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TCEC S16 starts Sunday July 14th at 15:00 CEST

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 15:24

Season 16 of the Top Chess Engine Championship starts this Sunday July 14th at 15:00 CEST. A total of 18 engines will battle for six promotion spots in the newly formed Qualification Division. Among them are three Neural Networks – ScorpioNN, ChessFighterNN, and Stoofvlees. Their main competitors are the seasoned engines Rodent, Wasp, chess22k, and Winter. However, as most engines come with solid updates any surprise can be expected.

Format of the Qualification Division

TCEC Qualification Division is entirely invitational field. Initially set to be 16 engines, it was expanded to 18 due to the entrance of the brand new Asymptote engine (suggested by Graham Banks from CCRL) and a promo engine.

The engines will play a 1x DRR with time control 30+5. The top six will qualify for League 2 of TCEC, you can see the format of Season 16 here

Promo engine in the field

Many engines are now hopping on the Neural Network bandwagon, making full use of GPUs. Yet, the champion Lc0 has released a strong version playing on CPU only! It is not a unique engine by the TCEC criteria, but it certainly is exciting to see it perform against real competitors of 3000 ELO+ strength. Thus, Lc0 CPU enters TCEC as a promo engine in the field. It will play all games in the division, but at the end of the division all results of the engine will nullified.

Participants list

1. Bagatur 1.7b
2. The Baron 3.44.1
3. Cheese 2.1
4. chess22k 1.12
5. ChessFighterNN v2.1-n8x128c_7411
6. Igel 1.8.0
7. Jumbo 0.6.117
8. Marvin 3.4.0
9. Minic 0.76
10. ScorpioNN v2.9.0-n_maddex_INT8
11. Stoofvlees II a10
12. Topple 0.7.2_dev
13. Tucano 7.07
14. Wasp 3.68
15. Winter 0.6
16. Asymptote 0.6.2
17. Rodent III
18. Lc0 CPU

Categories: Ενημέρωση

TCEC Season 16 – information and participants

Wed, 07/03/2019 - 16:28

TCEC Season 16 is going to start mid July with the participation of the strongest computer chess software. For the first time ever a Neural Network – Leela Chess Zero aka Lc0 – will defend both a league title and a Cup title.

TCEC Season 16 will feature a new format. It will keep the acclaimed Premier Division and Superfinal as in previous seasons, but will give more chances to starting engines to climb up the rankings. For this reason three leagues of 16 engines will be created. The event will start with a Qualification League where all newcomers will be featured, including new AB engines and Neural Networks. The top 6 of the Qualification League will promote to League 2 (also 6 will relegate), and the top 4 of League 2 will promote to League 1 (also 4 will relegate). Finally, the best placed 2 engines from League 1 will qualify for the Premier Division (also 2 will relegate).

The change of structure for TCEC is necessary due to the present rapid development of computer chess. With the new format more engines will have a chance to climb up the ranks and have a shot to enter in the elite.

Here is the list of participants for the Premier Division and the newly formed leagues. The seeding of the engines is based entirely on Season 15.


Superfinal (100 games with time control 120′+10″ – using a new book by Jeroen Noomen)


1. Premier Division winner 2. Premier Division runner up


Premier Division (3x DRR with time control 90′+5″ – using a new 8 move book by Cato aka Nelson Hernandez)


1. Lc0 – current TCEC champion 2. Stockfish 3. Komodo 4. AllieStein 5. Houdini 6. Komodo MCTS 7. League 1 winner 8. League 1 runner up


League 1 (1x DRR with time control 45+5 - using a 6 move book, randomized)


1. Ethereal 2. Fire 3. Xiphos 4. Laser 5. Andscacs 6. Fizbo 7. Jonny 8. Chiron 9. Ginkgo 10. ChessBrainVB 11. Booot 12. Rofchade 13. League 2 qualification 14. League 2 qualification 15. League 2 qualification 16. League 2 qualification


League 2 (1x DRR with time control 30+5 – using a 4 move book, randomized)


1. Fritz 2. Nirvana 3. Arasan 4. Texel 5. Vajolet 6. Gull 7. Pedone 8. Nemorino 9. Rubichess 10. Pirarucu 11. Qualification 12. Qualification 13. Qualification 14. Qualification 15. Qualification 16. Qualification


Qualification (1x DRR with time control 30+5 – using a 2 move book, randomized)


Up to 16 engines playing for 6 qualification positions. This is a mix of engines from Div 4 and new entries. The complete list of participants will be announced soon.


Stay tuned for updates
Categories: Ενημέρωση

TCEC15: the 15th Top Chess Engine Championship

Sun, 06/23/2019 - 03:46

Written by Guy Haworth and Nelson Hernandez
Reading, UK and Maryland, USA

Corresponding author:

This is the latest in our series of analytical articles on past TCEC events. The main text can be read below on this webpage, and at the bottom you will find a link to the full layouted article in pdf format, including the important tables, graphs and images.

TCEC is very grateful to the authors for their kind permission to publish these substantial and scholarly analyses of its events!




TCEC Season 15 started on March 5th 2019 with a more liberal Division 4 featuring several engines in their first TCEC season. At the top end, interest would centre on whether the recent entries, ETHEREAL, KOMODO MCTS and LEELA CHESS ZERO would again improve their already impressive performances. Fig. 1 and Table 1 provide the logos and details on the enlarged field of 44 engines.

Fig. 1. Logos for the TCEC 15 engines (CPW, 2019) as in their original divisions.

