30 December 2019

LCZero -> Lc0

A couple of weeks ago, in The Question of Clones, I used a block diagram taken from a thread on Talkchess.com, and noted,

While I can't claim to understand all of the subtleties present in the diagram, its blocks represent the overall architecture behind Lc0 and are useful for delving into the clone question. In the same thread, three variations of the diagram used color codes to show which portions of other AI/NN engines are unique and which portions are copies of Lc0.

One of the three variations depicted the origin of Lc0 (aka Leela) itself.


My failed attempt to change TCEC NN clone rules (September 2019)

A comment to the thread by dkappe added,

LCZero and Lc0 are two distinct engines. The first, LCZero, was the initial chess engine used by the Leela Chess project and was derived from a combination of the Leela Go engine and Stockfish chess board logic. The second, Lc0, was a rewrite from scratch.

Dietrich Kappe was the founder of the original LCZero blog -- see that blog's second-ever post for a link to its first incarnation. His comment is expanded in the relevant page on Leela Chess Zero (chessprogramming.org):-

Lc0 • Leela Chess Zero consists of an executable to play or analyze games, initially dubbed LCZero, soon rewritten by a team around Alexander Lyashuk for better performance and then called Lc0. This executable, the actual chess engine, performs the MCTS and reads the self-taught CNN, which weights are persistent in a separate file.

Lc0 is written in C++14 and may be compiled for various platforms and backends. Since deep CNN approaches are best suited to run massively in parallel on GPUs to perform all the floating point dot-products for thousands of neurons, the preferred target platforms are Nvidia GPUs supporting CUDA and CuDNN libraries.

Ankan Banerjee wrote the CuDNN backend code, also shared by Deus X and Allie. None [Non?] CUDA compliant GPUs (AMD) are supported through OpenCL, while much slower pure CPU binaries are possible using BLAS, target systems with or without a graphics card (GPU) are Linux, Mac OS and Windows computers, or BLAS only the Raspberry Pi.

Even though that last sentence doesn't parse correctly, the description helps to understand of blocks 'I', 'K', and 'L' in the block diagram. The diagram labels their aggregate 'Engine' and color codes them as LCZero, the first Leela Chess engine.

29 December 2019

Under the FIDE Flag

Last month, in Oldest Chess Piece? (November 2019), I wrote,

In Yahoo's heyday, stories like [this] would have easily been featured in Yahoo News. Now I have to rely on Google News for this sort of thing, where Google News is more-and-more a rehash of Chess.com News.

Not so long ago, stories like the following would have attracted widespread attention.

Need proof? It's been only eighteen months since June Yahoos (June 2018), which recalled yet another chess story from Iran:-

Let's skip the Yahoo stub and jump directly to the real story. It echoes another Yahoo story that I used twice on my World Chess Championship blog: Hijab Hubbub (October 2016), and Hijab Hubris (ditto).

2018-06-13: Chess player pulls out of championship over Iran's rules. In 2016, the story's protagonist was Nazi Paikidze, the reigning U.S. Women's Champion at the time. This time it's an Indian player. Conscience knows no national boundaries.

The two headlines pictured above are in chronological sequence. The first was the 'before' story:-

Making this the logical 'after' story:-

The main chess news sites ran a report before the 'before' story, for example:-

The 12-24 portion of the story was tentative:-

The Iranian chess star and the country's top player Alireza Firouzja is considering changing his nationality after the Iranian chess federation withdrew its players from the upcoming World Rapid & Blitz in Moscow, according to the Iranian chess federation.

The 12-25 portion was following a moving target:-

Update: Firouzja is now back on the World Rapid & Blitz players list under the FIDE flag.

Recently GM Firouzja also appeared on my chess960 blog in Quarterfinals of FWFRCC Completed (October 2019). That long acronym stands for 'FIDE World Fischer Random Chess Championship', which is longhand for 'World Chess960 Championship'. He was knocked out in the quarterfinals.

23 December 2019

TCEC S17 Announced; Lc0 Wins CCC11

Another two weeks have passed since this blog's most recent report on the two most popular engine-vs-engine tournaments. To summarize that previous report, More TCEC Bonuses; CCC11 Semifinal Underway:-

TCEC: The site has progressed to 'Viewer Submitted Openings Bonus 9'. • CCC: The CCC11 Semifinal round is just getting underway.

That wasn't much of a report, but much has happened since then.

TCEC: The site has progressed to 'Viewer Submitted Openings Bonus 12'. In TCEC S17 – detailed information (chessdom.com), it announced firm plans for the next season:-

The Top Chess Engine Championship TCEC is going to start in about 10 days time. And it is going to be amazing! TCEC S17 will have a solid hardware upgrade, a new adjusted format and a new structure, a dedicated news website with a merchandising section and more.

That puts the start of the new season around 1 January 2020. In case you've forgotten the previous season, I reported it in Stockfish Wins TCEC S16; CCC11 Underway (October 2019). I reported on the subsequent cup competition in TCEC FRC Leagues; CCC11 R2 Underway (November 2019): 'TCEC Cup 4 finished with Stockfish beating LCZero for 1st place (+1-0=7)'.

The site's '!next' command informs, 'VSOB were all S17 testing and continue until S17 starts.' The acronym 'VSOB' stands for 'Viewer Submitted Openings Bonus'. More information about the new season is available at TCEC Season 17 Rules (wiki.chessdom.org).

CCC: The following chart shows the final crosstable for the CCC11 Semifinal round.

Lc0 and Leelenstein both finished with 37.5 points out of 72 games. The small print on the bottom line explains,

Stockfish and Lc0 advanced to Finals • Lc0 SB tiebreak was 1330.75; Leelenstein SB tiebreak was 1312.75

In their head-to-head semifinal match, Lc0 beat Leelenstein +3-1=20. Before the final match started, the two finalists played a warmup match titled 'CCC11 Finals (Bullet Test : 1+1)', where Lc0 beat Stockfish +24-14=112.

As I write this, the 150-game final match has eight games left to play. Lc0 leads Stockfish by four points.

[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]

***

Later: The CCC11 Final match ended with Lc0 maintaining its four point lead over Stockfish. The last eight games were drawn, giving a final score of +13-9=128. This was the second straight loss for Stockfish in a CCC final; see TCEC S16 Final Underway; Leelenstein Wins CCC10 (September 2019) for the result of the previous final.

22 December 2019

London Chess Conference 2019

This month's edition of The Sociology of Chess (November 2016), echoes a post from two years ago, London Chess Conference 2017 (December 2017).


KVDC interview IM Malcolm Pein London Chess Conference 2019 (14:03) • '[Published on] Dec 5, 2019'

KVDC is Karel van Delft. His description says,

IM Malcolm Pein tells about the London Chess Conference 2019, Chess in Schools and research about benefits of chess education.

Other videos on the KVDC channel from the London Conference include:-

A description of the clip about GM Rowson is at 64 Life Lessons (londonchessconference.com):-

In The Moves that Matter the Scottish grandmaster with a PhD in philosophy and a very active Twitter account reflects the life lessons chess taught him in 64 chapters. Stephen Moss from The Guardian, whose book The Rookie was published in 2016, also by Bloomsbury, interviewed him during the lunch break of the first conference day. Jonathan was later on also interviewed by Karel van Delft.

The clip about the journal 'Chess Education and Science' features Jerry Nash of USchess presenting an initiative of the Chess Scientific Research Institute (CSRI), Armenian State Pedagogical University. Anyone who remembers the Journal of Chess Research (May 2014), will hope that the new journal actually sees publication.

For more about the conference, see Chess and Female Empowerment conference concluded in London (fide.com). The web site for the conference itself can be found by following the link for '64 Life Lessons' given above.

16 December 2019

The Question of Clones

When is one chess engine a copy of another chess engine? Engine developers and tournament administrators have been grappling with this question for as long as there have been chess engine competitions. A recent thread on Talkchess.com, titled My failed attempt to change TCEC NN clone rules (September 2019), started,

I get frequent questions why don’t I bring this topic up if I don’t agree. So, I tried to bring this topic up with TCEC administration, with no success.

