KomodoMCTS was disqualified after crashing 3 times, its games do not count. As a a result the relevant standings are:
Stockfish +14, Leela +4, Komodo +3, Houdini +2, Fire -6, Ethereal -8, Andscacs -9.
Stockfish and Leela qualify for the superfinal of season 14. Stockfish was the clear leader of the division. The fight for 2nd place was very close and was decided only in the last game played. I was surprised by Leela's achievement, it is improving very fast and it is possible that the version that will play in the superfinal will be even stronger. Houdini is still waiting for an update to get better. Komodo is also losing ground, but there is new hope with its relative KomodoMCTS. If it was stable it would have been better than Fire, and the developers claim it is improving all the time. Perhaps it will replace Komodo in the next season.
KomodoMCTS is relegated due to crashes. Andscacs and Ethereal were very close through the RR and the second relegated engine was decided in the last round where Ethereal held and Andscacs lost. Ethereal survives the premier division this season, but it will need a significant improvement to have a chance in the next.
The superfinal will only start in a few weeks time. TCEC will first hold its second cup event where we may see a first glimpse of a newer and better Leela. I will not be covering the cup games and my coverage will return for the superfinal games.
A few interesting games
Komodo - Stockfish: See featured game below.
Leela - Fire: Leela's eval jumped close to 2 from the start, after a series of early exchanges only RBN vs RBN remained on move 18. Fire had two isolated pawns on the queen side, after exchanging bishops Leela captured both while Fire captured pawns on the king side. Leela pushed a queen side passer to the 6th rank, forcing Fire to defend and leave the king side pawns without support. Leela reduced to a knight ending two pawns up for the win. There were two white wins in this opening.
After 3 rounds the table is: Stockfish +13, Leela +4, Houdini +2, Komodo +1, Fire -5, Ethereal -7, Andscacs -8. Stockfish, Komodo and Ethereal have 4 games to play, the other engines only 3.
Komodo - Fire: Fire's king remained uncastled in the center, the queen side was exposed and when Komodo pushed pawns on the king side the black king had no safe place to go to. Evals gradually increased as the black pieces were pushed back. Fire countered on the queen side where the white king was, its pawns were blocked on the 3rd rank. After a few exchanges Komodo managed to infiltrate the queen side and capture a pawn, then it reduced to a RB vs RB ending. Fire was not convinced it was losing, only after Komodo captured a second pawn and the passers started to march Fire's eval was high enough for adjudication.
Stockfish - Ethereal: The game reached a RRB vs RRN position with low evals. Then evals started to increase as Stockfish slowly outplayed Ethereal. After exchanging a pair of rooks Stockfish captured a pawn, several moves later Stockfish created a queen side passer. The passer started to march and eventually Ethereal lost material to stop it, giving Stockfish the win.
Leela - Andscacs: The center and queen side were blocked, Leela moved its major pieces to the king side and threatened to break through, its eval climbing fast. Andscacs castled short, then walked its king to the queen side in face of the danger on the king side. Leela opened a file on the king side and doubled its rooks, its eval over 4.5. The engines shuffled for a while, then exchanged all rooks. Leela's eval peaked over 5 after it captured a pawn, then Andscacs exchanged down to a same color bishops ending and evals dropped. Leela had a passer but Andscacs defended well, the game continued until move 173 before it was adjudicated a draw.
After 5 rounds the table is: Stockfish +14, Leela +4, Houdini +2, Komodo +2, Fire -6, Ethereal -8, Andscacs -8. Stockfish, Houdini, Komodo, Ethereal and Andscacs have 2 games to play, Leela and Fire only 1. Fire is almost surely safe, Andscacs beat Ethereal once so it has the tiebreak advantage. Houdini and Komodo need two wins to catch up with Leela, and Leela might lose the last game black against Stockfish.
All 4 games in round 6 ended in a draw, table is unchanged. Fire has a 1 point lead over Andscacs and Ethereal. It does not play in the last round but it has a tiebreak lead over Ethereal so it is safe. Ethereal needs a a better score than Andscacs to stay in the division. Leela will be second if it does not lose. If it loses both Houdini and Komodo can catch up it if they win, but only Komodo has a tiebreak lead over Leela.
Houdini - Ethereal: Houdini had a space advantage and eval over 1. The center was blocked and there was a possibility of a king side attack. Ethereal somehow held the position with minimal pawn support for its king. Houdini could only shuffle and exchange pieces, the game ended in a B vs N drawn position.
Komodo - Andscacs: Komodo had an eval advantage from the start, Andscacs held it below 1 for the first 30 moves and then it started to increase. Komodo created a queen side passer and pushed it to the 5th rank, there it was blocked by black pieces. Andscacs refused to capture a rook for a bishop as that would give Komodo a second connected passer. Komodo was in control, Andscacs had to defend its back ranks and Komodo captured a pawn. The game reached a QRB vs QRB position and Komodo pushed its passer to the 7th rank. The game was adjudicated after the queens were off and Komodo was two pawns up.
Ethereal survives and Andscacs will be relegated. Komodo and Leela are tied in second place before the last game of the division, if Leela loses Komodo will finish ahead of Leela.
Stockfish - Leela: Stockfish sacrificed a knight for a promising attack on the exposed black king. Evals reached over 1, Leela exchanged pieces and evals came back down. The game reached a rook ending that ended in a draw.
Leela survives the last game and qualifies for the superfinal.
Featured game: Komodo - Stockfish
Premier division, round 37
Link to game on TCEC
Komodo had an eval over 0.5 from the start. Material was equal, Komodo had a space advantage and it created a central passer. Stockfish's position looked solid enough and the evals remained more or less constant.