There were a few nudges to the rules. In the event of network breaks, if both engines were in the 7-man and/or TCEC win (or draw) zone, the game was adjudicated as a win (or draw). Otherwise, TCEC resumed games with extra initialisation time rather than restart them.

The common platform for TCEC15, as for TCEC14, consisted of two computers. One was the established, formidable 44-core server of TCEC11-14 (Intel, 2017) with 64GiB of DDR4 ECC RAM and a Crucial CT250M500 240 GB SSD for the EGTs. The ‘GPU server’, upgraded to a Quad Core i5 3570k with 32GiB DDR3 RAM, sported Nvidia (2018) GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and 2080 GPUs.

Table 1. The TCEC15 engines (CPW, 2019), details, authors and progress.

Initial interest centred on a third non-Shannon engine, this time the hybrid ALLIESTEIN, a cross between Adam Treat’s ALLIE and Mark Jordan’s LEELENSTEIN (Chessdom, 2019) and a pupil of supervised rather than ‘tabula rasa’ learning. Would this combine the best of ‘Shannon AB’ and neural-network approaches in a case of ‘1+1=3’ or would it be a fall between two stools? There were several reasons for believing that ALLIESTEIN would not tarry in Division 4 for too long.
HANNIBAL was recuperating after its crashes in TCEC14 but new to TCEC were some other ‘AB conventional’ engines – CHEESE, BAGATUR, IGEL, JUMBO, MARVIN, MINIC, MONOLITH, RUBICHESS and TOPPLE – a generous addition to the line-up. Given the wide range of estimated ELOs, there was likely to be a higher degree of carnage in Division 4 and so it proved. The division was in fact split into two halves with a play-off for the promotion places between the top two in each half.

Division 4a/b: each half of 1 DRR, 2 RRs, 18 rounds, 90 games @ 30′+5″/m

As for TCEC12-14, each engine played both White and Black from four-ply openings defined by the second author here. The results are as in Tables 2-3: ‘P%’ is the %-score and ‘ELO±’ the change to the engine’s nominal ELO based on its performance. Generic stats are in Tables 11 and 12. In part 4a, CHEESE’s win ‘against the otherwise unchallenged NEMORINO in game 11.2/52 was a clear outlier. RUBICHESS took second by virtue of its 2-0 result against WINTER.
In Act 2 game 12.5/60, SCORPIONN had a 7-man win (dtm = 22m) on move 80 but took 108 moves to get a 6-man EGT result. WASP disconnected against ALLIESTEIN in game 15.4/74, effectively a 1.5-point swing for second place as ‘crashes’ are the first tie-breaker. Unusually, games 29 and 87 ended in mate, and SCORPIO exhibited its ‘resigns’ move in games 5, 28 and 78.

The network crashed in g32, ALLIESTEIN–CHESS22K, on move 49w with CHESS22K’s evaluation at +5.3, a clear case for a continuation rather than a restart, surely the default response. ALLIESTEIN worked through to a 6-man RB-BP ‘mate in 18’ win with some difficulty. It would have been interesting to see it actually achieve this as neither engine was using the 6-man endgame tables (de Man, 2018).

Table 2. The TCEC15 Division 4a cross-table: one DRR phase, 18 rounds, 90 games.

Table 3. The TCEC15 Division 4b cross-table: one DRR phase, 18 rounds, 90 games.

The Division 4 play-off was marred and skewed by two PIRARUCU technical concessions. Throttled back by fiat from 43 threads to 16, this engine then underperformed and missed a likely second-place promotion. This should not obscure the fact that ALLIESTEIN showed new form to win, remarkably beating NEMORINO 4-0 and RUBICHESS 2½ 1½. The only blot on ALLIESTEIN’s escutcheon was its loss as Black to RUBICHESS in game 9.1/17: the power of two queens is not to be underestimated.

Table 4. The TCEC15 Division 4 play-off cross-table: two DRR phases, 12 rounds, 24 games.

Division 3: 2 DRR phases, 14 rounds, 112 games @ 30′+5″/m, 4-ply openings

With LEELA and KOMODOMCTS now in the higher divisions, competition for promotion was bound to be more open and keenly contested. Indeed, each engine lost at least two and won at least three games. There were plenty of wins below the diagonal of the eventual x-table, notably by PEDONE and VAJOLET at the expense of ROFCHADE, games 8/2.2 and 30/8.2.

Game 45, ALLIESTEIN-ARASAN, broke the TCEC shortest-win record in g45/12.1 with a mate in 20 moves (The shortest TCEC-draw was TEXEL-GULL in Season 10, Stage 1. After the mandated 1. b4 d5 2. Bb2 Qd6, play went 3. a3 a5 4. Nf3 axb4 5. Be5 Qb6 6. Bd4 Qd6 7. Be5 Qb6 8. Bd4 Qd6 9. Be5 {3x} ½-½.) (g45/12.1, AS-Ar: 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 {as mandated} 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. d4 exd4 5. Nxd4 Bb4 6. Nxc6 bxc6 7. Qd4? (7. Bd3) Qe7 8. f3 Bc5 9. Qd3 O-O 10. Bg5 Rb8 11. O-O-O d5 12. exd5 h6 13. Bh4 Ba6 14. Bxf6 Be3+ 15. Kb1?? (15. Rd2) Rxb2+ 16. Ka1 gxf6 17. Qxa6 Rfb8 18. Bd3?? (18. Qa5) Qb4 19. Ne2 Rxa2+ 20. Kxa2 Qb2# 0-1.), too sudden and savage for the TCEC referee to intervene. This was not the first evidence that there are still some bugs to be fixed. ALLIESTEIN was weak on moves 4 and 7 and blundered on 15 and 18 – the m4/m7 mistakes apparently connected to it failing to recognise castling options.

