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TCEC Season 11 openings

TCECThe Top Chess Engine Championship Season 11 is going to start January 3rd, 2018. It involves 30 of the best chess software programs competing in a series of leagues to determine the strongest engine in the computer chess field.

A major element of a successful tournament is the careful selection of suitable openings for the event. This season is once again spearheaded by Nelson Hernandez (USA). He has made the opening selections for Fourth, Third, Second and Premier Divisions. First Division openings have been selected by our guest Nikolaos Konstantakis (Greece); in future seasons First Division will be offered to individuals unaffiliated with any engines who want to give this job a try. The Superfinal is again in the capable hands of Jeroen Noomen (Netherlands).

Nelson Hernandez explains, “Conversion to a league system entails some significant changes to how we will deploy opening positions in TCEC going forward” and goes on to explain the choices in each division in Season 11.

Fourth Division

The junior division in competition will play the same set of openings every season. 28 rounds consisting of the 14 most-common two-move opening positions in my database (known to TCEC fans as “the Catobase”) will be played. In each round all four games between the eight engines will start from the same opening position. Six openings will start 1.e4, six will start 1.d4, one 1.Nf3 and one 1.c4.

Third and Second Division

28 rounds consisting of 14 two-move opening positions shall be played. In each round all four games between the eight engines will start from the same opening position. The difference is that each season the 14 openings will be completely different and drawn from the top 100 most-common two-move opening positions in the Catobase, excluding positions used in the Fourth Division.

First Division

First Division will consist of four double round-robins. The first of these four round-robins (56 games in total) will be bookless: every engine will play every other engine from both sides of the board from the traditional starting position. The subsequent three round-robins (168 games in total, 84 openings) will be selected by a TCEC fan, operating within TCEC guidelines. For Season 11 Nikolaos Konstantakis has chosen 84 openings for this inaugural season of league competition. Most openings are five moves in length with a smattering of six and seven move openings.

Premier Division

Premier Division will consist of six double round-robins. The first of these six round-robins (56 games in total) will be bookless. The subsequent five round-robins (280 games in total, 140 openings) have been selected by Nelson (Cato) and be eight moves in length. All book-exit positions will have occurred no less than 500 times in the Catobase and meet other criteria for play balance, draw tendency, material on board and multiple first-move choices.


The Superfinal will be 100 games in length. The first two games will be played from the traditional opening position. The remaining 98 games (49 openings) will be of variable length and be chosen by Jeroen Noomen.

Visit the TCEC official website / Replay previous seasons in the archives / Follow TCEC on Facebook / See the Twitch TV page of TCEC

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