TCEC 12: Komodo wins Premier Division

by Stephan Oliver Platz
6/19/2018 – The "Top Chess Engine Championships" (TCEC) is a competition of the world's best computer programs which play in several divisions. The strongest programs start in "Division Premier". TCEC Season 12 just came to an and was won by the new Komodo 12, place two went to Stockfish. On Monday, June 18, Komodo 12 and Stockfish started to play their 100-game superfinal.

Komodo 12 Komodo 12

In computer chess there is no getting past Komodo, a two-time ICGA Computer World Chess Champion. Find out how Komodo can take your game to the next level!


Komodo edges Stockfish, pending final match

The Division Premier of season 12 of the TCEC ended on June 13th, 2018. Komodo 12 won with 31 points from 48 games, half a point ahead of Stockfish (30½). Houdini finished third with 29½. Far behind followed Fire (22 points), Andscacs (20½), Ginkgo (19), and Jonny (15½). Chiron finished last — after crashing three times it was disqualified in accordance with the strict rules of the TCEC. Now Komodo and Stockfish play the superfinal which began on Monday, June 19th.

In the spirit of Tarrasch and AlphaZero

The fact that Komodo 12 won the tournament of the world's best computer programs half a point ahead of TCEC 11 winner Stockfish and 1½ points ahead of TCEC 11 finalist Houdini indicates that the new Komodo version, developed by Marc Lefler and Larry Kaufman, is really a great success. In the following game against the program Andscacs from Andorra, Komodo plays in the spirit of Tarrasch and AlphaZero. Komodo develops quickly and puts the rooks on open files. It does not shy away from material sacrifices and first gives a pawn and then the exchange to get a superior position in which White is much better developed. But instead of regaining material it keeps the pressure until Black no longer has an adequate defence against the many threats.


Final crosstable

    Points Komodo Stockfish Houdini Fire Andscacs Ginkgo Jonny  
1 Komodo 12 31.0 x ==0===== ==01==== =1=====1 1=====11 1111==== 1=111=11  
2 Stockfish 160518 30.5 ==1===== x ======== 1=1===1= ==11===1 =11===1= 1===1=1=  
3 Houdini 6.03 29.5 ==10==== ======== x ==0===== =11==1== =1=1=1=1 =1=1=111  
4 Fire 7 22.0 =0=====0 0=0===0= ==1===== x ======01 1=1===== ==0=0===  
5 Andscacs 0.93070 20.5 0=====00 ==00===0 =00==0== ======10 x 0=1=10== 1===1===  
6 Ginkgo2.014 19.0 0000==== =00===0= =0=0=0=0 0=0===== 1=0=01== x 1=1=10=1  
7 Jonny 8.1 15.5 0=000=00 0===0=0= =0=0=000 ==1=1=== 0===0=== 0=0=01=0 x  
8 Chiron 040318 disqu.                

Each program played eight games against each of the other programs. The time-limit was 1.5 hours for the whole game plus an increment of 10 seconds per move. The programs could use up to 43 processors at the same time.

All games


The Fire program developed by Kranium (Norman Schmidt) finished fourth but did not reach 50% which might have been partly due to the disqualification of Chiron. Andcacs and Ginkgo will remain in the Division Premier but Jonny and Chiron will be relegated to Division 1.

Superfinal: Komodo against Stockfish

Komodo 12 and the newest version of the open source program Stockfish will play the 100-game-superfinal. With one win and seven draws Stockfish could prevail against Komodo 12 in their direct encounter in the Division Premier. But Stockfish this time did not manage to win a single game against Houdini. All eight games ended in a draw. This indicates how close the world's best three programs are currently. And it is not at all certain whether AlphaZero on identical hardware would really be better than these programs.

According to the TCEC rules, the programmers are allowed to play the superfinal with new versions of their programs. In the superfinal of TCEC Season 11, in which Houdini played against Stockfish, Robert Houdart, the programmer of Houdini, did not use this opportunity. Stockfish won the final. One might assume that this time both teams will play with improved versions of the program in the superfinal because in this match of the world's strongest computer programs even a very slight difference can be decisive.

The superfinal began on Monday, June 19th. Let's look forward to exciting games!

Translation from German: Johannes Fischer

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.


Stephan is a passionate collector of chess books and for years he 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.


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