Despite this, ALLIESTEIN stayed in the promotion fight and its chances were conclusively enhanced with the 0-1 result of g100/50.2, ARASAN–ROFCHADE in which ARASAN got tangled up. The final results contained some surprises. No tiebreak rules were needed and ROFCHADE deservedly took first place after being unbeaten by the top half of the table including a unique 4-0 result against TEXEL. In con¬trast, ALLIESTEIN in second lost its matches against ARASAN and TEXEL but was unbeaten by the bottom four engines. The hope was that its known weaknesses had been sorted out. As the under-performing GULL was the reference engine at 3300 in the TCEC ELO scale, all other engines increased their TCEC ELO (GULL’s role is similar to that of the ‘IPK’ International Prototype Kilogram which defined the mass of one kilogram. If it hypothetically lost a gram, everything else would increase in mass by 0.1% even though unchanged. This parallel ceased to be valid on 20th May 2019 when the new definition of the Kilogram became operative (BIPM, 2019).), even NEMORINO which returned to Division 4. Wool (2019) picked out the round 19 game ARASAN–ALLIESTEIN which ARASAN would have ended with position-repetition but which in fact ended in a 6-man EGT-adjudicated draw.

Table 5. The TCEC15 Division 3 cross-table: two DRR phases, 28 rounds, 112 games.

Division 2: 2 DRR phases, 14 rounds, 112 games @ 30′+5″/m, 8-ply openings

A burnished ALLIESTEIN checked in for Division 2 with endgame table support and without the castling-related bug that manifested itself in Division 3: ROFCHADE was also refreshed. A point of interest was whether the newly promoted engines would hang on to their new status.
After RR1, ALLIESTEIN headed the standings with XIPHOS on +3 despite losing the drawn g21/5.1 to ROFCHADE after 109. Ke5?? instead of Ke7. ROFCHADE itself was on -2 and in the drop zone. At the halfway point, the leaders were XIPHOS (+7), ALLIESTEIN (+5) and CHESSBRAINVB (+2), despite the fact that ALLIESTEIN lost to ROFCHADE again. Can an engine play so badly that it plays well?

In the third round robin, there were few upsets. CHESSBRAINVB lost to FRITZ and ceded third place to BOOOT (+2) which had previously had difficulty winning. ALLIESTEIN (+8) and XIPHOS (+11) took their promotion prospects past the 97.6% and 99.9% confidence-levels respectively. NIRVANA was similarly headed for Division 3. In RR4, ROFCHADE escaped the drop in the final cliffhanger at the expense of FRITZ. XIPHOS and ALLIESTEIN gained promotion easily as BOOOT fell away badly. Interestingly, ALLIESTEIN performed better than XIPHOS against the better engines. Would this trend continue in Division 1?

Table 6. The TCEC15 Division 2 cross-table: two DRR phases, 28 rounds, 112 games.

Division 1: 2 DRR phases, 28 rounds, 112 games, tempo 60′+5″/m

Second author ‘Cato’ provided 12-ply openings for this division. The news was that the KOMODOMCTS crash problem was solved and so expectations were that it would promote easily. After seven rounds, KOMODOMCTS led ALLIESTEIN and FIZBO, ALLIESTEIN second courtesy of a default by CHIRON in game 25 when the latter failed to play a single move and crashed after 2.5 minutes: hash-table initiali¬sation may have been the problem. CHIRON has been on the cusp of Divisions 1 and P since it crashed three times in Season 12. KOMODOMCTS and FIZBO did not know that they were less likely to receive a similar gift but CHIRON was then cut back to 32 cores.

ALLIESTEIN (+4) reached half time strongly with 2.5/3 and a key win against FIZBO. KOMODOMCTS (+3) was second after being gifted a win by CHIRON in g46/12.2. With 12 moves to go to a 50-move draw, CHIRON lowered the drawbridge of its own fortress with 138. … f6?? and welcomed its enemy in with red carpet and heralds. As Karsten Müller confirmed, Ke8 was always available to guarantee the draw. LASER (+1) was gapped in third, sound, unbeaten but draw-centric. JONNY and CHIRON looked earmarked for Division 2 with just one win, literally between them.

Round Robin 3 ended with fireworks, nine of twelve games being decisive. ALLIESTEIN’s first win of RR3, a key one in g77/20.1 against XIPHOS, was followed by a network crash against CHIRON at move 70 in g81/21.1. This was posted as a ‘no fault’ loss but continued later and was drawn as expected. Meanwhile, KOMODOMCTS had moved confidently back to first place with three straight wins, the last to previously undefeated LASER. XIPHOS and LASER contested third place but were effectively two points behind ALLIESTEIN because of tiebreaks.
The last quarter started badly for ALLIESTEIN: its first genuine loss in g85/22.1 against ANDSCACS (Wool, 2019), a sharp, tactical Q-RR fight, not its forte. However, its win against KOMODOMCTS in g93/24.1 more than revived its promotion chances, giving it tie-breaking advantage against the other contenders. ALLIESTEIN and XIPHOS met in g105/27.1 for almost all the marbles and drew. As the dust settled and the GPUs cooled, positions 1-5 were decided clearly on points despite the closeness of this division. FIZBO escaped relegation only by virtue of the third ‘number of wins’ tiebreaker at the expense of JONNY which had the better SB score: TCEC follow FIDE’s tie-break priorities here. CHIRON, tailed off last at -10 and with one more albeit ultimately irrelevant crash to its name, now finds itself two divisions below its personal zenith. The two promotion spots went to KOMODOMCTS (+7) and newcomer ALLIESTEIN (+5) with fellow promotee XIPHOS (+3) a creditable third.

