Friday, July 22, 2016

Season 9, stage 2, rounds 28-30, final results

Final results of stage 2 after 30 rounds:

The final draw rate is 132/240 (55%).
The qualifiers for stage 3 are: Komodo, Stockfish, Jonny, Gull, Fire, Andscacs, Houdini and Rybka. Congratulations to all!
Komodo won the stage with Stockfish a close second. Will these two be in the superfinal yet again? Stage 3 will have a new version of Houdini that is an unknown element, perhaps it will surprise everyone.
A win in the last round was enough for Rybka to qualify for stage 3. Ginkgo could not close the gap and came half a point behind.

Some of the game highlights

Andscacs - Rybka started more or less equal, but at some point the evals for white started to increase. The white knights took control of the center and were making life hard for the black rooks. By the time Rybka managed to get rid of one knight its rooks were stuck on the queen side, hardly in the game at all. Out of desparation black gave a piece to create a passer, but Andscacs was in full control for a nice win. Can Rybka's rivals close the gap?

Hannibal had an eval advantage over Jonny, but considering Jonny's performance in the stage I expected the evals to go back down eventually. There was a long series of moves with evals not moving too much and the position more or less the same. Hannibal had an advanced passer that wasn't moving, and Jonny gave a rook for a knight in the hope that its knights will be stronger in a position with many pawns. Hannibal then opened up the queen side through a series of exchanges, and in the R vs N ending had a clear advantage. A very unexpected loss for Jonny, first in the stage. Could Hannibal be making a comeback? Not likely, it's still a point down on Rybka with two games remaining.

Nirvana could only get a draw with black against Chiron, a missed opportunity to get closer to Rybka. A point down may be too much for Nirvana.

Protector played the opening better than Vajolet2, and as a result had a strong bishop pair in a BB vs BN ending. Together with a dangerous passer this was enough for Protector to get to a winning position.

Komodo - Fire got into a closed position with all pawns on the board. Fire had less room and was mostly waiting while Komodo planned how to break the pawn line. By move 40 a few pawns were exchanged and the evals were at 1.5. several moves later Komodo was ready to execute its plan. After a series of exchanges only RN vs RB remained but Komodo was two pawns up, an easy win - at least easy for Komodo. You need to be over 3000 to fully appreciate a game like this... First loss for Fire that can't be attributed to the opening.

Stockfish quickly took over control playing black against Naum. Using an almost unstoppable passer Stockfish could arrange the pieces so that after exchanging everything the position was a winning 6-man rook ending. Stockfish has the same score as Komodo, but Komodo takes the SB tiebreak.

Ginkgo managed to get a draw against Houdini, now only half a point behind Rybka.

Ginkgo gave a bishop against Raptor, demolishing the pawns defending the black king. The resulting attack on the king finished Raptor off very quickly. Ginkgo is temporarily in 8th place leading by half a point, Rybka plays last in this round.

Houdini had an eval advantage against Naum, and the evals gradually increased. After the opening stage was over Houdini had a strong center with a supported passer, while Naum's counter on the queen side was weak. After pawns were exchanged on the king side Naum had to deal with mating threats as well and its position crumbled.

In their second game this season Stockfish and Komodo drew again. Stockfish tried to keep a small eval advantage but there was nothing it could do against Komodo's defense. Komodo is still leading on SB tiebreak.

Nirvana - Hannibal ended in a repetition draw. This was a bad result for both engines. Hannibal is now out of the race being a point down and with a crash handicap. Nirvana is also a point down, almost no chance of qualifying.

Jonny was ahead on eval the whole game against Andscacs, but it didn't seem that Andscacs was ever in any danger. The game ended in a draw before the 50-move rule kicked in.

Rybka - Gull was another draw, a quick one this time. Rybka is leading Ginkgo on a tiebreak before the last round. Who shall qualify?

Raptor was happy to take a rook for a bishop against Rybka, but Rybka used this to turn the game around. In a RR vs RB position the black pawns and bishop controlled the center and the white rooks were playing defensively. Rybka's pair of advanced connected passers were enough for a win. With this result Rybka is the qualifier. It has a point advantage and a big SB lead in case of a tiebreak with Ginkgo. The games remaining are just to complete the stage.

Gull - Jonny reached a queen ending with a pawn advantage for white. Jonny found a perpetual check draw but then crashed, a disappointing end to a glorious stage by Jonny.

Hannibal came out of a closed position with better pawns and piece coordination against Vajolet2. A supported passer gave Hannibal the win.

Chiron was outplayed by Fire. When almost all pieces were exchanged Fire was a pawn up with two advanced passers in a B vs N position, an easy win.

Protector could not hold back Stockfish for long. The white king remained uncastled and Stockfish had a lot of firepower in the center and on the king side while its king was hiding behind a white pawn on the other side. Stockfish broke the pawn defense with a knight sacrifice and the game was over before the whole position collapsed. Stockfish has a good chance of winning the stage, Komodo needs a win in the next game (see below).

Naum - Ginkgo was a long draw, Ginkgo finishing 9th half a point behind Rybka.

Featured game: Komodo - Houdini
Stage 2, round 30
Link to game on TCEC

Komodo needed a win to beat Stockfish for first place in the stage (not really important but still...).
The game started with evals close to 0 and no clear advantage for either engine. Material was equal but the position was not static with chances for both engines. On move 32 Komodo seemed to offer Houdini a rook, a poisoned offer?

Houdini did not accept the offer, though it could for several moves. I can only guess that the passer on the e file could become dangerous and that the bishop pair would be strong enough to compensate. Komodo's eval started to climb and Houdini was feeling the pressure, finally it took the rook.

Note the rook on h6, what is it doing there? Already it cannot get out safely though it can move a little. The evals started to increase rapidly as Komodo threatened to open up the position. With a strong bishop pair staring at the black king and black playing with a rook handicap Houdini was in real trouble.

The h5 rook is really miserable, at least the king is keeping it company. When pawns and pieces started to be exchanged Komodo's advantage was very clear. The game ended in a BB vs RB position.

The black king side is virtually frozen, the rook can be taken any time and the black bishop cannot defend against all the threats on its own. Komodo is the well deserved winner in this game and of the stage.

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