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?

12 September 2019

Breaking the 3000 Barrier

Remember this post: Breaking the 2900 Barrier (April 2019), marking both post no.2900 on this blog and a historical point in Elo chess ratings? I wrote,

For 2900 ratings, we have to turn to the world of chess engines. Here is a relevant chart signed Luke Muehlhauser and dated 2011. I've marked the 2900 crossover point with a red star. The engine under the star is Shredder 8.0 and the year was 2003 or thereabouts.

As for 'Breaking the 3000 Barrier', the same chart points to Rybka 1.2 a few years later. Looks like I won't have to write the 3000 post at all.

This current post is no.2999 on this blog, making tomorrow's post 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.

10 September 2019

'Smart Is the New Sexy'

I don't remember where I saw the news first. Maybe it was Chessable joins the Play Magnus chess24 family (chess24.com):-

We're excited to be able to announce that Chessable is now part of the Play Magnus and chess24 group. Play Magnus will invest heavily in the fast-growing chess improvement site, and although nothing will change at first on chess24 or Chessable we’re looking forward to a great opportunity to combine our forces to provide more and better resources for chess players of all levels.

Maybe it was Chessable joins Play Magnus and chess24 – yes, it’s true! (chessable.com/blog; by David Kramaley, 'Chessable's CEO and Chief Scientist'):-

Dear Chessable members, today is simply unbelievable! We are delighted to announce that Chessable has become part of the Play Magnus & chess24 family. That’s right, The World Champion himself, Magnus Carlsen, is now part of our Chessable family! It’s been an exciting and incredible journey, and we wanted to thank you for being part of it.

Both announcements were dated a week ago, 3 September. My first reaction was, 'What is the "Play Magnus Chess24 family'"? Then I remembered an announcement from a few months ago, Chess24 and Play Magnus join forces (chess24.com; March 2019):-

Today we’re proud to announce that chess24 has merged with Play Magnus, the Norwegian company behind a family of apps building on the brand of World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen. Play Magnus and chess24 will continue to operate independently online, but with our joint resources and know-how we believe we’re better equipped than ever to provide the very best possible chess experience.

One of the comments noted,

WildBillHickok: Chess24 owners [Enrique] Guzman and [Jan] Gustafsson will own 38% of the newly merged company according to Norwegian business paper Dagens Naeringsliv.

By one of those coincidences that often seems to be more than a coincidence, Chess24 and 'Play Magnus' both started operating within a few months of each other; see Play Magnus! (chess24.com; August 2014):-

Canadian Kate Murphy is the CEO of Play Magnus, the company behind the chess app of the same name. Her ambition is to popularize cultural and educational activities for youngsters, and Magnus Carlsen seemed like the perfect man to do this with chess. (Interview by GM Jonathan Tisdall)

For some reason the Wikipedia pages for Play Magnus and Kate A. Murphy do not link to each other. For more from the comely Canadian, see Youtube channel 'TEDx Talks', Chess and the Game of Life | Kate Murphy | TEDx UWCRCN (December 2016), 'Smart is the new sexy.'

09 September 2019

TCEC S16 DivP & CCC10 S2 Both Underway

A week ago, in TCEC S16 L1 Finished; CCC10 S1 in Trouble, I reported,

TCEC: TCEC admins are currently testing a new server in preparation for Premier Division, which will run for about three weeks. • CCC: In the 'CCC10 Qualification', all non-AI/NN engines have finished playing against each other, while the four AI/NN engines are currently completing their schedules.

Both engine-to-engine events have moved to the next stage.

TCEC: The Premier Division (DivP), to determine which two engines will compete in the Superfinal (SuFi), is underway with eight engines. The URL for the live broadcast changed to tcec-chess.com, and I updated the tab 'TCEC/CCC Links' to record the new address.

CCC: The 'CCC10 Quarterfinals' are underway with 11 engines instead of the 10 announced; I couldn't find an explanation for the change. The top six engines will advance to the semifinal.

The previous event 'CCC10 Qualification' is not in the archive, although a crosstable and a PGN file are available. Stockfish won, followed by Leelenstein and LC0, which were well ahead of the rest of the field. The top seven engines were joined in the quarterfinals by four others: Fire, Houdini, Komodo, and Komodo MC.

[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]