Are Armageddon Chess Games Fair?

Armageddon:

1.
a. Bible In the book of Revelation, the place of the gathering of armies for the final battle before the end of the world.
b. The battle involving these armies.
2. A decisive or catastrophic conflict.

https://www.thefreedictionary.com/Armageddon

7th Norway Armageddon can be found at the Other events today section of the wonderful website, The Week In Chess, by Mark Crowther. (http://theweekinchess.com/) Mark has been providing Chess information since the “First issue 17th September 1994.” Yet Mark cannot display the games from the tournament in Norway. Why is that? Why does the Chess world continue repeatedly shooting itself in the foot? The reason is m-o-n-e-y. Refusing to allow Mark to display any kind of Chess information may be good for the organizers in the short term (although FIDE has continually proven the opposite yet continues attempting to gather all the spoils it can) but it cannot be good for the long term health of the organization. I refuse to follow any tournament not allowed to be displayed at TWIC. The Norway tournament was even easier to eschew because so-called “Armageddon Chess” is ridiculous. The fact organizers thought they had to resort to such nonsense is proof positive the Royal game of Chess in a decisive or catastrophic conflict with itself. I spent some time attempting to ascertain the name of the lunatic who first had the idea of playing Armageddon Chess, to no avail. Evidently there are enough lunatics involved with Chess to have helped facilitate foisting the Armageddon abomination upon we Chess fans. The research did produce a few items of interest. Consider something posted six months ago by BackrankPawn:

Are armageddon games fair?

In the unlikely event that the world championship goes to an armageddon game, would players prefer Black with 4 minutes and draw odds or white with 5 minutes? Is it roughly fair?

Why don’t they auction time for the draw odds?

*edit* I buried the lead. I wanted to figure out how much time the draw odds are worth. We could let the players decide by auctioning seconds for black and draw odds. Whoever spends more, gets that much time taken off but gets draw odds. Then there would be no complaints about coin flips.

Then there is this from Leonard Barden on Chess:

Armageddon divides fans while Magnus Carlsen leads again in Norway

Controversial speed format designed to prevent draws sparks a chaotic scramble at Altibox event and causes online uproar

Armageddon is a chess penalty shoot-out, a controversial format intended to prevent draws and to stimulate interesting play. It can also lead to chaotic scrambles where pieces fall off the board, players bang down their moves and hammer the clocks, and fractions of a second decide the result. That is what happened in Tuesday’s Levon Aronian v Alexander Grischuk game at Altibox Norway. The loser called it “among the top three most disappointing defeats in my life”.

In an Armageddon game White has more thinking time on the clock than Black but a draw on the board scores as a Black win. Normally White has five or six minutes and Black four or five for the entire game but in the current Altibox Norway tournament it is 10 against seven.
Lewis chessmen piece bought for £5 in 1964 could sell for £1m
Read more

In response to growing complaints about too many draws the Altibox organisers made a controversial decision this year to limit classical games to four hours and to replay draws immediately as Armageddons. The scoring system is 2 points for a classical win, 1.5 for a classical draw and an Armageddon win, 0.5 for a classical draw and an Armageddon loss and 0 for a classical loss.
https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2019/jun/07/chess-armageddon-divides-fans-while-magnus-carlsen-leads

It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
R.E.M.
Produced by R.E.M. & Scott Litt

That’s great, it starts with an earthquake
Birds and snakes, an aeroplane
Lenny Bruce is not afraid
Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn
World serves its own needs, don’t misserve your own needs
Speed it up a notch, speed, grunt, no, strength
The ladder starts to clatter with fear of height, down, height
Wire in a fire, representing seven games
And a government for hire and a combat site
Left of west and coming in a hurry
With the Furies breathing down your neck
Team by team, reporters baffled, trumped, tethered, cropped
Look at that low plane, fine, then
Uh oh, overflow, population, common group
But it’ll do, save yourself, serve yourself.
World serves its own needs, listen to your heart bleed
Tell me with the Rapture and the reverent in the right, right
You vitriolic, patriotic, slam fight, bright light
Feeling pretty psyched