The author was Alexander Lyashuk (crem; chessprogramming.org), 'primary developer of Leela Chess Zero', and his thoughts attracted a slew of other developers from the expanding universe of AI/NN chess engines. To start the discussion, crem posted a number of block diagrams; a portion of the main diagram is shown below.

While I can't claim to understand all of the subtleties present in the diagram, its blocks represent the overall architecture behind Lc0 and are useful for delving into the clone question. In the same thread, three variations of the diagram used color codes to show which portions of other AI/NN engines are unique and which portions are copies of Lc0. One diagram, for example, explained the relationship between Lc0 and two engines that were the subject of a recent post on this blog, AllieStein and Leelenstein (November 2019).

Not too surprisingly, even the experts couldn't come up with an agreed definition of an AI/NN chess clone. What hope is there for the rest of us? Even so, I'm sure I'll be referrring to the diagram in the future.

15 December 2019

Squaring the Cirque

'Jackpot!', I told myself, when Flickr invited me to 'View all 265' images available since last month's Doesn't Look Like a Photo (November 2019). My enthusiasm quickly evaporated when I realized that 95% of the images were copies of a handful of chess magazine++ covers all pointing to the same shopping page. Did the page have anything to do with chess? I'll never know, because I rarely click through to an obvious spam scam.

Fortunately, I had another handful of real chess photos to choose from for this post. This was the best of the bunch.


Cirque Du Soleil © Flickr user R.I. Pienaar under Creative Commons.

The full title of the photo -- and, yes, it's a photo -- could also serve as a description:-

Pretty good show last night at Cirque Du Soleil. I would say this has been a hugely challenging situation for the pedant in me to go to a chess themed show with a 7 x 7 board!

What's Cirque Du Soleil? Wikipedia's page on the subject, Cirque du Soleil, says,

Cirque du Soleil (French, "Circus of the Sun" or "Sun Circus") is a Canadian (Quebecois) entertainment company and the largest contemporary circus producer in the world. Based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and located in the inner-city area of Saint-Michel, it was founded in Baie-Saint-Paul on 7 July 1984, by two former street performers.

The photo's home page didn't offer any clues to where it was taken, but many of the photographer's other photos pointed to the Mediterranean island of Malta. Indeed, I found another page dated December 2019, titled Acrobats wow audience at MCC (timesofmalta.com), and subtitled 'Cirque du Soleil brings original show inspired by the game of chess to Malta'. MCC doesn't mean Malta Chess Club; it means Mediterranean Conference Centre, located in Valletta, which happens to be the capital of Malta. The plot goes something like this:-

This is not a story about war. When the Golden King falls in love with the Black Rook, he embarks on reckless moves to capture her heart, throwing this orderly world into disarray. As he tries to get closer to his love, he faces a pretentious, narcissistic monarch and his fearsome Queen.

That doesn't fit at all into my world view of chess, but I would still take advantage of an opportunity to see it.

09 December 2019

More TCEC Bonuses; CCC11 Semifinal Underway

Time to get up-to-date on the world's premier, ongoing engine vs. competitions. To summarize the previous post, TCEC/CCC Bonus Events, from two weeks ago:-

TCEC: The site is running a series of bonus tournaments; the current event is titled 'Viewer Submitted Openings Bonus 4', with eight engines. • CCC: CCC11 R2 finished with Lc0 3.0 points ahead of second place Stockfish. After R2, the CCC ran two matches; Fat Fritz lost to both Stockfish and Lc0 by convincing margins.

TCEC is still in a holding pattern, while CCC has advanced another stage. Let's have some specifics.

TCEC: The site has progressed to 'Viewer Submitted Openings Bonus 9'. As for the next season (S17), the schedule is nearly identical to what was announced two weeks ago; it says:-

!s17 • Tentatively set mid-December 2019. Delay due to a potential sponsored hardware upgrade.

The plans for the various stages of S17 are still unannounced.

CCC: CCC11 R3 finished with AI/NN engines Leelenstein and Lc0 tied for 1st/2nd, a half-point ahead of Stockfish. Komodo placed fourth, 6.5 points behind Stockfish. The following chart shows the full R3 crosstable. There was only one decisive game among the top three engines, and the two AI/NN engines lost no games.

The top four engines qualified into the CCC11 Semifinal round, which is just getting underway. The tournament is projected to run for somewhat less than a week. The top two engines in the semifinal will advance to a 75-game final.

[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]

08 December 2019

Entertaining Chess Instruction

When was the last time you had chess instruction with comic asides?


Paul Morphy's 5 Most Brilliant Chess Moves (9:29) • '[Published on] Nov 13, 2019'

The description says,

Join GM Simon Williams as he breaks down the best moves from Paul Morphy, the first great American chess player and considered by many to be an unofficial world champion.

This video is one of a series by GM Williams on the same theme:-

Chess instruction and entertainment at the same time -- yes, it's possible, if you're Simon Williams.

05 December 2019

Pictures of Pia

Of the three chess personalities featured in the previous post, December 1969 & 1994 'On the Cover', the most photogenic was GM Pia Cramling of Sweden. By coincidence, the last time I looked at chess items on eBay I noticed several photos of her that sold a few months ago.

The full title of the photo on the bottom right was 'Vintage photograph of Pia Cramling playing chess with Hasse Alfredsson'. According to my page World Chess Championship : Index of Women Players, GM Cramling has been competing in the Women's World Championship since the 1985 Havana Interzonal Tournament, where she tied for 3rd through 5th place, thereby qualifying for the 1986 Malmo Candidates Tournament.

03 December 2019

December 1969 & 1994 'On the Cover'

Last month -- in the most recent post for an ongoing series, November 1969 & 1994 'On the Cover' -- I introduced a small change in direction:-

Let's continue the 'On the Cover' series with CL&R from 50 years ago, together with CL from 25 years ago.

A second post using the same idea confirms the start of a new series.


Left: 'International Master Norman T. Whitaker'
Right: 'Happy Holidays from Sweden!'

Chess Life & Review (50 Years Ago)

Sixty-five Years in American Chess by International Master Norman T. Whitaker • I learned the moves of chess from my father (a mathematician) when I was fourteen; we lived then in Philadelphia. The next year, 1905, I learned of its beauties by watching Harry Nelson Pillsbury on a pier in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Late in the day he would play all comers for a fee, but I would visit him before noon. [...]

We've already seen IM Whitaker on this blog in a couple of previous posts: Smythe, Not Smith (May 2017, photo) and Masters Emeritus in the 1950s (August 2017, links to relevant pages offsite; Wikipedia: 'several terms in prison').

Chess Life (25 Years Ago)

Season's greetings: Actually, it was August. But there is a fair amount of holiday coloring in the photograph taken by Peter Walz at the opening ceremony of a tournament in Osterskars [Osterskar], a suburb of Stockholm. We thank Nick deFirmian [de Firmian] for bringing "King Karpov" and "Queen Pia Cramling" to our attention. Oh, yes - Nick tied for second place in the Swedish event, behind Kveinys of Lithuania.

For more about "Queen Pia Cramling", see Pia Cramling (wikipedia.org).

02 December 2019

CCC PGN

The 'CCC PGN Archive' (see the tab 'TCEC/CCC Links' at the top of this page) hasn't been updated in over six months, and only shows events through CCC8. For this post I set out to find more recent PGN files and found links for them via #tournament-pgns (discordapp.com). The Discord messages are of the type...

CCC Archive 9/21
https://pastebin.com/ZKLFBFfU

... and look like this:-

Download links are all of the form:
https://cccfiles.chess.com/archive/tournament-TOURID.pgn

Tourid Title
40044 CCC10 Finals
39682 CCC10 Semifinals
[...]

With this data it should be trivial to download the relevant files. I'll add the link given in the first paragraph to 'TCEC/CCC Links'.

01 December 2019

Ladies First

The first and last time we saw jewelry on Top eBay Chess Items by Price (started March 2010), was The Value of Jewelry (March 2016). The items shown in the image below appeared a week apart on eBay from different sellers.

