Thursday, May 5, 2016

Season 9, stage 1a, rounds 1-3

Season 9 is live !!

The first stage contains 32 engines fighting for 16 spots in the next stage. The stage is divided into two groups of 16 engines, each group playing a single round robin. Group 1a is live at the moment, including familiar favorites like Komodo and Houdini, as well as 8 newcomers (at least they are new to me and TCEC) such as Fizbo, Hakkapeliitta and DisasterArea.

Table after 3 rounds:

So far there have been 5/24 draws, 12/24 white wins, 7/24 black. The draw rate is remarkably low.

Some of the game highlights:

Fridolin lost on time against Rybka in a drawn bishop ending.  Too bad for Fridolin, overcoming a huge ELO gap only to lose on a technicality.

Komodo - DisasterArea was replayed, due to a wrong parameter setting in DisasterArea. Komodo won both games easily.

Laser fought hard to stay in the game against Gull, but lost a RB vs RN endgame (both engines playing without tablebases). Laser was also very close to a draw with Komodo, with an effective blockade for over 60 moves. Komodo's tablebase advantage became clear in the end, Laser did not see that allowing the liquidation of all pieces will lead to a won QP vs Q ending.

Bobcat managed to squeeze a win against Hannibal out of a game that looked drawn from move 20, in a QRRN vs QRRN game with almost all pawns. At move 80 Bobcat gave a rook for a knight, but gained a crucial advanced passed pawn. Eventually Hannibal was forced to give a rook to avoid queening, leading to a won endgame for Bobcat.

Raptor reached a RN vs BB endgame against Komodo which appeared drawn. Komodo's eval was 0 for over 30 moves while Raptor thought it had an advantage, over 1 at times. However, Raptor did not handle the endgame accurately, allowing Komodo to take the initiative and win.

Hannibal crashed playing Houdini, in a game that appeared to be headed for a draw. Hannibal is underperforming so far with a 1/3 score.

Featured game: Fizbo - Ginkgo
Stage 1a, round 2
link to game on TCEC

Ginkgo played in season 8, and Fizbo is a newcomer to TCEC. Their ratings are similar, both over 3000, and my expected outcome was a draw.

After the opening black was a pawn up with an active queen wihtout support. White had control of the center and more pieces developed. Fizbo thought it had an advantage and Ginkgo had an eval of 0, which engine was right?

After both engines castled Fizbo concentrated all its pieces on the king side. Ginkgo's king side pawns held the defense while it advanced on the queen side in an attempt to develop counterplay. Ginkgo's eval started to increase, sensing the danger to its king.

The speed with which Fizbo secured a win was amazing. In four moves it drove the black queen away and blocked its way back with the center pawns.

There were too many threats to defend and black's position collapsed quickly. Once the king was exposed it could not escape without losing a lot of material.

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