Table 7. The TCEC15 Division 1 cross-table: two DRR phases, 28 rounds, 112 games.

Division P, three DRR phases, 42 rounds, 168 games, tempo 90′+5″/m

The heavyweight Division P promised three weeks of the best computer chess to be found anywhere. It featured three non-Shannon (1950) MCTS engines: TCEC14 runner-up ‘LC0’ LEELA CHESS ZERO, returning KOMODOMCTS and serial promotee ALLIESTEIN. The majority of games, those between the tac¬tical minimaxers and the strategic Monegasques, were bound to be a clash of two styles and partic¬ularly interesting. After three rounds, STOCKFISH, LC0 and HOUDINI shared the three wins: the stable¬mates KOMODO and KOMODOMCTS were also unbeaten. In g24/6.4, ALLIESTEIN posted the first win for Black, an apparent draw at m74 but a promising R-BPPP endgame at m80 closed out only after another 90 moves of suspenseful exploration. Round Robin 1 featured just five precious wins and left four engines on +1 with only ETHEREAL ( 1) and FIRE ( 2) in deficit. The three ‘all-MCTS’ games were each drawn in over 112 moves.

After RR2 which sported seven wins, STOCKFISH (+4) and LC0 (+3) opened up on KOMODOMCTS and HOUDINI (+1). KOMODO, a three-time TCEC Champion redefined ‘solid’ on 14 draws from 14, only good enough for 6th: ETHEREAL ( 3) and FIRE (-5) were the principal donors and looked like joint tenants of the basement. ‘MCTS v Shannon’ with 9 of the 12 decisive games stood at +6=21-3. LC0 beat ALLIESTEIN, g39/10.3. All the red ink was below the x-table diagonal.

In round robin 3, STOCKFISH scored wins over the previously unbeaten KOMODO and HOUDINI, and over ETHEREAL and FIRE – a complete take-out of the last four. All others were 1 except ETHEREAL which lost touch with -3. ALLIESTEIN dropped a win against KOMODOMCTS in g19.2 with 36. Re1? instead of 36. Kh4! Both engines were against the clock in the drawn FIRE-ALLIESTEIN g80/20.4 until 189. … Kf5?? was preferred to the essential Kh6. This was the longest TCEC15 win to date and the first win by the underdog.

The fourth round robin resulted in a clear 2-4-2 formation: STOCKFISH and LEELA well out front, FIRE and ETHEREAL detached, and the remaining four on -1. We saw the shortest sequence of played moves in TCEC15: after the provided opening of g107/27.3, ETHEREAL demolished KOMODOMCTS in an ama¬zing 24 moves. The latter never seemed to be on terms with the situation. The MCTS-Shannon match moved on to +9=45-6 with three wins each in RR3-4.

With the Superfinal and demotions essentially if not formally decided, interest in the last third of Division P perhaps focused on the midfield contest. KOMODO rose while KOMODOMCTS fell, crashing against ALLIESTEIN and losing quickly again, this time to STOCKFISH. LEELA beat STOCKFISH to win their head-to-head: what did this say about the Superfinal to come?!

This is an appropriate moment to recommend Assaf Wool’s (2019) coverage of the TCEC games. For this Premier Division, Wool touched on all decisive games and some draws. He particularly focused on game 6 (HOUDINI–ALLIESTEIN, 1-0), g37 (STOCKFISH–KOMODOMCTS, 1-0), another clash of styles, g57 (KOMODO–STOCKFISH, 0-1), g86 (LEELA-KOMODOMCTS, 1-0), g127 (KOMODO-ALLIESTEIN, 1 0) and g161 (LEELA–STOCKFISH, 1-0).

And so the stage is set for a repeat of the TCEC14 Superfinal. LEELA comes through unbeaten with a pos¬itive score against all except HOUDINI. This is a remarkable achievement in a heavyweight division: the average game length of some 80 moves and median of 70 moves indicates that games were on the whole closely contested.

Table 8. The TCEC15 Premier Division cross-table: three DRR phases, 42 rounds, 168 games.

Table 9. The TCEC15 Premier Division figures: head-to-head and round-by-round scores.

The TCEC15 Superfinal match: 100 games, tempo 120″+10′/m

Again, after an intermission for the knockout TCEC Cup 3 (Haworth and Hernandez, 2019a), both STOCKFISH and LEELA CHESS ZERO came to the Superfinal in new versions. LEELA had won the last two TCEC Cup events, and a ‘bonus, no opening book’ match against STOCKFISH at the same Rapid tempo. Probably because of the very close TCEC14 result, a win by the smallest possible margin of one game, and the fact that LEELA was expected to have improved more than STOCKFISH, the six-times TCEC champion was no longer the favourite in the initial straw-poll.

Some evidence that LEELA was stronger in the endgame came to hand before the Superfinal started. The pause after TCEC Cup 3 included a replaying of the TCEC14 superfinal game 65 from the 7-man KNPPKBP position after 73. Kxf3. In the actual Superfinal, LEELA did not latch on to the key winning ideas quickly enough even with the help of the 6-man EGTs: the 50-move rule intervened. In ‘bonus mode’, the endgame was revisited with a later version of LEELA and this time, LEELA secured the win with less than half its previous inaccuracies. Fig. 2 shows the tracks of the two contests, depth in plies plotted against plies played. Optimal play is also shown for comparison.