Top: 'Rare Trifari Sterling Silver White King Queen Chess Pin Clips'; sold for US $406 after three bids from two bidders.

Bottom: 'Rare Find! 1940s TRIFARI CHESS King Queen STERLING Set Figurals Pins Brooches'; US $475 Buy-It-Now.

Although both photos show the Queen on the left, I bet many sellers would have shown the King on the left. Isn't that some sort of protocol for royals?

The description of the item on the top only repeated the title of the auction and added 3/4" x 1-5/8". The description on the bottom was more informative:-

A set of the 1945 Trifari Sterling Chess Figural Brooches. Designed by Alfred Philippe. You get the King and Queen!

Featuring black enameled faces, cream enameled accents, ruby and crystal chaton rhinestones and small turquoise beads in their crowns, all set in vermeil plated sterling silver, with double prong fur/pin clip mechanisms on reverse. A royal treat! Love these figurals!

Hallmarks: Trifari with Crown over the T, Sterling, des. pat. no. 140843 and 140844 (see patent drawings). Measurement: 3/4" x 1-5/8".

For more about Trifari, see Vintage Trifari Jewelry (collectorsweekly.com).

29 November 2019

US Chess CL Archive

This week, in US Chess Digital Archive Is Live, USchess.org announced,

US Chess has been working on digitizing its archive of Chess Life and Chess Review magazines (as well as titles such as Chess Life & Review). This project is now complete and the archive is now online and available for download by the general public.

I've referenced existing digital CL collections in at least two previous posts:-

I downloaded the files that were missing from my own collection and have started flipping through them. Unfortunately, the document scans aren't first rate -- many pages are skewed and/or clipped on the side of the magazine fold, and the text is often too light, making it difficult to read -- but who's complaining? Thanks, US Chess!

28 November 2019

Oldest Chess Piece?

How did I know that The Last Yahoo (August 2019) really was the last? In Yahoo's heyday, stories like the following would have easily been featured in Yahoo News. Now I have to rely on Google News for this sort of thing, where Google News is more-and-more a rehash of Chess.com News.

'World's oldest chess piece'? I'm sure I've seen that headline in years past.

That middle story leads to:-

2019-11-27: Chess piece found in Jordan may be world's oldest (phys.org) • 'John Oleson with the University of Victoria has reported that a small object found in Jordan made of sandstone might be the oldest chess piece ever found.'

But don't start rewriting chess history yet. The story ends with:-

Taken together, the evidence suggests that the Rook is possibly the earliest evidence of such a chess piece design, and possibly the oldest example of any type of chess piece. More work is required to verify that the stone object is, indeed, a chess piece before it can be designated as such.

I think it's a huge stretch. Huge!

25 November 2019

TCEC/CCC Bonus Events

Two weeks have passed since the previous report on the two top engine-vs-engine competitions: TCEC FRC Leagues; CCC11 R2 Underway. To summarize the situation at that time:-

TCEC: 'Cup 4' finished with Stockfish beating LCZero for 1st place (+1-0=7). After 'Cup 4', the TCEC held a series of chess960 (FRC) matches; Stockfish beat AllieStein in the Superfinal by a score of +10-0=10. • CCC: CCC11 R1 finished with Stockfish 3.5 points ahead of second place Leelenstein. R2 is underway.

What activities are the TCEC and the CCC organizing today? In a word, 'bonus' events:-

TCEC: The site is running a series of bonus tournaments; the current event is titled 'Viewer Submitted Openings Bonus 4', with eight engines. The relevant channel command informs,

!bookbonus • If you want to submit an opening to potentially be included in a future Viewer Submitted Openings Bonus (VSOB), see pinned message in #bonus-arena in !discord. Current openings at wiki.chessdom.org.

This was the first time I had seen the TCEC Wiki, so I added the it to the page of 'TCEC/CCC Links'. What's next for TCEC?

!next • 'N' bonuses where N >= 2 from {SF vs. Lc0 with S16 Sufi openings, VSOB5, ...} 30min + 5s. Then S17 testing followed by S17.

As for S17:-

!s17 • Tentatively set to December 2019. Delay due to a possible sponsored hardware upgrade.

Other commands overview S17 tentative plans: 'S17 Qualification League (unofficial)...', 'S17 L1: Not announced yet', etc.

CCC: CCC11 R2 finished with LC0 3.0 points ahead of second place Stockfish. Guest engine Lc0-dev, mentioned in the previous report, finished third, but is not allowed to advance to R3. The following chart gives a bird's-eye view of the R2 results; for a larger version, see 'TCEC/CCC Links'.

In last week's post, 'Fat Fritz' by Albert Silver, I wondered,

How long will it take the computer chess world to pit Fat Fritz against the battle-hardened competitors in the series of TCEC/CCC events?

After CCC11 R2, the CCC ran two matches:-

+16-6=80, Stockfish - Fat Fritz
+14-5=83, Lc0 - Fat Fritz

While the results aren't particularly encouraging for AI/NN engine Fat Fritz, the matches were against two of the top-ranked engines in the world, one a traditional CPU engine, the other an AI/NN GPU engine. As the chart for CCC11 R2 shows, the final ranking in a multi-engine, round-robin tournament can depend heavily on how well the top engines perform against the bottom finishers. Let's hope Fat Fritz finds its way into the qualification rounds of the next seasons for the TCEC and/or the CCC, perhaps along with the latest version of Fat Fritz's cousin, Fritz 17.

[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]

24 November 2019

Masters of the [Chess] Arts

As the long-running series on The Sociology of Chess (November 2016), starts its fourth year, I'm no closer to understanding the subject than I was three years ago. This month's episode is from the World Chess Hall of Fame (worldchesshof.org).


Masters of the Arts: STL Chess Club's Tony Rich and US Chess' Carol Meyer (8:44) • '[Published on] Oct 21, 2019'

The description expanded on the title:-

Watch as Saint Louis Chess Club Executive Director Tony Rich interviews US Chess Executive Director Carol Meyer as they reflect on the World Chess Hall of Fame exhibition, "US Chess: 80 Years -- Promoting the Royal Game in America," on view March 6 - October 27, 2019.

I couldn't remember seeing a video in what appears to be a series of its own -- Masters of the Arts -- but it turns out there are more than two dozen of them: worldchesshof / search?query=masters (youtube.com). The video shown above was the first to appear on one of my short lists for chess videos, which stretch back to 2012. It was also the first video in the series to use the word 'chess' in the video's title. That might explain why most of the videos in the worldchesshof channel rarely reach 1000 views. SEO works, but it also works against.

***

Just after posting: On top of the inadequate SEO, the video doesn't allow embeds:-

Video unavailable • Playback on other websites has been disabled by the video owner.
Talk about clueless!

18 November 2019

'Fat Fritz' by Albert Silver

Last year I wrote a short series of weekly posts about the preliminary stages of TCEC S13:-

To make a long story short, AlphaZero begat Leela which begat Deus X. After Deus X was eliminated from S13, nothing more was heard about it until a year later:-

That article describes the evolution of Deus X into Fat Fritz. Skipping ahead a few months, a claim appeared similar to one made at the introduction of AlphaZero near the end of 2017:-

Not surprisingly, that claim was a precursor to the introduction of Fat Fritz as a commercial product:-

How long will it take the computer chess world to pit Fat Fritz against the battle-hardened competitors in the series of TCEC/CCC events?

17 November 2019

Doesn't Look Like a Photo

Why did this photo have 1615 views and 218 'faves'? Is it even a photo?


Game © Flickr user oldTor under Creative Commons.

That title didn't explain anything. The description (translated from Russian) said, 'Shot with a lens Samsung NX 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 OIS, HDR', which also didn't mean anything to me, because I'm not much of a photographer. At least I knew it was a photo and that it was in 21 groups, 3 albums, and 1 gallery. Maybe there's a clue there.

The first group was 'Grunge Art Work', which also didn't mean much to me. A Google search presented the question, 'What is grunge design?', and answered,

The term "Grunge" was first coined to stand for a specific type of music, influenced by punk, rock and heavy metal. The design itself takes on the rawness of punk and rock, and incorporates real life imagery inspired by the urban and industrial scene -- it's very stylistic, less uniform, and is easily recognizable.

