27 July 2020

A Chess Monsterpiece?

In last week's post, Stockfish Wins TCEC S18; Leela Wins CCC14, I finished saying,

The CCC then conducted a series of 'Post-CCC14' matches, most of them featuring a new 'Stockfish NNUE' engine. Since I didn't have the time to look at these matches in any detail, I'll save that for the next, off-week post in the TCEC/CCC series.

A mid-July announcement from the CCC, Stockfish NNUE, Strongest Chess Engine Ever, To Compete In CCCC (chess.com), said,

Stockfish NNUE has broken new ground in computer chess by incorporating a neural network into the already incredibly powerful Stockfish chess engine. This hybrid chess monsterpiece is estimated to perform better than the current Stockfish 11 who recently defeated Leela Chess Zero in the TCEC, giving it a solid claim to being the strongest chess engine in the world.

Monsterpiece? A CCC command informs,

!nnue • NNUE (Efficiently Updatable Neural Network) is a new class of neural network based nonlinear evaluation functions originally designed for computer shogi. NNUE evaluation functions are designed to run efficiently on CPU using various acceleration techniques, including incremental computation.

Further information, including a long discussion of the new engine, is at Stockfish NN release - NNUE (talkchess.com; May 2020). It starts,

A year ago somebody ported Shogi NN called NNUE (Efficiently Updateable Neural Network backwards) to SF10 as a proof of concept.

A first CCC trial didn't go well for the newcomer. Lc0 beat Stockfish NNUE in a 200 game match by a score of +32-11=157 (110.5-89.5) at a time control of 3'+2". A second trial using the same time control added plain vanilla Stockfish to the two other engines. That trial is still underway.

Getting back to the name, why not just call the engine Neural Network Updateable Efficiently? The phrase 'backwards' often means 'bass ackwards'.

26 July 2020

The Dilemma of Women's Chess

Pay attention, because this is important. It goes well beyond The Sociology of Chess (November 2016).


Alexandra Botez shares a personal experience about sexual harassment & predatory behavior in chess (34:50) • '[Published on] Jun 23, 2020'

The title could have been 'Alexandra Botez shares a personal experience about sexual harassment & predatory behavior' -- the video isn't about just chess. The top comment of the 522 comments says,

Gotta report stuff. My daughter reported all three incidents that happened to her and in all three cases the pervert turned out to have assaulted multiple girls. By reporting it she prevented them from future assaults.

At 20:35, WFM Botez wonders, 'I'm also encouraging more girls to get into a space that I know is nasty and toxic. Is that even the right thing to do?' Therein lies a dilemma. And for all those men who question the need for women-only tournaments, there is your answer.

For more about one of the top streamers in chess see Wikipedia's Alexandra Botez. Bravo, Alexandra!

21 July 2020

July 1970 & 1995 'On the Cover'

In last month's edition of the ongoing series on U.S. chess 50 & 25 years ago, June 1970 & 1995 'On the Cover', I noted,

You might never guess that the first nine pages of the June 1970 [CL&R] issue covered 'The Match of the Century', which in 1970 meant the USSR versus the 'Rest of the World'.

In this month's edition, the match finally made the cover of CL&R. It also filled another nine pages of the magazine.


Left: '[Something, something] Their Cake, Now they can eat it. Fischer (l.) and Larsen at the World Match Banquet'
Right: 'Brooklyn College Wins Amateur Team Playoff; Mikhail Botvinnik 1911-1995; Vinay Bhat: 10 Year Old Master!'

Chess Life & Review (50 Years Ago)

The first article was more about Bobby Fischer than it was about the match. CL&R was, after all, an American magazine. The following quote is from 'Veni, Vidi, Vici' by Dr. Petar Trifunovic, subtitled 'After the Great Match'.

It is no exaggeration to say that Yugoslavia has become for Fischer a veritable Chess Eldorado. Everyone knows of the great successes which he had attained previously in this country. But now, after a prolonged absence from this country and from the chess arena in general, he has maintained his great tradition and, indeed, greatly enlarged it. His performance amidst a world-wide representation was anticipated with curiosity, impatience and anxiety by his numerous friends and fans here. [...]

