Sunday, October 22, 2017

Season 10, stage 1, rounds 4-6

Table after 6 rounds:

So far there have been 31/72 (43%) draws, 25/72 (35%) white wins and 16/72 (22%) black wins. The draw rate is increasing and there is a bias for white which is normal in TCEC.

Stockfish and Komodo are standing out at the top of the table. Houdini is a llittle disappointing with 3 straight draws. It is still in the top group and very likely to qualify, but after last season's performance and all the hype in the chat from its fans I was expecting better results.

In the top half Texel and Wasp are doing quite well. In the bottom half the old titans Gull and Rybka are struggling, after many years with no development the competition is getting better than them.

Some of the game highlights:

Komodo - Bobcat: Komodo with a spectacular win, sacrificing a bishop to get two advanced and connected passed pawns. Bobcat had to lose material to stop them, leading to a won R vs B ending. 

Texel - Gull: Repetition after 9 moves !! No fighting spirit at all in both engines.

Houdini - Wasp: Wasp created a blockade across the board and held it successfully for more than 75 moves until Houdini finally accepted the draw.

Booot - Fizbo: Fizbo played an excellent game and got within 2 plys of a win by adjudication. unfortunately it then crashed giving Booot an undeserved point. This is the second crash of the season.

Stockfish - Ginkgo: Stockfish had a favorable opening, used it to get a strong attack on Ginkgo's king that led to a won rook ending.

Chiron - Jonny: Chiron developed pressure on both sides of the board. Jonny underestimated the danger and its position collapsed within 3 moves, eval going from 0.45 to over 9. I don't understand how that can happen, careless pruning in search?

Rybka - Stockfish: Rybka managed to stay in the game for about 30 moves until the pressure was too great. Stockfish took advantage of a few inaccuracies to win two pawns and exchange down to a winning rook ending.

Fire - Gaviota: Fire outplayed Gaviota in a RB vs Q imbalance.

Gull - Houdini: Houdini equalized easily and was a pawn up but couldn't get any advantage in a N vs B ending, an easy draw for Gull.

Andscacs - Komodo: Evals were at 0 from move 17, the engines exchanged pieces until reaching a RB vs RB ending. Andscacs gave the bishop to get advanced passed pawns, Komodo stopped the pawns losing its rook. The game ended in a tablebase draw.

Komodo - Arasan: Komodo could not find anything against Arasan for more than 30 moves. An inaccuracy allowed Komodo to sacrifice a pawn and reach a won N vs B position.

Houdini - Bobcat: Again Houdini could not find a winning line, in white pieces this time. After many exchanges the game reached a B vs N position, Bobcat played the ending well holding a draw. 

Featured game: Stockfish - Fire
Stage 1, round 6
link to game on TCEC

Stockfish started the stage well, but Fire is always a tough opponent. Would it be able to slow Stockfish down?

After a few minor piece exchanges both engines were left with their one bishop and their major pieces. The evals were close to 0 though Stockfish thought it was ahead slightly. At move 26 the engines got to within one move of a 3-fold repetition.

Stockfish avoided the draw and gradually the evals started to increase. The engines exchanged a few pawns, opening some files. Fire's king became a little exposed, and after exchanging bishops Stockfish's eval climbed above 1 in a QRR vs QRR position.

Fire still thought it could hold, but little by little the pressure increased. There were too many black pawns that Stockfish could attack and Fire couldn't protect them all. Stockfish captured the d pawn and created a passer in the center. Fire captured a pawn as well but after exchanging queens it turned out that the white addvanced passer was much better than the doubled black pawns.

Fire had to concenterate on stopping the d pawn, Stockfish was quickly 3 pawns ahead for the win.

Fire tried but couldn't stop Stockfish, which still appears to be the best engine. Fire is still in a good position even with 2 losses (the other to Houdini), so I'm quite certain we will see it in stage 2 as well.

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