15 October 2018

Catching Up with Engine Competitions

Wrapping up that month-long series on World Champion Carlsen's record over the past two years, in last week's post Carlsen's PGN 2017-18, I promised,

For my next post in the Monday series, I'll return to the subject of engine-to-engine competitions. I need to catch up with two tournaments: TCEC season 13 and Chess.com's Computer Chess Championship (CCCC).

I still have some work to do on Carlsen's PGN, but I plan to do that while I'm watching the 2018 Carlsen - Caruana World Championship match, which starts in less than a month. The last time I looked at engine-to-engine competitions was as part of a series on AI engines, A Leela Surprise in the Nimzo Indian (August 2018). A few days ago, in Catching Up with Leela, I mentioned,

The [Leela] journey has included three tournaments -- TCEC Seasons 12 & 13 and this year's edition of the CCCC -- of which TCEC S13 is still underway.

In fact, I originally wrote, 'of which the last two are underway'. Then while researching this current post, I discovered that the CCCC finished almost two weeks ago, indicating that it was high time for me to bring myself up-to-date. Let's first tackle the TCEC S13, which most engine aficionados would probably agree is the more important of the two events, serving as a de facto World Computer Chess Championship.

I couldn't find an official announcement for the results of the most recent stage of TCEC S13. The TCEC archive told me that the Premier Division (aka 'Division P'), finished on 2 October, and gave the following crosstable.

That means Stockfish and Komodo will be slugging it out in the final match. This will likely be a repeat of S12, which I reported in Stockfish Wins TCEC Season 12 (July 2018). In the meantime, the organizers are holding TCEC Cup 2018 brackets (chessdom.com):-

The TCEC Cup will take place right after the Premier Division and before the Superfinal, the exact dates will be announced soon. It will be a knockout championship with 32 participants divided into brackets.

The cup tournament has reached the 'OctoFinal' stage, perhaps better understood as the 'Round of 16'. Half of the quarterfinalists are already known.

As for the CCCC (shouldn't that be five 'C's, i.e. 'CCCCC' for Chess.com Computer Chess Championship?), we learned a couple of weeks ago that Stockfish Wins Computer Chess Championship Rapid; Lc0 Finishes 3rd (chess.com; NB: 'Lc0' means 'Leela Chess Zero', or simply 'Leela'):-

The chess engine Stockfish proved its might with a decisive victory over Houdini in the 200-game final match of the Computer Chess Championship's first event, the Rapid Rumble. Stockfish scored 120/200 in a match that was never in doubt. Houdini, which admirably proved itself superior to the other 22 engines in the tournament, could manage just four wins over Stockfish in the final 200 games. Like all stages of CCCC 1, the games were played at the rapid time control of 15+5.

A week later, in Computer Chess Championship Returns For Blitz Battle, Chess.com announced,

The Chess.com Computer Chess Championship returns with a greatly expanded field and thousands of games to determine the best blitz chess engines in the world. [...] The Computer Chess Championship Blitz Battle will consist of three stages, all held at the blitz time control of five minutes plus two seconds increment. Stage one will begin with 33 competitors before the field is winnowed down to 10 engines for stage two and a final four engines for stage three.

That must be 'CCCC 2'. Maybe the 2018 CCCC hasn't finished yet and my first 'Catching Up' post was right after all. Maybe I'd better come back to this topic another time, because my head is spinning with all of these computer chess events. They are starting to be like elevator music -- always there but doesn't demand any real attention.

14 October 2018

ChessBase India Interviews Judit Polgar

Nearly three years since ChessBase India started its video channel on Youtube, it has become one of my favorite sources of chess videos.


The story of how Judit Polgar became the strongest woman player in the world (29:33) • 'Published on Oct 10, 2018'

The video description included this inspiring paragraph:-

Why has the world seen only one female player who has been able to match her wits with the best in the business? What did Judit Polgar do that made her into such a fierce champion? In this interview with IM Sagar Shah we get to know everything about Judit's life. Right from the time she learnt chess, to how she beat Kasparov in 2002 when the Russian was on the height of his powers

For the previous post about ChessBase India on this blog, see Best Blind Players of India (August 2018).

