Computer chess

Stockfish wins the jubilee edition of the TCEC Cup

Indomitable engine Stockfish, having already won the TCEC Season 22, won the TCEC Cup 10 by defeating Komodo Dragon in the finals. After Stockfish’s dominant performance in Premier Division and record-setting victory against Komodo Dragon in the Superfinal, few people would bet against Stockfish winning the Cup. The short matches of the Cup meant that small sample size effects are magnified, and it is possible another engine will score an upset. Still, Stockfish lived up to its billing. It was in arguably the toughest part of the bracket, having to first beat Koivisto, then Stoofvlees, and finally Leela to reach the finals, but it navigated all these matches smoothly. In the match against subfinal winner Leela, it won the first two opening pairs to storm to a dominating lead, and although Leela won two games later, Stockfish won the reverse both times to record a 6-4 victory. In the finals, Komodo Dragon surprised many observers by winning the first game, but it too was unable to hold the reverse. When Stockfish won the third opening, the writing was on the wall. Stockfish drew the remaining openings to emerge the winner, having beaten all its closest rivals without losing any openings.

Away from Stockfish’s rampage, the spotlight was on several fast-improving engines, especially Koivisto and Berserk (who had just missed out on promotion to Premier Division and League 2 respectively). Unfortunately for both engines, neither made it past the first two rounds. Koivisto had the misfortune of running into Stockfish in the second round, while 5th seed Stoofvlees in the first round proved a mountain too high for Berserk. Koivisto lost the first two openings against Stockfish and was promptly eliminated, but Berserk can at least point to the competitiveness of its match against Stoofvlees: although much of the first round saw the higher-ranked engines slaughtering their lower-division opponents, Stoofvlees needed tiebreaks to overcome Berserk.

Elsewhere, the big surprise package was Revenge. Seeded 12th, it served up the only “cupset” in the second round by defeating 4th seed rofChade, and then followed up with another cupset against 8th seed Igel. Revenge’s run was finally ended in the semifinals by Komodo Dragon, but it produced yet another surprise in the 3rd-place playoff by defeating Leela in game 3. Although Leela won the reverse to draw the opening, it is rare for one of the top engines to lose to lower-division opposition. If, as many predict, Berserk makes it to League 1 next season, the battle for the two Premier Division promotion spots promises to be very closely contested.

The TCEC Swiss is next. Stockfish will again be the favorite, but the nature of the Swiss format means that one of its rivals could pip Stockfish to the title if they can score well against the lower half of the field. Komodo Dragon is the defending champion, having won the previous edition of the Swiss by one point. All matches will be played live on

Article by Low

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