Easily recognizable? Google also presented the question, 'What is grunge art?'. The answer was,

Such images are used by various designers today to help them create artworks that reflect the atmosphere of heavy rock, or underground punk music. This idea of a grunge look, like the idea of a retro style, has witnessed an expansion today.

I can't say that I'm any wiser after that. The second group was 'Opt out no limits for art work!', subtitled, 'A place to put your art no limits go wild! and have fun!' Other than a mild obsession with the female form, there was no discernible connection between the artworks in the group, many of which were impressive indeed.

Many groups carried the acronym 'HDR', which also appeared in the photo's description. Google presented another question, 'What is HDR photo?', and answered,

HDR is a setting on the iPhone Camera app. The letters stand for High Dynamic Range. But what does that mean? It means that your camera will process photos slightly differently than normal in order to capture greater detail from bright and dark areas in your photo.

Back to the question about views and faves, let's just add it to the long list of life's little mysteries.

14 November 2019

The Club of 14 November

Who are all of these people?


ChessCafe.com – Since 1996

And how did their ranks swell 50% in one year?

11 November 2019

TCEC FRC Leagues; CCC11 R2 Underway

Two weeks ago, in TCEC Cup 4 Finals & CCC11 R1 Underway, I decided, 'Instead of a weekly report on the two competitions, I'll report every two weeks.' To summarize the situation at that time in the two world class engine-vs-engine competitions:-

TCEC: 'Cup 4' has progressed through the semifinal round and is playing matches to settle 1st through 4th places. Stockfish is playing LCZero for 1st & 2nd places, while Komodo is playing AllieStein for 3rd & 4th -- the A/B engines vs. the AI/NN engines. • CCC: The 'CCC11 Qualification' stage finished with Leelenstein and Stockfish 1st & 2nd. The following stage, 'CCC11 Round 1', is underway with Stockfish leading.

Note that the two subjects of last week's post, AllieStein and Leelenstein, were both playing leading roles. What's happened in the two weeks since the previous TCEC/CCC report?

TCEC: 'Cup 4' finished with Stockfish beating LCZero for 1st place (+1-0=7), and AllieStein beating Komodo for 3rd place (also +1-0=7). The following chart shows the final score of both matches.

After 'Cup 4', the TCEC held a series of chess960 (FRC) matches:-

FRC GPU Bonus
FRC CPU League 2
FRC CPU League 1 Test
FRC CPU League 2 Playoff
FRC CPU League 1
FRC Sufi [aka 'Superfinal']

Stockfish beat AllieStein in the Superfinal by a score of +10-0=10. I maintain a blog on this subject (see 'Chess960 / Fischer Random' in the right sidebar under 'My Other Resources'), so I'll reserve any further commentary for that space.

At the time of writing this post, TCEC is running an 'LCZero - AllieStein Bonus' match. What about S17? The current news says, 'Tentatively set to late November 2019. Delay due to a possible hardware upgrade.'

CCC: After the previous report, 'CCC11 R1 Underway', the event finished with Stockfish 3.5 points ahead of second place Leelenstein. The top eight engines advanced to round two which is currently underway with nine engines; Lc0-dev was added to the mix. An !Command informs, 'Lc0-dev uses the very latest T40 net that is currently available at the start of each game it plays.' R2 will run for another week or so.

[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]

10 November 2019

The Idiot Is Now a Boss

On the Saint Louis Chess Club's Youtube channel, GM Wolff explains,

Twenty-two years ago I wrote 'The Complete Idiot's Guide to Chess'. It was the last thing I did as a professional chess player. The book has been in print ever since and the publisher, which is now Penguin, approached me about 9-10 months ago. They said, 'We're rebranding the whole complete Idiot's Guide series. We're beginning with a couple of titles and we'd like for your title, the chess book, to be one to begin with. They are rebranding [the series] 'How to do X like a Boss'. It's not my choice of title -- it's their new title -- so the book 'How to Play Chess Like a Boss' is on sale in the next few days.

I spent a couple months updating the material of the book and I spent particular emphasis on the chapter 'Computers in Chess' because that obviously was somewhat out of date some years later. My guide is the guide from a complete idiot to you as I taught myself quite a lot about computers in chess and in particular artificial intelligence.'

Starting with Claude Shannon in 1949, the talk covers many aspects of computer chess.


Artificial Intelligence: The Most Exciting Thing in Chess - GM Patrick Wolff (48:54) • 'Premiered Nov 1, 2019'

The video's description says,

Grandmaster Patrick Wolff talks about chess engines and the history of computers in the game. The two-time U.S. Chess Champion discusses how chess engines calculate, including an explanation of the "brute force" method, neural networks, the differences between Stockfish and AlphaZero, and more.

For another recent video about computer chess from the Saint Louis club, see AI/NN: 'Here to Stay?' (February 2019).

05 November 2019

November 1969 & 1994 'On the Cover'

I closed last month's 'On the Cover', October 1969 'On the Cover', saying,

And so ended one of the most important chapters in American chess journalism. Chess Review had been published continually since January 1933. And so ends this series on American chess in the 1960s.

In November 1969, Chess Life and Chess Review were merged for the first issue of Chess Life & Review. Let's continue the 'On the Cover' series with CL&R from 50 years ago, together with CL from 25 years ago.


Left: 'World Junior Champion Anatoly Karpov (USSR)'
Right: 'Gata Kamsky Advances in Race for PCA and FIDE World Titles!'

Chess Life & Review (50 Years Ago)

The six-page tournament report had been carried in the October issue of Chess Review, the last issue of its publication, under the title 'Tenth Junior World Championship; Stockholm, August 10-29, 1969; Related by Dr. Peter Trifunovich'. It started,

The tenth world championship for those under twenty was contested in Stockholm. Thirty-eight participated, two from the host country, one each from others, the contender from the Dominican Republic not appearing. It is expected that more than forty will participate in 1971.

Karpov finished 1st, with A.Adorjan & A.Urzica 2nd-3rd. The American representative, Kenneth Rogoff, failed to qualify for the championship section, finishing 3rd in his preliminary section behind Ulf Andersson of Sweden and Aurel Urzica of Romania.

Chess Life (25 Years Ago)

The photo shows Gata Kamsky on the right and his father Rustam Kamsky on the left. CL's 'On the Cover' introduction said,

Once upon a time, when one mentioned the "Chess Genius from Brooklyn," there could be but one interpretation. Today, we must preface such remarks carefully.

As the Professional Chess Association (PCA) and FIDE, continue to bicker, or not, one person may unify both World Championship claims, by winning both titles. Gata Kamsky will play former PCA Challenger Nigel Short in Linares, and then meet Valery Salov in January, in the next round of FIDE Challenger matches.

Just as the "good cop, bad cop" routine is undoubtedly disorienting to a suspect, "good press, bad press" concerning the Kamskys, must be equally confusing to the armchair aficionado. Lev Alburt and Larry Parr attempt to clear away some of the confusion, in our feature story.

The feature story was under the header 'The Human Side of Chess' and was titled 'Making it in America; A Conversation with Gata Kamsky'. It started,

At age 20, Grandmaster Gata Kamsky has become the first serious American contender for the world chess crown since Bobby Fischer a quarter century ago. He has just defeated India's Viswanathan Anand, 6-4, on the latter's home court in a place called Singhi Natar [sic; 'Sanghi Nagar'], and will probably be rated number three in the world in the next PCA rankings. He would also enjoy a similar distinction on the FIDE scale if that organization rated such PCA events as the young American's recent, devastating crush of Vladimir Kramnik in New York.

I expect we'll be seeing the evolving story in future editions of 'On the Cover'. For a sneak preview, see my page World Chess Championship: FIDE/PCA Chronology.

04 November 2019

AllieStein and Leelenstein

In last week's post about two world class engine-vs-engine competitions, TCEC Cup 4 Finals & CCC11 R1 Underway, I decided,

Instead of a weekly report on the two competitions, I'll report every two weeks. That rhythm is sufficient to follow the tournaments without having to spend too much time on them. It also allows for an occasional post on the off-week, to go a little deeper into the underlying issues.