12 October 2018

Catching Up with Leela

At the end of last week's post, Restoring Adsense, I promised,

After this short series that has little to do with chess, it's time to return to the main subject.

The main subject is chess and the topic to which I want to return is the neural network (NN) engine technology, last seen in The NNs Depart TCEC S13 (August 2018; i.e. Leela and DeusX), and A Leela Surprise in the Nimzo Indian (August 2018; video). Leela is the main player in the NN arena and I once took the time to catalog the online resources that track the progress of this remarkable creation: Finding Leela (June 2018). In the Leela forum we find a recent thread that documents the engine's early days:-

That journey has included three tournaments -- TCEC Seasons 12 & 13 and this year's edition of the CCCC -- of which the last two are TCEC S13 is still underway. Where is the project today? It needs games, lots of games:-

  • 2018-09-26: Worrying drop of contributors • 'There used to be millions of training games per day a few weeks back. Now it is barely 400.000. I remember people in this forum telling me I was stupid to worry about a drop of people who contribute to the training. I fear this is happening now'

Now 400.000 training games per day might sound like enough, but the Leela contributors are beating the bushes to get even more. Here's a recent call for assistance:-

  • 2018-09-26: HOW TO: Contribute games to Leela FOR FREE using Google Cloud and Google Colab • 'I made this post primarily to help people who were wanting to contribute to Leelas development but do not have GPUs, but this is also applicable to those who are already contributing with GPU time. [...] Through Google Cloud you can rent GPUs ranging from K80/P100/V100/etc via your browser with no processing on your end. [...] Google Colab is a similar process whereby you can utilise one of Googles K80 GPUs for free processing again via your browser.

If you're not familiar with GPUs like 'K80 / P100 / V100 / etc.', it's enough to know that they are three evolutions of graphic processors, the number crunchers that all NNs rely on for their numeric intensive computations. To supplement that forum fountain of wisdom, the Leela blog posted its own version:-

I'll certainly be looking into the mechanics of using Google Colab and Google Cloud. Maybe I'll even document my experience here, in my own blog.

11 October 2018

The CCL Was Hacked

What's the CCL? It's the Facebook group Chess Club Live. I've posted about them twice: the first time in Chess and Social Trends (October 2016), and the second time in A Short History of CCL (March 2017). Along with dozens (hundreds?) of other chess related items, they publish posts from this blog and from my World Chess Championship blog. A couple of weeks ago my blog statistics told me that the blog feeds had stopped. I contacted Michael Mkpadi, the main man behind CCL and one of those types of people who has a dozen novel ideas every day, and asked him what the problem was. He replied,

Facebook got hacked, I got hacked, my page got hacked. Now I've lost my admin rights and am trying to get Facebook to restore my page.

When I asked him what the prognosis was for CCL's return to service, he replied,

Facebook are a law to themselves, not sure I know what they'll do about that page other than keeping it in limbo for an eternity.

A few days later he messaged me that CCL was back and, sure enough, it was. Here's a screen capture I took while writing this post.

That hack wasn't just the CCL: Facebook just had its worst hack ever -- and it could get worse (cnn.com; 4 October 2018).

On Sunday, September 16, engineers at Facebook detected some unusual activity on the social media platform's networks. It was an attack, the biggest security breach in Facebook's history. And it would take the company 11 more days to stop it. Now, almost a week since the public was first told of the attack, we still barely know anything about what happened.

It's a dangerous world out there. Even online chess clubs have to keep looking over their shoulders.