"The Great Match" in Belgrade ended. Would Fischer stay in Yugoslavia and take part in the "Second Tournament of Peace" in Rovinj and Zagreb, or would he return home? The Yugoslav Chess Organization tried to retain him and to get him to consent to play in the tournament. But Fischer declined repeatedly to give a definitive assent.

Meanwhile, there arose the possibility of a great "blitz tournament" (in rapid chess) at Herceg Novi, a small but very attractive place for tourists on the Adriatic coast. Unexpectedly, Fischer agreed to play in this tournament. "Unexpectedly," that is, for all here. For it is understood that Fischer very seldom plays "blitz chess" and cultivates no sympathy for this sort of play. The Soviet "blitz" specialists, Grandmasters Tal, Korchnoi, Bronstein and Petrosian, and the Yugoslav "blitz" matador, Grandmaster Matulovic, were very glad to have "Bobby" participate. For all expected that Bobby would absorb some good lessons and even nice cudgelings in "blitz chess."

Spoiler alert: Fischer won the Herceg Novi blitz tournament, finishing four and a half points ahead of second place Tal. He also played in Rovinj / Zagreb, winning by two points

Chess Life (25 Years Ago)

There is more than one way to reach Brooklyn, and trees do grow there. It is also the home of the appropriately named Brooklyn College, which has won the U.S. Amateur Team Playoff. Carlos H. Sevillano (left) deserves the credit for engineering Brooklyn College's successful program. Standing next to him are the members of the winning team: Joseph A. Valentin, Gennady Sagalchik, Alexander Kalikshteyn, and Yury Lapshun (photo courtesy of Brooklyn College).

While these young men prepare for their future, we pause to remember Mikhail Botvinnik, who passed away in Moscow on May 5th, at the age of 83. He is flanked by Samuel Reshevsky and Reuben Fine in this photograph, taken in 1983 by Nigel Eddis. As a three-time FIDE World Champion, his teachings and study methods have influenced generations of chessplayers, including the current FIDE World Champion Anatoly Karpov, and the current PCA World Champion Garry Kasparov.

And that influence may even extend to America's newest ten-year-old master, Vinay Bhat of San Jose, California, who is tutored by Saveley Polovets (His picture is courtesy of the Bhat family). Vinay is now the youngest person in the United States ever to achieve a master rating, beating by 33 days the record set by Jordy Mont-Reynaud last year.

Of the four players on the Brooklyn College team, Sagalchik became a GM and Lapshun an IM. Vinay Bhat also became a GM.

I don't recall any articles commemorating the 25th anniversary of Botvinnik's death. Although he was one of the strongest players of all time -- probably in the top-10 -- he was never well-liked by the general chess public.

20 July 2020

Stockfish Wins TCEC S18; Leela Wins CCC14

My previous post in the fortnightly series on the world's top engine vs. engine competitions was a summary covering nine months of previous posts: TCEC/CCC 2019-Q4 & 2020-Q1/Q2 Summary (June 2020). The last entry in that post -- TCEC S18 Sufi Underway; CCC14 on Medical Leave -- was dated four weeks ago meaning that I have to play some serious post-vacation catch up. To summarize that last post in a nutshell:-

TCEC: In the 100-game final match (aka 'Superfinal' or 'Sufi') Stockfish leads LCZero (aka Leela) by +6-3=13. [...] A three point lead for Stockfish in S18 with less than a quarter of the games played does not bode well for Leela to repeat as TCEC champion. • CCC: The CCC14 16-engine preliminary double round robin ('Round 1') finished with the usual suspects occupying the top places. An '!' command informs, '!next • Greco is battling Covid-19, so CCC14 is on hold.'

Even though I haven't posted anything on the subject in four weeks, that doesn't mean I haven't been following the progress of the two competitions. I generally look at them once a week, take a few screenshots showing their status, and note anything of particular interest. This lets me go back in time to a previous week if I need to do a followup. What has happened in the two competitions since the TCEC_S18/CCC14 post?

