a row for Protector, it is underperforming in the rapid games.

Round 3:
Andscacs - Ginkgo: With both engines in time trouble Andscacs was late to realize it was losing a piece at the end of a series of exchanges. The game looked balanced in the first 40 moves.

Critter - Rybka: Critter played a closed position two pawns down, but couldn't stop Rybka when the position opened after exchanging pieces. I expected Critter to be a tougher opponent.

Texel - Protector: Texel beat Protector in a RB vs RB ending, Protector's bishop was trapped in the corner. Three losses in a row for Protector, statistical noise?

Round 4:
Rybka - Jonny: Jonny outplayed Rybka with black, slowly gaining space and eval and then simplifying to a better endgame. Rybka is getting too old for this time control.

Fizbo - Gull: Around move 30 Fizbo's eval started to increase. It trapped the black king and queen in the corner and then won the game with a central passer. An unexpected loss for Gull against a lower ranked oppponent.

Round 5:
Critter - Ginkgo: The game was very close to a 50-move draw, but when the position opened it was Ginkgo with two pawns advantage. When there were almost no pieces left on the board the pawns got Ginkgo the win. Critter continues to struggle.

Jonny - Komodo: Komodo did not have a good start in this tournament, but in this game playing black against a strong opponent Komodo got a win. It is still unbeaten and not to be ignored, even though it didn't reach the superfinal and it is 2 points behind the table lead. The game also featured the rare "pawn square"

Round 6:
Laser - Protector: Laser was two pawns up but ignored Protector's connected passers. Protector won a rook in exchange for these pawns and won easily. The statistical noise for these engines is starting to average out.

Naum - Stockfish: Naum was a pawn up with eval advantage, but couldn't hold against Stockfish. Stockfish attacked white's exposed king, got the pawn back and captured more pawns until it had a decisive lead.

Round 7:
Houdini - Naum: Houdini used a strong king side attack to gain two pawns and get an winning endgame. Naum is not strong enough for the top engines.

Round 8:
Stockfish - Houdini: Both engines had 7 straight wins before this game, and these are also the two superfinalists.  However instead of an exciting decisive game we got a boring draw. All the tension was released in a massive piece exchange that left a drawn bishop ending. Fire is the real winner, now in the lead with 8 wins. 

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