In 2017, we saw the AI/NN engine AlphaZero burst into the top rank of chess engines. In 2018, it was joined by Leela. In 2019, as my post TCEC/CCC 2019 Q1-Q3 Summary from a couple of weeks ago revealed, they were joined by AllieStein [playing in the TCEC] and Leelenstein [in the CCC]. It's instructive to chronicle the progress of those last two engines in 2019. Let's start with AllieStein's progress in the TCEC:-

  • 2019-03-18: TCEC S15 Div4 Finishes; Stockfish Wins CCC6 • 'TCEC S15 division 3 is currently underway. The two top placed engines in divisions 4a and 4b all met in a playoff, from which the two top engines qualified into division 3. The AI/NN engine AllieStein (Allie + Stein) was one of the two qualifying.'
  • 2019-03-25: TCEC S15 Div3 Finishes; CCC7 Starts • 'S15 division 2 is currently underway. The AI/NN engine AllieStein was one of two qualifying from division 3.'
  • 2019-04-01: TCEC S15 Div2 Finishes; CCC7 Nears Final • 'S15 division 1 is currently underway; the AI/NN engine AllieStein was one of two qualifying from division 2.'
  • 2019-04-08: TCEC S15 Div1 Finishes; CCC7 Final Starts • 'KomodoMCTS and AllieStein finished 1st and 2nd in division 1 to qualify into the premier division with six other engines.'
  • 2019-04-29: TCEC S15 Final: SF vs. Leela; CCC8 S1 at 3/4 Mark • 'Among the also-rans, the result of AI/NN engine AllieStein was the most remarkable. Starting the season in division 4, the lowest of the five divisions, it consistently finished in the top-2 for each successive division, eventually qualifying into the premier division. There it tied for 4th/5th with Houdini. [...] AlphaZero was the first AI/NN engine to compete at the level of the traditional engines; Leela was the second; and AllieStein is the third.'
  • 2019-09-13: Beyond AlphaZero • 'ScorpioNN and Stoofvlees first survived the [S16] qualification stage, then the two league stages (finishing ahead of another NN engine, FireNNb, along the way), and are currently playing in the TCEC Premier Division. There they were joined by two other NN engines, LCZero and AllieStein.'
  • 2019-09-16: TCEC S16 DivP & CCC10 S3 Both Underway • 'The [S16] Premier Division has another week to run. Three engines -- AllieStein, LCZero, and Stockfish -- are currently within a half point of each other, two points ahead of the rest of the field.'
  • 2019-09-30: TCEC S16 Final Underway; Leelenstein Wins CCC10 • 'The Premier Division finished with Stockfish, AllieStein, and LCZero at 1st/2nd/3rd, each separated by a half-point. [...] After 22 games in the 100-game final match, Stockfish has a two point lead over AllieStein.'
  • 2019-10-14: Stockfish Wins TCEC S16; CCC11 Underway • 'Stockfish beat AllieStein by a final score of 54.5-45.5, more specifically +14-5=81.'

The TCEC provided the first mention of Leelenstein; after that it was all CCC:-

  • 2019-03-04: TCEC S14/S15 Interlude; CCC6 S2 Wrapping Up • 'After the finish of [TCEC] S14, while S15 preparation was underway, the site conducted three short competitions. The first event was a 48-game three-way match that lasted a day or so. It finished with the result Stockfish 17.5/32, Leelenstein 16, Antifish 14.5.'
  • 2019-03-25: TCEC S15 Div3 Finishes; CCC7 Starts • 'The same [Chess.com] report outlined the plan for CCC7. [...] That makes four AI/NN engines: Lc0, Antifish, Leelenstein and, Allie.'
  • 2019-04-08: TCEC S15 Div1 Finishes; CCC7 Final Starts • 'The preliminary event 'Blitz Bonanza' finished with a surprise result. Although Stockfish finished first, it was ahead of three AI/NN engines -- Leelenstein, Leela, and AntiFish -- in that order.'
  • 2019-05-06: TCEC Cup 3 Nears QF; CCC8 S1 90% Finished • 'Leelenstein and Antifish will be fighting each other for one of the last two places in the final.'
  • 2019-05-13: Leela Wins TCEC Cup 3; CCC8 S1 99% Finished • 'Since the rules specified, 'Top 4 engines advance to final, only two can be from a single, or shared, code-base', Leelenstein beat Antifish for the second qualifying spot in the Leela family.'
  • 2019-05-20: TCEC S15 and CCC8 Finals Both Underway • 'In the final stage, with about two-thirds of the games already played, the order of the four engines is Stockfish, Leela, Leelenstein, Houdini. The point spread between each successive place is almost enough to guarantee that this will be the final standing.'
  • 2019-07-15: TCEC S16 Starts; CCC9 Finishes • 'CCC9 Gauntlet Final (200 game match); 1) 103.5 Stockfish; 2) 96.5 Leelenstein'
  • 2019-09-16: TCEC S16 DivP & CCC10 S3 Both Underway • 'Six engines advanced from the quarterfinals, with Stockfish, Lc0, and Leelenstein finishing well ahead of the others. [...] The 'CCC10 Semifinals' stage is currently underway with the same three engines again well ahead of the other three.'
  • 2019-09-23: TCEC S16 DivP & CCC10 Final Nearly Complete • 'Leelenstein and Stockfish finished tied for 1st/2nd in the 'CCC10 Semifinals', thereby advancing to the final match. [...] Of the 200 games scheduled for the 'CCC10 Finals', 190 games have already been played. Leelenstein has a narrow but convincing lead over Stockfish.'
  • 2019-09-30: TCEC S16 Final Underway; Leelenstein Wins CCC10 • 'Leelenstein beat Stockfish by a score of +19-15=166 in the CCC10 final.'
  • 2019-10-28: TCEC Cup 4 Finals & CCC11 R1 Underway • '[The following chart] captures a portion of the final crosstable for the 'CCC11 Qualification' stage. Only the full results of the first six engines, Leelenstein 1st, are shown.'

Both AllieStein & Leelenstein entered the competitions at the same time and both reached the top ranks at about the same time. Does that tell us something about AI/NN engine development?

03 November 2019

Vasarely Set, Board, or Both?

We don't see many chess sets here on Top eBay Chess Items by Price (March 2010). The previous set appears to have been Chess with Rare Woods (February 2017), and that wasn't just a set, it was a table, which I introduced with 'We don't see many chess tables here on...'

I never have a problem if I want to feature a chess set. Every time I start to compose an eBay post, there are dozens of expensive sets to choose from. That's why I don't often choose one: they would inundate everything else. The set shown below was titled 'Vasarely, Victor (1906-1997). Chess Color Serigraph in Plexiglas Hand Signed', and sold for US $1520 after a single bid.

The description said,

Medium: Serigraph & Silkscreen • Originality: Limited Edition • Features: Framed, Signed • Style: Abstract / optical • Unused / complete, with custom clear plexiglass dust cover.

The item came with a 'CERTIFICAT' that said,

We hereby certify that THE VASARELY CHESS SET is issued in an edition limited world-wide to only 1,500 (one thousand five hundred) copies. Each VASARELY CHESS SET is an individually numbered original work, with the chessboard personally signed by Victor Vasarely in his own hand.

The photo of the item also had four other photos showing how the board and set were designed. It looks like some sort of manual raytracing executed at a time when computers and software were either big budget items or even non-existent.

Why did I decide to feature this set for this post? Vasarely produced other chess related works. Cataloging them would make a good rainy day project.

01 November 2019

Fide.com Archive

Last month, in a post on my World Championship blog about the Status of the Women's World Championship, I wrote,

The recent design change of FIDE's web site has rendered many (all?) bookmarks unusable ('404 Page Not Found; The page you were looking for doesn't exist'), making any research problematic.

