29 August 2022

TCEC S23 Leagues Underway; CCC Rudderless?

The wheel of time continues to turn on the world's two foremost, continuous engine vs. engine competitions. Two weeks ago the headline said, Stockfish Wins TCEC DFRC1, Leads CCC18 Rapid Final (August 2022). Here's a summary of that post:-

TCEC: In DFRC1 ('Double Fischer Random Chess: 960*960 possible starting positions'), Stockfish and LCZero finished tied for 1st/2nd places with 16.0/22, 1.5 points ahead of KomodoDragon, which was 2.0 points ahead of Stoofvlees. In the 50 game final match, Stockfish beat LCZero 29.5-20.5 (+18-9=23). After DFRC1, the site launched 'S23 - Chess Bonus', the first event of season 23, which seems to be VSOB-style. • CCC: Stockfish won the 'CCC18 Rapid' Semifinal stage, well ahead of LC0, which was a half point ahead of Dragon. For some reason, the site skipped the Challenger stage, which would have pitted the 2nd & 3rd engines in the Semifinal stage against each other. Stockfish is currently clobbering LC0 in the Final stage.

What's the current status of the two sites?

TCEC: For more about the first ever DFRC event, see TCEC DFRC1 (August 2022) on my chess960 blog. I didn't go deeper into DFRC start positions, but I did document the technical underpinnings of the event:-

To understand what the TCEC accomplished -- and it's without question a noteworthy accomplishment -- let's quote some TCEC !definitions.

That brings us to TCEC season 23 (S23). My post on the equivalent stage of the previous season (S22) was TCEC S22 L3 and CCC16 Blitz Final Both Underway (February 2022). In that post I looked at some of the most important S22 rules:-

The TCEC flagship event is a long, multistage affair. It's useful to have an overview of promotion and demotion rules for the six divisions of the TCEC leagues.

That structure changed for S23. There are now two fewer divisions. Following is an extract of the S23 rules:-

1. Season : The Top Chess Engine Championship (TCEC) Season is the premier championship for chess software.
2. Qualification League [QL] : The top 4 engines promote to League 2.
3. League 2 [L2] : The bottom 4 engines relegate and the top 4 promote to League 1.
4. League 1 : The bottom 4 engines relegate and the top 2 promote to Premier Division.
5. Premier Division : The top 2 engines promote to the Superfinal and the bottom 2 engines are relegated to League 1.
6. Infrafinal : Head to head contest between the 3rd and 4th place of the Premier Division.
7. Superfinal : Head to head contest between the winner and 2nd place of the Premier Division.

Since the previous 'Stockfish Wins DFRC1' report, QL has finished and L2 is just getting started. Between QL and L2, S22 had L4 and L3, but these have since been eliminated. What happened to the engines that relegated in S22 L4/L3/L2? It would take some effort to work it out and no one is complaining.

CCC: As expected, Stockfish beat Lc0 in the 300 game 'CCC18 Rapid Final'; the final score was plus-55 for the Fish. After a pause for 'OpenBench Interlude' -- see OpenBench (chessprogramming.org) for an explanation of the so-called 'testing framework' -- the site launched a 'CCC18 Rapid Challenger' 300-game match between Dragon and Lc0. With the event more than 75% finished, Dragon has a small lead. Why is this being played after the Final match? The site's !next command explains nothing:-

Small event of new coming engines(?), and then ...? Your suggestions welcome at !discord.

That makes too many question marks to be useful. If the site were following the sequence seen in CCC16 and CCC17, after the 'CCC18 Rapid' event we would see 'CCC18 Bullet' and 'CCC18 Blitz'. Perhaps the CCC has undergone some sort of administrative shake-up, but its Club and Discord resources are silent.

[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; Dragon = KomodoDragon]

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