Chess Programs Need People

The title of a new article at the Chessbase website is, Komodo 13 is World Champion of computer chess by by Klaus Besenthal.

8/28/2019 – In Macau (China) the “Chess Events” of the International Computer Games Association (ICGA) came to an end last week. In fact, behind this prosaic name are world championships in three disciplines: the World Computer Chess Championship (WCCC), the World Chess Software Championship (WCSC) and the Speed ​​Championship. At the start were six teams with their programs, including Komodo 13, which won in each of the two main disciplines WCCC and WCSC.

“ICGA Chess Events 2019″ in Macau”

“Founded in 1977 by the Scottish International Master David Levy,

Erdogan Günes and ICGA-Präsident David Levy in Macau

the “International Computer Games Association” is no longer concerned only with chess, but also with, for example, Go. The computer world championship has been around since 1974; It has been held annually since 2002.
Those who have never studied the subject of computer chess will probably wonder what the difference between the World Computer Chess Championship and the World Chess Software Championship is.”

Let me stop here to mention a personal pet peeve. Thanks to an English teacher my stomach churns whenever reading a sentence ending in a preposition. Certainly the sentence should be written, “Those who have never studied the subject of computer chess will probably wonder what is the difference between the World Computer Chess Championship and the World Chess Software Championship.” Chessbase needs an editor. Now back to the usual programming…

“The video below (about one and a half minutes) shows that the championship is not (yet) quite as futuristic as you might think. The operators are flesh and blood

playing out the machine’s moves on a normal chessboard:”

“When we had also sorted things out in the players meeting and after the drawing of lots, the first pairings were announced. You could see how, after the pairings were announced, some programmers rushed to their computers like Usain Bolt and Rambo combined in a single person in order to make the final preparations for the opponents they now knew they would face. I had already done my homework at home and simply remained cool and looked on as the others created a sort of panic.

“My first opponent was no less than the several-time world champion Shredder, a warrior of old which looks as if it is getting on a bit (grey hairs). This time Stefan [Meyer-Kahlen] was in good spirits with his hybrid program and just as in previous years he had come to the tournament with high ambitions. On the other hand, I had prepared a sort of set of marching orders to use against Shredder, well before the tournament. After I had also studied during my work at home the games of my opponents from previous tournaments, I found something from previous years, namely its inclination towards the safer openings. It did not want to take any great risks and especially not at the start of each tournament. Just like a boxer who after the bell first of all starts by feeling out his opponent. Well my motto for Team Komodo is just like my opening book for the tournament: “No Risk, No Fun”.”

It would be nice if NRNF was the motto of top human Chess players, would it not? The point IS that a computer Chess program IS incapable of “preparing” for any opponent. IS any computer Chess program capable of understanding a future opponent has an “inclination towards the safer openings?” If it IS capable how will the program inform you of its own understanding?

“Hey Joe. It looks like the computer has found something important in the Najdorf.”
“What’s it found, Moe?”
“I dunno, Joe. It cannot tell me…”

Chaos Chess

Began reading Game Changer: AlphaZero’s Groundbreaking Strategy and the Promise of AI,

by GM Matthew Sadler and WIM Natasha Regan

recently. I have only read a couple of chapters and have no intention of writing a review because the book has been reviewed by almost everyone but this writer.

Kaissa vs Chaos

World Computer Championship, Stockholm, 1974

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. c3 d5 4. exd5 Qxd5 5. d4 Bg4 6.
Be2 e6 7. O-O Nf6 8. Be3 cxd4 9. Bxd4 e5 10. h3 exd4 11. hxg4 Bd6 12. cxd4 Nxg4
13. Nc3 Qh5 14. g3

(A critical moment. Castling king side is the sensible option, with a balanced game, but Black goes crazy instead!)


15. Nh4 f5 16. d5 Nce5 17. Qc2 Rhf8 18. Bd3 (A slow move which gives Black chances for a counterattack)

Nxd3 19. Qxd3 Rae8 20. Nb5 f4 21. Nxd6 Kxd6 22. Qa3+ Kc7 23. Qxa7 Qf7 24. Rfc1+ Kd6 25.
Qc5+ Ke5 26. d6+ Ke6 27. Re1+ Ne3 28. gxf4 Qd7 29. f5+ Kf6 30. Rxe3 Rd8 31. Re7
Qa4 32. Qe5+ Kg5 33. Nf3+ Kg4 34. Rxg7+ Kh5 35. Qh2+ Qh4 36. Qxh4# 1-0

For those of you who wish to read a review before purchasing the book I heartily recommend the one by GM Jacob Aagaard

in the best Chess magazine in the world, New In Chess, issue 2019/3. Kudos to the people at NIC who make the decision as to what goes into the magazine, and what stays out. Aagard was nice about ripping the authors new ones, writing, “Game Changer is an interesting but often also frustrating read.” In addition he writes, “However, the structural problems the book suffers from are certainly to do with the two authors, two voices and at least two different directions.” There is more but I will not dwell on it other than to say reading the review caused me to purchase the book after reading, “The book gets into a better flow over the next hundred pages, before becoming coherent over the last 250+ pages that look seriously at AlphaZero’s games,” which is the basic reason for buying the tome.