BOTW: 2018.08.09

Our Best of the Web includes the 2018 Canadian Junior, the preliminary rounds of the world's top computer chess engine tournament, and a rapid and blitz tournament featuring 9 of the world's top 14 players.... as well as two games!

The diagram comes from the round 2 game bewteen Hiran Liang and Brandon Zhu at the 2018 Canadian Junior Chess Championship. White to play (solution(s) in game viewer below).

The second game in the viewer is Leela Zero's smooth win in the TCEC Division 4 RR.


2018 Canadian Junior Championship

The Canadian Junior Chess Championship runs August 8-12, 2018 at Humber College, Toronto. 

It features four sections: a 10-player invitiational RR, Open Swiss, U1800, and U1300. Male and female winners of the 10-player RR represent Canada at the World Junior in Turkey (Sept 4-16), and get $1500 for travel.

The diagram at the top of the page comes from the round 2 game bewteen Hiran Liang and Brandon Zhu at the Canadian Junior. White to play (solution(s) in game viewer below).


live games (top 3 boards in Invitational Section)


TCEC Season 13

The only chess engine competition that matters is underway. It features 32 chess engines competing on identical hardware (almost, see below) with identical short opening books. The top engines, including the perennial top 3 Stockfish, Komodo, and Houdini -- are all seeded directly into the Premier Division. Other engines have to qualify via round-robins from one of the four lower divisions, which compete in 4xRRs with a TC of 30 minutes + 10 seconds per game.

This year the hardware cannot be identical, since, for the first time Neural Net engines will be in the competition. Neural Nets are highly parallelized programs, and are typically run on specialized hardware, or on the GPUs in high-end graphics cards. For Season 13, standard chess engines will run on a 44 core CPU, while the two Neural Net engines run on a remote machine with 2x GTX 1080ti GPUs.


An online group of programmers and chess enthusiasts is attempting to reproduce the  success of Google's AlphaZero by creating an open-source self-taught neural net program, called Leela Zero (L0), based (to the extent possible on the limited informtion released by Google Mind) on what is know about AlphaZero. 

Leela uses distributed processing (including free processing time via Google Colab) to create millions of self-play games, asesses positions based on their winning probability as shown by Monte Carlo Tree Searches, and revises itself constantly, with a newer version being posted on their site approximately every 8 hours. 

Leela's progress has been almost constant -- there were setbacks, e.g. when the programmers found errors in the 50-move rule implementation -- but uneven: Leela frequently played wonderful chess, only to allow a mate-in-three! This is because, unlike the typical alpha-beta engines, Leela doesn't analyze all possible moves at a short distance (and so misses some tactics). This uneven progress has revealed a split among Leela's supporters: the ones I'll call the "science types" think of Leela as an experiment to test the ideas revealed by the AlphaZero developers, while the "chess nuts" want Leela to get better faster, and think the undirected self-play method used by AZ and L0 could be sped up by training it on tactics and table-base positions. 

A result of this split is that there was some controversy when a second NN engine was added to the tournament, DeusX, which turns out to be a derivative of Leela, using some guided training chosen by Albert Silver.

As it turns out, both Leela and DeusX qualified from the Division 4 group and move a step closer to the Premier Division:

TCEC 13: Division 4 Results

  1.  LCZero 20/28(+14 =12 -2)
  2.  DeusX 1.0   18.5(+13 =11 -4)
  3.  Wasp 3.2       18.0(+11 =17 -2)
  4.  Rodent III12.5(+4 =17 -7)
  5.  Senpai 2.012.5(+3 =19 -6)
  6.  Chess22k 1.1011
  7.  Tucano 7.0510
  8.  Ivanhoe 999946h 9.5

With new versions of Leela released every day, the next round-robin might feature a significantly stronger version: the current Leela Network seems to be approximately 50 Elo points stronger than the one that entered TCEC last week. All developers are able to update their engines each time they advance to the next level, with the caveat that any glitches introduced by the newer version cannot be fixed or replaced once that round-robin has begun. 

The game viewer below shows one of Leela's wins. It is a remarkable example of spatial control, as well as a move (Bxa7, that almost all humans would automatically discount).


live games (games run 24/7)


St.Louis Rapid & Blitz

The third stage in the 2018 Grand Chess Tour hits St.Louis August 11-15, 2018. It features two tournaments back-to-back:

  • Rapid: a round robin played at 25 min + a 10 second delay.
  • Blitz: a double round-robin at 5 min + 3 sec delay.

Players, by FIDE world ranking, are: 

    • 2. Caruana
    • 3. Mamedyarov
    • 6. So
    • 8. MVL 
    • 9. Nakamura
    • 10. Karjakin
    • 12. Anand
    • 13. Aronian
    • 14. Grischuk
    • 25. Lenier Dominguez

No Magnus? No worries: he bumps out Dominguez and joins the others to play in the Sinquefield Cup: August 18-28, 2018.

live games

StLCC (Seirawan, Ashley, etc.)

GMs Hansen and Hambleton

Click the arrow button next to the players' names to choose game:
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 Round:  Result: