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. (

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 (

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
( 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 webpage of the “Korchnoi Attack” (, 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 (

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. (

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 @

Hans Niemann’s World Open Trifecta

What a wonderful World Open for the new Grandmaster Hans Niemann! Over one thousand intrepid humans, not counting all those who accompanied some of them, traveled to Philadelphia at the end of June for the 49th Annual World Open; the 14th Annual Philadelphia International; and the 32nd Annual Blitz Championship.

Grandmaster Hans Moke Niemann
Hans Niemann

stole the show by tying for first place in each of the three tournaments. I have no idea if this is unprecedented and will leave it to readers to weigh in with the answer. Whether unprecedented or not it is quite an achievement.

Location PHILADELPHIA, PA 19103
Event Date(s) 2021-06-26 thru 2021-06-30

First-Third w/7 points/9 rounds
HANS NIEMANN 2651 ->2669
ANDREW HONG 2575 ->2595

49TH ANNUAL WORLD OPEN (202107054872)
Location PHILADELPHIA, PA 19103
Event Date(s) 2021-07-01 thru 2021-07-05


HANS NIEMANN 2669 ->2694


ANDREW HONG 2595 ->2616



Location PHILADELPHIA, PA 19103
Event Date(s) 2021-07-05


HANS NIEMANN 2617 ->2616
ANDREW TANG 2639 ->2639

7/10 (8-16)

ANDREW HONG 2488 ->2480

Niemann, Hans Moke 2571 vs Zhou, Jianchao 2603

A80 Dutch

Round 9

  1. d4 f5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Bg5 (Here’s a shocker from the ChessBaseDataBase, Stockfish prefers 3 Bf4, which has only been played in 40 games in the CBDB, compared to 1536 for the move played in the game. In addition, 3 Bf4 has scored only 49% compared to the 58% shown after 3 Bg5! Go figure…)
    3…d5 4. Nf3 (Stockfish is high on the seldom played 4 e3 [287], while 4 Bxf6 [859] remains the most played move. 4 Nf3 has only been played 41 times) 4…e6 5. e3 (It is de rigueur to play this move)

5…Be7 (Far and away the most often played move [135 games], but is it the best? Stockfish prefers the seldom played [15 games] 5…Nbd7) 6. Bd3 (Komodo plays this move, which has been played in 105 games, by far more than any other move, but Stockfish 13 @Depth 32 plays 6 Ne2, which has only appeared in 6 games at the CBDB, scoring 58%. Going deeper to depth 37, SF 13 changes its [mind? opinion? thought process? algorithm? You tell me…] to 6 Be2, with 11 games in the CBDB. Unfortunately, 6 Be2 has scored only 23%) 6…O-O (This move has been played in 70 games in the CBDB, with white scoring 69%. Now I don’t know about you, but if sitting behind the black pieces I would give some serious consideration to, a) not getting to this position, or b) playing another move! Stockfish 12 played this move, but SF 13 went with 6…c5. In the 13 games contained in the CBDB white scored 73%. This caused Stockfish 14 to attempt 6…Ne4. In the 13 games at the CBDB white has scored 69%. Let us go back to the move, 5…Nbd7, preferred by both Stockfish 12 & 13. White has scored only 50%! But wait…there’s MORE! Deep Fritz, at only depth 23, would play 5…a6. “Say what”? you’re thinking…You are not the only one! Here’s the deal…The CBDB contains 34 games with 5…a6, with white scoring only 47%!!! What does Deep Fritz know and when did it know it?!) 7. O-O (SF prefers 7 Ne2) 7…h6 (SF 13 plays 7…c5; SF 14 prefers 7…Ne4) 8. Bh4 (SF & Houdini prefer 8 Bf4) 8…c5 (TN) 9. dxc5 Nc6 10. Bg3 Ne4 11. Ne2 Nxc5 12. a3 Bf6 13. Rb1 e5 14. b4 Ne4 15. Nd2 Be6 16. Nb3 b6 17. f4 Nxg3 18. hxg3 e4 19. Bb5 Ne7 20. Ned4 Bd7 21. Ba6 Rb8 22. c4 dxc4 23. Bxc4+ Kh8 24. Qe2 Qe8 25. Rfd1 Qg6 26. Kf2 Rfd8 27. b5 Qe8 28. Rd2 g6 29. Rbd1 h5 30. a4 Rbc8 31. Be6 Bxe6 32. Nxe6 Rxd2 33. Qxd2 Ng8 34. Ned4 Qf7 35. Rc1 Rc4 36. Qa2 Nh6 37. Ke2 Qd5 38. Qd2 Ng4 39. Rc2 Rxa4 40. Qc3 Kh7 41. Qc6 Qg8 42. Qb7+ Kh6 43. Rc8 Ra2+ 44. Ke1 Qg7 45. Rc7 Qh8 46. Rc8 Qg7 47. Rc7 Qh8 48. Rc8 1/2-1/2

