13 August 2018

Battles of the Chess NNs

The first direct confrontation of AI/NN chess engines ended with the two capturing 1st and 2nd places in a qualifying preliminary: Leela Chess Zero wins the gold medal in TCEC Div 4 (chessdom.com):-

More than 125 000 unique viewers followed the dramatic victory of Leela Chess Zero (aka Lczero or Lc0) in [Season 13] Div 4 of the Top Chess Engine Championship. After four round robins, Leela came on top of the division with 20.0/28 with 14 wins, 12 draws, and 2 losses. This was 1.5 points more than the second neural net in the event Deus X powered by Lc0, and 2 points more than the top traditional engine of the division Wasp.

Here's a copy of the final crosstable:-

As impressive as the results were, the hype surrounding the event was even more impressive. The Chessdom report continued, 'These results confirmed the dominance of the neural nets, modeled after Google subsidiary DeepMind’s Alpha Zero chess neural network.' Did everyone forget that the 'dominance of the neural nets' was in the lowest division, the first qualifying event, of the TCEC season? Since when are gold medals given in the preliminaries of any competition? If we have similar medals for divisions three, two, and one, what will they give to the overall winner of the season, a blue ribbon?

The report ended with a 'Statement by the TCEC team'. Before we get to that statement, we need to backtrack and review the sequence of events that overshadowed the event. I covered the start of that in two previous posts:-

It quickly became apparent that 'new neural network' was less than it appeared to be--

  • 2018-07-31: Statements by Deus X and Leela Chess Zero authors (chessdom.com) • 'Statement by Albert Silver, author of Deus X: DeusX is a neural network, trained by Albert Silver from unique non-Leela data, exclusively from human played games. The engine that executes this network is Lc0, developed by the Leela Chess Zero team.' • 'Statement by Leela Chess Zero team: After the initial confusion, the Lc0 team is happy to receive the statement from Albert Silver with a clarification regarding usage of the Lc0 code. The credit to the Leela Chess Zero team is now given appropriately.'

From the Leela blog (blog.lczero.org):-

The camaraderie lasted less than a week; also from the Leela blog:-

  • 2018-08-07: Statement From LCZero Core Dev Team; [Albert Silver] needed incomparably less effort relative to the effort that he reused from the LCZero project [...; He] decided to hide information both from the LCZero community (by asking TCEC administration to be secret until the very last moment), and from TCEC administration (by not sharing appropriate information about importance of the engine vs neural network weights). The team welcomes open and fair usage of the engine and tools around it, but in this case it was certainly not fair. We strongly condemn Albert’s submission which may be seen as plagiarism, and poor behavior.

Getting back to the Chessdom report that 'Leela Chess Zero wins the gold medal', the report's final statement said,

  • 2018-08-11: 'Statement by the TCEC team [...] TCEC Season 13 is an experimental season and will serve as stepping stone for further competitions. For next season fair (and practical) rules will be put in place regulating the entry of neural networks to TCEC competition'

Both Leela and DeusX qualified from TCEC S13 division four to division three, another quadruple round robin with eight engines competing. As I write this, that event has reached the second stage. The engine Ethereal has a large lead over six engines (including the two NNs) which are bunched together, vying for the second qualifying place into division two.

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