The Top Chess Engine Championship started this August 21st with the participation of twenty four of the best chess engines. Stage 1a of the event (see rules and regulations here) saw exciting battles right from the start.
The champion Komodo with black, and its first opponent Jonny playing white, opted for a historical look on the Scotch Mieses (6…Qe7 7.Qe2). The line that dates back from 150 years ago had a very interesting approach at 3000+ level. In a game of exposed kings, Jonny tried to compensate its pawn structure with material imbalance, opting to play with R+B+4p vs Q+4p. If Komodo’s c7 pawn were not on at move the board at move 45 that would have been a textbook draw position. However, the TCEC Season 7 champion continued with the correct plan and started the new Season 8 with a valuable victory with the black pieces.
Last year’s medal challenger Gull also started with a victory against Exchess. In a Giuoco Piano: 6.cxd4 Bb4+ Gull was always a step ahead in the middlegame, leaving no chances to its opponent.
In the longest game of day 1, the newcomer to the TCEC championship – Fruit Reloaded by Daniel Mehrmann – played the longest game of the day vs Cheng4. The battle that started out as a Queen’s Gambit Declined continued for 173 moves! It is even more amazing considering that at move 141 more than half of the pieces on the board were still present. Fruit Reloaded had Q+2R+2N+4p while Cheng4 was with Q+2R+2B+5p. At that point both engines agreed evaluation should be around -2.50 and the advantage for black was clear. However, as the game progressed and several exchanges were made, it turned out that black’s exposed king was very vulnerable to perpetual checks. The game ended in a draw, but it will be a fantastic endgame practice for human and computer brains alike.
A direct battle between two engines aiming to qualify in the top 6 of TCEC Stage 1a remained undecided at the start of the event. The 8th strongest engine in Season 7 managed to hold to a draw the newcomer Ginkgo – by Frank Schneider. In a 94 move Nimzo-Indian: Nimzo-Queen’s Hybrid , Texel’s optimism at move 62 did not prove correct, and Ginkgo reached a solid draw.
The event continues 24 hours a day on the official website, where you can follow the games live or chat with top professionals from the computer chess world.