Top Chess Engine Championship

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Top Chess Engine Championship, formerly known as Thoresen Chess Engines Competition (TCEC or nTCEC), is a computer chess tournament that has been run since 2010. It was organized, directed, and hosted by Martin Thoresen until the end of Season 6; from Season 7 onward it has been organized by Chessdom. It is often regarded as the Unofficial World Computer Chess Championship because of its strong participant line-up and long time-control matches on high-end hardware, giving rise to very high-class chess. The tournament has attracted nearly all the top engines compared to the World Computer Chess Championship. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Top_Chess_Engine_Championship)

There have been 27 games completed in the current TCEC Chess Championship, Season 22. The Chess program known as Stockfish has drubbed the Chess program known as Komodo by scoring ten wins with Komodo having registered only three victories. If this were boxing the bout would have been stopped much earlier. Although I have followed most of the previous TCEC Chess Championships I am no authority on what, exactly, is transpiring. There was an event preceding the final in which the two aforementioned programs competed, along with many other programs. Stockfish managed to win the event but Komodo won one of the games played with Stockfish with the latter not being able to score a win against the Dragon; the other games were drawn. This led the AW to believe the current match would be close. When it comes to computer program Chess, what the fork do I know?

It is difficult to write about the event with limited knowledge. I should probably do some research before writing but, frankly, I have no desire to spend time jumping through the hoops necessary to obtain more information, so will go with what I know, Joe.

In the Top Chess Engine Championship (TCEC) Season 21 Superfinal the top two engines from the Premier Division compete in a 100-game match for the TCEC Grand Champion title. Stockfish bested LCZero by a score of 56-44 (https://chess24.com/en/watch/live-tournaments/tcec-season-21-superfinal-2021).

At this moment the twenty-eighth game is underway. The opening is an “A80 Dutch, Korchnoi Attack.” I have played the Dutch Defense for many decades and, to the best of my knowledge, this is the first time I have heard of the “Korchnoi attack.” I kid you not…This sent me to the Ironman. After inquiring Tim said he had never heard of the Korchnoi attack against the Dutch. Between us we have over a century of Chess experience, yet neither of us recalled the Korchnoi Attack, which is 1 d4 f5 2 h3
(https://www.365chess.com/opening.php?m=4&n=53&ms=d4.f5.h3&ns=7.60.53). The ChessBaseDataBase contains only 136 games in which the Korchnoi Attack was played. The Big Database at 365Chess shows 394 games with the attack by Korchnoi. The name “Korchnoi” is found only once at the 365Chess.com webpage of the “Korchnoi Attack” (https://www.365chess.com/opening.php?m=4&n=53&ms=d4.f5.h3&ns=7.60.53), and that would be the header: A80 Dutch, Korchnoi attack. The ongoing game shows Stockfish, playing White, has a completely won game after thirty moves…Komodo did, though, win the first game of the mini-match utilizing the Korchnoi attack (https://tcec-chess.com/#div=sf&game=27&season=22).

In an earlier round the featured opening was a Petrov defense, or as it is found over at 365Chess, “C42 Petrov, Cochrane gambit.” The opening moves of the Cochrane Gambit are: 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Nxe5 d6 4 Nxf7… Both games of the mini-match were drawn. (https://www.365chess.com/opening.php?m=8&n=1124&ms=e4.e5.Nf3.Nf6.Nxe5.d6.Nxf7&ns=3.5.5.221.601.707.1124)

The opening has been so rarely played that the Big Database at 365Chess shows 382 games contained therein. At the ChessBaseDataBase one finds only 113 games having been previously played in the history of Chess. This begs the question of who chooses the openings played; and why such obscure openings have been chosen; and “What the Fork?”

For over a decade I have wondered why the humans at TCEC did not allow the programs to choose their own moves. Human interference has marred the event. It would be more understandable if the programs were forced to play, say, 1 e4 c5, the Sicilian defense, the most popular opening of humans. I could understand letting the programs begin after the most popular Sicilian opening, the Najdorf, which is 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6. Yet the openings chosen force the game to begin after a long string of obscure moves have been played. What is the point?

Evidently other players, or at least spectators, feel the same because rarely does one see more than a couple of hundred people watching the “action.” The TCEC Championship was interesting when it began but the novelty has worn off along with the interest. After 44 moves played in the latest game the page shows Stockfish winning by 8.38. The game has obviously been over, for all intents and purposes, for many moves, yet the programs keep producing moves on demand, no matter how lopsided the score.

Ordinarily I would post a game to go with the words, but TCEC makes it difficult, if not impossible, to cut and paste the moves. If you would like to see any of the action, check it out @ https://www.chessdom.com/

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