Lai, Hing Ting (2447) vs Sandipan, Chanda (2548)
Event: Condigne Dutch Open 2018
Site: Dieren NED Date: 08/02/2018
Round: 9.11
ECO: A80 Dutch
1.d4 f5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bg5 d5 4.e3 e6 5.Nf3 Be7 6.Bd3 O-O 7.O-O h6 8.Bh4 Nbd7 9.Ne2 g5 10.Bg3 Nh5 11.Qd2 Nxg3 12.Nxg3 Bd6 13.c4 c6 14.cxd5 cxd5 15.Rac1 Qf6 16.Rc2 Nb8 17.Rfc1 Nc6 18.a3 Bd7 19.Ne2 g4 20.Ne1 f4 21.e4 Qg7 22.e5 Be7 23.f3 h5 24.Bb5 gxf3 25.Bxc6 f2+ 26.Kxf2 Bh4+ 27.Kg1 Bxe1 28.Rxe1 f3 29.Nf4 Bxc6 30.Rf1 Qh6 31.Rxf3 Rf5 32.Qe3 Kh7 33.Rcf2 Raf8 34.g3 h4 35.g4 Qg5 36.h3 Kh6 37.Kg2 Ba4 38.Qc1 Bb5 39.Ne2 Bxe2 40.Qxg5+ Kxg5 41.gxf5 Bxf3+ 42.Rxf3 Rxf5 43.Rxf5+ ½-½

Yu Vs Maghsoodloo: Cutting Edge Dutch Theory

Computer programs have revolutionized opening theory in the game of Go with new books being published with regularity. The same is true for the Royal game but without the new books being published acknowledging how the new moves were obtained. For example:

The impact upon the Royal game has been great but what about the acknowledgement? How extensively have the computer Chess programs changed the way the game is played? Do human players find new moves these daze or do they sit back and let the programs crunch the numbers and use what is found?

Yangyi Yu (2763)

vs Parham Maghsoodloo (2644)

FIDE Grand Swiss 2019 round 07

1. d4 f5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 g6 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. O-O O-O 6. b3 b6 7. c4 Bb7 8. Nc3 e6 9. Bf4 a5 10. Rc1 Na6 11. d5 Nc5 12. dxe6 Nxe6 13. Be5 Bh6 14. e3 Ng4 15. Nd5 Nxe5 16. Nxe5 d6 17. Nd3 Rb8 18. a3 Re8 19. b4 axb4 20. axb4 Ng5 21. b5 Bg7 22. N3b4 Ne4 23. Nc6 Bxc6 24. bxc6 Nf6 25. Nc3 Kh8 26. Ra1 Ne4 27. Nxe4 fxe4 28. Ra7 b5 29. cxb5 Rxb5 30. Qa4 Rbe5 31. Bh3 Rf8 32. Bd7 h5 33. Qa6 Rc5 34. Qb7 Rc2 35. Qb3 Rb2 36. Qe6 Qg5 37. Qxe4 d5 38. Qe6 d4 39. Rb7 dxe3 40. Rxb2 Bxb2 41. fxe3 Rxf1+ 42. Kxf1 Qf6+ 43. Qxf6+ Bxf6 44. Ke2 Kg7 45. Kf3 Be5 46. Ke4 Kf6 47. Be8 h4 48. gxh4 Bxh2 49. Kd5 Bg3 50. Ke4 ½-½

1 d4 f5 2 g3 Nf6 3 Bg2 g6 4 Nf3 Bg7 5 O-O O-O 6 b3 (SF 250919 @ depth 46 plays 6 c4, expecting 6…d6 7 Nc3, which is the Leningrad Dutch. The CBDB shows SF 10 @ depth 43 also playing 6 c4, but SF 260819 prefers the move in the game)

(Until recently 6…d6, known as the Leningrad Dutch, was invariably played. The CBDB shows 6…d6 having been played in 1100 games. 6…b6 has only been attempted a paltry 22 times. The game move, 6…b6, is the move of Stockfish 021019 @ depth 75; SF 10 @ depth 41 plays 6…Na6 with 7 c4 Rb8 following) 7 c4 Bb7 8 Nc3 e6

(The choice of Stockfish, which is a completely different way to play. IM Boris Kogan played 6 b3 but I cannot recall him ever facing an early b6 and would like to know what the Hulk would have thought of the mirror move. For 8…Na6 see Lemos vs Alvarado Diaz below) 9 Bf4 TN (This move, the choice of Komodo, is not shown at the CBDB or 365Chess. 9 Bb2 has been the most often played move. StockFish 10 plays 9 Rb1 while SF 120919 would play 9 Bg5, neither move has yet been seen in action) 9…a5 10. Rc1 Na6 11. d5 Nc5 12. dxe6 Nxe6 13. Be5 Bh6 14. e3 Ng4 15. Nd5 Nxe5 16. Nxe5 d6 17. Nd3 Rb8 18. a3 Re8 19. b4 axb4 20. axb4 Ng5 21. b5 Bg7 22. N3b4 Ne4 23. Nc6 Bxc6 24. bxc6 Nf6 25. Nc3 Kh8 26. Ra1 Ne4 27. Nxe4 fxe4 28. Ra7 b5 29. cxb5 Rxb5 30. Qa4 Rbe5 31. Bh3 Rf8 32. Bd7 h5 33. Qa6 Rc5 34. Qb7


(At the ChessBomb Stockfish gives 34…d5 as best, showing 34…Qh6; h4; and Be5. The following variation is shown: 34… d5 35. Qxc7 Qf6 36. Qf4 Qe7 37. Qh4 Bf6 38. Qh3 Qd6 39. g4 h4 40. g5 Bxg5 41. Qg4 d4 42. c7 Rxc7 43. Rxc7 Qxc7 44. Qxg5 Qxd7 45. Qxh4+ Kg7 46. Qxe4 dxe3 47. Qe5+ Kg8 48. fxe3 Qg4+ 49. Qg3 Qe4 50. Rxf8+ Kxf8 51. Qf4+ Qxf4 52. exf4 Kf7)

35. Qb3?

(As is often the case in top level Chess these daze one ‘red move’ follows another ‘red move’ over at DaBomb. Back to back, or double blunders by the best human players happens with regularity. I’ve no idea why this is happening. Maybe double vision

is the cause. Any ideas? This is the best variation according to the Fish after crunching numbers for all of fifteen seconds) 35. Qxc7 Qxc7 36. Rxc7 Bf6 37. Be6 Bd8 38. Rc8 Be7 39. Rxf8+ Bxf8 40. Bd5 Rc5 41. Bxe4 g5 42. Rd1 Be7 43. f4 Kg7 44. Bd5 gxf4 45. gxf4 Bd8 46. Kf2 Kf6 47. e4 Rc3 48. Rb1 Rc2+ 49. Ke3 Ba5 50. Rb7 Rxh2 51. Rf7+ Kg6) Rb2 36. Qe6 Qg5 37. Qxe4 d5 38. Qe6 d4 39. Rb7 dxe3 40. Rxb2 Bxb2 41. fxe3 Rxf1+ 42. Kxf1 Qf6+ 43. Qxf6+ Bxf6 44. Ke2 Kg7 45. Kf3 Be5 46. Ke4 Kf6 47. Be8 h4 48. gxh4 Bxh2 49. Kd5 Bg3 50. Ke4 ½-½

Damian Lemos (2482) vs Alejandro Alvarado Diaz (2399)

Event: 1st La Palma GM 2019

A80 Dutch

1.d4 f5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.O-O O-O 6.b3 b6 7.c4 Bb7 8.Nc3 Na6 9.Ba3 Ne4 10.Nxe4 Bxe4 11.Rc1 c5 12.e3 e6 13.Qe2 Qe7 14.Rfd1 d6 15.Ne1 Bxg2 16.Nxg2 Rad8 17.Rd2 e5 18.dxe5 dxe5 19.Rcd1 Nc7 20.Bb2 Ne6 21.Rd5 Nc7 22.R5d2 Ne6 23.Rd5 Nc7 24.R5d2 ½-½