Top Chess Engine Championship

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Top Chess Engine Championship, formerly known as Thoresen Chess Engines Competition (TCEC or nTCEC), is a computer chess tournament that has been run since 2010. It was organized, directed, and hosted by Martin Thoresen until the end of Season 6; from Season 7 onward it has been organized by Chessdom. It is often regarded as the Unofficial World Computer Chess Championship because of its strong participant line-up and long time-control matches on high-end hardware, giving rise to very high-class chess.[1][2]

After a short break in 2012,[3] TCEC was restarted in early 2013 (as nTCEC)[4] and is currently active (renamed as TCEC in early 2014) with 24/7 live broadcasts of chess matches on its website.

Since season 5, TCEC has been sponsored by Chessdom Arena.[5][6] The current TCEC champion is Stockfish 18102108, which defeated Komodo 2155.0 by a score of 55-45 in the TCEC Season 13 Superfinal 100-game match held in October-November 2018.

Overview[edit]

Basic structure of competition[edit]

The TCEC competition is divided into seasons, where each season happens over a course of a few months, with matches played round-the-clock and broadcast live over the internet. Each season is divided into several qualifying stages and one "superfinal", where the top two chess engines play 100 games to win the title of "TCEC Grand Champion". In the superfinal, each engine plays 50 openings, once as each side. Beginning in Season 11 in 2018, a division system was introduced; the top 2 engines in each division are promoted, and the bottom 2 are relegated. Currently there are 5 divisions (a Premier division, and divisions 1-4); newcomers generally start in division 4.

Engine settings/characteristics[edit]

Pondering is set to off. All engines run on mostly the same hardware[7] and use the same opening book, which is set by the organizers and changed in every stage. Large pages are disabled but access to various endgame tablebases is permitted. Engines are allowed updates between stages; if there is a critical play-limiting bug, they are also allowed to be updated once during the stage. If an engine crashes 3 times in one event, it is disqualified to avoid distorting the results for the other engines. TCEC generates its own elo rating list from the matches played during the tournament. An initial rating is given to any new participant based on its rating in other chess engine rating lists.

Criteria for entering the competition[edit]

There is no definite criterion for entering into the competition, other than inviting the top participants from various rating lists. Initially, the list of participants was personally chosen by Thoresen before the start of a season. His stated goal was to include "every major engine that is not a direct clone".[8] However, Shredder's developers have declined to enter it in the competition. Usually chess engines that support multiprocessor mode are preferred (8-cores or higher). Both Winboard and UCI engines are supported.

Structure by season[edit]

Season number Structure
Pre TCEC 3 matches followed by 2 tournaments then alternating between match and tournament until there were 6 tournaments and 5 matches
1 3 division (1 through 3) followed by elite match
2 Same as Season 1 but with 6 divisions (A through F)
3 2 stages (1 followed by 2a)
4 Same as Season 2 but with 4 more tournaments (Stages 2b, 3 and 4 followed by a superfinal, in that order)
5 4 stages (1 through 4) followed by a superfinal
6 Same as Season 5 but stage 1 was stage 1a through c and a Chess960 tournament after the superfinal
7 Same as Season 6 but no stage 1c nor tournament after the superfinal
8 Same as Season 7 but no stage 4
9 Same as Season 8 but between the stage tournaments and superfinal was a rapid tournament
10 2 stages (1 followed by 2) then superfinal then 2 other tournaments (rapid followed by blitz)
11 through 13 All 3 seasons had division premier as well as division 1 through 4 and superfinal (13 with a cup as well).

Tournament results (TCEC)[edit]

Main seasons[edit]

Season Date Winner Runner-Up Superfinal score
TCEC Season 1 Dec 2010 – Feb 2011 Houdini 1.5a Rybka 4.0 + 12 = 23 - 5
TCEC Season 2 Feb – Apr 2011 Houdini 1.5a Rybka 4.1 + 9 = 26 -5
TCEC Season 3 Apr – May 2011 N/A (season not completed)
TCEC Season 41 Jan – May 2013 Houdini 3 Stockfish 250413 + 6 = 38 - 4
TCEC Season 52 Aug – Dec 2013 Komodo 1142 Stockfish 191113 + 10 = 30 - 8
TCEC Season 6 Feb – May 2014 Stockfish 170514 Komodo 7x + 13 = 45 - 6
TCEC Season 73 Sep – Dec 2014 Komodo 1333 Stockfish 141214 + 7 = 53 - 4
TCEC Season 8 Aug – Nov 2015 Komodo 9.3x Stockfish 021115 + 9 = 89 - 2
TCEC Season 9 May – Dec 2016 Stockfish 8 Houdini 5 + 17 = 75 - 8
TCEC Season 10 Oct – Dec 2017 Houdini 6.03 Komodo 1970.00 + 15 = 76 - 9
TCEC Season 114 Jan – Apr 2018 Stockfish 260318 Houdini 6.03 + 20 = 78 - 2
TCEC Season 124 Apr – July 2018 Stockfish 180614 Komodo 12.1.1 + 29 = 62 - 9
TCEC Season 134 Aug - Nov 2018 Stockfish 18102108 Komodo 2155.00 + 16 = 78 - 6
TCEC Season 144 Nov 2018 - present TBD

Other TCEC tournaments[edit]