I just noticed that new design includes a link called 'Archive' that leads to:-

old.fide.com

It seems slow, but it works. Its most recent news article is dated '19 September 2019'. To acess bookmarked articles, I have to change the subdomain for a link from www.fide.com to old.fide.com. I don't know why FIDE can't do this automatically with a '404' error handler, but I'm thankful that it works at all. For the record, a corresponding Archive.org link is:-

archive.org/web/*/www.fide.com • currently: 'www.fide.com : Saved 2,428 times between November 4, 1996 and November 1, 2019'

I'm not the only blogger to have an issue with FIDE's redesign. See also Today’s Pet Peeve (spraggettonchess.com; 3 October 2019).

28 October 2019

TCEC Cup 4 Finals & CCC11 R1 Underway

After last week's TCEC/CCC 2019 Q1-Q3 Summary, I thought about continuing to follow the two ongoing, world class engine-vs-engine tournaments. It's not like they need my attention, or that I have anything special to offer. I finally decided to continue with the series. Chess engines are in a transition phase -- will the traditional CPU A/B engines (like Stockfish) remain competitive, or will the newer GPU AI/NN engines (like Leela) become dominant? -- in the same way that chess engines started to dominate human players in the 1990s. I would like to see firsthand how the struggle between the engine technologies evolves.

The last weekly report in the series was two weeks ago: Stockfish Wins TCEC S16; CCC11 Underway. To summarize it:-

TCEC: Stockfish beat AllieStein +14-5=81 in the S16 final match, aka Superfinal. • CCC: The 'CCC11 Qualification' is underway with 12 engines competing.

What's happened in the intervening weeks?

TCEC: After starting with 32 engines, 'Cup 4' has progressed through the first four rounds -- round of 32, of 16, quarterfinal, and semifinal -- and is now playing the matches to settle 1st through 4th places. A/B engine Stockfish is playing AI/NN engine LCZero for 1st & 2nd places, while A/B engine Komodo is playing AI/NN engine AllieStein for 3rd & 4th. It might as well be a team match, the A/B engines vs. the AI/NN engines.

CCC: The following chart captures a portion of the final crosstable for the 'CCC11 Qualification' stage. Only the full results of the first six engines, Leelenstein 1st, are shown.

Chess.com issued a report on the first stage, CCC11 Qualification Finished; Bullet Testing Now. The following stage, 'CCC11 Round 1', is underway with Stockfish leading. That stage will last for another week. The live play 'Info' tab lays out the format for each stage of the competition:-

Qualification : 12 engines, 2 rounds [CCC10 places 1-3 and four others qualify]
Round 1 : 12 engines, 2 rounds [Places 1-8 advance]
Round 2 : 8 engines, 3 rounds [Places 1-6 advance]
Round 3 : 6 engines, 5 rounds [Places 1-4 advance]
Semifinal : 4 engines, 12 rounds [Places 1-2 advance]
Final : 2 engines, 75 rounds

Time control: 30|5
Opening Book: CCC MegaBook (216 openings, openings =20plies

As for my plans for this blog, instead of a weekly report on the two competitions, I'll report every two weeks. That rhythm is sufficient to follow the tournaments without having to spend too much time on them. It also allows for an occasional post on the off-week, to go a little deeper into the underlying issues. For example, why haven't the AI/NN engines, which have advanced so quickly, dominated completely?

[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]

27 October 2019

Ladies' Month

For this month's edition of The Sociology of Chess (November 2016), the video short list reduced to two choices:-

I couldn't decide which clip I liked better, so I looked for a third choice and found one on the channel WHYY. What is WHYY?

WHYY is the leading public media organization in the Philadelphia Region, including Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and beyond.

The video had not so many views and no comments, but popularity is not necessarily the most important consideration to develop the future of chess.


Chess Mates: Growing a Community of Girls who Play Chess (4:23) • '[Published on] Oct 11, 2019'

The description started,

Groups like the U.S. Chess Federation are trying to get more girls to not only play the game, but also stick with it. While some progress has been made, females remain significantly outnumbered. Women make up just 14 percent of all chess players. Now two-time U.S. Women's Chess Champion Jennifer Shahade is teaming up with Philadelphia nonprofit ASAP to close the gender gap locally and ultimately nationwide.

Maybe some day one of the girls in the video will grow up to be like this young lady, whose own heroine is Judit Polgar:-

For another angle on the subject, see a previous post in this same sociology series: Drawing the Gender Line (March 2019).

21 October 2019

TCEC/CCC 2019 Q1-Q3 Summary

In last week's post, Stockfish Wins TCEC S16; CCC11 Underway, about the ongoing series following two world class engine-vs-engine tournaments, I promised,

After following the TCEC & the CCC for nine months, and with both events transitioning to new seasons, this looks like a good time to end the blog's coverage. I'll produce a summary of those nine months for my next post.

In fact, I included that paragraph in my last *two* posts, so it's time to make good on the promise. Starting (by coincidence) at the beginning of the year:-

It's been an enjoyable experience documenting the evolution of the two competitions. The TCEC version is better organized than the CCC version, but the CCC has its place, partly in confirming the results of the TCEC. As I wrote in last week's post, after listing the overall winners of the various events:-

Neither the traditional A/B engines (represented by Stockfish), nor the more recent AI/NN engines (Leela & Leelenstein) can claim dominance.

It might seem inevitable that the AI/NN engines eventually dominate the A/B engines, but I'm not yet convinced. I'm going to have trouble keeping my distance from the action, so I wouldn't be surprised to come back to these events.

[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]

20 October 2019

Checkmate Visual Impairment!

According to Wikipedia's page on Visual impairment,

As of 2015 there were 940 million people with some degree of vision loss. 246 million had low vision and 39 million were blind. The majority of people with poor vision are in the developing world and are over the age of 50 years.

Furthermore,

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 80% of visual impairment is either preventable or curable with treatment.

What does this have to do with chess? Nothing and everything...


Checkmate disability! © Flickr user IAPB/VISION 2020 under Creative Commons.

...The description explained the reason for the photo:-

Photo uploaded from the #VisionFirst! Photo Competition (iapb.org; International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness) held for World Sight Day 2019.

And also gave details on its origin:-

Submitted by: Dany Devassy
Country: India
Organisation: Chaithanya Eye Institute, Palarivattom, Kochi, Ernakulam
Category: Amateur
Caption: "Checkmate disability!"

For another chess related photo from the same competition, see "Insightful comradeship made over blacks and whites" (flickr.com). For all photos from the competition, see #VisionFirst Photo Competition (ditto). For the terms of the competition, see photocomp.iapb.org. For another take on blind chess, see Best Blind Players of India (August 2018).

14 October 2019

Stockfish Wins TCEC S16; CCC11 Underway

In last week's post TCEC S16 Final Widens; CCC10 Bonuses on the two foremost engine-vs-engine tournaments, I decided,

After following the TCEC & the CCC for nine months, and with both events transitioning to new seasons, this looks like a good time to end the blog's coverage. I'll produce a summary of those nine months for my next post.

I jumped the gun with that decision. Here's a summary of the rest of that post:-

TCEC: Stockfish now has an eight point lead over AllieStein. This extrapolates to a 56-44 match win for Stockfish. • CCC: No plans for CCC11 have been announced.

Two significant evolutions took place during the week. Both signal a logical break in my ongoing series on engine tournaments.

TCEC: Stockfish beat AllieStein by a final score of 54.5-45.5, more specifically +14-5=81.

CCC: Chess.com announced, CCC11 Starts Now!: 'Title says it all. So head over to chess.com/ccc and join the fun.'

The announcement continued, 'CCC11 format is available here', with a link to a document on docs.google.com/spreadsheets. When I tried to access the document, I received the message 'Access Denied: You need permission', so I'm out of luck. The 'CCC11 Qualification' is already underway with 12 engines competing.

What about that summary of the past nine months? I'll have that in my next post. In the meantime, here's a reminder of other winners during the past few months:-

In a nutshell, recent winners were -- TCEC S15: Leela; S16: Stockfish • CCC8: Stockfish; CCC9: Stockfish; CCC10: Leelenstein. Neither the traditional A/B engines (represented by Stockfish), nor the more recent AI/NN engines (Leela & Leelenstein) can claim dominance.