Fig. 2. TCEC14 game 65 from KNPPKBP position 73b: (a) as played in the Sufi, (b) as replayed, and (c) optimal play.

This Superfinal was even for the first 15 games with one win to each side. STOCKFISH ominously opened its account with a win as Black. The expected close contest was in prospect but games 16-26 saw four wins by LEELA without reply. With hindsight, this was where most of the damage was done. Games 35-45 saw a flurry of decisive games with STOCKFISH pulling one back overall to improve the mood in its fanbase. However, LEELA struck with back-to-back wins in games 61-62: perhaps we will hear why the Trompowsky Attack, also associated with Bill Ruth and Karel Opočenský, seems not to suit STOCKFISH.

Thoughts of a comeback were rather dulled by eighteen draws but then STOCKFISH won again and in spectacular fashion with game 81. After 27. … Rae8, STOCKFISH saw a clear win with 26. h6 which LEELA had equally clearly missed. Sure enough, LEELA had to lose queen for knight in order to create the merest distraction. This was not the first time the new-style ANN engines had failed to find a sharp, tactical needle during a Monte-Carlo Tree-Search. The match was clearly not over. If LEELA could score four in short order, so could STOCKFISH. In fact, this did not happen. LEELA hit back immediately in game 82 and added insult to injury with two more wins in games 88 and 94.

‘The king is dead: long live the Queen’. Table 10 and Fig. 3 provide the core data. The final score of 53½ 46½ was more decisive than expected and it is easy to think that STOCKFISH did not play well.

This of course is not the case: LEELA just played better, some 27 ELO ahead in Implied Performance terms. Table 11 shows that games were a superhuman 89 moves long on average, not the 99 moves of their TCEC14 contest but the incremental time was less and the games were 20 shorter. Energy drinks please, not for the players but for the audience. Clearly, TCEC Superfinals are increasingly attracting top players to TCEC and we will hear more of these games. ‘Kingscrusher’ (2019b-u), known to his parents and now to others as CM Tryfon Gavriel, continues to provide richly informative video-commentaries. ‘Kingscrusher’’s (2019a) interview with Game Changer’s Matthew Sadler and Natasha Regan (2019) is also relevant to LEELA’s play. Wool (2019) and ‘GM TheChessPuzzler’ (2019) are also making extended and valuable contributions. Long may these continue.

Demis Hassabis’ (2019) tweet “Great to see learning systems come out on top. Huge congrats to the @LeelaChessZero team and community!” was typically enthusiastic and encouraging.

Table 10. The TCEC 15 Superfinal match of 100 games: the decisive games, Black wins underlined.

Fig. 3. The TCEC15 Superfinal: the incidence of decisive results and LEELA CHESS ZERO’s lead.


Table 11. Generic statistics for each phase of TCEC15: results, terminations and average game-length.



After fifteen seasons of TCEC, it is worth reflecting that league tables tend to emphasise the ranking of chess engines rather than their relative differences, and certainly rather than their absolute prowess. Also, given the nearly non-stop nature of TCEC events, it is easy to forget that hours of top-level chess are passing before us in all the divisions – and inevitably, without getting the attention and analysis that they deserve, despite the hints on the TCEC and Chessbomb (2019) sites and Sadler’s (2019) perspective. Any of the TCEC15 engines would give a Grandmaster a serious game and most would perhaps have to be handicapped by a Blitz or even Armageddon tempo. Even so, there is evidence here that if there is some ‘ceiling’ asymptote to quality of play, it is still some way off. The admirable Emil Vlasák (2019) has, for example, clearly demonstrated that LEELA would not be at all competitive in a Computer-solv¬ing Champion¬ship as it struggles to find study-like wins.

Congratulations to TCEC’s new champion, LEELA CHESS ZERO, and to all who have assisted in her conception and evolution. STOCKFISH, champion for TCEC seasons 6, 9 and 11-14, continues to domi¬nate the rest of the field and we can expect to see hostilities renewed. Perhaps LEELA’s vulnerability to tactical shots will be exposed further. ‘Kudos’ to all other participants and to the core TCEC team who make all this happen.

Will further engines of the ‘new genre’ join the fray, and will hybrid engines appear, incorporating the best of the ‘minimax’ and MCTS perspectives? Will TCEC be able to combine the strengths of their two servers in one platform in order to facilitate this? Will computer-based tools emerge to help us understand the subtleties of the games we are witnessing? We shall see.

All TCEC15 games, many with additional annotation and play-outs, are available in pgn form together with data beyond that of Tables 11-12 (Haworth and Hernandez, 2019b).

Table 12. The shortest and longest 1-0, drawn and 0-1 games in each phase of TCEC15.
Game indication: ‘c7/4.1’ for example means division 4c, pgn game 7, round 4, game 1.

