TCEC 11: Premier Division starts

by Stephan Oliver Platz
2/14/2018 – The "Top Chess Engine Championship", TCEC for short, is considered a kind of unofficial computer world championship. Currently the 11th season is played, now in the form of a league with promotion and relegation. After the preliminaries, the "Premier League" started on Tuesday with the eight top programs. S.O. Platz gives an overview of the history of this unofficial chess computer world championship.

Fritz 16 - He just wants to play! Fritz 16 - He just wants to play!

Fritz 16 is looking forward to playing with you, and you're certain to have a great deal of fun with him too. Tense games and even well-fought victories await you with "Easy play" and "Assisted analysis" modes.

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Newcomer "Andscacs" scores first 

The eleventh season at TCEC has been running since Janurary 3rd, 2018, but on Tuesday, February 13th, 19:00 CET, the "Premier Division" kicked off with the eight best chess programs. The two first place finishers will contest a Super Final — a 100 game match like last season — later this year. In 2017, Houdini beat Komodo 53 : 47 in December.

TCEC 11 adopts a league format

For the first time, the competition of the world's best chess programs takes the form of a league system, with both promotion and relegation. The participating programs were divided into five groups: "Division" 1 to 4 and a "Premier Division". Games are played with powerful hardware (2 x Intel Xeon E5 2699 v4 @ 2.8 GHz, 44 CPU) — each program may use up to 43 processors — that means computer chess at the highest level.

Results so far

The time control for Division 4 and Division 3 was 30 minutes plus 10 seconds per move for the game.

TCEC Season 11, Division 4
  1. Defenchess 10 / 14
  2. Senpai 9 / 14
  3. Pedone 8 / 14
  4. Ethereal 7½ / 14
  5. ChessBrainVB 7½ / 14
  6. Toga 7 / 14
  7. The Baron 4 / 14
  8. Scorpio 3 / 14

In addition to the winner Defenchess, Senpai [which means "mentor" in Japanese -Ed.], Pedone, Ethereal and ChessBrain VB also qualified for the next higher league (Division 3).

 
TCEC Season 11, Division 3
  1. Fritz 16 18½ / 28
  2. Laser 17½
  3. Nemorino 14½
  4. Pedone 14
  5. Defenchess 14
  6. Senpai 12½
  7. ChessBrainVB 11
  8. Ethereal 10

Fritz 16 celebrated a successful debut in TCEC. The new program version of star programmer Vasik Rajlich won 10 games, lost only one and played 17 draws. This meant first in the final ranking with 18½ out of 28 in front of Laser (17½) and Nemorino (14½). Thus, Fritz 16 and Laser rose to the next higher league, while Ethereal and ChessBrainVB have to compete again in Division 4 next time.

 

Fritz 16 - He just wants to play!

Fritz 16 is looking forward to playing with you, and you're certain to have a great deal of fun with him too. Tense games and even well-fought victories await you with "Easy play" and "Assisted analysis" modes.


TCEC Season 11, Division 2

The time control in Division 2 was 45 minutes plus 10 seconds per move for the game.

  1. Jonny 20 / 28
  2. Laser 17½
  3. Texel 16½
  4. Arasan 14
  5. Fritz 16 14
  6. Vajolet 13
  7. Bobcat 10
  8. Wasp 7

The Jonny program by the German developer Johannes Zwanzger won clearly (+12, -0, =16). In addition, Laser made the leap to the next higher league, while Bobcat and Wasp descended. Fritz 16 defended his place in Division 2 in shared 4th/5th place.

 
TCEC Season 11, Division 1

In this division programs had 60 minutes plus 10 seconds per move, and played 56 games.

  1. Andscacs 37 / 56
  2. Fizbo 31½
  3. Booot 31
  4. Jonny 30
  5. Gull 26½
  6. Laser 24½
  7. Hannibal 23
  8. Nirvana 20½

The leap into the "Premier Divison" was achieved by the top program Andscacs, developed by Daniel José Queraltó from Andorra, and Fizbo by Youri Matiounine (USA). Hannibal and Nirvana were relegated.

 

Tension guaranteed in the "Premier Division"

The participants in the "Premier Division" include several of the usual suspects: Houdini, Komodo, Stockfish, but also Fire, Ginkgo, Chiron, Andscacs and Fizbo.

The time control is a full 90 minutes plus 10 seconds per move for the game.

This competition is likely to be of particular interest, as Stockfish 9,  the latest version of this successful open source engine was released earlier this month. Last year, Stockfish missed out on the Super Final, but this time it could be different, because the programmers have especially improved the engine's "Contempt" attitude. This ensures that draws are avoided against weaker programs, even when the position is slightly worse. We look forward to seeing what this change will do in practice.

In addition to Stockfish, the other favorites are of course last year's winner Houdini and last year's finalist Komodo. The computer chess fans can look forward to an exciting tournament.

You can watch the games live at TCEC.chessdom.com. In the first round, there was one decisive game which saw the newcomers Andscacs and Fizbo face off.

 

Komodo Chess 11

The multiple computer chess world champion comes in a new and yet more powerful version. Thanks to co-author US Grandmaster Larry Kaufman, Komodo is the strategist among the top chess programs!


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Stephan is a passionate collector of chess books and for yours has been successfully playing as an amateur for his German club. The former musician and comedian works as a freelance journalist and author in Berlin and in the Franconian village Hiltpoltstein.