[Chorus]
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s the)
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s the)
It’s the end of the world as we know it
And I feel fine

[Verse 2]
Six o’clock, TV hour, don’t get caught in a foreign tower
Slash and burn, return, listen to yourself churn
Lock him in uniform, book burning, blood letting
Every motive escalate, automotive incinerate
Light a candle, light a votive, step down, step down
Watch your heel crush, crush, uh-oh
This means no fear, cavalier renegade and steering clear
A tournament, a tournament, a tournament of lies
Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives, and I decline

[Chorus]
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone)
And I feel fine
(I feel fine)

[Chorus]
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone)
And I feel fine
56
[Verse 3]
The other night I dreamt of knives, continental drift divide Mountains sit in a line, Leonard Bernstein
Leonid Brezhnev, Lenny Bruce and Lester Bangs
Birthday party, cheesecake, jelly bean, boom!
You symbiotic, patriotic, slam but neck
Right? Right!

[Chorus]
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone)
And I feel fine

[Bridge]
It’s the end of the world as we know it
It’s the end of the world as we know it
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone)
And I feel fine

[Chorus]
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone)
And I feel fine

[Outro]
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone)
And I feel fine
https://genius.com/Rem-its-the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it-and-i-feel-fine-lyrics

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Games Have Been Terminated!

The thing about writing a blog is that one never knows what an email will bring. After spending an inordinate amount of time in front of Toby, the ‘puter, yesterday learning how to insert diagrams, and then putting together the post in order to have something in which to insert them, I determined that today I would spend time with the Daniel Gormally book, Insanity, passion and addiction: a year inside the chess world, while playing over Chess games on an actual board with pieces one can feel, and possibly “working” on the openings intended for the Senior Championship of the Great State of South Carolina, which is only ten days away, by going to the CBDB and 365Chess. Wrong, Ke-mo sah-bee! An email from my friend Mulfish arrived at 11:42 am, upsetting the Bacon cart…

“Looking forward to the AWs take on AlphaZeros stunning win over Stockfish,” was the message. “What’s this?” I thought, wondering if Mike was referring to the TCEC Computer Chess Championship that is in the final stretch. “But Stockfish is not participating in the Super Final,” I thought. I therefore fired off an immediate response: “To what, exactly, are you referring?” His reply was, “Look in the all things Chess forum.”

Although there are not as many incoming as there were before taking a long break from blogging, I have received several emails directing my attention here and there, and they are greatly appreciated. Checking the AW stats today showed many people in countries other than the USA reading the AW. In particular I noticed that today, as every day, there is one, and only one, reader in the Maldives. Thank you, whoever you are, and feel free to send an email, as I am curious by nature.

Keep ’em coming: xpertchesslessons@yahoo.com

This is the post found on the USCF forum that prompted Mulfish to fire a salvo at the AW:

Postby billbrock on Wed Dec 06, 2017 9:16 am #321974

“AlphaZero learned to play chess by playing against itself. After just FOUR HOURS of self-learning, it was able to decisely (sic) defeat Stockfish 8.0! (EDIT: this statement is slightly misleading. See downthread.) (100 games match: +28 =72 -0)
What’s really impressive: Stockfish was calculating far more deeply than AlphaZero (at least in terms of nodes per second). AlphaZero is just “smarter.”

After reading only this I thought, “Whoa! This will change not only my day, but possibly the future course of history!” The more I read the more convinced was I of the latter.

Bill Brock provided a link to a PDF paper, Mastering Chess and Shogi by Self-Play with a General Reinforcement Learning Algorithm
(https://arxiv.org/pdf/1712.01815.pdf) which I read immediately, blowing my mind…

Every morning I read while drinking my first cuppa coffee, and today was no exception. Toby is not fired-up until time to sit down and eat breakfast. I check my email, then the quotes of the day, followed by the poem of the day, which was The Writer’s Almanac, by Garrison Keillor, but it has been discontinued, so I’ve moved on to Poem-a-Day (https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem-day) & The Poetry Foundation’s Poem of the Day (https://www.poetryfoundation.org/). Next I click on the Drudge Report in order to understand what the enemy is thinking, and doing. Then it is the newspapers in digital form, the NYT, WaPo, and AJC. For you readers outside the USA, that would be the New York Times, the Washinton Post, and the Atlanta Journal & Constitution. Then I check out the word of the day (https://www.merriam-webster.com/word-of-the-day), before heading to check what was on the nightly radio programs broadcast while I am sleeping, Ground Zero with Clyde Lewis (http://www.groundzeromedia.org/), and the Granddaddy of them all, Coast to Coast AM (https://www.coasttocoastam.com/). You may think that Chess comes next, but you would be mistaken. I check out The Hardball Times at Fangraphs (https://www.fangraphs.com/tht/). Then I check out what’s happening in the world of Go (http://www.usgo.org/).

Then it is time for Chess! My routine is to check in at Chess24 (https://chess24.com/en) first in order to learn if there is a new article I will want to return to after checking out Chessbase (https://en.chessbase.com/), where there is usually something interesting to peruse. (Today is no exception because the lead article is, How XiangQi can improve your chess, which will be read. https://en.chessbase.com/). During the TCEC Championships it is then on to Chessdom (http://www.chessdom.com/), where I click onto TCEC (http://tcec.chessdom.com/). And then it is on to the Chess Granddaddy of them all website, TWIC, aka The Week In Chess (http://theweekinchess.com/), which is Mark Crowther’s wonderful website which contains a Daily Chess Puzzle, which I attempt to solve, in hopes it will keep my mind sharp. Why was I writing all this?…Just kidding!

The point is that I read so long this morning (Why Bob Dylan Matters, by Richard F. Thomas; Cover Me: The stories behind the GREATEST COVER SONGS of all time, by Ray Padgett, who has a wonderful website (http://www.covermesongs.com/); and Murder on the Death Star: The assassination of Kennedy and its relevance to the Trump era, by Pelle Neroth) in order to finish the latter. The point being that by the time I got to the email by Mulfish I would ordinarily have already seen the momentous news.

DeepMind’s AlphaZero crushes chess

https://chess24.com/en/read/news/deepmind-s-alphazero-crushes-chess

The excellent article by Colin McGourty begins: “20 years after DeepBlue defeated Garry Kasparov in a match, chess players have awoken to a new revolution. The AlphaZero algorithm developed by Google and DeepMind took just four hours of playing against itself to synthesise the chess knowledge of one and a half millennium and reach a level where it not only surpassed humans but crushed the reigning World Computer Champion Stockfish 28 wins to 0 in a 100-game match. All the brilliant stratagems and refinements that human programmers used to build chess engines have been outdone, and like Go players we can only marvel at a wholly new approach to the game.”

Colin ends with: “And where do traditional chess programmers go from here? Will they have to give up the refinements of human-tuned evaluation functions and all the existing techniques, or will the neural networks still require processing power and equipment not easily available? Will they be able to follow in DeepMind’s footsteps, or are there proprietary techniques involved that can’t easily be mastered?

There’s a lot to ponder, but for now the chess world has been shaken!”

“Shaken?” More like ROCKED TO ITS FOUNDATION!

If games people play are to survive they will be something like that described in the novel I consider the best I have read, Das Glasperlenspiel, or Magister Ludi, aka, The Glass Bead Game, by Hermann Hesse. (http://www.glassbeadgame.com/)

Or maybe a book, The Player of Games, by Iain M. Banks, which is not only one of my favorite Sci-Fi books, but also one of my favorite book about games.

The stunning news also caused me to reflect on a Canadian Sci-Fi television program I watched, Continuum, in which mega-corporations dominate the world in the future as time-travelers fight one of the largest corporatocratic entities, SadTech, which sounds an awful lot like Google. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1954347/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_6)

The Brave New World is here. The Science Fiction books I read as a youngster are no longer fiction.

The Terminator has arrived.

We are all doomed. DOOMED!

R.E.M. – It’s The End Of The World

The End of the World