  • BIPM (2019). ‘New SI’ implementation day, 2019-05-20.
  • CPW (2019). The Chess Programming Wiki website, including biog¬raphies of engines, authors and developers.
  • Chessbomb (2019). TCEC15 coverage.
  • Chessdom (2019). Chessdom interview with the ALLIESTEIN team.
  • de Man, R. (2018). Site providing sub-8-man DTZ50 EGTs.
  • ‘GM Thechesspuzzler’ (2019). TCEC15 Superfinal commentaries.
  • Hassabis, D. (2019). DH’s twittered congratulations to team LEELA.
  • Haworth, G. McC. and Hernandez, N. (2019a). TCEC Cup 3. The third TCEC knockout Cup. Submitted to the ICGA Journal.
  • Haworth, G. McC. and Hernandez, N. (2019b). This note plus annotated statistics and pgn files. Submitted to the ICGA Journal.
  • Intel (2017). Intel’s specification of the XEON® E5-2699V4 processor.
  • ‘Kingscrusher’ (2019a). Interview about the book Game Changer.
  • ‘Kingscrusher’ (2019b). TCEC15 Superfinal videos.
  • ‘Kingscrusher’ (2019c). Sufi g08: notable, fighting draw.
  • ‘Kingscrusher’ (2019d). Sufi g10: Benoni novelty 12. Be2.
  • ‘Kingscrusher’ (2019e). Sufi g12: LC0 blunder with 67.Kf3.
  • ‘Kingscrusher’ (2019f). Sufi g16: LC0 accumulates advantages.
  • ‘Kingscrusher’ (2019g). Sufi g18: LC0 Bayonet attack, ~m40.
  • ‘Kingscrusher’ (2019h). Sufi g24: LC0 channels Karpov to win.
  • ‘Kingscrusher’ (2019i). Sufi g26: LC0 wins RB-NN endgame.
  • ‘Kingscrusher’ (2019j). Sufi g36: ‘best game so far’ epithet.
  • ‘Kingscrusher’ (2019k). Sufi g38: ST loses with doubled pawns.
  • ‘Kingscrusher’ (2019l). Sufi g39: tactically-rich STOCKFISH win.
  • ‘Kingscrusher’ (2019m). Sufi g40: LC0’s positional play wins.
  • ‘Kingscrusher’ (2019n). Sufi g43: LC0 resistance collapses ~m78.
  • ‘Kingscrusher’ (2019o). Sufi g45: ST seals win with 87. f4. 8-5.
  • ‘Kingscrusher’ (2019p). Sufi g61: LC0’s three-passed-pawn win.
  • ‘Kingscrusher’ (2019q). Sufi g62: ‘double’ win, more passers.
  • ‘Kingscrusher’ (2019r). Sufi g81: LC0 loses Queen to tactics.
  • ‘Kingscrusher’ (2019s). Sufi g82: LC0 sees advantage, ~m19
  • ‘Kingscrusher’ (2019t). Sufi g86: LC0 wins, outside passer.
  • ‘Kingscrusher’ (2019u). Sufi g87: STOCKFISH’s last win.
  • Nvidia (2018). GEFORCE GTX 2080 TI GPU specification and benchmark performance data.
  • Sadler, M. (2019). The TCEC15 Computer Chess Superfinal: a perspective. Submitted to the ICGA Journal.
  • Sadler, M. and Regan, N. (2019). Game Changer: AlphaZero’s Groundbreaking Chess Strategies and the Promise of AI. New in Chess. ISBN 978-90-5691-818-7.
  • Shannon, C. E. (1950). Programming a Computer for Playing Chess. The London, Edinburgh and Dublin Philosophical Magazine, 41(314), 256-275.
  • Vlasák, E. (2019). LEELA CHESS ZERO. EG, Vol. 25(216), 106-8.
  • Wool, A. (2019) AW’s ‘TCEC Experience’ blog.
Full article

To read the full article in pdf, click HERE

published June 22, 2019

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Alexandra Goryachkina wins the Women Candidates Chess 2019

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 01:37

The Russian chess player Aleksandra Goryachkina won the Women Candidates Chess 2019 with two rounds to spare. The youngest participant of the tournament finished with 9.5 points out of 14 and secured the right to play the Women’s World Championship Match against the Women`s World Champion Ju Wenjun (China). The prize fund of the coming championship match is 500,000 Euro, which is 150% higher than in the previous match.

Anna Muzychuk (Ukraine) is second with 8 points. Katerina Lagno (Russia) and Tan Zhongyi (China) shared 3-4 places with 7 points.

Final standings:

1. Aleksandra Goryachkina (Russia) – 9.5, 2. Anna Muzychuk (Ukraine) – 8, 3-4. Kateryna Lagno (Russia), Тan Zhongyi (China) – 7, 5-6. Nana Dzagnidze (Georgia), Mariya Muzychuk (Ukraine) – 6.5, 7. Alexandra Kosteniuk (Russia) – 6, 8. Valentina Gunina (Russia) – 5.5.

The closing ceremony took place in the Nogai Hotel, the tournament venue, on June 18.

In the beginning of the ceremony, a special prize for the most beautiful game of the tournament, provided by the Russian Chess Federation and AB InBev Efes company, was awarded. The jury consisted of chairman Maxim Notkin, editor-in-chief of the 64-Chess Review, the tournament commentators GMs Sergey Shipov and Evgeny Miroshnichenko, and the Head of the Appeals Committee Jeroen van den Berg. A shortlist of four games was formed.

The beauty prize was awarded to Mariya Muzychuk for the game Muzychuk-Goryachkina, played in the last round, by Natalia Rostova, the Deputy Director of the local branch of the AB InBev Efes, and Maxim Notkin.

FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich, RCF Executive Director Mark Glukhovsky, and Minister of sport of the Republic of Tatarstan Vladimir Leonov delivered speeches. The Chief Arbiter of the tournament, IA Hal Bond (Canada) announced the competition results. After his announcement, the players received their prizes from the honored guests.

