Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Season 9 stage 1a, rounds 10-12


Table after 12 rounds


The draw rate is now 30/96 (31%).

With 3 rounds remaining the qualification race is focused around Raptor, Hannibal and Fizbo, tied with 6.5/12 points in 7-9th position. Only two of these can qualify. This makes the Hannibal-Fizbo game in round 14 crucial, especially if it ends decisively. It should be remembered that Hannibal crashed one game (only crash so far in this stage), making it an automatic loser in tiebreaks. Fizbo may end up the loser since it has very tough matches against Protector and Rybka, while Raptor and Hannibal have only one super strong opponent left to play.

Some of the game highlights:

Houdini kept a small advantage over Hakkapeliitta for a long time, before Hakka broke down in a QRB vs QBN endgame. Hakkapeliitta is doing alright for a one cpu engine.

Fridolin nearly managed to get a draw with black against DisasterArea, but in the end it was DisasterArea's tablebases (or endgame knowledge) that let it win in a rook ending. Fridolin's last reasonable chance to avoid a scoreless stage is the game against Myrrdin in stage 13.

Komodo-Gull was a draw, mostly uneventful. Gull is still a tough nut to crack.

Hannibal reached a RN vs R endgame against Rybka, facing three connected passers. Starting from an eval of 0 for both engines Rybka outplayed Hannibal in the endgame, another blow for Hannibal's qualification chances.

Bobcat pressed hard against Houdini, pushing a pawn to the 7th row. The struggle surrounding this pawn ended in a subtle RN vs RB ending, and Bobcat was able to get a draw. A respectable result for Bobcat, the third draw against a top 4 engine in this stage.

Raptor-Hakkapeliitta started with an advantage for white, Hakka exchanged a rook for a bishop to lower the pressure and open up the position. Eventually the game reached a RRB vs RBB endgame, and the Hakka bishop pair began dominating the board and black had the advantage. In the end the game was drawn after 111 moves.

Myrrdin reached a RRN vs RRB ending against Fizbo after 24 moves, but Fizbo was able to get the win in the end. Not sure how Fizbo will handle the much tougher engines it still has to play in the stage.

Protector-Gull was a long and dull draw. This is Protector's 7th draw against potential qualifiers, and it hasn't lost a single game yet. This result is very good for stage 2 qualification, but I doubt that it will be enough for stage 3.

Rybka exchanged a knight for three pawns in the game against Texel. The resulting RRBB vs RRBBN position started out with a small advantage for white, but Rybka slowly and consistently increased its eval. After a few exchanges the white pawns became too strong, and Texel lost a piece to stop them from queening, leading to a Rybka win.

Featured game: Hannibal - Ginkgo
Stage 1a, round 12
Link to game on TCEC

Hannibal was a point behind in the qualification race at this point, 1.5 points behind Ginkgo. Based on its performance so far I didn't expect Hannibal to get more than a draw in this game.

The game started quietly, reaching an RN vs RN position after 27 moves. Ginkgo was a little more cramped with its pieces on the back row and Hannibal had a two against one pawn advantage on the queen side. However, with evals so close to zero there was no hint of anything happening in the game.


Then Ginkgo's eval started climbing, and Hannibal's eval not far behind. Tension was building on the queen side but it was not clear how Hannibal would get a clear advantage. Both engines were playing without tablebases so it was possible they would reach a drawn endgame even with high evals.


When Hannibal managed to get the rook to the 7th row its path to victory became clearer. Ginkgo lost the a pawn, and in a desperate move tried to counter with mating threats with a king and rook attack.



Hannibal was careful to avoid mate though.The threat of queening cost Ginkgo its knight, and then Hannibal created more queening threats on both sides of the board, forcing the win.

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