Season Date Winner Runner-Up
TCEC Season 6 FRC5 June – July 2014 Stockfish 260614 Houdini 4
TCEC Season 9 Rapid6 September 2016 Houdini 200716 Komodo 1692.19
TCEC Season 10 Rapid December 2017 Stockfish 051117 Houdini 6.03
TCEC Season 10 Blitz December 2017 Komodo 1959.00 Stockfish 051117
TCEC Season 13 Cup7 October 2018 Stockfish 270918 Houdini 6.03
1 Originally named "nTCEC Season 1".
2 Originally named "nTCEC Season 2".
3 Season 7 did not use endgame table bases at all and Stage two did not use opening books either.
4 League format.
5 Special Chess960 quad-round-robin tournament consisting of the top 8 engines that had support for Chess960.
6 Double round robin tournament.
7 Knockout tournament, with 8 game Rapid matches and tiebreaks if necessary

Notable games[edit]

Shredder vs Gull, TCEC S4
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8
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b8 black king
e7 white rook
b6 black pawn
a5 black pawn
c5 black pawn
g5 black pawn
a4 black queen
b4 black knight
c4 white bishop
d4 black knight
g4 white queen
h4 black pawn
f3 white pawn
b2 white pawn
b1 white king
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
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Shredder (White) is on the brink of being checkmated, but found the defensive resource 46. Bb3 Nxb3 47. Qf4+ gxf4 48. Rb7+ Kc8 49. Rc7+ Kd8, etc. If Black captures the white rook, it is stalemate.[9][10][11]
Season number Date and game title info White Black Result Notes (material calculations excluding king) Source/s
Pre TCEC 27 September 2010 (Match 3, Game 3 of Round 23, Game of the Month 1) Stockfish Houdini 1-0 Taking the knight results in eventual mate or taking the queen results in a pawn, knight, bishop each for black vs a knight and rook each plus 3 pawns [12]
1 August 2010 (Tournament 1, Game 3 of Round 1, Game of the Month 2) Shredder Naum 0-1 The final position is a simple case of not being able to stop all the opponents passed pawns [13]
26 November 2018 (Tournament 5, Game 3 of Round 8, Game of the Month 3) Houdini Rybka 1-0 Checkmate will happen soon [14]
1 28 January 2011 (Elite Match, Round 1 of Game 1) Rybka Houdini 0-1 Houdini sacrifices three pawns for piece activity and defeats the reigning computer chess champion Rybka in this game, popularly dubbed as the "Houdini Immortal". [15][16]
2 21 April 2011 (Elite Match, Game 2 of Round 19) Houdini Rybka 1-0 Houdini exploits minor inaccuracies by Rybka with a sacrifice. [17]
4 25 March 2013 (Stage 2b, Game 3 of Round 14) Shredder Gull 1/2-1/2 Shredder pulls off a save, at the brink of defeat. [9][10][11]
5 21 October 2013 (Elite Match, Game 2 of Round 19) Gull Komodo 0-1 Though a rook vs 3 pawns + 1 bishop = 5 points against 6, the pawns are storming to promotion [18]
November 3 2013 (Stage 3, Game 4 of Round 17) Houdini Stockfish 0-1 Thanks to its heavy depth-oriented search, Stockfish out-calculates Houdini, and wins the game. [19]
6 April 10 2014 (Stage 3, Game 1 of Round 1) Komodo Stockfish 1-0 As black, the link suggests Qa7 but leads to a position about 25 moves later where white basically can do a king vs queen mate (however there is another passed pawn, which can be eventually used as a 2nd queen in a 2 queen electrical fence checkmate) [20]
9 14 November 2016 (Superfinal Game 15 - only 1 round) Stockfish Houdini 1-0 Houdini 5 sacrifices its Queen but still loses to Stockfish [21]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kosteniuk, Alexandra (August 15, 2013). "TCEC Computer Chess Championship New Season starts August 26th". Chess News Blog. Archived from the original on October 25, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2013.
  2. ^ Soltis, Andy (June 9, 2013). "Engine Super Bowl". New York Post. Retrieved October 25, 2013.
  3. ^ Thoresen, Martin (May 28, 2011). "TCEC announcement: End of project". Talkchess. Archived from the original on October 25, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2013.
  4. ^ Thoresen, Martin (January 12, 2013). "Official (re)launch of TCEC - website is up!". Talkchess. Archived from the original on October 25, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2013.
  5. ^ Thoresen, Martin (August 15, 2013). "TCEC and Chessdom announces partnership". TCEC. Archived from the original on October 12, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2013.
  6. ^ "TCEC computer chess championship New Season starts August 26th". Chessdom. Chessdom. August 15, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2013.
  7. ^ Until season 13, all engines ran on the same hardware; however in season 13 the entrance of two neural network engines caused TCEC to use different hardware for the two types of engines. "TCEC Season 13 – the advance of the NNs". Chessdom. 2 August 2018.
  8. ^ http://blog.chabris.com/2015/01/martin-thoresens-world-chess.html
  9. ^ a b The game on chessgames.com
  10. ^ a b "Shredder - Gull, Stage 2b: Stupendous Stalemate Swindle". Archived from the original on 25 October 2013. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
  11. ^ a b "A defensive brilliancy". Archived from the original on 28 October 2013. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  12. ^ "Notable game from Pre TCEC". Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  13. ^ "Notable game from Pre TCEC". Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  14. ^ "Notable game from Pre TCEC". Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  15. ^ The immortal game on chessgames.com
  16. ^ Annotated by FM Dennis Monokroussos at TCEC
  17. ^ Annotated by GM Ioannis Papadopoulos at TCEC
  18. ^ "Notable game from Season 5". Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  19. ^ Annotated by GM Ioannis Papadopoulos at TCEC
  20. ^ "Notable game from Season 5". Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  21. ^ "SPECIAL EDITION Why Houdini 5 sacrificed his Queen? Superfinal Game 15 TCEC 2016". Youtube. Retrieved 6 December 2016.

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]