Total prize fund of the FIDE Women`s Candidates is €200,000.

The organizers are FIDE, Russian Chess Federation, Government of the Republic of Tatarstan, Ministry of Sports of the Republic of Tatarstan, and city administration of Kazan.

The tournament is sponsored by PJSC PhosAgro and Russian Railways.

Official website:

Final table:

Categories: Ενημέρωση

TCEC Cup 3 report

Thu, 05/30/2019 - 14:08

Written by Guy Haworth and Nelson Hernandez
Reading, UK and Maryland, USA

[Corresponding author:]

This is the next article in our series of analytical articles on past TCEC events. The main text can be read below on this webpage; to view the full layouted article in pdf format, including the important tables, graphs and images CLICK HERE.

TCEC is very grateful to the authors for the authors’ kind permission to publish these substantial and scholarly analyses of its events!


The second TCEC Cup (Haworth and Hernandez, 2019a) was won by ‘LC0’ LEELA CHESS ZERO beat-ing HOUDINI after the latter surprisingly took out STOCKFISH in their semi-final. The event, with its Rapid tempo of 30′+5″/move continued to be the favoured curtain-raiser before the current TCEC season’s Superfinal (Haworth and Hernandez, 2019b). TCEC Cup 3 began on April 29th 2019.

The following engines sent in updates for the cup: ALLIESTEIN, ARASAN, FIRE, GINKGO, KOMODO, KOMODOMCTS, LCZERO, MARVIN, NEMORINO, RODENT III, ROFCHADE, RUBICHESS, STOCKFISH, VAJOLET2, WASP, WINTER and XIPHOS. The settings of CHIRON and PIRARUCU were changed. So clearly, the international computer chess programme continues on its dynamic way (CPW, 2019). The engine logos are listed in Fig. 1.

The ‘standard pairing’ was again used, with seed s playing seed 26-r-s+1 in round r if the wins all go to the higher seed. Thus, seed s1 plays s32, s16, …, s2 if all survive long enough. The higher seed is listed first in Table 1. This time, the matches – eight games plus any necessary game-pair tiebreaks – were played out only until the result was decided.

The usual ‘TCEC opening’ team, the second author here and Jeroen Noomen, randomly chose from three books with some regard for frequency over the board. Greater variety of play ensued from round 1’s 8-ply openings and 12-ply openings thereafter up to and including the semi-finals. The final took openings of various lengths from JN’s TCEC Superfinal books for seasons 9-14.

As in previous TCEC Cup events, interest focused on actual performance ‘%P’ compared with expected performance ‘E%P’ implied by TCEC ELO difference ‘ELO Δ’. The accuracy of the TCEC ELOs, the upgrades to over half the field and the character of the random openings were to be the main influences.

1 Round 1

As expected, ‘LC0’ LEELA CHESS ZERO opened its campaign with a 5-0 clean sweep. ALLIESTEIN, HOUDINI and KOMODOMCTS repeated this feat. In the top half of the draw, the eventual winner did not concede a single game but this was to change. Marginal favourite GINKGO lost its first game, won its second and was taken to fourteen games before persevering against ROFCHADE. This was the only comeback and tiebreak of the first round.

The other match-winners to lose a game were CHIRON (to FRITZ) and ANDSCACS (to TEXEL) so ‘kudos’ to those engines. Best performers relative to expectations were ETHEREAL, ALLIESTEIN, FIRE and especially BOOOT which comprehensively eliminated CHESSBRAINVB, the seed above it. The draw between STOCKFISH and RODENT is also well worth a visit. The field was now exclusively TCEC15 Divisions P, 1 and 2 – the top 15 plus seed 17, BOOOT, almost as expected.

2 Round 2

BOOOT put up a valiant fight against LC0 in some long and memorable games, particularly game 1 (Kingscrusher, 2019a) but still only scored a half-point. FIRE edged a match win in game seven against immediate rival XIPHOS. STOCKFISH beat GINKGO, g25, the final KRPPKRP just beyond adjudication echoing Carlsen-Caruana WCC 2018, Rapid game 1. LASER scored an early win against ETHEREAL but lost with its last Black of eight. Fifteen draws followed before ETHEREAL nosed ahead to win the longest TCEC Cup match to date. LASER’s fans are entitled to be disappointed, having come so close.

3 The quarter-finals, semi-finals, third-place play-off and final

LEELA, by virtue of being top seed, gets the lowest seed left as long as results go with seeding. However, at this stage, no match is easy. LEELA duly overcame FIRE but it was only after a great fight, a credit to both sides. HOUDINI, like BOOOT in Round 1, overturned the seed immediately above it, in this case ALLIESTEIN.

In the lower half of the draw, ETHEREAL surprised the growing audience and STOCKFISH with a straight eight draws but then STOCKFISH reeled off two wins – the second of which it could arguably have lost after 28. … Rbd8. Enter the dragons, KOMODO and KOMODOMCTS, over-hungry after the delay and more than ready for a fight, see Fig. 2. After much effort, the upstart newcomer overturned the seeding even more than HOUDINI, its win in the last of the eight scheduled games allowing no response.

In the semi-final, the favourites were not challenged and came through, both being unbeaten so far. This left HOUDINI to face KOMODOMCTS in the play-off for third. This was won comfortably by HOUDINI which continues to impress at this level despite not being updated.