10 October 2018

Chess Informant R+2P vs. R+P

After the previous post on Reuben Fine's 'Basic Chess Endings' (BCE), Fine 1 - Tablebase ½, what's next for R+2P vs. R+P endgames? Chess Informant (CI) comes to mind with both the 'Encyclopaedia [Encyclopedia] of Chess Endings' (ECE) and the endgame section of the 'Informant' periodical.

Some years ago I discussed both products in Chess Informant Endgames (March 2012), which included a copy of the table of contents for the ECE volume on Rook endings The structure of that volume's chapter devoted to R+2P:R+P is shown below (p.162).

The short left branch ('5/a') of the upside-down tree is for endgames with no passed Pawn. The branch below it (the 'middle' branch) is for endgames where the stronger side has one passed Pawn, while the right branch shows endgames with two passed Pawns. Both of those long branches are divided into sections where the side with two Pawns has connected, disconnected, or doubled Pawns. Those sections are further divided into subsections according to the relationship with the opponent's lone Pawn. It looks simple enough, but it took me some time to understand the symbols. The same system was adopted in Informant 39 (1985H1) and thereafter.

08 October 2018

Carlsen's PGN 2017-18

In last week's post, Carlsen's TMER 2017-18, I promised,

I still have a few actions to accomplish before I can merge the updates into the main TMER. [...] I'll try to finish these for my next post.

I accomplished about half the work, which mainly involved preparing and checking the PGN for individual events. I updated the page on my site, Magnus Carlsen's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (TMER; 2000-), with the info. On the way, I made two decisions for naming conventions on the PGN files. Here are examples of both:-

  • B8X-CHCM: 2018-01 PRO League Group Stage 2018; Chess.com
  • B8B!BAER: 2018-02 Fischer Random Rapid/Blitz 2018; Baerum

The first shows an example of league play ('X'), which usually spans several months. The second is an example of a PGN file containing only chess960 games ('!'). For one event I have no games: the Third Annual Lichess Meetup and Hackathon (lichess.org; February 2018). Carlsen played the event impromptu and it seems the games were not recorded. If they surface, I'll add them.

For my next post in the Monday series, I'll return to the subject of engine-to-engine competitions, last seen in A Leela Surprise in the Nimzo Indian (August 2018). I need to catch up with two tournaments: TCEC season 13 and Chess.com's Computer Chess Championship (CCCC).

07 October 2018

'Ain't No Luck in Chess'

October's selection for Top eBay Chess Items by Price (March 2010), was titled '100 Bullets #45 p.4 - Chess in Prison - 2003 art by Eduardo Risso'. It sold for $500.00, 'Buy It Now'.

The description simply repeated the title and added,

Size: 11.5" x 17" page mounted 15 1/4 x 20 3/4 matting

The dialog on the page -- between an old guy and a young guy -- goes like this:-

Nice move, young blood. You been learnin' something finally.

Uh-huh. I been studyin' yo' ass, old head. How many games we play?

Hun'red.

An' how many I won?

You ain't.

So maybe it's time I got lucky.

Lucky? Ain't no f**king luck in chess, loop. Either you got the skills an' the patience to outmaneuver an' anticipate yo' opponent...

...Or you ain't. Checkmate. One-oh-one to none.

And the last frame signs off with the old guy saying,

Yo' loopy loop...

In Eduardo Risso, Wikipedia informs,

Eduardo Risso (born 23 November 1959) is an Argentine comics artist. In the United States he is best known for his work with writer Brian Azzarello on the Vertigo title 100 Bullets, while in Argentina and Europe he is noted for his collaborations with Ricardo Barreiro and Carlos Trillo. He has received much acclaim for his work

That reference to 100 Bullets leads to another Wikipedia page,

100 Bullets is an American comic book published by DC Comics under its Vertigo imprint. Written by Brian Azzarello and illustrated by Eduardo Risso, the comic book ran for 100 issues and won the Eisner Award and Harvey Award.

Chess has had a long relationship with comic art. For previous posts, see Chess Comics No.7: Punch Animated GIF (May 2014), and No More Yahoos? (February 2016).