[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]

13 October 2019

'How Is This Not a Thing Yet?'

With World Championship qualifying events like the World Cup (finished a week ago) and the Grand Swiss (happening now), my short list for this month's featured video had more quality clips than I've seen in a long time. Too bad I'm a sucker for the offbeat. From Youtube's channel 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon':-


Jack White and Jimmy Fallon Play Grape Chess (1:17) • '[Published on] Sep 26, 2019'

The description said only,

Jack White and Jimmy take an intense game of chess to a whole new level.

The video has attracted nearly 250 comments. For example:-

'I mean do I really have to say it? Jack White should play chess with Jack Black.' • 'Did you know Jack White and Jack Black are actually really good friends?' • 'Whoever the writer is on Fallon who every so often comes up with these ridiculous and random sketches, props to you my friend.' • 'Grape Chess... How is this not a thing yet?' • 'Berries, the most royal and lovely of fruits, should have been the edible of choice.'

If you're wondering who Jack White is, see Wikipedia's Jack White ('an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer'). If you're wondering who Jimmy Fallon is, you're on your own.

07 October 2019

TCEC S16 Final Widens; CCC10 Bonuses

In last week's post on two important engine-vs-engine tournaments, the title summarized the status: TCEC S16 Final Underway; Leelenstein Wins CCC10. More specifically,

TCEC: After 22 games in the 100-game final match, Stockfish has a two point lead over AllieStein. • CCC: Leelenstein beat Stockfish by a score of +19-15=166 in the CCC10 final. No plans for CCC11 have been announced.

The intervening week has seen no substantial change in either tournament. Here's the current status:-

TCEC: After 64 games in the 100-game final match, Stockfish now has an eight point lead over AllieStein. This extrapolates to a 56-44 match win for Stockfish, which has been the victor in the last six decisive games.

CCC: Still no plans for CCC11 have been announced, although a planning spreadsheet is available via the server's !Commands. Last week I neglected to mention that, following the CCC10 final, a 'Bonus' event had been played and that a 'Bonus III' event was underway. What happened to 'Bonus II' is anyone's guess.

After following the TCEC & the CCC for nine months, and with both events transitioning to new seasons, this looks like a good time to end the blog's coverage. I'll produce a summary of those nine months for my next post.

[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]

06 October 2019

Easton Chess Press

To blog or not to blog. In The End of Daily Blogging (September 2019), I wrote,

Sunday: I've been rotating monthly through eBay, Youtube, Flickr, and sociology. These are all subjects that expand on some random, chess-related topic, where I always learn something new. I'll continue with some of these until I finally close the blog.

The eBay series is Top eBay Chess Items by Price (March 2010) and -- today being the first Sunday of the month -- by force of habit I scrolled through eBay's closed items for September looking for a subject worthy of a blog post. Of the half-dozen items that made my short list, four were for autographs. I rejected three of those autographed items because they weren't visually interesting or were similar to other posts on this blog. Here are their titles and selling price:-

  • '1958 PRODIGY BOBY FISCHER & 15 Grandmasters Signed Portoroz Chess World Champion'; US $2,314.00
  • 'Original document SIGNED by CAPABLANCA chess moves world champion 1929 Autograph'; US $400.00
  • 'ICELAND CHESS Bobby Fischer vs. Spassky match - Fischers autograph'; US $400.00

The fourth item was something new for me:-

  • 'Easton Press - Burgess Mammoth Chess, Karpov and Kasparov (Signed 1st editions)'; US $650.00

The following composite image of the item shows the books on the left and the autographs on the right (Kasparov top, Karpov bottom).

The description of the eBay item listed the full titles:-

* Anatoly Karpov - Karpov on Karpov: Memoirs of a World Chess Champion (Signed First Edition 1991)
* Gary Kasparov - How Life Imitates Chess (Signed First Edition 2007)
* Graham Burgess - Mammoth Book of Chess (First edition 2010)

After long excerpts from reviews of each book, the description continued,

Easton Press books are bound in genuine premium leather and come with moire fabric end-sheets and a permanent satin ribbon page marker. The spines of these luxurious books are accented in 22-karat gold and are hubbed with traditional raised rings. Each unique binding is decorated with a deeply inlaid design of 22-karat gold. The page ends are gilded in 22-karat gold for beauty and protection against dust and humidity. Easton Press Books are also printed on archival-quality acid-neutral paper that is Smyth-sewn for strength and durability. • Condition: Near mint, no nameplates.

I have paperback copies of all three books and I never would have guessed that they might be treated like 'Moby Dick' or 'The Great Gatsby'. The Kasparov book, although worth reading, is not one of his best. I once blogged about it in Me, Myself, and I (May 2011). I found another description of the eBay item on Signed by Garry Kasparov "How Life Imitates Chess" Easton Press Signed First Edition (veryfinebooks.com), where it is offered for $295.00:-

Personally signed by Garry Kasparov directly onto a limitation page. Condition: As New - Still sealed in the original shrink-wrap from Easton Press. The condition is of the highest quality.

Easton Press. Norwalk, CT. 2007. Garry Kasparov "How Life Imitates Chess: Making The Right Moves, From The Board To The Boardroom". Signed Limited First Edition. Limited to only 1,350 signed and numbered copies. Full genuine leather. Certificate of Authenticity from Easton Press guarantees the signature.

I had to look up the meaning of 'limitation page', which is also called a 'signature page' and which refers to numbered copies of a limited edition. Like I said at the beginning of this post, when it comes to the Sunday series, 'I always learn something new'. Next stop: Youtube.

01 October 2019

October 1969 'On the Cover'

Even though I announced The End of Daily Blogging two weeks ago, there is another ongoing, monthly series on this blog that needs to be closed separately. The first post in the 'On the Cover' series, March 1964 'On the Cover' (March 2014), asked, 'What was happening in the U.S. chess press 50 years ago?' I've been answering the same question monthly for over five-and-a-half years. This current post, pegged to October 1969, is the logical end of the series.


Left: 'The Benko Family : 3-week-old Palma, Giselle and Pal, Triple Crown Champion'
Right: 'Message of Progress'

Chess Life

It's been only a month since I took a special look at GM Benko in Pal Benko 'On the Cover' (September 2019). Fifty years ago we learned that he had become a family man. Although there was nothing in that month's publication related to the cover, there was an article by Benko on an emerging variation that would eventually bear his name: the 'Benko Gambit'.

BENONI COUNTERGAMBIT CONTINUED by Pal Benko • After my last victories with this gambit, I was asked why I never use the opening in international tournaments if I was so convinced it was good for Black. I had, in fact, played it against International Master Vukic at Sarajevo 1967 with success. In my most recent European tour following the 1968 U.S. Open, I played it twice against International Masters. In my next report, perhaps you will see how this opening fares against Grandmasters!

Chess Review

Many people will recognize I.A. (Al) Horowitz in the cover photo. The October 1969 issue of CR carried a note from its editor/publisher.

MESSAGE of PROGRESS • Dear Chessplayer: Happy days! I have good news for you. CHESS REVIEW as a periodical and its auxiliary operations, Postal Chess, the sale of books and equipment and news of chess, are being acquired by the U.S. Chess Federation. In the pages of CHESS LIFE, the official organ of the USCF, will appear the results of postal competitions and the other outstanding features of CHESS REVIEW together with the notable writings of CHESS LIFE.

Key personnel of the Review, including Jack Straley Battell and Al Horowitz, will join CHESS LIFE in what purports to be the biggest, greatest and the best periodical in all the world. The interests of subscribers, customers and postalites of CHESS REVIEW will be well secured. Through an amalgam, to be known as CHESS LIFE AND REVIEW, a new dynamic force in the royal game will dominate the American scene. Those who get both magazines now should notify us so that the subscriptions may be adjusted accordingly.

Cordially yours,
AL HOROWITZ

And so ended one of the most important chapters in American chess journalism. Chess Review had been published continually since January 1933. And so ends this series on American chess in the 1960s.