TCEC: The S18 Superfinal finished with Stockfish beating LCZero in the 100 game match by a score of +23-16=61. This reversed the result from the previous season that I documented in Leela Beat Stockfish in TCEC S17 & CCC13 Finals (April 2020). The next event was TCEC Cup 6, which has reached the round of 16 and should finish in the next week.

CCC: CCC14 was a double-elimination event, meaning that an engine had to lose two matches to be knocked out of the competition. This also means that it is difficult to describe the evolution of the tournament linearly. For example, Stockfish beat Lc0 in their first encounter, then lost to Lc0 in their second encounter while also losing to Leelenstein. Lc0 beat Leelenstein in the 'final' match but since this was Leelenstein's first match loss, the two engines played a second 'final' match, which Lc0 also won. In both Lc0 - Leelenstein matches the standard 12 game match finished tied and was decided after a long tiebreak. (What sort of a mind does it take to invent these events?)

The CCC then conducted a series of 'Post-CCC14' matches, most of them featuring a new 'Stockfish NNUE' engine. Since I didn't have the time to look at these matches in any detail, I'll save that for the next, off-week post in the TCEC/CCC series.

[For further information from the various stakeholders in the engine-to-engine events, see the tab 'TCEC/CCC Links' at the top of this page. • NB: Leela = LC0 = LCzero]

19 July 2020

Flickr Series Hat Trick

What is it about chess that attracts so many artists? Maybe it's just easier to paint someone who sits patiently for hours.


Martinus Rorbye (1803-1848, Danish) A party of chess... © Flickr user jean louis mazieres under Creative Commons.

The rest of the description said,

A party of chess players outside a Turkish coffeehouse and barbershop. Copenhagen Statens Museum for Kunst.

This is the third time we've seen J-L. Mazieres in this blog's Flickr series. The first two were Chess Set Circa 1540 (August 2014) and The Original Dutch Masters (June 2019).

When I lived in Copenhagen, I visited the Statens Museum for Kunst on several occasions. Tak skal du have!

12 July 2020

Bloody Endgames

Want to know the truth about the 2000 Kramnik - Kasparov World Championship match?


JUGA feat. Vlad Kramnik - Endgames Bloody Endgames - U2 Chess cover | Kasparov vs Kramnik (4:39) • 'Premiered Jun 30, 2020'

The first lines of the song are...

I can't believe the move he played
3...Nf6 has not been analyzed 'til mate

...and the description of the video says,

Chess version of U2's Song "Sunday Bloody Sunday" performed by Juga. Chess Lyrics by Ex World Champion Vladimir Kramnik. Inspired by Kasparov vs Kramnik World Chess Championship 2000. Recorded at Budai Var, Budapest, June 2020

For U2's original version, see U2 - Sunday Bloody Sunday (youtube.com): 45M views, 9400 comments. For more from Juga, see Bio | JUGA - Chess Artist - Official Web Site (jugamusica.com): 'Juga is a singer, songwriter and Chess Conceptual artist.'

05 July 2020

1997 Linares International

This month's post in the ongoing series on Top eBay Chess Items by Price (March 2010), reminds me of last month's post 1982 Tbilisi Women's Interzonal (June 2020). It features a second-rate presentation of a first-rate souvenir from an historically important chess event.

The title of the auction for the item pictured below was '12 Postcards Signed by Participants - Linares Chess Tournament - Karpov's collection'. It sold for $400.00, 'Buy It Now'.

The item's description listed the 12 participants, thereby easing the task of identifying the photos.

1st row: Adams, Topalov, Kasparov, Kramnik
2nd row: Dreev, Piket, Nikolic, J.Polgar
3rd row: Gelfand, Shirov, Anand, Ivanchuk

The description continued with an account of the item's origin.

From the personal collection of A. Karpov! Karpov wasn't taking part in this tournament. He had been invited and planned to play, but couldn't. However the print run of the postcards dedicated to this tournament was already published. So the publisher just glued the photo of the newcomer on Karpov's photo.

The rest of the description, which continued 'The 14th Annual Linares Super Tournament held in 1997 was a category XVIII event' and which included a crosstable, was taken from Linares 1997 (chessgames.com). For more about the series of events, see Linares International Chess Tournament (wikipedia.org), 'sometimes described as the Wimbledon of chess'.