Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Season 10 superfinal, games 31-40

After 40 games Houdini is in the lead, 6-1 and 33 draws. Komodo finally got its first win of the match. Houdini won the reverse game so the opening may have been too biased. Getting closer to the halfway point it is very likely that Houdini will win the match.

Houdini's eval was negative right from the start of game 31 despite its uncastled king that was being attacked, possibly because of the space advantage it had on the queen side. After a few moves Komodo took over, evals climbing above 0.5. Houdini defended well and in the end all Komodo got out of the attack was an exposed black king and the possibility of repetition or perpetual check. In game 32 Houdini did not attack the king side, the position closed up and the engines were shuffling from move 31. After 30 moves the engines started to exchange pieces until they reached a drawn rook ending.

Game 33 started with an eval advantage for Komodo. After playing a few moves Komodo gave a rook for BN, and Komodo is considered a master of imbalances. After the queens were gone the board looked too empty for creating any advantage. However evals increased to over 1 when Komodo exchanged down to a RBN vs RR position with Houdini two pawns up and one of them doubled. Unfortunately for Komodo it only managed to get two more pawns. Houdini's rooks found an unbreakable defense and the rest of the game was just waiting for the draw rule. A rare chance for Komodo, still a draw. In game 34 the material stayed balanced and evals close to 0. The center was blocked and Houdini created connected passers on the queen side. Komodo responded by exchanging everything until reaching a drawn bishop ending.

Game 35 started with an eval advantage for white, Komodo pushed pawns on the king side and Houdini kept its king uncastled for a while. Eventually Houdini found it safe enough to castle, evals came down gradually and with only QRB vs QRB left the engines started to shuffle. The engines agreed to a draw after exchanging queens. Queens were off early in game 36 and Komodo felt safe to castle the king. Houdini's eval was over 0.5 for a while, after exchanging down to a RN vs RB position the evals came back down. In the end both engines queened pawns, but the game still ended in a draw.

Game 37 started with black two pawns up with its queen in white territory. Komodo used attacks on the queen to gain a development advantage and equalize. Komodo opened a file on the king side and stablized the queen side, turning the evals to over 0.5 in its favor. With a king side attack Komodo captured pawns and material was equal again, it even managed to be a pawn up. However Houdini defended effectively and was never in any real danger. After exchanging queens only RN vs RN were left and eventually the evals came down and a draw was agreed. In game 38 Komodo turned the two pawns it was down into a rook for bishop imbalance. Houdini had a knight trapped in the corner and Komodo had an advanced passer that got to the 2nd rank. Evals remained low even with all the action on the board. Eventually the engines removed all threats and balanced the material, reaching a draw in a QRB vs QRB position.

Game 39 started with an eval advantage for Komodo. The center was blocked with pawns, there was a small opening on the queen side and the king side could be opened up whenever the engines decided.

The engines shuffled for a while, many knight and king moves on both sides. Komodo applied some pressure on the open queen side, other than that nothing seemed to be happening. Yet the evals increased gradually to over 1, something subtle was going on. When the position opened with a few exchanges Komodo was a pawn up. Could Komodo find a win in this position?

At first Houdini seemed to be holding, Komodo did not seem to have a plan. Evals jumped over 2 when Komodo placed a knight on e6 after bishops were exchanged. The pieces continued to dance on the board, Komodo exchanged rooks and then queens with evals over 5.

Houdini couldn't escape this position. Komodo soon captured another pawn and with 2 pawns up the win was just a matter of time. First win for Komodo in the superfinal after 39 games, finally the Komodo fans have something to smile about.

In game 40 Houdini's evals climbed right from the start, over 1 already on move 16. Although material was equal Komodo's pieces could hardly move and Houdini had time to plan when and where to attack.

The queen side was blocked and for a short while Komodo dreamt it could hold a fortress. Houdini's response was to sacrifice a knight for two pawns and open up the king side. Komodo's position collapsed very quickly, with so little room to move its pieces were stuck on the wrong side of the board.

The game was adjudicated with material almost balanced, before Komodo had to lose material to avoid being mated. This was the first opening of the season (including stage 2) with two wins for white. This time Houdini fans could claim that the previous loss was due to the opening, not only Komodo.

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