30 September 2019

TCEC S16 Final Underway; Leelenstein Wins CCC10

Last week's report on two world class engine-vs-engine competitions, TCEC S16 DivP & CCC10 Final Nearly Complete, saw both nearing the end of an advanced stage. To summarize that report:-

TCEC: The Premier Division will finish later today. Stockfish is almost certain to qualify for the final match. The other two engines are neck-and-neck. • CCC: Leelenstein and Stockfish finished tied for 1st/2nd in the 'CCC10 Semifinals', thereby advancing to the final match.

Both competitions finished their respective stages within a day after the report. What happened then?

TCEC: The Premier Division finished with Stockfish, AllieStein, and LCZero at 1st/2nd/3rd, each separated by a half-point. The following chart shows the top four of the eight participating engines.

After 22 games in the 100-game final match, Stockfish has a two point lead over AllieStein. The match will last another week and a half.

CCC: Leelenstein beat Stockfish by a score of +19-15=166 in the CCC10 final. No plans for CCC11 have been announced.

I've been tracking the two competitions weekly since Results: TCEC S14-P / CCC3 S3 (January 2019). The time has come to close the series and move on to other topics. I'll summarize the previous nine months in the next post.

[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]

23 September 2019

TCEC S16 DivP & CCC10 Final Nearly Complete

Last week's post, TCEC S16 DivP & CCC10 S3 Both Underway, summarized, 'Both the TCEC and the CCC have reached the stage that will determine the participants in the finals.' More specifically:-

TCEC: The Premier Division has another week to run with three engines -- AllieStein, LCZero, and Stockfish -- within a half point of each other. • CCC: The 'CCC10 Semifinals' stage is underway with three engines -- Stockfish, Lc0, and Leelenstein -- well ahead of the other three.

The current status of the two engine-vs-engine competitions is summarized below.

TCEC: The Premier Division will finish later today. Stockfish is almost certain to qualify for the final match. The other two engines are neck-and-neck.

CCC: Leelenstein and Stockfish finished tied for 1st/2nd in the 'CCC10 Semifinals', thereby advancing to the final match. The following chart shows that Lc0 was well behind the two finalists.

Chess.com issued a report, CCC10 Finals: Leelenstein vs Stockfish. Of the 200 games scheduled for the 'CCC10 Finals', 190 games have already been played. Leelenstein has a narrow but convincing lead over Stockfish.

[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]

22 September 2019

2019 US Chess Delegates Meeting

Look like it wasn't really The Last Sociology Post (*; August 2019). How could it have been when there is so much compelling material to be reviewed (the following video had 34 viewers in its first month!):-


US Chess 2019 Delegates Meeting 1.1 (2:43:37) • 'Published on Aug 22, 2019'

The description added only that the meeting was held on a Saturday:-

Part 1 of the Saturday Delegates Meeting for US Chess

For more of the same from Youtube's USChessFederation channel, see:-

If that doesn't satisfy your appetite for the ins-and-outs of chess administration, see last year's Delegates Meeting and US Chess Annual Awards [Full Video] (August 2018)

(*) The most recent post in this blog's series on The Sociology of Chess (November 2016)

17 September 2019

The End of Daily Blogging

I ended last week's post, Breaking the 3000 Barrier, with a short statement of direction:-

This current post is no.2999 on this blog, making tomorrow's post [Beyond AlphaZero] no.3000. It's a goal I've been working toward since the beginning of the year, because it will be the last regular post on the blog. Some of the ongoing series need to be closed separately, but I'll look at those some other time.

I tackle those ongoing series on a weekly cycle:-

Sunday: I've been rotating monthly through eBay, Youtube, Flickr, and sociology. These are all subjects that expand on some random, chess-related topic, where I always learn something new. I'll continue with some of these until I finally close the blog.

Monday: Since the beginning of the year, I've been following the TCEC and CCC engine tournaments. I'll continue with these for the near future, but might decrease the frequency of posts.

Tuesday/Thursday: These are free days, unrelated to any series, so I'll stop. This current post is the last.

Wednesday: I'll continue with my World Chess Championship Blog at least through the end of the current cycle. Who will challenge Magnus next year?

Friday: I use Friday posts to develop topics that can't be covered in 1-2 posts. The most recent post in the current series was 'Beyond AlphaZero', which is a good stopping point.

Saturday: Two posts a month have been for Chess960 (FRC). I'll continue at least through the climax of the FWFRCC (FIDE World Fischer Random Chess Championship) in November.

Chess is a wonderful subject and there are much worse pastimes. Whether you've been a regular or an occasional visitor to this blog, I offer a big 'Thank You!' and I hope you'll continue to stop by from time to time.

16 September 2019

TCEC S16 DivP & CCC10 S3 Both Underway

To summarize last week's post TCEC S16 DivP & CCC10 S2 Both Underway:-

TCEC: The 'Premier Division', to determine which two engines will compete in the Superfinals, is underway with eight engines. • CCC: The 'CCC10 Quarterfinals' are underway with 11 engines.

In the world's strongest engine-vs-engine competitions, what's changed since then?

TCEC: The Premier Division has another week to run. Three engines -- AllieStein, LCZero, and Stockfish -- are currently within a half point of each other, two points ahead of the rest of the field.

CCC: As Chess.com reported in CCC10 Quarterfinals Finished; CCC10 Semis Start Now!, six engines advanced from the quarterfinals. The following chart shows a partial crosstable for those six, with Stockfish, Lc0, and Leelenstein finishing well ahead of the others. None of the other engines managed to win against the top three.

The 'CCC10 Semifinals' stage is currently underway with the same three engines again well ahead of the other three. When I gathered the basic info for this post, the schedule said the event would finish in a couple of days, but later an announcement appeared that said, 'Due to unexpected hardware issues, CCC10 Semifinals will resume [later]'.

Both events have reached the stage that will determine the participants in the finals. If the tournaments progress as the intermediate results show, we will see two AI/NN engines battling against each other -or- Stockfish against one of those engines.

[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]

15 September 2019

Four Player Chess Pawns

Whether these are chess Pawns or Parcheesi pieces, their messages are identical.


Photo top middle: Mentoring © Flickr user Marco Verch under Creative Commons.

'Mentoring' and 'Support' look the same, as do 'Diversity' and 'Friends'. Is there another message here? It looks like The Last Flickr Photo (August 2019) wasn't.

13 September 2019

Beyond AlphaZero

For the last two months, I've used this blog's Friday post to wander around topics relevant to AlphaZero:-

As everyone knows by now, although AlphaZero never played in a neutral, supervised competition, it was quickly copied by Leela Chess Zero (aka Lc0, LCZero), which improved rapidly to become one of the strongest chess engines in the world. Leela has since been joined by other AI/NN engines, which are also making a mark in the engine-vs-engine competitions that I've been following since the beginning of the year. Not too long ago, in TCEC S16 Qualification; CCC9 Bonuses (July 2019), I reported,

The first stage of S16, the Qualification League, is well underway. Two neural network (NN) engine newcomers, ScorpioNN and Stoofvlees, are currently leading, while a third NN, ChessFighterNN, is fighting to stay out of last place. A Leela clone running on CPUs instead of GPUS [LCZeroCPU], is in third place. TCEC chat commands point to resources describing the three NNs [see links].

ScorpioNN and Stoofvlees first survived the qualification stage, then the two league stages (finishing ahead of another NN engine, FireNNb, along the way), and are currently playing in the TCEC Premier Division. There they were joined by two other NN engines, LCZero and AllieStein, along with four non-NN engines: Stockfish, Houdini, Komodo, and KomodoMCTS.

As for the other engine-vs-engine event, the CCC, four NN engines competed in the qualification stage. I reported last week in TCEC S16 L1 Finished; CCC10 S1 in Trouble, that the tournament did not go smoothly. In spite of the difficulties, all four NN engines -- Lc0, Stoofvlees, DarkQueen, and Leelenstein -- eventually qualified to the next stage.

The upshot of this activity is that the NN engines and the non-NN engines are roughly equal in strength. Will this continue or will one of the two technologies soon prove dominant?