Last November, the classical World Chess Championship between Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana was an amazing adventure of total equality – twelve consecutive draws and a need for a rapid tiebreak. Magnus Carlsen won the World Chess Championship 2018 title and many experts predicted that such an equal match will not be seen in the near future. They have all been proven wrong, as just several months later we are seeing a match for a world title which is more equal and for many fans it is dubbed as more dramatic.
84 games into the final of the Top Chess Engine Championship, the premier event for chess software, the reigning champion Stockfish and the challenger Leela Chess Zero are protagonists in an amazing battle. Despite the frequent exchange of blows between the two participants (a total of 18 decisive games!) the score is equal 42-42. A remainder of just 16 out of the total 100 games is left and the drama ensuing is unseen so far in the history of computer chess.
Leela Chess Zero entered the Superfinal as second in the Premier Division and as a TCEC Cup champion. It is the first neural network to ever reach the final for the highest chess engines title. Yet, in a poll before the match only about 35% of over 1000 people believed that LCZero had a chance, and of those people many admitted they chose the option just to support the engine as fans. When LCZero started winning games the surprise was huge and sent ripples through the chess world.
Only 16 games are left and anything is possible in the first “end of an era” match. Follow them live on the official website
TCEC Superfinal tiebreaks
The equal score after 84 games triggers high expectations for tiebreaks. In case of an equal score after game 100, there will be a rapid match of 16 games with a time control of 25′ + 10″ with random openings selected from earlier in the same Season. In case it is still tied there will be a Blitz match of 8 games with a time control of 3′ + 2″.
Bonus rapid match ?
There is also the possibility that one of the engines will prevail in the remaining classical games. In such a case, TCEC has prepared a bonus event for those fans that want to see a rapid event. It will be a one week event between the end of the Superfinal and the start of Season 15 Div 4 and will have the following rules:
* Four engines will be invited – Stockfish, LCZero, Komodo, and Houdini
* A total of 20 double round robins will be played
* The time control will be 12 min + 3 sec
* The first two engines in the standings progress to a 100 games rapid final
The rapid tournament will be played just for bonus purposes and fun. The real high quality chess happens only at long time controls, which allows the engines to show their best. Yet, it will be a fun event that many of the fans that enjoy the Superfinal would like to see.