Saturday, December 10, 2016

Season 9 is over !!

I'm finally done with my TCEC backlog, I was trailing the superfinal by as many as 20 games which can be frustrating. TCEC stops for no man (unless the server crashes) and we have to keep up. Now I have time for a few remarks to close the season.

This season was so long I forget how it was in the early rounds. Stockfish was dominant the whole season, as it was in season 6 when it won a TCEC superfinal for the first time. This season's superfinal seemed to be decided quite quickly. Houdini was able to win several games but Stockfish gained points much faster. For me stage 3 was more interesting to watch because of the close race for second place between Houdini and Komodo. I believe that Komodo would have been a tougher opponent for Stockfish in the superfinal, but we'll never know.

Houdini made a comeback this season. For several years it was not updated and Stockfish and Komodo were consistently better. It was even close to dropping below third place. This season in stage 3 Houdini got a new version which was much stronger, and it beat Komodo in stage 3 to reach the superfinal. There is now a new commercial version of Houdini which is available. It needs to be continually developed if it wants to stay at the top level of computer chess.

There were two controversial games this season. The first was in stage 3, where in the first game Komodo lost to the new Houdini version, but the the game was replayed since Komodo played with the wrong parameters. The second was game 17 of the superfinal where both engines thought the game was a draw but the tablebase decision was a win for Stockfish. The win disregards the 50 move draw rule, which explains why the engines ignored it. There was never an official decision about this game.

The tournament director Anton was missing in the later parts of the season, sometimes causing confusion about procedure. In particular for a long time no one knew when the superfinal would start, even if there would be a superfinal at all. The rapid tournament that followed stage 3 was also a surprise, and in my mind it should not be a part of TCEC, and especially not between stage 3 and the superfinal. I hope that season 10 will be organized better.

I celebrated a few achievments for the blog:
- more than 100 posts
- readers from all over the world, all 6 continents represented
- more than 1000 hits in one month this November
- over 7000 all time hits
- google search 'tcec statistics' and 'tcec season 9' finds the blog
All this was achieved with the help of YOU, so thanks a lot. One thing that I would like that is missing so far is feedback. If you have a suggestion, an opinion or a question regarding a post you can add it as a comment. This could enrich the blog and make it more interesting.

I need a long break from TCEC, I hope to return for season 10 to enjoy more high level computer chess.
Bye for now.

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