In the final, LEELA’s game 3 win was not decisive as STOCKFISH won convincingly in the last scheduled game. The tie-break then ensued and LEELA ironically took advantage of two rare but not unknown 7-man STOCKFISH errors (Aloril, 2019), here in positions 155b and 167w. LEELA progressed to the win without its usual hesitancy as it now had the use of the 6-man EGTs. Fig. 3 shows the defence, the value and depth-shedding errors and the progress to the win. In the return game, LEELA eroded STOCKFISH’s initial advantage and then attacked in a drawn position: only perpetual checks across 100 moves prevented STOCKFISH from being mated.

4 A summary

The early rounds went very much as predicted by the form book though several losers put up stronger resistance than expected. At the top level, few mistakes were made by the closely-matched engines so in the short matches anything could have happened. Nevertheless, LEELA confirmed that its win in TCEC Cup 2 was no fluke and it retained the title. Neural networks do finally seem to be coming through with genuine advances, at Deep Mind (Hassabis, 2019) and elsewhere, but troublingly it is not obvious why they work and when they go wrong. The engines created in the Shannon (1950) genre are at least valuable as benchmarks and have their reputations to defend. Congratulations to LEELA (Chessdom, 2019; Linscott, 2018) and to all participants for some top quality chess. We will see its equal but will we be equal to appreciating it? Helpfully, Kingscrusher (2019a/b) continues to reveal the context, themes and dynamics of the games with his rich commentaries. The e-version of this report (Haworth and Hernandez, 2019c) provides statistics beyond Table 6 and all games with some analysis including play-outs of all decisive games, some of which end more obviously than others. Semi-final LEELA–HOUDINI game 1, for example, is relatively complex in the field of TCEC-adjudicated wins.

Categories: Ενημέρωση

TCEC Cup 3 – pairings and information

Sat, 04/27/2019 - 15:39

TCEC Cup is coming, with the top 32 engines in a knockout competition

The TCEC Cup is now an integral part of the seasons of the Top Chess Engine Championship. It brings a special twist to the regular pace of the season, gives a chance for lower rated engines to meet the best, and also provides opportunity for engines with new versions to show their best and climb up the ladder.

The first TCEC Cup was convincingly won by Stockfish. It proved superior in Season 13 and did not give a chance to its opponents at any moment during the cup competition as well. TCEC Cup 2, however, was a different story. Stockfish stumbled at the semi-final against the S10 champion version of Houdini. This pitted Houdini against the bearer of the NN revolution Lc0, and the latter won its first major title in computer chess.

Replay TCEC Cup 2 final

TCEC Cup 3 starts this weekend. The cup holder Lc0 is going to defend its title in a race with the top 32 engines of the ongoing season. Its first match will be against a newcomer to the TCEC race – Marvin by Martin Danielsson (see Marvin’s rating at CCRL).

The main challenger of of Lc0 will be Stockfish. It starts at the other end of the brackets and the two can meet only at the final. The first match of Stockfish is against the 31st seeded – Rodent III by Pawel Koziol (see Rodent’s rating at CCRL). Rodent comes with last minute improvements and although having little chance against the many times TCEC champion, it will be a nice test altogether.

Despite an easy pairing in round 1, both Lc0 and Stockfish will have a difficult way to the final. Last year the surprise was Houdini. This year the pitfalls along the way are many. Komodo is playing with a new stronger version and is keeping up with the pace of the favorites. The new NN engine AllieStein is bringing hard time to the top engines, often putting decisive pressure on them and even defeating Houdini. Komodo MCTS is also among the dark horses – it just does not lose against its brother Komodo or against Houdini, while it drew 6/7 games against Lc0 in the Premier division. Xiphos, a stable Ginkgo, the updated Fire, or a new Laser can also bring havoc to the field.

TCEC Cup 3 pairings

The TCEC Cup 3 seedings are traditionally based on the ongoing season. As TCEC_Spectator explains, “TCEC Cup 1 pairings followed entirely the standings of the regular season. TCEC Cup 2, and subsequent cups, will have the winner of the previous Cup seeded as #1, while all the other participants will be seeded according to the regular season. The Premier Division will give the rest of the top 8 seeds of the competition. Seedings based on Divisions 1, 2 and 3 are straight forward. The 6 engines that did not promote are seeded in order of finish – Division 1 gives seeds 9 through 14, Division 2 gives seeds 15 through 20, Division 3 gives seeds 21 through 26. That leaves Division 4a and 4b. The teams finishing #3 and #4 in the 4 engine playoff for promotion to Division 3 make up seeds 27 and 28 respectively. The final 4 seeds are the 3rd and 4th place finishers (that did not make the playoff) in each of the two divisions 4a and 4b. The 3rd place teams are seeds 29 and 30 with the engine with higher points given the 29th seed. Likewise the 4th place teams are seeds 31 and 32 (finishing with equal points but Rodent III had more wins so was given seed 31).”

The full pairings will be completed once the Premier Division is completed – follow it live here. For engine ratings check out the computer chess engine rating list CCRL

1. Lc0 (title holder)

2. Stockfish

3. Div P #3

4. Div P #4

5. Div P #5

6. Div P #6

7. Ethereal

8. Fire

9. Xiphos

10. Laser

11. Andscacs

12. Fizbo

13. Jonny

14. Chiron

15. Ginkgo

16. ChessBrainVB

17. Booot

18. rofChade

19. Fritz

20. Nirvana

21. Arasan

22. Texel

23. Vajolet2

24. Gull

25. Pedone

26. Nemorino

27. pirarucu

28. RubiChess

29. Wasp

30. Winter

31. Rodent III

32. Marvin

Categories: Ενημέρωση