Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Season 9, rapid tournament, rounds 48-55

Table after 55 rounds

Remember I said things were getting exciting. Well, not anymore. Houdini's lead is back to 2.5 points after a perfect 8 points in the last 8 games. I don't see anything that can stop it from winning the rapid tournament. Komodo in second place scored only 6.5 points, drawing against some of the weaker opponents: Naum, Arasan and Vajolet2. This is quite a surprise after Komodo's performance so far in this RR. The minor excitement left is the fight for second place, with Stockfish only 0.5 points behind Komodo. Fifth place is also contested by Ginkgo and Jonny. Some of the remaining games will be interesting (Komodo and Ginkgo will face Stockfish, Houdini and Fire), but I doubt they will change the overall standings by much.

Games that caught my eye

Round 48:
Houdini - Chiron: The engines played a very interesting middlegame where Houdini's king side was very exposed while Chiron's pieces were not well developed and it couldn't take advantage of this. Both kings moved to the center to find a safe spot, and Houdini's threats on the black king became very effective with eval jumping high. Chiron's pieces couldn't protect each other and the king, and when Houdini added an advanced passer Chiron's position crumbled. An excellent game by Houdini against a strong opponent.

Stockfish - Critter: The game reached a QRN vs QRN position by move 28 and the engines started to shuffle. After a few pawn moves and exchanging the knights the position became static and a draw was agreed. Stockfish is firmly in third place, 2.5 points behind Houdini.

Naum - Jonny: The game was reduced to a queen ending by move 34. For a while the evals were 0 and the game was close to adjudication but Naum's eval climbed a little so the game continued. Naum had two pawns to Jonny's one but Jonny's queen gave checks and it seemed they would go on indefinitely. Still Naum's eval rose gradually, and suddenly Jonny's eval shot up to 15, as if it saw the loss and resigned. It took Naum another 15 moves to see it... Queen endings can be very challenging even for top engines.

Round 49:
Jonny - Stockfish: Stockfish equalized quickly though it was a pawn down. Jonny saw an opportunity to win more material, it was up RPP for B for a while, but this left its king exposed against a rook and a strong bishop pair. In the end it was Stockfish that was up a piece in a N vs BN ending, and though it wasn't easy Stockfish was able to take out Jonny's extra pawns and get a winning position.

Round 50:
Fire - Gull: Gull thought it had an advantage most of the game. The engines exchanged pieces gradually, and though Gull's pawns were more advanced Fire had no real problem defending. When all the pieces were gone Gull admitted it was a draw.

Houdini - Jonny: The engines kept their pieces on the board for a long time, Houdini had a small eval advantage that grew to over 1 when it created a queen side passer. Jonny had to keep an eye on the passer and Houdini could move more freely. Houdini gradually increased the pressure on Jonny's pieces until it could hardly move, finally trapping the black queen for the win. The third straight loss for Jonny, falling behind Ginkgo to 6th place.

Round 51:
Jonny - Nirvana: The engines exchanged almost all their pieces and were at a B vs N position by move 28. After a while the pawn lines stabilized and the game was adjudicated. Only a draw for Jonny, now 1 point behind Ginkgo in fifth place.

Andscacs - Fire: Evals were virtually 0 from move 16, the engines exchanged pieces until getting a tablebase draw. 

Round 52:
Fire - Chiron: Fire outplayed Chiron in a double rook ending. Chiron's connected passers did not have enough support, and after exchanging a rook pair Fire managed to capture a pawn and create connected passers on the queen side. After clearing the center Fire was two pawns up in a winning rook ending.

Vajolet2 - Komodo: Vajolet2 managed to hold Komodo to a draw, forcing a 3-fold repetition by move 29. A big and unexpected setback for Komodo which had an excellent performance this RR, this was only its second draw after beating many opponents much better than Vajolet2. It is back to 1.5 points behind Houdini.

DisasterArea - Ginkgo: Another game with many early exchanges, reaching a RN vs RB position by move 29. DisasterArea had the tablebase advantage that allowed it to give the knight for the black pawns. The remaining R vs RB ending was a tablebase draw. Ginkgo and Jonny are losing sight of Fire in fourth place.

Round 53:
Ginkgo - Vajolet2: Ginkgo got into an imbalanced QR vs QBN position and evals favored Vajolet2 at about 0.7. After exchanging queens and with only a few pawns left both engines could not push pawns without losing, forcing a draw.

Protector - Stockfish: Stockfish gave two pawns and got open files for its rooks and a deadly king side attack. Protector gave material to keep its king alive, giving Stockfish an extra rook and an easy win.

Critter - Fire: The game reached a pawn blockade position by move 23, and a long boring shuffle started. With a few pawn moves and some exchanges the game continued until move 227 before adjudication.

Round 54:
Fire - Jonny: Jonny set up a pawn line across the board and Fire shuffled for a long time hesitating whether to advance pawns on the king side. When finally the king side opened up Jonny thought it had an advantage for a short while with eval over 1.5 before coming back to 0. After exchanging most pieces the remaining N vs B with a passer for each engine was a drawn position.

Houdini - Protector: Houdini had an eval advantage from the opening. Evals did not move a lot until about move 30 when Houdini's eval started to rise. It took control of the center and opened a file on the king side for its rooks. Protector had very little room to move its defending pieces and its position crumbled when Houdini's king side pawns started to advance. Another strong engine that Houdini beats easily, not many more to go that can stop it.

Arasan - Komodo: At move 25 only BB vs RB remained with Arasan two pawns up. Komodo could not find a weakness in Arasan's position and Arasan did not blunder until a draw was declared. This result is a big surprise and a major setback for Komodo. After closing the gap Komodo is now back to 2 points behind Houdini with very low chances of getting near the lead again.

Round 55:
Komodo - Naum: After queens were exchanged at move 18 the engines mainly shuffled behind their pawn lines. Naum was two pawns up while Komodo managed to trap a rook and Naum exchanged material to release it. With only rooks on the board Komodo had a small eval advantage. This later turned into a 7-man rook ending, Komodo was a pawn up but the position was a draw. Another disappointing draw for Komodo against a weaker opponent.

Rybka - Stockfish: Evals stayed close to 0 the whole game. Stockfish temporarily sacrificed a bishop but it got the material back a few moves later. Other than that the engines did not try anything fancy, just exchanged pieces until only pawns were left and a draw.

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