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TCEC S22 Superfinal starts today

The Superfinal for the highest title in computer chess starts today at 17:00 UTC and you can follow it live at the official site and TCEC Twitch TV. The TCEC S22 Superfinal will be 100 games match between the reigning champion Stockfish and the challenger KomodoDragon. The opening book is created by Jeroen Noomen and GM Matthew Sadler.

While Stockfish is the heavy favorite, KomodoDragon is on the rise. The last time it failed to qualify for the League Superfinal, but won the Swiss with 15,0/22, a full point ahead of Stockfish (replay the games here). In the recently completed Premier division, Stockfish won ahead of Komodo, but there was serious pressure by KomodoDragon both at halftime (report) and after the third DRR (report). The game that differentiated the two engines in the Premier division was a direct win for Stockfish. In a Ruy Lopez game of round 21, Stockfish defeated Komodo with white and later took over the standings (replay Stockfish – Komodo 1:0). In the return game it seemed to know the way to the draw (replay Komodo – Stockfish 1/2:1/2)

TCEC 22 superfinal book, by GM Matthew Sadler and Jeroen Noomen

Just like the TCEC 21 superfinal book, the TCEC 22 superfinal book was again developed in cooperation between international chess Grandmaster Matthew Sadler and myself (Jeroen Noomen). 

Here is the most important information about our book:

  • The TCEC 22 superfinal book was completed in the months before September 2021. BothMatthew and I have chosen 25 lines, which will be played alternately. Matthew’s lines are #1, #3, #5 and so forth, my lines are #2, #4, #6 and so forth. The lines are mixed, which means that lower book exits are mixed with higher book exits. I ordered both Matthew’s and my own lines from 1 (lowest exit) to 25 (highest exit). Then I made pairs: 1-25, 2-24, 3-23, 4-22 and so on. The pairs are distributed randomly over the book.
  • All lines typically have a Leela Chess Zero book exit between +0.35 and +0.50, with a few exceptions. Of course the book exits at TCEC can be very different, because of much faster hardware or because engines like Stockfish and Komodo Dragon have much higher evaluations than Leela.  
  • All important openings will be played; just like in the previous TCEC superfinals the opening lines are risky and have a (very) high bias. This is necessary to avoid an excessive number of uninteresting draws. Statistics of the previous superfinals show that a Leela book exit below +0.30 is an almost 100% certain draw. 
  • The chosen lines typically have a length between 1 moves and 16 moves; there is one line which is 1 move (2 ply) long and there is one line which is 16 moves long. 
  • Three opening lines have a black advantage, to increase the chance of a black win.
  • Average move length is 7.3, which is a bit higher compared to the previous two superfinals.
  • We have avoided positions that could lead to many exchanges, as well as positions with a symmetrical pawn structure and positions that could lead to easy wins for the side with an advantage. The last aspect is becoming more and more difficult, with strong hardware, a long time control and engines being so strong. Of course risky lines means that the chance of 1-0 1-0 is increasing.
  • The purpose of the lines is to have interesting play with a reasonable chance of a decisive result. An opening result of 1.5-0.5 is the preferred outcome. Enjoy the TCEC 22 superfinal!

ECO code distributionECO A: 10 linesECO B: 10 linesECO C: 13 linesECO D: 4 linesECO E: 13 lines

Move length distribution
1 move: 1 line3 moves: 2 lines4 moves: 3 lines5 moves: 8 lines6 moves: 7 lines7 moves: 3 lines8 moves: 12 lines9 moves: 6 lines10 moves: 3 lines>10 moves: 5 lines

Leela Chess Zero cruises to win the infrafinal

Leela Chess Zero comprehensively won the infrafinal of the Top Chess Engine Championship, defeating rofChade 35-15. Leela made her intentions clear with a scorching win in the very first opening, an Elephant Gambit, and followed up with win after win with the white pieces while defending with black. Leela repeatedly showed a better evaluation of endgames than rofChade, successfully simplifying into many opposite color bishops (OCB) or pawn down endgames that rofChade could not convert. Game 27 was a particularly bitter pill for rofChade, as it allowed an exchange sacrifice into an OCB ending that it could not convert in spite of three extra pawns. Game 43 was another example of tenacious defending by Leela. When faced with seemingly unavoidable material losses, she produced the inhuman move 17…Ba4, threatening a lethal counterattack after 18. b3 Qc6 or 18. Qc1 Qf7 19. Nxa8 Bc6 20. g3?? Qf3. This simplified into a pawn-down but tenable endgame, with Leela hanging on for a draw. rofChade did not manage to win any openings and only won one game. Leela’s margin of victory, +20 over 50 games, is easily the most decisive win ever in a TCEC superfinal or infrafinal, illustrating the gulf in class between the Big Three and the chasing pack.

We will see more of Leela in the subfinal, which will see the loser of the superfinal play against the winner of the infrafinal. Next on the agenda is the superfinal, to be contested between Komodo Dragon and Stockfish, with Stockfish beginning as the heavy favorite. Some viewers are even predicting that Komodo Dragon will fail to win any openings, which has never happened in the history of TCEC superfinals. We will see if this prediction pans out. The superfinal is projected to start on 5 April, at 5pm UTC.

Article by Low, special thanks GM Sadler for game 43 analysis in TCEC chat

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